Thursday, February 23, 2006

Paranoia Won't Destroy Ya

The world has had more than sixty years to ponder the significance of the Holocaust. Sadly, many of the lessons of this event remain unlearned. I often hear gentiles complaining about how Jews go on and on about it as if the horror would just go away if only they would stop mentioning it. Some carry that sentiment to the ultimate extreme by claiming that the wholesale slaughter never even occurred–that it was all a hoax.

I, for one, would like to think that it never happened. Who among us wants the actual proof that our species has been that stupid and self-destructive? Who among us wants to think about the possibility of it ever happening again? Worse yet, who wants to entertain the thought that they might exact that kind of cruelty on a fellow human being if placed in the same circumstance?

This chapter in our genocidal past is an historical fact, with far too much evidence to ignore. First of all, there were the bodies. The liberating Allies found ton after ton of the naked, emaciated corpses and they sure as hell wrote home about them. We also know that it occurred because the Germans kept meticulous records. They left a paper trail of their own viciousness – of course if one were arrogant enough to assume that he’ll simply conquer the world, then why be concerned about concealing such things? We have miles of film footage showing in graphic detail exactly how the Nazis treated their home-grown prisoners of war. These images are neither photo ops, fakes, nor simply things taken out of context. This ordeal destroyed entire families. A friend of mine, Asya (a pseudonym she asked that I give), had no family other than her parents and her kid brother. No aunts, no grandparents, no cousins, no uncles, no older siblings. Why? They had all been wiped out in the death camps.

The most damning evidence of the Holocaust lies in the fact that it is a living memory. That is to say, there are witnesses to these events who still live and walk the streets among us. I once had this classmate. Her mother periodically came to our history classes to lecture about the Holocaust. She wasn’t a teacher, or anything. As far as I know, she might not have even graduated from college. Her only authority to speak on the subject came from the fact that she had survived Bergen-Belsen, one of the most notorious Nazi camps – the one where Anne Frank died.

The most chilling aspect of the Holocaust, as she described it, was its systematic nature. One day she saw soldiers erecting a fence around the perimeter of her ghetto. Local officials explained to Jewish residents that it was for their own protection. Sounds logical. Considering the anti-Semitic furor that the National Socialists had created, one can understand the need for some kind of security measure. Of course, the Nazis convinced many of them that the real threat didn’t come from them, but rather the communists.

The Nazis thought of more things to increase ghetto safety. First, they copied the local Jewish Register – to keep tabs on anybody in case they went missing. How thoughtful! Next, they stationed guards at each gate of the fence. A few suspicious fires and a couple of fistfights were all it took for Hitler to dispatch the Storm Troopers to keep the peace. A tiny group of local ghetto residents, those who had been bought off by the government, helped the SS by watching the neighborhood for any potential troublemakers, people who insisted on violating the curfew, etc.. Of course, all of this protection didn’t stop Krystalnacht, a nationally choreographed pillaging and plundering of Jewish properties. Still, the Nazis didn’t give up. When war broke out, they decided to go that extra mile in ensuring the safety of Jews by moving them to secure places such as Dachau, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz.

I asked Mrs. H., “Surely, somebody must have known something was wrong when they started putting up fences around your neighborhood, didn’t they?”

Her answer still rings in my ears. I have never forgotten it. “No,” she replied. “No, if you thought that, people would think that you were paranoid.”

Her statement succinctly describes the genius behind the near-success of the Final Solution. Some people think that the Holocaust came about only when people got shipped off to the death camps. Others think about it only in terms of the out and out slaughter starting in 1942 and continuing until the end of the war. If you listen to people like Mrs. H., or you if you read the commentary provided by holocaust victims/survivors, however, you’d get the feeling that the Holocaust occurred in a number of tiny, calculated steps. Each step, in and of itself, seemed reasonable, almost benign; yet each and every one of these micro-movements resulted in a slow-motion erosion of civil rights, moving every German citizen inch by inch to a condition with inevitable consequences.

