HyperNormalisation (2016) Movie Script

MUSIC: The Vanishing American Family by Scuba Z
We live in a strange time.
Extraordinary events keep happening
that undermine the stability of our world.
Suicide bombs, waves of refugees,
Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin,
even Brexit.
Yet those in control seem
unable to deal with them,
and no-one has any vision
of a different or a better kind of future.
MUSIC: Something I Can Never
Have by Nine Inch Nails
This film will tell the story of
how we got to this strange place.
It is about how, over the past 40 years,
politicians, financiers and
technological utopians,
rather than face up to the real
complexities of the world,
Instead, they constructed a
simpler version of the world
in order to hang on to power.
And as this fake world grew,
all of us went along with it,
because the simplicity was reassuring.
Even those who thought they
were attacking the system -
the radicals, the artists, the musicians,
and our whole counterculture -
actually became part of the trickery,
because they, too, had retreated
into the make-believe world,
which is why their opposition has no effect
and nothing ever changes.
MUSIC: The Vanishing American Family by Scuba Z
But this retreat into a dream world
allowed dark and destructive
forces to fester and grow outside.
Forces that are now returning
to pierce the fragile surface
of our carefully constructed fake world.
In dreams
I live...
The story begins in two cities
at the same moment in 1975.
One is New York.
The other is Damascus.
It was a moment when two ideas
about how it might be possible
to run the world without politics first took hold.
In 1975, New York City was
on the verge of collapse.
For 30 years, the politicians who ran the city
had borrowed more and more money from the banks
to pay for its growing services and welfare.
But in the early '70s, the middle
classes fled from the city
and the taxes they paid disappeared with them.
So, the banks lent the city even more.
But then, they began to get worried
about the size of the growing debt
and whether the city would
ever be able to pay it back.
And then one day in 1975,
the banks just stopped.
The city held its regular meeting to issue bonds
in return for the loans, overseen
by the city's financial controller.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Today, the city of New York is
offering for competitive bidding
the sale of 260 million tax anticipation notes,
of which 100 million will
mature on June 3rd, 1975.
The banks were supposed to turn up at 11am,
but it soon became clear that none
of them were going to appear.
The meeting was rescheduled for 2pm
and the banks promised they would turn up.
The announcement on behalf of the
controller is that the offer,
which we had expected to receive
and announce at two o'clock this afternoon,
is now expected at four o'clock.
Paul, does this mean that, so
far, nobody wants those bonds?
We will be making a further
announcement at four o'clock
and anything further that I could
say now I think would not advance
the interest of the sale,
which is now in progress.
Does this mean that you have not
been able to sell them so far today?
We will have a further
announcement at four o'clock.
What happened that day in New York
marked a radical shift in power.
The banks insisted that in
order to protect their loans
they should be allowed to
take control of the city.
The city appealed to the President,
but he refused to help,
so a new committee was set up
to manage the city's finances.
Out of nine members, eight of them were bankers.
It was the start of an extraordinary experiment
where the financial institutions
took power away from the politicians
and started to run society themselves.
The city had no other option.
The bankers enforced what was
called "austerity" on the city,
insisting that thousands of teachers, policemen
and firemen were sacked.
This was a new kind of politics.
The old politicians believed
that crises were solved
through negotiation and deals.
The bankers had a completely different view.
They were just the representatives
of something that couldn't be negotiated with -
the logic of the market.
To them, there was no alternative to this system.
It should run society.
Just by shifting paper around,
these slobs can make 60 million, 65
million in a single transaction.
That would take care of all
of the lay-offs in the city,
so it's reckless, it's cruel and it's a disgrace.
There would be a fair number
of bankers, of course,
who'd say it's the unions
who have been too greedy.
- What would your reaction be to that?
- I guess they're right in a way.
If you can make 60 million
on a single transaction,
and a worker makes 8,000, 9,000 a
year, I suppose they're correct,
and as they go back to their little
estates in Greenwich, Connecticut,
I want to wish them well, the slobs.
But the extraordinary thing was
no-one opposed the bankers.
The radicals and the left-wingers
who, ten years before,
had dreamt of changing America
through revolution did nothing.
They had retreated
and were living in the abandoned
buildings in Manhattan.
The singer Patti Smith later
described the mood of disillusion
that had come over them.
"I could not identify
"with the political movements
any longer," she said.
"All the manic activity in the streets.
"In trying to join them, I felt overwhelmed
"by yet another form of bureaucracy."
What she was describing was the rise
of a new, powerful individualism
that could not fit with the idea
of collective political action.
Instead, Patti Smith and many others
became a new kind of individual radical,
who watched the decaying
city with a cool detachment.
They didn't try and change it.
They just experienced it.
Look at that. Isn't that cool?
I love that, where, like, kids
write all over the walls.
That, to me, is neater than any art sometimes.
"Jose and Maria forever."
Oh, there's a lot of things, like,
when you pass by big movie houses,
maybe we'll find one, but they
have little movie screens,
where you can see clips of, like,
Z, or something like that.
People watch it over and over.
I've seen people, I've checked them out. All day!
I've gone back and forth and they're still there
watching the credits of a movie,
cos they don't have enough dough,
but it's some entertainment, you know?
Instead, radicals across America
turned to art and music
as a means of expressing
their criticism of society.
They believed that instead of
trying to change the world outside
the new radicalism should try and change
what was inside people's heads,
and the way to do this was
through self-expression,
not collective action.
But some of the Left saw that
something else was really going on -
that by detaching themselves and
retreating into an ironic coolness,
a whole generation were beginning to lose touch
with the reality of power.
Shut up.
Shut up!
One of them wrote of that time,
"It was the mood of the era
"and the revolution was deferred indefinitely.
"And while we were dozing, the money crept in."
What's your date of birth, Larry?
But one of the people who did
understand how to use this new power
was Donald Trump.
Trump realised that there was now no future
in building housing for ordinary people,
because all the government grants had gone.
But he saw there were other ways
to get vast amounts of money out of the state.
Trump started to buy up
derelict buildings in New York
and he announced that he was
going to transform them
into luxury hotels and apartments.
But in return, he negotiated the biggest tax break
in New York's history, worth 160 million.
The city had to agree because they were desperate,
and the banks, seeing a new opportunity,
also started to lend him money.
And Donald Trump began to transform
New York into a city for the rich,
while he paid practically nothing.
At the very same time, in 1975,
there was a confrontation between
two powerful men in Damascus,
the capital of Syria.
One was Henry Kissinger,
the US Secretary of State.
The other was the President
of Syria, Hafez al-Assad.
The battle between the two men
was going to have profound
consequences for the world.
And like in New York, it
was going to be a struggle
between the old idea of using
politics to change the world
and a new idea that you could run
the world as a stable system.
President Assad dominated Syria.
The country was full of giant images
and statues that glorified him.
He was brutal and ruthless,
killing or imprisoning anyone
he suspected of being a threat.
But Assad believed that the
violence was for a purpose.
He wanted to find a way of
uniting the Arab countries
and using that power to stand up to the West.
Kissinger was also tough and ruthless.
He had started in the 1950s
as an expert in the theory of nuclear strategy.
What was called "the delicate balance of terror."
It was the system that ran the Cold War.
Both sides believed that if they attacked,
the other side would immediately
launch their missiles
and everyone would be annihilated.
Kissinger had been one of the
models for the character
of Dr. Strangelove in Stanley Kubrick's film.
Mr. President, I would not rule out the chance
to preserve a nucleus of human specimens.
It would be quite easy.
At the bottom of some of our deeper mineshafts.
Henry was not a warm, friendly,
modest, jovial sort of person.
He was thought of as one of the more...
...anxious, temperamental, self-conscious,
ambitious, inconsiderate people at Harvard.
Kissinger saw himself as a hard realist.
He had no time for the emotional
turmoil of political ideologies.
He believed that history had always
really been a struggle for power
between groups and nations.
But what Kissinger took from the Cold War
was a way of seeing the world
as an interconnected system,
and his aim was to keep that system in balance
and prevent it from falling into chaos.
I believe that with all the
dislocations we now experience,
there also exists an extraordinary opportunity
to form, for the first time in
history, a truly global society
carried up by the principle of interdependence,
and if we act wisely, and with vision,
I think we can look back to all this turmoil
as the birth pangs of a more
creative and better system.
If we miss the opportunity, I
think there's going to be chaos.
The flight has been delayed, we understand now.
Kissinger will be arriving here
about an hour and a half from now,
so we'll just have the press informed
and then we'll stay in contact with you...
And it was this idea that
Kissinger set out to impose
on the chaotic politics of the Middle East.
But to manage it,
he knew that he was going to have to
deal with President Assad of Syria.
President Assad was convinced
that there would only ever be
a real and lasting peace
between the Arabs and Israel
if the Palestinian refugees were
allowed to return to their homeland.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians
were living in exile in Syria,
as well as in the Lebanon and Jordan.
Have you found that the
Palestinians here want to integrate
with the Syrians at all?
Oh, no. No, never.
They don't want...
Not here or neither in
Lebanon or in Jordan, never.
No, because they want to stay
as a whole, as... Palestinian.
As... They call themselves, "Those Who Go Back" -
"al-a'iduun", you say in Arabic.
Assad also believed that such a peace
would strengthen the Arab world.
But Kissinger thought that strengthening the Arabs
would destabilise his balance of power.
So, he set out to do the very opposite -
to fracture the power of the Arab countries,
by dividing them and breaking their alliances,
so they would keep each other in check.
Kissinger now played a double game.
Or as he termed it, "constructive ambiguity".
In a series of meetings, he persuaded Egypt
to sign a separate agreement with Israel.
But at the same time, he led Assad to believe
that he was working for a wider peace agreement,
one that WOULD include the Palestinians.
In reality, the Palestinians were ignored.
They were irrelevant to the structural balance
of the global system.
The hallmark of Kissinger's thinking
about international politics
is its structural design.
Everything is always connected
in his mind to everything else.
But his first thoughts are on that level,
on this structural global balance of power level.
And as he addresses questions of human dignity,
human survival, human freedom...
...I think they tend to come into his mind
as an adjunct of the play of
nations at the power game.
When Assad found out the truth, it was too late.
In a series of confrontations
with Kissinger in Damascus,
Assad raged about this treachery.
He told Kissinger that what he had done
would release demons hidden under
the surface of the Arab world.
Kissinger described their meetings.
"Assad's controlled fury," he wrote,
"was all the more impressive for its eerily cold,
"seemingly unemotional, demeanour."
Assad now retreated.
He started to build a giant palace
that loomed over Damascus...
...and his belief that it would be
possible to transform the Arab world
began to fade.
A British journalist, who knew Assad, wrote...
"Assad's optimism has gone.
"A trust in the future has gone.
