July 18, 2012

Conspiracies and Connections

From my new column in Taki's Magazine:
The flagrant stupidity of most conspiracy theories popular during my lifetime, as epitomized by Oliver Stone’s 1991 masterpiece/fiasco JFK (in which the entire military-industrial complex plots to murder John F. Kennedy by hiring some flaming French Quarter homosexuals), serves to inoculate the powerful against the suspicion that they have influence (or responsibility) regarding events. 
It wasn’t always like this. Until recently, it was widely understood that numerous turning points in history—such as the assassinations of Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, and Archduke Franz Ferdinand—were the results of conspiracies.

Read the whole thing there.

78 comments:

Power Child said...

Cool article! Conspiracy theories definitely need more level-headed analysis like this.

My Aspergery nitpick of the day:

Isn't "ESP" more about being able to see around corners and read minds and stuff like that? Bending spoons is more within the realm of telekinesis than ESP, I think.

Whiskey said...

Yes, results of conspiracies, but not high level ones and not particularly world-altering either.

Caesar, had he not been assassinated, would have simply supplanted Augustus as Rome's First Emperor. The growth of noble family power, fighting over imperial sources of revenue, was nothing new and brutal civil wars characterized the decline of the Republic for nearly a century. The same can be said of Lincoln (had he not been assassinated he would faced the same efforts by the Radical Reconstructionists to punish the South, use Negro voting to marginalize Whites there, and grab the spoils for the Northern Industrial interests). Europe had been lurching towards war in the Balkans and elsewhere, since the Fashoda Incident which nearly provoked War between France and Britain over control of the Nile in 1898.

The fundamental cause of WWI was the collapse of both Turkish and Austrian control of the Balkans and nascent nationalism, entangled with a system of alliances and Germany rejecting Bismarckian realpolitik in favor of crackpot militarism.

Anonymous said...

I'd be careful defending conspiracy theories. The entire edifice of academic racial politics is built on a vast conspiracy theory: e.g., every police department in every major and minor city in the country is full of racists who selectively prosecute more blacks than whites; that's the only way to explain black/white incarceration statistics according to critical race theory. And it requires a conspiracy theory.

gwood said...

"You think everything's a conspiracy, Hippie."
"Everything is."

Whiskey said...

In fact I'd take issue with the idea that conspiracies are very important. Compared to the broad sweep of changes that technology and business brings.

What was more important in the Protestant Reformation: printing and gunpowder or Martin Luther and the Pope? The former I'd argue. What was more important in moving social change in the 1960s? Killing JFK and RFK, or consumer marketing, consumerism, and the social/financial rise of women in the workforce? The latter I'd argue.

The Conspiracy Theories were in fact a fantasy refusal to face reality. "All Powerful" men in black suits take all power and responsibility away from people, providing a "magical" explanation that hinges on some post-Christian "Revelation" that "exposes their wickedness" or something.

Powerful, influential men have been killed by omega (not even beta) male losers throughout human existence. The smarter male leaders know this and keep chaotic schedules (as Napoleon did) to keep that sort of poorly disciplined personality at bay. Sometimes women kill them, as with Marat and Charlotte Corday. Andrew Jackson was nearly killed by some lunatic (his primitive, pre-Colt pistol misfired in the damp). After rescuing him from Jackson who wanted to beat him to death with his cane, the Capitol police threw him in the loony bin. The Assassins of McKinley, and Garfield fell into the Son of Sam, John Hinckley Jr, Sara Jane Moore, and Squeaky Fromme category.

People dropped UFO-ology and talking to plants lunacies because they realized it kept you from advancing in a far more highly charged world where the cost of keeping away from NAMs post end of Segregation kept getting higher, and the cost of failure thus higher. It was Grosse Pointe, or Detroit. You can't indulge in too much magical thinking if you want to keep out of Detroit.

Not that magical thinking is not endemic to a degree among the elites -- Steve Jobs may or may not have sealed his doom by delaying aggressive medical intervention for his pancreatic cancer in favor of "holistic" Eastern medicine.

Most conspiracies are low rent affairs because people cannot be trusted. Someone will always keep incriminating evidence, as a get out of jail, blackmail forever card. Or boast/blab. To impress women, business associates, etc.

Heck EVEN the Soviet Union had defectors CONSTANTLY who got ticked off at personal treatment, promotion slights, etc. Conspiracy Theories as drivers of everything or most things has to posit that unlike all other human beings, the conspirators are ultra disciplined, not prone to boasting, falling out, blackmail, second thoughts, etc. That doesn't exist even among conspiratorial criminal organizations, including the Mafia.

The MacFrankfurt School said...

But it wouldn't be in our best interests if the hoi polloi were allowed to pretend that conspiracies might actually exist in real life.

MOO HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

PublicSphere said...

Great article, Steve, but Keyser Soze's devil quote goes way back before the Usual Suspects.

In Baudelaire's 1864 story, Le Joueur généreux, included in Paris Spleen, he wrote, ""Mes chers frères, n'oubliez jamais, quand vous entendrez vanter le progrès des lumières, que la plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu'il n'existe pas!"

This seems to have been widely quoted, including by Flannery O'Connor, who translated it as "wile."

It was also apparently quoted in Denis de Rougemont's book, The Devil's Share, and C. S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters, but I can't find links for that online.

Clearly, the simplest explanation is that Charles Baudelaire, Flannery O'Connor, C. S. Lewis, and Christopher McQuarrie are all part of the same trans-generational Satanic cult!

Anonymous said...

http://www.badeagle.com/2012/07/18/obama-and-the-liberal-identity/

Obama according to Uncle Tomahawk.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, I don't think I've ever seen iSteve mention the 9/11 truth movement. You'd think that, being the salient conspiracy theory right now, it might warrant a brief mention in an article like this, but.... nope.

Anonymous said...

Funny how some people get so upset when certain conspiracies are discussed.

Im sure very few people think conspiracies account for all events or even most of them. But to discount them entirely - now who is being irrational?

In WW2 the UK & US conspired to mislead the Germans about the timing and location of the D-Day landings and did a pretty good job of it. Its a matter of record.

What about the way in which the stealth aircraft programs were pursued which included the cancellation of the B-1 program. That was pulled off pretty effectively too.

