Well, binge watching is an exaggeration. But I did watch the episodes of a series called “the power of nightmares” back to back. And I have also watched “hypernormalisation” – but that was a while ago. Obviously they are extremely well made documentaries. And obviously Adam Curtis identifies some very important things. But, therein lies the rub: He just identifies them. Nothing further. Or nothing deeper I should say.
He nibbles around the edges of a huge amount of stuff. Tries to connect it. And, because he does not reveal the underlying web that instigated most of what he identifies, he fails. He especially fails in almost all that he has to say about the Muslim world. The ideologies that brought forth jihadists and suicide bombers did not grow out of local influences. They were enforced from the outside. Or rather they came into being due to regime changes that were forced upon their countries from the outside. They are the direct result of a big green plan to counteract the rapid spread of socialist movements and leaders in the Muslim world, that was implemented especially from the 1950s to the1980s – and then continued even after the Soviet Union had collapsed. Onto today really.
The grandiose idea was to pump Islam to defeat communism. There was even a NATO-like pact called CENTO among a number of Muslim countries (led by the UK and the USA of course – God forbid that they should be left to their own devices) to do this with. Happened right here in my own country. Turkey was a part of that pact. That is what the 1980 coup here was all about.
That is why Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overthrown and replaced with an Islamist Junta in Pakistan. Mossadegh in Iran – same thing. Get rid of the PLO (a marxist movement), replace it with Hammas… And on and on it goes. Until we get to Gaddafi who wanted to break away from the Euro and establish a gold based Dinar for African oil trade.
Adam Curtis doesn’t (or can’t – he does work for the BBC after all, which is hardly a monument of truth when it comes to matters of ’empire’) go into any of this. And so, it doesn’t gel. Doesn’t come together. At all, if you ask me.
And I think all the really remarkable things that he identifies as malaises in Western societies don’t come together for the very same reason. Hypernormalisation (or hyperindividualisation, as he calls it in an interview somewhere) didn’t just happen. It was made to happen when the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements got to be too left-leaning to be tolerable for the Western power elite. When the issue of ‘class’ began to enter their discourse. They had to be squelched. First and foremost by changing the educational system. Then the academic world. The media. Setting up think tanks to control public opinion. I don’t think you can look at any of this stuff without reading the Powell memorandum first.
Which, I am certain he did read. Just as I am certain that he knows that a whole bunch of secular governments with socialist agendas (that had been elected by their own people no less) throughout the Muslim world did not just get randomly overthrown or dismantled; after which their countries turned into failed States. That didn’t just happen by itself. It was made to happen quite intentionally. To stop the spread of what was perceived to be a communist threat (as in the case of Bhutto in Pakistan), or to stop these nations from controlling their own natural resources (as in the case of Mossadegh and Gaddafi). Or both, in many cases.
And then out of that chaos and desperation came the jihadists and the suicide bombers. Just as hypernormalisation in the West is the result of a deliberate ‘dumbing down’* strategy implemented over many decades. Sure, he knows all of that.
* I owe this term ‘dumbing down’ to Ellen Schrecker. And I intend to talk more about what I learned from listening to her at some point.
** Two days later: I just listened to one of Robert Scheer’s brilliant podcasts. If you go to the 23rd minute, the interviewee Professor Juan Cole from Michigan University says something that confirms what I said above about the nature of Muslim societies before regime change wars dismantled them; saying that if one were to read Iraqi newspapers from the years before the Gulf war and the subsequent invasion one would see that the discussion was not about Muslim sectarianism but about political and economic issues revolving around communism versus capitalism.