During a May 3, 2010 interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box program, notorious financial miscreant Warren Buffett attempted to explain away the motives that propelled the subprime mortgage housing bubble into a spectacular pop. After being introduced by a sycophantic talking head as one for whom ‘thousands and thousands of his faithful gather to hear his every word’, as though he himself took a hand in inscribing one of the Sinai tablets, Buffett proffered a masterpiece of disingenuousness in place of an analysis:
Well, when there’s a delusion, a mass delusion, you can say everybody is to blame. I mean, you can say I should have spotted it, you can say the feds should have spotted it, you can say the mortgage brokers should have, Wall Street should have spotted it and blown the whistle. I’m not sure if they had blown the whistle how much good it would have done. People were having so much fun. And it’s a little bit like Cinderella at the ball. People may have some feeling that at midnight it’s going to turn to pumpkin and mice, but it’s so darn much fun, you know, when the wine is flowing and the guys get better looking all the time and the music sounds better and you think you’ll leave at five of twelve and all of a sudden you look up and you see there are no clocks on the wall and bingo, you know. It does turn to pumpkins and mice….It’s hard to blame the band. It’s hard to blame the guy you’re dancing with. There’s plenty of blame to go around….There’s no villain.
There was neither malice nor concupiscence in play here, you see, but mere heedless euphoria, as though the mass of Judaics on Wall Street merely ingested too much 7-Up at their slumber party the night before. Isn’t that reassuring? The Oracle of Omaha’s #1 fanboy, David Bahnsen, certainly thinks so. Flash forward to 2017, and the Middle-Management Minion of Manhattan has brought forth a polemic against his favorite bugaboo, ‘conspiracy theory’, presented in the sneering, jeering, faux-humble style we’ve come to expect from this lovable teddy bear:
I have held conspiracy theorists in a special contempt for a long time. Maybe it is the mere delusionalism. Perhaps it is the oft-accompanying anti-Semitism, or smug cynicism, or anti-patriotism, or frequent exploitationism – but the whole conspiracy world is a hodge-podge of cuckoo birds who as I wrote years ago, primarily lack an understanding of how the adult world really works.
…At the depths of the financial crisis, when the world’s economic stability truly stood on the precipice, I heard on a daily basis the cries of people that “Goldman Sachs was doing all of this to take over,” or “the Fed was just trying to get more control of [this or that],” or something that “they” were doing and “they” were up to. And because I had a pretty good seat to what was really going on – and knew that not a single person at Goldman Sachs, or the Fed, or Morgan Stanley, or the Treasury Department, had ANY IDEA what the hell was going on, or what to do about it, it occurred to me for the first time in my life that conspiracy theorists were not creating a little hellish nightmare in their minds; they were creating comfort and escape. The truth – that “elites” and policymakers were literally going day by day throwing a finger over a new hole in a dam and just winging it to get through this mess that they had not foreseen whatsoever, let alone diabolically planned – was way more frightening then their own concoction (that evil masters of the universe were pulling the strings to advance the cause of world domination, or at least holiday bonuses). In other words, the conspiracy theorists were not making up a doomsday scenario, they were hiding behind the comfort of a fantasy that there are somewhere in the world, people “pulling strings,” as Jonah says.
I think these people need such illusions. I think the randomness of the world and the reality of all her moving parts scare the you-know-what out of these adult-sized children, and conspiracism becomes a religion of its own – an opiate for the masses of people who struggle with the reality of misfortune, chaos, and challenge.
That discovery has actually given me greater empathy and sympathy for those plagued with the curse of looking for an Oz behind every curtain. It is not meant to be condescending; it is a real life (and accurate) diagnosis of their faulty view of reality, and the cause thereof.
Bahnsen’s magnanimity truly knows no bounds. Leaving aside his own childish pendant for using trendy empirical phrases in a feeble attempt to appear literate (‘delusionalism’? ‘exploitationism’? ‘conspiracism’?), and his laughable delusion that his extended tenure at Morgan Stanley automatically qualifies him as an insider, he nevertheless invites all us prodigals back into his fold, that he might bestow upon us a paternal smile and a dime – perhaps even a hot investment tip if we approach him with proper servility. What a wonderful, wonderful man.
This certainly is not a blind spot unique to Bahnsen, though. If you want to get pegged as an unsophisticated boor at best and an observer of signs and wonders at worst by the modern Reformed cabal, try suggesting the existence of a shadow government sometime. If you want this same cabal to rat you out to the authorities, try suggesting the Judaic makeup of said shadow government sometime. Just as the soberly regimental structure of Newtonian physics gave way to the gleefully anarchistic quantum theories of Einstein in the twentieth century, so too did twentieth-century theology adopt a chaos theory in order to avoid considering the full conspiratorial ramifications of a world poisoned by all-pervading evil. The resultant mishmash of a worldview was sustained through a synthesis of a mind-numbingly stringent biblicist burden of proof (“specific chapter and verse, or it never happened!!!”) with a sweepingly naive Tolstoyan philosophy of cause and effect (“the ephemeral yet inevitable Tide of History came forth and swept all of Napoleon’s divisions out of Russia!”). War and Peace might be the go-to guide for everything from Tsarist court etiquette to clover harvesting techniques on the Steppes, but it hasn’t been taken seriously as a historical analysis for a century and a half. Until the modern ‘church’ endorsed its contextual basis in underhanded fashion, at any rate.
