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“Thrive”: Counter-Culture Fascism in Cinema

Thrive: “Oh wow! An inter­na­tion­al Jew­ish bank­ing con­spir­a­cy runs the world. Far out!”

COMMENT: The advance of fas­cism fea­tures a bur­geon­ing array of media and orga­ni­za­tion­al phe­nom­e­na that direct peo­ple of more “progressive”–even “hip” ori­en­ta­tion in the direc­tion of big­otry and right-wing total­i­tar­i­an­ism.

In par­tic­u­lar, anti-Semitism–denying that it is anti-Semitic–has become some­thing of the “fla­vor de jeur” for much of the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor. The cloud­ing of minds with mys­ti­cism has accel­er­at­ed this trend, par­tic­u­lar­ly among the young.

A recent issue of the San Jose Metro–a free week­ly paper in the South­ern Bay Area–featured an inci­sive analy­sis by Eric John­son. This impor­tant arti­cle dis­sect­ed the fun­da­men­tals of a pop­u­lar cult film enti­tled Thrive.

The brain­child of Proc­tor & Gam­ble for­tune heir Fos­ter Gam­ble, the film fus­es New Age mys­ti­cism and cult “free-ener­gy” mythol­o­gy with Old Age anti-Semit­ic ide­ol­o­gy pin­ning the world’s trou­bles on the Roth­schilds and Jew­ish con­trol of the finan­cial indus­try. (Gam­ble him­self holds forth on var­i­ous sub­jects in the film itself.)

In addi­tion to Gam­ble him­self, “Thrive” presents the fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy of G. Edward Grif­fin [1], a promi­nent John Birch Soci­ety the­o­reti­cian. (The ori­gins of the John Birch Soci­ety are detailed in AFA #11 [2].) In addi­tion to his doc­tri­naire racism, demo­niz­ing the likes of Mar­tin Luther King, Grif­fin tags the Fed­er­al Reserve Sys­tem as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the “Zion­ist” finan­cial cabal.

The most out­landish of the fascisti whose “think­ing” is fea­tured in the film is David Icke [3]. A for­mer soc­cer play­er, Icke has rein­vent­ed him­self as a polit­i­cal guru, dis­sem­i­nat­ing the view that the world’s pow­er struc­ture is con­trolled by “rep­til­ian shape-shifters” who pose as humans, eat young chil­dren and, some­how, are part and par­cel to the inter­na­tion­al finan­cial con­spir­a­cy advanced by Grif­fin, Gam­ble and com­pa­ny.

Anoth­er of the old-line fas­cists whose ide­ol­o­gy is con­tained in the film is Eustace Mullins [4], although his influ­ence is upon Gam­ble’s the­o­ret­i­cal out­look, rather than in “Thrive” itself. An unabashed admir­er of Adolf Hitler, Mullins is among the sem­i­nal fas­cist ide­o­logues to tab the Fed as an out­crop­ping of the “inter­na­tion­al Jew­ish bank­ing con­spir­a­cy.”

Not sur­pris­ing­ly Icke [5],  Mullins [6] and Grif­fin [7] have been extolled by the so-called “Truthers.” [8] Both have also been fea­tured on the pro­gram of for­mer Fox pun­dit Glenn Beck [9].

In addi­tion to the New Age mys­ti­cism, the film’s cache among “pro­gres­sives” is strength­ened by the inclu­sion of the likes of Deep­ak Chopra [10], Amy Good­man [11] and envi­ron­men­tal­ist (and Baskin & Rob­bins heir) John Rob­bins [12].

This, in com­bi­na­tion with the dumb­ing-down of Amer­i­ca, has fueled the pop­u­lar­i­ty of “Thrive.”
Not sur­pris­ing­ly, the film has gar­nered a con­sid­er­able fol­low­ing among the “Occu­py” move­ment, accord­ing to author John­son.

“Thrive” appears to be among the most suc­cess­ful man­i­fes­ta­tions to date of counter-cul­ture fas­cism [13], adding some­thing of a bohemi­an fla­vor to the old adage that anti-Semi­tism is “the social­ism of fools.”

