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System Error

6.91 h 36 min2018ALL
Politicians, economists and the media are obsessed with economic growth. But why do we still cling to this concept? Infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. Award-winning director Florian Opitz examines the fundamentals of capitalism, revealing the pathological nature of the current system. He also examines the continuing impact of Karl Marx as an analyst of capitalism.
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English [CC]
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3.4 out of 5 stars

30 global ratings

  1. 40% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 20% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 11% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 22% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Andrew RussellReviewed in the United Kingdom on 01 March 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
A shallow critique of capitalism
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System Error uses a lot of apposite quotations from Karl Marx and relies heavily on the contributions of Tim Jackson, an academic from the not terribly distinguished University of Surrey - he supports the Green Party, and approvingly quotes Gramsci at the end of the documentary.
There are many things to say about the economic system we have and how it's run, but using Marx as our guide - a man whose writings inspired some of the most lethal "societies" the world has ever seen - is perverse. Thomas Sowell would be an infinitely wiser guide, but that would rather destroy the entire premise of the film, which is that constant growth is not possible in a finite world. One receives the distinct impression of snobbish distaste for an economic system which provides an unimaginably high standard of living today.
The reliance on China is not an indicator of capitalism - it is a totalitarian country with no domestic market, but provides vast quantities of the things we in the West use every day. This is clearly not a good idea, but governments are very keen to engage with China (Britain's recent deal with Huawei, for example, not to mention Britain's frankly insane decision to give China the contracts for building nuclear power plants).
Sowell would provide the three questions that are never asked in this film: 1) Okay, capitalism is terrible - compared to what? Where is it better? What do you replace it with? 2) What would be the cost of the change from the economic system we have now to one that is allegedly "more equal" or "more just"? By cost I mean the drastic changes that would have to take place - if you want to live in a carbon neutral society by 2050 or earlier, do you have any idea what this would mean in practice? 3) Finally, what hard evidence is there for this critique?
Thirty years after the fall of communism, the Left is hoping that a new generation who have never experienced it will see it as the future. It will begin very nobly with loud declarations of concern for the poor - and end in a giant camp where what you say and what you think, let alone what you do, is regulated to insane levels of control.
I give the documentary three stars because I think the subject is critically important, but you don't need to be a fan of Donald Trump to disagree with the premise. There are alternatives around the world - theocracies, dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. But judging by this critique, you'd think capitalism was worse than all of them put together.
25 people found this helpful
MichaelReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 May 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
This documentary exposes the pathological mental state of the rich and powerful
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Listening to the folks in this documentary who claim that capitalism is the only system possible and that we can go on exploiting finite resources makes it clear that they are deluded, foolish or just simply desperate members of a dangerous cult who are prepared to destroy the planet to satisfy their pathological greed for greater wealth and power.

All their talk about raising the standard of living for all and making the world a better, more democratic place is simply an attempt to disguise their pathology.
5 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 01 November 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
A critique without a solution
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Other commentators have mentioned the weaknesses of this programme's critique of Capitalism, the key weakness was the lack of positing an alternative if Capitalism is such a bad system. Perhaps the liberal quotes from Marx imply the programme maker thinks Marxism is the alternative, well history has shown that every nation that's been tried has failed. The premise of the programme seems confused. It is a programme notionally about economic growth yet is really a critique of the system the entire world now operates under. They fail to explore past industrial revolutions and how people were indeed put out of work but a greater variety of work was created with greater number of people employed. The next industrial revolution will likely do the same.
It is a very shallow critique of capitalism with someone who clearly has an axe to grind. Worth watching though if you have time doing something else and can tolerate the frustration the programme will leave you with because it is so shallow and polemical.
One person found this helpful
MARK HARRISReviewed in the United Kingdom on 02 April 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
good to know worth watching
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shallow...yes at less than 2 hours to understand global issues perhaps that is understandable
understandable....yes the issues are simple as stated smile enough for a schoolchild pyramid selling always works for the few but it is a mathematical illusion thats why its outlawed
capitalism, I think saying its broken but its better than the alternative has been said before it is not an answer
does(at least to me) suggest that ideas and data are important for effective control processes and labelling fake news, attacking the ideas of other and degrading institutions helps tricksters and film flam artists who produce little of real worth keep on the ride for a few more years. phew apologies for bad grammar spelling maybe I'll try religion for something to believe in.
4 people found this helpful
Clifford Adrian RutleyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 October 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
If you're a Marxist you'll love this!
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If you're a Marxist you will love this! He is often quoted in this journey against capitalism and all the progress it has given the world. The narrator constantly tries to sell the impression that capitalism is doomed because we live on a finite world with finite resources. But he fails to see the solutions hidden in his own rhetoric. He also keeps going back to images from the ISS (I think he does this to try and emphasise 'Mother Earth's' limitations to us). However, the answer to his own questions sits there in front of us for those who are wise enough to see it. And that is, growth will continue to happen because we aren't limited to a single planet any more. The future of growth and capitalism is out there! Ask Elon Musk and Jeff Bazos themselves... That's why they're throwing so much 'capital' into it.
alvisingerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 January 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Balanced portrayal of modern culture
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The interviews with different business leaders was very interesting, captured the modern mentality to growth. I'm already aware of the environmental challenges that will inevitably curtail or reverse growth but this isn't touched on so much. Just very interesting to see that when it comes to global warming, the extinction of species, landfill, polluting the oceans, addressing poverty etc, that there is basically no appetite to address these issues meaningfully. The people up top want to ride the gravy train forever no matter what.
2 people found this helpful
Filipe VilacaReviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 October 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good analysis on capitalism
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I loved to watch this documentary, it simply explains an undeniable fact that you cannot expect infinite growth on a finite earth.
The only thing that it was missing was talking about solutions.
And for the one star reviewers if you still believe in the balance of the market you are obviously clueless to what is happening in the world.
2 people found this helpful
Aaron JacksonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 August 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Mostly a promo for the continuation of capitalism
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In the documentary, many people involved in the finance industry make their points for how capitalism is the best or only working system, and that it'll continue forever. The counterpoints made were by a few men in economics and Karl Marx quotes, which will automatically be associated with socialism and marxism and so will be dismissed by anyone who leans towards capitalism, as well as those who don't know much about Karl Marx. The documentary appears to be one about how capitalism and infinite growth are impossible and bound to crash, but it makes more points for capitalism, than it does against it. I can see why Bezos would allow this on amazon
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