"What has emerged instead is
a brutal, vengeful Assad,
"who believes in nothing except revenge."
The original dream of the Soviet Union
had been to create a glorious new world.
A world where not only the society,
but the people themselves would be transformed.
They would become new and
better kinds of human beings.
But by the 1980s, it was clear
that the dream had failed.
The Soviet Union became instead
a society where no-one believed in anything
or had any vision of the future.
Those who ran the Soviet Union had
believed that they could plan
and manage a new kind of socialist society.
But they had discovered that it was impossible
to control and predict everything
and the plan had run out of control.
But rather than reveal this, the
technocrats began to pretend
that everything was still going according to plan.
And what emerged instead was a
fake version of the society.
The Soviet Union became a
society where everyone knew
that what their leaders said was not real
because they could see with their own eyes
that the economy was falling apart.
But everybody had to play along
and pretend that it WAS real
because no-one could imagine any alternative.
One Soviet writer called it "hypernormalisation".
You were so much a part of the system
that it was impossible to see beyond it.
The fakeness was hypernormal.
In this stagnant world, two brothers -
called Arkady and Boris Strugatsky -
became the inspiration of a
growing new dissident movement.
They weren't politicians, they
were science fiction writers,
and in their stories,
they expressed the strange mood that was rising up
as the Soviet Empire collapsed.
Their most famous book was called Roadside Picnic.
It is set in a world that seems like the present,
except there is a zone that has
been created by an alien force.
People, known as "stalkers", go into the zone.
They find that nothing is what it seems,
that reality changes minute by minute.
Shadows go the wrong way.
There are hidden forces that twist your body
and change the way you think and feel.
The picture the Strugatskys gave
was of a world where nothing was fixed.
Where reality - both what you
saw and what you believed -
had become shifting and unstable.
And in 1979, the film director Andrei Tarkovsky
made a film that was based on Roadside Picnic.
He called it Stalker.
I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear...
...that I will faithfully execute
the office of president of the United States.
...that I will faithfully execute
the office of president of the United States.
The new president of America
had a new vision of the world.
It wasn't the harsh realism of
Henry Kissinger any longer,
it was different -
it was a simple, moral crusade,
where America had a special destiny to fight evil
and to make the world a better place.
The places and the periods in
which man has known freedom
are few and far between -
just scattered moments on the span of time.
And most of those moments have been ours.
The American people have a genius
for great and unselfish deeds.
Into the hands of America,
God has placed the destiny
of an afflicted mankind.
God bless America.
But this crusade was going to lead Reagan
to come face-to-face with
Henry Kissinger's legacy...
...and, above all, the vengeful
fury of President Assad of Syria.
Israel was now determined
to finally destroy the power of the Palestinians.
And, in 1982, they sent a massive army
to encircle the Palestinian camps in the Lebanon.
Do you know... Do you know
how strong the Israelis are?
Do you know how many tanks
they have outside Beirut?
Do you know how strong they are?
That means "We are not ready to surrender".
Young, young, young!
Keep going!
Dashed into this building here
because the PLO guys with us
expect that, sooner or later,
there will be a huge explosion.
There've been several of these
in the last few minutes.
As you can see,
there's enormous damage in all
the buildings round here.
Quick, quick!
Two months later, thousands
of Palestinian refugees
were massacred in the camps.
It horrified the world.
But what was even more shocking
was that Israel had allowed it to happen.
Its troops had stood by and watched
as a Christian Lebanese faction
murdered the Palestinians.
This was the first of the massacres
we discovered yesterday.
Now, 24 hours later, the stench here is appalling.
But the effects on the Israelis
of what their Christian allies did here
and in dozens of other places around this camp
are going to be immense.
There's always been a risk of such
massacres if Christian militiamen
were allowed to come into Palestinian camps,
and the Israelis seem to have done nothing
to prevent them coming into this one.
In the face of the horror and the growing chaos,
President Reagan was forced to act.
He announced that American
marines would come to Beirut
to lead a peacekeeping force.
Reagan insisted that the troops were neutral.
But President Assad was convinced
that there was another reality.
He saw the troops as part
of the growing conspiracy
between America and Israel to divide
the Middle East into factions
and destroy the power of the Arabs.
Assad decided to get the Americans
out of the Middle East.
And to do this, he made an alliance
with the new revolutionary force
of Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran.
And what Khomeini could bring to Assad
was an extraordinary new weapon
that he had just created.
It was called it "the poor man's atomic bomb".
Ayatollah Khomeini had come
to power two years before
as the leader of the Iranian revolution.
But his hold on power was precarious,
and Khomeini had developed a new
idea of how to fight his enemies
and defend the revolution.
Khomeini told his followers that
they could destroy themselves
in order to save the revolution
providing that, in the process,
they killed as many enemies
around them as possible.
This was completely new,
because the Koran specifically prohibited suicide.
In the past, you became a
martyr on the battlefield
because God chose the time
and place of your death.
But Khomeini changed this.
He did it by going back to one of
the central rituals of Shia Islam.
Every year, Shi'ites march in a procession
mourning the sacrifice of their founder, Husayn.
As they do, they whip themselves,
symbolically re-enacting Husayn's suffering.
Khomeini said that the ultimate act of penitence
was not just to whip yourself,
but to kill yourself...
...providing it was for the
greater good of the revolution.
In the name of God, the
compassionate, the merciful,
good afternoon.
"An Iraqi Soviet-made MiG-23 was shot down
"by the air-force jet fighters
of the Islamic Republic
"over the north-western Iranian
border region of Marivan
"at 10.08 hours local time, Saturday,"
said the Joint Staff Commands
communique numbered 1710.
Khomeini had mobilised this force
when the country was attacked by Iraq.
Iran faced almost certain defeat
because Iraq had far superior weapons,
many of them supplied by America.
So, the revolutionaries took
tens of thousands of young boys
out of schools, put them on buses
and sent them to the front line.
Their job was to walk through
the enemies' minefields,
deliberately blowing themselves
up in order to open gaps
that would allow the Iranian
army to pass through unharmed.
It was organised suicide on a vast scale.
This human sacrifice was commemorated
in giant cemeteries across the country.
Fountains flowing with blood red-water
glorified this new kind of martyrdom.
And it was this new idea -
of an unstoppable human weapon -
that President Assad took from Khomeini,
and brought to the West for the first time.
But, as it travelled,
it would mutate into something even more deadly.
Instead of just killing yourself,
you would take explosives with
you into the heart of the enemy
and then blow yourself up,
taking dozens or even hundreds along with you.
It would become known as "suicide bombing".
In October 1983, two suicide bombers
drove trucks into the US
marine barracks in Beirut.
It was seeing something move
that took me out of my trance.
And then I recognised, "Oh, yes,
marines were in that building.
"A lot of marines were in that building."
And that's when I ran down and...
And it was a black... black marine.
He looked white.
The dust had just covered him.
The massive explosions killed 241 Americans.
The bombers were members of a new militant group
that no-one had heard of.
They called themselves Hezbollah
and, although many of them were Iranian,
they were very much under the control of Syria
and the Syrian intelligence agencies.
President Assad was using them as
his proxies to attack America.
Whoever carried out yesterday's bombings,
Shia Muslim fanatics,
devotees of the Ayatollah Khomeini, or whatever,
it is Syria who profits politically.
The most significant fact is that
the dissidents live and work
with Syrian protection.
So, it is to Syria rather than to the
dissident group's guiding light,
Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, that
we must look for an explanation
of the group's activities.
Destabilisation is Syria's
Middle-Eastern way of reminding
the world that Syria
must not be left out of plans
for the future of the area.
There are no words that can
express our sorrow and grief
for the loss of those splendid young men
and the injury to so many others.
These deeds make so evident the bestial nature
of those who would assume power
if they could have their way
and drive us out of that area.
But despite his words, within four months,
President Reagan withdrew all the
American troops from the Lebanon.
The Secretary of State George Shultz explained.
"We became paralysed by the
complexity that we faced," he said.
So, the Americans turned and left.
For President Assad, it was
an extraordinary achievement.
He was the only Arab leader to
have defeated the Americans
and forced them to leave the Middle East.
He had done it by using the
new force of suicide bombing.
A force that, once unleashed,
was going to spread with unstoppable power.
But at this point, both Assad and the Iranians
thought that they could control it.
And what gave it this extraordinary power
was that it held out the dream
of transcending the corruptions of the world
and entering a new and better realm.
One should defend the realm of Islam and Muslims
against heretics and invaders.
And to fulfil this duty, one
should even sacrifice one's life.
We believe that martyrs can overlook
our deeds from the other world.
It means that, after death,
the martyr lives and can still witness this world.
By the middle of the 1980s,
the banks were rising up
and becoming ever more powerful in America.
What had started ten years before in New York,
the idea that the financial
system could run society,
was spreading.
But unlike older systems of
power, it was mostly invisible.
A writer called William Gibson
tried to dramatise what was happening
in a powerful, imaginative
way, in a series of novels.
Gibson had noticed how the
banks and the new corporations
were beginning to link themselves
together through computer systems.
What they were creating was a
series of giant networks of
information that were invisible to ordinary people
and to politicians.
But those networks gave the corporations
extraordinary new powers of control.
'Good morning. South-West Development.
May I help you?'
Gibson gave this new world a name.
He called it "cyberspace"
and his novels described a future
that was dangerous and frightening.
Hackers could literally enter
into cyberspace and as they did,
they travelled through systems
that were so powerful
that they could reach out and crush
intruders by destroying their minds.
In cyberspace, there were no laws
and no politicians to protect you.
Just raw, brutal corporate power.
But then, a strange thing happened.
A new group of visionaries in America
took Gibson's idea of a hidden, secret world
and transformed it into
something completely different.
They turned it into a dream of a new utopia.
They were the technological
utopians who were rising up
on the West Coast of America.
They turned Gibson's idea on its head.
Instead of cyberspace being a frightening place,
dominated by powerful corporations,
they reinvented it as the very opposite.
A new, safe world where radical
dreams could come true.
Ten years before, faced by the
complexity of real politics,
the radicals had given up on the
idea of changing the world.
But now, the computer utopians saw, in cyberspace,
an alternative reality.
A place they could retreat to away
from the harsh right-wing politics
that now dominated Reagan's America.
The roots of this vision lay
back in the counterculture
of the 1960s, and, above all, with LSD.
We've got some more acid over
here if you want to go ahead.
Many of those who had taken LSD in the '60s
were convinced that it was
more than just another drug,
that it opened human perception
and allowed people to see new realities
that were normally hidden from them.
See, the ones that have white
in them are really great.
I feel like a rabbit.
It freed them from the narrow,
limited view of the world
that was imposed on them by
politicians and those in power.
