Occam's Gaslight
May 24, 2005

I sat in on the two public sessions of a recent meeting of the Elders of Diversity. A simple thought still nags: How can such esteemed, important people keep saying such stupid things?

The simple explanation is "groupthink." Everyone says the same thing in order to become or remain part of the group of university presidents, researchers, etc., etc., who, of course, tend to live pretty well. "Occam's Razor" is the advice that, when multiple explanations fit the observations, pick the simple one.

Paranoids, of course, always pick complex, conspiratorial explanations. To some extent, I've been there. Every observation is just another facet of some chillingly synchronized mechanism of deceit and subversion. You see, I wouldn't even be writing this, if . . . Just Kidding!! ;)

There is no "middle ground" here. We must invoke the folklore of quantum mechanics. (I know next to nothing about the actual physics of QM.) We think of probabilities of things being in any of a finite number of "states." We cannot dismiss the conspiratorial states simply because they are complex and possibly mere images emerging from disordered thought.

The hugeness of the "diversity" movement, its imperviousness to reasoned objection and its discernible goal of transforming society all suggest to me that something is actively pulling strings behind the scenes. Traditional conspiracy theorists give names and substance to a behind-the-scenes "something," calling it Bilderburgers, Jews, Bankers, Illuminati, etc., or even Boskone, if you want to be truly exotic. I will admit my ignorance rather than arguing for one guess or another. And, hell, maybe it's all just groupthink. (Yeah, that's what they want you to think!)

I'm presuming that the grand manipulators of right-wing conspiracy theory, whoever they ultimately are, are the ones employing academic enthusiasm for "diversity" as one of their tools. I also presume they are also behind the neo-conservatives of the Bush administration. That might not be the case. We refer casually to "the power structure," but we don't really know the structure of it.

Gaslight (1944, with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer) is a classic movie about a man who plays all kinds of weird mind tricks on his wife, who, in the beginning, is utterly clueless. Sometimes the complicated ideas are the correct ones. Thus, the title of this blog entry.

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Here are some links I'm trying to keep track of. If you're new to "conspiracy theory," you might want to click on a few, although they are not intended as a coherent course of study.

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I'm cleaning up old bookmarks. I'll add to the above as appropriate..... Meanwhile, remember, I don't know who said this, but, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you! ;)

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Addendum, January 25, 2006:

I recently ran across a link to a classic article on the subject of political paranoia: The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter, from the November 1964 issue of Harper's Magazine. I especially encourage right-wingers to read the article. It's true, lefties also employ paranoid rhetoric and paranoid ways of thinking, for example, H. Clinton's famous "vast right-wing conspiracy." I'm sure her words were mere hyperbole and that she knew the truth: that Bill Clinton's presidency was being undermined by a very modest right-wing conspiracy.

The "vast" things we see tend to include conspiracies, but they also include cultural trends and ideas forwarded by pre-conditioned but essentially autonomous "agents of change." If there is an obscure entity at the apex of a central conspiracy behind "diversity," "multiculturalism" and other anti-white social or political movements, it is intelligent enough to cloak itself behind the moderate incoherence of the workers at the lower levels.

Such a central entity may not actually exist. There is a concept called Leaderless Resistance, which has been popularized by writer Louis Beam. It avoids the inevitable problems associated with trying to use a hierarchical organization to oppose government tyranny.

I would like to propose a related concept: Leaderless Cultural Aggression. A number of right-wingers attribute many of the cultural changes that have taken place in the U.S.A. after World War II, and especially after the turmoil of the '60s, to something called "The Frankfurt School." What is the Frankfurt School? by by Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson, CDR USN (Ret.) is one of many essays available on the Web describing the school. Atkinson's article does display some of the "paranoid style" described by Hofstadter. And yet, the members of the Frankfurt school really have had enormous amounts of influence on 20th Century American thinking.

How did the ideas of an obscure little bunch of intellectual types come to pervade so much of our culture? That's a huge question. One part of the answer is the "pre-conditioned but essentially autonomous 'agents of change'" that I mentioned earlier. In other words, leaderless agents of cultural agression.

The kind of detective work that could expose a conspiracy isn't of much help against the agressive swarm. "The Frankfurt School," used here as a synecdoche for all of the major negative cultural influences of the last fifty or sixty years, has succeeded because it has indroduced and solidified within the popular mind so many anti-cultural ideas. The task is to invent and introduce ways of thinking that will counter the swarm. This is a job for magicians, not detectives.

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Somewhat vaguely related to the above links in this addendum is a recent article in American Prospect Online by Leonard Zeskind: The New Nativism, which is about the "alarming overlap between white nationalists and mainstream anti-immigrant forces."

Zeskind begins his article with a description of a meeting: "More than 400 anti-immigration activists gathered in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend to bemoan President Bush's failure to close the borders." After several paragraphs in which he mentions the Minutemen, Pat Buchanan, the Republican Party, "hardcore white nationalists," the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, Congressman Tom Tancredo, "armed border vigilantes," "nativist think tanks," the National Alliance and "Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh," Zeskind gets to the main issue: "At gatherings like these, the raw issues are race and national identity."

I'm sure, in his spotless mind, Zeskind never thinks of such things. Race? I'm sure he is above it! And questions of "national identity" never intrude into the eternal sunshine of his intellect. (Apologies to Alexander Pope and those who have quoted Pope.) I mention the Zeskind article not because it is of any importance, but because it is an exuberant exercise in guilt by association AND because I don't think Zeskind posits any "conspiracy" behind all of those devilish linkages he assiduously explicates. It's just that all these, these . . . right-wing, race-conscious white people are, like, all connected! Somehow! Yeah, he makes that point quite well. I suppose, somehow, we are. ;)

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Addendum, March 22, 2006:

The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll - A New Generation of Conspiracy Theorists are at Work on the Secret History of 9/11 (New York Magazine) is worth reading.

 
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