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Little Atoms Podcast with Adam Curtis May 31, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in The Left.

Some of you are no doubt already listening to the Little Atoms podcast which deals with science, secularism, politics and a varied range of other issues and is available on iTunes for free. And they have had a wide range of guests, from Jon Ronson to… well, it’s a varied and interesting crew. Initially they seemed to be fairly closely aligned with the so-called ‘decent’ left but that seems to have faded somewhat, and no harm.

Anyhow, a rather fine interview with Adam Curtis about his latest series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. I’ve got to admit I’m very very impressed by his critique, particularly of democracy, even if there are aspects of it which I might not fully agree with. His analysis as regards the way in which hippy met capitalism and capitalism met hippy and found they liked each other a bit too much is particularly convincing, even if not completely novel.

He may be stretching it with regard to building a theoretical construct which incorporates computer systems, democracy and genetics, and yet, and yet, it’s hugely persuasive. And his concept of ‘oh dearism’ or the liberal retreat is equally so.



1. ejh - May 31, 2011

His analysis as regards the way in which hippy met capitalism and capitalism met hippy and found they liked each other a bit too much

Isn’t this something Tony Judt also said?

(Come to that, Abbie Hoffmann refers to “hippy capitalism” several times in his autobiography.)


WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2011

Very true, hence my thought about not completely novel, but I really liked the way he articulated it.


2. FergusD - May 31, 2011

I watched the latest Adam Curtis offering. Interesting, but the elephant in the room was capitalism. It was all about capitalism really and the way that economic system works and adapts and is used. So perhaps an interesting view on some recent ideological developments that suited some “hippy” capitalists, but not a new critique of the system per se. Also, I had never heard of most of the Silicon Valley types who appeared, no mention of Gates, Jobs etc AFAIK, were they interested in Ayn Rand etc?


WorldbyStorm - May 31, 2011

Yeah, it’s a good point, though he’s clearly anti-capitalist. I don’t think Jobs/Gates are objectivists, well certainly not Gates and I never heard it about Rand.


EWI - May 31, 2011

Jobs isn’t part of the Libertarian (e.g. Eric S. Raymond) set – he’s a Californian counter-culturist (and has better taste).


3. EWI - May 31, 2011

By the way, apropos of the recent comments discussion on labour in the tech industry:



LeftAtTheCross - June 1, 2011

Good link EWI. There are elements of that culture throughout the project-based IT indistry, not just in gaming, although I can imagine it being more extreme in that sector. The prodcut development cycles for consumer products are crazily tight, if a company is to get into the market in time to make a splash ahead of the competition, to get the on the sales curve at the most profitable point, and to get the market kudos that boosts the corporate share price (or trade sale price if it’s a pre-floatation operation financed by venture capital) and hence senior executive remuneration. I don’t have personal experience of other global market non-IT sectors such as pharmaceuticals, but I would imagine the same pressures apply in the R&D operations there.


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