January 18, 2010

Sunstein and Agents Provocateurs

Cass Sunstein, one of Barack Obama's intellectual mentors at the U. of Chicago and now part of his protege's Administration, co-authored a most interesting academic paper on January 15, 2008, Conspiracy Theories:
What can government do about conspiracy theories? Among the things it can do, what should it do? We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. Each instrument has a distinctive set of potential effects, or costs and benefits, and each will have a place under imaginable conditions. However, our main policy idea is that government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories, which involves a mix of (3), (4) and (5).

Sunstein then offers a truly brilliant plan for how the government should combat conspiracy theories: by mounting secret conspiracies against conspiracy theorists!
Here we suggest two concrete ideas for government officials attempting to fashion a response to such theories. First, responding to more rather than fewer conspiracy theories has a kind of synergy benefit: it reduces the legitimating effect of responding to any one of them, because it dilutes the contrast with unrebutted theories. Second, we suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.

What could be more sanity-inducing than clandestine government conspiracies against conspiracy theorists?

Sunstein states:
Throughout, we assume a well-motivated government that aims to eliminate conspiracy theories, or draw their poison, if and only if social welfare is improved by doing so.

A conspiring government that includes, say, Cass Sunstein in a key role would be the very definition of "well-motivated," so we don't have to worry about that.

Lots of other governments have come up with ideas similar to Sunstein's of "infiltration" of anti-government groups, leading to the amusing history of double agents turning into agents provocateurs, either at the behest of their bosses in the government or freelancing. People in these jobs, unsurprisingly, have a strong incentive to use their positions as plants within anti-government organizations to whip up exactly the kind of anti-government views and behavior the government is supposedly paying them to suppress. It's do it yourself job security!

For example, in 1905 the Czarist government almost fell after the Bloody Sunday march on the Winter Palace organized by Father Georgi Gapon, who was a double agent working with the Czar's secret police (and had his own agenda as well -- it's all very complicated, as is typical whenever governments employ these tactics).

Also, as a commenter pointed out, the Romanov dynasty's best hope for survival, the formidable reforming conservative prime minister Pyotr Stolypin, was assassinated in 1911 by Dmitry Bogrov, a leftist radical who was also working for the Czar's secret police.

Similarly, as a commenter pointed out, neo-Nazi shock jock Hal Turner was on the payroll of the FBI for much of the last decade, a case to which the press has paid little attention. Turner was arrested last June for making death threats against Richard Posner and two other federal judges.

In my experience, the greater problem than the public being overly willing to "connect the dots" and imagine false secret conspiracies is the mainstream press being too unwilling to notice the effects of actual public conspiracies.

For instance, the old-fashioned Bilderberg Group is a bunch of rich, powerful people who quietly get together in fancy hotels and talk things over in private, away from the press. The new-fangled Davos conspiracy, in contrast, is a bunch of rich, powerful blowhards with publicity agents who invite favored journalists, such as Tom Friedman, to lecture them in public on their brilliant insights. Not surprisingly, the invited journalists come away with a deep sense of empathy for these public-spirited captains of global industry and finance who find their speeches so fascinating.

Even more strikingly, in 2002-2004, President George W. Bush publicly conspired with the financial industry, Congress, the Executive Branch, both political parties, the real estate industry, NGO's, immigrant groups, leftist "affordable housing" activists, religious groups, and the press to batter down traditional down payment requirements on home mortgages in the name of racial equality, peaking with his October 15, 2002 "White House Conference on Increasing Minority Homeownership." Yet, following the economic crisis in which zero down mortgages played a seminal role, this Bush-orchestrated public conspiracy has largely disappeared down the memory hole.

