HyperNormalisation (2016) - full transcript

HyperNormalisation tells the extraordinary story of how we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and confusion - where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed - and have no idea what to do. And, where events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control - from Donald Trump to Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening - but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them. The film shows that what has happened is that all of us in the West - not just the politicians and the journalists and the experts, but we ourselves - have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all around us, we accept it as normal. From BBCiPlayer

[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

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,

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

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

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,

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.

TRANSLATION: 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

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,

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

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

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

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,

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

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.Yeah.

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

and 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.

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.

TRANSLATION: 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.

MAN: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and started to create new systems
that did just that,

but on a giant scale.

They were called intelligent agents.

They worked by monitoring

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

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

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

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

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

had discovered that he could no

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.


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 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."

TRANSLATION: It's not suicide.
It is martyrdom in the name of God.

Islamic theologians and

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.

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.

# Netanyahu! #

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

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

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

# Forever

# Oh, dream, baby, dream

# Dream, baby, dream

# Dream, baby, dream

# Dream, baby, dream

# Forever... #


# ..Dream, baby, dream

# Oh, baby, we gotta
keep that dream alive

# Keep that dream alive

# Forever

# 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

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

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

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

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


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

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

"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.

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

# I... #

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

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.


No, not yet.

From videos of animals,
personal moments of

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

..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

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

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.

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

# Yourself

# I know I thought

# Makes my face and hands cold

# And I

# Ooh

# Ooh

# Ooh... #

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

that are very wealthy, have pretty
much corrupted our political system

and this is 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. We're coming here today

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.

ALL: We are now going to vote...

SPEAKER: ..on whether to stay here
for the next two hours...

ALL: ..on whether to stay here for
the next two hours...

SPEAKER: ..or leave now.

ALL: ..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.

SPEAKER: ..what she said...

ALL: ..what she said...

SPEAKER: ..was that...ALL: ..was
that...SPEAKER: ..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,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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,

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.

MAN: 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.

MAN: 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.