By Brishon Martin and John Yokela
(This article was originally written in 1999 in rebuttal to (CFR member and NeoCon) Daniel Pipes’ book: “Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From.” We updated it June 2021.)
The definition of “conspiracy” from Oxford Languages is: “the action of plotting or conspiring,” and “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.”
Have you ever been hesitant to express your views because you are reluctant to be labeled a “conspiracy theorist”? As the phrase “conspiracy theory” is now commonly used it is an “anti-concept.” In “‘Extremism,’ or The Art of Smearing,” novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand wrote about this predatory linguistic technique as follows: “It consists of creating an artificial, unnecessary, and (rationally) unusable term, designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concepts – a term which sounds like a concept, but stands for a ‘package-deal’ of disparate, incongruous, contradictory elements taken out of any logical conceptual order or context, a ‘package-deal’ whose (approximately) defining characteristic is always a non-essential. This last is the essence of the trick.”(1)(While it could be argued that “conspiracy theory” could be a legitimate concept, it is an “anti-concept” as commonly used today.)
Further, Rand states in 1971 in her article “Credibility and Polarization”: “The use of anti-concepts gives the listeners a sense of approximate understanding. But in the realm of cognition, nothing is as bad as the approximate… One of today’s fashionable anti-concepts is “polarization.” Its meaning is not very clear, except that it is something bad, undesirable, socially destructive — evil. It’s something that would split the country into irreconcilable camps and conflicts. It…serves as a kind of “argument from intimidation”: it replaces a discussion of the merits…of a given idea by the menacing accusation that such an idea would “polarize” the country – which is supposed to make one’s opponents retreat… It is doubtful…that one could get away with declaring explicitly: “Let us abolish all debate on fundamental principles!”… If, however, one declares “Don’t let us polarize,” and suggests a vague image of warring camps ready to fight (with no mention of the fight’s object), one has a chance to silence the mentally weary. The use of “polarization” as a pejorative term means: the suppression of fundamental principles. Such is the pattern of the function of anti-concepts.”(2)
In a similar vein, the anti-concept “conspiracy theory” – or by extension “conspiracy theorist” – obliterates the distinction between an irrational conspiracy theory and a rational conspiracy theory. As used today, this term “package-deals” irrationality with non-government sanctioned theories of conspiracies, often bringing men to doubt their own judgement when analyzing the evidence regarding a conspiracy. The widespread effect in popularizing this all-purpose smear is to make people depend on government and globalist-controlled “authorities” to determine which conspiracies are within the bounds of reason and which are not. Topping off the intellectual confusion we hear a chorus of mostly globalist propagandists assuring us that if we doubt the mainstream media or the “authorities” then we must be “crazy tin-foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists.” Thus, the logical fallacy of “argument from intimidation” is widely used in conjunction with the anti-concept “conspiracy theory.”
“Conspiracy theory” is not intended to smear all theories involving two or more humans working together for nefarious purposes, i.e., conspiracies. There are some accounts of conspiracies that the globalists and their mainstream establishment do want you to buy into – their own. They assert that their accounts of conspiracies are unquestionably “rational,” and if you disagree then you are de facto irrational and even mentally ill – and since 2021 even a “Domestic Terrorist”(3). It is not conspiracies in general that the anti-concept of “conspiracy theory” is meant to discredit but rather only those conspiracies that are not approved by the globalist establishment.
Just a few examples of conspiracy narratives the government and globalists have worked hard to get the public to believe, include:
(a) The Casus Belli for the Vietnam War known as “The Gulf of Tonkin Incident” (note: the government’s claimed conspiracy theory here is now admitted to have been false)(4)
(b) The USS Liberty attack where Israel severely damaged a US Navy technical research ship and killed 34 US soldiers in 1967 and where “the USS Liberty Veterans Association filed a “Report of War Crimes Committed Against the U.S. Military” about this incident, and the “NSA had yet to declassify “boxes and boxes” of Liberty documents”(5);
(c) The destruction of the Oklahoma City Federal Building which our mainstream media and government officials assured us was unquestionably a conspiracy led by a US soldier, Timothy McVeigh, who was supposedly so outraged by the government’s killing of US citizens in Waco and Ruby Ridge that he killed 168 US innocent citizens himself(6);
(d) The 9/11 attacks were unquestionably a conspiracy led by a lone rebellious member of the fabulously wealthy Saudi Arabian industrialist family tied to Henry Kissinger(7) (Osama Bin Laden), despite credible accusations of Osama’s indirect ties to the CIA(8), and many other problems with the official narrative (for more see all the professional organizations that sprung up to challenge the government narrative like “Architects for 911 Truth, Engineers for 911 Truth, Pilots for 911 Truth, and the new documentary “Seven” about the 3rd WTC building that came down on 911, and the “First Responders [who] Urge[d] Congress to Reopen 9/11 Investigation at [a] News Conference…Held on September 11th(9)). And all of that days events done without anyone in the West’s multi-trillion dollar Industrial Military spying) Complexes knowing anything about it;
(e) The Covid-19 “crisis” and it just coincidentally dove-tailing and coinciding with the “Great Reset,” the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the “Vaccine passports,” and the “having no private property,” agenda which have all been pushed for decades by the United Nations; its NGOs; globalists; and their organizations like Bill Gates and his foundation; Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum; The Rockefeller Foundation; and 20+ world leaders (calling for a “new global settlement”(10)); plus Silicon Valley’s fascist (tied to the government) and heavy-censoring high-tech cartels.
