”The British parliamentary tradition, which we inherited, resisted 19th-century Chartist demands for universal suffrage, based on similar fears that the elites would lose out, until they realized, to their surprise and delight, that it wouldn’t happen after all due to the clever machinations of party politics – which usually manage to subvert the real impulses of voters.Occasionally, a genuine democratic impulse expresses itself in the early phase of the system: elections, as in the victory of Barack Obama. But then the fail-safe parts kick in, through Congress or Parliament, and nothing much gets done. The result is, you can elect someone different, but they can’t do anything different. The system isn’t malfunctioning, it’s working perfectly.” ( Rick Salutin, Globe and Mail )
The Michael Moore documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, scores points for deconstructing this relationship, or rather dysfunctional symbiosis between capitalism and democracy, with underlying subtext that the two are mutually exclusive and incompatible. In so doing, turning away the veil on precious assumptions centering on the American dream, its Horatio Alger legends and the vision of someone making it big that continues to romance and seduce a public accustomed to fairy tales of Walt Disney and Hollywood. That Moore takes his vision in the form of an almost Dadaist film style loaded with pastiche, jump cuts and historical juxtapositions reveals an artistic finesse in using an art form, whatever one may believe in the actual content. This emergence of the financial class, and financial services, from service business to industry to the dominant economic activity in North America is of some concern; one that has been voiced over many years yet, seems to be on an accelerating trajectory with expanding globalization.
At heart, is Moore’s view that capitalism, as economic engine, produces nothing of material value. This is a long and deep dispute with different groups placing a different gloss on the social values of modern capitalism. While the banks are ”too big to fail”, the beast may be too big to kill. Moore’s argument, long held, is their commercial activities undermine traditional ways of life and their complicity within government so entrenched and so influential as to totally suffocate the raison d’etre of the Constitution. There is a certain abhorrence in seeing the human pollution left in the wake of capitalism’s relentless march onward. The disparity of income and both urban and rural blight throws into sharp context the notion of a the average citizen held hostage in a New Babylonian exile. The blue chip corporation taking out life insurance policies on high yielding potential mortalities among their employees, known as ”dead peasant” clauses, recalls their involvement in the Third Reich before prior to WWII.
Is Christianity and banking compatible? Yes,” said John Varley, chief executive of Barclays PLC. “And is Christianity and fair reward compatible? Yes.”… Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told the Sunday Times of London he is “doing God’s work.” And Goldman international advisor Brian Griffiths was even more explicit in aligning his work in high finance to the “message” of the Gospels: “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Mr. Griffiths was reported as saying. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.” ( Charles Lewis, National Post, nov.14/09 ) Amen; no need to flip coins into the collection tray, we’ll just take it off your monthly statement.
There is no doubt that capitalism has been the most important force in shaping the fate of people in the modern world. Capitalism’s ability to avoid violence is likely, largely based on an underlying assumption that consumption, in ever increasing degrees, saturates the citizen with a level of passivity; a drug providing a sensation of being comfortably numb. Capitalism is so intimately glued to the conception of western thought that separating the two would result in multiple metaphors and identities each embodying elements of capitalism; a nihilistic exercise that would result in a social therapy of ”primal scream” proportions.
Moore’s implicit and explicit thesis that the financial collapse of Wall Street in September, 2008 was a planned and foreseen in not novel, and is a result of reflection of past crises in which the industry has been called on the carpet, a few scapegoats flogged, and after some media created penitence, the institutions rise like a Phoenix. Regarding the Pecora commission following the collapse of 1929:
”Under the merciless glare of Congressional hearings, above all the Senate’s Pecora Committee (named after its bulldog chief counsel Ferdinand Pecora), it was revealed that Jack Morgan and his partners in the House of Morgan hadn’t paid income taxes for years; that “Sunshine” Charlie Mitchell, head of National City Bank (the country’s largest), had been short-selling his own bank’s stock and transferring assets into his wife’s name to escape taxes; that other financiers just like him, who had been hero-worshiped for a decade or more as financial messiahs, had regularly engaged in insider-trading schemes that made them wealthy and fleeced legions of unknowing investors.
red carpet of the Washington DC premiere of 'Capitalism: A Love Story' at AMC Uptown Theater on September 29, 2009 in Washington, DC.''" width="594" height="463" />