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Michael Laxer lives in Toronto where he runs a bookstore with his partner Natalie. Michael has a Degree in History from Glendon College of York University. He is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, was a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2010 and is on the executive of the newly formed Socialist Party of Ontario.

The externalized enemy: Conspiracy theories and the left

| January 22, 2013

Imagine a world of absolutes of black and white. A world where a self-proclaimed group of people have discovered the truth, and have discovered that this truth is hidden from us by a powerful and frightening super-elite who are able to manipulate and control the actions of tens of millions of people and to get the media, the courts, the police and the "state" to do their bidding, seemingly without any serious effort. Imagine that, supposedly, those who are in the "know" but who turn against the powers that be, or those who innocently come across knowledge that they should not have had, are killed off. Imagine that this tiny overclass is responsible for what ails the world. They rig elections, assassinate leaders, pull off "inside jobs" etc.

A world where, presumably, if the people only understood this truth, could only grasp at this light in the midst of the dark night, they could discover how things really work, and then, apparently, do something about it.

Imagine this and you have entered into the realm of the conspiracy theory and conspiracy thinking.

From Sandy Hook to 9-11, from JFK to RFK, from the New World Order to the Zionist Occupied Government. From Masons to Rosicrucians. The narrative is always basically the same, the details matter less than you might think.

The world is governed by hidden and tremendously powerful forces that, to varying degrees depending on the theory, control everything or almost everything. They are capable of making anyone do their bidding, and notions of democracy, an independent judiciary and political class, are simply illusions held by the "sheep" that are the bulk of the population.

These ideas, these "theories" of society, are becoming increasingly widespread with the advent of the Internet and with the consolidation of neo-liberalism. They are permeating and effecting our political discourse. They are also, in one form or another, held by many of those who are on the "left" and they are a larger part of the "left" narrative than they have been, outside of the paranoid delusions of Communist regimes and their sycophants, since the modern left came into existence.

The purpose of this piece is not to attempt, at all, to debunk this or that specific conspiracy theory. That has been done elsewhere. It has also, for reasons we will return to, had little effect.

All grand conspiracy theories are equally and obviously false once subjected to any objective and reasoned analysis (1).  What renders this not obvious to those that hold them is the flawed narrative through which they construct their vision of the world and the way it works. Conspiracy theories are broadly and profoundly damaging to society as a whole. They are even more damaging to the basic socialist idea itself. They take systemic and real issues and transform them into sensationalistic and ultimately liberal fantasies about "dark forces". They provide the illusion that nothing could have been done to stop the "conspiracy" and that, therefore, "we" are not responsible. In doing so, oddly, they also let the liberal democratic system off the hook for social ills, as they basically claim that this system does not really exist.

Further, in an era where labour, both at home and internationally, the peoples of the Third World, and the very fabric of life on Earth itself due to accelerating climate change, are threatened by deregulated global state capitalism, these notions and theories do not at all confront the real problems that lie at the heart of our economic system; problems which are not a conspiracy, they are the basis of our economy.

When it comes to conspiracy thinking and the way it frames the world, no way of thinking could actually be further from the "truth".

The fallacies of neo-conspiracy thinking

Conspiracy theories, or what I think could be termed neo-conspiracy thinking, in that it takes an ages old interpretation of how the system supposedly is structured and simply updates it to a modern context and modern events, manifests itself in several ways, all of which are interconnected. (2)

While notions influenced by conspiracy thinking sometimes infiltrate more minor elements of  political discourse (3), the better known, and more obvious manifestations of it are centered around specific events such as the 9-11 attacks, the JFK assassination, the Sandy Hook shootings, and so on. Theories around these alleged conspiracies are usually way points to the greater narrative that the theorist or "movement" sees as the motives behind the event.

The grand conspiracy narrative is the destination point. These are actually thinly disguised ideologies that claim that the "people" are being oppressed and duped by a relatively tiny cabal that is the real, hidden force behind the complex, disturbing and bewildering tapestry of events and tragedies that is life and society in modernity. This cabal, and it really does not matter who the cabal is, the theories are all essentially identical anyway, "perverts" democracy, the nation, the economy, the constitution, the "race" or whatever it is that the theorist feels is being destroyed.