Similarly, Bush's highly publicized campaign in the name of fighting discrimination against air security scrutinizing Arabs, which he publicly announced during his second Presidential debate with Al Gore, and followed up on throughout his first year in office (even after 9/11!), has evaporated from the media's memory.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you picked up on this. That's some very creepy stuff coming from a man on the short list to the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

The FBI has already "running double agents" against the extremist right as evidenced by the FBI-stooge Hal Turner, http://cofcc.org/2009/08/medias-favorite-neo-nazi-was-on-fbi-payroll/

Turner was on the FBI's payroll from 2002-2007. . He duties were to "basically to publish information which would cause other parties to act in a manner which would lead to their arrest." In other words Turner was to radicalize the far-right racial seperatists and coax them into committing violent acts so they could be discredited.

"Hal Turner was extremely important to the multi-million fund-raising efforts of the radical left-wing SPLC. They would print quotes from Hal Turner in their fund raising materials. Their message was that unless you donate money to the SPLC to fight Hal Turner, he would develop a dangerous and violent following that would threaten everyone.

From Associated Press…


"Hal Turner worked for the FBI from 2002 to 2007 as an “agent provocateur” and was taught by the agency “what he could say that wouldn’t be crossing the line,” defense attorney Michael Orozco said."
----------------------------------

Just imagine how the Mainstream Media would treat a story that proved there were faux-imans working for the FBI here in the USA that were coaxing young Muslims here to plan acts of violence so the FBI could make timely arrests right before the deeds "went down". Imagine that the FBI did the same with radical environmentalists who actually do commit some legitimate acts of terror from time to time, or young black or feminist radicals. They'd be toasted by the MSM for "manufacturing crime". However those bad ol' white seperatists mostly just complain and keep to themselves, but dont go through the motions of actually breaking the law, so the FBI-at the Justice Department's obvious behest-attempts to prime the pump a little bit and get them to do things they would not have done on their own.
The media hardly emits a bleep on the matter.


I wonder how many commenters on sites like Stormfront are actually there to stir the pot, hoping to cajole some kid into doing something stupid that the MSM can use to further demonize racially conscious whites?

jack strocchi said...

There is a final option, long taken by sensible governments and people, which is to simply ignore obviously nutty conspiracy theories. Dont give the truthers or birthers oxygen and they will starve.

Anonymous said...

Turns out some of the street "radicals" in the '68 Chicago Dem convention riots were later revealed to be agents whose goal was to turn up the heat by provoking the cops, who would then charge the protesters with batons. The protesters, being bloodied, would try to return the favor. All part of some game being played out by various government agencies. This guy Sunstein seems to be ethically challenged. If anyone should be monitored it's him.

dearieme said...

Does he deal with the class of conspiracy theories that could be disproved by the release of a single document?

Anonymous said...

Well it's nice to see that someone is reading my posts, even if they are too obnoxious to make it through Komment Kontrol.

Thanks.

Jews are funny people said...

Jews are funny:

Alinsky: Use stealthy conspiratorial means to take power and change society.

Sunstein: Conspiracy? What conspiracy?

Anonymous said...

This guy Sunstein seems to be ethically challenged.

Sunstein is only 1/4th of the directorate of the Psychological Warfare Team:

Dan Ariely, MIT
Richard Thaler, Chicago
Cass Sunstein, Chicago
Daniel Kahneman, Princeton

bagel bungle said...

There is a good side to Sunstein's idea. Let the government crackdown on Oliver "FBI killed Kennedy" Stone and Kanye "White Folks Spread AIDS in Africa" West. And then, there's Jeremiah "Goddamn Amerikkka" Wright.

But, I suspect Sunstein the Sun King is after guys who think Obama is trying to socialize this country. Come to think of it, he has a point. Obama-ism can't be a conspiracy when it's so conspicuously obvious.

zentoki said...

This sort of thing used to be called McCarthyism. But, if McCarthy came across as a thug, Sunstein looks sooo nice, sooo reasonable, sooo erudite, sooo moderate, sooo fuddy dud, so well-meaning. Thus, he is far more dangerous. It's a nudgy-wudgy form of McCarthyism.

Anonymous said...

nutty conspiracy theories... birthers

A little off-topic, but can you prove that Barry Soetoro Dunham never travelled on an Indonesian passport after his 18th birthday?

Because Indonesia didn't recognize dual citizenship at the time...


