== No Subject ==

Tony Hollick (anduril@cix.compulink.co.uk)
Sat, 6 Dec 97 21:14 GMT0



Political Notes No. 128

ISSN 0267-7059 & ISBN 1 85637 339 8

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street, London SW1P 4NN, England.

(c) 1996: Libertarian Alliance; Robin Ramsay

This publication is the text of a lecture delivered to 'Unconvention
96', which was organised by the 'Fortean Times', at the Institute of
Education, London, April 20th 1996.

Robin Ramsay is the editor and publisher of 'Lobster'. he is
co-author of 'Wilson and the Secret State' (Fourth Estate, London,
1991) and has written widely for the radical media

The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and
not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee,
Advisory Council or subscribers.

LA Director: Chris R. Tame



Conspiracy theories certainly are sexy at the moment. Linda Thompson,
the American lawyer who is the public spokesperson for the so-called
militias, the people in the backwoods of America who think Bill
Clinton is trying to usher in an America Reich, got half an hour on
BBC TV last autumn. Look at the impact of 'The X Files'. I've been
contacted by five or six TV companies in the past six months - two
last week - all interested in making programmes about conspiracy
theories. I even got a call from the Big Breakfast Show, from a
researcher who had no idea who I was, asking me if I'd like to appear
on it. He'd seen me billed as speaking here. The first thing of
consequence that he asked me was: "What is the weirdest conspiracy
theory you've come across recently?" He wanted me to appear on this
wacky morning show and tell the viewers something wacky.

I said, I didn't think I was quite what the Big Breakfast was looking
for. He asked me what kind of magazine 'Lobster' was. (He'd never
heard of it, of course.) I said it had no pictures and that I'd once
published an article in it about the Moonies and the Korean CIA,
which had two hundred and sixty two footnotes, citing work in five
languages. I could hear his interest waning. I sent him a few copies
of 'Lobster' anyway; and - guess what? - he never called back.

Compare and contrast this situation with, say, 1963. Who was
interested in conspiracy theories in 1963? In the UK, a handful of
disgruntled racist Tories - the League of Empire Loyalists - and
little groups of Hitler lovers clinging to the old Jewish banking,
world domination myth. In the US, the John Birch Society and a
handful of old time anti-Semites and American Hitler freaks.
Conspiracy theories were out on the margin of the margins in 1963.
Last year - was it? - on 'The X Files', one of the FBI agents
dismissed someone as "one of the people who believe Elvis is dead".
(Or so I have been told; I've never watched an entire episode of 'The
X Files'.)

These days we've got conspiracy theories everywhere; and about almost


Here are a few choice examples from the last few months - this is the
stuff the Big Breakfast show wanted to hear about.

Two conspiracy theory books about the OJ Simpson case appeared in the
Tom Davis catalogue in December. In the interesting one, the Davis
catalogue summary says, the FBI blacklisted bar applicants - i.e.
would-be lawyers - because of anti-war activities. Unemployed for
years, these unemployed lawyers assassinated Nicole Simpson and
framed OJ Simpson to compel the FBI to disclose the blacklist. Only
in America, with one million lawyers, the home of the lawyer joke,
would someone imagine a murderous cabal of unemployed lawyers!

Nearer to home (but nearly as far off the planet) somebody called
Michael Todd, who lives in Selby, in Yorkshire, for a mere #95, is
offering to provide evidence of a world-wide conspiracy called
Operation PELT, with a secret HQ in Ireland and thirty offices
world-wide. The aim of PELT, by the way, is to destroy the entire
alternative movement; health, green, eco etc. I wrote asking for
evidence, but did not get a reply.

The Administrator of the anti-fluoride, National Pure Water
Association wrote to me suggesting that the reason for the
vilification of Yorkshire Water in the summer and autumn of last
year, was Yorkshire Water's refusal to add fluoride to their water.
She wrote: "Much of the persecution of that Company this year -
leaks, dry reservoirs etc. - is, we are sure, orchestrated
`punishment' for their decision." I wrote asking her for evidence,
but received no reply.

