Monday, May 6, 2013
Conspiracy Theories and Last Decade's Insanity
"We used to hate people
Now we just make fun of them
It's more effective that way."
KMFDM - Dogma
I'm sometimes painfully aware that my anti-establishment demagoguery can easily be viewed as a tin foil hat. One of the main weapons any power structure employs is character assassination, discrediting progressive viewpoints as weak or dangerous. Certainly political opposition is always weak by comparison. When it ceases to be so, it becomes the target of opposition. There's also no denying that opposition is dangerous from the point of view of those being opposed. Neither argument would make me or any other supposed nutjob on the planet wrong.
One unfortunate consequence of our primate group dynamics is the tendency to associate credibility with power. We follow leaders. We can scoff at a street-corner prophet in his reeking rags but put him in a suit and give him a cable TV special and he miraculously acquires credibility. When the big dog orders you to hope, you hope, goddamnyou.
I doubt it took very long for the alpha dogs of early societies to realize they could compound their existing advantage by using the resources at their disposal to undermine the credibility of weaker opponents, to call them crazy or cowardly or weak, poor bets for spectators to align themselves with in the quest for social standing. Despite all our improvements in communication, defamation is more than ever a central tool of the establishment. It's more effective to make fun of social critics as conspiracy theorists than to jail them.
The extreme fringes of society have hardly been helping matters. Every delusional fanatic and peyote-horking shaman gets his own internet cult these days. Whether you believe you can overthrow the largest, tank-trampling, plane-powered, napalm-nurtured military power in the world with your 'militia' armed with nothing but rifles and fertilizer bombs or you think E.T.'s second coming will usher in a new age of prosperity for the three-stranded DNA bearing descendents of Atlantis, you can now serve your purpose to the existing power structure by becoming a public symbol to deter others from consideration of government reform or interstellar exploration.
To have any personal opinion in our current social climate is to find oneself immediately pigeonholed along with some legitimately dismissible cult, so that the average idiot can immediately identify you as a freak, loony or loser. Thus, when i say that the American government provoked the 9/11 bombings, i am forced to specify that i am in no way affiliated with the lunatic fringe which maintains those weren't really passenger planes but cleverly disguised alien spacecraft piloted by the men in black.
In the course of my perusal of Rachel Maddow monologues i ran across a segment on conspiracy theories apropos the Boston bombing. Most of it is thoroughly enjoyable but it still promotes the mainstream media stance of lumping any criticism of human affairs in with the delusional fabrications of attention-starved social parasites. The problem with conspiracy theories is not that they're impossible, but that they're unnecessary. The fact that the government doesn't bother with such convoluted schemes does not imply that it does not employ precisely the sort of morally bankrupt alpha-types who gladly would do those things.
The goal of any power structure is to solidify itself and grow at the expense of those around it. It's an evolutionary adaptation built into our social ape communal behavior. This behavior predates what might be called civilization or philosophy or rational thought. It predates morality. It's an animal function. Social animals band together not because they like each other or for some teleological counter-entropic principle of organization but simply because it allows them to beat down competitors. As most manifestations of evolution, this 'advancement' is outwardly destructive.
Make no mistake: if your elected officials and their secret police force (every political system acquires one of those- the only difference is in how active it becomes) saw a profitable reward-to-risk ratio in staging moon landings and bombings, morality would be but one more stain on the soles of their boots as they trampled everything in their path in pursuit of power.
Yes, the U.S. government is trying to enslave its populace. That's what governments do. The self-worth of individuals placed in positions of power is contingent on the power they can lord over others. Enough power is never enough. However, evolutionary constructs like hierarchical social animal power structures are not governed only by the carrot, and we don't even need to discuss the 'stick' of potential popular outrage and uprisings at the actions proposed by conspiracy theorists. It is enough to remember that all life is slave to the principles of thermodynamics and this extends to our social behavior. Direct action consumes energy. Laziness is good from an evolutionary standpoint. We do not bite where we can bluff; we do not fight where we can steal. We do not chase what will come to us. Why would a government go to the trouble of faking enemy aggression when it can simply publicize real aggression?
What the U.S. government did early in 2001, as soon as the new regime (old dynasty?) came to power was to pick a fight. Any fight would do. The numerous U.S. military bases around the world are hardly the darlings of the countries whose soil they take up. When the election resulted in a militaristic, Gulf War throwback regime seizing power and immediately announcing that it will be expanding U.S. military presence abroad, the response from the endless paramilitary groups with a grudge against western imperialism was easily predictable.
I doubt the Bush regime particularly cared where the pre-emptive strike would land. If i had to guess, an attack that would level one of the most famous business centers in the world was likely more than they'd bargained for. Too much risk for the same reward of justification for U.S. retaliation. They would have been more pleased with a run-of-the-mill embassy bombing or tourist kidnapping, or maybe a regular plane highjacking that would only result in a hundred or so dead bodies. Just something to stir up domestic support for a military offensive and offset international opposition to same. Casus belli.
Either way the "war on terror" rhetoric would already have been prepared, blanks ready to be filled with the name of a victim for the invasion. No need for the secret police to lift a finger. Why do anything secretly when you can manipulate the public into begging you to do it openly? Why crack down directly when you can make the masses beg you to remove their legal rights and funnel the funding for their own infrastructure into expansionism that would benefit only corporate profiteering?
A second issue with conspiracy theories is the paranoid delusional fixation with a single boogeyman, a convenient target for all the world's ills. One of the sad realities of our transnational 21st-century corporate state is that "the government" no longer acts to solidify "the government's" power. Da gummint, viciously corrupt as it may be, is now only an insecure servant of whichever master bids highest for its crowd-controlling services. It acts sporadically, here to secure defense contracts for one corporate entity, elsewhere to push reconstruction deals for the benefit of another. National governments are still tools of social control, but their masters are far removed from political office or military leadership. When seeking the beneficiary of a war declaration, don't bother looking for Napoleon in a black helicopter. Instead, follow the money.
There is simply no need for the socioeconomic elite to stage something like a pressure-cooker bomb at a crowded social event. They only provoke and then use the response as justification. Put the Christian fundamentalists asking for another series of crusades against Islam on television, lend them credibility, and yes, you will have scared, desperate, uninformed self-styled martyrs setting off homemade bombs here and there. Why make the effort to produce a media product which your victims will gladly produce for free? Why subjugate a unified lower class when you can divide and conquer?
Look instead at the real issue, on the cutbacks and lack of accountability in education, on the counter-intellectual mentality which is actively promoted by corporate power structures because it feeds precisely the sort of infighting among the lower economic classes which allows corporate machinations to remain unanalyzed.
In general, the backwoods militias and the Roswell fanatics which are so easily dredged up as the public face of antiestablishment criticism are only fronts for small-time demagogues feeding on others' insecurities to create their own servile power base, following their own power-grasping instincts through the less time-intensive but more dangerous route of working outside existing hierarchies. They have no intention of overthrowing the government. They just want your attention, your money, your teenage daughters.
This is why they make such good pigeon-holes in which to throw any legitimate outrage when a government really does bother to take action, the few times when bureaucratic inefficiency yields to megalomaniacal powerlust. Because any government that would institute something like the Patriot Act really should have been overthrown, and its defense is to destroy the credibility of its critics by lumping them in with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot chasers.