'Conspiracy Theory' Crypto-fascism?

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radicalchains
'Conspiracy Theory' Crypto-fascism?
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David Icke and co, are they all on the make or are they fascists knowingly or otherwise? 

And does it matter?

i.e do all the countless videos and so on of the 9/11 'conspiracy', Illuminati, Masons, Jews, Hidden Bases, Third Positionism, Evola esque ideas bullshit lead to anything in the real world? And can it in the future?

How if need be should it be dealt with?

 

Alf
impact of conspiracy theories

 

there is certainly a link between conspiracy theories and right wing ideology but the main problem we are dealing with is that huge numbers of young people, suspicious of the democratic rigmarole and the media, are swallowing conspiracy theories whole. We need to relate to them while arguing for the marxist approach to reality. At the same time some of the more politicised elements, especially the libertarians, see no need to analyse the manoevres of the class enemy and tend to underestimate the machiavellianism of the ruling class. There is much work to be done. Did you read this article? 

 

https://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201201/4641/marxism-and-conspiracy-theories

radicalchains
Yes, that article is

Yes, that article is excellent. There was already a forum thread on it. I wonder if it is useful in anyway to take the approach of the SPGB to these people interested in conspiracy theory. They meet them and discuss as I understand "the case for socialism". Which fits perfectly well with their idea of getting the masses to believe in socialism which will of course lead to socialism....through taking control of the state no less! I digress....would it be beneficial to purposefully seek out conspiracy influenced groups to discuss with, if anything to understand better where they are coming from and why? Or am I right in thinking the ICC relatively rigidly sticks to discussions with people and groups that accept some common perspectives and positions beforehand?

radicalchains
Update

An update on Icke. Recently he appealed for funds to set up a 24 hour television channel. Believe it or not he quickly raised hundreds of thousands of pounds. I was pretty skeptical myself and thought it might be a big scam (it still could be, he's now asking for ongoing donations including large ones eg 10K) but it's looking more and more real. In his latest videos he shows you around the studios and some of the equipment he's aquired. There seems to be a lot of interest in what he is doing, lots of volunteers and so on. 

I think his ideas are a lot more popular than people generally think or could become a lot more popular given the chance. The way I see it, more and more people are rejecting mainstream news television and are waiting for something like him to come along. 

jk1921
Lots of people believe lots

Lots of people believe lots of weird things. In the states, there are actually things called "mega-churches" that attract thousands of people and raise millions of dollars. Nutter conspiracy theorists have their own radio and TV shows that regularly get more viewers than the mainstream broadcasters. I'd say its part of decomposition.

radicalchains
So is it an irrelevance? 

So is it an irrelevance? 

jk1921
Not at all.

radicalchains wrote:

So is it an irrelevance? 

 

No, not at all. It shows that more and more people are no longer convinced by the official narratives of bourgeois democracy and look for other "explanations" for how the world works, even if they get them from certain unsavoury figures.

Demogorgon
Certainly not an irrelevance.

Certainly not an irrelevance. It shows to some extent the decomposition of bourgeois ideology, even if it stems from a bourgeois world-view that is, at root, fundamentally rooted in conspiracism anyway. But it does have very serious issues for the development of proletarian consciousness because it has a superficial resemblence to aspects of the reality of class society: a shadowy ruling class that hides behind "democracy", doing all sorts of unsavoury things.

There has, of course, been a long and unhappy association between the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois aspects of conspiracism and the workers' movement. It's no accident that anti-semitism was often refered to as the "socialism of fools" in Social Democracy in the 19th century.

d-man
irrational amalgams

a couple of threads on conspiracy theories: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/not-all-citizen-detectives-conspiracy-theorists-ar-t1555.html

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/inside-job-the-story-of-trotskyite-intrigue-t1225.html

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/redmarx/notes-on-furr-s-trotsky-s-amalgams-2016-edition-t1587.html

I hold that such theories need to be seriously addressed/criticised. Not just as a sociological/general view of society (eg the theory of rackets, etc), but in concrete details, since it is a large part of mainstream politics (in last years eg Russiagate). Often it's merely reduced to psychological causes, that conspiracy beliefs help alleviate feelings of powerlessness in a complex world, etc. But this is superficial.

Recall that the show trials during Stalinism (mainly against the Left Opposition) were not invented by Stalinism, but featured already under Robespierre's reign of terror (against the Hébertists), a historical precedent which btw was recalled by Zinoviev in 1927 himself (using the French word "amalgam").

On the other hand, Lukacs in his Destruction of Reason remarks about Hitler that he possibly didn't believe in the Elders of Zion conspiracy, and I think in general for fascists they can be grifters, entertainers, cynically latching onto and detouring conspiracy theories (rather than really coming up with their own research), and even Hitler could be just a "troll", ie doesn't actually believe his own theories. In a sense it's comforting to complain about (and easy to debunk as "fake") the annoyingly inane and silly conspiracy theorists, but to imagine that they don't exist (as real believers or coherent views) is more disenchanting and troubling to counter (their very real exertion of power).

