I Can’t Get You Out of My Head
Part 6 Are We Pigeon? Or Are We Dancer?
Directed by Adam Curtis (2021)
The final episode in Adam Curtis’ I Can’t Get You Out of My Mind series focuses on complexity theory. According to the theory, because human beings are part of a complicated system they can never totally understand, our conscious thoughts have nothing to do with our actions. Therefore, it concludes, social activists have no hope of ending corruption and human suffering in modern day society.
Until the total commercialization of the Internet that occurred after 2010, Silicon Valley icons believed the Internet could be used for social change. This by enabling large groups of people to share information outside the control of corporate and political elites.
Curtis covers the 1999 rise of Putin, who Curtis describes as the ultimate technocrat who believes in nothing. The film portrays all Putin’s political decisions as tactical moves, devoid of any ultimate objective. Throughout his career he has cynically played off popular anger against the oligarchs. When this fails he plays the populist/nationalist card and to appeal to Russia’s glorious history and its (alleged) role as the last defense against a corrupt West.
Other key events Curtis covers in Part 6 include
- The 2001 dotcom crash, which he blames on private banks lavishing money on essentially worthless dotcom companies to drive up their share prices.
- The CIA torture (at Guantanamo) of former Mujaheddin* operative Abu Zubaydah, who was kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 despite discontinuing his paramilitary (“terrorist”) activities in 1992 following a severe head injury.
- The rise of Dominic Cummings within Britain’s Brexit movement. Cummings believes computers allow us to to use complexity theory to understand the unelected global elite behind globalization and to take back power from them.
- The rise of corruption in China, in part due to collusion between party and government officials and criminal gangs. According to Curtis, the main purpose of Xi Jinping’s Social Credit policy is to suppress growing popular anger against government corruption.**
- The role of artificial intelligence (ie allowing computers to write their own algorithms by feeding them massive data) in disastrous decisions (by the financial sector and their regulators) in triggering the 2008 global economic crash.
- The Russiagate and Qanon conspiracies that dominated media and social media during Trump’s presidency
*The CIA secretly trained, armed and funded the Mujahaddin (under the leadership of Osama bin Laden) in their fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979-1989).
**Social Credit uses a massive public surveillance system to monitor the activities and social interactions with every resident and reward them for “acceptable” behavior with financial benefits and other perks.
Due to age restrictions video can only be played on YouTube.