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Are you 'woke'? Besides it being grammatically-incorrect, what does this term mean to you? We have to ask because in these times of raging polemic about social justice, identity politics, and cultural values, it's become apparent that what it is to be 'woke' means different things to different people...

This week on NewsReal, Joe & Niall discuss being 'awake and aware' in a world riven by ardent commitment to ideology, and consider where it'll likely all lead to.


Running Time: 01:04:11

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Niall: Hi and welcome to NewsReal with Joe and Niall.

Joe: I'm Joe.

Niall: And I'm Niall. This week we're going to be discussing what it is to be 'woke'. Are you woke? Besides it being grammatically incorrect of course, what does the term mean to people? We have to ask because in these times of raging polemic about everything social justice, identity politics, cultural values, everything really, it has become apparent that what it means to be 'woke' means different things to different people.

I guess when we were awokened {laughter} - I hate that it's grammatically incorrect but I'm just going with the flow, right? When we were awokened I think 911 did it for a lot of listeners or the aftermath, let's say, the noughties, the 2000s, and 911 was important because it was such a high profile event. It dominated the news cycle for a long time and its consequences were immediately linked with 911 so constantly in the news and therefore on people's minds for a decade all the way up to the 2008 financial crisis. The theme of it I suppose, what linked people being awakened in the sense of taking the red pill and becoming aware of the matrix and all that stuff, that metaphor had meaning for people on the internets from the point of view of conspiracy theory, which of course was a pejorative term in the mainstream culture.

Joe: It still is.

Niall: It still is but was of course to people who are choosing to go down that route of looking and studying and understanding as best they could what was really going on with these events, 911, the war on terror and so on, was that it was not conspiracy theory, it was conspiracy fact. Of course it's very hard to nail any one thing down but nevertheless a vibrant discussion evolved about it and then that itself became polemic and people took sides and there was in-fighting in the truther movement and all that stuff.

But that more or less defined the parameters of what it was to be 'woke' for about a decade. There's also an overlapping theme with new age consciousness which obviously goes back further as well, but 2012 was a significant year, interest in ufology, the paranormal, the singularity, all this stuff.

Joe: Spirituality.

Niall: And spirituality of course. But there was some overlap and there were roughly two different ballparks in discussion of waking up to this deeper reality and so on. And then there's another wave after the noughties let's say. We're into the teens now. I suppose a starting point would be Andrew Breitbart, the culture wars largely originating in the US and by now everywhere. That's fighting back against yet another ballpark of being 'woke' and that's the liberal/left awokening. That's the thing that drove forward with gay marriage, the normalization of transgender issues.

Joe: Rights for everybody.

Niall: Yeah, rights for everyone, social justice and the appearance of what was a sudden activation of many, many things that have been generally more dormant or latent since the 1960s or only really discussed in academia but suddenly they're proliferating everywhere. That's the recent wave of what it was to be 'woke' to be awakened to the deeper reality.

That's the one that dominates now. But it's interesting that you have then the term being used, and it depends on who you are and what milieu or aspects of reality you're looking at so that it has a completely different meaning for you. I suppose it was a counterculture thing, an underground thing, but these days you can find it used casually and not in a derogatory sense, in the mainstream analysis. Of course that's coming from a completely different understanding of being woke.

Joe: Yeah. I think there's bleed-overs amongst the various types of woke people. Like you said, going back to the 1960s and the new age movement and all that kind of stuff, the things the people on the right-wingers complain about today, which is progressive values and social justice warriors and minority rights, minorities, rights for everybody basically, that was given birth to and is part of the 1960s spiritual awakening because all of that stuff that people on the right, or conservatives, complain about in terms of progressives today, you can see videos on YouTube of shows from the 1980s that are talking pretty much about the same thing, even Saturday Night Live skits and other shows that broached or were pushing those topics of social justice in the 1980s.

So it really began since then. It came out of that 1960s counterculture movement, but also anti-war came out of that movement as well. So the two developed on the same track in a parallel way since then and then they kind of matured and people I suppose gravitated towards one or the other. People back in the 1960s were involved in the anti-war movement who today are obviously aging quite a lot at this point. If they were 20 or 30 years old in the 1960s they're getting on now. But a lot of those people are still very much anti-war and when 911 came along it wasn't too hard for them to accept the conspiracy theory that there was something else going on around 911.

Niall: At the least that it was used to justify wars of expansion.

Joe: Imperial expansion. Of course it did. That's not even a conspiracy theory, right? That 911 was used as justification for the US military to project its power into the Middle East and beyond is objective fact. No one can call that a conspiracy. That's what happened.

Niall: It has only recently become non-taboo in mainstream to say that, really.

Joe: Well that's bizarre because that's what I say happened. You had Donald Rumsfeld on the day or two after 911 writing little memos that were saying "sweep everything up about Iraq related and not", so his agenda immediately after 911 was "how do we use this to get into Iraq, to blame Iraq or to justify a US military invasion of Iraq?" which they did obviously less than eighteen months later. But first of all they went to Afghanistan and there's reasons for that. We've talked about it on the show before, the geopolitical motivations.