Related to these very focused notions of specific evil overlords are ideologies that appear and claim to have a broader analytic framework, but whose analysis is so mechanistic and simplistic that they are de facto conspiracy theories. All fascist and neo-fascist ideas are like this, with their talk of "vested interests", the Jews, the Federal Reserve, etc. So too are crass pseudo-"Marxist" narratives or narratives like the notion of the 1 percent (4) that see the state and its structures as some kind of direct arm of the capitalist class and whose concept of how modern society functions seems as if they live in the Moscow of Ivan the Terrible.

In other words, these ideas necessitate a belief in a set of specific "bad guys" whose exposure and overthrow is, presumably, the goal.This is not, at all, how society is actually structured, works or can be changed, a point to which we will return.

In addition, one of the primary and central mythologies of the movements and theories is that no one will listen and that, due to a media blackout (the media is always a key player in conspiracy theories, and all the major figures and outlets of the media have to be seen as tools of those "really" running things in order for the theories to "work" at all) their voices are not being heard. A corollary to this is the notion that if only they were allowed to get the message out, and if only they could expose the "secret" knowledge that they have acquired and accumulated, this would prove that they are right, and everything would change.

Given how widespread belief in conspiracies of one type or another is in North America right now, and given that actual majorities of the population believe in part, or in total, in many specific conspiracies, this is obviously not true. It is, however, an essential component of the conspiracist belief system as part of the appeal is the notion that you "know" truths that others don't and that those who question you or feel that your claims do not warrant discussion (and only people without a real understanding of concepts of science, history and sociology think that all ideas are of potentially equal merit) are either in on it or have been fooled. To paraphrase the tag-line of the paranoid conspiracy theory driven TV series of the 90's, the X-Files, people "want to believe".  It serves a psychological need.

This ties into the dependence of these ideas and theories on credulity. The lack of media coverage is seen as "proof" of what they are saying. Surely, if the media was not in on it they would at least be willing to look at their "claims". This has a satisfyingly democratic ring to it and appeals to those who think that everyone's ideas, no matter how absurd, should be heard. (5)

It is also indicative of how their "evidence" is presented in general. Their theories do not depend on evidence at all. Because the powerful can manipulate everything, in some cases tiny bits of proof are taken as "smoking guns" even when they are massively outweighed by the rest of the evidence, and sometimes the very lack of evidence is actually seen as evidence!

As Steven Novella wrote on the Skepticblog:

 

The world is a complex and chaotic place, and our ability to make sense of it all is limited by comparison. We like, however, to have a sense of control, so we look for patterns and ways to predict what will happen in this chaotic world. Superstitions are one way to deal with the chaos, and conspiracy theories are another. They are both forms of pattern seeking behavior. The illusion of pattern that leads to the illusion of understanding and therefore control is psychologically appealing. But it is all a neuropsychological illusion.

Rigorous logic and empirical methods need to be applied to let us distinguish real patterns from fake or coincidental ones. Conspiracy thinking is the opposite of rigorous logic. It employs conspiracy logic, which can turn any evidence against a conspiracy or lack of evidence for a conspiracy into evidence for the conspiracy. Conspiracy thinking is a closed  mental feedback loop. There is no way out from within the conspiracy mindset itself.

This is why these ideas, theories and ideological narratives are tremendously resilient versus overwhelming evidence to contradict them. While debunking specific conspiracy claims, and pointing out their absurdity, is still worthwhile as it may prevent people from entering into the mental feedback loop to begin with, it is of only limited effect upon not only those who are already within the mindset, but also against the broader spread of conspiracy thinking socially.

The confusion of the systemic with the "system"

Liberal democratic society, with its illusions of equality of opportunity and its deeply ingrained notion (especially within the North American context) of the power of the individual as an independent agent, has always had problems with a real understanding of class and the nature of systemic oppression.

In so far as most North Americans acknowledge that there are institutional limits and obstacles to individual achievement they most often acknowledge this through narratives that consist of the individual being "screwed" by the "system" in some way, whether it is through bureaucracy, taxes, by-laws, the courts, the police, etc.

North Americans, therefore, are prone to talk about obstacles to the individual, often in a very libertarian way that sees the individual as outside of the system and in struggle against it, as opposed to acknowledging that all individuals live within the same context, that this context is very complex, and that, socially, there is no escape from it.

When Marx famously wrote of how "the generations of the dead weigh like a nightmare upon the brains of the living", this was what he meant. People "make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past".

We act as independent agents within a context, a context that is not of our choosing, and a context that both informs and limits our actions.

This is not a system per se, and it does not directly "govern" our actions or force them. Nor does it directly govern the actions of the courts, media, police, and so on. Rather it frames them.

Systemic injustices of class, sexism, racism and colonialism are very real, and terribly violent and oppressive. That they are real is easily demonstrable. However they are not "controlled" by anyone, nor do they have some committee of the state that tells everyone what to do. They are woven into the fabric of society itself. They are hegemonic in the same way that neo-liberal ideology has become.

To some degree or another they influence the actions of all citizens and movements and turning the tide against them involves not simply working together to overcome social institutions of oppression and power, but also to overcome these ideas within ourselves. It is not a battle against an "other" it is a battle against our own society and our own collectively inherited ideas and institutions. This is what has made it such an historically difficult struggle (6).

In addition, class itself in North America is more complex than it has ever been. The traditional proletariat no longer constitutes anywhere near a majority of the population, and notions of the working and middle classes have become hopelessly entwined in our political discourse.  There is no worker's movement that bears any meaningful class or social relationship to the worker's movements of fifty years ago, and the left has not only to struggle against misconceptions of who is or is not "working class" and who thinks they are or are not "middle class", it also  has to struggle against the elevation of the individual to a pedestal of philosophical predominance socially.

Conspiracy theories and thinking, as well as mechanistic visions of society, inhibit real efforts to understand the amazingly diverse, contradictory and  overlapping strands of various social forces and oppressions. They also obscure the reasons why people seem so often to act against their own apparent social interests.

By seeking to place the individual (whether described as such, or as a part of an enlightened or historically destined group) in an external, almost Atlas Shrugged style battle against the Prometheus of the "state" or the "ruling class" or "vested interests", whatever it/they might be, these ideas are inherently individualistic, alienating and dis-empowering.

It is not at all surprising that these notions have become more widespread with the consolidation of neo-liberalism as a hegemonic ideology, as pillars of community and collectivity have not only been dismantled, they have been vilified. As all mainstream political parties now embrace neo-liberalism, these parties have also aided in creating a sense of personal dis-empowerment among many citizens as well as in the seeming futility of the political process, parliamentary or otherwise.

Why conspiracy theories are harmful to the left

When confronted by conspiracy theories  there is a temptation, as Noam Chomsky has done, to point out the obvious.

So what? Even if the theories are true, which Chomsky thinks is absurd, who cares? What difference would it make?

And, of course, he is correct.

If you believe, as a majority of the population of the United States does, that JFK was assassinated by a conspiracy, even if this was conclusively proven tomorrow, what difference would it make? 

Fifty years later, and given that most of the Oliver Stone myths about how "progressive" he was (the president who was behind the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis) are obviously false, who cares?

The 9-11 Truthers face the same problem. Bush is no longer president. Obama has won two terms and has carried on the "War on Terror" with equal vigour. Not only does it no longer matter if 9-11 was an "inside job", if it was revealed to be so, what would this accomplish? Electing another Democratic president who will continue to do what his predecessors did?

To a degree, however, this misses the point, especially when it comes to the impact of these theories on leftist and socialist movements and ideas.

