Archiv für Februar 2007

With friends like that who the fuck needs Cointelpro?

George Moonbiot finds himself caught between at least to stools. He recently is denied full honors of being in opposition because:

>>To qualify as a true opponent of the Bush regime, you must also now believe that it is capable of magic.< <

He attests an affinity to conspirationism to his political allies:

>>Those of us who believe that the crucial global issues – climate change, the Iraq war, nuclear proliferation, inequality – are insufficiently debated in parliament or congress, that corporate power stands too heavily on democracy, that war criminals, cheats and liars are not being held to account, have invested our efforts in movements outside the mainstream political process. These, we are now discovering, are peculiarly susceptible to this epidemic of gibberish.< <

And he clearly gets the punchline:

>>The obvious corollorary to the belief that the Bush administration is all-powerful is that the rest of us are completely powerless.< <

But by reducing the whole issue to the idea that the conspirationist wave is in Bush's and Blair's interest he's already dismissing it. Starting with some hopeful doubts about his own political camp he eventually comes close to a plot where the conspirationists are a government project. Or as it was put in 'South Park‘: „The 9/11 conspiracy is a government conspiracy.“

Extract II from „Entschwörungstheorie“

Any historian will abhor the inept mechanical history, any political scientist the personalisation, any social scientist the ignorance against the majority of people, any journalist the poor research – but by doing so they play the game. Conspirationists do not want to show the experts that they are equal or better experts, they seek recognition via the audience. They might break the rules applying for the respective profession but that is only of interest for those who are subject to these rules themselves, not for the layperson readers, TV watchers, cinema goers or event attenders. They will most often not know about these rules and with high probability they will be influenced in their judgement by conspirationist shindig, the pretension of authority I refer to as ‚travesty‘. Sometimes if not often the audience will consider the conspirationist copy of science, history or journalism to be more scientific or adequate than the original.

Conspirationism manages to over-optimally emulate socially relevant structures on the level of their appearance. From their more or less marginal position, German protagonists of conspirationism usually present predigested information from US conspirology sources in a way that it forms a more consistent story and a more perfect system which then can be blamed for any personal failure. Having been defeated by these enormous historical powers makes any defeat somewhat heroic, but makes sure that no personal consequences are drawn from that defeat.

Extract I from „Entschwörungstheorie“

Turning point between the seemingly open 90s and today’s massive re-entrenching was September 11th, 2001 of which quickly was said nothing would afterwards be the same it was before. That was equally quickly criticised as a premature statement – but 9/11 really determines the date on which the two already described political camps emerged from previously very different constellations. Both now regret different aspects of the state of 2000. For the „peace fraction“ the Bush clan has destroyed the anti-globalisation movement at the peak of its power by staging 9/11 or at least by the malicious triggering of culture clash and war. For the „civilisation defenders“ the islamist terrorists have thrown the world of tomorrow back into the totalitarian 20th century or the middle ages, for the communists among them these terrorists have turned back the revolution clock. On both sides there is the assumption of a wider conspiracy behind the events, a neoconservative or jewish-illuminati one here, a left-liberal or muslim-antichristian one there, though it is by far more present among the „peace fraction“.

They all share the view that 9/11 destroyed something good or at least something hopeful and that those responsible for it are their arch enemies. Also, they agree that 9/11 revealed where everybody stands politically and also where they had stood before, which previously held views now had to lead into which of the two camps.

In this heated-up situation there is an emotionalised and appalingly fact-resistant debate going on. The assumption alone that beyond the actual suspects there are historical culprits to be identified already carries the gristle of ideological conspiratorial thinking.

Don't fight the players - fight the game!

Introduction to the book „Entschwörungstheorie“

Has not everything already been said about conspiracy theories? Do not books lie in the displays of almost every store explaining how conspiracy theories work?

Well, do these books answer the arguably most important question as to why which conspiracy theories are believed under which circumstances? Or do they simply describe what those conspiracy theories look like while on the book cover it says „Freemasons“ and „Illuminati“ in flashing capital letters?

And what sort of books are offered next to these? Perhaps, books by Noam Chomsky dealing with „Media Control“? Or do you see over there the shelf with the magazines promising insights into the „Shadow Empire of the CIA“?

Could it be a little more difficult to stick conspiracy theories into a handy bag and and put them aside?

I want to rock the notion we‘ve come to love, that of a phenomenon of the lunatic fringe. Rather, I‘d like to focus on how conspiratorial thinking finds its way into the mainstream. I will both review the state of academic research and come up with several new theses.

From what the rare and semi-taboo academic studies show, three features of conspiratorial thinking seem to be most important.

First an idyllic and harmonic view of one’s own society or group is needed which only demands for conflicts to generally come from the outside, typically carried in by a small group.

Second, this dualistic picture of a conflict-free collective self and a decomposing alien other is accompanied by the confrontation of an essential with a deception, of an intuitively recognizable original truth with an abstract artificially calculated lie.

Third, the history of conspiratorial thinking teaches that these conceptions of freind and foe most frequently occur when a certain class of society sees itself threatened by loss of importance or social descent.

But all of these are statements about the origin and constitution of conspiracy theories not about their diffusion. It remains unclear why the bogeyman image of one social class or group can become that of larger segments of society. Also, the specific mass appeal of conspiratorial thinking long after the epoch of manifest class struggle cannot be understood.

I will try to show how conspiracy theories themselves are despite their role as emergency cement for unsettled world views no real problem but in fancy examples can even be stimulating and productive. In their most consequent form they pretty much match social reality with their description of a conspiracy of everybody against everybody else.

At the same time, I hope to make clear that conspirationism, my term for conspiracy ideologies forming closed worldviews, are one of the biggest political threats there are. Therefore I won‘t spend much effort on describing single conspiracy theories but rather concern myself with the transmission of conspirationism into society and with the conditions allowing it to become a determining political factor.

My aim is a better understanding of current political debates and an incitement not to bash the obvious anymore but to deal with the underestimated, dingy, unpleasant and dangerous conspirationism.