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The public want sincerity from an artist. And if you can fake that, you’re made. Frankie Howerd, cited Reputations s9e1: Frankie Howerd, attributions & variations, BBC 2002
Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made. George Burns, attributions & variations
I know very little about acting. I’m just an incredibly gifted faker. Robert Downey junior
This is the normal world. You go to work in a city. All around you are enormous new buildings. They look alike. But you will never be able to afford to live in them. Because they are not really homes. They are blocks of money bought by global investors whose money had nowhere else to go. Adam Curtis, Living in an Unreal World, BBC 2016
They and you live in a dream world detached from reality. You spend your days and nights on social media. ibid
But as you work in glass-walled offices you know that the targets are manipulated and fake. And the managers know that you know. But you all sit there are pretend it is objective and rational. ibid.
The [Soviet] system was starting to crack. Russia became a society where everyone knew that what their leaders said is not real. Because they could see with their own eyes the economy was falling apart. But everybody had to play along and pretend that it was real. Because no-one could imagine any alternative. One Soviet writer called it Hypernormalisation. ibid.
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. And no-one has any vision of a different or a better kind of future. Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation, BBC 2016
Over the past forty years politicians, financiers and technological Utopians rather than face up to the real complexities of the world, retreated. 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. The simplicity was reassuring. ibid.
This retreat into a dream world allowed dark and destructive forces to fester and grow outside. Forces that are returning to pierce the fragile surface of our carefully constructed fake world. ibid.
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. By in the early ’70s the middle classes fled from the city, and 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. ibid.
Out of eight members, nine of them were bankers … 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 … To them there was no alternative to this system: it should run society. ibid.
No-one opposed the bankers. ibid.
The rise of a new powerful individualism that could not fit with the idea of collective political action … ‘the revolution was deferred indefinitely.’ ibid.
Trump started to buy up derelict buildings in New York, and he announced 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. ibid.
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. ibid.
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. ibid.
He [Kissinger] 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 … In reality, the Palestinians were ignored. ibid.
The Soviet Union became instead a society where no-one believed in anything or had any vision of the future. ibid.
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 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 everyone had to play along and pretend that it was real. Because no-one could imagine any alternative. One Soviet writer called it HyperNormalisation. You were so much a part of the system that it was impossible to see beyond it. The fakeness was hypernormal. ibid.
‘Into the hands of America God has placed the destiny of an afflicted mankind. God bless America.’ ibid. Reagan
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. Two months later thousands of Palestinians were massacred in the camps. It horrified the world … Israel had allowed it to happen. ibid.
Assad decided get the Americans out of the Middle East, and to do this he made an alliance with the new revolutionary force of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran … 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. ibid.
President Reagan withdrew all the American troops from the Lebanon. Secretary of State George Shultz explained: ‘We became paralysed by the complexity we faced.’ So the Americans turned and left. ibid.
By the middle of the 1980s the banks were rising up and becoming ever more powerful in America … 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. ibid.
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 … In cyberspace there were no laws, no politician to protect you. Just raw corporate power. ibid.
Many of those who had taken LSD in the ’60s were convinced it was more than just another drug. That it opened human perception and allowed other people to see new realities that were normally hidden from them. ibid.
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 villain … and the perfect candidate was waiting in the wings: Colonel Gaddafi, the ruler of Libya. The Americans were going to ruthlessly use Colonel Gaddafi to create a fake terrorist mastermind. And Gaddafi was going to happily play along because it would turn him into a famous global figure. ibid.
In December 1985 terrorists attacked Rome and Vienna airport simultaneously killing 19 people, including 5 Americans. There was growing pressure on President Reagan to retaliate. President Reagan immediately announced that Colonel Gaddafi was definitely behind the attacks. 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. ibid.
He [Gaddafi] promoted himself as an international revolutionary who would help liberate the repressed peoples around the world. Even the blacks in America. ibid.
The Americans and Gaddafi now became locked together in a cycle of mutual reinforcement … The Americans and Gaddafi were creating a fictional world. ibid.
In the 1980s more and more people in the United States reported seeing unexplained objects and lights in the sky … The American government might have been making it all up. That they had created a fake conspiracy to deliberately mislead the population. ibid.
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. ibid.
Donald Trump was one of the heroes of the age. But in reality much of his success was a facade. The banks that had lent Trump millions had discovered that he could no longer pay the interest on the loans. Trump’s empire was facing bankruptcy … He was forced to sell most of his buildings to the banks … He himself would become a celebrity tycoon. ibid.
In December 1988 a bomb exploded on a Pam 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. ibid.
And in America all optimistic visions of the future had also disappeared … and everyone became possessed by dark forebodings imagining the very worst might happen. ibid.