Some consider me a conspiracy theorist because I disbelieve the Warren Commission. Others consider me unsympathetic to the conspiracist subculture because I've come to despise the 9/11 "controlled demolition" cranks, the Roswell rubes, the Illuminati-spotters, the New World Order nutjobs and pretty much everyone who regularly listens to Alex Jones.
Here's how I look at the situation:
1. Politically, I define myself as an anti-libertarian -- on economic issues, not social issues
. (One must always be clear on that last distinction. Whenever libertarians sense the unpopularity of their stance on Social Security, they immediately switch the topic to pot legalization, as a way of getting a foot in the door.)
2. Libertarians promote conspiracy theories -- valid ones, iffy ones, totally wacky ones. To prove the point, just visit a website friendly to Ron Paul.
3. Libertarians push paranoia because they want to call into question the very concept of government. They want the public to lose faith in democracy.
4. Thus, I cannot applaud when someone like Jerome Corsi writes a book about the JFK assassination, even though the book is actually pretty good. Why? Because I know that Corsi's ultimate goal is to foster a political weltanschauung that the three Kennedy brothers would have despised.
In his latest piece
, Robert Reich outlines the reasons why the unbridled greed of the one-percenters has not led to revolution or reform. Although Reich does not directly address the role of the conspiracism in modern culture, the idea is in there, bubbling in the subtextual broth...
Third and finally, the American public has become so cynical about government that many no longer think reform is possible.
When asked if they believe government will do the right thing most of the time, fewer than 20 percent of Americans agree. Fifty years ago, when that question was first asked on standard surveys, more than 75 percent agreed.
It's hard to get people worked up to change society or even to change a few laws when they don't believe government can possibly work.
Just so. In the final analysis, Alex Jones wields his bullhorn on behalf of the oligarchy, even though he will tell you otherwise. Hell, he probably sincerely believes
Reich's next observation brings us to a droll paradox:
You'd have to believe in a giant conspiracy to think this was all the doing of the forces in America most resistant to positive social change.
It's possible, of course, that they intentionally cut jobs and wages so much as to cow average workers, buried students under so much debt they'd never take to the streets, and made most Americans so cynical about government they wouldn't even try to for change.
But it's more likely they merely allowed all this to unfold, like a giant wet blanket over the outrage and indignation most Americans feel but don't express.
I'm just paranoid enough to suspect that idea of intentionality makes more sense than does the "giant wet blanket" scenario. As I've said on several previous occasions, I think that the conspiracy theorists are the conspiracy