In the United States, in the
next, five, ten, 15 years,
you're going to see more and more
people taking LSD and making it
a part of their lives, so there will
be an LSD country within 15 years.
An LSD society, there will be less interest
in, obviously, warfare,
in power politics.
You know, politics today is a
disease, it's a real addiction.
Politics, politics, politics, politics.
Don't politick, don't vote -
these are old men's games.
Impotent and senile old man that want to put you
onto their old chess games of war and power.
20 years later, the new networks
of machines seemed to offer
a way to construct a real alternate reality.
Not just one that was chemically induced,
but a space that actually existed
in a parallel dimension to the real world.
And like with acid,
cyberspace could be a place where you
would be liberated from the old,
corrupt hierarchies of politics and
power and explore new ways of being.
One of the leading exponents of this
idea was called John Perry Barlow.
In the '60s, he had written
songs for the Grateful Dead
and been part of the acid counterculture.
Now, he organised what he called "cyberthons",
to try and bring the cyberspace movement together.
Well, you know, the cyberthon
as it was originally conceived
was supposed to be...
...the '90s equivalent of the acid test
and we had thought to involve
some of the same personnel.
- You and I and Timmy should sit down and talk.
- OK. That is good.
And it immediately acquired a financial quality
or a commercial quality that was initially
a little unsettling to an old hippy like me,
but as soon as I saw it actually
working, then I thought,
"Ah, well, if you're going to
have an acid test for the '90s,
"money better be involved."
Instead of having a glass
barrier that separates you -
your mind - from the mind of the computer,
the computer pulls us inside
and creates a world for us.
Incorporates everything
that could be incorporated.
It incorporates experience itself.
Barlow then wrote a manifesto
that he called A Declaration
Of Independence Of Cyberspace.
It was addressed to all politicians,
telling them to keep out of this new world.
It was going to be incredibly influential,
because what Barlow did was give a
powerful picture of the internet
not as a network controlled by giant corporations,
but, instead, as a kind of magical, free place.
An alternative to the old systems of power.
It was a vision that would
come to dominate the internet
over the next 20 years.
Governments of the industrial world,
cyberspace does not lie within your borders.
We are creating a world where anyone,
anywhere, may express his or her beliefs,
no matter how singular,
without fear of being coerced
into silence or conformity.
I declare the global social space we are building
to be naturally independent
of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.
We will create a civilisation
of the mind in cyberspace.
May it be more humane and fair
than the world your governments have made before.
It's begun.
This is the key to a new order.
This code disk means freedom.
But two young hackers in New
York thought that Barlow
was describing a fantasy world,
that his vision bore no relationship at all
to what was really emerging online.
They were cult figures on the early online scene
and their fans followed and recorded them.
They called themselves
Phiber Optik and Acid Phreak
and they spent their time
exploring and breaking in
to giant computer networks that they knew
were the hard realities of modern digital power.
My specific instance, I was
charged with conspiracy
to commit a few dozen
"overacts", they called them.
Among a number of things having to
do with computer trespass and...
and I guess computer eavesdropping, interception.
Unauthorised access to federal interest computers,
which is pretty vague law.
Communications network computers and so on.
In a notorious public debate online,
the two hackers attacked Barlow.
What infuriated them most was Barlow's insistence
that there was no hierarchy
or controlling powers in the new cyber world.
The hackers set out to
demonstrate that he was wrong.
Acid Phreak hacked into the computers of
a giant corporation called TRW.
TRW had originally built the systems
that ran the Cold War for the US military.
They had helped create the
delicate balance of terror.
Now, TRW had adapted their
computers to run a new system,
that of credit and debt.
Their computers gathered up the
credit data of millions of Americans
and were being used by the banks to
decide individuals' credit ratings.
The hackers broke into the TRW network,
stole Barlow's credit history
and published it online.
The hackers were demonstrating
the growing power of finance.
How the companies that ran
the new systems of credit
knew more and more about you,
and, increasingly, used that
information to control your destiny.
But the system that was allowing this to happen
were the new giant networks of information
connected through computer servers.
The hackers were questioning
whether Barlow's utopian rhetoric
about cyberspace might really
be a convenient camouflage
hiding the emergence of a new and growing power
that was way beyond politics.
But cyberspace was not the only
imaginary story being created.
Faced with the humiliating defeat in the Lebanon,
President Reagan's government
was desperate to shore up
the vision of a moral world
where a good America struggled against evil.
And to do this they were going
to create a simple villain.
An imaginary enemy, one that would free them
from the paralysing complexity
of real Middle-Eastern politics.
The perfect candidate was waiting in the wings.
Colonel Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya.
The Americans were going to
ruthlessly use Colonel Gaddafi
to create a fake terrorist mastermind.
And Gaddafi was going to happily play along,
because it would turn him
into a famous global figure.
Colonel Gaddafi had taken
power in a coup in the 1970s
but from the very start,
he was convinced that he was more
than just the leader of one country.
He believed that he was an
international revolutionary
whose destiny was to challenge
the power of the West.
Gentlemen, the Queen.
When he was a young officer,
Gaddafi had been sent to England for training
and he had detested the patronising racism
that he said he had found at
the heart of British society.
Yes, I attended a course.
I had been in England in 1966
from February to August.
You had the best months.
I was in Beaconsfield,
a village called Beaconsfield,
in an army school.
In fact, we were ill-treated in that
place from some British officers.
I think the officers were Jews,
maybe Jews.
Ill-treated in what sort of way?
In many ways.
They ill-treat us every time.
By being rude or by bullying or...?
In their own behaviour towards
us, they ill-treated us.
They hate us in there
because of colonisation.
It is the result of colonising.
Once in power, Gaddafi had developed
his own revolutionary theory,
which he called the Third Universal Theory.
It was an alternative, he said,
to communism and capitalism.
He published it in a green book,
but practically no-one read it.
He had sent money and weapons
to the IRA in Ireland
to help them overthrow the British ruling class.
But all the other Arab leaders
rejected him and his ideas.
They thought that he was mad.
And by the mid-1980s, Gaddafi
was an isolated figure
with no friends and no global influence.
Then, suddenly, that changed.
In December 1985,
terrorists attacked Rome and
Vienna airports simultaneously,
killing 19 people,
including five Americans.
There was growing pressure on
President Reagan to retaliate.
It's time to rename your State Department
the Capitulation Department.
Get off of your stick, Mr. President.
The American people are sick and
tired of being kicked around.
You talk tough,
let's see you use some of
these billions and billions
and billions of dollars' worth of weapons
that you've asked us to approve.
Your words are cheap talk.
President Reagan immediately announced
that Colonel Gaddafi was
definitely behind the attacks.
These murderers could not carry out their crimes
without the sanctuary and support
provided by regimes such as
Colonel Gaddafi's in Libya.
The Rome and Vienna murders are only the latest
in a series of brutal terrorist acts
committed with Gaddafi's backing.
But the European security services
who investigated the attacks
were convinced that Libya was not involved at all
and that the mastermind behind the
attacks was, in fact, Syria -
that the terrorists had been directed
by the Syrian intelligence agencies.
But the Americans say that
the attack at Rome Airport
was organised by Gaddafi, not by Damascus.
What do you say?
- No, we don't have any evidence...
- You have no evidence?
...supporting such an... affirmation.
The only evidence we have
shows a Syrian connection.
You say that it was Libya and the President
said the evidence of Libya's
culpability was irrefutable.
But the Italian authorities to
whom I've spoken say emphatically
on the record that their investigations have shown
that it was entirely masterminded by Syria.
I don't agree with that at all.
Well, they interrogated the surviving terrorists.
I must just say I don't agree with that.
But you've no evidence that Libya
was in on the planning either.
Our evidence on Libya is
circumstantial, but very strong.
But why does the President
then say it's "irrefutable",
if you call it "circumstantial"?
Well, people can be convicted
and sentenced in our courts
on circumstantial evidence.
But what made it even more confusing
was that although there seemed to be no evidence
that Gaddafi had been behind the attacks,
he made no attempt to deny the allegations.
Instead, he went the other way
and turned the crisis into a global drama...
It is not a time of saying.
It is a time of war,
a time of confrontation.
...threatening suicide attacks against America.
Gaddafi now started to play a role
that was going to become very familiar.
He grabbed the publicity
that had been given to him
by the Americans and used it dramatically.
He promoted himself as an
international revolutionary
who would help to liberate oppressed
peoples around the world,
even the blacks in America.
Gaddafi arranged for a live satellite link
to a mass meeting of the
Nation Of Islam in Chicago.
Brothers and sisters,
it is with great honour and
privilege that I present to you
the leader of the al-Fateh Revolution from Libya,
our brother Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Gaddafi told them that Libya was now their ally
in their struggle against white America.
...to express my full support
and support of my country
to your struggle for freedom, for emancipation.
Gaddafi promised that he would supply weapons
to create a black army in America of 400,000 men.
"If white America refuses to
accept blacks as US citizens,"
he told them, "it must therefore be destroyed."
Gaddafi also invited a group
of German rocket scientists
to come to Libya to build him a rocket.
He insisted that it had no military purpose.
Libya was now going to explore outer space.
I think it is peaceful and civil...
...civilian activity
for investigation of space
and something like this...
it has nothing to do with any military things.
But no-one believed him.
Journalists warned that Gaddafi was
really preparing to attack Europe,
vividly dramatising the new danger.
That is something like this
which goes that way to put something into space.
But the same device tilted,
say, to an angle of 45 degrees
could, of course, become
something very different -
a missile possibly carrying a warhead.
That would put Libya within
range of an enormous area.
A chilling proposition with its range of 2,000km.
The Americans and Gaddafi
now became locked together
in a cycle of mutual reinforcement.
In the process, a powerful new image was created
that was going to capture the
imagination of the West.
Gaddafi became a global supervillain,
at the head of what was called a "rogue state" -
a madman who threatened the
stability of the world.
And Gaddafi was loving every minute of it.
So, you think, in the past,
his decisions sometimes have
been taken too quickly...
- Maybe, maybe. - ...on world affairs?
- Maybe.
I think, sometimes, that is what
has made people in the world
- nervous of you, perhaps?
- Maybe.
Then, there was another terrorist attack
at a discotheque in West Berlin.
A bomb killed an American
soldier and injured hundreds.
The Americans released what
they said were intercepts
by the National Security Agency
that proved that Colonel
Gaddafi was behind the bombing
and a dossier that they said proved
that he was also the mastermind
behind a whole range of other attacks.
President Reagan ordered the Pentagon
to prepare to bomb Libya.
But again, there were doubts -
this time, within the American Government itself.
There were concerns that
analysts were being pressured
to make a case that didn't really exist...
...and to do it, they were taking
Gaddafi's rhetoric about himself
as a global revolutionary and his manic ravings
and then re-presenting them as fact.
