The world keeps getting crazier, and I keep having to blog about it.
I give in. I am now officially a political blogger. Sorry about that.
While I am not qualified to be a proper journalist or columnist, I hope I do have something of an interesting point of view. As an American abroad who just likes to read and has a bit of an international background, I’ll share. It’s my perspective, after all, and while I’m hardly the most knowledgeable person in the world I still may have something interesting to say on occasion.
For this week’s post I’d like to talk about the current prevalence of conspiracy theories—or as some would prefer the term conspiracy fables—in the current national dialogue. This issue is in fact near and dear to me, as I have been a fan of such mythology for many years. Honestly, I am shocked that the fringe stuff me and my friends researched back in the early 2000s, which I always thought should be taken with a grain of salt, is now taken very seriously by the mainstream. Yes, the mainstream; if you won the election then you are officially the mainstream.
I feel like my favorite underground band sold out, and sold out bad.
So here’s my story. I happen have the privilege of being able to claim conspiracy theory subculture even before 9/11. I have been fascinated by all kinds of things since I was young, and perhaps it was even a bit gothy to have an interest in the occult. Certainly nerdy. Oft times I lurked the metaphysical section of my local bookstores, and absorbed much.
Honestly, look up my old conspiracy bookshelf on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/765636-ray?shelf=conspiracy
One crucial book that comes to mind is The Biggest Secret by noted crackpot David Icke. Yes his whole reptilian thing is a joke and the British in particular like to mock him. But his books are interesting as a sort of thought experiment in combining every New World Order/Illuminati theory into one arch crazed mindset. All those UFO ancient astronaut theories, mixed with the extreme far right and “law of attraction”-eque New Age. It’s certainly… something.
It was in those books that I first heard of the child abuse allegations that are now so big on reddit. Basically, I thought the idea that world leaders where all pedophile Satanists to be a highly improbable worst-case scenario and not worth taking too seriously.
What I still really appreciate about my reading at the time was discovering Robert Anton Wilson, who co-wrote the epic conspiracy satire novel(s) The Illuminatus! Trilogy. RAW, in a valid mix of philosophy and psychology and science, taught that everything is subjective on some level. That there are many optional reality tunnels, and the only rational way to make it through the paranoia of conspiracy theory subculture is by way of the radical agonistic.
And then in the autumn of 2001 it happened. 9/11 changed America and changed the world, as we all know. At the time it seemed to actually confirm some suspicions that global government and authoritarian martial law really was just around the corner. I don’t know, perhaps the weirdness bubbling under the surface in the late 90s wasn’t so much predicting the future but rather Jungian collective unconscious. Who knows.
The Bush years gave a lot to be paranoid about. First there was the stolen election, then the mandatory patriotism right after the attack, and eventually an anti-war movement which never gained enough steam as the neocons invaded Iraq. There was much to protest, even if the protesters stayed in the fringes. Eventually history proved that the WMDs were a lie and it was a tremendous mistake to nation build in the Middle East. You’d think the main antiwar movement from the time would now get more credit since then instead of the new far right.
As a thoroughly self-righteous collegiate, I ranted on Myspace about the evil government. And, while hopefully maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism, I posted links Infowars articles and watched Alex Jones documentaries about how 9/11 was an inside job…
During the Bush years, any alternate media source was appreciated. The thing about conspiracy theories though, is that we’ll never know for sure. If something is truly covered up, one can speculate but claiming to know for sure is dangerous. Still, I was a media junkie and wanted to consider as many sides as possible. I also listened to talk radio and watched Fox News and read heavily-cited books by liberal journalists. In trying to be an independent, I was no democrat and often took up the libertarian viewpoint.
There was a lot of overlap between libertarians and conspiracy theorists in those days. The Ron Paul candidacy in 2008 even seemed hopeful. Alex Jones, while obviously nuts for the most part, did seem to be one of many sources worth at least slightly considering. He was supposed to be against all government, smashing the false left-right paradigm, an interesting character if nothing else. Now it’s all gone to hell and it turns out the worst elements of the so-called movement, like complaining about feminists, was the only side that stuck. Infowars is currently a partisan hack website that only cares about one side of the aisle, becoming even less of a viable alternative media source.
I guess it was because I moved to China during the Obama years that I didn’t realize how extreme America was getting. Although I tried not to be partisan, I certainly had to eventually conclude that the democrats are the lesser evil (if one must get into lesser and worser evils). Criticizing Obama was fine by me, on for example issues of Wall Street. But being a racist asshole saying he’s secretly an illegal immigrant was not fine by me.
I grew out of the need for fringe conspiracy theory information, choosing to instead indulge in more evidence-based reading material. I have gleamed some valuable information about the Bilderberg Group of Bohemian Grove or the Federal Reserve or what have you, but it was time for me to take that and move on. I had gotten enough out of it, I questioned the system and all that, and then I was to learn about the world in a more realistic light. Little did I know how bad it was getting in the meantime.
