STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Jon Stewart
By Staff News & Analysis - November 01, 2010

Jon Stewart's (left) "Rally to Restore Sanity and/Or Fear" Saturday (October 30) was a smorgasbord of the satire and send-ups of pundits, politicians and public issues Stewart's "The Daily Show" has specialized in for years. However, at the end of the three-hour event at the National Mall in Washington DC, Stewart used that same incisive humor to drive home the point that Americans aren't as crazy as the media would have us believe, and that the everyday triumphs that don't make the news are truly representative of the American people. – Huffington Post

Dominant Social Theme: We have our differences, but please calm down. If you just stay calm a little longer we will solve your problems.

Free-Market Analysis: We didn't go to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear but on Youtube we watched Jon Stewart's stirring address to the crowd toward the end of the rally. We think it was a consequential speech, especially considering the vast coverage the media has given it and the number of gatherings that took place not just in Washington DC but across the country. In this article, below, we would like to analyze Stewart's speech and then present an alternative perspective.

Is it just coincidence that Stewart's rally took place in Washington DC? Sure, he followed Glenn Beck. But there are other precedents as well. In fact, the last time the realm was faced with this sort of challenge may have been during the Great Depression. Then World War I veterans marched on Washington DC demanding money they had been promised. The powers-that-be shuddered and feared general civil unrest. The veterans settled in shantytowns in Washington DC and were only expelled after a good deal of violence and hand-to-hand combat.

The crowd at the mall for Stewart's speech was of course peaceful and even good-natured. But the elite in our view very much fears the growing tide of frustration in America and is counting on Jon Stewart and others to make the case for civil restraint and tolerance. In this sense, there is no doubt that Stewart's speech was a kind of promotion, the presentation of a dominant social theme. His speech, the rally itself, is testament to the kind of optimism that America has been famous for. The basic thrust was that people should simply calm down, take a deep breath and work together to solve problems without demonizing each other.

Why did we make the title of this article "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Jon Stewart?" Well, in fact it was suggested to us. Friedrich Nietzsche popularized the use of eternal recurrence in the West; the idea that "the universe and its events have already occurred and will recur ad infinitum." (Wikipedia) This perspective, he maintained, if actually realized, would give people's decisions almost unbearable heaviness. (Imagine if every action you took was going to be repeated forever!) But in the great book (and less-great movie) from Milan Kundera, we find the opposite perspective: Each person has only one life to live, and that which occurs in life occurs only once and never again — thus the "lightness" of being.

This imposes its own problems, of course: that life is insignificant and in the modern day especially most decisions we make are light as well and have little impact even on our own lives let alone others. This insignificance can be a cause of suffering – the "unbearable lightness of being" that comes from realizing that one's life is inconsequential and that very few lives, if any, approach any kind of transcendent meaning.

After thinking it over, we tend to agree that in his speech, Jon Stewart was proposing a solution to the heaviness/lightness conundrum that tortured Kundera. What Stewart was proposing in his own shy and comedic way was that people find a sense of heaviness in their personal lives and relationships through a kind of communitarian bonding. Through sharing life experiences and a kind mystical communality Stewart was suggesting that people could find comfort in each others' life experiences – and feel less alone as a result.

Lets examine a little more of what he said. He began his speech as follows: "And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity. If that's okay – I know that there are boundaries for a comedian / pundit / talker guy, and I'm sure that I'll find out tomorrow how I have violated them. … So, uh, what exactly was this? I can't control what people think this was: I can only tell you my intentions."

See how he approaches this task? This kind of low-key eloquence is much harder to render than one might think. It is most difficult to make modest jokes one minute and incisive observations the next. This is one of his best lines: "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing." This hewed to the heart of the speech and the rally in our view, which is that people shouldn't get too worked up about the problems of society and the economy right now. There have been worse times, and people should resist demonizing others. Here's some more of his speech:

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear – they are, and we do. … We can have animus, and not be enemies …

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult – not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

Why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable – why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own?

We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is – on the brink of catastrophe – torn by polarizing hate, and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don't is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

Times are tough, Stewart is saying, but let us work together to overcome bad times and put aside our differences. Let us join hands as Americans have done before and overcome adversity with compassion for our fellow citizens and without depersonalizing them. In this sense, Stewart's message was somwhat similar to Glenn Beck's message offered only a few weeks before. The difference is, perhaps, that Stewart's message was specially constructed to defuse national tensions and frustrations that Americans are feeling right now.

We have analyzed Stewart's argument as a message. But one probably needs to put the speech in context to truly understand it and its intentions and impact. When seen in a larger frame of reference, the speech likely becomes something else. We have, in fact, heard enough about "context" to be able to cobble together a single rant of the sort that we presented the other day from a friend of ours who was upset about the sovereign money movement and suspicious of it as well. You can read his rant here: Debriefing a Sovereign Money Hater.