Might it have helped if a few more people in Mrs. H.’s ghetto were clinically paranoid? What if a group of people stubbornly, unreasonably, resisted all these attempts at Nazi ‘protection’, might the extent of the Holocaust have been lessened? Considering what happened, could it have gotten any worse?

More important, does any of this sound remotely familiar? The suppression and rabble rousing against minorities? The slow, tedious, consolidation of power within fewer and fewer hands? The creation of laws, such as the Weimar’s Enabling Act, that concentrate power into the executive branch of government? Warmongering against most of the world?

I don’t think we’ve learned any lessons at all. Chalk it up to good old-fashioned denial, the pig-headed belief that “It can’t happen here.”

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WW 2.5

With the hot phase of World War II over, the Allies tried all of the ex-Nazis that they could find. Many of the big shots were sentenced to death at Nuremberg. Some, like Speer, received surprisingly light sentences (twenty years). Rudolph Hess got life at Spandau Prison, where he eventually committed suicide in 1986 at the age of ninety-five

That had to be some act of desperation for a man that old to commit suicide. He couldn’t wait five minutes?

Some of the more notorious ex-Nazis were unaccounted for. While the surviving ones insisted that their comrades had died before the fall of Berlin, many around the world simply didn’t believe them. It eventually reached the status of legend. Among the missing were Martin Bormann, Gestapo chief Heinrich Mueller, concentration camp inspector general Richard Gluecks, Walter Rauf, supervisor of the notorious gas trucks that killed 250,000 people, Adolf Eichmann and his deputies Rolf Guenther and Alois Brunner, concentration camp commandants Aribert Heim and Friedrich Wartzog, and, of course, Dr. Josef Mengele.

So, who give’s a rat’s ass about whether or not Hitler and Braun survived the bunker? The fact remains that hundreds of Germans, ex-Nazis and their families, escaped possible punishment at Nuremberg by fleeing to South America. Most likely, they carried their ideology with them, along with a stubborn belief in their own superiority. It isn’t farfetched to think that they may have also wanted some revenge for the butt-whuppin’ they took in two bloody conflicts. Maybe these expatriated Germans started sounding a little bit like the children’s cartoon show Pinky and the Brain. I can see them sitting around the table of a local café, sipping their espresso, waiting for night to fall. The guy who came late asks “Why? What are we doing tonight?”

His comrades answer, “Same thing we do every night, Wilhelm: try to take over the world!”

Like their animated counterparts, these white rats would seem to have been at a severe disadvantage. Even they couldn’t con themselves into thinking that they were as strong as ever, not without the tanks, airplanes, millions of troops and all.

Still, they weren’t completely powerless. We know, for example, that much of the capital that went to build the German war machine came courtesy of loans from American lenders. The Swiss, however, demonstrated unusual cleverness in fostering Nazi financial interests. When the Nazis invaded a nation, they immediately raided their gold reserves. Belgium, Norway and Sweden subsequently wound up considerably lighter in the pocketbook. The Germans would then deposit the loot – along with ingots made from the smelted gold teeth and wedding rings of holocaust victims – into their Swiss banks, who gladly took them without question. When the Allies threatened economic sanctions against the Alpine country if they continued to hide what amounted to stolen property, the Swiss still accepted German booty so long as it looked legitimate. So, when the Nazis took new gold, they smelted it, then recast it in their own molds bearing their official inscription. For a flourishing touch, they stamped the date as 1939, so that it would appear as though these were reserves that Germany had before the war.

Swiss banks splintered up the ill-gotten gains into a number of different accounts, each bearing a non-German name, and listing the owner as a foreigner--typically American, British or Australian. For years they made records unavailable to the Allies, taking advantage of every loophole in the treaties they signed with them. Allied officials found that when investigating the whereabouts of Nazi plunder, the Swiss were usually courteous, but unhelpful, as if they were stalling for some reason. The banks also refused heirs access to the accounts of their loved ones who died in the holocaust. Why? Because the Swiss demanded that survivors furnish official death certificates, knowing full well that the Nazis didn’t provide them to people who perished in the death camps.