Leaving examples now, and returning to logical fallacies often used with “conspiracy theory” and we encounter The “Appeal to Authority” fallacy. One can properly appeal to an authority, or expert, when they are knowledgeable in a subject that you are not when you need information to come to a decision, e.g., appealing to your car mechanic regarding your car’s mechanical problem. However, for such an appeal to be logical the authority must be trustworthy, in particular, the authority must never have been exposed as lying because once a person, organization, or government has been shown to deceive then it is illogical and self-sacrificial to continue to treat their statements as having cognitive meaning. Statements from a liar are neither true nor false — they are arbitrary and thus useless. This standard is often applied in a court of law. Once a witness has been shown to have lied a judge will usually instruct the jury to ignore all of that person’s testimony. Standards of trustworthiness at least as high as those that apply in court should apply to an individual, a government, the United Nations, or to their spokespeople if we are to rely on these for truthful information about reality which will guide our actions. However, these very institutions and their spokespeople have been caught lying, or engaged in corruption, countless times. Just to focus on the US: recall the Watergate break-ins and scandal from the Nixon era; Iran-Contra “guns for rebels,” and “No new taxes,” from the Reagan-Bush era; and continuing the Bush dynasty such whoppers as “Weapons of mass destruction;” and “Mission Accomplished;” and then we had the bald-faced and televised lie, testimonial evasions, and impeachment with Clinton regarding Lewinski, and his ties to pedophile blackmail ringleader Jeffery Epstein (ties shared by Trump and Bill Gates)(11). Despite a steady diet of lies and corruption, the U.S. government’s and globalist’s narratives have been proven to have been a repeating series of deceits and manipulations.
Instead of being intimidated, or appealing to an unreliable authority, when trying to suss out the cause of a political event or agenda, we should ask: (1) Cui Bono? – Who benefits?; (2) who had or has the opportunity; (3) who has the means; and (4) who has a historical track record of doing similar things — especially when it comes to a track record of seeking global domination. Could the groups that benefited the most from an event or agenda, who had the most opportunity, great means, and track record, have conducted it themselves? If you think that is impossible then witness in your own mind the power of the “conspiracy theory” anti-concept.
Finally, the mother of all conspiracies, the one establishment technocratic elite globalists have traditionally been most desirous to hide and/or smear, and most eager to call a “conspiracy theory” has been their ambition for totalitarian global power and control. Perhaps because they see themselves so advanced in their power and feel unstoppable now they sometimes feel free to let the cat out of the bag. To wit from his 2003 autobiography: David Rockefeller: “Some even believe [the Rockefellers] are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I’m proud of it.”(12)
The progenitor of the anti-concept of “conspiracy theory” was the CIA.(13) “Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs. Conspiracy theory’s acutely negative connotations may be traced to liberal historian Richard Hofstadter’s well-known fusillades against the “New Right.” Yet it was the Central Intelligence Agency that likely played the greatest role in effectively “weaponizing” the term. In the groundswell of public skepticism toward the Warren Commission’s findings… the CIA sent a detailed directive to all of its bureaus. Titled “Countering Criticism of the Warren Commission Report,” the dispatch played a definitive role in making the “conspiracy theory” term a weapon to be wielded against almost any individual or group calling the government’s increasingly clandestine programs and activities into question… CIA Document 1035-960 was released in response to a 1976 FOIA request by the New York Times. The directive is especially significant because it outlines the CIA’s concern regarding “the whole reputation of the American government” vis-à-vis the Warren Commission Report. The agency was especially interested in maintaining its own image and role as it “contributed information to the [Warren] investigation.”(14)
In sum, the globalists, their functionaries and unwitting dupes, are weaponizing language in an effort to make us confused, fearful and obedient in order to make themselves globalist totalitarian masters of, in the words of George Bush, the “New World Order”(15). The use of weaponized language, like “conspiracy theory,” is used to advance their agenda. It is an insidious abuse of language and benevolent communication, going beyond mere propaganda and truth suppression, to the prevention of wayward and unapproved thoughts, accusations of mental illness, and worse(16).
(1) The Objectivist Newsletter, September 1964, reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
(2) The Ayn Rand Letter, October 11, 1971
“We were shocked. Kissinger had huge conflicts of interest — major dealings with the Saudis … The day before he resigned, we had a meeting with him in his office in Manhattan. Kristen [Breitweiser] had done impeccable research. She’d looked up all of his companies. So I asked him, ‘Mr. Kissinger, do you have any Saudi clients?’ He mumbled something. And then he asked if someone would pour him some coffee. So then I said, ‘Do you happen to have any clients by the name of bin Laden? He almost fell off the couch.”
(13) U.S. National Archives and Records Administration: CIA 1035-960 – “Countering Criticism of the Warren Report”, NARA Record Number: 104-10404-10376