Niggling doubts

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Wed Sep 19 09:01:22 MDT 2001

Einde O'Callaghan wrote:
> All the discussion of the supposed links is so hedged by phrases like
> "it is believed" (rarely any mention of who believes and what evidence
> they have), "it seems", "apparently" etc. Or if sources are mentioned
> they are usually very hazy as in "security services suspect" or
> "intelligence sources believe". In other words nobody has a fucking clue
> who really did it - and yet they are prepared to risk starting World War
> III.
> I'm not making any attempt to apportion blame here. I think that our
> main effort has to be directed to opposing the war drive and patiently
> explaining that, yes, there really are some people that are so pissed
> off by the actions of American imperialism that they really might
> contemplate and carry out such an act. But it's also worthwhile to pick
> holes in the official story, even if we shouldn't go to the extreme of
> believing that the CIA or some shadowy conspiracy set the whole thing
> up.

This is excellent. Note that the government's "case" against bin Laden,
or anyone else, is based on the same kind of reasoning from
"plausibility" (i.e., preconceptions, stereotypes) as is the "case" of
some on this list for a CIA plot. In fact, questions of "who did it" in
reference to specific crimes cannot be intelligently or usefully argued
out in editorials or political analyses (left or right). We should begin
to scream loudly that no case has been made against bin Laden. It will
only blur that message to be speculating at the same time (on equally
shadowy grounds) that "the government" or the CIA or ...... did it.

Guilt or innocence in the case of perpetration of single acts is
properly decided only in a court of law. We (leftists) have neither
courts nor marshalls to bring in the accused nor the power to subpoena
witnesses to testify under oath on pain of imprisonment for perjury.

It is worth noting two quite different categories both of which can be
termed "conspiracies," but they differ radically both in their internal
structure and in respect to methods of revealing them.

One is the "secret" kind of conspiracy: it only works if the general
public never finds out about it. And such conspiracies aren't very
interesting from a political standpoint. For example, I've always
suspected that the Symbionese Liberation Army (kidnappers of Patricia
Hearst) was a police conspiracy -- and they killed off all the evidence
on the occasion of the attempt to "arrest" its members. In other words,
the first victims of the conspiracy were the men who carried it out. I
also suspect that, if it was a conspiracy, it was not high level but of
a very common sort over the last couple of centuries: it was a
conspiracy among a small number of police to get an increase for their
budget. And finally, even if that conspiracy had been revealed, not very
many people would ever have heard of it anyhow, those who did would
forget or brush it off as just another case of police corruption, and
everyone knows police are corrupt and so what else is new. It would have
been a pitiful waste of the time for leftists to have launched a great
investigation to determine if SLA was a conspiracy.

And of course the granddaddy of all conspiracies of this sort is the
Kennedy assassination. And I think the basic impulse  behind that
conspiracy theory was contempt for ordinary people. How would a punk
like whats-his-name have the nerve and ability to kill a Kennedy. And if
a conspiracy had been proven it would have been an absolute disaster for
the left. All of our effort in the '60s to present the Vietnam War as a
manifestation of imperialism would have been wasted, because the war was
not the fault of imperialism but of a few scheming men in the CIA or
wherever. The War Criminal Kennedy, whose inaugural address was a
declaration of war on the people of the Third World would have been
exonerated, and with him his class and the capitalist system. We would
have lost on two counts. On the one hand, even if a conspiracy were
proven, huge numbers of people still wouldn't believe it. On the other
hand, huge numbers of those who did beleive it would remain or become
liberals and anti-communists.

But there is another kind of "conspiracy" which it is our central task
to expose. Those are the conspiracies which are "open secrets." The
_conspiracy_ in the case of Vietnam was not the Tonkin Bay Episode.
Tonkin Bay episodes are, as they say, a dime a dozen, and the government
can, has, and will invent them ad infinitum as needed. We need to note
them, but not make a fuss about them. The _real_ conspiracy in Vietnam
was the War as a whole, the entire attack on the Vietnamese people. And
we did a fair job of exposing that conspiracy, because all the evidence
for it was right there in the pages of the bourgeois press. The same
goes for the overthrow of Mossedegh (perhaps the ultimate direct source
of last week's terror), for the invasion of Haiti, for the Contra War,
and on and on. They are open secrets. "Everyone" knows them and almost
no one knows them. Our task is to help people know what they already
know but don't know they know. It is simply silly to turn politics into
an Agatha Christie tale.

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