Jon Schwarz, a former Moore staffer, reviews Michael Moore's first movie in six years, "Where to Invade Next," which Schwarz calls Moore's "most subversive movie."
The movie features Moore going around the world, visiting countries whose public institutions defy American norms of punishment, testing, and mistrust — and thrive. As the trailer says, "The American Dream seems to be alive and well everywhere except America."
By the end of Where to Invade Next — after seeing working-class Italians with two months paid vacation, Finnish schools with no homework and the world's best test scores, Slovenians going to college for free, and women seizing unprecedented power in Tunisia and Iceland — you may realize that the entire movie is about how other countries have dismantled the prisons in which Americans live: prison-like schools and workplaces, debtor's prisons in order to pay for college, prisons of social roles for women, and the mental prison of refusing to face our own history.
You'll also perceive clearly why we've built these prisons. It's because the core ideology of the United States isn't capitalism, or American exceptionalism, but something even deeper: People are bad. People are so bad that they have to be constantly controlled and threatened with punishment, and if they get a moment of freedom they'll go crazy and ruin everything.
The secret message of Where to Invade Next is that America's had it wrong all along about human beings. You and I aren't bad. All the people around us aren't bad. It's okay to get high, or get sick, or for teenagers to spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to bonk each other. If regular people get control over their own lives, they'll use it wisely rather than burning the country down in a festival of mindless debauchery.
"WHERE TO INVADE NEXT" IS THE MOST SUBVERSIVE MOVIE MICHAEL MOORE HAS EVER MADE
[Jon Schwarz/The Intercept]