A Critique of Adam Curtis's All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace


I love Adam Curtis documetaries and watch each one eagerly so was thrilled to see that his latest work also featured the book that I was reading at the time, Atlas Shrugged.

Well i've now finished reading Atlas Shrugged, and unfortunately looking back at the documetary I completely disagree with my favorite documentory maker and his version of Ayn Rand's philosphy now that I understand it.

Either he has missunderstood her work, or has puposely sought to misslead.

Adam says in the documentary:
"Human beings Rand said were alone in the universe. They must free themselves of all forms of policital and religious control, and live their lives guided only by their selfish desires. If they did this they would become heroic figures."

But this is not the philosophy taught by Ayn Rand and I feel that she must be defended against this incorrect view of selfishness.

Her philosophy is summed up by the phrase used in Atlas Shrugged for the departure of every one who left the world to go on strike:
"I swearóby my life and my love of itóthat I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

This is not selfishness, this is self-esteem. It is the right of every man to stand alone and be counted, both for their good deeds, and also for any transgressions. This is morality, it is integrity and accountability, it is not selfishness, as Adam would have it.

Adam then goes on to attribute financial chaos to selfishness and greed, but he makes a fatal mistake in linking this idea to Ayn Rand's philosophy.

He says:

"Rand's ideas were seen as mad and dangerous, selfishness and greed had lead to the financial chaos and depression of the 1930's."

I totally agree that Rand's ideas will seem mad and dangerous to the average man, and also to all politicians out there whom she seeks to attack with her philosophy.

However, the chaos and economic depression were not caused by the moral code of Ayn Rand; as explained by John Galt in his speech near the end of the book. They were instead caused by greedy bankers and polititians with no moral code.

Adam goes on to say:
"The job of politics was to manage and control the selfish desires of the individual"

This is a pernicious lie, and I might add my own view here that is aligned with Ayn's but obviously not a quote.

The job of ploiticians is to create as much wealth for themselves before they get caught, whilst claiming that they are doing it in the public interest.

Adam's next statement about Rand needs some breaking down, he says:
"A small group of followers began to form around her, who believed in her vision of another kind of world, where everyone was free."

This is total brainwashing! look at this sentance in stages:

"A small group of followers began to form around her"
This is putting down the viewer, saying that you should not believe Ayn Rand because if you do you will stand almost alone, and because you seek to protect her, and shield her, this is bad.

"who believed in her vision of another kind of world"
He's saying that the world presented by Ayn is not ours, it is a vision of another one, and if you don't believe this then her world is a different kind of the same world, so don't you mix reality and fiction.

"where everyone was free"
He is saying you are not free, there is no freedom in this world, it is only a fantasy.

This is nothing short of total propoganda from the lips of Adam and the BBC.

Adam gives Ayn a bit of break for a while, and introduces a friend of hers who babbles on to say not much, but then he links Silicon Valley with Ayn Rand's philosphy and here I get annoyed at him because he loses the thread for the sake of his own ends:
"The group most inpired by it [Ayn rand's philosophy] were the entrapanuers of Silicon Valley... but above all they saw themselves as Randian heroes"

This doesn't make any sense, and the drunken/drugged fool that Adam interviews also doesn't make any sense; building the products, thinking independantly, being rational, and taking pride in what one does, are not Ayn Rand hero characteristics. These can not be attributed to Rourke, Rearden, or Taggart.

Their characteristics are more like; having a vision, believing in ones ability to achieve, stopping at nothing to pursue the vision, succeeding despite every negative person around them, and most importantly like the buddhist beliefs having a joyfull sharing with like minded people.

The drunk then goes on to explain what Ayn Rand's philosophy presented:
"It presented a vision, a vision of a morally exciting enterprise, a morally glorious project"

The Wynand Building was not morally exciting, and Rearden Steel was not morally glorious, they were built out of love of an amoral vision. This idiot doesn't know what he is talking about.

Later in the documentary Adam says:

"Atlas Shrugged is set in a Science fiction world"

No it isn't! If anything it is a period drama in this world. This distancing of reality and fiction is staged by Adam so that the viewer believes that the book has no relevance to real life.

"In it Ayn rand attacks head on the idea of altruism; the care of others, as an organising principle for society"

This is a load of crap, the book is full of altruistic themes, such as the d'Anconia's offering people the move to Mulligen's Valley where like minded people live. Altruism is also not an organising principle of our society, who is Adam trying to kid? Just look at the most recent bankers debacle and how our Government handled it.

"In the story the Government and the state control everything"
This is only true at the very end of the book when the Government has malisciously destroyed the free market to make everyone dependant.

This is presented as the start point for the story and does not mention all the shit that the Government do to business in the name of the common good. Bad Adam!

The next commentary is fair enough, charting the story, however the summary is:
"A world in which politics has dissapeared, and is based instead on what she called, the virtues of selfishness."

Well Adam, you move seemlessly here from Atlas Shugged to a collection of essays with that name, naughty, you should have said that you left the book behind.

Atlas Shrugged never mentions these virtues and yet you seek to attach them to the book. If you read the introduction to The Virtues of Selfishness essays, Ayn explains that the term selfishness when used by her is not what you or I know it to be, and she describes it as "concern with one's own interest", she also says the term that we are familiar with has "arrested moral development of mankind" which i'm sure we all agree with. This is not good documetary making, rather it is Adam's political agenda-following presented as the truth for unknowing and lazy idiots.

The next section seeks to destroy Ayn and her creation, but time has proven Ayn's work to be a masterpiece despite Adam and Ayn's "friends" damning of it.

I beleive that Ayn's vision would lead to a free society, and I sincerely hope that there is a Mulligan's Valley, or a Galt's Gulch out there in our world, today. Our economy is collapsing and Government and Corporations are trying to grab as much as they can while forcing small businesses to pay out for nonsense like carbon taxes in the name of atruism, I would leave for the valley if the offer were there.

Adam, I still love your other work, but this documentary is disgraceful when it comes to the work of Ayn Rand.


I am a Randian hero, I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.












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