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Until You Change the Way Money Works…

A Review of Aaron Russo’s America: From Freedom to Fascism

Michael C. Ruppert

© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

March 14, 2006 1400 PST (FTW) - ASHLAND - No matter how you slice it, Aaron Russo is in for a lot of mishegas.

A Jewish guy from Brooklyn who made good in the movie business winds up at the end of this movie getting told by another Jewish guy who used to head the Internal Revenue Service, “Gornished von hellfin.” Translated, the Yiddish expression means, “Nothing can help you.” As former IRS Commissioner Sheldon Cohen says it to Russo at the end of America: From Freedom to Fascism, one thing is crystal clear, Cohen is speaking to everybody. Every American of every religion, gender, color, stripe and cholesterol count is directly, personally, and tangibly affected by the things that Russo so compellingly shows us in this movie. What happens in between the beginning and the end has nailed sneak-preview audiences in more than a dozen cities to their seats in (according to Russo and others) larger numbers than those for (gag) Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911.

Every showing has ended with a prolonged standing ovation.

Aaron Russo is an accomplished filmmaker (his films have six Oscar nominations, a Tony, an Emmy and three Golden Globe awards in various categories). His best-known films are Trading Places, The Rose, and Wise Guys. An accomplished filmmaker has taken on a visceral issue that cuts across every other social, racial, religious and political barrier in the country: money.

The film introduces us to experts who have been long-time friends of mine and FTW: Catherine Austin Fitts, Congressman Ron Paul, former IRS agent Sherry Jackson, G. Edward Griffin and more. These are the monetary voices that have been crying in the wilderness.

Framed around the efforts of We The People to pursue what is generally (and incorrectly) labeled a class-action suit challenging the government’s authority to impose a direct income tax, America starts with revelations that are guaranteed to shock. The 16th Amendment to the US Constitution was never ratified by a sufficient number of states and therefore is not law. The Federal Reserve is a privately-owned bank that prints our money and collects interest on the national debt. Nowhere in the IRS Code (huge as it is) is there a specific law mandating that Americans actually pay an income tax. We learn that the income tax is a “voluntary” contract accepted by most Americans.


Add to that the fact that the current income tax – in violation of the Constitution – is neither direct or apportioned (an equal rate for every citizen through all states and incomes), and it’s clear why audiences are reacting. The capper is that Supreme Court decisions affirming the above are routinely ignored by federal courts and lawyers have been fined for trying to inject the Constitution and the Supreme Court into their arguments.

How rude! How did all this come to pass? Why does it continue? You need to watch the movie to find out.

Whether a clearly uncomfortable Sheldon Cohen made his statement as a threat or was merely expressing exasperation at the fact that Russo wasn’t leaving without straight answers will be up to you to decide once you have seen America: from Freedom to Fascism. Russo did leave without straight answers because Cohen abruptly ended the on-camera interview. Gornished von hellfin.

Until just before he started work on this film Russo was what we long-time activists not-so-politely referred to as brain dead. He was a successful guy, making money, living a good life. There was no reason to start asking questions. Then something caught his attention and he got off his butt. He swallowed the red pill.

Although this not a movie about Jews, the fact that two Jewish men bookend the drama as antagonists adds an extra and important dimension by showing us that simple, easy answers are not an option here. It’s a movie about money and we see clearly that the economic paradigm which rules us is much more insidious, deep and personal than most of us had ever dared contemplate. The movie forces us to look at ourselves.

In the end Aaron Russo does fall short because, not surprisingly, he fails to come up with a quick, easy, silver-bullet solution that Americans have been trained to expect. Is that his fault or ours? Filmmakers like Aaron Russo have been wrongly perceived by many Americans as silver bullets in their own right. Perhaps unintentionally, the film documents Russo’s (continuing) discovery that the appearance of American democracy and economic liberty is a cynical façade.

From FTW’s perspective, as we have said so consistently, until we change the way money works, solutions to Peak Oil, food shortages, collapse and sustainability remain unreachable from a national or cultural level because it is simply more profitable to let people die and accelerate collapse through excessive consumption than it is to behave like a species that wishes to survive.

Like most who decide that something is really wrong and said, “I’m going to do something about this”, Aaron Russo has pulled one worm out of the can and is slowly realizing, even now, that with one worm, you get all the rest of its cousins, aunts, nieces, nephews and parents. What should have been an easy process of securing a distribution contract for a national theatrical release is proving frustratingly difficult. Michael Moore got one. Why is Russo having such a hard time? That is the difference between Michael Moore and Aaron Russo. Moore takes on the peripheral, comfortable issues and Russo, perhaps unknowingly went right for the beast’s heart.

Aaron Russo now has to face the fact that all major publicly-traded corporations on the NYSE have a vested interest in preserving, rather than changing, the system. If Russo persists in his quest for resolution and understanding, he will come up against the fact that as much as $600 billion a year in laundered drug money is necessary to keep things going; that it is more profitable to kill than to save lives; that Peak Oil and energy shortages are being worsened by the current financial mandate of infinite growth.

Watching his increasing cognitive dissonance take a toll on his serenity is painfully familiar to most of us. Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt, thank you. Hang in there Aaron.

He should not be blamed if he decides to make a light-hearted musical next time. Springtime for Hitler might be a good choice.

Until you change the way money works, you change nothing. Who is really willing to do that?

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