Usage of the term "Conspiracy Theory"

dunbar

Active Member
Often the term “conspiracy” is applied dismissively whenever one suggests that people who occupy positions of political and economic power are consciously dedicated to advancing their elite interests. Even when they openly profess their designs, there are those who deny that intent is involved.

Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying: “Do you actually think there’s a group of people sitting around in a room plotting things?” For some reason that image is assumed to be so patently absurd as to invite only disclaimers. But where else would people of power get together – on park benches or carousels? Indeed, they meet in rooms: corporate boardrooms, Pentagon command rooms, at the Bohemian Grove, in the choice dining rooms at the best restaurants, resorts, hotels, and estates, in the many conference rooms at the White House, the NSA, the CIA, or wherever. And, yes, they consciously plot – though they call it “planning” and “strategizing” – and they do so in great secrecy, often resisting all efforts at public disclosure. No one confabulates and plans more than political and corporate elites and their hired specialists. To make the world safe for those who own it, politically active elements of the owning class have created a national security state that expends billions of dollars and enlists the efforts of vast numbers of people.”

Yet there are individuals who ask with patronizing, incredulous smiles, do you really think that the people at the top have secret agendas, are aware of their larger interests, and talk to each other about them? To which I respond, why would they not? This is not to say that every corporate and political elite is actively dedicated to working for the higher circles of power and property. Nor are they infallible or always correct in their assessments and tactics or always immediately aware of how their interests are being affected by new situations. But they are more attuned and more capable of advancing their vast interests than most other social groups.

The alternative is to believe that the powerful and the privileged are somnambulists, who move about oblivious to questions of power and privilege; that they always tell us the truth and have nothing to hide even when they hide so much; that although most of us ordinary people might consciously try to pursue our own interests, wealthy elites do not; that when those at the top employ force and violence around the world it is only for the laudable reasons they profess; that when they arm, train, and finance covert actions in numerous countries, and then fail to acknowledge their role in such deeds, it is because of oversight or forgetfulness or perhaps modesty; and that it is merely a coincidence how the policies of the national security state so consistently serve the interests of the transnational corporations and the capital-accumulation system throughout the world.
Michael Parenti: THE JFK ASSASSINATION II



 

dunbar

Active Member
G. William Domhoff points out: "If 'conspiracy' means that these [ruling class] men are aware of their interests, know each other personally, meet together privately and off the record, and try to hammer out a consensus on how to anticipate and react to events and issues, then there is some conspiring that goes on in CFR [the Council for Foreign Relations], not to mention the Committee for Economic Development, the Business Council, the National Security Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency."
 

dunbar

Active Member

Point is that there is definitely some high level conspiring going on and so it is only rational to suspect those whose motives and actions haven proven suspect time and time again. The elites are the elites for one very simple reason: they are a shrewd, ruthless, paranoid, reactionary bunch of machinators operating at large.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Point is that there is definitely some high level conspiring going on and so it is only rational to suspect those whose motives and actions haven proven suspect time and time again. The elites are the elites for one very simple reason: they are a shrewd, ruthless, paranoid, reactionary bunch of machinators operating at large.

But what do you think about the term "conspiracy theory"? Embrace it, or choose a different phrase? How do you differentiate your world view from the sheeple and the useful idiots like myself?
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
But what do you think about the term "conspiracy theory"? Embrace it, or choose a different phrase? How do you differentiate your world view from the sheeple and the useful idiots like myself?

First off, note it for what it is, a pejorative term meant to create division and hence part of a rhetorical tool kit. This is something you have already done upthread, so the question would be what is the motive to keep using it? Does it have any usefulness beyond branding those one disagrees with?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
First off, note it for what it is, a pejorative term meant to create division and hence part of a rhetorical tool kit. This is something you have already done upthread, so the question would be what is the motive to keep using it? Does it have any usefulness beyond branding those one disagrees with?

It's a useful descriptor. Can you suggest a better one?

We are talking about a group of people who have a particular world view. What should we call them?
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
It's a useful descriptor. Can you suggest a better one?

We are talking about a group of people who have a particular world view. What should we call them?

No, I can't think of a better one. What specifically is the world view of those branded people?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
No, I can't think of a better one. What specifically is the world view of those branded people?

