I woke up early and read another great post by filmmaker Adam Curtis on his excellent blog. In it, he describes the rise of fear and hatred among a populace searching through rubble for the remnants of their broken dreams. It’s about Palestine, Israel and Egypt, and what happens when people stop believing that they and their world can be transformed, and instead take faith in the idea that there is evil in the hearts of all.
Curtis outlines a history of the conflict between Zionism and Arab Nationalism, and their twinned descent into poisonous right-wing self-destruction after the deeply flawed utopian ideals that informed both ideologies fell apart. Arising from the pit into which those ideals crumbled was a sort of many-headed Gorgon of grimly conservative reactionary politics, which attempted, through violence, to turn volatile, fluid societies into stone.
Conservatism is concentrated pessimism, the deeply-felt belief that change is dangerous, or that it is being promoted secretly by enemies within the culture. The control imposed when such ideologies are in power is powerfully destructive, mostly because of its inability to effectively restrain change and its subsequent reliance on setting up savage obstacles. Those obstacles tend to cripple and brutalize societies, as they move through them in the process of transformation. A minefield is the metaphor I’m looking for. This happens at all sorts of levels within societies, and within the currents of thought of which they’re composed.
As always, Curtis makes a lot of his point through judiciously selected clips of news footage, sifted from the vast archives of the BBC. Don’t let the haircuts or the film-colors in the videos fool you- the same dreams of a new society are being thwarted today, under Morsi and Netanyahu. Here, too, as well as there.
What can you take away from this? Maybe that beautiful dreams are dangerous, but that it’s the cynical “realism” that arises in their absence that is truly deadly. When we decide to “face facts”, we become too often like the unchanged werewolf turning to face the full moon.
Read it on Curtis’ blog: Save all your kisses for me.