A UFO buff I know slightly tried to persuade me that the US has a
secret base built under Loch Lomond in Scotland, from which emerge
mysterious craft. (The UFOs as underwater craft is one of the minor
themes amongst UFO theories.) Why, said I, would they put such a base
under the single most popular tourist spot in the west of Scotland,
visited every day by hundreds, if not thousands of people?

The difficulty - or the delight - for people like me is that buried
in the stupid nonsense there is something of interest in almost all
of these fields. There surely isn't a US base under Loch Lomond, and
there surely isn't a secret conspiracy between the ET greys and the
US government; and there surely aren't millions of Americans being
kidnapped and sexually assaulted by aliens.

But - a big but - this doesn't mean that the entire UFO thing can be
rationally written off as nonsense, hallucinations or whatever. There
are now too many video tapes of strange things in the sky to add to
the many reports from sensible, rational people. (The ubiquitous
camcorder may yet resolve lots of this for us.)

The anti-fluoride case, after years of being on the crank list is
creeping into the mainstream. Even 'Covert Action', the very serious,
American, neo-Marxist, anti-imperialist, spy-watching journal has
published an article on the fluoride issue (something that would have
been unimaginable five years ago). The damage done to the
anti-fluoride case by Sterling Hayden's portrait in 'Dr Strangelove'
of the crazed US base commander, obsessed with the communist
conspiracy to pollute America's precious bodily fluids, is being
overcome, albeit slowly.


But once you make that initial move of trying to deal with these
areas rationally, it gets very difficult very quickly. One of the
subjects generating conspiracy theories at the moment is that which
is now called mind control. We know that the CIA et al, and their
Soviet counterparts, were busy in the fifties and sixties looking for
a means of controlling the human mind. Drugs, hypnosis - even one or
two little US projects, still not disclosed, which seemed to be
interested in electromagnetic fields. But there are now hundreds of
people, in Europe and in the USA - I know someone dealing with
seventy such cases in the USA - claiming to have been mind
controlled; some claim to have implants in their head, or their body;
they are being bombarded by energy weapons of some kind; they are
being controlled. Timothy McVeigh, the alleged Oklahoma bomber,
claims to have an implant in his body. I have photocopies of X-rays
which appear to show something in some individuals in Sweden. Brain
scans are now available in home-pages on the Net, apparently showing
the same sort of thing. There are now agencies in the USA which, for
a large amount of money, will debug your body. Used to be your house
or office or car; now its your body. They will check you out - and
remove, if necessary - bugs, implants, chips, whatever. I've got the
written statements of half a dozen or more such victims in this
country. I have been corresponding with, and have met, two people who
tell me they hear voices in their head - the voices of teams of
psychologists and intelligence personnel monkeying around with their
brains. I could just say, they're paranoid schizophrenics - one of
the classic symptoms of which is hearing voices in your head. Except
that (a) I've known some schizophrenics and these two men don't seem
like schizos to me; and (b) more importantly, the technology to do
what they claim is being done to them may exist. As far back as 1962
an American scientist called Alan Frey demonstrated that, using a
microwave beam, you could transmit sounds - words - into the head of
an individual that were inaudible to other people. A Freedom of
Information application by Jane Affleck produced a document from
1970, a report published by the Office of Technological Utilization
in NASA called 'Implantable Biotelemetry Systems' - implants, in
short. Twenty five years ago they had them down to the size of a 5p
piece. This 1970 report shows them, even gives wiring diagrams. Now,
twenty five years later, some of them are practically invisible, like
a strand of hair.

