Adam Curtis on Syria

From the fabulous British documentary film-maker Adam Curtis' blog:

What is happening in Syria feels like one of the last gasps of the age of the military dictators. An old way of running the world is still desperately trying to cling to power, but the underlying feeling in the west is that somehow Assad's archaic and cruel military rule will inevitably collapse and Syrians will move forward into a democratic age.

That may, or may not, happen, but what is extraordinary is that we have been here before. Between 1947 and 1949 an odd group of idealists and hard realists in the American government set out to intervene in Syria. Their aim was to liberate the Syrian people from a corrupt autocratic elite - and allow true democracy to flourish. They did this because they were convinced that "the Syrian people are naturally democratic" and that all that was neccessary was to get rid of the elites - and a new world of "peace and progress" would inevitably emerge.

What resulted was a disaster, and the consequences of that disaster then led, through a weird series of bloody twists and turns, to the rise to power of the Assad family and the widescale repression in Syria today.

I thought I would tell that story.

A great story well told — read it all. And you should also watch Curtis' latest documentary, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.

Adam Curtis' wonderful blog

Murtaza, Sanam and Benazir Bhutto

I am a huge fan of the documentary film-maker Adam Curtis, the author of wonderful films about our times such as The Power of Nightmares, The Trap and The Century of the Self. Curtis recently launched a blog, and in his latest missive he tracks down the parallel rise of Benazir Bhutto and post-Soviet Russian reformist Yegor Gaidar. It's a blog post that feels like one of his documentaries, with their eerie juxtaposition of politics and sociology with footage of ephemera, old newsreels and experimental music.

Make sure you watch the videos, especially the ones of Russian musician Sergey Kuryokhin.