Adam Curtis on ecology 

I am really getting the strong sense in part 2 of "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace" that Adam Curtis loathes and despises the science of ecology and everyone involved in it.

I don't know why he has such strong negative feelings about a field of study that seems to me basically about saving the planet, and his attitude gives me kind of far-right vibes.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

Like I'm figuring so far that he probably thinks that ecology is just a mask for powerful technocrats to try to control people? And he probably thinks that climate change is a conspiracy as well?

I don't get what he's saying and the part he's not saying really bugs me.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

It will be interesting to see if that's really where he's headed or not.

My feeling has always been that ecologists, cyberneticists and systems thinkers are much *less* machine-like in their thinking than the theorists who came before them; Curtis seems to believe the opposite, which really startles me.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

Basically, I think I would classify Curtis as "anti-globalist" (with all that that phrase implies) in his thinking - not anti-capitalist or anti-authoritarian. Wouldn't be at all surprised if he voted for Trump.

I could be wrong but he's giving me those vibes.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

What annoys me about the "Cloud" of 2022 is not that it's "Cybernetic self-organization gone wrong" but rather that it's explicitly NOT cybernetic self-organization; it's top-down centric, again, like we had in the 1980s.

There's a story there about how we lost the cybernetic vision through taking it for granted, first by deregulating too fast and then by panicking and consolidating/controlling all the things.

But I don't think that's the story Curtis is telling.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

You can't have BOTH cybernetics AND "tech unicorns" with a "founder" cult. They are two opposite visions. Self-organization should not be creating huge centralised behemoths. If it is, it's failed.

Somehow Silicon Valley hasn't put A and B together and is still trying to do - and praise - both.

THAT'S the contradiction in "the Californian Ideology" that interests me.

Curtis is bagging on the cybernetics part and I don't think he understands what he's looking at.

Adam Curtis on ecology 


"The Club of Rome", "Limits to Growth " and WORLD2.

This was was a major far-right bogeyman back in the 1980s. This was a key part of the "omg an evil globalist cabal is secretly trying to Social Engineer us all".

And the words Curtis uses to describe Limits to Growth: "bureaucrats" "rich businessmen" "the world Needed to be Managed"

Curtis isn't on the Left. He's repeating far-right memes.

That's my strong feeling based on half-way through AWOBMOLG.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

He really doesn't like the idea of "equilibrium" -- which I assume means that he thinks that perpetual economic growth is sustainable on a finite planet.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

@natecull I don't think that's a fair assumption. It's been a while since I saw it, considering it came out in 2011, but as I recall, I took that much more to argue against "steady-state" managed solution that try to artificially suppress existing movements and changes instead of reacting to and flowing with them. Imposing a static view of the world instead of embracing change.

Adam Curtis on ecology 


" took that much more to argue against "steady-state" managed solution that try to artificially suppress existing movements and changes"

And is a "managed solution" that "artificially suppresses" changes in fact what the extreme laissez-faire non-interventionist capitalist economics advocated by Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan, introduced in Episode 1, that was shown as leading to economic crisis, was actually about?

Adam Curtis on ecology 

@natecull Basically yes.

"Laissez-faire" capitalism basically isn't, and has never been. It's always been about transplanting power from the state into the hands of individual capitalists and companies, who are then expected to manage and extract resources as far as possible.

All the various arguments in favour of such systems already _assume_ an unperturbable steady-state on top of which The Market can do its thing.

Neoliberalism is about creating that steady state.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

@pettter @natecull I've not seen AWOBMOLG but I've watched Hypernormalization in which he certainly seems to be drawing attention to and criticizing the concept of neoliberalism and the steady-state concept from the crux that the steady-state abandons any ideology in preference of having control over the present moment by giving up any particular direction of the future. I do wonder if that underlying thrust would extrapolate on to criticism of any other simulation or modelling on the basis of distrust of its *use* rather than its *validity*, but that's totally a supposition from a point of not having watched the material you're pointing out.

I certainly have my own suspicions of Curtis - I feel his work has a *lot* of value based on what he draws attention to and the type of systematic thinking, but I reserve judgement on any implied conclusion. Mostly chiming in here because it's interesting so don't see what I wrote as a defense or an attack :)

Adam Curtis on ecology 

@grimmware @pettter

Basically my problem with Adam Curtis so far (two episodes of Machines of Loving Grace) is that he takes forever to say very little, it's not structured, he doesn't cite sources, *and does it with a dark menacing emotional overtone of music and images* which is utterly unrelated to his actual subject matter or argument.

He walks and talks like a propagandist slinging fear and despair and I just don't care for that style of communication.

Adam Curtis on ecology 

@grimmware @pettter

Like, his thoughts are just *so half-formed and confused* and he's seething with anger and cynicism, and he keeps half-making suggestions of allegations but not following through. It's a pattern I'm familiar with from the right-wing conspiracy materials I grew up with.

The germ of a point he seems to have so far is "systems/ecology thinking circa 1960s assumed a steady state; Ayn Rand thought similarly; unknown later ecological thinking disagrees".


Adam Curtis on ecology 

@natecull It's definitely more "CAUTION: this thing" than "hey this thing is Good and Cool".

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