Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Freedom Trap

The Trap: What Happened to Our Freedom? (1of 6)




The ultimate political goal at the heart of our age is the idea that of individual freedom.

In Britain, our government has set out to create a revolution that will free individuals from control by our elites and bureaucracy.

A new world where we are free to choose how to live out our lives and not be trapped by class or income into a predestined role.

And abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, Britain and America have set out to liberate individuals from tyranny.

For those leading it, it is just a first step in a global revolution for democracy but, if one steps back and looks at what has resulted, it is a very strange kind of freedom.

The attempt to liberate people from the dead hand of bureaucracy has led to the rise of a new and increasingly controlling system of management, driven by targets and numbers.

While government, committed to creating freedom of choice in all areas, actually presided over a rise in inequalities that brought about a dramatic collapse in social mobility.

The consequence has been a return of the power of class and privilege.

And abroad the attempt to create democracy has led not just to bloody mayhem but  a rejection of the American campaign to bring freedom.

And it has summoned up an anti-democratic, authoritarian Islamism.

This in turn has helped inspire terrorist attack in Britain itself.

In response, the government has dismantled long standing laws designed to protect our freedom.

This is a series of films on how this strange, paradoxical world came to be created.

This episode tells the story of, how in the 1990's, politicians on both the right and the left tried to extend an idea of freedom, modeled on the freedom of the market to all other areas of society.

This was something that previously no one, not even the high priest of capitalism, Adam Smith, had thought possible or appropriate but now it was seen as inevitable.

Underlying it was a scientific model of ourselves as simplified robots, rational calculating beings whose behavior and even feelings could be analyzed and managed by numbers.

What resulted was the very opposite of freedom.

The numbers took on a power of their own which began to create new forms of control, greater inequalities and a return to a rigid class structure based on the power of money.

The Trap: The Lonely Robot (2of 6)

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