Conspiracy

The New Age Assassin

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Not to be confused with Sarah Palin's map.

ABC has interviewed Zach Osler, a friend of the Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner. If you're trying to decipher Loughner's worldview, Osler's comments offer two important clues.

First: Osler flatly rejects the theory that the killer was driven by the political rhetoric found on cable news and AM radio. Loughner, he says,

did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn't listen to political radio. He didn't take sides. He wasn't on the left. He wasn't on the right.

Second: Loughner turns out to be a fan of Zeitgeist, a feature-length online documentary that is one-third arguments that Jesus never existed and religion is an evil fraud, one-third 9/11 trutherism, and one-third conspiracy theories about bankers. There's been a lot of speculation out there about one of Loughner's comments on YouTube, "I won't pay debt with a currency that's not backed by gold and silver!"—a sentence that may sound like something a gold bug would say, except that Loughner was also prone to describing strange schemes for an "infinite source of currency," which is precisely the sort of suggestion gold standard advocates would reject. His interest in Zeitgeist clears things up a bit. The movie belongs to the old money-crank tradition, which stretches from the Greenback Party to the Social Credit movement and from Ezra Pound to Alan Watts. The film's chief argument against the Fed is that it is a private institution that profits by lending money at interest; the filmmaker prefers an "interest-free independent currency" that isn't created by private banks.

Is this left-wing or right-wing? Money cranks come in both flavors, but in the case of Zeitgeist the labels "left" and "right" are pretty useless descriptors. The best label would probably be "New Age paranoia." If you've ever gone browsing in an occult bookstore (and you really should; it's like browsing in a science fiction bookstore, only the authors really believe the stories they're writing, or pretend to), you may have seen a shelf labeled "conspiracies" right alongside the sections marked "astrology" or "Tarot." People who write about fringe politics often miss the extent to which New Agers serve as a transmission belt, allowing ideas from the left, the right, and the counterculture—not to mention more outré folks like the UFO buffs—to slide from one subculture to another.

Zeitgeist obviously isn't the end of this story. Loughner may have been influenced by the picture, but he incorporated its ideas into his own crazycakes combination (which also seems to include an obsession with lucid dreaming and an interest in Philip K. Dick-style reality-bending movies such as Donnie Darko and A Scanner Darkly). The most important point here is that it's a mug's game to try to fit this guy into a neat little category like "right" or "left." Like many killers and would-be killers before him, Loughner belongs to the very far end of the political long tail.

NEXT: L.A. Times: "Loughner's ramblings appear rooted in far right"

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  1. I was sorta thinking “anarchist conspiracy freak”, myself. Someone of them are pretty hard to distinguish from schizophrenics.

    1. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    2. With the conspiracy freaks, there tends to be some logic which makes sense from a like-minded point of view, as well as some internal consistency.

      Loughner’s writings, on the other hand, are textbook paranoid schizophrenic. Remember the post from yesterday–even the other posters on the UFO conspiracy board where he posted questioned his sanity.

  2. It seems pointless to use the Loughner shootings to demonize conspiracy theorists.

    (Pointless for you and me, that is. They will get the point.)

    1. I’ll demonize them then. They only thing missing for most conspiracy theorists to go off on a shooting rampage like this is that they’ve been taking their meds.

      Their entire worldview centers around government being the source of all evil, and that if only people would wake up it would all be fixed. Many genuinely believe that the government is out to kill them for “exposing the truth”. How big of a step is it from there to shooting a congressman in a weird twisted perception of self defense?

  3. did not watch TV. He disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right.

    That’s nice. Who do you think we should believe? His closest friend or the puppet masters in the mainstream media who clearly know better?

    1. Pshaw. Has this Zach Osler kid won a Nobel Prize in Economics? I think not!

      1. I’ll bet Osler’s gotten death threats from liberals, though…

      2. Quit making fun of me! I have a very important piece in the Magazine this weekend (only 12 pages however). Euro-snooze!

