By Jeff Einstein
Quality of Life Resistance Movement
September 16, 2023
Madness is never a satisfactory explanation. An individual's descent into madness can be traced and explained but the final destination is always just across the border, always just beyond the reach of justice. Madness is its own excuse. Precisely why a legal insanity defense is so vexing to the injured when it succeeds. And never satisfactory.
Of course it's possible to trace and explain a nation's descent into madness as well. Plenty of historians have done just that with post mortems on Hitler's Third Reich, Stalin's Soviet Union, and the fall of the Roman Empire — to name a few. But always the destination is every bit as dissatisfying to those who seek justice for the same reason: madness is its own excuse.
As far as I can tell, America has descended into collective madness, what some refer to as a mass formation psychosis, at least three times so far in the 21st century. Each instance was triggered by a large-scale event that traumatized and galvanized a significant portion of the American population. Each was accompanied and promoted by a massive wave of highly profitable corporate and state propaganda. Each is patently insane and therefore unresponsive to reason.
The first came in response to the horrific trauma of 9/11. It birthed the monstrous Patriot Act and the equally monstrous Department of Homeland Security. Now — with nothing to show after two decades, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of casualties spread across multiple continents — the collective madness we call the War on Terror has turned inward. Now the War on Terror is focused on us, you and me — and is likely just warming up because of our second bout with collective madness in as many decades...
The collective madness of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is now dismantling the American rule of law. Those driven most insane by it — including corporate media, the technomedia cartel, most of the Democratic Party, and virtually all of institutional America — are now willing to destroy our democracy in order to save it. The driving feature of TDS is a psychotic desire to prevail at any cost, even if it leads to a second Civil War. The mass hysteria of TDS is what informed and guided much of our response to our latest encounter with collective madness...
Much of our patently insane response to Covid, at least in locked-down blue states and cities, was in fact an extension of TDS. Most of it was designed to rid the national body politic of Donald Trump more than to rid our physical bodies of a novel corona virus. The sheer madness of our response to Covid turned our children into killers of grandparents and teachers. It converted parents, small business people, and co-religionists who didn't want to inject themselves or their kids with an experimental drug into domestic terrorists.
The dominant driving force for each of the above examples of collective madness is abject fear magnified exponentially at digital scale by 21st-century corporate and state propagandists for immense profit. Each mass formation psychosis greatly expanded the reach and influence of both corporate and government power — especially evident in the incestuous relationship of corporate media and the state. Of course, corporate media have always served as de facto extensions of state power. But now that partnership includes the massive reach, wealth, and corrosive influence of a technomedia cartel whose primary tools of compliance and consent are industrial-strength censorship and state-sanctioned default addiction.
All three of the above mass formation psychoses are entirely synergistic, and all three are still very much at work in our lives. Consequently, collective madness and the corresponding inability to respond with reason seem to be inherent features of the 21st century, at least so far. Maybe that's what happens when both massive institutional growth and state-sponsored default addiction are functions of sheer digital scale. Perhaps collective madness for profit in the 21st century is inevitable — by design.
9/11 is the gift that keeps on giving, and now it's time for me to apologize for my own participation in the madness that ensued. I was deeply wounded and angered when my city was struck that morning, and I sought the easy way out. To their eternal credit, most of my progressive friends were very much against elements of our national response, very much opposed to both the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, and very troubled by the subsequent rise of the surveillance state. Most of them warned against the kinds of things that almost all of them — now immersed in the collective madness of TDS and Covid — suddenly support. I should have listened to them back then, back when they were still half sane.
But mea culpas can't be about the behavior of others. Mine are no exception. In retrospect, I'm both horrified and ashamed by my willingness to surrender my own agency to the whims of government and corporate profiteers for several years in the aftermath of 9/11. I know better now. I knew better back then also.
The lesson for me is this: If I don't step up to take responsibility for myself and my own backyard, someone else most certainly will. So to those I may have offended and disappointed by my words and behaviors in the aftermath of 9/11, I take full responsibility for my insanity, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart.
This originally appeared on The Quality of Life Resistance Movement.
[Author's note: Herald the Apostates was first published a little more than a year ago, back when Tucker Carlson was still on FOX News. With the exception of Tucker's exit from corporate media and newfound home on X, not much has changed...]
I've always admired and always been drawn to apostates — religious or otherwise — for much the same reason, I think, that I've always admired and always been drawn to art, cats, birds, nature, kids, baseball, and the great American experiment at large: I see in all of them the breathtaking expression and indomitable spirit of freedom...
