How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus | Kurt Andersen

How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus | Kurt Andersen

Americans have always been magical thinkers
and passionate believers in the untrue. We were started by the Puritans in New England
who wanted to create and did create a Christian utopia and theocracy as they waited for the
eminent second coming of Christ and the end of days. And in the south by a bunch of people who
were convinced, absolutely convinced that this place they’d never been was full of
gold just to be plucked from the dirt in Virginia and they stayed there looking and hoping for
gold for 20 years before they finally faced the facts and the evidence and decided that
they weren’t going to get rich overnight there. So that was the beginning. And then we’ve had centuries of buyer-beware
charlatanism to an extreme degree and medical quackery to an extreme degree and increasingly
exotic extravagant implausible religions over and over again from Mormonism to Christian
Science to Scientology in the last century. And we’ve had this antiestablishment “I’m
not going to trust the experts, I’m not going to trust the elite” from our character
from the beginning. Now all those things came together and were
super-charged in the 1960s when you were entitled to your own truth and your own reality. Then a generation later when the Internet
came along, giving each of those realities, no matter how false or magical or nutty they
are, their own kind of media infrastructure. We had entertainment, again for the last couple
hundred years, but especially in the last 50 years permeating all the rest of life,
including Presidential politics from John F. Kennedy through Ronald Ragan to Bill Clinton. So the thing was set up for Donald Trump to
exploit all these various American threads and astonishingly become president, but then
you look at this history and it’s like no we should have seen this coming. The idea of America from the beginning was
that you could come here, reinvent yourself, be anybody you want, live any way you wanted,
believe any thing you wanted. For the first few hundred years, like everywhere
else in the world, celebrity and fame were a result of some kind of accomplishment or
achievement, sometimes not a great accomplishment or achievement, but you did something in the
world to earn renown. America really was the key place that invented
the modern celebrity culture, which was, beginning a century ago, more and more not necessarily
about having won a war or led a people or written a great book or painted a great painting,
but about being famous, fame for its own sake. We created that, we created Hollywood, we
created the whole culture industry and that then became what I call the fantasy industrial
complex where, certainly in the last few decades more than ever more than anybody thought possible
before, fame itself, however you’ve got it, was a primary goal for people. And again, as so many of the things I talk
about in Fantasyland, not uniquely to America but more here than anywhere. And then you get reality television, which
was this unholy hybrid of the fictional and the real for the last now generation where
that blur between what’s real and what’s not is pumped into our media stream willy-nilly. There are now more reality shows on television
than there were shows on television 20 years ago. And that’s another way for nobodies to become
famous overnight. YouTube, another way for nobodies to become
a famous overnight for doing almost nothing or nothing. So… again back to Donald Trump, he had the
advantage, unlike any normal politician, any person or normal businessperson for that matter
who might presume to run for president he was a celebrity, he was a show business celebrity. He was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame after
all and then also had this primetime show The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice
of which he was the star playing himself for 15 years. So he was pre-marketed in a way that in the
past would have been disqualifying for a president. Yes we elected a former actor Governor of
California and President of the United States, but not all at once and only 20 years essentially
in Ronald Ragan’s case after he gave up his Hollywood career. This is a different thing, this is I will
go directly from this playing myself on a reality television program to being president
and it worked proving the sheer power of any kind of celebrity. And again, yeah he was celebrated for having
made a lot of money, but he made a lot of money in all kinds of dubious ways rather
than normal forms of business achievement, but he’s famous. He’s a star. He was a star and that’s why he won the
nomination and that’s why he became president. Like all humans, Americans suffer from what’s
