How do you fight madness?


That’s a serious question. The United States of America has become a seething nest of snakes; we talk about getting out the vote and campaigning and making reasonable, evidence-based arguments, but here’s an example of what we’re confronted with. Alex Jones, everyone, ranting about lesbians:


That’s the liberals. They want to get you in a dungeon. They want to strap you down and take a buzz saw and cut the top of your head off like a pumpkin and pull it off and get a little spoon and go, looking in the mirror, ‘I’m gonna eat your brain now!’

‘I’m gonna eat your cerebral cortex last! I’ve got power! I love Satan! And I’m gonna suck you dry and I’m gonna torture you to death. And you’re gonna follow my liberal orders!’

It’s not just Alex Jones, either. It’s people who think Hillary Clinton ran a child sex slave ring out of the basement of a pizza parlor. It’s Nazis. It’s people who think Republicans will work for the good of the country. It’s Donald Trump. It’s a whole system that makes it lucrative to be an extremist nutbag, and that amplifies the voices of the loons unfiltered.

No apocalyptic novel I know of ever predicted that the US would be destroyed by a dangerous and contagious insanity, but here we are. Future historians are going to look back on us and wonder about the causes of this catastrophic collapse.

Comments

  1. remyporter says

    I’ve got to wonder: is there an environmental contaminant that causes this? Like, crime spiked as leaded gasoline poisoned the population, and dropped as we phased it out. Is there something similar in our environment that we think is safe, but is actually causing madness?

  2. taikonotaiko says

    If I’m bisexual, do I only have to eat brains every other day? Just wanna be sure of the etiquette here.

    As a more serious aside, the bit where he goes on about women wanting to be hit scares the crap out of me.

  3. numerobis says

    Clearly it’s the lead in the pipes, same as what took down the Roman empire according to legend.

  4. says

    No apocalyptic novel I know of ever predicted that the US would be destroyed by a dangerous and contagious insanity

    John Brunner’s The Sheep Look Up, though the insanity was caused by environmental pollution rather than information technology. You might want to look to Charlie Stross’s The Laundry Files with a loose interpretation for that.

  5. says

    Me @7: Huh, I could have sworn PZ mentioned the internets as a source for this madness, but it looks like I interpolated that myself.

  6. hemidactylus says

    I am concurrently reading Susan Jacoby’s _The Age of American Unreason_ and Chris Hedges’ _American Fascists_. I will get back to you if I make any headway in figuring it out. I would hazard Youtube is partially responsible. There was mucho conspiracy mumbo jumbo before the web even, but it wasn’t as easily accessible and an effort had to be made to read it. Youtube makes for easy access, digestion, and the mutual reinforcement of an echo chamber. One can easily go down a rabbit hole of madness for hours and Jones taps into this ready made disaffected audience.

  7. hemidactylus says

    Other sources of interest?:

    Richard Hofstadter’s _The Paranoid Style in American Politics_, David Aaronovitch’s _Voodoo Histories_, Michael Barkun’s _A Culture of Conspiracy_, Jesse Walker’s _The United States of Paranoia_, and Rob Brotherton’s _Suspicious Minds_.

  8. mamba says

    How poetically ironic that Alex Jones is talking about brain damage, when he’s the embodiment of it.

  9. strangerinastrangeland says

    “No apocalyptic novel I know of ever predicted that the US would be destroyed by a dangerous and contagious insanity.”

    David Brin´s “The Postman”: The disaster started with the usual war, EMPs and bioweapons, but it was made absolutely clear that the breakdown of civilization could have been mitigated if not for the so-called Holnists, “a virulently violent, misogynistic, and hypersurvivalist society”…”who preyed on humanitarian workers and other symbols of civilization.”
    Sounds scarily close to today´s reality what Brin came up with over 30 years ago.

  10. raven says

    David Brin´s “The Postman”: The disaster started with the usual war, EMPs and bioweapons, but it was made absolutely clear that the breakdown of civilization could have been mitigated if not for the so-called Holnists, “a virulently violent, misogynistic, and hypersurvivalist society”…”who preyed on humanitarian workers and other symbols of civilization.”

    Same for the classic (and truly great) A Canticle for Leibowitz.
    There was a flame deluge i.e. nuclear war.
    A Simplification by Simpletons.
    They burned books.
    Leibowitz became a saint by gathering up and hiding books until civilization was ready to restart.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Before the election, the Republicsns could have prevented the worst by buying out Trump, but they got cold feet when he presented his price tag.