Of conspiracies, the complacent habitually squawk ‘Where’s the smoking gun?? You have no proof!!!’, not unlike their fellow religionists who jeered at our Lord, ‘Shew us a sign, that we may believe!’ Do they never open their Bible? How do they interpret the first three verses of the second Psalm?
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
In his commentary on this passage, Matthew Henry speaks of the ‘ambitious projects and worldly lusts’ the wicked of the world devise to thwart Christianity. What more far-reaching a project, inflamed by a more all-encompassing lust, than international Machiavellian manipulation? The books of the Kings are not lacking in intrigues concocted by pretenders to the dual thrones, nor in power-grubbing plots anathema to God by those thrones’ reigning monarchs. Was there a magical epoch I missed somewhere when such fundamentally depraved human nature vanished like a case of the flu, never to recur? What of the ongoing campaign of Pharisaical entrapment to deliver Christ up to Rome on a bogus sedition charge, masterminded from the central HQ of the Sanhedrin? And, shocking as it will be to the legions of philo-Semites across the Protestant spectrum, the Jews’ unholy bray of ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children!’ was said in deadly earnest at the time…and has remained the guiding principle of their children ever since. Are we to believe that those Judaics in positions of great influence would not attribute their ‘success’ to this principle, and put in place virulently anti-Christian policies to further their own interests? The outstanding example of such a mindset, of course, would be the capital-H Holocaust — how many Christians put their faith in this hoary old myth wholeheartedly, yet see no contradiction in believing that the Reichstag Fire was a Nazi high command inside job – as maintained by that paragon of propriety, the National Holocaust Remembrance Museum?
Point this incongruity out to them, though, and they’ll still offer a couple of lame rejoinders as they desperately cling to their preconceived notions, like a lamprey who insists on staying latched to a dying shark. If they went to an institution of higher learning, they will likely throw the ‘Occam’s razor’ argument in your face at some point: “the simplest explanation is usually the right one!!!” Hey, I’ll go along with that. And what could possibly be simpler than an acknowledgement that when the reprobate attains power, he wishes to hold onto that power and will take every opportunity at his (considerable) disposal to augment said power? Or is it easier to believe that the Force or Chi or something equally equivocal and pagan felt like playing the roulette wheel that day?
If they are Christian, they will also express chagrin that conspiracists supposedly make light of God’s sovereignty by imputing too much influence to those who hate Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. For does not verse 4 of that selfsame second Psalm say:
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
As He does to this day. Why should He not use a transnational cryptocratic octopus network as a judgment against the stiff-necked remnant that dares to call themselves by His name in vain, bloated and stinking with the arrogance of ‘good’ intentions as they are? Take a look around you. Do we not deserve far worse still? Bahnsen’s contemptuous dismissal of such a ridiculous notion out of hand puts him in the proud company of royalty: namely, Zedekiah of Judah, who also presumptuously avowed his independence from Nebuchadnezzar and God’s immutable will, and lost his kingdom, sons, and eyes due to his intransigence. A truly just end for one who counted willful blindness a virtue.
In recent days, we have been treated to a somewhat different (yet no less astounding) manifestation of this giddily ignorant anti-determinism: the Bitcoin frenzy. I’m sure this will be an unpopular opinion, but the very idea that this pseudo-wealth is so untraceable by government overseers (particularly after being showcased on every MSM news outlet ad nauseum) that its current value of 17,000 fiat dollars is long-term sustainable is gut-splittingly laughable. This boom – driven by artificially low interest rates, like every other ‘boom’ of the past twenty years – has manufactured bubble written all over it, yet the likes of Marcus Pittman refuse to grasp that and loudly squawk about how you need to invest now, now, NOW before the momentum passes you by. Mini-crashes of $4500 in one day of trading don’t phase him either – he just blithely attributes such to the natural volatility of the free market. Apparently Apologia’s own Gordon Gekko was asleep during the aforementioned subprime/derivative bubble (and the dot com bubble which preceded that), and therefore refuses to believe that a similar pattern of impending doom (in all likelihood managed to benefit Bitcoin’s (((short sellers))) and the like) could possibly be recurring here. When (not if) the bottom falls out of this thing, what then? If nothing else, at least you could eat tulips if it came to that. ‘Tis a little hard to get nourishment from figures on a computer screen, though.
To sum up: Buffett might laud Bahnsen’s and Pittman’s acuity, but as he is a conniving scoundrel who can move markets with his own golden tongue to his own benefit, that doesn’t impress me one iota. Bahnsen’s little rant against the ‘insecurity’ of chaos skeptics is especially rich, considering it reveals far more of his own deep-rooted misgivings regarding his entire being than anything else. I think the man is honestly scared to death over being found out for the naive fool he is, and will therefore never admit to being wrong about anything. In so doing, he manages to hoist himself on the petard meant to impale the thinking Christians he hates. Bravo, sir. How proud your late father would have been.