called confirmation bias, which is I believe this; I will look for facts for pseudo-facts
or fictions that confirm my pre-existing beliefs. Americans, long before psychologists invented
that phrase confirmation bias, had that tenancy, again, at the very beginning. “I’ve never been to the New World. Nobody I know has been to the New World. I never really read any first and accounts
of the New World, but I’m going to give up my life and go there because it’s going
to be awesome and perfect and I’m going to get rich overnight and/or create a Christian
Utopia.” So we began that way and that has kept up
“I just want to believe what I want to believe and don’t let your lying eyes tell you anything
different.” And again, that was always there in the American
DNA but kept in check by the needs of survival, by reality checks of various kinds. In this softer age where most people aren’t
going to probably die tomorrow as a result of believing fantasies and untruths we became
freer to believe them. So believing whatever nutty thing you want
to believe or pretending you are whatever you are or having even kooky conspiracy theories
or speaking in tongues, whatever it is fine if it’s private. The problem is when that, as it has in the
last couple of decades especially, leeched into the public sphere and the policies sphere
and like “there’s no global warming. We don’t have to worry about the seas rising.” Or “nah scientists say that vaccines are safe
but I think they cause autism so I’m not going to vaccinate my children” and so on
and so on that’s when the rubber hits the road, will hit the road, and people will start
saying wait a minute. Not until then, not until there’s a consequence
and not until there is a price to pay and not until the Donald Trump-ian fantasies,
for instance, the more short-term ones of oh I’m going to make every dream come true
that you’ve ever had for your country, actually one of his promises during the campaign. Or I’m going to create a healthcare system
that is better and cheaper and will cover everyone. Well, that’s probably not going to happen
and so once these fantasies are taken into the public sphere and the political sphere
and really in the short-term turn out to be fantasies and falsehoods that will persuade
some people, but not everybody. According to a recent survey 98 percent of
the voters who voted for Donald Trump in the primaries, which is to say his real base,
98 percent of them in late 2017 still absolutely supported him. So I don’t think that’s going to fall
a lot. Those are true believers. Back in the 1800s – back in before the 20th
century, especially in the 1800s, American journalism was a very, very factionalized
partisan thing. Political parties had their own newspapers
and their own magazines and everyone gave its version of political spin and interpretation. 20th century, for a variety of reasons not
just because we got smarter or more rational, maybe somewhat that, there began being more
of a shared set of facts in our media. People disagree violently left, right, center,
whatever, but the facts were agreed upon. What has been enabled in the last 30 years,
first through deregulated talk radio where you didn’t have to be fair and balanced anymore
then national cable television, FOX News comes to mind, and then, of course, the Internet
as well where these more and more not just politically different points of view but these
alternate factual realities could be portrayed and depicted. We’ve been in that state now for 20 years
or more so, again, we were softened up as a people to believe what we want to believe
but then we have this new infrastructure that I think is new that I think is a new condition. So there’s a history of oh I believe this
or I believe this or slavery is good, no slavery is bad, those are disagreements. But in 1860 Southerners didn’t say “oh no
there are no slaves. No there’s no slavery.” That’s the condition we have now. That is the Kellyanne Conway/Donald Trump
situation and Republican Party situation before Donald Trump ever came along where we say
no there’s no climate change or oh this factual truth is not true. That’s the new thing and this new media
infrastructure is a new condition. Now, it may not be the end of things as a
result, but we don’t know yet. We’re only 20 years into it and maybe we’ll
learn new protocols of what to believe and what not, we’ll grow up and be able to accommodate
ourselves to this new media situation, but I’m worried that we won’t and I’m worried
that a significant fraction of us, for now mostly on the right but there’s no reason
it should be limited to the right, will be in their bubble and their silo and with their
own reality and not be able to be retrieved into the reality-based world.