PS: It's generally understood in the "birther/PUMA" community that that's what John O. Brennan's people were looking for when they went snooping around in the State Department passport files.

PPS: Oh, and Brennan has since been named the Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism...

Anonymous said...

No mention of COINTELPRO?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Did Steve just finish another book or otherwise massive project or is he really drinking some good coffee these last few days?

Anonymous said...

Be my Comrade Valentine!

Anonymous said...

"There is a final option, long taken by sensible governments and people, which is to simply ignore obviously nutty conspiracy theories. Dont give the truthers or birthers oxygen and they will starve."

Yes, of course -- that's it. SENSIBLE people and governments will decided what is "nutty" and ignore it.
And who decides what is "nutty?" The likes of you?
I knew some of the comments would have Sunstein wiggling through them. They're here, like the Pod People.

Anonymous said...

Dont give the truthers or birthers oxygen and they will starve.

Thats right Jack, nothing to any of those concerns, nothing at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a certifiable loon.

Reactionary said...

In a society that actually defended its cultural and territorial integrity, Sunstein would be exiled.

chalmer said...

The thing is conspiracy theories are the achilles heel of the Right. Take rense.com. There are some good articles but then you have the UFO stuff. So, even the good articles sound suspect by association. It's like the Peanuts strip where Linus almost wins the school presidency but then opens his mouth about the Great Pumpkin, and everyone laughs him off the stage.

Leftist conspiracies are not as damaging because the media/academia tend to sympathize or tolerate them--or even encourage them in the case of Stone's JFK. Also, because of the INTELLECTUAL nature of the Left, I must admit they come up with better conspiracy theories than the Right. Most of the government-is-hiding-UFO nonsense seems to come from the Right.

Worst of all, you have Holocaust Denial on the Extreme Right. These idiots never understand that their brazen Neo-Nazism is the greatest gift to the Left and even damaging to all of the Right(by association). I'm all for freedom of speech--even for Holocaust Denial--, but the 'revisions' on this issue are so odious that they make the Far Right look ridiculous. The Left should be happy.

As for Trutherism, there seems to be some on the Left, some on the Right. Why bother with them? They make themselves more and more ridiculous by the day. Even reputable people get involved in this--Paul Craig Roberts on Vdare for instance--and make themselves look very very foolish.

Nonsense such as this gives best ammo to the enemy. If Sunstein is smart, he should welcome more dumb conspiracy theories. It'll be like the story of "Never Cry Wolf". After awhile, no one will believe anything by fools like Alex Jones.

Mama Cass said...

We know what Sunstein is REALLY after. He's not worried about truthers, birthers, UFO-ers, Big Foot-ers, and etc though he pretends to. He's looking to the future. He knows that the Jewish elite is the most powerful, and there are growing murmurs of Jewish power.

It is really to suppress discussion of Jewish power that he is putting forth this proposal. But of course, Jewish pundits, columnists, authors, talking heads, and academics will go on and on about white American power, WASP power, Southern Christian power, Arab power, Chinese power, Japanese power, Iranian power, an what those people are REALLY UP TO.

I highly doubt if the likes of Naomi Klein will come under fire for saying stuff like Bush and Cheney went into Iraq to fatten their own pockets.

This is also another variation of the Frankfurt School that the American Right is paranoid and authoritarian.

That said, there are plenty of conspiracy theory kooks on both the right and left.

Some might say what I'm offering is a conspiracy theory, but no. It's just a speculative psycho-analysis of people like Sunstein. I admit I have no proof. But then, much of political analysis is about 'reading' the minds of other people thru guess-work.

l said...

Holocaust denial is frowned upon by Left and Right. Red Terror denial, on the other hand is de rigueur in Left circles.

sammler said...

"(3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories."

Heck, I think this is how Obama won the election with the help of Big Media and Wall Street. Just change 'government' with 'media and banksters'.

How else can one explain someone who wins by bashing Wall Street and then fills his government with Wall Street sharks who grabbed most of the economic loot?

Keller said...

We are living in surreal times.

