[draft of upcoming book]
One World: 20th century conspiracies
Introduction - From 9/11 1973 to 9/11 2001
In Canada, dinner time chat – left or right – about world events generally follows the standard media script: the backward Muslims must be taught a lesson, that the events of 9/11/2001 and the tragedies unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan are at worst a cock-up on the part of the US government and friends. Something like the following is served up on both sides of the political spectrum: "They had to invade Afghanistan to stop the Taliban supporting Al-Qaeda. Invading Iraq was a mistake but what do you expect from a moron like Bush? If only he'd listened to his father and just kept chipping away at Saddam."
In Egypt, the idea that the bombing of the twin towers on 9/11 was the work of a handful of Muslim fanatics directed by Osama bin Laden is dismissed by all but a few westernized folk. "Bush bombed them to launch his war against Islam and to steal Iraq's oil," is the usual response. Or, "9/11 was done by a group within the US government in league with Mossad, using Muslims (or at least their passports) as a front."
Where is the truth? We all agree 9/11 was a conspiracy, but by whom? Is it possible that the official conspiracy theory is a hoax covering a much more frightening cabal?
In our postmodern world where one version of history is supposedly as valid as another, conspiracy theories are treated as a joke, at best, a kind of entertainment, a fascinating but ultimately irrelevant subculture, viz. the computer game 'Deus Ex", the card-trading game "Illuminati", the hip-hop album by Public Enemy "Fear of a Black Planet"* (*plays on white fears about black power: "Black Power 1990 is a collective means of self-defense against the worldwide conspiracy to destroy the black race. It's a movement that puts fear in those that have a vested interest in the conspiracy."), films such as "Conspiracy Theory", "JFK", erudite novels by Umberto Eco, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and potboilers by the likes of Dan Brown. At least Pynchon bemoans the "technorationalization" of the "spilled, the broken world" (Vineland p267)
Conspiracy theory (CT) has a venerable history, from apocalyptic visions starring the Devil, to the milder variety described by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, through to the likes of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and back to the apocalyptic Left Behind Christian dispensationalists of today.
Recent events have added impetus to this worldview rooted in conspiracy – the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the food crisis, even the current world financial 'meltdown'. How can all these events, so devastating to the people of the world, but so useful to business, arms dealers and establishment politicians occur as if by chance? Major events must have major causes, and when these events happen in tandem, it makes sense that their causes are interrelated.
From 9/11 to 9/11
My own realization of the true nature of the world order began when I began my studies in Economics at Cambridge University in September 1973. My friends included many Latin Americans, and the tragic events of that September 11 – the US-orchestrated coup against Salvador Allende in Chile – were what I cut my political teeth on. The look of despair on the face of a Chilean friend, suddenly a refugee whose friends and family were now in peril, was etched in my memory. That began my path of study and activism, and of a realization of conspiracy as a key element in important historical junctures.
I immediately began studying Russian and was determined to experience Soviet reality from the inside. The "Soviet threat" was the pretext for Nixon's undermining the Chilean revolution. It was the pretext for the blockade of Cuba. It was the pretext for the horrors the US was inflicting on the Vietnamese. Was it really the evil empire which I had been indoctrinated into fearing and loathing my entire life? I had to find out for myself. Call me a Sov symp, as lefty friends did when there was an SU to taunt and discard, as some kind of ersatz coffee or bogus Calvin Klein jeans.
Looking back on this turning point in my life. I can only marvel at the few slight breathing spaces in the Cold War that allowed people like me to reject the capitalist paradigm. As opposed to Thatcher's TINA (There Is No Alternative) -- There Was An Alternative (TWAA)! Fear of this ‘enemy’ quickly evaporated among intelligent mainstream people in the West during the periods of detente (1941-48, 1963-68, 1973-79). These brief respites were tactical retreats in the long-term fight by imperialism, biding its time. Imperialism was always ready to provoke a new Cold War crisis, and did so on many occasions. I was able to slip through the ideological door during the flowering of detente in the mid-70s, and cherish this Damascene moment.
My studies were framed by the coup in Chile in September 1973 and the liberation of Saigon in the spring of 1975. Celebrating the latter moment with my friends in the university cafeteria is etched in my mind. The world belonged to us. The low point for US imperialism, the high point (the last, it turned out) for the SU. I studied with Marxists such as Sraffa, Dobson, Pasinetti, and Joan Robinson, and suddenly saw the 20th c through new lenses. Upon my return to Toronto, I began to seek out what I learned were called "fellow travelers". There weren't so many as I expected. In desperation, I looked in the phone book under USSR, but there was not even a Soviet Consulate (though there was a Bulgarian, a Czech, even a Cuban one). I eventually stumbled across the Canada-USSR Friendship Society, a motley collection of primarily Slavic and east European immigrants, Jews, with a smattering of WASP peaceniks. A friendly if doctrinaire group, with no sign of any Philbies, Macleans and the like. In retrospect I see that the peacenik contingent was more conspicuous in their absence.
