It’s a Conspiracy!
The American public is in love with a good conspiracy theory. Pick up any popular tabloid at the supermarket checkout line and you will find the latest news concerning the escape of the space alien from a super-secret Area Something or Another, or the “inside story” on how the government is trying to cover up “the truth” behind its latest colossal blunder. Whatever your political, social, religious beliefs happen to be I can assure you that there is at least one alleged conspiracy involved.
The “mother of all conspiracy theories” is undoubtedly the family of speculations that surround the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Over the decades since that November day the “investigations” into “the cover up” have blossomed into what is nothing less than a cottage industry producing at least eight million-selling books, three documentaries, two full length movies, and two congressional select committees. For those not familiar with this particular conspiracy, let me summarize by lumping all of the theories into a single paragraph.
President Kennedy was shot by at least eight people firing from twelve different locations, with at least three of them firing from behind a white picket fence atop a grassy knoll while remaining invisible to each other. The shooters had been assembled by a conspiracy involving the most unlikely alliance since the fall of the Roman Empire and included the CIA, the mafia, the military-industrial complex, Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, Lyndon Johnson, J. Edgar Hoover, and the cow that jumped over the moon. All the shooters were killed while trying to escape when Jack Ruby sot down their airplane with a Stinger Missile.
If you should doubt the factual basis for the above statement, I would point out to you that there have been no cows seen in the vicinity of the moon since that time.
If the above description seems a little incredulous, I invite you to consider the following “urban legends,” to use the more socially-acceptable term for what were once known as “outright lies.”
Crack cocaine was invented by the CIA as a method of genocide directed against urban African-Americans.
The AIDS virus was created by the same to be used for the same purpose.
The attacks of September 11, 2001 were planned by a Zionist cabal whose intent was to inflame American public opinion into an anti-Arab frenzy that would exploit in its constant efforts to persecute Muslims.
So, what do conspiracies have to do with politics?
As an example consider the longest running conspiracy theory, communism. The central tenet of communism is that the wealthy actively conspire to oppress the non-wealthy and that it is only the power of the state keeps the non-wealthy “in their place,” where they must work at menial, low wage jobs to benefit the wealthy. Therefore, since the state is for the benefit of the rich and powerful the only hope that the non-wealthy have is to gain control of the state by revolution.
But since revolutions, historically, have tended to be pretty messy things followed by a few years of hardships where a lot of people are either killed outright or die of starvation, maybe the revolution thing isn’t exactly what we want either. Maybe if we elect people who promise to help us out, we can get what we want at the expense of the evil capitalists who have been oppressing us!
What a conspiracy theory actually says is, quite simply, that the individual has to take no accountability for their own decisions because society “conspires” to make their lives miserable. Quit school in the ninth grade because it was cutting into your social life and now you can’t read the “Help Wanted” ads in the newspaper? No problem! Nobody will hire you because your criminal record is longer than the employment application? No problem! It’s because there’s a conspiracy at work against you! Just elect me to _____________ and I’ll take care of you by taxing everyone else so you can get even with those nasty, rich conspirators.
Another nice thing about conspiracy theories is that once formulated and proposed conspiracy theories need absolutely none of the routine intellectual maintenance that other, less exotic ideas such as the Theory of Evolution or the Theory of Relativity periodically require. Conspiracy theories make such great explanations for just about anything simply because you never have to produce any data in support of them. If someone asks you for proof of your latest-discovered conspiracy, all you have to say in your defense is “I can’t prove it, because the evidence is being suppressed by the conspiracy.”
Just stop, for a moment, and reflect on how much of our national social policy is based on “correcting” some “injustice” that is supposedly the result of some “conspiracy.”
Scary thought, isn’t it?