Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What Would the Conspiracy Theorists and Left Wingers Do Without 9/11?

Time Magazine's Lev Grossman wrote an intriguing article about 9/11 conspiracy theories. Despite no coverage from the mainstream media, these theories thrive on the internet. Most of them conclude that the Bush Administration planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks to increase its power at home and justify war abroad. Grossman's article explores why conspiracy theories never die, despite their implausabilities. He concludes that "we need grand theories to make sense of grand events or [else] the world just seems too random...[The] idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting."

I agree, but there's another element at work as well. People do not trust the American government - and for good reason. With Watergate, Vietnam, and the Iran-Contra Affair on his resume, not to mention myriad other shadowy historical events, Uncle Sam has not given us many reasons to trust him. And when it comes to war - he has a particularly miserable track record. Most major American wars have begun under the cover of dubious auspices or outright lies. From the Mexican War to the USS Maine to the Zimmerman Note to the Gulf of Tonkin Affair to Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction - there has been ample evidence to suggest that, when wartime rolls around, there is a disconnect among the facts, the American government, and the American people. (Howard Zinn discusses this much more eloquently in America's Blinders.)

As I was discussing similar issues with Sinister Joe last night, I concluded that groups like PETA and ELF - the epitomes of the far left - provide a necessary check against the authoritarian nature of the status quo. I'd like to add conspiracy theorists to this group too. Kudos to them for standing up, speaking out, and living the dream. Yes, their respect for things like "evidence" and "logic" and "balance" is non-existent. But aren't those virtues a bit overrated? Shouldn't the Far Left and the conspiracy theorists be given a free pass? Can you imagine how boring society would be without them?


Blogger AssPocketOfWhiskey said...

I'm going to go ahead and assume that in the depths of your Being, this last paragraph is sincere. I understand that in a very real sense, you view the ELF as playing Col. Nathan Jessep to your Daniel Kaffee...Sitting on the wall, somehow defending the environment against the attacks of the enemy (Uncle Sam, BigBusiness et.Al.). While I understand the motivation of these people to want to respond radically and impressively to something they view as a very real and very dangerous threat to life, (to borrow from Col. Jessep) I DO find their existence grotesque and incomprehensible. Their existence is incomprehensible because it is, very simply a contradiction. They rebel against the violence they perceive being ravaged upon the environment with violence. Need I trot out Gandhi's quote about non-violence being both the means and the end?...not being able to have one without the other? So, I must refuse your conclusion that "these groups provide a necessary check against the authoritarian nature of the status quo." These groups are many things, but a legitimate check against authority, they are not. What they do provide is a left-wing pinata for the authorities, government, media and business, to swing at. Their attention-grabbing tactics do more harm than good both to the specific environmental issue at hand (see Vail) and, more importantly, in the minds of everyday dumb-as-fuck, red state, working class factory workers and soccer moms. ELF becomes the Rorschach response for the term 'environmentalist'. We need to understand that in the minds of these people is where the battle is won. Their dollars and their votes are what is going to dictate the fate of this planet. So if you want to talk about a neccessary check for authority, talk about Earth Day, about community recycling initiatives, talk about Ride Your Bike to Work Day, talk about working within the system to raise awareness and change people's minds and habits. Don't talk about Whisper the tree-hugging hippie that throws red paint on people wearing fur coats. No one's taking that seriously, no one sees that and gives pause to think about how much we're being fucked by the Man.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Bob Wiley said...

Well said. I interpret your response to mean that the Far Left Wing actually empowers the Far Right Wing. In this case, social and political dynamics take the Newtonian idea of physics one step farther. Every action does not produce an equal and opposite reaction. Instead, every action produces a more forceful and opposite reaction. Interesting. I'll retreat to my Ivory Tower and get back to you.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Bob Wiley said...

i would like to amend my previous response:

i agree with your analysis of the true "check on the authoritarian nature of the status quo."

however, i just realized that another point i made was that the left-wingers and conspiracy theorists make our society more less boring.

in that case, recycling and bike-riding and earth day - while true checks on American conservatism - are lame. we frat guys like to make fun of those people. but extreme revolutionaries - we think they're cool. especially when we hear about them in songs by the clash and rage against the machine. they, my friend, are not boring.

my mistake was to equate society's loony tunes-ers with true checks and balances. thank you for checking me.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Bob Wiley said...

so, i'm learning a thing or two about grassroots journalism here.

asspocket taught me to be sure i can back myself up when making a pointed claim.

now sinister joe's in on the game.

joe objected to my claim about our discussion concerning ELF and PETA. while it is true that we discussed PETA, we never talked about ELF. i added that - and i apologize.

furthermore, i was the only one to conclude that PETA is good for society. sinister joe did not disagree, but i interpreted her silence as an agreement. again - i apologize.

whew - being a journalist is tougher than i thought. all that talk about "accountability" and "accuracy" and stuff....it would be a hell of a lot easier if i could just make shit up.

10:37 AM  

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