Where to Invade Next

Where to Invade Next, 2016. Directed by Michael Moore.

Beginning with a lament for traditional war and what it has failed to win its greatest student and practitioner (the United States), Michael Moore imagines a new type of deployment. He will travel to various lands, study and steal successful ideas, and bring them back to the US, so they can be implemented through the power of the people and thus make America a healthier, happier, nobler nation.

Moore’s hit list includes countries such as Italy, France, Slovenia, Norway, Germany, Portugal, Finland, Iceland, and Tunisia. His discoveries range from cheap, healthy chef prepared food for schoolchildren, free college education for all (including foreigners), prisons, policing and legal systems that put human dignity above all else, play based education and empowerment of students in their education (ie. Finland has the most educated children in the world, yet they attend school for half the time, have no/little homework and no standardized tests), corporate governance that requires significant percentages of workers or a minimum of 40% of each sex on the board, vast amounts of legislated paid holidays, legislated equal rights and representation for women.

One inured to the American/Canadian way, will think providing such public goods is fiscally impossible. Who pays for it all? In each case the benefit of proactively sculpting a happy, healthy, intelligent, community minded populace pays for itself by avoiding the higher cost effects of crime and systemic poor health and depression. Also countries who learn to solve their problems by respecting and talking to each other spend a lot less on war. Taxes are slightly higher but some countries detail precisely where each bit of one’s tax dollars have gone. If the US did this, folks would see on every paycheck that 59% of their tax is going to the military (already multiple times more powerful than any other force in the world—and yet essentially ineffective), while 2% or less goes to areas such as science, and education. In fact Americans who want to receive health care and college education will already be paying more “tax” than those who live in a countries where these are provided as a public service.

Canada (also due to its privileging of corporations over people) comes off looking more similar to America than to Europe, so it gives us much to think about.

While the documentary is insightful, it will be easily dismissed as left-wing propaganda by those who are comfortable in their armchairs. Others will find a little fire ignited in their soul, a fresh desire to travel to foreign lands and have their minds opened to what other people see as normal. There are many ways to live and what we see as normal may become unsatisfying if we dare to see the world from new perspectives.

Kudos to Moore on this loving, insightful film.