When People Lose Trust In The Mainstream, They End Up Swimming With Crocs

Photo by Henning Roettger from Pexels

I was talking to an anti-vax friend and he and I agree on a lot. We both distrust pharma companies, the mainstream media, and most governments… we just draw very different conclusions from that.

I understand where he’s coming from. We’ve just went a different direction. In a way I get him more than liberal friends, who seem dangerously naive.

This is what’s called the horseshoe theory of politics, or what I call the soggy taco problem. Basically the middle gets all damp and milquetoast and falls out. All that’s left are the furiously crispy edges.


Take the American CDC for example. They’re issuing obviously corrupt and politicized advice and failing on every front. You can’t trust them. But then who do you trust? Everybody has to do their own research and that can lead to very different places.

Some people like me are furious for the CDC not doing enough. Others are furious for them doing too much. Into this void of authority step all kinds of snake-oil salesmen and women, telling people even worse bullshit and selling them ever worse ‘solutions’. You fall out of the mainstream and suddenly you’re swimming with crocs and logs. What do you cling onto? One will float and the other will tear you apart.

As Yeats said, in what is the epitaph for Empire,

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


Then take the New York Times and mainstream media. They’re peddling their own conspiracy theories about lab leaks, naked propaganda attacks on China, and the usual warmongering, copaganda, and missing of the point. They’re dangerous, insulting to intelligence, and suck, so I don’t read them anymore. So what the fuck do you read? This void leads us to very different places.

My friend goes to Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan, which makes me shudder, but who am I to say? He also reads me (holla if you’re reading this, call me bitch) and who’s to say I’m not a nutter? How the fuck does he know? We have to filter out meaning through a million bloggers, because corporate media has fallen apart.

We’re all expected to be critical readers, amateur epidemiologists, historians and philosophers now. We’re supposed reconstruct a shattered society in our own heads. Of course we can’t. I literally sit and think about this stuff all day, it’s my full time job. What are people with jobs supposed to do? We’re up shit creek without a paddle.


The crazy thing is that I also understand the sentiment ‘Let’s Go Brandon’. I fucking hate Joe Biden. He’s starving millions of Afghan people to death right now, starving the world of vaccines, while the usual corrupt arms dealers and corporations pick the bones clean. He continued most of Trump’s anti-migrant, human caging, and Cold War 2 policies, with more sanctimonious smugness.

But what are Americans supposed to do with this information? I don’t live in America, socialism isn’t a forbidden word here. In America your only choice is between being killed with fake kindness or killed with real cruelty, but either way you’re dead. The Republicans will burn the motherfucker down, while the Democrats just let it burn. Either way SHIT IS ON FIRE.

Simpsons on the two parties. Note that this aired in 1995, before the parties had permanent colors. The Republicans are blue here.

The place is effectively a one-party state for the rich, and they’ll keep partying while the ship goes down. No one will stop the corruption and wars. Your choice is going slowly or going all at once. Whatever America meant, that shit is gone. As you may have noticed with COVID, y’all on your own.

Call Me

That’s why I tell me friend to call me. Because his only hope is completely leaving his home of corrupt institutions, media, and governments and living in a different society for a while. At least virtually.

In Sri Lanka I have different countries, different philosophies, entirely different cultures to look to. Yeah we suck, but at least we’re not that good at sucking.

What are you supposed to do if the suck is all you know? How are you supposed to reconstruct meaning when all you have is fragments, shattered on the floor? When everyone’s just a different degree of corrupt asshole, where are you supposed to go?

I have found that in times of trouble you often attract the worst people, people trying to profit from your misery, people preying on you when you’re weak and separated from the herd. This is where so many Americans are now. I dunk on America but I honestly feel so bad for Americans. Collectively y’all suck, but individually it’s hard.

Pious Banalities

American liberals miss this with the ‘one side is obviously worse’. Yeah, no shit, but you’ve completely lost the concept of good. You’re just asking people to continue believe what Hannah Arendt calls pious banalities, as reality falls apart and stabs them in the eyes and heart. As the late philosopher said:

“What the spokesmen of humanism and liberalism usually overlook, in their bitter disappointment and their unfamiliarity with the more general experiences of the time, is that an atmosphere in which all traditional values and propositions had evaporated (after the nineteenth-century ideologies had refuted each other and exhausted their vital appeal) in a sense made it easier to accept patently absurd propositions than the old truths which had become pious banalities.” (On Totalitarianism)

Arendt’s idea was that totalitarianism emerged out of lonely people, atomized human beings disconnected from societal meaning, hungrily waiting for someone, anyone, to tell them what the fuck was going on. That it’s not their fault. That it’s someone else’s fault, like the Jews, migrants, Chinese people, Russians, anti-vaxxers, whatever. You know how that goes.

Sow The Desert, Reap The Sandstorm

Arendt likened these people that have lost trust in everything—in institutions, in media, in government—to grains of sand. Atomized people, lonely, violently lonely, waiting for any return to meaning, however delusional or wrong.

As LL Cool J said in 1996,

Jew-els and Cristal got him actin’ funny style
He ain’t watchin’ you he rather watch his money pile
Can’t protect treasures when it’s in a glass house
Soon as he turn the corner I’ma turn that ass out

What a demagogue does is turn that ass out. They sow the desert and reap the whirlwhind. They turn desperately atomized people into an atom bomb. In her conclusion Arendt says “it seems as if a way had been found to set the desert itself in motion, to let loose a sand storm that could cover all parts of the inhabited earth.”

It looks like madness in hindsight, but when everything has lost meaning, at least the madness means something. What is life without meaning? This is why people choose even death for a cause.

When people lose trust in the mainstream, what’s left? The boat is rowing merrily, merrily down the mainstream and suddenly it tips over. Then what? People are suddenly swimming alone, surrounded by crocodiles and their toothy grins.

People simply don’t have time or the perspective to reconstruct reality on their own. It’s a fucking full time job and they’re not philosophers. They can’t just depart the culture they were born into. No human is an island, we just drown alone. So we reach out desperately for somebody, anybody, to throw us a rope. Even if that rope is a noose.