[Millennial Woes continues his tradition of yearly Millenniyule series of interviews that started in 2016.
Here he chats with the insightful John Waters, a veteran Irish journalist, turned writer. They start off with the Covid 19 issue and what it could be all about.
Click the link below to view the video:
Published on Dec 22, 2020
Millenniyule 2020: John Waters
•Streamed live 2 hours ago
Woes: In two hours time it’ll be the Duke of Durham. And then an hour after that American Zarathustra. And then an hour after that E Michael Jones. And then two hours after that Endeavor. So it’s gonna be a very busy night.
But first of all we have John Waters. So John Waters is an Irish columnist and academic, and more recently an activist. Well, how would you describe yourself John? And welcome to Millenniyule.
John Waters: Actually, probably not, I think none of the above. I don’t think I’m no longer a journalist. I kind of think journalism has become a pretty shameful profession. So I’m pretty ashamed that I ever was a member of it.
I’m a writer, I suppose. Yeah. Activists say there’s been a lot of controversy about me being called a human rights activist. Apparently a lot of the gay fraternity are quite annoyed about it, you know. They think that I don’t qualify, or like all contrary, you know! So, I was actually doing what you might remotely call “human rights” stuff 30 years ago. And I have been doing it ever since. But there you go! They kind of have claimed that label now.
So I’m a writer and I’ve got a kind of my own blog. I hate the word blog, as well. I’ve got it on sub stack John Walters unchained, recently. So I’m kind of making a comeback at this late stage, you know.
But I mainly write books these days. And my last one was “Give Us Back the Bad Roads”, which came out two years ago. Which is kind of about the last, interestingly what I would have called the last, you know, five, or six years of insanity in Ireland.
But that was before 2020. So the word “sanity” no longer has any purchase on normative events, or even semi-normative events!
Woes: So yeah, everything’s stepped up a level. We’re now at a different order of magnitude of insanity!
John Waters: We need new words! We need some kind of word factory to produce new words for 2021, I think. These ones will not work anymore.
Woes: [laughing] Well, I mean, this year has been unbelievable. And quite a lot of my guests have talked about it. But I heard you speaking to Dave Cullen recently. You’ve done quite a few discussions with him.
And one thing you mentioned, which we’re going to go into here, is how Covid has really and some people might say this is an exaggeration, and some people might say it’s hypothetical, at this point, speculative. But I think that it looks like Covid has, and the government’s reaction to it, treatment of it, has really changed life in general. And for the long term. It’s not just a blip.
It seems to be that this is something where they are going to make maximum use out of it in order to change what people expect out of life. And you alluded to this in a recent talk with Dave Cullen.
So I thought it would be interesting to ask you in depth about that.
John Waters: Yeah. I mean, the way you kind of phrased it is a little bit ambiguous, in the sense that they’re kind of two options. I mean, is this actually just taking advantage of Covid, or is Covid the instrument of this, to begin with?
You know, that’s still an open question in my mind, although I’m actually leaning more, and more, towards the idea that this is all engineered. That would be the David Ike view of the world. Which previously I wouldn’t have kind of really gone into that deeply.
It’s not that I didn’t reject it. I was kind of vaguely aware of what he was saying. But it didn’t seem to be relevant. And that’s kind of relevant to your question, you know. Because what you’re really talking about is kind of the normative assumptions that people worked through life with. Which kind of by and large, change, but not dramatically. They change osmotically as you go along, you know.
And I think that this year has been a year when clearly there’s been kind of a rupture in all of those things, and all of the assumptions that people had. And what I mean, by kind of those assumptions is that you kind of think, for example, that your government. And this is complicated as well.
But let’s go through it. Your government is there to kind of serve the people. I mean, maybe that sounds a very naive view in some respects, but that’s kind of what most people think. And they think that their newspapers are there to tell them what happened yesterday, right? More, or less. And similarly the news on the RT, on the national broadcasters, the BBC, or whatever.
And this year really massive question marks opened up over all of those assumptions. But not alone that, what I would call the “furniture of reality” in a socio-political context, seem to kind of just be taken away overnight, and replaced with other new stuff! And we didn’t actually, it was kind of odd. It was like there was no such thing as chairs anymore! It was like some odd thing that remotely resembled a “chair”, while you couldn’t sit on it, because that would be, you know, public order offense, or something.
And in all of the things that we kind of assumed to be there. You know, that in the sense that we could have walked through the room in the middle of the night without turning on the lights, and we would know where, but now suddenly we’re bumping into stuff all over the place.. And we have no idea why, or what’s going to happen next, or who’s doing this, or why they’re doing it.
Now at the back of all this is the kind of hypothesis that there’s a pandemic. But there’s actually very little evidence, there has never been little evidence, and whatever little evidence there has been, if you go into it you can actually find credible explanations, counter hypothesis about it, you know, in relation to the spikes in April, for example, of spike of deaths.
The interesting fact that in most countries there are virtually no excess deaths over the full span of the year. All of that kind of thing. The kind of trickery they’ve been playing with, you know, certifying deaths in a very odd way. The PCR tests, the controversy about that. All of these things.
But at the root of that it seems to me there are two syndromes which are related. One is what I would call the outright corruption of the press. Which is a word I kind of use for the entirety of the media, the mainstream, legacy media. Outright corruption! In the sense that they have not simply ceased to perform well, or be starting to perform badly, but they’ve actually flipped their product! From truth to lies!
Woes: Yes! It’s not a “bug”, it’s a “feature” kind of thing. That this is not happening by accident. They’re not just messing up.
John Waters: No! Yeah, that’s exactly right Colin. That this is actually, … What is actually going on is that it’s like somebody approached them and said:
“Listen. You’ve got a great reputation. How would you like to blow it for a lot of money in one year?”
“Because you’re going to be gone in 10 years anyway! And we can actually give you enough money to get you out of there. You’ll go out in the blaze of something, or other. It won’t be glory, for sure! But, you know, you’ll do much better than if you hang in for the medium to long term, because it won’t be a long term.”
That kind of thing, you kind of think, happened in some kind of smoke-filled room, or actually now that it’s 2020, unsmoke-filled room.
Woes: Maybe a hate-filled [?] room.
John Waters: Yeah, or maybe they did, they held it all out in the smoking room out in the back.
And the other syndrome, of course, is what’s happened to the public mind? Which we didn’t actually notice until this year. But now we noticed that actually, again osmotically, all the years something massive has been happening to the psyche and the intelligence of ordinary people, shall we say. Normative people. That they don’t seem to be seeing reality in the way that their fathers and mothers, or grandparents, would have seen it. They don’t see freedom as being, …
Woes: That, yeah, that’s a very interesting point. Take us back to and, of course, you can talk from the Irish perspective, how did people in the 1960s see reality compared to people post Covid? I mean, what are they what are the differences here?
John Waters: Well I think that actually it’s something about bubbles. It’s something about that the kind of space that you inhabit imaginatively, you know, as a person.
I think of it in terms of my parents, who lived their lives working lives and family, and all that. But they also lived a civic life, which kind of embraced the idea of Ireland, and it’s institutions, and it’s history as being a very intimate set of quantities in their own lives. It was part of the “furniture”, again, to use that metaphor, that surrounded them. And it seems that we now see that that has gone completely. That furniture had actually been taken away quite a long time ago, for most people. They didn’t see such furniture in any way from a day on a day-to-day basis. They only if there was something particular that could be, …
Like for young people in particular, in Ireland we’ve seen it only recently in the last 10 years, did it seem that the Millennial generation became politically active. And that was for gay marriage and abortion. But otherwise they’re completely disconnected. They couldn’t tell you the name of the T-shirt which is the Prime Minister, or whatever, the President. Not that that matters all that much. And I can get that.
Woes: [laughing] Yeah!
John Waters: What I mean, is that at that time it seemed to matter a hell of a lot more! And there was what you might have called this “Democratic discourse”. I don’t necessarily mean that just in terms of the media. But actually the conversations that ordinary people had among themselves were quite political in a way that isn’t true anymore. It hasn’t been true for some time, if you start to think about it.
So that was one aspect that I trying to, I’m still piecing it together, because it’s actually quite surreal. And you’re still observing it. I’m still kind of, like we’ve gone through nine months of this now, and there are shifts and turns in it all the time!
For example, like in the beginning I would have had this sense of expectation, again in myself, that okay what’s going to happen here? Well in April, okay, we’re going to get over Easter and we’re going to get into, once the summer kicks in, this will all die out! The virus will burn off and we’ll just go back to normal.
But it became clear very soon that wasn’t going to be allowed to happen! And I stress “to be allowed to”. So that was dragged through the summer. It was clear that they were keeping the ball in the air for the summer by introducing face masks in public transport, and in public, in shops, and so on. Purely as a way of creating a visible, you know, sign of the pattern, .
Woes: It’s almost creating a visible culture of obedience. A culture of Covid! Like we’re all taking part in this, because we’re all wearing the masks, right? It’s like a uniform.
John Waters: That’s right! And also that you couldn’t wear that mask and not be aware but almost all the time that that you were doing this. And that it was actually, in a certain sense, debasing you. That it was actually castrating you, if you’re a male. That I felt that was a big factor in the whole thing that men were attacked probably more than women. That they were really emasculated. Emasculated in this process. And then but just to go back to my point that we come back to that so I would have thought:
“Okay, well come the winter. Well then you see the winter, there’s going to be the flu season and are they going to company-opt that?”
