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Michael Crichton’s State of Fear

[1]2,597 words

Michael Crichton
State of Fear
New York: HarperCollins, 2004

State of Fear is a 2004 techno-thriller by Michael Crichton, who also authored The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Prey, Next, and other science fiction and speculative novels. Crichton’s formula was to make heavy use of established science and extrapolate into “What if?” scenarios, constructing fast-paced thriller plots hinging on the scientific fads of the day. In Jurassic Park, it was dinosaurs; in Prey, nanotechnology. The victim of Next is pursued by insurance companies for his specific gene sequence; in State of Fear – Crichton’s penultimate novel before his death from cancer in 2008 – eco-terrorists conspire to stage climate warfare on an unsuspecting public; their aim is to generate enough panic and media spectacle to secure indefinite funding to fight “Abrupt Climate Change.”[1] [2]

State of Fear is, unsurprisingly, centered on the real-life debate regarding anthropogenic global warming, accelerated climate change, or whatever nomenclature the reader prefers. The theory that increased carbon dioxide levels are affecting the mean global climate has been a hobby-horse of politicians since its inception; it provides a useful pretext to raise taxes, engage in “Green” public works programs, signal to liberally-minded sections of their political base that they are “doing something,” and conversely harangue their citizens into accepting the supposed moral necessity of being progressively impoverished (impoverished both progressively and by progressivism).

Despite accelerated climate change’s credibility first taking a serious hit (in the UK at least) with the airing of the “Great Global Warming Swindle” in 2007, and then becoming seriously unglued in the “Climategate” scandal of 2009, politicians, NGOs, and assorted do-gooders have refused to blink. The phenomena of man-made global warming with imminent, catastrophic results has become an article of faith amongst the liberal Left; a doctrinal plank that is now fully assimilated into the progressivist worldview. Their claim is that the unique evil of white supremacy and white industrial civilization is wreaking “climate havoc” on the developing world (although it is never asked whether Africans are capable of evolving out of their arrested development), and thus it is incumbent on the West to supply indefinite aid, and open the borders entirely to so-called “climate refugees.”

Crichton’s book is a comprehensive demolition and relentless satire on global warming proponents and their media circus, and despite the fact that he was writing in 2004, pre-Trump and pre-migrant crisis, there is no veiled racial commentary or dog-whistling to white interests. State of Fear, and Crichton’s preceding fiction, was written in the calm before the Meme War, the fragile quiet before the most extreme elements of the anti-white coalition gained the momentum to push into the mainstream. In short, it was a time when speculative theories about climate change based on computer modelling, small datasets, and obscene amounts of grant money could be taken seriously and kept at the forefront of national debate, despite endless Middle Eastern wars and domestic demographic unrest. In the absence of real historical change, the nebulous catch-all “climate change” could be used to impose another dimension of pseudo-religious guilt and fervor on an unsuspecting public.

Crichton’s escapade presents North American stock characters “cut from whole cardboard”[2] [3] hurtling from one location to the next to prevent a flash-flood-inducing freak storm, the “calving of the world’s largest iceberg,” and an artificially triggered tsunami “six stories high” that would wipe California off the map. Each of these would tinge the fictional “Abrupt Climate Change: The Catastrophe Ahead” conference with a gravitas only achievable through mass death. The real meat of the novel, though, is Crichton’s heavily-referenced discussion of the credibility of global warming theories, demeaning and sadly accurate caricatures of true believers and the social and environmental cost of environmentalist zealotry. (“I read the ‘Science’ section of The New York Times cover to cover, The New Yorker, and the New York Review. I am extremely well informed.”) Between falling into contrived, escapable traps that the eco-terrorists prefer to use instead of a few well-placed, environmentally hurtful bullets, Crichton’s empty suits are either being cross-examined over their global warming beliefs:

“So, tell me: how do you know that the dramatic increase in temperature in New York is caused by global warming, and not just from an excess of concrete and skyscrapers?”

“Well.” Evans hesitated. “I don’t know the answer to that. But I assume it is known.”[3] [4]

. . . or are delivering painfully deadpan arguments backed up by numerous footnotes:

“Banning DDT killed more people than Hitler, Ted. And the environmental movement pushed hard for it.”

Footnote: Sweeney Committee, 25 April 1972, “DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man.” Ruckelshaus banned it two months later, saying, DDT “poses a carcinogenic risk” to man. He never read the Sweeney report.”[4] [5]

Crichton’s offering is what it is: a middlebrow piece of airport literature that is two inches thick in its hardcover edition; a pulp action novel with enough dissenting material for deeply centrist, white-collar readers to imagine themselves to be principled thinkers. Global warming and environmentalism as a whole is such a fringe issue relative to physical security and economic prosperity that Crichton was able to use it as part of building his career in speaking truth to power – truths within the confines of issues that voters were then, as now, powerless to influence. American voters, despite turning out in droves to put a populist and seemingly insurrectionary Drumpf into the White House, cannot even get an artistically-designed steel-slat border fence with Mexico, let alone influence the finer policy points of the Environmental Protection Agency and its quangocracy.

