I don't go to the movies as much as I used to. The exorbitant ticket prices put me off and I'm happy enough watching DVDs.

But I left my couch and forked out the cash to see Capitalism: A Love Story. As its a documentary this movie lends itself to the DVD  and the small screen, but I like Michael Moore, flaws and all, and I wanted to see the movie in the theatre.

Moore now has a substantial body of work behind him, stretching back some twenty years or so to his first film Roger and Me. Capitalism: A Love Story is his fifth documentary. His films are among the top grossing non-fiction movies.

For those of us who have staked out our politics beyond what remains of the social democratic left (can you really tell the difference between a right wing and left wing social democrat? ), it is extraordinary difficult to get our views into the mainstream media and the general  public debate.

A good case in  point is TVNZ 7's  Focus on the Economy which is screening throughout this month. Were any socialists invited  on to the channel to offer the socialist perspective on the crisis of global capitalism? No they weren't. For socialists and the radical left this censorship by omission is an all too familiar experience.

So, that said, it is quite an achievement by  Michael Moore to have succeeded in  inserting his political views into a media and society dominated by lies and disinformation. Given the amount of invective he regularly receives from the right, it is not a situation that sits well with the cheerleaders of the status quo. So all power to him, I say.

It is extraordinary that a movie so critical of capitalism can open in over a thousand theatres in the 'land of free enterprise'.  Hey, the guy has even been on Oprah!

One of Moore's strengths and one of his trademarks - and perhaps one of the reasons why he remains popular- is that he never forgets  that there are real people behind the grim statistics.

While statistics can be breezily reported by the media somewhere in between the sports news and the latest story about Angelina Jolie and then summarily  disposed of, Moore goes beyond the numbers and brings to the big screen the lives of ordinary working people that are under the heel of capitalism  - the best economic system  the world can ever have, according to Labour leader Phil Goff.

Barely  half an hour or so into the movie, Moore shows an ordinary American family  being evicted from their house by police - who turn up in numbers you would expect to attend a bank robbery or small riot. They have been evicted by the bank.

In Detroit ( and what is happening to Detroit right now is truly disturbing) a carpenter is boarding up the house of a angry and frightened family who have lived there for over forty years. They are more victims of Wall Street and their political allies on Capitol Hill.

There are more stories and like this and the pictures expose the ugly reality of American capitalism. Moore, recalling Roger and Me, makes the point that much of the United States has become like Flint, Michigan.

Moore doesn't pull his punches. He mosly lets the pictures tell their story and doesn't sugarcoat the uncomfortable message.

But having done all the ground work,  Moore does not  offer a anti-capitalist alternative. Rather he seems to have wandered down a No Exit called Barack Obama Street.

While attacking the sharks of Wall Street he then turns around and supports a President  who has bailed out those very same sharks - while at the same time doing very little for  the ordinary working people we see  in Moore's movie. That glaring contradiction haunts this movie.

Moore's alternative to the ravages of capitalism is  something he vaguely calls 'democracy' - which is hardly a call to man the barricades.

In an interview with Democracy Now Moore commented: "The wealthiest 1% [of Americans] have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined. When...1% essentially not only own all the wealth, but own Congress, call the shots, are we really telling the truth when we call this a democracy? You and I have no say in how this economy is run."

Indeed - but Moore doesn't articulate a socialist alternative. Instead he ends up in Camp Barack Obama. Its an almighty fudge from someone not willing  to reach a socialist conclusion. We need to remind ourselves that Moore supported Obama's bid for the presidency and continues to support him now despite the Wall Street bailouts.

In an interview I heard with Moore some years ago he remarked that liberals often annoyed him  more than right wingers. He explained that what bugged him about liberals is that they claimed they wanted to  change the world but, when it came down it, they didn't actually want to 'rock the boat' to achieve that laudable goal.

I think that Moore's criticism can be turned on himself. He wants, he says, to eliminate capitalism but continues to support the ultimate defender of capitalism - the Obama administration.


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