And, in the process, together,
the Americans and Gaddafi were
constructing a fictional world.
The analysts were certainly, I'm convinced...
pressured into developing a prima facie case
against the Libyan Government.
From the somewhat incoherent ravings of a maniac,
both interceptions of a clandestine nature
and interceptions of an open
radio broadcast or whatever,
as well as other sources, quotations of his,
one can assemble a neatly-put-together package
demonstrating that the man had violent interests
against the United States and its European allies.
The European intelligence agencies
told the Americans that they were wrong,
that it was Syria that was
behind the bombing, not Libya.
But the Americans had decided to attack Libya
because they couldn't face
the dangerous consequences
of attacking Syria.
Instead, they went for Gaddafi,
a man without friends or allies.
Libya had less downsided
consequences, if you will.
There's less Arab support for Gaddafi,
we figured there would be less
Soviet support for Gaddafi.
There's no question that Libya was
more vulnerable than Syria and Iran.
- He was a soft target?
- And that is certainly an element, of course.
In April 1986, the Americans attacked Libya.
Their targets included
Colonel Gaddafi's own house.
Immediately after the attack,
Gaddafi appeared in the ruins
to describe what had happened.
The family were asleep and my wife
was, that day, tied down to the bed
because she had a slipped disc.
I tried to rescue the children
and the house started to collapse,
as you can see.
And the bombs started to land.
They concentrated on the children's room
so that they would kill all the children.
Our small adopted daughter was killed
and two of our children were injured.
But, yet again, Gaddafi might have been lying.
Ever since then,
there have been rumours that his
adopted daughter actually survived.
But many other children were killed in the raid
because the American bombing was so inaccurate.
Gaddafi realised that the
attention of the whole world
was now focused on him
and he grabbed the moment to promote
his own revolutionary theory,
The Third Way, as a global
alternative to democracy.
I feel that I'm really responsible
for conveying the Third Way
theory and the Green Book
to the rising generations, to the
young American and British people,
so that we can rescue America and Britain
and these generations of young
people from this theory,
this electoral party theory
which enabled an imbecile like Reagan
to rule the mightiest power on Earth
and use it to destroy other people's homes
and enabled a harlot like Thatcher
to rule a great nation like Britain.
Wow, look at that. What the heck is that?
Oh, my God, look at that.
Holy crap!
It's just moving really slowly. Wow!
- Look, look, look! Come here, come here!
- What is it doing?
What the heck?!
Guys, it's...
- Whoa!
- Oh, my gosh!
- What is happening?
- Dude, what is happening?!
- What is going on?
- Oh, my gosh!
- Oh, my God, guys!
- Guys, is that a freaking UFO?
- Wait, can you get a good video?
- What is it? - What the hell?
In the 1980s, more and more
people in the United States
reported seeing unexplained
objects and lights in the sky.
At the same time, investigators
who believed in UFOs
revealed that they had discovered
top-secret government documents
that stated that alien craft had visited Earth.
The documents had been hidden for 20 years
and they seemed to prove that
there had been a giant cover-up.
But, actually, the reality was even stranger.
The American Government might
have been making it all up,
that they had created a fake conspiracy
to deliberately mislead the population.
The lights that people imagined were UFOs
may, in reality, have been
new high-technology weapons
that the US Government were testing.
The government had developed the weapons
because they, in turn,
imagined that the Soviet Union
was far stronger than it was
and still wanted to conquer the world.
The government wanted to keep the weapons secret,
but they couldn't always hide
their appearance in the skies
so it is alleged that they chose
a number of people to use
to spread the rumour that these
were really alien visitations.
One of those chosen was called Paul Bennewitz
who lived outside a giant air base in New Mexico
and had noticed strange things going on.
Years later,
I sat down with Paul at dinner
and told Paul exactly that everything we did
was a sanctioned counterintelligence
operation to convince him
that what he was seeing was UFOs
and that what we didn't want him to know was
that he had tapped into something on the base
and we didn't want him to ever disclose that.
We kind of planted the seed in Paul
that what he was seeing and what he was hearing
and what he was collecting was, in fact,
probably, maybe, UFOs.
Bennewitz and others chosen by the agency
were, it is alleged, given a
series of forged documents.
Many of them were top-secret memos by the military
describing sightings of
unidentified aerial vehicles.
The documents spread like wildfire
and they formed the basis for
the wave of belief in UFOs
that would spread through America in the 1990s.
- What the fuck is that?
- That's a...
That's crazy, bro.
Is that that space, uh...?
And it also fuelled the wider growing belief
that governments lied to you -
that conspiracies were real.
What the Reagan administration were doing,
both with Colonel Gaddafi and with the UFOs,
was a blurring of fact and fiction
but it was part of an even broader programme.
The President's advisers had given it a name -
they called it "perception management"
and it became a central part
of the American Government
during the 1980s.
The aim was to tell dramatic stories
that grabbed the public imagination,
not just about the Middle East,
but about Central America
and the Soviet Union
and it didn't matter if the
stories were true or not,
providing they distracted
people and you, the politician,
from having to deal with
the intractable complexities of the real world.
Reality became less and less
of an important factor in American politics.
It wasn't what was real that was driving anything
or the facts driving anything.
It was how you could turn those
facts or twist those facts
or even make up the facts to
make your opponent look bad.
So, perception management became a device
and the facts could be twisted.
Anything could be anything.
It becomes how can you
manipulate the American people?
And, in the process, reality becomes what?
Reality becomes simply something
to play with to achieve that end.
Reality is not important in this context.
Reality is simply something that you handle.
But something was about to happen
that would demonstrate dramatically
just how far the American Government
had detached from reality.
The Soviet Empire was about to implode.
And no-one, none of the politicians,
or the journalists,
or the think tank experts,
or the economists,
or the academics saw it coming.
That's it! Whoo!
Get ready to work out.
The collapse of the Soviet Union
also had a powerful effect on the West.
For many, it symbolised the
final failure of the dream
that politics could be used
to build a new kind of world.
What was going to emerge instead
was a new system that had nothing
to do with politics.
A system whose aim was not
to try and change things,
but rather, to manage a post-political world.
One of the first people to
describe this dramatic change
was a left-wing German political
thinker called Ulrich Beck.
Beck said that any politician who
believed that they could take
control of society, and drive it forward to build
a better future, was now seen as dangerous.
In the past, politicians might
have been able to do this.
But now they were faced with what
he called "a runaway world."
Where things were so complex and interconnected,
and modern technologies so potentially dangerous
that it was impossible to predict
the outcomes of anything you did.
The catalogue of environmental
disasters proved this.
Politicians would have to give
up any idea of trying to change
the world.
Instead, their new aim would be
to try and predict the dangers
in the future, and then, find
ways to avoid those risks.
Although Beck came from the political left,
the world he saw coming was deeply conservative.
The picture he gave
was of a political class reduced
to trying to steer society
into a dark and frightening future.
Constantly peering forward
and trying to see the risks coming towards them.
Their only aim, to avoid those risks
and keep society stable.
It only lasted for a few seconds
so you were basically shocked,
you really didn't know what
was going on at the time.
Where were you in the building
and where was the explosion?
Oh, my God!
But a system that could anticipate the future
and keep society stable was already being built,
pieced together from all kinds of different,
and sometimes surprising, sources.
All of them outside politics.
One part of it was taking shape in a tiny town
in the far north-west of the United
States called East Wenatchee.
It was a giant computer
whose job was to make the future predictable.
The man building it was a
banker called Larry Fink.
Back in 1986,
Mr. Fink's career had collapsed.
He lost 100 million in a deal and had been sacked.
He became determined it wouldn't happen again.
Fink started a company called BlackRock and built
a computer he called Aladdin.
It is housed in a series of large sheds
in the apple orchards outside Wenatchee.
Fink's aim was to use the computer
to predict, with certainty,
what the risk of any deal or
investment was going to be.
The computer constantly monitors the world
and it take things that it sees happening,
and then, compares them to events in the past.
It can do this because it has,
in its memory, a vast history
of the past 50 years. Not just
financial, but all kinds of events.
Out of the millions and millions of correlations,
the computer then spots possible disasters,
possible dangers lying in the future
and moves the investments
to avoid any radical change
and keep the system stable.
Today, I'm going to deliver 1.8 million reports.
Execute 25,000 trades.
And avert 3,000 disasters.
I'm going to monitor interest rates in Europe.
- Silver prices in Asia.
- Droughts in the Midwest.
I'm going to witness 4 billion
shares change hands on the
New York Stock Exchange.
And record the effects on 14 trillion in assets
across 20,000 portfolios.
- I am Aladdin.
- I am Aladdin.
And, today, I'll find the
numbers behind the numbers.
I will see the trends the models don't.
- The connections.
- The risks.
- I am Aladdin.
- I am Aladdin, and I will get the data right.
I am 25 million lines of code.
Written by hundreds of people.
Across two decades.
I'm smarter than any algorithm.
More powerful than any processor.
Because I am Aladdin.
Because I am Aladdin.
I am Aladdin.
I am Aladdin...
Aladdin has proved to be incredibly successful.
The assets it guides and controls
now amount to 15 trillion,
which is 7% of the world's total wealth.
But Wenatchee was also a dramatic example
of another kind of craving
for stability and reassurance.
More of its citizens took Prozac
than practically any other town in America.
When a person's central nervous
system is changed by an SSRI,
with that medicine they will
view things differently
and they will be strangers.
They look at things differently.
I have a chemical up here that changes me.
I think differently.
For me it was like walking around
like this for my whole life
and really not knowing that I was
near-sighted. I mean, really.
I mean, no-one had ever offered me glasses.
And then, all of a sudden,
here comes somebody that says,
"OK, now try these on. Try this Prozac on."
And I tried it on and for the
first time in my life I went,
"Whoa! Is this the way reality really is?"
Your perception can be
changed and it's frightening
and it's scary to people.
It speaks of science fiction almost.
Well, the medicine just kind of lets
you listen to what needs to go on.
And then your doctor, every
time you come back, says,
"You're looking so much better."
And then every time I go in he goes,
"You're so beautiful." You know?
He isn't even sucking up.
He's being nice, you know?
"You're beautiful, you're nice, you're friendly.
"You've got so much going for
you." I think, "Yeah, I do."
So, I go out and tell my friends,
"I feel so much better about myself."
Mom goes out, "Oh, I feel so
much better about myself."
So, your friends start saying,
"I've seen such an improvement.
"I've seen such improvement."
And everybody improves all the way around.
They see improvement.
It's like everybody's brainwashing
each other into being happy.
But there was a more effective
way of reassuring people
that was being developed that
did not involve medication.
It, too, came from computer systems
but this time, artificial intelligence.
