Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/924/23913

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 November 2016

Documentary: HyperNormalisation

Arbitrary selection of ideas to confirm feelings of powerlessness

Adam Curtis's latest documentary focuses on feelings of powerlessness in the face of political corruption, but puts little forward

Adam Curtis's latest documentary focuses on feelings of powerlessness in the face of political corruption, but puts little forward   (Click to enlarge)

Sofia Wiking, Leicester Socialist Party

The most recent creation of documentary-maker Adam Curtis revolves around the idea of "hypernormalisation", which he applies to recent history.

The term, he tells us, was coined by a "Soviet writer" to describe the situation towards the end of the Soviet Union. Everyone could see that what their leaders told them wasn't true, but, according to theory, they went along with it anyway because they saw no alternative.

Similarly, Curtis poses, the leaders of the Western world are creating a simplified version of the world to suit their needs. His narrative sweeps over a multitude of events, starting in the 1970s, from the affairs of Donald Trump, Hafez and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, in their relations with the USA, to the creation of the internet, UFOs and the Occupy movement.

Change?

In some of Curtis's earlier work there is more of an emphasis on issues like the growing inequalities in society. But while 'HyperNormalisation' does make the point that our politicians are corrupt, the emphasis is on the general idea that nothing can be changed.

This is the fundamental problem with the documentary. It is about the feeling of powerlessness, the failure of 'democracy', the lack of hope for the future, and the blurring of fact and fiction in official narratives. The way that this is conveyed is through a complete embrace of it.

He gives us a cursory glance at what seems like a rather arbitrary selection of events and ideas, explaining how they confirm his argument, without providing any hints as to alternative ways of looking at things.

Social media

While Curtis is correct that the Occupy movement suffered from its lack of an end goal, he fails to see its social significance, and explains it simply as an expression of the "original dream of the internet." Similarly, in the Egyptian revolution, people are described as "organised by the internet" and summoned to protests by Facebook, completely dehumanising the movements.

That 'the internet' should have been the power behind these uprisings is, of course, absurd. While phenomena like social media may be useful means of communication, that is still what they are - means of communication, used by people to organise themselves. In fact, in response to revolutionary tensions, the Egyptian state actually shut the internet down. The movement went on regardless.

In the end, Curtis' vision of a 'hypernormal' world just confirms the feeling of powerlessness many feel.

But the rise of new political struggles, like the movement around Jeremy Corbyn, shows people are unwilling to 'go along with it' anymore. Rather than trying to drag politics back into the doldrums, the task is to point a way forward - as the Socialist Party does.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 November 2016:


High Court Brexit bombshell

Bosses' government, bosses' EU...fight for socialism

High Court bombshell on Brexit decision


Socialist Party news and analysis

Stop the 54,000 yearly maternity sackings

Build housing for the kids without homes this Xmas

Unions must act on pay restraint!

Court slams Tory air quality plans

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Build the education fightback

Read the Socialist

Over a thousand march to fight museums and libraries cuts

Library cuts: working class kids suffer most

Momentum left meeting excludes socialists

New Socialist Party pamphlet: Fight racism, fight for socialism

Far-right given short shrift in Darlington

Obituary: Hilary Mooney 1945-2016


Socialist Party workplace news

Action needed to defend workers at the sharp end of prisons crisis

Courts and tribunal services face huge cuts

Newcastle council cuts: opportunity for trade union fightback

Birmingham's Labour council freezes workers' pay

Hackney Picturehouse strike


International socialist news and analysis

Turkey: Erdogan tightens repressive screw

Ireland: Gardai strike threat

South Africa: State victimises #OutsourcingMustFall activists


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Horror of health-wrecking toil for Polish migrants

HyperNormalisation: Arbitrary selection of ideas to confirm feelings of powerlessness

Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 November 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Media:

triangleSequel to 'A Very British Coup' - workers' struggle, not bosses' EU and media, is route to socialism

triangleWorldwide threat to journalists at worst for ten years

triangleSupport the Socialist alternative, subscribe to the Socialist

triangleEnthusiastic response to new podcast

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The importance of the Socialist paper today

Internet:

triangleHow 'Prevent' training fosters racist paranoia

triangleManchester Socialist Party: Technology, the internet and freedom of speech

triangleWill robots end capitalism?

triangleStop the "elites fortifying their power"

US:

triangleImperialist tensions escalate as world economy teeters

triangleProbation hostel rest room win

triangleMass movement topples governor of Puerto Rico

Socialist Party:

triangleSouth West London Socialist Party: Socialist change to end climate change

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Northern Ireland - 50 years since British army entered

Occupy:

triangleLeeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

Democracy:

triangleCapitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy

Facebook:

triangleTax-dodging tech bosses make billons ... while 6m workers fear the scrapheap

Soviet Union:

triangleTV Review: Chernobyl - Workers' heroism vs sclerotic Stalinism

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleTories in tatters: Corbyn must seize the time

Bashar al-Assad:

triangleSyria: No ceasefire for 'hell on earth' eastern Goutha

Leicester:

triangleLeicester Kashmir protest rejects religious smokescreen

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

11/9/19

Democracy

Capitalist 'democracy' v socialist democracy

4/9/19

Socialism

At 96 I'm more convinced of socialism than ever

4/9/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

28/8/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

28/8/19

Crime

Knife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity

14/8/19

Health

TV: Young, British and Depressed - "What is wrong with our society that all these people are feeling this way?"

31/7/19

Teaching assistants

Huge workload, low pay and unpaid hours - a day in the life of a teaching assistant

31/7/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

31/7/19

Aristocracy

Aristocrats are rich after all... and getting richer

17/7/19

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

3/7/19

TV

TV: Years and Years - Engaging family drama pushes confused, reactionary message

3/7/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

26/6/19

Letters

The Socialist inbox

26/6/19

Nuclear power

Opinion: capitalism's Fukushima showed same recklessness as Stalinism's Chernobyl

19/6/19

TV

Defend free TV licences for over-75s!

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999