Just look at a map of Afghanistan or a world map and see where Afghanistan is and you should be able to understand why the US military would want to plant itself there for the past 17 years and not leave for no really good reason. The reason that they're staying there is never spoken about. No one ever tells anybody why they're there. The Taliban and helping the poor Afghanis. But the fact that the Afghanis want rid of them and have wanted rid of the US for probably more than a decade, maybe from the very beginning, most Afghani people weren't interested in the US being there, for 17 years they stayed there with no public rationale or reason given except...

Niall: Well for 12 years it was the hunt for Red Bin Laden.

Joe: Around Afghanistan?

Niall: That was the ostensible...

Joe: Keystone cops or...

Niall: The official mythos.

Joe: Play the Benny Hill music. Run, Run, Afghanistan. It's stupid. Obviously these have geopolitical explanations for why the US military wanted to do this. It involves Russia and Russia is a hot topic and has been for the past five or six years.

But anyway, getting back to the point, you had these two tracks, anti-war and the more spiritual, civil rights movement that carried on from the sixties in parallel and they matured over that period of 30 or 40 years since then. You still have the anti-war movement that, as you said, focused on 911 and evildoings by evildoers in high places and wars for profit, false flag terrorism, that kind of stuff. Then at the same time you had a maturing of the more progressive, liberal lefty attitude of remaking society or trying to find a way to make society a more positive experience for everyone to reduce evil things like racism and sexism and xenophobia and that kind of thing.

It seems, at least for those progressives, that it really came to a head or matured to the point where it burst on the scene over the past 3, 4, 5 years. The conservatives don't seem to have anything 'wokey' about them except maybe you could say that right-wing conservatives have woke to their own traditions and the need to enforce their own traditions. Everybody has woken up to the need to defend their ideology or their position or whatever it is they believe in basically because it's a battlefield.

So everybody has woken up to the fact that it's a battlefield in different ways and from their different perspective. It gets back to the topic we've talked about on the show previously as well, the difference in human beings, innate differences in terms of I suppose people's worldview or the proclivities or things that motivate them at a fairly fundamental and deep level. That applies also to what they see. It influences what they see in the world. Your innate characteristics, nature you could call it, will influence and filter what you see in the world and the way you see things that happen in the world.

So given that there's no way to reconcile, if there are at least those two fundamentally different types of human beings. Of course there's spectrums and stuff and people can be a bit of this and a bit of the other, but if you're talking about all the people on the planet, say in western society today, it seems that there is a fairly sharp division. You could put together a bunch of fairly over-simplified or black and white questions but you would get very clear, different answers from different people for those questions in terms of how society should function, what their values are, that kind of thing.

Like I said, in that case there doesn't seem to be any way to reconcile those two people to get them to agree. That doesn't mean they have to fight but certainly you're not going to get both of them in the position where, in the case they've taken extreme positions, you're not going to get them to agree with each other's extreme positions. They could agree on some of the middle ground things but apparently that's not very popular these days, to try and get people to agree in a middle ground.

Niall: I think the conservatives, if there's any side, those leaning that way did do some fairly wokey stuff, that had profound implications. There's obviously the election of leaders that the system, the establishment, wherever it is, in the west especially, reacted against and lashed out in fury. That's a pretty profound change, obviously Donald Trump's election and also Brexit but other things as well. Many of them are subtle things to figure out, like the proliferation, in France especially, five years ago of mass protests. I had no comprehension about what was going on. There were huge protests of about a half million people in Paris and other major cities. There were parents, school teachers, bringing their kids along to these manif pour tout (demonstration for all).

It was themed and they were waving their flags. When you got into the details, it was protests specifically about the pushing of gender theory/sex education for very young kids, a lot of other ultra-liberal stuff that was coming into the school system. That's what I mean by subtle. I suppose it probably isn't subtle if you're a parent and the child's starting to say and do strange things. If it's in your face and you can't avoid it, you will feel a reaction to it. But it's more subtle in terms of the narrative they've built about that because they are seeing things in conspiratorial terms, mainly that there is an agenda to push this, even if they can't quite name who is doing it although in France they can. They have people they've identified as the key promoters of these kinds of things and they reacted against it.

So that's very profound. Maybe from our perspective where - we don't want to toot our own horn - but the deeper, darker stuff of really waking up to the matrix, they haven't gone there yet, so to speak. But then there is overlap where if you look at the "conservative" reaction in the United States, a lot of it does incorporate awareness of false flag issues. There was that upset over Benghazi which never really got to the root of it but it was awareness that the US government does things in the people's name with the tax dollars that are just outright criminal, according to US law, international norms, etc. They didn't quite follow it all the way through to Al-Qaeda is CIA is 911, but they have in other respects, again with Syria.

It kind of gets murky where they start to say Obama was a traitor and he was a Muslim and he was part of the conspiracy and it's a little too simplified a narrative but it's still quite a profound realization that powerful interests are behind a lot of the ills in the last 15 years.

