Art by Christopher Panzner
Images from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" series.
1. Hijacking the Counterculture
In 1970, Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado on what he called “the Freak Power” ticket. The idea was to succeed based almost solely on the votes of citizens so disenfranchised that they had never bothered participating in any past election. In the end, Thompson lost by only thirty-one votes.
In the October 1, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone, Thompson published an article about his campaign entitled “Freak Power in the Rockies” in which he wrote:
At the time it seemed necessary to come up with a candidate whose Strange Tastes and Para-Legal Behavior were absolutely beyond question . . . a man whose candidacy would torture the outer limits of political gall, whose name would strike fear and shock in the heart of every burgher, and whose massive unsuitability for the job would cause even the most apolitical drug-child in the town’s most degenerate commune to shout, “Yes! I must vote for that man!”1
At one point in the article, Thompson discusses the almost irresistible urge for a Freak Power candidate to apply “the Magic Christian concept” to politics. The Magic Christian is the title of Terry Southern’s 1959 novel about an eccentric New York billionaire named Guy Grand who spends most of his life playing elaborate practical jokes on unsuspecting citizens. As long as he can cause chaos, Grand doesn’t care about losing thousands of dollars. Grand’s in it only to fuck with people’s minds, for the pleasure of the game.
The possibility of victory can be a heavy millstone around the neck of any political candidate who might prefer, in his heart, to spend his main energies on a series of terrifying, whiplash assaults on everything the voters hold dear. There are harsh echoes of the Magic Christian in this technique: The candidate first creates an impossible psychic maze, then he drags the voters into it and flails them constantly with gibberish and rude shocks. This was Mailer’s technique, and it got him 55,000 votes in a city of 10 million people—but in truth it is more a form of vengeance than electoral politics.2
Earlier in the piece, Thompson explicitly states that his strategy was to appeal to “a jangled mix of Left/Crazies and Birchers . . . with no politics at all beyond self-preservation.”3 He described his base as those outsiders who wanted to “create a town where people could live like human beings, instead of slaves to some bogus sense of Progress that is driving us all mad.”4 He described the essence of his strategy as “neither opting out of the system, nor working within it . . . but calling its bluff, by using its strength to turn it back on itself . . . and by always assuming that the people in power are not smart.” 5
1. Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003 ), p. 166.
2. Ibid. p. 162.
3. Ibid. p. 157
4. Ibid. p. 160.
5. Ibid. p. 163.
In 1970, to imagine a situation in which a rightwing candidate would adopt such puckish strategies for his own campaign would have been almost impossible. The entrenched members of the Establishment would never waste their time with such juvenile tactics. What would be the point? Wouldn’t this approach cause such candidates to lose their credibility among their base? What kind of a deranged reprobate would vote for a candidate who appeared to be going out of his or her way to bombard the citizenry “with gibberish and rude shocks”?
Five years later, in their 1975 novel Illuminatus!, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson introduced the concept of Discordianism to the world of popular culture. Discordianism, according to Wilson, is a religion (or a parody of religion) “based on worship of the Greek goddess of chaos and confusion, Eris, also called Discordia in Latin.”6 The core concepts of Discordianism had been laid out by Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley in their 1963 book Principia Discordia. The key concept is that chaos is the underlying principle of the universe.
Out of this belief grew a uniquely Discordian practice now known as “Operation Mindfuck,” a name given to it by Shea and Wilson in Illuminatus! According to Wilson:
Discordian atheology got more and more complicated as it was worked over and developed by Thornley, Greg Hill, and various others who were drawn into it . . . None of this was merely a parody of religion per se. It was an exercise in guerilla ontology . . . A Marx Brothers version of Zen. Operation Mindfuck, we called it.
(We were all having a lot of fun with Discordianism. None of us were aware, yet, that Operation Mindfuck could get out of hand….)7
Operation Mindfuck was essentially a series of nonviolent pranks and hoaxes that might, over time, upend the conservative Establishment. In a November 2013 New York magazine article, reporter Jesse Walker described Operation Mindfuck as:
. . . a free-form art project-cum-prank-cum-political protest of the sixties and seventies, designed to sow the culture with paranoia. Through every means available, Wilson explained in a memo laying out the plan, the Mindfuckers intended to “attribute all national calamities, assassinations, or conspiracies” to the Illuminati and other hidden hands. So they planted stories about the Illuminati in the underground press. They slipped mysterious classified ads into the libertarian journal Innovator and the New Left newspaper rogerSPARK. They cooked up a letter about the Illuminati that Wilson then ran in “The Playboy Advisor.”8
In his 1977 nonfiction book, Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati, Wilson elaborates:
[The underground press was] intensely gullible and eager to believe all manner of . . . conspiracy theories, the weirder the better. Most Discordians, at this time, were contributors to underground newspapers all over the country. We began surfacing the Discordian Society, issuing position papers offering nonviolent anarchist techniques to mutate our robot-society [. . .] Along with this we planted numerous stories about the Discordian Society’s aeon-old war against the sinister Illuminati. We accused everybody of being in the Illuminati—Nixon, Johnson, William Buckley, Jr., ourselves, Martian invaders, all the conspiracy buffs, everybody.
We did not regard this as a hoax or prank in the ordinary sense. We still considered it guerilla ontology.
My personal attitude was that if the New Left wanted to live in the particular tunnel-reality of the hard-core paranoid, they had an absolute right to that neurological choice. I saw Discordianism as the Cosmic Giggle Factor, introducing so many alternative paranoias that everybody could pick a favorite, if they were inclined that way. I also hoped that some less gullible souls, overwhelmed by this embarrassment of riches, might see through the whole paranoia game and decide to mutate to a wider, funnier, more hopeful reality-map.9
A similar style of “guerilla ontology” can be found in William S. Burroughs’s The Revised Boy Scout Manual, a manifesto for “electronic revolution” written in the early 1970s and distributed throughout the decades in fragments—and in radically different forms. Burroughs’s advice for overthrowing corrupt governments is the original source of Trump’s pet term, “fake news”:
You construct fake news broadcasts on video camera . . . And you scramble your fabricated news in with actual news broadcasts.
You have an advantage which your opposing player does not have. He must conceal his manipulations. You are under no such necessity . . . [Y]ou can advertise the fact that you are writing news in advance and trying to make it happen by techniques which anybody can use. And that makes you NEWS. And a TV personality as well, if you play it right. 10
The main point of The Revised Boy Scout Manual is not to topple the Establishment through armed revolt but through subtler, more insidious techniques that are almost invisible (particularly to those who are not looking for them). Burroughs encourages his readers to utilize media such as video cameras and ham radio to construct incendiary disinformation in the form of convincing documentaries, i.e., “cutup video tapes” that “scramble the news” with fabricated reports produced with the aid of “a few props and actors.”11 If deployed skillfully, Burroughs insists these “prerecorded, cutup tapes” can “spread rumors,” “discredit opponents,” and “produce and escalate riots.”12
6. Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger Volume I: Final Secret of the Illuminati (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon, 1997 ), p. 57.
7. Ibid. p. 59.
8. Jesse Walker, “Conspiracy Theory Is a Hoax Gone Right?,” New York Magazine, November 15, 2013 (accessed September 15, 2020).
9. Wilson, Cosmic Trigger Volume I: Final Secret of the Illuminati, p. 63.
10. William S. Burroughs, “The Revised Boy Scout Manual”: An Electronic Revolution (Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2018), pp. 48-49.