And basically, you know, start counting flu deaths which come every year. Which is exactly what they’re doing! And they’re making this now the third wave. So that’s another topic really. But this sense of like that now all your expectations and that are confounded, because you would have thought that a certain point, normatively, the way I would have thought.
And this is a lifetime kind of sense of reality, that people at a certain point would become really angry and start to do things to revolt, to protest, to disobey!
Quite the contrary has happened! Now there has been a little bit of that at one extreme. But I think it’s actually been quite marginal compared to what’s happened at the other extreme, which has after being a kind of an intensification of the kind of obedience, and the subservience, and the almost what like a masochism, that that you see now. And people want to seem now.
It’s become really cultish, you know. It was always, but it has become intensely cultish now. And the people who say now that it’s kind of like a new religion, I used to think:
“Yeah! That’s a good metaphor.”
But it’s actually not any longer a metaphor. It’s absolutely true!
John Waters: We’ve actually plugged into the kind of historical roots of religion, which is in mythology going back to the very first, you know, standing up of the species on its hind legs. And the evidence we have from the cave walls of all those kind of stories that were told, which are to do with to a high degree transcendence and commonality, and all of those things.
And so here we are now. And it’s getting worse. And so you kind of have to say, it’s time to stop the kind of punditry, in a sense. You can’t really predict any of this anymore, because we’re in a different realm in terms of the imagination of people.
Woes: But also in terms of the resourcefulness of the powers to be to create this narrative. To keep spinning it. I mean, that was something that, … Sorry to interrupt, but that was something that struck me at the start of this. The fact that, well not so much the start, but definitely a month, or two into it I thought:
“This seems to be a different level. It’s a level that I’ve never seen before of creating narratives and programming the public.”
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: And then you started to see evidence of how they’re spinning this. Sociological studies, survey groups, market research, about how to persuade people to wear the mask, to social distance, to take the hypothetical vaccine — it was hypothetical at that time. They were clearly doing research into how to program the public, and checks and balances about how is the process working, how much uptake is there, how much rejection is there? And so it seemed like just all of this, … There’s a term for it. Social engineering nudge, that kind of thing taken to like a terrible level suddenly, this year.
John Waters: That’s right. And I have had this escalating since in that period, that nine months period. That actually they were increasingly astonished by how easy it was, because they didn’t expect the change that I’m talking about to be there. They didn’t realize that what they were going to encounter was basically sogginess, all over the place! Wetness! Softness! You know, there was no resistance virtually at all and that must have kind of put them back on their heels thinking:
“God, this is too easy!”
Because like if you push a door, if it opens, you’re expected to get resistance, you’re unlikely to end up on the top of your head in the room, you know. And it was almost like that for a moment with the authorities.
But it’s interesting, I find it interesting in lots of different ways. I mean, “interesting” is probably not the right word, because it’s deeply upsetting, and disturbing, .
Woes: And morbid.
John Waters: Yeah. But I find it interesting in the sense that I’m watching the kind of different voices on, if you like, the other side. Commentators from David Ike on one side, to someone like say Peter Hitchens, let’s say on the other. Because even though they’re both on this same side, they have two entirely different views of what’s happening.
Ike, I guess, kind of like what for years would have been called a “conspiratorial” view of it, or “conspiracist” sense of it. But increasingly by the day revealing itself as very close to what’s actually happening almost to the hour, you know.
On the other hand, you have someone like Peter Hitchens who has equally been doggedly and very courageous in the way he’s come out against it. But draws a line at beyond incompetence. He simply says these politicians are “incompetent”. And they don’t know what they’re doing and they’re destroying the economy, and so on. And you can see him when he’s pushed to go to the line of why, he backs off!
John Waters: He recoils from that idea. Now that maybe, because he’s a mainstream journalist and there are certain limits even if you don’t acknowledge them, they’re there! And, you know, in your gut, that they’re there.
So I’m not, I wouldn’t just say anything too critical of Peter, because I admire his tenacity, and his courage, and his capacity to be uninterruptable! You know, he’s unique in the world. I’ve never seen anybody who is as difficult to interrupt as Peter Hitchens!
But what I’m getting at here is that as we watch this I’m in the kind of middle of this. I’m floating between those positions. If you like, imaginatively. And I still haven’t made up my mind, although I veer, I have to say right now, very much towards Ike’s scenario. But, I’m looking at everything. And all the time I’m trying to interpret every development.
And it’s interesting that. When you see some new development, each development has the capacity to be interpreted as a response to a pandemic. It might well be genuine. The people doing it might just be stupid! They might not be able to count! You kind of can’t discount this in a sense.
On the other hand, it might be everything that David Ike says, that it’s a conspiracy that’s going on for hundreds of years to enslave the human race! To turn this into a new, to create a new feudalism, in which there will be an oligarchy at the top, a very tiny minority, and the rest of humans will have very limited lives, and their very limited prospects. I actually don’t discount that. And I do think that Hitchens is right. There’s a hell of a lot of incompetence mixed up in it, at the local level.
But you see, this is kind of very interesting, because what’s missing here is a general conversation. We don’t have the capacity to put things out, have them corrected, come back, answer back. You know, there’s none of that happening, except in a kind of micro-way online. And as a result of that, there’s no consensus evolving. There’s a kind of a polarization of, …
Woes: A consensus is being imposed from above.
John Waters: Yes.
Woes: If I could just interject, I think you’re absolutely right that there is incompetence at the local level. And I would even include at the national level. I think that for years. And people have been moaning about this for years, decades really, that our politicians seem to get ever less impressive as people! They seem to be like, we don’t have statesmen.
I mean, and you’ve seen this in the case of Scotland, for example, we went from somebody like Donald Dear [sp] to somebody like Nicholas Sturgeon in the course of 20 years. Which is an astonishing descent! It’s just the quality of people has clearly sunk.
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: The same same with the Tories in England. Boris is just clearly a buffoon! He’s clearly not clever. He’s clearly not capable. I dare say he has some charm at the interpersonal level, but he’s not a serious person! And. I don’t think he’s a very capable person.
And that goes for, I mean, Matt Hancock I’ve lambasted before on Millennial. I think he’s just utterly unimpressive as a man. He does absolutely not come across as a statesman, a man of substance, quality, education, awareness, worldliness, integrity! No! Not none of that.
So I think what the point I’m getting to is, I think that our politicians perhaps this has been engineered in some way that, or maybe it’s just the course of social democracy that it veers, it edges towards the mediocre, because they’re the least offensive people. So they’re the most acceptable to a large number of voters. So you get all of these, basically the institutions that make decisions at the national level rely on high quality, competent people being there, but they gradually get washed out and replaced with incompetent people.
So now the governments of Europe are filled with incompetent people, and bland, or very unimpressive, people. But the institutions above them, at the international level, at the globalist level, are not full of unimpressive, incompetent, people. And I think that there that’s where the orders are coming from.
I think that and clearly in the World Economic Forum, and so on, I suspect those are not incompetent people. I don’t think that you could do. And you don’t even have to go into conspiracy theory territory, you can just observe what they’re doing, what they’re saying. They do not seem incompetent.
Some people say that Klaus Schwab seems incompetent, or whatever. I think that’s just a ridiculous delusion! I think he clearly is a highly intelligent man. And I am certain that there will be people around him who are even more intelligent than him, and more capable.
So that’s the point that you were making. Yes, I think there’s incompetence at the local level. But I think it’s by design. And I think it enables competence at a higher level to interfere and shape what goes on in the national theaters.
John Waters: Yeah, I broadly agree. I mean, I do think that the reason that we have this domestic mediocrity phenomenon, it has to do with the fact, because of the our belonging to these supernational organizations, like the EU and the UN, and all these. That that was a part of, you talked about engineering, yeah. I mean, I’m sure that certainly a collateral aspect of that was that it created the culture of politics locally, by which I mean, nationally I suppose, that would no longer attracted the brightest and the best into politics, because it was seen as in a sense an inferior, having slipped, having ratcheted down, to being essentially at a local level politics, local democracy kind of level.
So you don’t no longer get the de Gaulle’s, or the Churchill’s, in politics. And politics in my experience in Ireland has become deeply parochial. And, you know, almost like village idiot kind of level. You will get one, or two people who are a bit more, they have better suits than the rest of them. But they’re still pretty much village idiots!
Woes: Yeah! [laughing]
John Waters: And they’re good messengers. That’s the important thing. They’re good at doing what they’re told. And they don’t have any loyalties. There’s nothing about them that cannot be bought! These are the qualities which kind of seem to make the modern, national, domestic politician.
Now regards the other thing, I think yeah up to a point. But I would question whether these guys, like the Klaus Schwabs, you know. And I’ve been reading his books and things. And I don’t think they really understand the human being in his totality. I don’t think they have a deep knowledge of human beings and how they really are. And maybe as opposed to how they can behave in a kind of a consumerist society, for example. I believe, this is my own belief. But it remains to be seen, that there is a deeper level which may be suppressed over time by a culture such as consumerism. But which if you push it, it will regenerate itself. That’s my sense. And we’ve seen this in history before.
