I discuss the dire current threat against democracy, how it works, why it’s happening, and what it implies.
This is a transcript of an episode of Aquarian Diary I published on April 2, 2023.
Welcome to Aquarian Diary.
I’m your host, John Irving.
It is April 2nd, 2023.
Anyone following the news, even remotely, is aware that we are now confronted by a barrage of outrageous and ridiculous drama on a daily basis. From patently absurd conspiracy theories, to rhetoric that flies in the face of core democratic principles, the onslaught is relentless. In recent years this has reached such alarming proportions that we can’t help but sometimes wonder if the world has gone utterly mad.
Events that would have been completely shocking years ago now occur with such regularity that they are virtually pedestrian. So much so that many of us have become numbed or inured to them. The “new normal’ is batshit crazy. In other words not normal at all.
This phenomenon is dramatic and stark and thus is easily and readily identifiable. It is obvious and self-evident. It immediately and naturally captivates us. However, I believe there is another more insidious and sinister force at play amidst the melee that, in fact, may be substantially more consequential.
I ask you to consider the possibility that the chaos we observe is being deliberately engineered to mask or obfuscate a much more significant and systemic threat which lurks in the shadows. To my knowledge – and I am an avid reader – this hypothesis is rarely, if ever, articulated in the context I will present here.
The far-right extremist and professional provocateur Steve Bannon infamously stated that he aimed to “Flood the zone with shit.” From this very telling statement we can infer that his strategy is to promote disinformation such that it would confuse and distract the public.
Deliberately promulgating misinformation, or lies, is clearly unethical as it can cause great harm. For example, countless people died unnecessarily during the recent pandemic due to rampant disinformation. This conclusion is supported by a substantial body of statistical evidence.
What is the point of flooding the zone with shit? Why bother doing this in the first place? Dark money groups would not be funnelling untold millions of dollars into such campaigns simply for their own perverse pleasure. They may be dark but they are almost certainly not stupid.
The only logical conclusion is that the aim is to distract people from an even more nefarious agenda. To keep the population in a frenzied state so they do not notice developments that they would otherwise disapprove of. To capitalize on the distraction to implement policies that would be highly unpopular.
Not everyone is easily manipulated, however, it is not necessary to deceive everyone. They only need to mislead some critical mass to achieve their objectives.
Contrary to conventional thinking I posit that their strategy is just as effective on both the left and the right sides of the political spectrum, but for different reasons.
Many on the right are true believers – they actually believe the absurd lies.
On the left, on the other hand, people are perpetually in a state of reaction. They respond with outrage, disbelief and protest to every provocation and insult to their intelligence and ethics. Noted affronts to reality and common sense go viral, consuming a great deal of time and attention. The media predictably devotes innumerable hours to analysis. The cycle repeats every day.
One side is consumed and distracted by believing the ridiculous lies and the other is fixated on combatting their existence. It’s as if the left is trapped in a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole. Both sides, right and left, are being deliberately manipulated.
As I previously alluded to, there is a deeper and more nefarious agenda behind all of this. Assume, for a moment, that what I have already articulated here is true.
These artificial circumstances create an intensely polarized social environment. Under such conditions politics takes on qualities akin to trench warfare and hand-to-hand combat.
Constant bickering over absurd culture war issues dominates. Political candidates who are highly unqualified and of shockingly poor moral and intellectual character are elected based on their ability to engage in the dirtiest forms of political theatre. Representatives must only have big mouths and a propensity for enraging the opposing team. It is no longer about policy or good governance, it’s about winning the culture wars. It’s a zero sum game.
Consequently legislative agendas grind to a halt. Gridlock ensues. Any policies that do get implemented are gravely insufficient, watered down and wholly inadequate. After years or decades of this the population becomes increasingly disenfranchised. Government itself is perceived as being ineffectual at best and diabolical at worst. Apathy, despair, and cynicism – if not nihilism – metastasizes like a cancer.
The constant matestrom and distractions enable dark money groups to push through nakedly partisan legislation – such as tax policies – that favour only their particular interests. Their ever expanding war chests justify and finance further interference and the attacks escalate.
It is also worth bearing in mind that people who are financially stressed are far less likely to be politically or socially engaged or to exercise their agency. They are much more easily controlled or manipulated, in other words. For instance, I have often thought that this is why young people and many parents are currently so burdened by student debt. This was not the case in the 1960’s when there occurred a significant countercultural movement which threatened the establishment. See my episode on the Powell Memo, which I published in September of 2021.
Over time circumstances have deteriorated to the point where they have become so egregious and intolerable that many embrace authoritarianism and even fascism. Surely, the adherents think, a heavy hand could finally return order to our world. Superficially, there is some reasonable justification in seeking radical solutions. However, this perspective has not considered that the current state of affairs was intentionally fabricated, nor for what end.
Many have speculated that a handful of deeply entrenched dark money interests – billionaires or plutocrats – secretly aspire to return humanity to a state of feudalism. The theory goes that they believe they are superior and deserving of privilege due to the power they wield and that have amassed. They subscribe to a very Darwinian perspective of their place in society. Them at the top and the rest of us beneath them.
In this scenario they would have control over the masses who would serve their every whim. The population would be given just enough scraps to sustain themselves but not enough to threaten the ruling class. We would effectively be living in indentured servitude. Those who contributed to their prosperity and security would be valued. The rest could be casually discarded in much the same way we dispense with worn out appliances.
I personally speculate that these select few individuals are actually well informed about the state of the global environmental crisis and its grave implications. I suspect they fear the looming breakdown of society, if not civilization itself, which will quite probably ensue.
It is epically twisted irony that much of the wealth and power they have disproportionately accumulated is directly proportional to their obstinance in preventing this crisis in the first place. Even worse, for decades they have brazenly promulgated disinformation and lobbied against regulations which would have mitigated or avoided the crisis.
Metaphorically there are vastly more people than lifeboats in many future scenarios. Many know this to be true, but few will admit it publicly. Presumably the plutocrats think that a rigid social hierarchy, with them firmly planted at the top, would be the best possible scenario in a world facing anarchy and chaos. Furthermore, they likely fear retaliation for their past obstructionism and profiteering from the root causes of the forthcoming calamity.
To be clear, I am speculating here, but what I have described is rationally plausible.
In summary the intense social polarization and disenfranchisement that we are experiencing was deliberately engineered as a means of distraction.
It’s purpose is twofold.
First, it serves to keep people preoccupied so that other more nefarious plans can be executed with minimal awareness, scrutiny or backlash.
Second, it creates the impression that good governance is ineffectual, if not impossible – that democracy simply does not work.
This then leads many people to conclude that alternatives to democracy, such as authoritarianism or fascism, may be more viable or desirable.
Absent democracy those who have the greatest influence, control or power would be the ones who are very wealthy and are politically organized. This has always been the case historically.
These interests are likely keenly aware of the clear and present danger which the global environmental crisis represents to society, if not civilization itself. This may account for the timing of their agenda, the execution of which, has apparently ramped up at an alarming pace in recent years.
If this theory is accurate clearly many people would find it deeply troubling. Therefore it would never be deliberately expressed publicly.
There is a massive paradox inherent in this grand dilemma. Our very own habits of overconsumption and our materialistic orientation have financed and therefore enabled the twin threats we now confront. The breakdown of the biosphere which has sustained us for millennia; and an epic battle to preserve democracy and the many cherished and hard-won freedoms it affords us.
Thanks to everyone for all your support.
I will put any references in the episode description.
Take care. All the best. And I look forward to talking with you again soon.
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