Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Almost As A Primitive People Believed In Magic"

Rod Dreher has put up some interesting posts during the past few days on the connection between Glenn Beck and W. Cleon Skousen. Beck is mostly unfamiliar territory for me; except for a couple of quick looks -- one time I saw a surprisingly perceptive discussion about the Federal Reserve -- I don't watch him. In response to this post about Beck's grounding in conspiracy theory, one of Rod's readers comments:

I've long been a "fan" of this kind of stuff - if that's the right word to use - but it used to be the sort of thing you could only hear on shortwave radio in the wee hours of the night. It's pretty amazing how it's gone near-mainstream over the last year or so.

It shouldn't be all that amazing. Look, this is largely a function of economic conditions. I know I keep coming back to Europe and particularly Germany in the 1920's and 1930's. But the parallels at a minimum can protect you financially (if you've owned gold for the past few years, you probably agree) and in the future maybe even physically. There's a temptation to write off that period in history as an outlier for its madness, and I think that's a mistake.

From George Goodman's 1981 book Paper Money, here's how German publisher Leopold Ullstein described the psychological effects of the early-1920's economic collapse in his country:

People just didn't understand what was happening. All the economic theory they had been taught didn't provide for the phenomenon. There was a feeling of utter dependence on anonymous powers -- almost as a primitive people believed in magic -- that somebody must be in the know, and that this small group of 'somebodies' must be a conspiracy.

Of course the basic allure of conspiracism transcends economic conditions. Nuts are nuts, whether the Dow is at 14,000 or 6,500. But for those puzzled by Beck's popularity and the stubborn appeal of the Obama-as-foreign agent meme and its variations, I think Ullstein offers good context. Fox has Beck positioned perfectly for the times.

More: Rod comments here.


Anonymous Goldhorder said...

There is certainly nobody in power "in the know". Our rulers are inflicted with the greatest degree of hubris the world has ever known. A former chinese central banker was interviewed recently. He lamented that every time they try to increase their gold reserves the price begins to skyrocket. So they have to do it a bit at a time. You might as well buy gold people.., the Chinese are providing a price floor. They are "in the know". In the mean time our "betters in DC are trying their damnest to control middle eastern resources because our military is the only card they have left. Don't be suprised if we start dropping bombs on Persians soon. It's all we have left.

9/19/2009 4:06 PM  
Blogger Vijay said...

But of course someone *was* in the know. The people who were sitting on the printing presses watching those Deutchemarks fly. I don't find that particularly conspiratorial though, even if the average man didn't understand what was happening.

9/19/2009 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

I know what you are saying Vijay but it is actually different. Our "betters" see themselves as the victors of wwI wwII and the cold war. As the only superpower left. I don't think the Prussians thought of themselves as world rulers at the time. Maybe aspiring world rulers...ours really believe that they have the right to rule the world. They believe they can print money and there is nothing anybody can do about it as long as we can invade countries and force their resources to market in US dollars. Might makes right is the rule of law. The Nazis lost the war but their philosophy won the day. So far our country has gotten away with it. I am betting against them buy buying gold and silver... Some investment in asia and canadian resource stocks. I avoid American investments at all cost.

9/19/2009 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

iTulip echoes TCR's connection between economic instability, madness and conspiracy theory. At the top of their front-page article today, they write, (although I kinda think they stole the quote from somebody else)...

"When the people lose faith, they do not then believe in nothing. They believe in anything."

9/20/2009 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a part of me that totally understands why Beck and those like him are so "mainstream" but the other party of me is still like "HUH....WTF?!?!"

9/21/2009 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Liebchen said...

Good one, Daulton. Wasn't it Beck, after all, who pleaded with his audience to believe SOMEthing, even if it's wrong?

9/21/2009 5:21 PM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...


Spare me "conspiracy" ...

There exists a MONEY MONOPOLY and whoever controls the money is in ultimate control. All you have to do is "follow the money". Who was it Hank Paulson was pleading for Congress to bailout in 2008? Was it the US Taxpayer? Was it WalMart? Was it Exxon? Was it Simon Cowell? Bono? WHO ALWAYS GETS BAILED OUT TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME? here's a clue ... LTCM ... hummmm???

So it boils down to either "reality" or just plain "stupidity". How else can you explain why only two political parties have controlled America's destiny for over 100 years now ...

What the US TREASURY spends is posted every day, so if I were to say as an example, "For every $1USD Treasury receives in tax revenues it issues $5.88USD in DEBT." And if I were to say, "For every $1 USD Treasury receives in tax revenues it issues $35USD in non-marketable government account series IOUs." Well then what if I said "The total "marketable" DEBT(US Treasuries)combined with the "non-marketable" Government Account Series securities (IOUs)crossed the $52TRIL USD mark last week." So when we hear amounts like TRILLIONS and like I just mentioned $52TRILLION of DEBT issued in 50 weeks(more than $1TRIL USD per week)it all invokes "craziness" like, say, a Zimbabwe or maybe even a Weimar Republic. I mean those are CRAZY HIGH numbers that we only hear about in Zimbabwe right? Not in America, right? Its all so crazy, so it must be a conspiracy, YES? Now since all that is documented every day by the US TREASURY would that not be "reality"?



As Clinton might have said "ITS THE STUPID ... STUPID!"

9/22/2009 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

I think Kaimu wins this thread. What would, in any other time or place, be called a "conspiracy", has basically been happening out in the open, covered by the WSJ and all major press outlets. They simply slap a cheap paper label on it saying "This is for the good of the U.S. consumer because _we_ say it is". So the people who believe in conspiracies may arguably be the smart ones.

9/22/2009 9:58 AM  
Blogger DB said...

The post title line and the comments reminded me of a quip attributed to the poet WH Auden:

"Propaganda is the use of magic by those who no longer believe in it against those who still do."

9/22/2009 10:04 AM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...


I believe those who have been sitting at the top of the food chain in Washington DC for the past fifty years would love nothing better than for REALITY to become CONSPIRACY. Then they could deny all their fraud and their accusers would look like nutty tin hat conspiracy goons!

One of the key parts of domestic abuse is for the abuser to convince the abused that what they are actually feeling and seeing is not really abuse but love. In other words its all CRAZY MAKING manipulation. Why else would a beaten and abused woman cling to her abuser and decry her undying love, even with tow black eyes and broken ribs? Sounds like the American Voter who has been abused and beaten by the TWO PARTY TANGO!

Tell a lie long enough and it becomes the truth! Just ask Goebbels about "conspiracy"! HA!! I hear he's dead now ... but Elvis isn't!

9/22/2009 3:30 PM  
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