Joe: In society. Talk about powerful interests, it's a bit of a cliché but there has been an agenda to divide people, they may not conquer. I don't know if they've been conquered yet but in the sense that they've been divided and set against each other they've been conquered. But that has happened forever. You take the fact that all the news, even in the mainstream media, that has come out about the US for example, and western countries, supporting in some way or another - arming, funding, or training jihadi rebels, Al-Qaeda, the ones who attacked us on 911, and how little outcry there was about that, even when it appeared in the New York Times, a lot of people were aware of it but there was very little response to that.

You'd think that would be a deal breaker for the American people or for people in western countries to realize that their government had actually been supporting the terrorists who had attacked them on 911 and been carrying out terror attacks in Europe, but that didn't happen obviously. I suppose one problem there is that people ultimately feel that they need to maintain loyalty to their identity, their country, their nation in whatever way it's configured. But people are very reluctant or resistant to the suggestion that they should just totally cut ties with their government and their national identity. You're asking people to remove any sense of national pride or even getting into their own identity and that's something that's fairly precious to people. So I think people ultimately will allow governments to do all sorts of terrible, bad things because ultimately you need somebody to run the country, you need a country in which we live and we need to have a cohesive national identity.

People have been more afraid of social discord or social chaos than they're afraid of government leaders or people in positions of power mismanaging the country or being corrupt. They're willing to give them a pass on that because they realize it's going to take the action to try and correct that. It could end up in some kind of revolution or social chaos. And that's been a problem. So you're not going to get people to rebel against their corrupt authorities, ever. It's the last thing they will ever do.

So division in that respect is identifying countries. "We're American and we've got to stick with America come hell or high water" and this applies to every other country around the world and the people that live in it. That division is built in there as part of human nature. So it's not surprising that you see more smaller scale divisions among the people when they identify that they're a part of a group within a group of Americans that are part of a progressive or left-leaning group or part of a right-leaning group.

Niall: The thing that triggered me to even talk about this topic at all was I was passing through the Guardian website - very dangerous activity. It's an interesting snapshot though on the liberal left side of what it is to be woke. Just in 24 hours they had four articles on being woke. Again, usually the analogy or the metaphor used in the matrix movie, you're waking up to the deep reality, but the context in which it has meaning for them is so alien it has nothing to do with what was originally meant around 911 and to what it meant to all those people going online for their news these days, it's really so out there.

There's one op-ed opinion piece bemoaning that corporations are embracing socially conscious products and that "We seem to have moved from an advertising ethos of 'sex sells' to 'social justice sells'." Well that's a good point but the author is bemoaning it, not because that has happened but because it takes away from the authenticity of social justice for her.

Joe: Right.

Niall: She's not saying corporations shouldn't do this, but they should do it more responsibly, more consciously. Don't just imitate it and use it to sell your brands but actually mean it and show that you mean it. It's part of the ethos that's driving what she herself is trying to sell, quite consciously at this point.

But actually the ones I want to show people are a couple of articles on how to find Mr. Woke. Literally, they're in their culture section, about finding and/or dating the socially conscious partner. This is from yesterday. "When I searched for Mr. Woke-A Dating Diary." This is probably another regular columnist, Kimberly MacIntosh. I don't know who she is.

Joe: "I took a vow to date woke men only."

Niall: Can you scroll down to "The more I learned about racism and feminism"?

Joe: I saw the word vagina there.

Niall: There it is there. "The more I learned about racism and feminism, the smaller the pool of potential suitors became. While being thoughtful, funny, smart and able to put up with my unbearable flaws is a must. I became aware that my match also has to be serious about social justice to be my type on (this is supposed to be funny) recycled, sustainable sourced paper." But that kind of gives you an indication of what she's like.

Next paragraph: "Today my work involves researching the links (this is her job, what she does) between race and inequality for two think tanks." So she's really a true believer. "For her, if woke means being alert to injustice in society, especially racism then I am on constant high alert. A potential partner needs to be at least on medium alert for it to be workable. Eventually I took a vow to date woke men only."

That's clearly a specific definition and meaning for her.

Joe: Well the previous paragraph, "While being thoughtful, funny and smart and able to put up with my unbearable flaws is a must", you think she's going to get a lot of takers on that one? Advertising that you have unbearable flaws and you just have to put up with them?

Niall: I suppose it's meant to be self-deprecating.

Joe: Well you don't attract any men that way, by saying "I'm an unbearable old hag" or something like that." {laughter} "Come and date me." Most people are bizarre. I just saw it as I scrolled down. I haven't read the article but I saw it as you scrolled down and for some reason they have to put the word vagina in there. It's the paragraph just above the one we read. It makes some reference to genitals. Very good. I don't know why you would put that in there other than maybe as a hat tip to feminism because feminism obviously is so crass these days that you can just shout vagina or something and then you're a feminist. You've made a really important point by shouting vagina in the street. That's kind of how bad it is.