    2. But they know the proper narative JW. Don’t let your bourgeouis facts get in the way.

    3. yea i can see where the CLOSEST FRIEND of a mass murderer is to be believed w/o reservation.

      1. Please don’t be his porn.

        1. Pleads the guy who, ironically, become his porn.

          1. You owe me 5 bucks, Jesus. Did you think I’d forget, you besandaled hipster? Pay up or shut up.

            1. See Judas. He has my silver. 30 pieces, minus expenses.

  4. Can we ban patchouli and crystals now?

    1. And wheatgrass? And those jingly ankle bracelets?

  5. Loughner was also prone to describing strange schemes for an “infinite source of currency,” which is precisely the sort of suggestion gold standard advocates would reject.

    “Completely antithetical” is the description which springs to mind. But that won’t stop the SPLC from making him Ron Paul’s long-lost bastard son.

    1. Isn’t that what Greenspan and Bernanke advocate?

      1. Threadwinner!

        1. “infinite source of currency” is definitely a progressive, left-wing fantasy.

  6. Hey, never let the facts get in the way of a good meme – clearly, this guy was motivated by angry, right-wing rhetoric and violent imagery.

    Let’s just stick with what we know, ok?

    1. Google sez: Your search – “massacrebating” – did not match any documents.

      You have coined the best portmanteau of 2011.

      1. The year is young, but that is pretty amazing.

        1. Yeah, that is a really weird one.

  7. Re. Social Credit: Canadian politics are weird. And as this latest Loughner connection shows, also contribute to the CULTUR OF VIOLENZ!!1! FIRE IN CROWDED THEATUR!!11!

    1. The Social Credit party in most provinces evolved into something that had very little relationship with the original Social Credit movement’s ideas.

    2. I tried to read the link to “social credit” from inside that page.

      And my brain broke.

      Seems like a few good concepts combined with some gawdawful economics and surrounded by a bunch of gobbilygook that made no sense at all.

      Did I get the gist?

      1. “Seems like a few good concepts combined with some gawdawful economics and surrounded by a bunch of gobbilygook that made no sense at all.”

        The link is to one of your posts?

  8. People who write about fringe politics often miss the extent to which New Agers serve as a transmission belt, allowing ideas from the left, the right, and the counterculture — not to mention more outr? folks like the UFO buffs — to slide from one subculture to another.

    Sounds a bit like libertarianism (leaving the unmentionables unmentioned).

  9. OK, I think I’ve officially hit my saturation point. I’m surprised it took this long. Can someone write about some other topic?

    1. Same for me. Monday.

    2. Have you heard about the Ground Zero Mosque?

  10. The trailer is mostly the standard anti-capitalist “It’s the system, man” claptrap. I wonder if I could make it through the whole thing.

    1. You won’t know until you smoke a ton of weed, make a bunch of curry popcorn, and give it a shot, dude.

      1. mmmm,curry popcorn. Ohhhhhhh.

    2. For me, the line of tolerability has to do with the level of the ramblecrazy. Garden variety corporashun-hatin’ is way too boring.

      1. Yeah! It at least has to top ancient alien overlords trapping souls in volcanoes to get me the least bit interested.

    3. Some gallery around here had a showing of one of the Zeitgeist films. A friend of mine was really excited about it. He tried to get me to go but I said no thanks. He went. I don’t think he’s mentioned it since. I’m hoping he just didn’t realize how stupid the whole thing was until he actually saw it.

  11. Whether this guy was receptive to right wing radio isn’t important. What’s important is that the next one might be.

    1. u mean like the teabaggers?

      1. Your fearless leader Obama is bringin’ his gun. I believe he’s ready to use it.

      1. That was aimed at hh, but looks like I got a two-fer hit on ignoramuses.

        1. Its a target-rich environment these days.

          1. Will Saletan is right! You can’t trust people to use their weapons safely!

            ^control in 2011!

        2. Just one. They’re both Dan T.

      2. After 9/11, we didn’t just ban boxcutters from planes and reinforce cockpit doors. We took a long hard look at all the vulnerabilities present in our air traffic system and our society in general, and scalpeled them out.

