Adam Curtis

craner

Beast of Burden
Alan Greenspan talks openly and in great detail about his relationship with Rand in his own book Age of Turbulence -- which is, even for an economic illiterate such as moi, a very good book. He used to play sax with Stan Getz, according to him. Obviously Getz is too dead to counter this accusation. Nathaniel Branden, the father of the self-esteem movement, was Rand's lover -- physical lover -- which is surely worse.

This programme sounds like a fantastic target for a Vimothy deconstruction, if it's not beneath his contempt.

I HAVEN'T SEEN IT DON'T HURT ME.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
So, not really much of a conspiracy there but nothing that new or earth shattering to me.
This was the method with Power of Nightmares -- random biographical distortions of Qutb and Strauss and baised accounts of events like the Soviet-Afghan war or Team B loosely woven into a compelling narrative. It was not merely suggestive, it was conspiratorial -- if not quite on the level of Truthers or the Daily Express Diana brigade, then certainly using the same inductive technique.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
1. The people who control the US (and world) financial system usually come from big banks and have the interests of their companies, their friends and themselves at heart rather than those of the average worker in China or even in the US. All true and all bad but we know this already don't we? Plus, to be honest, where else are you gonna find people who have years of experience in that field? The universities maybe but if you've seen, say, Inside Job (which is well worth checking by the way) you'll know that they are compromised as well.

2. People used computers to do more complex and thus riskier hedging. Again, true enough but you'd be pretty fucking surprised if they didn't seeing as computers were being made better all the time and they are pretty much perfect for number crunching.

3. Alan Greenspan was, at one time, very close to Ayn Rand. OK, this I didn't know but how much effect it had on his decisions at the Fed was not really made clear.

I don't really think that he was implying that each step along the way to the fianancial crash was premeditated which would be necessary for a conspiracy, just that given the kind of people involved at each stage and what their ideology was you could understand why, at times, they made the wrong decisions. So, not really much of a conspiracy there but nothing that new or earth shattering to me.
There's a load of interesting stuff in John Lancaster's book "Whoops" about the complexities of the mathematical models in markets and how batshit wrong they were. Remind me next time you come round and I'll lend it to you.

I found the links he was drawing between Loren Carpenter’s Pong experiement and the self-organsiing nature of the world financial system quite interesting, though I didn’t follow his leap of logic that one led somehow to the other. There's was an interview with him in The Guardian where he seems to be saying that rather than empowering us, computers have somehow locked us together in enslaving relationshis and occluded power relations. I like his point about us not talking about power anymore, and the way current conditions are presented as inevitable, but don't agree with his reasons why - I'd just think about it in traditional terms of the decline of The Left, that you've seen in the US and Europe.

There were a lot of economic details in the programme that caught my attention but I've now forgotten them.

Here's a link from Greenspan's book where he talks about Rand:
http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/turbulence.html
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
Here's the interview - http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2011/may/06/adam-curtis-computers-documentary

""In the 1960s, an idea penetrated deep into the public imagination that nature is a self-regulating ecosystem, there is a natural order, the trouble is, it's not true – as many ecologists have shown, nature is never stable, it's always changing. But the idea took root and spread wider – people started to believe there is an underlying order to the entire world, to how society is structured. Everything became part of a system, like a computer; no more hierarchies, freedom for all, no class, no nation states."

I think what he's talking about - in relation to recent history - can be explained in terms of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of history, economic expansion and relative peace and stablility that accompanied the Clinton regime plus Leftist decline for various reasons.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
random biographical distortions ... and baised accounts ... loosely woven into a compelling narrative
Hmm, I've not seen Nightmares (intending to check it out very soon) but I think you've hit on something that's occurred to me too: namely, that his style is so reasonable-seeming, so authoritative and erudite-yet-accessible that he could tell you Rupert Murdoch orchestrated 9/11 at the behest of the Martians and it would sound plausible.

Then again, there's precious little I wouldn't put past that shithead...
 
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crackerjack

Well-known member
An old friend of mine knows him quite well. Says he's also a global warming denier who believes it became an issue after some old upper-class eugenicist/Nazi sympathiser persuaded the world's leading scientific bodies that AGW was a reality as some dastardly plot to advance the cause of population control. (My mate actually believes this shit too, he wasn't trying to discredit him.)

That's a doc I'd like to see, though I hope for his rep he never makes it.

edit: Curtis, that is., not Rupey.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
I doubt that someone as canny as him would ever commit public harakari in this way. You just have to look at his blog to realise how goddam on the pulse and aware of public perceptions of issues he is.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Says he's also a global warming denier who believes it became an issue after some old upper-class eugenicist/Nazi sympathiser persuaded the world's leading scientific bodies that AGW was a reality as some dastardly plot to advance the cause of population control.
Christ, the idea that there's any kind of 'leftist' argument againts AGW is the biggest con going. Unless you believe it's 'leftist' to tell Shell, Exxon, BP etc. etc. exactly what they want to hear. Sorry, OT.
 

rob_giri

Well-known member
A big, nasty Fuck You for calling that evil, demonic suckhole Murdoch an 'Antipodean shithead'..

Rob,

Melbourne, AU
 

rob_giri

Well-known member
;)

This is all great stuff.


I guess after watching all of his films a few times and very closely one gets to know pretty well the techniques, and indeed 'trickery', that he uses to draw conclusions and narratives. Even so , they are worth it for artistic, creative, imaginative value and should be considered as such - this is not wooden Cinema Verite, try complaining to Herzog that his docos aren't 'real enough'.