But we don't want to be too dismissive of progressive type ideologies as they appear in the world, particularly in the west today because we understand that they have appeal. We understand the appeal and we can see how it's appealing even. Obviously we're talking here about social justice, doing away with as much racism, sexism, xenophobia and abuse of minorities, all that stuff, that people in any one society would live together peacefully and not be antagonistic towards each other. Who can argue with that? When you go down the street you don't want to see people fighting with each other. You don't want to go into a café or a bar and see someone being discriminated against or being treated badly.

That's the weird thing. We here, the three of us would be the first people - as I'm sure with many listeners - would be the first people to step in if you saw someone being unfairly or unjustly treated in public. Maybe it would be a bad idea to step in, but you probably would if you could ascertain that there was clear abuse going on and that would put you in the progressive camp. You'd get a gold star. But we don't swallow that whole, if you know what I mean. We're not full-on progressives because we understand that the situation is pretty complex and that the problems in society today, for example of where the left promotes diversity, multiculturalism in western countries and everybody should be colour blind, there should be no bad reaction to anybody. The west is predominantly white Christian societies.

So anybody who is not white, Christian or both, should not be discriminated against in any way. But the problem is that this is happening at a time, for the last 17 years, after what we mentioned previously, 911 and the beginning of the war on terror, which was used by the US and its allies to project military power and boots on the ground and CIA shiny black shoes on the ground and corporate shoes on the ground into the Middle East for all sorts of reasons. But during the invasion of Iraq 1.5 million Iraqis were killed and justification for the invasion of Iraq after 911 was that Saddam had some ties to Al-Qaeda who supposedly carried out 911 and there was also the claim by the British prime minister Tony Blair and his people that Saddam could attack the UK in 45 minutes.

So they peddled a bunch of lies that demonized the Iraqi people or Saddam Hussein and by implication the Iraqi people as bad people, bad leader, bad people. Of course they give lip service to the idea that our problem isn't with the Iraqi people, it's only with these bad leaders.

Niall: When we go there they'll welcome us with flowers and open arms.

Joe: But they didn't do that. When they went there, a large percentage of the Iraqi people, I'd say the vast majority of the Iraqi people, were against the invasion of Iraq and the occupation and also a significant percentage of the Iraqi people either took up arms or supported those taking up arms against US troops and those ordinary Iraqi people then killed a lot of US soldiers and sent them home in body bags, in coffins with the stars and stripes. Those events were presented in the mainstream media to the American public.

So after 17 years of that, and that's just Iraq. Obviously you have Afghanistan as well. You have terror attacks going on that were invariably ascribed to Muslims. So it's not surprising, given that, that after 17 years of that kind of propaganda and experience by western populations, that you're going to have some segment of the population at least who is going to have some level of dislike or fear or problem in general, with Muslim/Iraqi - and for a lot of people who don't think about it too much, it's just an amorphous group of Muslims that come from the general Middle East area.

Niall: But statistically the highest number - I don't know if they comprise the majority - but if you look at the flows of refugees/migrants, they came from three places, Afghanistan, Iraq then Syria beginning in 2014, and Libya. So they are the four places that were popular.

Joe: So western countries demonize the leaders of these Muslim countries in the Middle East area and by implication, the people of those countries. And then when, as a result of western wars and bombings of those countries, you have an influx of migrants from those countries, the people who have a problem with that, a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that effectively our enemies and the people that we have been told by the media are our enemies over the past 15 or so years, now we have to welcome them in and if the people in western countries show any aversion to them at all, then they're demonized or condemned as being racist, xenophobic and pure evil.

Niall: Islamophobes.

Joe: Nazis, Islamophobic, by other people in western societies who somehow have been able to overlook the fact that for 15 years we were told that Muslims are terrorists, and not only told that but we all had very shocking experiences, if not directly, then indirectly through multiple terror attacks, really brutal terror attacks, here in France for example the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the Bataclan concert hall attacks last year. You had the Manchester bombing, Arianna Grande Manchester bombing. Then way back in 2004 the Madrid bombing, almost 200 people killed in a train station by Muslims. You had the 7/7 attacks, 50-some people killed by Muslims.

Repeatedly over the past 15 years, the western populations have been treated to this idea that Muslims - and they're not wrong to the extent that that was the story that we were told - that Muslims have a tendency to be...

Niall: Caught up in or directly involved in, yeah.

Joe: So you can't blame a lot of people in western countries for feeling like, "I'm not to sure about the whole Muslims coming in." And even when the media goes as far as to say amongst the immigrants coming in from the wars that there are probably ISIS or Muslim terrorists in amongst them. But then at the same time you're not allowed to have a bad reaction to them, which seems totally unreasonable.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: Even just from accepting normal human responses, normal human nature, it's unreasonable to demand that someone does not have that kind of a bad response after that experience and to demonize them and then to have that be used to divide western society itself, regardless of immigrants! Today it's not immigrants against western populations, the ones that don't like them, but rather that it's white westerners against other white westerners, the ones who think 'Bring all the immigrants in, it's fine. None of them are terrorists regardless of the propaganda' and the other ones who say 'Hang on a minute. The propaganda says some of these people might be dangerous. It's not a good idea.'

