‘Dream On’ – a new essay by Adam Curtis

Pauline Boty

“Dream On – How the left Got Lost Inside Their Own Heads & How Fairies Can Open The Door To The Future”


The protest movement that began with Occupy Wall Street is very clear about what it is against – an international capitalism that is cruel, unfair and untenable. But the movement refuses to say what it is for. Much of this refusal comes from a belief that modern capitalist society is extremely skilful at co-opting dissent and that any discussion with the media is the first step in being reabsorbed into ‘the system’.

It also has the added benefit of irritating mainstream journalists and commentators.

I want to tell an odd, romantic, but ultimately very sad story that shows where this fear of possession on the left comes from. It is set during last the time that British, European and American students tried to be a vanguard for revolution. It shows how that fear can easily lead to a pessimistic belief that all one’s dreams for a better future are just illusions – and how that pessimism then came to paralyse the left in Britain throughout the eighties and nineties.

The rest of this provocative new Adam Curtis essay can be read on his BBC blog here.  We would be interested in hearing our readers’ thoughts on it.

Comments (5)

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  1. Thank God for Adam Curtis.

  2. clom says:

    Great piece.
    On a tangental note I saw Sandy Milroy give a great talk a few months ago at Embassy about Jane Ardent’s Anti-Clock.
    He discussed “Utopian Dissolution in London’s Late Counterculture” and was excellent in terms of drawing the dots between the collapse of late-60’s utopianism and birthing a new despondency whos lineage can be traced from Syd Barrett to Coil.

    The film was bananas. Like Antonioni’s Blow Up done by Dopplereffekt’s Heinrich Mueller.

  3. bellacaledonia says:

    Funny, Black Dwarf was one of the inspirations for Bella, along with Red Herring, Harpies & Quines and Calgacus.

  4. Steve Arnott says:

    How to take a potentially interesting idea and make it disappear up its own arse with the utmost, almost admirable skill.

    Adam Curtis is taking the pish, and he is a consummate master of it. Perhaps no bad thing as long as – like Fairies – you don’t take it too seriously.

    Did Giles Deleuze know what he was starting?

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