Happiness Machines
February 26, 2006 12:43 AM   Subscribe

The Century Of The Self. It's a documentary, and the four parts are available at archive.org [2][3][4] -- with a higher quality bittorrent option [via mindhacks]. The program is about the use of psychoanalytical techniques to manipulate and control the "bewildered herd", "engineering consent" in a world fraught with "irrational impulses" [more inside].
posted by gsb (16 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
The program follows the writing and thoughts of Sigmund Freud, and the practical application of his theories in the manipulation and control mass opinion. It follows the father of modern-day propaganda, Edward Bernays, who was Freud's nephew. Here's the official BBC site on the documentary, and a review of the program.

In Bernays's terms, this is all pretty much as it should be. Fearing the unleashed subconscious, Freudians believed that psychoanalysis could normalise people for democracy. Bernays, particularly after the rise and fall of the Third Reich (Goebbels was an assiduous student of his methods), thought that the safest way of maintaining democracy was to distract people from dangerous political thought by letting them think that their real choices were as consumers. He believed, and argued to Eisenhower, that fear of communists should be induced and encouraged, because by unleashing irrational fears, it would make Americans loyal to the state and to capitalism.

In the wake of the Soviet atomic tests in 1958, Eisenhower for the first time made conspicuous consumption the first duty of the free: 'You Auto Buy,' he sloganed. This was, of course, the very same exhortation made by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic after 11 September. Your democratic duty in the light of global terror was to indulge your Self: go shopping, save the world. The interests of the free market and the pursuit of personal freedom were indistinguishable.
posted by gsb at 12:43 AM on February 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

I watched this a couple years ago. Good for historical perspective, but a little far-fetched baiting in its approach.
posted by Mach3avelli at 1:37 AM on February 26, 2006

For those who don't know and don't bother to read the links, it's by Adam Curtis, the man who made The Power of Nightmares.
posted by tapeguy at 3:23 AM on February 26, 2006

He also made Pandora's Box about the dangers of scientism and technocracy.

It makes a neat trilogy with Self and Nightmares. The essential message is "The fuckers are lying to you all the time, in a really blatant and stupid way". Can't say fairer than that.
posted by Grangousier at 3:50 AM on February 26, 2006

Wow gsb, truly a mind-expanding FPP. I knew nothing about any of the info linked to in this rich thread. It makes sense of numerous unarticulated questions I had. Thanks, tapeguy, for that connection. Grangousier, what an eye-opening trilogy.
posted by nickyskye at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2006

Here's a torrent link that should be OK, the one in the post is broken, for now.
posted by gsb at 8:28 AM on February 26, 2006

Both these torrent links don't seem to be working. Any others?
posted by twsf at 8:59 AM on February 26, 2006

Both torrents use tracker1.conspiracycentral.net:6969 as a tracker. On my machine, the IP resolves, but I can't reach the server. The server's down, is all.

In other words, conspiracycentral.net is under attack by Trilateral Masonic New World Knights of Templar-Order!!! Avoid black helicopters and don HAARP-resistant tinfoil hats! Mind-control drill! Feel the white flame!
posted by suckerpunch at 9:40 AM on February 26, 2006

I love how one of the comments on the archive.org page asks why Ford/GM/et al why they haven't developed a 98mpg car. As if somehow these big companies are motivated by anything other than money and markets. Ha!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:41 AM on February 26, 2006

I've been wanting to see this. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2006

Here's a good critique of Nightmares, which gets misrepresented a lot: Beware the Holy War.
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on February 26, 2006

homunculus, good link, thanks. This thread has been very stimulating and an amazing education.
posted by nickyskye at 12:20 PM on February 26, 2006

Bernays was creepy as shit. I don't know if anyone else has read any of his books, but the story Bernays(!) used to tell was that Goebbels based his demonisation of the Jews in Nazis Germany on the techniques of "Crystallising Public Opinion," one of Bernays' books. In "Propaganda" he advocates technocratic control of the state and its population, and advises the extensive use of propaganda by major institutions to reconcile individuals to that state of affairs. The thing that makes it creepy is that "Propaganda" is a How-To book to do just that.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2006

Thank you! I don't think this ever showed in my part of the world, and a friend of mine and I have had trouble getting ahold of it. Hopefully one of these torrents will work.
posted by lunalaguna at 1:25 PM on February 26, 2006

Great documentary; thought about posting this earlier in the week, but didn't know if a torrent link was okay. Thanks for sharing!
posted by youarenothere at 2:33 PM on February 26, 2006

It was an excellent and fascinating doco series. Unfortunately it made me even more of a crank than I used to be about marketing and advertising and the people who do it for a buck, and how they've shaped so much of what we call culture today.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:52 AM on February 27, 2006

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