"Hollywood warned us."
“The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst.”
Hollywood warned us. From Paddy Chayefsky’s ‘Network’ (1976):
“You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it ! Is that clear ?! Do you think you’ve merely stopped a business deal ? That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back ! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity ! It is ecological balance ! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multi-variate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and sub-atomic and galactic structure of things today ! And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and You Will Atone !
“Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state – Karl Marx ? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr. Beale, to preach this evangel.
(Beale: “Why me ?”)
“Because you’re on television, dummy.”
Kleptocracy, or what we might call crony capitalism, dies hard. Where 2008 revealed the regulatory capture explicit on Wall Street, the last few years have displayed the regulatory capture explicit within Big Pharma. Similarly, contrary to the expectations of many libertarians, the growth of the Internet has not led – yet – to the long overdue demise of legacy media so much as the censorial stranglehold by the Deep State over new fringe media platforms. The alarming rise of ‘cancel culture’ claimed a notable scalp last week in the form of former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. From his extraordinary 21st April 2023 speech at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th anniversary gala:
“The receptionist in the office at Policy Review was going to school at night to learn Russian. And then the week I started at Policy Review, the Soviet Union collapsed, which was an amazing thing.
“The coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the third week of August 1991 was the week I started at Heritage. And in retrospect, of course, you never appreciate the significance of things as they happen.
“You can’t really know what the movie’s about until it ends. But at the time, we didn’t really appreciate how, well, two things: One, our entire political orientation was based on this war between the United States and the Soviet Union, this Cold War, but very much a war and every part of our politics.
“As you well remember, those of you my age and older, remember every part of our politics revolved around that central conflict. That’s the first lesson of history: Nothing is permanent except our own demise and God. But we didn’t get that.
“If you told me then that [last] week the Department of Justice would’ve indicted a group of people—people I don’t agree with, by the way, on a lot of different issues, black nationalist, socialists from Florida, not my demographic—but would’ve indicted them for criticizing the U.S. position, the Biden administration’s position on the war in Ukraine and charged them with felonies for which they’re each facing 10 years in prison, if you told me that could happen here, I would’ve laughed at you.
“No, we have a First Amendment. That can’t happen here, but it has. That, and a lot of other things, which are gravely unsettling, actually, in people who were rooted in the Cold War story and the reality of the Cold War, again, my age, 53, kind of know where that goes..
“But here are two conclusions I’ve come to, which I think are slightly less depressing than the most obvious, which is the country’s really going at high speed in the wrong direction, yeah, no kidding, in ways that are just unfathomable..
“I would say two things that I think we’re thinking about. The first is, you look around, and you see so many people break under the strain, under the downward pressure of whatever this is that we’re going through.
“And you look with disdain and sadness as you see people you know become quislings, you see them revealed as cowards, you see them going along with a new, new thing, which is clearly a poisonous thing, a silly thing, saying things they don’t believe because they want to keep their jobs.
“If there’s a single person in this room who hasn’t seen that through George Floyd and COVID and the Ukraine War, raise your hand. Oh, nobody? Right. You all know what I’m talking about.
“And you’re so disappointed in people. You are. And you realize that the herd instinct is maybe the strongest instinct. I mean, it may be stronger than the hunger and sex instincts, actually. The instinct, which again, is inherent to be like everybody else and not to be cast out of the group, not to be shunned.
“That’s a very strong impulse in all of us from birth. And it takes over, unfortunately, in moments like this, and it’s harnessed, in fact, by bad people in moments like this to produce uniformity. And you see people going along with this, and you lose respect for them. And that’s certainly happened to me at scale over the past three years.
“I’m not mad at people; I’m just sad. I’m disappointed. How could you go along with this? You know it’s not true, but you’re saying it anyway.
“Really, you’re putting your pronouns in your email. You’re ridiculous. But no one else thinks it’s ridiculous. “Oh no, it’s the pronouns in the email..”
“But back to my point. So, you see the sadness happening, but there is, as there always is, this is a fact of nature and theology and of observable reality, there is a countervailing force at work always.
“There’s a counterbalance to the badness. It’s called goodness. And you see it in people.
“So, for every 10 people who are putting he and him in their electronic JP Morgan email signatures, there’s one person who’s like, “No, I’m not doing that. Sorry. I don’t want to fight, but I’m not doing that. It’s a betrayal of what I think is true. It’s a betrayal of my conscience, of my faith, of my sense of myself, of my dignity as a human being, of my autonomy. I am not a slave. I am a free citizen, and I’m not doing that. And there’s nothing you can do to me to make me do it..”
“And in this case, there is no thread that I can find that connects all of the people who’ve popped up in my life to be that lone, brave person in the crowd who says, “No, thank you.”
“No, thank you.”
