All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – by Adam Curtis
It has been far too long since Adam Curtis’ last impressive instalment of his thought provoking three part series, that to many of his growing plethora of fans, Including myself, is a fascinating rabbit hole of innovative ideas and opinion pieces.
Plausible and creative, in the four years since his creation of that earlier three part series, The Trap, which you can view here at Chris Martenson.com, with the un-narrated film “It Felt Like A Kiss” released in 2009 to fill the void, he has been very helpful in the broad-stroke of ideas that have turned themselves into a challenge for my own personal growth in understanding the past, with a bookshelf now heaving with films and books, and a computer hard drive packed with the memory of a stack of web page links aligning comparisons in history that play out as though history is in a constant state of repeat!
As you may have gathered, I am an unreservedly stalwart fan of this award winning British documentary film maker. It is in my opinion that Adam Curtis’ films play a central theme in support of Dr Chris Martenson’s work. If you have never heard of this man on your side of the pond, you’re in for a treat. If you have, then consider this a head-up …
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace
This is a link to an index of an equally thought-provoking and eclectic collection of books and films compiled by members of Chris Martenson.com forum
~ VF ~
For those in the UK it is/was on BBC 2 on Monday’s at 9pm. It’s also available on iPlayer
Echoing VF’s sentiment, this is a great documentary.
IF you don’t live in the UK (like me) you won’t be able to watch this on the BBC’s website. So try here:
Thankyou. It seems I should have raised the expectation of the documentary by stating it had just finished its first ever run on the BBC so as to gain some extra traction here at this forum, so below, Wikipedia had this to say of Episode One – Love & Power : –
Love And Power
In this episode Curtis tracks the effects of Ayn Rand’s ideas on American financial markets, particularly via the influence on Alan Greenspan.
Ayn Rand was born in Russia and moved to America in 1928 and worked for Cecil B. DeMille, and realised some of the plot for what became The Fountainhead from this period. Later she moved to New York, and set up a reading group called The Collective. On advice from a friend, Greenspan (then a logical positivist) joined The Collective.
Although critically savaged, Rand’s Objectivist ideas were popular and came to heavily infiltrate California, particularly Silicon Valley. The computer utopian belief (Californian Ideology) that computer networks could measure, control and self-stabilise societies, without hierarchical political control, and that people could become ‘Randian heroes’, only working for their own happiness, became more widespread.
Rand entered into a affair with Nathaniel Branden, another married person in The Collective, based purely on logic, albeit with the approval of his wife. After several years, the affair ended violently and was revealed to rest of The Collective, which broke up. Rand ended up alone in her New York apartment, although Greenspan continued to visit.
Greenspan entered government in the 70s, and became Chairman of the Federal Reserve. In 1992 he visited the newly elected Bill Clinton. He persuaded him to let the markets grow, cut taxes, and to let the markets stabilise themselves with computer technology, to create the New Economy. This involved using computer models to predict risks and hedge against them, in accordance with the Californian Ideology. However, by 1996, the production figures had failed to increase, but profits were nevertheless increasing; and Greenspan suggested that it wasn’t working. After political attacks from all side, Greenspan changed his mind and decided that perhaps the New Economy was real, but that it couldn’t be measured using normal economic measures, and so the apparent boom continued.
In 1997 Carmen Hermosillo published a widely influential essay online, Pandora’s Vox: on Community in Cyberspace, and it began to be realised that the result of computer networks had led to, not a reduction in hierarchy, but actually a commodification of personality and a complex transfer of power and information to companies.
Although the Asian miracle had led to long-term growth in South Korea and other countries Joseph Stiglitz began warning that the withdrawing of foreign financial investment from the Far Eastern economies could cause devastation there. However, he was unable to warn the president, being blocked by Robert Rubin, who feared damage to financial interests.
The 1997 Asian financial crisis began as the property bubble in the Far East began to burst in Thailand, causing large financial losses in those countries that greatly affected foreign investors. While Bill Clinton was preoccupied with the Monica Lewinski scandal, Robert Rubin took control of foreign policy and forced loans onto the affected countries. However, after each country agreed to IMF bailout loans, foreign investors immediately withdrew their money, leaving the tax payers with enormous debts and triggering massive economic disasters.
After his handling of the economic effects of 9/11 Alan Greenspan became more important, and in the wake of Enron he cut interest rates to stimulate the economy. Unusually this failed to cause inflation. It seemed that the New Economy was working to stabilise the economy.
However, in reality, to avoid a repeat of the earlier collapse, China’s Politburo had decided to manage America’s economy via similar techniques to those used by America on the other Far Eastern countries; by keeping China’s exchange rate artificially low, they sold cheap goods to America, and with the proceeds, had bought American bonds. The money flooding into America permitted massive loans to be available to those that would previously be considered too risky. The belief in America was that computers could stabilise and hedge the lending of the money. This permitted lending beyond the point that was actually sustainable. The high level of loan defaulting led ultimately to the 2008 collapse due to a similar housing bubble that the Far Eastern countries had previously faced.
Curtis ends the piece by pointing out that not only had the idea of market stability failed to be borne out in practice, but that the Californian Ideology had also been unable to stabilise it; indeed the ideology has not led to people being Randian heroes but in fact trapped them into a rigid system of control from which they are unable to escape
Also very well worth watching is this May 20th 2011 always intelligently done independent interview from http://www.littleatoms.com with the director and journalist Adam Curtis, that covers much of his philosophical ideas in creating his films : –
~ VF ~
Thanks for posting the links. I mostly enjoyed watching this documentary but I have to say I am not really sure what to make of it. All Adam Curtis documentaries seem very similar to me. It’s almost as if he is really making just one big documentary, just the parts happen to be released a few years apart. His documentaries remind me of a left wing version of James Burke’s Connections ( which I absolutely love ), but this one in particular however seemed very disjointed. The interview helped but I still don’t think he made much of a case for all the connections he makes but it was entertaining, none the less.