        We shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that because things happened a certain way this time, we only need to prevent those circumstances the next time. We have to make sure no circumstances that lead to danger happen next time.

        1. Concern troll is concerned.

          1. Without HitnRun, my life would be an empty, meaningless place. Thank you, all of you, er, folks.

            1. You sound like someone has taken a scalpel to your frontal lobe.

              1. It was more like a halberd than a scalpel.

        2. shorter hh:
          ‘After the shooting, we need to outlaw speech I don’t like’
          Take a hike, asshole.

        3. I got a flat tire this weekend. It wasn’t attributable to the tone of political discourse, but next time it could be.

        4. That example, I don’t think it illustrates what you think it illustrates.

        5. We shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that because things happened a certain way this time, we only need to prevent those circumstances the next time. We have to make sure no circumstances that lead to danger happen next time.

          The only way to absolutely prevent Democratic Party Congressmen from being shot is to never elect any Democrats again.

          Or was that your point?

        6. After 9/11, we didn’t just ban boxcutters from planes and reinforce cockpit doors. We took a long hard look at all the vulnerabilities present in our air traffic system and our society in general, and scalpeled them out.

          Which is why Islam is now prohibited in the US.

        7. Yup, it took them more than 9 long years but we now have success. Airline terrorism has been fully stopped by repeated, gratutious junk grabbing. Good thing because plan B was to tase everyone’s junk and my junk gets grumpy when I stick it in the light socket so I wouldn’t be able to fly anymore.

        8. We must get rid of free speech.

        9. We took a long hard look at all the vulnerabilities present in our air traffic system and our society in general, and scalpeled them out.

          HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  12. Hey! Stupid tin-foil hatters stealing my good name…

  13. If you’ve ever gone browsing in an occult bookstore (and you really should; it’s like browsing in a science fiction bookstore, only the authors really believe the stories they’re writing, or pretend to),

    I can personally attest to the entertainment value of Masons/Templars/ancient aliens/ conspirasizing.

    Also, I am embarrassed that I didn’t think of this:

    massacrebating

    And you should be, too.

  14. I can personally attest to the entertainment value of Masons/Templars/ancient aliens/ conspirasizing.

    Jackie Mason is an ancient alien? That explains a lot.

  15. 15 minutes in. About 13 minutes of that was just urgent-sounding 8-bit video game soundtrack over strobing images of war. And then it starts talking about Egyptian religion.

    1. If you go on a shooting spree, can I have your grill?

      1. Yes.

        39 minutes in. “Jesus is a myth, blah, blah, blah. It’s all about control, man.”

        I don’t really disagree with the analysis of the construction of the Jesus narrative in order to make Christianity more palatable to pagan converts. But the conscious use of it to control people for 2000 years is silly. All religions are built on the same foundations as New Ageism… there is a mix of true believers, half-believers that live unexamined lives, and a few assholes here and there who directly profit. They haven’t really reinvented the wheel with this film.

        Up next: Trutherism!

        1. I’m going to be completely honest. As soon as the Truther section started off with a stuttering montage of the 2nd plane hitting (10 different shoots) that was paced just like, and scored in a rip off manner, as Nine Inch Nails’ “Mr. Self-Destruct,” I just started fast forwarding.

          It was all Booosh!

          1. It’s very selfless of you to sample this film for us. Any chance I’ll be getting that grill?

            1. So, the central flaw in this guy’s monetary theory is that his grand scheme complete ignores the fact that money is used to purchase goods and services. That’s a pretty big flaw.

              1. So that’s a no.

              2. Sounds reasonable to me.

    2. And, of course, it had to be done:

      Chiptune artist Brendan “Inverse Phase” Becker released a parody written for 8-bit Nintendo hardware on September 27, 2010. The lyrics were changed to that of a forlorn NES singing to its owner that had forsaken it for a Sega Genesis.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuck_You_(Cee_Lo_Green_song)

      As a long time member of the demo scene, I really should give this a looksee.