So it's totally unreasonable for anybody to say that right-wingers, conservatives or whoever, anti-immigrant people have no case whatsoever and they're just pure out-and-out inveterate racists and should be condemned and they should be forced to accept immigrants. Well hang on! That's not fair. And you're only going to create conflict if you try and force those people to do something that arguably is not a reasonable thing to do or to force them to back down from their position which is arguably a reasonable position.

So that's why we tend to criticize the left, the more radical, outspoken, progressive lefties because they're pushing the situation too far too fast and against years of propaganda that says 'Yeah, Muslims don't really like us, a lot of them anyway' and sure, maybe the majority of them have no problem with us but how do you separate out the ones who do like us and the ones who don't like us and how do I know? I'm walking down the street. How do I know that this group of young guys are the ones that have no problem with western society as opposed to the group of them that might actually have a problem and might just take an instant dislike to me and might try and chop my head off?'

It's an extreme example but it's not an unreasonable fear that some people would have.

Niall: Yeah. Statistically it's improbable but given what has happened, it is rational to apply caution. And the two sides on this issue that are formed in the west, the population on the side of 'let them all in' and castigating those who would urge caution as being racist and irrational, they have power. They have the establishment, mainstream on their side, the same ones that went into all these countries and caused the problems.

Joe: Right.

Niall: Of course that breeds conspiracy theory in the sense of breeding suspicion that this is being done deliberately. But I'm not sure. Obviously it's an open-ended debate. You could go on and on. We have had a bit of it here before, but to what extent is that being consciously done? Okay, well besides that...

Joe: Well there's something weird about it. There's something weird about the way that the whole thing has transpired. Let's not say someone conspired but that it conspired to happen in a very particular way. You had 911, 2001 that launched all of this that really is the cause of a lot of the problems in the world today. That coincided with the dawn really, of the internet age. It was only around the year 2000 that people were really starting to get on the internet and it's only a few years after that that you had things like Facebook and YouTube and all this mass social media platforms wher people could express themselves. That's where a lot of the noise is today on social media. In western societies today it's on social media and it's via the media. Before the internet, before you could go and look at CNN online you couldn't buy anything from CNN. Do they have a paper?

Niall: No.

Joe: The Washington Post, the Washington Times, the New York Times or any of those newspapers, you had to actually go and buy a newspaper to read about it.

Niall: I think you had to buy cable TV to get CNN.

Joe: Right. For CNN you had to watch it on TV. But people weren't spending the amount of time they were online. There were no such things as computers that some people had in their houses, spending long hours every day. So the whole thing has just happened, come together at the same time as 911 happened and then everything that happened since then. Then you had this opening up of the ability for people to express themselves immediately and directly in real time on the internet. As a result of that you have this flowering of conflict and division in society. There's something weird about it. I'm not saying it's calculated but there's something fortuitous - wrong word maybe - something serendipitous about the whole thing.

Niall: Yeah. Well along those lines, my closing point on this would be yeah, people are waking up, but to what? Maybe a better way of putting it is what is it that is waking up in people? That's a scarier thought.

I believed it and expressed it a lot myself and think a lot of people still do, 'Okay, so the world's a dark place or it has a lot of dark things that go on in it. That's to be woke to the horror of the matrix and the terror of history, as Mircea Eliade put it.' But they would come to a kind of optimistic or hopeful viewpoint when they went, 'You know what? People are waking up. They're few for now but they're waking up and they're waking up in bigger numbers and things are going on. And then there's another event that causes a shock and there's more waking up going on.'

But if it's the case that there's different types who are becoming activated, woke, according to deeper beliefs held, their programming, judging by the trend of things becoming more and more divisive and polemic and even violent in terms of attacks on people and people getting banned for espousing viewpoints and so on, the darker prognosis for this is that it's not pointing towards a singularity where we all wake up and work towards world peace and harmony. Rather, it's pointing to the activation of these different types becoming increasingly bitter and ultimately violent towards one another. So yeah, we're waking up, but to what? A war!

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: The mother of all standoffs really, and it's two basic sides but there are lots of overlapping factions and so on. So there's more than just the potential for my side and your side. Who are you with? Well thank god I'm in safe company now. At least I'm over here because within that there will be differences. So it's a waking up going on, but to what?

Joe: What rough beast its hour come around at last?

Niall: Yeats.

Joe: Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Niall: The center cannot hold that one.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: Good poem.

Joe: Yeah. The Second Coming. I don't know what to say about it. There's not much to say about it at this point because it seems like in the past few months I've had the impression that the people that are going to make the choice, that are going to decide on one vision of reality or another, have made their choice, most of them. Beforehand you have this cacophony of fighting and shouting, arguing, let's say, over their own particular ideologies and their vision of society and of the world, but it's almost like as a result of that argumentation, people have had enough essentially, to make a decision and they've separated out into their opposing camps in their own minds.

