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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.”. . . . .