About this title


Individual freedom is the dream of our age. It's what our leaders promise to give us, it defines how we think of ourselves and, repeatedly, we have gone to war to impose freedom around the world. But if you step back and look at what freedom actually means for us today, it's a strange and limited kind of freedom. Politicians promised to liberate us from the old dead hand of bureaucracy, but they have created an evermore controlling system of social management, driven by targets and numbers. Governments committed to freedom of choice have presided over a rise in inequality and a dramatic collapse in social mobility. And abroad, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the attempt to enforce freedom has led to bloody mayhem and the rise of an authoritarian anti-democratic Islamism. This, in turn, has helped inspire terrorist attacks in Britain. In response, the Government has dismantled long-standing laws designed to protect our freedom. The Trap is a series of three films by Bafta-winning producer Adam Curtis that explains the origins of our contemporary, narrow idea of freedom. It shows how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today's idea of freedom. This model was derived from ideas and techniques developed by nuclear strategists during the Cold War to control the behaviour of the Soviet enemy. Mathematicians such as John Nash developed paranoid game theories whose equations required people to be seen as selfish and isolated creatures, constantly monitoring each other suspiciously always intent on their own advantage. This model was then developed by genetic biologists, anthropologists, radical psychiatrists and free market economists, and has come to dominate both political thinking since the Seventies and the way people think about themselves as human beings. However, within this simplistic idea lay the seeds of new forms of control. And what people have forgotten is that there are other ideas of freedom. We are, says Curtis, in a trap of our own making that controls us, deprives us of meaning and causes death and chaos abroad.

Country: United Kingdom

Type: unscripted

Status: Ended

Language: English

Release Date: March 11, 2007

Also Known As: The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom, Западня: Что сталось с мечтой о свободе?


Plot Keywords

modern world
social documentary
personal freedom
modern society
social history
social control
free society
politics documentary
social order
reference to john nash
prisoner's dilemma
self interest
reference to r.d. laing
studying psychology
psychiatry scandal
psychological disorders
systems analysis
behavioural analysis
freedom of choice
social mobility
free market
public services
social theory
wealth inequality
british class system
economic policy
archive footage
game theory
individual freedom
timeframe 2000s
unintended consequences
reference to friedrich von hayek
reference to utopia
reference to the soviet union
reference to the cold war
reference to a nuclear weapon
rand corporation
reference to nuclear war
nash equilibrium
reference to schizophrenia
public good
reference to james buchanan
reference to margaret thatcher
psychiatric diagnosis
mental health
british government
power and privilege
timeframe 1990s
reference to john maynard smith
reference to john major
british politics
reference to the yanomami tribe
reference to robert rubin
reference to bill clinton
reference to goldman sachs
big government
social contract
reference to richard dawkins
reference to anxiety disorder
reference to an ssri
reference to prozac
performance targets
national health service
british labour party
class divisions
self fulfillment
reference to anthropology
new society
reference to isaiah berlin
world history
reference to pol pot
liberty as concept
third world
reference to the cambodian genocide
reference to revolution
social change
algerian revolution
revolutionary war
reference to frantz fanon
reference to terrorism
reference to existentialism
reference to jean paul sartre
reference to khmer rouge
bourgeois society
balance of power
political destabilization
reference to henry kissinger
reference to michael ledeen
reference to the iranian revolution
american foreign policy
shia islam
political ideology
political islam
timeframe 1960s
timeframe 1970s
armed struggle
moral crusade
reagan presidency
democracy movement
reference to sandinistas
democratic election
reference to elliott abrams
reference to the contras of nicaragua
reference to vladimir putin
collapse of the soviet union
reference to oligarchy
reference to boris yeltsin
reference to tony blair
shock therapy
reference to kosovo
reference to september 11 2001
reference to paul bremer
illiberal democracy
reference to iraq war
market economy
american politics
7 july 2005 london bombings
reference to afghanistan war
government power
political leader
economic model
tv mini series
political crime
evil politician
public relations
international relations
question in title
cold war

Company Credits

Production Co: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Seasons & Episodes

Season 1

2006 | 3 Episodes

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