Our Glenn Beck?

In the early 1990s, a then-recent high school graduate named Alex Jones began hosting a cable-access program in Austin, Texas. By 1996, he had become the host of a local talk show called “The Final Edition” on Austin’s KJFK radio station. This was during the height of the 1990s “patriot” movement, which spawned the notorious militia groups of the time, and Jones’ program became a local voice for causes championed by the movement, such as criticizing the federal government’s massacre of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco in 1993 and opposing supposed plots for a “one-world government” being advanced by global elites at the expense of American sovereignty.

Jones’s antigovernment rhetoric alienated the station’s advertisers, and he was fired from KJFK in 1999. Fortunately for him, his program was picked up by the Genesis Communications Network and is now syndicated through over sixty radio and Internet outlets. Alex Jones likewise maintains two websites, Infowars.com and PrisonPlanet.com, where he disseminates his ideas and promotes his program. He has built his audience of fans into the millions.

The primary significance of Alex Jones is that he is arguably the most popular of any “alternative grassroots radio host” (his own self-description) that offers an authentic right-wing populism and takes a consistently anti-establishment line regardless of which political party is actually in power. That the most well known supposedly “conservative” talk-radio hosts like Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, and Ingraham are simply Republican Party shills and propagandists on behalf of the neoconservatives who provide the GOP’s intellectual leadership is easy enough to ascertain. Alex Jones is miles apart from the official “conservative movement” at both the leadership and rank-and-file levels.

Jones regards American political leaders as front men for shadowy international elites who are identified as hated perpetrators of the “New World Order” with electoral contests between the two major parties simply being an elaborately constructed ruse, the purpose of which is to deflect attention from the real overlords of the global order by creating the divisive distraction of partisan politics. Jones repeatedly and emphatically states that he rejects the conventional Left/Right model of the political spectrum and that not only partisan politics but the mainstream “culture wars” are manufactured by the globalists’ minions as part of their strategy to “divide and conquer” Americans and bring about their enslavement at the hands of the NWO.

His stated position on issues of controversy is simply, “If the globalists are for it, we have to be against it.”

Indeed, Jones seems to have a gift for constructing a message and a worldview that allows him to have an appeal to each of the varying sects of the grassroots “radical right” without fully alienating anyone. His ideology gives the appearance a cautiously balanced synthesis of ideas lifted from constitutionalists, survivalists, firearms enthusiasts, libertarians, Ron Paul fans, evangelical Christians, immigration opponents, and nationalists without fully embracing any of these tendencies to the exclusion of others.

Jones’s broader worldview consists of standard brand conspiracy theories of the types previously advanced by groups like the John Birch Society involving plots for one-world government sponsored by international financial elites, with a specific animus for both older targets like the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, or the Bilderberger group as well as more recently emergent international demons like George Soros.

Jones’s conspiracism is likewise ecumenical in nature. He specifically denies that such common targets as the Catholic Church, the Freemasons, or the Jews are the real forces behind the evil machinations of the globalists. Jones’ worldview tends to identify Anglo-American elites as the primary sponsors and beneficiaries of the New World Order, with other nations merely being puppets of such elites. For instance, “communist” China is described by Jones as a mere “guinea pig” state deliberately created by the globalists as a kind of test market for some of their more unsavory ideas, such as population control through forced abortions, sterilizations or euthanasia. He suggests that the 9-11 attacks were likely carried out by British and American agents. Indeed, global elites are regularly accused by Jones of hatching all sorts of sinister plots involving eugenics, genetic engineering, the use of technology towards tyrannical ends and the like, with references to dystopian novels like Brave New World or 1984 being recurring themes of Jones’s program. Jones also frequently identifies the European royal families, particularly the British, as key purveyors of evil around the world, something he shares in common with the Lyndon LaRouche sect.

One interesting aspect of Jones’s message is that he deliberately downplays ordinary culture war issues while playing to grassroots right-wing populist phobias of a more exotic nature. On the question of homosexuality, for instance, he will employ conventional Religious Right rhetoric about homosexuals having to perpetuate their ranks through “recruitment” (with the implied accusations of pedophilia and pederasty behind such claims), while at the same time claiming that proponents of the New World Order wish to divide Americans according to matters like race, religion, or sexual orientation in order to prevent a united front against the globalists from developing. He has referred to abortion clinics as “abortuaries” and implied that abortionists may well be involved in some sort of Satanic ritual practice. And interestingly, he has also compared to the supposed massive deaths caused by the abortionists to the vast casualties generated by the neoconservatives’ war in Iraq.