I don't mean I believe that there are people with implants; I have
not yet seen any convincing evidence of this. Photocopies of X-rays
don't quite make it. And even if there are such people, even if
somebody turns up with evidence that can't be ignored, it is a long
step from the existence of implants to the remarkable things claimed
for them. How would an implant in your teeth, say, control your
thoughts? But given the technology that existed in 1970, it is simply
not possible to dismiss this stuff out of hand. No, it doesn't seem
likely. But would you really be surprised to learn that the CIA or
some other branch of the US government (or its NATO allies) were
doing random tests of this technology? That's what they did with
various nerve agents and LSD in the fifties - just sprayed it round
to see what happened. And, after all, if NATO scientists are trying
out microwave weapons or mind entrainment devices, these kinds of
tests have the most perfect cover of all: no-one will believe the

Similar difficulties arise with the various conspiracy theories now
surrounding the Oklahoma bombing. It doesn't seem likely to me that
the Federal government did blow up the building themselves to give
them a pretext to clamp down on the militias, as some on the right
are now suggesting; or that the explosion was caused by a stray US
missile as some others claim. But given what we know the US military
and intelligence services have done in the past twenty five years,
and given the incompetence of the military, these can't be instantly
dismissed either.


Nonetheless, most of the conspiracy theories floating around are
crap; there is no evidence, and when evidence is offered, the
evidence is crap. But why is this stuff on the increase? Why, after
producing 'Lobster' for thirteen years have I now been asked to
address this august if slightly cranky assembly? [See front page
notes - ed.] One factor is the increasing availability of computer
technology. I first began to notice conspiracy theories in the late
1970s as a by-product of getting interested in the Kennedy
assassination. In those days getting a decent-looking magazine
together was expensive. You had to pay for typesetting. The fringe
mags looked like fringe mags. These days about #700 will buy computer
kit with which you can turn out an imitation of the 'Wall Street
Journal' if you want to; and with a fax machine you can spread it
round the world. There has been an increase in conspiracy theories;
but its also that those that exist are getting round much faster than
they used to.

Another factor is the increasing difficulty people have in working
out what is real and what is not. In the USA Mrs and Mrs Joe Sixpack
are faced with thirty, sixty, a hundred and twenty cable channels of
TV putting out varieties of piffle at best; tabloid papers like the
'National Enquirer' and all its imitators in supermarkets putting out
honest-to-god inventions as `news'; endless right-wing radio talk
shows pumping out nonsensical conspiracy theories about the evils of
liberalism. The chances are very high that the Sixpacks haven't read
a book of any kind in the previous year - maybe not since they left
school. And the Sixpacks may have been born again: America is a
profoundly religious society. People who believe in God and the
Devil, people who are waiting for "rapture", haven't that far to go
to believe that the sky at night is swarming with UFOs looking for
people to abduct and experiment on.

The claim that people are finding it harder to distinguish between
fantasy and reality is difficult to sustain and is always poo-poohed
by people in the garbage media who claim that people know, for
example, that the 'Daily Sport' or the 'National Enquirer' are not
meant to be taken seriously. But I'm not so sure. The 'Sunday
Telegraph' of 4th February this year carried a story about a
policeman in London who was psychic. The policeman concerned was
quoted as saying: "At first my colleagues in the police force thought
it was all a bit odd. But since the BBC programme 'The X Files', many
have given it a lot more credence." But 'The X Files' is fiction.

I have seen the explosion in conspiracy theories attributed to the
approach of the millennium. Maybe it has some effect on some of the
religious groups, but the average citizen doesn't seem to me to give
a toss about the millennium. Me neither. It'll just be like New
Year's Eve with more drinking and better fireworks, and back to work,
and endless TV programmes looking back over the century. I'll bet
they're busy making them now.


