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Every thinking New Zealander should go and see Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story that is now out in cinemas.
I've been a fan of Moore ever since his first film, Roger & Me, which had him chasing down Roger Smith - the then head of General Motors - after Moore's father and thousands of other auto workers were laid off in Flint, Michigan.
His television series, The Awful Truth, was compulsory viewing each week.
His Oscar-winning documentary, Bowling for Columbine, and his last film Sicko, posed serious challenges to corporate capitalism. Moore's latest film is the most politically potent of all.
It's a full-frontal attack on his usual target of corporations and on the whole capitalist system. It has all the usual "corporate greed versus ordinary people" stories, which have parallels in New Zealand. But what particularly resonates is his defiant critique - that corporate capitalism is evil, immoral and undemocratic.
In this film, Moore advocates building a citizens' movement to confront and overturn capitalism. We have been raised to believe that capitalism is the most efficient system possible, benefiting us as individuals and humankind. Moore claims the complete opposite.
As a unionist, I relate when he shows a group of workers who decide they will fight back rather than roll over when the factory they work for closes. The occupation by these workers and the community sparked an outpouring of support. Even President Obama publicly supported these workers. In the end, they won.
In another story, the film shows neighbours mobilising to stop police from evicting home owners after a bank foreclosed on them. Through mass direct action the bailiff and police retreated. The message Moore conveys is that if citizens unite, and confront the excesses of capitalist corporate power, they can win. If there is any doubt about Moore's motives , his voiceover as the film credits roll asks the audience to join him in a mass movement against capitalism.
The film even finishes with a rag-time cover of The Internationale to remind old lefties that the international struggle for social justice continues.
Some of the points he raises - such as workers having representation on boards of directors, and even workers owning these businesses as co-operatives - might seem a bit out there.
But it makes you think about how the economic system could be challenged and reformed. Why can't workers, who produce the wealth of any business entity, have a say in management? After all, when bad business decisions are made, the workers have to carry the consequences. Shareholders may lose some of their money, but at least they are able to elect or sack the management team.
Why can't workers? Corporates are top-down in terms of decision-making and profoundly undemocratic.
It is assumed this is a normal state of affairs and that there is no alternative. Moore offers real alternatives, and capitalists should be very afraid if his ideas catch on. I negotiate contract agreements for workers and am astounded by how afraid some employers are of their workers.
This week, a large employer refused to allow its workers to put up a notice board for union material. When governments try to stifle communication, we call it totalitarianism.
Corporate management, in many ways, is still in the feudal era where shareholders are kings, managers are lords and workers are peasants to be kept down and ignorant.
Most New Zealanders know there is something inherently wrong with our system.
In recent years, worker productivity has skyrocketed along with profit, while wages have remained static, and, in many cases, been cut back.
Moore has created another masterpiece, exposing a corrupt economic system. Unlike other documentaries that leave us feeling frustrated and powerless, Moore challenges us to mobilise. Go and see it, and get inspired to take action.
- HERALD ON SUNDAY