A brilliant excerpt by Michael Parenti on the concept of conspiracy, quoted in June Terpstra’s blog here:
Many people have been programmed by propagandists to react negatively when they hear the word “conspiracy.” They treat anyone who investigates actual conspiracies as an oddball and call them “conspiracy buff” in an attempt to dismiss what is being said and what is being investigated at times with thorough and revealing research. In every discipline there is “bad theory” and solid theory based on evidence. We must use our critical inquiry skills to ascertain fact from fiction.
The political analyst Michael Parenti, wrote that conspiracy phobics believe that conspiracies do not exist, or if they do exist, they are of no great significance. Those who suffer from conspiracy phobia are fond of saying things like this:
” do you actually think there’s a group of men sitting around a room plotting things?” for some strange reason this image of a group of men ( usually with no women present) actually sitting around a room is considered utterly unbelievable but of course they sit around in rooms. Where else would they meet? They are constantly conferring and they have plenty of rooms at the CIA, the white house, the state department, the FBI, the pentagon, the NSA, and where ever else. And yes, they consciously plot to make certain things happen, to overthrow governments, to set up systems violent repression against reformist or revolutionary governments and movements, to ship arms to clandestine armies. They don’t call it plotting, they call it “planning.” they have a whole vocabulary to designate their state-sponsored conspiracies: “secret operations”, “covert actions”, ‘deep operations”, ” off the shelf-operations”, black book operations…at the broader policy level, no one confabulates and plans more than the political and corporate elites of America.
No one does more consciously self-interested policy studies—most of it in secrecy- they have whole professions dedicated to special planning. They spend billions of dollars each year of our tax money to make the world safe for their interests. Yet we have our conspiracy phobics asking us, with incredulous and patronizing smiles, if we really think that the people at the top actually talk to each other about their mutual interests and agendas, and intentionally act in pursuit of their interests…these elites get to know each other. They plant words of ambition and promise in each others ears. They solicit support, offer reassurances, reach understandings. They meet, talk, and plan—yes, in rooms. Their meetings are usually kept private, as are their agendas. They conspire regularly and frequently. “
The word “conspiracy” should not be used to dismiss the actuality…in sum, public policy should be directed to the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few. The problem we face is that the ruling interests are profoundly committed to a vision of the world that is ruthlessly exploitative, hegemonic, self-serving, and ecologically unsustainable. Our only choice is to expose and oppose them with all our concerted effort…the conventional view is that power is anti-thetical to freedom, a threat to it. This can be true of state power and other forms of institutionalized authority. However, popular power and freedom are not anti-thetical but complementary: if you do not have the power to limit the abuses of wealth and position, you do not have much freedom. In order to wrest democratic gains from entrenched interests, we the people must mobilize a countervailing power. ” the concessions of the privileged to the unprivileged” wrote John Stuart mill in 1869, ” are so seldom brought about by any better motive than the power of the unprivileged to extort them”…rather than saying you cannot fight city hall, we might better say that we cannot afford not to. It is often frustrating and sometimes dangerous to challenge those who own and control the land, labor, capital and technology of society. But, in the long run, it is even more dangerous not to do so. (America Besieged, Parenti, 1998)