(Author Peter Lev­en­da [14], among oth­ers, has chron­i­cled the over­lap of alter­na­tive reli­gions such as Satanism with fas­cist and Nazi ele­ments in his book Unholy Alliance [15]. The alter­na­tive reli­gious connection/New Age phe­nom­e­non is cen­tral to the suc­cess of works like “Thrive.”)

“The Dan­gers Behind the Cult Film ‘Thrive’ ” by Eric John­son; The San Jose Metro; 5/16/2012. [16]

EXCERPT: Thrive, a two-hour doc­u­men­tary that has gone viral since its release on the web in Novem­ber, sells itself as an opti­mistic vision of a utopi­an future marked by “free ener­gy,” free­dom from oppres­sion and spir­i­tu­al awak­en­ing. But on its way to depict­ing a dream-world utopia, Thrive deliv­ers a dark and dis­hon­est ver­sion of the real world and espous­es a blend of para­noid con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and right-lib­er­tar­i­an pro­pa­gan­da.

The San­ta Cruz cou­ple who made the film, Fos­ter and Kim­ber­ly Carter Gam­ble, build their tale around an unde­ni­ably poet­ic idea: that there is a secret pat­tern to be found in nature, and that we can learn from it. . . .

. . . In the film’s sec­ond sec­tion, Gam­ble sets out to show exact­ly how and why the gov­ern­ment and its spon­sors are dup­ing us. This sec­tion prob­a­bly accounts for its bur­geon­ing online pop­u­lar­i­ty with the Occu­py move­ment and its sup­port­ers. (For the record, I count myself among that audi­ence seg­ment.)

Bring­ing in pro­gres­sive heroes such as Van­dana Shi­va and Paul Hawken to recount the more or less well-known crimes against human­i­ty per­pe­trat­ed by the likes of Mon­san­to and Exxon-Mobil, Thrive makes the famil­iar, and jus­ti­fi­able, case that huge cor­po­ra­tions have too much pow­er, are large­ly cor­rupt and pose a threat to soci­ety.

But then, once again, the film­mak­ers jump the tracks of ratio­nal­i­ty. This is where the film should go polit­i­cal, but instead it plays the con­spir­a­cy card. And not just any con­spir­a­cy, but the grand­dad­dy of them all: that a hand­ful of fam­i­lies con­trol the world and plan to enslave human­i­ty.

In his soft voice, the gray-haired, blue-eyed Fos­ter Gam­ble says, sad­ly: “As dif­fi­cult as it was for me, I have come to an inescapable and pro­found­ly dis­turb­ing con­clu­sion. I believe that an elite group of peo­ple and the cor­po­ra­tions they run have gained con­trol over not just our ener­gy, food sup­ply, edu­ca­tion and health care, but over vir­tu­al­ly every aspect of our lives.

“When I fol­lowed the mon­ey, I found it going up the lev­els of a pyra­mid.” (As the torus sym­bol dom­i­nates Thrive’s first sec­tion, the pyra­mid dom­i­nates the sec­ond.) And at the top of this alleged pyra­mid of evil: the Roth­schilds.

Not every­one watch­ing this film will know that this argu­ment has been around, and been dis­cred­it­ed, for decades. Appar­ent­ly, the desire to find some­one to blame for all the world’s prob­lems spans gen­er­a­tions. And the Roth­schilds make a pret­ty good tar­get.

Are the Roth­schilds very, very rich? Undoubt­ed­ly. Are the mem­bers of this fam­i­ly doing the work of Moth­er Tere­sa or the Dalai Lama? Most­ly not. Are they all-pow­er­ful pup­pet-mas­ters who secret­ly rule the world? Are they descend­ed from a race of snake-peo­ple? Do they eat chil­dren? Um ... no, no and no.

Are they Jew­ish? Well, yes. And it must be said: The argu­ment made in Thrive pre­cise­ly mir­rors an argu­ment that Joseph Goebbels made in his infa­mous Nazi pro­pa­gan­da film The Eter­nal Jew: that a hand­ful of bank­ing fam­i­lies, many of them Jew­ish, are run­ning the world and seek­ing glob­al dom­i­na­tion.

Fos­ter Gam­ble inoc­u­lates him­self against charges of anti-Semi­tism, stat­ing flat­ly: “This is not a Jew­ish agen­da. Let me be clear.” But while he scrubs out the open­ly anti-Semit­ic aspects of the dis­grace­ful idea, the rest of it haunts the film.

