ALL WATCHED OVER BY MACHINES OF LOVING GRACE

Tuesday 10 May 2011, 18:42

Adam Curtis Adam Curtis

Here's a slightly longer trail.

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    Comment number 81.

    Truly outstanding documentary last night Adam, can't stop talking about it today. I found your thesis quite convincing. I liked the way you alluded to the brutality of Ayn Rand's 'objectivism' through her disastruous personal life, although on a related note part of me was uncomfortable with the use of pre-interview shots of, for example, Bill Clinton checking his teeth were clean. I appreciate this is part of the grand project of exposing the emperor as often having had no clothes, but this is what '60s radicals wanted and all that came in the place of the deconstruction of grand meta-narratives is the radical indiviidualism your film analysed so well.

    A very very timely piece of analysis. As you said, the same radical individualist trends are still undergirding public discourse. What to do about it besides merely being aware is another matter!

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    Comment number 82.

    Great episode. Enjoying the development of Adam's style with each series.

    On the music front, Clint Mansell's "I am Sam Bell" from the Moon OST got a fair bit of use. Would love to know what the last piece of music used (before the credits) was.

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    Comment number 83.

    Curtis's AWOBMOLG is the most impressive documentary I have seen this year. It is a superb example of the joined-up analysis of a wide-sweep of underlying socio-political developments that have been exercising influence in the background for longer than the general public realises. But few have bothered to highlight them and bring them before the viewing public until now. The sequences on Rand and more worringly, her impact on those running Silicon Valley are a case in point. I look forward to the remaining parts of this unique and radical series. A tour de force.

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    Comment number 84.

    @65 autosuggested.

    I too was intrigued by the reference to Carmen Hermosillo, in particular her reference to the "spectacle".

    I think that Adam has referred to the Situationists in a previous series - although I can't remember the detail. I wonder how much he's been influenced by their theories.

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    Comment number 85.

    Well, I thought that was superb. Whilst the narrative may have been more complex than in previous works it was possible to decipher one. For me the nub of Curtis’ argument was that the radical individualism of the Objectivists and the Computer Utopianism of the California idealists combined and dove tailed with the values of the contemporary computerised global neo-liberal order. But rather than creating order and stability and transcending the old hierachies of power, this led to chaos and instability and shifted power to a transnational financial capitalist class whilst simultaneously disempowering the great mass of general public.

    I don’t think it was Curtis’ argument that Objectivism and Computer Utopianism are the cause of contemporary neo-liberalism. A common theme in Curtis’ work that can be seen in Century of the Self, The Trap and It Felt Like a Kiss, is the construction of the rational self, i.e. the creation of citizen subjects that are calculating, self-interested and acquisitive (ideal neo-liberal subjects). In past documentaries he has explored how such ideas have pervaded various areas of society – mathematical theory, psychoanalysis, public choice economics, radical psychiatry, the self improvement movement and so on. His documentaries should not be viewed as positing simplistic mono-casual explanations but rather as exploring constitutive elements of the discursive (hegemonic) matrix of neo-liberal governmentality.

    The massage of Curtis’ latest works? For me, it is that power is everywhere, it circulates in the most low level ways in all forms of human interaction. Furthermore, power not only controls its subjects, but also creates its subjects (I wonder how much of an influence Foucault has been?). We cannot escape power, every sphere of human society will be colonised by power. We can only create counter power, we have to work collectively together through politics to build a better world in which power is increasingly exercised in a just, equitable and accountable fashion. As the end of the documentary alluded, we know the system has cracked, but as long as we remain isolated as neo-liberal subjects, it will continue to stagger on from one crisis to another.

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    Comment number 86.

    @85 leftnotliberal

    It's notable that modern politics has no discussion of power, nor now of economics. We are all subjects of the neo-liberal consensus.

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    Comment number 87.

    Is there any possible way that someone can give me info on how to watch the series if you live in the US?

