“The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy."
Employing neither the tone of righteous disapproval expected in U.S. political discourse nor an appeal to nostalgia, Curtis traces individualism's history: Bernays adapts Freud's idea of subconscious desire, invents PR; psychoanalysis rises to combat perceived widespread mental illness; later psychoanalysts reject control, favor self-actualizing; politics mirrors business, sells you you. Mathematical, metal, 'mazing.
A fascinating, complex, precisely syncopated four-part suite that both identifies a prevailing monomania -- the centrality of the consuming self in contemporary culture -- and exemplifies a monomania of its own by overlooking various prominent counter-tendencies of the 20th century, from class, race, and national identification to the communitarian pretensions of fascism and family-values conservatism. Searing stuff.
I saw this when it first came on TV and it altered my thinking. Curtis dismembers the 20th century self with surgical finesse. His selection and editing of archive material is a masterful appeal to the image hungry zip-edit generation, and is the perfect foil to a soaring yet penetrating polemic. All should watch.