100 thoughts on “How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, Media Circus | Kurt Andersen

  1. Yeah, celebrity culture is why i'm hating this country, that and the land pirates. Why don't you morons just make your own [email protected]!!! Also, arguing against critics of ''Climate'' or vaccines just for the sake of it, isn't scientific either.

  2. I've always thought that the Vietnam War and the associated post-WW2 "fall from glory" sent American society into a collective depressive episode from which it had yet to fully emerge by 9/11. That became the final nail in the nation's quest for sanity.

  3. When this argument is made, the exact issue in question needs to be discussed. So americans have a mistrust of the so called elite, where do they disagree? Why?

    Its not enough to just blanket say we dont believe anything. Your argument is too general, and then you come out to smear Trump.

    Go find your safe space, stupid cuckold, imbecilic pseudo intellectual.

  4. This was started back with Reagan.
    Reagan’s strategy, was to undermine public education, make higher learning financially more difficult to attain, keep people ignorant of civics and reality, and then use celebrity persona to fool the lowly educated gullible
    Trump put that play on steroids
    Lowly educated people love a con man
    Because they want to believe “just add water, stir n drink and it will all be better”

  5. call the wine wine and the bread bread.. stupidity, natural sickness of the masses.. crazy is too nice and vague considering the foreseeable future. Sometimes the cure is in the disease.. but the serum makers are not at the universities or the real teachers are traded by entertainment.. just like in this youtube channel "shranked think"… Dónde está el Chapulín Colorado cuando lo necesitamos?!

  6. It is absolutely not limited to the right. During the last presidential election cycle, I spoke to so many people that were supporters of every candidate(including Stein and Johnson), that had outlandishly incorrect views on actual recorded events and scientific facts, that I despair of humanity's future. But you are correct, for at least the last 20-30 years, the denial of facts and science was largely a phenomenon of the far right.

  7. There is a reason those most divorced from reality tend to be on the right. The left tends to be post religious in their thinking. When you don't base your life on the fantasy of religion, you are far less susceptible to other lies.

  8. What's truly laughable is that this guy thinks, (like all the other elitists), that the rise of Trump was an effect of his celebrity, as opposed to his messages on immigration, and the tax, spend and giveaway policies of the left. It will be very interesting to see how middle america accepts the radical socialist takeover of the Democratic party in 2020.

  9. Maybe Americans should get off their lazy fat asses, stop watching garbage TV, get on planet Earth ( reality) start to get real education…and maybe then you will succeed.

  10. Every body is anti elite until they are elite themselves. There is no poor against rich, its light workers against demons.

  11. If you don't mentioncultural marxism or the Frankfurt school or counter revolution, or critical theory, you're telling people to pay no attention to the man behind the green curtain.

  12. This is a bar room or coffee house rant. You call this BIG THINK? Lol. All he's really saying is be followers of the rulers and authorities. This thinking was dumped by the enlightenment that taught the notion of following our personal intellects and consciences rather than the received teachings of those with the trappings of authority. Martin Luther would have been rejected by this guys line of thinking, along with most reformers and philosophers of the Reformation/Enlightenment age. BTW:

  13. He is spot on. I feel like I'm living in a detached world where it's glaringly obvious that any attempt to bring reality to the table is met with a brick wall where nobody wants to hear anything bar their reality. I'm glad I'm not the only one seeing this. Even some very intelligent people seem incapable of dealing with anything that doesn't confirm their bias. It's absolutely frightening and something I spotted years ago. Ai is not the bogey man it's alternative realities is happening now.

  14. Most people wonder what the truth is::: Do you think they would read about it? No. They follow the first person who talks about the subject with a certain aura That's how gregarious people have become. THEY ARE SELF-SLAVING

  15. This commentator is living in a bubble. While he is right about the human condition and worship of celebrities, he is obviously unaware of the international political maneuverings going on. This problem is not just an American phenomenon and a Trump phenomenon. It is world-wide and it is openly played out in politics through propaganda and the suppression of reality by world organizations such as EU and UN. For example – the UN is forcing migration through its UN Migration compact 2018. (Which I personally do not take sides on). But the international agreement stipulates that journalists must be re-trained if they write anything bad about migration. This would then put any person writing about it or openly talking about negative realities happening on the ground – to then be branded as a conspiracist. This is creating a dreamlike utopia by suppression of information which is reality. To understand what really is going on, Americans who give these kind of opinions must also understand what is going on in the rest of the world. The next utopian idea being pushed by UN and EU (and most governments on earth) is one federal world government…… So do some international homework. I agree there are a lot of celebrities on YouTube who are not worth their salt but so are many professors at universities…… The bible is accurate when it says: " do not put your trust in man" Ps 146: Do not put your trust in princes Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. 4 His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish

  16. This guy is selling B.S.! Mormonism, Scientology are to be held out as extreme? Dude open a history book for gods sake! Read up on Catholics or the Jewish faiths if you want to see some crazy insanity!

  17. He is right about a lot of the things but also an example of the problem. He does not need to point out the republicans because the democrats are just as equally bad with what they do. They own the media so the make fake news and that causes the republicans to not trust the facts. Like most situations there are 2 sides and when you demean one side it will just cause then to double down.

