The Trap fails to address inequality

In: Uncategorized

18 Mar 2007

This week’s episode of The Trap, part two of the three part documentary by Adam Curtis, failed to convincingly link paranoid man with rising inequality (see posts of 11 and 12 March). The first 45 minutes of the hour-long programme elaborated on the last week’s theme of how the idea of rational selfish individuals arose during the Cold War (including John Nash, James Buchanan and Tom Peters). It also showed how institutions such as the National Health Service were reformed to incorporate these ideas in the 1990s. Only then, three quarters of the way through the programme, did it make a tenuous link with inequality through the mechanism of school league tables. Rich individuals, it pointed out, could afford to buy houses in areas with top-performing schools. As soon as it made this point it quickly moved on to inequality in America and then onto the idea of corruption. It ended by questioning the science of the “selfish gene” and describing how behavioural economics is gaining in popularity. So literally only a few minutes of an hour-long programme even attempted to demonstrate the link between “rational economic man” and inequality.

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