29 June 2006
Conspiracies are factions, minority factions that see all non-members of the conspiracy as opponents and their secrecy is to prevent all opponents from even knowing of their existence. Hence by this definition, political lobbying groups, corporations that seek to defraud the public, politicians planning a coup d’etat, criminals planning a robbery, all are conspiracies. – Dr Ralph Bunch
Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, I quoted from a piece in the Independent that attempted to discredit opposition to the invasion with the following:
“Conspiracy theories abound … Others claim it was inspired by oil … [This] theor[y is] largely nonsense.” – The Independent, April 16, 2003. ‘AHMED CHALABI – OIL MAN IN BAGHDAD’ William Bowles (18/04/03) www.williambowles.info/ini/ini-012.html
One has to ask the question why the media feels it necessary to ridicule the idea of a conspiracy, especially a government-inspired one. Could it be because it’s just too close to home?
The problem with applying the notion of conspiracy to an entire government—for example, the ‘neo-con cabal’—is that the conspiracy, should one exist, takes place within a much larger framework, that of government policies that are, on the surface at least, very much in the public view.
This doesn’t mean that governments don’t concoct specific conspiracies, contemporary history is littered with examples; the Bay of Pigs, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, Iran-contra and so on.
The real issue is what the conspiracies mask. Why concoct a false attack as in the Tonkin Gulf? To answer this question we have to look at the relationship between the state and the dominant economic forces that the state represents. This is not say that the state doesn’t also represent other forces for example, us, the ‘people’. However, the degree to which the state represents other interests aside from the dominant ones is ultimately down to how much influence we have over the operations of the state.
A perfect example is the invasion of Iraq in 2003, an invasion that went ahead in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population was opposed to the invasion. It also illustrates the relationship between state policies and conspiracies, for in order to create even the semblance of a justification for the invasion it was necessary to invent reasons. Enter the ‘conspiracy’.
“Oil is at the heart of the crisis that leads towards a US war against Iraq. For more than a hundred years, major powers have battled to control this enormous source of wealth and strategic power. The major international oil companies, headquartered in the United States and the United Kingdom, are keen to regain control over Iraq’s oil, lost with the nationalization in 1972. Few outside the industry understand just how high the stakes in Iraq really are and how much the history of the world oil industry is a history of power, national rivalry and military force.” – ‘Oil in Iraq: the heart of the Crisis’, James A. Paul, Global Policy Forum, December, 2002. www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/2002/12heart.htm
This meant fabricating an entire rationale including the creation of false documents, non-existent connections between Saddam Hussein and ‘al-Qu’eda’, 9/11 and even other countries such as Niger and the false ‘yellowcake’ sales.
Colin Powell’s Powerpoint presentation to the UN consisted entirely of fabricated evidence purporting to prove that Iraq possessed WMD.
Can this be labelled as a conspiracy? I think so, it meets all the criteria insofar as it consisted of a group of individuals within the state apparatus who conspired together in secret to create a ‘threat’ that in fact didn’t exist in order to further the interests of a specific class. It conspired precisely because what was intended was in fact a criminal act.
Okay, it wasn’t a very well hidden conspiracy and in fact could only be sold to the public because the media ‘conspired’ with the state to sell the lies. Moreover, the media also ‘conspired’ with the state by hiding the fact from the public that the invasion was and remains a criminal act. This in part explains why the media is so quick to label those who cry ‘conspiracy!’ as whackos, yet the media has no problem accepting the idea of an ‘international terrorist conspiracy’. Not only accepting it but actually participating in promoting it! So it seems that one person’s conspiracy is someone else’s delusion.
Had the media actually acted as it likes to claim to do, in the public interest, it would have presented to the public the exact nature of the criminal act being planned. This in part explains why the media was so quick to condemn those who cried conspiracy, for to do otherwise would have exposed its own involvement in the conspiracy, a conspiracy of silence.
And once the conspiracy was revealed it was necessary to concoct yet another conspiracy to cover up the first one, the entirely false idea that the invasion of Iraq occurred because the intelligence was wrong, that the government was “misled” by its own servants, the intelligence agencies.
And to those who claim that engineering such complex conspiracies is simply impossible we need only look at the nature of the Hutton ‘inquiry’ which justified the ‘mistaken intelligence’ argument by weaving a web of deceit not only over the ‘intelligence’ but over the very nature of the way state and its agencies function.
According to the Hutton ‘inquiry’ it would have us believe that the government was the servant of the intelligence agencies, that these agencies, unbidden, created an entire plot by Saddam Hussein to deceive us into thinking that he had WMD and that he furthermore sought hide this from us! It’s not explained why Saddam Hussein would want to invite invasion.
The reality is quite the opposite; the intelligence services operate according to the instructions they receive from their political masters. They are moreover not simply passive receivers of information but active participants in the political process itself. It is simply inconceivable that the myriad of intelligence structures, military, political, police, secret service and so on, all got it wrong.
