TF: Trust-busting

TF: Trust-busting March 14, 2011

Tribulation Force, pp. 352-354

Here’s where Buck finally finds out what everybody else already knew about the coming One World Media of Nicolae Carpathia’s One World Government.

I wouldn’t work for Carpathia,” Buck said.

“Then you won’t be in communications.”

“What are you talking about?”

Borland told him of the announcement.

To Buck’s credit, he regards this news of a global media monopoly as a Bad Thing. The authors, too, seem uncomfortable with the idea of a single media conglomerate controlling all the world’s information, but like their protagonist, they’re never quite able to articulate why it would be bad. Neither Buck nor his creators seems quite clear whether an unchecked concentration of power is bad in itself, or if this would only be bad in the hands of a bad person such as Nicolae.

That confusion plays out here as Buck and the authors provide their initial, visceral rejection of this idea. On one level they seem to realize that something important and vital to freedom would be lost under such an arrangement. It’s muted and mumbled, but there’s a kind of grudging recognition here that a free and independent press might just be important for some reason. But on another level, the authors portray everyone apart from the converts in the Tribulation Force as welcoming this news with open arms. The only opposition to the idea, in other words, comes from those characters who know that Nicolae is the Antichrist — from those who object to the global media monopoly mainly because it will be led by a bad person and not because it is, in itself, a bad idea.

What we read here, to put it more starkly, is a situation in which an emperor arises to announce the disbanding of democracy. You are no longer free people with legal rights, this emperor says, but subjects and slaves of me, your absolute ruler. The authors seem able to imagine only two possible responses to this announcement. Those who believe the new emperor to be a good-hearted person celebrate the announcement, grateful for the simplicity and efficiency the new arrangement promises. A small minority who believe the new emperor to be wicked-hearted oppose the new arrangement, but only because they think that this one man in particular should not be trusted with absolute power. The idea that such an arrangement is unacceptable in itself, regardless of the character of the would-be emperor, is simply not addressed.

“Our new master is evil,” the Trib Force rebels say. “Therefore this is wrong.”

“Our new master is benevolent,” everyone else says. “Therefore this is good.”

But no one in this story says, “We should not have a master. We should not be slaves.”

The absence of that response here means the absence of any home in the story for most readers. It’s off-putting, like arriving at the end of a chapter in one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and finding there only repugnant choices. “If you decide to torture the puppy, turn to page 172; If you decide to betray your best friend, turn to page 177.”

Jimmy Borland and Chaim Rosenzweig are portrayed here as confused by Buck Williams’ lack of enthusiasm for Nicolae’s OWM scheme. Their eagerness for such a regime — a world in which they are told what to think — is not just weirdly out of character for a couple of humans, it’s also an insult to this journalist and scientist. It suggests that they and everyone else like them has been lying all along. Their supposed commitment to skepticism and to following the truth, wherever it leads, is exposed as nothing but a sham.

Whatever qualms Jimmy may have had about a monolithic, OWG-run media, he tosses them aside when he realizes that his new role working for the OWM-version of Global Weekly will land him a plum trip to check out the construction of New Babylon:

“I’m going on Global Community One.”

“You’ve sold out?”

“You can’t sell out to your boss, Buck.”

“He’s not your boss yet.”

“It’s only a matter of time, pal.”

This is how the authors imagine that every journalist will respond to the new regime — with delight over their new perks.

As for the rest of the world, the authors drag in Rosenzweig to represent the reception that everyone else is expected to have to news of Nicolae’s OWM. Chaim is upset that the press has been giving too much attention to the two fire-breathing street preachers:

“Nicolae has been on the phone to CNN all morning, insisting that they give the two no more coverage today of all days. CNN has resisted, of course. But when he owns them, they will do what he says. That will be a relief.”

“Chaim! You want that kind of leadership? Control of the media?”

“I am so tired of most of the press, Cameron. You must know that I hold you in the highest regard. You are one of the few I trust. The rest are so biased, so critical, so negative. We must pull the world together once and for all, and a credible, state-run news organization will finally get it right.”

According to the authors, we all secretly yearn for this — we all, deep down, wish we lived in North Korea.

This is all yet again weirdly inhuman. Once again reading this book means stumbling into a situation in which none of the characters do what you would do in such a case, none responds the way you would respond, thinks what you would think, screams what you would scream.

I could make sense of Jimmy and Chaim’s complete surrender here if the authors had at least hinted that Nicolae’s mind-control mojo was being employed, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Mind-mojo, as we’ve seen it used, seems to require a close physical proximity. Plus, would it make sense to mind-control the entire world in order to facilitate buying up all the world’s media? If you can already control everyone’s thoughts directly, why bother spending trillions in an effort to control them indirectly?

What’s most striking to me about this whole Nicolae-buys-up-all-media business is that it’s totally unnecessary. Tyrants don’t have to buy things. If Nicolae wanted to merge together all of the world’s media companies into a single “state-run news organization” then he could have done so by fiat. He has unchecked, unlimited political power over the entire world (except for Israel). He could just call Stanton Bailey and inform him that everyone at Global Weekly now works for the secretary-general’s office.

Even if we’re supposed to understand that Nicolae doesn’t yet have that sort of power, he very soon will, so why not save himself a few trillion bucks and wait until then to declare himself King of All Media?

Honestly, I’m confused by Nicolae’s status at this point. He’s declared his one-world government and his one-word religion, established his monopoly on force and appointed his 10 princes to rule as his lieutenants over 10 global districts. All that sure seems like the work of a global dictator. But then he still feels the need to get sneaky when commandeering Air Force One, he’s buying a bunch of companies he could just nationalize (globalize? OWG-ify?), and now he’s putting up with “resistance” from Anderson Cooper. The white rider of the Apocalypse hasn’t done a very convincing job of riding forth as a conqueror bent on conquest.