What we present below, then, as before, is in our own words but represents the input of several others who were NOT AT ALL impressed with Stewart's speech, and believe it to be a kind of cleverly contructed elite promotion. They point out it has already been repeated and magnified tremendously by the mainstream media and was thus no ordinary presentation. This opposing view also addresses the lightness and heaviness that is referred to in the title of this article. As follows:

"It is true the message of Jon Stewart's speech was uplifting and even ennobling as you have analyzed it. And you SHOULD analyze it this way, Daily Bell, because this is how it will be presented to the general public with a good deal of approbation. There is nothing in the speech that is remotely objectionable. It was written brilliantly. It affirms people's anger, recognizes their pain and suggests the solution is to take action through communitarian and legislative processes. It is impeccably professional and could have been written by a convocation of experts at the Tavistock Institute.

"And that's just the point, in fact. The elite's manipulation, developed via research at Tavistock and elsewhere, calls for a series of 'shocks' to be delivered to the body politic. This happened in the mid-60s via rock-and-roll and the introduction of the Beatles, the concept of being a teenager and then the increasing violence, gang-banging and black power movement that spread across the US. By the 1970s, the US was truly a kind of psychotic society. The elite's purposefully inflicted madness seems to have subsided in the 1970s and 1980s and did not become active visiblw active again until the 1990s and beyond.

"But now it is all happening again. The madness of the 2000s defies comprehension. The UN meets repeatedly to try to make a civil crime out of breathing air and expelling carbon dioxide. Muslim terrorists in caves supposedly orchestrate a take down of the biggest buildings in the world in New York but the investigations are so flawed that 9/11 Commission members themselves disavow the report – but no further investigation is authorized. Instead the US prosecutes a war in Afghanistan against the Taliban that did not – everyone agrees – participate in the 9/11 attacks. The US then attacks Iraq to capture its weapons of mass destruction, only there aren't any. Nonetheless, the US pursues an eight-year war in that wretched country and slaughters thousands of innocents along with militant religious Iraquis.

"As part of its wars, the US and its NATO allies use depleted uranium, a terrible cocktail that has poisoned the lands of the Middle East and contributed to deaths and birth defects in both Iraq and Afghanistan. On top of this, the US itself begins a campaign of intimidation and torture overseas and makes it clear through various legislative devices that the same tactics used against Muslim terrorists can be turned on Western citizens who disagree with emerging authoritarian policies. In fact, in the US, habeas corpus is overturned and military troops are now used routinely in cases of American emergencies. The authoritarianism grows. Homeland Security swells and people are now routinely bombarded with radiation from advanced, quasi-X-ray machines when they try to fly.

"Even while the militaristic mindset expands, economies contract. Western central bank economies have reached the end of their cyclical effectiveness. It is impossible for groups of people (central bankers) to fix the price of money. In their attempts, over time, they have literally drained/ruined Western economies which all-but-collapsed in 2008. Even now, it is impossible to resuscitate these Western economies because the distortions remain thanks to the bailouts – and nobody is sure who to lend to, and nobody wishes to borrow anyway, given all the uncertainty. Unemployment in fact is at catastrophic levels. Governments set unemployment at 10 percent but in fact the real rate of joblessness may be 20 percent or even 30 percent. By basically outlawing real money – gold and silver – as circulating currency, the powers-that-be have brought catastrophe down on everyone's head.

"The military and industrial ruin has been responded to by the power elite with more bailouts. In the US, the real debt, looking forward is an impossible US$200 trillion. In Europe, it is estimated that up to five or six major countries are terminally indebted. The EU political elites will not allow secession however and have embarked on a continually illegal campaign to strengthen the Lisbon treaty and bind European nations ever closer to the failing EU. The anti-democratic monstrosity that is the EU grows ever bigger and more powerful while avoiding any consultation with the citizens for whom it claims to speak. Regulations pour out in a torrent from Brussels, rationalizing everything from the kinds and amount of fish that can be caught to the amount of eggs that can be sold. (A dozen is now apparently illegal).

"Let us not forget the Codex Alimentarius sponsored by the EU and the UN, which seeks to regulate food and veterinary standards activities. either. The ultimate upshot will be to make vitamins illegal unless doctor-prescribed. The treaty also basically does away with ancient herbal medicine and substitutes the chemicals and surgical process of Western pharmaceutical health care for indigenous medicines with proven, if apocryphal results.

