Karl Popper once said, “The conspiracy theory of society comes from abandoning God and then asking: ‘Who is in his place?'” Alexander Cockburn discusses conspiracy theories and the Left, in Le Monde Diplomatique.
The conspiracy virus is not new. Let me recall. The Russians couldn’t possibly have built an A-bomb without Commie traitors. Hitler was a victim of treachery, otherwise he couldn’t have been defeated by the Red Army marching across eastern Europe and half Germany. JFK couldn’t have been shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, it had to be the CIA. There is no end to examples seeking to prove that Russians, Arabs, Viet Cong, Japanese, whoever, couldn’t possibly match the brilliance and cunning of secret cabals of white Christians.
Some discover a silver lining in 9/11 conspiracism. A politically sophisticated leftist in Washington DC wrote to me agreeing with my ridicule of the inside job scenarios but adding: “To me the most interesting thing (in the US) is how many people are willing to believe that Bush either masterminded it [the 9/11 attacks] or knew in advance and let it happen. If that number or anything close to that is true, that’s a huge base of people that are more than deeply cynical about their elected officials. That would be the real news story that the media is missing, and it’s a big one.”
“I’m not sure I see the silver lining about cynicism re government,” I answered. “It seems to demobilise people from useful political activity.” For the conspiracism stems from despair and political infantilism. There’s no worthwhile energy to transfer from such kookery.