Just days ago Adam Curtis, the documentary maker behind the film ‘Bitter Lake’ released his new film called HyperNormalisation.
At around 3 hours long it focuses on how the politicians and the elite gave control of our lives to the banking and financial industries. It also though looks primarily at how the politicians have manipulated the true narrative of international conflict to fit their own agenda and how it’s become the new norm to accept what we are told. It also looks at how, essentially, dumbed down we have become via the TV, Internet and fads. We use it to escape the harsh realities of our world that we can barely understand anyway.
In the documentary we learn how New York in the mid 1970’s went bankrupt and how the city handed control of it to the banks and how the banks then paid off the cities debts at the expense of the people. We learn how the financial systems became all controlling of every aspect of our lives. We learn how America and the West manipulated the public into believing that Libya was responsible for multiple terror acts when the evidence pointed at Syria, then when the West were about to name Syria as being responsible for the Lockerbie bombing they formed an alliance with Gadaffi of Libya to take the blame for the bombing instead.
This article though will focus on one smaller aspect of the film, that of the effects of that manipulation on activism, protest and anti establishment feeling and how the Internet has enabled the authorities to keep you, the activist, quiet.
The video below was just one moment of a few in the film that makes it absolutely clear that the ability to change the opinions of others is lost in our own self made echo chambers.
Perhaps the single most stark example I can use is that of the supporters, of which we include ourselves, of Jeremy Corbyn. Those of us on the left know that the policies and message that the likes of Corbyn brings to the table are fair, just, progressive and much needed in a world of corruption and lies yet we wonder why the wider public, the swing voters have not yet heard his message and why they haven’t listened to us, his supporters.
There is of course one seemingly obvious answer and that is that the mainstream media are too right wing to consider supporting his polices and thus produce a narrative that goes against Corbyn and what he stands for. In turn it’s easy to see why the public are as of yet not seemingly supporting Labour. We can also look to the destabilisation caused by the PLP.
What though of the power of the Internet? A place where Bernie Sanders against all the odds almost became the democrat nomination for President, a place where Donald Trump may still yet become President of the United States. A place where the online movement rallied for Jeremy Corbyn and also where the word spread of the Occupy movement and of course Anonymous. Why has this not translated into victories for Sanders and wider public acceptance of people like Jeremy Corbyn? Why have the activists not been able to organise significant numbers against the establishment during protests? They have millions of people they can reach on the Web in the UK alone to spread the message to. Yet often a 5,000 person turn out tends to be an average attendence for those protests?
With so much wrong in the world and with so much corruption why are there not 100’s of thousands on the streets demanding change?
The answer lies not just in the distractions provided by TV, gaming, the arts and music but of our echo chambers and the systems in place to trap us into those echo chambers.
‘HyperNormalisation’ showed that corporations like Facebook and Google lock us into a gated world where much of our lives are contained within and like much of the Internet our movement and likes are monitored by those companies, they collect tons of data about us that tells them what we like and want to see more of. In turn the corporations provide us more of the same. Constantly seeing content with nothing but confirmation bias, articles and videos that mirror exactly what we want to see. After all it makes good business sense for you to like what you’re seeing and the likes of Facebook get ever more rich and ever more powerful as they use all that collected data to target you with advertising. You though don’t notice and you like the content you see, so you’re happy. Never questioning what is really going on in the real world.
As a left winger I will rarely see articles or content that contains Conservative policy and likewise the right wing or non politically engaged will rarely see any left wing Labour content. The non political will likely get their information still from the mainstream media and funny cat videos. They are as disengaged from the political system as if they had never explored the Internet. It’s these people that will never hear the message that Corbyn supporters want them to hear. Their message will only ever reach those that already agree with them.
If we are immersing ourselves into a world of mirrors then what hope of convincing others that there is an alternative to the status quo, a world beyond their own set of mirrors?
We need to find a way to get the message out to others that there is an alternative and it’s up to each of us to find a way to do that. Whilst the activist movement was lost in the 80’s perhaps it’s time the activist movement found itself again, not with gimmicks or tactics that no one understands or even where activists are manipulated by movements supported by politicians, the very people who are part of the order of control and manipulation but with movements that are built by ordinary people with a clear message that everyone understands and that galvanises more than just their own groups. Activism that creates a common message where the policies of the likes of Jeremy Corbyn will be heard. Where the end result of those actions can’t be avoided by the mainstream media and more people will hear the relevant message.
Activists must now realise that the online world can galvanise those who already agree but so often fails to galvanise anyone else. If we want change to come quicker then we need to do far more than talking back to ourselves.
You can watch HyperNormalisation below
You can also see his previous documentary Bitter Lake below