But the way to do it had
been discovered by accident.
Back in the 1960s, there
had been optimistic dreams
that it would be possible to develop computers
that could think like human beings.
Scientists then spent years
trying to programme the rules
that governed human thought...
...but they never worked.
One computer scientist, at MIT,
became so disillusioned that he
decided to build a computer programme
that would parody these hopeless attempts.
He was called Joseph Weizenbaum
and he built what he claimed was
a computer psychotherapist.
Just like a therapist, people could
come and talk to the machine
by typing in their problems.
Weizenbaum called the programme "Eliza".
He modelled it on a real
psychotherapist called Carl Rogers
who was famous for simply
repeating back to the patient
what they had just said.
And that is what Eliza did.
The patient sat in front
of the screen and typed in
what they were feeling
and the programme repeated it back to them,
often in the form of a question.
He says I'm depressed much of the time.
Well, I need some help.
That much seems certain.
One of the first people to use
Eliza was Weizenbaum's secretary
and her reaction was something
that he had not predicted at all.
I asked her to my office and
sat her down at the keyboard
and then she began to type and, of course,
I looked over her shoulder to make sure everything
was operating properly. After
two or three interchanges
with the machine she turned to me and she said,
"Would you mind leaving the room, please?"
And yet she knew, as Weizenbaum
did, that Eliza didn't understand
a single word that was being typed into it.
You're like my father in some ways.
- You don't argue with me.
- Why do you think I don't argue with you?
- You're afraid of me.
- Does it please you to think I'm afraid of you?
My father's afraid of everybody.
My father's afraid of everybody...
Weizenbaum was astonished.
He discovered that everyone who
tried Eliza became engrossed.
They would sit for hours telling the machine
about their inner feelings
and incredibly intimate details of their lives.
They also liked it because it was free
of any kind of patronising elitism.
One person said, "After all,
the computer doesn't burn out,
"look down on you, or try to have sex with you."
What Eliza showed was that,
in an age of individualism,
what made people feel secure
was having themselves reflected back to them.
Just like in a mirror.
Artificial intelligence changed direction
and started to create new
systems that did just that,
but on a giant scale.
They were called intelligent agents.
They worked by monitoring individuals,
gathering vast amounts of data
about their past behaviour
and then looked for patterns and correlations
from which they could predict what
they would want in the future.
It was a system that ordered the world in a way
that was centred around you.
And in an age of anxious individualism,
frightened of the future,
that was reassuring, just like Eliza.
A safe bubble that protected you
from the complexities of the world outside.
And the applications of this new direction
proved fruitful and profitable.
If you liked that, you'll love this.
What was rising up in different ways
was a new system that promised
to keep the world stable.
Its tentacles reached into
every area of our lives.
Finance promised that it could
control the unpredictability
of the free market...
...while individuals were more and more monitored
to stabilise their physical and mental states.
And, increasingly, the intelligent agents online
predicted what people would want in the future
and how they would behave.
But the biggest change was to politics.
In a world where the overriding
aim was now stability,
politics became just part of a wider
system of managing the world.
The old idea of democratic politics,
that it gave a voice to the weak
against the powerful, was eroded.
And a resentment began to quietly
grow out on the edges of society.
But the new system did have a dangerous flaw.
Because in the real world, not
everything can be predicted
by reading data from the past.
And someone who was about to discover that,
to his own cost, was Donald Trump.
One day a man called Jess
Marcum received a phone call.
It was from Donald Trump
and Trump was desperate for help.
Marcum was a strange, mysterious figure.
He had been a nuclear scientist in the 1950s
and studied the effect of
radiation from nuclear weapons
on the human body.
Then Marcum had gone to Las Vegas
and become obsessed by gambling.
He had a photographic memory
and he used it to instantly
process the data of the games as they were played.
From that, he could predict the outcome.
And he always won.
The Las Vegas gangsters were fascinated by him.
They called him "The Automat".
Where are we going? Let's go. Go, go, go.
Donald Trump was one of the heroes of the age.
But, in reality, much of
this success was a facade.
The banks that had lent Trump millions
had discovered that he could no longer
pay the interest on the loans.
Trump's empire was facing bankruptcy.
His wife Ivana hated him because
he was having an affair
with Miss Hawaiian Tropic 1985.
And then, a famous Japanese
gambler called Akio Kashiwagi
came to one of Trump's casinos
and started to win millions of dollars
in an extraordinary run of luck.
Trump, who was desperate for money,
panicked as day-after-day he watched millions
being siphoned out of his casino.
So, he turned for help to Jess Marcum.
Marcum came to Trump's casino in Atlantic City.
He analysed all the data about the
way the Kashiwagi had been playing.
He then told Trump to suggest
a particular high-stakes game
that he knew the Japanese
gambler could not resist.
His model, Marcum said, predicted
that Kashiwagi had to lose.
And after five agonising days, he did.
Kashiwagi lost 10 million and he gave up.
Donald Trump was elated.
He thought he'd got his money back.
Before Kashiwagi could pay his debt,
he was hacked to death in his
kitchen by Yakuza gangsters...
...and Donald Trump didn't get his money.
Trump's business went bankrupt
and he was forced to sell most
of his buildings to the banks.
And he married Miss Hawaiian Tropic.
In the future, he would sell
his name to other people
to put on their buildings
and he himself would become a celebrity tycoon.
President Assad didn't want stability.
He wanted revenge.
In December 1988,
a bomb exploded on a Pan Am plane
over Lockerbie in Scotland.
Almost immediately, investigators and journalists
pointed the finger at Syria.
"The bombing had been done," they
said, "in revenge for the Americans
"shooting down an Iranian airliner
in the Gulf a few months before."
And for 18 months, everyone
agreed that this was the truth.
But then, a strange thing happened.
The security agencies said
that they had been wrong.
It hadn't been Syria at all.
It was Libya who had been
behind the Lockerbie bombing.
But many journalists and
politicians did not believe it.
They were convinced that the switch had happened
for the most cynical of reasons.
That America and Britain desperately
needed Assad as an ally
in the coming Gulf War against Saddam Hussein.
So, once again, they blamed Colonel
Gaddafi as the terrorist mastermind.
Syria, of course, was, unfortunately, accused
of many terrorist outrages and
of harbouring terrorist groups.
It appears that we have now
restored relations with them,
as have the Americans. They're now our friends,
although we've got no real
assurances on the past whatsoever.
It strikes me as very strange
indeed that many of the things
we thought were previously
the responsibility of Syria
have now, dramatically, become
the responsibility of Libya.
But Assad was not really in control.
Because he had released forces
that no-one would be able to control.
The force that, ten years before,
he had brought from Iran to attack
the West - the human bomb -
was now about to jump, like a virus,
from Shia to Sunni Islam.
In December 1992, the militant group Hamas
kidnapped an Israeli border
guard and stabbed him to death.
The Israeli response was overwhelming.
They arrested 415 members of Hamas,
put them on buses and took them
to the top of a bleak mountain
in southern Lebanon.
They left them there -
and refused to allow any humanitarian aid through.
THEY CHANT AND SHOU But the Israelis had dumped the Hamas militants
in an area controlled by Hezbollah.
They spent six months there,
and during that time, they learnt from Hezbollah
how powerful suicide bombing could be.
Hezbollah told them how they had used it
to force the Israelis out of Beirut
and back to the border.
The first sign that the idea had spread to Hamas
was when a group of the deportees
marched in protest towards the Israeli border,
dressed as martyrs, as the Israelis shelled them.
But it soon became more than just theatre.
Hamas began a wave of suicide attacks in Israel.
REPORTER: Just before nine, at
the height of Tel Aviv's rush hour,
the bomb ripped apart a commuter bus.
An amateur cameraman recorded the
scene in the moments afterwards
as a dazed woman was helped out
of the smouldering wreckage.
I didn't want to believe that
under my house there is a bomb.
And when I realised it's a bomb, I...
I started to cry.
Because it was the first
time I saw it in Tel Aviv.
Hamas sent the bombers into
the heart of Israeli cities
to blow themselves up and kill
as many around them as possible.
In doing this, Hamas were going much
further than Hezbollah ever had.
They were targeting civilians,
something Hezbollah had never done.
The tactic shocked the Sunni world.
This was something completely
alien to its history.
Not only did the Koran forbid suicide,
but Sunni Islam did not have any
rituals of self-sacrifice -
unlike the Shias.
The most senior religious leader in Saudi Arabia
insisted it was wrong.
But a mainstream theologian from Egypt
called Sheikh Qaradawi seized the moment.
He issued a fatwa that justified the attacks.
"And," he added, "it was also
justified to kill civilians,
"because, in Israel, everyone -
"including women - serve as reservists.
"So, really, they are all part of the enemy army."
It's not suicide. It is martyrdom in the name of God.
Islamic theologians and jurisprudence
have debated this issue.
Israeli women are not like women in our society,
because Israeli women are militarised.
Secondly, I consider this
type of martyrdom operation
as an indication of justice
of Allah, our Almighty.
Allah is just.
Through his infinite wisdom,
he has given the weak what
the strong do not possess.
And that is their ability to
turn their bodies into bombs
like the Palestinians do.
Hamas kept sending the bombers into Israel.
Sometimes day-after-day.
The horror overwhelmed Israeli society
and it completely destroyed
the ability of politics
to solve the Palestinian crisis.
Instead, in the Israeli election of 1996,
Benjamin Netanyahu took power.
He turned against the peace process,
which was exactly what Hamas wanted.
And from then on, the two
sides became locked together
in ever more horrific cycles of violence.
The human bomb had destroyed the very thing
that President Assad had first wanted.
A real political solution to
the Palestinian question.
It was just after one o'clock
and the market was full of shoppers.
Streams of ambulances came to carry
away the dead and the injured.
It was a place of appalling suffering.
But even with the first grief
came the immediate political
impact on the peace process.
Peace impossible!
This moment, it will be the end!
It must be the end of this bloody peace process.
And, in America, all optimistic
visions of the future
had also disappeared.
Instead everyone in society -
not just the politicians -
but the scientists, the journalists,
and all kinds of experts
had begun to focus on the dangers
that might be hidden in the future.
This, in turn, created a pessimistic mood
that then began to spread out from
the rational technocratic world
and infect the whole of the culture.
And everyone became possessed by dark forebodings,
imagining the very worst that might happen.
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Oh, dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Oh, baby, we gotta keep that dream alive
Keep that dream alive
Oh, dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Dream, baby, dream
Oh, dream, baby, dream, baby, dream, baby
Dream, baby, dream, baby
Oh, dream, baby, dream...
Oh, you keep that fire, burning, baby
Oh, you gotta keep that flame
burning brightly, baby...
The attacks in September 2001 were suicide bombs,
but now on a huge scale.