    3. Doesn’t matter. Loughner is still a right-wing Christ-fag. Ed Schultz said it, so I believe it.

  16. I suppose he has a book of unpublished verse on his hard drive.

  17. Julian Assange weighs in?

    NOTE: There is no truth to the rumors that 4-Loko was involved and no sheep can be confirmed to have been harmed.

  18. We took a long hard look at all the vulnerabilities present in our air traffic system and our society in general, and scalpeled them out.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Whee, that was fun.

  19. “I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver”

    I don’t know too many gold bugs that would say that, most are quite happy to pay debt in fiat money. It’s the receiving debt in fiat money they wouldn’t like.

    1. I think that sentiment is here in the film. In this particular paranoid construct, “debt” is not plain old “debt” but rather the sole purpose of money. Money only exists to create debt, defined as the interest a loan generates. He’s advocating a metal-based currency only in the sense that “real” money should be backed by the sum total of the wealth of the material resources of the planet, including all plant and animal life and the “health of the ocean.”

      1. Sure, I mean, that’s the position that I happen to agree with, but I’m not a “gold bug”. (I happen to think gold will go back down to 800-1000 USD per within the next two years).

      2. actually, I got the sense that in his videos Jared was advocating replacing monetary currency with the “infinite currency” of language, or ideas, or something like that, being that both language and currency were social, somewhat fictional constructs. I could see how it could make sense to someone that is insane, but I’m already, half in half out myself…

        1. I was referring the Zeitgeist film. It’s pretty hard to figure out what they are advocating, though.

          Why can’t crazy people just stick to the classics, like digging up dog corpses to fuck or the simple joys of self-castration?

          1. Don’t forget cutting off your own ear and giving it to a girl to “impress” her.

          2. The Fed, a private institution, loans money to the government, which it creates out of thin air, with interest. The government then pays that interest with more money it borrows from the Fed, with interest. It’s a never ending cycle. There’s no way for the government to ever get even. How hard is that to understand? The movie advocates the Treasury just issuing money directly which would be interest free.

            1. correction:

              “…loans money, which it creates out of thin air,…”

            2. But what does the Earth being hollow have to do with it?

              1. About as much as this non sequitur has to do with it.

            3. you could get the same thing with less crazy from “money is debt”. Although the “money is debt” proposes an equally unsustainable solution (have interest payments go directly to the government, with the attendant inflation and monetary bubbles, etc).

              1. * by which I mean asset bubbles.

  20. I bet this a-hole loved Inception… Leo made him do it

  21. is a stupid fucking movie. That is all.

    1. Any movie with talking animals telling you to kill people is OK in my book.

      “There are a lot of dogs on that route, but all they ever told me was to lay off the snacks.” — Newman on taking over Son of Sam’s mail route after he was arrested

  22. Also, I think I’ve figured out what he meant by “conscious dreaming”.

    That is (IMO) waking hallucinations. In other words, he interpreted his hallucinations, a result of schizophrenia, as waking dreams. He believed that his hallucinations were really his ability to enter a conscious dreaming state which he could construct and control mentally.

  23. New Age bookstores and publishers do promote some very far out conspiracy theories, and have also promoted the sale of books by outright fascists and nazi mystics.

    Julius Evola was an Italian who spent the war in Germany, and denounced the Italian Fascists for not being Nazi-like, His books have finally been published in English by a well established New Age publisher.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen this too. I’ve popped in the local New Age bookstore a few times, and know something about the radically different and really far out there titles. Mostly mysticism, oriental religion, UFOs, tarot books, astrology, but also the occasional radical Islamist book or David Icke book on the Protocols but-they’re-really-reptiles-not-Jews-but-the-Jews-are-involved-too mindfuck books.

      There’s also this store, in Austin, Texas: http://dtocmedia.com/bnb/

      It’s next to the local libertarian office. Often, you’d think the people who shop there and hang out there are leftists. They’re not the kind of leftists hanging out up the road at the anarchist shop, but they seem that way. But then you see the far right nationalist American Free Press sitting out for sale, and the Alex Jones DVDs…

    2. evola was so much weirder than that, with his elevation of capital-t “Tradition” above even nationalist and racial concerns.

