Theses on Conspiracy and Social Theory

The following text began life as a section of a pamphlet on '9-11Gate' and has now been revised and expanded.

1.            Never believe something because you want to believe it.' (John Pilger) And never disbelieve something because people ridicule, sneer and growl at you ? 'you must be one of those conspiracy theorists', 'it'll be lizards next', etc

2.            Co-incidences exist, but so do conspiracies, including big ones! Unaccountable meetings and secret agendas are the stuff of normal politics and 'para-politics'. But trouble arises if we develop a 'conspiracist mindset' which assumes that behind every co-incidence, mistake, social problem or setback, someone is solely to blame, or some evil super-unified group.

3.            Lack of information and mistakes play a significant part in human affairs, so do competing tendencies within powerful fraternities or 'Frats', which are often not as united as they seem, nor as all-knowing as they hope and others fear.

4.         Some/much of our difficulties in understanding derive from practices of powerful people in installing trauma, confusing victims, holding back the truth.

5.          So sometimes outcomes which have been deliberately engineered by a group are passed off as accidents, or 'Nature', 'Fate' or the fault of some other group.

6.           It's not a question of 'Either Conspiracies or cock ups' - sometimes it can be both. When big conspiracies are cocked-up and become visible, then a widespread awakening can ocur, and societal patterns can potentially change.

7.          Those of us who have contracted the 9-11 awareness 'virus' have a special responsibility to share our understanding wisely, without making a new cult out of our knowledge, nor disrespecting those others of us who are still in denial, and who may ridicule us or try to block us telling others about 9-11.

8.           Truth, open dialogue and study are a constantly provisional process, a personal discipline for the sake of society, not an excuse to write people off. Hatred blinds us to the good in people and makes social movements liable to disunity.

9.            Nevertheless, while goodwill is crucial, naivety won't help. In many secret and cultic fraternities the 'real men' bond by planning new ways to take advantage of the 'softy community' (at level of local drug-dealers) or to harm our worldwide Motherland (at the level of the Bilderberg Group, Yale's 'Skull and Bones' society, etc). 'Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.' - or someone else.

10.            While opening to the hidden harm-doing in the world it is easy to get excessively fascinated. So we also need to be opening to the good in ordinary people and develop wholesome routines and friendships which ground us.

11.            If we can keep the internet in its place in semi-rounded lives, we can use it to develop inclusive networks of civil society which aren't male dominated. If we can grow, intensify and link up these networks we will have the making of alternative 'ministries'. Examples are the Open Source movement, the 'Ministry of Peace' and the Sustainable food network ? what will you eat if the US cuts off our oil? Or do you imagine that those/that pattern which brought us 9-11 know when to stop? If they can't change, we must. Another world is possible.

12.  The Numbers Question
One very valid concern of those who are skeptical of 'conspiracy theories' concerns the number of people who (they believe) must have been in on the conspiracy and how come no one blew the whistle, even anonymously? In any particular investigation we may need to decide this reason is conclusive, hence we should forget our conspiracy hypothesis. In other cases we may want to discuss concerning whether whistleblowing is possible (if you want to stay alive), and whether  anonymous whistleblowing will be picked up and broadcast and listened to anyway (this accusation must be crazy, the authorities wouldn't ever do that!). In the case of 9-11 the explosions-testimony of many 'little people' (janitors, office workers, firemen) was swiftly swept aside by the corporate media, greatly aided by the sneers of the 'educated' commentariat against 'conspiracy theories'!

A further variable effecting tendency to break ranks and talk is the degree of group cohesion and bonding mechanisms (both mythic, ritual and financial) which may plausibly be in play among the plotters.

In other cases the skeptics may simply lack imagination and necessary information on the automatic technologies and compartmentalising systems available which allow big secret plans to be pulled off with few people really in the know.

Although this argument often deserves to be taken seriously as to why a conspiracy didn't take place, or may not have, there is one context where it is obviously a mistake to advance this argument, namely when, as with the facts around the collapse of the triple towers, the thing in question (controlled demolitions) obviously has happened! Logically speaking Physics arguments should trump our Sociological theories about inevitably leaky conspiracies above a certain number of people. It is only when the physical realities are unclear and ambiguous, that such a priori caveats about the number of people one can marshall in a successful leak-proof conspiracy can helpfully be brought into play. In the present case, when the matter of controlled demolition is an established scientific fact beyond any reasonable doubt, this Numbers argument is inappropriate and indicative of the psychology of denial.

13)   Reflexivity
Good social theories involve a degree of 'reflexivity', that is to say they should help us account for how we have come to our understanding (and why others haven't, or at least not yet). This requirement is fine in principle, and can lead to interesting discussions. But we should beware people using it to hold to account those who believe the powerful are involved in harmful conspiracies, but not those who believe that the officially designated and weaker public 'enemies' conspired to harm people. (After all the official 9-11 story is also a 'conspiracy theory' and what makes true-believers in the official story think they have come to the correct understanding but not us benighted 'conspiracy theorists'?) In the end we can either descend into mutual abuse or keep pointing back at the evidence - which of course appears as significant in relation to the various assumptions and theories people hold (or are held captive by).
It's Okay not to know why it is (both sides think) that 'our lot' happen to have seen deeper on this occasion. For every proposed explaining-away of side A's beliefs in terms of their characters, conditioning or social vantage point, side A can reply in kind about side B!

14) Arguments are never fruitful
But in the end both 'sides' in a discussion should really be in the same side - of the truth and the process of trying to understand it together. The moment one side is set to win at all costs, the moment voices are raised, abuse occurs, or interruptions become frequent, then we should stop trying to 'win' and reflect on how we are both losing this opportunity to go forward together. Discussions help, but macho arguments never do! In fact they are worse than useless, because they lock those we are talking with (or sometimes to!)  into a whole stance and identity which makes them much less likely to reconsider with a fresh mind in future. Truth is a process of many processes - let's respect these processes and those we discuss with.

15) Scotch suspicions by open disclosure!
But an attitude of 'mental fight' (Blake) is definitely called for when certain people want to have their cake and eat it: i.e. sneer at our questioning of some officially established truth but not wish to listen to our offer to explain the grounds one has (or thinks one has) for questioning that official reality.

Even worse if certain well-paid newspaper columnists with the privilege of communicating with hundreds of thousands every week sneer at the internet as an inherently unreliable 'breeding-ground' for dodgy conspiracy theories, tarring all unpopular and/or minority views with the same brush as the most fanatically wrong-headed revisionism (e.g. Holocaust denial), and not allowing a fair representation of the particular view the pundit is having a public go at (or a right of reply). (In any case, most newspaper articles don't give their references openly, whereas good internet articles are full of  hotlinks to checkable sources.) 

Worst still is when top columnists fail to add their weight to public campaigns for evidence to be released which could effectively scotch the 'conspiracy theories' the columnists  disparage as obviously crazy, but without explaining or refuting.

Open the minds! Release the Evidence! can be our watchword in many contexts - e.g. where multiple CCTV cameras mysteriously don't work, or the footage is unavailable, as at the two 911 airports where 19 'hijackers' are supposed to have passed through, then 911 days later at the Alcara de Henarez railway station near Madrid where four trains are supposed to have been loaded with 12 backpacks, and on July 7th when in the surveillance capital of the world, there are no images released (let along connected footage sequences) of the 4 men in London that day. Another instance of non-working of cameras which can only fuel suspicion are the 17 cameras between the Ritz and where Diana and Dodi died in 1997 - though according to the Express, one of the cameras had just issued a speeding ticket!