These theories propose that, even if it is not the Bushes or the long dead people who supposedly engineered the assassination of Kennedy, there is someone who is controlling it all. There is some group of people who need to be thrown out or eliminated, and once they are, the system, society, civilization, the nation, or what have you, will "work" and, presumably, freedom and justice of some kind will reign.

This is entirely analogous to medieval notions that if you kill the "bad" king, then a "good" king will make it all better.

But this is false.

Leftism and socialist thought is about ending systemic injustice through a long and difficult struggle to shift the consciousness of everyone away from the systems of oppression that permeate our discourse and social interaction. It is about fundamentally altering class relations. It is about changing a social order, a task that requires mass collective democratic action and that sees individual action only in the context of a long-term collective democratic struggle.

There is no "good" king or leader. All the kings or leaders within the context of neo-liberalism and capitalism, to one degree or another, are bad.

Conspiracy theories and neo-conspiracy thinking undermine the fight against systemic injustice and towards socialist ideas. They do so by making that struggle about a specific event, group-of-people or simplistically constructed overclass/ruling class. They do so by replacing concepts of systemic injustice with reductionist myths about "the system". They do so by creating narratives that make mass popular action and building a long term alternative to capitalism and systemic injustice seemingly irrelevant and meaningless and instead lay emphasis on the actions of individuals or small groups of individuals in the "know" acting against equally small groups of people who are the "enemy". This is the antithesis of constructive, democratic mass anti-capitalist political parties and movements.

In the end, we cannot defeat capitalism, social stratification, racism and sexism by getting rid of "bad people".

There are no short cuts.

We can only do it by changing people's consciousness and society as a whole.

(1) For clarification, one of the methods that conspiracy theorists use to sow doubt and confuse is to point out that, historically, countless conspiracies have occurred. This is obviously true. They exist today as well. There are criminal conspiracies to do any number of things, and these sometimes involve governments and elected officials. They also involve groups like the CIA and FBI which have, without any doubt, engaged in illegal and secret conduct. For reasons the article will make clear, however, this has nothing to do with the notion of a society and a power elite that is a product of and that depends upon a conspiracy to exist. These two notions are qualitatively different.

Further, while acknowledging that conspiracies have historically existed, the difference between studying actual conspiracies and what conspiracy thinking represents is that the conspiracy theories filter events within the context of a broader overarching grand conspiracy, as opposed to understanding them within the context of broad societal structural and systemic factors. 

(2) Often critiques of conspiracy thinking descend into debates about whether they are more often right or left-wing or whether they are more likely to flow out of a left or right analysis. Jonathan Kay's otherwise excellent book, Among the Truthers, for example, is derailed by his totally unnecessary insistence that the left is more to "blame". This is an ultimately uninteresting debate, because in reality they are neither. Left or right conspiracy thinkers and theories have far more in common than do genuine left and right ideologies, and they overlap to such a degree that they function as wings of a worldview entirely separate from mainstream notions of ideology at all.

(3) An example of how these notions, even in a minor context, can stand rational thinking on its head can be found in those who felt that Thomas Mulcair, leader of the federal NDP, had been "bought" by the Israel lobby due to the fact that he received a handful of relatively minor donations from some prominent figures within it and because his riding has a sizable alleged pro-Israel voting block. They saw him as an external threat to the NDP who was under the influence of external forces. They never considered the far more likely notion that these donors donated because of Mulcair's already existing beliefs, and  that Mulcair, who had been brought into the party in a leadership role by Layton, was a leadership contender not because of external forces, but due to forces entirely internal to the NDP that had been shifting the party for decades. Mulcair was a symptom, a part of a process, as opposed to the sole or even primary agent of this process. Otherwise, he would not have won the leadership.

(4) I realize that it is highly controversial to describe the 1 Percent slogan of the Occupy movement as a crass narrative or a conspiracy theory, though in every meaningful sense, if taken literally, it is. I have written about this before, and critiqued the slogan in a piece published on Rabble early last year. For those who have and who will claim that the slogan is just a rhetorical tool one only need point out that all such reductionist ideas are rhetorical flourishes. That does not make them any less false and nor does it change that fact that many in the movement or who are supportive of it will see it as the literal truth. A slogan that is basically false as a theory of society is not in the long-term interests of a genuine democratic movement.

