Sunday, September 6, 2009

Goldman Sachs Is Not Capitalism: On a Very Confused Michael Moore

Michael Moore is one confused theorist. In his latest movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, he tells us at the end the end of his two hour movie that "Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil."

He wants to replace capitalism with, get this, "You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people and that something is democracy."

Last I looked, democracy was a political system, and capitalism was an economic system. There is no reason you can't have a democratic socialist system, or for that matter, a democratic capitalist system. There is no reason you can't have a socialist dictatorship or capitalistic dictatorship. There's no mutually exclusivity between political systems and economic systems. In other words, Moore doesn't know what the hell he is talking about.

As for capitalism itself, Moore seems to think it is Goldman Sachs and other banking institutions that are the beginning and end of capitalism. He completely ignores, or is not aware, that the Goldman Sachs rip off of the masses was done in cahoots, and here is the key, with the GOVERNMENT. No government influence over the banking system, no government ability to tax and give the money to bankers, no rip off.

What else can be said? M Moore=Confusion.

As I sit here typing this on my lap top, outside, enjoying the beautiful Los Angeles day, I think of the result of capitalism being the lap top I am using, the Blackberry next to me, the Boston Red Sox scores being sent to me live on my Blackberry, the comments coming from around the country, make that around the world, to my blog posts, the youtube video I viewed earlier, the pre-washed jeans I am wearing, the non-wrinkled shirt I am wearing, the new fusion-sushi restaurant down the street, the bottled water I am drinking, the twitter post coming to me, and the emails coming to me.

The positive results of capitalism are so prevalent that it is really hard to recognize how vast they are. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is as impossible to count all the positive creations of capitalism as it is to count the stars in the universe. Goldman Sachs is like a meteor that has caused a a huge destructive crater on earth. Moore has looked at this 155 mile in diameter crater and has pronounced all stars evil, including the sun.

Yes, Moore will look inside the Goldman created creator, film from its edges, yell at the crater and, I'm sure, get filmed being thrown out by security guards. But, he won't for a minute, show you the cell phone he is using, the lightweight camera he is using, the sophisticated web site he is using to market the film, the sophisticated network used to distribute the films.

If Moore is really so down on capitalism, I will really be impressed with his movie making abilities, and his theories on capitalism, when he goes to a truly non-capitalist country, say Cuba, and uses only film and communications tools he acquires there.

I'd also like to see the fat man eating on a totally Cuban food rationed diet, while he is making such film. And I don't want to even imagine being around the seedy fat man with the coming shortage of toilet paper in Cuba.


  1. as long as my taxes don't go up even further than they already have been...we will be the poorest country all around if we continue in this fashion...people, wise up!!!

  2. People tend to forget (or evade perhaps) the fact that capitalism has a specific identity, a specific nature, and a specific definition. Many have been given the impression that capitalism is whatever America has, or whatever the rich do, or whatever washington does (even though you can't "do" capitalism this is what I get from some of my fellow students). So Goldman Sachs can receive corporate welfare, the Iraq war can be waged, Bernie Madoff can commit uber-fraud and, quite literally, capitalism is to blame because capitalism allegedly sanctions all of these things.

    This comes I think from a conflation of capitalism and corporatism. If its not overtly red and communistic, than people assume its the exact opposite. Americans have been trained to believe that its socialism or non-socialism and that non-socialism is equivalent to capitalism.

    Strictly speaking I wouldn't say you could have a "capitalistic dictatorship" unless you are refering to a odd Pinochetian state that represses the people but also privatizes social security. Privatizing SS would be capitalistic but putting the kabash on free speech wouldn't be.

  3. If Michael Moore wants democracy, then he wants rule by the majority. Of course, rule by the majority runs the risk of becoming majoritarian tyranny as under a genuine democracy, all things including laws and public policies are subordinate to majority will. So instead of a specific economoic system (capitalism, socialism) Moore would simply have the majority choose a socio-economic configuration. It would be a radical form of populism. Moore evades the socio-economic questions and simply appeals to majority decision. This way, he is not troubled by insipid, academic concerns like negative rights.

