While a lot of it made sense, a lot of it was also pretty ludicrous. That said, I was only half paying attention for much of it, but maybe that’s the best way to watch it?
The Zeitgeist series of documentaries investigates the global economy and how it’s linked with global politics. Moving Forward is the latest installment, and discusses human nature, monetary systems, and alternative systems.
Anyone who has even a moderate interest in markets and economics will know that, in general, the current system of corporatism and consumerism cannot last forever, due to limitations of resources. Take, for example, the idea of building houses in what was the ever-growing property bubble. That bubble burst. Why? Lack of resources: a lack of people to actually buy and accommodate the properties, and a lack of funds for many homeowners to repay the debt that their homes secured.
Oil is another example. We know oil (and, indeed, other fossil fuels) is going to run out. Oil-dependent industries will go bust, as will the global oil trade, which is already quote profitable. Just look at the price of a litre of fuel in your local service station.
So anyway. Moving Forward explains this – something most of us are at least aware of – to an extent, but ‘tabloids’ it. Basic economic and market rules and assumptions are made out to be something of a conspiracy, when really they’re no such thing. It’s no secret that large and profitable corporations can and do influence governments in order to ensure that they continue stay in existence and in business.
However, the film seems to ignore the “middle ground”. While it focuses on the polarity between massive corporations and the poverty-stricken lower classes, there is little to no acknowledgement of what I’ll call middle-class industry: shop owners, doctors, nurses, local businesses, teachers, self-employed people.
In the middle of the documentary I was greeted with an idealised society about how cities should be laid out, how industry should operate, and how the economy should work to provide better lives for the people living within it. This is all well and good, but Moving Forward fails to explain how all the resources for such a drastic change would be acquired. Like the metal that’d be required for the magnetic trains that transport people around this ring-shaped city. Where does that come from? In reality, it comes from mines. Those mines need to be.. well, mined. Who does that? More machines? Ultimately, the resources for anything like this are acquired by people. People are required to design and build the machines that get the resources, whether they be miners, scientists, engineers, business owners, or whatever.
In true tabloid fashion, the film is closed with an fantasised situation where regular people are faced with police outside a bank. Knowing that their capitalist attitude is no longer tenable, the men at the top order the police to stand down. Cue news reports of people withdrawing money from their accounts and of “trillions” being piled outside central banks worldwide.
If only it were that easy.
That said, Moving Forward is entertaining, as are its counterparts in the Zeitgeist series. For better or worse, it takes concepts and ideas and condenses them down into bitesize chunks. It will certainly give you some ideas to think about (particularly regarding debt and interest), but overall it’s nothing new, and is, again, tabloid-y.
Maybe just as well I only half paid attention.