“You could not have known who these people are. They don’t fit a common profile. Some are people like me. Some of them don’t look like me at all. Some of them are people I despised on political grounds just a few years ago. I could name their names, but you may not even know about their transformations, and I don’t want to wreck your dinner by telling you who they are.
“But there’s in one case someone who I made fun of on television and certainly in my private life in vulgar ways, who was really the embodiment of everything I found repulsive, who in the middle of COVID decided, no, I’m not going along with this.
“And once you say one true thing and stick with it, all kinds of other true things occur to you. The truth is contagious. Lying is, but the truth is as well. And the second you decide to tell the truth about something, you are filled with this, I don’t want to get supernatural on you, but you are filled with this power from somewhere else.
“Try it. Tell the truth about something. You feel it every day. The more you tell the truth, the stronger you become. That’s completely real. It’s measurable in the way that you feel.
“And of course, the opposite is also true. The more you lie, the weaker and more terrified you become. We all know that feeling. You lie about something, and all of a sudden, you’re a prisoner of that lie. You are diminished by it. You are weak and afraid.
“Drug and alcohol use is the same way. It makes you weak and afraid. But you look around, and you see these people, and some of them really have paid a heavy price for telling the truth. And they are cast out of their groups, whatever those groups are, but they do it anyway.
“And I look on at those people with the deepest possible admiration. I am paid to do that. I face no penalty. Someone came up to me [and said,] “You’re so brave.” Really? I’m a talk-show host. It’s like I give any opinion I want. That’s my job. That’s why they pay me.
“It’s not brave to tell the truth on a cable news show. And if you’re not doing that, you’re really an idiot. You’re really craven. You’re lying on television. Why would you do that? You’re literally making a living to say what you think and you can’t even do that. Please.
“But how about if you’re a senior vice president at Citibank? I’m serious. At Citibank, and you’re making $4 million a year, and you’ve got three kids in Bedford and two are in boarding school and one’s starting at Wesleyan next year. And you need this job, honestly, and your whole sector’s collapsing and you know that.
“There is no incentive whatsoever for you to tell the truth about anything. You just go into the little re-education meetings and you’re like, “Yeah, diversity is our strength. That’s exactly right. We need equity in the capital markets.” OK. All right.
“So, if you’re the one guy who refuses to say that, you are a hero, in my opinion. And I know some of them. In fact, my job is to interview them. And I sit back, and I look at these people, and I give them more credit than I do people who display physical courage, which is often impulsive by the way.
“And I’m not denigrating physical courage, which I deeply admire, but you interview people who do amazing things, who rush into the proverbial burning building. And every man is trained from birth to fantasize about what he would do when the building catches fire, and you hear a baby crying. You run inside.
“No one is trained to stand up in the middle of a [diversity, equity, and inclusion] meeting at Citibank and say, “This is nonsense.” And the people who do that, oh, they have my deepest admiration.
“And so, their example really gives me hope. It thrills me. I talk to them all day long, people like that. That’s the first thing.
“We should, in this sad moment of profound and widespread destruction of the institutions, that people who share our views built, by the way—earlier generations that would agree substantially with every person in this room, they built those, and now they’re being destroyed.
“And oh, that’s so depressing. But we can also see rising in the distance, new things, new institutions led by new people who are every bit as brave as the people who came before us. Amen..
“So, when I started at Heritage, the presumption was, and this is a very Anglo-American assumption, that the debates we’re having are rational debates about the way to get to mutually agreed-upon outcomes.
“So, we all want the country to be more prosperous and free, and people to be less oppressed or whatever. And so, we’re going to argue about tax rates. And I think higher tax gets us there. I’m a Keynesian and you disagree, you’re an Austrian or whatever, but the objective is the same.
“And so, we write our papers, and they write their papers, and may the best papers win.
“I don’t think that’s what we’re watching now at all. I don’t think we’re watching a debate over how to get to the best outcome. I think that’s completely wrong.
“And I should say at the outset, I’m an Episcopalian, so don’t take any theological advice from me because I don’t have any. I grew up in the shallowest faith tradition that’s ever been invented. It’s not even a Christian religion at this point, I say with shame. But I’m just saying this as an observer of what’s going on. There is no way to assess, say, the transgender movement with that mind-set.
“Policy papers don’t account for it at all. If you have people who are saying, “I have an idea. Let’s castrate the next generation. Let’s sexually mutilate children.” I’m sorry, that’s not a political debate. What? That’s nothing to do with politics. What’s the outcome we’re desiring here? An androgynous population? Are we arguing for that? I don’t think anyone could defend that as a positive outcome, but the weight of the government and a lot of corporate interests are behind that.
“Well, what is that? Well, it’s irrational. If you say, “Well, I think abortion is always bad. Well, I think sometimes it’s necessary.”
“That’s a debate I’m familiar with. But if you’re telling me that abortion is a positive good, what are you saying? Well, you’re arguing for child sacrifice, obviously. It’s not about, oh, a teen girl gets pregnant, and what do we do about that and victims of rape. I get it. Of course, I understand that, and I have compassion for everyone involved.
