environment & politics

“Nothing Is Real Anymore. Nothing Is As It Seems.”

An Astroturf campaign:

… is a fake grassroots movement: it purports to be a spontaneous uprising of concerned citizens, but in reality it is founded and funded by elite interests. Some Astroturf campaigns have no grassroots component at all. Others catalyse and direct real mobilisations. The Tea Party belongs in the second category. It is mostly composed of passionate, well-meaning people who think they are fighting elite power, unaware that they have been organised by the very interests they believe they are confronting. We now have powerful evidence that the movement was established and has been guided with the help of money from billionaires and big business. Much of this money, as well as much of the strategy and staffing, were provided by two brothers who run what they call “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”.

Charles and David Koch own 84% of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. It runs oil refineries, coal suppliers, chemical plants and logging firms, and turns over roughly $100bn a year; the brothers are each worth $21bn…

Americans for Prosperity is one of several groups set up by the Kochs to promote their politics. We know their foundations have given it at least $5m, but few such records are in the public domain and the total could be much higher. It has toured the country organising rallies against healthcare reform and the Democrats’ attempts to tackle climate change. It provided the key organising tools that set the Tea Party running…

Astroturfing is now taking off in the United Kingdom. Earlier this month Spinwatch showed how a fake grassroots group set up by health insurers helped shape the Tories’ NHS reforms. Billionaires and corporations are capturing the political process everywhere; anyone with an interest in democracy should be thinking about how to resist them. Nothing is real any more. Nothing is as it seems.

The real world is a far more frightening place than could be created by the combined minds of the freakiest SFF writers. What’s more concerning is how few people know, and that fewer even care. It’s as if by closing our eyes to this that we’re all narrating our own apocalyptic futures.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

9 replies on ““Nothing Is Real Anymore. Nothing Is As It Seems.””

I’ve been following a few stories on astroturfing and, frankly, I’m appalled by it. It’s making a mockery of due process and the idea of what democracy does. Mind you, what *is* that these days, other than leave the vast majority of the population completely disaffected?

Have you seen Zeitgeist Mr. Newton? It delves into the astrological origins of Judeo-Christian theology, the events of 9/11 and the encroaching one world government. Thought it might interest you if you haven’t watched it already.

I’m sorry to interject, but “Zeitgeist” and its sequels are utter nonsense. They’re products of a poorly conceived blending of invented history and paranoid conspiracies – at best.

Think the sort of folk who believe black UN helicopters are overflying Montana, AIDS was a virus created by the World Bank to cause Africa to default on its loans, and Al Gore is actually a robot. Throw in a bit of misunderstood pagan theology, dodgy email chain letters, and too many late night LAN parties and you have… Zeitgeist, the Silliness.TM

If they weren’t so easily debunked and so crudely pasted together out of the sort of News of the World stories – they might be humorous.

The movie has been throughly debunked numerous times since it appeared way back in 2007 – just google the two words together and you’ll see; though beware, the film makers have the perfect defense to fall back on: that the debunkers and skeptics are either (a) mentally ill or (b) part of the conspiracy that Doesn’t Want You to Known the Truth ™.

Mysterious Mysteries is a far more reliable series by comparison.


Very interesting. I don’t know much about the Tea Party movement, but I always just assumed that it was the result of some cynical, powerful uber-Republicans manipulating America’s ignorant and gullible. And guess what…

Ah, well, never heard of it being debunked before, so thanks for that E. M. Edwards, I’d never thought to look otherwise. Only mentioned it as the astroturfing reminded me of the money section, silly me 🙂

I apologize for my overly mocking/acerbic reply on this post. Humour doesn’t always translate, well online, as I should know.

That said, spurious conspiracy theories get my back up. We in the Western World live in a sphere where there are so many hostile organizations operating right there in the open: Haliburton, international banking, Walmart, Xe Services, BP, the Tea Party, the Tories, the Catholic church – to name but a few. They commit daily, horrible social wrongs which damage the world and its divers inhabitants. People are right to be sceptical of their governments and of religion – I’m an expat and an atheist, so I’m not against this on principle. But I don’t have any love for sloppy paranoia theories either – and there are enough holes in Zeitgeist to drive through a whole convoy of black-windowed, unmarked army vehicles.

States and the monied self-elect whom they almost universally serve have no problem keeping the vast bulk of their citizens out of the loop. It doesn’t take wide ranging conspiracies to keep evil alive and well. Or apathy. I think we’d like it to be so, because in many ways such fantasies are better than the truth: that people are easily suborned to commit acts of cruelty and self-advancement, that they will choose ignorance over knowledge if it helps them to sleep at night, that abuses by the system *are* the system or at least systematically a part of it – how much better to say it was the fault of a super secret cabal! But that doesn’t help. Tilting at windmills is a fine sport, but there are real giants of inequality and predation which we’d be better served by people with thinking minds going after.

The Z-movies even have a scattering of half-truths in them, which makes this sort of thing all the more dangerous as it brings up some very reasonable concerns but then goes and connects them to completely falsifiable sources.

I don’t like Zeitgeist much either because it smacks of “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” but with a post 9/11 spin.

Again, no hard feelings I hope. I apologize if I sounded overly rude in my original denouncement.



Lou – we’ve not really had much in the way of democracy in the UK. The vote, yes, but democracy?

Neil / Eric – I’d never heard of Zeitgeist until now. I might have to hit Google to see what the fuss is about!

Rachel – what’s sad is just how open and brazen the manipulation is these days. There’s barely even an effort to cover things up.

Heh – you’re bang on re: democracy in the UK. I guess you could call the prevailing political system institutional manipulation. Take the issue of life peers in the House of Lords. You have a system which allows people access to the reins of power by dint of birth. You replace it with a system where those already in power get to decide who’s appointed. Which one’s more democratic? Hmm.

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