11. Ibid. p. 48.
12. Ibid. p. 43.
“Biafra’s platform included such unusual proposals as ‘banning cars from city limits,’ ‘making police run for re-election in the neighborhoods they patrolled,’ hiring back laid-off city employees ‘as panhandlers on a 50% commission and sending them to rich neighborhoods . . . and the entrances to private schools,’ requiring white collar workers ‘at the other end of Market Street (the Bank of America, Bechtel headquarters area)’ to ‘wear clown suits during business hours from 9 to 5,’ ‘legalizing squatting in any buildings left vacant for tax write-offs,’ auctioning off all ’high city positions in public at the Civic Center,” and creating ‘a Board of Bribery to set standard public rates for liquor licenses, building code exemptions, police protection and protection from the police.’”
Inspired by the guerilla tactics used by Colorado eccentrics such as Hunter S. Thompson and an “independently wealthy hippie” named John Davenport who repeatedly ran for the City Council in Boulder advocating a panoply of unconventional ideas, punk rock musician Jello Biafra (the former lead singer of Dead Kennedys) decided to run for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 when he learned that anyone could throw their hat into the ring as long as 1,500 residents signed a petition or if the potential candidate forked over $1,500. Biafra ended up paying $900, then managed to get the remaining six hundred signatures over time. Biafra’s platform included such unusual proposals as “banning cars from city limits,” “making police run for re-election in the neighborhoods they patrolled,” hiring back laid-off city employees “as panhandlers on a 50% commission and sending them to rich neighborhoods . . . and the entrances to private schools,” requiring white collar workers “at the other end of Market Street (the Bank of America, Bechtel headquarters area)” to “wear clown suits during business hours from 9 to 5,” “legalizing squatting in any buildings left vacant for tax write-offs,” auctioning off all “high city positions in public at the Civic Center,” and creating “a Board of Bribery to set standard public rates for liquor licenses, building code exemptions, police protection and protection from the police.”13
In a 1987 interview with San Francisco publisher V. Vale, Biafra summarized the outcome of his campaign as follows:
It was a lot of work but it was worth it, especially after election night. I came in 4th out of the 10 legal candidates! Two of the people who came in below me had spent something like $50,000 apiece on their campaigns. I got 6,591 votes, 3.5% of the total. Dianne Feinstein’s campaign manager said something to the effect that: “If someone like that can get so many votes, this city is in real trouble.”14
In that same interview, Biafra described his political campaign as a “prank,” but a positive one:
Pranks planted in the right way can be very disruptive. If window-breaking is what turns people on, it’s good to select people who really deserve it, rather than just going and knocking out someone’s Volkswagen window in the slums. When we’re treated like mice, why not bite the elephants? A small wrench is often enough to shut down an enormous machine . . . I think that what separates a frat-boy prank from a good prank is if the target is someone who has a habit of screwing over people at large and therefore deserves it. Religious, political, and corporate targets figure into this. When private property is used against the public to exploit them, then the property and their owners become fair game.15
About a decade ago, I had a friend who very much enjoyed driving into rich neighborhoods in Southern California in the dead of night and attaching bumper stickers of his own design to the backs of bright red foreign convertibles, Beemers, Jaguars, Lamborghinis, etc. Here are just a few of the bumper sticks my friend dreamed up:
I never touched her
Help Stop Youth Violence—Kill Your Kids!
Holocaust This, Holocaust That, Yadda Yadda Yadda
I’d Rather Be Spying In Your Daughter’s Bedroom Window
Honk If I Feel Guilty
Abolish the Police
Abolish the National Security Act
Abolish the C.I.A.
Abolish the F.B.I.
Abolish Homeland Security
Abolish the P.T.A.
PRO-WAR (Just Not This WAR)
“The Police State is Now a Work of Art.”—Marshall McLuhan
Weapons of Mass Destruction Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
Cybernetic Anthropomorphic Machines Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
Organic Robotoids With In-built Photon Lasers Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
Multiple Independently-targetable Re-entry Vehicles Don’t Kill People, People Kill People
OBAMA IN 2020
If JFK Were Alive Today, He’d Be Dead
I’m a Proud Gay Parent Against Nuclear Proliferation
NO U.S. PRESIDENT SHOULD EVER HAVE AIDS!
Needless to say, these bumper sticks were meant to attract negative attention to the owners of the vehicle in question as they blithely cruised around in such well-to-do neighborhoods as the Naples-Marina area of Long Beach, Beverly Hills Gateway, Palos Verdes Estates, and Malibu Colony Beach. I doubt the effect of said bumper stickers amounted to more than a temporary annoyance to the owners, but who knows? How many “road rage incidents” were caused by my friend’s shenanigans? Did any of them end up getting a fist in the face or a bullet in the belly? A small wrench is often enough to shut down an enormous machine . . . even a human machine.
13. Andrea June and V. Vale, RE/Search #11: Pranks! (San Francisco: RE/Search Publications, 1987), p. 63.
15. Ibid. pp. 59-64.
In the past, such disruptive pranks were the exclusive purview of leftists and anarchists. Recently, however, right-wingers have discovered how far such pranks can be taken. But today’s right-wingers aren’t using wrenches and bumper stickers. They’re using tweets and memes and posts on 4chan, 8chan, 8kun, and Reddit. In his 1972 book, Take Today, Marshall McLuhan proposed that any technology pushed to its extreme will inevitably flip into its opposite function.16 In the nascent days of the internet, digital-culture cheerleaders like Douglas Rushkoff predicted that the World Wide Web would bring about peace on Earth and good will toward men, nothing but endless blue skies and freedom for all. The internet was the best and only way to make an end-run around Those Nasty Rightwing Meanies Intent On Controlling The Human Spirit.
Since the election of Trump, Rushkoff has had to modify this belief.
On January 28, 2019, Rushkoff appeared on Geoff Brady’s In Other News radio show and made the following statement:
Most of the technologies and media we develop are for fostering human connection. But then they inevitably end up being turned against that purpose. The big example for me is the internet. As I'm sure you remember, when it first appeared all of us thought, "Oh, this is going to connect us all to the great global Gaian mind!" But instead, the internet is used to alienate and isolate and atomize us from one another because that's the way the internet can serve the growth mandate of the stock exchange, which is an artificial system, rather than the collaborative mandate of humanity which is a living system.17
A few months later, while promoting his latest book (Team Human), Rushkoff elaborated on the previous point, explaining how the internet was seen by his left-leaning friends in the early 1990s as an anti-Establishment tool, a pacifist sword that could maim the capitalist state without the need for bloodshed:
The original digital ethos was of a deep reclamation of what it means to be human in a collective way. We had been isolated by television and we thought the internet might provide the baby steps for us to reconnect as a global . . . nervous system, and it seemed like this beautiful possibility. But the problem was at the time . . . it was weird . . . psychedelic people who were using this stuff . . . It was Timothy Leary and John Barlow and Grateful Dead-heads doing fractals on the wall and that looked scary and pointless. In 1994 we found out that the average internet-connected home was watching nine hours less commercial television a week. So the internet seemed to be the enemy of the market. Then along came Wired magazine [who] said, “Don’t worry, the internet's going to be the salvation of the Nasdaq stock exchange. It's going to be the launch of a new attention economy.” Wired told us . . . that we were going to have a long boom, that thanks to digital technology, the economy would grow exponentially, unstopped forever.18
What Rushkoff and his friends didn’t realize was that a tool created by the Establishment can do nothing other than prop up the Establishment. What Rushkoff and his friends didn’t realize, most importantly, was that they were the Establishment, and had been for a very long time. Unlike many of his colleagues, Rushkoff has since come to understand this.