With this in mind, we might want to reassess the nature of Nazi ascendancy. Conventional wisdom and history pretty much localizes this movement to Germany of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Maybe it would be more accurate to view Nazism as an international movement that is ongoing. Those ostensibly on the Allies’ side supported the National Socialists of the Weimar government to the point where the nation could mobilize for war. While the Thulists, who formed the Nazis in the wake of the 1919 Bavarian massacre, wanted to divide German labor, get it to act against its own self-interest, and bring German-ethnics living in foreign countries into a bigger, united Germany, foreigners, many American and British, formed more ambitious plans, incubated as they were in esoteric halls.

Aside from the monetary support, a couple of instances wonderfully illustrate the depths to which American factions paved the way for Nazism to spread to the US. Fascist ideologue Irene DuPont, of the famed Delaware family, plotted with then-General Motors president William Knudsen and high-ranking officials of the Morgan Bank, to stage a violent overthrow of the FDR White House. Appalled by the socialist programs that the President initiated to stem the woes of national depression, they arranged at least three million dollars of 1934 money (some say $300 mil) to finance an elite cadre waiting to attack Washington and establish a Nazi government.

They might have been successful in at least launching their coup had it not been for one miscalculation. They asked Gen. Smedley Butler to serve as their Commander-in-Chief. At first glance, their choice would seem to be a prudent one. Butler, highly regarded for his tactical skills, had positioned himself as a rabidly outspoken right-wing critic of FDR and his New Deal. Unfortunately for DuPont and Knudsen, Butler was also loyal to the US Constitution. The General warned FDR of the oncoming coup, and went to Congress with the details. That pretty much doomed the plot. Roosevelt took no action against the parties involved, for it would look bad if scions of the Morgans and the DuPonts were hauled into court to face charges of treason in the middle of a depression. Imagine the panic that would elicit on Wall Street, and the subsequent trickle-down effect it would have on a population struggling enough as it was.

Another instance of pro-Nazi activity within Allied circles surfaced after the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. Everyone pretty much knew that Germany would have to surrender soon. The conference dealt with economic strategies for after the war -- a good idea any way you look at it. After all, the Nazis got popular support in large part due to the disastrous  economic conditions caused by reparations and depression. And very few wanted another war to end all wars.

One of the keystones of Bretton Woods, the adoption of the Safehaven Resolution, would prevent Germany from profiting from the hostilities. Article VI demanded that all property stolen from nations and concentration camp victims be returned to their rightful owners. In practice, however, this would never work unless all factions cooperated. Part of the responsibility for making Safehaven viable would rest upon such neutral countries as Spain and Portugal. Ha! Fat chance of that happening. Still, the Allies could have countered the neutrals’ inaction by imposing economic sanctions. But that didn’t happen. The US State Department and UK’s Whitehall stonewalled any attempts to implement Safehaven agendas after the war. Meanwhile, both American and British intelligence reported vast quantities of Nazi lucre being loaded onto Spanish cargo ships headed for South America. While some factions of the Allied governments attempted to take action to keep this from happening, they were again stymied by those higher up. Their reasoning was that this capital – not just gold, but diamonds, precious stones, ivory, art and other things – were owned by non-German corporations. But, like the phony Swiss bank accounts, these were only non-German companies on paper.

