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The Conspiracy Copout

Stop fretting about conspiracies - they don't matter.

By Petrarch  |  June 3, 2011

From time to time, people across the political spectrum observe the bizarre nature of modern politics and leap to the conclusion that there are sinisterly concealed dark forces at work.  Hillary Clinton spoke of the "vast right-wing conspiracy"; paranoid "Truther" types claim that Bush and the CIA were really behind the 9-11 attacks; so-called "Birthers" believe that Obama was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be President.

These beliefs are impervious to either facts or logic.  If the right-wing conspiracy was so vast, how is that that Bill Clinton was resoundingly re-elected and is still our most popular living ex-President?  If 9-11 was a government inside job, how come so many fairly high-ranking government workers, their good friends and relatives, were immolated when the Towers fell?  How did a heavily-pregnant 18-year-old who was effectively a single mother with no income manage to get from Hawaii to a backwards African country in the 1960s, give birth to her firstborn under primitive conditions, then whiz home again, in a few weeks?

We could go on all day trying to disprove conspiracy theories, but that's a fool's errand.  There have always been conspiracies throughout history, most of which fail, and a handful of which succeed.  That's not the point.

What we need to understand are that conspiracies real or imagined are irrelevant.

Conspiracy theories may be true, they may be false, but as far as real-world effects, they serve only as excuses for ordinary people as to why they didn't do what needed to be done or accomplish their goal.

What's worse, by misdirecting popular outrage, conspiracy theories often harm the innocent and make matters worse.

Struggling Against Invisible Hands

Consider one of the great conspiracy theories of history: that of Germany's "stab in the back" at the end of World War 1.  As many Germans saw the war, their nation had been on the verge of victory.

After all, they'd struggled through four years of a two-front fight, holding practically the entire world at bay, until finally they forced one front, Russia, under Lenin's new revolutionary government, to sue for peace.

If nothing else, that would free up the half of their army that had been fighting on the Eastern front.  Whisk them over to the Western Front, doubling the forces there, and surely England and France were doomed - simple math.

Instead, German forces and the economy collapsed; Germany was humiliated in the Treaty of Versailles, which imposed intentionally debilitating financial and territorial penalties.  This illogical result could only have been the result of a high-level betrayal - not by German royalty, of course, but by Jewish financiers and labor agitators who withdrew their help at the worst possible time.  Treason!

This view comes from a faulty understanding of modern war.  Yes, Germany's peace with Russia freed plenty of soldiers, but German industry and their sources of raw materials were drained.  Germany could barely bring their army a thousand miles across Europe from one front to the other, they couldn't resupply their soldiers and equip them for victory.

The Allies, on the other hand, had just been joined by the world's largest industrial power, the United States.  The "arsenal of democracy" made all the difference at a crucial time, no betrayals required.

Yet vast numbers of Germans, including one Adolf Hitler, devoutly believed in the "stab in the back" conspiracy.  They never said "uncle," so WW 1 wasn't really over in their hearts.  When the economy collapsed and ordinary civilians lost everything, Hitler's angry speeches gave Germans an outlet for their fury and disappointment.

Six million Jews and thirty million other people later, what was left of Germany realized that antisemitism and militarism wasn't quite the answer they'd been looking for - but at what cost!

The utter destruction of Germany in World War 2 persuaded the Germans to say "uncle."  They admitted they'd lost so the war was over.

The Japanese could have responded as the Germans did after WW 1.  By 1942, the Japanese government controlled the richest half of China as well as the western half of the Pacific.  Their soldiers were well dug-in on fortified islands.  Surely only a treasonous conspiracy could have led to total Japanese defeat and destruction by 1945?

Of course not.  The Japanese gave it their best shot - the Yankees had to call the power of the sun down on their heads to defeat them - but they knew they'd been whupped fair and square.  Rather than thirst for revenge, they concentrated on building wealth through trade under the increasingly friendly overlordship of the United States.  Today, the government of Japan and the overwhelming majority of Japanese are good friends of America and Americans; tiny Japan is one of the world's leading economies even after twenty years of stagnation due to political fecklessness and incompetence.  The Japanese people are as well-off and comfortable as anyone, the odd natural disaster aside.

Rather than look for solutions, the suffering Germans of the 1920s and 1930s looked for blame and revenge; this misguided quest for the unattainable led them through an even worse hell.  The Japanese of the late 1940s and 1950s could have done the same, but instead of looking for conspiracies, they concentrated on fixing problems and on moving forward.  The WW 2 Germans, wiser than their fathers, did the same; they've been phenomenally successful as well.

Human Limits Apply to the Powerful, Too

Our current economic struggles make it all too easy to blame a secret cabal of the rich and powerful who steal from all of us.  It doesn't matter who's elected, goes this theory; the wealthy always win out.