In April of 2019, he posted the following late-coming epiphany on Medium.com:
Before Watergate anyway, it felt as if the press and the government were on the same side, telling the same story to us all. There was no way for the underfunded counterculture to compete with mainstream reality programming—except by undermining its premises. The flower children couldn’t overwhelm Richard Nixon’s National Guard troops, but they could put daisies in the barrels of their rifles.
Taken to the extreme, this sort of activist satire became Operation Mindfuck, first announced in 1975 by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea in their Illuminatus Trilogy. The idea was to undermine people’s faith in government, authority, and the sanctity of consensus reality itself by pranking everything, all the time.
The idea of Operation Mindfuck was to break the trance that kept America at war, blindly consuming, and oblivious to its impact on the rest of the world. Destabilize the dominant cultural narrative through pranks and confusion. Say things that may or may not be true . . .
But over the ensuing decades, it was the progressive left whose ideas ended up becoming mainstreamed. Really, from All in the Family onward, it was progressive values in fictional TV—Maude to M*A*S*H, Murphy Brown to The West Wing. And as that became the dominant cultural narrative, Operation Mindfuck became the tool of the alt-right. Is the Cult of Kek—that Egyptian frog cartoon—real? Can they cast spells on social media that change the way people think and vote?19
Yes they can, and they do. They’re doing it now.
In case you don’t know, Kek is a frog-headed god worshipped (in an ironic sense) by certain members of the far right. The movement flourished online, in the very same digital space that was supposed to “connect us all to the great global Gaian mind.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Cult of Kek as follows:
You may have seen the name bandied about on social media, especially in political circles where alt-right activists and avid Donald Trump supporters lurk. Usually it is brandished as a kind of epithet, seemingly to ward off the effects of liberal arguments, and it often is conveyed in memes that use the image of the alt-right mascot, Pepe the Frog: “Kek!”
Kek, in the alt-right’s telling, is the “deity” of the semi-ironic “religion” the white nationalist movement has created for itself online—partly for amusement, as a way to troll liberals and self-righteous conservatives both, and to make a kind of political point. He is a god of chaos and darkness, with the head of a frog, the source of their memetic “magic,” to whom the alt-right and Donald Trump owe their success, according to their own explanations.
In many ways, Kek is the apotheosis of the bizarre alternative reality of the alt-right: at once absurdly juvenile, transgressive, and racist, as well as reflecting a deeper, pseudo-intellectual purpose that lends it an appeal to young ideologues who fancy themselves deep thinkers. It dwells in that murky area they often occupy, between satire, irony, mockery, and serious ideology; Kek can be both a big joke to pull on liberals and a reflection of the alt-right’s own self-image as serious agents of chaos in modern society.20
The parallels between the Discordian goddess Eris and the Egyptian frog-headed god Kek should be obvious. Both were created to represent the spirit of chaos, disruption, and anti-authoritarianism. In many alt-right memes, Kek resembles Donald Trump with a frog-like face. Oddly enough, depicting Trump as a half-human/half-reptilian hybrid is meant to be a compliment to the President. In the 1990s, conspiracy theorist David Icke grew to fame by travelling around the world accusing various world leaders of being shape-shifting reptilians in disguise. Today, Trump’s supporters (particularly millennials) clothe him in reptilian form as a tribute. They perceive him to be a cold-blooded agent of pure chaos.
The mythological role of the Trickster, formerly represented by the likes of countercultural icons like Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Anton Wilson, and Jello Biafra, has been hijacked by an atheistic, amoral reality TV star pretending to be a Christian conservative.
16. Marshall McLuhan and Barrington Nevitt, Take Today: The Executive as Dropout (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1972), pp. 5-6. (The exact quote reads as follows: “Every process pushed far enough tends to reverse or flip suddenly.”)
17. Douglas Rushkoff, Interview, In Other News, Pacifica Radio, WBAI, New York, January 28, 2019.
18. Douglas Rushkoff, Lecture, “Douglas Rushkoff: Team Human,” Techonomy.com, May 21, 2019 (accessed September 15, 2020).
19. Douglas Rushkoff, “Operation Mindfuck 2.0,” Medium.com, April 24, 2020 (accessed September 15, 2020).
20.David Neiwert, “What the Kek: Explaining the Alt-Right ‘Deity’ Behind Their ‘Meme Magic,’” Splcenter.org, May 9, 2017 (accessed May 9, 2017).
2. “Who the fk gives a poop about your opinion”
Not long ago, I was talking to a man in his late thirties who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to vote for him again in 2020. He said he knew Trump was his candidate on September 16, 2015, during the Republican debates that occurred at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. At one point during the debate Jeb Bush demanded that Trump apologize for dragging his wife, Columba, into the campaign. Not long before, Trump had described Bush’s stance on immigration reform as weak due to the fact that Bush’s wife is Mexican. “If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico,” Trump had said.
I’m sure Jeb’s advisors considered this public challenge a slam-dunk move. How could it go wrong? Surely, Trump wouldn’t refuse to apologize. And the second Trump did apologize, he would look as soft and inefficient as any other scarecrow up on that stage. If Bush’s opponent had been any other politician, his advisors would have been right. But Trump—or Trump’s advisors—had already begun plundering from a far different playbook. Trump had chosen a more eccentric path. Perhaps the mystical powers of the frog-god, Kek, were at work on that stage on September 16 when Trump brushed off Bush’s demand, saying, “I won't do that because I said nothing wrong,” and then added (with obvious insincerity), “but I hear she's a lovely woman.” To hear a politician refuse to apologize—for anything, no matter how insignificant or slight—in the second decade of the twenty-first century was, for some people, the equivalent of a Waterloo moment for Jeb Bush (who for years had been the shoo-in Republican candidate for 2016) and a watershed moment for Trump. Kek had begun to rear his reptilian head among the alt-right community.
Acts of chaos, no matter how small, can grow out of hand very quickly, as Robert Anton Wilson learned back in the 1970s. When you release the frog-genie from the bottle, you don’t always know how he’s going to behave.
And yet, despite this initial success, within a year after his election, Trump had lost a great deal of his support. His approval ratings were at their lowest ebb in November of 2017 when the very first QAnon post appeared on 4chan.
Just a few weeks ago, on Salon, I published a five-part series about the origins of QAnon. Over the course of the series, I chronicled the attempts made by an old friend to convince me of an outlandish conspiracy theory being promoted by a teeming mass of rabid online Trump supporters that have grown at an unbelievable rate over the past four years. “Q” is the name of the anonymous poster on 4chan who initiated the phenomenon. According to my friend (based on the information Q and his followers had been posting on the dark byways of the internet), initiates of the Illuminati had teamed up with subterranean demons to torture, rape, and eat kidnapped children in underground military bases ruled by the mortal enemies of Donald Trump. In these bases, the Elites extract adrenochrome from the children and ingest it like a recreational drug. He insisted that when Trump is re-elected in November we could all look forward to the abolition of the income tax, the development of “free energy” for all, and the public unveiling of thousands of grateful kidnapped children rescued by Trump’s private army of “white hats” from cages squirrelled away in these Satanist-controlled underground dungeons.
As a result of this series, in which I concluded that QAnon is the catfish scheme of all catfish schemes, I received some interesting correspondence via email….
From: Brian ______ <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Sep 8, 2020, 1:48 PM
Subject: Commie Pinko
Sooty you’re disturb you while enjoying andrechrome. You are all sick mother duckers. You’re lower then CNN. Go fuck yourselves. MAGA!! Fucking whiggers.