  18. Agenda 21 is a wild conspiracy theory; the are no elites. Governments are by law not permitted to lie to people. This guy says it best.

  19. Who the hell told you that you were the ONE to know what correct or real? Think America is so dumb, how has it become the greatest country on earth? Trump will go down as one of the best!

  20. Dude! Thanks for the video! We Americans are world famous for being stupid and easily deceived. Yes, because of our industrial might we are powerful but we are considered a powerful buffoon and basically we are. We have little "class" and are number one in almost nothing. Religion and ignorance are the cancers of the intellect of our planet and we have enormous quantities of each.

  21. Maybe this "craziness" was there all along, and the internet (YouTube, Facebook, and other social media), has given it notable exposure.

  22. Lots of discussion here. That is a sign of progress anyway, regardless of one's stance, bias and conclusions made without the benefit of irrefutable facts and peer reviewed scientific data.

    Now all that is needed is objectivity, openness, liars/shills STFU, consideration, alturistism, culling untruthful media, culling psychopathic thought, sharing, grasping a handle on culture (population overshoot, bad religionist dogma, prisoner over incarceration, moral wars {victimless "crime" enforcement beyond rendering aid like the too encompassing drug war, entitlement, hubris, profit and too much greed, see an individual for who they are- not what they have, look like or whatever}), continued progress in medicine/benign technology and pretty much an entire about face of millennia of evolved human nature that we possess now.

    We have to. We should. We could. We Will?

  23. What a lame interpretation of the MAGA President.
    Kurt…look at the revolution during the past 2 years, that is NOT the work of a "reality TV" entrepreneur.
    You are full of your TDS-self.

  24. I believe Mr. Trump was elected because many Americans figured out how much they have been lied to . . by close-minded "elitists" like this fellow. And hey, he's free to go live in someplace better if he feels this place is not the best on the planet . .

    Please don't believe things are "factually true" because some blatantly biased talking head like this guy says they are . . that's anti-rational group-think . .

  25. Fake news from the left:
    Racism everywhere.
    LGBTandx (1/2 % of people) are very important.
    Islam is the religion of peace.
    If you believe women have as good opportunities as men you are a mysogynist.
    Real news from the left:
    If you do not agree with the above, free speech is not for you. you need to be shouted down with incoherent slogans.

    I will always vote left, unless they are just stupid. Trump is a lesser evil.

  26. But there’s no point in everyone on here pointing and laughing at the US. Look at the shitstorm that is the Middle East. Are they any less crazy?

  27. Strange as it may sound the thousands of years of cheap liquor "rotgut" liquor as massive alcoholism was much worse. I'd point out that people who were drunk all the time didn't have a very good grip on reality either, many ended up homeless several times in their lives. Fetal sprectrum disorder inflicted terrible damage to babies, spouse and child abuse was rampant. If anything I will admit many people today are perhaps overly aware and less practical of the world we live in. But many problems are discussed and dealt with today, that were ignored for centuries. But we still have idiots and irresponsible people as has always been the case. It is humanity, after all.

  28. Western Civilization was doing just fine until Columbus made his voyage. The existence of the mega-state USA has done nothing but pose a drag on Western Civilization, and is cause of the downfall of all Europe. Better if Columbus had sailed off the Edge of the Earth.

  29. Mr. Anderson is like the rest of us. Even in this short talk, he exposed his own confirmation bias in certain areas.

  30. The comment section and this guy clearly live in a liberal bubble where everyone they know believes what they believe so it must be true everywhere. The lack of self-awareness astounds me. They aren't aware of, let alone heard the reasons people don't agree with them fully. They're not aware there are good reasonable arguments with intelligent people who disagree with them. Except for the vaccines its acknowledge that there are side effects that can be serious although rare. Anti-vaxxers that are diehard may still say they cause autism but people who are more balanced don't.

  31. Kurt had a convincing arguement. Trump is a fantasy manufactured by Reality TV, but unfortunately he bought into the manufactured CO2 Global Warming Conspiracy as opposed to the Solar Cycle Climate Change theory. Goes to show how everyone is suceptible to propaganda. You are also in the bubble Kurt.