I finally managed to get to Moscow in 1979 to study Russian at Moscow State University through the Friendship Society, a bizarre and highly memorable experience to say the least. I fell sick and became sicker after a short stay in a filthy hospital, but managed to stick it out till we were peremptorally booted out early due to the upcoming Olympics which were being hosted by Moscow. Though shocked and irritated by much of what I experienced during that stay, I had many wonderful adventures, and was deeply impressed by the friendliness and generosity of people. Fortunately, I was able to put things in perspective upon my return to Canada and continued my love affair with the ornery Soviet beast, working in the peace movement and visiting the SU several more times, both as a tourist, tour guide and delegate to the last World Youth Festival in 1985. When things opened up, I managed to land a job at Moscow News, and came to live in Moscow in 1989 during the crazy last few years of perestroika. My sense of urgency in getting there ASAP was not ill-founded, as it turned out.
The brief respites were remarkable in retrospect. It is impossible to conceive of such an atmosphere today, when any attempt to challenge world capitalism’s total control of a country’s economy is directly sabotaged through IMF blackmail, currency runs, etc., and if that doesn’t work fast enough, direct political interference (as a random example, Jeb Bush’s full page ads in Nicaraguan papers during the presidential election there), even direct support of (often US-trained) elements in the military to engineer a coup (as in Venezuela), or, increasingly, direct invasion (as in Afghanistan and Iraq). Bush et al have vowed publicly never to let another country challenge the US militarily again. How ironic, now that military superiority has lost all meaning in an age of dirty bombs and anthrax.
The notorious queues of Soviet times, shortages, bureaucratic fiat, rigid control of media and publishing were all part of my experience. But as with everything there is another side. Unfashionable homemade blue jeans made by my friend to be sold on the gray market were more fashionable to me than some anonymous Levi’s. No-name porridge in a paper bag tastier than Quaker or even No Name Oats. Bootlegged Soviet underground rock was far sweeter and sexier that The Who. I cursed bad quality or nonexistent goods, buses billowing thick blue clouds of exhaust, rude clerks, the usual.
But this lifestyle, for all its drawbacks, was very special. Memories of things Soviet conjure not only my youth, but life lived in defiance of the march of capitalism. They provide a wonderful respite from the Orwellian psychic landscape of 2009, where it is impossible to escape the incessant drone of advertising, where the resistance to the US imperial onslaught is uniformly condemned and starved of any means to seriously fight it. I curse myself now for egotistically cursing the inanities of the albeit shoddy Soviet system then, without a clear perspective, impatient as I was to return to the frills of the West, with its seductive smorgasbord of goods, sensual and intellectual. As for the so-called Soviet nomenklatura, the apparatchiks in former times trod infinitely more lightly than they do in Russia today, as their meager luxuries could be taken away in a flash if they stepped out of line. Their privileges depended on their position in society, not on private property.
Yes, the SU produced environmental disasters, notably the death of the Aral Sea and the Chernobyl blow-out. Collective farming enforced at gunpoint destroyed a vibrant peasant tradition. The gulags and Stalinist repression were a terrible tragedy. Yet simple lifestyles were a boon to nature, and camping and love of nature is embedded in people who grew up in the SU. And western views of the harsh injustices of the 1920-50 period have been exaggerated to suit the propaganda needs of the Cold War and in any case were to a great extent the result of paranoia of western subversion, which was very real. Colonialism and fascism killed far more innocent people, and both were aggressive, starting wars with other countries. The SU, like Franco Spain, was repressive towards its own people (and to its east European 'buffer zones' after launching of the Cold War), but after a brief flirting with permanent revolution following WWI, it was not an aggressively expanding empire, contrary to what we are indoctrinated into believing.
The faults of the system were serious, but it matured to the point of admitting this and valiantly (and in the end Quixotically) forged ahead with radical reforms, despite the US resolve right to the end to drive a stake through its heart. For all its political flaws, it showed the viability of a non-capitalist way of organizing technological urban society. Its flaws – inefficiency, sloppiness, low standards, ecological disregard -- are countered by its pluses -- guaranteed employment, free public services, encouragement of modest material needs, broad access to culture, security for the individual, a less competitive more egalitarian lifestyle...