"No, Obama is not the frontman of liberal Jewish money, ideas, and agendas. And if you say so, you must be a paranoid nut."

But, just look at all KEY PEOPLE around him. Who needs a conspiracy theory when the facts are so conspicuous?

Okinawan Irishman said...

Glenn Greenwald had a good post on this...

http://salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/01/15/sunstein/index.html

Big bill said...

Cass Sundstein? Really? I thought he was a law prof. Not particularly bright or experienced (outside of academia). But this? Papers on peacetime surveillance and counter espionage? What a dork. It's tough enough having to deal with daily Hasbara, but to have one of the tribe get us goyim to PAY for their Hasbara and domestic spying out of OUR tax money in OUR country is too much.

Really! Can't AIPAC pony up their own cash for their own Cointel program? Tell me this is a joke and this guy has been sent back to Chicago where he belongs and isn't advising the administration.

Do us a favor, Cass, make Aliyah and help your own people set up domestic spying programs. What a putz!

Whiskey Sour said...

I understand that there a number of such agent provocateurs here operating under "Scots-Irish" cover.

Mr. Anon said...

"chalmer said...

The thing is conspiracy theories are the achilles heel of the Right. Take rense.com. There are some good articles but then you have the UFO stuff. So, even the good articles sound suspect by association. It's like the Peanuts strip where Linus almost wins the school presidency but then opens his mouth about the Great Pumpkin, and everyone laughs him off the stage."

Well said. Your whole post. The worst to me are: 1.) "truthers" who want to limit immigration by arabs (Hey, why should we? They've just attacked their own best argument for doing so), and 2.) neo-nazis - they do a better job promoting zionism (albeit unintentionally) than any AIPAC member could.

As Jack Strocci said, the best way to deal with these idiots is to ignore them.

On the subject of Rense, how could anyone trust a grown man who looks like this:

http://www.americanfreedomradio.com/host_images/Jeff_Rense_150.jpg

He looks like a DJ at a 1985 wedding reception in a Hayward California Holiday Inn.

Mr. Anon said...

Mr. Sunstein's suggestion sounds like a great idea - almost as good as the BATF's plan to disabuse Randall Weaver of his kooky anti-government views by stringing up video cameras in the woods around his cabin to surveil him, and then murdering his dog, his son, and his wife - all because he sawed a few inches off a shotgun barrel because they asked him to.

And on the subject of agents provocateurs, I think that one of Czar Nicholas I's interior ministers, Pyotr Stolypin, was assasinated by one of his own Okrana agents. Way to go, team!

I second the poster who said that a healthy society would exile creepy little jerks like Sunnstein - they would certainly not be considered for positions on the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, Steve - what's wrong with mentioning the Psychological Warfare Team?

It's not my fault that they're all members of The Tribe [I assume that's why Komment Kontrol rejected the post].

Gee whiz.

anony-mouse said...

That 'Psychological Warfare Team' seems to be doing a great job, especially in Massachusetts.

If they do any better the GOP will have a majority in one of the houses maybe before 2010.

Ian said...

An example of a successful agent provocateur :

The West German police officer Karl-Heinz Kurras who shot and killed a unarmed student protester Benno Ohnesorg in 1967. Kurras "became a hate object of the radical left", and "the incident is considered pivotal for the rise of leftist radicalism and violence in Germany in the 1970s, culminating for instance in the formation of the terrorist Movement 2 June and the Red Army Faction".

In 2009, it was revealed that Kurras was a paid Stasi (communist East German secret service) double agent. Of course.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl-Heinz_Kurras

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many commenters on sites like Stormfront are actually there to stir the pot, hoping to cajole some kid into doing something stupid that the MSM can use to further demonize racially conscious whites?"

At least one:

www.richardwarman.com

There's at least one Canadian cop who has owned up to posting there too. Punchline: Warman is now being investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (that he used to work for) for his faux Nazi posts, as there is no exemption, even for agents provocateur.

Anonymous said...

"I understand that there a number of such agent provocateurs here operating under "Scots-Irish" cover."

