[Marxism] Conspiracy Theory

davidquarter at sympatico.ca davidquarter at sympatico.ca
Sat Mar 12 22:50:17 MST 2005

On 10 Mar 2005 at 23:19, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> Conspiracy theory is a dead end -- not just unscientific but tedious.
> -- 
> Yoshie

It would helpful if you started off by definining "conspiracy theory" and b)  

And then  you replace the statement above with one that addresses some  particular 
apsect of so-called 9-11 conspiracy theories that, in your mind,  makes these types 
of the theories unscientific.



    What's Left 
    When's a conspiracy theory not a conspiracy theory? 
    When it's your own
    By Stephen Gowans 
    It has become fashionable these days, in a kind of snobbish way, to 
    denounce 9/11 conspiracy theories. "Conspiracy theories," the growing 
    legion of detractors snort, "are absurd, ridiculous, and beneath contempt. 
    Not only that, they're harmful." 
    And, indeed, it's true; some conspiracy theories are absurd, and some are 
    harmful, but it's doubtful the absolutist position that all conspiracy theories 
    are absurd is also true. Couldn't some conspiracy theories be true? 
    But my purpose isn't to defend this conspiracy theory or that, or to pick the 
    good from the bad, but to look at the way "conspiracy theory" is used as a 
    handy derogatory label to dismiss unpalatable and disturbing views, while 
    other views that are not so unpalatable or disturbing and are just as much 
    conspiracy theories, are accepted as reasonable; some even as received 
    In fact, what's branded a "conspiracy theory" and therefore is said to be 
    worthy of contempt, seems to depend on who's said to be doing the 
    Take the theory that holds that US President George W. Bush had 
    foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks on US buildings, but did nothing to warn 
    Americans, knowing he could use their deaths to his advantage. This theory 
    is denounced as a monstrous slur, as having no basis in fact. And it's 
    branded a "conspiracy theory." 
    But if the same theory were invoked to explain the behavior of an official 
    enemy of the United States, or of the leader of a country Washington 
    considers a rival, what are the chances it would be denounced as a 
    monstrous slur, that has no basis in fact, and amounts to nothing more than 
    base conspiracy theorizing? 
    Slim to none, I'd say. And I believe this to be so, because there is such a 
    theory, and it has hardly been treated as absurd, ridiculous or unthinkable. 
    Indeed, it hasn't even been labelled a conspiracy theory. But its features are 
    no different than the "Bush had foreknowledge and deliberately failed to act" 
    Advanced by the chief UN prosecutor Carla del Ponte, this (unlabelled 
    conspiracy) theory says that former Yugoslav President Slobodan 
    Milosevic, had foreknowledge of NATO attacks on Serb buildings, and did 
    nothing to warn Serbs, knowing he could use their deaths to his advantage. 
    In other words, he did what some conspiracy theorists allege Bush did (or 
    didn't do.) And del Ponte has threatened to add the charge -- a conspiracy 
    view, just as much as the Bush one -- to the list of indictments against 
    Milosevic. So why isn't del Ponte's view branded a "conspiracy theory" and 
    dismissed as beneath our notice? 
    Or what of Russian president Vladimir Putin? How would a theory that says 
    Putin conspired to organize terror attacks against Russian civilians to justify 
    military intervention in Chechnya be received? Like the theory that holds 
    Bush responsible for conspiring to arrange terror attacks against US 
    civilians? Would the Putin-did-it view be denounced, as the views of Jared 
    Israel, Michael Rupert, and Michel Chossudovsky have been (who argue 
    the Bush administration was complicit in 9/11.) Indeed, would the Putin as 
    conspirator view even be called a conspiracy theory, or would it be 
    accepted as a view worthy of consideration by level-headed, reasonable 
    people -- hardly a "conspiracy theory" at all (though it very clearly involves 
    a conspiracy)? 
    The following, published in The Globe and Mail (June 27, 2002), Canada's 
    establishment newspaper, by Amy Knight, a respected university professor, 
    says yes; it would be considered reasonable, and wouldn't be called a 
    "conspiracy theory." 
    "In a third FSB-motivated case," (the FSB is the successor of the 
    KGB) "a Moscow court on Monday convicted former FSB officer 
    Alexander Litvinenko of abuse of office and stealing explosives. 
    (He was given a suspended sentence of three-and-a-half years.) 
    "Mr. Litvinenko, who lives under political asylum in Britain and 
    was...tried in absentia, fled abroad in late 2000, after running afoul 
    of the FSB when he came out with accusations that his employers 
    had ordered him to kill business tycoon Boris Berezovsky. 
    "More recently, Mr. Litvinenko co-authored a book accusing the 
    FSB of complicity in the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia that 
    killed more than 300 people. The bombings, which Russian officials 
    blamed on Chechen rebels, aroused wide public support for a 
    second invasion of Chechnya and helped to catapult Vladimir Putin 
    to power in 2000. 
    "The fact that the culprits were never found and that the FSB was 
    subsequently caught red-handed with explosives in an apartment 
    building in the city of Ryazan (the FSB claimed it was just a 
    "training exercise") led Mr. Litvinenko and many other Russians...to 