Pincher Martin said...

I like Judge Robert Bork's differentiation between conspiracy and a syndrome. I think it a useful distinction that is underutilized to describe situations like the subprime fiasco.

In a conspiracy, you need tacit agreement between two or more people to commit a crime.

But a syndrome does not require a tacit agreement. A certain class of people just tend to think alike and act in concert. They even use similar words to describe what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

The great irony of American politics is that even though conservatives are seen as ‘tribalist’ and liberals as ‘universalist’ — in championing a ‘proposition nation’ against the notion of a ‘blood and soil’ country — , in matters of actual practice, it’s the Democratic Party that plays tribal politics while the Republican party appeals to ‘color-blind’ ideals. While white gentile liberals are genuinely liberal in their suicidal-ism, what really motivates non-white ‘liberals’ is tribalism: Liberal Jews are actually Zionist Jewish supremacists, mulattos are for mulatto supremacy, blacks are for black power, gays are for gay power, yellows are for yellow unity, and Hispanics are for Hispanic interests. Indeed, with the official policy of multi-culturalism, the Cult of Diversity really amounts to the rise of various non-white and anti-white tribalisms. In contrast, white conservatives do their best to prove that they are driven by non-tribal and non-racial universal ideals such as equal opportunity, excellence, liberty, property rights, and free enterprise. So, the so-called universalist left openly practices various forms of tribalism whereas the so-called atavistic right promotes a purely abstract set of ideals. It’s a moral paradox: If you wanna practice tribalism, oppose it in practice, at least that of the dominant group.

Anonymous said...

Most conspiracy theories may be stupid but what about the notion that JFK is a masterpiece?

Anonymous said...

Isn't "ESP" more about being able to see around corners and read minds and stuff like that? Bending spoons is more within the realm of telekinesis than ESP, I think.

Quibble, quibble, it's all witchcraft, black magic, voodoo, and Satan.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why we need conspiracy theories anymore? I mean so much of the crazy rot is out in the open. I mean just look at the open secrets about Obama. A nobody groomed and funded by Jews into the 'smartest man in the world'. Or consider how the media made sure the Jeremiah Wright story got no 'traction'. But it's sure helping Obama to make the Bain 'scandal' get a lot of traction as the biggest thing since Watergate.

Or look how Washington, Wall Street, Big Oil, and Big media all colluded to give us the Iraq War.
It was an open fraud.

And though I don't believe that Israelis did 9/11, it seems credible that Mossad agents knew something was up but didn't share the information because such a massive attack might be advantageous for Israel.

I mean we don't need whacky theories when so much of what is happening is crazy and OUT IN THE OPEN.

And just consider how 'gay marriage' was opposed by nearly everyone but is now a big moral cause. How did that happen? Who shape our minds? Who controls the media? I mean when there is so much open craziness, we don't need to make any up.

Beefy Levinson said...

The plastic tips on shoelaces are called aglets. Their true purpose is sinister!

Anonymous said...

"If you wanna practice tribalism, oppose it in practice, at least that of the dominant group."

If you wanna practice tribalism, oppose it in theory, at least that of the dominant group.

Anonymous said...

Its no wonder the communists almost took over the world. Oswald was a communist who killed JFK, the left hated that, so they immediately went into "conspiracy mode" to convince every dumb cluck that anyone.. The FBI/CIA/Nixon/Mafia/LBJ killed JFK. Anyone except the commies and Castro... who really did it. And all the dumb clucks lap it up. Its amazing we're all not singing the "Internationale".

Anonymous said...

I don't think what happened with Oswald and Ruby is all that strange.
Oswald was a nobody but wanted to be somebody. In a way, it's misguided to see him as a 'Marxist'. The real problem was he was a nobody even as a Marxist. If he been a famous leftist writer, artist, politician, academic, or something, he might have been comfy in his privileged leftism. But in fact, he was such a loser that even the progressive community wouldn't have him. This is the paradox of Marxism. On the one hand, it's for the workers, for the 'little guy'. But Marxism is also an intellectual theory for the MEN OF DESTINY, and indeed many men were attracted to Marxism not so much to be equal with rest of mankind but to play the vanguard role as great thinker or leader. Oswald wanted to be a great man; that was the real appeal of Marxism to him; he was above all an egoist. But he was a nothing. He had no charisma, no good looks, no great intelligence or insight. He just spouted cliches. But he saw himself as a great man, as a vanguard revolutionary. But NO ONE cared about him. Marxists ignored him. Soviet Union tired of him. Americans even went so far as to take back the lowlife traitor. He might have felt kinda important if Americans rejected his appeal for re-entry. But America took him back cuz they thought, 'this guy is just a sap loser and no threat to us'.
So, Oswald's pride was hurt all around. But, in his own Mulholland-Dr-like mind, he was a somebody. He was like Rupert Pupkin of King of Comedy--though he turned out to King of Tragedy(or Joker of Tragedy). Since no one would have him, he decided to go around everywhere and leave his scent all over the place as if to make himself believe that he was a man of destiny and revolution and subversion. So, he went to Mexico and visited the Soviet embassy. So, he mixed with communists and with gangsters and with anti-communists. He saw himself as a double-agent playing all sides. But in fact, all sides saw him as a nuisance. In the end, no side would have him. He was too obviously a loser.
And so, the only way he could prove that he was somebody was by doing something big and crazy.
And he would show the leftists who was really real. While leftists marched and talked a good theory, HE WOULD ACT. He wouldn't just talk the talk but walk the walk. And in killing the liberal Kennedy, he would show that he's the REAL LEFTIST as opposed to phony capitalist imperialists liberals who were no different from the conservatives.
Even so, he was different from Breivik who did what he did and took responsibility for his actions. Oswald wanted to have it both ways. He wanted to do something big and feel important but also to run and hide and save his ass. He was a big-balled coward.

