Finally got around to watching the first episode of the BBC2 show “The Power Of Nightmares” that I heard so many people on the other side of the pond raving about.
My word. It’s good stuff. It’s also the sort of thing you would never see on US TV, so my American friends who take an interest in politics and history should get downloading. It sets out its central thesis right from the start – that modern governments drastically exaggerate external threats in order to justify their own existence and achieve social control. The first episode is basically a history lesson but with a interesting viewpoint – it looks at the parallel development of radical Islamic ideologies in Egypt, coming from the ideas of Sayyid Qutb, and a worryingly similar ideology in the US called Neo-Conservatism, with Leo Strauss as its inspiration. I don’t think I’ve seen the comparison laid out in quite such detail before; it’s definitely thought-provoking.
I won’t spoil it too much but the “whoa, deja vu” moment for me was when I heard about Neo-Cons in the administration in the ’70s forming a group to compile a report about weapons that the USSR possessed that was utterly false, based entirely on supposition, in complete contrast to the opinions of CIA analysts and designed to inspire fear in the public and the White House. Then again in the ’80s, constructing a theory that all terrorism in the world was actually Soviet-backed, regardless of the fact that much of the evidence claimed for this was actually CIA black propaganda (and the CIA told them as much). Where have I seen this before? You’ll see a lot of familiar names in these endeavours – Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle…. Before I merely thought “these people are clearly talking nonsense in order to manipulate public opinion” based merely on the fact that they were clearly talking nonsense; I didn’t realise that they’d done it all before, and it worked then, too.
.torrent files on Suprnova:
They’re low-quality Realplayer files, but it makes them pretty small, and it’s mostly talking heads, voiceovers and grainy video footage so pin-sharp detail isn’t important.
Edited to add: the immediate impact that watching this had on my position was to make the current administration seem all the more specifically dangerous to me, due to the Neo-Con presence. While I’m a general believer in American foreign policy being something of a continuum, interventionist and aggressive throughout the century and previously, this current faction seems actually driven by a manifest destiny concept and a model of how to manipulate US society, and will not stop. An alternative administration would not have them, though it would doubtless maintain a lot of their ideas, which have become accepted facts both socially and within the system from decades of promotion. Think of it as harm reduction.
There’s also some stuff about the Republican use of religion. The program claims that, before the ’70s and ’80s, most fundamentalists didn’t vote at all, thinking that it was just propping up a corrupt and un-Godly system.