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Nothing in this article is true (but it’s exactly how things are)

September 27, 2004

Conspiracy theories are a guilty pleasure for many. Are they the ravings of the paranoid, or a modern mythology? I brave the black helicopters to bring you this exclusive dispatch from the outer limits of sanity.

The real Nelson Mandela is in a lock up ward for the criminally insane at Valkenberg mental hospital, driven mad like Tsafendas before him. The man we think is Madiba is an actor, employed by the Broederbond to create the illusion of democracy.

The CIA invented HIV as a biological weapon to kill Black people and gays.

Jesus was married at Cana to Mary Magdalene. Their children started the Merovingian royal line. Secret societies and the Knights Templar have been fighting for a thousand years to restore these true kings, so that peace can reign on Earth.
Taking a history lesson from the Nazi’s burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin, George W Bush and his friends were responsible for the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Once upon a time, peaceful Brown people populated the Earth. Then aliens created a hybrid master race – white people – to rule the indigenous inhabitants. Hitler was in contact with these aliens – and the Americans are today.

The conspiracy theory and esoteric archeology shelves at the bookstores are full, and it’s not just nutcases buying the books – people as prominent as our president and health minister have been influenced by these ideas. There’s a veritable industry of people supplying answers to those nagging questions. But do conspiracy theories have anything worthwhile to say?

Essentially, the story is the same. Give or take an alien or two, it goes like this:

Somewhere deep in human history, we lived in harmony. This might have been in Atlantis, Shambala or Thule, or on another planet. But in this paradise, we had 12-stranded DNA and communicated telepathically.

Then there was a Fall, caused by a lust for power, and civilisation was destroyed. Evil aliens enslaved us. They came from the planet Marduk, which is now the asteroid belt between the Earth and Mars.

This comes from ancient Babylonian mythology, and includes such marvellous actors as the Nephilim – “gods with eyes like men”, according to the legend. Good aliens, like the Pleaideans and Arcturians, are here to help us. They communicate through kindred beings on earth – dolphins, whales and cats – and crop circles.

Refugees from Atlantis travelled to Egypt, Tibet and South America and built temples of gnosis, buildings that encode lost secrets in their architecture.

With the Fall, our special abilities were lost, and we are left with two-stranded DNA, a lot of genetic junk, and a vague sense that we are missing something.

And black helicopters. They belong to those who, like the Agents in The Matrix, are working to maintain the status quo. Possible candidates include the Illuminati, the Freemasons or the hostile band of brothers that make up international capital. Human history is the story of their attempts to keep us enslaved, and our efforts to break free.

So what does this remind you of?

One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them!

Or the Bible, with its Garden of Eden story, and Fall, and redemption.

Or, for materialists, this story: According to Engels’ influential The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, prehistoric hunter-gatherers lived in primitively communist, peaceful, matriarchal societies. With the invention of agriculture, and humanity’s ability to create a surplus of goods that needed to be defended by armed men, the rule of wise women was usurped by the ancestors of today’s elite. It’s been downhill since then. Only world revolution will restore us to a state of grace.

Why believe one and not the other?

And there are real conspiracies. Every year, the World Economic Forum – made up of the most powerful people in the world – meets in secret in Davos, Switzerland. What do they talk about?

The architects of the war in Iraq are involved in a Project for the American Century, the stated aim of which is “full spectrum dominance”. Whatever the truth about 9-11 is, we certainly have not been told everything.

In fact, throughout human history, information has been kept from ordinary people. During the Middle Ages, it was the church which declared itself arbiter of truth, and heretics were burnt at the stake. Today, you don’t need to read Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent to realise that only certain views are sanctioned by society – and heretics are labelled conspiracy theorists.

Many of the heretics in the Middle Ages had crazy ideas. But other ideas have since proved to be true, like the fact that the Earth is round. In the same way, not all conspiracies are equal. Some are hysterical and paranoid, and lead to events like Waco and Jamestown. But others have progressive views about human potential, ask awkward questions intelligently, and don’t pretend to have a monopoly on the truth. Unfortunately, they are all tarred with the same brush.

Some claim that the wackier theorists are working for the CIA to discredit the more sensible ones. These include David Icke (in The Biggest Secret, he claims that the Queen Mum and various US presidents are shape-shifting lizard aliens who eat children), Cathy O’Brien (who claims in The Trance-formation of America that US presidents hunt women with rifles for sport), and Bill Cooper (author of our health minister’s favourite, Behold a Pale Horse).

Perhaps a useful attitude is that of Bob Frissel, who called his bestseller Nothing in this Book is True, but it’s Exactly How Things Are. He constructs a grand theory of kookiness without pretending to be able to prove anything. Another approach is using fiction, like Robert Anton Wilson’s astounding The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum.

Conspiracy theories point to the human need to find meaning, and show how a dearth of real answers leads people to construct mythologies. Deconstructing these mythologies tells us a lot about the world we live in. They are not to be believed literally, but are myths that embody some truth, and are as worthy of study as any other myth. Sifting through the dross of conspiracies, and asking those “what if?” questions, helps liberate us from the mental straightjacket formed by the narrowing of acceptable discourse.

But I’ve got to go. I can hear those choppers hovering.

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