    “…a group of Republican donors also talked about raising money to “buy out” Trump in exchange for him dropping out of the race — but they backed off these plans when one Trump associate told them the price tag would have to be in the $800 million range.”
    Goddam it, 800 million would have been cheap for buying him out.
    It is not as if the mega-donors that support the republicans are short of cash, nor do they normally hesitate to buy influence , using legal fig leaves to conceal their involvement.
    Being the main beneficiaries from the tax cuts –partly financed by taking 400 Billion from Medicare- 800 million is petty cash. They were just penny wise and pound foolish.

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Alex Jones is channeling N’yarlat-Hoteph and it has burned out what remained of his mind.

  13. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    So, as a resident Dyke and Feminist FuckToy, I must say that even if I were into eating brains, you, Alex Jones, would be perfectly safe.

    Sheesh.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    OK, I got this.
    I think he whatched the South Park episode with Mecha Barbara Streisand when he was doing drugs, and later he confused the tall MBS with the human-eating Martians in the tall war machines of War of the Worlds.
    In his garbled memory that was a real-life librul lesbian.
    But he left out a part: Will the librul lesbians climb Empire State Building? Can we fight them with biplanes?

  15. Dark Jaguar says

    His is a sort of crazy I never predicted. I was Christian for a time, and I was never EVER brought up to believe the things that… creature seems to believe.

  16. daved says

    Going back a little further in SF, consider Heinlein’s fragmentary descriptions of “The Crazy Years,” not to mention the election of Nehemiah Scudder as president. Not wildly far off from Alex Jones and his ilk.

  17. weylguy says

    Future historians are going to look back on us and wonder about the causes of this catastrophic collapse.

    No, future historians either will not exist or be too busy writing Saint Donald’s gospel into the New Testament. This madness is permanent, save for World War III.

  18. mastmaker says

    Guys, I have this figured out:

    1. Communists (under Lenin and Stalin) spearheaded the modern phenomenon of brain wash through religion (in their case, the religion of Marxism/Communism/Leninism).
    2. This (along with the Nazi/Fascist phenomena) gave the conservatives two things: (a) An idea of how to use religious propaganda to brainwash people, and (b) a convenient enemy to group the said brainwashed people against.
    3. This mass of brainwashed hordes would have disappeared along with the collapse of their perceived enemy, except for the fact that – in Roe v Wade – the right wing found and nurtured a new imaginary enemy to exploit in the brainwashes.
    4. The continuous hammering of red states against abortion and communism has the people eating out of the hands. This has reached a point where a solid block of voters would rather vote for a Republican Hitler rather than a Democratic Jesus.
    5. In Hillary, right wing recongnized a long term potential presidential candidate and started maligning her right from the start. Possibly due to the constant bombardment and due to her own failings, Hillary could never establish herself.
    6. Obama appeared out of nowhere in 2004, and hence avoided this right wing propaganda enough to get elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. If Obama had to win in 2016, it would have been much tougher because the right wing had 12 years to malign him, instead of only 4.
    7. 45 conveniently stepped up to the plate and being a master con man, manipulated the crowds just enough to win the elections, despite being a serial offender (against conservative christian values) in almost every imaginable – he can’t quote a bible verse to save his life, married multiple times and cheated on each of them, boasts about ‘grabbing women by the pussy’, is known to cheat contractors to an extent where they refuse to work for him, lies through his teeth.
    8. Abortion politics (now joined by anti-gay politics) is still paying dividends. While anti-gay politics is showing signs of diminishing returns, Abortion frenzy is as strong as ever.
    9. The propaganda machine encountered internet and is bursting at its seams, its own success being its worst enemy. Republican control of the message becoming harder and harder. Conspiracy theories are becoming unmanageable, but the core hordes are still believing in them.

    What’s the future? Squinting hard, I see a shrinking core support group for the right wing, and possibly this is their last, most outrageous stand against humanity. But hopes have been dashed before!

  19. Moggie says

    birgerjohansson:

    “…a group of Republican donors also talked about raising money to “buy out” Trump in exchange for him dropping out of the race — but they backed off these plans when one Trump associate told them the price tag would have to be in the $800 million range.”

    Well, at least we now have a figure for how much money he expects to make from being president. Though I thought the Russian oil money was supposed to be substantially more than that?

  20. robro says

    Jones isn’t crazy. It’s nothing but kayfabe. He’s doing a shtick to get the rubes to give him money, either through direct donations or purchasing his products. He knows his target demo and what revs their engines. It’s the same with Trump, and a host of other media personalities and politicians. What’s truly terrifying is the extent to which they can craft and disseminate their message to capture people’s minds, and then the sheer number of people falling for their shtick.

