Brain Pickings

Obey: How the Rise of Mass Propaganda Killed Populism


“A populace that can no longer find the words to articulate what is happening to it is cut off from rational discourse.”

British filmmaker and illustrator Temujin Doran has previously delighted and stimulated us with his visual love letters to language and illustration, his opinionated meditations on democracy and the art of protest, and his poetic documentaries about a small Arctic town and a dying occupation. His latest film, made entirely out of footage found on the web, is based on the book The Death of the Liberal Class (public library; UK) by cultural critic and foreign correspondent Chris Hedges and explores how the rise of the Corporate State precipitated everything from income inequality to environmental collapse to the mainstream media’s metamorphosis from a tool of public service into a weapon of private interest.

We unite behind brands, behind celebrities, rather than behind nations. We have become more than nation states — we are corporation states.

The opening of the film comes from the epigraph to The Death of the Liberal Class, in which George Orwell reminds us:

At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.

Complement with Adam Curtis’s excellent BBC chronicle of consumerism, The Century of the Self.

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