Review of Michael Moore's "Where to Invade Next," a movie about people being good


#1

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#2

Of course, these three things (capitalism, exceptionalism, and fear of humanity) are linked in one central American ideology:

Fundamentalist Protestantism.

Can some necromancer resurrect Max Weber for me? Thanks.


#3

I have seen the same things he is trying to espouse about certain European countries. He’s right. However, what’s missing is that these countries are much MUCH smaller in physical size than the U.S. And as a result taxes on people are extremely high to pay for things good people enjoy: schools, transportation, health care, etc. Better quality of life equates, in my opinion, better people.

It would be interesting to take a U.S. state, say West Virginia, and apply the things that make people “good” in Moores’ opinion.


#4

I think this is missing a sort of tribalism inherent in less homogenous countries.

It’s not that America thinks it’s people are “bad,” but rather each ethnic/religious/racial/class group thinks they are good, but the rest are bad. It’s this idea that “my good group” could do those things, but since we have to include those “bad” groups, we can’t have those nice things. E.G., my kids would use the time freed up by not having homework productively (or at least non-destructively) but those “others” would get involved in crime, drugs, etc., so we need these “prisons.”

And I think you see this happening in other countries as they become less homogenous too. The social welfare state was great back when everyone here were Fins, Danes, Germans, whatever, but now that there’s these “others” here, they’re “abusing” the system, so we gotta make changes (and/or kick them out, or at the very least stop them from coming in.)

I’m American, but related to many Canadians, all Irish/Scottish/English backgrounds, and over the past few years I’ve seen a lot of them start changing from, “Our health care/education system is awesome!” to “Why are my taxes paying for services for those no good middle eastern/african/whatever immigrants?” and more and more of them are becoming more open to ideas of privatizing / dismantling various social programs. Whereas they were once fond of their money going towards the betterment of the group, they now think too much of that group is unlike themselves, and would now prefer each just use their own money on themselves, collective programs be damned.

In short, people like “collective” programs when they like the collective itself (i.e., when it’s made up of people like them), and start to dislike it and turn against it, the less that “collective” looks like the “tribe” they self-identify with. They then begin to distrust the collective system, convinced that it has become (or will become) for those other “tribes” to mooch off yours.


#5

PS. I’m not saying this thought process is right, or justified, rather, that it exists. Personally, I believe that this way of thinking is bad, but it happens.


#6

The amount of jealous rage I feel when an adult has to have debt explained to them is insane.


#7

I don’t buy this. The prison situation is because of America’s prison-industrial complex. America has privatized many of it’s prisons, they’re run for profit, and so there’s a lot of money spent influencing politicians to ensure that the courts send more people to prison. This even happens with children.


#8

Also the prison prisons. Can’t forget about those.


#9

I think it has to be a language issue. There’s no way anybody could have graduated from high school without learning about credits and debits.


#10

Looking forward to it.

I have a love/hate relationship with Moore. I really liked his early stuff and his satire stuff. In the past it seemed he had a point to make, would do it in a witty and funny manner, and let the audience sort of make up their own minds while nudging them towards his own conclusions.

His later work pretty much comes off as a political shill putting out propaganda with a much more lopsided presentations.


#11

I try to be optimistic - but then this happens…

But also I’d like to point out, this isn’t exclusive to one side of the political spectrum. I think that it applies to the left and the right, they just disagree who the bad people are.


#12

I think thse are all very good points, but I think that there is an equally strong current in America that “I should get to be in control of my own destiny, and allowing the government to take care of me is wrong.”

When I ask my intelligent Republican uncle why he doesn’t want universal healthcare, he doesn’t say a word about other people abusing the system or using his tax dollars, he says “do you want to live in a world where everything in your life is controlled by the government, or do you want control over your life?”

Likewise, when we look at “What’s the matter with Kansas”-type narratives, where people keep voting for Republicans even though they are greatly supported by the state and Democratic policies, you see people angry not only at the lay-abouts who abuse the system, but they are angry at themselves for needing support, and the government that has somehow failed them by making support available (while taking away jobs, or whatever).

I think @Daedalus had the right idea above: there’s anger at other groups using the system, yes, but there’s also a Fundamentalist Protestant idea of being your own man, lifting yourself by your bootstraps, that simply having a hard work ethic will get you far, etc etc etc, that I think is at play here. I think it’s part of the founding myths of our country, and also very much part of the ethic that the first two hundred years of immigrants and pioneers brought with them. It would take a lot to undo that, I think.


#13

Dog thieves are people, too, and are people just as good and moral as you or I. They’re people making mistakes. Not fundamentally awful people.

It does apply to all human beings, but differently.

The thing is that humans are quick to categorize other humans as not worth of love and respect as human beings. Once you do that, you’re making many of the things that this documentary celebrates impossible, because you fail to embrace the essential humanity of even those people who do horrible things. If you reject the notion that you and a dognapper are morally on about the same level, you can’t embrace some of these solutions.

You can see it manifest all over the world. In the US, Protestantism is a big dividing line. In Europe, there’s the issue of Syrian refugees and the insular nature of many of the countries. In China, you’ve got people who are loyal to the Party, and people who aren’t (well, if you’re allowed to discuss those people).

No matter how often it pops up, the idea that other human beings are not people worthy of love and respect is always wrong, and this movie seems to be offering up a dismantling of particularly American notions of how people become un-people. Which is fitting for Michael Moore - he’s always at his best when he’s humanizing people that others have dehumanized.


#14

Yeah, he’s not as good when he tries to be funny-ha-ha, but shines a lot brighter in the “isn’t this funny?” moments.


#15

More like the concept of Good and Evil has poisoned the american dream.


#16

Eh… not everyone who does bad things is a bad person. There are, indeed, horrible people people out there.


#17

why are higher taxes a result of smaller physical sizes?


#18

That right there - that fear - that’s the thing that stops America from having many of the things this doc looks to celebrate.

My favorite go-to for this is the Bible, since it’s not a place you might expect to find this idea, but for me, the whole judge not lest ye be judged and the let he who is without sin cast the first stone and the let me call no man unclean message is all about this: other human beings don’t have the authority to remove the essential humanity of each other. Every attempt to do so is a display of pride and arrogance and hubris.

There are people who do bad things. There are people who are ignorant or who don’t think about the harm they’re causing. There are a few people who are mentally ill in some respect and who lack the capacity for empathizing with others.

None of those people are horrible people. Sick, yes, broken, yes, in severe need of being isolated from those they can harm, absolutely, but unworthy of the fundamental love and respect we should have for other human beings? I don’t see the evidence for believing that.


#19

While I am overall optimistic that people are good. And understanding that some people do bad things or make bad choices for various reason… eh. No. There are some people who are irreparable and their actions have voided their place in society. History has extreme examples, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc. But there are many lesser knowns who have committed horrible acts. Some might be sick to a degree. Some know what they are doing, they just like doing it. I have no problem saying these people should be launched into the sun.

Now - these are a very small percentage of the number of people we are actually punishing. And I agree with the overall sentiment that people are basically good, basically the same all over the world - everyone just trying to make their way in a positive manner.


#20

From my POV, the USA is both extremely densely populated and awash in natural resources to a ludicrous degree.

If you want to use the expense of low population density / geographic distance as an excuse for lacking public services, try central Australia. The USA doesn’t even come close.