I wonder if the human species is the only one to so quickly accept the idea of greater forces working in their favor, whilst at the same time automatically dismiss the possibility of any forces conspiring against them. If we can establish there are groups of people coordinating to impact the world positively (as there are – i.e. Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch etc.) it follows that it is neither wholly unreasonable nor illogical to assume the opposite. There are groups of people coordinating with the express intent of doing harm to others – most likely (though not always) in order to produce a favorable result for themselves.
It’s a common sense response when confronted with evidence of a conspiracy to say, “these types of things happen as a result of human error.” While that may be true, to some extent, can we really be led to believe that a residual pattern of censorship and egregious human rights violations can be explained by human error? Is the historically overlooked Battle of Blair Mountain1 (recently brought to my attention by an esteemed scholar) – wherein the U.S. government ordered the use of federal troops and dropped left over bombs from WWI on striking coal miners in West Virginia, a possible case of human error? I think not. If even one example is not a case of human error, then we can no longer continue with this line of reasoning. If w can establish it is the case that even one event cannot be explained by human error, and there is sufficient evidence to prove motive, action, and result, we have uncovered a conspiracy. If it stands that we have uncovered one conspiracy, it is likely it is not the only conspiracy to ever exist.
Another well-known example of harmful coordination in United States history is known as “the Business plot2.” In 1933 a group of elite businessmen including the heads of Chase Bank, GM, Goodyear, the DuPont family, and Prescott Bush (father of H.W and grandfather to W) attempted to recruit Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. The plot included plans to provide Butler with the funding and the manpower to lead a military coup of over 500,000 men, overthrowing FDR and installing a fascist dictatorship in the United States, just as fascism and Nazism was on the rise in Europe. We know about this today because of Smedley Butler’s loyalty to FDR, and Butler’s character and commitment to the prosperity of this country. He is the author of an enlightening speech and booklet, War is a Racket (1935). It is a short read, but
greatly informative. In 1934, Butler testified before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities Congressional committee known as the “McCormack Dickstein Committee.” Though the committee found Butler’s testimony to be credible, no prosecutions followed. Prescott Bush would later be elected a U.S. Senator, and his history of financially supporting Nazi’s (though well documented now3) went unnoticed. Furthermore the United States government has engaged in false-flag operations wherein the U.S. either claims to have been attacked, or allows for an attack to happen – while blaming it on an outside invader. This allows the government to not only frame itself as the savior and the only stable means of protection in the face of an amorphous foreign enemy, but also serves to galvanize popular support for an overseas invasion. Declassified documents pertaining to the Gulf of Tonkin incident preceding the United States invasion of Vietnam shed new light on the gravity of deception tactics the government and military used on the public to illicit an emotional reaction in support of what would be perceived as justified retaliation. Originally the military and government presented the story that on August 2nd, 1964 a U.S. destroyer had been engaged by North Vietnamese torpedo boats, and fired back in defense, resulting in a sea-battle. The government and military then put forth a second encounter of another sea-battle claiming it occurred two days later. In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified4. It stated the Maddox (the destroyer from the first engagement) had fired first and engaged in a sea-battle, but the second event was a complete fabrication. These events were sensationalized and widely proliferated by the media, and in return popular sentiment for military engagement shifted. As a result of these events (not solely) the U.S. committed ground troops to Vietnam.
These events are not simply matters of historical debate. Just recently, a deputy prosecutor in Johnson County Indiana was forced to resign after it was brought to light in February (of this year) he suggested employing a “false flag operation.5” He suggested this tactic in the context of attempting to distract from and discredit the cause of unionists and citizens exercising their first amendment rights as the Wisconsin Governor waged an all out assault on collective bargaining. Wisconsin Watch, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism broke the story publicly.
The point of this article is not to prove or assert that everything is a conspiracy. However, by that same token we cannot conclude that nothing is a conspiracy. People who claim there are
no conspiracies embrace the same absolutist underlying logic (although inverted) as the people who claim everything to be a conspiracy. This kind of universal blanket outlook to any and all events can distort individual situations, which will likely require greater attention than can be allotted in a single history course or textbook. The truthful answers tend to lie somewhere in the middle. It is up to the public to stay vigilant and informed — because everything is not always as it seems.
Michael Schirtzer is a fourth-year History major with an emphasis on revolutionary and conspiratorial history and personal experience in corporate litigation. Currently researching conspiracy as an assistant to both professors O’Connor and Kalman in the UCSB History Department.
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