When it became clear to them that they would lose the war, the Nazis organized a capital flight program, codenamed Aktion Adlerflug (Operation Eagle Flight) under Bormann’s direction. Eagle Flight created a number of foreign dummy corporations – 58 in Portugal, 112 in Spain, 233 in Sweden, 214 in Switzerland, 35 in Turkey and 98 in Argentina – for the express purpose of moving out their stolen goods. Aiding them in this endeavor were a number of international interests, among them the J. Henry Schroeder Bank of New York, listed as an investor in some of these companies. New York Times correspondent Charles Higham reported that Schroeder’s business partners in these deals included Rockefeller & Co., Investment Bankers, Baron Bruno von Schroder of London, Allen and John Foster Dulles, and the Gestapo.

It stands to reason that if many of these banks, governments and industrialists supported the Nazis before the war and during the war, would they just dis their old buddies afterward? Or could expatriated Nazis still have had access to their accounts? Many of these accounts were not publically acknowledged to exist until the 1990s. The banks have also offered no evidence that they froze them after 1945. Then too, those Germans landing in Argentina weren’t exactly panhandling on the streets of Buenos Aires. They had money coming from somewhere.

The Nazis also had friends in key places. Back in Germany, Col. Reinhard Gehlen, served as the chief officer responsible for gathering intelligence on the Soviets during the war. In order to escape prosecution at Nuremberg, he embarked on a patented confidence scam, one that would embarrass both the East and the West. Gehlen worked hard to convince the USSR that the United States planned to build up nuclear weapons against them specifically, thus agitating Soviet, anti-American paranoia. At the same time, he convinced the Americans and the British that the Soviets wanted to steal their nuclear weapons and invade their countries. In short, Gehlen, who seemed to have a knack for manipulating people, concocted much of the Red Scare.

The CIA and the British Secret Service wouldn’t find out until years later that Gehlen had played all sides against the middle by drastically inflating the defense estimates of both the east and west, and ratting out everybody’s secret agents. In 1945, the West primarily concerned itself with minimizing Soviet influence. They trusted Gehlen’s hatred for communists, and coveted his numerous files on Russian intelligence. Like many within the western intelligence community, Gehlen was also a Knight of Malta, which gave him a large degree of credibility in American eyes. The Nazi spy saved himself and many of his friends by promising to keep an eye out for the Bear, and by giving them intelligence and technical advisors.

The US government had declared virtually all ex-Nazi officials war criminals. Yet, they didn’t think it would hurt to let a few go if they had something that the West wanted. American intelligence therefore set up Operation Paperclip, a program designed to white-wash prior Nazi affiliations, thus allowing these guys to work for, and immigrate to, the US. One of Paperclip’s biggest scores was its acquisition of Dr. Wehrner von Braun, inventor of the V-2 rockets that socked big holes in the British landscape. Von Braun pretty much fathered the US space program, along with (approximately) 700 other sheepdipped scientists. Another 600 psychiatrists, chemists and other scientists began to lay the foundation for what would become MK-ULTRA.

As the late Mark Phillips used to say, the Nazis didn’t lose the war. They simply switched sides. Many of them maintained the core beliefs of their Thulist past, and were happy to find out that many of the American intelligence command felt the same way, having been initiated into some form of the arcana. Furthermore, many of the conservative factions in the US liked the racist notions espoused by the German esoterics, and couldn’t agree with them more.

The Nazis who escaped Nuernberg had more than just money. They had received support from private ruling factions before the war, and acquired contacts within the American and British governments afterward.

“That doesn’t mean they were planning on taking over the world, does it?” I hear you asking. “Surely we would have seen some manifestation of it by now, wouldn’t we?


Actually, we did.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The CIA and the Children of Atlantis

“I sometimes don’t know where Company business ends, and Freemasonry begins” is a statement often attributed to former CIA EO Victor Marchetti. I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the attribution, for I’ve found a lot of Marchetti quotes that didn’t actually come from Marchetti. Nevertheless, you have to wonder why he and co-author John Marks titled their seminal work on espionage The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.

Despite the fact that many of the spies I have known belonged to the order, I don’t see anything inherently conspiratorial about Freemasonry. But Freemasons? That’s another matter.

