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Article posted Mar 19 2007, 3:12 AM Source: BBC Print

The Trap

What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom?

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.

Mathematicians such as John Nash developed paranoid game theories whose equations required people to be seen as selfish and isolated creatures, constantly monitoring each other suspiciously always intent on their own advantage.

This model was then developed by genetic biologists, anthropologists, radical psychiatrists and free market economists, and has come to dominate both political thinking since the Seventies and the way people think about themselves as human beings.

However, within this simplistic idea lay the seeds of new forms of control. And what people have forgotten is that there are other ideas of freedom. We are, says Curtis, in a trap of our own making that controls us, deprives us of meaning and causes death and chaos abroad.

[Information Liberation Editors Note: In typical Adam Curtis fashion he spins the issues to make the establishment seem like innocent dupes. In reality society is, and has always been, the product of social engineering by cunning behavioral control specialists. The control tactics and rhetoric have changed, but the agenda is still the same.

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized." - Edward Bernays.]

The Trap
What Happened to Our Dreams of Freedom?
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Related: The Century of the Self: The Untold History Of Controlling The Masses Through The Manipulation Of Unconscious Desires

Comments 1 - 9 of 9 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 4:26 AM

In these studies, they can never account for genuine human kindness and it throws them for a loop every time as it does with most people you do it's almost like "what did I do to you"? or no good deed goes unpunished, unless of course you save their life. So it's not the predictability of humans as the studies suggest but rather the unpredictability that makes us uniquely human.

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 10:12 AM

We're not humans anymore, we're numbers!!!

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 11:34 AM

87194 Here is a torrent of the second episode:

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 11:37 AM

1499 These documentaries are essential, they describe perfectly how politicians read some academic studies, and then, without any peer review, impliment their ideas using entire populations as test subjects in massive experiments.

You have only yourself to blame as you persist in paying for it all.

Posted: Mar 19 2007, 6:13 PM

Practice random acts of kindness, the humanity will return and the numbers will fade. Since the FED and since we've had SS # we have been numbers with incrementally increasing intensity of control to bring us to these times and now is the time to change the flat tire. We've had to do the major overhaul and abolish the FED and the IRS since 1913 so I think we have been screwed long enough! Watch freedom to facism on google and all the excellent videos on this subject and others here on this site.

Posted: Mar 20 2007, 9:16 PM

67161 What happend to Six and Seven?
Kava Zana

Posted: Mar 22 2007, 4:23 PM

7557 The second episode from THE TRAP is now on youtube (in chunks):

Episode Two begins here:
I wish I were Adam C

Posted: Mar 24 2007, 12:54 AM

7557 both episodes are up at google video. find via:

both are also up at, via:

Posted: Mar 25 2007, 6:48 PM

867 Anonymous at 11.37

"...they describe perfectly how politicians read some academic studies, and then, without any peer review, impliment their ideas using entire populations as test subjects in massive experiments"

Yes I was thinking the same myself, particularly as tonight's episode showed a letter (complete with spelling mistake) that Blair had written to Isaiah Berlin asking for further information on his ideas. Berlin never replied because he was on his death bed.

I have never heard Tony Blair mention that he was influenced by Berlin's ideas and it would be helpful to know this sort of thing when voting for or against policies such as Iraq. The trouble is that the ideas behind policies are never mentioned. Instead, people are left to work them out for themsleves based only on the politicians' actions.
Comments 1 - 9 of 9 Page 1 of 1

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