  32. Americans are stupid now, they think climate changing is at gods hand, they believe trump, think all news is fake even if some is, believe in only voting for 2 candidates out of 320 million people.. there is no such thing as ' reality ' for the USA anymore. delusional people on a sinking ship saying ' if we're sinking why are we rising '

  33. First of all Trump did not exploit anything. He responded to big government stealing money from the people of America. Dont be so obtuse Kurt Andersen. What kind of money do you make? It must be as clean as the driven snow, right! So its obvious this is a hit piece on Trump. Guess what Kurt, Trump will be reelected and more people like him in the future. By the way, you are hardly fair and balanced in this diatribe. You are the kind of snob that no one should listen to. You have no solutions for anything and just sit their and make fun of everything and everybody that isnt a snobbish elitist like you. Hopefully you never have another chance to pollute any more young minds.

  34. The problem is, know one actually knows what they think they do. Liberty is regulated freedom. We are not a democracy, but that's not a bad thing. All men are created equal, meant rich, white land owners. Race means a challenge to become leader, not ethnicity. Man does cause atmospheric heating, but not how your being told. The US Constitution only applies to federal government and it's territory. We are a land of law, not freedom. The Native Americans were free. The "Wild West" was free. Populism is mob mentality. Political parties are based on tribalism. Nothing you know is correct. The masses are easily manipulated, so the larger the population, the worse it will become.

  35. Love all the comments by people who probably live in Europe and are not speaking Russian because of US. I have been to Europe many times and lived there in the summer as a kid. Now Europe is an Orwellian nightmare starter kit. Mass immigration from 3rd World types who will not assimilate and crash the welfare system. Censorship laws that criminalize the 1st Amendment- oh wait, they do not have a Bill of Rights. No 2nd Amendment to prevent this slide to tyranny. A currency that is about to implode. Europeans have swallowed whole the Post Modernist myth and are paying for it.
    I have traveled enough to realize that the US is the best "really screwed up country" that there is due to the US Constitution.
    What this guy misses or just lies about is this: the election of Trump was about a wholesale rejection of the Post Modernist Agenda by 50% of population.

  36. Go to 7:46 if you want to understand the hidden objective here.

    This is not a video of truth. This is liberal propaganda.

  37. 5:38 – And his wealth was over inflated into a "billionaire myth". And that is how I've been qualifying Americans: People of myths. They create myths (HUGE myths) about their history, society, entitlement, destiny, etc. they live for their myths and they need their myths to shape their "reality" (Not even realizing that reality based on fantansy is anything but rreality). They have been programmed, brainwashed (Or as they robber baron owners called it: Socialy conditioned) to crave these myths and they need to be deprogrammed; some have been, but not enough have.

  38. Americans today are the product of a centuries-long program of selective breeding that makes most of them genetically incapable of reason or learning from mistakes.

  39. Let’s just be honest, America went haywire when it was invaded by the dregs of Europe. These transplanted Europeans then broke away from their mother country to create a country that would cater only to white people(rich white people to be exact). Europeans brought their borders and inequality to the new world. After white settlers waged genocidal warfare against the natives and broke every treaty east and west of the Mississippi it was time for Mexico to have its land stolen by white Europeans. All the meanwhile the country was built from the ground up with black slave Labour. Until we come to grips with this origin of the USA there will be much suffering and hate. White people have a hard time with the real history of the americas, they like the Disneyland version of happy pilgrims and giving natives.

  40. The core problem is the grand delusion and quasi-state-religion called "The American Dream". It is the biggest lie and mind-fuck that almost all American believe in.

  41. Americans talk about how they are the best country in the world, yet 80% of them have not even been outside their own state, and let alone can't find their own country on a world map. I remember back in the 2000's when George Bush invaded Iraq & Afghanistan, they were all chanting "We are fighting for our freedom!!"… Freedom from what?!.. Some poor sheet wearing rice eating islamist in a cave 25,000 miles away in another continent?! I have not heard that chant from them in a long time, perhaps it got out of trend?.. From my personal opinion going by the people i've seen on YouTube and chatted with on IM programs through the years, The common American seem to be a self-entitled snobbish lunatic who thinks the world belongs to him/her.

    There was once an American dream. That's true. But that dream ended when Kennedy was assassinated.