  4. I generally agree with your point, RW, but I'm not sure what a dictator under capitalism would mean. His dictatorial powers would have to be pretty circumscribed for us to still call it capitalism (as opposed to fascism), right? E.g. the dictator couldn't tell companies what they could pay their executives, and he couldn't send political opponents to labor camps.

    I get that you're talking about a spectrum, but my point is just that for it to be "capitalism," the ruler would have to operate in such a narrow sphere that I'm not sure he'd really be a dictator.

  5. Moore isn't confused. "Economic democracy" has long been a code word for socialism.

  6. As usual, Michael Moore is a little confused. It's sort of like blaming the holacost on Europeans --technically correct but a vast over-simplification. Those whom Moore implicates are capitalists, but to imply that capitalism was what they were practicing is either intentional confusion or ignorance.

  7. @Bob Murphy

    I'm thinking of a situation where, say, you would become dictator and in charge of the police and military.

    Couldn't you dictate free markets? And just to prove you had dictatorial powers, couldn't you have arrested anyone who advocated, say, bailouts of the banking system?

  8. If he is confused it is about what capitalism is. It is the market being driven by supply and demand. It is not subsidies, wage or price limitations or welfare for the rich. In a true capitalistic system, the federal reserve board would never have existed. Happy Hobbit

  9. Oh, and why did you find it necessary to make personal remarks about his appearance? Do you imply anything in particular by that? Unhappy Hobbit

  10. A bit of a stretch. First, that laptop you're typing on is a result of a military industrial economy; socialism in its worst form. Second, economies - especially something as powerful as capitalism - can be political. If the govt is lined with free-marketeers, and bails out criminals and exacts the costs from the poor, then that sounds like politics to me. Third, there is no such thing as capitalism in the US, never has been; only interventionist, monopolist economies. Fourth, Cuba isn't poor because it's communist; it's poor because of the 50-yr old, US-led embargo, which is a an economically-motivated political decision. So I'd respectfully submit that you're just as ill-informed as Mr Moore.

  11. Capitalism is not evil. Moore just thinks we have capitalism in the US. What Moore claims is US capitalism is really neoliberalism and fascism.

    Pure capitalism is like evolution - failures fail. Had the US been the paradigm of capitalism Moore confuses with the neo fascist liberalism (remember fascism is not so much about a police state as it is the merger of alleged government and corporate entities - you know you live in a fascist society when citizens are referred to as "consumers"), then there would have been no bail out. AIG BOA CITI FNMA - all of those businesses would be worms meat.

    In a pure capitalism, like evolution, failures become dust and competition is fierce. How can you have competition when every logo in the US is owned by 1 of 6 mega corporations.

    Our problem is not too much capitalism. Our problem is a lack of Capitalism. Our problem is the centralized Soviet style exchange - the house of the oligarchy. Our problem is that what we confuse as capitalism is, in truth neoliberal fascism.

  12. "but I'm not sure what a dictator under capitalism would mean."


    It's called China.

  13. Re: Free market dictatorships - The problem for a would be free market dictator is that you can't rule alone, and you have to extract sufficient goods from your subjects to keep those surrounding you loyal. You also will have to prevent free assembly or your overthrow will be almost certain.

    These issues and a lot more were covered in the book The Political Economy of Power by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita et al. I'd highly recommend this podcast (& followup) as an easily accessible version of the book. Relentlessly assumes rational, self-interested actors and therefore comes to the unpleasant truths about issues such as the real beneficiaries or foreign aid etc.

  14. Bottled tap water is not a "positive" sign of capitalism. It is a scourge and shows the problem. Yuppie scum buying in to Western Media Imagery. Moore is a dunce but so is the author of this ridiculous right-wing missive.