    voice suspicion about FSB involvement in the bombings. 
    "The prosecution...of Mr. Litvinenko, hurried through before a law 
    making in-absentia trials illegal comes into force on July 1, may be 
    intended largely as a warning to potential defectors from the 
    security and intelligence services that they would face severe 
    reprisals if they followed in the footsteps of these men. 
    "Given that both so openly and scathingly attacked their former 
    employers, the verdicts against them are not that surprising. 
    Nonetheless, their cases demonstrate that politically motivated 
    trials, a holdover from the Soviet era, are still a part of the Russian 
    judicial system."
    Notice that Litvinenko's allegations, not materially different from the 
    allegations of those who charge the US government with complicity in the 
    9/11 attacks, are discussed in the context of a serious think-piece, written 
    by a serious academic, in a serious, establishment newspaper. Notice too 
    that Litvinenko's charges are not dismissed, and that the quality of his 
    evidence (whatever it might be), is not called into question. And importantly, 
    Litvinenko's views of a Kremlin-based conspiracy aren't called a conspiracy 
    Notice, moreover, that you haven't seen the views of Israel, Rupert or 
    Chossudovsky discussed in the mainstream press as serious allegations 
    worthy of anyone's attention. Indeed, the only sustained attention they've 
    received is in the Left American media, where they've been hysterically 
    denounced on the flimsiest grounds. (David Corn, writing in The Nation, 
    argues that Bush's fear of being caught would have deterred him from 
    conspiring in 9/11. Perhaps, Corn would have argued that Richard Nixon 
    would have never ordered the break-in of the Watergate Hotel, for the same 
    reason: he would have been afraid of being found out.) 
    Yet, notice how close the parallel is between the two views. 
    One theory says, Putin orchestrated attacks on Russian buildings, which he 
    then blamed on Islamists, to justify a war in Central Asia. The other says, 
    Bush orchestrated attacks on US buildings, which he then blamed on 
    Islamists, to justify a war in Central Asia. Suspicions are aroused because 
    Putin has offered not a shred of evidence that the Islamists did it, and 
    because the alleged culprits never actually said, "we did it," an odd thing for 
    terrorists to do. Moreover, the Russian security service was caught placing 
    bombs in Russian buildings. Suspicions are also aroused because Bush has 
    offered no sound evidence that the Islamists did it, and because the alleged 
    culprits have never actually said "we did it," an odd thing for terrorists to do. 
    Moreover, the US security service has a long association with the alleged 
    Yet, despite the parallel, one's treated sympathetically and escapes being 
    branded a "conspiracy theory," while the other is reviled and ridiculed as a 
    "conspiracy theory" and circulates on the margins. 
    There's another parallel. While NATO was laying waste to Yugoslavia in the 
    spring of 1999, I was struck by how the media attributed base and 
    manipulative motives to non-NATO governments, particularly those of 
    Yugoslavia, Russia and China, while angelizing the motives of NATO 
    countries. So, for example, Milosevic's government was said to be inspired 
    by ethnic hatred, Russia's opposition to the bombing was imputed to Slavic 
    ethnic solidarity, while NATO governments were motivated by humanitarian 
    concerns. Isn't dismissing conspiracy as the basis for our own government's 
    actions, while accepting it as a possible basis for the actions of foreign 
    governments, another instance of angelizing our own leaders while 
    demonizing foreign leaders? 
    And there' another level on which the labelling of views as conspiracy 
    theories is selective. While views that hold the US government responsible 
    for, or as being complicit in, the 9/11 attacks, are disparaged as "conspiracy 
    theories," the official view, which is every bit as much a conspiracy theory, 
    is accepted as a received truth. That theory, it will be recalled, presented on 
    no evidence at all, but with the demand that it be accepted on faith, holds 
    that Osama bin Laden, "a sinister mastermind", conspired to have aircraft 
    flown into the WTC and Pentagon because he hates American "freedom 
    and democracy." What's more, the White House peremptorily dismissed 
    requests to see evidence, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's brief he 
    claimed proved the Saudi terrorist's culpability was a pathetic farrago of 
    leaps of logic and old newspaper clippings. In other words, the evidence for 
    the official conspiracy theory is no better, and a thousand times weaker, 
    than the evidence for antigovernment theories of only mediocre quality. It's 
    as if what amounts to a conspiracy theory and is worthy of contempt is any 
    set of unsubstantiated allegations other than the one set forth by the White 
    House, State Department and Pentagon. 
    You don't need a conspiracy theory to explain that. You need only point to 
    patriotism; the patriotism that holds foreign leaders conspire; American 
    leaders never do. 
    You may re-post this article, providing the text remains unchanged. 
    Join our e-mail list. Send an e-mail to What's Left and write "subscribe" in 
    the subject line. 
    What's Left

More information about the Marxism mailing list