Basically a tendency to ascribe a powerful conspiring force ("the elite") as the deliberate prime mover in most major world events, as opposed to the belief that most world events are complex and emergent, and often essentially random and unpredictable.

For example, a conspiracy theorist might think that the Russian Revolution of 1905 was deliberately engineered by a few bankers in New York, rather than the broader set of causes with long historical roots.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
First off, note it for what it is, a pejorative term meant to create division and hence part of a rhetorical tool kit. ?

I would disagree though that it is "meant to create division". The division already exists, and this is more descriptive.

Would you say there's no need for description? I mean it seems quite clear there's a division between the "designed" and "emergent" world views.

When someone describes you as a "conspiracy theorist", how does that make you feel? Is there as better term you would use for yourself? Is there a term you would could for me that you think is similar in its divisiveness?
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
Basically a tendency to ascribe a powerful conspiring force ("the elite") as the deliberate prime mover in most major world events, as opposed to the belief that most world events are complex and emergent, and often essentially random and unpredictable.

For example, a conspiracy theorist might think that the Russian Revolution of 1905 was deliberately engineered by a few bankers in New York, rather than the broader set of causes with long historical roots.

Ah, ok. If you are comfortable with being branded as a coincidence theorist, then I can swing with being a conspiracy theorist. :)

Still, I think the problem here is the meme of their being a single powerful controlling force. I've never seen it that way, which is why I don't use terms like nwo or the like. I see it more like the NFL or NBA playoffs, with teams of elites competing on one hand and collaborating on the other to make sure the league continues to function. The masses are not allowed on the field and have no say in the way the league is run, but their participation is necessary because they provide the capital via consumerism that makes the game go.

I have no understand as to how randomness plays a part in the process, as those in power have always been the prime movers of events. Also, your example of the RR seems a false dichotomy. Without question the bankers played a prime role in engineering it, but they themselves were situated in a broader historical context. No matter how you slice it, randomness wasn't the driving force and that revolution didn't "just happen."
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Without question the bankers played a prime role in engineering it

Without question? Now it really seems here like you are just repeating conspiracy theory dogma - an alternate version of history from what we read in history books, and summarized in Wikipedia. Hence I would describe you as a conspiracy theorist.

And I'm not saying randomness is a driving force. I'm saying the the emergent events are essentially random. Randomness play a part, but then so do intentional acts. But the difference here is that the conspiracist claims the end result was planned, and the emergentist claims the end result was just what happened.

For example, I'd say Jacob Schiff helped in small part to bring about the Russian Revolution, but simply because he was opposed to the oppression of the Jewish people and was trying to end that. His actions became part of what happened. He shaped it, but not deliberately. And not at all secretly.

A conspiracy theorist would suggest that what happened (Revolution) was exactly what Schiff and his cohorts wanted, and they precisely engineered it, in secret, and continued to guide events for decades.
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
I have no understand as to how randomness plays a part in the process, as those in power have always been the prime movers of events. Also, your example of the RR seems a false dichotomy. Without question the bankers played a prime role in engineering it, but they themselves were situated in a broader historical context. No matter how you slice it, randomness wasn't the driving force and that revolution didn't "just happen."

There can be no disagreement that those in power have always been the prime movers of events, after all that's what power is for - to be used. The problem is that those in power tend not to be in power for particularly long periods, with the exclusion of some despotic autocrats/dictators - Stalin, Mao, and yer man in Korea, for example. Empires rise, and fall. In the modern world this process tends to be faster than in the days of kingdoms and empires. Even the financial sector is not immune, as witnessed by the savage downward trajectory of Fuld of Lehman Brothers, for example.

As for the Russian revolution, Mick didn't say that it 'just happened', nor did he say that randomness was the driving force. He suggested that were a broader set of causes with long historical roots.
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
You say that and yet the "masses" have seen their standard of living increase more in the last 100yrs then at anytime in recorded history.

So what? The divide between the masses and the elite is far greater than any time in history, too.
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
There can be no disagreement that those in power have always been the prime movers of events, after all that's what power is for - to be used. The problem is that those in power tend not to be in power for particularly long periods, with the exclusion of some despotic autocrats/dictators - Stalin, Mao, and yer man in Korea, for example. Empires rise, and fall. In the modern world this process tends to be faster than in the days of kingdoms and empires. Even the financial sector is not immune, as witnessed by the savage downward trajectory of Fuld of Lehman Brothers, for example.