As for Ruby, my theory is this. When the assassination happened, some big shots in the mafia may have suspected that some idiot rogue elements in the organization working with Cubans hired Oswald to kill Kennedy. Though that was NOT the case, mafia bigshots may have feared such could indeed have been the case and thought, 'uh oh, Oswald is gonna blame it on us.' So, maybe they told Ruby to have Oswald killed. (And maybe Ruby did it cuz it he owed something to the Mafia. And maybe the Mafia told him he would get off scot-free as a kind of hero.) Mafia bigshots ordered the hit not to cover the tracks but to cover up POSSIBLE tracks. It's like in the ending of CASINO. The bigshot mafia guys are sitting around: "It's always better to have no witnesses." "Why take a chance? At least that's the way I feel about it."

http://youtu.be/1FZ2FA-epcE

Anonymous said...

People use conspiracy theories as a crutch not to access the truth but to escape from it. Why? Truth is too depressing.

Paragul said...

“...here we are a half-decade after the collapse of subprime mortgages in the summer of 2007, and almost nobody has gone to jail for it.”

Like Barney Frank? He's Scots-Irish AND gay. Double innocent victim. Under no circumstances can he do wrong and only someone who is a wicked evil white demon could ever think he ever intended to.

RKU said...

Well, it seems to me Americans are generally innundated with "conspiracy theories" almost 24/7. But there's a sharp distinction between good (i.e. sensible) "conspiracy theories" and bad (i.e. ridiculous) "conspiracy theories."

The good "conspiracy theories" are the ones promoted by the TeeVee and the rest of the MSM. The bad "conspiracy theories" are the ones opposed by the TeeVee and the rest of the MSM. Logic, internal plausibility, or evidence have absolutely nothing to do with those distinctions.

Back in the old days of the Three TeeVee Networks, pretty much all of what is today call "mainstream conservativism" was considered a bad "conspiracy theory," but after TalkRadio and FoxNews became forces in the land, a portion of those were reclassified as good or at least passable "conspiracy theories." If ownership of the TeeVee networks changed hands tomorrow, within something like 48 hours all the good "conspiracy theories" could be made bad ones, and vice-versa. The entire American public and all the Talking Heads would be ashamed about who and what they used to laugh at and who and what they used to believe.

Steve is obviously very well versed in "conspiracy theories." I'd say that about 80% of everything Steve promotes on his blogsite is regarded as a bad "conspiracy theory" by the TeeVee and the MSM...

Clyde said...

'...in which the entire military-industrial complex plots to murder John F. Kennedy by hiring some flaming French Quarter homosexuals.'

I always thought that was one of your best lines.

The MacFrankfurt School said...

Who shape our minds? Who controls the media?

Do you really need to ask?!?

MOO HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Pincher Martin said...

"People use conspiracy theories as a crutch not to access the truth but to escape from it. Why? Truth is too depressing."

I think the truth is far more interesting than the crap most conspiracy theorists peddle. But it takes some time, effort, and a balanced judgment to get at the historical truth; it takes almost no time to invent a conspiracy.

A few years ago I was talking to some nut who believed the U.S. government had ordered and planned the 9/11 attacks. One of his arguments was that a missile struck the Pentagon. There was no fuselage in the post-attack wreckage, you see. And a video of the attack didn't show a plane hitting the building.

What about Flight 77?, I asked. Did he dispute that a commercial jet took off from Dulles with several dozen passengers on board? No. Well, then what the hell happened to it? He didn't know. But it didn't hit the Pentagon. That much he knew.

I continued along the same lines. Why would the U.S. government plan an attack on the Pentagon by hijacking a commercial jet with several dozen passengers and then pretend to use it in an attack on the building while actually using a cruise missile instead? Did it fly the jet to some secret military base and then execute the passengers and dismantle the plane? Isn't that a little convoluted for a plan? Why not just use the jet in the attack? Wouldn't it have been at least as destructive as a cruise missile?

Of course he had no good answers to these simple questions because there are no good answers for them. Most conspiracy theorists are narrow-minded and stupid. I've rarely come across a JFK assassination conspiracy theorist who knew much about JFK outside of the facts of his assassination. They're usually the kind of people who focus in on to a few discrepancies in a media narrative and imagine some convoluted plan that makes no sense to anyone who knows anything about politics or the military or anything else worth knowing.

I wish Steve mentioned this feature about modern conspiracy theorists. Most of them are stupid. They do their theories no credit. I could create better conspiracies than they make up. More intelligent people are right to give them a wide berth.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdJM17ou2qg

"In Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, James Piereson asserts that, as the 1960s began, liberalism was the single most creative and vital force in American politics and that the Kennedy assassination caused a split within this movement between its more traditional supporters and cultural activists that still exists today. Peter Robinson explores with Piereson how and why this happened -- how a confident, practical, forward-looking philosophy with a heritage of accomplishment was thus turned into a doctrine of pessimism and self-blame, with a decidedly dark view of American society."

Greg Vance said...

Speaking of conspiracies, someone is obviously plotting against all these black politicians...

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/07/trenton_mayor_tony_mack_denies.html

Kylie said...

"The fundamental cause of WWI was the collapse of both Turkish and Austrian control of the Balkans and nascent nationalism, entangled with a system of alliances and Germany rejecting Bismarckian realpolitik in favor of crackpot militarism."

Yes, all those points are covered in the 1974 series I've been watching, "Fall of Eagles" about the collapse of the Romanov, Habsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties.

Kylie said...

"The plastic tips on shoelaces are called aglets. Their true purpose is sinister!"

Only on the left shoe.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

As for Ruby, my theory is this. When the assassination happened, some big shots in the mafia may have suspected that some idiot rogue elements in the organization working with Cubans hired Oswald to kill Kennedy."

I think that's a pretty good theory. I have come to believe that there may well have been some kind of ex-post-facto conspiracy after the Kennedy assasination - some group or groups covering up relationships that were embarrassing or likely to cause them grief. I don't see the mafia as having the guts and the chutzpah to actually kill the President, but kill the guy who killed the President? Sure, why not? Not much down-side to that.

Mr. Anon said...

"Pincher Martin said...

I wish Steve mentioned this feature about modern conspiracy theorists. Most of them are stupid. They do their theories no credit. I could create better conspiracies than they make up. More intelligent people are right to give them a wide berth."

Well said. A lot of the people who retail these stories, don't seem to have a sophisticated understanding of the world. They live in a comic-book universe. They may as well include the Joker and Lex Luthor in their theories.

