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#551#552#553#554 Episode #555 - Homo Systematicus
(Machines of Loving Grace and The World of Conspiracio)



Sat 11 June 2011  Adam Curtis, Peder Anker, Buckminster Fuller, Jay Forrester, Fred Turner, Peter J. Taylor, Daniel Botkin, Randell Gibson, Molly Hollenback, Tord Björk, Stuart Pickett, Stewart Brand, Dave Swift, Sam Bledsoe, Al Gore, Ivan Illich, David Cayley
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2The week's show features two important thinkers on the idea of the world as system. First, a radio adaptation of episode 2 of the new documentary by Adam Curtis, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace about the social role and flimsy scientific basis of the idea of an 'ecosystem', followed by a short comment by Curtis on the film's main message. Next, Ivan Illich on the institutionalization of society and the loss of people's personal power in the 1980's when people started to see the world as a system.
We start the show with a radio adaptation of The Use And Abuse Of Vegetational Concepts, the second part of Adam Curtis' 3 part series, All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. He tells how the idea of the 'ecosystem' and the 'balance of nature' appealed to the public imagination although they had no solid scientific basis, and the US 'back to the land' movement in the 1960s thought they were basing their ideas on the natural world, when in fact they were mimicking not the natural world, but a shallow mechanistic interpretation thereof.

In our second hour, we start with some reflections on Curtis' message, followed by an excerpt of a 3 week old interview with Curtis about the film. Then, we hear the final part of a CBC Ideas series entitled The Corruption of Christianity, which mixes recordings of Ivan Illich with interpretation an explanation by David Cayley. Illich traces looks at the rise of systems thinking as a corruption of the Christian gospel. Amongst other aspects, he explains that empathy far sacrificed for efficiency, and he suggests that the Roman Catholic church was the prototype for the modern nation state, institutionalising and so corrupting Christian virtues. Illich argues that systems thinking is fundamentally disempowering, since if the system is one which involves humans, since they have no external standpoint from which to analyse which is going on. At some point in the mid 1980s, Ivan Illich argues, people's worldviews fundamentally shifted to see the world as system, leaving them powerless and ineffective to change it.

While predicting a catastrophic, even apocalyptic change, he says his hope lies with emphasising friendship and personal connections, savouring the uniqueness of time, space and of personal relationships, resisting pressure to systems thinking and refusing to conform to institutional expectations.
Thanks to Adam Curtis for another great film. Thanks to for their interviewing.
This episode rebroadcasts content from 523.
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