Capitalism has been the engine of unprecedented economic growth and social transformation. With the fall of the communist states and the triumph of “neo- liberalism,” capitalism is by far the world’s dominant ideology. But how much do we understand about how it originated, and what makes it work?
CAPITALISM is an ambitious and accessible six-part documentary series that looks at both the history of ideas and the social forces that have shaped the capitalist world.
Blending interviews with some of the world’s great historians, economists, anthropologists, and social critics (view the complete list of participants), with on-the-ground footage shot in twenty-two countries, CAPITALISM questions the myth of the unfettered free market, explores the nature of debt and commodities, and retraces some of the great economic debates of the last 200 years.
Each fifty-two minute episode is designed to stand alone, making these ideal for classroom use or as an additional resource for students:
Episode 1: Adam Smith, The Birth of the Free Market
Capitalism is much more complex than the vision Adam Smith laid out in The Wealth of Nations. Indeed, it predates Smith by centuries and took root in the practices of colonialism and the slave trade.
Episode 2: The Wealth of Nations: A New Gospel?
Adam Smith was both economist and moral philosopher. But his work on morality is largely forgotten, leading to tragic distortions that have shaped our global economic system.
Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?
The roots of today’s global trade agreements lie in the work of stockbroker David Ricardo and demographer Thomas Malthus. Together, they would restructure society in the image of the market.
Episode 4: What If Marx Was Right?
Have we gotten Marx wrong by focusing on the Communist Manifesto instead of on his critique of how capitalism works – a critique that is relevant and as penetrating as ever?
Episode 5: Keynes vs Hayek: A Fake Debate?
The ideological divide between the philosophies of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek has dominated economics for nearly a century. Is it time for the pendulum to swing back to Keynes? Or do we need a whole new approach that goes beyond this dualism?
Episode 6: Karl Polanyi, The Human Factor
An exploration of the life and work of Karl Polanyi, who sought to reintegrate society and economy. Could the commodification of labour and money ultimately be as disastrous as floods, drought and earthquakes?
CAPITALISM is an impressive series that makes economics accessible through an interdisciplinary approach that explores the work of great thinkers, while embedding economics in specific social, political, and historical contexts. The series can be watched as a whole, but each episode also stands alone.
The series features some of the world’s top economists, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, including Thomas Piketty, Noam Chomsky, Yanis Varoufakis, Nicholas Phillipson, Kari Polanyi Levitt, David Graeber, and Abraham Rotstein. View the complete list of storytellers.
One of the ten best programs in France in 2014.
“I’m both captivated and persuaded by the discourse… Demystifies both key economic theories and their selective evolutions and perversions into marketing slogans and other deceptive catchphrases, each chapter has a cleansing and clarifying effect.” —Cinema Scope
“A captivating epic… a major contribution to economic and social reflection.” —Le Monde
“Offers a fresh perspective of the events and ideas that set the stage for free markets. Carefully researched and comprehensive… Highly recommended.” —Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)
“Brings clarity to confusion, makes complexities accessible, and produces a clear narrative of a system that seems opaque to most people.” —Journal du Dimanche
“Masterly… is going to revolutionize our vision of the economic world.” —La Vie
“In first look CAPITALISM seems like the economics class you should have skipped…. but in a second look CAPITALISM is the seminar that you must take in the second semester … the point of view is very different and surprising, the result is an impressive, visually rich series.” —Israel HaYom
“Should not be missed! Combines highly educational explanations of concepts, economic history and contemporary life, to create a series of documentaries, each of which it is difficult to stop watching!” —Alternatives Economiques
“10 Stars! A truly captivating series that delves into history, philosophy, investigates four corners of the planet, and stimulates the viewer with a re-examination of the basic concepts that define our lives.” —Globes
“Supremely intelligent and briskly entertaining.” —CounterPunch
“Hats off to director Ilan Ziv for attempting the difficult, perhaps thankless, task of creating a film history of capitalism… This series is full of insights and revelations.” —Movie Habit
“This elegant and intelligent six-part series from filmmaker Ilan Ziv provides a history of capitalism—both as an economic system and as theory. Capitalism combines archival material, insightful graphics, and interviews with a large group of scholars, including highly influential author Thomas Piketty. Presenting a judicious, informed overview of one of the world’s leading economic systems, this is highly recommended.” —Video Librarian