When news broke that John Bolton was to be appointed by President Trump as his National Security Adviser, I had an intuition in watching Adam Curtis’s documentary The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom that Bolton had appeared in it. So, I re-watched the documentary which has three parts. Part 1 – Fuck you buddy examines the rise of mathematical modeling of human behavior called Game Theory developed by John Nash who won a Nobel Prize for this work and was depicted in the movie A Beautiful Mind. The central issue underlying game theory is that human behavior is selfish and so ‘fuck you buddy’ – only I win. Nash’s theory was behind the mutually assured destruction strategy in the Cold War. So, a question as this strategy filtered into economic/management/administrative theory & practice is what was assuredly being destroyed? Bolton as a person was not present in part one, however, I began to understand why his appointment triggered my intuition – he assured my family’s destruction!
Part 2 – The Lonely Robot continues developing the theme of selfishness but takes a different slant and presents the rise of the drug culture introduced with drugs like Prozac, which were being prescribed to normalize human behavior to a standard of ‘normalization’ we were being told to desire – corporations wanted human behavior to be more predictable, like their machines. Curtis suggests that this is not a conspiracy, “but is a logical outcome of the market-driven culture of self-diagnosis governed by check-lists of every-day symptoms of human emotion”. I question this and one has to only watch Curtis’s documentary The Century of the Self to see how Corporations and The Trump Presidency manipulates, lies about truth. Now, I clearly see Bolton in the person of economist James Buchanan, whose ideas underlie the neoconservative strategy that is presented.
Part 3 – We Will Force You To Be Free is the final part and presents Isaiah Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative liberty that he introduced in a 1958 essay. Curtis describes this episode as explaining “how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfill one’s potential”. Somehow this does not hit the nail on its head. It seems positive freedom can be seen as the US’s “manifest destiny to democratize the world”. Berlin defines it as the answer to the question “What, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?” While negative liberty is the individual’s right to be left alone to live his life as he/she chooses. Berlin defines negative liberty as addressing this question: “What is the area within which the subject – a person or group of persons – is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons” (Two concepts of liberty).
What is so depressing in Part 3 is seeing these two liberties never being understood. Curtis says that “It is this outcome that summarizes the entire series, contextualized both by the emergence and convergence of the ‘New Left’ (epitomized by the current age of individualism), with the right’s pursuit of “personal liberty” on a global scale with disastrous consequences.” Wars more wars everywhere there is killing!
In part 3, I recognize that Bolton soon to be Trump’s chief executioner follows in the footsteps of Elliot Abrams, President Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State 1981-89. Reagan’s Project Democracy lead by Abrams is about to become President Trump’s Project Democracy with North Korea first in Bolton’s sites – bomb North Korea into submission. It was recently reported that “Abrams was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first pick for Deputy Secretary of State, but that Tillerson was subsequently overruled by Trump. Trump aides were supportive of Abrams, but Trump opposed him because of Abrams’ opposition during the campaign.” It now appears that Trump will get an even more dangerous henchman in Bolton, to carry out bloody murder in the name of US democracy.
In this documentary there are several clips of John Nash explaining this involvement in designing the US’s nuclear strategic strategy. At one point Nash says he realized that his idea of selfishness is wrong, saying this was a “personal enlightenment”. Here from the movie A Beautiful Mind is the moment of Nash’s peak experience, when he realizes Adam Smith idea of doing what is best for only one’s self is incomplete and needs to be modified to “doing with is best for oneself and for one’s group”. “If we all are going to get fucked by one of these beautiful young ladies, we cannot all go for the blonde – “governing dynamics: ignore the blonde”. Donald, you should have ignored Stormy Daniels! Can you still feel the spanks she gave you?
I close with this idea. My initial intuition was how John Bolton, as Trump’s National Security Advisor, might advise him and how this will affect the World? I suggest that if we look closely at James Buchanan, Elliot Abrams, Ayatollah Khomeini, others, and World history here in The Trap, we can begin to psychoanalytically understand the ‘trap’ we have set for ourselves. We need to deeply understand what is going on? Why are we not understanding the ‘Other’! How does one begin doing this – Hacking into the Trap?