Tuesday, December 11, 2007

There Is No 'T' In Conspiracy

I'll leave most of this to Michael Parenti and the ravens but a small encounters bears mentioning.

I was snacking in the eating area of our locally co-opted Co-Op quite close to the "One-Minute Activist" board, that's all it takes to change the world nowadays- A New York Minute, when a curly-haired blonde guy came over and started to tidy up and the activist board area and arrange all the petitions fastidiously. "Save Darfur" was the cause de jour on the ADD Green Consumer agenda and this particular occurrence seemed to present me with an obligation to inform the man that the narrative presented regarding "Save Darfur" was simplistic and served the interests of forces that would only use "Humanitarianism" as political cover for their very aggressive policies of interventionism. I could tell big academic words were needed with this guy, not sure why but it turns out to be true. I added that the the story as told on the activist board was completely inaccurate and devoid of any historical context. That didn't sit well.

In any case his first words, the very first words out of his mouth were- "There are all sorts of 'conspiracy theories' floating around what's your angle on this?"

A word from Michael Parenti:

Conspiracy or Coincidence?

Often the term "conspiracy" is applied dismissively whenever one suggests that people who occupy positions of political and economic power are consciously dedicated to advancing their elite interests. Even when they openly profess their designs, there are those who deny that intent is involved. In 1994, the officers of the Federal Reserve announced they would pursue monetary policies designed to maintain a high level of unemployment in order to safeguard against "overheating" the economy. Like any creditor class, they preferred a deflationary course. When an acquaintance of mine mentioned this to friends, he was greeted skeptically, "Do you think the Fed bankers are deliberately trying to keep people unemployed?" In fact, not only did he think it, it was announced on the financial pages of the press. Still, his friends assumed he was imagining a conspiracy because he ascribed self-interested collusion to powerful people.

At a World Affairs Council meeting in San Francisco, I remarked to a participant that U.S. leaders were pushing hard for the reinstatement of capitalism in the former communist countries. He said, "Do you really think they carry it to that level of conscious intent?" I pointed out it was not a conjecture on my part. They have repeatedly announced their commitment to seeing that "free-market reforms" are introduced in Eastern Europe. Their economic aid is channeled almost exclusively into the private sector. The same policy holds for the monies intended for other countries. Thus, as of the end of 1995, "more than $4.5 million U.S. aid to Haiti has been put on hold because the Aristide government has failed to make progress on a program to privatize state-owned companies" (New York Times 11/25/95).

Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: "Do you actually think there's a group of people sitting around in a room plotting things?" For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers. But where else would people of power get together - on park benches or carousels? Indeed, they meet in rooms: corporate boardrooms, Pentagon command rooms, at the Bohemian Grove, in the choice dining rooms at the best restaurants, resorts, hotels, and estates, in the many conference rooms at the White House, the NSA, the CIA, or wherever. And, yes, they consciously plot - though they call it "planning" and "strategizing" - and they do so in great secrecy, often resisting all efforts at public disclosure. No one confabulates and plans more than political and corporate elites and their hired specialists. To make the world safe for those who own it, politically active elements of the owning class have created a national security state that expends billions of dollars and enlists the efforts of vast numbers of people.

Yet there are individuals who ask with patronizing, incredulous smiles, do you really think that the people at the top have secret agendas, are aware of their larger interests, and talk to each other about them? To which I respond, why would they not? This is not to say that every corporate and political elite is actively dedicated to working for the higher circles of power and property. Nor are they infallible or always correct in their assessments and tactics or always immediately aware of how their interests are being affected by new situations. But they are more attuned and more capable of advancing their vast interests than most other social groups.

The alternative is to believe that the powerful and the privileged are somnambulists, who move about oblivious to questions of power and privilege; that they always tell us the truth and have nothing to hide even when they hide so much; that although most of us ordinary people might consciously try to pursue our own interests, wealthy elites do not; that when those at the top employ force and violence around the world it is only for the laudable reasons they profess; that when they arm, train, and finance covert actions in numerous countries, and then fail to acknowledge their role in such deeds, it is because of oversight or forgetfulness or perhaps modesty; and that it is merely a coincidence how the policies of the national security state so consistently serve the interests of the transnational corporations and the capital-accumulation system throughout the world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When discussing the misuse or improper negative spin on "conspiracy" in the company of meatheaded troggos and other flippin' eedjits of various political views, it helps to use the classic sports metaphor.

Most who like to talk about "tinfoil hat brigades" or "black helicopter imaginers" are lowbrow. Most are fans of watching televised sports, particularly the ones that emphasize brute force over cleverness, a deft touch, or a bit of finesse. With such cementheaded fools, just remind them:

A football team is a conspiracy.

A basketball team is a conspiracy.

Basically, every team sport requires conspiracy among the teammates in order to have any chance at enjoying the game... let alone winning it.

That often does the trick.