The Century of the Self

by Ian MacKenzie Aug 18, 2009
Adam Curtis’ acclaimed series examines the rise of the all-consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

I don’t know about you, but doesn’t it feel like our society is extraordinarily self-centered? Sure, we pay taxes, donate to charity, send aid to foreign countries… etc.

Yet at the end of the day, our lives seem geared toward looking out for #1: our own personal happiness.

Is there anything wrong with this picture? Not necessarily… unless our own quest for self happiness has been co-opted for the gain of corporations, as explored in this brilliant BBC documentary “The Century Of The Self.”

From the film’s website:

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really?

The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

I highly recommend watching the entire film, with all four episodes below. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the current state of the self and the forces that seek to taint your inner journey.

Episode 1 – Happiness Machines

Episode 2 – The Engineering of Consent

Episode 3 – There is a Policeman Inside All Our Head: He Must Be Destroyed

Episode 4 – Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

What do you think of the argument in the film? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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