Thursday, 14 January 2010

The power of nightmares

I have been meaning to comment on the 'war on terror' and its aftermath for a while and when I saw Gary Younge's excellent article in the Guardian recently it prompted me to write this post.

Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 people believed in ideologies. Politicians promised to create a better society and people believed that such a thing was possible. Nowadays people are disillusioned with ideologies. Politicians now promise to protect us from dangers - real or imagined. They have become simply the managers of a capitalist society. They tinker at the margins. They exploit and feed our fears in order to preserve their power.

That is what the 'war on terror' was really about. Following on from 9/11 President Bush announced the 'war on terror' and used the attack on the world trade centre to launch repressive legislation at home and a disastrous war in Iraq abroad. The result? We are in more danger from Islamic extremism than we have ever been before. A hornet's nest of fundamentalism and hatred has been stirred up. Our privacy and freedoms - which were supposed to be protected - have diminished.

The war on terror was never about protecting us. It was about maintaining power and control over us in a disillusioned world. Adam Curtis's excellent documentary - The Power of Nightmares - exposed all this. It showed that the terrorist threat was exaggerated and used cynically by politicians who had no positive ideological messages to give us. It showed that the very people who called for the 'war on terror' created the terrorists who threatened us. I can't recommend it strongly enough. It is essential viewing. The 'war on terror' was never anything more than a means of controlling us, and the end result is that we are less free and in more danger now than we were when it started.

No comments: