“In the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.” —Adam Smith, The Theory Of Moral Sentiments
“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.
A few examples of the Conspiracy Spectrum (far from comprehensive):
Conspiracy Fact (acknowledged conspiracies in history):
- Jimmy Savile high-level organized child sexual abuse cover-up
- MKULTRA CIA mind control
- Operation Mockingbird (CIA infiltration of US media in the 1970s)
- Wartime Psyop, including occult elements
Conspiracies more or less proven but not yet rubber-stamped by orthodoxy:
- JFK assassination & cover-up
- Marilyn Monroe’s murder
- Organized ritual abuse in daycare centers & elsewhere
- Domestic Psyop including acts of terrorism & “false flags” (Operation Gladio)
- CIA infiltration of Hollywood
Requires further investigation
- Celebrity murders
- High-level (possibly occult) network behind many “serial killers”
- “Manchurian Candidate”-style programmed killers (Sirhan Sirhan, Hinckley, Chapman)
Not to be dismissed uninvestigated
- Illuminati mind control
- Occult symbols in mass media
- Tavistock Institute behind the Beatles
- Nonhuman element?
Part One: Schismogenesis
“Nobody wants to know about conspiracy! I don’t get it!” —Jack Terry, Blow Out
In 2018, when words are increasingly losing their meaning, words are accruing a disproportionate amount of power. Maybe they are gaining power as they lose meaning? That would be quite an Orwellian development.
Let’s take the word “conspiracy.” The Oxford dictionary defines it as “A secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.” Generally speaking, the three main ingredients of conspiracy are collectivity, criminality, and secrecy. Of these descriptors, only the first can be considered absolute, since both criminality and secrecy are relative terms that depend on point of view. This is especially so when the secret crimes in question cross national borders and thence definitions of what constitutes crime and what constitutes justified acts of war or espionage. Many acts that are crimes for the rest of us are legally sanctioned under the National Security Act, for example, an idea popularized by (MI6 agent) Ian Fleming’s 007 and his “license to kill.”
It’s been a long time since the word “conspiracy” was simply a neutral descriptor, in any case. Since the 1960s (courtesy of the CIA, as we’ll see), it has been associated with the word “theory” and thereby, for several decades, with crackpots and paranoids. In the last decade or more, the words have become increasingly linked to dangerous crackpots (Pizzagate shooters and Unabombers), as well as antisocial extremists (Sandy Hook deniers) and, of course, right-wing hate criminals, anti-Semites, holocaust deniers, and neo-Nazis.
As Floyd Rudmin writes, in “ConspiracyTheory as Naive Deconstructive History”:
The power of this pejorative is that it discounts a theory by attacking the motivations and mental competence of those who advocate the theory. By labeling an explanation of events “conspiracy theory,” evidence and argument are dismissed because they come from a mentally or morally deficient personality, not because they have been shown to be incorrect.
The most recent guilty association of conspiracy theory is perhaps the most unexpected of all: in the days of the Trump administration, “conspiracy theories” have become linked to state power of the most deplorable sort: dangerously right-wing, extremist, antisocial, wing-nut neo-fascists running—and ruining—Western society. How did this happen?
A False Dichotomy
“It might, however, be the case that coming up with a label for the phenomenon actually invents the phenomenon itself, in the sense that a new conceptual category turns what otherwise would have been a set of possibly quite diverse ideas into a coherent style of thought. . . . One thing that makes the historical study of conspiracy theories particularly challenging,then, is that determining what constitutes the phenomenon has become part of the phenomenon itself.” —Peter Knight, Conspiracy Theories in American History
There is a mindset shared by both “conspiracy theorists” and conspiracy debunkers or skeptics. This doesn’t apply to all conspiracy theorists or debunkers, but those who do share this mindset seem to be in the majority. Ironically, they may have more in common with each other than they have differences.
As a writer-researcher into long-term, deep-state social engineering (including occult or secret society aspects), I have often been met with blanket arguments from serious-minded, intelligent, and informed individuals (Douglas Lain, Theodore Dalrymple, James Howard Kunstler, and Gregory Desilet are four who come to mind), claiming that they do not “believe” in a “grand conspiracy” or in “puppet masters” working behind the scenes. This opinion (you cannot call it an argument) is (or seems to be) genuinely offered as a response, not to any claim that there is a grand, unified conspiracy or single group of puppet masters, but only to the suggestion that some historical events or social trends might have come into being via conscious, partially hidden manipulations.
Peter Knight (editor of Conspiracy Theories in American History), sums this up in the introduction to his thousand-page encyclopedia, citing the well-known author of The Paranoid Style in American Politics, Richard Hofstadter. Hofstadter, he writes,
recognized that there have indeed been actual conspiracies here or there in U.S. history, but that a conspiracy theorist believes that there is “a ‘vast’ or ‘gigantic’ conspiracy as the motive force in historical events” (Hofstadter, 29). According to this kind of view, conspiracy theory is more than just the odd speculation about clandestine causes; it is a way of looking at the world and historical events that sees conspiracies as the motor of history. [Emphasis added.]
Knight goes on to identify—I think correctly—“one of the important functions of conspiracy theory today, namely questioning how much we are in control of our own minds and our own actions through the debate over exactly what is to count as a conspiracy or not.”
This points to the idea that an anti-conspiracy position is really a philosophical (or even ideological) position rather than a historical or factual one, and it supports my own experience with those who take such a position. They tend to reject the idea of long-term, organized conspiracies, ipso facto, not on a case-by-case basis but on principle. In the same way, a rational reductionist rejects the idea of the supernatural, possibly for the same or similar reasons, and on similarly shaky grounds.
In “Agency Panic” (Conspiracy Nation, p. 69-70), Timothy Melley writes this:
If the sense that there are no accidents—that everything is connected, intended, and meaningful—is a hallmark of paranoia, then the difference between a paranoid theory and a brilliant theory may only be a matter of how much explanatory power the theory has for a given interpretive community. And if this is so, then the work of sorting out paranoid claims from justifiable claims—the work of diagnosing, pathologizing, and normalizing—will require a vision at least as penetrating as the one to be judged.
Curiously enough, many people who do advocate for a “grand conspiracy” fall into the exact same trap as those who dismiss the idea: they extrapolate prematurely from certain sets of evidence the existence of a single, cohesive group and agenda behind long-term social engineering strategies (the Illuminati, the Masons, the Jews, etc.). In both cases—whether the philosophical position is to believe or to deny—a perceived order, direction, and design is literalized, in much the same way that religious people literalize the evidence of a divine order into hierarchies of angels, gods, and demons.
Nor is this comparison arbitrary, because the religious (especially Christian) belief in demonic forces manipulating human behavior is an almost precise match for the more contemporary, secular belief in malevolent human agencies doing the same. While this is often used to dismiss conspiracy theorists and their various forms of historical revisionism, it might just as well (and perhaps more accurately) be used as a means of validation.
Human beings have always been aware of a hidden factor that makes agency, individuality, and human history radically different than it appears to our conscious minds. What vary are only the terms in which we attempt to re-cognize this fact.
“The British . . . struck me as so disoriented by the sophisticated,eloquent spin of the New Labor government led by Tony Blair that they could no longer see the ground on which to plant their feet. More serious than systematically misinforming them, their government had steadily eroded the conditions for political judgment. In doing so, it not only denied them the evidence with which to assess this or that claim: it undermined what is necessary for the sound application of the concept of evidence.” —Raimond Gaita, “Even Socrates drew the line at spin”
The problem the serious and sincere conspiracy investigator faces is that all the premature and poorly executed dot-joining, speculation, and wild theorizing has now severely tainted the data. Due to instant association with “crazy” narratives being spun around it, even referring to a salient fact may lead to accusations of belief in said narratives, quickly followed by smug dismissal—not only of the data being raised but of the person raising it. Bingo, subject dismissed. All of this may or may not be the result of deliberate design.
Conspiracy theory is“deconstructive history” because it is in rebellion against official explanations and against orthodox journalism and orthodox history. Conspiracy theory is radically empirical: tangible facts are the focus, especially facts that the standard stories try to overlook. There is a ruthless reduction down to what is without doubt real, namely, persons. Conspiracy theory presumes that human events are caused by people acting as people do, including cooperating, planning, cheating, deceiving, and pursuing power.
Rudmin points out how “Conspiracy theories arise when dramatic events happen, and the orthodox explanations try to diminish the events and gloss them over,” i.e., . “when someone notices that the explanations do not fit the facts.” Significant political or economic events change power relationships in society; contradictions in the official explanations of these events are noticed by ordinary citizens, leading to an assumption of power abuse and deception; further information is sought to make more coherent the narratives being spun and expose the deceptions and power abuses. “Most of the evidence discovered is circumstantial, as it must be when investigating conspiracies.”
Conspiracy theory has a special focus on contradictions, discrepancies, and missing facts. The natural sciences similarly seek to find faulty explanations by focusing on facts that don’t fit the orthodox explanations. If we want more truthful explanations of events,whether of scientific events or of political and historical events, then we must compare competing explanations. One explanation usually fits the available observations better than the other. By the principle of fit, the explanation that encompasses more of the observations should be preferred. This principle can favor conspiracy theories. . . . It is true that conspiracy theory authors doubt the orthodox explanations and suspect that there are other explanations for events. Such doubt and suspicion, which is the same kind of doubt and suspicion as motivates many scientific discoveries, gets labeled paranoia.
Rudmin prefers the term naïve and I think he’s right. Literalizing an observable pattern into an actual group and a unified conspiracy is naïve, but understandable. The human mind—as Freud once pointed out—abhors ambiguity. It clutches at straws in order to avoid drowning in uncertainty. Yet the very nature of crimes covertly committed by groups, and false narratives being spun to conceal them, involves the proliferation of ambiguity and uncertainty. The problem with naïve or premature pattern-recognition is that it prevents us from allowing a pattern to remain a sequence of effects that can be traced to an array of individuals, groups, and agendas who may or may not be working in cahoots (and may or may not be conscious of what they are doing). This inevitably concretizes an “other” that: a) can be distinguished from oneself; and b) can be blamed for all of the effects (generally seen as negative and undesirable). This sets up a scapegoat or “diabolic figure” upon whom all the world’s ills can be blamed.
In my experience, it is quite common to find people arguing against a “conspiratorial” view of history for this second reason only, i.e., on ideological grounds. They will argue that scapegoating is a problem and that any interpretation of the evidence that isolates a single group or agenda as being responsible for the world’s problems must be wrong because it amounts to scapegoating. This comes close to the sort of ideological “reasoning” that’s increasingly prevalent today, such as for example the argument that, since claiming obesity is bad for one’s health strengthens a social prejudice against fat people, it is not a credible argument. By this reasoning, conclusions should not be evaluated according to how well they match the evidence, but how socially, morally, or ideologically “correct” they are.
There is a natural tendency in all of us to seek out scapegoats, so it is wise to apply an extra degree of caution when approaching evidence for “grand conspiracies.” People are inclined to want to believe such easy interpretations, because doing so automatically absolves them of all complicity with the social and spiritual circumstances they are trapped inside, and hence of all responsibility for them. To this extent, I would agree that any conspiratorial view of history that adheres to an “us and them” model—i.e., that presents a clear dividing line between supposed conspirators and the rest of humanity—is inherently flawed, because there isn’t much evidence for clear or absolute dividing lines in any kinds of human interactions. This is why most extreme “grand conspiracy” theories eventually wind up with either a superhuman or a non-human (or off-planet) element in control, Icke’s Reptilians, Christianity’s Satan, Islam’s Jinn, or some distant secret space colony of the Illuminati.
In my view, the conspiracy debunker is (mostly) correct in dismissing the idea of a hidden clique of puppet masters directing history from behind the scenes, not because there is no evidence that such cliques exist (there is), but because they exist not so much as causal agents but as more deeply concealed effects. They are carriers, if you like, of a “conspiracy”—a spiritual, psychological, cultural, social, and political hegemony—that goes back millennia. At any given time, such cliques may be the possessors of unknown power and influence; but if so, it is only because they are also possessed by it.
As Melley writes, talking of Packard’s (and J. Edgar Hoover’s) “structural paranoia”:
the very idea of manipulation, in the sense of a willful attempt to control others, becomes obsolete, since attempts at manipulation are themselves only products of previous manipulation. In Packard’s world, the system of depth manipulation is self-regulating. Control has been transferred from human agents to larger agencies, institutions, or corporate structures. . . . Packard and Hoover both attempt to describe a structural form of causality while simultaneously retaining the idea of a malevolent, centralized, and intentional program of mass control. This odd conjunction of the intentional and the structural is the essence of agency panic, the motive force of postwar conspiracy culture (Conspiracy Nation, p. 77).
By this understanding, any hypothetically controlling individuals, groups, and agendas are only really effective to the extent that a) they are themselves possessed; and b) they are able to possess the rest of us. By passing on their “demons” (ideologies and methodologies) mimetically, they ensure we will embody, implement, and extend them into the world, via our own thoughts, beliefs, words and actions.
This series forms the basis of the upcoming 16 Maps of Hell: The Unravelling of Hollywood Superculture.