The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom? (2007)

The Trap is a three part series of films by award-winning producer Adam Curtis which explores how Western society has adopted a simplistic model of human beings as self-interested autotrons. As a result, Western intellectuals have embraced the notion that the behavior of individuals can be predicted and manipulated through the use of analytic models.

Curtis argues that we have created a controlling system of social management which has contributed to the alienation of citizens who are categorized into unjust social heirarchical systems which severely limits their opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

Episode 1: F***K You, Buddy:

In the first episode, Adam Curtis investigates how Western culture’s adoption of Game theory during the Cold War Era led to a change in how Western government’s have defined personal freedoms.

Episode 2: The Lonely Robot

In Episode two, Adam Curtis examines how Western governments began to apply free market concepts for predicting societal behavior. The assumption was that individual decisions reflected rational choices which could be accurately predicted through analytics.

Episode 3: We Will Force You to Be Free

In the third installment, Adam Curtis discusses Isaiah Berlin’s concept of positive and negative freedoms. Western governments began to view the concept of positive freedoms as dangerous and unstable. Therefore, a decision was made that the goal of government should be to protect negative freedoms. Curtis argues that in doing so, the life of the individual has been robbed of much of its meaning.

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

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