Soviet culture was as good as and at times even better than the best of western culture. It was arguably better on the whole if we include in the comparison the crass pop culture of the west and the saturation of our senses by advertising. I was fortunate to be able to watch hundreds of movies covering the entire Soviet period during my stay in Russia and then Uzbekistan from 1989-2006 and was fascinated by those of the 1920s (brilliant, radical), 1930-40s (plodding and propagandistic but occasionally naively entertaining), the 1950s (romantic, full of relief, hope), the 1960s (critical, some brilliant, even avant-garde), the 1970s (often realistic, sometimes dreary), the 1980s (troubled, searching), 1990-91 (anarchic, surreal).
This life journey culminated in another major turning point for me -- watching the twin towers collapse 28 years after the "9/11" coup in Chile, on that more familiar "9/11" of 2001, on BBC World, in bleak post-Soviet Tashkent.
My immediate reaction was that their collapse simply could not be the work of a band of poorly trained Muslims orchestrated by someone in a cave in neighboring Afghanistan. Whatever the real story behind the 2001 9/11, history is littered with real and imagined conspiracies, especially where the Cold War was concerned. We can laugh in retrospect at attempts to poison Fidel Castro's cigars but the great turning points in the past half century where militarism triumphed have all contained elements of conspiracy. In each case mass peace movements created pressure on politicians to resist militarism, yet the right was able to triumph: when necessary, using subversion and conspiracy. Sometimes, by merely latching onto imagined threats and pursuing its agenda above-board.
Leaving aside the assassination of president Kennedy, who was purportedly about to pull out of Vietnam and end the Cold War, and the coup against Allende on 9/11 1973, consider the fateful year 1979. The US was still reeling under the anti-war movement and the public revulsion to all things military following Vietnam, and was forced to sign major disarmament treaties and cooperate with the Soviets, not for the first time coming tantalizingly close to ending the Cold War, at least publicly. The Apollo-Soyuz space program and the upcoming Moscow Olympics were startling manifestations of what Kennedy perhaps had in mind. All this gave succor to rightwing CTers, horrified by the possibility of the 'triumph' of the 'communist conspiracy', and confused leftwing CTers who didn't believe in any compromise with imperialism. It inspired me to learn Russian and travel beyond the 'Iron Curtain' to study at Moscow State University (MGU), as part of a quest to understand just what kind of a threat the Soviet Union was and whether it was possible for East and West to find a modus vivendi.
I remember reading the news bulletin board at MGU in December 1979, explaining that there had been a change in the leadership in Afghanistan, and then going to the Canadian Embassy on December 28, to be told by the political attache in angry if ironic exasperation, "So Eric, your friends have just invaded Afghanistan." The world of detente had just collapsed due to what looked like a brutal, unprovoked invasion by the Soviets of their Muslim neighbor.
How convenient for western imperialism. No more mass pressure to make peace with this clearly perfidious enemy. No need to end the arms race. On the contrary, lefties were now out demonstrating against the SU, supporting the brave Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviet imperialists.
The real story behind this was that the US had secretly begun a program of covert aid to the Afghan guerrillas six months before the Soviets moved in. CIA director at the time and current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (under both Bush and now Obama) in his 1996 memoir From the Shadows revealed that peace-loving president Carter himself approved a secret $500 million aid program designed to counter the Soviet support to the socialist regime that had overthrown the dictator Mohamed Dawoud Khan (who had just overthrown his cousin, King Mohamed Nadir Shah). According to Gates, at a meeting on March 30, 1979, Under-Secretary of Defense Walter Slocumbe suggested "there was value in keeping the Afghan insurgency going, 'sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire'." Carter, who authorized the covert program on 3 July, 1979, today explains that it was definitely "not my intention" to inspire a Soviet invasion.
Was this part of a 'grand conspiracy', with naive Jimmy a dupe? LHOP or MHOP?* Either way, it created the foundations for the greatest military build-up that the world has ever seen, as Reagan won a landslide election on the promise to deposit the SU in history's rubbish bin. It also created Al-Qaeda. And not least of all, it directly led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, leaving the road clear for US imperialism. But there was a downside for the conspirators: with the SU's collapse, the US war machine had lost its raison d'etre. The world rightly expected a peace dividend, a dismantling of both the Soviet and US arsenals and an end to the unending arms race. The Cold War was finally over, the "enemy" defeated. Funny how 9/11 came along just in time.