It's almost like there's a quiet that has come over that battlefield, if you know what I mean. It's not a battlefield yet. It was a...

Niall: Training camp.

Joe: Or a shouting match type thing and a quiet has come over it because people have taken their positions, effectively, and the only thing left to happen now is for the battle to be enjoined in one way or another. I don't know. Everything that happens on the political level, the high level politics, the whole Russia business and Trump, it's all sounding to me more and more like just so much noise, that there's something bigger waiting to happen, some kind of denouement and everything else is just noise.

Even the people who are shouting about Russia, there's nothing to be achieved through any of that. There's nothing being achieved except that it's almost like its' a distraction in a certain sense, to keep people distracted from something else because nothing is really going to be achieved. There's not going to be any WWIII between the US and Russia. Trump is a real fly in the ointment for a lot of people obviously, but the way that you could say he has made a mockery of American politics, but from my perspective he has actually exposed American politics and western politics in general, for the corrupt, cronyism outfit that it really is and has been for a very long time. He doesn't stand on ceremony. He doesn't try and appear presidential and polished and all that stuff. He engages in bizarre politicking where he'll level a threat a Iran that it'll go down in the worst fiery cataclysm, i.e., nukes, whatever. It'll be in the worst pain that anybody's ever been in...

Niall: In all of history.

Joe: ...in all of history and words like that.

Niall: To a country that's 5,000 years old.

Joe: Right. Then he turns around a few days later and says, "Meh! I've talked to Iran actually. It's all good." And people are like, what?!?! But that makes a farce out of the whole thing but it actually exposes a truth about western politics. It mostly is a bit of a farce. A lot of stuff is said to the public. People can't complain that Trump is saying stuff to the public that isn't true because politicians have told the public lies and told them things that were not true for most of history.

So there's an unveiling happening, if you know what I mean, for a lot of people by Trump, an unveiling of the truth of how politics actually works because Trump can actually do that and it works quite well. If that was something that was not in any way part of the way politics works or part of the political landscape, then it wouldn't work. It would break down, it would fail. He wouldn't be able to run the country, wouldn't be able to run a government. But he's actually able to run it quite well, as well as anybody else effectively.

So that means that the reality behind the scenes has always been one of mostly bullshit while the country kind of runs itself behind the scenes and the government is just meant to be there to provide a veneer or appearance of authority, to keep people quiet so they can be content that somebody's looking after the difficult stuff. But actually if you look at the way any country runs, the people are running it. That's not to say that a hierarchy isn't necessary, but people should not deify or elevate their political leaders beyond what they really are. We see it in the UK as well with the caliber of people that populate governments and supposedly take all the decisions up, like Boris Johnson and stuff. Boris Johnson in the UK, he's a complete - if you saw him in a pub you'd want to leave. You wouldn't want to be anywhere near him unless you were a similar type of old Eton, private school old imperial type thing who likes jokes about the darkies and that kind of stuff and guffawing and slapping each other on the back.

Niall: In that place you'd recognize a kindred spirit.

Joe: Yeah. But there's not many people like that. There's not many people who go to Eton and private schools like that.

Niall: In terms of this denouement, I don't know quite what you had in mind, but what came to mind for me was we'll see further explicitly totalitarian measures, moves, events, laws being foisted on people. I wondered if this thing that happened last week where Alex Jones/Infowars, I'm not sure whether it was his accounts or more generally Infowars...

Joe: Both.

Niall: ...were just simply de-platformed across the board simultaneously on five different platforms, obviously suggesting there had been an agreement and a decision had been reached. He's not quite there yet, but it's like rendering someone 'unpersoned' especially in this time and age and given his media and his profession. 'You are now unpersoned.'

Joe: Well obviously it attracts a lot more people to his site. It gives him a lot of attention and he gets the sympathy vote and a lot more people would assume or be open to the idea that he may have been saying something that was valuable. So it's certainly a double-edged sword in that respect. Also, unless you can make sure that Alex Jones never appears on the internet anywhere again, you've probably shot yourself in the foot. Whether that was deliberate or not, I don't know because Alex Jones obviously says a lot of crazy stuff. He's a real mix of truth and nonsense.

Niall: Something that needs to be said is to those of the right complaining that it's mainly them being targeted, maybe you can make that case but a lot of lefty sites are also being hit, usually in the same clandestine ways by shadow-banning, blocking likes or listing them as fake news and then shunting them off to crappy news feeds, all the various sneaky, underhanded ways Facebook and Twitter are doing it. But this week, the day after, a lesser well-known lefty site was just unpublished, just taken off Facebook completely, and that's VenezuelAnalysis. There's an English language, probably a group of journalists, based mostly in Caracas, Venezuela reporting on the situation there. Poof! They're gone.

