All of John Pilger's films are excellent and worth watching. The oldest pick in this list explores some of the older history of our economic policies to reveal some truly paradigm-disturbing insights. The film highlights the fact that the problems addressed by OWS are not new by any measure, but are rooted deeply in a global system which has, as a matter of policy and design, consistently robbed the third world to enrich the first. This is a hard truth to accept, but Pilger backs up his claims with world-class journalism and professionalism.
8. Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011)
"Moving Forward presents the case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. The film aims to filter out issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology so that we can examine the core, empirical life ground attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws to propose a new sustainable social paradigm called a Resource-Based Economy."
Of special interest to OWS is the middle section of the film, which critiques the fundamental problems inherent in our monetary/market-based system, and which offers one of the deepest analyses of the big picture perspective on the global crisis yet seen. It also proposes a logical alternative to the monetary paradigm, if we were to rethink how our system works from the ground up. The film asks: what would a true civilization look like - a world without war, hierarchy, or poverty? Would competition really be the driving force of a civilized society, or would it be cooperation?
"The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives."
6. (Tie) Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Politics (2009)
"The definitive documentary explaining the influence of money on politics by Jonathan Shockley. The film is based on Thomas Ferguson's book Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.
Golden Rule does an excellent job of exposing several myths behind the terms free market, capitalism, socialism, and democracy. For instance, since the "golden age of capitalism" in the 1950s, productivity has more than doubled, and yet wages have stayed the same and most people are working more hours, not less. At the same time, all of our productivity gains have gone to the owners of capital (the 1%). If capitalist markets benefited all people and not just the top 1% then most Americans today would be able to support a family on one income and work only half the year. Most people would agree that more leisure time and a middle-class standard of living would be progress, yet capitalist markets prevent this. Labor must keep working harder and harder to compete against other firms or else they'll be out-competed, meanwhile the full value of their work is robbed to create "profit" for the owners. True free markets do not require coercion, and our capitalist system has always relied on the state's use of force to maintain the wealth and power inequalities between labor and capital.
Another example 60 minutes in: both America and Stalin's Russia has called his regime a socialist system, but for different reasons. America called Stalin's dictatorship a socialist system because it wanted to defame and demonize socialism. Stalin called his government socialist because that was a popular and celebrated term in Europe, despite totalitarian control having nothing to do with true, democratic socialism. In truth, as Noam Chomsky points out, the people of Russia had no control over the means of production and were essentially slaves. It would be the same as if Stalin came to power in America, created a fascist police state, used coercive force to protect criminal banks, evict people unjustly from their homes, suppress protest and break up unions, then lavished massive subsidies on big companies, gave tax breaks to the rich and allowed many corporations like GE to pay nothing in taxes, and then proudly called this a free-market system. This is the hypocrisy of our own country, which is victimized by our own form of propaganda as profound as the propaganda of Stalin's Russia or communist China.
6. (Tie) Capitalism IS the Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity (2011)
"The 2008 "financial crisis" in the United States was a systemic fraud in which the wealthy finance capitalists stole trillions of public dollars. No one was jailed for this crime, the largest theft of public money in history. Instead, the rich forced working people across the globe to pay for their "crisis" through punitive "austerity" programs that gutted public services and repealed workers' rights. Austerity was named "Word of the Year" for 2010. This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future. Special attention is devoted to the crisis in Greece, the 2010 G20 Summit protest in Toronto, Canada, and the remarkable surge of solidarity in Madison, Wisconsin."
Capitalism Is the Crisis goes beyond common causes such as greed or corruption to name the enemy of our society's problems as capitalism itself - that the very organization of our economic system and our relationships to people and the planet are flawed at a basic level. To accept this premise one must understand fully what capitalism is. It is not a "free market" or free-enterprise system, but has always relied on and been coupled with the force of a powerful state to maintain a differential advantage. As Kevin Carson writes in his essay The Iron Fist Behind the Invisible Hand, "Capitalism was founded on an act of robbery as massive as feudalism. It has been sustained to the present by continual state intervention to protect its system of privilege, without which its survival is unimaginable."