Another factor in the rise of conspiracy theories is the existence of
real conspiracies in recent US history. Look at American history
since 1963: the assassination of the Kennedys, Dr King, most of the
Black Panther leadership and Jimmy Hoffa; the shooting of Governor
George Wallace. The revelation of CIA plots against foreign leaders.
Massive domestic surveillance and disruption programs by the FBI and
CIA. The CIA shipping opium in Laos and Vietnam, organising forty,
fifty thousand assassinations in Vietnam under the Phoenix programme;
tens of thousand more in Indonesia. Secret wars all round the globe
trying to police the US empire. All this began to emerge in the 1960s
after the destruction of the Warren Commission Report on the
assassination of JFK and the revelations continued through the 1970s
as part of the spin-off from Watergate. Since the advent of
Republican administrations in the eighties we've had Irancontra; the
October Surprise; the clandestine arming of Iraq; billions of dollars
ripped-off from the Savings and Loan banks; hundreds of thousand of
corpses in Central America - including a few American nuns - created
by death squad regimes working as US proxy governments. A vast
military-industrial-intelligence complex - everything President
Eisenhower warned America of in his farewell speech in 1960 - totally
beyond democratic control, gobbling up hundreds of billions of

Added to which, with Clinton and the Democrats in office, the
Republican Party and its allies on the right are churning out
conspiracy theories about Clinton. Some of these, about his role in
the leasing of Arkansas to the CIA and the Reagan White House to run
guns into Central America and cocaine back, seem to be true, or
true-ish. The rest, especially the paranoia about Clinton trying to
engineer an American Reich, suspending elections and putting the US
under UN control, strike me as dotty in the extreme. Some of it looks
political pay-back; the right having their revenge for the long line
of Republican disasters beginning with Watergate and Nixon which were
exploited - however incompetently - by the Democrats.

The cumulative effect of all this is that some redneck yahoo in the
boondocks, with his weapons, a year's supply of canned food and
Pepsi, his AppleMac and his fax machine can say: "Hey, buddy, don't
tell me I'm paranoid, all right? Look at what we know the
sons-of-bitches in Washington have done already! And that's just the
bits we know about."

So: why are we getting more conspiracy theories? Technology,
AppleMacs and faxes, information overload; the whole buttressed by
what I'm still willing to call the objective reality of US political
practice. Looked at another way: here we are in Uncle McCluhan's
global village; and what is village life like? Word of mouth, rumour,
gossip - most of it inaccurate. Maybe conspiracy theories are just
the gossip of the global village.

If I am talking mostly about America it is because America seems to
be the source of most of this nonsense. I could be wrong. It may be
that since I don't read any foreign language news sources or watch
other countries' TV, I am simply unaware of, say, Austrian conspiracy
theory culture; or Taiwanese. There are a lot of conspiracy theories
on the right of Japanese politics, including some bizarre
anti-Semitic theories - bizarre because there are no Jews in Japan.
And there is clearly an upsurge of anti-Jewish theories in the former
Soviet Union and its empire; but anti-Semitism has been there since
the last century that I know of, and probably centuries earlier. But
as far as Britain is concerned this stuff is mostly coming across the
Atlantic. And it's mostly coming from white people.

There are some black conspiracy theories. Some of the black American
religious sub-cultures apparently believed that Reagan had "666", the
mark of the beast, tattooed on the back of his skull, under his hair;
others believe that the distribution of heroin among the black
population to a plot by the government to keep black Americans down.
This is a sort of progenitor of the theory that AIDS was a biological
warfare experiment which escaped. Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe was
expounding this thesis in early April - his son died of Aids - with
the twist that it was a germ warfare experiment designed by whites to
kill blacks. (This Aids-as-germ-warfare-run- amok theory came from
the Soviet Union; the KGB ran it through various third world media in
revenge for the CIA conspiracy theory which blamed the KGB, through
the Bulgarians, for the attempt to assassinate the Pope.) There are
many other black conspiracy theories - enough to fill a book this
year by an American academic. But mostly it's white folk churning
this stuff out; at any rate its white folk's theories which are
getting the attention in the white-dominated mass media. And that is
the clue.


For it seems to me that the underlying cause of the explosion in
conspiracy theories is the decline of the US empire. The American
dream is faltering; at best, wage rates are no higher than they were
twenty years ago for many of the working class. For many they are
lower. There are said to be eighty thousand homeless people on the
streets of Chicago. The gap between the top strata in the US and the
bottom is wider than it has been since the war, and getting wider
every year. Things are not going according to plan for many white
Americans, and they need to explain this to themselves.

