In London’s Emmanuel Centre, near Westminster, the auditorium was packed within minutes. I had met two friends at the pub an hour beforehand, and there I had already noticed small groups of shifty-looking people scanning the scene, wondering who else might be concealing a tin-foil hat. We arrived at the venue and joined the long queue (covering over two streets) of smiling and laughing people, ready for an evening of controversial claims and conspiracy theories asserted as facts.
James Delingpole was for decades a well-known columnist for various mainstream newspapers on the centre-right, like The Daily Mail and The Spectator. In recent years, however, he began to devote his time to a podcast, The Delingpod, in which he interviews various people from all sorts of academic fields and journalistic trades. He was always quirky and somewhat disorganised—his podcast is characterised by an absence of research and routine interruptions from his dog or mobile phone—but something happened that pushed him from his manageable eccentricities to the absolute peripheries of normality: COVID.
As the COVID tyranny began, and official lies were disseminated, fake videos of people dropping dead in the streets, daily propaganda, house-imprisonments, experimental vaccines, cover-ups of vaccine injuries, threats of loss of employment, businesses ruined, refusal by the mainstream media to report on the ‘freedom marches’ all around the world, pressure to vaccinate children … Delingpole went mad. Or at least he seemed to go mad to those who had swallowed up the propaganda hook, line, and sinker.
St. Anthony of the Desert said: “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’” Delingpole claims that he hasn’t gone mad at all, but rather he ‘woke up’ to the madness of the world around him. Once he had tumbled down the ‘rabbit hole,’ as he likes to put it, he found further rabbit holes leading to all sorts of ‘new awakenings.’
At his recent live event, he sat on a stage in conversation with archaeologist and GB News presenter Neil Oliver. Oliver has been extremely critical of the COVID measures and has, he explained, had his own ‘awakening.’ He said that he could no longer trust what he’d been fed by the “powers that be.” “I’ve come to realise,” he stated, “that we’ve been fed—and I don’t just mean metaphorically, but I also mean literally fed—rubbish.”
Nonetheless, it was clear that Delingpole was “further down the rabbit hole” than Oliver. Delingpole tried to convince Oliver that dinosaurs never existed, that there was an ongoing coordinated attempt to cover up the previous existence of giants—“they weren’t so big that you’d be really impressed, but you know, they were quite big”—that there has never been a moon-landing, and that the world is run by a single world government of demonic reptilian humanoids called the ‘predator class’ that preys on ordinary people. Oliver sat utterly unphased by these claims, but I’m not sure he was buying it all.
Oliver talked about his time working at the BBC and the wonderful experiences he’d had travelling to remote places, seeing parts of the world visited by very few people. He also spoke about the remarkable hounding he’s received by elites during this period of ‘awakening.’
Delingpole took Oliver through the stages of ‘pilling’: First, Delingpole explained, comes the “red pill moment,” when you realise that the world is not as you’ve been told it is. As you learn that there is in fact an evil predator class that has taken over the world in order to turn the masses into slaves and eliminate those deemed useless by the “cabal,” you become “black pilled.” At this moment, you grow cynical and despairing. Then, however, you become “white pilled.” The white pill moment is when you realise, to use Delingpole’s words, that “God’s got this.”
Throughout the discussion between Delingpole and Oliver, which oscillated between the most fantastical claims and very reasonable observations (observations that are, however, deemed beyond the pale by the mainstream media), Oliver remained unperplexed by the course of the conversation. He nodded along and at each stage declared how far he could go with Delingpole, and where they parted. It was only when Delingpole brought up God and his recent turn to Christianity that Oliver didn’t seem to quite know what to do with himself. He turned to the audience and asked, “Is that all of you, as well?” At this, the entire auditorium began to shake with enthusiastic applause. Oliver had assumed that he was attending an event for unhinged conspiracy theorists, but it turned out to be much weirder than that: the place was packed with Christians.
Perhaps some of Delingpole’s claims about the nature of what is going on at present appear rather ‘out there,’ so to speak. But as Mary Harrington has recently argued, much of what is considered to be mere dismissible conspiracy theory in fact possesses deep insight and explanatory power as metaphor and allegory. As she put it to me recently, “Hillary Clinton may not literally be a reptilian humanoid who requires the sacrifice of children in order to survive, but in a certain sense that’s exactly what she is.”
As it happens, a worldview that sees the world as essentially satanic, which can only become a realm of human flourishing when gifted to God through becoming a part of Christ’s kingdom, is the very worldview on which the whole of Western civilisation was built. When Delingpole says that a demonic, globalist, Manichean regime has swallowed up the world concurrently with the retreat of Christianity, he is saying something that is extremely traditional and relies on a worldview that laces every pre-modern work of the Western Canon.
Irrespective of whether our predatory, two-faced overlords are literally reptiles, they may—on a traditional Western conception of the world—be deemed demonic. And St. Anthony, whom I quoted above, saw the presence of demons as prowling reptiles during his great temptation in the desert, an event that has been meditated upon by countless master painters.
That Christianity has been banished to the desert, where one must do all one can to overcome harassment from the reptilian demons who want to thwart every attempt at human flourishing, turns out to be a major theme of interpretation down the ages. In fact, this interpretation of our condition may belong to the sanest and most civilising conception of the world that one can possess.
As Delingpole described his “white pill moment,” Oliver sat pondering. Eventually, Oliver said that he wasn’t especially religious, that he didn’t go to church, and that he was essentially a “cultural Christian.” He noted, however, that he had increasingly come to see the world less as a complex of competing factions, and more as an ongoing struggle between good and evil. “I receive thousands of letters of support from all around the world,” he said, “and almost every single one is from a Christian of some denomination, telling me that he or she is praying for me and that I should trust in God.”
Many people seem to be increasingly aware that the situation in which we currently find ourselves resembles a strange mixture of Plato’s Cave and Bentham’s Panopticon. Isolated, expunged from our communities, we sit engaging with concocted tales and discussing them with faceless avatars, titillated by the recurrent dopamine hits, watched and censored by unaccountable agents whose names we don’t know and whose locations are undisclosed. We are rewarded for calling the shadows realities and punished for looking to the light.
It is estimated that one in eight hundred of those who took a COVID vaccine are vaccine-injured, and yet politicians still go about calling it the “miracle vaccine” and criticising those who “dispute the science.” Unreality is presented as reality, and reality is presented as conspiracy. Shadows and surveillance are the lot of the modern world.
There are those, however, who have decided that they’re not going to go along with this regime. They seem mad, and they often say mad things, but perhaps they’re just expressing in the only way they know that they’re fed up with the Cavernous Panopticon of late modernity. They identify this regime with Satan’s principality, and they call its masters demonic. These strange, shifty people may turn out to be the sanest people alive.