Freemasonry undoubtedly supports an atmosphere conducive to secrecy and agency. More important, the Freemason’s goal is “the construction of his own temple,” which an outsider like myself could easily take to mean the development of a personal, or perhaps group spirituality.

An alternate spirituality could come in handy if your personal goals conflict with the tenets of your professed religion--especially if you’re Jewish or Christian. Neither faith would ostensibly condone indifference to others’ rights to life, limb and property. Although not exactly pacifist, Christ would never have put up with wanton bloodlust or greed. Even Wiccans say, “Harm ye none, do what ye will.”

So if you really want to rule the world, it might be in your best interest to embrace a spirituality that justifies the exertion of your will. Alfred Rosenberg, whom Nuremberg prosecutors dubbed “the architect of Nazi ideology,” certainly knew this. His essay “Race and Race History” alludes to the Thule Gessellschaft belief that white, blond space aliens who were somewhat human because they were partly descended from the survivors of Atlantis (Thules), came back to Earth and imparted their “blood” (nowadays, we would say “their DNA”) to the Aryans, thus making them superior to all other inhabitants of our fair planet.

Of course, once you think of yourself as superior, and you begin to see the rest of humanity as so many sentient cockroaches, purification is in order. Okay. Maybe The Final Solution left a bad aftertaste in the mouth of Western civilization (though Western powers have no trouble fostering genocide in such out of the way places as East Timor). If you’re squeamish about ethnic cleansing, pest control might be more appealing to you. Instead of killing everyone in Chile, for example, you can kill that country’s chief executive, and install another Augusto Pinochet into power. Your Pinochet could then do the exterminating for you.

They say that nothing in this world has caused more heartache, devastation and bloodshed than religion. Maybe someone oughta extend that quote to include self-interested-to-hell-with-everyone-else spirituality.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dancing with Little Miss Information at the HOPs

The words ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ seem to be synonymous, but in spy talk they denote two very different activities. Misinformation is when you deliberately give inaccurate information from a credible source. Disinformation is when you give accurate information from a disreputable source.

Take the United States Air Force’s dismissal of UFOs, for example. After Roswell, the Air Force gave out the required amount of misinformation – e.g. temperature inversions, weather balloons, bad eyesight, observer psychosis, et cetera. But these you-gotta-be-kidding-me explanations only stirred up interest in UFOs, instead of getting them out of the public’s mind. The reason why the USAF’s explanations weren’t believable, the reason why many people were still looking out for flaying saucers in their backyard, never even stopping to question if they actually existed or not, was because no corresponding disinformation accompanied it.

If you’re assuming that a large group of people couldn’t possibly keep a secret, then your instincts are pretty good. Like an ex (?) spy friend once told me, “Everybody talks too much.” So the game changes. The object isn’t so much to keep secrets, but rather manage them after they come out.. How does one do this? (A) By leaking accurate information to people you couldn’t believe if your life depended on it; and (B) circulating so many alternative versions, each containing a kernel of truth, that no one can make heads or tails out of all the competing stories. Instead of picking out what might be verifiable, reasonable, obvious or documented about each individual version, people tend to cling themselves to one explanation and fight to the death to see that their pet theory prevails.

Lately, we’ve seen a fissure in the paranoid community over whether the current Bush administration deliberately allowed the events of 9/11/01 to take place, or actively fostered the terrorist acts. The MIHOP (Made It Happen On Purpose) faction of conspiratologists has specifically attacked the LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose) faction, the former claiming that the latter is attempting to whitewash government complicity. Both sides, clinging to their pet theories, never seem to come to any consensus about what they so obviously have in common. Common sense would indicate that if the Bush people planned the plot, then they allowed it to happen. Conversely, if they allowed it to happen, even if they did not play a role in formulating and executing the plot, then the administration is no less culpable. So, why the fuss?