Phooey!  Bernie Madoff was wealthy and now he's in jail.  Jeffery Skilling of Enron fame is in jail.  Both their sons committed suicide from shame; that wasn't part of the master plan.

Should there be more rich people in prison?  Of course - many wealthy felons sit in Congress this very day.  There are plenty of poor people walking the streets who should be in prison too, and no few of both classes whom the world would be better off without.

Are rich people trying to get your money?  Of course they are - that's the whole point.  How do you think they or their parents got rich in the first place?  For that matter, we'd like to take your money, or anyone else's - wouldn't you like to take ours?  So would poor people.  They go for it in a more blunt fashion, which is why we believe in Second Amendment rights.

Are powerful people trying to get more powerful?  Of course they are!  So are we, though we're notably less successful, sad to say.

The fact of the matter is, for every rich and powerful person who is trying to become richer and more powerful, there are other rich and powerful people who are trying to do the same, and a host of people who aren't rich and powerful but would like to be.  Some of them make it - who had heard of Sarah Palin or the Google Guys twenty years ago?  Most don't.

Yes, there are "conspiracies" of a sort, by people who share the same worldview.  As we've explored in the past, when you get so rich that you can buy anything, you start to pursue the things that can't be bought, like power over other people.

That's why our government's reach has tended to grow and our freedom to shrink: it's the desire of everyone in power to get more power, and it's easier to steal it from the little people than to fight their peers for it.  Conspiracy?  No, just self-interest.

Again, there are open conspiracies you can poke your little finger through if you want to bother, like the "global warming" scam.  Anybody who spends five minutes in logical thought, much less in research, knows it's a lie; it's pure propaganda.  The only conspiracy is on the part of the media whose interest lies in assisting in the scam, but even there, it's not a very effective conspiracy anymore.

The fact is, there are too many unpredictable people and uncontrollable events on this earth to operate and maintain a successful long-term conspiracy.  "Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead."  If it were possible to truly and effectively cover up high crimes, don't you think Richard Nixon would have?

Doom, Despair, and Agony On Me

Why, then, are so many conspiracy theories?  There's a very good and logical reason: believing in a conspiracy theory permits laziness.

If Mr. Obama is deliberately destroying our economy merely because the media lied and fools voted for him, then we can readily fix the problem with a lot of hard work: get out there with the truth, buttonhole our neighbors, proselytize, convert and persuade.  After all, that's what the other side does through their multifarious outlets in media, academia, and everywhere else; what worked for them will work for us if we work as hard and long at it as they have.  Over time, having the truth on our side will be an advantage, but only if we put in the necessary elbow grease.

If, on the other hand, Mr. Obama was placed on the throne by a secret all-powerful cabal of super-rich insiders who routinely arrange accidents, coincidences, appropriate media coverage, and anything else they need - what can we do?  We can't; we may as well just throw up our hands and go back to leading our humdrum little lives, making them as comfortable as we can before the End Comes.

Which way is easier?  The second, of course; complaining costs nothing.  Doing something requires work and sacrifice; no fun in the doing.

We've seen this with the Tea Party.  The Tea Party has leaders, but no Leader; it came into existence spontaneously, the expression of the anger and frustration of ordinary Americans.  Yet in less than two short years, it managed to replace an overwhelmingly left-Democrat Congress with a new Republican majority, a fair few of which actually appear to believe and practice in Republican values.  Who'd've thunk it?

Comes now the response, "Sure, the parties have switched, but everything's still the same.  You didn't change anything!  You've been gulled by the Powers That Be into thinking you have!"

Balderdash!  Yes, Republicans are squishes; they haven't cut spending nearly as much as we'd wish, but they rammed through the largest spending cuts in our nation's history.  To say they've accomplished nothing is nonsense.  At the very least, they have blocked some of Mr. Obama's excesses and the Tea Party is demanding that they do more.

If you truly believe that some shadowy mastermind maneuvered Mr. Obama in, then maneuvered the Tea Party to control him, and that all we see is puppets on strings... then there's nothing any of us can do.  We're just along for the ride.

We here at Scragged refuse to believe this.  Powerful people will conspire and maneuver as they may; so will the little folks, and so will we.  Nobody knows the future, not even Harold Camping; as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

We, like all men and women, would like to grow our feet and leave bigger footprints.  Should anyone in the Illuminati, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, or the Directorate of the New World Order like to invite us to join the team, we can be reached at  Operators are standing by!  We accept checks, cash, or wire transfers, but we really prefer a nice stack of gold bars if it's all the same to you.

So much for conspiracies.  But now that you mention it, was Mr. Obama really born in Hawaii?  It's certainly more amusing to think about that than, say, thinking about the deficit.

Is watching conspiracy theorists merely another form of entertainment?  Sure seems that way - must be a conspiracy to keep us looking in the wrong direction!