Another thing I've noticed about (often self-described) conspiracy theorists is the catholicism of their conspiratorial world-view. They don't just believe in one - they believe in them all. If they believe in one, they'll soon believe in another, and a third, and another after that - until they've got an alien reptillian as the grassy-knoll gunman.

As another poster noted, most of the really heinous crap nowadays goes down in plain view; it's just that most people don't care - they're too busy cheering on their football team or their favorite contestant on "Dancing with the Stars".

astorian said...

On one hand, Steve is quite correct to note that the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and Archduke Ferdinand were carried out by a group of conspirators. The snag is, in both of those cases....

1) The assassin's friends and co-conspirators were identified and rounded up quickly

2) The conspirators were NOT highly placed members of the government or of any powerful institution.

John Wilkes Booth DID have friends who helped him murder Abe Lincoln, but those friends were just middle-class Southerners like himself. His co-conspirators did NOT include William Seward and Andrew Johnson (who were THEMSELVES targeted for killing by Booth's cronies) or Cornelius Vanderbilt! And Gavrilo Princip's co-conspirators were just stupid Serbian nationalists like himself. He wasn't acting at the behest of Kaiser Wilhelm or J.P. Morgan.

And that's one of the problems with most conspiracy theories. I'd be quite prepared to believe that there was more to the JFK assassination than just a lone nut... but why do all the conspiracy scenarios seem to include the most powerful men in business and government?

Steve Sailer said...

"And Gavrilo Princip's co-conspirators were just stupid Serbian nationalists like himself."

He was one of nine assassins under the command of the head of Serbian military intelligence.

Steve Sailer said...

John Wilkes Booth was a member of the most famous acting family in the country. How high up in the Confederacy his conspiracy went is not something Edwin Stanton and the surviving Union leaders particularly wanted to know, especially because the Confederate conspiracy may have been inspired by a Union cavalry raid on Richmond in 1864 intended to kidnap or kill Confederate leaders.

Anonymous said...

Oswald wanted to be part of a conspiracy but every organization showed him the door. So he went for a do-it-yourself conspiracy of one. But his mind saw himself as being the dark agent of history, so he felt part of something big.

But the irony is people still saw him as such a loser that many believed he couldn't have done it. He really changed history but still got no respect.

Another irony. Stone is not a loser but shares the same kind of big mad ego as Oswald. So, the kind of mind-set that made JFK wasn't much different from the mind-set that killed Kennedy. By spreading crazy lies, JFK was the second assassination of kennedy.

That 'leftists'--oswald and sirhan--killed the kennedies for their 'rightist/imperialist' evil is dispiriting to the liberals. Liberals like to see themselves as being on the left and conservatives as being on the right, but to the REAL left/third world, there was no difference between repugs and demoncrats.

Mr. Anon said...

"Kylie said...

Yes, all those points are covered in the 1974 series I've been watching, "Fall of Eagles" about the collapse of the Romanov, Habsburg and Hohenzollern dynasties."

Now we know where Whiskey gets his keen understanding of geo-politics - from old BBC historical soap-operas.

Anonymous said...

Pitiful.

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/guess-what-some-people-arent-going-to-like-the-dark-knight-rises-why-aggregated-movie-scores-are-meaningless-20120717#.UAefMWFYvRq

http://hollywoodandfine.com/reviews/the-dark-knight-rises-grandiose-not-grand/

Do we really need a Bergmanesque approach to batguy?

Anonymous said...

"Now we know where Whiskey gets his keen understanding of geo-politics - from old BBC historical soap-operas."

What a fool. I get it from movies.

agnostic said...

One huge change from the '60s-'80s period to the 1993-and-after period is the victim of the conspiracy, and the implications for who the average person can trust.

In the earlier period, it was a member of some powerful or influential establishment group, and they were targeted by other members of the establishment. Intra-elite factional violence. For example, in Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford is a member of the CIA, and is being pursued by agents of the CIA. The initial conspiratorial bloodbath also targeted fellow CIA members.

In the period from 1993 and after, it's the average citizen who is a potential victim, and the agents are those he'd least suspect -- close friends, associates, or family, who will betray him when he lets them in close enough. In The Fugitive, the victim was an ordinary guy and his ordinary wife, and the initiator was one of his closest friends with ties to Big Pharma. Neo from The Matrix was an average guy, ordinary citizens were harmed by government cover-ups on The X-Files, and so on.

So, the message from the earlier narratives was that you shouldn't view the establishment as some benevolent, harmonious group -- just look what they do to their own people. You identified with the protagonist not because you were also a CIA member whose face could end up within the sights of a sniper rifle, but because he was a force of good and justice -- almost like a saint or angel, a higher-status creature than us in the audience, but who was going to try to keep the forces of evil up at the top from harming us on the ground.

In contrast, the message from the more recent narratives is that the establishment could be after you yourself, and they will probably try to get you through agents that you would find most trustworthy. Hence, you shouldn't let seemingly trustworthy people get close to you; and by transitivity, you shouldn't let anyone at all get close to you. You identified with the protoganist more out of personal fear -- it could be you, an ordinary citizen, who the higher powers might track down next, and it could be you who gets betrayed by your own friends and associates.

The earlier narratives focus more on we the people not putting blind faith in the establishment, and instead to remind ourselves that there are power plays and factional violence within the elite themselves. They have no implications about how much an ordinary citizen should trust another ordinary citizen. The recent narratives focus on the average person isolating himself from the entire rest of society, perhaps excepting your closest blood relatives. They're part of the more general trend toward cocooning away from your fellow neighbor during the past 20 years.

Simon in London said...

anon:
"That 'leftists'--oswald and sirhan--killed the kennedies for their 'rightist/imperialist' evil is dispiriting to the liberals. Liberals like to see themselves as being on the left and conservatives as being on the right, but to the REAL left/third world, there was no difference between repugs and demoncrats."

Good point. The US Liberal-Left seem to like to see themselves as being on the same side as the people they're dropping bombs on.

josh said...

I'm very wary of allowing myself to become the kind of person who believes crazy things...but, isn't it at least plausible that certain possibly rogue elements in our essentially unaccountable, inbred, ruling class, secret police force were involved in the murder of JFK?