  24. …not to mention more outr? folks like the UFO buffs…

    Actually, if you go by percentages of the population, UFO believers are much less “outre” than the conspiracy theory types, right or left.

  25. “Why”, you ask? “Why” is not the question. How? Now, that is a question worth examining. How could I, being born of such, uh… conventional stock, arrive a leader of the rebellion? An escapist from a conformist world, destined to find happiness only in that which cannot be explained? I brought you here for a reason, but unfortunately you and your sentimental minds are doing me no good! My brain is frozen. Locked! I have to break free from this culture of mechanical reproductions and the thick encrustations dying on the surface!

  26. One thing about money cranks, though: They all know much more than the avg. well-informed and civically-engaged person about current and past money and banking practices. Their theories may not be strong in predictive value, but their thinking should not be lightly dismissed. Much of the heritage of libertarian thought comes thru money crank tradition, viz. Proudhon, B.R. Tucker, Nock, and R.A. Wilson. Their prescriptions differed, but they were all critics of the banking privilege as it existed in their time & today.

    1. Fair, but it’d be giving Loughner way too much credit to interpret his one or two references to “gold and silver” as a coherent critique of the banking system. That phrase really seems to be the extent of his thought about it.

  27. Gripe: I fail to see how Alan Watts is a “money-crank” for understanding that money’s purpose is as a measure of wealth, but not actually wealth itself.

  28. He’s a left-wing, atheist pothead. All this talk about him not really having a political orientation is an attempt to cloud that. The left-wing pundits know damned well what he is.

  29. You non-zeitgeist members sicken me with your counter garbage you poison the good people of the earth with. We DONT need govt, what we need is massive social change. we need an awakening but not so that NWO conspirators can feed and grow. Your the fool if you think it wont happen. the good ol’ USA is on the front lines of this shit. Only you, each of you can make the right choice or doom yourselves with a unsustainable system. i plan on changing the world, you must then be my opposite, and keeping it all the same, and look how far that got you.

    think, and Open your mind to real solutions to world problems, not laws that delay them.

  30. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Voltaire

  31. “I doubt the pundit class will learn much from the experience.”

    Funny how our words can come back to haunt us…

    I know you’re pressed for space, Jesse, but even the ‘long tail’ reference was a bit of a stretch, in the context of madmen and mass murder.

    According to many in the pundit class, the denizens of “Reason” are among the members of the same ‘long tail’ you’ve just classified as belonging solely to Loughner, Bedell, Stack…and even, by extension, Rhapsody and microbreweries, among others…not to mention those pesky goldbugs.

    Sweeping generalisations, anyone?

    1. According to many in the pundit class, the denizens of “Reason” are among the members of the same ‘long tail’ you’ve just classified as belonging solely to Loughner, Bedell, Stack

      I’m not sure where you’re getting that “solely” from.

  32. It kind of reminds me of that old Robert Crumb cartoon…

    Scruffy looking little man, trucking down the street, ballon over his head says,

    “Dis, is a system?”

  33. Loughner saw the movie based on “A Scanner Darkly” by Philip K. Dick? Dear God, I wish he had paid attention. Dick had a message in the novel and the movie, and the message was, if I may paraphrase, “Please, my friends, do not take illegal drugs. Here is a list of my friends who were killed or brain damaged by illegal drugs, and I include myself on that list.”
    I have never taken illegal drugs myself, even once, and one reason is that I read that novel when it was first published.

  34. Zach Osler, had not seen Jared Lee Loughner in two years. to blame a movie is insane, take a look around you, not that pretty out there is it! to have an opinion, you have to have at least seen peter josephs latest film, zeitgeist: moving forward. peacefull movement

    1. to blame a movie is insane

      I agree.

  35. I don’t know what is this stuff. I wish you good luck! buy maplestory mesos

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