Woes: Well I dearly hope that you’re correct. And I think you are.
John Waters: Yeah. So I do think this is my hope that I cling to. That these guys, I agree they’re not stupid people.
But there’s different kinds of intelligence as well. Like sometimes I think people can deceive people about their intelligence by simply having, for example, a very good memory, a prodigious memory, that you just remember everything you ever heard, everything you’ve ever learned. And you seem to be highly intelligent. That could be misleading. So sometimes I think when people seem to lack what we call “lack soul” [?] I think “soul” is a form of intelligence.
Woes: That’s such an interesting point! Because I think I know exactly what you mean. You see these technocrats and you think:
“Okay I can imagine you’re intelligent in this way, or that way. A good designer, a good engineer, a good planner, good with logistics. But there’s something really missing from you! There’s something really, you’re just not, …!”
I can’t imagine! I would not want to have a drink with you in the pub, to put it in low brow terms.
John Waters: That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. But there’s so many disquieting things Colin.
I mean, that brings us, for example, to the question of a very, very glaring question for nine months. Where are the artists? Where are the people who are supposed to have soul in abundance? Apart from van Morrison and Eric Clapton now, god bless them! But where are these people?
Woes: Yes. I think they’ve been enlisted, they’ve been politicized in advance of this. I mean, for the last five years, ten years, in fact, I can remember in 2005 applying for funding for an art project. And even then one of the requirements on the application form was:
“How will the work, the project that you’re proposing, how will it advance, promote, diversity, and equality, and multiculturalism?”
That was in 2005. I’m sure that in the years since then it will have just increased, and increased, and increased! And I’ve made this point myself that everything! Every cultural product, and every cultural producer, artists, musicians, and so on, seems to have the rainbow flag attached to it now! It’s emblazoned somewhere! It’s like they’re always showing allegiance to that, to globalism, to open borders, LGBT, multiculturalism! You cannot have a creative career today unless you’ve voiced support for those things.
John Waters: That’s right, which is a contradiction of the very concept of culture. Which is a particularity of [word unclear].
Woes: Yes. It’s also a contradiction of the concept of being creative, and an artist. Because they’re supposed to be outsiders! They’re supposed to be a bit different! They’re supposed to be a bit annoying and rebellious to the mainstream! That’s kind of the whole, it’s not the whole point of being an artist, but it has traditionally been a crucial part of it. And yet, they are today are as conformist as anyone.
John Waters: That’s right. It’s very similar, it’s analogous to what we’ve seen here in Ireland. I don’t know if you’ve had this over there. But we have intermittently our police going around with rainbows painted on their cars. This kind of thing. That’s exactly not what the police is supposed to be! Which is partisan to begin with. So if you have an argument with somebody they just point to the rainbow and say:
“Sorry, I can’t do anything for you, because you’ve fallen out with the wrong person.”
And it’s the same with the artist. I find it astonishing that artists who, … I was talking to Dave Cullen recently about it, and it’s reminding me of kind of like what’s actually happened to the artists.
And I know a lot of these guys, and grew up with them, and worked with them. And they all have the same kinds of outlooks. And they all appear to be positive for a long time, they seem to be the most intensely, genuinely progressive ideas that you could, … I’m not being cynical in saying that. I’m not using the word in this kind of more recent kind of incarnation.
But what seemed to have happened is that they lost track of the fundament, of what that was connected to. And when the whole world changed around them, and began to twist, when the nature of power began to twist. And you had all this suddenly these kind of, what we used to call “the man”, you know, in rock and roll terms. It was the corporate, you know, he’s the guy they get the suit. Suddenly they found themselves on the same side as the guy in the suit, except this guy in the suit was no longer wearing a suit, he was wearing a baseball cap, and jeans, and a [word unclear].
John Waters: And he was the Vice President of Google, so he was cool, you see. He was no longer “the man”, but he still was “the man”, you see. And they didn’t see that!
And which was kind of like in footballing terms where they kind of got caught offside without knowing it. The flag was up! The linesman was waving furiously! But they were still running, as they all was, because they assumed that the game hadn’t changed, and would never change! And they’re still out there running, you know!
And they think that people like myself, that we are sort of far Right, or something! When, in fact, what we’re actually doing is following the same impulse, which is to counter exploitation, and power, and corruption, and tyranny, and all these quantities in the world
Woes: Yes! And nihilism! Yeah that’s the one that’s always frightened me the most and energized me the most, because when I started my channel it was really the main thing was that I knew that, and this was in late 2013. So it’s a long time seven years ago now. I felt that life was kind of meaningless. Not, you know, life itself but the culture, the society, that we have was no longer, was not giving me the what I needed in order to be happy here. To be happy in this world!
So I could see it everywhere. I could see the loss of religion, the loss of national cultures and national identity, and so on, and the loss of morality in a certain way. And also the loss of faith in civilization. All of this the things that I had been, as a child in the 80s and 90s, you could believe that okay, that this is what I’m growing up into. So that this is the framework and it’ll be there still.
But by the time I reached 20, 25, it was not there. It had just dissolved really.
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: And actually a good indication of this is in 1993 there was an adaptation of “The Secret Garden”, which was a really nice, I never read the book. But it was a lovely, lovely adaptation. It was extremely, really nice, rendition of England and rural England, 1993.
And they’ve just released a new version now, a new adaptation. And it’s got a multi-racial cast! Even though it’s set in like 1910, or whatever. So that in itself is suddenly English history and identity just becomes a product that can be given to anyone. It doesn’t matter anymore! Nothing really matters!
John Waters: Well you see, this is really fascinating, because you see all of that is kind of coming from a particular, it’s where those guys are running from, you know, or not away from, but just that was their starting point. Which is like the 60s and what happened in America. The eruption in the civil rights movement in the United States, and Martin Luther King and all that kind of thing. And escaping from Jim Crow and all that kind of cultural thing.
And therefore, you know, it became highly virtuous to take those positions.
But the world has changed now, because that category of person that they’re kind of mentoring, or defending, have been adopted and co-opted and weaponized by “the man” who is now using those people as, you know, literally proxies to basically infiltrate and recolonize whole societies which have these profound ancient cultures. Which they want to dismantle! We look at them when we see the baseball cap and we think:
“Oh, he’s cool! It’s okay! Don’t worry, nothing to worry about here.”
But, in fact, these guys see our cultures, … Remember Colin, you see, because we grew up in free societies we kind of assume that’s the natural order but, in fact, it’s not at all the natural order in history. It’s not. Apart from Greek and Roman civilization and then afterwards, what we would might loosely call Christian civilization, emanating out of those two, everything else is barbarism! Everything else is tyranny!
Woes: And yeah, and that is the natural state of man. I mean, this is a thing! The natural state of man is not freedom, love and plenty, it’s a tyranny, loathing, fear and poverty. That and starvation! That’s reality.
John Waters: Yes, that’s right. So I mean, I think that a lot of this stuff is delusional. I see these guys now and I’m torn, because I have a deep affection for them personally, you know? But they’re lost, because they can’t actually shake off, they can’t shake off whatever that clothing is that they’re wearing, the apparel of ideology, or attitude, that they have put on 40, 50 years ago. And they’re still wearing it. And it’s threadbare as hell!
And worlds change all around them and they cannot see it. And the tyrants are now different people, and different kinds of people. They’re not recognizable. It’s not Donald Trump! See it’s like a spaghetti Western still, you know, politics in the world is like a spaghetti Western, where you always know who the bad guys are, because they’ve got the droopy mustaches. And they laugh all the time, right? That’s kind of what these guys think of, that’s how they think of the world. But what happens is now is that the bad guy looks like a good guy!
Woes: It’s amazing, you know, because I can remember growing up as being, and absorbing, the message from American Hollywood cinema, and so on, that corporations are bad, and the Right-wing is bad! Capitalists are bad! Even though this was being delivered by a capitalist right-wing corporation, or whatever.
That that was the sort of thing you got like Christian evangelism, religious fundamental, these old right-wing Christians capitalists in suits! These are just the worst people on earth! Bigoted, racist, close-minded, hateful, don’t care about anyone. And I think that stereotype from yesteryear has been maintained. And that’s what is projected onto Donald Trump, today.
John Waters: I think of it as a Hunter Thompson view of the world. Which is very funny! This is the interesting thing and Hunter Thompson was a fantastic writer.
But he was very partial in his understanding. And he belonged to a particular slice of time in reality, which was America in the post, you know, 50s period. For maybe 25, 30 years he was the sharpest thing on the block, right? But he’s no longer is. It’s tedious now! Because, you know, it’s interesting as a kind of a theme park understanding of American reality at that time. But if you want to see the world now you shouldn’t put on those particular glasses, because they’re literally mislead you.
Woes: Absolutely! The American, or indeed any globalist corporation of today is not right wing in, or at least it’s right-wing in some sense perhaps, but in other ways it’s very progressive. And that’s something that it’s not accommodated by that world view at all that conception of capitalism being right-wing, corporations being capitalistic, whatever, and bigoted racists, homophobic, transphobic, no! In this era the corporations are the ones who are purveying progressivism most effectively.
