The Regime of the Sneaky
December 24, 2002

by Joe Sobran

[Breaker quote: My conspiracy theory]

     "When you're from Mississippi and you're a 
conservative and you're a Christian, there are a lot of 
people that don't like that. I fell into their trap and 
so I have only myself to blame."

     Thus did Senator Trent Lott explain his downfall to 
the Associated Press. Daniel Schorr of National Public 
Radio -- whom nobody can accuse of being Mississippian, 
conservative, or Christian -- commented that Lott has 
resorted to conspiracy theories. And dig this paragraph 
from New York's DAILY NEWS:

     "'This is like Hilary [Clinton] talking about "the 
vast right-wing conspiracy." He's delusional,' said a GOP 
lobbyist, whose organization worked behind the scenes to 
push out Lott."

     Let me get this straight. A guy who "worked behind 
the scenes" to topple Lott says Lott is "delusional" for 
thinking people were working behind the scenes to topple 

     How can anyone possibly believe in conspiracy 
theories, when the conspirators themselves scoff at them? 
And if you don't believe that everyone in Washington is 
honest, you must be paranoid.

     What is it about the word "conspiracy" that provokes 
the instant smirk and snicker? The world is thick with 
dishonest people, and they don't always act alone. They 
have a way of finding each other and acting corporately. 
Even "the D.C. sniper" turned out to be a team.

     That's why we speak of organized crime, smuggling 
rings, accomplices, accessories, getaway cars, spies, 
covert activities, secret and undercover agents, insider 
trading, collusion, fences, and so forth. We have a 
fairly large vocabulary of words that recognize the 
conspiratorial aspects of social life. Secret cooperation 
isn't unusual at all.

     People in government conspire all the time. In fact, 
governments budget billions for espionage and other 
covert activities. These huge bureaucracies keep 
countless secrets from us, allegedly for our own good; 
and the inevitable result is that we can never really 
know what the government is doing. This means that we 
also can't know what we are voting about, further proof 
that the vote is worthless and democracy fraudulent. And 
in times like the present, the ratio of conspiracy to 
openness increases, in the name of national security. 
Naturally the conspirators don't think of themselves as 
conspirators. They believe they are our protectors and 

     Of course all this official secrecy ensures that 
there will be some outlandish conspiracy theories. Such 
theories can hardly be more than guesses, and some of 
these guesses are bound to be wild. The wildest of them 
contend that there is only one gigantic almighty 
conspiracy, that sees every sparrow fall. There are 
actually countless conspiracies, often overlapping, 
intersecting, or competing. Many are quite informal, as 
in C.S. Lewis's "inner ring."

     Can any conspiracy theory be as naive as the James 
Bond fantasy? Bond represents the opposite of such 
theories: the lone spy single-handedly discovering the 
enemy's secrets and then, for good measure, defeating the 
enemy with a pistol and martial arts. Though Bond is a 
government agent, the conspiratorial is minimized: he has 
contact with his superiors only at the beginning and end 
of the story. No bureaucrat he!

     To the extent that government withholds important 
information from its subjects, it makes nonsense of the 
idea of self-government, and it can expect to be 
mistrusted, feared, and hated. When it also constricts 
their remaining freedoms, it practically makes "paranoia" 
a necessity of survival.

     Thomas Jefferson said that the basis of free 
government is not "confidence" -- trust and faith in our 
rulers -- but "jealousy" -- skepticism and suspicion. The 
more trust our rulers demand of us, the less they deserve 
to be trusted. Yet many people do trust them and 
willingly submit, offering reasons like "I reckon the 
president knows more about this than I do." Of course he 
knows more than we do. He sees to that. But what does he 
do with his privileged knowledge?

     Government secrets remain secret long after they 
have served their supposed purpose. Conspiratorial habits 
are hard to break. Even when the original enemy has 
ceased to exist, as in the cases of Nazi Germany and the 
Soviet Union, the old secrets of World War II and the 
Cold War are still kept from us.

     You could even get the impression that the U.S. 
Government regards the American people as the enemy.


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