Moldbug likes to link to this:
http://www.dcdave.com/article4/041103a.htm

Aren't all bets off after something like this? How about this?

http://nsarchive.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/project-artichoke-22-january-1954.pdf

"As a "trigger mechanism" for a bigger project, it was proposed that an individual of ***** descent, approximately 35 years old, well educated, and proficient in English and well established socially and politically in the **** Government be induced under ARTICHOKE to perform an act, involuntarily of attempted assassination against a prominent ***** politician or if necessary, against an American offical."

ARTICHOKE was some kind of hypnosis/drug-induced mind control technique. Now, obviously, its unlikely this could actually work, and the project was reported as a failure, but consider the mind set. The CIA apparently felt they had the responsibility and authority to assassinate American officials under the right circumstances and were willing to experiment in some simply insane Nazi/Commie shit to do it.

I mean, this was some creepy shit. Would you be shocked if the KGB assassinated a premier for political reasons? How much more shocked should we be that their allies would do the same.

Add to this the weird story of Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Cord Meyer and Phil Graham and other stuff. It's all too weird. As Steve says, I'm not sure I have a hypothesis that is more likely than the two lone gunmen theory, but I will definitely take the field on this one.

Anonymous said...

I think Lennon's shooting probably displaced the conspiracy idea with the lone-nut theory in the American mind even more than Reagan's shooting did. But both paved the way for the US government to label McVeigh a lone nut, which he was obviously not. There's simply too much evidence in the Oklahoma City for people to label it a "conspiracy theory" which is probably why it's never discussed today, but JFK still is.

C. Van Carter said...

One of the witnesses subpoenaed by Jim Garrison was a guy named Fred Crisman, which ties the JFK thing into the UFO thing.

Sirhan Sirhan's current attorneys argued in court he "was subjected to sophisticated hypno programming and memory implantation techniques".

Anonymous said...

"I did it to show the world that Jews have guts." -Jack Ruby

The likelihood that both shooters had no simply explained political or criminal motive for acting but instead were working from neurotic impulses that nobody - least of all themselves - would be able to figure out...

As they say, only in America!

C. Van Carter said...

If you want a real conspiracy take a look at the "suicide" of James Forrestal.

Dutch Boy said...

And Gavrilo Princip's co-conspirators were just stupid Serbian nationalists like himself."

He was one of nine assassins under the command of the head of Serbian military intelligence

N.B: A fact not revealed until the 1930s

not a hacker said...

The main conspiracy of Steve's lifetime, and mine, has been the movement to exempt blacks, once legally emancipated, from having to meet any majority-culture standard. With passage of the '65 CRA, the question was always, 'to what extent do we hold them to our ways of doing things?' A combination of white radicals and black hucksters launched black nationalism/exceptionalism, and that project has now been ongoing for 40+ years, the lie about police departments mentioned above being just one aspect. The project was so successful that you can't find a white person who's ever confronted a black about failing to cut the mustard. I've done it, and it got me knocked out from behind.

Anonymous said...

Steve:"John Wilkes Booth was a member of the most famous acting family in the country. How high up in the Confederacy his conspiracy went is not something Edwin Stanton and the surviving Union leaders particularly wanted to know, especially because the Confederate conspiracy may have been inspired by a Union cavalry raid on Richmond in 1864 intended to kidnap or kill Confederate leaders."

The Lincoln assassination essentially offers three contending theories*:

1. Simple conspiracy: John Wilkes Booth was the leading figure in a small-scale conspiracy that consisted of himself and a small number of others (Lewis Powell, David Herold, etc). This is the theory to which most historians subscribe.

2. Confederate Grand Conspiracy: Essentially, Booth was acting in concert with high ranking Confederates. This one is difficult to entirely dismiss, as Booth seems to have had some contacts with the Confederate military/intelligence. Most historians do not favor it, but it is possible.

3. Radical Republican Grand Conspiracy: This one can be regarded as the Lincoln version of the LBJ/Military/CIA killed JFK school, with Otto Eisenschmil playing the role of dean of the theorists.Needless to say, this one is about as credible as the theories surroundings Kennedy's death.

*For extra credit, I should mention the Roman Catholic Church killed Lincoln theory, which enjoyed a pretty good run back when the Scarlet Woman was blamed by American Protestants for nearly half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected.

Recommended reading: William Hanchett's THE LINCOLN MURDER CONSPIRACIES.

Syon

Steve Sailer said...

Edwin Stanton, the strong man after Lincoln's assassination, was a sensible man. He wanted the most direct conspirators punished and didn't want an endless investigation beyond that level. What good would it do the country to uncover evidence that, say, Jefferson Davis may have been involved? Especially if Booth's conspiracy was vengeance for a murky Union attempt on the life of Davis in 1864?

From Wikipedia:

Ulric Dahlgren (April 3, 1842 – March 2, 1864) served as a Union Army colonel. He was in command of an unsuccessful 1864 raid on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, and was killed in the raid. The major consequence of the failed raid was the Dahlgren Affair after incriminating documents were discovered on Dahlgren's corpse. ...

Papers found on the body of Dahlgren shortly after his death contained orders for an assassination plot against Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The discovery and publication of the Dahlgren Papers sparked an international controversy, and may have contributed to John Wilkes Booth's decision to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln a year later.

Anonymous said...

Personal favorite assassination films:

1. Stone's JFK: Logically absurd but brilliantly filmed, filled with wonderful character sketches (cf John Candy's swinging hepcat Dean Andrews).

2. THE PARALLAX VIEW:Absorbing thriller. The montage sequence used to screen candidates for patsy status is a masterpiece (it also features some outstanding use of Jack Kirby's Thor artwork).

3. WINTER KILLS: A jet-black comedy that features a genuinely novel spin on the Kennedy assassination.

Syon

pat said...

One problem with disparaging the notion of conspiracy theories by invoking Caesar, Lincoln abd Ferdinand were that those weren't ever theories. They were observations. Caesar was struck down by a troop of well known political opponents in public with knives. Kennedy was hit by an unseen bullet from a uncertain direction. When Oswald was produced no one knew who he was.