  15. At least he is doing SOMETHING. What are YOU people doing??
    Capitalism has many definitions, and what's more important, its definitions are changed whenever the "experts" feel like it. The "capitalism" of today is certainly NOT the capitalism of 1990s or 1980s or 1970s. or 140s or 1880s or 1770s yet it is ALL called "capitalism".
    So Moore is right in talking about "capitalism" because that is what the general sheeple public understands it as.
    Trying to define "capitalism" is an exercise in futility and useless semantic games. Moore is right and you are wrong to try to put him down for something as ridiculous as is definition of "capitalism". Shows you are just trying to put him down for whatever little reason you can find. Shame on you!

  16. Who knew that EPJ attracted so many kooks. Mr. Moore may not indict capitalism for any of the socio-economic problems he has identified because none of them have been caused by capitalism to begin with.

    First of all, it is inaccurate to say the least to designate the U.S. as a capitalist nation. Capitalism is a social system based upon individual rights including the right to private property where all goods including all inputs and outputs are privately owned. The initiation of physical force against person, property, or person-property relationships are unlawful under capitalism.

    The causes behind the socio-economic problems that Moore kvetches about (bailouts, recession, healthcare costs/availability) are all caused by government interventiin (that is, the initiation of physical force). The Fed causes recessions by expanding the supply of bank credit in the absence of an expansion in savings. Washington is directly responsible for the bailouts. And insurance regulations, government licenses, Medicare, Medicaid, and the FDA cause healthcare prices to increase. None of these things would exist under capitalism.


    I can't believe your hawking the "Cuba is poor because of the embargo" argument. Why is it that left-liberals fiercely oppose trade between the U.S. and foreign nations and simultaneously claim that the lack of trade between the U.S. and Cuba is what impoverishes Cuba?

    No, socialism makes Cuba poor dummy. They have to copy prices generated in market economies just to crudely solve their cost-revenue equations and to discover cost-effective production methods. Nearly all major industrialized countries trade with Cuba. The Cubans simply get their imports from elsewhere.

  17. A capitalist dictatorship would be Nazi Germany.....

  18. @Michael Labeit

    I don't think this is the regular EPJ crowd.Some wacko lefty must have linked to it because EPJ dared to say something negative about their hero, Michael Moore.

  19. Nazi Germany was a fascist state, not a capitalist state.

  20. Perceptive economic analysis and stunningly accurate predictions: ~1 comment average.

    Healthcare or Michael Moore: Triple digits here we come.

    Maybe you should post about Sicko and go for a record.

  21. Yeah, right, Nazi Germany was a capitalist dictatorship. That's why the Nazis called themselves socialists.

    Oh, wait, I keep forgetting. Socialists have been stealing terms (e.g. "liberalism") and changing definitions for decades -- any time socialism is exposed for its inherent barbarity, suddenly "That's not socialism, this over here is socialism."

    Capitalism is defined as catallactic human interaction without government intervention. Socialism is defined as any individual or group that seeks to use force-of-government to coerce society to comply with their own wishes. Under capitalism, unsustainable ventures like the GMs of the world go bankrupt. Under socialism, society itself experiences both economic and moral bankruptcy.

  22. The Nazi Party's 25 points - Anti-semitism = the socialist-left agenda for years.

    German is an agglutinated language. "Nazi" is short for National Socialist Worker's Party or along similar lines. Goerge Reisman notes that national socialism is different from standard socialism only due to the fact that under national socialism the nationalization of the non-human factors of production is de facto instead of de jure.

  23. USA is not run according to principles of democracy or capitalism in the sense of free enterprise.

    It is a fascist society in which control is shared by governmental and corporate entities.

    It should be called a system of corporate socialism, since the government works for the welfare of the corporate entities instead of ordinary citizens.

  24. Get a gun, and a brain...then all things are possible, :=)

  25. "the government works for the welfare of the corporate entities instead of ordinary citizens."

    Since ordinary citizens typically work for the corporation, then isn't the government working for the welfare of ordinary citizens by ensuring the welfare of the corporate entity?