(5) As Issac Asimov once said "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."" 

(6) The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology, as part of its definition of social and systemic oppression puts it this way: " Relationships between groups and relationships between groups and social categories, should not be confused with the oppressive behavior of individuals. A white man may not himself actively participate in oppressive behavior directed at blacks or women, for example, but he nonetheless benefits from the general oppression of blacks and women simply because he is a white man. In this sense, all members of dominant and subordinate categories participate in social oppression regardless of their individual attitudes or behavior. Social oppression becomes institutionalized when its enforcement is so of social life that it is not easily identified as oppression and does not require conscious prejudice or overt acts of discrimination."

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Comments

Challenging the Politics of Paranoia - New Internationalist magazine

Too much of a not very good thing (confusing narrative) is not a good thing.

I love the "Islamists dwelling in caves" nonsense that keeps getting repeated by you nutbars. You make it sound as if these people are primitive cavemen, lacking in education or technical skills, and having no means of communicating with the outside world.

I agree it was never proven that Osama bin Laden himself ordered the 9/11 attacks on the US. That doesn't mean that a small group of Islamist wannabes in Hamburg or somewhere else couldn't have decided to hijack a couple of planes. It didn't cost them a fortune to pull it off. And I doubt they expected the WTC would collapse as a result.

Michael Parenti goes no further than to suggest that the US government had advance warning of a terrorist attack and did nothing to stop it, hoping that it would have a Pearl-Harbor effect on the US population to support the planned wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. In that, he's probably right.

He doesn't say 9/11 was an inside job. He doesn't say the government foresaw or intended the destruction of the WTC. He doesn't suggest that an attempt to destroy the Pentagon was logically consistent with a desire to have the US 100% ready for an immediate war against Afghanistan. He doesn't suggest that destroying the WTC was not enough of an atrocity to cause outrage among the US population, and that the Pentagon would have to be attacked as well before Americans would cry for a war of revenge. No, Parenti actually still has a few brain cells to rub together.

Michael Parenti is a JFK skeptic and 9/11 skeptic who has in recent history given presentations at 9/11 Truth conferences. 

http://www.michaelparenti.org/JFKAssassination.html

http://911blogger.com/news/2008-01-26/michael-parenti

He has written critically of those who throw around the abstract phrase "conspiracy theoriest" to draw attention away from the hard evidence cited by opponents of the ruling class's false-flags and covert assassinations. 

A conspiracy is merely "two or more people coming together to plan an illegal act". So it seems proffering theories about conspiracies is not that controversial anyway. The most germaine question is: which conspiracy theories are supported by evidence and which are not.

For example, the conspiracy theory that Islamists dwelling in caves in Afghanistan and their US-based affiliates planned and executed 9/11 withouth the complicity of US/Israel-based war profiteers is unsupported by the evidence. 

 

Joshua Blakeney wrote:
Michael Parenti, incidentally, has written on the utility of the phrase "conspiracy theorist" to delegitimate those who accurately interpret the actions of the ruling class.

Parenti does not believe 9/11 was an inside job, so I don't think he's on your side. He says, quite correctly, that the Project for the New American Century foresaw the utility of a terrorist attack on the United States as a casus belli for mobilizing public opinion around a war against Islam. They were inspired by the historical precedent of Pearl Harbour as a catalyst for war. But nowhere does he suggest that Pearl Harbour or 9/11 were inside jobs.

Yes, conspiracies do exist, but not everything is the result of a conspiracy. When you are a wealthy and powerful ruling class, sometimes you just get lucky.

Dartmouth wrote:
I do not support the state of Israel and oppose Zionism but when you talk of Zionism as if it were a ruling faction of the US or Canada you are leaving the left and getting into far right "Zionist Occupation Government" conspiracy theory territory.