Yet the pro-life cause is not a particularly significant aspect of Jones’s rhetoric and ideology. Instead, Jones devotes an inordinate amount time to a variety of alleged conspiracies such as plots for drugging the drinking water of Americans through fluoridization or exploiting fears of vaccinations. True to his claims of non-partisanship and transcending the Left/Right divide, Jones endorses the ideas of both the “birthers” and the “9-11 truthers.” While holding to conventional conservative positions on issues like global warming, Jones also dismisses the hand-wringing of FOX News fans over matters such as the appointment of Van Jones or the construction of the mosque at Ground Zero as inconsequential distractions from the globalists’ agenda.

Alex Jones’s stance on economic questions reflects a much more genuine populism than the corporate apologetics of conventional “movement conservatism.” His broadcasts are filled with news of economic gloom and doom, which is not surprising considering both his audience and contemporary times. His attacks on NAFTA and other manifestations of the global economy mirror those of the left-wing “anti-globalization” movement, and he often sounds not unlike Noam Chomsky in his denunciation of corporate control over the American regime, which he describes as “a completely evil government run by completely wicked corporations.”

Jones attacks the Rockefellers for having invented philanthropy for the purpose of masking their evilness, including their exploitation of workers during the era that Rockefeller wealth was being built up. This view of philanthropy is actually not dissimilar to Left-anarchist and Left-Marxist views of private charity or even the welfare state as a means of masking the social injustices perpetrated by plutocrats by pretending to be doing something about them. Jones regards the plutocrats and financial elites as working hand in hand with socialists and communists as a means of bringing about centrally planned totalitarian tyrannies, insisting that the financial oligarchs always prefer collectivist regimes as more compatible with their own interests.

As evidence of this, Jones cites a 1973 op-ed in the New York Times by David Rockefeller praising the regime of Mao Tse-tung. Rockefeller did, indeed, write the editorial in question, though his actual assessment of Maoist China was somewhat less enthusiastic and more nuanced than what Jones claims. Jones also parrots the Ron Paul line on central banking and the Federal Reserve. He mocks Glenn Beck fans who regard Obama as a communist, pointing out that the president’s biggest backers are Goldman-Sachs, and describes Obamacare as advancing the interests of big insurance companies.

It is on the question of foreign policy that Jones differs most from “movement conservatives” and the neoconservatives in particular. He is a staunch immigration restrictionist, and is an outspoken supporter of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law. He insists that immigration control is a matter of national sovereignty, economic wellbeing and crime prevention rather than race, and cites purported Hispanic-American support for immigration reduction as evidence for this claim. The global elite are accused of overrunning the traditional populations of individual nations with incompatible immigrants as a prelude to enslavement.

Jones is likewise critical of the Israel lobby and its influence over US foreign policy, even to the point of accusing Israel of staging false terrorist attacks against itself in order to generate international sympathy. He insists, however, that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism, and indeed he walks a fine line as both an immigration restrictionist and a critic of Israel without veering off into the wilder forms of nativism, racialism, or Judeophobia. Yet, Jones is not wishy-washy on these questions, either. For instance, he stridently attacks organizations such as MECHA and La Raza as “racist cults of death,” and talks about his experiences as a “yuppie white kid” who was taught white guilt in school but was subsequently enlightened by immigration problems first brought to his attention by Hispanic-American friends and acquaintances while still in high school.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as U.S. threats against Iran or involvement in other places like Colombia, are dismissed by Jones as serving the interests of the New World Order. In addition to consistent outspokenness in his opposition to features of the terror war like secret trials, torture, the Patriot Act, etc. Jones denounces the present day United States as an aggressive imperialist empire and one of the world’s most oppressive police states, insisting that “the military-industrial complex has taken America over.” He has gone much further than simply opposing the police state provisions of the terror war.

Jones also denounces the war on drugs and supports decriminalization and he has featured guests on his program discussing the ills of the “prison-industrial complex,” the medical neglect of prisoners, and so forth. Indeed, Jones’ denunciations of the state are frequently Lew Rockwellian in nature: “The state is the most frequent cause of unnatural death.” On the Iraq war, Jones has acknowledged that perhaps as many as one million Iraqi civilians have been killed as a consequence of the war. He even interviewed Vincent Bugliosi on his program when Bugliosi’s book The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder came out it 2008. Bugliosi, of course, is most famous for his role as the lead prosecutor in the trial of Charles Manson. More recently, Bugliosi has endorsed putting the architects of the Iraq war (i.e. George W. Bush and his inner circle) on trial for the murder of American troops killed in Iraq on the grounds that it was initiated under fraudulent pretenses and is therefore an illegal war, with a possible death penalty if convicted. Jones has endorsed Bugliosi’s efforts in this regard. Clearly, Jones’s ideas and rhetoric are worlds away from that of the knee-jerk jingoists, Israel-firsters, and terror war hysterics who make up much of the more mainstream “conservative” talk radio milieu.