  21. Gregory Greenwood says

    birgerjohansson @ 15;

    Alex Jones is channeling N’yarlat-Hoteph and it has burned out what remained of his mind.

    Come now birgerjohansson, we both know that The Crawling Chaos has standards. There is no way N’yarlat-Hoteph would stand to have any part of his non-euclidean being pass through the fetid sewer that Alex Jones calls a mind…

  22. dhabecker says

    Let me, entertain you.
    Let me, make you smile.
    Give me, lots of money.
    I’ll add it, to my pile.

  23. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Actually, from the look of things, Alex’s brain has been eaten and crapped out several times previously.

  24. mia355 says

    I’m guessing you’ve never read Earthseed by Octavia Butler, particularly the second book. You should, though it’s very disconcerting.

  25. rpjohnston says

    At Thanksgiving, the arguments I had with my very liberal, but very white Northern European family who have been in this country since the colonies. was over punching Nazis. They’re against it, you see. In my family, it’s all about arguing. Arguing, and arguing and arguing until you convince Daddy – er, your interlocutor, to side with you and do it your way. We are a very cerebral family. Logic and reason and knowledge are our forte.

    Pushing 30, I’m starting to finally figure out how childish that is. While we’re flapping our lips impotently other people are getting out there and DOING stuff and sneering “impotent cuck” at us while doing it.

    How do you fight madness? let me tell you. PUT YOUR GOD DAMN FOOT DOWN.

    Stop trying to Power of Friendship every single person, be an adult and ACCEPT that some people are Bad People who CANNOT be reached, and must be actively opposed. Stop trying to argue and justify EVERYTHING – that’s what they want you to do; so that before you know it, you’re trying to justify why rape and murder and pedophilia are bad – but they’ve already called all the premises that you would use to do so into question. No, some things DON’T need to be argued, they are obvious on their face, and if you’re going to be a little fuckshit you get a spanking and a timeout.

    You stop madness by ASSERTING what is obviously right, instead of allowing them to sow invalid confusion, and if that means you have to get your hands a little dirty punching Nazis, bending rules, and casting people out of society – then grow the fuck up and DO IT. Else they’ll realize that you have no force, they have no reason to give a flaming shit about what you think, and they’ll overrun you.

  26. Richard Smith says

    Although a short story rather than a novel, I sometimes wonder if someone or something isn’t implementing some variant of “The Screwfly Solution.”

  27. Ichthyic says

    again, nobody ever listens to the sociologists. you know, the very people who work to try and figure out things just like this?

    because they figured it out long ago…

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    all your answers are there.

    really.

    you just refuse to even bother.

  28. F.O. says

    The only way out I see for this, is for schools to teach everyone how the brain lies to ourselves, how to see the cognitive biases in ourselves (rather than in others) and work around them.

  29. eggmoidal says

    “Future historians are going to look back on us and wonder about the causes of this catastrophic collapse.”

    Right-wing billionaires willing to spend big on media for decades to brainwash the masses and move the Overton window so far to the right that it’s in the stands now. Fox is a good example. The kooks were far fewer before they were bought by Murdoch.

    The old nostrum “The cure for bad speech is more speech” looks pretty lame when stacked up against media filled with right-wing liars and appeasers. They won’t even put intelligent liberals on the MSM any more. Just tried and true caricatures of liberals. Like Fox’s Juan Williams.

  30. auntbenjy says

    @ 16: Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    So, as a resident Dyke and Feminist FuckToy, I must say that even if I were into eating brains, you, Alex Jones, would be perfectly safe.

    Bahaha… Thank you. :) You win today’s internets.

  31. hemidactylus says

    @38- anchor

    Wow, Alex does fucking nuts way better than Rush.

    Hemispheres was a bit over the top, but I fail to see your point. They were in their scifi nerd experimental phase at the time.

  32. Curious Digressions says

    What would lesbians want with a James Dean look-alike with a duck-butt hair cut? Fashion advice? They’re *lesbians*. Sex, BDSM or otherwise, with a guy is right out.

    This is just a list of things that he’s afraid of:
    1) Lesbians
    2) Well groomed men
    3) Other people having naughty-times he doesn’t understand
    4) Brain eating
    5) Liberals

    Since he’s afraid of them equally, they must all be the same thing.

    This is the kind of thing have to quarantine rather than fight. I think liberals are being too kind.

  33. says

    Curious Digressions, I think Jones is just doing a particularly warped version of the “classic” I suspect every lesbian has heard some version of at least once: “You wouldn’t be a lesbian if you met the right man.”

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