If Gerald Ford and Everret Dirkson had chopped JFK down on national TV with tomahawks it would have been more comparable to the Caesar case. Ferdinand's assassins were a well organized group. They tied a bomb and later a pistol shot. There was no mystery that Ferdinand was under attack.

Similarly Lincoln was the focus of a group organized to kill him. No one at the time doubted that.

Consequently there was no need for the imaginative to concoct bizarre connections. There was a full blown conspiracy to kill Truman by Puerto Rican nationals. It was quite pubic. There was a conspiracy but no conspiracy theories.

The Kennedy case was different. At the time Pat Moynihan wrote a short piece called "The Paranoid Style" in American politics. He warned that if the whole matter weren't laid bare publicly there would arise a series of weird explanations. The example he gave was pretty weird.

The Washington Monument for anyone who has seen in with their own eyes is composed of two distincly different types of marble. The lower third is made of beautiful snow white Carrara marble. The same marble with which Augustus clothed ancient Rome and the same marble used widely in the Italian Renaissance. But the top two thirds of the monument are made with a kind of light brown marble from Maryland. It is true that the Senator from Maryland promoted this change of building material, but it wasn't just simple nativism. The rumor that motivated the change was that American Catholics were placing Vatican spys and operative in those stone blocks from Italy.

This sounds insane to us today but at the time Kennedy was accused of digging a tunnel from the White House to the Vatican. This also sounds unbeliveable but I remember being told just that in High School.

Dwight Eisenhower was concerned with the construction of wild conspiracy theories too. He saw the Nazi camps and was concerned that the evidence would be swept aside by stories exonerating the Germans. He made Patton and Bradley go into the some of the worst camps. The result of his efforts was that he himself was folded into the conspiracy. The Holocaust Deniers thereafter claimed that he was a Jew born in Austria.

I'll admit that in practice it's hard sometimes to separate out conspiracy theories in the modern sense of a preposterous tale told by a whacko, from a true but odd narrative. In my experience it's easier to distinguish the two if you can gaze into the eyes of the person recounting the story. Real conspiracy theories come from real conspiracy nuts. They tend to see all sorts of odd connections that we - the deluded and ignorant masses - never notice. They patronize us for being blind. They are well pleased with themselves. Their eyes glow with pleasure at their specialness.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Steve:"Edwin Stanton, the strong man after Lincoln's assassination, was a sensible man. He wanted the most direct conspirators punished and didn't want an endless investigation beyond that level. What good would it do the country to uncover evidence that, say, Jefferson Davis may have been involved? Especially if Booth's conspiracy was vengeance for a murky Union attempt on the life of Davis in 1864?"


Oh, yes, there has been a good deal of speculation regarding Booth's Confederate connections:

"In October, Booth made an unexplained trip to Montreal, which was then a well-known center of clandestine Confederate activity. He spent ten days in the city, staying for a time at St. Lawrence Hall, a rendezvous for the Confederate Secret Service, and meeting several Confederate agents there.[80][81] No conclusive proof has linked Booth's kidnapping or assassination plots to a conspiracy involving the leadership of the Confederate government, although historians such as David Herbert Donald have said, "It is clear that, at least at the lower levels of the Southern secret service, the abduction of the Union President was under consideration".[82] Historian Thomas Goodrich concluded that Booth entered the Confederate Secret Service as a spy and courier.[83] Other writers exploring possible connections between Booth's planning and Confederate agents include Nathan Miller's Spying For America and William Tidwell's Come Retribution: the Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln." (via WIKIPEDIA)

It is certainly possible that Lincoln's assassination had its origins in the Confederate high command. However, no smoking gun has been found.

Syon

Anonymous said...

The Reichstag Fire offers a good example of the sexy conspiracy theory not holding up over time. For years, people simply assumed that the Nazis did it, that Van der Lubbe was a fall guy.Most contemporary historians, however, favor the idea that he acted on his own. The Nazis simply exploited a lucky break.

ben tillman said...

I think Lennon's shooting probably displaced the conspiracy idea with the lone-nut theory in the American mind even more than Reagan's shooting did.

Conspiracy theorists actually have some interesting things to say about Lennon's connections with Polanski-Tate-Manson and the life-imitating-art aspects of Rosemary's Baby and Sharon Tate and The Dakota and the Beetle/Beatle thing.

Mr. Anon said...

Speaking of conspiracies or conspiracy theories, here's one from the Great Depression, little remembered today - a big-business/fascist orchestrated coup in America:

http://www.damninteresting.com/the-revenge-of-the-fighting-quaker/

Mr. Anon said...

"C. Van Carter said...

One of the witnesses subpoenaed by Jim Garrison was a guy named Fred Crisman, which ties the JFK thing into the UFO thing."

Mr. Carter: Did Oswald ever visit Whitby, the vortex of all evil?

By the way, sir, I greatly miss your "Craptocracy" blog.

Mr. Anon said...

"pat said...

Real conspiracy theories come from real conspiracy nuts. They tend to see all sorts of odd connections that we - the deluded and ignorant masses - never notice. They patronize us for being blind. They are well pleased with themselves. Their eyes glow with pleasure at their specialness."

One gets the impression from talking to such people that, if they ever did win you over to their point of view, they would end up very disappointed. It's much more fun for them to be the bearers of secret knowledge.

Anonymous said...

For JFK to have been killed by a lone gunman, there sure were a lot of convenient witnesses who ended up dead around that time.

http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/JFK/deaths.html

NOTA said...

There is a throwaway comment in a Spider Robinson book, in which a future Beatles-worshiping cult holds as an article of faith that Elvis was somehow responsible for Lennon's assassination.

The problem with conspiracy theories isn't the idea of a conspiracy, but rather a kind of breakdown of reasoning processes on the part of the conspiracy theorists, who end up building an evidence-proof shell around their brains regarding the conspiracy. Once they're all the way in, all evidence somehow supports the theory, even evidence that seems to everyone else to be obviously contradictory.

As someone mentioned earlier, there are a lot of officially sanctioned conspiracy theories, which are within the Overton window. It's broadly acceptable to believe and assert various levels of deep dark conspiracy on the part of Muslim terrorists and extremists, and that has driven a great deal of really dumb policy. And this is aided by the fact that there really are conspiracies among violent extremist Muslims to blow people up--but those conspiracies tend to be much smaller and less elaborate and immensely less resourceful than the conspiracy theories suggest.