John Waters: Yes. But you have to be careful with the word “progress” and “progressivism”, because, …
Woes: Yes. I’m just using it as you, …
John Waters: You have to use air quotes around it all the time. Because really when you look at these guys actual behavior, look at YouTube the way they’re censoring people. Look at Google, the way they’re trying to manipulate elections and filtering out information, or Twitter, lecturing the President of the United States and telling them that these tweets are not conforming to their idea what is true, and so on, unbelievable stuff!
And then when you actually think well what do these guys want? Well they want to be all-powerful! And they actually think their motives are benign. Which is kind of like if you go back to things like the Milgram Experiment. Which was the core idea at the heart of all that experiment.
And the Stanford prison one which was that what those guys were going to be doing, was going to further science and make the world a better place. So just keep pushing, giving those shocks, because you’re going to be doing good work. You know, don’t worry, don’t let your conscience get in the way. Don’t worry about that, we’ll worry about that. And it’s the same thing.
So these guys claim to be doing good. But at the heart of what they’re doing is the idea that they know best! They know better. And that is the end of freedom! Because they don’t they see freedom as a problem, because freedom allows ignorant, stupid people to actually decide their own futures. And that cannot be allowed!
Woes: Yes. Yes. And I think a lot of leftists, liberals, progressives drew that conclusion in 2016. As recently as 2016 when the Brexit happened and then Trump was voted in. Prior to, I think from 2012, 2013, there’s a clip of one of the founders of Google, I think Sergey Brin, saying that, and he was saying this is a good thing, celebrating this:
“That we’re reaching a point where censorship on the internet will literally be impossible!”
He was celebrating that in 2012. Four years later Trump got elected. To some extent, because of free speech on the internet.
So what did Google do? They did a complete about face! And now they want censorship, because they realize that, or they’ve concluded that if you give people absolute freedom of speech things might happen that you don’t want to happen. Because your side will not always win the debate.
John Waters: Well that’s, of course, the Mercuzian [?] idea of repressive tolerance, you know, going back, .
John Waters: You can actually virtually see that now in culture! It seeps out of almost every conversation you hear now this subtext in a political context. Which is this idea that:
“Well, it’s okay to do that to that kind of person, because they’re not a good person! They’re a bad person! There are bad ideas! They’re bad thoughts!”
You know, he’s far-Right!
Woes: And this is why it seems like a replacement for religion, because the Right-winger, or whatever. I mean, I don’t even consider myself very right wing to be honest.
John Waters: Me neither! I’m not in the slightest right wing in any meaningful sense. I balk at being called a “Conservative” because, you know, look at the Conservatives! I don’t know!
Woes: Well [laughing], the point is that, … And yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I feel the same. But the point is that people like us are used as the “sinners” in this new religion.
John Waters: Yes.
Woes: And I think it plugs into a part of human psychology that’s just theirs. It literally is you see something what we’ve been told for decades is people love a scapegoat! They love to blame everything on one person in the community, and point at him and unleash all their frustrations on him! It’s actually true! Because [laughing] they that’s what they’re doing now with us! [loud laughing]
John Waters: Yeah. There’s a lot of hatred stored up. And, you know, something it actually works, and it’s terrifying, if you actually think it through. Because people can actually come to believe these concepts, and they stick. And people don’t actually know anything about you, of course, now, you. Because they only know what they’re told. And it’s like a tweet. And this is who you are. And so it’s quite terrifying actually what some of this stuff where it can lead, potentially.
But it’s very interesting to kind of contextualize this in the Covid. It struck me right along the way. I believe that if you move closer to the David Ike pole of all this you kind of have to see Covid as, if Ike is right, then Covid is the most ingenious conceptualization that the world has ever seen, virtually. In terms of a socio-political psyop.
Because just think what they’ve done. I mean, you talk about sense. And they’ve actually turned the capacity of human beings to become infectious with disease with pathogens which are necessary for their own survival, because they are what keeps the body strong, right? They’ve made that into virtually a crime now. That if you actually contract a seasonal bug and you’re in public, and you cough, everybody looks at you. It is like virtually now a public order offense.
Woes: Well it’s a sequel to the climate change, 10 years ago, 12 years ago. They’ve effectively made a sin out of the fact that you consume the EU’s carbon. So I mean, every living life form requires carbon, and so on. But they made that into something bad! The sort of unavoidable, fundamental, biological fact, of every human being suddenly becomes something that you can hold against them!
John Waters: Yeah, well you see all of these things, this is what I mean, by it being frightening. Because actually, now going back and we’re kind of bringing the whole thing if you think of that idea, the concept of “furniture” in a certain sense, now the “furniture” is virtual in our world. And it’s we live in a virtual world. It’s like that Jean Baudrillard* idea that we are in a simulacrum of reality. And it’s almost not a metaphor anymore. I don’t know if you ever intended as a metaphor. But it actually isn’t really a metaphor now.
[* Simulacra and Simulation — Simulacra and Simulation is a 1981 philosophical treatise by the sociologist Jean Baudrillard, in which the author seeks to examine the relationships between reality, symbols, and society, in particular the significations and symbolism of culture and media involved in constructing an understanding of shared existence. Source: Wikipedia].
And we’re actually now living in this place where these concepts that are being generated around us, are changing the way we think. And drawing us into an imagination that is not our own. So that Covid is now an imaginative zone. And it is possible you can divide the world. And you can actually scapegoat people very easily within that world if they don’t conform.
I mean, it is now plausible that, you just think about it, Colin. I mean, I was involved in taking a legal action here in Ireland in about this. It’s still going on, because we have an appeal in January. We got knocked back in the same way Simon Dolan got knocked back in the UK. But we’re still in the game.
But this was about the constitutional freedoms that were being usurped in this whole thing.
But when you think about it, now people are now talking openly, journalists are writing articles about it, it being quite acceptable that people who don’t take a vaccine — which is untested, untried, may actually cause all kinds of damage physically and otherwise to people — that if you don’t take it you will be banned from all kinds of things! Including like traveling, going into shops, going to theaters, going to cinemas, going to sporting fixtures. This is what I mean, about the furniture having been taken away!
Woes: And that’s for a virus that has a 99.6 survival rate! I mean, this is absolutely insane! And a year ago. I don’t think if you told people this is going to be the situation in December 2020, …. I don’t think they’d have believed you! I think that it took this months, and months, of fear-mongering of the public.
One thing I wanted to put to you actually, or do you want to finish that line of thought first?
John Waters: Well just to say yeah, that’s right. But I just again kind of pick up what you said there, because it’s interesting. You the way you phrased that was interesting, because I sometimes would face things like that as well, of saying this for a virus that is a 99.6 recovery rate.
But what if there is no virus? What if there is no pandemic? What if this is all like a conjuring trick in the [word unclear]. So that what if it’s all about the other stuff? What if it’s all about the responses and the actual thing doesn’t even matter? You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s a 99.9999999, for the Covid, recovery rate! It will be all the same to them.
And that’s the only thing. That’s the line, or the tight-rope I’m teetering on now. I just don’t know whether to believe any of it, or believe none of it!
Woes: Well, that’s part of the scary thing about all of this, is that you obviously can’t trust the mainstream media anymore.
John Waters: No! No.
Woes: You’d be a fool to think that, yeah, by default I’ll I can trust the mainstream media. Because, at this point, they’ve been they’re so politicized and so in lockstep with the government and the scientific community, and so on. And they never seem to seriously question anything that the government does. So you cannot rely on them anymore.
John Waters: You can’t! No. And again. I mean, I have the same questions about them. I mean, I worked with some of these guys. And they were bright journalists and there were not so bright ones. But I kind of wonder. I almost like to go back to a newsroom for a day and sit there in the corner, or go to the news conferences and just try to say:
“Are these guys really as stupid as they seem to be now?”
Could they be that stupid, you know? Because I mean, it’s that Hitchens thing again. Hitchens, Ike thing. Are they stupid, or do they know what they’re doing?
Woes: Yes, I find it difficult to believe that they don’t know what they’re doing at a certain level. But I’m willing to believe that the politicians at the national level are just following orders! That they’re just doing what they’re told. And they don’t understand and they don’t need to understand. They don’t care to understand, I think. I can believe that.
What I can’t believe is that the likes of Matt Hancock actually believes what he’s saying. That just doesn’t seem, he just seems oily, and slimy, and untrustworthy to me.
John Waters: Yeah this is the puzzle! It’s quite amazing at that level alone. There’s so many amazing kind of layers in this. And that’s one of them.
Where I look at Boris Johnson and I say does he realize that he has become evil? To the apprehension of any sentient person this man is now pure evil! And this is a guy who wrote a book about Churchill! Who saved the world from Fascism! And he seems to want to undo the work of Churchill*, while still lionizing his reputation. I mean, it’s quite extraordinary really when you think about it in these terms.
[*John needs to read some revisionist history on Churchill, etc — K]
Woes: I think that Boris Johnson is, I mean, you’re right that he is on the side of, … He’s done a very bad, … Let’s just, I’m trying to think what’s YouTube friendly to say here. He’s done a cruel thing by denying us Christmas, let’s put it that way [chuckling]. So that that is he’s venturing into the realms of evil in that sense by stealing Christmas.
But also he has, well he’s taken part in this whole thing over this whole year. He’s the deliverer to the British people of this thing! This disaster! This unfolding nonsense. But one thing I wanted to put to you is that, … This idea that it’s been months, months, and months, of fear-mongering. But the thing that seems to be, because you obviously wonder how can they get people this under control? How can they get people this afraid?