The purpose of writing this book is to take the talk of conspiracy out of the fringes, Hollywood and the hands of the conspirators themselves, and make it accessible for mainstream readers, to provide a logical framework to a understand the confusing and even contradictory evidence that threatens to swamp us. Expanding awareness of what is really happening means recognizing the failings of traditional Marxism and Soviet Communism** as an antidote to the imperialist conspiracy; it requires the coming together of left and right in understanding the situation and finding strategies to deal with it, the relationship between our culture and CT, and above all providing the intelligent reader with analytical tools. These are the horses that will bring the cart – a definitive understanding of the 'grand conspiracy' and where it is leading us – in tow. And with a clearer understanding of the dynamics of conspiracy today, we can push ahead with mobilizing efforts to shape world events in a different direction from the one that our economic system logically culminates in, building resistance to it based on principles of social justice.
I am fortunate to have lived my life on both sides of the "Iron Curtain" and now in the heart of the supposed enemy today -- the Islamic world, which became my natural destination after the collapse of the Soviet enemy. I hope my experiences provide the reader the opportunity to step back from his/her frame of reference, which perforce is the product of some ideology, most likely the world of imperialism, and help to peel back the cover concealing the real beast.
*Let it Happen On Purpose vs Make it Happen On Purpose – see Chapter 1
**A note on the use of the term Communism: I use the term in the text to refer to both the theory as proposed by Marx and the attempts to realize the theory as embodied in the social formations of post-1917 Russia and post-WWII eastern Europe. While the latter strayed far from the theory, they were nonetheless undoubtedly inspired by Marx. Critics may replace "Communism" with "failed workers' state" or "state capitalism" as they like. This does not undermine the thesis about Communism made here.
Chapter 1 - Definition, critics, conspiracy culture
1.1.1 - Defining conspiracy
1.1.2 - History as divine and secular conspiracy
1.2 - Main conspiracy theories
1.3 - Critics of conspiracy theory
1.4 - CT in our culture
Chapter 2 - The main 20th c conspiracy factions
2.1.1 - The British imperial conspiracy
2.1.2 - Zionism
2.1.3 - Communism
2.2 - Relations and confusion among the conspiracies
Chapter 3 - The leading conspiracy: the imperialist faction
3.1.1 - Imperialism as a systemic conspiracy
3.1.2 - Imperialism's cornerstones: war, colonialism, money, banking
3.1.3 - World war as the strategy to effect world control
3.1.4 - US super-imperialism after WWII
3.2 - Factions within the imperial establishment
3.2.1 - Left vs right factions of imperialism
3.2.2 - British vs American control
3.3 - Relations with the other conspiracies
3.3.1 - Imperial 'use' of Zionism: consolidation after WWI
18.104.22.168 - Imperial 'use' of Communism: liberals and bankers
22.214.171.124 - Imperial 'use' of Communism: the need for an enemy
126.96.36.199 - The Cold War in place of WWIII
3.4 - Main conspiracy organizations today
3.4.1 - The bankers - Rothschild and JP Morgan
3.4.2 - The Council on Foreign Relations
3.4.3 - The Bilderberg Group
3.4.4 - The Trilateral Commission
3.4.5 - Conspiracy by committees
Chapter 4 - Communism – the third leg of the conspiracy
4.1 - The Russian revolution as a logical outcome of WWI
4.2 - Fellow travelers and parasites
4.3 - Its relationship with the other conspiracies
4.3.1 - Its relationship with the imperial conspiracy
4.3.2 - Its relationship with the Zionist conspiracy
4.4.1 - The 'collapse' of the SU
4.4.2 - Realignment of the imperial-Zionist conspiracy after the 'collapse' of the SU
4.5 - The legacy of Communism
4.6 - The left and its support for the Cold War
Chapter 5 - The contradictory role of Jews and Zionism in the 20th c conspiracies
5.1.1 - The Zionist project - roots in the OT, Talmud
5.1.2 - Deconstructing Zionism
5.2 - The role of Jews and Zionism in the other conspiracies
188.8.131.52 - The role of Jews and Zionism in imperialism
184.108.40.206 - The creation of Israel and the triumph of the 'grand conspiracy'
5.2.2 - The role of Jews and Zionism in Communism
5.3.1 - Cultural hegemony in imperialism
5.3.2 - Cultural hegemony under Communism
5.4 - Current relations with the other conspiracy factions
Chapter 6 - Versions of the 20th c conspiracies
6.1.1 - Early conspiracy theories
6.1.2 - Deconstructing conspiracy theories
6.2 - Background on Freemasons and the Illuminati
6.3 - Cold War repression of imperial-Zionist conspiracy theories
6.4 - New Age revival of CTs
6.5 - Conspiracy breakthrough: the imperial-Zionist conspiracies out of the closet
6.6 - Aliens as metaphor
Chapter 7 - Beyond conspiracy
7.1 - Fighting the conspiracy
7.2. - Summing up