Nonetheless, State of Fear remains a potentially valuable offering. It presents to the mainstream an accurate stereotype of the liberal whose political motivations are the result of social and media manipulation, and who is driven by the desire to manipulate others. It savages actors, lawyers, gym bunnies, beta males, Beverly Hills philanthropists, and California in general. Its principal antagonist is a bloodthirsty litigator parading himself as a poorly-dressed academic. It exposes the existence – unknown to the eternal normie – of the “politico-legal-media complex,” or what Neoreactionaries would call the Cathedral, what MAGApedes would call Fake News, and what fashlords would call ZOG. Crichton does not hesitate to go Full Mouthpiece in a way typical of his anti-science tirades in Jurassic Park, but this time, it takes a personal and embittered twist:

We are talking about a situation that is profoundly immoral. It is disgusting, if truth be told. The politico-legal-media complex callously ignores the plight of the most desperate human beings on our planet in order to keep fat politicians in office, rich news anchors on the air, and conniving lawyers in Mercedes-Benz convertibles. Oh, and university professors in Volvos. Let’s not forget them.

Of course, the idea of an establishment being corrupt is not a new one (self-serving politicians? Whowuddathunkit?). But the addition of university professors to the list of targets, and Crichton’s cynicism and deconstruction of their cause in this instance, aligns him with the Right. The symbolic issue of global warming is a psychological battlefield – one of many – on which the Left/Right divide is staged: the Left serving a self-interested goal by virtue-signaling through a seemingly altruistic process, contrasting the Right’s urging for restraint and pragmatism guided by unsentimental assessments of evidence and results. Of course, those who are profiting from spurious charity (or who have an ethnic self-interest in such apparently humanitarian acts) will never give up their kvetching. The battle is for public sympathy, and by extension, political legitimacy.

Crichton’s empty shell of a lawyer gradually hardens up in his confrontations with eco-terrorists, and is eventually brought round to the side of the “phony Right-wing fronts,” and leads the reader on a journey of self-discovery and questioning of assumptions, if he is able to keep an open mind. He discovers that maybe, the globe will not suffer a catastrophic heat death if he does not buy the latest Prius. He is put on the back foot with temperature chart after chart, all showing a decline that the powers-that-be have conspired to hide from him. He is offered alternative and sober-minded explanations for a mild and wholly predictable temperature increase around urban centers. Eventually, he may be independently-minded enough (having had this single issue brought into serious question) to understand the implications of 10 rivers doing 90 plastic, and of 13 black doing fiddy crime..

That’s where the positives of Crichton’s adventure ends. The plot is paper-thin and predictable (if you can’t predict a faked death when the sole evidence for the character’s death is a shoe, you should not even read detective thrillers). The central characters are unconvincing at best, and downright annoying at worst. There is Agent Kenner, who is either insufferable or a hard-nosed realist, depending on your chosen climate camp. Peter Evans, the lawyer drawn into the conspiracy, has not a single thought to call his own. A blonde of perfect athletic ability is given far too much dialogue, and all of it is straight from the Hollywood school of perfectly capable women. Another female climate-comrade implausibly charges guards armed with assault rifles with only a pistol, and slices up teenage cannibals. It’s all a bit farcical and tiresome, and Nepalese companion Sanjong is a whiz with a laptop and long-scoped rifle, but doesn’t get to lay hands on a clicky-ba to help Kenner’s Wolf of Kabul segment.

And most importantly, there are the quirky and scronch-face-inducing statements that Crichton makes through both his characters and in his “Author’s Message” appendices. These fatal errors call Crichton’s whole novel into question, along with his integrity as a writer. Crichton, after introducing Professor Hoffman and his practice of studying “the ecology of thought . . . and how it has led to the State of Fear”[5] [6] (Hey! That’s the name of the book!)[6] [7] and his blindsiding, totally unpredictable revelation that “social control is best managed through fear,” tells us that:

Universities today are factories of fear. They invent all the new terrors and all the new social anxieties. All the new restrictive codes. Words and you can’t say. Thoughts you can’t think.

Just when you are nodding in agreement and about to reach for a copy of The Bell Curve, he spins you around and walks you safely back onto the DR3 reservation: “The notion these institutions are liberal is a cruel joke. They are fascist to the core, I’m telling you.”[7] [8]

After using phrases like “extraordinary delusion” and “global fantasy,”[8] [9] and cautioning us that “although we imagine we live in different nations, we inhabit exactly the same state, the State of Fear,” Crichton goes on to do some fearmongering of his very own. In an appendix titled without any self-awareness whatsoever – “Why Politicized Science is Dangerous” – Crichton tells us that:

 . . . the fabulous theory of eugenics that gained so much support was actually pseudoscience. The theory postulated a crisis of the gene pool leading to a deterioration of the human race. The crisis it claimed was nonexistent.

