Naomi Klein Interviews Michael Moore on the Perils of Capitalism
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And I think that those things that he believes in are still there. Now, it's kind of up to him.
If he's going to listen to the [Robert] Rubins and the [Tim] Geithners and the [Robert] Summerses, you and I lose. And a lot of people who have gotten involved, many of them for the first time, won't get involved again.
He will have done more to destroy what needs to happen in this country in terms of people participating in their democracy. So I hope he understands the burden that he's carrying and does the right thing.
NK: Well, I want to push you a little bit on this, because I understand what you're saying about the way he's lived his life and certainly the character he appears to have. But he is the person who appointed Summers and Geithner, who you're very appropriately hard on in the film.
And one year later, he hasn't reined in Wall Street. He reappointed [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke. He's not just appointed Summers but has given him an unprecedented degree of power for a mere economic adviser.
MM: And meets with him every morning.
NK: Exactly. So what I worry about is this idea that we're always psychoanalyzing Obama, and the feeling I often hear from people is that he's being duped by these guys. But these are his choices, and so why not judge him on his actions and really say, "This is on him, not on them"?
MM: I agree. I don't think he is being duped by them; I think he's smarter than all of them.
When he first appointed them, I had just finished interviewing a bank robber who didn't make it into the film, but he is a bank robber who is hired by the big banks to advise them on how to avoid bank robberies.
So in order to not sink into a deep, dark pit of despair, I said to myself that night, That's what Obama's doing. Who better to fix the mess than the people who created it? He's bringing them in to clean up their own mess. Yeah, yeah. That's it. That's it. Just keep repeating it: "There's no place like home, there's no place like home ..."
NK: And now it turns out they were just being brought in to keep stealing.
MM: Right. So now it's on him.
NK: All right. Let's talk about the film some more.
I saw you on [Jay] Leno, and I was struck that one of his first questions to you was this objection -- that it's greed that's evil, not capitalism. And this is something that I hear a lot -- this idea that greed or corruption is somehow an aberration from the logic of capitalism rather than the engine and the centerpiece of capitalism.
And I think that that's probably something you're already hearing about the terrific sequence in the film about those corrupt Pennsylvania judges who were sending kids to private prison and getting kickbacks. I think people would say, "That's not capitalism, that's corruption."
Why is it so hard to see the connection, and how are you responding to this?
MM: Well, people want to believe that it's not the economic system that's at the core of all this. You know, it's just a few bad eggs. But the fact of the matter is that, as I said to Jay, capitalism is the legalization of this greed.
Greed has been with human beings forever. We have a number of things in our species that you would call the dark side, and greed is one of them. If you don't put certain structures in place or restrictions on those parts of our being that come from that dark place, then it gets out of control.