An article about how many of the online libertarian scene completely sold out (or lied all along) to become the alt-right: http://www.salon.com/2016/12/09/how-the-alt-right-became-racist-part-2-long-before-trump-white-nationalists-flocked-to-ron-paul/
Well, here we are in the horrifying political year of 2016, and I may have been premature in considering conspiracy theory websites to be irrelevant.
It’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around it. Fine, they always leaned right, but this has gotten ridiculously hypocritical. Logically, if someone believes that 9/11 was perpetrated by the government then isn’t that a bigger deal than where Obama was secretly born or Hillary’s emails? I do not understand the priorities of conspiracy theorists anymore. I suppose most of them were bigots the entire time, easily switching from the old Birch Society days with the ‘Jews run the world’ narrative to contemporary fears of Muslim infiltration; the fact that they were anti-Bush for a while was the aberration.
Here we are now in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, and I have found myself arguing with grown adults about Pizzagate. Here in Shenzhen. Can you believe it?
I’m called a sheeple, and weird counterculture types support the tyrant monster that is Trump, because of Pizzagate.
That’s how bad it has gotten.
I’m loathe to even get into it, but here’s the Snopes if you don’t know already: http://www.snopes.com/pizzagate-conspiracy
Mostly I find it unbelievable that artist Marina Abramovic is a cannibal member of the Illuminati. Seriously, it is a dark theory and must be a red herring even if one does believe that the government is filled with pedophiles. A deep-level misinformation campaign perhaps. All in all come on, that’s just not a rational reason to support fucking Trump.
But the Internet has spoken and reddit can’t stop it and humanity is officially doomed.
This is how the extreme right-wing operates now. They create their own facts. Dismiss anything they agree with as media lies, no matter how much information. It’s turned explicitly partisan, and even when winning gets to frame crooked billionaires as the oppressed underdog.
By damn if the shadowy NWO did previously control the system, what the coming Trump Administration proposes is going to be objectively worse. It’s worse than anything that has come before. Fuck that he’s an “outsider,” whatever that has ever meant.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to dislike about free trade democrats and the old version of conservative republicans. Plenty! I certainly do wish that third parties played a greater role in American politics.
But I have no doubt, based upon campaign promises and massive corruption and endless examples of bigotry among Trump supporters and especially the disturbing new oligarchical cabinet appointments, I have no doubt that what’s coming is going to be the worst train wreck in modern history. I’m exhausted even getting thinking about it.
Anyway, point being, if you support Trump because of Pizzagate then I think I personally have the background necessary to know that you are an insane person.
Some people simply don’t have the mental immune system and perspective to risk exposure to ideas they can’t handle.
It’s sad but true. I used to be optimistic about how the Internet was going to evolve everyone into higher states of intellectual consciousness via the free marketplace of ideas. Didn’t work out that way. Instead of rationally sifting through various narratives, ideas, and possibilities; people have latched on to the dumbest conclusions and believe anything if it is horrible enough.
Stupidity has won. America and the world probably won’t recover from this. The Internet ruined everything and it’s very hard to find anything to be optimistic about. The worst of confirmation bias has taken over the highest level of government, everyone lives in their own paranoid reality, and outright stupidity has won.
For whatever reasons, be it technological or any, due to the absence of “mainstream media” clickbait shit has replaced it and risen to the top.
Interesting times or whatever.
I should probably say a few things about the Taiwan situation. In the latest of a series of striking examples of how the world has gone crazy, as we all know, Trump and his people seem to want to start some serious shit with China. By way of Twitter. Geez.
As I have a very personal stake in this, I have been quite disturbed. On the one hand, it’s true that Taiwan is a great country and does deserve independence. I have been to Taiwan three times, and I would love to live there someday. The status quo, which is apparently over, is that as long as no one calls Taiwan a country then everyone could do business and it was mostly fine. America gets to say they support “One China” but sell weapons to Taiwan, etc. I do realize that status quo wasn’t sustainable forever, but at least it was peaceful for the time being between the People’s Republic and Taiwan. I for one supported an independent Taiwan but didn’t want to be unrealistic, that’s all.
The thing is, I do not believe Trump and his people are serious about fighting for Taiwan. There is no actual viable plan for recognizing Taiwan independence and changing China’s position. I do not believe there is any evidence to show he cares about democracy in Asia, or human rights abuses in the People’s Republic of China, or anything like that.
I know they don’t care because Trump has shown he doesn’t care about human rights when it comes to Duterte in the Philippines, or Assad in Syria (seriously horrific news in Aleppo). They only care about enemies. It looks like China is declared an enemy, and Taiwan is supposed to be a card to play in bargaining for better trade deals or something. Because everything in the world must be in conflict now.
And somehow I don’t think it’s going to bode well for anyone… unrealistic promises of factories in America or not.
Perhaps in the long term the conversation about Taiwan will lead to something positive, but for now it’s totally reckless and at this rate we can all look forward to the entire global economy crashing and all our lives ruined when the United States and China cease having diplomatic relations. My life first, but soon after pretty much everyone else’s on Earth.
And that’s all just one expat’s view.