As for the Russian revolution, Mick didn't say that it 'just happened', nor did he say that randomness was the driving force. He suggested that were a broader set of causes with long historical roots.

I'm not sure what your point is. Regardless, I don't see anything in opposition to what I have put forth.
 

Cairenn

Senior Member.
To a large extent that is true around the world, First world, second world, even in the third world. Children are no longer having to serve as a free labor source in many areas. Even 100 years ago, they were, even in the US and Europe. More children have the ability to go to school and thus to do something other than what their parents and grandparents did.

My dad had to drop out of school when he was 13 and go to work to help support his mother and siblings (she had a baby in arms when her hubby ran off with his nurse). That doesn't happen today in more developed countries.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Let's try to keep the discussion to the usage of "conspiracy theory", not if a particular conspiracy theory is correct or not.

Joe, would you agree you have a different world view to the non conspiracy theorists in this thread?

How would you characterize it?
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
There are more countries in the world than the US. The 'masses' seem to have a decent grasp on the levers of power in, for example, Scandinavian countries. And there seems to be something happening in South America too, even if the corporate media insist on referring to massively supported elected representatives like Hugo Chavez as dictators.
 

qed

Senior Member
There can be no disagreement that those in power have always been the prime movers of events, after all that's what power is for - to be used. The problem is that those in power tend not to be in power for particularly long periods, with the exclusion of some despotic autocrats/dictators - Stalin, Mao, and yer man in Korea, for example. Empires rise, and fall. In the modern world this process tends to be faster than in the days of kingdoms and empires. Even the financial sector is not immune, as witnessed by the savage downward trajectory of Fuld of Lehman Brothers, for example.

Unless those in power are no longer human: companies, institutions and organisations.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
The masses participate in driving the levers of power? Can't say I noticed that. Please explain.

Sorry I misinterpreted your comment- I referring more to participating and benefiting from the system put in place by those in power - as opposed to having access to power itself.

...and yet even the some of the masses have risen to positions of significant power...the Gates, Jobs, Ellison, Bransons and Murdochs etc..of the World were all once part of the lowly "masses".
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Unless those in power are no longer human: companies, institutions and organisations.

Fair point, but even corporations are subject to vagaries of commerce. Where are IBM these days? I presume it still exists, but is it a power player anymore? I imagine that in the 1970s the amount of power that could have been wielded by the American auto industry would have been far greater than the failing industry wields today.

Don't mind me, just playing the Devil's Avocado. To my mind, one of the single greatest problems facing humans is the rise of corporatism. The US is a fascinating example of how power can be co-opted, from Citizens United to the Cock brothers influence over the tea party (grass roots, me arse), and ALEC.
 

qed

Senior Member
Don't mind me, just playing the Devil's Avocado. To my mind, one of the single greatest problems facing humans is the rise of corporatism. The US is a fascinating example of how power can be co-opted, from Citizens United to the Cock brothers influence over the tea party (grass roots, me arse), and ALEC.

Please explain to us laypeople the difference between corporatism and fascism?
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Please explain to us laypeople the difference between corporatism and fascism?

Er, I'm laypeople too. I couldn't begin to, especially as the definition of fascism seems to have developed considerably from its original meaning. I suppose most people think of fascism as a system of government that is inherently militaristic, controlling everything, and typified by the Stalin and Hitler. Corporatism would possibly appear to most as a system where democracy seems to exist, yet government makes decisions that help business before citizens. But like I say, I'm just a layperson too.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
Unless those in power are no longer human: companies, institutions and organisations.

Thats a cop-out. There are still humans in those orgs pulling the levers and making the decisions- Corporations are not some AI or Borg-like entity devoid of all the vagaries, strengths and weaknesses of humans.
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Thats a cop-out. There are still humans in those orgs pulling the levers and making the decisions- Corporations are not some AI or Borg-like entity devoid of all the vagaries, strengths and weaknesses of humans.