The notion that Nicolae must buy up all of these newspapers, TV stations and media companies* seems to arise from Jenkins’ attempt to salvage some significance from the belabored business about Stonagal and Todd-Cothran back in Book 1. This is an unenviable task, as it involves trying to reconcile some of the contradictions in Tim LaHaye’s oddball political ideology.

The contradiction I’m thinking of here is the ill-fitting combination of his statist/collectivist nightmare and his capitalist/corporatist one. On one hand he subscribes to John Birch Society paranoia about all government as a slippery slope toward socialism, on the other hand he also subscribes to a host of even nuttier conspiracy theories  — Protocols-grade stuff about the Illuminati and “international bankers” — that cast a bad light on the unfettered capitalism endorsed by the Bircherism.  (LaHaye’s source materials for his views on “international bankers” usually specify that these are “international Jewish bankers,” but LaHaye himself scrupulously avoids that phrase, even going so far as to portray his own fictional international Jewish bankers as Anglo-Saxon gentiles. For a more in-depth look at LaHaye’s Bircher roots and the general strangeness of his ideology, see Skipping Toward Armageddon, by Michael Standaert.)

As the villain in both halves of LaHaye’s scheme, poor Nicolae has to act as both a version of Chairman Mao and a version of a Rockefeller or Rothschild. He has to be both a Bolshevik and a capitalist Tsar. That combination might might sense to Lyndon LaRouche or Alex Jones, but to those not prone to deeply delusional fantasies those pieces don’t seem to fit together.

That contradiction provides a toe-hold, a chink in the armor, a crack in the facade through which we might be able to shine a bit of light. Nicolae’s strange scheme to buy up all the world’s media, in other words, is something we can talk about with friends and family members who read these books.

The influence of the tea party movement — a resurgent, rebranded version of LaHaye’s Bircherism — has led me lately to emphasize the big-picture concerns raised by the popularity of these books. I do not think it is purely coincidental that we saw LaHaye sell 80 million books intended to popularize his political ideology and then we saw that ideology burst forth anew. Listen to Michelle Bachmann or Sharon Angle or any of the other leading lights of the tea party movement and you will hear echoes of LaHaye’s fears and agenda, sometimes even his exact phrases — his fears of one world government and one world currency, his weird notions of the role and reality of the United Nations. The man has done quite a bit of big-picture damage.

But those concerns aren’t what’s closest to home or closest to the heart for many of us. LaHaye’s pernicious influence, like the toxic influence of Fox News, touches most of us most directly through the effect it has had on family and friends — people we know and love — who have become captive to it and who we have watched become less kind, less curious, less intelligent and less capable of happiness than they used to be before this stuff got a hold of them.

In the 1970s there were stories of parents kidnapping their grown children to extract them from alleged brainwashing cults, whisking them away to be “deprogrammed.” In recent years, I’ve heard countless stories from grown children wishing they could do something similar to rescue their parents or grandparents from Glenn Beck.**

Not everyone who reads or even enjoys these books winds up buying all of the tea-party paranoia LaHaye is selling (Amy Johnson Frykholm’s study Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America finds many LaHaye’s fans who have at least some reservations about his political theology). But if you know and love someone who has bought into it, and you’ve seen how that changes them, then you will feel compelled to try whatever might help to liberate them.

Kidnapping them and sending them away to be deprogrammed isn’t really an option. Plus that’s not really how this works. How this works is usually slower, requiring more patience. It’s like planting trees. Or like working in an ancient quarry — finding the cracks in the granite, pounding in the wedges, pouring in water and waiting for the expanding wood to do its work.

Here is one of the cracks. Talk to them about Nicolae’s plan for One World Media. Tim LaHaye says this is how Bible prophecy will be fulfilled. He says that the coming Antichrist will acquire huge amounts of private capital that he will use to buy up all the now-competing media companies, forming a global monopoly. Should we allow the Antichrist to do that? Should we allow anyone to do that? Doesn’t that seem to suggest a legitimate and important role for regulatory agencies like the FTC and the FCC? Those agencies have been given the duty and the power to ensure that potential Antichrists aren’t able to control our thinking or limit our freedom by monopolizing control of the media — doesn’t that seem like a Good Thing?

Wedge that into the crack, pour in water and wait.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* The Antichrist will soon own Disneyland and Disneyworld. What will he change about them? What will he keep exactly the same? Discuss.

** The pseudonymous Richard Ramsey describes this as “Fox Geezer Syndrome.” Ramsey, a conservative, has watched in horror as a steady diet of that channel has transformed his parents into angry, bitter people. His description of that process may be familiar as well to those who have seen their loved ones drift into the ideology of LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” Underland:

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping track of a trend among friends around my age (late thirties to mid-forties). Eight of us (so far) share something in common besides our conservatism: a deep frustration over how our parents have become impossible to take on the subject of politics. Without fail, it turns out that our folks have all been sitting at home watching Fox News Channel all day – especially Glenn Beck’s program.

Used to be I would call my mom and get updated on news from the neighborhood, her garden, the grandchildren, hometown gossip, and so forth. I’ve always been interested in politics, but never had the occasion to talk about them with her. She just doesn’t care.

Or didn’t. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. I would try to engage her, but unless I shared her particular judgment, and her outrage, she apparently thought that I was a dupe or a RINO.

Browse Our Archives