Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Interview: Jesse Walker of Reason on The United States of Paranoia

August 28th, 2013 - 7:36 pm

jesse_walker_us_paranoia_cover_8-28-13-2

MR. DRISCOLL:  This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’re talking today with Jesse Walker of Reason.com, the author of the new book, The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. It’s published by HarperCollins and available from Amazon.com and your local bookseller. And Jesse, thanks for stopping by today.

MR. WALKER:  Well, thank you for having me.

MR. DRISCOLL:  Jesse, is the thesis of your book that even if a conspiracy theory is, as most of them are, pure bunkum, they can tell us a lot about what fears were most pressing at a particular time to the corner of society which dreamed it up?

MR. WALKER:  Yeah, yeah.  I think that’s a pretty good way of putting it, that even — even conspiracy theories that say nothing true, or are only at best half true, say something about people’s anxieties and experiences.  And what I’m trying to do is just looking at American history from the 17th century till today through the prism of people’s fears and seeing what we can tell about ourselves in that way.

MR. DRISCOLL:  The book goes as far back as the 17th century; are we as a nation any more or less paranoid than we were say, 100 or 200 years ago?

MR. WALKER:  I don’t think we’re more or less paranoid.  I think the direction of the paranoia changes.  The nature of the paranoia changes.  Often though not always, the reason for the paranoia changes.  But it just seems to be sort of a fundamental part of being a human being, that number one, you’re going to want to find patterns and create narratives, when you see signals and there are gaps in them, find something that explains them.

And number two, there’s going to be things that you’re suspicious of.  So sometimes those narratives you create are going to be suspicious.  And number three, because sometimes — people do sometimes actually conspire, that’s always going to be something in people’s heads that might be going on.

It’s not like being afraid of sea monsters or zombies and eventually you notice you haven’t seen any of those.  Enough times, there are scandals that come forward that involve some sort of official conspiracy, that people say, hmm, well, maybe another one could be true.

And I don’t think it’s particular to America.  I wrote about the United States, because I’m from here and I wanted to look at American history in this lens.  If someone were to write a book about the history of, say, European paranoia, it would be very different in a lot of ways, because it’s a different culture over there.  But I don’t think they’d be any more or less paranoid than we are.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (15)
All Comments   (15)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
The problem I have with this is I’m trying to make sense of the world as it is, not how I wish it was, but as it is. When black letter contract law was set aside in favor of the unions, it means that something has changed. What has changed and what are the rules? I don’t feel like I understand the rules of the game being played right now.

Does this make me a conspiracy theorist, or a rational actor?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
It ceases to be a theory if it proves to be true. And sometimes, these things are actually borne out, so sometimes, that paranoia is perfectly justified. I for one, don't trust our current incarnation of government any further than I could throw it (not far at all given its bloated size), and I've never been trusting of large bureaucratic systems who can compel me by force.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
In this current climate, to be "paranoid" or suspicious of the state is downright healthy. Look at the number of serious scandals, the complicity and cooperation of the mainstream media, the hostility that underlies many actions and a lot of communication from this administration. Their moral character is like a sepulcher. Lumping legitimate concerns and observations with nonsense like UFOs is how the left discredits any opposition. The founding fathers taught distrust of government, not disrespect for authority, but careful, constant vigilance, and the duty and responsibility of removing tyrannical governments. This "Democrat" administration is barely cloaking their malevolence and malfeasance, where they seem to delight in all of the indignities imposed upon the population at large. The communist-globalist alliance is a real threat, and this administration is aligned with it, and the idea of a one-world government has been openly discussed by elites more frequently in recent years, by such notable individuals as Henry Kissinger, as he touted Obama as the man to sell the New World Order. Their ideology is Satanic, as it seeks to overthrow the freedom of all peoples, and their sovereign governments to be replaced by a select few at the helm. Just because certain individuals make outlandish statements, or come up with theories that don't hold weight, doesn't mean that the grand narrative and ultimate objectives are any less true or that they will relent in their war on freedom.

“It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You toil and work and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”
-Abraham Lincoln
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I felt that about Rambo when I saw it; that at the end it was an "antiwar" movie in the 60's sense. The first Rambo had a lot of Left-wing (MSM) narrative elements in it; I did not see it, so I cannot make an overall judgement.

The article was good, but I'm not sure about Walker's acceptence of the whole anti-Nixon/FBI/CIA narrative; I don't know enough about the individual charges he brings up. (Also, Europe was much worse; there are plenty of dead Jews to prove that)

There was good reason to infiltrate left-wing groups, and the later restrictions on the CIA gave us 9/11. In fact, the pre-PATRIOT act rules meant that at one point, HAMAS was essentially headquartered in the US, and there was nothing the US could do - in spite of the fact that this was similar to the Taliban sheltering bin Laden and under international law would techincally have allowed Israel to attack the US (it would have been insane to actually do so, of course). REASON is a pretty extreme publication, though.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Rambo came out I was a young adult, and loved the movie. My liberal friends did not like it all that much. But it is true that there were aspects designed to appeal to liberals in the movie, but I suspect they were used to having it all their way.

It is like the Leathal Weapon series, which contained all these sops to liberal/leftist views, yet tended to contain a conservative core because a conservtive core is natural. No matter how many cop killer bullet or anti NRA snarks you include, the hero is using a Beretta 9 mm high cap pistol as his personal weapon, and that was the take away most got from the movie.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
My theory which is mine is that many conspiracy "nuts" have Asperger's and/or an addiction and/or OCD
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmm... I have OCD and my wife refers to my references to MSM bias as my conspiracy theory. I guess I should just accept the leftwing narrative.

Of course, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, and "normal" people are perfectly cappable of insane theories.

BTW, being Jewish is a great reason to be suspicious of conspiracy theories, given what the grandaddy of conspiracy theories is.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
If I ever were to write an article even half as anti-intellect, basically just name calling, as this one, may all my ancestors rise from the grave and strangle me.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yet, you respond to name calling. Ironic. The article you are commenting on was not name calling, but a thoughtful discussion.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is your exact problem with the article?
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Interview: Jesse Walker of Reason on The United States of Paranoia

During our 19-minute longer interview, we’ll discuss:

● What are the five patterns that fit most conspiracy theories?"


Some people continually fail to grasp that when Mark Twain said, "This rule is perfect, in all matters of political disagreement, all my opponents are insane", he was making fun of, or "taking down" if you will, those who did that. In other words, he didn't think much of them nor their lame tactics. Now Alinsky, on the other had, much approved and considered those who did that his brothers-from-another-mother.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry you didn't enjoy the interview. Hopefully one or two of the earlier podcasts were more to your liking, though.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question is not "Are you paranoid?" The question is "Are you paranoid enough?"
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well you are very polite, but calling those one disagrees with such names as paranoid, conspiracy theorist, racist, denier, etc doesn't appeal to me at all, I consider it not so dissimilar to a lynching, whether it be from the left, right or "center". Maybe I would have enjoyed the interview if I'd played it, but we will never know.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
Huh? Did you actually read the transcript?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
View All