Part 2: The Trap: What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom
This part, called 'The Lonely Robot' "tells the story of how, in the Nineties, politicians from both Right and Left tried to apply an idea of freedom modelled on the freedom of the market to all other areas of society. This was something that previously no one – not even the high priest of capitalism, Adam Smith - had thought possible or appropriate.
"But now it was seen as inevitable because underlying it was a scientific model of ourselves as simplified robots – rational, calculating beings whose behaviour and even feelings could be analysed and managed by numbers. Out of this came today's systems of management – from performance targets to the new categories of mental disorder and the predictions about people's behaviour from the genetic codes buried inside them. However, what resulted was the very opposite of freedom.
"The numbers took on a power of their own which began to create new forms of control, greater inequalities and the return of a rigid class structure based on the power of money. As The Trap shows, however, the mathematical and biological theories on which this simplified vision of ourselves is based may not be true. The very way in which we think of ourselves as human beings is actually an ideology, not a scientific truth."
I didn't realise the extent to which Clinton abandoned his manifesto so close to his election, due to intervention from Federal Reserve Board head Alan Greenspan, for example, and I can't see how such a move could possibly be justified. If a politician comes to power on the basis of one set of policies and then proceeds to deliberately implement a completely different set, voters must reach the view that they're being conned and that voting is a waste of time.
In last night's programme, Curtis succeeded in explaining very well (much better than I have) why the turnout at elections has dramatically slumped, and I was applauding the way he explained the motives, activities and effects of the drug conglomerates in our current situation with such raw, simple clarity.
So we have a Western world population full of disenfranchised, drugged-up, obedient consumers. What next? The title of episode 3 ("We Will Force You To Be Free") sounds ominous in this respect.
To quote the ever-astute Daniel Kurtzman, Orwell's 1984 "was intended to be read as a warning about the evils of totalitarianism - not a how-to manual."
The eternal optimist in me can't help seeing this series as something of a watershed in what seems like the process of our eternal subjugation. I mean, come on people: it's on prime time TV. It's in your face, spelling out exactly what's been going on in stark, unmistakable terms. Surely that has to have some kind of an effect.