You can see the change reflected in the accounts of encounters with
Extra Terrestrials. In the 1950s, when the US empire was booming, and
Mr and Mrs Average White American consumer was being fed a relentless
diet of stories predicting ever-increasing material prosperity, the
Extra Terrestrials reportedly contacting the America citizen, were
largely - but not wholly - benign. Now the US empire is falling apart
and sections of the big American cities are turning into a reasonable
facsimile of the set of 'Blade Runner', the skies over American at
night are apparently bustling with hundreds of thousands of Alien
Rapists, beaming down into peoples' bedrooms.

But since only two per cent of Americans have read a book in the last
year, and their primary source of information, the TV, does not deal
with such issues, the ability of most of them to explain something as
complicated as the economic decline of a great power is limited.

And there is a psychological dimension: so deeply ingrained is the
myth of America, the country of manifest destiny, the shining torch
of freedom, democracy and the American way, the land of the brave and
the home of the free, that most Americans seem to find it hard,
verging on impossible, to believe that there is something wrong with
the system. But if the system is fine, and things are going wrong,
the problems are being caused by ... bad people.

Somebody's to blame! Somebody's behind this!

This is the approach of the most visible conspiracy theorist in the
UK today, David Icke, erstwhile TV sports presenter and green
activist, who lost his TV job for supporting the Green Party. Icke's
a good-looking guy and he's been on TV, and that's enough for lots of
people, I suspect. David lectures; they turn up, give him a fiver to
get in. There's an Icke video, David recorded talking in a theatre in
Liverpool. Icke lines up all our discontents; lists all the terrible
things that are being done to the planet and the catastrophe
approaching. That takes about fifteen minutes. He then asks the
audience, not "What is the cause or causes of this?", but "Who is
behind this?" Once you ask that question, you're off into uncharted
territory. His answer is a mish-mash of American conspiracy theories
about semi-clandestine groups like the Trilateral Commission, the
Council on Foreign Relations; and to that he adds a smattering of
ufology's greatest hits - Majestic 12, the alliance with the Greys;
and old chestnuts like the Illuminati. Like many of his American
sources, Icke's methodology is, roughly: if it's in print it must be


The difficulty for a naive empiricist or rationalist like me is that
in a sense the people who are currently producing and recycling all
the rubbish about global conspiracies, the David Ickes and William
Coopers of this world, are right. But only in a sense. Some of the
world's politics and economics is influenced - but not controlled -
by little groups of people. The Bilderberg Group does exist, does
meet. The Trilateral Commission does exist, does meet occasionally
and discuss a new world order. After all, these are the guardians of
capital, and disorder is what they don't want. Global investment
likes order. There are bankers ripping us off - but few of them are
Jewish. David Icke and the many Americans from whom he has adopted
these ideas, have a little nugget of truth there, but thanks to the
way they use it, they contaminate the subject matter and unwittingly
play into the hands of the very people they think they are opposing.

For most of the chattering classes - the media and knowledge
industry, academics, politicians and their assistants - the epithet
`conspiracy theorist' is the kiss of death. One of the bed-rocks of
the ideology of liberal democracies is that conspiracy theories are
always wrong, and those who espouse them are mental incompetents at
best. This unquestioned belief usually manifests itself in the
endless genuflections like this: "of course I'm not a believer in the
conspiracy theory of history", or: "as usual the cock-up theory of
politics turned out to be true". Indeed, I would say that the
espousal of the belief in the cock-up or coincidence theory of
history is at the heart of what passes for political and intellectual
sophistication in liberal democracies.

