Monday, August 20, 2007

The Trap - What happened to our dream of Freedom?

I've recently watched the Trap by Adam Curtis. Unfortunately I was unable to watch it when it was released on television since, at the time, I had numerous deadlines looming but thanks to Youtube and the Internet, I've since watched it about three times.

The Trap is Adam Curtis' attempt to discover what has happened to concepts of freedom in the West and how a narrow and limited view of human beings as selfish, self-maximising individuals within a competitive environment was formed. During the Cold War, Curtis argues, such a view may have had a purpose and meaning, however since then it has lost these, resulting in a negative understanding of freedom which offers no hope, meaning or purpose. In addition, based on this perception of human beings, man/woman's true nature emerges, "the one-ups and the one-downs" begin to emerge, widening the gap between the poor and the rich. Politicans and beureaucrats are not immune to these selfish impulses and in fact propagate them. Finally, a drive to privatise, lessen govenrment interference in the markets and the raising of the markets as a means of practising unfettered democracy and giving people what they want, has resulted in a society where the incredibly wealthy are a minority surrounded by the incredibly poor and subjugated. Curtis points out that those who had perceived the initial understandings of negative freedoms (such as Isiaiah Berlin) as a counter and protection against the totalitarian and often violently energetic positive freedom, failed to predict that their own system would itself succumb to the very same faults. Thus, American and British experiments at "forcing people to be free" have produced a world where freedom and liberty to do what one wants has resulted in a "trap" rather than the freedom sought.

It took a few viewings and a couple of hours of debating with my good friend who has a blackbelt in Philosophy, for me to realise that at the root of this, Adam Curtis is actually denouncing the Western liberal democratic ideology and the economic democracy it has spawned. Essentially these ideologies are bankrupt and ruinous, whose failure at the heart of which lies a narrow conception of man that is indeed self maximising and selfish. I'll leave the conclusion from Adam Curtis to those of you who wish to watch it, it is available on Google Movies and is in three parts. Now I am going to try to track down this man and meet him..

6 comments:

sasa said...

AC is god!

The Trap was brilliant, and thought provoking.

You must've seen the Power of Nightmares, right? He fueled the mythical status of that series by saying he would never allow it to be repeated on British television.

Genius!

Wassim said...

Hi Sasa,
I have indeed. The Power of Nightmares was an excellent documentary and he's really done a good job with the Trap. I hadn't heard him say that about a repeat. Was there a reason he gave?

Amre El-Abyad said...

Just made a post on Hisbollah.Most wiling to know about your illuminated, enlightened, resourceful, highly esteemed, brilliant point of view of your knowledgable self.

KIND REGARDS
AMRE

Wassim said...

Hello Amre,
I have looked at your 'article' and it is not very good. If you do want to get your point across better in future then use less polemics and a spell checker program from your word processor software.

Amre El-Abyad said...

Thank you very much Wassim for your most appreciated advice. I had several speeling mistakes which I fixed. Usually I am in a rush as I serf the net while Iam doing my job.

As for the polemics issue, well, I don't agree with you because I was basically going against Imperial Irani interference in Lebanon and their crimes in Iraq. So I don't think that qualify my argument as a polemic one I started out by laying out some facts then I made the inevitable obvious conclusion based on the aforementioned facts. Maybe I am too critical, I don't know, I will give it some more thopught

Anyway, I still haven't known about your opinion on my point, apparently I manged to get my point over, at least to you. That would be very valuable for my state of knowlede regarding the whole issue

Wassim said...

Amre,
All I can say is that if you are interested in improving the state of your knowledge, you must research first, then come to a conclusion. If you come to a conclusion and research whatever suits that, you will only get to precisely where you want, but not to the truth. I hope this helps you.