OK, when I first heard the title of this movie, I thought Moore was going to try to restore Marx and talk about how misunderstood he is by today’s society. Of course I figured it would mostly be about the bailouts and the fatcat bankers and all that stuff, too. But the “love story” bit sounded, at least to me, like there would be some mention of Marx.
Anyway, the reason I thought about Marx was because although he hated capitalism for all the reasons which are pretty well understood, he also kind of loved it at the same time. In only a few decades, the Industrial Revolution had driven advances in technology the net effect of which had been rarely, if ever, seen in human history. So for Marx – at least as I read him – capitalism was this necessary transitional stage which served the purpose of getting us the tools we need to form a more just and equitable society. That’s kind of an important part of his theory of history which is often overlooked. Marx is probably one of the most misunderstood philosophers ever, except maybe for Nietzsche.
Another good example of that (and I’m getting to Michael Moore’s movie soon) is Marx’s take on religion. Everyone knows the “opium of the people” line and assume that to mean that Marx thought religion was this useless thing for idiots. But here’s the actual context of that line:
“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.“
Like his take on capitalism, there’s this weird, complex love/hate, thing going on when Marx talks about religion. As a strict materialist, he didn’t believe in any of the supernatural claims of the various religions (we are in a “spiritless situation,” after all); but on the other hand, some people need their opium to get them through the day and it might even help them do some good once in a while. At least that’s how Marx saw it as I understand it.
So it was kind of surprising to see Michael Moore do his movie on capitalism and come out as a buddy of the Jesus without even bringing up Marx at all. His ghost was practically screaming between the lines throughout, and this would have been a good opportunity to educate the public on what he really said. Instead, Moore wants to bring up how he was inspired by his Catholicism in order to fight against greed and injustice (don’t concentrate too hard on that sentence, your brain might explode). In fact, he even tried to out-Jesus Sean Hannity on his program a few days ago (3:20):
It’s really difficult watching Moore, who’s supposed to be something vaguely resembling a journalist, interview Catholic priests while they talk about how greed is so horrible. I guess all that gold and luxurious palaces in the Vatican are… what? For charity? Are you kidding?
And besides how the Catholic institution had pretty much figuratively and literally raped everything it touched, it might not be such a good idea to promote them when Hitler analogies are ‘in:’
And then Moore concludes the film with some good coverage of the Republic factory in Chicago which was occupied by the workers, while blowing some air kisses at Obama. So basically, like a lot of his work, the newest movie is a mix of good info-tainment and wtf. If you already know that pilots make way too little money and that banks suck, there’s not much of a reason to run out and see this in a theater.