Alex Jones, explicit spreader of misinformation and founder of right-wing fake news site InfoWars, is a rabbit hole of intrigue I’d never expected to fall into.
Why would extreme right-wing media be associated with vitamins, survivalism, and hyper-masculinity? You can see the pattern in other alt-right figureheads like the grunting, nootropic-addled Mike Cernovich (he runs a pro-Trump blog peppered with pedophilia accusations and manliness advice).
The alt-right, Jones included, rallied around Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election. They saw his hardline conservative values as the closest thing they had to representation in the White House. The buzz on social media around Trump’s draconian pledges gave the usually-niche subculture of the alt-right space to get their voices heard in an era where a lot of the most vocal population agree with them to a degree.
When grouped together and vocal in the public sphere, it’s much easier to notice strange patterns in the movement and the individuals that it’s made up of. Notably:
- Belief in conspiracy theories
- Emphasis on masculinity, survivalism, and improving physical condition
- Mistrust of the dominant discourse
- The belief in some kind of Doomsday event, whether physically or socio-economically disastrous
Right-wing politics and the apocalypse
When you start to look at the alt-right’s belief that a catastrophic event can and will happen, it becomes clearer what kinds of other views they have, and why they put such a focus on survivalism and mind-altering drugs.
For Jones, the belief in an impending doomsday comes from a mix of Lone Ranger-style American independence, hyper-masculinity, and an inherent mistrust of the government, which in turn comes from the notion that communists still secretly pull strings in governments worldwide.
He instills this fear in his viewers with stories about how “globalists are filling our water with radioactive isotopes” (and that “water is a gay bomb“), and then uses that to sell water filters and “brain vitality” medicine to them.
In the video above, Jones mixes political messages with overblown sales copy to scare people into thinking they’re going to be poisoned by the establishment if they don’t buy into it.
What he says at the end gives a hint into his motivations:
“The products we sell that are about preparedness… That’s how we fund the revolution against the new world order and the move to restore our constitutional republic and the spirit of 1776 worldwide.”
While his reasoning is often erratic (all the world’s problems can be the fault of communists worldwide one week, and then male weakness the next), the overall message is the same: there’s a war on your mind, there’s a war on your body, and Infowars is the only one not bullshitting you.
Podcaster Nathan Bernard was the first place I found out about Jones, and the episode is well worth a listen for a solid backstory:
The right’s obsession with masculinity
While researching the links between political bias and masculinity, I found a pretty hilarious study:
“Researchers found that men’s opinions on redistribution of wealth could be predicted by their upper body strength, with powerful men more likely to take a conservative stance of protecting their own interests.”
Salon writer Chauncey Devega also claims that right-wing politics “protects and nurtures” “toxic white masculinity”. He says that much of the modern right-wing agenda can be explained by gender norms:
“Toxic white masculinity sees “liberals,” “progressives,” “social justice,” and “feminism” as enemies — out of a fear that “white masculinity” will somehow be made obsolete or extinct.”
And, when you look at Jones’ refusal to rely on the support of the government and his enthusiasm for survivalism and independence, it all makes sense: being on the right is equivalent to the classic ‘American way’ — you work hard, you get by, you don’t complain.
But Jones is even more extreme than that. He doesn’t trust the government (apart from Trump) or businesses (apart from the ones that make his water filters and pills). His whole world view makes him the ideal conspiracy theorist, salesman, and hyper-masculine primate.
While the alt-right often portray the left as a weak collective of cucks and betas, figures like Jones and Cernovich both display the traits of pumped-up brutes, driven by some ancient evolutionary rules that somehow seeped into popular politics.
Trendy Cuck Calls Alex Jones A Liar – https://t.co/VlMpwYjDfi
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) December 23, 2016
For Jones, politics and masculinity are inextricably linked.
None Dare Call it Conspiracy and Jones’ formative years
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Jones was heavily influenced in his teenage years by a book he calls “the quintessential primer to the New World Order”, None Dare Call it Conspiracy. The book aims to “prove that communism is socialism and socialism (a plot to enslave the world) is not a movement of the downtrodden but a scheme supported and directed by the wealthiest of people”.
The book argues that the Soviets were brought into power by a shadowy group of the wealthy elite as the first step in imposing a global government and keeping the world population dependent on the government.
Soon after adopting the views of Gary Allen, the book’s author, the perfect coincidence occurred to affirm Jones’ beliefs:
In 1993, a 51-day standoff occurred between police and the Branch Davidians religious group at a compound in Waco, Texas. Suspected of stockpiling illegal weapons and a culture of sexual abuse with minors, police stormed the compound leaving 76 dead.
The part of this story that really got Jones riled up was the police’s attitude towards gun control. He believed the actions to be in violation of the constitution, and representative of the hidden globalist forces stripping America of its Americanism.
Soon after the events of Waco, Jones dropped out of college and started hosting a Q&A show on an Austin’s public access TV channel. Over the years, this developed into InfoWars and The Alex Jones Show, which attract and influence millions of like-minded individuals every month.
When tracing back the links between conspiracy, far-right politics, masculinity and Jones’ present material, it’s extremely hard to believe that he is ‘just playing a character’ (as his lawyer claimed during a custody battle in which Jones’ on-screen instability put him at risk of losing the case).
If he’s just playing a character, he’s been playing it since high school where he obsessed over conspiracy books that blame global communist agendas for the world’s problems.
The scary thing about Jones’ beliefs and actions is that they make total sense when you look at them through the lens of his reality: a reality where you can trust no one, where there’s a war on your mind, and where ‘left-wing’ is nothing but a codeword for a pedophilic cult.