LOL. Had he not referred to himself as "white trash", something that actual white people never do, his ruse may have worked.

Anonymous said...

That 'Psychological Warfare Team' seems to be doing a great job

You must have been on Mars throughout calendar year 2008.

Or make that Venus.

Anonymous said...

Federal law--the Privacy Act-- permits a citizen to submit for entry into his personal file and other files referencing his name documents or commentary submitted by him that would correct, complement, or dispute content already on file. A lot what seems at issue in this matter, espcuially with dainty outfits resembling $PLC, is what, in effect, is the cookie cutting, cherry picking of data to make it
"media juicy" or local sheriff "juicy" etc. etc. There is no statute or reg known to me that permits a person to compel an $PLC type operation to correct its files in the service of truth. But enough info "walks around" within various levels of law enforcement and allied entities that corrective file content to a federal file base can deservedly boomerang against smear efforts.

Anonymous said...

Theory in our scientific age amounts to notions amendable to fact finding and reasonable discourse moving toward skepticism and rejection OR toward positive regard and increased credibility. Within this parameter, science is wonderfully and productively tolerant of initially seemingly nutty notions and sceptical of initially comfy and annointed notions. The late Carleton Coon's written opinion on the possibility of a Big Foot actually existing is not "conspiracy theory" in the sense that term is used/misused. His fact-based reasoning and clear logic and dispassionate commentary deflate fast any snickering contempt toward the question. Science is in significant part one long discovery of the nutty being true and the annointed being barnyard droppings--as in the notion of the sun NOT rising in the East and setting in the West. Extremism is defined OVER TIME AND NOT HERE-AND-NOW in a free society as the initially seemingly nutty gains consensus and respect via informed discourse or as the seemingly sacrosanct starts to wilt and go down the drain. With a little encouragement a local book phobic sheriff or a group-think young FBI agent can see through their enthusiasms.

Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

"For instance, the old-fashioned Bilderberg Group is a bunch of rich, powerful people who quietly get together in fancy hotels and talk things over in private, away from the press."

Why isn't this news? Why is this quiet? Hmm....

Anonymous said...

To get a fix on why it is soo veery important to monitor and tamper with first amendment rights, consider that in routine,
genuine law enforcement there are two potential burrs in your saddle that can't happen in lawful "extremeism" cases: (1) You can get into a tussle with the prosecutor over the quality of your evidence; (2) you can get into the witness chair and have a "Mark Furman" experience. If you can stay away from genuine crime investigation as an FBI/ATF agent or local detective, you can coast to small promotiomns as long as you are smart enough to play the game but dumb enough to lack insight into its consequences for others.

Anonymous said...

A possible disincentive an abused citizen might bring against outfits like SPLC or local police agencies would amount to a meritorious contention that file content assembled has been deliberately skewed and selected
so as to amount to a body of created, creative material the content of which the person in focus has a property claim upon (as in copyright). This gains potential legally inasmuch as allegedly a key aim in assembling the lurid and omitting what exonerates is to seek revelations to potential donors via their lawyers from lawyers serving the entity assembling the file material--the "juicier" the file content and the greater punishments being visited upon the person in focus, the quicker the potential donor becomes an actual donor. A property-based assertion having promise of legally complicating such a sophisticated racket is worthy of the fullest regard and assertion.

Anonymous said...

Andreas Strassmeir is the classic modern example of an agent provocateur gone wrong. The son of a high-ranking German official, he'd studied counter-terrorism in Germany before being let into the US on a visa supposedly to participate in Civil War reenactments. He gets involved in domestic militia groups and winds up with one in Texas but gets kicked out when they get suspicious and follow him one night to a government building. he heads to eastern OK and becomes head of security at a white nationalist compound. There he tries to foment domestic terrorism, and his name is sent to the ATF, SPLC and FBI by various plants throughout the compound. He meets Tim McVeigh at a gun show, is the recipient of McVeigh's one known call to the compound ("Tell Andy I'm coming through") and is seen numerous times in McVeigh's company in OK and Kansas. After the bombing he's allowed to stay in the US on an expired visa for several months and never once questioned by the FBI. When stopped by the local police shortly after the bombing he's found with a valid TN drivers license and SS#, and the local cops get a call to let him go. Eventually he leaves the US via Mexico and returns to Germany. Evans Ambrose-Pritchard of the Financial Times got him to admit most of this in The Secret Life of Bill Clinton.