So it's happening to dissent of any kind. It's not on ideological grounds in terms of left/right. It's something that's obviously more nuanced than that. In the end I suppose what they all have in common is things that report truths that the powers that be don't want reported. VenezuelAnalysis obviously would have gotten a lot more traffic recently after the previous week's attempted assassination of Nicholas Maduro. What happened there? Was that a botched operation? Has the CIA just gone sloppy? Or is it not the CIA?

Joe: I don't think so. It sounds like it's something organized in league with the CIA, perhaps with some help from the CIA but certainly it seems like it was an operation put together by the anti-Maduro/anti-Chavista bloc in Venezuela, the right wing, let's say.

Niall: They're more interesting in making a show...

Joe: A warning, that kind of thing. I would imagine that they would have been happy if they had killed him. But the fact is the drone blew up rather high in the air. He was at a speech, so it was a rally in a big open area and it blew up a few hundred feet in the air, kind of out in front of him. It might have been on a timer or something and that was botched, so it certainly didn't have the craft of a western intelligence agency that would have been able to do that more effectively because if it got that close, why could it not have gotten closer? Hard to say.

Niall: It's just typical. It's in keeping with the "right-wing" opposition to Madura in that country. They are almost universally portrayed in the western media, left and right, alternative, independent and mainstream, Maduro's government is portrayed as either mad socialist...

Joe: Dictator.

Niall: ...because socialism is lefty, thus evil, or he's a dictator.

Joe: Both, a socialist dictator eh?

Niall: Yes, at the same time. And yet by implication, the protestors that they're speaking up for who want normal good things,...

Joe: They're the ones who keep the minorities as almost unpaid help and slaves in their big fancy houses.

Niall: But they're generally from the middle class, the wealthier classes, but you have behaviour in protesting that is getting more and more - it doesn't surprise me that there have been attempted assassinations with drones and bombs because they've been setting off bombs before now. They've been killing police. They are behaving pretty much like Kiev. They're behaving like Ukies at the Maidan. And there's nothing redeemable about them that you want to be identifying with and speaking up for against the evil socialist tyranny, not in this context.

Joe: But the bizarre contrast there is that they have outfits like CNN that are totally anti-Trump and totally fully for the progressive movement in America, are talking trash about the socialists, the leftists effectively, in Venezuela and been helping the right-wingers. So effectively CNN who trashes Trump and Trump supporters in America is fully behind the equivalent, the same type of people, in Venezuela, the right-wing. A lot of the right-wingers have all of the same attitudes and beliefs as right-wingers in the US, yet CNN supports them while trashing them in America.

How can you take anyone like that seriously?! But then again, how can you take any kind of fixed ideology, anybody who holds to a fixed ideology in the world today, seriously? You can't take them seriously because by definition people who hold to those ideologies are unthinking people. They're people engaged in over-simplified black and white thinking.

Niall: In the end they're rooting for their team.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: Although at home they're in a polemic against the opponent. It's kind of like when it translates outside of NATOstan, outside of the west, "Oh well that's my team" and they will defend their team in that context. It's bizarre!

Joe: Well what they're defending is the CIA, right?

Niall: CIA and friends.

Joe: That's who they get their information from.

Niall: The people behind the fake news hurting Trump.

Joe: CNN is, in defending right-wingers in Venezuela, they're essentially taking their cue from the CIA.

Niall: Right.

Joe: So CNN, like most of the other media outlets in the US, is part of the war party and has been going back to 2003 and Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and Gaddafi's bombing and gassing his own people. These are people who are full on exponents of the deep state and of course they find common cause there because today they don't like Trump and the deep state doesn't like Trump either. It doesn't like right-wingers, doesn't like alt-right, but they like the alt-right down in Venezuela for totally different reasons, not ideological. It's not American ideological at that point, it's about geopolitics. It's about the CIA wanting to get its hands on and politicians and corporations in the US wanting to get their hands on Venezuela.

So then you can totally flip your allegiance because 'money'. It's absolutely cynical.

Niall: Venezuela's probably over the top because we can debate as to which of the factors are causing the crisis in the country, or internal and which as the government there has routinely claimed, are external, being done to it, but just note that right now it's possibly going to blow up in Turkey. The Turkish lira has crashed. They themselves have issued public statements saying that they're coming under attack from financial international terrorists.

Joe: Erdogan, whether it's true or not, has come out and said that's nonsense.

Niall: Has he?

Joe: That it's pure propaganda, the country isn't collapsing, there's nothing wrong with it. Because part of an attack on a country is propaganda as well. You can affect the economy of a country by talking badly about the economy, right?

Niall: Which affects the markets and investors start to pull out.

Joe: Yeah, exactly. So that's part of the attack. We've seen that with Russia. The main arrow in the west's quiver against Russia over the past 4 or 5 years has been information. They have done nothing to directly attack Russia in any kind of a...

Niall: Countermeasures in a more concrete form, although it's still largely digital...

Joe: No, sanctions.

