Call me crazy, but I’m not a big fan of Michael Moore’s. He comes dangerously close to being the left’s Glenn Beck, and that type of individual is no good, no matter where he sits on the political spectrum. The title of Moore’s latest film, though — “Capitalism: a Love Story” — simply compounds his traditional error of being long on emotion, and short on facts.
Specifically, it sets up a false choice, one that plays directly into the right’s hands: the choice isn’t between “capitalism” and “something else” (“socialism” is the popular gap-filler). Doing away with capitalism isn’t even on the table. Seriously — what’s the alternative? The real choice is between a capitalism that’s responsible, and one that’s not; between a capitalism that acknowledges the various problems with pure laissez-faire, and one that insists on ideological purity for its own sake. All Moore does by suggesting otherwise is feed the fires of right-wing rage, and confuse those on the left who trust him, and don’t know any better. What the country needs is someone willing to frame our economic choices responsibly, without resorting to scary, amorphous buzzwords. The President fits that bill, sure, but he’s not winning many more converts than he already has.
One caveat, for those who would jump too easily to draw a full equivalence between Moore and Beck: Fahrenheit 9/11 grossed a little over $110 million domestically, which breaks down to about 10 million viewers. Beck gets three million viewers — per day — and constant, fawning praise from conservative outlets and politicians. So yes, we have our insane extremists. But at least they aren’t popular.