Trap, The : What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom?

“What the prisoner’s dilemma expressed is the strange logic of the cold war. The optimum solution, offering to get rid of all your weapons provided the Russians did the same, could never happen because you couldn’t trust them not to cheat. So instead, you went for stability created by a balance of dangerous weapons on both sides. What Nash had done is to turn that into a theory of how the whole society worked. It had enormous implications for politics because it proved that one could have a society based on individual freedom that wouldn’t degenerate into chaos. But the price of that freedom would mean a world in which everyone would have to be suspicious and distrustful of their fellow human beings.”

Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It’s what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the world. But if you step back and look at what freedom actually means for us today, it’s a strange and limited kind of freedom.

Politicians promised to liberate us from the old dead hand of bureaucracy, but they have created an evermore controlling system of social management, driven by targets and numbers. Governments committed to freedom of choice have presided over a rise in inequality and a dramatic collapse in social mobility. And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempt to enforce freedom has led to bloody mayhem and the rise of an authoritarian anti-democratic Islamism. This, in turn, has helped inspire terrorist attacks in Britain. In response, the Government has dismantled long-standing laws designed to protect our freedom.

The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom. This model was derived from ideas and techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War to control the behaviour of the Soviet enemy. (Excerpt from website)

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  • Ep. 1 - Fuck You Buddy

    Ep. 2 - The Lonely Robot

    Ep. 3 - We Will Force You To Be Free

     

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