This is understandable up to a point. Who wants to be associated with
nutters who believe the world's being run by a cabal of American
politicians and extra-terrestrials? Or the Masons? What irritates me,
however, is that this legitimate allergy to mega conspiracy theories
extends much further than the crazy fringe to a general prohibition
on conspiracies. And this is very strange, because it is blindingly
obvious - is it not? - that political parties, for example, are
intrinsically conspiratorial. Routine internal party politics is a
network of interlocking cabals plotting how to get their hands on
this group, committee, caucus meeting, council, party, pressure
group. It is only a slight exaggeration to say, as Carl Oglesby did
in the early 1970s, that conspiracy is normal politics. Yet this idea
would produce everything from outrage to patronising shakes of the
head from almost all intellectual and political circles in this
country. "Really, old boy, the world just isn't like that."

I met this view of the world on my first visit the Newsnight office
in 1986. I was then trying to persuade the media to take seriously
the allegations of Colin Wallace about anti-Labour activities by the
intelligence services in the 1970s. Wallace was then still in prison
- he was framed on a manslaughter charge. I had written to him and
mentioned that I would be visiting Newsnight and Wallace wrote back
warning me that up in the higher reaches of the BBC was a man called
Alan Protheroe, who was an asset of the British secret state and who
knew Wallace and what Wallace had been up to in Northern Ireland in
1974. When I met the Newsnight journalist who was interested in
Wallace and was proposing to interview him when he came out of
prison, I said "Wallace says watch out for Protheroe. He thinks he
will ky-bosh your interview."

I got the patronising smile of the higher media who know everything:
"Oh come on, the BBC isn't like that." What happened? Wallace was
interviewed, and Protheroe blocked its transmission. The BBC then
denied that the interview had ever taken place. About a year later it
was revealed that M15 actually had an office inside the BBC from
which it vetted applicants for BBC jobs.


The belief that our society "just isn't like that" is a part of the
ideology of liberal democracy, which I identify as the concept of
pluralism. This is mostly what's taught in Anglo-American
universities. The last time I took a look at it, British academic
politics was still wrestling with the discovery that interest and
pressure groups intrude into the model of Westminster party politics.
But the problem with `pluralism' is that it is essentially empty,
merely telling us that many groups in society have some power. The
interesting questions begin where pluralism stops.

A real world perspective - what I would call a parapolitical
perspective - on the other hand, takes it for granted that there are
clandestine influences at work in society. Not the ridiculous,
world-controlling conspiracies like the Masons, or the Illuminati, or
other such nonsense, but more mundane things like intelligence
agencies manipulating domestic and international politics; companies
buying government policies by making anonymous donations to the Tory
Party etc. It became absurd to deny the existence of large-scale
political conspiracies, of powerful `hidden forces', as soon as the
existence of the CIA - or KGB or SIS - was revealed. The interesting
questions, the rational questions, are not: Are there such things as
covert influences - conspiracies - in political or social life?, but:
Given that there manifestly are such things, where are they? Whose
are they? How important are they? How can we tell fantasy from
reality? And - I would argue - how do we put a stop to them?

Simple empirical observation says conspiracy is a very common form of
political behaviour. The mysterious thing is not that some poor
deluded fools insist on seeing conspiracies, but how it is that, for
so long, so many otherwise apparently intelligent people - most of
Anglo-American political science, for example - have, until very
recently, managed not to notice that conspiracy is an everyday and
rather important part of the phenomena they purport to be studying.
Let me give a couple of examples. Since its formation in the 1920s
until its demise about five years ago, the Economic League collected
and spent, in today's money, millions of pounds every year working
against the British left. It may have spent as much as the
Conservative Party since World War I. Yet there was not one academic
essay about the Economic League between its formation and 1980. Not
one in sixty years. No account of British domestic politics in the
twentieth century can be anything but hopelessly incomplete without
incorporating the Economic League, but I have never seen one that

Academic American history somehow manages to skip over the fact that
in a five year period in the sixties one President, the probable next
President, and the most important black leader since the war were
victims of assassinations which were never investigated properly and
remain unsolved.