Anyone who reads the ‘dodgy dossier’ of September 2002 will be immediately struck by the fact that it proceeds from an a priori position, namely that Saddam had to be removed, a position that has nothing to do with ‘faulty intelligence’ but with a political decision already taken and hence the need to create a rationale to invade.
It’s clear from even the most perfunctory analysis of the original justification for the invasion, that well before the ‘evidence’ was presented to the public, decisions had already been taken, in secret, to invade Iraq. In other words, what we actually have is layer upon layer of conspiracies, each one building on the preceding one.
It should be apparent therefore that we need to broaden the concept of conspiracy to include the very nature of the state itself, for the state is in fact, the conspiracy of one class over another. A conspiracy to maintain power, for example, through the invention of all kinds of threats to justify the power the state wields over individuals.
Viewed through this prism the role of the corporate and state media becomes all too clear, defend the state at all costs by relaying the message virtually verbatim under the guise of presenting the ‘news’. All challenges to be dismissed as either the rantings of the ‘loony left’ or the ravings of ‘crazy conspiracists’.
Challenges to the prevailing orthodoxy are dealt with in a summary manner, for example, read the Medialens series, ‘A Superb Demolition’ on the way Noam Chomsky’s writings got dealt with in what passed as a ‘book review’ in the pages of the Guardian.
The ‘reviewer’, Peter Beaumont, foreign editor of the Guardian pulled out all the stops and then some, especially when his ‘review’ was challenged by a considerable number of readers. Worse still, the challenges took place in a public forum, the Guardian’s Blog!
Beaumont resorted to some pretty outlandish language, especially his ad hominem attacks on Medialens (so much for Medialens’ exhortations to be polite when trying to engage in a debate with the MSM):
Media Lens … produces “nasty emails”, is “run by a couple of acolytes of Noam Chomsky, and serviced by a couple of dozen die-hard supporters”. [It is] an “irritating site” given to “hyper-ventilating” about this and that, targeting journalists and “anyone else who needs an email kicking”.
“… there is no conversation between them and their victims. It is a closed and distorting little world that selects and twists its facts to suit its arguments, a curious willy-waving exercise where the regulars brag about the emails they’ve sent to people like poor Helen Boaden at the BBC – and the replies they have garnered. Think a train spotters’ club run by Uncle Joe Stalin”. Ours is “a deeply vicious little world as well”.
It seems red-baiting is alive and well and lives at the Guardian. But ultimately, this whore for the State revealed his true colours when he was reduced to the following:
“Have you just been told to write in by those cunts at medialens? Don’t you have a mind of your own?”
And just whose mind does Beaumont have I wonder? Even the editor of the Guardian, Roger Alton waded into ‘l’affaire Chomsky’ with the following choice putdown of a critic of the review:
This is utter bollocks – the piece wasn’t compromised. It was fine. Please stop bothering people about such junk.”
Woa! Seems a raw nerve has been touched here in this fine democracy we have which, when the means exist to actually challenge them seems just a mite more than they can actually handle. So much so in fact, that the Guardian shut down the Blog.
Medialens had this to say about the nature of the mainstream media and it goes some way toward explaining just why a coherent and consistent challenge to their corporate view of the world is met not only with derision and insults but with out and out fear of exposure.
In reality, Beaumont and Alton resent being subjected to the kind of rational challenges from which they have traditionally been protected. For decades the mainstream media has wielded massive power with minimal accountability and right of reply. Responses have been limited to whichever letters the editors deigned to allow on the letters page. Because readers knew that serious criticism of media performance had little or no chance of being published, few went to the trouble of putting pen to paper. This is surely one reason why mainstream journalism is held in relatively high esteem – there has simply been no means of exposing the superficiality, incompetence and deep structural bias of the media to a wide audience.
But I think that the Medialens’ description of ‘superficiality, incompetence and deep structural bias’, is an inadequate description of the relationship between the media and the state.
Setting aside the ideological commitment of both Beaumont and Alton to preserving the status quo—this is after all, why they have been entrusted with their jobs in the first place—the exchanges reveal a far deeper crisis, a crisis that for example didn’t exist when the Tonkin Gulf deception took place.
The Web has democratised the process whereby the citizen gains access to information, a dangerous precedent has been set. People are now in a position to compare the reality presented by the MSM with an entire range of alternate explanations, explanations that are backed up with facts that are simply not available via the traditional media and with good reason. The formally unassailable position of the Beaumonts and Altons of this world has been challenged and effectively overturned, hence their venom and return to the ways of the Cold War period makes complete sense.
Ultimately the objective must be to render the Guardians and Observers of this world redundant as sources of information. To expect these purveyors of the status quo to alter their interpretation of events is a lost cause, there is no way this will happen, isn’t this why the MSM is resorting to the tried and trusted method of the smear and the insult in a vain attempt to put things back to the way they were? But there is no way the genie can be put back in the bottle short of draconian measures and even this would in all likelihood be impossible in our inter-connected world.
Read the full exchanges between Medialens and the ‘usual suspects’.