“But when the Treasury secretary stands up and says, “You know what you can do to help the economy? Get an abortion.” Well, that’s like an Aztec principle, actually. There’s not a society in history that didn’t practice human sacrifice. Not one. I checked. Even the Scandinavians, I’m ashamed to say. It wasn’t just the Meso-Americans, it was everybody. So that’s what that is.
“Well, what’s the point of child sacrifice? Well, there’s no policy goal entwined with that. No, that’s a theological phenomenon.
“And that’s kind of the point I’m making. None of this makes sense in conventional political terms. When people, or crowds of people, or the largest crowd of people at all, which is the federal government, the largest human organization in human history decide that the goal is to destroy things, destruction for its own sake, “Hey, let’s tear it down,” what you’re watching is not a political movement. It’s evil.
“So, if you want to assess, and I’ll put it in non … And I’ll stop with this. I’ll put it in non-political or rather non-specific theological terms, and just say, if you want to know what’s evil and what’s good, what are the characteristics of those?
“And by the way, I think the Athenians would’ve agreed with this. This is not necessarily just a Christian notion, this is kind of a, I would say, widely agreed-upon understanding of good and evil. What are its products? What do these two conditions produce?
“Well, I mean, good is characterized by order, calmness, tranquility, peace, whatever you want to call it, lack of conflict, cleanliness. Cleanliness is next to godliness. It’s true. It is.
“And evil is characterized by their opposites. Violence, hate, disorder, division, disorganization, and filth. So, if you are all in on the things that produce the latter basket of outcomes, what you’re really advocating for is evil. That’s just true. I’m not calling for religious war. Far from it. I’m merely calling for an acknowledgement of what we’re watching, which is not one …
“And I’m certainly not backing the Republican Party. I mean, ugh. I’m not making a partisan point at all. I’m just noting what’s super-obvious. Those of us who are in our mid-50s are caught in the past in the way that we think about this. One side’s like, “No, no, I’ve got this idea, and we’ve got this idea, and let’s have a debate about our ideas.”
“They don’t want a debate. Those ideas won’t produce outcomes that any rational person would want under any circumstances. Those are manifestations of some larger force acting upon us. It’s just so obvious. It’s completely obvious.
“And I think two things: One, we should say that and stop engaging in these totally fraudulent debates, where we are using the terms that we used in 1991 when I started at [The Heritage Foundation], as if maybe I could just win the debate if I marshalled more facts.
“I’ve tried. That doesn’t work. And two, maybe we should all take just 10 minutes a day to say a prayer about it. I’m serious. Why not?
“And I’m saying that to you not as some kind of evangelist, I’m literally saying that to you as an Episcopalian, the Samaritans of our time. I’m coming to you from the most humble and lowly theological position you can. I’m literally an Episcopalian. And even I have concluded it might be worth taking just 10 minutes out of your busy schedule to say a prayer for the future, and I hope you will.”
If it seems to you that something has been a little ‘off’ about how the institutions of the West have conducted themselves – in politics, in the judiciary, in the media, in academia, in healthcare, in finance, in the military.. – since (at least) 2020, perhaps that’s because something has been a little ‘off’. Those with an open mind may wish to consider some of the suggestions within a remarkable book published in 2021, ‘180 Degrees: Unlearn The Lies You’ve Been Taught To Believe’, by the pseudonymous Feargus O’Connor Greenwood. You can find some interviews with the author here and here.
The term ‘conspiracy theorist’, Greenwood informs us, entered the mainstream narrative
“courtesy of the CIA strategy paper 1035-960 and was used to marginalise and quarantine those with reasonable suspicions of state criminality. That is to say, anyone seeking the truth or questioning the official narrative should be attacked as a ‘conspiracy theorist’.”
Students of the English language may be familiar with the principles of functional shift and conversion, whereby existing words or phrases, over time, take on entirely new functions and meanings. This correspondent expects the term ‘conspiracy theorist’, over the coming months, to morph from a term of derision to an expression of the highest praise possible.
As you may know, we also manage bespoke investment portfolios for private clients internationally. We would be delighted to help you, too. Because of the current heightened market volatility we are offering a completely free financial review, with no strings attached, to see if our value-oriented approach might benefit your portfolio -with no obligation at all:
Tim Price is co-manager of the VT Price Value Portfolio and author of ‘Investing through the Looking Glass: a rational guide to irrational financial markets’. You can access a full archive of these weekly investment commentaries here. You can listen to our regular ‘State of the Markets’ podcasts, with Paul Rodriguez of ThinkTrading.com, here. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Price Value Partners manage investment portfolios for private clients. We also manage the VT Price Value Portfolio, an unconstrained global fund investing in Benjamin Graham-style value stocks and specialist managed funds.
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|