They demonstrated the terrifying
power of this new force
to penetrate all defences.
They had come to kill thousands
of Americans on their own soil.
20 years before,
President Reagan had been confronted
by the first suicide bombers.
They had been unleashed by
President Assad of Syria
to force America out of the Middle East.
But rather than confront the complexity of Syria
and Israel and the Palestinian problem,
America had retreated and left Syria -
and suicide bombing -
to fester and mutate.
They had gone instead for Colonel Gaddafi
and turned him into an evil global terrorist.
But, in the process, this
changed the way people saw
and understood terrorism.
Instead of a violence born out of
political struggles for power,
it became replaced by a much
simpler image of an evil tyrant
at the head of a rogue state
who became more like an archcriminal
who wanted to terrorise the world.
All the politics and power dropped away.
The problem was just them and
their evil personalities.
And after 9/11, this led to a
new, and equally simple, idea.
That if only you could remove
these tyrannical figures,
then the grateful people of their country
would transform naturally into a democracy,
because they would be free of the evil.
We owe it to the future of civilisation
not to allow the world's worst leaders
to develop and deploy, and therefore,
blackmail freedom-loving countries
with the world's worst weapons.
We know they've already got chemical
and biological weapons there.
We know that they're certainly doing their best
to acquire nuclear weapons technology.
If we allow them to do that,
and do nothing about it, then,
I think, later generations will
consider us deeply irresponsible.
Both Tony Blair and George Bush
became possessed by the idea
of ridding the world of Saddam Hussein.
So possessed that they believed any story
that proved his evil intentions.
And the line between reality and
fiction became ever more blurred.
In September 2002, the head of
MI6 rushed to Downing Street
to tell Blair excitedly that they
had finally found the source
that confirmed everything.
The source, he said, had "direct access"
to Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons programme
which was making vast quantities
of VX and sarin nerve agents.
The nerve agents were being loaded
into "linked hollow glass spheres".
But then someone in MI6 noticed
that the detail the source
was describing was identical
to scenes in the 1996 movie The Rock,
starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage.
Really elegant string-of-pearls configuration.
Unfortunately, incredibly unstable.
What exactly does this stuff do?
If the rocket renders it aerosol,
it could take out the entire city of people.
- How?
- It's a cholinesterase inhibitor.
Stops the brain from sending nerve
messages down the spinal cord...
A later report into the Iraq War pointed out,
"Glass containers were not typically
used in chemical munitions..."
...seizes your nervous system... Do not move that!
"..And the informant had obviously seen
"a popular movie known as The Rock
"that had inaccurately depicted
nerve agents being carried
"in glass beads or spheres."
...that's after your skin melts off.
My God.
That there is a threat from Saddam Hussein
and the weapons of mass
destruction that he has acquired,
is not in doubt at all.
Hafez al-Assad had died in 2000.
His son, Bashar, became the
new president of Syria.
But he couldn't escape the inexorable logic
of what his father had started.
20 years before, his father had
sent Shi'ite suicide bombers
to attack the Americans in Lebanon.
Now, as America and Britain invaded Iraq,
Bashar decided that he would copy his father.
But what he was about to let loose
would tear the Arab world apart -
and then come back to try to destroy him.
Bashar Assad had was never
supposed to have been president.
It was always going to have
been his elder brother, Bassel.
But then, Bassel had died in a car crash.
So now, Bashar took over the giant palace
that his father had built above Damascus.
Up to this point, Bashar had not
been interested in politics.
He was fascinated by computers.
He founded the Syrian Computer Society
and brought the internet to the country.
His favourite band was the
Electric Light Orchestra.
But now, he was president.
And he set out to attack America.
Bashar Assad was convinced
that the invasion of Iraq
was just the first step of a
plot by the Western powers
to take over the whole of the Middle East.
He knew that the invasion had outraged
many of the radical Islamists in Syria
and what they most wanted to do was
to go to Iraq and kill Americans.
So, Bashar instructed the
Syrian Intelligence Services
to help them do this.
Syrian agents set up a pipeline
that began to feed thousands
of militants across the border
and into the heart of the insurgency.
And it grew.
Within a year, almost all of the foreign fighters
from across the world were coming through Syria...
...and they brought suicide bombing with them.
The Americans estimated that 90%
of the suicide bombers in Iraq
were foreign fighters.
But it began to run out of control.
Most of the jihadists had joined
the group al-Qaeda in Iraq
that then turned to killing Shi'ites
in an attempt to create a civil war.
And the force that had originally
been invented by the Shi'ites,
suicide bombing, now returned
and started to kill them.
Then, this.
A moment of silence before people
realised what was happening.
A few seconds ago, we just had repeated explosions
in the street below me.
People are now fleeing in terror
from the central square around the mosque.
- This is what everybody feared...
We just heard another explosion in the distance.
...that somebody would try to
target this religious festival
to try to bring about a
sectarian conflict in Iraq.
There was panic.
A terrified stampede.
But some of these people were
running into the next bombs.
We counted at least six separate explosions.
Tony Blair and George Bush were faced by disaster.
Iraq was imploding.
While, at home, they were being
accused of lying to their own people
to justify the invasion.
What they desperately needed
was something that would show
that the invasion was having a
good effect in the Arab world.
So, they made an extraordinary decision.
They turned for help to the man
who they had always insisted
was one of the world's most dangerous tyrants.
Colonel Gaddafi.
And, instead, they set out to
make him their new best friend.
It was going to be the highest achievement
of Perception Management.
A man who had been created by the West
as a fake global supervillain
was now going to be turned
into a fake hero of democracy.
And everyone, not just politicians,
would become involved.
Public relations, academics,
television presenters, spies, and even musicians
were all going to help reinvent Colonel Gaddafi.
It would show just how many people
in the Western Establishment
had, by now, become the
engineers of this fake world.
Ever since he had been accused
of the Lockerbie bombing,
Colonel Gaddafi had been a complete outcast.
The West had imposed sanctions on Libya
and the economy was falling apart.
But then, suddenly, Tony Blair broke
live into the BBC evening news.
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair,
is about to make a statement,
the BBC understands, from Downing Street.
It's of international significance.
He'll be making his statement at any moment now.
We can see pictures of him in Durham...
- This evening...
- Here he is.
...Colonel Gaddafi has confirmed
that Libya has, in the past,
sought to develop weapons-of-mass-destruction
Libya has now declared its intention to dismantle
its weapons of mass destruction completely.
This decision by Colonel
Gaddafi is a historic one,
and a courageous one, and I applaud it.
Today, in Tripoli,
the leader of Libya,
Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi...
...publically confirmed his
commitment to disclose and dismantle
all weapons-of-mass-destruction
programmes in his country.
Colonel Gaddafi now became,
for Western politicians, a heroic figure.
His decision to give up his
weapons of mass destruction
seemed to prove that the invasion of Iraq
could transform the Middle East.
And Tony Blair travelled to meet
Gaddafi in his desert tent.
To welcome him back into
what one journalist called,
"The community of civilised nations."
But, as in the past,
nothing was what it seemed with Colonel Gaddafi.
In reality, Gaddafi did not really have
the terrifying weapons of mass destruction
that he was promising to destroy.
His nuclear programme had
stuttered to a halt long ago
and never produced anything dangerous.
He had managed to buy some
equipment on the black market,
but his technicians had
been unable to assemble it.
His biological weapons were non-existent.
All he had was some old mustard
gas in leaking barrels.
But now, he had to pretend to have
a terrifying arsenal of weapons.
And the West had to pretend
that they had avoided another global threat.
And then the made-up stories
became even more complicated.
As part of the deal, the West
said that if Gaddafi admitted
that Libya had done the Lockerbie bombing,
then they would lift the sanctions.
But many of those who had investigated Lockerbie
were still convinced that Libya hadn't done it.
That, really, it had been Syria.
But Colonel Gaddafi confessed.
His son, Saif, was interviewed
about this confession.
He said that his father was simply pretending
that he had been behind the Lockerbie bombing
to get the sanctions lifted.
That new lies were being built on top of old lies
to construct a completely make-believe world.
You have to accept, or you
had to accept at the time,
a responsibility, because you
have to accept responsibilities,
you have to pay compensation in
order to get rid of sanction.
We did that, not because we
are convinced that we did it,
but because of the final
exit out of this nightmare.
So, what you're saying is that
you accept responsibility,
- but you're not admitting that you did it.
- Yes.
And this is all a sham,
you're saying, just to get sanctions over with
so that you can start normal
diplomatic relations with the West.
OK. OK. What's wrong with that?
It's a very cynical way to
behave, as a country, isn't it?
- Many people would say...
- First of all...
I mean, the Americans and the British,
they told us to write that letter.
They told us to pay compensation.
And then, they opened their embassies
and they restored their relation.
They came to us.
It was their game. Not our game.
Does the... Does the leader know
there's a picture on the television?
- Will you tell him?
- Oh, good. Thank you.
Public relations companies then came to Libya
to do what they called "reframing the narrative".
One firm was paid 3 million to turn Gaddafi
into what they described
as a modern world thinker.
OK. We're going in ten.
They did this by bringing
other famous world thinkers
and TV presenters out to Libya to meet the colonel
and discuss his theories.
Hello, and welcome to Libya In The Global Age,
A Conversation With Muammar Gaddafi.
But first, let's get the story so far of Libya.
One world thinker was called Lord Anthony Giddens.
Coincidentally, he had a theory
which he called "The Third Way"
which had inspired Tony Blair.
Colonel Gaddafi's own theory was
called "The Third Universal Theory."
Lord Giddens later wrote about his talks
with the Libyan leader.
"Colonel Gaddafi likes my term 'the third way'
"because his own political philosophy
"is a version of this idea.
"He makes many intelligent and perceptive points.
"I leave enlivened and encouraged."
That for 40 years, the leader
of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi...
And then, Colonel Gaddafi
achieved his lifelong dream.
He was invited to address the United Nations.
He spent almost two hours explaining
his Third International Theory.
And also demanding an investigation
into the shootings of President
Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
When he was in New York,
Gaddafi was offered a tent,
just like the one he had at home,
in the gardens of a grand mansion.
The man who made the offer was Donald Trump.
I've dealt with everybody.
- And by the way, I can tell you something else!
- What?
I've dealt with Gaddafi.
- What did you do?
- Excuse me. I rented him a piece of land.
He paid me more for one night
than the land was worth
for the whole year or for two years.
And then, I didn't let him use the land!
- That's what we should be doing.
- Was that over in New Jersey?
I don't want to use the word
"screw", but I screwed him.
That's what we should be doing!
People in Britain and America now began to
turn away from politics.
The effect of the Iraq war had been very powerful.
