How Conspiracy Theorists Are Like Our Elites

They both mistakenly assume human omnicompetence.

For several months now, the pages of Scragged have resounded with an ongoing debate over what can only be described as conspiracy theories.  Apparently, to some of our readers, darn near everything that goes on in the world can be explained by a giant, nearly all-powerful international conspiracy of elite (Jewish?) bankers who run things to their own satisfaction and to their own nefarious and opaque ends.

The apparent hyper-partisanship we see in Washington?  An illusion; the Bilderbergs are pulling the strings of both sides.

Murderous terrorist attacks by barbaric Muslims or lone nutjobs?  Nothing of the sort: the Rothschilds are trying to panic the peons into sacrificing their essential liberties on the altar of a little temporary security.

Of course, this does raise the question of how we ever got any liberties in the first place - wouldn't that, by itself, be proof against such a world-girdling yet all-powerful group?  Or at the very least, an egregious blunder several hundred years ago from which they are still recovering?

No matter what you suppose the goal of these shadowy powers to be, for every step in that direction there has been at least one step backwards.  There is no clear pattern of forward movement in any one direction that is observable throughout history; the course of history rather more resembles a drunkard's walk than a GPS navigated from on high.

And this observation highlights a stunning similarity between today's conspiracy theorists and the misbegotten self-anointed elites who actually do run our world:

Both groups make the same fundamental mistake: the assumption of human omnicompetence.  In other words, they believe, wrongly, that the world can be run - by anybody.

The truth is out there!

The Limits to Power

Do the rich have more power than you or I?  Of course they do; only a fool would think otherwise.

How about government officials?  Likewise; ignoring the reality of their power is silly.

Can the rich combine with the powerful to oppress and rip off citizens?  Sure they can; great heaping percentages of the tax dollars forcibly extracted from us are turned right round and dumped into the pockets of the politically well-connected, from public-sector labor union bosses to government contractors of all sorts.

Does this mean, though, that these powerful groups can do whatever they please?  It most certainly does not, and for a very good reason: the law of unintended consequences.  It's simply not possible for anyone, however intelligent or powerful, to fully foresee everything that's going to happen in the future and plan accordingly.

For example, the wealthy German industrialists who thought they could control Hitler turned out to have made a slight miscalculation.  The more that we assume that the ruling elites are dominated by the Jewish Rothchilds, the more bone-headed that move seems - Hitler was convinced that the Jews were the enemy and proceeded to act on that conviction.  The Rothschilds themselves escaped Hitler with their lives, but lost billions of dollars worth of priceless and irreplaceable treasures accumulated over centuries.

Let's take another, more recent example.  When Barack Obama was elected President with a fully Democratic Congress, it was entirely foreseeable that he would quickly move to enact massive new spending by directing our money to favored liberal groups.  That's what Democrats do.  The Keynesian economic theory clung to by the left for the past century calls for government to spend its way out of any economic difficulties.  No surprise there.

It was equally obvious that conservatives would be furious; they always are, the more so since Republican leaders generally oppose new spending in, at best, a half-hearted and ineffective way.  Cries of betrayal from the right have been commonplace for years.

What was not foreseeable was that a midlevel TV financial news reporter, Rick Santelli, would explode into an on-air rant against government intervention in the housing markets, from the floor of a Chicago trading floor whose workers overheard and cheered him on, ending in a call for a "Chicago Tea Party."

It was not foreseeable that this cri de coeur would "go viral" and lead to actual protests nationwide by conservatives which evolved into a semi-organized Tea Party movement that drove the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 2010.  Remember, in 2009 the media was full of faux concern for the dying Republican party; its rejuvenation almost despite itself by the Tea Party was not in anybody's imagination much less the Illuminati's long-term plan.

Conspiracy, Coincidence, or Confusion?

If you believe in a giant conspiracy of shadowy elites who run things, only one of three possibilities can be the case.

Perhaps the Elites really wanted the economy fixed.  In that case, the election of 2008 was one of monumental incompetence, in allowing both major parties to nominate total economic illiterates.  What, the Skull and Bones set couldn't cough up a few more bucks to put Hillary over the top, or somehow promote Obama's un-American ties to Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers to knock him out of the running?

Maybe the Elites really do want America destroyed and are all in favor of Mr. Obama's efforts in that direction.  If so, they've done a stunningly ineffective job of stopping the Tea Party.  Yes, they've co-opted many Republican officeholders but this has only served to demonstrate why the Stupid Party has earned that moniker and made Tea Partiers even angrier and more determined.  Again, a massive failure for this supposedly all-powerful group.

There is one other alternative: that the Elites don't particularly care who seems to be running things as long as our nation is riven by chaos and mutual anger.  They've been doing pretty well at this for quite a while now.

If so, where were they for the twenty-year "golden age" of American unity and prosperity from 1945 to 1965?  Asleep?

