Conspiracy Theories

What you need for a successful conspiracy is a large budget and the power to discipline people who are in the know, with death if necessary. Intelligence services work that way and so do crime mobs. The CIA has a $15 billion budget which is small in financial terms (really!) but pretty big if you are conducting illegal operations. Likewise the Mafia. You also want to have as many as possible of the legit police forces and the media intimidated or bought off.

I have personally known conspiracy theorists who came from mobbed up cities in the East back when the Mafia was a thing, or more recently from places where drug imports or exports were a big thing, or who had experienced dirty tricks overseas or in the US when they were in the military or in police organizations. And none of them had exact details or proof, because conspiracies by definition are designed to keep that kind of thing from getting out. But they knew that “something is happening here, what it is isn’t exactly clear”. (Both the Mafia and the CIA are things of the past, but they have been replaced by the drug lords and their American collaborators, and by international dark money, and by organizations unknown to me hidden the United States’ $50 billion black budget, which only a small handful of selected Congressmen even get to look at).

Yes, without disciplinary powers, coordinating the voluntary unpaid activities of even small groups is hard to do. Someone always screws things up. But this tells us nothing about whether conspiracies are possible. The message of the anti-conspiracists, who are mostly paternalistic liberals, is “Let the authorities handle this, and don’t bother your pretty little heads about it”. But everyone should be a conspiracy theorist when appropriate — I have been a conspiracy theorist since 1965 or so. (After the fact people sometimes have even admitted that I had been right, just that one time). The trick is to separate the real conspiracies from the loony ones.

And just as much, to avoid hysteria. One thing about conspiracy theorists who fit the pejorative model is that they have not yet become acclimatized to living in a world which is systematically conspiratorial. They need to trust, and they jump from trusting and being suckered by mainstream establishment conspirators to trusting and being suckered by cheesy freelance conspiracy theorists. And sometimes they end up joining in on some lame chickenshit conspiracy themselves, e.g. Bannon’s.

The neoliberal and neocon conspiracies are the real ones.