In this film, Curtis offers a sort of intellectual history of the idea of “freedom” and individual autonomy over the past half century, drawing on many fascinating, divergent sources: from game theorists like John Nash, nuclear strategists at RAND, anthropologists studying the Yanomamo, influential liberal thinkers like Isaiah Berlin, biologists like Richard Dawkins, leaders of the anti-psychiatry movement like R.D. Laing, “New Democrats” like Bill Clinton, all the way to the great “liberators” of Iraq, Bush and Blair.
Curtis ultimately winds up back-dooring himself into an analysis of neoliberalism — a term he uses nowhere in the film, unfortunately. He does, however, weave together an impressive narrative and engages some very important questions: Why is our conception of “freedom” so limiting today? Why does this “freedom” seem so meaningless? Why has the dogged imposition of this “freedom” made so many people seemingly less free — typically by subjecting them to the vagaries of invasion or class warfare, while at the same time eroding their capacity to exert meaningful influence via democratic institutions? And are there any other ways in which we might view or practice “freedom”?
The first of the three episode, 180 minute film is posted above. The other two episodes can be found via Google Video.