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D.A.F.C

Hypernormalisation

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The term "hypernormalisation" is taken from Alexei Yurchak's 2006 book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, in which Yurchak argues that for many decades everyone had known the Soviet system was failing, but as no one could imagine any alternative, politicians and citizens were resigned to maintaining a pretence of a functioning society. Over time, this delusion became a self-fulfilling prophecy and the "fakeness" was accepted by everyone as real, an effect that Yurchak termed "hypernormalisation.

- Wikipedia

 

I don't know if anyone has watched Adam Curtis' documentary but I feel he has a point.

Are we at the same stage Russia was at before the collapse of communism?

For decades we've been lied to and it now just seems normal for our leaders to not be held to account. They seem unable to fix the problems with society and really have zero control over how the modern world works. To keep power they created bogeymen states to cover up that major corporations were going round exploiting the world. i.e. Iraq.

The result of this and the control of information on the internet (according to curtis) is that we are almost powerless to stop it and the pantomime simplified political world simply acts as a show to disguise the real power players.

Due to algorithms and social media the anti trump campaigns simply went out to people who already agreed with their agenda.

I'm wondering if there is any point of our political system anymore if politicians aren't able to ask the right questions?

Is there substance to what he says or do you feel that the political system and western society isn't in denial?

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I enjoyed it though I preferred the 4 hoursemen if I'm wanting to watch a documentary about how the world is going to hell in a handcart. Adam Curtis documentary Bitter Lake was a great watch.

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I have just gone on an Adam Curtis binge, I've watched all his documentaries from 2002's The Century of the Self up to Hypernormalisation.  He is probably the most interesting documentary maker going, both in terms of the technical style of his films and the ideas expressed within them.  

I wouldn't say I agree with everything he says, I think sometimes he makes big leaps and it's ironic that he often criticises modern political movements, like the Occupy movement or the Arab Spring for not having alternatives, but he's often not specific in offering up any alternative himself.  He also criticises modern politics for pessimism and negativity but the thrust of his documentaries back this up.  For example, in The Trap, he lays out the issues as he sees it with how freedom is defined in the modern West but the only alternative offered is one line saying we need to restore the ideas of positive liberty - how?  What about the issues that are manifest with the ideas of positive liberty, that Curtis points out in the film?

I do think one thing he does really well is map out how ideas that come to be completely accepted in modern society are often based on shaky foundations and were dreamed up by deeply odd individuals.  Things like human beings as utility maximisers, ecosystems are balanced, Freudian models for human beings aren't really based on evidence and some of the people behind them are complete lunatics, to be frank.  Literally in a couple of cases.  He is also very good about the unexpected impacts on society of these ideas, in ways that people don't really accept even now.  In The Century of the Self he traces the rise of Thatcher and Reagen to the Human Potential Movement and other individualistic therapies, |I doubt many people would link a load of hippies doing primal scream classes to Mrs T but I think there was a real impact there.  That's something to bear in mind when thinking about the future - no-one thought that hippies and flower power would lead to a resurgance of conservatism in the UK and USA but it did.  The internet is another example, it was supposed to throw open borders, allow people to lose their shackles and spread information freely, whereas in reality the experience most people have of the internet is one based on algorithms that control what they say and pull them into an echo chamber and stifle their growth and ability, or willingness, to change.

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Mark Fisher developed this theory for late capitalism and called it capitalist realism appropriating the catchy motto of "it's easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism." I'd recommend his book of the same name. It's about 70-80 pages long.

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Curtis' blog is also great, although he doesn't update it any more, sadly.

Here's a post about scare statistics, risk and truth.  The post has some clips that'll be familiar with viewers of Chernobyl.  THe best bit is the massive leeks though.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/entries/a2094c9d-9864-348e-a241-7aa93adf0c09

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The start of this trailer, about the flats being blocks of money reminded me of a good story.

 

One of my colleagues in London takes his daughter to a swimming club and when the kids are swimming the parents go for a coffee  He was speaking to one dad who was an architect and said that he'd just finished designing a block of luxury flats near one of our offices.  MY colleague asked if the flats were selling and the architect told him they were all sold instantly - to Chinese investors.  None of them have even picked up the keys, so this huge block of flats sit completely empty.  The building has a concierge service, a man at the front desk, who just sits there all day doing nothing.  All the keys are hanging behind him, none of them ever picked up.  Cleaners come in and hoover the communal areas but they are the only people who ever go there. 

