I have an urgent message for you.
The entire Universe is controlled by a cabal of immortal Jews who live on the moon. Or the C.I.A. Or some magical lizards whose spacecraft took a nosedive into the antediluvian slime and whose merest puppets we have been since time immemorial. You don’t see this do you? You don’t even know for example that the United Nations Headquarters is on the site of an old slaughterhouse because it’s actually a Masonic temple which must be built on ground consecrated by blood. You don’t realise that the American military industrial complex has the capacity to control the weather and has had for years, so you probably think that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was simply a consequence of incompetence, greed, corruption and entirely predictable extreme weather patterns. Fool! It served THEIR interests. Everything does.
Maybe I’m being paranoid now myself, but conspiracy theory seems to be cropping everywhere, shadowing The Shock Doctrine sitting fairly centrally in Adam Curtis’s most recent piece, increasingly infecting the minds of work colleagues, friends and family. A few months ago a guy in my local Gym handed me a leaflet explaining how the Swine-flu vaccine was actually poison and I should check out www.fluscam.com, itself an attempt to scam me out of taking a vaccine that might potentially have saved my life. Paranoia has certainly increased as a condition over the past twenty years, (or so THEY say, maybe it’s actually decreased) and perhaps it’s entirely MY paranoia but it seems that paranoiacs and conspiracy theorist are everywhere, the new people-to-avoid-at-parties. It used to be Christians. You’re having a perfectly normal conversation then suddenly it’s “you know I too had a Jesus–shaped hole in my life until I woke up to his abundant Love.” Except now it’s, “I used to have a contingency-shaped lacuna in my view of History until I woke up to the abundant wealth of the Rothschilds.” Conspiracy theory serves the same ends, it’s a religion of a kind, positing an all-powerful malign force whose tenebrous fingers plunge deep into every conceivable pie. No doubt these variously Gnostic and
Manichean vision are intriguing from some academic p.o.v but they’re also downright frustrating to encounter one-on-one. As William Burroughs wisely suggested: “Never show sympathy to the mentally ill. It’s a bottomless pit.”
Now, I have an O-level in Sociology and I distinctly remember that we looked at how the media distorts things, learned that official history ought to be viewed sceptically and identified the tightly-knit historically extended elites that have made up the higher echelons of governments and armies over the centuries. What we weren’t encouraged to do was to extrapolate this into a worldview in which the Illuminati have already mapped out every possible move and in which both agency and contingency were radically undermined. The more fool us no doubt, we failed to cut through the Matrix and truly see.
Conspiracy theory is in fact the shadow to consciousness-raising politics and its secular evangelism, it’s all about knowing. You are one of the elect, a seer who has grasped reality, the others are blind and must be brought into the light. All well and good, I’ve done some arguing and prosletyzing myself but for Conspiracy Theorists (Hereafter ConT: oh and let’s not try that “is that a theory. I just call them facts” move) the question is, what now? Ok I accept that the Shadow World controls everything? What do we do about it? We persuade everyone else. Ok hypothetically everyone believes that 9/11 was an inside job. So what’s next? Answer: Nothing. We simply know, we simply take satisfaction in the fact that we are not deceived. ConT is Reflexive Impotence as historiography, deeply disempowering. After all, everything serves their interest. The war in Iraq seems to be going badly you say. NO! It’s going exactly as they planned it. The financial crash is a disaster for American Capitalism you say. NO! Someone, somewhere has benefitted, so it’s clearly just one more manifestation of their will.
But THEY seem to be a weird combination of omnipotence and naivety. How come 4, 000 Jews didn’t go to work in the Twin Towers on 9/11? ( I recently had this question repeated to me by a Saudi student. I first heard it, from a Saudi, the day after the attack.) Hang on, you think they can orchestrate this brilliant deception, yet they are foolish enough to ring round all the Jews and tell them to stay at home? They can control the weather but they can’t manufacture a few phoney W.M.Ds in Iraq? No matter, the seemingly inconsistent and contingent will be smoothed over by the certainty that finally, on some deeper level of interconnectedness, it all makes sense.
I know, it’s a response to the collapse of Marxism or something, but in the same way it’s pointless trying to talk someone out of their belief, you’ll be banging your head against a brick wall with the ConTs: they need a first and final Cause, a predetermined universe that will justify their pleasurable combination of self-righteousness and apathy, the ego unperturbed, hunched in front of the monitor, being One Who Knows. Conspiracy theory offers a kind of lightly digestible theoretical dog’s dinner, a montage of attractions ranging across the political spectrums, the contradictions don’t matter, or at least don’t resolve themselves in some interesting new theoretical leap, anti-finance-capital but pro-property-ownership, anti-big-government yet anti-market at the same time, whatever can be shoehorned in to shore up the continually collapsing denial of contingency is fine. Global warming is, of course, total bollocks, at the same time the Oil Industry funds vast webs of disinformation. The Jews own everything, then again so do the Arabs. Probably they’re secretly working together to suck the life from proud Aryan children and all the seeming hostility is just a pantomime to keep us wrong footed. Israel and the Arab world are secretly in cahoots! They must be, no-one thinks so! How come you never once hear anyone suggest as much? Grounds for suspicion there.
The fundamental question for the ConT is: how do you know that this isn’t exactly what THEY want you to believe, maybe it’s there to siphon off potential discontent into the never ending, forking paths of conspiracy theory and mystical conjecture, how do you know it’s not all disinformation planted in your head by the C.I.A and that official history is exactly the truth they want to distract you from? After all, look how successful they were in getting everyone to believe that 9/11 was an inside job, that the truth was discovered by three kids with a laptop in a shack in Montana and yet still, despite the obvious truth of it all, no-one did anything!!!. Why do THEY want you to believe this? Maybe this more than anything serves their interests!
You’re a conspiracy theorist. A-ha! They got you there, didn’t they?