Saturday, February 3

conspiracy theory

Things are bit busy at the moment, but given this is Saturday and I notice I get a lot of visitors over the weekend I thought you might enjoy these two items, that relate well. They are both reasonably lengthy and come at the same issue from different angles.

Paranoid shift by Michael Hasty

... I worked at the CIA myself as a low-level clerk as a teenager in the '60s. This was at the same time I was beginning to question the government's actions in Vietnam. In fact, my personal "paranoid shift" probably began with the disillusionment I felt when I realized that the story of American foreign policy was, at the very least, more complicated and darker than I had hitherto been led to believe.

But for most of the next 30 years, even though I was a radical, I nevertheless held faith in the basic integrity of a system where power ultimately resided in the people, and whereby if enough people got together and voted, real and fundamental change could happen.

What constitutes my personal paranoid shift is that I no longer believe this to be necessarily true.

In his book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," William Blum warns of how the media will make anything that smacks of "conspiracy theory" an immediate "object of ridicule." This prevents the media from ever having to investigate the many strange interconnections among the ruling class-for example, the relationship between the boards of directors of media giants, and the energy, banking and defense industries. These unmentionable topics are usually treated with what Blum calls "the media's most effective tool-silence." But in case somebody's asking questions, all you have to do is say, "conspiracy theory," and any allegation instantly becomes too frivolous to merit serious attention. Read more


Getting Free by James Herod
A sketch of an association of democratic, autonomous neighborhoods and how to create it

The main purpose of this book is to try to persuade revolutionaries to shift the sites of the anti-capitalist struggle, and to select new battlefields. I identify three strategic sites for fighting — neighborhoods, workplaces, and households — which I believe will not only enable us to defeat capitalists but also to build a new society in the process.

The advantage of shifting the battleground to the three strategic sites is that it is an offensive strategy, not merely a defensive one. That is, it is not merely our reacting to things we don't like and want to stop, not merely our resisting what they are doing to us, but rather our defending what we are doing to them through our new social creations. It means that we would begin to take the initiative to build the life we want, and then fight to defend this life, and defend our social creations from attacks by the ruling class. I think people will be much more willing to fight for something like this, than to fight to stop outrages of the ruling class elsewhere, which often seem remote from their everyday lives. But we should be quite clear that this will involve us in terrible fights. We will never be able to establish free associations on any of these sites without directly confronting ruling class power...

...While we’re on the question of terminology, I must warn the reader not to be turned off too quickly by the words I use. I choose words with care. It is not by accident or through carelessness that I say “ruling class”, for example. I do it deliberately. I believe this is the clearest way to talk about our situation. If you do not believe there is a ruling class perhaps you have been watching too much television or have taken too many sociology courses. Read more

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