FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Alex Jones and the War on the Minds of the Working Class

In our postmodern landscape, ‘expert’ knowledge seems to be increasingly subject to the skeptical individual. Given the embeddedness of the means of knowledge production within exploitative relations of material production, sometimes this skepticism is for the better, and can serve as a stepping-stone to the critical reflection often necessary for challenging ruling ideologies. But there is also a hidden danger in the demise of expert knowledge. This same skepticism can be distorted and channelled in patterns that reaffirm and magnify inequalities. The Austin based radio show “InfoWars” achieves this distortion well. According to the data intelligence platform Quant Cast, the site reaches approximately six million viewers monthly.

Yes, this is a serious article about InfoWars. For many of us, it’s easy to laugh off the unhinged theories of Alex Jones, a self-proclaimed leader of the alt right, as inconsequential and absurd. Yet, demagogues like Jones maintain formidable influence over the minds of many working class whites by channeling their frustrations in patterns that amplify raced and gendered inequality.

Under our current economic arrangement, a minute few maintain superior power and privileges over others. The elites that benefit from this arrangement use their superior power and resources to maintain material inequalities and shape dominant discourse to their benefit. Class inequality also exists within the heart and mind, and can be painted onto the body. In this way, the stratification inherent within a classed social arrangement produces a variety of physical and psychological harm for many people. Feelings of disappointment, anxiety and self-doubt can develop within the subject as they attempt to obtain normative standards of value and happiness in an arrangement that does not accommodate their efforts. In this way, class inequality is internalized, and feelings of failure are cultivated within the individual. The conditions and compulsions underwriting this individualized internalization are shaped, implemented, and upheld in dominant institutions. As far as these feelings are attributed to the subject, rather than projected on material relations, the anxiety and discontent experienced by many people solidifies, rather than challenges existing economic conditions. These harms can be channeled and directed for political gain. In the midst of emergent worker solidarity throughout the 1920s, capitalists collaborated with the KKK to construct a simplistic narrative that fostered a racist and nativist zeal, thus alleviating life’s hardships and economic insecurity by providing a multitude of scapegoats on which to place one’s misfortunes. This nativist and racist ideological systems serve the interests of those in power by obscuring the underlying structural sources of class injury, as workers misattribute the sources of their troubles and anxieties to groups of people they consider different.

The writers of InfoWars displace the structured nature of injuries in a similar manner to similar effects. Routinely at the center of their claims is the suggestion that the subject is not in control of their circumstances, and that there exists a group of powerful elites that control the political process, who bend truths to serve their own interests at the great expense of others. In this way, the writers of InfoWars exploit anxieties corresponding to a loss of control. By providing this alternative narrative, the writers of InfoWars present a means by which these anxieties might be assuaged, albeit in a manner that does not fundamentally deconstruct the exploitative relations of production at the heart of this loss. The mitigation and transference of injury onto racialized subjects reproduces existing systems of inequality, and the powerful actors implicated by the writers of InfoWars are not challenged in a manner that fundamentally disrupts their power. Moreover, this transference generates divisions within the working class, creating groups of hyper exploitable laborers.

It seems ironic then, that one of Jone’s favorite rants involves globalization. Indeed, Jones and his followers benefit from the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to the global south. The myriad of snake oil products offered in the InfoWars store are almost certainly produced by hyper exploited laborers abroad, and the working class whites that buy into the image of boogeymen “globalists” are the very consumers that benefit from the global transformation of labor. Jone’s rhetoric is effective in that it offers comfort without confrontation. Yet, in order to truly dismantle the origins of injury, the listeners of InfoWars must recognize their participation in a global system of inequality and confront their place within an exploitative relations of production.

More articles by:

Michael Brinkman is a sociology student at North Carolina State University that studies social psychology and gender inequality.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail