[The movie] is not really a chronicle of the financial crisis or a dummies guide to economics and high finance. Instead, it's a populist analysis of the role of money—Wall Street money, in particular—in politics and government and the unequal distribution of wealth in the U.S., personified by a new group of robber barons.
I am personally affected by good people who struggle, who work hard and who've had their lives ruined by decisions that are made by people who do not have their best interest at heart, but who have the best interest of the bottom line, of the company, at heart.
Moore was recently interviewed on CNBC, where he was asked to summarize the essence of the movie. He said:
This movie is about the legalization of greed, and we call it capitalism these days. It's a system that encourages people to make as much money as they can any way they can and never ask some basic questions...is this good for the people, is this good for the country...the moral issue of this never gets talked about because, of course, capitalism isn't supposed to have any morals attached to it, its just supposed to be about making money - and we're at a point now where the working people of this country have suffered enough - there is a boiling anger out there in the country...
I am so bored with the capitalism versus socialism debate - we're taking a 16th century economic idea and debating it with a 19th century economic idea. We are in the 21st century. We have got to be smart enough to develop our own economic order and that's what we are lacking right now - the problem here is we have lost our compass - we don't have democratic values attached to our economy ,i.e, the people have little to say as to what's going on and our Judeao-Christian ethics that we claim to have in this country, simply don't seem to exist any more when it comes to the decisions on Wall Street
what i'm celebrating is Christianity, all the great religions say the same thing...that we're going to be judged how we treat the least among us. How often is that question asked on Wall Street every day?
Enrico Letta, 43, is one of the hopes of Italy’s left, currently in disarray in the face of Silvio Berlusconi’s nationalist populism. “We have to understand that Socialism is an answer of the last century,” Mr. Letta said. “We need to build a center-left that is pragmatic, that provides an attractive alternative, and not just an opposition.”
Mr. Letta argues that Socialist policies will have to be transmuted into a more fluid form to allow an alliance with center, liberal and green parties that won’t be called “Socialist.”
First, note that Moore, like all modern intellectuals, does not ever bother to define capitalism? I highlighted this issue in a previous post, To Know Capitalism is to Love Capitalism, saying:
the meaning of capitalism has become completely blurred by modern academics who do not think in principles or essentials. For example, I would say that most intellectuals implicitly define capitalism as "anything America does or has done". So, for example, if the United States had slavery, then that is an example of "capitalism". If the United States authorizes a Federal Reserve Bank to print money endlessly causing credit expansion, malinvestment predicated on the illusion of profits, and a boom-bust economic cycle then that is an example of "capitalism." If the federal government encourages employer sponsored health insurance through its manipulation of the tax code and then offers health care entitlements to a third of the of the population thus exploding health care costs it is an example of "capitalism".
the concept of capitalism is implicitly being defined in terms of non-essentials. Such definitions blur the essential distinguishing characteristics of capitalism and have the effect of packaging the concept of capitalism together with concepts that represent its antithesis. In these cases, because capitalism is defined improperly, it is literally regarded as its opposite and held accountable for the deleterious effects of its opposite. Therefore, before arguing over capitalism versus socialism one should understand and clarify what exactly capitalism is.
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
The recognition of individual rights entails the banishment of physical force from human relationships: basically, rights can be violated only by means of force. In a capitalist society, no man or group may initiate the use of physical force against others. The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force; the government acts as the agent of man’s right of self-defense, and may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use; thus the government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of force under objective control.
Moore's implicit definition of capitalism by non-essentials package deals actual capitalism (private property and free trade) with socialism (government control) and therefore lays all of the deleterious effects of the federal government's socialistic policies at capitalism's doorstep. Ironically, the very government control's which Moore supports are, in fact, responsible for the economic devastation that Moore properly abhors.
What is the moral code of altruism? The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.
Do not confuse altruism with kindness, good will or respect for the rights of others. These are not primaries, but consequences, which, in fact, altruism makes impossible. The irreducible primary of altruism, the basic absolute, is self-sacrifice—which means; self-immolation, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-destruction—which means: the self as a standard of evil, the selfless as a standard of the good.
Contrary to Marxism, one does not benefit from the poverty or incompetence of others. It is in your interest that other men -- in every country -- be smart, ambitious, and productive, not stupid, lazy, or incompetent. Would you be better off if Thomas Edison had been dim-witted?
At some level, socialists like Moore and the Europeans quoted earlier recognize that practicing altruism is a contradiction and an economic dead end. They recognize at some level that "capitalism" works. Their inability to reconcile the contradiction of an anti-human ethical code like altruism with a system that results in phenomenal human progress and happiness leads them to uphold a ridiculous contradiction. Moore rejects capitalism, but he also rejects socialism! Instead, he wishes for some other way - a "new economic order" he calls it. And, what exactly is that? "We got to be smart enough to come up with it", he says. In other words, "somehow."
This last claim represents the essence of the socialist mindset and the mindset of the central planner. Somehow, they will find a way to have their cake and eat it too. Somehow, they will make reality something it is not.