Are you saying it's (a) anti-Semitic or (b) a conspiracy theory, to assert that Stephen Harper and his Cabinet are Zionists?

Abbie Bakan wrote:
In the present period, really existing Zionism means defense of the state of Israel and a legitimation of its colonial settler policies in the name of support of the ‘Jewish’ people in the face of anti-Jewish racism.

I agree with that definition. Do you? It fits the Harperites like a glove. The Republicrats as well.

@Joshua_Blakeney First of all Joshua I don't see where the "psuedo" is here - Laxer is simply skeptical of conspiracy theories. What I don't understand is this - how is it that Truthers and other conspiracists always claim that all they're interested in is "asking questions" and "having a debate" yet whenever someone seriously takes them up and questions their premises and logic they ask "why did rabble publish this" and try to silence their critics?

On your specific points - the WTC7 conspiracy theory is nonsense and has been thoroughly debunked in this documentary which I suggest you watch: The Conspiracy Files 

As for Zionists being a "faction of the ruling class" and a "cabal" - I would like to remind you of the famous August Bebel quote "anti-Semitism is the socialism of idiots". I do not support the state of Israel and oppose Zionism but when you talk of Zionism as if it were a ruling faction of the US or Canada you are leaving the left and getting into far right "Zionist Occupation Government" conspiracy theory territory.

It is true that some activists including some working class people have had their energies and activism diverted into conspiracy theory nonsense just as some working class people go to the malls on the weekend and hand out Jehovah's Witness tracts. Perhaps in the 21st century we can say that 9/11 conspiracy theories are the opiate of the people because what they effectively do is *demobilise* people taking them out of the class struggle, out of real activism and divert them into a fantasy land where their energies are wasted and where their efforts are diveted from actually challenging capitalism. You know, the way9-11 conspiracy theorist and fascist Alex Jones does. 

Incidentally,when elsewhere I brought up Press TV's shameful promotion of the conspiracy theory that the Mossad is behind Newtown you denied it and claimed that it was only a guest on a Press TV show who said that and that he was off topic. I responded by pointing out this link in which Press TV clearly promotes this idiotic theory: Did Mossad death squad massacre US kids? . You never responded. Do you agree that this is a contemptable and idiotic claim? Why is Press TV promoting it? 

Why split from the NDP who has support from the growing Resistances and Union movements to confront conspiracy theorists? As a "Socialist" party member why ignore direct questions from the public (non-members)?  hummmm?  I have a conspiracy theory I'm working on. Going to call it "Propaganda as a reversed psychological, passive aggressive war fare technique."

As someone who is proud to have contributed to Rabble.ca in the past, I am ashamed of this pseudo-skeptical attack on those many working class people who disseminate 9/11 Truth literature on their evenings and weekends. People ought to view this article as aiding and abetting imperialism. Without the 9/11 false flag the war on terror would have been far less palatable to the public.

Without dealing with false-flag terrorism as a reoccuring historical phenomenon, we cannot hope to prevent future imperialist wars. 

It's because the working class often sees through the myths of the ruling class that false-flags take place. 9/11 was a catalyst for false-consciousness and dividing and ruling the working class. This article ostacizes those who speak the truth about 9/11 with the put-down, psy-op phrase of "conspiracy theoriest." The author lumps together disparate theorists and theories under the rubric of "conspiracy theory". It's a form of guilt by association. Fortunately, Rabble readers are smart enough to see through this war on terror propaganda that has the effect of innoculating the Islamophobic 9/11 blood-lible from skepticism. 

Does anybody seriously still believe that WTC Building 7 collapsed in 6.5 seconds, symetrically merely from small office fires? Why would more than 1500 Architects and Engineers risk their careers and class privilage to speak out on the collapse of the towers, if there wasn't hard evidence of pre-planned demolitions? http://www.ae911truth.org

As for Zionists, they constitute a faction of the ruling class, just as Big Oil or Big Pharma does. Think of them as Zionism Inc. Zionist lobbyists in North America are a legitimate target for proletarian class struggle. Being socialist necessitates opposition to white, racist settler states and their apologists. 