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2 hours ago, ICTChris said:

The internet is another example, it was supposed to throw open borders, allow people to lose their shackles and spread information freely, whereas in reality the experience most people have of the internet is one based on algorithms that control what they say and pull them into an echo chamber and stifle their growth and ability, or willingness, to change.

Which algorithms are controlling what people say?

Who is forcing anyone into an echo chamber?

Who is stifling people's growth and ability/willingness to change that?

I'm genuinely confused by your post here.

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1 minute ago, oaksoft said:

Who is forcing anyone into an echo chamber?

Who is stifling people's growth and ability/willingness to change that?

I am. Just made you post that and you didn't even know.

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Which algorithms are controlling what people say?
Who is forcing anyone into an echo chamber?
Who is stifling people's growth and ability/willingness to change that?
I'm genuinely confused by your post here.
The pace of information exchange and people exchange is unprecedented.

I agree with this questioning post. I can have a conversation with 15 vietnamese at the click of a finger and I'm not limited in what I'm saying.

Just because a few people spend too much time on the internet doesn't mean it hasn't been a huge leap in the right direction (if globalisation is progression).

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55 minutes ago, oaksoft said:

Which algorithms are controlling what people say?

Who is forcing anyone into an echo chamber?

Who is stifling people's growth and ability/willingness to change that?

I'm genuinely confused by your post here.

I mistyped, I should've said they show what information you "see".

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Honestly I think the vast majority of folk have a good enough life that they'll give this sort of thing a little bit of thought as they get on with their lives. Most folk are happy/miserable enough doing whatever it is they do. They don't really see an existential threat they should be hoarding food for and they're probably right. Communication has shown up opinions people don't like but they've always existed and social change has been lightening quick. Too quick for many.. see Brexit.

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Honestly I think the vast majority of folk have a good enough life that they'll give this sort of thing a little bit of thought as they get on with their lives. Most folk are happy/miserable enough doing whatever it is they do. They don't really see an existential threat they should be hoarding food for and they're probably right. Communication has shown up opinions people don't like but they've always existed and social change has been lightening quick. Too quick for many.. see Brexit.
I agree but that's the reason major powers can do what they want. General apathy and a feeling that you cant change the system.
Lies and corruption seem normal that's the whole point.

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6 hours ago, D.A.F.C said:

I don't know if anyone has watched Adam Curtis' documentary but I feel he has a point.

Are we at the same stage Russia was at before the collapse of communism? ...

Adam Curtis documentaries are always a good watch but Hypernormalisation is quite weak towards the end when he gets into Putin and Trump, because as a BBC journalist he's unwilling to rock the boat too much by looking at what went wrong with conventional mainstream politics in western societies. It's a bit of a cop out to try to blame the rise of Trump all on internet algorithms and avant garde Russian theatre misinformation techniques. Mark Blyth lectures on "global Trumpism" are worth a look for a lot of the issues Adam Curtis is unlikely to ever want to cover:

 

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1 hour ago, D.A.F.C said:

I agree but that's the reason major powers can do what they want. General apathy and a feeling that you cant change the system.
Lies and corruption seem normal that's the whole point.

 

Brexit aside, Government is more transparent than it's ever been.  Have you seen the amount of quangos on everything from diet to BME in the workplace.  It's more transparent, that's why people are talking about it.  Politicians rarely lie, they just don't tell the whole truth.  Trump is a bit of an exception and why he's laughed at.  But we're not america and plenty presidents have lied.

A system to what?  The current one has brought about more people in employment and higher wages than ever.  A lot of pensioners are sitting on huge nest eggs from property that will filter down.  European countries' standard of living is infinitely better than the 90s.  There are those left behind but that would be the case in any system.  The vast majority are happy with their smartphone, leased car and holidays.  A lot of people try and make out the world's coming to an end; meanwhile more people are out on terrace having a beer or ten watching the tennis.  It would be interesting to know what system you all have in mind.

Edited by tirso

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Aren't we presiding over the longest period of wage stagnation since the Napoleonic Wars? The onset of neoliberalism has saw inequality shoot up and undo much of the progress we made in the post war period as the welfare state dies by a thousand cuts.

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