 

 

 

 

d-man
Here's an example of

Here's an example of investigating/uncovering a possible "conspiracy". We could discuss whether the method is sufficient to establish a "conspiracy", because this type of method is fairly common.

The site EverydayFeminism is (or once was) a fairly prominent "social justice" promoter online (of LGTB+, etc. including courses against white fragility), so I'm interested to find out about it. I go the Linkedin page of its founder (2012), and see that she previously worked at the non-profits Ashoka and at Management Assistance Group (MAG, now called Change Elemental). Next I look at the founders of these non-profits;

Ashoka was founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, who immediately prior to that had been "a manager and management consultant, working for McKinsey & Company as a consultant for almost ten years".

MAG was (co-)founded by Karl Mathiasen III, who was "an army veteran of World War II and graduated from Princeton University in 1949. He went on to earn a Masters degree from Columbia University School of International Affairs in 1951. Mr. Mathiasen served with the Agency for International Development from 1951 to 1963. He served in North Africa and as Chief of the Policy Planning Division. After USAID, he was a senior staff member of the Brookings Institution and he was Executive Vice President of the University of North Africa Association. In 1972, he founded the Planning and Management Assistance Project of the Center for Community Change which became the Management Assistance Group (MAG) in 1980. At the MAG, he provided management counseling and organizational analysis to many nonprofit groups." He retired in 1995.

Both these men's career-paths would not be uncommon to members of something like the CIA.

--

We want to avoid the invention of easy conspiracy "amalgams", but we also don't want to be naive, so what conclusions could be legitimately drawn then in the above case, based on the quick information that I randomly presented?

 

 

 

 

 

baboon
The example above from d-man

The example above from d-man is, as he says, very common and this sort of manipulation by various forces of the state is bound to take place in movements such as feminism, Black Lives Matter, leftist groups, political parties and institutions and all sorts of infiltrations into protest, "cultural" and artistic movements that provide these shadowy forces with a certain direction that are in the interests of the capitalist state as certain factions see them.

[Redacted - ICC Forum Team]

Capitalism, particularly in its period of decadence, has become a system that expresses itself in conspiratorial activities like no other. Conspiracies have existed within the ruling classes of all class societies but nowhere have they reached such depths as in the decay of capitalism. And this wasn't a gradual but immediate development as any study of the manipulations and manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie in the situation in Germany 1919 shows - absolutely pivotal for the class struggle. This conspiracy of left and right against the working class was an immediate and profound development and the development of an actively scheming bourgeoisie continued to characterise the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. It is completely within the interests of the bourgeoisie and its states that any attempt of a Marxist understanding of the Machiavellianism of the ruling class is ridiculed and minimised as lunatic rantings by, usually, some kind of democratic mystification. In fact the idea that the ruling class is made up of so many different, competing factions on so many levels that this sort of organisation precludes any attempt at or need for conspiracies is itself a position that tends to support the democratic state.

While there are increasing tendencies to everyman for himself and centrifugal tendencies to all aspects of capitalist life today there is also the tendency for the strengthening of the state and, from its nature, its tendency for conspiratorial behaviours. The bourgeoisie is not an all-powerful elite; despite all the measures it has put in place the economic crisis more and more escapes its control and the generalised effects of decomposition are also expressed in the breakdown of rational thought - a breakdown that also affects the bourgeoisie. I would imagine that this would make the necessities for all sorts of plotting and scheming by the ruling class all the more necessary as a factor of decomposition. I think that one could say that conspiracies among the ruling class are another part of the war of each against all in a global situation of more and more ferocious competition within the general impasse of society. There is also the innate Machiavellian approach of the bourgeoisie to the class struggle and the general ideological value to it of conspiracy theories in general. This is even more so the case as the world historical view of the ruling class comes through the prism of conspiracies, competition and class domination.

Populism and conspiracy theories go hand-in-hand at many levels and the general erosion of critical thought opens up many areas that give weird "explanations" that offer no understanding (rather than a marxist analysis) of the crisis of capitalism. What's useful to the ruling class about the more absurd conspiracy theories is that they use them to hide its own conspiratorial nature because at every level of the capitalist state cliques, plots, competition and schemes are the daily blood of the bourgeoisie. And even some of the more absurd theories, 5G for example, serve certain purposes at the level of imperialism. Others, like the anti-Semitic themes actually reflects in some ways the mainstream thought of the bourgeoisie who deeply harbour such prejudices against Jews and democracies, fascist and Stalinist regimes, have used this at the social level to divide, instigate pogroms, attack the working class and for inter-imperialist purposes; and this particular form of scapegoating also reinforces the general ideology of any type of scapegoating, that "someone else is to blame".