"All of this is supported and 'legalized' by Western regulatory democracy. In fact, regulations are a fiction as is Western monopoly justice itself. The prison industrial complex jails millions but the laws are written by the state, enforced by the state and prosecuted by the state. Regulatory capture has overtaken most Western institutions and industries, so that entire economies function under mercantilist principals – in which the very biggest industrialist giants, via legal and illegal bribery and graft, increase their market-share at the expense of everyone else.

"This is the backdrop you have to acknowledge when listening to Jon Stewart's speech. He urges people to work together and use the legislative process to make things better. But it is 'working together' within legislative parameters that have made things worse to begin with. The Anglo-American power elite thoroughly controls the emotional process at this point. The only thing they fear its logical de-legitimization. That is why such a reasonable speech is actually a clever reinforcement of the status quo – a status quo the elite, which seeks world government of some sort, badly wants to maintain.

"Anyone who thinks this speech is something other than a kind of delaying tactic, a plea for people to give the current system more time is not seeing it for what it is. The Western elites are moving as fast as they can to create the rudiments of a real global government. They seem to believe all they need is time. And yet perhaps they are running out! As you yourself have reported, Daily Bell, the fear-based promotions that the elite has used to gather power and engage globalist institutions are foundering now. Global warming has failed to convince and the new biodiversity meme that the elite has apparently turned to in desperation is so rushed it is incoherent.

"The elites plans might have worked much better if not for a combination of the truth-telling power of the Internet that has alerted people to alternative, free-market ways of organizing society and the downturn of Western economies, which has probably been much harsher and quicker than the elite intended. As a result people have educated themselves about what is going on in a historical manner. Central banking is on its way out – which would have been unheard of even ten years ago – and the elite apparently does not know which way to turn to retain its money monopoly.

"They are trying to establish the IMF as a global central bank but the IMF is well-hated and it is doubtful the BRIC countries will cooperate in extending the monetary hegemony of the Anglo-American elite. The same Western powers that are having trouble extending their economic dominance are having similar difficulties in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars are not going well: Iraq is supposed to be pacified but the country cannot even agree on a government. Afghanistan is a failure so long as the war is not expanded into Pakistan, which would bring another 200 million Islamic tribes-people into conflict with the West.

"It is true that the Western elites seem apt to expand their wars currently – into Yemen and even Iran. But absent the ability to use nuclear weapons, these wars will only drag on and destabilize elite memes even further. The next groundswell of discontent will likely be against regulatory democracy itself, against its incessant warring, its industrial penal complex and its growing authoritarian tendencies generally.

"The usual tools that the elite uses to control this sort of swelling discontent is war, but the war on terror does not work well on the Internet and there is generally too much suspicion about government and government manipulations to make war an effective tool – so far anyway. Perhaps an attack on Iran will create the proper galvanizing patriotism necessary for the elite to maintain control. Or perhaps it is too late for that.

"One can argue that the elite intends to make the economic situation much worse – to pile war on top of economic dysfunction and to create a full-blown crisis that will force through some sort of global governance. But to do this would be to reveal the elite's age-old mechanisms and manipulations to an Internet audience of billions. In fact, the age-old Western elites seem somewhat schizophrenic right now. They are obviously aware of what the Internet – like the Gutenberg press before it – has done to their regime, but their response has been, nonetheless, to speed up their program.

"What exactly do they hope to gain? They are well and fully exposed. Manipulating governments and UN processes to declare a more powerful international rule will do little or nothing to change the dynamic that is taking place. If civil unrest comes – and it has already advanced – why would it make any difference whether the legal environment is national or global? Angry people numbering hundreds of millions and perhaps even billions will not acquiesce to its legitimacy in either case. This rush to consolidate power seems counterproductive within this context. It is as if the Western elites are moving forward on a predetermined track even though the Internet itself has blown up all the bridges ahead.

"There, Daily Bell! That is the context in which Jon Stewart's speech must be seen. Visualize it against this backdrop and it takes on a different hue – and becomes a different and diffuser message. A lighter rhetoric. People's decisions DO matter in the 21st century – average people – and not for the reasons that Stewart is suggesting. In fact, it is the leaders of society, the ones who were previously seen as weighty who are increasingly weightless. They are perhaps on the wrong side of history. They are light and growing lighter. Put it into context, and Jon Stewart's speech leads us to exactly the opposite conclusions.

Edited on date of publication

After Thoughts

"Point this out to your readers, Daily Bell. Point it out! Despite Stewart's reasonable and peaceable rally and words, his own producer assaulted a 9/11 'truther' on the streets of New York at a recent book signing. Stewart's production 'crew' in fact surrounded the man and jeered him before he was punched. It seems obvious – there is a good deal of anger emanating out of Stewart's camp. Where is it coming from? Why do they feel attacked? Could it have to do with a growing sense of an 'unbearable lightness of being?'"

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