Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prophets of Doom and the Need for Organization

Have you ever watched prophets of doom like Peter Schiff, Gerald Celente or Alex Jones? My perception is that Peter Schiff is the least extreme while Alex Jones is a full-blown conspiracy theorist (not that there's anything wrong with that if he mostly turns out to be right!). Gerald Celente is intermediate being around half or two-thirds of a full-blown conspiracy theorist.

I can't help noticing that each of the three appear to gain fame and make their livelihoods through their pessimistic rhetoric. Peter Schiff's company, Euro-Pacific Capital, sells services based on his theories, he publishes best-selling books and he apparently consults for the rich and powerful (e.g in the UAE). Gerald Celente sells a newsletter and makes many paid appearances while Alex Jones hosts a radio show and produces a lot of DVDs. Both Peter Schiff and Gerald Celente have appeared in many MSM shows in spite of their somewhat anti-Establishment messages. Despite these potential conflicts of interests, many of their claims seem plausible and deserve a fair hearing, especially given their recent predictions of our economic troubles with lucid explanations when the other pundits belittled them while predicting smooth sailing as far as the eye could see.

The doomsters share some commonalities in their predictions, particularly in believing a major depression is coming. Peter Schiff seems to believe it's more a matter of incompetence, while Gerald Celente believes they are inflating a final bubble, the "bailout bubble" to succeed the previously popped and housing bubbles, which will ultimately burst with no further bailouts possible, and that powerful interests will use these turbulent times to bring in more authoritarian control, likely launching a war to distract from total economic collapse. Alex Jones seems to have an intricate conspiracy theory about this being a long-standing plan to create a totalitarian world government with most people becoming highly controlled slaves and around 80% of the population being killed using bioweapons. In spite of the seeming outlandishness of some of Alex Jones' beliefs, some of what he says seems quite reasonable, particularly giving the creeping totalitarianism and police state structures. I get the sense that during some of Alex's most agitated rants he is being a bit of a showman, kind of like Glenn Beck periodically comes across as phony, except that Glenn Beck seems a lot more phony than Alex Jones. I've heard maybe around 15 hours of Alex Jones and perhaps 10 hours of Glenn Beck, so I'm no great expert on these guys.

I haven't carefully researched much of what these guys say (e.g the alleged misdeeds of the Federal Reserve), but much of their message seems plausible. In particular I strongly suspect that the US economy has been managed badly, e.g. by encouraging speculation over long-term investment, allowing looting by the executive class, losing advanced manufacturing and not properly protecting our markets in balance with how our trading "partners" protect their markets, and that the phony economy will soon come crashing down. Some excellent writers discussing this are Pat Buchanan and the Irish economics writer, Eamonn Fingleton. I strongly recommend Mr. Fingleton's book In the Jaws of the Dragon which discusses how the East Asian Economic and Political System is not compatible with Western style capitalism, at least how it's practiced in the US currently.

Whether there is a New World Order (NWO) conspiracy to impose totalitarian control on the US and ultimately the entire world is such a disturbing question that deserves a full and fair investigation even if it is likely false.

Unfortunately there are many issues needing a similar thorough analysis by fair and objective observers, while most of us can only devote a little time on the side to explore these issues. One goal is for us to eventually create think tanks with full-time scholars and support staff to investigate issues and think creatively about the problems facing us. This is something for White advocates to aim for in the future although we have the beginnings of this. Another approach that can be started sooner and with minimal resources is harnessing the power of thousands of part-time activists over the internet by intelligently combining their efforts to enable these sorts of detailed investigations. Many of these investigations can be done with other groups because many of the topics aren't directly related to White advocacy.

An example of how important work can be done by non-scholarly activists working part time would be an audit of references in academic works. One controversial example is Kevin MacDonald's books which probably have over 500 references per book. Imagine if a team of volunteers tracked down each and every source that Dr. MacDonald cited and did a fair-use scan of the full context of each citation. These could then be posted on a web site that had special software designed to support this sort of research and criticism. This software could be open-source and could integrate with existing software, like open-source portals or content management systems. Then users could judge whether Dr. MacDonald's books accurately quote and interpret each source. Statistics could be compiled about his accuracy. The critical point is that because everything is open, each assertion can be audited and each viewer can examine the full evidence to see who is reliable or not. For example, if it turned out that Dr. MacDonald was deceptive with 20+% of his references that would reflect badly upon his honesty, while if there were just minor nitpicks and no major duplicitous distortions, then his scholarly honesty would pass the first hurdle.

Note that this sort of detailed checking of hundreds of different references is a massive effort for one person, but would be easily doable by a few hundred people donating a few hours per person or by dozens of people giving 20-30 hours per person.

With his treatment of sources analyzed, scrutiny could be given to the rest of his text and the validity of his other facts and logic. Links to other sources could be developed in determining the truth. The ultimate result would be a detailed exploration of the truth or falsehood of the book and the underlying issues it discusses. Eventually the same sort of analysis can be applied to other sources with related things linked together for easy navigation to further human knowledge and understanding.

