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Issue #1881      August 14, 2019

Conspiracy theories

A “pink lady” volunteer at Gosford Hospital where I was having dialysis made a passing reference to the Titanic as being not her idea of a safe ship. A fairly safe sort of statement, I would have thought. But no, a nearby patient spoke up straight away to “set the record straight.” According to him, the Rothschilds contrived to sink the Titanic in order to do away with their financial rivals among the numerous wealthy and powerful figures that made up the complement of first class passengers who perished in the disaster!

What gives such far-fetched ideas traction is the fact that under capitalism, the ruling class does engage in conspiracies, and does not shirk at ones that will have deadly results. Assassinations, even of presidents, murders of inconvenient witnesses, fabricated military adventures intended to provoke a war, these are all stock in trade for capitalism’s conspiracy planners. But organising to place an iceberg just where a trans-Atlantic liner would run into it, thereby drowning a random collection of the very rich? That is surely a stretch too far.

Not that that inconvenient fact will dent the support for this kind of conspiracy theory among those who prefer to believe these orchestrated fantasies. Fakery is capitalism’s stock in trade and the people who live under capitalism have become so used to this regimen of lies and what Donald Trump likes to call “fake news” that many of them are hard put to recognise the truth when they see it.

Look at the number of Americans in particular who are convinced that the moon landings were an elaborate fake, a creation of Hollywood-style special effects. All, apparently so that NASA could boost its annual budget from the US Congress. The important point to remember is that the leaders of capitalism not only cleverly and subtly encourage the proliferation of these “conspiracy theories” but they want people to be aware that they exist.

Why, I hear you ask, would the leaders of the imperialist powers actually want people to be aware that there are lots of conspiracy theories out there? Because it makes it a lot easier to cover up real conspiracies. In the event anyone questions the integrity of some action or organisation, it is a simple matter to imply that the questioner must be a “believer in conspiracy theories.” When everyone is aware that there are in fact lots of real conspiracy theories out there, questioner swiftly loses all credibility.

In other words, capitalism knows that if people are aware that crackpot theories abound, it makes them less inclined to believe evidence of real conspiracies, especially since concrete evidence of a conspiracy is by definition hard to find. It’s a case of hiding things in plain sight, which allows you to deny that you have hidden anything at all.

Nevertheless, as we have said, capitalism does engage in real conspiracies with alarming frequency. The Trump administration is busy right now fabricating evidence in an attempt to convince the world that Iran has attacked oil tankers and other vessels, to provide the US with a pretext for attacking that oil rich country.

But most of the world’s governments – and a lot of the world’s people − are now very aware that imperialism frequently, even routinely, uses disguised military units to attack targets (such as an oil tanker) where an imperialist government would prefer not to be identified as the attacker. These disguised offensive actions are commonly referred to as “false flag operations”.

The US has made a speciality of “false flag” operations. In fact, the US military maintains at least two military units that do almost nothing else. Wearing the uniforms of a target country, they have even fired on US troops or those of their allies, to create pretexts for US offensive operations in “retaliation”.

If you think the foregoing smacks of moral bankruptcy you’d be right, of course. But the leaders of American imperialism are constantly assured by their own lackeys and by the corporations whose interests they serve that they are not only on the side of the angels but that God himself fully approves of everything they do. International organisations like the UN are simply an irritant, “interfering” in America’s private business.

Not all the conspiracies indulged in by imperialism are deadly, of course. Most of them merely involve conniving to influence – albeit often drastically − the outcome of an election or something similar. But they all share the common characteristic of being intended to thwart the aspirations of working people if those aspirations do not accord with the wishes of the corporate world.

And they all have the potential to become deadly if the powerful corporations that actually run capitalism think their interests are in any way threatened.

So the next time someone tries to pass off criticism of some unsavoury action as “indulging in a conspiracy theory,” just remember that they are not all just theories. Some at least – including some of the nastiest − are real.

Next article – Rally for Press Freedom – Forrest Place, Perth WA

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