The trouble with most conspiracy theories, in addition to being wrong, is they tend to distract from the more important issue. The conspiratorially minded like to play connect the dots, linking various people together in support of their favorite theory. Each node of the conspiracy has the same interests as the other, which is why they are conspiring together on some caper. More often than not, the connections are incidental and explained by other, less nefarious, reasons.
Those incidental and casual connections, however, are the important bit to study, as it explains much about the current age. For example, the current impeachment hoax is the result of conspiracy theories cooked up a social network in Washington. The people involved are all friends and acquaintances, who live in the same place and circulate among the same group of people. What looks like a conspiracy is the result of an emergent set of beliefs within a social set.
Eric Ciaramella, the CIA plant, who concocted the predicate for the impeachment hoax is friends with John Brennan, the former CIA director. He is also in the same social set as members of Adam Schiff’s crew of witch hunters. Like a religious cult, these people reinforce the paranoia of one another with these bizarre theories to explain what they think is some great anomaly. Trump could not have won the election fair and square, so there must be some hidden reason behind it.
The problem with looking at this as a conspiracy theorist would is it shifts the focus from the social networks from which this conspiracy theory emerged. The reason for this and all of the other capers we have seen of late is that these people are now a separate and insulated community, rather than civil servants living on our communities. Their roles in the state are not jobs that provide them with a salary, but a way of life that is all encompassing.
Someone like Eric Ciaramella is not hanging out with his neighbor the accountant or the lawyer across the street. His kids are not playing with the plumber’s kids. His wife is not hanging out with other moms at the soccer field. His social life is entangled with his professional life. This was clear in the seditious plot run by the FBI. These people were all friends before they became subversives. Their jobs in the bureaucracy are not what they do for work. It is who they are as people.
The social aspect is most evident in the media. This puff piece in The Atlantic about disgraced neocons Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg is a good example. Both are long time conspiracy theorists, who have traveled in the same circles for years. Back in the Bush years, Hayes pushed the insane theory that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attack. Goldberg, of course, has made all sorts of bizarre claims about Donald Trump and his voters.
Now, the glue holding this absurd vanity project together is rage over the 2016 election, but it could not happen without the wide ranging social network. These people all live near one another and socialize with one another. They have posts of various importance at the same think tanks and foundations. They work the same donor class for money for these media projects. The world of conservative opinion in Washington is a closed community walled off from the rest of us.
The temptation is to focus on the absurdity of that puff piece in The Atlantic. After all, both of these people were promoters of the Russia hoax and both were cheerleaders for the pointless wars of choice in the Bush years. Two shameless liars now claiming to operate an antidote to fake news is easy to mock. The more important part though is the fact that such a thing even exists and is promoted by other media. Again, it is the result of that community of likeminded that exists around Washington.
That puff piece in The Atlantic is a favor to friends. The guy running The Atlantic is a fanatical Zionist and anti-Trump crusader. He’s happy to promote this project as a favor to his community. The writer, McKay Coppins, is a fellow traveler, happy to slobber over this project, as he could get a job there one day. Maybe it will get him a look at one of the think tanks that prop up many of these media operations. Although, he may have to change religions to land one of those gigs.
This is fundamentally the problem with Washington. It is an incestuous community cut off from the rest of us. That’s why no one ever gets punished for screwing up or breaking the law. Bill Barr is not going to prosecute the crooked FBI agents, because their friends are his friends. That would put him in bad odor with the rest of the community and we can’t have that. It’s not a conspiracy, but a community coming together to support their own.
Of course, this is most obvious in the media, which exists to promote and defend their friends in the political class. Stephen Hayes keeps his perch at Fox News, despite being wrong about everything for two decades. Goldberg plays the affable dufus to such great effect, not one can tell if he is acting. The whole point of having pundits on to comment about the news is they are supposed to bring expertise and insider knowledge. Instead it is high paying workfare for the community dimwits.
This is why reform is impossible. Trump winning the 2016 election just stiffened the resolve of the community. If Bernie Sanders wins the 2020 election, he will be invading Syria by 2022. His supporters in the socialist camp will learn the same lesson dissident have been faced with since 2016. The community that runs the empire is immune from the consequences of elections. It is always heads they win, tails we lose. The only reform that is possible is the people’s avenger.
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