Sent From My I Phone X
The above message is so over the top, one might think it’s a goof… but somehow I don’t think so. I received this one as well, via Twitter:
Biggest load of biased kak I've read since the last CNN article I wasted my life reading. Who the fk gives a poop about your opinion apart from the that can't think for themselves. You don't know everything there is to know. Let ppl think for themselves and come to a design.
Leaving aside the fact that I never once claimed to “know everything there is to know,” how does writing a series of informational articles about QAnon prevent people from thinking for themselves? Strongly implied in this statement is the idea that the only way people can be allowed to “think for themselves” is if they’re never exposed to points of view different from their own.
Here’s another one:
From: James _____ <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2020 10:28 AM
To: Robert Guffey
The 15 year old troll who started Qanon on reddit must be astonished at his success.
Mr. _____ clearly did not read my Salon articles, or if he did read them he lacked the capability to understand the words across which his eyes very quickly scanned. I laid out the numerous obscure sources upon which the multilayered QAnon narrative has been manufactured. These sources include such colorful conspiratologists as Léo Taxil, Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer, Richard Sauder, William Cooper, Louis Tackwood, Alex Constantine, Walter Bowart, Maury Terry, John W. DeCamp, Gordon Thomas, Christopher Simpson, Jordan Maxwell, Mae Brussell, Lyndon LaRouche, Dr. Peter Beter, and Jack McLamb. Most people outside the limited, solipsistic world of conspiracy research have never heard of these people, and yet trace elements of their theories are sprinkled all throughout the convoluted story that has become the QAnon storyline. Is it probable that a fifteen-year-old on Reddit had the wherewithal to combine fragments of Léo Taxil’s late nineteenth-century hoaxed anti-Masonic text, Les Mystères de la Franc-Maçonnerie, with Richard Shaver and Ray Palmer’s phantasmagoric “Shaver Mystery” from long-defunct 1940s science fiction pulp magazines, genuine information derived from Dr. Richard Sauder’s 1995 nonfiction book Underground Bases and Tunnels: What Is the Government Trying to Hide?, and militiacentric paranoid fantasies plucked from Jack McLamb’s 1992 booklet, Operation Vampire Killer 2000, to create the notion (now being promulgated by internet platforms like The Blessed To Teach YouTube channel, which has over 92.6 thousand subscribers) that innocent children are being whisked away by initiates of ancient secret societies, dragged down into underground military bases, and fed to ancient “Elder Things” from other dimensions? And is it likely that a random fifteen-year-old kid would have access to the White House to such an extent that he would be able to synchronize his posts with public statements made by Trump that certainly appear to signal to the QAnon crowd that the President is not only aware of Q’s posts, but that he endorses them as well? Would a fifteen-year-old kid on Reddit be able to convince a well-respected military figure like Major General Paul E. Vallely to appear on a Canadian talk show in the fall of 2019 and claim that Q gets his information from “a group of military intelligence specialists of over eight hundred people that advise the President,”21 thus reinforcing the illusion that Q’s conspiratorial musing are 100% accurate?
No, the entire QAnon phenomenon displays all the telltale signs of being a highly coordinated psychological warfare operation that eclipses the draconian efforts of Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President in the early 1970s. This operation is targeted not just at hardcore Christian evangelicals but also at wide swaths of the American population previously untapped by the Republican Party. The beauty of Operation QAnon, from a strategic standpoint, is that it’s specifically designed to be a secular religion. Though QAnon has a Christian base, you don’t have to be Christian to buy into the essential components of the QAnon mythology. There are plenty of non-Christians in this country who believe in the existence of demons and other paranormal beasties. You can be a committed atheist and still buy the idea that a secret group of Satanists are kidnapping children and sacrificing them to deities these elitist devil worshippers believe to be real. Devotees can pick and choose from the QAnon platter which elements of the story they wish to indulge in.
21. “Americanuck Radio – 20191014,” Spreaker.com, October 14, 2019 (accessed July 5, 2020).
Recently, Q has been posting a torrent of messages accusing members of Black Lives Matter of setting fires all along the west coast for the purpose of fomenting hatred against the Trump administration. Why members of Black Lives Matter would want to burn down states like California, Oregon, and Washington to direct hatred toward a Republican politician these states already voted against back in 2016, I have no idea. More than likely, the intent of these latest Q posts is to distract attention from something far more important. Here’s an excerpt from a recent New York Daily News article entitled “Playing with Fire: Trump’s Let-it-burn Cruelty for California”:
The last two years, aid [to California] did eventually materialize, but likely despite, not because of the president. Former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor disclosed this week as he endorsed Joe Biden that two years ago Trump directed FEMA to withhold assistance for purely vindictive personal reasons: “He told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that politically it wasn’t a base for him.”
A man who demeans his perceived enemies more than any president then toys with punishing disaster victims for failing to support him politically. Talk about the arsonist playing firefighter.22
In the unfolding QAnon mythology, Black Lives Matter continues to be an ongoing nemesis. In the middle of the George Floyd protests that swept across the United States in May and June of this year, several Confederate statues were toppled by members of Black Lives Matter. Almost immediately, the QAnon crowd began sharing a meme featuring a photo that depicted a bronze statue of Baphomet erected by the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts. The meme questioned why the BLM protestors had not bothered to attack this particular statue. The implication: all BLM protestors are secretly Satanists. Why else wouldn’t the BLM protestors attack Baphomet? No other reasonable explanation could exist, could it? 23
For this QAnon crowd, the reality of the situation appears not to be obvious: the BLM protestors are not particularly afraid of bat-winged goat-gods erupting from the bowels of the earth to ravage their families; however, they are concerned about racist white men in uniforms arbitrarily wiping out their lives with no consequences whatsoever. This is a scenario that we, as a country, have seen repeated over and over again. It’s a tangible problem. If you have eyes and ears, you can’t claim not to be aware of this. And yet the QAnon crowd choose, instead, to be concerned about wholly invented scenarios involving adrenochrome-addicted Illuminati initiates kidnapping children off city streets and shoving them into the fanged maw of Baphomet. Unlike the scores of videos we’ve seen over and over again of black people being harassed or outright killed by police officers throughout the decades, there is not a single shred of evidence that children of any race are being slaughtered by members of the Illuminati. Instead of being concerned about the problem that’s happening in their streets right at this very moment, the QAnon cultists prefer to worry over children they’ve never seen being victimized by perpetrators who don’t exist. Turning a blind eye to the truth, they pick up arms to fight off boogeymen. What kind of people lead such tedious lives that they actually feel compelled to make up things to be afraid of?
Ever since the George Floyd protests began, Q has been steadily posting messages that define the BLM protestors in one of two ways: 1) Either they’re domestic terrorists (i.e., socialists and anarchists) or 2) they’re well-meaning but simple-minded dupes who have been manipulated by domestic terrorists. Here’s Q’s June 1, 2020 message (posted one week after George Floyd’s murder):
Black community used as pawns?
Welcome to the [Democratic] party.
UNITY CREATES PEACE.
UNITY IS HUMANITY.24
According to Q’s scenario, black people aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions; the puppeteers in charge of the Democratic Party make decisions for them. The definition of “unity” is sitting at home, not protesting when police officers are killing you, and voting for Trump. The people who hang on every new Q post accept this distorted portrayal of the BLM movement without skepticism. The idea that most of the protestors are simply pissed off about hundreds of years of injustices dealt to them by law enforcement doesn’t seem to occur to them. (Or if it does occur to them, they consciously choose to believe in a lie instead.)