So my theory that I want to put to you is in an age where there was mass religion, you probably wouldn’t be able to do this to people. So something like Covid, to get them afraid of dying from something. Because I simply don’t think that, … People would have thought:
“Well it’s more important that I live an honorable life, because I’ve got the afterlife, and my soul is what matters.”
In a godless age people believe in their biological reality. They believe in their physical body. They care about their health and not much else. And therefore if you can threaten their health, or make them think that their health is threatened. You’ve got them, you’ve got them!
John Waters: Bingo! Yeah, I think that’s right. I think there’s so many fascinating aspects of this, it’s incredible!
But just to take a couple of things you say there, I think that’s dead right I mean, one of the things is that we’ve come to an era where death was basically pushed, as it were, underground, culturally. You know, that it was pushed out of sight to whatever extent that was possible.
And I grew up in a small town in the West of Ireland, like 2,000 people, so death is always in your face there. In the sense that everybody, a certain number of people die every year, at different times. And you have the same kind of patterns that you now see in the graphs to do with flu and all the rest of it. Because like this time of year older people would die in quite significant numbers, and into January and February, and then it would tail off coming up towards March.
And then every so often what you would see that a person, maybe once every like four, or five times a year in a town of that size, somebody would die who ought not to have died. It would be complete shock, a very young person, or somebody who just everybody would be shocked.
So you kind of get familiarity with death. And then the culture of that was the funeral, everybody would go and, you know, people would talk it through. But if you go in the city, in the modern world, that’s kind of pushed out of sight. And I think what actually Covid has done is to kind of reintroduce death to the public as if it were a completely new thing! It’s a new threat.
Woes: But also as if it has a neat easy solution.
John Waters: Yes! Yeah, well there’s a paradox there in the sense that you don’t really believe that they want to save lives, but that they’re able to use that as a kind of moral blackmail. You have to!
But also the fact I think there has been here something that you would call “mass hypnosis”, by the use of the media. I think this is a thing that we’ve only a very rudimentary understanding of propaganda at this level.
You just remember Colin, we’re in an era that has this kind of mass media, 24-7 news channels, all kinds of channels, soap opera, movie channels, Netflix, you name it! And so people are immersed in something else, in different worlds to an extent that never was true before. Even up to 20 years ago it wasn’t true in the world.
Woes: Oh yeah.
John Waters: So this is a completely new thing. And this is what I think it counts to large part for what I’d earlier described as the shock, or surprise that these tyrants are finding such an easy passage for their tyranny. It’s so much easier, because of this, you know.
And one of the reasons for that is that I think that these technologies, mass media, television in particular, allows for a process of mass entrancement, which essentially bypasses the reason and takes you right into the lizard brain!
If you think about it, like most people when they come home from work they might catch the six o’clock news. And then they have their TV dinner and they sit watching like two hours of soap opera. And then they see the nine o’clock news. So their minds are tuned, imagination, the hypnosis works big time on the imagination, I’m creating an imaginative state which you can then be placed into. And the lizard brain is a place where there’s a devoid of reason.
So what’s in there is emotion, pure emotion. And once you’re transported there and you have fear waiting for you, you can be manipulated in all kinds of ways without even knowing. Because you become convinced that this is absolutely true. And the truth is not the fact! The truth is the terror! And that’s what they’ve done.
Woes: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right! That it can only be the case that they have learned, “they”, certain powers, have learned how to use media to manipulate people. If they haven’t done that then what the hell have they been doing for the last 70 years? Obviously they’ve been doing that! Obviously there are hundreds of studies and research papers into this topic. How to manipulate the masses with media.
And, of course, that includes also internet era media where it’s not something that’s being broadcast to five million people at the same time, it’s an advert that each person will see at their own pace. And it will slide into their life and slide out, but it will leave some sort of trace. And then that will marry up with the traces from other adverts that they see, other [word unclear] of media that they see.
John Waters: And the culture provides no mechanism for monitoring this. You think about we talk, and talk, and talk, about virtually everything. But one thing you can be certain we never talk about is this process, because they control the process.
So we don’t know, we know about other stuff, we know a little bit about virtually everything perhaps. But, because we don’t get shown this we assume, well it never occurs that something like this could possibly exist. And in a way that’s kind of what media in general has become now. It’s a process whereby people’s imaginations are managed.
Woes: Yes. And I absolutely agree that it works at a subconscious and very vague level. It’s very difficult to pin down. But the thing is if people are not influenced by what they see then, … Well first of all, advertising simply wouldn’t work, but also there wouldn’t need to be any sort of moral judgment of what is shown, like in TV dramas, films, and so on. There always has been, because people understand:
“Yeah, of course, this stuff is going to influence people.”
Seeing somebody shooting someone in the head is not going to make every viewer go out and shoot someone in the head! That’s ridiculous! That’s an absurd caricature of the idea that that media influences people.
But seeing a cool character doing something, or saying something, or believing something, might well influence people to think:
“Well, I want to be a cool guy as well! So I’ll do that thing. I’ll say that thing. I’ll believe that thing! I’ll find a way to accommodate that belief into my life. Because I want to be a cool guy!”
John Waters: That’s right. But I think this thing is also like you watch three, or four soap operas, they’re pretty trite most of them, but they do take you to a certain kind of level of emotional engagement.
And then you watch the news. And the news is presented in a kind of a similar way. It’s kind of all human interest stories and stuff like that. So it’s seamless. That kind of emotional state is continued into the real accounts, supposedly, of the real world. So you’re actually not ever back in the real world. You’re not actually a reasonable apprehending human being at all. You’re simply absorbing this stuff. And they’ve managed this really cleverly.
So we still [word unclear] you see, because the The Guardian, or the Irish Times, or the BBC, still have the same logo, the same kind of masthead, or the same insignia on the screen. That it’s the same thing. But actually they’ve changed their product. It’s literally like they’ve gone from selling sausages to selling coal, or something like that, but they didn’t tell anybody. And you still think it’s sausages that you get in your bag but it’s actually black stuff, and you can’t eat it, you know! [Woes chuckles]
And that’s kind of something like what’s happened with the media. And this has been central! I do think that if Ike is right, that one of the things that has happened, that these people behind this, the architects of this whole strategy, identify this moment as being one which was the optimal moment of the decline of the media. That they were not quite powerless, because they still had a residual audience, and still power on that basis. But relatively powerless to the extent that they were waning, they were running out of money, and so therefore they could be bought! And not just bought, but bought pretty cheaply!
Woes: Yes. Indeed! Well one particular aspect of this conditioning of people is that, … And this is something I could really go on about this at length, but I’ll say it concisely. That non-fashionable opinions are made non-fashionable. But then also made unmentionable, or disgusting, reprehensible, by the way, that they are presented on TV, or the way that they’re ignored, or dismissed in news, and current affairs things. But especially the way that they’re presented in dramas, in fiction. So, you know, obviously a conservative character will always be a bit of an idiot! Or it’ll be a bad person, and so on.
And I think that you see this. I mean, there are examples I could go into contemporary TV that are staggering! And I’m going to be doing videos about that next year.
But that brings me back to something I wanted to pick up on earlier. Which was, because we were talking about why do artists today not rebel. And I think part of it is exactly this! That they grew up, especially artistic people, tend to grow up immersing themselves in media. And so they get this idea that, well they see the range of possible opinions and they acclimatize themselves to that. So really:
“Okay, I want to be a rebel! I want to be outrageous! I want to be a bit different. I want to annoy people a bit. I want to be a eccentric, whatever. So I will have that opinion which is even further Left than you’re supposed to go. But I definitely won’t go Right-wing! Because that means I would be an evil person.”
And Right-wing in this sense that that spectrum could be used to denote anything that:
“Basically I’ll be even more fashionable than you’re supposed to be, but I’ll definitely not be unfashionable!”
And I think that this has this effect that the artists simply don’t realize that there are options.
John Waters: The first thing that must occur to you then Colin is that actually these are not artists at all, because by definition an artist is somebody who’s capable of seeing through all of this. You’d imagine that that an artist, say a great novelist should be able to see this and write a novel which captures all of the contradictions of this. But actually it hasn’t happened.
I don’t think that they’re actually any novelist, apart from perhaps Michelle Welbeck, who has actually addressed these kind of things in the modern world, and these kind of contradictions.
But you’re dead right! It’s an amazing thing. I mean, that kind of idea of the “bad person”, again it’s the Spaghetti Western thing. I mean, I used to talk about this, kind of humorously, back in the day when we thought it was still a joke. The conservative on the TV panel always had dandruff! That’s essential. The conservative has to be a kind of a guy who wears a tweed jacket, right? And a sweater underneath, a vee-neck sweater underneath, and a shirt and tie then, and dandruff! Because that’s what nobody wants to be, right? No male wants to be this in the modern world.
And that’s a part of the drama that’s staged. It’s not that the guy, you know, is necessarily anything other than he could be a very bright smart guy, who just doesn’t care how he looks. Fine!
But actually it suits the dramatists in the media, in the TV show, to get him on. Because then he can be defeated in a kind of a symbolic way and look terrible in modern terms. And therefore put people off, not just himself, but everything he believes and everything he says. And in that context therefore the more articulate he is in expressing his own ideas, the more he repels people! This is the amazing thing about it.