Of course, the key question that arises for Alternative Right readers from any assessment of Alex Jones’s work is the matter of to what degree he is helpful, harmful, or even relevant to our own purposes of creating an intellectually independent Right that is devoid of the pernicious influence of the neoconservatives and the official conservative movement held in their grip.

Jones is clearly not an intellectual. Indeed, even his demeanor and tone of voice resembles that of a carnival barker. One has to wonder how much of Jones’s rhetoric he actually takes seriously and how much of it is simply a product he is selling to his audience. It is a fair question, given that he hawks soap during his program’s commercials and regularly features advertisements for the kinds of quack products common to tabloid right-wing populist media outlets. The worldview he promotes relies on the purveyance of conspiracy theories of a dubious and often silly nature rather than serious political, economic, structural, and institutional analysis. His positions on certain questions at times involve pandering to genuine obscurantism, for instance, Jones’s regurgitation of hoary phobias regarding fluoride and vaccines, his claims that evolutionary biology is a pseudo-science fostered by sinister eugenicists, and his throwing bones to biblical fundamentalism with suggestions that the New World Order might be some kind of fulfillment of ancient religious prophecy.

Still, it is refreshing to have the opportunity to listen to a right-wing talk radio host who actually refers to Glenn Beck as a “punk” and a “whore” for the Republican establishment and who calls Bill O’Reilly a “pinhead” while praising Lou Dobbs as a “trailblazer.” Jones’ interpretation of the role of “conservative” media outlets like FOX News in American politics is actually fairly accurate. For instance, he suggests that libertarian critics of terror war police state policies and legislation like Judge Andrew Napolitano are given an occasional corner in mainstream “conservative” media out of recognition that an audience for such views does exist, but that those holding such views are kept off the main stage so that their message is obscured by the broader focus on those personalities who loudly parrot the neoconservative line on issues of substance.

Judging by the comments of callers into his program, Jones seems to have a fairly diverse audience. Not only are the aforementioned sects of the radical Right well represented, but he also seems to have something of a following among ordinary libertarians and even some leftists, particularly young people who are attracted to his rebellious anti-establishment posturing, his attacks on multinational corporations, and the resemblance of some of the conspiracy theories Jones’ promotes to similar theories found in New Age and occult circles. The ethnic accents of his callers indicate that he has something of an audience among Blacks and other minorities as well. He also seems to have a large audience among dissidents within the rank and file of the military.

These factors would seem to be the most important aspects of the Alex Jones phenomenon. Most of us who are sympathetic to the Alternative Right are no doubt rather elitist in our thinking. We know that most people are not capable of being intellectuals, and that most people are indeed more motivated by habit, custom, myth, cues taken from peers and perceived authority figures, or the norms of their community or culture of origin than by a thoughtful contemplation of ideas. For instance, our discussions of Nietzsche, Evola, Schmitt, Hobbes, Heidegger, or Benoist would no doubt be either uninteresting or incomprehensible to many hard-core Alex Jones fans. Not being egalitarians, we should not necessarily have any problem with that. But there is the wider problem of how to disseminate ideas to a wider audience in such a way that the ideas in question can actually take root and evolve into an actual movement capable of exercising genuine political influence.

A successful political movement must attract the attention of the mediocre as well as the superior and, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, the incompetent many as well as the capable few. On most major issues of importance, Alex Jones does indeed hold positions that would overlap relatively well with those of many among the alternative Right. That the wider analytical framework he draws on may often be rather shabby or that he wraps many of his more solid ideas in ornamental obscurantism may be frustrating to those who aspire to high intellectual standards. Yet high intellectual standards are not what would keep Jones’s audience listening. Instead, his fans appear to be mostly people who recognize instinctively that something is very wrong with the society around them, and that the performance of its institutions continues to deteriorate noticeably with its leaders being increasingly inept.

Further, Jones is in a position to function as a siphon capable of pulling ordinary fans of mainstream “conservative” media towards a more genuinely anti-establishment perspective. No doubt he reaches much of the same demographic that a politically influential alternative Right would need to reach. Alex Jones provides something of a glimpse into what a “movement alternative Right” as opposed to “movement Conservatism” might look like at the lower levels. No doubt the Kristols and Podhoretzes of the world look at the context of FOX News and “conservative” talk radio and privately snicker at its more lowbrow content. The elite among an alternative Right might well view the crudities of its lower order elements and do the same.