The main critique everyone seems to have is that his films are conspirational propaganda. I would like to point out that he may not be the zealous propagandist he is made out to be here - rather his motivations for constructing these monumental narratives in history is spurred on by a need to dismantle the consensus narratives that we have been brain-numbingly conditioned to accept, beckoning the viewer to think for themselves and use the heuristic imagination to explore the real nature of power in the world.

All this said - my main qualms with the first episode was that yea, Greenspan, Silicon Valley guys and economists in general were into Rand but - surely the 'self interest' game was not entirely original to her - it's really the whole essence of Rightist economics innit, and this goes back to Adam Smith and forward to the whole Austria/Chicago axis and, a lot of Curtis other films (Century of the Self, The Trap, The Living Dead etc) explore this material, hardly any of them mentioning Rand (though perhaps R.A.N.D...)

But that's the point - he is not trying to proclaim that Rand caused the Asian economic crisis as some Guardian reviewer proclaimed (anymore than he was making a serious suggestion that the song 'Baby it's Cold Outside' caused 9/11) - he's just exploring all these connections and historical events in the light of a psychological lens and a bit of humour, and in this case the dismantling effect that the all-to-human forces of Love and Power have on monumental, yet naive, attempts to attain transcendent states of harmony and order in a chaotic world.

It's always the ability to break down biased consensus, see connections where they might otherwise not be apparent and moreover draw non-imaginary meaningful conclusions out of reems of historical data that make brilliant political thinkers, the Chomskys and Vidals of this world. Also despite all the arguments here I still think that his analysis has a sufficient degree of impartiality about it - despite the fact that yes, the man does have an opinion and he appears to have a clear aim and project about what he's doing. I think that after viewing his films, due to his technique and filmmaking style, one is left, or at least I am left, feeling bewildered by the perception of an impartial narrative carved out of an ocean of historical chaos, a historical chaos that we are so used to seeing skewed and manipulated by those with invested power interests, etc etc.
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
"There's a load of interesting stuff in John Lancaster's book "Whoops" about the complexities of the mathematical models in markets and how batshit wrong they were. Remind me next time you come round and I'll lend it to you."
See also Nassim Taleb. But I don't really see that as a problem with computing as such as a problem in the idea that you can one hundred percent accurately model something extremely complex mathematically (and particularly statistically). Obviously a computer is only as good as the data you give it and the program you write for it (not talking about AI here). I mean, when a space shuttle crashes you don't blame the deaths on computers even though the crash is much more serious than one involving an entirely manual horse and cart and computers have made the shuttle possible.
 

Bang Diddley

Well-known member
An old friend of mine knows him quite well. Says he's also a global warming denier who believes it became an issue after some old upper-class eugenicist/Nazi sympathiser persuaded the world's leading scientific bodies that AGW was a reality as some dastardly plot to advance the cause of population control. (My mate actually believes this shit too, he wasn't trying to discredit him.)

That's a doc I'd like to see, though I hope for his rep he never makes it.

edit: Curtis, that is., not Rupey.
If this is anything to go by

"But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn't true. Instead they found that nature was really dynamic and constantly changing in unpredictable ways."

I think he might touch on global warming in the next part

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011rbws
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
A big, nasty Fuck You for calling that evil, demonic suckhole Murdoch an 'Antipodean shithead'..

Rob,

Melbourne, AU
Sorry, my phrasing was un-called-for. Clearly his nationality is not connected to his shitheadedness. My bad.
 

rob_giri

Well-known member
Thanking you for your reply (sounded like Jeremy Clarkson for a minute). Luckily Assange has recently proven your point.
 
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rob_giri

Well-known member
http://www.dissensus.com/showthread...-(BBC2-Weds-night)&highlight=power+nightmares


I enjoyed reading this whole thread last night, on the topic - a discussion/row from way back in 2004 around Bush re-election time.

From it's conclusion, we saw Strauss as misrepresented and perhaps unjustly simplified in the eyes of seeming scholars.

I would like to ask you Craner - what you think about most of what you (quite zealously) wrote about Iraq and Afghanistan - now that it's 6 years later and the saga continues. ..
 

e/y

Well-known member
wonderful film-maker. and his (mentioned earlier) is pretty much mandatory reading.

I'd love to watch this programme...if only my internet connection atm wasn't completely rubbish.
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
See also Nassim Taleb. But I don't really see that as a problem with computing as such as a problem in the idea that you can one hundred percent accurately model something extremely complex mathematically (and particularly statistically). Obviously a computer is only as good as the data you give it and the program you write for it (not talking about AI here). I mean, when a space shuttle crashes you don't blame the deaths on computers even though the crash is much more serious than one involving an entirely manual horse and cart and computers have made the shuttle possible.
This is really what he's going for though, is it? It's not a critque of computing and computing power as such - more their wider effect on society, the relationships they cause and conceal, the illusion of a stable systemised society etc. And the wider sense, how this fits into the context of the time, post-Berlin Wall, "End of History" etc.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
I would like to ask you Craner - what you think about most of what you (quite zealously) wrote about Iraq and Afghanistan - now that it's 6 years later and the saga continues. ..
Well, that was a slightly hysterical thread, but I am still a zealot. Half a tic, let me go and re-read the thread...
 
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