Adam Curtis says: “The political goal of our age is the idea of individual freedom. In Britain our government has set out to create a revolution that will free individuals from the control of elites and bureaucracies: A new world, where we are allowed to choose our lives. We won’t be trapped by class or income into a predestined role.
“And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Britain and America have set out to liberate individuals from tyranny.
For those leading, it is just a first step for a global revolution: Democracy.
“But if one steps back and looks at what has resulted, it is a very strange kind of freedom. The attempt to liberate people from the dead hand of bureaucracy has led to a new and increasingly controlling system of management, driven by targets and numbers.
“While governments, committed to creating free choice in all areas have actually presided over a rise of inequalities and a dramatic collapse in social mobility.
The consequence has been a return of the power of class and privilege.
“And abroad, the attempt to create democracy has not just created bloody mayhem, but a rejection of the American-led campaign to bring freedom and it has summoned up an anti-democratic, authoritarian Islamism. This, in turn has helped inspire terrorist attacks on Britain, itself. In response, the government has dismantled longstanding laws designed to protect our freedom.
“This is a series of films about how this strange, paradoxical world came to be created. This episode tells the story about how in the 1990s, politicians from both the right and the left tried to extend an idea of freedom modeled on the freedom of the market to all other areas of society. This was something that previously no one, not even the high priest of Capitalism, Adam Smith had thought possible or appropriate but now it was seen as inevitable because underlying it was a scientific model of ourselves as simplified robots. Rational, calculating beings whose behavior and even feelings could be analyzed and managed by numbers.
“And what resulted was the very opposite of freedom. The numbers took on a power of their own, which began to create new forms of control, greater inequalities and the return of a rigid class structure, based on the power of money.”