Taking The Red Pill

Today I finished Matt Taibbi‘s The Great Derangement, his book on American politics during the Bush years. His theory is that mainstream politics is so stupid and corrupt that it’s sent the public into the embrace of bizarre and extreme ideas. As an antiwar journalist Taibbi was initially nervous about writing articles on the 9/11 denial movement – he didn’t want to let the side down – but the Rolling Stone reporter came across so many Truthers in antiwar campaigns that he could no longer ignore them.

Citing polls that show worrying percentages of Americans who believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that God created life six thousand years ago, Taibbi spends time with the 9/11 Truth movement and a Christian fundamentalist group. His thesis would have been even stronger had he written this book in 2009 and chronicled the American rightwingers who won’t accept Obama’s mandate to govern until they get to examine his placenta.

In the following extract, reporting on a Truther meeting in Austin, Taibbi touches on what other writers have covered – the replacement of real politics with consumer politics. In effect, he says, we are all ‘reality consumers’ now:

The 9/11 Truth Movement, no matter what its leaders claim, isn’t a grassroots phenomenon. It didn’t grow out of a local dispute at a factory or in the fields of an avacado plantation. It wasn’t a reaction to an injustice suffered by a specific person in some specific place. Instead it was something that a group of people constructed by assembling bits and pieces plucked surgically from the mass media landscape – TV news reports, newspaper articles, Internet sites. The conspiracy is not something anyone in the movement even claims to have seen with his own eyes. It is something deduced from the very sources the movement is telling its followers to reject.

This has always been one of the key features of the 9/11 Truth Movement. When the left finally found something to revolt over, it turned out to be something entirely fictional, something that not a single person had seen with his own eyes, or felt directly in his bank account, in his workplace, in his home. No one here was revolting over the corrupt medical insurance system, the disappearance of the manufacturing economy, the exploding prison population, the predatory credit industry, the takeover of electoral politics by financial interests. None of the people in this room were bound together by a common problem. What they had in common was a similar response to a national media phenomenon. At some level, this wasn’t even a movement – it was a demographic.  

Also, see Taibbi take on 9/11 denial guru David Ray Griffin.



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