No, if there are elite conspiracies, they are limited in their competence and reach - just like every other human entity.

The Russian, Chinese, North Korean, and Cuban Communists thought they could run an entire economy by fiat.  They couldn't.

Mr. Obama seems to believe that he can command GM back to health, and merely passing a law will conjure affordable health care into existence, not to mention lowering the oceans and healing the planet.  This is transparently fatuous nonsense, obvious at the time and even more so now.

Perhaps the Bilderbergs, Rothschilds, Rockefellers, or even George Soros think their wealth and connections give them the ability to run the world and everything in it.  They clearly can not do that, and insofar as they may have tried, it's been a series of frightful botches over any great length of time with any supposed goal you care to name.

Powerful people can nudge the world and they can definitely screw things up royally for little guys down on the ground.  But run the world?  It can't be done.

The Invisible Hand(s) At Work

What, then, does run the world?  We here at Scragged generally do believe, with our Founders, that there is indeed an omnipotent, omniscient, supernatural Power Who has His own agenda and adjusts things as required to meet His goals.  Whenever possible, we prefer to stay on His side insofar as that side can be determined.  But mostly, whatever He's up to is far beyond our ken.

If you, like a Muslim, believe fatalistically in the inscrutable sovereignty of a god who does whatever he pleases and cares nothing for most individual human beings, then we cannot persuade you that what you do makes much difference.  That's obviously not the reality of the world: what we each do does make a difference, however small.

Adam Smith expressed it best in his concept of the Invisible Hand of the marketplace.  In a free market, lousy products and services won't survive because nobody will buy them.  Good products and services will be developed, will rise to prominence, and will create great fortunes for their originators - all as the result of millions of individual choices made every day by nobodies.

It's simply not possible to make a great fortune anymore without doing something to induce those millions of nobodies to choose you.  Yes, you can steal a great fortune, but as Hosni Mubarak and other dictators have discovered, you tend not to hang onto it 'til your grave.  Mubarak's other wealthy cronies are now either behind bars, or their financial empires are much diminished; Bill Gates has no such worry.

In the long run, even politics must bend to the will of the people.  The Chinese Communist leaders certainly don't answer directly to their people, but even they have realized that they can't ignore them entirely anymore - or rather, they can't ignore the people and enjoy the wealth of a modern economy that lets them play with first-class power-projection toys like aircraft carriers and a space program.

The Chinese Communists, like the Rothschilds and Windsors before them, have learned that it's more fun to have a smaller piece of an enormously larger pie, than all of a very small one; alas, Obama and his Democrats still haven't figured this out.  Perhaps the Baron Rothschild should have a word with them?

All that's a concern for another day.  For today, what we need to all understand, every one of us, small and great, Bilderbergs, Rothschilds and Democrats, is that it is not possible to run the world anymore, if it ever was.  It's just too big and complicated.

Idiots in power can destroy it, yes.  Try that, and when the ashes settle, whoever's left will make sure you're destroyed too.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

Masterfully written piece! This is why I love Scragged. The writing is not only superb, but the editors care about the conversations going on by readers and spend time thinking about them.

Your recent examples of the contradictions of incompetence by the secret cabals are apt, and there are many thousands more such examples. You can't go even one year at a time through modern history without seeing major contradictions in the idea that one group is running the show.

Just because a secret cabal isn't running the show doesn't mean the rich don't have more control. I'm glad you pointed that out. I think that is where so many conspiracists go wrong. They assume that the tautology of having power and money ALSO MEANS that the rich have absolute power and use it competently. One does not equal the other.

August 5, 2011 10:10 AM

Other than God Almighty, the 'Invisible Hand' is the only force that has been able to smartly navigate the ship. People fail. The large the group of people, the larger the fail.

August 5, 2011 10:13 AM

Well said, Petrarch.

On the topic of conspiracy theories, the fact that there is no evidence of an over-arching conspiracy (or that, if they exist, their members are amazingly incompetent) is only cause for stronger belief to some, since they take that as proof that the conspiracy is working! As they wise man said, 'do not presume evil intent what stupidity and incompetence can explain'.

However, the true danger in conspiracy theories is that they render their adherents totally impotent to make any changes in the world. Why bother, if there is a massive international conspiracy? One person's insignificant contribution won't even be noticed as they blitzkrieg they country and rape its resources. Makes more sense to buttonhole total strangers and dazzle them for HOURS on the depth and perspicacity of one's theories. The main point being to put oneself in a position to say, 'I told you so', when something happens that was predicted.

There are surely many conspiracies at any given time in the world. That is irrelevant. One does not resist a conspiracy by becoming a conspiracy theorist.

In short, conspiracy theories are the refuge of lazy egotists.

