A third serious setback was Egypt. The collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, amid giant protests, raised hopes that democracy would spread in the Middle East. But the euphoria soon turned to despair. Egypt’s ensuing elections were won not by liberal activists (who were hopelessly divided into a myriad of Pythonesque parties) but by Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Morsi treated democracy as a winner-takes-all system, packing the state with Brothers, granting himself almost unlimited powers and creating an upper house with a permanent Islamic majority. In July 2013 the army stepped in, arresting Egypt’s first democratically elected president, imprisoning leading members of the Brotherhood and killing hundreds of demonstrators. Along with war in Syria and anarchy in Libya, this has dashed the hope that the Arab spring would lead to a flowering of democracy across the Middle East.
Early on in the Big Book, Bill Wilson tells the story of Rowland Hazard. With his Yale degree and a secure place within a wealthy Rhode Island family, Hazard was one of those people who seemed to have it all. Unfortunately, he was also an incurable alcoholic. The good news was that he could get the best care money could buy: treatment with none other than the famed Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. But that treatment didn’t work, either, and so Hazard asked Jung to tell him the “whole truth”: why did he have no control over alcohol, and what could he do about it?
D avis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) was an effective consciousness-raising exercise, focusing on Al Gore’s “slide shows”, as he calls them, on the reality of climate change. Eleven years on, the sequel brings home the intensification of the crisis: needless to say, as the film’s timeline approaches the present, the spectre of Trump looms like an iceberg on a foggy Arctic night. As Gore visits the world’s environmental flashpoints, the footage of floods, storms and exploding glaciers adds ballast to the statistics. There’s a sliver of against-the-clock narrative at the 2015 Paris climate summit , although the film simplifies matters in suggesting that India’s coming on board was the result of Gore making a few well-placed phone calls behind the scenes. Useful as a teaching tool, strictly functional as cinema.