The main sectors of the ruling class, its left-wing are certainly capable of putting forward various conspiracy theories that obscure reality but its more "radical" elements seem to be promulgated by the right wing and extreme right wing at the moment. And this appears to be another element of decomposition in that the extreme-right becomes more and more associated with the mainstream bourgeoisie or other elements of the state. While these more extreme views over conspiracies are spread by the petty-bourgeoisie they express an association and irrationality that is endemic in the main factions of the ruling class. The impasse of capitalist society has undoubtedly contributed to the flourishing of conspiracy theories that more or less suit or reflect the  bourgeoisie's mode of operation even (or especially) if they detract from any marxist analysis of the real conspiratorial nature of the ruling class and its states.

 

 

Forumteam
Announcement from Forum Team

Announcement

When we closed the thread on the Herd Immunity for good on 8 July 2020

•  we expressed our hope that the overall discussion on the Covid pandemic – certainly one of the most important events in the life of capitalism since the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, and a clear expression of the acceleration of capitalist decomposition – would continue on other threads;

•  while at the same time appealing to comrades to think carefully about the manner in which they develop their arguments and respond to those of others.

 

 For its part, the ICC through the Forum Team undertook to be more vigilant about monitoring the political “quality” of future debates.  

The debate went on, but not in the way we had hoped, because soon thereafter a contribution was posted by Baboon on the thread “'Conspiracy Theory' Crypto-fascism?”, containing a paragraph (the second) which is not related to the rest of the post and again makes charges against another comrade. As is the case with certain posts on the “Herd Immunity” thread, the content of this paragraph is not acceptable for the ICC Forum Team.

Such charges not only deviate the discussion onto the noxious terrain of personalisation, but it also expresses disrespect for the forum of a political organisation of the proletariat for which the principles of proletarian fraternity and solidarity are of paramount importance. In the present circumstances of the Covid19 crisis, in which we are not really able to come together physically, the forum is one of the main instruments for the intervention of the ICC towards everyone who feels certain sympathy for the positions of the communist left.

When we invite comrades to participate on the forum, the ICC must also guarantee that this forum is a safe place for every comrade to express themself and participate in the debate. “A real debate among internationalists is only possible if there exists, without hiding the divergences and the contradictory positions of course, a respect for the visions of others.” (“A new start for the forum”).

We asked comrade Baboon to erase the second paragraph of his post and take up his concerns directly with the organisation. But given the fact that he seems unwilling to accede to this request, we are left with no other choice than to delete the paragraph ourselves.

The ICC Forum Team

MH
support for the announcement

I was sorry to see baboon's accusations, for which as far as I could see there was no justification, and I welcome the forumteam's intervention. It's important the ICC sets the tone for debate on its forum and I think it is perhaps paying the price for its lack of presence over the last few years which has allowed resentments to fester. The 'herd immunity' thread was actually a passionately argued debate with many good points made - in fact in some ways it was one of the best we've had for some time! I disagreed with many of his arguments but I do respect jk for putting his views forward even though he said himself he expected to be 'slammed' for them and I welcome the ICC's commitment to providing a 'safe place' for comrades to express themselves. 

d-man
Baboon gave as example of

Baboon gave as example of conspiracies "the manipulations and manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie in the situation in Germany 1919", probably having in mind this ICC article (which quotes from Emil Gumbel's famous 1922 work on political murders). However, if Gumbel could mention several counter-revolutionary clandestine groups, they were no so secret after all. Strictily speaking a conspiracy is just criminal activity involving several people, so it can include even ordinary non-political stuff. What we understand by conspiracy (and in context of "conspiracy theories") is usually something more intricate. 

During and after WW2 there was a US state secret organisation called the "Pond" (see the CIA page linked below on wikipedia). Its leader died in 1982, and would have taken most "evidence" of its operations to his grave, if there was not "accidentely discovered" a statch of papers in a barn in Virginia (where else) in 2001. I just mention this as a point about standards or methodology in our research, namely how much evidence we can expect to find, given that info on the operation of a secret organisation was exposed or "proven", in this case, only almost half a century after it ceased operation.

By the way, the first book-manuscript that Leon Trotsky wrote (while in prison) was about freemasonry. He later recalled that in this work by himself he arrived basically at the historical materialist conception.

But I need not specially plead for the validity of this field, because it is already widely accepted, often as a cheap/titilating soure of entertainment value, which, as Baboon noted, serves to devalue/discredit it as a whole in people's eyes, or the latter adopt the cynical stance, that all the conspiracy stuff may be true, but even if it is true, it wouldn't matter. This cynical stance cedes the field to others, with the consideration that it only can amount to trivial, mere hysterical "liberal" muckraking. Well, I suppose we can dismiss things as being just "liberal", but usually the same people themselves strongly defend mere "liberal" causes when it comes to politics.