Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

It’s hard to go a day without hearing some kind of conspiracy theory. Most of them come from the left, but many do from the right as well, and the line between logical and insane is frequently tested.

For example, is it a conspiracy theory to think Barack Obama is a type of “Manchurian Candidate” who may have been born in Kenya, raised by American Communists like Bill Ayers and Frank Marshall, and sent to Washington to use a Clovard-Piven strategy to bankrupt America and precipitate change to a Communist revolution?

Beats me, but it wouldn’t be a bad strategy, for those who want power at any cost.

It’s not entirely conspiratorial to wonder about the lack of documents from Mr. Obama. Not specifically his birth certificate, but the utter lack of school records, close friends, legal practice and/or huge time periods in his early life. For all we know, he was in Moscow smoking phillies with Kim Philby.

You can see the difficulty. At some point, the cart pulls the horse, and the grasping mind looks for plausible connections to fit into its narrative. Other things are just suspicious and some standard practices and motivations often correlate with them. Could be, couldn’t be, on and on South of Heaven.

However, for your paranoid eyes today, another suggestion pops up: that our politics is mostly a show designed to distract us, a pleasant series of talking points, with an unrelated struggle going on beneath the surface.

This man-behind-the-curtain manipulates American and European politics as surely as a James Bond supervillain or the most noxious Mafia don or oligarch you can imagine. It comes in three forms:

  1. Money.
  2. Quality of individuals.
  3. Group identity.

The talking points you read in papers or hear about on the radio — gay marriage, abortion, gun control, immigration amnesty, democracy, etc. — are not in and of themselves all that valuable. They are not acts, but signals, designed to manipulate the above.

Money requires that there be flashy issues to distract the neurotic herd and keep business as usual running. It also likes the expansion of rules, which forces work-arounds, and the cultivation of new audiences.

Individual quality is what has kept our nation from falling apart under the sheer weight of all the contradictory, vague and incoherent law piled onto it over the past two centuries or so. When you put good people into any official capacity, they figure out the task and make it work, usually bending or outright violating the rules so they achieve the goal.

Group identity is more complex. Liberals signal each other to rally around the standard of universal acceptance with issues like gay marriage and immigrant amnesty. Conservatives bunch up over issues of the sacred, like sanctity of life (both abortion and death penalty fall here) or preservation of tradition.

By the time these ideas make it to the surface, they have been translated into emotional signals others can recognize, or methods of hiding the actual agenda. As a result, our candidates go out there and grin their way through promises and debates that are mostly inconsequential.

Sure, there are real issues too. National defense is real, as are many aspects of domestic policy. But the issues that get the most flare-up coverage are the symbolic ones, the emotional ones that unite a crowd into either hoisting mugs or heating up the tar and feathers.

Democracy is a strange beast. We are foolish if we call ourselves its master.


  1. Lisa Colorado says:

    My husband is a regular guy who lives by rules and does what’s right. I am a slacker who does just what’s necessary and then spends time on my studies and ideas and creative work.

    So the kids and I had this way of fudging. The rule was, “we are going to ___have banana splits for lunch. Hey, there’s fruit in them.___ or whatever. And, this is not a secret…if anybody asks, we tell the truth…but it’s better if nobody notices or finds the evidence laying around.

    Most of the time we got to do whatever we wanted. It was probably a terrible message to give to the kids, but it’s just how the power structure worked around here. Power is not what they say it is, it’s all kinds of things happening. Those who we call leaders are not really. They are just doing what works, the same as their so-called followers who really just do whatever they can handle to do. For example, government programs do not achieve their titled aims at all. Look at the war on drugs, terror, poverty. Look at fairness doctrines and the way state lottery money is supposed to be spent on schools and parks, but ends up in campaigners’ pockets.

    The war in Iraq was started in some part not for oil or because Saddam was intolerable, but because he and other cohorts were wedging their way in to destroying our currency, and for some reason the government and media couldn’t say this–perhaps because other enemies would then pile on in that effort and make it happen. That’s my theory, anyway–who knows?

    All we can do is return to our integrity and stop buying crap both material and non-material, and hope that we can join up with causes and efforts that have integrity.

    1. Those who we call leaders are not really. They are just doing what works, the same as their so-called followers who really just do whatever they can handle to do.

      It’s a giant paste-up job in other words. Too true. What “works” is what works right now in the short term and so we keep passing the buck along. How can anyone criticize us? Even if in only a dozen years, it will end in misery.

      1. Lisa Colorado says:

        Well, avoiding criticism is just another part of “what works.” And dealing with misery…

        In my advancing age I’m starting to accept people as they are, as they look, and for how they are instead of first thinking what the template is supposed to be.

        1. crow says:

          I tend to notice, more and more, the sheer number of people visibly bent-out-of-shape by their worldview.
          The body-language of the leftist is grotesque.
          It’s pretty hard to ignore.

  2. crow says:

    …the line between logical and insane is frequently tested.

    Tested using ‘logic’.
    The more I encounter this thing known as ‘logic’, the more suspect it becomes.
    It resembles religion, in that it rests upon some unproved, unproven, and unprovable base that gets defined by the one employing it.
    This ‘logic’ thing is more often emotional bias, that is anything the user wants it to be, yet is held up as immutable and ‘true’.
    Another delusion, then, that has little/no validity.
    An interpretive layer, inserted between reality and subjective judgement.

    There may exist, somewhere, some gold-standard ‘logic’ that is pure and unbiased. But who, now, can tell it apart from its myriad facsimiles and lookalikes?

    1. You’re making a classic mistake of confusing instance and essence. If some hipster uses bad judgment, and claims it’s logic, that doesn’t make logic bad. It makes the hipster bad.

      1. crow says:

        It makes logic bad by associating whatever it is with logic.
        Enough bad logic makes the whole concept of logic illogical.

  3. RJ says:

    Not a day goes by without an anti-conspiracy theory neither guy.

  4. ferret says:

    …it wouldn’t be a bad strategy, for those who want power at any cost

    Those who have assigned Obama to be elected could afford it. And, even without involving too much conspiracy, it’s possible that his masters started all that fuss about the citizenship in order to distract people’s attention from what he is actually doing.

    Nothing is free. Somebody has paid for the election, as G. Sores paid for the OWS movement.

    our politics is mostly a show designed to distract us, a pleasant series of talking points, with an unrelated struggle going on beneath the surface.

    One more option for the conspiracy: there is no even a struggle beneath the surface. Those who have real power have organized this two parties system, so that all strata of the society would participate in the show.

    As long as there are at least two fighting groups of people, these men-behind-the-curtain can feel safe doing whatever they want. Or, maybe, not even men but aliens from alpha centauri :)

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