Some commentators blame the shallowness of typical Middle American Christian values for QAnon’s current popularity. Here’s an illuminating excerpt from a May 18, 2020 Conversation.com article by Marc-André Argentino:
I have been studying the growth of the QAnon movement as part of my research into how extremist religious and political organizations create propaganda and recruit new members to ideological causes.
On Feb. 23, I logged onto Zoom to observe the first public service of what is essentially a QAnon church operating out of the Omega Kingdom Ministry (OKM). I’ve spent 12 weeks attending this two-hour Sunday morning service.
What I’ve witnessed is an existing model of neo-charismatic home churches—the neo-charismatic movement is an offshoot of evangelical Protestant Christianity and is made up of thousands of independent organizations—where QAnon conspiracy theories are reinterpreted through the Bible. In turn, QAnon conspiracy theories serve as a lens to interpret the Bible itself . . .
The Sunday service is led by Russ Wagner, leader of the Indiana-based OKM, and Kevin Bushey, a retired colonel running for election to the Maine House of Representatives.
The service begins with an opening prayer from Wagner that he says will protect the Zoom room from Satan. This is followed by an hour-long Bible study where Wagner might explain the Fall Cabal video that attendees had just watched or offer his observations on socio-political events from the previous week.
Everything is explained though the lens of the Bible and QAnon narratives. Bushey then does 45 minutes of decoding items that have appeared recently on the app called QMap that is used to share conspiracy theories. The last 15 minutes are dedicated to communion and prayer.25
Despite the growing popularity of the QAnon mythology among hardcore Christians, evangelicals are by no means the only ones being taken in by Q. The QAnon crowd includes libertarians, former liberals, disillusioned Democrats, conspiracy theorists, fans of the paranormal and High Strangeness, anarchists, accelerationists, and (most disturbingly) thousands upon thousands of otherwise typical voters who have become disenfranchised from an ineffectual Democratic Party that insists on drifting further and further away from the needs of the average person. In a very real way, QAnon is the inevitable result of what the Democrats have always been so good at: mouthing concern for the “common person” while their actions reveal a far different imperative.
I’m reminded of that wonderful scene in Michael Moore’s documentary, Bowling for Columbine, in which we discover that Mark Koernke, the head of the Michigan militia movement in the 1990s, had been working fulltime as a janitor at the local university for years. Moore paints the ironic picture of a group of academics sitting in a classroom afterhours, discussing their desperate desire for social change, sipping their Starbucks Frappuccinos, while only ten feet away from their little intellectual coffee klatch Koernke swept their garbage from the floor, completely ignored by these sensitive liberals.
Just as the militia movement of the 1990s served the needs of average working people alienated from the elitist corridors of academia and effete liberalism, QAnon came along during a moment of crisis and provided what all cults offer their beaten-down followers: an explanation of why they’re living in such extreme poverty while everyone else around them—half-real phantoms seen haunting Facebook, Instagram, television—seem to prosper and flourish. Is it because someone’s keeping them down? If so, who is it? Who?
“Why the hell are they doing this to me, Martha? Why? Heck, if only child-eating Satanists are allowed to climb the ladder to success, then I don’t have to feel bad about being trapped down here on the lowest rung, do I? Now that I think about it, I don’t even want to be successful—not if I have to gnaw on piles of pre-pubescent flesh to succeed! Why the hell even try, right, Martha? The cards are stacked against me and all right-thinking people. And besides . . . before I can even think about getting my life in order, I need to do something about all them poor kids trapped in those underground cages. Not those immigrant kids from Mexico, though! I don’t mean them . . . not at all. I don’t care about them ragamuffins being stuffed in cages. No, I’m talking about all them white kids trapped inside those underground military bases controlled by them nasty Illuminati fuckers. Oh, wait . . . I just realized something! I have no way of finding those cages because that’s Above Top Secret information. An average guy like me would never have access to intel like that. So what can I do about it then? Nothing, I guess. So I’ll just sit here in my man-cave and wait for Q to tell me what to do. And when Trump declares martial law, I’ll know it’s a good thing. It’ll mean he’s finally cleaning out all them Satanists from the public schools and the hospitals and the churches and the Hollywood studios and the underground bases and whatnot. Trust in Q and Donald! Only they know what’s right for us! Isn’t that right, Martha? Martha? Where the hell’re you going with that suitcase?”
22. Daily News Editorial Board, “Playing With Fire: Trump’s Let-it-burn Cruelty for California,” New York Daily News, August 22, 2020 (accessed September 17, 2020).
23. Anania, Billy, “The Story Behind a Misunderstood Satanic Monument,” Hyperallergic.com, September 16, 2020 (accessed September 17, 2020).
24. Q, “4379,” Qalerts.app (accessed September 17, 2020).
25. Marc-André Argentino, “The Church of QAnon: Will Conspiracy Theories Form the Basis of a New Religious Movement?,” TheConversation.com, May 18, 2020 (accessed September 17, 2020).
QAnon is the most fascinating sociological experiment to be conducted on the American population in many years. Perhaps it’s not the only such experiment, but it might be the most impactful. Since the early 1990s, a large segment of libertarians—the same kind who hung on the paranoid ravings of such militia leaders as the aforementioned Mark Koernke before he was imprisoned for assaulting police officers—have feared an imminent fascist coup in the United States. For years, these people had been raising the alarm bells about “concentration camps” being secretly built all over America. Within only a few weeks, these same libertarians spun around and embraced the possibility of martial law merely because Q (an anonymous poster on the internet) declared that Trump would use martial law as a tool to destroy the dangerous cult of liberal Democrats, Satanists, and child molesters who are secretly in control of this country. Within a short period of time, their entire worldview had been altered. These people couldn’t wait for the concentration camps to be established because, after all, those dirty stinking Democrats were going to be filling up them ovens now, boy, not God-loving Christian patriots.
So what’s the purpose of this social experiment? The purpose is to distract the citizenry from the real problems, from the people who are actually controlling this country.
Now hold on a second . . . that sounds an awful lot like the “Deep State” model touted by Trump. Is that what you’re talking about? Are you some sort of secret Trump supporter, you son of a bitch? Are you saying the Deep State is real?
The origins of the term “Deep State” can be traced back to the academic left. Similar to how a private think tank composed of wordsmiths, persuasion engineers, and culture vultures was no doubt hired to construct the QAnon narrative for the purposes of upping Trump’s popularity, the President’s most infamous quips and catchphrases were clearly plundered from previous sources, several of them associated with the radical counterculture or the leftwing. As already noted, the term “fake news” first appeared in William Burroughs’s The Revised Boy Scout Manual in the early 1970s (though I highly doubt Trump himself is aware of that fact).
Investigative journalist Jon Rappoport—author of such books as AIDS, INC. (1988) and The Secret Behind Secret Societies (1998)—named his website “Nomorefakenews” at least two decades before Trump’s advisors appropriated the term for their own purposes. In the popular mind, Rappoport’s definition of the phrase has now been grossly distorted from its original intent, which was to critique the hidden agendas of mainstream journalists on both the right and the left—and every political persuasion in between.
Trump’s advisors appropriated the term “Deep State” from a 1993 book entitled Deep Politics and the Death of JFK by Peter Dale Scott, an English professor at UC Berkeley. In this highly detailed, well-researched tome, Scott offers a sober analysis of how Kennedy’s assassination undermined American democracy in order to alter US policies in Vietnam (among numerous other imperialistic goals). It seems clear that Scott had to figure out a way to write about complex political machinations for a respectable academic press without ever using the word “conspiracy” in order to avoid advertising the fact that this was, indeed, a book analyzing a vast conspiracy. Instead of “conspiracy theories,” Scott compromised and used “Deep Politics.” Trump’s appropriation of the term renders Scott’s historically important book an anathema for those who would no doubt glance at the cover and assume this Scott fellow must have been a far-rightwing lunatic suffering from the delusion that Ted Cruz’s father had something to do with the assassination of JFK.