While that's true, the legal process ensures that CEOs don't get prosecuted for the crimes committed by the organizations they head. How many of the financial top dogs have gone to prison, or even appeared in a court of law, after the shenanigans that saw a global wide collapse?
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
Without question? Now it really seems here like you are just repeating conspiracy theory dogma - an alternate version of history from what we read in history books, and summarized in Wikipedia. Hence I would describe you as a conspiracy theorist.

I suppose it depends on what history books you read. I am not aware of an officially sanctioned list on one side and an alternative list on the other. If you have a case for somebody else besides the bankers bankrolling that affair, put it forth. Slapping a ct tag on me because wiki doesn't deal with this aspect isn't going to carry the ball.

And I'm not saying randomness is a driving force. I'm saying the the emergent events are essentially random. Randomness play a part, but then so do intentional acts. But the difference here is that the conspiracist claims the end result was planned, and the emergentist claims the end result was just what happened.

I think you are getting tripped up by this idea of planning as if it was some kind of magic bean or something that somehow eliminates unforseen events. Go back to the team analogy. Before the game is played, each team comes up with a game plan in order to maximize the desired result of winning the game against that particular opponent. That plan is then adjusted accordingly as the game is played and situations emerge. Regardless of how it turns out, however, the final score didn't "just happen." Not all game plans are executed to perfection, but all games are planned for.

For example, I'd say Jacob Schiff helped in small part to bring about the Russian Revolution, but simply because he was opposed to the oppression of the Jewish people and was trying to end that. His actions became part of what happened. He shaped it, but not deliberately. And not at all secretly.

A conspiracy theorist would suggest that what happened (Revolution) was exactly what Schiff and his cohorts wanted, and they precisely engineered it, in secret, and continued to guide events for decades.

Again, it's your notion of planning that seems to be the sticking point here, or if it isn't, then I guess I am not a ct. I've never labled myself that way, so I'm ok with not qualifying.

No bankers, no Trotsky or Bolsheviks, no revolution. After the revolution, no bankers, no communist regime in Russia because without being propped up from the west, it would have collapsed.
 

qed

Senior Member
I suppose most people think of fascism as a system of government that is inherently militaristic, controlling everything, and typified by the Stalin and Hitler. Corporatism would possibly appear to most as a system where democracy seems to exist, yet government makes decisions that help business before citizens. But like I say, I'm just a layperson too.

It seems that corporatism is only one of the constituent elements of fascism.

But perhaps that is not corporatism?

That seems like state over corporation while what you are concerned with may be more corporation over state? (which was what I understood to be a constituent of fascism, but seems wrongly so)
 
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Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
That seems like state over corporation while what you are concerned with may be more corporation over state? (which was what I understood to be a constituent of fascism, but seems wrongly so)

Yes, I am concerned by corporation over state. My own understanding of fascism is that the dictators who came to power were helped along by the business sector, and they were open to serving the needs of business over the needs of workers - but that's true of conservative governments the world over, and not unique to fascists.
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
Thats a cop-out. There are still humans in those orgs pulling the levers and making the decisions- Corporations are not some AI or Borg-like entity devoid of all the vagaries, strengths and weaknesses of humans.

Actually, the corporation is an individual, albeit a psychopathic one. It's only goal is to create the maximum amount of shareholder profit, period. Any human inside the belly of that beast who openly seeks to do anything that goes against that single minded focus is breaking that covenant laid down by the law.
 

qed

Senior Member
@Alhazred The Sane

I see corporatism growing (not state over corporation).

I think I may owe you 1n (in five years).

On the other hand, where is the torture, renditions, mass surveillance, etc., germinating from? Do you see these as symptoms of corporatism?
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
While that's true, the legal process ensures that CEOs don't get prosecuted for the crimes committed by the organizations they head. How many of the financial top dogs have gone to prison, or even appeared in a court of law, after the shenanigans that saw a global wide collapse?


Thats a good point- I think "ensures" may be a bit strong but inhibits for sure- but that story isn't over yet- JP Morgan was just fined $13 Billion...As for holding persons responsible- that hasn't gone unnoticed:

Perhaps they are Too Big for Jail ;)
 

Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
@Alhazred The Sane

I see corporatism growing (not state over corporation).

I think I may owe you 1n (in five years).

On the other hand, where is the torture, renditions, mass surveillance, etc., germinating from? Do you see these as symptoms of corporatism?
Why would you owe me? At any time?