Not that it's difficult to explain why this odd situation has
prevailed for so long. Britain has been run for most of this century
by two intensely secretive, overlapping groups; one is the British
state, about which we know almost nothing - especially its secret
branches - about which even MPs are not allowed to ask questions. And
the other is the Conservative Party, about which even its members
know almost nothing of how it is run or who funds it. In the US,
since the war, a group of government agencies, with their satellite
supply companies, headed by the CIA and the Pentagon, have been
operating largely in secret, and very profitably, too. God knows it's
hard sometimes to show the links between ideology and interests, but
in these instances it looks pretty straightforward to me. The most
powerful interests in Britain and the US don't want their
conspiratorial activities examined; and gee whiz, it turns out that
being interested in conspiracies is intellectually forbidden in both

Of course there's one obvious exception to the official prohibition
on interest in conspiracies. Since 1918 we have all been officially
encouraged to believe in the existence of one conspiracy: the red
menace. In Britain the most significant recent conspiracy theorists
were the cold warriors, who pumped out endless theories of Soviet
espionage and subversion in this country since the war. Mrs Thatcher
was one of those. She looked at the Trades Union Congress - at Uncle
Jack Jones, one of the nicest and most decent people who ever existed
- and saw Moscow subversion. And to ensure that we believed in the
reality of this approved conspiracy theory, the Anglo-American
intelligence services, the outstanding example of institutionalised
conspiracies in the twentieth century, have spent a ton of money -
your money - propagating it, while denigrating anybody who turned up
with any other kind of conspiracy. This hypocrisy reached some kind
of peak in the late 1960s when the CIA - a vast world-wide conspiracy
- put out a message to all its stations and personnel about the
Kennedy Assassination. The instruction from Langley was that they
were to use their political and media assets to put out the line that
the kind of conspiracy described by the Warren Commission critics
could not possibly exist!

Four years before this comic event the CIA's relationship with the
Warren Commission investigating JFK's assassination was handled by
the late James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counter-intelligence. He
believed, among other things, that the split between the Soviet and
Chinese communist parties (up to and including a shooting war on
their borders) was a disinformation campaign to lull the west into a
false sense of security. There are still people on the fringe of the
UK-US intelligence services who believe the collapse of the Soviet
empire in the last decade has been a deception operation.


My interest in conspiracies, not conspiracy theories, is political.
As well as being a naive empiricist, I am also a naive democrat. I
believe that the political process should be open, transparent. I
don't like secrecy, and that means I don't like conspiracies. Be it
the Trotskyist groups trying to enter the Labour Party; be it the
foot soldiers of MI5 and Special Branch trying to conjure up a new
enemy to keep themselves in work; be it companies bribing
governments. And, yes, be it the Masonic networks in the police,
local government, the state etc. The Masons are significant, though a
Mason I met recently told me that their membership in Britain was
falling; it's just that they don't - and never did - run the world.
The important conspiracies we should be looking at are those run by
the state - in this benighted country we might say the conspiracies
which are the state.

The garbage we are now getting so much of, the global conspiracy
baloney, is simply background noise, a distraction. Anthony Summers,
the British investigator and writer, summed up the position very
well: he said he wasn't interested in conspiracy theories, but he was
interested in theories about conspiracies.

Six years ago I wrote a piece about this subject - I was thinking of
Britain, not the US. We were then in the aftermath of three years of
revelations of official conspiracies, generated by the 'Spycatcher'
episode and the related revelations of Colin Wallace about the
attempts by the British and American intelligence and security
services to undermine the Wilson government. I concluded that piece

"As a concept `conspiracy' would be of little interest or explanatory
value were it not for the defensive refusal of our chattering classes
to acknowledge its legitimacy. We can only look forward to the day
when the term has lost the connotations it has at the moment and
rationality finally prevails. Meanwhile, with our eyes and ears open,
we `naive empiricists' just have to get on with trying to understand
the nature of political and historical reality."

And I will be doing this long after the mass media have moved on from
the X Files agenda of the moment to something else equally trivial.