Does the term “Deep State” accurately reflect how the US government operates? The phrase implies that what we see in everyday Washington, DC politics is little more than a false front, like those fake towns used in old Hollywood westerns in which grocery stores, hotels, and bullet-ridden saloons were really nothing more than a flimsy façade. The true action occurred behind the scenes. Who directed the film? Who wrote it? Who framed the shot? These key players, of course, are never shown on-screen.
This outlook borders on a Gnostic view of reality: that everything our eyes see is a cheap illusion, a Black Iron Prison forged by half-mad angels who sincerely believe they’re gods but—in reality, the real reality—are nothing more than sadistic overlords with a weird addiction to manipulating human lives for fun. Perhaps there’s some value in this model as a metaphor. But is it literally true?
In reality—the real reality—the “Deep State” so feared by Trump’s followers would be more accurately described as the “Satellite Government.” After all, the word “deep” implies something that’s buried, hidden far out of sight. The Satellite Government is not buried, nor is it hidden out of sight. It’s on display for all to see. But hardly anyone is looking in the right places.
3. The Purloined Letter
Consider Edgar Allan Poe. In 1841 Poe created the very first literary detective, Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin, in his celebrated short story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Fifty years later this story would inspire Arthur Conan Doyle to create the most famous literary detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes. In 1844 Poe wrote a sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” entitled “The Purloined Letter” in which Dupin outsmarts the Prefect of the Parisian Police by doing what the Prefect cannot: retrieve a most incriminating letter that has been stolen from a member of the royal family. The entire police department has searched the room of the thief and come up empty-handed. It takes Dupin to point out the obvious to the Prefect: this entire time the envelope they’re searching for has been sitting safely in the letter holder perched on the mantelpiece. Hidden in plain view. Camouflaged by expectations.
If you’re busy scrounging around for something you’re certain is so “deep” that it’s been completely obscured from view, your eyes will never alight upon the true target of your quest.
When I see throngs of people taking to the streets to protest “fascism,” I often wonder if they know what “fascism” really is. It’s difficult to fight something if you have only a vague understanding of it. According to Benito Mussolini, “Fascism is Corporatism.”26
The Satellite Government is composed of corporations that continually orbit the centers of power in Washington, DC as reliably as the Earth revolves around the sun. Taking full advantage of the all-encompassing powers granted to them by the National Security Act of 1947 and the Patriot Act of 2001, these corporations have gradually rolled back all constitutional guarantees, exploited millions of American citizens by using identities as sources of income, and have succeeded in building an empire out of the most anti-human, money-making schemes of the past two centuries. In the name of fighting domestic and foreign terrorists, while magnifying paranoia through the branding of innocent citizens and human rights groups as dire threats against national security, these corporations have managed to normalize surveillance and harassment as the Order of the Day. And it’s only going to get worse from here.
How many hours have Trumpist conservatives wasted being consumed by anger at the fictional occultists that have evolved into the main antagonists of the strategically devised QAnon storyline, in truth a massive psychological warfare operation deployed against the American people by a Trump-backed political think tank? These conservatives—many of whom no doubt have a sincere desire to learn the facts about the people in power who have manipulated them for so long—spend their days and nights composing inflammatory Twitter posts about liberal politicians they wish to believe are Satanist pedophiles who must extract precious bodily fluids from kidnapped waifs in order to remain in power. Imagine if these same conservatives redirected their frustration into researching the real people who are exploiting their hearts and minds and souls and imaginations?
26. William Haupt III, “Is Capitalistic Socialism Next?,” TheCenterSquare.com, March 4, 2019 (accessed September 15, 2020).
4. Fascism Is Corporatism
Due to the feedback I received after the publication of my book Chameleo in 2015, I’ve learned a great deal about an extralegal tactic exploited by American intelligence agencies more and more frequently since the passing of the Patriot Act in 2001. These agencies farm out to an array of private corporations the sometimes delicate, sometimes brutal task of surveilling and harassing private citizens deemed to be “suspected terrorists.” Who has the power to label someone a “suspected terrorist”? Why, the people whose jobs depend on a steady stream of potential terrorists, of course.
During the past six years, I’ve communicated with a diverse range of innocent people who have been victimized by such corporations for years, even decades. According to these victims (survivors, in truth), certain key multinational corporations are at the forefront of these unconstitutional operations, among them DSAC (Domestic Security Alliance Council), EKS Group, InfraGard, ITA International, the MASY Group, Prescient Edge, SAIC (Scientific Applications International Corporation), and Whitney, Bradley & Brown. These companies are global providers of “high impact National Security, intelligence, and private sector capital management solutions”27 and claim to provide their loyal clients with “years of experience in areas surrounding intelligence operations, law enforcement, counterintelligence, human intelligence, information operations, counter-terrorism, force protection, security matters, international diplomacy and foreign area knowledge.”28
Who are the top-level managers of these little-known corporations? This is publicly available information. It’s not buried out back somewhere, miles and miles behind a false-front bullet-ridden saloon, along with all that other “Deep State” data. It’s posted on the internet. Sitting right there on the mantelpiece. In the letter holder.
A simple Google search will get you closer to seeing the true faces of those who are manipulating you rather than attempting to scry such “Top Secret” information from the virtual crystal balls and cryptic codes made available to you by QAnon on qalerts.app.
Imagine if all those QAnon followers just stopped hanging on Q’s every post and instead banded together and demanded the repeal of the National Security Act and the Patriot Act. Perhaps, then, a real revolution of total disclosure would occur in this country.
5. President Kek
When one speaks to some of Trump’s supporters face to face, it becomes far easier to see the universe through their eyes (at least for a moment). They genuinely feel oppressed by an entrenched Establishment that claims it’s one thing while demonstrating over and over again that it’s something else entirely. If Trump wears his reptilian face on the outside, these people believe the leftwing Establishment wears its reptilian face on the inside. I can’t say they’re wrong. Perhaps some of these people would simply prefer to see the true face of the reptile as the beast sinks into fangs into their collective neck. This is an existential choice, one I’m not willing to judge.
Consider this recent example of audacious hypocrisy: As I write this, during the past few weeks, Trump has received criticism from the mainstream media because he allegedly referred to those who died while serving in the military as “losers” and “suckers.”29
* * *
“I’m shocked, shocked…!”
--Captain Renault (Claude Rains) in Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942)
* * *
Let’s pause a moment and examine reality as it exists, and not as we wish it to exist.
Is there anyone on the planet who thinks there’s a politician in existence who hasn’t thought the same exact thing? Given the unusual amount of politicians’ sons (including George W. Bush) who avoided fighting for their country during wartime, I don’t think it’s outrageous to conclude that almost every politician alive today harbors those same opinions about the “common man.” You’re telling me that a five-star military leader points at a distant hilltop surrounded by explosive mines, shouts, “Charge!,” watches a bunch of clueless teenage boys frog-march into a painful death and/or a long life of limbless paralysis, and doesn’t chuckle about it among the other merchants of doom back at the Lodge meeting on Monday night?
Is it better to have a politician in the White House who buries these sadistic thoughts deep in his psyche, squeezing out crocodile tears for fallen soldier boys every Veterans Day, rather than the one who blurts out his most selfish impulses at random moments during public press conferences? Do the American people want a leader morally superior to President Kek, or do they just want one who will utter the proper platitudes, in the proper tone, at the proper time?