Not only did millions of people
feel that they had been lied to
over the weapons of mass destruction,
but there was a deeper feeling - that whatever
they did or said had no effect.
That despite the mass protests,
and the fears and the warnings -
the war had happened anyway.
Liberals, radicals and a whole new generation
of young people retreated.
They turned instead to another world
that was free of this hypocrisy
and the corruption of politics
They went into cyberspace.
Once upon a time it was you by the door
By now cyberspace had become even more
sophisticated and responsive to human interaction.
The online world was full of algorithms
that could analyse and predict human behaviour.
The man behind much of this was
a scientist called Judea Pearl.
He was the godfather of modern
Artificial Intelligence.
Pearl's breakthrough had been to use what were
called Bayesian Belief Networks.
They were systems that could predict behaviour,
even when the information was incomplete.
But to make the system work,
Pearl and others had imported
a model of human beings drawn from economics.
They created what were called rational agents,
software that mimicked human beings
but in a very simplified form.
The model assumed that the agent
would always act rationally in
order to get what it wanted. Nothing more.
One of the early utopians of cyberspace,
Jaron Lanier, warned of the implications of this.
"The agent's model of what you are
"interested in will always be a cartoon.
"And in return you will see a cartoon
"version of the world through the agent's eyes."
And, he added, "It will never be clear
"who they are working for - you or someone else."
New technology began to allow people to upload
millions of images and videos into cyberspace.
And the web - which up to that point had seemed
like an abstract otherworld - began to
look and feel like the real world.
INDISTINC No, not yet.
From videos of animals, personal moments of
experience, extraordinary events,
to horrific terror videos,
more and more was uploaded.
And in a strange, sad twist,
the first terrorist beheading video that was
posted online was that of
Judea Pearl's own son, Daniel Pearl.
He was a journalist for the
Wall Street Journal and had been kidnapped by
radical Islamists in Pakistan.
They recorded what they said was his confession...
...and then his killing.
My name is Daniel Pearl.
I'm a Jewish-American.
I come from... On my father's
side of the family, are Zionists.
My father is Jewish.
My mother is Jewish. I'm Jewish.
Only now do I think about some
of the people in Guantanamo Bay
must be in a similar situation.
This was a new world that the old systems of power
found it very difficult to deal with.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks,
the security agencies secretly collected data from
millions of people online.
One programme was called Optic Nerve.
It took stills from
the webcam conversations of millions
of people across the world,
trying to spot terrorists planning another attack.
The programme did not discover a single terrorist.
But it did discover something else.
A top secret assessment said...
But increasingly, people were using
the internet in other ways.
To present themselves as
THEY wanted to be seen.
I guess the video blog is about me.
I don't really want to tell you where I live
because you could, like, stalk me.
The web drew people in because it was mesmerising.
It was somewhere that you could explore
and get lost in in any way you wanted.
But behind the screen, like in a two-way mirror,
the simplified agents were watching and
predicting and guiding your hand on the mouse.
I nearly... threw my phone away!
Stop! Stop!
- Pose.
- Pose. And snap a selfie...
- There you go.
- There you go.
They play with themselves.
But what they don't know...
As the intelligent systems online gathered
ever more data, new forms of
guidance began to emerge.
Social media created filters -
complex algorithms that looked at what
individuals liked - and then fed more of the same
back to them.
In the process, individuals began to
move, without noticing, into bubbles that
isolated them from enormous
amounts of other information.
They only heard and saw what they liked.
And the news feeds increasingly
excluded anything that might challenge people's
pre-existing beliefs.
And now it's all right
I know my own lie
Is coming to say
You will call out
I know I thought
Makes my face and hands cold
And I
The version of cyberspace that was
rising up seemed to be very much like
William Gibson's original vision.
That behind the superficial freedoms of the web
were a few giant corporations with
opaque systems that controlled
what people saw and shaped what they thought.
And what was even more mysterious was
how they made their decisions
about what you should like.
And what should be hidden from you.
But then, the other utopian
vision of cyberspace re-emerged.
Taking over the roadway.
Take it!
After the financial crash of 2008
the politicians saved the banks.
But they did practically nothing
about the massive corruption
that was revealed in its wake.
And the reason they gave was that it might
destabilise the system.
Public anger burst out. The Occupy
movement took over Wall Street
and then the Senate in Washington.
The issue is that certain individuals
that are very wealthy, have pretty
much corrupted our political system
and this is like the heart of it.
This is the Senate building.
These people have been cut off and
they've corrupted our democracy
and it's literally killing people.
I'm an Iraqi war vet.
I went to Iraq in 2009.
I've seen what happens first
hand when we let corruption
rule our elected government and democracy.
And we're coming here today
basically just to raise awareness.
What drove the Occupy movement was the
original dream of the internet that people
like John Perry Barlow had
outlined in the early 1990s.
In his Declaration of the
Independence of Cyberspace,
Barlow had described a new
world free of politics and the
old hierarchies of power.
A space where people connected
together as equals in a network
and built a new society without leaders.
Now, the Occupy movement set out to
build that kind of society in the real world.
The camps were to be the models.
All the meetings used the
idea of the human microphone.
People throughout the crowd repeated a
speaker's words so everyone could hear them.
We are now going to vote...
SPEAKER: ...on whether to stay
here for the next two hours...
...on whether to stay here for the next two hours...
...or leave now.
...or leave now.
But if someone wanted to challenge the speaker,
the human amplifiers also
had to repeat THEIR words
so their voice had equal power.
...what she said...
...what she said...
- SPEAKER: ...was that...
- ALL: ...was that...
...the proposal...
Each person was an autonomous
individual who expressed
what they believed.
But together they became components
in a network that organised itself
through the feedback of
information around the system.
You could organise people
without the exercise of power.
The crisis in Egypt.
A march through our main streets.
Looks like chaos. Looks like
police is running around
and a few hundred people walking down the street.
Then, almost immediately, the Arab Spring began.
The first revolution started in Tunisia,
but it quickly spread to Egypt.
On January 25th 2011, thousands of Egyptians
came out in groups across Cairo and then
started moving towards Tahrir Square.
It seemed like a spontaneous
uprising but the internet
had played a key role in organising the groups.
One of the main activists was
an Egyptian computer engineer called Wael Ghonim.
He worked for Google in Egypt
but he had also set up the Facebook site that
played the key role in
organising the first protests.
As hundreds of thousands took over Tahrir Square,
Ghonim gave an interview on Egyptian TV.
But Ghonim was also overwhelmed by the power
this new technology had,
that a computer engineer with
a keyboard could call out
thousands of people...
some of whom then died in
the midst of the protests.
Many liberals in the West saw this as proof
of the revolutionary power of the internet.
Again it seemed to be able to organise
a revolution without leaders.
A revolution powerful enough
to topple a brutal dictator
who had been backed by America
and the West for 30 years.
But the internet radicals were not the
only ones who saw their dreams being fulfilled
in the Arab Spring.
Many of the political leaders of the West also
enthusiastically supported the revolutions
because it seemed to fit with their
simple idea of regime change.
It might have failed in Iraq
but now the people, everywhere,
were rising up to rid
themselves of the evil tyrants.
And democracy would flourish.
So when an uprising began in Libya,
Britain, France and America supported it.
And suddenly, Colonel Gaddafi stopped being
a hero of the West.
All the politicians, and the public
relations people, and the academics
who had all promoted him as a global thinker
suddenly disappeared.
And Gaddafi became yet again an evil
dictator who had to be overthrown.
His son Saif said, "The way these people are
"disowning me and my father is disgusting.
"Just a few months ago, we were being treated as
"honoured friends.
"Now that rebels are threatening
our country, these cowards
"are turning on us."
Colonel Gaddafi retreated to
the ruins of the house that
the Americans had bombed 30 years
before and addressed the world.
Muammar Gaddafi is the glory.
If I had a position, if I were a president,
I would have resigned.
I would have thrown my resignation in your face.
But I have no position, no post.
I have nowhere to resign from.
I have my gun, I have my rifle to fight for Libya.
Withdraw your children from the streets.
Take your children back.
They are drugging your children.
They are making your children drunk
and they are sending them to hell.
Your children will die. What for?
In November 2011 a large convoy
was spotted driving at high speed
away from Colonel Gaddafi's home town of Sirte.
An American drone,
controlled from a shed outside Las Vegas,
was sent to follow it.
The operator fired a missile
at the lead car of the convoy.
Gaddafi then fled - looking for shelter from
the oncoming rebel forces.
He hid under the road in a drainage pipe.
But instead of becoming a democracy,
Libya began to descend into chaos.
And the other revolutions were also failing.
The Occupy camps had become
trapped in endless meetings.
And it became clear that there
was a terrible confusion at
the heart of the movement.
The radicals had believed that if
they could create a new way of organising people
then a new society would emerge.
But what they did not have
was a picture of what that
society would be like, a vision of the future.
The truth was that their
revolution was not about an idea.
It was about how you manage things.
And those who had started the revolution
in Egypt came face-to-face
with the same terrible fact.
Social media had helped
to bring people together in Tahrir square.
But once there, the internet gave no clue as
to what kind of new society
they could create in Egypt.
The movement stalled.
And a group that DID have a powerful idea - the
Muslim Brotherhood - rushed in to fill the vacuum.
The Brotherhood took power in an election
and one of them, Mohamed Morsi, became President.
The liberals and the Left were shocked.
And, bit by bit, they turned back to
the military, protesting, asking them to save
the revolution from being captured by Islamists.
In the spring of 2013, the military took action.
They arrested the President and
killed hundreds of his supporters who protested.
And an extraordinary spectacle
unfolded in Tahrir Square.
Thousands of the liberal activists who
had begun the revolution two years before,
summoned by social media, now welcomed the
military back by waving their laser pens at the
helicopters flying overhead.
The crowd had been summoned
there once again by Facebook.
After the failure of the revolutions, it was not
just the radicals - no-one in the West had
any idea of how to change the world.
At home, the politicians
had given so much of their
power away, to finance and the ever-growing
managerial bureaucracies, that they in effect
had become managers themselves.
While abroad, all their adventures had failed.
And their simplistic vision
of the world had been exposed
as dangerous and destructive.
But in Russia, there was a group of men who
had seen how this very lack of belief in
politics, and dark uncertainty about the
future could work to their advantage.
What they had done was turn
politics into a strange
theatre where nobody knew what was true or
what was fake any longer.
They were called political
technologists and they were
the key figures behind President Putin.
They had kept him in power,
unchallenged, for 15 years.
Some of them had been dissidents back in the 1970s
and had been powerfully influenced by the
science fiction writings of
the Strugatsky brothers.
20 years later, when Russia fell
apart after the end of communism, they rose up
and took control of the media.
And they used it to manipulate
the electorate on a vast scale.