Moreover, as Stephen Sneigoski demonstrates in his book "The Transparent Cabal" most of the neocons were effectively unreginstered agents of Israel operating in US politics at the behest of that foreign state. James Petras, who is a leftist, has written extensively on the existence of a Zionist Power Configuration in North Ameirca. Ethnic obscurantism was traditionally one of the pet peeves of the Left. Why do we make exceptions in our application of Marxian thought when it comes to opposing Zionist ethnic obscurantists? 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Israel-United-States/dp/0932863515/ref=n...

http://www.amazon.com/Zionism-Militarism-Decline-US-Power/dp/0932863604/...

http://www.amazon.com/The-Transparent-Cabal-Neoconservative-National/dp/...

Michael Parenti, incidentally, has written on the utility of the phrase "conspiracy theorist" to delegitimate those who accurately interpret the actions of the ruling class. 

Shame on Rabble for publishing this power-serving claptrap. 

 

When will those of us on the so-called Left finally get tired of LOSING? We are the real-world equivalent of the Washington Generals. Pitted against the Wall Street Globe Trotters in a permanently rigged game, we always play by the rules and always come up short. Ask yourself why - Why do the 'good' people always LOSE? Could it have something to do with the people we chose to speak on our behalf? Really, it's not very complicated. Look around. The world is run by Psychopaths. With assistance from their Narcissist partners-in-crime (politicians, journalists, celebrities, Laxer), they dominate all of our major institutions. They have an advantage. Psychopaths are biologically incapable of empathy. This frees them from the guilt and associated emotional pain that limits the actions of the rest of us. They never lie awake at night wondering if they've hurt someone's feelings. They don't care. In any social system where the majority of our interactions are mediated by the human value of money-power, the 'good' people will always LOSE. Please, let's stop assigning positive motivations to unscrupulous people. They don't care whether you live or die. They are capable of anything. We need to develop enough psychological sophistication and the hunger for truth necessary to identify the motivations of the people who control our destiny. I can only speculate as to the psychological make-up of a person who needs to construct such an elaborate strawman argument. I understand that remaining a 'respected' member of the pundit class requires that you denounce 'conspiracy theorists' from time to time. I get that. What I don't understand is why anyone still imagines that contorting oneself according to the needs of our psychopathic leaders and their psychopathic system will ever change anything. It won't. I guarantee it. So long as we're unable to speak truthfully about the source and nature of our degradation, devolution and descent, we should expect this LOSING streak to continue indefinitely - with potentially disasterous consequences for our species.
Krishnamurti says: "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

What do you call an essay that cites no empirical facts - in fact, takes no interest in empirical facts - but instead yammers on and on, dispensing generalizations and platitudes that lie about empirical reality? "Mendacious propaganda" would be too kind.

The empirical facts about JFK's 1963 turn towards peace, and his assassination, may be found in James Douglass's JFK and the Unspeakable. Douglass is no "conspiracy theorists," he's the greatest Catholic peace activist-intellectual of our time.

The empirical facts about the assassinations of MLK and RFK are available in the work of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, who won a civil suit proving that elements of the US military, CIA, FBI, and New Orleans mob worked together to kill Dr. King. The book to start with is Act of State.

The empirical facts about the assassination of Paul Wellstone are available in the book American Assassination by Four Arrows and Jim Fetzer.

The empirical facts about the billionaires' pedophilia ring that more or less "owns" the CIA, FBI, Nebraska police and courts, NY Times, and Washington Post may be found in Nick Bryant's The Franklin Scandal.

The empirical facts about the Bush crime family, including its key roles in the JFK assassination and the fabricated Watergate scandal, may be found in Russ Baker's Family of Secrets.

The empirical facts about how the bankster oligarchy overshadows any "democracy" may be found in the works of Ellen Brown, G. Edward Griffin, and others.

