David Attenborough's legendary BBC crew explains and shows wildlife all over planet earth in 10 episodes. The first is an overview the challenges facing life, the others are dedicated to ... See full summary »
Like all life forms, humanity partially adapts to types of natural environment, yet also tends to change them. Each episode examines how life differs for men and nature in some type of ... See full summary »
In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this, but their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered their people. Those dreams failed and today people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life, but now they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us: from ...
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If Fahrenheit 9/11 was about how the Bush administration used the terrorist threat for its political gain, Power of Nightmares goes on to uncover the deception behind the deception: that the terrorist threat itself is by and large a phantom threat, blown out of all proportions by a power elite eager to achieve its goals. Part documentary, part essay, part brilliantly edited collage, Curtis tracks the rise and rise of two groups: the American neo-cons and the radical Islamists.
The story starts just after the Second World War, when political philosopher Leo Strauss begins to formulate his ideas: freedom and liberalism lead to decadence, therefore a politician must promote strong myths to counter that liberalism. Such myths can be religion, patriotism or the threat of an outside enemy. It doesn't matter that a leader believes in them himself (in fact, it is preferable he doesn't), they are important to unite an otherwise uncontrollable populace. In the next decades some of his followers like Paul Wolfowitz, John Ashcroft or William Kristol set about putting his ideas into practice, first during the cold war and now during the Bush-era.
Curtis draws parallels between the ideas of Strauss and those of Sayyid Qutb, who can be considered the godfather of radical Islamist thought: he too considered freedom dangerous and he too promoted the use of religion and fear to accomplish his objectives: to overthrow the corrupt regimes of the Middle East and replace them with Islamist societies.
Both groups would develop independently, meet when fighting a common enemy in Afghanistan and diverge again until September 11, 2001. The final part shows how, since the the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Neo-cons have kept the threat of Al Quaeda alive through misinformation, outright lies and spurious arrests of 'sleeper cells' (all of which later turned out to be innocent). As was evident on November 2, their tactics have paid off.
Watching The Power of Nightmares we're reminded that we're living in a world of fantasy and deception, lead by politicians who have little respect for truth, decency or human lives. There isn't much to be optimistic about, but as long as documentaries like this can be made and broadcast on national television, there's a dim ray of hope for democracy after all.
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