Perhaps the internet didn’t give us peace on Earth, but it did give us telepathy, the ability (via Twitter) to peer into the mind of a living President. This is unprecedented. Never before have the American people had almost unlimited access to the cobwebbed, haunted interior of a powerful politician’s brain. The experience is not pleasant by any means, but I have to admit that I get a little sad when I reflect on all those potential, unborn, pre-aborted Tweets we missed out on during the technological Dark Ages in which such miscreants as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan had no access to Twitter whatsoever. Imagine Nixon compulsively spilling the beans, via social media, about CREEP and his professional pistoleros, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, who were running around the country breaking into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist and trying to bump off troublesome investigative journalists like Jack Anderson. Who knows? Perhaps Liddy and Hunt would have gone to prison far sooner than they did (probably not).
If Trump has perfected the role of a corrupt President, he certainly didn’t invent it. Ronald Reagan, you may recall, went out of his way to kneel at the graves of Nazis in Bitburg, Germany in May of 1985 and proudly stated that the SS troops “were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”30 This proclamation isn’t too far removed from Trump’s infamous statement “There are very fine people on both sides.”31 Trump’s opinion isn’t all that surprising, particularly in light of the fact that his campaign has accepted thousands of dollars in donations from neo-Nazis, as reported by Popular Information.32 Perhaps what should disturb people the most about the Trump administration is that the ugliness we see on constant public display is merely an extension of “Business As Usual.” A sitting President going out of his way to arrange a photo-op to document for posterity the day he prayed at the graves of Nazis is about as blatantly twisted as you can get. Imagine the delicious secrets that would have erupted out of Reagan’s Alzheimer’s-riddled brain during the 1980s if social media had existed. It would have been a quasi-surreal, absurdist miracle to behold. Who knows how much information we would have been able to access? Perhaps we would have learned far more about the Iran-Contra affair than official history is willing to tell us, and Reagan would have been impeached twelve times over.
My liberal friends are constantly astounded by how many misogynist, racist comments can tumble out of Trump’s mouth with no seeming effect on the loyalty of his base. But several of the Trump supporters I’ve spoken to claim that they’re not voting for him because they think he’s a misogynist racist. They insist they’re voting for him simply because Democrats hate him so much. They may not even like Trump. They may even hate him . . . but they hate him a lot less than those politicians they perceive to be in power, politicians they believe have betrayed them. If pressed, they embrace the label of being “anti-Establishment.” These followers of Kek have identified, either consciously or subconsciously, what Douglas Rushkoff figured out only recently: in the digital environment, the “Establishment” is not represented by the people who control the US Congress or the person who’s sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the White House.
29. Jeffrey Goldberg, “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,’” The Atlantic, September 3, 2020 (accessed September 15, 2020).
30. Patrick Buchanan, “Pat Buchanan’s Response to Norman Podhoretz’s Op-Ed November 5, 1999 Wall Street Journal,” Web.archive.org, November 5, 1999 (accessed September 15, 2020).
31. “Trump Blamed ‘Both Sides’ for Charlottesville Attacks and People Aren’t Happy,” English.alaraby.co.uk, August 16, 2017 (accessed September 15, 2020).
32. Kelly McLaughlin, “The Trump Campaign Has Knowingly Taken Thousands of Dollars from a neo-Nazi Leader and Other Racists,” Business Insider, August 31, 2020 (accessed September 17, 2020).
6. Reclaiming Operation Mindfuck
A frequent correspondent recently sent me a link to a YouTube clip that purports to be an interview with a man who, under duress, is forced to perform surveillance and harassment operations for a private corporation. What my readers will find most fascinating about this exchange is that certain statements made by the interviewee seem to confirm various speculations laid out in the pages of my book Chameleo.
A choice quote from said gentleman: “When they abolished slavery, they formed a new approach to slavery. They pick on the poor in order for certain businesses to thrive financially, and as the economy gets worse, then the need [grows] for more and more people to be manipulated into breaking the law and doing things that will help bring money into the prisons.”33 In this regard, it might be relevant to point out that private prison stocks shot through the stratosphere only days after Trump’s election to the presidency. On November 9, 2016, Tracy Alloway and Lily Katz published an article in Bloomberg entitled “Private Prison Stocks Are Surging After Trump's Win”:
Two companies that operate detention facilities in the US are breaking out.
Donald Trump's victory in the presidential elections helped shares of Corrections
Corp. rise as much as 60 percent before paring their surge to 34 percent by 10:14 AM in New York, while GEO Group Inc. was trading 18 percent higher by the same time.
Those moves mean the stocks have recouped some of the losses they've registered since August, when the Department of Justice said it would start phasing out privately run jails. Analysts say President Trump would be likely to reverse that policy, and see an added windfall to the companies stemming from the difficulty of implementing his deportation agenda.
“Private prisons would likely be a clear winner under Trump, as his administration will likely rescind the DOJ's contract phase-out and ICE capacity to house detainees will come under further stress,” analysts at Height Securities LLC wrote in a note published this morning, referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement body by its acronym. Mass deportation of illegal immigrants would be likely to run into legal obstacles, “further necessitating a sizable contract detention population,” the analysts said.34
In Rita Nazareth, Anna-Louise Jackson, and Eliza Ronalds-Hannon's November 9, 2016 Bloomberg article entitled “US Stocks Rise, Treasuries Fall as Trump Win Spurs Growth Bets,” the authors identify a list of “WINNERS” (economically speaking) in the wake of Trump’s election:
BANKS: rallied as Trump has vowed to reduce regulation.
DRUGMAKERS: surged as Democratic threats of price controls are no longer a concern with Republicans retaining both houses of Congress.
DEFENSE & INFRASTRUCTURE: Lockheed Martin Corp. and Caterpillar Inc. climbed on Trump’s pledge to boost spending in both industries.
PRISON OPERATORS: Corrections Corp. soared on speculation the new administration will rescind a government contract phase-out.
Ironically, Trump was able to tap into an extreme “anti-government” sentiment burning beneath the surface of American psychology partly because of the very real conspiracies I’ve written about in such books as Chameleo and Cryptoscatology. He continues to appeal to this anti-government mentality, but as always his words amount to nothing more than hollow platitudes. It should be obvious to anyone that his policies are not “anti-government.” As recently as December of 2018, Trump hinted that the Pentagon’s budget needed to be severely limited, but when it came time to announce that budget he ended up giving the Pentagon five percent more money than they had requested in the first place.
Trump’s presence in the White House serves as the perfect distraction from the forces that are actually killing us. He’s a giant, blustering voodoo doll of a puppet that barfs out hatred and fear on command, a hypnotic green goo so vulgar—and so captivating as a result—that it occupies the fickle and unsophisticated attention of the masses while their fellow Americans remain trapped in prisons made of unseen bars . . . all right in front of the blank-eyed faces, the rage-fueled minds of the citizenry, conned like marks on a street corner staring in wonder and anger as the Idiot-Savant-Magician in front of them pulls off the greatest and most simplistic illusions in history with little more than misspelled tweets and sensationalistic bon-mots specifically constructed to bypass one’s capacity to think.
As the opposition wastes their time attempting to combat every single stupid one-liner that emerges from the White House, the most horrendous criminals of all continue to slip right on by. In sight of cameras. In sight of reporters. In sight of everyone. Invisible . . . but only to those who refuse to see.