Woes: That really is amazing isn’t it? Because then you’re turning him against himself, you’re turning his abilities against him.
John Waters: Yes you are.
Woes: So yeah, that’s amazing. But yeah, all of this bears further thought.
But one thing I wanted to ask you about from earlier that you briefly mentioned I think would be very interesting to ask you more about is. You said that people don’t have political conversations anymore.
Now that might surprise a young person to hear that, because they think that people are constantly going on like in school, in university, about equality, diversity, multiculturalism, LGBT, and, of course, now Covid, which has become a political issue in a strange sense, in that moral sense. All political issues now are moral issues. So Covid is as much a political issue as LGBT. It’s all the same thing.
Yeah, so maybe I’ve just inadvertently answered the question for myself. But would you like to say, what do you mean when you say that people don’t have political conversations anymore? Could you explain that given that it would seem to a lot of people that they do?
John Waters: Well yeah, I mean, they actually put out stuff that sounds political but they don’t have any involvement in it. They simply regurgitate what is given to them. So they’re programmed.
For example, one of the things they constantly have a obsession with of certain kinds of people. In fact, an awful lot is the idea of “racism”. And they see it everywhere. They feel it everywhere, even when it doesn’t exist. And mostly it doesn’t actually. But they see this necessity to kind of “defeat racism”.
I mean, you saw it in the context of the “Black Lives Matter” stuff in like remote places like Ireland, where there’s no connection whatsoever! People are excited and they’re marching on the street, because of this guy called George Floyd. And if you actually point out to them, that this guy last engagement with the law was that he held a loaded gun to the belly of a pregnant woman, they’d call you a “racist” for that, right! That’s a racist thing to say, you see.
So like this is a kind of form of craziness! I mean, it’s not politics in any sense at all. I mean, it couldn’t be further from any engagement between people and, you know, stories, narratives, facts.
It’s actually about attitudinalizing. It’s about a part of their own personality, their identity. This is about virtue. And that they must be seen to be good. It’s very important, because in the culture that has been generated around them, electronically, there is this constant threat that they will be pointed at. It’s almost like that that moment, where it’s the kind of moment when Saint Peter was when after Jesus was arrested. And everybody seems to be saying to me:
“Weren’t you with him? Oh no! No, not me! Not me.”
And that’s kind of what it is. That’s the politics now:
“Not me! No, no. I’m not! I’m actually the opposite of racist! I am the opposite. I’m so pro LGBT that I want to be gay myself! I am gay actually! I’m allowed to mention it. I’ve decided I’m gay!”
That’s the kind of way they kind of go on! And it’s nothing to do with politics at all! It’s actually, because they’re so terrified of being identified as somebody who is, you know, demonic, that has been demonized.
And I can understand that for kids, it’s a very terrible thing! Because even for old fellas like me, it takes you a while to get used to the fact that people are calling you names and they’re having the faintest idea who you are, what you’ve ever said about anything.
The only thing I can say is. I mean, I get this all the time where, you know, newspapers, or TV stations, tell me they’re going to write, do a profile of me. And I say:
“Well, okay, but I’ve written like about 2,000 articles, and I’ve done about, I don’t know, 100 documentaries. And so you’ll need to be making sure you read everything. And I’ve written 10 books. So make sure you read all that, before you do anything and see how you get on.”
Because they haven’t read anything!
John Waters: So that’s enough to shut them up, because they know that.
Woes: But it’s interesting in the same way that a political conversation is really just a virtue conversation today. A profile of someone like you, or indeed me, is no longer a profile of you. It’s just a hit piece! It’s just a virtue of the writer, saying:
“This guy’s a bad guy! And, you know, that I’m a good person, because I’m pointing out all the horrible things about him!”
And that’s it!
John Waters: Yeah. It’s like Wikipedia! It’s like your Wikipedia entry is written by your enemies! You’re just, ..
Woes: Yeah oh! Yeah!
John Waters: There’s no point in fighting it. You just let it happen, and you assume that anybody who’s intelligent enough to be interested in what you’re saying in the first place, isn’t going to take it seriously. That’s all you can do.
But you’re always wrong about that, or very often wrong. Because you go somewhere abroad to speak and they read it out in its totality, you know! [laughing out loud] So there you go! But yeah, this is amazing stuff actually!
I mean, there’s a lot of good writing about some of this stuff now. Douglas Murray and people like that. The Madness of Crowds, very good book. And there’s quite a lot of commentary about all this.
But there’s a lack of commentary I think, about the kind of deeper, that “furniture” concept of reality. The way the furniture’s changed without anybody knowing it during the middle of the night. Somebody’s coming and whipped all the old stuff away. And now you don’t know what anything is anymore. And you certainly couldn’t walk across the room in the dark as you used to be able to do.
Woes: Absolutely! And this year has absolutely accelerated in this year!
And something I mentioned in another episode of Millenniyule, was I realized that quite recently about, I don’t know, within the last year, I realized that you used to hear people saying, people used to use the expression “it’s a free world”, or “it’s a free country”. We used to use that all the time. When I was a kid, and a teenager, you used to hear people saying that all the time:
“Yeah, you can do that. It’s a free country!”
And I realized that I hadn’t heard it in about 10 years! It’s like it’s something that’s just disappeared! Like we now instinctively, even with before the Covid thing, but especially since, the Covid thing now fits into this new mindset, we have. But even before then, I think we’d already become habituated to the idea that it’s not a free country! That’s what you shouldn’t expect it to be!
John Waters: Well exactly! And that it’s a good thing that it’s not a free country, actually. And that’s the Marcusian idea again. That’s the idea that freedom benefits very bad people, people who have bad ideas. And they shouldn’t be allowed to have those ideas. And if they have they should be made to keep them to themselves, type of thing, you know.
And I think you can see that in a lot of polls now about younger people. That their idea is that they don’t necessarily believe in free speech anymore, and all this stuff. Which they have no idea what that means, of course, because they don’t know how the other furniture used to fit together and why it was so essential. And what the world would be like without it. They have no idea! Because they assume the world will be what it is anyway just without the bad stuff, right?
Woes: Exactly, but they don’t realize once you’ve taken out the underlying structure, guess what? Anything can happen!
John Waters: Anything can happen then. Yeah. But you’re right about the Covid thing, that’s very interesting. And it’s something I have still haven’t gotten my head around this kind of way that Covid actually came, was born, in a certain ideological address. It’s like it was fully formed, it came out as a left-wing phenomenon. It’s amazing! And every left-wing person knew that they should be on one side.
Woes: Absolutely! There’s very much a polarization along the political spectrum.
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: Obviously there are Right-wingers who are up for it as well, and there are few some left-wingers who are against it, but by and large, it’s clearly, as you say, that the Left loved Covid and the lockdowns. The Right wingers don’t like it! It’s a very strange thing.
John Waters: Yeah, I was thinking, like if I went back to when I was working in the Irish Times say, maybe 20 years ago, and good to go to a weekly features conference. And sitting talking about this new pandemic, or this new virus.
In a million years, you know, you couldn’t imagine the kind of conversation that would make it clear that certain people were believing in this and determined to take it seriously, and that others were clearly skeptical from the off. And that you could actually predict their views on other matters as well from that like that.
Woes: When do you think that became the case? Because I’m pretty sure that even in the 90s like if you met someone who was broadly left-wing, they might well have some Right-wing ideas and vice versa. Whereas I think like, at this point, no! It’s like a whole package.
John Waters: I think it goes back actually a little bit, or maybe quite a lot to what you’re really saying about religion. The point you’re making about religion. That actually that vacuum that opened up post religion.
Okay, I put it like this, you know, when we were kids we were intensely, I grew up in the Western Ireland in the 60s. Religion, Christianity, Catholicism, was a huge central part of your life, you know. And I mean, I’ve written a lot about this. And people misunderstand, because they think you’re kind of advocating everything to do with Catholicism.
But what I’m talking about is culturally, like we live in a pretty basic kind of house. But there was one sumptuous house that you could always walk into and treat as your own in a certain sense. The church! And you could stay there all day if you wanted to, in this building beautiful building. And so there was an affiliation from that and the sense that in terms of belief in Jesus Christ, that Jesus Christ was with you in every room you ever entered, in a sense, that was possible to make that imaginative connection.
Now if you think that kids who grew up without that idea. I mean, one of the things about that is that you can offload all the fears and anxieties, and worries, and sadnesses that you have onto this being in a certain way. But if you don’t have that. What do you do?
And I think what actually happened is that a lot of young people have grown up seeing the State in some kind of analogous way to that, in a certain way, depersonalized perhaps, or to some extent personalized occasionally in the figure say maybe a Boris Johnson, or a Leo Rateher in Ireland, becomes this figure. Or Macron, or something. That maybe imaginably for a short time you can identify with this person in that way. And that’s sufficient to keep it going. And in that sense that makes the Covid connection really clear. That this is something that the State wants us to believe and therefore we do.
Woes: Yeah I actually wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being not figures of the State but figures of private corporations, who we see as central to our survival. In an age when the only good in life is physical health, well then why not worship the President of Pfizer corporation?