The squabbling masks the harsh, but valid points raised by the 9/11 inquiry, the families of the deceased, and Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s ad hoc committee review: (1) no good evidence links Osama bin Laden to the attacks; (2) even less proof fingers Saddam Hussein as the culprit; (3) facets of the FBI (specifically Colleen Rawley and Sibel Edmonds) received good intelligence indicating a plot within the confines of the existing law, but were consistently stonewalled by superiors from investigating further; (4) someone placed put options on the airlines in question, while someone else warned California politico Willie Brown and former Secretary of State George Schultz not to fly on that date; (5) all eight flight recorders from the four flights were apparently destroyed, yet other evidence (e.g. a passport) was found intact near the scene of the crime; and so on.

The competing versions of conspiracy floating in the ether as binary code diminish the importance of addressing these points as one side attacks the other, with conventional media dismissing the valid points raised by all as just so much ‘conspiracy theory.’ Meanwhile, concerned and conscientious citizens might understandably throw up their hands, firmly believing that no one will ever know the truth, and accept the official conspiracy as the truth because they see no other alternative.

See what I mean? You don’t have to keep a secret to ensure its safety.

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Speaking of Conspiracy. . .

Those of us trained by academia do just about anything we can to dismiss the possibility of conspiracy. Scholars heavily rely on documentation, which only exists for things that somebody wants known. Conspiracies tend to operate in the dark, leaving as scant a paper trail as possible. Without documentary evidence, scholars would either have to admit there are holes in their understanding, or deny outright the possibility that any number of untoward events could have occurred. To ignore a possibility out of hand, however, constitutes an intellectual fallacy. When you think about it, knee-jerk disbelievers have much in common with those who find conspiracy lurking around every corner. Both cling to explanations that are simplistic, implausible, irrational, and at odds with known facts. To understand where we really are as a species we have to open ourselves up to many more texts, whether mundane or sensational, whether written or oral.

In an article he wrote for George magazine, Oliver Stone pointed out that conspiracy is a normal human function, and part of what it means to live in a society. As youngsters we conspired to keep ‘uncool’ kids out of our cliques. As adults we have occasionally enlisted the help of another in some kind of misdeed, whether it be committing a crime, having an extramarital affair, or priming the children to lie to the boss at the company picnic. Since these common events require an agreement between two or more people, they are, by definition, conspiracies. What separates them from assassinations and coup d’etats, are their scope, ambition and the seriousness of their consequences.

The term ‘conspiracy theory’ obfuscates some of the real issues that arise when examining the ever-growing disparity in power between the few and the many, for it is a misnomer. When I think of real conspiracy theorists, I think of such people as Warren Bennis, former President of the University of Cincinnati whose book The Silent Conspiracy discusses social mechanisms of control. I would also think of such people as Professor Jodi Dean of Hobart-Smith, or Professor George Marcus of Rice who examine modern-day conspiracy culture. These people are actually theorists. Robert Sterling, Steve Metzger, Jon Rappaport, and others who put out loads of material on the Internet, aren’t so much theorists as they are speculative journalists and historians. At the same time, such highly regarded academics and journalists as Noam Chomsky and Greg Palast have heard the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ levelled at them.

A problem arises when legitimate questions about world events are curtly dismissed as “conspiracy theory,” while improbable, sometimes ludicrous explanations receive the blessing of authority as the official version, and through repetition gain sacred believability The Warren Commission spent a good deal of resources proving that their magic bullet theory, the only means by which they could claim a lone assassin, might actually occur. I don’t doubt that if you fired enough bullets – maybe ten billion or more – from a Manlicher Carcano, then you might find one that would behave in such a manner. After all, many things are theoretically possible. It’s theoretically possible for you to win the super lotto ten times in a row. Yet, your chances of hitting it just once, are crushingly infinitesimal. The magic bullet theory clumsily tried to substantiate a convenient official conclusion, one obviously made independently of the facts at hand. The Warren Commission seemed to have had a priority to make a case for a lone assassin. Otherwise, one would find it difficult to explain why, out of all the conclusions they could have drawn, they went with the one least physically possible.

