You don’t have to be Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man to sneak a peek out at the visible world and conclude it has lost every last one of its marbles. How else to explain a national security analyst making a statement like, “Google has become the new Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke and The Beatles trying to make social change.” Huh? Sweet Cheeses – Google as Bob Dylan!?
Of course, this is what happens when you read someone else’s email illicitly – you misconstrue. In this case, the email belonged to an executive of Stratfor, a “global intelligence” company, and appeared on the Wikileaks site back in March 2012. The subject of the email was Jared Cohen, the former State Department wunderkind under überfrauen Condi and Hills, who now heads Google’s in-house think tank, Google Ideas. The context of the remark was Stratfor intel discussing Cohen’s upcoming conference in Dublin with ‘former’ terrorists from “urban African American gangs, rural white power gangs, neo-Nazis, Latin American gangs, Asian gangs, and former nationalist extremists from Ireland, Europe, and Asia,as well as Islamist extremists from the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.” Dublin? Imagine being a bug on the wall in that pub?
Given the known make-up of ISIS – a Picasso-esque kə-ˈläzh of Sunni riffraff, and all manner of cut-and-paste fanatics from around the globe, one wonders where Cohen and his stream of conscienceless Dubliners were when ISIS got formed. Cohen accompanied Bill Richardson and Schmidt on their trip to North Korea in January 2013 to, no doubt, assure the fat commie Kim he could have his cake and eat it too, if he installed the Google Surveillance System and opened up a mall or two.
Yeah, we all live in Crazytown now; there’s nowhere to hide – not in Brazil, or Russia, and certainly not in Ecuador-on-the-Thames. And Google’s Schmidt and Cohen might just be as crazy as crazy gets. Toward the end of the secret meeting the two had with Julian Assange back in 2011, when Assange was under house arrest, and the Dynamic Duo were looking for the hacktivist’s input for their eventual manifesto of destiny, The New Digital Age, the contours of reality briefly popped up like cameo thought bubbles. Observes Cohen, “It’s not a matter of whether human beings prefer truth to fiction; it’s a question of whether they can find the truth and tell it from fiction.” And Schmidt quickly adds, “That’s the core question.”
Well, that question was put to a severe test with the release of The New Digital Age. Aside from obsessing and frothing over the beauty of Amazon’s magical algorithms, Schmidt-Cohen describe a world that conjures up, well, the Jetsons. For example, they foam, “Fully automated human-like robots with superb AI abilities will probably be out of most people’s price range for some time, but the average American consumer will find it affordable to own a handful of different multipurpose robots fairly soon.” This is crazy talk, as is: “Of course, the world will be filled with gadgets, holograms that allow a virtual version of you to be somewhere else” Virtual versions? Many people have trouble being genuine versions. What happens when these virtual selves unionise and strike for more…validation?
But the prognostication that put pimples on my pickle was the suggestion for using hologram machines that conjure up virtual worlds in your living room. Schmidt-Cohen asks: “Worried your kids are becoming spoiled? Have them spend some time wandering around the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.” Maybe the kids can go slumdoggingin Ferguson for the day, too. Why change it: poverty and injustice are entertaining, right?
I’m reminded of that contemptuous pronouncement of the anonymous senior Bush advisor who pooh-poohed reality-based thinking, and told the New York Time‘s Ron Suskind, after the national security rise following 9/11, “That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too….” There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this ‘disruption’ of reality, to use the parlance of our times, has had a profound effect on the baseline ‘norm’ many people use to get their bearings.
But say this out loud and some conspiracy fearist will stick his head out of a wrinkly hole and question your sanity.
Yet the West has been building toward this blarney rubble for quite a while now. And counter to what Jared Cohen implies, people could tell the difference between truth and fiction after the Church hearings and Iran-Gate; it’s just that they preferred the soothing fiction and watched that movie over and over again and soon forgot.
Then came the Big Reality of 2000. The intentionally uncounted black votes (shouldn’t that be a felony?). The stolen presidential election. The New Pearl Harbor. Iraq, Viet ‘Ghan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq again, Syria, Iran. China, Russia.
And the conspiracy fearist pops his head out again, shaking his head.
And then suddenly you’re hearing the digital beeps of’ 9-1-1 again, a sequence of numbers that triggers that trauma again, like the Queen of Diamonds in The Manchurian Candidate, and you’re thinking how brilliant a conditioned stimulus, because 9-1-1 is the principal emergency fast-dial, the universal scream for help, dialled thousands of time a day. And you don’t want to, but there you are again connecting dots. And you’re pacing, listening again to Dylan, “Political World“; Cohen, “The Future.”
And the gopherish conspiracy fearist sticks his head out again and utters those words.
And then when you figure it can’t get worse than ISIS, what with all their beheading and stuff, up pops the hideous nowhere group, Khorasan, making all their nowhere plans for nobody. Problem is, no one seems to have heard of the Khorasan before. Although, the alleged (and late) Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tasarnaev reportedly had a YouTube link to The Black Flags of Khorasan (lovely soundtrack, actually), which is apparently a Koranic presaging of Armageddon. And you’re thinking, ‘Wow, great, now we’ve got two groups in the region bent on End Days,’ the other being the radical Zionists holding the Israel government hostage, who according to Shin Bet, Israel’s own internal security agency, have in the past plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock – specifically to bring about Armageddon. How about that!
Yes, I know what the conspiracy fearists will say.
A further DuckDuckGo of Khorasan reveals it to be an ancient Persian region from which, among other things, the poet Attar hails. Attar (not to be confused with the 9/11 mastermind) skedaddled to Konya in Turkey, where he would spin as he recited his Sufi poetry, leading to the formation of the Whirling Dervishes, the world’s first boy band. But almost as soon as Glenn Greenwald, and others, started calling the US on this preposterous new Khorasan development, the Obama administration began shooting down the idea, and now Khorasan has all but disappeared from the lips of the aptly named Josh Earnest, oxymoronic spokesperson for the Scorpion King.
So, yes, one could be forgiven for believing the collective human psyche has most assuredly cracked. And, no doubt, no matter what is said or revealed, some conspiracy fearist will come forward with their irrational reasonableness once more and ask that same old stupid question, And, in the end, you have to be willing to get right back in their face and blow back.
This piece first appeared in the Prague Post on October 29, 2014.