Why Alex Jones Renounced President Trump

Things have changed a lot for Alex Jones in the last year or two. Long gone are the days when I used to listen to Infowars every day, a research process that was as much social anthropology as it was history, but I still like to keep an eye on the Tip of the Spear himself.

Things were looking good for a while – the media were paying attention, and thinly-veiled analogues for Jones were appeared in Homeland and The X-Files. He won over a new audience with a stoned appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience. Most of all, a presidential candidate was calling in to the show and making references to Infowars in speeches and tweets.

Donald Trump’s election was a phyrric victory for Jones, however. When your capital is based on your opposition to the institutions of state, it is a problem when you find yourself aligned with those institutions. The narrative of the Deep State worked for a while – the idea that Trump was being prevented from carrying out his more radical policies by unelected officials in organisations like the Department of State and the CIA with an unspoken agenda of their own. This kind of narrative fitted seamlessly on top of preexistent New World Order narratives, but we shouldn’t ignore that it was also the argument made by many Obama supporters as to why he also failed to close Guantanamo Bay. Conspiracy theories are in no way restricted to the right, nor to the margins.

But Jones has also had considerable personal problems. He split up with his wife, Kelly, and lost custody of his children in a rancorous public court case which famously saw Jones’ lawyer claiming his on-air person was “performance art”. Many of his critics leapt at the chance to say this was an admission of what they had known all along, ignoring that if he was lying the first time, why assume he was telling the truth this time, especially when his children were at stake? Kelly was a significant cog in the Infowars machine, and has kept the pressure on, very publicly. Two Infowars employees sued for unfair dismissal, accusing Jones of sexual harassment and racism. Then some Sandy Hook parents sued over claims that it was a staged false-flag. There are rumours that he is having problems with alcohol. Even his protegé Paul Joseph Watson seems to be distancing himself.

When Trump launched a bombing raid on Syria on 13th April 2018, Alex lost it.

During a 26-hour live show (something Jones has done annually for some time), a clearly exhausted Jones begins teary renouncement of Trump which builds into a tirade that makes his fragile state of mind plain.

“I will tell Trump that, you really betrayed your family, and your name, and everything that you stood for… I thought of Donald Trump as a bigger man than me… When I turn against Trump, it’s not because they got to me… I feel like I just had my best girlfriend break up with me… I’m done with Trump.”

It’s hard to read this as mere performance art. His co-host looks genuinely concerned as he repeatedly tells Jones not to stay on air. Jones interrupts him so often that he falls into a confused silence.

There’s no way the Alex Jones of ten or even five years ago would have failed to work this into his broader narrative somehow, no way he’d have let his audience know he was wrong. This disavowal says a lot more about Jones than it does about Trump.

Here’s what I did this week

Here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to over the last week or so.

First, and as always, check out my news roundup of The Week in Conspiracy – published every Friday.

I published a post over at CenSAMM, the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements, on the function of conspiracy narratives in Heaven’s Gate. Check it out here.

One function of conspiracy theories is to deal with uncertainty, which includes theological uncertainty, particularly failed prophecy. These challenges to the truth-claims of such groups can be sidestepped by positing a conspiracy against them, which shifts the blame from the group itself to an external force. In effect, it would explain that Nettle’s death did not lead immediately to TELAH not because it was wrong, but because it was prevented from happening by these “negative forces”. Such a move can even make a potentially divisive ideological issue into a source of group cohesion, by heightening the impression of an existential threat against them.

I also have a chapter in Fabricating Identities, edited by Russell McCutcheon. The book’s a spin-off from the Culture on the Edge blog, and explores identity not as a thing we possess, but as a thing we enact. My chapter is about academic identities, and how in becoming specialists (in my case, a religious studies scholar), we actually help maintain and reify those categories. The book is an entertaining collection of short, accessible essays, and because it’s Equinox, it’s cheap too. Have a look here.

The Week in Conspiracy | 1 Sept, 2017

The Week in Conspiracy is out – https://paper.li/d_g_robertson/1502115472#/

Some updates… The manuscript of The Brill Handbook of Religion and Conspiracy, which Asbjorn Dyrendal, Egil Asprem and I have been working on for the last couple of years, was submitted to the publishers last week. I’m getting ready to travel to Chester for the annual conference of the British Association for the Study of Religion, where I will be giving a paper on Competing Narratives of Gnosticism, the first fruit of my current research project on the contemporary discourse on Gnosticism. More on that soon…

The Week in Conspiracy, 25/8/2017

The latest Week in Conspiracy is out! Read it here – https://paper.li/d_g_robertson/1502115472#/

Media of UFOs, Conspiracy Theories and the New AgeBut wait! Before you go, let me tell you that my book came out in paperback this week! If you have been waiting because the hardback was too expensive, now you can get it for about £25. Get it here, or your local Amazon (not forgetting to use the Religious Studies Project affiliate link so we get some money back off The Man).