As Marshall McLuhan said, Intelligence only has to protect its small secrets, because public incredulity will take care of the big ones. Are there those who would do all they can to foster that incredulity? Certainly. A lot of the time, however, we the people work almost as hard to maintain our disbeliefs as we do to maintain our beliefs. As the great Hindu writer Arundhati Roy points out, America has a history, about which the vast majority of Americans do not know. If Americans bothered to read foreign presses, listen to international news broadcasts, or even dig into the published literature available to them, they would become aware of US imperialism, and the consequences of it. Since Americans tend to be a good people, enlightenment might challenge them to do something about the injustices they find, especially those that in some way support the affluence they have come to enjoy. In other words, public incredulity can partly be explained by good, old-fashioned, Freudian defense mechanisms, such as denial, blocking, and projection.

Another factor aiding public incredulity is the somewhat quaint, often erroneous assumptions about how conspiracies occur. Conventional wisdom tells us that a conspiracy exists when “everybody’s in on it.” In real life, however, that rarely happens. One of the main reasons why the Bay of Pigs and Watergate failed both as missions and as conspiratorial secrets rests in the fact that too many people knew too much. Leaks, miscommunications, and other slip-ups became inevitable. Covert ops are more often constructed cellularly, with tasks highly compartmentalized, and with very few people – virtually none of them in the field – knowing the big picture (although the players might care to hazzard a guess now and then).

‘Plausible deniability’ is a phrase that would more accurately describe the engineering of public incredulity. Say, for example, you have a firing squad consisting of eight shooters, with five of them shooting blanks. Each rifleman aims at the condemned. At the command, they fire, and the culprit slumps over dead. If you ask any of the shooters if they killed the prisoner, they can answer in the negative, for they don’t know for certain whether they (a) hit their target, or (b) shot live ammo. Yet, the prisoner dies. We know that one or more of the eight shot him to death. But because we have ‘plausible deniablity’, each and every shooter can claim that they were probably not the killer, and odds are the statement is correct. It is subsequently an easy step to take from the phrase “I probably am not the killer,” to “I doubt if I killed the prisoner,” to “I didn’t kill the prisoner.”

Yet, the prisoner still dies.

Perhaps it would be more palatable to my ivory tower peers to think not so much in terms of conspiracy, but in terms of hegemony. Anyone with two neurons to rub together must concede that there exists in our world an inequity of power. We would also have to admit that the concentration of power does not necessarily conform to a normal curve, but rather to a downward parabolic slope. On average, it would take about 25,000 people, working all of their lives to amass the amount of wealth that Bill Gates has at the time of this writing (we’ll see how many times I have to adjust this – the man grows exponentially richer by the nanosecond, it seems). Meanwhile, hundreds of millions have authority over their households, but little place else. Some might wield power in civic or cultural organizations, or within their clans. .

The inequity of power seems axiomatic. Were someone to suggest that those who have wealth seek no advantages in passing that wealth along to their progeny, or maintaining that power for themselves, most of us would laugh outright at the thought. Sure, it’s quite possible for someone to amass great power through legal means. But are those ways, legal though they may be, necessarily fair? Especially in this system of interdependence we call civilization? In a capitalist framework that requires perpetual exploitation of resources, whether it be mineral, vegetable or animal of the four legged and two legged varieties?

Those with real power usually fight to maintain that power. One need not resort to conspiracy to accomplish that goal in virtually every situation. Power forms structures to insulate itself against the collective will of society. On the radio, I listened to one journalist relate how an editor friend chafed at the notion of media conspiracy. This friend would go on and on about how, during his long tenure as editor, no one on the corporate board ever called him to tell him what he should or shouldn’t print. The journalist countered by saying that such would be unnecessary, for the reason why the board picked him to serve as editor lay in their confidence that he would naturally execute his task according to their wishes. After all, he’d written at that publication for many years before becoming an editor. He knew what decisions to make, although he might not have known why except for his own knowledge that certain types of decisions led to promotions and pay raises. By the time he became a candidate for the editor’s position, this compliance mechanism had already internalized itself within him.

