Adam Curtis‘s multi-part All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, which began last night on BBC2, is flat-out brilliant. Or at least brilliantly composed and sold. I could call it a fascinating, absorbing, well-told story, but it strikes me above all as an unusually perceptive explanation of the ’08 global financial collapse, and how its origins stem from the philosophical imaginings of Ayn Rand.
Take an hour and watch this first installment. Really. Take an hour and do this today or tomorrow.
I’m not saying that all the blinding and jolting wisdom of the ages is contained in Curtis’s latest doc, but it does provide a sharply honed point of view and what seems to me like highly intelligent assimilation. It’s fascinating. I’m a Curtis fan from way back. Those who haven’t seen Curtis’s The Century of the Self (about how Sigmund Freud‘s perceptions led to the idea of marketing to people’s emotional desires and psychologies rather than offering them what they might really need) and The Power of Nightmares (which explained how American Neocons and Islamic radicals are essentially cut from the same cloth) need to do so.
Here’s a passage from the doc that I’ve transcribed: “At the end of 1992 Alan Greenspan went to see President-elect Clinton a few days after Clinton had been elected. And what Greenspan said in that conversation was the beginning of a revolution. Greenspan was then the head of the US Federal Reserve Board, and what he told Clinton was that his election promises of social reform were impossible.
“The government deficit was so large, Greenspan said, that if Clinton borrowed any more to pay for his social programs that interest rates would go up and damage growth. But, Greenspan said, there was a radical alternative. Clinton should do the very opposite. Cut government spending and interest rates would go down and the markets would boom. Greenspan’s idea was simple: Clinton should let the markets transform America, not politics. He later said that he was surprised that Clinton agreed with him.”