by Bill Weinberg, World War 4 Report
New York City's WBAI Radio—flagship of the progressive, non-profit Pacifica Network, where I am a producer—unfortunately provides a case study in the increasing embrace of right-wing conspiracy theory by the remnants of the American (and global) left.
The most useful propaganda device in this ongoing hostile take-over of the rump progressive forces has been an exploitation of the traumatic events of September 11, 2001. Alex Jones, who trumpets anti-immigrant bromides alongside 9-11 pseudo-exposés, now rivals Noam Chomsky as an icon on lefty websites. Where our rhetoric once invoked the military-industrial complex and even the sacrosanct capitalist system, today our ire is frequently targeted at such arcane entities as the Bilderberg Club, the Bavarian Illuminati, and stranger things.
WBAI provides a useful case study because it has followed the same trajectory as many of basically progressive inclination since 2001. What began as an examination of seeming anomalies in the case of 9-11 has lured some of our best minds down a black hole of irrationality that ultimately leads—and this, as shall be demonstrated, is not just hyperbole—to fascism.
Critical Inquiry versus Conspiranoia
Before detailing the dynamics of this deterioration, it is necessary to define some terms for the discussion—and particularly to draw a distinction between legitimate critical inquiry and what we may term "conspiranoia"—a state of perpetual paranoia about conspiracies in high places, in which the improbable and even faintly impossible is treated as a fait accompli if it supports the proffered theory. It may begin with pre-planted explosives or missiles bringing down the Twin Towers, but it frequently doesn't end there—because once you abandon reason, anything goes.
Blind to the populist element of fascism, we become vulnerable to its propaganda. Amazingly, among those to exhibit this error in recent days is none other than longtime leftist icon Fidel Castro. Since stepping down from power, Havana's elder statesman has been writing a lot for his blog, "Reflections by Comrade Fidel," which is posted on the website of the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. His Aug. 19 entry was entitled "The World Government"—traditionally a canard of the political right, which sees the globalist conspiracy as one of the left. The entry consists in its majority of an extended excerpt from Daniel Estulin's The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club. There isn't the slightest initmation that Fidel is quoting Estulin in any sense other than favorably.
Most ironically of all, the Estulin quote includes a citation to far-right cult-master (and convicted credit-card fraud felon) Lyndon LaRouche, in which he portrays the "Aquarian Conspiracy" of the "counterculture" as an insidious tool for social control. Those who can remember back to the 1980s will recall that LaRouche was a big booster of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") program, which was instrumental in driving Cuba's Soviet patrons to collapse. In true fascist style, LaRouche weds paranoia about sinister banking conspiracies with a vicious anti-communism.
So why is Fidel Castro embracing a writer who, in turn, embraces Lyndon LaRouche? It may be cruel to speculate that it has to do with his advancing years, but Fidel did have the humility to step down from power when he felt he was no longer up to it. Maybe his handlers should clue him in that he should stop doing his blog.
But there is, of course, a bigger political point here.
The conspiracy theory of history has right-wing roots, and remains inherently a phenomenon of the right. Its origins are in the writings of the reactionary 18th-century Jesuit Abbé Barruel, who blamed the French Revolution on the medieval Order of Templars. His emulators blamed Freemasons and the Illuminati for the assault on Europe's old order. This became the template nearly a century later for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This document first emerged along with the pogroms, in which Jewish villages were attacked and burned as Jews were scapegoated for the rising of revolutionary currents in the Russia of the czars. It was later adopted by Hitler, and justified his Final Solution. Conspiranoid thinking was seen in America in the anti-communist hysteria of the Cold War, heyday of the John Birch Society; and then in the "New World Order" scare of the '90s, heyday of the militia movement. Since 9-11, the conspiracy milieu has been in a state of hypertrophy, becoming a virtual industry.
Conspiracy theory is what fascism gives the "Little Man" instead of a fundamental change in the system and an overturning of oppressive power relations. Especially with the Tea Party and allied movements perfectly poised to exploit the ongoing economic agony in America and bring about a genuinely fascistic situation in this country, it is imperative that we don't fall for it.
Bill Weinberg is editor of World War 4 Report and, for the moment, co-producer of the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade on WBAI-FM in New York City, an anarchist-themed talk-show featuring the best in world music.
(Note: This is not the website of the Bilderbergs; they have no website because they don't exist.)
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