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Michael Moore's film shows what's ailing America

September 15, 2009 16:02 IST

Ridiculing a suggestion from a reporter that there can be a gentle and humane capitalism, Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore said that capitalism cannot be trusted and is incapable of changing its nature.

Moore was speaking at a press conference at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival to promote his newest work Capitalism: A Love Story. The documentary was shown at the festival just as the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers was around the corner.

Moore, whose documentaries such as Sicko and Roger and Me have criticised the establishment for over two decades, said that he had started working on Capitalism five months before the financial crisis stunned America and the world a year ago.

He had been convinced for a long time, he said, that something was awfully wrong in America and capitalism was behind it all. He came to realise over six months ago that he would no more dance around the same issues and decided to take on capitalism directly. He admitted that he is not an economist and that he had no specific plan to change the way the American system works.

"I am looking at the issue from the viewpoint of an artist," he said. "I use my privileged position as a filmmaker to give voice to millions of people who have no voice."

He said he believed that capitalism should be eliminated, and the country should think of a system that provided social and economic justice to the vast majority of the people and stop the one percent of the population that owns most of the country's wealth.

"They won't give up their billions and privileged positions easily," he said. "Only citizens could take the wealth and position from them but through non-violent means."

"Capitalism is a Ponzi scheme because it guarantees just a few people at the top of the pyramid are going to earn most of the money and everybody else becomes their slaves essentially," he said, laughing bitterly.

Moore, who was raised Catholic, uses Christian scriptures in his film to denounce capitalism. "But you don't have to be a Catholic to take a stand against capitalism," he said. "All religions speak against greed."

"Greed was there centuries before capitalism arose," he continued, "but under capitalism, it has been legitimised. Companies are told by the system that their loyalty should be to the shareholders, and there is little compassion for anyone else. There is no ethical foundation for capitalism in any system, under any religion. Greed is to be controlled by a moral code but capitalism has no desire or moral authority to keep the greed in check. It endorses greed whole heartedly."

Moore, whose last documentary Sicko lashed out at the American health care industry which he argued works against the poor, said he understands President Obama's struggle to introduce universal health care. But the President is not going the full way, and the halfway measures are not acceptable to many people who had voted for him. This could be the reason why they are not in the streets offering their support to the health care proposals, he added.

The insurance companies and their allies were spending $1 million a day on lobbyists and advertisements to fight health care reform that would extend coverage to 47 million Americans.

"My favourite (ads) are the ones showing Canada as a Third World country with people lined up out the door of the doctor's office waiting in line for nine months, dying of brain tumours on the sidewalks of Toronto," he said. Canada has a far more outreaching health care system than America has. Industrialised countries in Europe too offer universal health care, he said.

Moore said it is the corporate world that relied on socialism as their leaders availed themselves of billions of tax-payers money in the bailout. "The true believers of socialism in the United States of America are Wall Street and corporate America," he said with a grim smile. "They want the safety net there for themselves and they have very willingly taken... trillions (of dollars) of our money."

Image: Michael Moore speaks about his film Capitalism: A Love Story during the 34th Toronto International Film Festival on Monday. | Photograph: Mark Blinch/Reuters

Arthur J Pais in Toronto