The Big History Behind January 6th, Coda: The Redpill Deception and the Tipping Point
This article is the coda to a six-part series. Listen to the audio version here.
“Governments lie; bankers lie; even auditors sometimes lie. Gold tells the truth.” — William Rees-Mogg
In 1996, James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg published “The Sovereign Individual,” a manifesto that predicts the decline and fall of the nation-state and its institutions. They describe the imminent rise of “digital cash” as a replacement for fiat currency, and suggest that “sovereign individuals” will increasingly wrest control from failing governments and weak, inflationary fiat currencies. One recent reviewer described the work as “implementation details for Atlas Shrugged.” Jacob Rees-Mogg, the younger son of William Rees-Mogg, later played an influential role in advocating for “hard Brexit.”
Steve Bannon has enthusiastically embraced the “generational history” concept popularized by William Strauss and Neil Howe. Their book, The Fourth Turning, is widely considered to be a pseudo-historical, quasi-Hegelian study of the so-called “cycles” of history.
Where “Sovereign Individual” posits we are on the brink of the “fourth stage” of human history (the previous three being hunter-gatherer; agricultural; industrial), Strauss and Howe conceive of the world in terms of deterministic and interlocking generational cycles that repeat throughout history. For many years, Bannon has believed we are on the brink of a violent and revolutionary “fourth turning,” and he has done his level best to help accelerate its emergence.
Taken together, the Sovereign Individual and Fourth Turning frameworks provide context for what this network thinks it is trying to achieve today.
Assange as Accomplice
Shortly after founding Wikileaks in October 2006, Julian Assange described nation-states as “conspiracies,” and identified specific strategies for disrupting them. “To deal with powerful conspiratorial actions we must think ahead and attack the process that leads to them since the actions themselves can not be dealt with,” he wrote. Assange clearly articulated the network dynamics of state control. With the express goal of destruction of the state, Assange’s efforts are, in fact, naturally allied with advocates of “sovereign individual.”
Likewise, “leftists” (whether actual or performative) aligned with Assange are advancing the drive towards ‘autarchy’ and destruction of the state—whether they realize it or not.
“Some Redpilling Is Necessary”
So-called “red-pilling” has been seen in the United States as synonymous with allegiance to the Republican party. The truth, however, is more complicated.
In the broader context of the “sovereign individual” movement, “red-pilling” is an online induction mechanism that gradually draws people into an information milieu aligned with its goals, with celebrities and key figures in the “intellectual dark web” serving as gateways.
Elon Musk, Kanye West, Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Don Jr. and Ivanka frequently wink and nod at each other. Musk announced his “full support” of West’s abortive 2020 presidential candidacy, before saying he no longer did a week later. Don Jr. made sure to note West, Owens, and Kirk hanging out together. While it is tempting to dismiss these characters as circus clowns, they have considerable capacity to draw people increasingly further into the “sovereign” information sphere.
Nancy MacLean has described this process as inherently deceitful. In her book “Democracy in Chains,” she says that Charles Koch, after many failed efforts to bring people to the sovereign epiphany, realized it was necessary to go about it in a stealthier way. Because if Americans understood the implications of his vision and what that meant in practice, they would never support it; in fact, they would actively oppose it.
So Koch, working with economist James Buchanan, identified a kind of technology in the form of a series of incremental “interrelated plays” that could be employed both in series and in parallel that each would be met with approval of the majority of the people, but would ultimately result in the destruction of the state and the rise of the sovereign individual. At some point, it would be too late to go back.
Lately, Charles Koch has adopted something of a “charm offensive,” aiming to appear friendlier and less extreme. But indeed his devotion to the sovereign cause has never wavered. Arguably his latest posturing is just another “interrelated play” designed to advance his life’s obsession.
Likewise the initiatives of CNP-affiliates Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Scott Presler, Cassandra Fairbanks, Brandon Straka, Ali Alexander, Steve Bannon, and so many others should be seen as “interrelated plays.” Indeed, party affiliation is now meaningless. Fairbanks, who first identified as a Bernie supporter and then became a Trump supporter, now bristles at the “alt-right” label prefers to be called simply a “populist.”
The rise of artificial intelligence as a means for amplifying what we are already doing and doing more of it, along with the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies challenging fiat control suggest to some that we are already past the tipping point. I am not so sure, but we must first recognize what’s happening if we wish to do something about it.
5th Generation Warfare
We previously discussed the concept of 4th Generation Warfare and how it was used to lay a 30 year groundwork for the events that led up to January 6th. More recently, we have seen discussion turn to so-called “fifth generation warfare,” which has been articulated by the writer Daniel H. Abbott in his 2010 book, “The Handbook of 5GW.”
Really a synthesis of a variety of ideas expanding on Lind and Boyd’s concepts from 4th Generation warfare, the thrust of 5th gen warfare is to wage war on the context of battle itself. Where two sides may have entrenched positions, develop a new context entirely that offers advantage to early adopters. Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and things that seem “crazy” now are examples of areas of battle that nation-states are currently ill-equipped to address.