Torture, renditions, mass surveillance ... again, this is very US-centric. From the outside, they seem to be the reactions of a particularly nasty brand of neo-cons to the inevitable blowback from years of interference abroad, the same neo-cons with significant ties to industries that have made some ridiculous profits from the war on 'terrorism'. There's no profit in the first two, which are actually part of the same thing (no renditions, no torture, both flagrant flaunting of international law). The mass surveillance, there's money there, for sure. Google have been doing something similar for years (collecting and storing "meta-data", so why wouldn't the govt. want in on the action).

But you asked do I see these things as symptoms of corporatism, and I'm not sure that I can answer that with a yes. Mainly because I'm not entirely sure exactly what they're symptoms of. Certainly we can say that they're not unique to one administration; what Bush began, Obama has continued. And if they continue no matter the administration, then perhaps it's fair to say that the practices and procedures are no longer in the control of the administration. The DHS seems to be a behemoth, bumbling out of control. Mistaking omniscience for omnipotence.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
Actually, the corporation is an individual, albeit a psychopathic one. It's only goal is to create the maximum amount of shareholder profit, period. Any human inside the belly of that beast who openly seeks to do anything that goes against that single minded focus is breaking that covenant laid down by the law.

Thats pure hyperbole. There are plenty of "corporations" who fall outside that characterization- ie; Patagonia- they may not rule the World but they also do not fit your categorization.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patagonia_(clothing)

Moreover, shareholders are not without opinions and their activism can effect change as well:

http://www.domini.com/shareholder-advocacy/index.htm

Corporations are reflections of society. The idea of Corporate Social Responsibility is gaining momentum and not simply a facade:

http://almostdailybrett.wordpress.c...nsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

http://www.sustainableindustries.com/
 
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Alhazred The Sane

Senior Member.
Thats a good point- I think "ensures" may be a bit strong but inhibits for sure- but that story isn't over yet- JP Morgan was just fined $13 Billion...As for holding persons responsible- that hasn't gone unnoticed:

Perhaps they are Too Big for Jail ;)

Ensures was a bit strong, you're right, I was being overblown. Inhibits is a far better word.

Don't get me started on the JP Morgan slap on the wrist. It's little more than a licensing fee for the cost of doing business, it will not act as a deterrent, and the fine pales in comparison to the profits.

We're back to corporations having the benefits of being considered in law as 'persons', yet not having the responsibilities.
 

Bill

Senior Member.
So what? The divide between the masses and the elite is far greater than any time in history, too.
What do you base that on? Do you discount the aristocracies of the Roman Empire, Medieval Europe, Imperial China and others? Are you just talking about history since the industrial revolution?
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
I would disagree though that it is "meant to create division". The division already exists, and this is more descriptive.

It's a chicken/egg thing at best. But no doubt it has become pejorative and it's meant to dismiss the stance of the person tarred with it.

Would you say there's no need for description? I mean it seems quite clear there's a division between the "designed" and "emergent" world views. When someone describes you as a "conspiracy theorist", how does that make you feel? Is there as better term you would use for yourself? Is there a term you would could for me that you think is similar in its divisiveness?

I'm not big on the labels as a whole because they paper over points of convergence and get in the way of meaningful exploration.

I don't know what the emergent world view is because its never expressed as a coherent pov. All I really see is deconstruction of cartoon strawmen versions of ct stuff. Actually, I would love to have someone step up and explain this emergent view. I know what you folks don't think is going on re the elite and hidden hands, et. al. But if that is not taking place, what IS taking place. I think that wouljd be a fascinating discussion and if it were to take place I am guessing that there would be more overlap than the artificial dichotomy of the labels would suggest.
 

Joe Newman

Active Member
What do you base that on? Do you discount the aristocracies of the Roman Empire, Medieval Europe, Imperial China and others? Are you just talking about history since the industrial revolution?

I base it on the ability of the elite to wall off themselves off from experience of the poor. In earlier times, even though there was great disparity, many of the ills of the peasants were also experienced by the elite as well. Now, you can find people in the same dire straights as the meanest medival mudhut in a turnip field, but the 1% today enjoy advantages that are stratospherically beyond the Sun King and any of his ilk.
 
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