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Which clippings match 'Individual Freedom' keyword pg.1 of 1
26 JULY 2016

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom?

"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 behavior of the Soviet enemy."

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TAGS

2007 • A Beautiful Mind (2001) • Adam CurtisAfghanistan • anti-democratic • authoritarianismBBC Two • bloody mayhem • cold war • contemporary idea of freedom • controlling system • deterministic logicdocumentary seriesexplicit objectivesfreedom of choicegame theory • goal-oriented agenda • government policygrand political dreamhuman behaviourindividual freedomindividualismIraqIslamism • John Nash • limited kind of freedom • mathematical modelmetricisation • narrow idea of freedom • neoliberalism • nuclear strategists • operational criteriaoversimplificationpersonal freedom • point of equilibrium • rational self-interest • Ronald David Laing • self-monitoring • simplistic model • social inequality • social management • social mobility • Soviet Union • state control • systems theory • target-oriented agenda • targets and numbers • the dream of our age

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 NOVEMBER 2010

Republic.com: individual experience causing social fragmentation?

"MIT technology specialist Nicholas Negroponte prophecies the emergence of 'the Daily Me'––a communications package that is personally designed, with each component fully chosen in advance [4]. Many of us are applauding these developments, which obviously increase individual convenience and entertainment. But in the midst of the applause, we should insist on asking some questions. How will the increasing power of private control affect democracy? How will the Internet, the new forms of television, and the explosion of communications options alter the capacity of citizens to govern themselves? What are the social preconditions for a well–functioning system of democratic deliberation, or for individual freedom itself? ...

A large part of my aim is to explore what makes for a well–functioning system of free expression. Above all, I urge that in a diverse society, such a system requires far more than restraints on government censorship and respect for individual choices. For the last decades, this has been the preoccupation of American law and politics, and indeed the law and politics of many other nations as well, including, for example, Germany, France, England, and Israel. Censorship is indeed a threat to democracy and freedom. But an exclusive focus on government censorship produces serious blind spots. In particular, a well–functioning system of free expression must meet two distinctive requirements.

First, people should be exposed to materials that they would not have chosen in advance. Unplanned, unanticipated encounters are central to democracy itself. Such encounters often involve topics and points of view that people have not sought out and perhaps find quite irritating. They are important partly to ensure against fragmentation and extremism, which are predictable outcomes of any situation in which like–minded people speak only with themselves. I do not suggest that government should force people to see things that they wish to avoid. But I do contend that in a democracy deserving the name, people often come across views and topics that they have not specifically selected.

Second, many or most citizens should have a range of common experiences. Without shared experiences, a heterogeneous society will have a much more difficult time in addressing social problems. People may even find it hard to understand one another. Common experiences, emphatically including the common experiences made possible by the media, provide a form of social glue. A system of communications that radically diminishes the number of such experiences will create a number of problems, not least because of the increase in social fragmentation.

As preconditions for a well–functioning democracy, these requirements hold in any large nation. They are especially important in a heterogeneous nation, one that faces an occasional risk of fragmentation. They have all the more importance as each nation becomes increasingly global and each citizen becomes, to a greater or lesser degree, a 'citizen of the world."

(Cass Sunstein, 2002)

Sunstein, C. (2002). "The Daily Me". Republic.com, Princeton University Press.

Fig.1 San Liu (2004) 'Narcissism' webshots.com.

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1995 • being digital • Cass Sunsteincensorship • citizen of the world • citizenshipcommon experiences • communications technologies • consumer choiceconveniencecultural signalsdemocracy • democratic deliberation • democratic participation • democratic society • digital culturediversityemerging technologiesempathyextremismfilter • Fishwrap • fragmentationfree expressionfreedomfreedom of speechglobalisation • government censorship • heterogeneity • heterogeneous society • individual choiceindividual experienceindividual freedomindividualisminformation in context • international relations • Internetisolationmedia consumptionMITnarcissismnew forms of televisionNicholas Negroponteparticipationpersonalisation • political philosophy • power • Princeton University Press • private control • Republic.com • shared experiencesocial changesocial constructionismsocial fragmentationsocial gluesocial interactionthe Daily Me

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 JULY 2009

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

"Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied."

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2005 • Barry Schwartz • challenging conventional thinkingchoiceconsumer choiceconsumer culture • cost of a choice • cost-benefit analysis • customer satisfactiondecision makingdissatisfaction • economic efficiency • expectationfreedom of choicehappinessindividual choiceindividual freedomindividualisminformation anxiety • microeconomic theory • opportunity costoverloadparadox • paralysis • Pareto efficiency • Pareto optimality • performativitypsychology • real cost • resource allocation • salad dressing • satisfaction • scarce resources • skip culture • TED Talksthe Daily Me • Vilfredo Pareto • Western societies • what I reckon

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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