John Waters: Well. But I think where we’re going Colin, I mean, we’re going to the kind of a public-private idea of government I mean, this is the amazing thing that democracy is now really in the “exit lounge”! And we never thought that was possible.
Like we grew up, you know, democracy was the highest virtue in public civic life, right?
But now it’s not! It’s kind of like seeing it as a little bit inconvenient. Because it allows all these stupid people to have a say in how things are run. And so again these things can be [word unclear].
And this is the amazing thing! I’ve said this before, the analogy that I use is that when I hear all these, … I mean, I’ve grown up with these people and in righteous circles whether it’s in artistic circles, journalistic circles, progressive circles, obviously democracy was the highest value! And believing in the people and in egalitarianism, and the Right to free speech. All these things. And you kind of now begin to see a lot of the people who actually said that are beginning to back away from it! They’re saying:
And this is interesting, because you kind of think:
“Oh! They never really believed in that. It was just that there was nothing else on the table.”
Now they think there is. That there’s some kind of new system that will benefit them more than others.
Woes: Yes! Technocracy! Sort of corporatism.
John Waters: Yeah. And so I think we’re moving towards, it seems, the nightmare scenario that we seem to be moving towards is some kind of mixture of Google and the Chinese Communist Party, you know, social credit systems which are watching your every move, measuring your every thought.
Woes: Yes, oh yes! Yeah. And, of course, Google being so tied into every aspect of your life that could be very easy for them to judge your credit rating on what you’ve been looking at online, and so on. In fact, there was an article the other day advocating that.
John Waters: Yeah, I kind of often wonder, or not often, but occasionally I wonder like is there any hope for people like myself, and maybe yourself as well Colin? Like what would we have to do in order to bring ourselves back to zero on the social credit system? [Woes laughing out loud] So that we could start on January the first with a clean sheet! Like what would we have to do? We probably have a brain transplant, or something, you know?
Woes: Yeah! I would think so, yeah!
John Waters: I’d have to hang around until George Soros dies, and get his brain, or something like that. And have a transplant. And then I’d be okay to go! Presuming that nothing terrible happens to me in the interim.
Woes: Yeah, I don’t know what! It’s an amusing idea! It really is, because I think that the thing is they need people like us anyway. They need people like us to point toc and be the villains. Even when we’re obviously not villains! I mean, I’m going to speak for myself here, and that may sound a bit vain. But I don’t believe I’m a bad guy! [chuckling]
John Waters: We should all get those droopy mustaches and laugh laugh at everything! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!
Woes: Give them what they want! It’s a very strange world that we live in! And as you said, it got a hell of a lot stranger this year. But again we’re going to see what happens next year.
John Waters: One of the things I’ve been saying to various people, including Dave and others, is that optimism now is something we have to park, you know, in the sense that we’re going to be wrong in what we predict, or what we expect, or how we anticipate. And it’ll probably be worse than we think.
So, what we have to do is, you know, not fix ourselves on any kind of outcome, because we’re going to be disappointed, and we’re constantly going to get feeling that we’re kind of being knocked back. We’ve got to assume we’re going to work through this. And we’ve got to keep ourselves sane to get to the point where we can see clearly what we’re dealing with. And then confront that. And then summon up. Not that it would be us, because it won’t. Our only function Colin, is to kind of be around still speaking for long enough to waken up the rest of our fellows.
And I think that for the reason that I alluded there, that I do think that the Klaus Schwabs, they do not understand the human spirit in its depths. And they don’t understand at a certain point you awaken something, which is absolutely indefatigable, if you push it too far.
Woes: Yeah, I agree and hope you’re right. And I do believe that you’re right about that. Before we end that, because let me go through some questions that have been put to you:
“Has John seen the Covid hysteria in Irish soap drama Fair City? It’s probably the worst propaganda out there in Irish television.”
John Waters: No I don’t watch that stuff. I never watched that stuff ever actually, I never watched that particular one. I did watch Brookside one time for a little while. And then it got really bad, so I stopped. I don’t know, I can imagine. Well, I can’t imagine, I guess.
But I know what you mean. I know what they would do. That’s kind of what it’s for. I think that’s something we have to understand that actually that, however that works. An amazing study actually to see how they manage to get people who seem to be just doing a job writing a script, fictional script, for a soap opera. How do they get them to do that? That’s amazing!
Nobody’s ever written a book actually describing that actual process. I’ve kind of tried to do it in journalism, because it has something to do with being loved. The desire we all have to be loved. And if you feel that you’re going to lose the affection of people you will almost do anything to stop that happening. I think that’s kind of what happens. But no, I haven’t seen it, but I can imagine in a general sense how awful it is.
Woes: Yes, I’m the same. Whenever I hear about modern TV, I haven’t watched it. But I can only imagine and I’m still dreading watching the new Doctor Who with the women. I haven’t watched any of it yet. But every single thing I hear about it is just appalling! So but yeah, that’s another matter really.
John Waters: I threw my TV out about five years ago.
Woes: Yeah, I’m the same. Okay:
“What do you envision as an ideal form of future Irish governance?”
John Waters: Well I think an Irish government will be a good start! One that actually was loyal to Ireland, and the Irish people.
But I actually think there are many kind of, if we could clear the decks of all this stuff, some promising kind of resonances now. I mean, for example, this whole idea of a united Ireland. Which is a big question. I don’t believe in it on the present terms, it’s never going to happen.
But the amazing thing is that if you actually look now at the landscape of Irish ideology, and you actually see that the real Irish nationalist, the person who kind of loves Ireland, and wants Ireland to be an autonomous place, an autonomous country, has a hell of a lot more in common with the most extreme, as it were, I don’t mean that in the pejorative sense at all, the people of the furthest end of the Unionist spectrum.
Ideologically we’re much closer than we ever imagined. I mean, in all the other things the value systems that we would share in terms about how humans live together, how they actually see the world, the civilizational values that we share. All those things which have been hidden from us in the last 50 years of conflict. So I think there’s a future there.
But I think we have a hell of a lot of a mess to clear out the way before we start get back to any of those questions.
Woes: Yes. Exactly. We’re so much in the abyss here it’s difficult to think of what you would build if you weren’t in the abyss!
John Waters: It’s like the joke about the guy in Kerry in the south of Ireland. The traveler from Dublin stops and asked them the way to Cork. And he says:
“Well I think, well if you go, no I’ll tell you. If I was you I wouldn’t start from here!”
[Woes laughing loudly]
Woes: Very good! Okay there are two other comments here. They’re not questions. But I believe this guy has left them for you. So I’ll just read them out:
“People enslaved to man, because they are no longer ready to be made free by being a slave to god!”
And then he gives a Latin phrase. I don’t know if that’s familiar to you?
John Waters: No.
Woes: No? Yes, it’s just strange wording.
John Waters: Yeah, well I mean, you know, it depends. You could read that in different ways. But there’s some truth in the sense that, I mean, I’m not sure how he intends it.
But what I would say is that the idea of god, shall we say, has actually enabled men to transcend their own tendency to tyranny in lots of ways. And more often I think than the opposite has happened. I mean, of course, there is the other different factional forms of religion that can end up in conflict as well.
But I think there’s an impulse in human beings which they want to, they have a desire to move beyond this reality. That’s what drives us. I think that if we actually are centered on the world itself alone that somehow we just get grounded down into in the mud of reality.
So I know it’s a big question, but I’m not sure exactly what his intention was with that.
Woes: Yes. Yes. Well I think that. I mean, I think it echoes what we were saying earlier that if you’re too much tied down into the biology of here and now then that that is very limiting, spiritually.
John Waters: It is. And it’s also where things like what we call depression, and all those things come from, is we haven’t managed to find, whether you believe in god, or don’t believe in god, we actually have not, in our so-called modernity, developed an ideology, or a view of the world, which allows us to function in the same way as religion did through thick and thin.
Woes: Yes. Yes. Okay. Someone, the same guy, says:
“As societies collapse morally their institutions lie to and exploit the people, because they are exploitable.”
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: I mean, these aren’t questions. It’s just posted these as sort of remarks. But, of course, yes I agree, as society’s collapsed morally institutions become corrupt.
John Waters: Yeah, they do. And fear is a big thing. I don’t think that we really understand, no sorry, that’s not fair. I think that we don’t have fully in front of us at all times, to the extent that I think we should, to see it in proportion, the importance of fear in our lives! Big fears, small fears, every day little fears. Like the fear of going to sleep at night, the fear of waking up in the morning, the fear of opening a letter from somebody you don’t know where it’s come from. All these things are there working away at us. And we don’t think about that. It’s phenomenal!
And what’s actually happening now in this post-religious area era, is that it’s erupting in the hearts of our children. And we don’t know what it is, because they don’t have that place to go to deposit it, you know, as it were “at the lotus feet of the lord”, as Khalid Khan put it. And I think that’s kind of something we need to think about.
I mean, this is a big area Colin. And again it’s very dangerous, because people assume that you’re evangelizing in some way, or another. I’m not! I’m a great fan of Joseph Campbell and the way he talks about the origins of religion and all that, as well as being, you know, a Christian as well. And I don’t necessarily see a contradiction between the two, because it’s about imagination, fundamentally.