Then again, as filmmaker Michael Moore found out, sometimes the call is made. It happened to him twice, as a matter of fact, first with his book Stupid White Men, and then again with movie Fahrenheit 9/11. Sibel Edmonds, the translator who discovered the FBI’s pre-knowledge of the World Trade Center crash inspired another call, one that would not only shut her up from what she might say in the future, but also to keep her quiet about things she said in the past as part of the public record.

Think about all the institutions that have authority over us – academia, religious organizations, government, the corporations that make what we consume, and employ many of us. Ask the people within those institutions if anybody from higher up has ever told them to do something they found morally repugnant, especially when said action had far-reaching consequences to humanity. The vast majority would say no, for the same reason the editor of the magazine never got a call from the corporate board. These institutions accepted their minions with a tacit understanding that they knew what those above them wanted. There are a few who might sneak you aside and whisper in your ear that they had gotten such an order. Because you know that they still belong to that institution, they must have gone along with the plan, nevertheless. Fewer still are the whistleblowers. We all know happens to them, right?

When you are describing the maintenance of power along these lines, you can search all you want, but you’ll never find a conspiracy. The reason? Millions of people, who everyday help to keep that power right where it is, will tell you they see no conspiracy. They’re telling you the truth.

Yet the prisoner still dies.

When the power balance grows out of whack due to this type of insulating structure, then the word to describe its mechanisms isn’t ‘conspiracy.' The word is ‘hegemony’, the exercise of rule by might. At the same time, one cannot be so naive to think that extraordinary circumstances sometimes require more direct action for that ever-diminishing clique of elites to hold on to what it already has, and holds dear. Aggressive methods, likewise, aren’t conspiracies in and of themselves, until they enlist help from someone else, or in other words, when they gang up on the threat.

Conspiracy does occur. Everyday, prosecutors put people away on conspiracy charges. Look at all the conspiracies that failed to maintain their secrets: Caesar’s assassination, The Bay of Pigs Invasion, Watergate, wage fixing on the part of Major League Baseball team owners just to name a few. Of course, nothing tops world conquest, yet nothing is so easily dismissed. If we took but a glancing look backward, however, we would see that one of the most important plot lines in the history of mankind has been the attempt at global domination. whether the antagonist was Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, or Hitler. These men and others sought absolute power through the extermination of those who opposed them, and the subjugation of the poor slobs who came to their aid..

Why did we retire such a venerable plot? Call it a change in format. Most of the information we get about ourselves comes to us like a sitcom, where one episode does not depend on another for meaning. Our schools and mass media tell us that history consists of things resolved in the past, and are consequently separate from the present. If something in the past has clear ramifications on today, then we tend to wait awhile and expect the situation to resolve itself in twenty-three minutes (as if years of turmoil in the Middle East really could be reversed by bombing everybody into submission, invading sovereign nations and making everyone shake hands like “good Christians”).

Unfortunately, our existence is no sitcom. We have no easy solutions, and rarely does everybody hug in the end. No, our life is a soap opera, with new characters and new twists, but with the same settings and motivations as always. Consequently, global dominion still figures prominently into the current storyline. More importantly, we might be able to put our heads together and figure a way to get out of it.

Those ignorant of the past must pay a brutal tax. They pay for it in money, certainly. They pay for it with their time, their labor, the dissolution of their families for reasons they cannot fathom, their fear of the unknown, and their distrust of the other. They pay for it with the health and the lives of themselves and their children.

If you’re cheap like me, then you can’t afford the tax either. So what follows is our own little soap opera, a blog I call The X-Spot. Welcome.

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