Interestingly, McVeigh himself told his death row cellmate as well as Terry Nichols that he was also working for the government to infiltrate gun shows and the white ntlst movement, and went AWOL on them. This would certainly connect some dots, but who knows if it's true or not.

Anonymous said...

Theory in our scientific age amounts to notions amendable to fact finding and reasonable discourse moving toward skepticism and rejection OR toward positive regard and increased credibility. Within this parameter, science is wonderfully and productively tolerant of initially seemingly nutty notions and sceptical of initially comfy and annointed notions.

That's utter and complete bullshit.

It took us 15 years to pop the balloon of the ecopagan cult of AGW, and, even then, we needed Putin's people to break into the computers at East Anglia to get the emails.

Even now, we still have a Nobel-prize-winning "physicist" as Secretary of Energy who continues to believe in the myth of AGW.

Something about their arrogance makes "scientists" much more easy to fool than commoners.

Or else the "scientists" know damned well that they're selling snake oil, but they're doing it because they have ulterior motives.

Marc B said...

"Sunstein then offers a truly brilliant plan for how the government should combat conspiracy theories: by mounting secret conspiracies against conspiracy theorists!"

HAH! The nelly (anti)constitutional professor from Chicago is advocating COINTELPRO. This comes as no surprise after the MIAC report, which warned police agencies that the most dangerous criminals were white males with the most reverence for the constitution.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that an authentic neo-Nazi would not engage in Holocaust denial - he would simply say; "Yeah, we killed 6 million Jews and I wish we could have killed 6 million more!"

Anonymous said...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sounds like a teabagger proposal to me...

WTF is government doing monitoring and regulating speech and opinion?

Fighting "conspiracy theories" = fighting theories you don't like.

And to try to discredit "conspiracy theorizing" by means of forming conspiracies... is insanity.

The "conspiracy theorists" have one thing right. This is a government of liars and it is swiftly becoming illegitimate.

Anonymous said...

Law enforcement bothering legal conduct is very inviting to many agents and cops. In regular crime detection and prosecution, very real blemishes can enter the personnel folders of people involved if, say, there's a face-off with the prosecutor about the quality of evidence your investigaton has produced. And your file can be blemished if you get on the witness stand and have a type of "Mark Furman revelation"
Investigating lawful conduct evades both of these possibilities. One obvious citizen recourse is to pry out info as to the total person hours being devoted to looking into lawful behavior that is politically exceptional--not illegal. A taxpayer impact assessment just doesn't get done "on the inside".

Anonymous said...

Thats right Chalmer, let us all go back to sleep,much better that way. Eyelids...getting...heavy...zzzzz

albertosaurus said...

The biggest conspiracy in US history involved very well known companies who were convicted of conspiracy under the Sherman Anti Trust Act. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. This conspiracy was no myth. Its effects can be seen in every American city today especially Los Angeles.

In fact its story was made into a movie that everyone saw and almost everyone admired. Yet it remains relatively obscure.

The conspiracy was the National City Lines Conspiracy and the movie was Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.

albertosaurus said...

P.J. O'Roarke has written a number of wonderful stories about how when he was a hippy his group was infiltrated by a agent provocateur from the FBI.

He gives advice on how to spot your infiltrating Fed - he'll be the one who always has dope.

Gene Berman said...

Steve:

I believe the correct expression is "agents provocateur."

Anonymous said...

OT:

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0111/Israel-s-plan-to-stem-African-immigration-Wall-on-Egypt-s-border

Gene Berman said...

albertosaurus:

Your facts are correct--there were convictions of the participant companies (but only somewhat token p[enalties). What is less clear is that there was actually anything in the nature of conspiracy in the normal sense of the word (which is that there be an objective against the law or public welfare) or, rather, merely an agreement in furtherance of an aim not averse to the public welfare (whether or not in some technical violation of the law).

