Being Watched Over

The recent Power of The Nightmare blog entry, our current nightmare, continues here with Curtis’s film All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (2011), where Curtis brings our nightmare up to the present but along a different but related thread-of-logic. Curtis uses Ayn Rand’s life and her successful novel Atlas Shrugged as a template to continue his psychoanalysis of the western civilization that began to emerge in the 1970s fueled by the “emergence of cybernetics – a mechanistic perspective of the natural world” made possible by the computer. The popular Hollywood movies The Matrix and The Terminator dramatize the eventual result of Rand’s vision or as the title implies “all watched over by NSA’s machine of loving grace”.  John Nash’s cold-war game-theory strategy presented in Curtis’s episode “Fuck your buddy” has become every politician and CEO’s mantra, “you are being fucked so get over it you jerk.”

As we saw in The Trap film, Nash eventually came around to reject the selfish premises at the center of game-theory – not so Rand, dying alone in her pent-house tower as every selfish capitalist will. The bar scene from movie A Beautiful Mind movie on Nash’s life illustrates his “governing dynamic” suggesting that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) idea of the invisible hand, describing the “unintended social benefits of individual actions” needs revision. In this bar-scene Nash and four of is mathematician buddies are relaxing having beers when five co-eds walk in. One blonde stands out and all the guys fantasize about laying her. Nash visualizes the scene and realizes that if they all go for the blonde they will block each other and then turning to the other four girls will be shunned for being picked second. Nash explains this and proposes that they all go for different co-eds offending no one and thus all getting laid. Adam Smith needs revision he proposes “it is not doing only what is best for one’s self but also for one’s group.” Now we know why Republicans are not getting laid as much as Democrats.

Governing Dynamics: Ignore the Blonde

Another interesting theme in this film deals with Bill & Hilary Clinton, and, of course, Monaca Lewinsky. If Curtis’s nightmare and trap films have us thinking about the possibility of supporting Donald Trump who is causing havoc among Republicans, then this film All watched over causes one to fret about the prospect of voting for Hilary and getting Billy in the White House looking for another “blow job” and not from Hilary. I do not know which is more depressing and disgusting – Billy or Donny fucking in the White House. We do not really mind about this, however, it is important to remember what Billy did to the 1992 Democratic Party’s platform that he ran on – one has to wonder what Republicans were so upset about. Bill Clinton ran on the Democratic Party’s socially rich platform and after the election he was visited by Fed Chairman Allen Greenspan (friend and active member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle). Greenspan convinced Clinton to abandon the Democratic plan and adopt the Republican party position to cut taxes for businesses in order to stimulate economic activity. If Hilary wins this election she and Billy will be entering the White House under worse deficit condition than they enter in 1993.

This film’s story continues on through the 1997 collapse of the Southeast Asian Economic Miracle describing The World Bank’s bail out of US bank – just a prelude to the 2008 Crisis bail out, as capitalism systemic faults continue.  The Peoples Republic of China was watching this unfold and quickly decided their economy needed to insulate its economy from US banking industry greed. They managed their exchange rate resulting in the flow of cheap good into the US, the flow of dollars to China, and China’s return purchase of US debt. Today China’s $1.5 trillion ownership of US debt gives it a significant seat the table. What is disturbing is that as recession of 2008 unfolded Obama selected Robert Rubin, a Wall Street insider, to be his Secretary of the Treasure – described as putting a fox in charge of the chicken coop.

Finally, when one looks at the enthusiasm of Bernie Sander’s young supporters, one is sad about the prospects of change and disappointed at what Obama was not able to accomplish. It is the dysfunction of our global political economic system that needs attention. The UK’s decision to leave the EC is in line with the continuing fuck-up of our politician. Can you imagine, 24 hours after the UK vote, their politicians are wondering if they can now re-vote the issue. PM David Cameron said no and left the room! This has ominous implication for Defending Globalization – a mission for the educated and enlightened – fish can’t see water and neither can politician – they both shit in the water they swim in.


All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace

Part 1 — Love and Power
Part one explores the myth that rose up in the 1990s that computers could create a new kind of stable world: They would bring about a new kind global capitalism free of risk and failure, without the boom and bust of the past, would abolish political power, and create a new kind of democracy mediated by technology and the Internet, where millions of people would be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems without hierarchy. This film explores how this myth came to be by following two groups that converged on the ideas. One is the small group of disciples around the novelist Ayn Rand in the 1950s who saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own selfish desires and that would somehow create a stable and equitable society. The other is the digital entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, many of whom were also disciples of Ayn Rand, that espoused grand visions of global utopia to be delivered by their technology. They believed that new computer networks would allow the creation of a society where everyone could follow their own desires, similarly somehow bringing a stable and equitable society. They were joined by Alan Greenspan who had also been a disciple of Ayn Rand, who became convinced that the computers were creating a new kind of stable capitalism.
Part 2 — The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts
Part two shows how the modern scientific perspective of the natural world is actually a machine fantasy. It has little to do with the reality of nature. It is based on mechanistic ideas that were projected on to the natural world in the 1950s by scientists: That nature is a giant cybernetic machine of order that sees humans, and everyone else on the planet, as merely cogs in that machine. In an age disillusioned with modern politics, these ideas began to take on a new appeal, as the “self-regulating ecosystem” model became the basis for the utopian vision of society where technocrats would provide new ways of governing without leaders or politics, along with global visions of connectivity analogous to the Gaia theory. These ideas emerged out of the hippie communes in the United States in the 1960s and from counter-culture computer scientists who believed that global webs of computers would liberate the world. But, at the very moment this was happening, the science of ecology discovered that the theory of the self-regulating ecosystem wasn’t true. Instead what was found was that nature is really dynamic and constantly changing in myriad ways. But it was too late, the dream of the self-organising network had already captured the imagination of the technologists and the wider culture, unwilling to revise “progress.”
Part 3 — The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey
This episode looks at why popular culture finds this machine vision so beguiling. The film posits that it is perhaps as all past political dreams of changing the world for the better seem to have failed, the retreat into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our actions excuse and rationalise our failure. At the basis of the film is Bill Hamilton, a scientist. He claimed that human behaviour is guided by codes buried deep within us—a theory later popularised by Richard Dawkins as the so-called “selfish gene.” Fundamentally, these people claimed that individual human beings are really just machines whose only job is to make sure their genetic codes are passed on for eternity. This final part in the series sets out the challenge those claims, beginning in 2000 in the jungles of the Congo and Rwanda, where Hamilton is to espouse his dark theories. But all around him the Congo is being torn apart. The film then interweaves the two stories: The strange roots of Hamilton’s theories, and the history of the West’s tortured exploitation of the Congo in order to continue manufacturing the technology that keeps the West’s utopian ideas alive.
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