By the time they figure out that they pose a significant threat, major irreversible shifts may already have occurred. And indeed, this is what proponents of the so-called “Great Awakening” believe will occur. In the 5GW framework, communications is infinitely fast, hierarchy is jettisoned in favor of networked insurgency, and every participant is a combatant either actively or passively. Weaponizing the reactions of civilians as a tool of battle is also fair play. It is a framework for continuous and total warfare.
With 5GW deployed in service of the “sovereign individual” agenda, we would expect networked attacks on stock markets, central banks, fiat currency, and continuous shilling of cryptocurrencies. All of these things happened in the first quarter of 2021, and we should expect more as the year progresses.
Ultimately 5GW is about hacking mass perception of reality. It will be increasingly important to distinguish what is actually happening from what people think is happening, and to find trustworthy ways to tell the difference.
For example, while many people were expecting some sort of QAnon “Great Awakening” violence on March 4, 2021, and laughed when it didn’t materialize, we noticed something else that day: a transaction of 11,980 BTC (about $600 million USD) involving a wallet associated with persons tied to Cambridge Analytica. Other chatter has pointed towards plans for financial manipulation; this is still under investigation.
We like to think we live in a democracy. The daily machinations of party politics, while important, tend to make us think it is the primary field of play. Arguably, however, true power plays out within interlocking global networks of interest. As this series has shown, serious ideological conflicts may play out between networks over the course of decades. We are still litigating the New Deal, the gold standard, Vatican II, climate change, fossil fuels, and domestic surveillance.
When powerful networks subvert the mechanisms of a democracy, it becomes a plutocracy. Some may argue that this has been true of many democracies for some time, while others argue they are still salvageable. I believe we can defend our democracies, but only if we measure and manage the degree to which capture of the state has already occurred. We urgently need to develop a consensus mechanism for understanding state capture and work towards solutions that limit it. Repealing Citizens United is a necessary first step.
How to Cope in a 5GW World
People ask me, “So what can we do? Isn’t there something we can offer people to give them hope?”
I tend to think that 95% the problem is getting a good diagnosis, so I spend time there. But for those looking for that 5% of practical advice once they learn about the cancer, here are some ideas I hope can help.
- Forget about political parties, left and right, and nation states; think instead about networks and power. The global oligarch network behind the “sovereign individual” agenda requires a kind of feudalism that subordinates people in proportion to their wealth. This network exists both inside and outside parties and in many nations. It no longer makes sense to think of concepts like “left and right” and “Russian interests” when we are literally talking about a globally networked set of factions. In fact, the “dirtbag left” is functionally aligned with CNP and Russian oligarchs and Falun Gong, and seem content to work together in common cause. Abandon counter-descriptive frames.
- Think like a historian. It’s easy to get lost in the moment. As disinformation researchers pore over digital ephemera and we react to the latest dispiriting news, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. By maintaining a 10,000 ft. overhead perspective and looking at power as a networked phenomenon that persists through time, it’s easier to see themes and motives that can lend context to seemingly disparate information. This will become increasingly important as networked warfare tactics attempt to scramble people’s ability to consume and make sense of information. Both imagination and a long-term perspective are essential.
- Check yourself. A common tactic in 5GW is to attempt to weaponize your cognitive bias in an effort to draw you into a reactive faction. Once a faction is sufficiently well defined (and has identified and labeled its enemies) it can be weaponized at scale with specific information payloads. If you find yourself being drawn into such a group and reacting emotionally, back off and center yourself.
- Seek primary sources. Turn off TV news channels. Where possible, read original documents and reports. Listen to Congressional hearings live.
Our world is awash in personal data. Firms like Peter Thiel’s Palantir have picked up where prior systems like PROMIS (which was at the heart of The Octopus) left off. The domestic surveillance debates from the Church Committee era are far from settled.
Today, Thiel is very active in advancing the “Sovereign Individual” agenda. In fact, he wrote the foreword for the latest edition of the Rees-Mogg/Davidson book. Thiel allies Bret and Eric Weinstein took a stab at an “interrelated play” in 2020 with “Unity2020,” a campaign to draw audiences from the left and right together in service of the sovereign agenda. Thiel has also provided $10 million in funding to the populist candidacy of Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance. And of course, Thiel and Musk were co-founders of PayPal.
A new blockchain-based social network called “PanQuake” 🙄 is being designed with the intent of being fully decentralized. While some firms are seeking to do this in ways that are ethical, PanQuake is being designed and informed by a network of known disinformation actors (the people who brought you Pizzagate, Seth Rich, and parts of QAnon, including, allegedly Julian Assange’s mother) who seem intent on seeding the seeds of global destruction by creating an uncontrollable social messaging environment. We’ll see how that ‘pans’ out, but this appears to be their intent.
In a world where everyone is a target of information warfare, and where networked insurgency is being actively and openly used to capture the instruments of the state, we might wonder if we can do anything to resist this encroachment of power.
Arguably, we can take action to curb the effects of these influence campaigns, but we have to first understand what’s happening. My hope is that with this series of essays we might be just a little closer to such an understanding, and be better equipped to turn the tide towards a more democratic and just future.
This piece is a coda to a six part series that aims to provide historical context for the events that took place on January 6th. Please follow me on Twitter for subsequent updates as they become available. Media inquiries for features, podcasts, and other derivative works may be directed via email. For additional details on this research, please see this exhaustive documentation.