05w17:1 The Power of Nightmares

by timothy. 0 Comments

Good Reads Mailing List | 2005 week 17 number 1 (The Power of Nightmares)

CBC Newsworld began broadcasting this 3 part series last night, albeit massacred by adverts for the Bowflex walking machine and McCain crispy taters. The host of the Passionate Eye, Michaelle Jean, noted that this had been a big hit in Britain when it came out last October, and that it was a cult classic on the Internet…

…meaning, it’s viewable at the Information Clearing House Link below, streamed as a Real Media file embedded in the page (although I recommend you right/control-click on it to play in Real Player). Information Clearinghouse has also provided transcripts of the episodes. – Timothy

The Power of Nightmares | Adam Curtis
NOTE: Part I, with links to Part II and III, with transcripts and Real Video presentation

The Exorcist | Tim Adams
“Curtis’s original idea led him in typically unexpected directions. In particular, to developing a fearful symmetry between American neoconservative thought and Islamic fundamentalism. In looking back he discovered that the progenitors of each of these movements – the American political philosopher Leo Strauss, and the Egyptian revolutionary Sayyid Qutb – had been responding to similar observations. They had both been at American universities just after the Second World War – Strauss as a professor, Qutb as a student – and what they had seen there had convinced them that within American prosperity lay the seeds of its moral destruction. ‘Everyone was thinking Truman’s America is great and these two completely obscure figures were looking at it, in 1949, and thinking no, there is something wrong with this; they were both pessimists. We now live in a world that is shaped partly by the results of their thinking.'”

The making of the terror myth | Andy Beckett
“In one sense, of course, Curtis himself is part of the al-Qaida industry. The Power of Nightmares began as an investigation of something else, the rise of modern American conservatism. Curtis was interested in Leo Strauss, a political philosopher at the university of Chicago in the 50s who rejected the liberalism of postwar America as amoral and who thought that the country could be rescued by a revived belief in America’s unique role to battle evil in the world. Strauss’s certainty and his emphasis on the use of grand myths as a higher form of political propaganda created a group of influential disciples such as Paul Wolfowitz, now the US deputy defence secretary. They came to prominence by talking up the Russian threat during the cold war and have applied a similar strategy in the war on terror. As Curtis traced the rise of the ‘Straussians’, he came to a conclusion that would form the basis for The Power of Nightmares. Straussian conservatism had a previously unsuspected amount in common with Islamism: from origins in the 50s, to a formative belief that liberalism was the enemy, to an actual period of Islamist-Straussian collaboration against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan in the 80s (both movements have proved adept at finding new foes to keep them going). Although the Islamists and the Straussians have fallen out since then, as the attacks on America in 2001 graphically demonstrated, they are in another way, Curtis concludes, collaborating still: in sustaining the ‘fantasy’ of the war on terror.”

Interview with Adam Curtis | CBC
“VIEWER: Are you saying that there is no threat?
DIRECTOR ADAM CURTIS: No, the series did not say this. It was very clear in arguing that although there is a serious threat of terrorism from some radical Islamists, the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden organization waiting to strike our societies is an illusion. As the films showed, wherever one looks for this ‘al-Qaeda’ organization – from the mountains of Afghanistan to the ‘sleeper cells’ in America – the British and Americans are pursuing a fantasy. The bombs in Madrid and Bali showed clearly the seriousness of the threat – but they are not evidence of a new and overwhelming threat unlike any we have experienced before. And above all they do not – in the words of the British government – ‘threaten the life of the nation’. That is simply untrue. “

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emailed by Timothy on Tuesday 26 April 2005 @ 12:40 PM

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