The major argument advanced by those unconvinced of antisocial conspiracy or restraint of trade is the observation that, in those very same years, almost all the rail lines went out of business and were generally replaced, if at all, by busses. In other words, the same thing was happening everywhere--without involving the conspirator companies. Ordinary people have a word (and the same word has the same meaning in business): agreement. But, if it can be shown that said agreement violates some facet of law, the people who formerly thought they were in agreement awake to find themselves charged as criminal conspirators.

The takeaway from this is that, in this episode, we have no clearcut case either of restraint of trade nor of any intent to defraud the public, though some facet of their agreement was in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust law (and for which they were convicted and fined). It's a case of law itself being the cause of the crime.

Anonymous said...

It took us 15 years to pop the balloon of the ecopagan cult of AGW.

No, not eco-pagan, but one more brick in the christo-communist wall of sacrifice for its own sake.

Mr. Anon said...

"Albertosaurus said...

P.J. O'Roarke has written a number of wonderful stories about how when he was a hippy his group was infiltrated by a agent provocateur from the FBI.

He gives advice on how to spot your infiltrating Fed - he'll be the one who always has dope."

I loved his story about working at an underground newspaper in Baltimore in the early 70's, when their pathetic little office was taken over by an even more radical group that called itself "The Balto-Cong".

Svigor said...

Yeah, AFAIK it's agents provocateur, like courts martial.

Preston said...

Ya, ya ya.........The GOV is out to get you. I think its your guilty conscience, pay your taxes, your DMV fees and register your guns. I instead of being leeches on Society, contribute like most of us. So you won't have dreams that The GOV is after you.

Anonymous said...

The correct spelling is agents provocateurs Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster. No variant spellings are admitted.

Style and usage guides notwithstanding, it is tempting to italicize agents provocateurs to remind readers that this plural noun + plural adjective construction is a French one.

One sees similar blunders when bons mots appears in English as "bon mots".

Anonymous said...

A matter that maybe touches on both "provocateurs" and "cognitive infiltration" and the varied forms of Contelpro 2010 are some of the entries in wikipedia especially on taboo topics regarding IQ and fortunately clarified elswewhere by Steve Sailer--a one man truth squad! One on IQ testing is laced with misinformation. Jared Taylor has written about how wiki at its worst can spread misunderstanding--something far worse than mere honest ignorance. This problem comes full circle when some government agent--fed, state, or local--relies on what they were taught overtly in the classooms on campus about these matters in order then to deem it unnecessary to ask questions of or listen to a "suspected" person. It produces enough confusion and protest to create a lot of job demand for those paid to do it. I'm not sure where, if anywhere, the daylight is gonna break through the clouds in all this.

jack strocchi said...

Steve Sailer said:

In my experience, the greater problem than the public being overly willing to "connect the dots" and imagine false secret conspiracies is the mainstream press being too unwilling to notice the effects of actual public conspiracies.

I don't think that the Bush admin. examples you cite of conspiracies "in plain sight" do not really make the cut. A conspiracy is by definition a private plot to hoodwink and rip-off the public. Bush made no attempt to hide his agenda.

His disastrous "debtquity & diversity" lending policies and equally silly "see no evil" ethnic profiling procedures were blatant attempts at ethnic pandering. The fact that the press and public intellectuals chose to look the other way because of their politically correct indoctrination is an indictment of the press and public intellectuals, not of Bush.

But there is one conspiracy that Bush is guilty of: the blatant lies about Iraq's non-existent WMDs and connections to 911-WTC that were told to justify the Iraq-attack. I saw through them at least six months prior to the invasion but still supported the war, more fool me. But most of the press bought the lies hook, line and sinker.

The Brits are currently holding an inquiry into this debacle. But no one seems various anxious about bringing Bush admin officials to account on this. No doubt too many Democrats were compromised.

And of course it would not do to retrospectively "Pat Bu....", now would it?