    I said this years ago but i will say it again. USA is now is like the fall of the Roman Empire. Maybe it will take another 100 years but slowly and surely it will go down by its own admission.


  43. The fact that you think of anyone that becomes successful "NOBODIES" that was not validated by the establishment says so much about you.

  44. Americans have lost it. The mental illness raging across the USA is embarrassing. Apparently the "USA" is what happens when you remove education from the education system and reward ignorance with a participation award. The USA is not first at a single thing that matters anymore. However, ask an American and they will argue that and spend an hour telling you how wonderful they are.

  45. Went to the movies leather night I haven't been to them very often in the last decade. Saw the Joker. I used to go to the movies and take down notes about what movies were coming out there are three watch concerts from the movies two movie trailers for something that was created one of them being a Quentin Tarantino documentary on himself. There were no more movies no one's bothering with the craft

  46. It is easy to talk about the historic opressors and white nationalism because people feel more open about condeming it. But lets really be factual. Nobody is really cares about christianity or christian utopias. Lets face the real problem: Racialutopias, equalityutopias, diversityutopias.
    That wich america prides it’s self for is destroyin it: Diversity.
    Because it really isn’t a strength and what it actually does is divide the masses into a boiling cauldron of racial competition for landmass, resources social heirarchy and political power.
    BigThink likes to think of it’s self as tackleing a problem but it’s actually dodgin the real issues of this country.
    We have to accept that our current diverse model isn’t working and how can we fix this problem?
    Because forcing people that are not white into white neighborhoods or forcing white neighborhoods to accept “diversity” is actually counter productive. It is making the whites flee and making those that stay resent brown people because they get their neighborhoods to stay mono ethnic meanwhile white neighborhoods are expected to be “diverse”.
    Is there a way to increase social cohesion between many ethnic groups? Probably not and most likely not.
    Maby we have to start accepting that our nation is slowly becoming a less slavic version of the Balkans.

  47. The Nazis created the idea of being famous was a great thing for one's achievements but that was one of the ways to get support for the war and the Nazis amounts other things…

  48. I don't have a problem with promoting your own reality. But it's gotta work. There are any number of ways we could do things in our society. Arguably, we have yet to hit on the best possible way. I don't think the numbers add up in the current model. But there's no real point in moving to a system that doesn't remedy that problem. Galileo had his own reality.

  49. Puritans were a mentally I'll sect that got kicked out of europe.Truly a psychotic form of twisted christianity.
    Profound problems is that USA is detached from reality.Because of its geography and isolation from the rest of the world.
    Only things Usa is interested is Europe…especially Germany and Russia.

  50. Why is USA always doing those persolity tests on specifically Germans and Russians.
    Turned out that Germans profoundly vote Democrat and Russians profoundly vote Republican.

  51. "The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind."

    — H. L. Mencken

  52. Kurt has truly put his finger on it–the almost uniquely American "fantasy-industrial complex"–the anti-expert-elitist mob mentality. It almost seems to be a component of the national DNA, & it isn't going anywhere. We are screwed.

  53. People who claim to like a celebrity as if they know who they are behind the persona or who worship them are so weird! My heroes are not yours. I admire greats like Carl Sagan while y'all care about some hot movie star. I definitely don't fit in nor do I want to. It's just a bunch of fair-weather people just talking about the weather. Im next level.

  54. Hollywood, biased Media, Corporate Democrats, Deepstate live in a bubble. 10s of millions of working classes is beyond out of control. Hunger Games is real.

  55. This is 100% how us europeans view the US. Only in the US itself the Illusion works (while the american life expectancy goes down and down while in Europe higher and higher, because americans believe freedom is being free to be poor, sick, addicted and to kill, not understanding how unfree all that actually is for themselve and their neighbors – this is not Schadenfreude, its feeling pity for fellow human beings and being angry at propaganda).

  56. I refuse to listen to a man that can't invest money in a simple lint roller prior to his big interview to talk about how bad his fellow Americans are………………….Lint Roller, they key to keeping stray old wifu hairs off your jacket

  57. us libertarian elite is completely out of mind, they think as long as the people work for their crazy banksters they can continue messing everything up.
    including their idiocity that nonwhite people can't be racist. and are all law abiding people, they lived on the backs of law enforcment for decades.

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