And, once again it must be said, when describ­ing sym­bol­ism used by his imag­ined Dark Lords of the Uni­verse, Gam­ble does not hes­i­tate to note that the Sign appears on the build­ing that hous­es the Israeli Supreme Court, which he erro­neous­ly claims “is fund­ed entire­ly by the Roth­schilds.”

To prove his eco­nom­ic the­o­ry, Gam­ble invites G. Edward Grif­fin, author of The Crea­ture from Jeck­yll Island, which recounts the cre­ation of the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank, a his­tor­i­cal moment which Grif­fin claims was orches­trat­ed by the “glob­al elite who want to con­trol the world and cre­ate a New World Order.”

One of sev­er­al vet­er­an con­spir­a­cy­mon­gers who appear onscreen in Part Two of Thrive, Grif­fin is a long­time lead­ing mem­ber of the ultra-right wing John Birch Soci­ety, a fact not men­tioned in the film. For those who may have forgotten—the John Birchers prac­ti­cal­ly invent­ed the mod­ern con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.

Found­ed in 1958 to car­ry on the work of the anti-Com­mu­nist cru­sad­er Sen. Joe McCarthy, the Soci­ety went on to bat­tle the Com­mu­nist con­spir­a­cy we now known as the Civ­il Rights move­ment, and its leader, whom many of them referred to as “Mar­tin Lucifer King.”

Then the Birchers focused their ener­gies on reveal­ing the exis­tence of a Satan­ic (lit­er­al­ly) group they called the Illuminati—a cadre of pow­er­ful fam­i­lies that secret­ly rule the world.

While Grif­fin may be the most far-right pun­dit to appear in Thrive, he is not the most far-out. That would be David Icke, although it would be impos­si­ble to know that from the inter­views that appear in Thrive.

Ick­e’s role in the film is to explain the eco­nom­ic the­o­ry behind a com­mon bank­ing prac­tice known as frac­tion­al reserve lend­ing. He does this in less than two min­utes, with the help of South Park–style ani­ma­tions, as though explain­ing the the­o­ry of rel­a­tiv­i­ty to an atten­tion-chal­lenged sec­ond-grad­er. And of course, he makes the prac­tice appear sin­is­ter.

For a more sym­pa­thet­ic por­tray­al of the prac­tice, see George Bai­ley’s bank-run speech in It’s a Won­der­ful Life: “You’re think­ing of this place all wrong, as if I had the mon­ey back in a safe. The mon­ey’s not here. Your mon­ey’s in Joe’s house, that’s right next to yours. And in the Kennedy house, and Mrs. Make­lin’s house, and a hun­dred oth­ers. You’re lend­ing them the mon­ey to build, and then they’re going to pay it back to you as best they can.” That’s frac­tion­al reserve lend­ing.

Point of fact: With­out frac­tion­al reserve lend­ing, almost nobody read­ing these words would ever be able to own a house. You would need to raise not only a down pay­ment but the entire val­ue of a home in order to pur­chase it. (Or be born with a for­tune, as was Fos­ter Gam­ble, whose grand­fa­ther found­ed Proc­ter and Gam­ble.)

At any rate, Ick­e’s brief expli­ca­tion car­ries the day for Gam­ble, who con­cludes that with this bank­ing ploy, “We inevitably become debt-slaves to a rul­ing finan­cial elite.”

Icke then goes on to explain, in a minute or two, how banks caused the cur­rent reces­sion pur­pose­ly, in a plot to get their hands on all of the nation’s real property—a devi­ous plot that has been “going on for cen­turies.” Again, as with many con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, there’s a pret­ty big grain of truth to that.

Accord­ing to the film’s web­site, this is David Ick­e’s area of exper­tise: “Icke reveals that a com­mon formula—‘problem-reaction-solution’—is used by the elite to manip­u­late the mass­es and pur­sue alter­na­tive agen­das.”

But a glance at Ick­e’s own web­site reveals that this is not his pri­ma­ry area of inquiry. Icke, it seems, is bring­ing the work of the John Birch Soci­ety into the New Age, fur­ther­ing its study into the Illu­mi­nati. Like the Birchers, he swears he is not an anti-Semi­te, yet his site is rife with attacks against the “Roth­schild-Zion­ists” who have, among oth­er things, sur­round­ed Pres­i­dent Oba­ma.