August 5, 2011 10:20 AM

Best article yet. I appreciate the way your argument was laid out with events and answers. What I expect to come however, will be the deranged comments of some readers with their notions of secret conspiracies and the like. When you have a site that is open to the public you get that fringe element. For me I would like to see some of the readers quit responding to this fringe element. That, of course, is their business and none of mine.

August 5, 2011 11:10 AM

There is a conspiracy, it just isn't working.
There is no denying the Federal Reserve Bank.
There is no denying the TSA.
There is no denying the CIA, the FBI, the IRS, the KGB in its latest incarnation, nor MI5. They do exist, they do work behind closed doors, and they all work together.
There are about 3,000 people around the world, in my estimation, that are trying to run the world. They can't. Part of the problem is that there is a lot of infighting, according to some reports. Disagreements come about.

Michael Chertoff is making millions selling the U. S. government xray machines. That's a proven fact, and has been admitted by Chertoff.

"They" just don't let a good crisis go to waste. The Phoenix that will rise from the ashes of our current system that is being destroyed will be every bit as evil as the one that grew up from the American Revolution.
Peace and Love,
Robert Walker

August 5, 2011 11:15 AM

What an insightful article! The writers here at Scragged make a lot of sense and create wonderful, thought-provoking ideas. I love this article! It helped put in words some of the things I've felt for some time now.

And.....long live the spirit of the Tea Party!

August 5, 2011 12:11 PM

***The only way to successfully predict the future is to design it.***

"It's simply not possible for anyone, however intelligent or powerful, to fully foresee everything that's going to happen in the future and plan accordingly."

It is however plainly possible to have an agenda and a plan that recognizes this reality and provides for contingencies to deal with unforeseen possibilities. And this would certainly be the business model of a long-term plan that foresees a generational effort to achieve.

Now this is a fairly long article, and I have skimmed through it once, an see several of the holes in the the theory propagated therein.
So it will take a bit of deconstruction to consider what is worth debating specifically, and what will fall aside on its own once certain concepts are clarified and understood.

Probably the largest single problem here is that the article is relying on lollipop history to draw its conclusions from.
This statement being a good example:

"For example, the wealthy German industrialists who thought they could control Hitler turned out to have made a slight miscalculation. "

This, according to standard pop history seems a reasonable enough assertion - however when the larger or deeper issues of this era are taken to account, we will see how this assumption of the author fails to address the actual facts of history.

And it is of course here, in the manipulation of the perception of history that is perhaps the strongest basis for overcoming perceived "Limits To Power".

“Those who control the Past control the Future. Those who control the Present control the Past.”
~George Orwell

August 5, 2011 12:48 PM

"What I expect to come however, will be the deranged comments of some readers with their notions of secret conspiracies and the like. When you have a site that is open to the public you get that fringe element. For me I would like to see some of the readers quit responding to this fringe element. That, of course, is their business and none of mine."~Bassboat

"In short, conspiracy theories are the refuge of lazy egotists."~Alexis

This is the attitude I was referring to in my last post.

So, there it is, and here I go.

August 5, 2011 1:40 PM

You are apparently oblivious to the irony of your own posts, Willy. :)
You are doing precisely the same thing!
Nevertheless, I agree with you. Which is why I am not wasting time arguing with the transparent faulty logic of Robert's post.

August 5, 2011 1:51 PM

I had expounded on this article, which by the way is a GREAT one, just a few minutes ago and somehow hit a key or did something this machine didn't like and as Forrest Gump would say, "just like that, everything was gone". I love this sight because if you're not careful, you just might learn something.... I didn't know that George Orwell said that but it does make perfect sense. Let me share this tid-bit with you all and I'll get out of the way. Look around at this world we inhabit. Do things look to be getting any better? If they are, I just don't see it. Don't put your faith in man, put it in God. It may not seem like it at times but He is in control. The god of this world runs things here but his time is short and he knows this. He knows what his final destination is. We however have a choice. Satan has already made his. I can't prove that the Holy Scriptures are true. I do have faith that they are and that everything in them will come to pass and from the looks of things right now, the end of time as we know it will be here sooner than most of us think. Just make sure that you are ready for the moment when you stand before God to give an account. Remember, store up your treasures in heaven, not here. We all came here with nothing and that's exactly what we're leaving with. Nothing is more important than the salvation of our souls.

Peace be with you all and may God bless.

August 5, 2011 1:56 PM

Most well written, thought out & truth expounding piece I have read in years! many Kudos to Scragged!

August 5, 2011 4:29 PM

To Take The Romance From The Philosopher's Stone

The very first thing to consider when one reads or hears the title of the manuscript known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion...

<remainder excised>

August 5, 2011 11:49 PM

OK Willy, we've put up with your increasingly lunatic rants for quite some while now, but we will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form, and the vicious blood libel of the proven forgery you refer to has absolutely no place on Scragged.

You're on very thin ice.

August 6, 2011 12:07 AM
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