Niall: ...were necessary. People have remarked about it, the way that they handled at the financial level, the attacks because the ruble did fall and they thought, here it goes, it's going to start tumbling. But they activated a Russian investment fund and had been pouring oil money into and saving for exactly this kind of scenario. They kept buying gold.

Joe: Right. But in terms of the balance of what has happened over the past 4 or 5 years against Russia in terms of the news, most of it has been "Putin killed my baby. Putin's an evil dictator. Putin and Trump collusion." An example of the demonization is the World Cup in Russia, particularly from certain countries, mostly western countries, you had a historic low attendance by people from the UK and France simply because of what the media had been saying about Russia.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: So that's an economic impact, let's say, to some extent. It's not a significant one but it's an economic impact.

Niall: Well it was filled by people from everywhere else in the world. There were 7.5 million people, I think I read, that went to Russia.

Joe: Yeah, there was 80,000 Chinese and the Chinese didn't even have football.

Niall: Right.

Joe: One last thing I wanted to say about the left/right divide is, like I said at the beginning of the show, we understand the appeal of progressive politics or progressive ideologies, of wanting everyone to live peacefully and also to reduce the amount of suffering in any given society, that people shouldn't be subjected to undue suffering and have to deal with it. But the key word there is undue or unnecessary suffering because it seems that particularly in the more radical aspects of the right-wingers and progressives, they seem to be pushing for an ideal of removing all suffering. Behind the scenes or deeper down in their subconscious or whatever, their motivation is to remove any suffering from individual, personal, or in general, social life and that anywhere where suffering of any type raises its ugly head, it should be stamped out and if necessary it should be legislated away.

Niall: Enforced. That's another key aspect of it.

Joe: Enforced by legislation. And that's an unrealistic process and it's doomed to failure and it's doomed to create conflict if you're going to have to force through law effectively, people to...

Niall: Be tolerant.

Joe: ...to be tolerant.

Niall: It's intolerant now to be tolerant or vice-versa. We must only tolerate tolerant people. It's obviously going to produce...

Joe: Conflict.

Niall: ...what we're seeing.

Joe: Right. And they hope they can get the states behind them to enforce that, but then that's going to just create social chaos. So it'll create far more social conflict than there would be under a normal situation where you just allow for some racism or sexism, you allow some men to wolf-whistle at women in the street, that kind of thing and even worse things than that. You accept the fact that there's going to be a certain amount of suffering in life, that it's a natural part of life's experience, that everybody experiences some level of suffering in different ways and that you have to accept that. And you do your best to alleviate and to minimize the unnecessary suffering, but beyond that you don't push it any further because ultimately you're going to stray into infringing individual rights and once you start infringing on individual rights for one person then you'll start doing it for everybody.

You just create a backlash. It's so imminently foreseeable that that's what's going to happen if this process is taken to its illogical extreme. That's why they're called crazy people. If you can't see something as obvious as that then there's something wrong with you. But when you're in the grip of an ideology, apparently you don't really see reality very clearly. You only see your ideology.

Niall: Part of what makes this such a tragedy is that there are many things that have been traditionally leftist wants, let's say, fundamentals that would be part of the utopia that they envision. There are many things that are universally agreed. They've done all kinds of research by polling people and just rephrasing it a little differently and functionally there are some key leftist wants that are shared universally, you would get 80 and 90% of people saying, 'Yes definitely. That's what we either want or we would like to see more of" because many of these things are already incorporated-basic rights for workers, holidays and so on and some kind of - it's a pejorative term but - socialized Medicare where no one needs to be in terror of breaking an arm because that will cause more pain. That's ridiculous.

Everyone agrees on a lot of the basic things. The leftists still today are saying, "Well hang on. Those things haven't been brought in yet. We're just looking for those." But there are all these other extreme things that are tacked on. Unfortunately some of them don't realize - some of them do realize and they distance themselves from it, but it's like it's too late. These things have been tacked on and used and universally accepted causes or wants of most people, to bring in some extreme things that are universally rejected or almost universally rejected. That's what makes it a tragedy.

Joe: Yeah. Well we're going to have to wait and see.

Niall: There's so much that could make the world a better place.

Joe: Yeah, but you need level-headed people who are able to engage in nuanced thinking and see down the line a little bit and not just live in the moment and their immediate needs and wants. But there's very few of those people around and apparently a number has been done on people in western society in particular, to make that an impossibility for an awful lot of people. So we're just going to have to wait and see where it goes. But I suspect, like I was saying earlier on, that something else is going to come along to really wake people up in a proper way and maybe bring them back to reality. But at least we can only hope that that'll happen because right now it's just pure madness. Something needs to come along to stop the madness.

But I think we're going to leave it there for this week folks. We hope you liked this video. We hope you enjoyed the show. If you liked it, like it, push the like button, push the subscribe button, click on it. And what's the other one Scottie? The info button?

Scottie: Notifications.

Joe: Notifications.

Scottie: The bell.

Joe: I keep getting that wrong. The notification button. Give the bell a ring there as well. So until next time, have a good day.

Niall: See you next time. Bye everyone.