Not long after the printing press destroyed Western theocracies, not long after the Enlightenment and Age of Reason gave birth to the scientific method and the American, French, and Industrial revolutions, Friedrich Nietzsche declared God dead. The very next day we looked up to the heavens and said, in so many words, "Thanks, but no thanks. We'll take it from here." In the absence of the sacred, the 20th century that followed was murderous beyond comprehension.
It was also revelatory and liberating. The Liberal World Order that rose like a phoenix from the ash and charnel houses of World War II was, in many ways, the real-world manifestation of a bright and blinding utopian vision. It described a new world order wherein democracy, free trade, universal human rights, collective security, and respect for the environment would ascend in the penumbra of secular institutions grounded not in religious superstition but in the unassailable foundations of science and technology. It worked wonders: for a while at least, democracy flourished and billions were lifted from the misery of crippling poverty.
But the utopian vision and optimism that marked the second half of the 20th century came crashing down like the World Trade Towers in the early 21st, replaced instead by the dark specter of a dystopian Technopoly, a deep state of utterly unaccountable power and wealth powered by trillions of microchips. Big Data was quietly anointed as the new reserve currency and put to work behind the scenes, hidden from view like the Wizard of Oz behind a massive streaming curtain of endless entertainment and mindless diversion.
With Big Data came the rise of global fascism in the unholy union of immense private corporations, equally immense government agencies, and global NGOs — all equipped with the same tools of digital scale. Western democracies withered under the assault and were transformed before our eyes into autocratic surveillance states. Once enervated military alliances were born again in the War On Terror, reconstituted with trillions of pilfered public dollars and reinvested with new marching orders to protect the established priesthood of the once Liberal World Order — now thoroughly illiberal and highly militarized.
Like the citizens of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, we suddenly found ourselves controlled less by the things we fear and more by ironclad addiction to the things we love: state-sanctioned pharmaceuticals, sex, and endless entertainment. Addiction — the deliberate end state of mass consumer society in the 21st century — became the established social rule rather than the occasional exception.
While ongoing passive compliance is all but guaranteed by the Huxleyan model of default addiction to the things we love, ultimate enforcement falls — as always — to more traditional Orwellian tactics predicated on the things we fear: things like social destruction, financial ruin, jack boots, tear gas, imprisonment, and bullets. In the Great Age of Addiction, Huxwell smiles down at us but rules with an iron fist.
Throughout it all, what the elite high priests of the Digital Church and the Liberal World Order fail to acknowledge in the shimmering haze of their own narcissistic narcosis is that the scientific, pharmaceutical, and technological canon they preach and expect us to worship without question today is no less religious than that of the Judeo-Christian ethic they so brutally dismissed and replaced in the 20th century.
Turns out that all gods — religious and secular alike — are jealous gods. Turns out that the secular high priests of technomedia, when confronted by the sudden rise of apostates in their midst, close ranks and behave just like the high priests of Solomon's Temple, just like Torquemada's henchmen, just like the Iranian mullahs.
Of course, the ideological apostates of the 21st century, like the religious apostates of previous centuries, are all but impossible to deny, in no small measure because they — like all apostates — step into the light as orphaned stepchildren of the establishment priesthood that spawns them.
It's one thing when some of us refuse to live our lives in the gender realities of our DNA. Or when we proclaim our freedom from traditional religion or ethnic ethos. Especially when our refusals and proclamations conform entirely to the institutional orthodoxy of the moment. Quite another, apparently, when we step out as Wrong Thinkers. However inconvenient for the ruling elite, Black and Hispanic Republicans are still Black and Hispanic. Gay and lesbian Trump voters are still gay and lesbian.
Always the brightest examples of liberty and freedom among us, apostates are intolerable to the status quo not only because they have escaped the physical, religious, and ethnic shackles that once defined them, but — far more critically — because they have escaped the prisons of contemporary orthodox thought. In the state of Huxwell, the only apostasy that stirs the ire of power is apostasy of thought.
The narratives and arguments of apostates are rendered more authentic and less refutable with each contrarian life choice they make, just as their apostatic credentials are enhanced by the enmity and vilification they endure at the hands of those most threatened by their existence. More important still, their struggles inspire other apostates to step from the shadows into the light.
Historically, many apostates are reluctant heroes. Cast aside as pariahs and enemies of the state, pronounced unclean by their own communities, friends and families, apostates are compelled like early Christians to find comfort and safety in the company of other apostates. It is here — in the often accidental confluence of social decay, shared passion, and common cause — that we find the most reasoned and well-tuned narratives in the most unlikely places.