The Power of Nightmares – Behind the Scenes of the Politics of Fear

I recently finished watching a fascinating series of documentaries by Adam Curtis for the BBC, which is available as a free download: The Power of Nightmares

It explains in three parts how politicians (especially in the USA and Great Britain ) use the fears of people to ensure their power. It also tells the history of islamic terror groups. A short trailer explains it the best:

The documentary starts its story on the 40s and 50s of the past century. People like me who know the history of islamic terrorists and neo-conservatives only very vaguely will find an insightful retrospect. The Power of Nightmares also shows very nicely the long term connections between events and developments.

Also enthralling is the – well supported – thesis that the famous terror network Al Quaeda never existed as an organization. Adam Curtis claims that their were some terror groups which appeared around Osama Bin Laden – but they primarily met him independently to seek his funding, not his command. The well organized terror network with sleeper cells all over the world and the united goal to destroy the free world is just a myth. A myth which was created as a replacement for the common enemy which disappeared with the end of the cold war. A myth that unites the population behind their political leaders.

The Power of Nightmares sticks to very down-to-earth arguments. Everything appears to be thoroughly researched and far away from any conspiracy theory.

Unfortunately, the documentary uses some stylistic devices (predominantly the music) which cast some doubt on its neutrality. That is a pity, because such styles would have not been necessary – the arguments themselves are strong enough. Nevertheless: The Power of Nightmares stays trustworthy for me.

Still, everyone should be cautious with topics like that – topics, which no one can overview in detail. Should anyone have a documentary with a different point of view, I would be happy to see it.

The Power of Nightmares as free download

All three parts of The Power of Nightmares can be found at the Internet Archive as free downloads in different qualities. Alternatively, it is also available at Google Video

(this article is also available in German)