Prof.'s doc cracks capitalism, draws over 60,000 views

The chaos in Toronto during the 2010 G20 Summit was not surprising to Professor Michael Truscello but did provide a launching point for his political documentary, Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity.

The title is intended as a response to popular rhetoric following the 2008 financial crisis, when it was declared that capitalism was "in" crisis and needed to be fixed.

Truscello believes capitalism needs to be abolished.

In 2010, the second-year English and general education professor was teaching at Wilfrid Laurier University in Southern Ontario. At the time, he was involved with an anarchist group in Hamilton called Common Cause.

Edmonton premiere
Truscello's documentary premiered at the Garneau Theatre in Edmonton this past fall.

Thus he embarked on an 18-month journey into the heart of capitalism in the modern world.

As a first-time film-maker, the process was more difficult and expensive than Truscello had expected. He is grateful for the cross-disciplinary collaboration of MRU Journalism's Head of Video Production Brian Pshyk who helped him with the production.

His efforts and the quality of his commentary have resulted in the documentary developing a cult following across Canada after being premiered in Edmonton and Victoria and other cities internationally.

"I got started around the time when there was a lot of talk about austerity being imposed on industrialized countries," explains Truscello.

"It appeared to be a momentous shift in the way capitalism functions, so I thought I'd take some time to talk to people who are experts in that area and explore what it might mean for Canadians and the future of our capitalist society.

"I was also stunned by the lack of popular response to the 2008 bank bailouts, the largest theft of public money in history"

Truscello drove to Toronto during the G20 Summit to get footage and talk to activists and experts who were drawn to the event. That particular event ultimately played a large role in the film's development.

"That was pretty much the place G8/G20 governments announced they were going to implement an expedited austerity policy worldwide. It's really after that that I saw some tangible effects as healthcare and education were cut back to pay for the crimes of the investment banks in the United States."

During his journey's across Canada, where he spoke to many people on the topic of austerity, Truscello found that more people than he realized were unaware of the depths of the crime committed by investment banks in the United States and the subsequent bailout of those banks.

"The fraudulent bailout of the big banks in the US totaled about $29 trillion, according to the most recent estimate" says Truscello.

This bailout was a major concept in his documentary, as health care,education, other social programs and working class peoplesuffered for the crimes committed by these investment banks.

"They asked working people to pay for crimes committed by these large investment banks. It's really a stunning turnaround, to commit fraud on that level and then demand working people to pay for it. It's a shocking story and I'm not sure how many people actually grasp the full implications of it."

Truscello notes that the Occupy Wall Street movement was aiming to do just what his documentary was aimed at - change society's response and perspective on predatory capitalism.

The documentary has more than 63,000 views on youtube.

As a member of the academic community, Truscello notes that students - tomorrow's generation of leaders and difference-makers - will be tremendously impacted by the austerity agenda, as they take on record levels of debt to afford a university education.

"For MRU students, there should be a considerable amount of interest in this austerity agenda considering that there is more student debt in the United States than consumer debt, for the first time ever, and Canada is heading in that direction.

"The current system is destroying their career and economic prospects while inflating their cost to get an education, in addition to a variety of other forms of oppression propagated by capitalism." .

As the documentary developed, the evidence to support his theories snowballed. But Truscello opted not to use the film to propose one solution or specific answer to society's aliments; he advocated for anti-capitalist principles and forms of direct action..

"I didn't want to put forward a very specific platform, because I'm more interested in anti-capitalist groups working together instead of carving out further sectarian divisions that tend to split the left. So, I took some of the comments from the people I interviewed and assembled a set of ideas I think are worth promoting."

And he hopes those ideas resonate with people.

- Steven Noble, Jan. 19, 2012