Category Archives: individualism

The Trap: We Will Force You To Be Free

This documentary look at the restrictions imposed on ourselves by simplified economic and research models into human behaviour by the wonderful Adam Curtis. Our ideas of freedom have led us to some how restrict our true selves.

“how a simplistic model of human beings as self-seeking, almost robotic, creatures led to today’s idea of freedom.”

This documentary was originally released in 2007. I’ve only just come across this since watching the All Watched Over By Machines of Love and Grace.

Curtis discusses Game Theory in relation to the two models of liberty as highlighted by Isaiah Berlin. Game Theory originally used as part of the USA’s Cold War Strategy. This used mathematical models of human behaviour and this eventually became embedded into economic research into the Free Market. Curtis highlights the important role of John Nash (he of the movie, A Beautiful Mind) with regards to this particular theory, citing that Nash believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish. More described in this link

As usual with Curtis, he has managed to delve in and really explore such a broad subject and dig into key historical events. There’s an interesting discussion raised regarding the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the part Neo-cons in the US (influenced by Game Theory) had in overthrowing these democratically elected Marxists, because it wasn’t quite the right democracy that the US wanted. He then discussed the real affect of economic freedom in Russia using the Shock Therapy tactics from US advisors.

Curtis concludes that the game theory/free market model is now overshadowed by economic research into how irrational models of behaviour is appropriate and useful. Cheekily, he comments that there have been formal experiments that prove that people who behaved exactly according to the mathematical models created by game theory are economists themselves, and psychopaths.

An interesting insight into the dangers of narrow thinking.

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On Yer [Pink] Bike!!

Does a bike require gender? Is there a need for such gender division on something as utilitarian from such an early age? This is discussed further in the link below:

Oi! Sexist Marketing! On Yer Bike!!.

Interesting also, that pink was aimed at boys originally. E.g: June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department:

“…The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

This is discussed further in this article:

Pink and Blue, Chris Blattman

Also, as I ramble on further. This video is particularly interesting and relevant:

This comment from a little girl called Riley. She is right, there is a lack of choice for toys targeted at girls. Boy’s not only get a choice of colours in their range, but a choice of proactive role models – superheros in this example (sport stars and strong career roles in other examples). Girl’s on the other hand get passive, pretty princesses (and servile, domesticated toys elsewhere).

Segregating toys in such a simple way is just strange to me. This simplification surely can’t be good for childhood development and it must certainly have some affect on gender stereotyping. Childhood should be a fun learning experience, preparing kids for adulthood. Yet, all I can see is that by ‘pinkifying’ certain toys (not just through colour, but by a strict choice of either superhero or princess), it can also deny boys choice as well. Given the choice, would they want something that promotes passiveness and vanity, such as a princess or would they prefer something proactive and exciting like a superhero or astronaut?

Surely, we shouldn’t be engineering kids thoughts through things like this? It’s not just marketeers either, it’s parents that reinforce this. It worries me. Toys should encourage imagination and ingenuity, they shouldn’t encourage stereotypes. Granted, there’s no denying ones gender identity, but gender is one of the many facets of identity – there’s more to life than being a princess or a superhero.

Give the kids freedom to find out more about their individuality, don’t deny their imagination.

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