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    Comment number 88.

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    Comment number 89.

    Very good film. Brilliant choice of footage in places, especially the bit where the camera lingers on the clip of Monica Lewinski in the crowd and with Clintons back to the camera. Just a couple of points: in the film you referred to Clintons apparent lethargy in the White House at that time with Ruben taking over economic policy visavis the economic policy in the Far East; but isnt this a bit simplistic? Were Clintons hands not tied anyway when the Democrats lost their majority in the Senate? The second point is at the end of your film about China, and the politburos scheming to keep a weak currency being the reason why there was no inflation in the US and Western Europe at that time: is this too simplistic? Looking forward to the next film.

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    Comment number 90.

    @85 leftnotliberal That's quite similar to my feelings on the first episode, I'm waiting to watch all parts before I try and analyse it completely but thanks for posting that.

    Looking at the response on Twitter of 'All watch...' and from the subsequent 'trending' of Ayn Rand, it's ironic given the subject matter (and obviously we don't know all of it yet but the nod to Hermosillo in particular), how many extra watchers and fans / followers / whatever(!) Mr Curtis' latest piece will get as a result of the extended network of interconnected voices on Twitter. Wonder what Adam's views are on that?!

    Finally, back to @85 leftnotliberal - of course your last paragraph should have started with 'The message...' but I quite like how it starts with 'The massage..' with Adam's skill at massaging the inquisitive brain into deeper sociopolitical thought!

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    Comment number 91.

    So left wing its ridiculous.

    Trying to the blame the free market/capitalism/wall street/greed etc for the tech and housing bubbles.... pleeeaasseee.

    Low interest rates from the federal reserve fuelled both bubbles.

    People... listen to the people who predicted these crashes and got it right.. not the bbc
    PETER SCHIFF: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj8rMwdQf6k

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    Comment number 92.

    @82 Ah, I thought it was "Welcome to Lunar Industries"

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    Comment number 93.

    I have to congratulate you on this (so far) excellent series. An in-depth and new perception on the world in which we live, governed and at the mercy of the monied elite plutocrats I can gladly admit your programme has raised thought and question within me.
    I feel I must compliment the soundtrack to the 1'st episode as well, outstanding music.
    How possible would it be to obtain a list of the bands and tracks played ?

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    Comment number 94.

    I think it is welcome to lunar industries, either way it's a kick ass sountrack

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    Comment number 95.

    Thanks Adam, for another blindingly good documentary. After It Felt Like A Kiss last year, the only problem is I can't interact with the telly...

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    Comment number 96.

    87 nigel in the US yeah look out the winder with yer eyes open

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    Comment number 97.

    Thanks very much for this series.

    To be pedantic for a moment, I noticed a mistake at the start of the first programme. Ayn Rand died in 1982, not 1981.

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    Comment number 98.

    @91 Left wing? Not really....I watched the clip you linked to, good stuff, but does it actually contradict anything in the film? I'm wondering if you actually watched it...

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    Comment number 99.

    There seems a grain of truth in this. Many financiers were 'rationally egotistical', but this may have been for other reasons. It seemed to me that many of the players knew what the risks were but were caught up in a game of 'chicken'. E.g. if a fund manager had pulled his client's money out of the risky markets he would most likely have been fired. The implication of the program would seem to be that the players' own wealth would have been burnt along with their clients. Is this true? I surmise that many were busy looking for safe havens. A bit of investigation needed?

    The role of Gordon Brown also needs clarifying. He seemed to see the risk but be unable to do anything about it, being caught in his own variant of chicken. I blog on this at http://djmarsay.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/gordon-brown-beyond-the-crash/ .

    So, rational egoism yes, but there is more.

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    Comment number 100.

    good programme, felt like a relief to see that bbc employs a thinker, the first time in ages i've felt that the license fee not wasted
    "church of the computer" make music that asks some of the same questions. check it out if you have time

 

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