And I think what has happened in the last, very much visibly in Ireland last 50 years, very, very recent. These happened in the broader world in a much over a longer period. But in Ireland it’s probably in 20, 30 years, that we’ve actually abandoned that dimension of our culture, as though it could be jettisoned like, I don’t know, just like yesterday’s newspaper! Well I can tell you can do without yesterday’s newspaper a lot more easily than you can do without the concept of god! Whatever about god himself.
Woes: Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely! And I’m not religious myself. But I can see, … And this has always been a part of my channel that people in general seem to need god, or seem to function better if they live as if god is real.
John Waters: Yes.
Woes: And also for the purposes of that social unity, setting moral standards in society. For those reasons as well, religion is good, is useful, and healthy.
John Waters: History tells us that atheistic societies don’t live for very long. Don’t survive very long. And now the question that opens up then. Is it possible, … And this has never been done either. Is it possible for society to live in tacit disbelief, by pretending to believe in order to survive? That’s a really amazing question. That nobody seems to be asking. But it’s the most important one of our time I think.
Woes: Yes. I was going to say it might become very relevant in the near future. Okay. Oh yeah, here’s one more:
“Do you think that there is too much doom and gloom tactics in the Irish national circles? And that could lose future support for the cause, no?”
John Waters: I don’t think. So I mean, I don’t think it’s possible to have too much doom and gloom at this moment! [Woes bursts out laughing] But I kind of know what you mean, but the question remains.
There’s different problems. I think there’s a kind of a theme park dimension to Irish nationalism which is kind of a bit worrying, that it doesn’t seem to be able to make itself contemporaneous in a way that it would need to do in order to offer a real future. I think that’s something that needs addressing.
But it’s also a question of lack of unity. I think a lot of people, the new nationalists, shall we say, side failed to see what was happening with the Covid thing early on. And I think that’s a big problem, that something that attacks freedom in such a fundamental way and you can’t immediately reconcile it to the national question, or the national questions, it goes to that point that they think in a kind of a theme park way about Irish nationalism.
As if, when we get Ireland back again, we’re all going to talk [word unclear] Pierce and wear tweeds jackets and things. And that ain’t going to happen and, nor should it.
Woes: Yeah. That is a problem that’s common to quite a lot of nationalist movements. You don’t want to just preserve some ideal, or even largely fictitious version of the country from some time past. It has to actually relate to people in the here and now. And it has to be authentic.
John Waters: Yeah, well I mean, right that’s always the problem with culture. It needs to be a living thing. Often it becomes fossilized, it’s dead and that’s been the problem in Ireland.
In many ways that was the core problem after independence, that there didn’t seem to be an understanding that albeit that we had broken away from England, shall we say, nevertheless in a certain sense we remained English! And remain English, you know?
That we are in a certain sense British. In the sense, I don’t mean that in the political affiliations, but culturally. Shakespeare is as much a writer, our greatest writer to the Irish people, as to the British people. I mean, we are steeped in that, or the dandy, or John Peel on the BBC, or your Manchester United. Like that’s not, because what’s actually ended up happening is that this kind of schizophrenia. I’m not allowed to use that word. But I do.
On the one hand we have Irish culture. And then we have kind of culture in general. And no, it’s gotta be all connected, because it is! We sing English songs, or Irish songs from the same place. And so I think that that paradox has never been really acknowledged in Irish culture. And I think the real problem in most kind of postcolonial countries that they’re kind of caught on that kind of, … They want to purge themselves of everything alien, or anything colonial, but that’s like literally cutting off your nose to spite your face!
Woes: Yeah, exactly! To do so would be dishonest and disorientating. And you’d be trying, you’d be pretending that you were still the people you were 300 years ago, pre-colonialism, in the case of some countries. 300, 500. But it’s, but you’re not. And so it’s sort of delusion.
John Waters: There’s absolutely no harm in going back to that point, because it’s almost like when a culture is occupied, or colonized, that the river of its culture goes underground, and it becomes impossible to find, or imagine. And so you don’t know what your culture would have been if that hadn’t happened to you.
Woes: That alternative history thing.
John Waters: Yeah that’s right! And what happens after, decolonization then, or whatever, you get this kind of attempt to reimagine yourselves. But it tends to be a very and kind of arid, sterile sense of the nation. And I think that’s been a big problem in Ireland.
And that’s why the reason that the Irish language is virtually dead now! Because nobody could make it part of the life of the nation. It was the first national language, but virtually nobody could speak it.
Woes: Yeah. I think a similar thing happened in Scotland where you don’t know, … Okay, so we’ve got devolution, we’ve got our own Parliament now, and we’ll probably be a separate country at some point in the next few decades, I would think. But who are we without England? What would we be if it never, what are the Scots?
And so because that’s unknowable, because we’ve been melded with the English in various ways for 300 years, or more. Because that’s unknowable, what they default to is either just globalist progressivism, or it’s globalist progressivism with some light Scottish touches. Like:
“I believe in gay rights, and I wear tartan!”
John Waters: Yeah.
Woes: Well good for you! You know, that’s just not much of an identity. It’s not. It’s nothing, in fact! You’re something that’s you could have been picked out of a [96:00] catalogue! You’re that shallow! You’re that hollow! It’s nothing! That’s just a lifestyle.
John Waters: Yeah. I do think that there’s a massive thing to be done there in nations like Scotland and Ireland in terms of what you might call a “collective re-imagining” of ourselves, which is not a reaction against something, either Englishness, or our own past. But I try literally, it’s almost an attempt to kind of re-imagine what that river, where it would have re-erupted, and what it would be like.
But nevertheless, allowing for the fact that now we are this, we have been changed in all these ways. Like we speak English, for example, suddenly at the end of all that! So can we at least acknowledge that?
And acknowledge that we have already in the past, the last century contributed, enormously to English literature like true Joyce and Beckett and those guys. So there’s something massive there, but we just can’t reconcile that to what Ireland is. That’s the thing, it’s like there’s something else.
And the modern novelist now isn’t really an Irish novelist at all, and most of them are not, there’s a couple who are, recognizably. So although what would that be? This is a big question! I mean, there’s all kinds of traps.
Like I’ve often said it to people like that the paradox of being Ireland is like that you think of the kind of iconography of traditional Ireland, like the thatch cottage, right? And so therefore if you’re a writer you must not in the modern era, you must not write about thatched cottages, right? That’s you must write about tower blocks, right! That’s if you’re to be a modern Irish writer. The problem is.
Woes: The trouble is that everywhere’s got tower blocks!
John Waters: Yeah, but the problem also is that actually thatch cottages still exist. And people, real people, actually live in them. So, how do you get around that if you’re a writer and you just do tower blocks? How do you deal with the reality that isn’t the tower block?
Because it’s a very narrow view of reality. It’s a reaction! It’s a ricochet! It’s a cultural ricochet, that is not really helping you in any direction, or helping your readers, or your public in any way at all.
Woes: Yeah. It’s not deep. It’s not deeply relevant. It’s not something that people can, … And again it’s something very modern, it’s like something that’s been bolted on to Ireland, or Scotland. The concrete, the brutalist tower block, well there it is. Yeah, it’s not something. I mean, I know yes, there are Scottish people today dealing with that situation. There are Irish people today dealing with that situation. But again it’s kind of circumstantial, it’s not deep.
John Waters: It’s very like that thing where I’m talking about the kind of the culture figure, or the artist, who’s kind of running up, …
Like you’re probably too young to remember Terry Cooper. But he used to do this for league in Ireland. You know, you get the ball at the goal, if he’s on goal and he would run right along, completely predictably, along the touch line all the way up to the top. And nobody seemed to be able to stop him, even though he had done it a million times before. And then he would cross the ball from the corner flag.
It’s like they’re running like that guy, but the flag is up, and history is kind of turned on its axis, and they’re offside. And they don’t know what to do, but they just keep running anyway. And so it’s the same thing. These kind of directions have been thrown up as reactions, as ricochets, but they just seem to be unable to see what’s happening in front of their noses! And to change, and to try and find a way around the problem. Or even to recognize the problem exists! It’s a real dilemma, it’s very disconcerting to watch, because it seems to be fixable with little imagination.
Woes: Yes! Well and again that that relies on artists waking up, doesn’t it?
John Waters: It does, yeah. Very much.
Woes: We have to get through to the creative people in society.
John Waters: And to stop worrying about their image, and start worrying about their work. Because that’s what they’re going to remember for. Not their image.
Woes: Yes, indeed. Well this has been a wonderful conversation. But I said about an hour. We’ve gone on for an hour and 40 minutes! So thank you very much for that. I think that many people have enjoyed it. There have been lots of positive comments posted.
So thank you very much. I know that this was the first time you’ve appeared on my show, on Millennial. And yeah, it’s very, very kind of you to do so.
John Waters: I really enjoyed talking to you Colin. It’s very interesting. I mean, it’s kind of a different way of coming at it. And it’s very interesting for me to do it.
Woes: Oh, thank you very much! Okay. Well I’ll end it there. And I’ll be back in 15 minutes with the Duke of Durham. I’m not sure whether that will be on YouTube. It might be Dlive only. I’ll speak to him first. But in the meantime thank you John Waters for taking part in Millennial 2020.
John Waters: Thank you very much Colin. Good bye.
Woes: All right. And everyone else I’ll be, ..
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