Part 3: The Trap: What happened to our dreams of freedom?
The programme covered white propaganda and 'perception management', in which threats are deliberately either exaggerated or played down in order to control people's reaction to events - as used by 'Project Democracy', which started with the issue of Nicaragua in the Reagan administration.
Russia played a major part in this episode too, particularly the collapse of its economy and resulting effects after Jeffrey Sachs' 'shock therapy' free market capitalist ideas were imposed there after the fall of communism. The cost of goods soared; the currency lost value; factories were reduced to paying their workers the goods they produced and people had to sell their possessions on the street in order to buy food. Share vouchers were issued, which were bought up in bulk by the oligarchs, leading to a situation of 'economic genocide'. Parliament was suspended; Yeltsin ruled by decree and there was a run on the banks. Then came Putin and his strict rules and expulsion of the oligarchs. Russian people 'no longer cared about freedom of speech and expression', said one commentator. 'They just want food and electricity.' Putin 'offered them security and dignity - and, more importantly, a meaning beyond the confines of their own lives.'
Then the West invades Iraq and tries to impose exactly the same 'shock therapy' free market system there. You've got to wonder if it's deliberate.
The Robespierre revolutionary quote: 'France must be purged of all vice' kept being flashed on the screen throughout, which was effective, if bizarre. I got the point in the end, that purging of vice is a vice in itself: which was Berlin's point too of course.
So we went from Putin to 9/11 - the 'kaleidoscope being shaken' and the 'fight for freedom'. The delicious irony of Blair and Bush's old exaggeration and fear tactics backfiring on them, because the 'each person for themselves' game theory ideas had finally been disseminated and nobody believed politicians any more. Iraq's 'perfect market economy' with 100% profits export and subsequent chaos. Ayatollah Sistani's logical rejection of the Social Contract as being 'not real democracy'. 7/7, and the Criminal Justice Acts.
"We must reconcile liberty with security," said Blair. "Let liberty stand up for the law-abiding citizen." Political leaders now have the power to decide what is the right kind of free individual, and to punish the other kind.
The series ended with a question:
Do all attempts to change the world for the better always lead to tyranny?Curtis said no. I'm more inclined towards the older wisdom of the Tao Te Ching, myself:
"Whoever would try to change the world, I see that they cannot manage it. For the world is a spiritual vessel, which cannot be controlled."