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The United States of Paranoia

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/15/united-states-paranoia

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Equally paranoid are the accusations of fascist and the threat of an imminent coup. It is a game both Right and Left play.

Malcolm X called it the wolf and the fox…build the fear of the wolf and you drive the chickens into the jaws of the lesser evil fox.

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This fad associating “conspiracy theory” with inaccuracy has to be one of the great propaganda coups. Any speculation about government misdeeds is in deed a theory about conspiracy; virtually any critical consideration of systemic problems is a theory about conspiracy, and yet we are encouraged to imagine that such thoughts are somehow eccentric or foolish or perverse–and for what? For showing a lack of faith in government or large corporate entities, including self-styled “news” organizations? For failing to have all the data that the mechanisms of government and business withhold?

It is not that all conspiracy theories are accurate. But not all political theories are accurate otherwise, are they? The topic of conspiracy offers no distinction.

All that the term conspiracy means by itself is a secret plan. What part of this are we supposed to not believe about our government and large corporations, including the news media? Are we to believe that government or commerce hold no secrets, that they classify or redact no documents, but only prosecute those whom they claim to reveal some part of them? Are we to imagine that people in these posts do not get together and plan what they are doing?

“Conspiracy” has no more to do with Trump than it does with Clinton or Biden–and this is important because we need to retain the ability to point out and even to theorize about conspiracy. In a party of two parties, each side accuses the other. Each then shouts “conspiracy theory” when it is itself accused. We have just passed through several years of ill-conceived rubbish about supposed “Russian meddling” that still continues and long continued in full voice despite a near-complete lack of even suggestive evidence. Why would we imagine that there is something special that Trump does more or less the same thing.

CIA personnel should know something about a “conspiratorial ‘wilderness of mirrors.’” given that it is among the techniques of what was once called psychological warfare, and therefore well within their venue. Those who feel inclined to turn to “America’s ‘best and brightest’” might trip in time back to Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers and check out how that game might play out, based on its prior run.

Theories, anybody?