The Regime of the Sneaky
December 24, 2002
When youre from Mississippi and
youre a conservative and youre a Christian, there are a lot
of people that dont 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
Yorks Daily News:
like Hilary [Clinton] talking about the vast right-wing
conspiracy. Hes 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 him.
How can anyone
possibly believe in conspiracy theories, when the conspirators themselves
scoff at them? And if you dont 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 dont 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.
Thats 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 isnt 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 cant 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 dont 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.
Lewiss 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
enemys 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
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?
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