Many other authors, journalists, politicians, academics and organizations have works, predictions and promises deserving a careful accounting. Consider all the free trade propaganda that has turned out to be absolutely false. We don't currently have a systematic way to rate pundits and talking heads who've been wrong, very wrong and extremely wrong, yet are still invited back to deceive the public with special-interest propaganda. We desperately need this sort of accountability system to keep our "civil society" honest. Imagine how useful it would be for TV viewers to automatically see a side window pop up when a pundit was talking that had a summary of their historical accuracy, their affiliations, etc. If the viewer desired, then could drill down into the details with arbitrary depth. Ultimately this should encourage greater accuracy and less overt propaganda in the MSM. Here I'm assuming that the next generation or two of TVs will essentially be computer/TV hybrids that are hooked up to the internet, or that cheap devices with this capability will plug into the TVs.

By intelligently organizing our efforts we can create virtual think tanks that let us each make a small contribution that synergizes with hundreds or thousands of others to produce a much more powerful result than floundering around in isolation with our efforts having near zero impact. Our scholars could get virtual support staffs to aid their research efforts while channeling the energy of activists that would likely otherwise be wasted. This sort of organization can be applied to many kinds of activities beyond fact and logic checking.

This system could be applied to study a variety of other problems and issues. For example various facts, values and arguments could be explored. Evidence could be supplied or pointed to. The goal is a robust exploration of topics that tries to coherently and comprehensively explore issues from all perspectives. Dissenting viewpoints can be integrated into the exploration, in fact, ideally, the system would allow many different factions to concurrently articulate their strongest arguments and counterarguments all using the same system, i.e. everybody from the far left to the far right with all viewpoints in between, including off-the-wall ones. Hopefully by letting each side present its arguments and marshall its facts using the same system, areas of agreement or dissent can be clarified and rational dialog can be encouraged. The resulting explorations would also be excellent learning resources for readers wanting to explore different sides of complicated issues.

There would need to be features to fight those that try to subvert the purpose of open dialog, e.g. by creating lots of clutter and disinformation. I believe this can be done while not suppressing free speech. One approach would be that such trolls would eventually be rated by other people that you trust as trolls, so their contributions could be hidden by default. This could be overridden on a case-by-case basis when trusted voters believe the particular contribution adds value. Even though the trolls' contributions would normally be hidden, they would still be accessible so people could check whether or not they are actual trolls or if their viewpoint is being suppressed. Different factions may have different views of who adds value and one feature would let users explore the structure from different perspectives, e.g. what does the exploration look like from the perspective of a revolutionary far-leftist versus a neoconservative versus a White advocate, among dozens or even hundreds of different views.

We should fully reject the popular tactic of demonizing speakers, usually using ad hominem attacks, to avoid confronting their arguments. The neocons are notorious for this extreme intellectual dishonesty. Everyone's arguments should be considered in good faith and any flaws pointed out using facts and logic or by highlighting differences in values. In many ways obsession over the left-right divide or partisan party differences is con game designed to intellectually disarm us by limiting our thinking and to have us cheer for "our team", not noticing that both teams are tools of the elites. Instead of mindlessly rejecting anything leftists say, we should thoughtfully consider their points. In some cases they might be correct and we should adapt our viewpoint. We should be reading Chomsky, Nader and others, even though we may disagree with some of their values and beliefs.

By creating this enhanced "public institutional memory", those who use dishonest rhetoric will eventually damage their own reputations, while those operating honestly and in good faith will gain trust.

I believe we need much more free speech and open investigation while our "civil society" and elites are pushing for the opposite. Just look at the recent flood of articles and op-eds calling for stringent "hate speech" laws to weaken what's left of our Constitutional rights and the coordinated Jewish effort to get Pat Buchanan fired from his television job. I suspect one major cause of conspiracy theory and paranoia is the suppression of free and unhindered discussion. Ultimately our elites are undermining our "civil society" but perhaps this is intentional.

It's become clear that our "civil society", including academia, think tanks and the MSM, is not trustworthy in many ways and our government has likely succumbed to corruption through lobbying, cultural Marxist infiltration and other influences. Therefore we need to create alterative watchdogs to provide an independent audit of our existing institutions. Some of these alternatives may already exist or do part of the job, but there is a need for much more, particularly those that follow the approach I described above using sophisticated tools to create open research and criticism with full auditing of the facts, logic and values.

When we encounter lies or slander we can harness a community to produce detailed rebuttals with full proof if they don't already exist. Once detailed analyses of different questions exist, they can be referenced while making arguments, and if new information and perspectives arise, they can be integrated into the exploration.

I'm curious what other folks think of the doomsters and their messages as well as the rest of the post. I'd be interested in your comments or email.


Apologies for the delay in coming out with my alternative culture post, which is my next big article. Hopefully it will be ready within one or at most two weeks. I do have a list of those future posts I've mentioned in previous articles and hope to write one or two per month.