Film review: Where to Invade Next (2015)

I went to see the film Where to Invade Next yesterday and it confirmed my view that Michael Moore is one of the most important American makers of documentaries. He is unabashedly political but manages to mix his messages with humor and that is what makes him different. The film is very cheerful and hopeful, that we can do better than we do.

Moore looks at the practices of other countries that benefit almost everyone and that they take for granted but are viewed as unthinkable in the US. The film focused on education, creating good working conditions with salaries that people can live on and good benefits, humane prison systems, prosecuting bankers and not drug users, increased role of women in politics, and the importance of honestly remembering the mistakes of our past.

I was particularly moved by his examination of educational and prison systems. What we do to our children and prisoners seem so barbaric by comparison.

As Joseph A. Palermo writes:

Moore dispels the myths about how horribly the Europeans are taxed by showing: 1). They aren’t taxed that much more than Americans anyway — especially when factoring in the out-of- pocket expenses for basic services we pay; and 2). They get so much more from their governments than we do.

The movie ends on a positive note. But it’s still a heartbreaking movie for any American to watch who hasn’t completely lost his or her grasp of the meaning of human dignity. At a time when Hillary Clinton and countless political commentators are telling us that this country is incapable of fundamental change it’s great to see Michael Moore pointing the way forward through another excellent and provocative film.

The United States has so much to learn from the way people in other countries live but is too busy straddling the globe as a military colossus to take notice. It’s impossible not to feel envious of the people Moore interviews in the film whose lives contrast so starkly with our own, which makes his critique of American capitalism all the more devastating.

Moore acknowledges that he was only picking out the flowers of other countries, looking at the things they do well and not at their problems. But the question that he asks is provocative: What prevents the US from adopting those same practices? The answer is obvious: Making things better for most people requires reducing inequality but in the US the right of a tiny minority to make vast amounts of money is not challenged.

Here’s the trailer.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    in the US the right of a tiny minority to make vast amounts of money is not challenged.

    I think the real issue is that most USAians don’t understand the vast gulf that exists between an Upper Middle Class household and a billionaire’s household.
    Most Lower and Middle Class people aspire to be Upper Middle Class, and that’s fine. it encourages us to work harder and improve our educations. But when Lower and Middle Class people look at a quite reasonable situation of only taxing estates in excess of $5,000,000 and even in those case exempting such taxes in the case of transfer to a spouse or a recognized charity and they somehow conclude that this is beyond the pale, is totally nuts! Give me a $6 million legacy and tax the last million of it? Please, be my guest! I’ll be out shopping for my new Tesla.

  2. Dave Huntsman says

    I was pleasantly surprised by the movie; I thought going in it would be just a rant. But he handled it well, even found a way to keep it light while being serious; and I learned from it. It also got me at least questioning a couple of things I’ve believed. For example: I’d heard about rules/quotas in Germany for worker representations on boards, and always thought to legislate that had only downsides. Likewise, the quotas in Iceland on gender rations on boards; i.e., they can’t be more than 60/40 in either direction, or else something is probably wrong. Listening to the explanations for both has got me at least questioning my beliefs. Which is good.

  3. says

    A friend recommended your blog today. In an odd coincidence -- or a conspiracy of socialists who wish to destroy Our Great Country -- I came upon your recommendation for this movie, which I haven’t seen. Oddly enough, I’d watched my own copies of “The Big One” and “Capitalism: A Love Story” just this morning. Hmmmm. So thank you: I’ll mosey over to Amazon to buy this one.

    Coming from the Middle-Prole class and lower, I wonder if the Middle Class has any idea of the vast gulf which exists between our households, particularly since unions don’t exist, and theirs, not to mention what late, great, Paul Fussell called the “destitute” and “bottom out-of-sight” classes. (If you don’t read his book, “Class,” you’re denying yourself a witty and incisive book. Since he’s dead, look for the free .pdf available on line.) They can’t work any harder, and improving their educations often means being the first one in their family to be graduated from high school. Politicians don’t talk about them at all. It appears that many Americans believe they’re eligible for SNAP or Medicaid, when they aren’t. You might find Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, “Nickled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” interesting. It’s short, and written in a less muckraking way than she typically does. It’s also available free on line as a .pdf for anyone who believes living authors shouldn’t get royalties. She probably won’t mind.

  4. smrnda says

    In terms of what people have in other countries, I wonder how much your average USians really knows about anything going on outside of the US? It’d be fairly tough for people in Denmark to be ignorant of what goes on in the Netherlands, Germany, of France or Sweden or Norway -- they’re all pretty close by. But most USians seem both fairly ignorant, and either incapable or unwilling to fact check. US politicians love to talk about how great the US is (compared to say, Mexico, or perhaps Syria) but it’s pretty much ‘we’re not the bottom!’ Aside from that, if you tell an average American that Europe has socialized medicine death panels, and that every educated person there is fleeing for the entreprenurial friendly US they’ll believe it. You see this method employed by various conservative think tanks who will provide various “Europe sucks” analysis. (Of note -- I live in Germany part of the year, and Munich, one city in this European socialized place had a lower unemployment rate than much of the US. Of course, even though I’ve cited stats and been there, I run into commenters online who will argue with me.)

  5. StevoR says

    Michael Moore can actually be quite good at times. Haven’t seen this but from what I grok of it from the trailer and what I’ve read incl. here, it sounds pretty interesting.

    Moore is at times brilliant -- loved ‘Bowling for Columbine’ but he is also extremely biased and gets a few things wrong. As we all do but still. Seen a few of his movies and the TV show -- incl. the episode(s) where he ran a ficus plant for office* -- plus read some of his books so, yeah. he’s not bad. Wouldn’t take what he says as gospel (Hah! So to speak!) but does seem potentially worth watching.

    Still prefer his Late Sky At Night science star namesake though!

    * Congress specifically back in 2000 :

  6. Friendly says

    Since he’s dead, look for the free .pdf available on line.

    Just because he’s dead is no reason to rip off his heirs.

    It’s also available free on line as a .pdf for anyone who believes living authors shouldn’t get royalties. She probably won’t mind.

    If you can’t afford a book that’s not in the public domain, try to work with your local library to get a reading copy. Please don’t steal it.

  7. Holms says

    It’s also available free on line as a .pdf for anyone who believes living authors shouldn’t get royalties.

    …What? So, if the author is dead: get it for free; if the author is alive: get it for free. A strange rubric.

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