Tuesday, 31 July 2012

95/111 - Them by Jon Ronson

I bought this recently because I've recently really been enjoying Jon Ronson's writing, and this was also delightful. The tagline of the book is 'adventures with extremists' and the premise of the book is Jon's investigation into a bunch of groups that are widely regarded as extremists of one form or another - right-wing nuts, religious extremists and followers of David Icke are among those featured in the book - all of whom believe that the world is controlled by a secret group of people who are in the background pulling all the strings.

For some of these groups, when they say 'the elite' what they really mean is 'Jews', and there is a lot of racism here, some of it coming from the mouths of people who don't consider themselves to be racist. Jon spends time with different members of these groups, sometimes getting along with them, and other times not - but all the while he tries to evaluate whether or not there is any truth to their claims. And in classic neurotic Jon Ronson style, he starts to wonder whether he is also becoming sucked into their world.

I really liked the chapters about Omar Bakri, the friendly terrorist who enlists Jon's help to help with his image, and Dr. Ian Paisley, a grumpy Presbyterian minister. However by far the creepiest part of the book was the overall theme of Jon trying to establish if there really is a 'new world' order' and actually coming fairly close to finding something.

He starts to find out more and more about a so-called 'Bilderberg Group', made up of influential people from across the world, which includes CEOs of large corporations and politicians and ex-world leaders. Supposedly, they get together each year in a different location across the globe, and make decisions about what course the world should take. In some form or another, all the people that Jon encounters throughout his journey believe that a group of this sort exists and is making decisions about the world that are detrimental to their particular cause. Jon goes to Portugal with a member of such a group who claims that there is a meeting about to take place in one of the hotels. I assumed that it would be some sort of flim-flam, and that Jon would end up sort of shrugging his shoulders, however to my surprise, people start showing up. Lots of people, of the very influential sort.

I really enjoyed this book, and I don't really know enough about the 'new world order' to judge whether such a thing exists. I certainly believe that there are certain institutions out there which are acting in their own interests, however on the whole I think most humans are too stupid and lazy to maintain a conspiracy on a global level. Who can find the time to cover up so many lies? However I hope it goes without saying that I definitely do not believe in a global conspiracy of Jews....

Next: Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman

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