Film on the disasters of privatisation

In this video, members of the RMT transport union march across the country to demand the renationalisation of Britain’s rail network.

By Bernd Reinhardt:

Privatising the rain

The Big Sellout—a documentary film by Florian Opitz

17 July 2007

“No one can, without committing a crime, exclusively expropriate the goods of the earth or of industry”—Followers of Gracchus Babeuf, 1796

At the hospital bed of a patient, a relative stands and operates an artificial respirator. By hand, he pumps air into the lungs of the patient. Any brief interruption and the man dies, a physician explains. This unbelievable scene occurs in the documentary film The Big Sellout (Der große Ausverkauf) by Florian Opitz. The director travelled to four continents to draw attention to the destructive consequences of the wave of privatisation carried out internationally in the 1980s and 1990s.


The earliest concerted campaign against state-operated sectors began in Britain. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government began in 1984 with the mines, then followed with other key areas. In 1997, under her successor John Major, it was the turn of Britain’s railways.

Privatized British railways: here.

Water privatization in Germany: here.

5 thoughts on “Film on the disasters of privatisation

  1. For those of you interested on the effects of privatization on ordinary individual, especially when MNCs privatize essential infrastructure such as water, electricty, railways and health care, you should check out the new documentary “The Big Sell-Out.”

    This documentary challenges current economic orthodoxy in contending that the dogmatic claims of the international business establishment for neo-liberal development policies are not supported by modern economic science. More importantly, it dramatically demonstrates how the implementation of these policies is having disastrous consequences for millions of ordinary people around the globe.

    While national and international economic discourse is fixated on increasing efficiency and economic growth, The Big Sellout reminds us that there are faces behind the statistics. It raises serious questions about the neo-liberal credo that government best serves the public interest by becoming a servant to corporate interests. But brave individuals, like those showcased in this important new film, are standing up and demanding an alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal model, a model that the film shows to be as hollow as it is unsustainable.

    In particular to Latin America, the films documents how citizens in Cochabamba, Bolivia have organized enormous protests in 2000, following the decision by the Bolivian government to sell the public water company to a private corporation, which would have made water cost-prohibitive to much of the population. The Big Sellout shows how ordinary people are fighting the neo-liberal commodification of basic public goods.

    If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this film, it is available from CA Newsreel at


  2. Pingback: Swedish education privatisation failure | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Bush’s Katrina disaster, and flooding in Britain now | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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