The mental pathologies of conspiracy theories seem to me to be built on known flaws in human thinking, like confirmation bias (it's easier to remember and accept evidence for what you already believe) and the conjunction fallacy (a story becomes more plausible, the more details are added). It's worth keeping that in mind if you are trying to think about real conspiracies, which do exist--make an effort not to exclude contradictory evidence, try to work out how the evidence you see might contradict your views, etc.

Dave in Calif. said...

Mr. Sailer, there was a rather good short paper by U.Va's Paul Cantor tying into the cultural strand of your column: an analysis of the appeal of the "The X-Files" television series back in 2001. Link

It's actually almost like a companion piece for yours because its thesis is the erosion of the traditional state behind its media depiction. Though he doesn't attempt to class the subject above the level of other pop entertainment, you might like his contrast of the portrayal of the FBI in the 60s, versus the portrayal of the same agency more recently.

Norville Rogers said...

From one of the links in your column: "Klute" "The Parallax View" "All the President's Men" "The Conversation" etc.--I dunno, it somehow hadn't occurred to me to associate these with American cinema's greatest achievement

NOTA said...

As an aside, I'm not sure how much more weight to give current historians than current thinkers at the time and place where the event took place. On one hand, the current historians are far away enough from the events they're studying that they're not necessarily caught up in, say, personal anger at the bloody war that took their brother and three of their cousins. On the other hand, they are much further away than contemporary observers, and there's little reason to believe that serious study of the worldview of, say, Austrians in 1914, is going to give you anything like the insight into that worldview that you'd have by having grown up in Austria in the 1910s.

And it sure seems to me, as an outsider, like history has fads and conventions and factions that drive what people study and believe as much as the local fads and conventions and factions did for local/contemporary observers.

Similarly, historians have access to some data that wasn't available before, like when classified documents are declassified, or when notorious people publish their memoirs or are put on trial for their crimes. But historians must also be missing vast amounts of information that was available to contemporaries. Greg Cochran was making the thin/thick reasoning distinction in some posts recently. It seems like modern historians have access to much better data on which to do thin reasoning (instead of guessing what the orders Hitler sent to his generals were, you can read them), but I suspect they often lack a lot of the data useful for thick reasoning (what you've heard from a lot of connected friends in Berlin, the public mood in Vienna or Paris at the beginning of WW1, etc).

Anonymous said...

The problem with conspiracy theories isn't the idea of a conspiracy, but rather a kind of breakdown of reasoning processes on the part of the conspiracy theorists, who end up building an evidence-proof shell around their brains regarding the conspiracy

At which point the conspiracy theory becomes another religion.

Anonymous said...

"It's funny, I don't think I've ever seen iSteve mention the 9/11 truth movement. You'd think that, being the salient conspiracy theory right now, it might warrant a brief mention in an article like this, but.... nope."

It's wise IMO. Pick your battles. Adopting the 9/11 truth banner would make it too easy for Steve's opponents to paint him as a "whackjob conspiracy theorist nutcase" and then use ad hom to dismiss his arguments.

This is true irrespective of how ridiculous the official explanation of how WTC7 collapsed into its own footprint is and the implications that follow from an understanding that event.

Kind of surprised at the level of dismissal of conspiracy theories in the comments tbh. If you can see through the hogwash of the PC religion, I would think that you'd see through a lot of other hogwash as well.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

This is true irrespective of how ridiculous the official explanation of how WTC7 collapsed into its own footprint is and the implications that follow from an understanding that event."

An understanding that you evidently do not have. Just because YOU don't understand something, doesn't mean it can't happen. In order for us to accept that argument, we would have to know what other things YOU don't understand. YOU may not understand very much at all.

Anonymous said...

Confederate Grand Conspiracy: Essentially, Booth was acting in concert with high ranking Confederates. This one is difficult to entirely dismiss, as Booth seems to have had some contacts with the Confederate military/intelligence. Most historians do not favor it, but it is possible.

The CSA "grand conspiracy" that I do hope will eventually be revealed through some found documents (this does occasionally happen) would be direct involvement in the New York City Draft Riots--presumably to divert reserves and resources during the Gettysburg Campaign. The timing was only a few days--hours really--off. 1000+ people died in those riots.

And the rebs were all over Gotham, that much we do know. Not just individual spies but whole front companies and safe houses, including a shipping company that had the latest editions of Times and other dailies (open source intelligence) in Richmond 24 hours after they came off the presses.

ben tillman said...

Kind of surprised at the level of dismissal of conspiracy theories in the comments tbh. If you can see through the hogwash of the PC religion, I would think that you'd see through a lot of other hogwash as well.

Yeah, it's strange. If you're not skeptical about the prime suspect's self-serving story about what happened on 9/11/01, you're still a slave to your TV.

Anonymous said...

"An understanding that you evidently do not have. Just because YOU don't understand something, doesn't mean it can't happen. In order for us to accept that argument, we would have to know what other things YOU don't understand. YOU may not understand very much at all."

I do know one thing. Steel doesn't just go from having lots of strength to zero strength simultaneously throughout a building, without there being explosives that were set up in the building beforehand.

Pincher Martin said...

"I do know one thing. Steel doesn't just go from having lots of strength to zero strength simultaneously throughout a building, without there being explosives that were set up in the building beforehand."

Mr. Anon is right. You say you know only one thing about the World Trade Center on 9/11, and yet even this modest epistemological claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

You nicely illustrate the problems with today's conspiracy theorists. Of course conspiracies exist. They might even be common. But conspiracy theorists so muck up the public discourse by trumpeting the most bizarre notions of reality that more balanced people with far more plausible and interesting conspiracies are easily neglected in the din of competing theories by the informed public.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

I do know one thing. Steel doesn't just go from having lots of strength to zero strength simultaneously throughout a building, without there being explosives that were set up in the building beforehand."

