Video: The Century of the Self

Written By: - Date published: 7:25 am, July 6th, 2008 - 12 comments
Categories: International, interweb - Tags:

Hager’s Crosby/Textor revelations and the ensuing debate reminded me of this four party BBC documentary by Adam Curtis: The Century of the Self. Embedded below is part four entitled “Eight people sipping wine in Kettering”:

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

12 comments on “Video: The Century of the Self”

  1. rave 1

    This is hardly new. The rise of the West at the expense of the rest creates a growing middle class of consumers whose ‘selves’ are completely wrapped up in commodity consumption.
    The American Dream is the most common expression of it.
    You could say that the Kiwi dream is a spin off fed by US media and Hollywood.
    The middle class is completely individualised and egocentric – the ‘me generation’ is the younger most mindless cohort.
    This is why NZ politics right now resembles a color revolution – the middle class is so self centred it can only see me, me, me, and in the current downturn is turning nasty and blaming big sister.
    From my Marxist standpoint, this whole phenomenon is the logical development of alienation where beginning with alienation in production, individuals end up as being no more than their monetary value in the marketplace.
    I think the level of debate coming from the right on this blog demonstrates that conclusively.
    But the big majority in NZ are still workers whose falling living standards today will push them towards collective defensive action.
    What they need from this government is some evidence that it cares for them.
    Unpack that!

  2. vto 2

    what a load of drivel mr rave.
    “The middle class is completely individualised and egocentric ” and “the middle class is so self centred it can only see me, me, me”

    You let yourself down on two fronts. Firstly, your braindead attack on the so-called ‘middle classes’. Why is that so many ‘left’ people cringe about the majority of NZers? Something is lacking in yourself with that attitude to the ‘middle class’. Also, why do you exclude the lower classes? After all they are the ones that throng to the malls and the Warehouse. And why not include ‘upper classes’ – are they immune or something?

    And, why is it that you think that the collective community spirit etc that is fundamental to society’s survival is actually that lacking? It certainly isn’t where I am. Do you live alone in your own remote head? Try getting out into the community a bit more.

    This thread and your own post make some pertinent points but they always get wound up in some sort of self-righteuos attack on others – usually the dreaded ‘middle class’ – and that just shows up certain attributes of yourself, not others.

  3. lprent 3

    vto: Have you watched the episode?
    I’m half-way through and it is fascinating – 60 minutes

  4. Felix 4

    Touched a nerve vto? You’re not usually such an angry knee-jerker. Seriously, that could have been written by Monty but it beautifully illustrates the hubris rave describes.

    Video looks interesting, I’ve been wondering lately (especially when reading comments here) why some people are happy to be reduced to financial units – to “consumers and taxpayers” if you will – while others require far more variables to define themselves.

  5. Felix 5

    lprent: of course he hasn’t, it’s nearly an hour long!

  6. vto 6

    I watched a little. Yes for sure Felix, touched a nerve. And how on earth my hot-tempered post illustrates what rave describes I do not know . And you certainly haven’t shown that.

    I acknowledged that the thread had some pertinent points but my post had zip to do with self-centred mindless consumption which is what Rave was going on about. It was about ‘middle class’ attacks, and Rave’s view on lack of community.

    Perhaps you could answer the questions I put to Rave yourself Felix and back up your assertion of hubris. Otherwise your post is a tad hollow.

  7. Felix 7

    vto, I’m in no mood to sift through your drool for a coherent, relevant or interesting question, but this little gem:

    And, why is it that you think that the collective community spirit etc that is fundamental to society’s survival is actually that lacking? It certainly isn’t where I am. Do you live alone in your own remote head? Try getting out into the community a bit more.

    (emphasis added)
    is the very definition of hubris.

  8. higherstandard 8


    Community spirit is alive and well on Auckland’s Northshore as well. If Felix wants to take that as Hubris as well all well and good.

  9. vto 9

    hubris: 1. pride or arrogance 2. an excess of ambition, pride, etc ultimately causing the transgressors ruin.

    Fail, Mr Felix. Unless you perceive my comment as being overly proud or arrogant. It is a merely a statement of fact from my perspective, nothing more nothing less.

    Raves post had parts that were simply another mindless attack on various groups in society that are peripheral to the main post. Its radio talkback crap, just of a different hue.

    Peace. out (to cool down).

  10. Felix 10

    I’m not going to spend my Sunday joining the dots of the English language for you but you’ve done it again.

    Anyway yeah, time to chillax.

  11. lprent 11

    Finished it and had a rather long discussion about it. It does define how the Nat’s have been running their campaign to date.

    The latter part of the program was very interesting. It started to look at the inherent problems in using the approach for policy making. The classic section was with New Labour faithfully following the focus group precepts that rail wasn’t important and letting it run down. Then getting blamed in the same focus groups for not doing anything about it.

    Offhand the same kinds of things happen all over the place. Think of the New Orleans flood

    Anyway off to have a look at google video.

  12. bill brown 12

    I think this thing shows the disconnect in people’s minds between the tax take and the government’s money.

    On the news it’s always “we think the government should spend more money on …”

    It should be “we think that we should spend more money on…”

    It gives the impression that the government has it’s own money that it’s refusing to spend.

    (I know you know this already) 😉

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Strong first week of firearms buy-back events
    The first full week of the firearms buy-back and amnesty has produced a strong turnout as events roll out nationwide for the first time. “Momentum is slowly starting to build as community collection events are held across the entire country, ...
    2 days ago
  • New digital service to make business easy
    A new digital platform aims to make it easier for small businesses to access services from multiple government agencies, leaving them more time to focus on their own priorities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash ...
    1 week ago
  • Million-dollar start to gun collection events
    Million-dollar start to gun collection events  Police Minister Stuart Nash says a solid start has been made to the gun buyback and amnesty after the first weekend of community collection events. “Gun owners will walk away with more than ...
    1 week ago
  • Praise after first firearms collection event
    Police Minister Stuart Nash has praised Police and gun owners after the first firearms collection event saw a busy turnout at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. “Police officers and staff have put a tremendous effort into planning and logistics for the ...
    1 week ago
  • New Police constables deployed to regions
    Seventy-eight new Police constables are heading out to the regions following today’s graduation of a new recruit wing from the Royal New Zealand Police College. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the record high number of new Police officers being recruited, ...
    2 weeks ago