Furthermore, he claims (setting his Mesmetron to Full Hypnosis) that “the actions taken in the name of this theory were morally and criminally wrong . . . they led to the deaths of millions of people.” Wowzers, Mikey! Are you trying to slyly imply that the entire National Socialist war effort hinged not on the simple struggle for national survival, but was in fact a paranoid fantasy and a cartoonish eugenics crusade?

It’s a very good thing for Crichton that he is dead, because otherwise the Dissident Right would be beating him about the head with his own book for this staggering hypocrisy. Jews are mentioned on this page twice as the eternal victim:

. . . the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, degenerates, the unfit, and the “feeble minded” . . . The eugenicists and immigrationists [!!!] joined forces to put a stop to the immigration of inferior races . . . the plan was to identify individuals who were feeble-minded – Jews were agreed to be largely feeble-minded, but so were many foreigners, as well as blacks . . .[9] [10]

At this point I had to slam the book shut and take a deep breath, because the lying was so blatant, the prose was the kvetchiest, and the pleading was the cringiest.[10] [11] IQ levels are dropping in developed countries, in direct correlation with the amount of low-IQ Third Worlders who are let in. There is a crisis in the white “gene pool” – it’s called demographic warfare. It is breathtaking in its arrogance that Crichton would condemn early eugenics – which was reflective of lived experience and self-evident truths about racial differences – as “pseudoscience” on one hand, and then, barely two pages later, lambast the Soviets for their infatuation with Lamarckism and Lysenko, “at a time when the rest of the world was embracing Mendelian genetics.”[11] [12]

The fear that Crichton supports is that of running up against Jewish power, and he lapses, like his self-absorbed antagonists, into irrational doomsaying, consciously or not genuflecting to the gatekeepers of the publishing world and their privileged status as the only victims who matter. Crichton’s appendix to the novel (and arguably the entire novel itself, the purpose of which seems to be to lend credibility to the author) is an agitation for the hysterical State of Fear that Jews live in, and continually try to impose upon whites – namely, that as soon as the foreigner is not welcomed, Auschwitz and extermination camps are only a small but inevitable step away. Confusingly, when his protagonist is held captive by a tribe of cannibalistic savages, he comments:

You think civilization is some horrible, polluting human invention that separates us from the state of nature. But civilization doesn’t separate us from nature. Civilization protects us from nature. What you see right now all around you – this is nature. [author’s original emphasis]

Kenner’s (and by extension, Crichton’s) statement is a semantic mess. What is protection except a barrier that keeps one thing separate from the presence and effects of another?

The civilization that Peter Evans and Agent Kenner live in and strive to protect scarcely deserves the name, however. Evan’s prime driving force is athletic, yet sterile, sex in a shallow relationship. Kenner is sworn to protect the mechanism of the State, and not the nature of the people in it. It is taken as a fact of life that the lead blonde, Sarah, is conspicuous amongst “Hispanics crowding the pavements.” Their racial nature, and even the natural act of conception, is banished by their “civilization.”

Of course, the implicit claim that whites have it in their nature to be jabbering, bloodthirsty cannibals is laughable. Crichton, in his hatred of observing the ethnic divisions within the endlessly-vaunted “human race,” cannot allow civilization to be what it truly is: an expression of racial nature. Instead, Crichton’s “civilization” is one that insulates its inhabitants from themselves, and allows them only superficial lives.

Perhaps Crichton genuinely believed in a liberal, humane, racially-blind society. Maybe he was writing from a script given to him by his mentor, the Polish Jew Jacob Bronoski, with whom he entered a postdoctoral fellowship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego [13]. It’s possible, given Crichton’s volume of output and understanding of metapolitical rivalry, that his novel is some kind of strategic concession. Only one thing is certain: Crichton’s tacky, propagandistic postscripts only aid the conspiracy to keep whites captive in a State of Fear.


[1] [14] Crichton was repeating terminology already in use by the National Research Council, which defined “Abrupt Climate Change” in a 2002 paper, “Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises [15].”

[2] [16] Chuck Palahniuk, Adjustment Day (London: W. W. Norton, 2018).

[3] [17]  State of Fear, p. 383.

[4] [18] Ibid., p. 487.

[5] [19] Ibid., p. 450.

[6] [20] Hey, that’s the name of the show [21]!

[7] [22] State of Fear, p. 459.

[8] [23] Ibid., p. 455.

[9] [24] Ibid., p. 576.

[10] [25] Bob Crosby and the Bobcats, “Taking Me Way Back Home [26].”

[11] [27] State of Fear, p. 578.