Valid Conspiracy Theory

Fri Jan 14 08:59:32 PST 2000

In a message dated 00-01-14 02:50:07 EST, you write:

<< I've never understood why anyone would believe in anything other than a

conspiracy theory for a lot of political events. The usual alternative is

that a lot of intelligent, capable people completely f'cked things up,

leading to an accident which happened to further their aims. >>

I hadn't meant to contribute to this discussion. But since you mention it, this comports better with my experience as a past and present government employee, except for the "intelligent, capable" part. The government is staffed with narrow-minded, short-sighted, incompetent idiots looking out for near-term immediate personal or bureaucratic interests. They are too fractious and stupid to run an effective conspiracy, much less one that takes into account the long range interests of the ruling class. I don't mean private industry is any better, of course.

I also don't mean to deny that some government departments do secret and illegal things involving agreements among several people (and legally speaking a conspiracy is an agreement to violate the law together with a step towards doing the thing agreed to). What I do mean is that it betrays a complete failure to grasp the way the world works to suppose that there is a cabal of brilliant people secretly planning a long range effective campaign to further the class interests of the bourgeoisie.

If the activities of the government, legal and otherwise, generally fail to frustrate the interests of the bourgeoisie and sometimes promote those interests, that is less because there are clever plotters who know what they are doing and are able to do it than because most of the input and influence on the government is bourgeois, so the general parallelogram of forces points towards their interests. It often does so in a half-assed, sloppy, crude, and primitive way, which is about what you would expect from a collection of large bureaucracies with conflicting interests that employ morons.

I think most of the work of promoting bourgeois interests is negative, in the sense that it takes the form of stifling, freezing out, and short-cirtcuiting initiatives that represent other interests. And this is less a brilliant policy than a structural fact: money talks, and them as hasn't got money are silenced. The bourgeoisie have money. The rest of us walk.

Personally I think the appeal of conspiracy theories is that it makes our enemes seem more evil if they are supposed to know that they are doing wrong and still gleefully agree to do it. But this is a deeply anti-materialist perspective. Materialism tells us to look for structures that constrain interests, not for bad people. The system is an awful one, to be sure. But it is not awful because the Czar is advised by corrupt ministers. It is awful because of the sort of system it is.

--jks (a federal employee)

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