Ick­e’s inno­va­tion is that he tells the ancient con­spir­a­cy lie in the lan­guage of a self-help guru. “The Illu­mi­nati are not in my uni­verse, unless I allow them in,” he says. “And then, I give them pow­er. They’re fright­ened, fright­ened enti­ties.”

It’s telling that Icke uses the word “enti­ties,” because Icke believes the Illu­mi­nati, the peo­ple run­ning the world, are not peo­ple at all. David Icke, the man cham­pi­oned in Thrive for his insight to eco­nom­ics, spends most of his intel­lec­tu­al ener­gies show­ing that the world’s lead­ers, from Queen Eliz­a­beth to Bill and Hillary Clin­ton to Barack Oba­ma, are not human, but are mem­bers of “blood­lines” descend­ed from an inter­plan­e­tary cadre of evil, god­like human/snake hybrids he calls “Rep­til­ians.” . . .

. . . He [envi­ron­men­tal­ist John Rob­bins] says that in pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence, he learned that his friend [Fos­ter Gam­ble] was being influ­enced by the ideas of Eustace Mullins, whom he calls “the most anti-Semit­ic pub­lic fig­ure in U.S. his­to­ry.”

Fos­ter Gam­ble did not respond to an email request for an inter­view, but there is cer­tain­ly evi­dence in Thrive that Mullins’ views influ­enced him. One of the cen­tral fea­tures of the film is the sup­posed rev­e­la­tion that the Fed­er­al Reserve Bank is a crim­i­nal enter­prise; Mullins is the man who gave birth to that the­o­ry, in his 1952 book, The Secret of the Fed­er­al Reserve.

The fol­low­ing year, Mullins pub­lished his most noto­ri­ous tract, “Adolf Hitler: An Appre­ci­a­tion,” which prais­es the fuhrer for his cru­sade against the “Jew­ish Inter­na­tion­al bankers” who were attempt­ing to take over the world. In sub­se­quent books, Mullins argued that the Holo­caust nev­er hap­pened and that the Jew­ish race is inher­ent­ly “par­a­sitic.” Incred­i­bly, Mullins also insist­ed until his death that he was not an anti-Semi­te. . . .

. . . . Most of the solu­tions Thrive puts for­ward will res­onate with its tar­get audi­ence of spir­i­tu­al­ly inclined pro­gres­sives: stay informed, shop local, eat organ­ic, avoid GMOs, etc. But not all. Giv­en the trou­bling com­plex­i­ties of part two, I was only slight­ly sur­prised to find that one of the val­ues of the future Thrive depicts is “lit­tle or no tax­es.”

No tax­es. Sounds good—but does that mean no pub­lic libraries? No state parks? No pub­lic trans­porta­tion? How about roads? Social Secu­ri­ty? Haven’t the Gam­bles seen what this kind of anti-tax rhetoric has got­ten us? Dou­bled tuitions at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, huge Rea­gan-era-style cuts in social ser­vices, decay­ing infra­struc­ture.

Near the film’s con­clu­sion, Gam­ble reveals the source of his anti-tax posi­tion, rev­er­ent­ly intro­duc­ing a man he cred­its with pro­vid­ing him with his Core Nav­i­ga­tion­al Insight for the future: Lud­wig von Mis­es. He does not men­tion that von Mis­es is the touch­stone of right-lib­er­tar­i­ans, so-called anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ists and rad­i­cal Repub­li­cans such as Michele Bach­mann, who quipped last year that she reads von Mis­es on the beach.

Gam­ble does lay out the core of von Mis­es’ phi­los­o­phy of “non-vio­la­tion, in which “nobody gets to vio­late you or” (ahem) “your prop­er­ty.” That phi­los­o­phy trans­lates into three rules: no invol­un­tary tax­a­tion; no invol­un­tary gov­er­nance; and no monop­oly of force.

In case any­one miss­es the point—that the state must with­er so that man can be free—Gamble shares von Mis­es’ opin­ion that like Com­mu­nism, fas­cism and social­ism, “democ­ra­cy wrong­ly assumes the rights of the col­lec­tive, or the group, over the rights of the indi­vid­ual.”. . . . .