For them, reality was just something that
could be manipulated and shaped into anything
you wanted it to be.
But then a technologist emerged
who went much further.
And his ideas would become central to
Putin's grip on power.
He was called Vladislav Surkov.
Surkov came originally from the
theatre world and those who have
studied his career say that what he did was take
avant-garde ideas from the theatre and bring
them into the heart of politics.
Surkov's aim was not just to manipulate people
but to go deeper and play with, and undermine
their very perception of the world so they are
never sure what is really happening.
Surkov turned Russian politics into
a bewildering, constantly
changing piece of theatre.
He used Kremlin money to sponsor
all kinds of groups - from mass
anti-fascist youth organisations,
to the very opposite - neo-Nazi skinheads.
And liberal human rights groups who
then attacked the government.
Surkov even backed whole
political parties that were
opposed to President Putin.
But the key thing was that Surkov
then let it be known that this
was what he was doing.
Which meant that no-one was sure
what was real or what was fake
in modern Russia.
As one journalist put it,
"It's a strategy of power
that keeps any opposition
"constantly confused -
"a ceaseless shape-shifting that is unstoppable
"because it is indefinable."
Meanwhile, real power was elsewhere -
hidden away behind the stage,
exercised without anyone seeing it.
And then the same thing seemed
to start happening in the West.
By now it was becoming ever more clear
that the system had deep flaws.
Every month there were new revelations,
of most of the banks' involvement
in global corruption,
of massive tax avoidance by
all the major corporations,
of the secret surveillance of everyone's e-mails
by the National Security Agency.
Yet no-one was prosecuted,
except for a few people at the lowest levels.
And behind it all,
the massive inequality kept on growing.
Yet the structure of power remained the same.
Nothing ever changed,
because nothing could be allowed
to destabilise the system.
But then the shape-shifting began.
Thank you very much. So nice.
So amazing. So amazing.
- WOMAN: We love you.
- What? That's OK.
I love you more, OK?
The campaign that Donald Trump ran
was unlike anything before in politics.
Nothing was fixed.
What he said, who he attacked
and how he attacked them was
constantly changing and shifting.
Trump attacked his Republican rivals
as all being part of a broken and corrupt system -
a politics where everyone could be bought,
using words that could have
come from the Occupy movement.
You've also donated to several
Democratic candidates,
Hillary Clinton included, Nancy Pelosi.
You explained away those
donations saying you did that
to get business-related favours.
And you said recently, "When you give,
"they do whatever the hell you want them to do."
- You'd better believe it.
- So what specifically did they do?
If I ask them, if I need them...
You know, most of the people on this stage,
I've given to, just so you
understand, a lot of money.
I will tell you that our system is broken.
I give to many people.
Before this, before two months
ago, I was a businessman.
I give to everybody. When they call, I give.
And you know what, when I
need something from them,
two years later, three years later, I call them.
- They are there for me. - So what did you get?
- And that's a broken system.
But at the same time, Trump used the language
of the extreme racist right in America,
connecting with people's darkest fears -
pushing them and bringing those
fears out into the open.
Get the fuck out of here!
Our country, motherfucker!
Our country!
Proud fucking American!
Made in the USA, bitch!
Made in the fucking USA!
Don't fucking come back, burrito bitch!
Go fucking right back to jail, motherfucker!
Build that fucking wall for me!
Trump! Donald Trump!
Fuck you! I love my country!
Yeah! I'll fuck like at least
ten of you up in one session,
you fucking pussy!
Many of the facts that Trump asserted
were also completely untrue.
But Trump didn't care.
He and his audience knew that much of what he said
bore little relationship to reality.
This meant that Trump defeated journalism -
because the journalists' central belief was that
their job was to expose lies and assert the truth.
With Trump, this became irrelevant.
Not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin admired this.
The liberals were outraged by Trump.
But they expressed their anger in cyberspace,
so it had no effect -
because the algorithms made sure
that they only spoke to people
who already agreed with them.
Instead, ironically, their waves
of angry messages and tweets
benefitted the large corporations
who ran the social media platforms.
One online analyst put it simply,
"Angry people click more."
It meant that the radical fury
that came like waves across the internet
no longer had the power to change the world.
Instead, it was becoming a fuel
that was feeding the new systems of power
and making them ever more powerful.
But none of the liberals could possibly imagine
that Donald Trump could ever win the nomination.
It was just a giant pantomime.
Then of course there's Donald Trump.
Donald Trump has been saying
that he will run for president
as a Republican, which is surprising,
since I just assumed he was running as a joke.
Donald Trump often appears
on Fox, which is ironic,
because a fox often appears
on Donald Trump's head.
Donald Trump owns the Miss USA Pageant,
which is great for Republicans
because it will streamline their
search for a vice president.
Donald Trump said recently he has a
great relationship with the blacks.
Though unless the Blacks are
a family of white people,
I bet he's mistaken.
But underneath the liberal disdain,
both Donald Trump in America,
and Vladislav Surkov in Russia
had realised the same thing -
that the version of reality
that politics presented
was no longer believable,
that the stories politicians told
their people about the world
had stopped making sense.
And in the face of that, you
could play with reality,
constantly shifting and changing,
and in the process, further undermine and weaken
the old forms of power.
And there was another force that
was about to dramatically reveal
just how weak politics had become in the West -
The attack happened here at
a central police station
in Damascus.
Police say the bomber came up the stairs,
police then opened fire,
and then police say he detonated the explosives.
And the damage is here to see.
Behind me, the pockmarked walls
where the ball bearings hit.
Blood splattered on the walls.
And the force of the blast
caused walls to collapse.
And everything is topsy-turvy,
everything destroyed.
By now Syria was being torn
apart by a horrific civil war.
What had started as part of the Arab Spring
had turned into a vicious battle to the death
between Bashar Assad and his opponents.
And at the heart of the conflict
was the force that his father
had first brought to the West -
suicide bombing.
Back in the 1980s
Bashar Assad's father had seen suicide bombing
as a weapon he could use
to force the Americans out of the Middle East.
But over the next 30 years
it had shifted and mutated
into something that had now ended
up doing the very opposite -
tearing the Arab world apart.
Hafez al-Assad's dream of a
powerful and united Arab world
was now destroyed.
In Iraq, extremist Sunni groups
had used suicide bombing
as a way to start a sectarian war.
And now groups like ISIS brought
the same techniques into Syria
to attack not just Assad's
son but his fellow Shi'ites.
And like his father, Bashar Assad retaliated
with a vengeful fury.
And the country fell apart.
Allahu Akbar.
Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.
My fellow Americans...
tonight I want to talk to you about Syria -
why it matters and where we go from here.
Faced by the war, western
politicians were bewildered.
They insisted Bashar Assad was evil.
But then it turned out that
his enemies were more evil
and more horrific than him.
The question before the House today
is how we keep the British
people safe from the threat
posed by ISIL.
This is not about whether
we want to fight terrorism,
it's about how best we do that.
So Britain, America and France
decided to bomb the terrorist threat.
But the effect of that was
to help keep Assad in power.
Then it became more confusing.
Suddenly, the Russians intervened.
President Putin sent hundreds
of planes and combat troops
to support Assad.
But no-one knew what their underlying aim was.
They seemed to be using a strategy that
Vladislav Surkov had developed in the Ukraine.
He called it non-linear warfare.
It was a new kind of war - where you never know
what the enemy are really up to.
Allahu Akbar.
The underlying aim, Surkov
said, was not to win the war,
but to use the conflict to create a constant state
of destabilised perception -
in order to manage and control.
Allahu Akbar.
In March 2016 the Russians suddenly
announced with a great fanfare
that they were leaving Syria.
And a concert was held in the ruins of Palmyra
to celebrate the withdrawal.
But in reality, the Russians never left.
They are still there,
and still no-one knows what they want.
And within Syria there was
a new Islamist ideologist
who was determined to exploit
the growing uncertainties
in Europe and America.
He was called Abu Musab al-Suri -
the Syrian.
Al-Suri had originally worked with
Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan,
but he had turned against him.
Al-Suri gave lectures that had a powerful effect
on the Islamist movement.
He argued that bin Laden had been wrong
to attack the West head on,
because it created a massive military response
that had almost destroyed Islamism.
Instead, al-Suri said,
independent groups or individuals
should stage random, small-scale attacks
on civilians in Europe and America.
The aim was to spread fear,
uncertainty and doubt -
and undermine the already failing
authority of western politicians.
The effect of the attacks
shocked Europe and America
and gave powerful force to the new
politics of uncertainty and anxiety.
I'm sure that you, with me,
share the absolute horror and total revulsion
at what happened in Paris last Friday.
And I'm afraid there is,
and we have to be honest and frank about this
and talk about these things without being fearful,
there is a problem with some of the
Muslim community in this country.
There is a problem. And we
have to be honest about it.
Our politicians, I'm afraid, haven't had the guts.
This could be the great Trojan horse of all time,
because you look at the migration...
Study it, look at it.
Now they'll start infiltrating
with women and children.
Both the Brexit campaign in Britain
and Donald Trump in America
did exactly what al-Suri had predicted.
They used the fear to dramatise
a world where everything -
even going to a restaurant -
had become a risky event.
And what had been seen as doomed
campaigns on the fringes of society
that could never win became frighteningly real.
I am genuinely freaked out right
now about this whole Brexit thing.
Because we'd all been told that
it wasn't going to happen,
like it was going away, it was
going away from Brexiting
and on to the staying.
And because I had this, like bedrock belief...
I have friends who, like, live and work in London,
and they said, "Don't worry,
we're a very sensible people."
"This isn't going to happen. It's a lot of talk,
"but we don't do that sort of stuff here."
Um... they were wrong.
And that really kind of crushes my view of,
like, what can happen that is bad
that we don't think is going to happen.
Like it's just not supposed to happen.
I fear that we are watching
the stirrings of fascism in Europe again.
And I genuinely never thought
it would be my country
that did that.
I thought this would be America.
I thought America was the people
who were so filled with hate.
Not us.
And I'm so disappointed.
I'm so hurt.
MUSIC: Standing Room Only by Barbara Mandrell.
You must think my bed's a bus stop
The way you come and go
I ain't seen you with the lights on
Two nights in a row
So pack your rusty razor
Don't bother with goodbye
Your cup runneth open
But mine is always dry
Standing room only
I can't stand no more
Standing room only
Outside my door
Don't help me set the table
Cos now there's one less place
I won't lay Mama's silver
For a man who won't say grace
If home is where the heart is...
This is my right to free speech going on here, OK?
Then your home's on the streets
Me, I'll read a good book
Turn out the lights and go to sleep
Standing room only
I can't stand no more, no more
Standing room only
Outside my door...
- You're on video.
- Oh.
Say bye, Heather.