Then apparently, you don't even know one thing. Steel doesn't have to lose all of it's strength (just enough of it), or do so everywhere in a steel building for the building to collapse. Just as you don't have to break every bone in a man's body to make him fall - just breaking his ankle bones will do.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

For JFK to have been killed by a lone gunman, there sure were a lot of convenient witnesses who ended up dead around that time.

http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/JFK/deaths.html"

Yeah, like this one (from the list you linked to):

6/80, Jesse Curry, Dallas Police Chief at time of assassination, Heart attack

Or perhaps that should be "Heart Attack". I mean, it's inconceivable that a 66 year old man with a low-stress job like Chief of Police would succumb to a heart attack in 1980, a mere seventeen years after the JFK assasination. A little top.....convenient...if you ask me. Obviously he was the victim of a black-ops job.

Anonymous said...

"Then apparently, you don't even know one thing. Steel doesn't have to lose all of it's strength (just enough of it), or do so everywhere in a steel building for the building to collapse. Just as you don't have to break every bone in a man's body to make him fall - just breaking his ankle bones will do."

You break a guy's ankles and he will fall over, with the rest of his bones intact and him still being recognizably human in shape. What does not happen is every other bone in his body breaking up at the same exact time so he falls down neatly into his own footprint, unrecognizably human.

Anonymous said...

" Mr. Anon said...
"pat said...

Real conspiracy theories come from real conspiracy nuts. They tend to see all sorts of odd connections that we - the deluded and ignorant masses - never notice. They patronize us for being blind. They are well pleased with themselves. Their eyes glow with pleasure at their specialness."

One gets the impression from talking to such people that, if they ever did win you over to their point of view, they would end up very disappointed. It's much more fun for them to be the bearers of secret knowledge."


Yes, but what is interesting about this observation is that the exact same thing can be said of "anti-conspiracy nuts" don't you think?

No coincidence is too bizarre for them not to explain away in some twisted bizarre fantastical imagining in order to preserve their faux idea that they have some "special knowledge" or “way of knowing” that places them above the hoi poi? No?

Regarding conspiracies. Most things in life are conspiracies of sorts. It’s called people working together in secret. Planning with your sweetheart to get married but haven’t told the rents? That’s a conspiracy for you. Starting a company with some friends, but keeping it under wraps so that competitors don’t steal your thunder until the product is ready? That’s a conspiracy for you.

For the unwashed who are unfamiliar with how the criminal justice system works or who have never scanned over a federal or state docket sheet if you did you will find that the dockets are chock full of cases that involve allegations of a conspiracy. The Federal government even created a special statute, the RICO statute, to deal with the overwhelming fact that criminals often work together (there’s strength in numbers).

Insider trading (usually a conspiracy); Drug dealing (usually conspiracy e.g. a drug dealer has suppliers and runners etc.); Fencing stolen goods ( yup); any gang related case, etc… the list can go on.

Steve’s observation that it was unusual that both Oswald and Ruby had ties to organizations that made it a regular practice to kill people (the CIA and mob respectively) could have been improved by pointing out these two organizations not only murder people in the regular course of business, but also do so in complete secrecy in a conspiratorial fashion with other members of their organization who are sworn to secrecy upon the pain of death.

Typically, we only find out about their crimes years later when famous hitmen like Sammy “the Bull” Gravano or Johnny Martorano fess up to 20 or more murders under the grant of immunity in exchange for testimony implicating their bosses who ordered the hits. But for their confessions, all the murders they committed were conspiracies and would have never been solved, so professionally did they conduct themselves.

Steve, I am sorry you choose to give the anti-conspiracy mental midgets so much space.

Their obsession with Bugliosi and Posner is laughable. Just go to Amazon and read a smattering of the gazillion one star reviews their books received to see what they left out or distorted in their books.

Please exercise your Komment control more aggressively in the future and keep the mental peasants out.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Typically, we only find out about their crimes years later when famous hitmen like Sammy “the Bull” Gravano or Johnny Martorano fess up to 20 or more murders under the grant of immunity in exchange for testimony implicating their bosses who ordered the hits. But for their confessions, all the murders they committed were conspiracies and would have never been solved, so professionally did they conduct themselves."

Yes, that's true in the case of the mob. As for the CIA it's usualy leaked documents that show the CIA's bloody fingerprints in the deaths of World leaders like Diem, Allende, or the attempted assasination of Castro, etc...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous:"Their obsession with Bugliosi and Posner is laughable. Just go to Amazon and read a smattering of the gazillion one star reviews their books received to see what they left out or distorted in their books."

Well, God knows that one can rely on the opinions of AMAZON reviewers, mental giants to a man.I think that I will continue to have a greater measure of confidence in the work of Bugliosi and Posner than in the conspiracy "theorists," let alone their touchingly gullible followers.

"Please exercise your Komment control more aggressively in the future and keep the mental peasants out."

Ah, the true appeal of conspiracy theories. They let people believe that they are in the know, that they have the gnosis that is denied to the rank and file. Well, whatever makes one feel better about one's lot in life.

Syon

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

You break a guy's ankles and he will fall over, with the rest of his bones intact and him still being recognizably human in shape. What does not happen is every other bone in his body breaking up at the same exact time so he falls down neatly into his own footprint, unrecognizably human."

That's because the strength-to-weight ratio of human bone in a body is far greater than the strength-to-weight ratio of steel in a building (intrinsic strength of the material to total weight, that is) - i.e., the safety factor for a human is a great deal greater than for a building. In the same way that a cardboard box can be pretty strong as long as it is the size of a cardboard box, but it wouldn't be if it were the size of an airplane hangar.

And buildings fall straight down because that is the direction that the earth's gravitaional force points.

You should try learning physics from physics books......not from Road-Runner cartoons.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

No coincidence is too bizarre for them not to explain away in some twisted bizarre fantastical imagining in order to preserve their faux idea that they have some "special knowledge" or “way of knowing” that places them above the hoi poi? No?"

No. We just don't care to believe silly bullshit concocted by people who aren't especially knowledgeable about anything.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Please exercise your Komment control more aggressively in the future and keep the mental peasants out.

Thanks."

Oh, so you are the "Komment Kontrol" Klown - the guy who thinks that substituting K for C makes you sound as klever as Noel Koward. It doesn't. It makes you kome akross as a khlidish khowder-head.

And so strong is your faith in your secret gnostic knowledge that you wish to protect it by excluding from this forum anyone who might challenge you on it.