The empirical facts about how the US military and NATO secretly committed almost all of the "left wing terrorism" that tore Europe apart in the 1970s are available in the works of Daniel Ganser's book NATO's Secret Armies.

The empirical facts about the US military's plan to stage the mass murder of Americans in a 9/11 type event to trigger an invasion of Cuba in 1962 - a plan endorsed by every one of the Joint Chiefs, and nearly executed - are available in James Bamford's book Body of Secrets.

The empirical facts about lthe 9/11 false flag event are available in the many books on the subject by David Ray Griffin. For the short version, start with his essay "Let's Get Empirical."

These and other monumentally important facts are indeed covered up by the mainstream media (whose job is "manufacturing consent") precisely because they are monumentally important. These are the the facts that would rouse the people to withdraw their consent, leading to actual change.

By conspiring to hide the only facts that would actually trigger change, the foundation-funded pseudo-left, which takes money from the people responsible for the above-listed crimes, is helping the MSM make change impossible. Laxer appears to be one of the pseudo-leftists working overtime to prevent real change.

This is most unfortunate.  Creating a massive straw man to knock down is child's play.  If this guy were serious, he would come to grips with some of the most important evidence about JFK, 9/11 and 7/7, such as: 

(1) "Thinking about 'Conspiracy Theories': 9/11 and JFK" 

http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org/fetzerexpandedx.htm

(2) "7/7 Ripple Effect" (a "false flag" attack from beginning to end) 

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8756795263359807776# 

(3) “Peeling the 9/11 Onion:  Layers of Plots within Plots” (with Preston James)

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/08/14/peeling-the-911-onion-layers-of-plots-within-plots/

(4) "Reasoning about Assassinations"

http://www.assassinationscience.com/ReasoningAboutAssassinations.pdf

I submit that each of these demonstrates that the author is ignorant about the most basic elements of the conspiracies which he pretends to denounce.  For much more, go to "Veterans Today, Jim Fetzer".

Ben:

You wrote: "far right wing libertarian Frankfurt School".

What the hell are you talking about? That characterization of the Frankfurt school is so completely wrong I can scarcely take anything else you say seriously. Get a grip, man.

A typical Ahistorical piece of postmodern dribble from the far right wing libertarian Frankfurt School of thought.

No reference of John Rae, Napoleon III let alone William Cromwell.  No reference of the World Bank nor the IMF.

No mention of HG Wells etc.. nor any mention of Rasputin.

 

The French created the League of Nations or European Union after John Rae discovered the NorthWest Sea Passage.  Within 15 years Napoleon III had bankrupted France again and thus he needed to change the economic rules.  John Say came to the rescue.

 

No mention of JP Morgan and he love of Napoleon.  I wonder why.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1ZOUihAROo

 

Denying the central banking cartel is like denying climate change!!!!!!

Really good article...

 

I think a teacher of mine summed it up best at the start of the year with the "change your mode of thought" approach.

Its so easy to use words like the "system" / "bourgeois" or the "1%" but forget about all the structures and beliefs which have been internalized by most of us which end up creating injustices in our world.

I dislike Stephen Harper and the Neo-con / Neo-liberal & free trade political agenda of today....            Yet, I hate Harper Not only for his policy decisions, not just because he is literally destroying Canada, not simply because he can put on a sweater-vest and get votes.....But because looking at Harper is like looking in a mirror, he is my evil twin or dark side wearing a sweater vest and playing piano ....

Injustice only continues to work when we buy in....

Michael Laxer wrote:
Social oppression becomes institutionalized when its enforcement is so of social life that it is not easily identified as oppression and does not require conscious prejudice or overt acts of discrimination.

This obvious misquotation from the Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology has been copied and recopied so many times that it appears all over the internet.

Here, for the first time ever on the World Wide Web, is the accurate quotation of that sentence:

Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology wrote:
Social oppression becomes institutionalized when its enforcement is so embedded in the everyday workings of social life that it is not easily identified as oppression and does not require conscious prejudice or overt acts of discrimination.

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