Michael Moore’s Attack on Capitalism


Here’s a good analysis of some of the arguments put forth by people like Michael Moore in his new movie against Capitalism.

There really is no evil that the capitalist bogey-man can impose on you or I that we cannot resist. Even under capitalism, with all of its ills and problems crying out for solutions, a person can retain their moral dignity and their spiritual practice. I want to fix the problems of capitalism as much as Moore does, but not at the price of my soul.

We can have an honest debate over which types of policies are better economically, etc. But regardless of the results of the debate, the bottom line is that there are more important things than economics. There is a freedom that accompanies an economic system like capitalism that doesn’t exist in socialist and communist systems. And this freedom is essential to respecting the dignity of the human person.

I would think that is why the Church has not condemned Capitalism in the same way she has done to Communism (and aspects of socialism). Although, she most certainly recognizes the short-comings of Capitalism and the need for improvement upon it.

8 comments Add comment

Greg October 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Does Moore even advocate for Socialism or Communism in the movie? Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see it in the next week or so, but I was under the impression that he doesn’t advocate for any system in particular:

I personally believe that if the Church is willing to speak on an issue (like economics and Caritas in Veritate), then the issue probably important enough to merit good discussion, and since those who advocate for Capitalism are perhaps less likely to start looking at the problem, I’m glad Moore came out with this. Now whether or not I’ll agree with it I’ll have to see. I tend to be disappointed in Moore’s style and his shaky and sometimes biased account of history, but I’m eager to see what’s in store for this movie.

What baffles me is why American Catholic writes on this before seeing the movie…. I too plan on blogging on Capitalism A Love Story, but I’m at least going to have the class to see it first before assuming anything more than the trailers.

Greg October 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm

ha, and I didn’t mean you Matt, with the whole comment about lacking class. I was just referring to American Catholic’s post..

G.M. Knowles October 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

The paragraph you quoted and your own views regards the moral of economics in Catholic moral life seem to show an ignorance of the reality of the plight of the poor.

The system of capitalism is an extension of master/slave, feudal landowner/serf in its pure form. The only check on unbridled greed and selfishness that pure capitalists worship, is government interventions, which not surprisingly, are the enemy of any good capitalist.

In turn, the Church has been clear in condemning the pure form of Capitalism and has been just as clear in the call for serious government intervention to stem the result of capitalisms pure form in terms of selfishness and greed.

When a worker with a family and limited skills/savings etc., looses his or her job in order to guard the profits of a corporation and a corporate wealth and the shareholders, then there is an evil act. No evil act is minimal in the moral order.

A primary ministry of Jesus and the Church is the salvation and comfort of the poor. Whatever the cause of the poor, hungry and homeless may be, we should be assured that it has some financial component. Don’t you think?

My primary outrage at this and The American Catholic post is the ignorance of social economic relations to many issue we are facing today.

For instance, the Health Care Debate has been particularly polarizing among many Catholics and demonstrates a near Catholic Schizophrenia. The American Bishops, of course, have endorsed a change in national health care laws. This change is critical, because the poor do not have access to health care. Yet allowing access to freely choose healthcare in such a bill would logically and necessarily allow those choosing to have abortions to be able to have those abortions under health care insurance regardless if private, public or self-provided funding. Again, this is a legal and logical quagmire. Abortion is a legal medical choice, the choice of health care is a legal medical choice, abortion under health care is legal medical choice.

Two other issues,off the top of my head, include partial birth abortions and stem cell research. The first issue is in regards to public funding for partial birth abortions and the second to federal funding for stem cell research. Both are financial issues related to right to life issues.

Now, not all issues are caused by economic distributist issues, but many of them have causative influences, and should not be discounted.

Finally, I would encourage all who have questions as to Catholic Social Teaching and economics to review distributism as an economic system.

Some links: http://distributism.blogspot.com/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributism would be a good start.

I am interested and not too optimistic as to Moore’s film as well.

Stu D. October 16, 2009 at 7:23 pm

As a matter of fact, we are all born with original sin. To deny that greed isn’t a problem in a capitalistic system is to be living in denial. My problem with Michael Moore is his demonization of the “system” and yet he has greatly enriched himself in a capitalistic society. No matter the form of governance, sin will always be factor.
I don’t understand why Michael Moore doesn’t acknowledge that the United States with all it’s imperfections and problems is still one of the most benevolent nations on earth.

Matthew Warner October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

GMK, you say –

The paragraph you quoted and your own views regards the moral of economics in Catholic moral life seem to show an ignorance of the reality of the plight of the poor.

Not at all – but that’s quite the conclusion!

G.M. Knowles October 19, 2009 at 6:46 pm

You said: “the bottom line is that there are more important things than economics”

In the Encyclical Laborem exercens it states:

“It is rather in order to highlight-perhaps more than has been done before-the fact that human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question, if we try to see that question really from the point of view of man’s good. And if the solution-or rather the gradual solution-of the social question, which keeps coming up and becomes ever more complex, must be sought in the direction of “making life more human” 8, then the key, namely human work, acquires fundamental and decisive importance.”

With work, it is economics and social justice that we are dealing with.

I do apologize if I were too harsh in my words. My mission is within the field of social teaching and specifically economics and work, and that was the impetus for my comment.

I commend and thank you on speaking out as a Catholic, as well.

Matthew Warner October 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm

I don’t disagree with the encyclical, nor with you that economics is related and tied up and important to respecting the dignity of every person. I just don’t think it is the most important thing. Which is what I said.

And I believe that the kind of system (specifically here the one that Michael Moore supports) is just. I don’t think it respects the individual. It’s a collectivist idea that takes a lot of rights away from individuals in order to supposedly provide its own bureaucratic, institutionalized utopian society.

My point with the (perhaps poorly worded) comment was not to disregard economics. It was simply to say that we can’t justify economic systems based solely on the end. The morality and justice of such a system doesn’t only rely on how many people are working, how many poor there are, how much our GDP is, or the value of the dollar. The means with which we get there matter as well. And I believe the kind of socialist and/or communist ideas that michael moore dishonestly portrays and supports do not have a just means – however well intentioned they may be.

I also don’t think they will result in more real work for individuals…the kind of work that dignifies the human person. But that’s a different discussion.

Thank you for your thoughts, sir!

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