Freedom. This word has probably not been repeated as much as during the last century. With the recent experiences of democracy coupled with new form of economy -modern industrialization-, freedom has been a hot topic, debated throughout our societies. But does the current definition of freedom that we hold today is the same as it was 200 or 100 years ago?
The Trap is a 3 parts documentary by Adam Curtis that takes us on a journey through the different concepts of liberty and freedom, how it came to shape the Western world foreign policy and how it was manipulated to control citizens at home, with the very core concepts of democracy being quietly stripped away and replaced by a narrow definition of what it really means.
Adam Curtis explores the rise of the idea that humans are rational beings, driven only by pure selfish desires. This thinking, developed during the Cold War through Game Theory, was quickly taken on by economists and ultimately politicians who saw government as working only for its own sake, not for the people. This gave rise to deregulations, notably for the finance industry, being somehow directly responsible for the recent financial crisis, as well as the dismantlement of the welfare state established at the end of World War II, with the goal of reducing inequalities and creating a more stable society.
These ideas created a strange world where targets and numbers replaced ideologies and beliefs of working to help create a better society. It transformed our societies into mass consumption machines where there is no meaning but consumption itself, where governments are not visionaries that can guide the masses toward a brighter future but instead merely providers of the instant needs of the populace. Indeed we can now see how short term and trivial issues are taking a disproportionately size in debates while long term truly important issues are kicked down the road.
But this line of thinking was also exported abroad via the Washington Consensus. The most infamous examples being Russia and Iraq. Under the advices of free market proselytes who believed that people were rational and that only markets could answer to their needs, 'shock therapy' was applied overnight, destroying much of the countries social and economical framework. As one can see today, it didn't quite worked out as planned and resulted in a lowering of standards of living, violence and the rise of nationalism and extremism…
Humanity is now facing a very peculiar challenge: the idea of Freedom has been around since the dawn of time, but no era in history has seen so much people with so much freedom. However, recent political and societal ideologies transformed the idea of Freedom into an empty, very narrow concept. The Trap will make you reflect on the core issues of freedom and democracy as well as the path that our societies have taken. We have the choice to make a better world, one with a meaning and a reason.
About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi