Yesterday was a reverse anniversary: seven days until the midterm elections cause everyone to lose their minds. Who will riot in the streets? Tune in next week for another exciting episode of American Politics: the fuckening.
Seven days out–unless, that is, you listened to Infowars yesterday.
On October 30, 2018, Alex Jones opened his 4-hour show with a shouty, gravelly declaration that we are now 2 weeks out from the election. I find it slightly shocking that someone dedicated to the “Red Wave” would make this kind of mistake. That initial surprise was, however, quickly eclipsed as Jones kept doing it. Over and over again. After commercial breaks, repeatedly, for at least the first 40 minutes of his show. Probably longer. Such complete disconnect to the present should worry anyone who believes Jones’ constant claims of tremendous predictive power.
The thing is, Jones isn’t alone in that studio. There are cameramen. People who look up videos for him to prove his points about the “evil, demonic globalists.” The chances that everyone in that highly political environment made the same mistake are approximately 0. There are seven days until what, for Jones, is “the most important election of our lifetime.” Misstating the date of that crucial election could cause faithful listeners to miss the polls. Yet Jones doubled down, repeating it again and again.
One must look at the context of the initial statement:
“It’s Tuesday, We are now 14 days–2 weeks!–ahead of the incredible midterms and just as I predicted–wasn’t hard to predict, by the way, it’s playbook–the globalists plunged–starting with the Chinese market in 2008, just weeks ahead–2 weeks ahead–of the 2008 election just to make sure it went to Barack Obama. And now, 2 weeks exactly ahead of the midterms–2 weeks from now people will be voting here in America–the stock market goes down 500 points and all these former federal reserve chairmen from Volker to Greenspan come out and say “It’s the end of the world! It’s going down!” And guess who led the stock’s going down?…the ChiComs.”
Alex Jones predicts a lot of things, and I’m not going to bother combing back through hours of gravel turning over in a cement truck to find out whether this is one of them. The important thing is that Alex Jones seems to believe he predicted it, and that the date he predicted for a stock market crash was 2 weeks out. The stock market is performing a “correction.” Therefore, it must be 2 weeks out.
This sounds insane, and it is. Yet it is the only reason I can think of for Jones to instinctively continue to lie about the date of an election he would surely like his side to win.
I offer, for your consideration, the following rather lengthy quote from Hannah Arendt regarding the relationship between prediction and truth in totalitarianism:
“Totalitarian regimes…impose upon [the world]…a kind of supersense which the ideologies actually always meant when they pretended to have found the key to history or the solution to the riddles of the universe…Once [an ideology’s] claim to total validity is taken literally they become the nuclei of logical systems in which, as in the systems of paranoiacs, everything follows comprehensibly and even compulsorily once the first premise is accepted…The curious logicality of all isms, their simple-minded trust in the salvation value of stubborn devotion without regard for specific, varying factors, already harbors the first germs of totalitarian contempt for reality and factuality.
“Common sense trained in utilitarian thinking is helpless against this ideological supersense, since totalitarian regimes establish a functioning world of no-sense…What makes a truly totalitarian device out of the Bolshevik claim that the present Russian system is superior to all others is the fact that the totalitarian ruler draws from this claim the logically impeccable conclusion that without [totalitarian communism] people never could have built such a wonderful thing as, let us say, a subway; from this, he again draws the logical conclusion that anyone who knows of the existence of the Paris subway is a suspect because he may cause people to doubt that one can do things only in the Bolshevik way. This leads to the final conclusion that in order to remain a loyal Bolshevik, you have to destroy the Paris subway. Nothing matters but consistency.“(Origins of totalitarianism, 458-9)
Alex Jones is not a totalitarian dictator, mostly because he isn’t in charge of anything. Yesterday, however, Alex Jones indulged in totalitarian thinking. The truth is less important than the consistency of the ideology which allows Jones to predict the future multiple times in every episode of his show. Pick a random episode from infowars.com and you will hear it almost immediately. “I told you!” Or, “I’ve been saying this for years!” Or, “I told the people I was with, X is going to happen, and almost immediately X happened.” Etc, etc, etc. I cannot overstate how common prophecy is on the Alex Jones Show.
Facts don’t matter. The ideology matters. Alex Jones’ status as a prophet is central to his appeal. People crave secret knowledge and the sense of superiority that comes with it. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves–something “Epic,” as Jones puts it repeatedly. They don’t want to feel uncertain or terrified of something nebulous. They want to feel certain and afraid of something real, something they can fight.
“There’s a war on for your mind!” InfoWars never said anything as true as this, their slogan. This programming inoculates listeners against facts that contradict the central ideological narrative. It eats away at the ability to believe the senses.
Alex Jones is a totalitarian. Mainstream society’s instinct to shut him down was profoundly correct in the sense that his words pose an enormous threat. Except, of course, we haven’t shut him down. He continues to speak to an uncomfortably large audience, now with the added ammunition of “the globalists are trying to shut me down because they’re afraid! Help keep up the fight by buying The Red Pill from infowarsstore.com!” (Yes, really). You can’t stop the signal. You can only stop its appeal.
Alex Jones appeals to people. Not to me, and–presumably–not to you if you’ve read this far. But these sorts of totalitarian ideas appeal to a discomfortingly large number of people with a very real ability to win the information war. Look at Brazil. Look at Greece. Germany. Look at America in seven days.
The great struggle of our time doesn’t involve punching Nazis in the face or shutting down YouTube channels. Our generational task is to figure out why these ideas appeal so strongly to people and how to create a society such that no one feels isolated enough, lonely enough, hopeless or unhappy enough to seek out these kinds of answers. I don’t know what that answer is, but we have to find it. Even if it’s too late this time around.