Monday, April 21, 2014

My thoughts on Michael Ruppert

I've been showing my students "The End of Suburbia," in which Ruppert played an important role, one almost as big as Kunstler, for the past five or six years.  That means I've listened to his recorded words and watched his filmed image at least thirty times (twice a semester, three semesters a year).  Even though I never met the man either, I have a sense of the man.  I can say that knowing that I won't see anything new from the man elicits a sense of loss from me.

As for the demons that haunted him, I watched some of the opening of "Apocalypse: Man" from Vice.  Ruppert was very clear about how little hope he had.  He sounded like one of the people who think that humans will go extinct by 2030.  I guess he didn't want to be around to see that happen.

Also, Vice described some of his other history, such as his confronting the CIA director over allegations of the agency's involvement in illegal drugs and Ruppert's later dabbling in 9/11 Trutherism.  When Ruppert's death was reported on Raw Story, that's the tack that the reporter took, calling Ruppert a conspiracy theorist.  That drew dozens, if not hundreds, of Ruppert's fans to defend him.

About that slant on the story, I have two things to say.  First, it vastly underplayed Ruppert's involvement in the peak oil community.  I don't know if this was a good thing or a bad thing.  On the one hand, it slighted an important aspect of the man and his message.  On the other hand, it didn't tar peak oil with the same brush as the conspiracy theories.

Second, it's a sign of how people on what passes for the American Left engaged in a form of "Evil, Be my Good."  When an unnamed Bush Administration official mocked the Administration's critics as "The reality-based community," Bush's opponents almost seemed as one to say, "yes, we are reality-based, and you're not."  I consider that to be one of the great rhetorical miscues of the 21st Century.  The upshot was for the bulk of the anti-Bush crowd to reject conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists as not reality-based, and that played out in the quotes Raw Story used in their obituary, including one from David Corn.

“'Conspiracy theories may seem more nuisance than problem,' wrote columnist David Corn about Ruppert’s work in 2002. 'But they do compete with reality for attention. There is plenty to be outraged over without becoming obsessed with X Files-like nonsense.'”

Above originally posted as a comment to The End of Employment at The Archdruid Report.

I'll have reaction to Ruppert's death from other bloggers as well as to my comments from other readers of Greer's blog later.  Stay tuned.  Until then, here's a thought from Escape from Wisconsin's eulogy at The Hipcrime Vocab.


  1. One might do well to read Alfred McCoy's books on the drug trade. It's very surprising that McCoy is still alive as far as I know. His work will undoubtedly shed some light as to Ruppert's supposedly being a conspiracy crank.

    1. Ruppert's ideas aren't what makes me suspicious of him. It's his ideas on 9/11. As Nebris notes below, Trutherism is a trap. I'll have more to say when I add your response with the ones from The Archdruid Report for one of the upcoming posts.

    2. To clarify, I mean Rupperts ideas about the drug trade.

  2. Thompson's suicide is easy to understand...if one understands Thompson. He was a cynic and fatalist from day one and he chose to talk shit, behave badly and party as hard as he could for as long as he could. Then, when he could feel the flesh getting weak, he punched his ticket. No feeding tubes for Mrs. Thompson's little boy, no sir.

    This guy? Who the fuck knows? But he was once a Respected Professional in a Respected Profession and now was thought a crank and had been quite thoroughly marginalized. That's pretty depressing, especially if you're constantly rubbing elbows with The Foil Hat Brigade.

    Also, once you start drinking that 9/11 Truther Kool-Aid you're really fucked. IMHO, those pushing that meme are either deeply cynical marketers – Paranoia Profiteers I call them - or paid disinformation operatives out of Langley. That is because any cabal that could pull off what the meme says they pulled off would be an undefeatable entity. And what government could resist inflating 'that' meme?

    Kustler might do himself one of these days. He IS a hysteric. But not Greer. Too much of a Mountain Top Narcissist. And I say that as a member of said species. ;)

    1. If Ruppert was a "Paranoia Profiteer" it wasn't out of cynicism; he struck me as a true believer. As for a paid disinformation agent, I've been accused of being one of those when I was a more active debunker (Google "Pinku-Sensei" and you'll find results that include that and worse). He didn't strike me as one of those, either.

  3. I didn't think him either of those. That type does not eat their guns.

  4. In Obituaries for the fourth year of Crazy Eddie's Motie News, I list this post as "the seventh most read entry of the past blogging year with 535 page views." The other highly read obituary was that of Leonard Nimoy.