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Glenn Beck is regarded by 90% of the world population as being unserious, someone to laugh at, make jokes about and treat with the same caution one would employ with a loudmouth drunk hollering about politics from a park bench. The left and moderate right are united in disliking him. I have more than once heard the phrase ‘to go/going chalkboard crazy’ in everyday conversation and this phrase almost certainly owes its existence to Mr Beck’s habit of scratching elaborate theories onto a blackboard in his various podcasts and YouTube shows. Beck’s heavy-handed and manipulative techniques (tearing up at the mere mention of the ‘constitution’ or the ‘troops’) have even led those in the self-declared ‘mainstream’ to question his mental well-being, although as to whether such concern is genuine or sarcastic must vary from person to person.
The media (with the possible exception of Fox News) is unquestionably part of this majority. CNN journalist Michael Wolraich (for example) spoke for millions when he wrote that Beck is “paranoid”, and that he dwells “in a land of make-believe” in which “devious enemies have infiltrated the government and are plotting to destroy America. Every significant phenomenon, from the recession to the BP oil spill, is part of their master plan. Their final objective is a fascist-communist-Big Brother-world-government-über-tyranny, and they will annihilate anyone who interferes, which is why Beck frequently asks listeners to pray for his safety.”
The 10% of the world population to whom the views above do not apply perceive things as differently as can be imagined. They do not regard Mr Beck as a clown or entertainer, but as a prophet, a seer, an Orwell, unappreciated by the majority simply because they are too scared to look at reality with an open mind.
I tend to fall somewhere in-between. I cannot deny that Beck obviously (and I mean obviously) hams up his delivery for cheap emotional effect. Nor can I deny that his willingness to advertise products ranging from vitamin supplements to insurance, gold-cash conversion services to security alarms is highly unorthodox and must count as evidence for his prosecutors.
But against this, I also cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the theories Beck scrawls on his blackboard have a strange tendency to prove accurate, not some of the time, but most of it.
The other day I watched a lengthy video Beck recorded many years ago. In the clip (using his trusty chalkboard) Beck outlines four forces he believes are jostling to decide the human future. The first is the force of progressivism, a loose and broad grouping of the international Left (or in American parlance, ‘liberals’) who have in mind the goal of a benevolent ‘one-world’ government and the abolition of the nation-state. The second force is that of the Globalists, the academic and business elites of the world who also wish to abolish national distinctions, but for largely economic and non-ideological reasons. The third force is the force of Jihad or militant Islam, the stated goal of which is a universal Caliphate, now represented clearly by the Islamic State and its supporters. And finally there is Beck’s preferred force, the Libertarian Conservatives, those who wish to uphold the old moral and national conventions and preserve liberty and the right of self-determination for the individual.
According to Beck (and to common sense) the first three forces are increasingly allied to each other, even though their eventual utopias differ radically. The Progressives sponsor and allow mass immigration, which enables the spread of Islam into the West. The radical Muslims confuse and delegitimise the societies to which they migrate, leading to a cultural hodgepodge conducive to one-world integration. The Globalists meanwhile are completely at ease with both forces. They lose nothing when Jihad strikes civil society, and may even profit from it. And as to the destruction of national identities, they couldn’t care less. Globalist capitalism strives to make the citizens of the world as similar as possible in order to simplify marketing and trade. The resisting force, that of Conservative Libertarian (often explicitly defined by Beck in religious terms) is thus very much the underdog, outnumbered, outspent and steadily being undone.
While Beck’s theory is imperfect (as any theory on this grand historical scale must be), who can really deny the basic gist of his argument? If the snobs who discount Beck as ‘mad man’ have a better explanation of the political zeitgeist, I would love to hear it.