Up till now, Operation Mindfuck appears to have been a tremendous success. But the situation doesn’t have to remain that way.
Far more useful than dreaming about removing the President from office through impeachment would have been a genuine effort to reverse the laws that have made this “new approach to slavery” possible in the first place. Back in 1994, in the last chapter of his revised edition of Operation Mind Control, my friend and colleague Walter Bowart wrote:
Whatever the motive for the creation of the National Security State, it was the beginning of the end of our free society . . . The Bill of Rights says freedom of speech is one of our inalienable rights. But as an ordinary citizen living in the National Security State you don’t know anything truly relevant to talk about. If you’re being kept in the informational dark, you can’t talk about the future. Keeping you secretly in the dark about vital information impairs your thinking. And if your thinking is impaired, your speaking is impaired. That means your freedom of speech is impaired.
Remember Thomas Jefferson’s remark at the beginning of this book: “ . . . there is no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves, and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.” The practices of a national security state preclude that. The control has been taken from us. The democratic processes of government today must be just for show—a feeble attempt to keep the public order.
That’s when a simple thought began to form in my mind. My parents’ generation wanted to drink without sneaking around so they repealed the Volstead Act which prohibited the consumption of alcohol. It ought to be easy. This generation ought to be wise enough to repeal the National Security Act which prohibits freedom of information, therefore freedom of thought—and therefore freedom of speech. Since the founding fathers never anticipated the invention of technologies that would intrude themselves into a person’s private thoughts, even take over and drive his dreams, should we consider adding another amendment to the Constitution which guarantees freedom of thought? One would like to believe that, once the legal debate concluded and all the testimony about the role of language (speech) in thought processes had been established, the Supreme Court would agree that the right of free speech was based upon the presumption of free thought. But there needs to be debate about it now, so that the invisible and uninvited deliberate influences upon the human mind will be mandated illegal by the courts . . .
It’s up to us to read the books on the National Security Act. Learn the lingo, then, armed with the facts, start calling for the repeal of it. At this time it would appear to be unthinkable. The National Security State would appear to be a given, something taken for granted like the air we breathe. But try telling people you’re working to repeal it and watch them want to join you . . .
We can all at once repeal the National Security Act, and all the secret agencies under it which violate our Constitutional rights. Why tell the truth one declassified document at a time, or thirty-three million declassified documents at a time? Why not do it all at once by abolishing the National Security Act?
The National Security Act has taken the truth away. We are, in fact, living in a state of Martial Law, a state of National Emergency. They call it national security. Where’s the security in it? Without freedom, without civil rights, what kind of security can a people have?38
When Bowart wrote those words, he couldn’t have known that we were only seven years away from the devastating effects of 9/11 and the passing of the Patriot Act. He couldn’t have known that he was only thirteen years away from his own death (Bowart passed away from colon cancer on December 18, 2007). Nonetheless, even knowing the Phantom Carriage would be coming for him, I don’t think he would have altered his challenging, provocative words in any way. If he were alive today, Bowart would no doubt be adamant about the repeal of the Patriot Act, something that should have occurred during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency (but, of course, never did). Because the true power lies not in the White House, but in the will of the people to influence those who inhabit the White House.
The repeal of the National Security Act and the Patriot Act can and will happen . . . if the people wake up from their collective dream and realize what’s really important, where the real fight lies. Abolishing the National Security Act and the Patriot Act should be the first goals on the agenda of any progressive who wishes to make a real difference in how the United States operates on a day-to-day basis. Once you unlock the door to the National Security State, you also unlock the door to the future. As Bowart says, it’s impossible to engage in genuine freedom of thought if all the most cutting-edge discoveries and advancements have been systemically withheld from the common person. Outside the hermetically sealed, solipsistic universe of the military-industrial-entertainment-complex, the common person is always a generation or more behind the times.
33. “MUST HEAR FOR T.I.’s…,” YouTube.com (accessed September 15, 2020).
34. Tracy Alloway and Lily Katz, “Private Prison Stocks Are Surging After Trump’s Win,” Bloomberg, November 9, 2016 (accessed September 15, 2020).
35. Anna-Louise Jackson, Rita Nazareth and Eliza Ronalds-Hannan, Bloomberg, “U.S. Stocks Rise, Treasuries Fall as Trump Win Spurs Growth Bets,” November 9, 2016 (accessed September 15, 2020).
36. Joe Gould, “Trump Calls US Defense Spending ‘Crazy,’ Pledges Talks with Putin and Xi,” Defensenews.com, December 3, 2018 (accessed August 6, 2019).
37. Sandra Erwin, “Trump’s 2020 Budget Increases Defense Spending By 5 Percent, Funds Space Force,” Spacenews,com, March 11, 2019 (accessed August 6, 2019).
38. Walter Bowart, Operation Mind Control (Ft. Bragg: Flatland Editions, 1994 ), Chp. 41, pp. 3-19.
There’s still time to reclaim Operation Mindfuck. We reclaim it by shunting it aside. Who needs tricks and pranks anymore? We need to take advantage of laws that already exist to rip the tattered and yellowed National Security Blanket from the cold, arthritic, militaristic fists of those in power. Then we boot the poor bastards out into the cold, with all the other obsolete spies and politicians and persuasion engineers, and let them fend for themselves in this “shithole country.”
Don’t allow yourself to be hypnotized by the green goo.
Simply keep your eyes focused on the dirty secret sitting out in the open on a mantelpiece constructed by Edgar Allan Poe 176 years ago.
The autumn months are never a calm time in America. Back to Work, Back to Football Practice, etc. . . . Autumn is a very Traditional period, a time of strong Rituals and the celebrating of strange annual holidays like Halloween and Satanism and the fateful Harvest Moon, which can have ominous implications for some people.
Autumn is always a time of Fear and Greed and Hoarding for the winter coming on. Debt collectors are active on old people and fleece the weak and helpless. They want to lay in enough cash to weather the known horrors of January and February. There is always a rash of kidnapping and abductions of schoolchildren in the football months. Preteens of both sexes are traditionally seized and grabbed off the streets by gangs of organized perverts who traditionally give them as Christmas gifts to each other to be personal sex slaves and playthings.
Most of these things are obviously Wrong and Evil and Ugly—but at least they are Traditional. They will happen. Your driveway will ice over, your furnace will blow up, and you will be rammed in traffic by an uninsured driver in a stolen car.
But what the hell? That's why we have Insurance, eh? And the Inevitability of these nightmares is what makes them so reassuring. Life will go on, for good or ill. But some things are forever, right? The structure may be a little Crooked, but the foundations are still strong and unshakable.
Ho ho. Think again, buster. Look around you. There is an eerie sense of Panic in the air, a silent Fear and uncertainty that comes with once-reliable faiths and truths and solid Institutions that are no longer safe to believe in . . . There is a Presidential Election, right on schedule, but somehow there is no President. A new Congress is elected, like always, but somehow there is no real Congress at all—not as we knew it, anyway, and whatever passes for Congress will be as helpless and weak as whoever has to pass for the “New President.”
—Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube: Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness, 2004
Special thanks to Eric Blair and Randy Koppang for their valuable research assistance.
Christopher Panzner's illustrations for Friedrich Nietzsche’s masterpiece, “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” are a mash-up of French illustrator Gustave Doré’s collected works. The idea was to imagine how Doré would have illustrated “Zarathustra” had he lived long enough (the work was published shortly after Doré died). The illustrations were done in ink to resemble engravings. There are 103 illustrations in all, corresponding to the approximately 90 chapters of the work (as well as title page, frontispiece, chapters, etc.).