“When you’re from Mississippi and you’re a conservative
and you’re a Christian, there are a lot of people that don’t
like that. I fell into their trap and so I have only myself to blame.”
Thus did Senator Trent Lott explain his downfall to the Associated
Press. Daniel Schorr of National Public Radio — whom nobody can
accuse of being Mississippian, conservative, or Christian — commented
that Lott has resorted to conspiracy theories. And dig this paragraph
from New York’s Daily News:
“‘This is like Hilary [Clinton] talking about “the
vast right-wing conspiracy.” He’s delusional,’ said
a GOP lobbyist, whose organization worked behind the scenes to push
Let me get this straight. A guy who “worked behind the scenes” to
topple Lott says Lott is “delusional” for thinking people
were working behind the scenes to topple him.
How can anyone possibly believe in conspiracy theories, when the
conspirators themselves scoff at them? And if you don’t believe
that everyone in Washington is honest, you must be paranoid.
What is it about the word conspiracy that provokes the instant smirk
and snicker? The world is thick with dishonest people, and they don’t
always act alone. They have a way of finding each other and acting
corporately. Even “the D.C. sniper” turned out to be a
That’s why we speak of organized crime, smuggling rings, accomplices,
accessories, getaway cars, spies, covert activities, secret and undercover
agents, insider trading, collusion, fences, and so forth. We have a
fairly large vocabulary of words that recognize the conspiratorial
aspects of social life. Secret cooperation isn’t unusual at all.
People in government conspire all the time. In fact, governments
budget billions for espionage and other covert activities. These huge
bureaucracies keep countless secrets from us, allegedly for our own
good; and the inevitable result is that we can never really know what
the government is doing. This means that we also can’t know what
we are voting about, further proof that the vote is worthless and democracy
fraudulent. And in times like the present, the ratio of conspiracy
to openness increases, in the name of national security. Naturally
the conspirators don’t think of themselves as conspirators. They
believe they are our protectors and benefactors.
Of course all this official secrecy ensures that there will be some
outlandish conspiracy theories. Such theories can hardly be more than
guesses, and some of these guesses are bound to be wild. The wildest
of them contend that there is only one gigantic almighty conspiracy,
that sees every sparrow fall. There are actually countless conspiracies,
often overlapping, intersecting, or competing. Many are quite informal,
as in C.S. Lewis’s “inner ring.”
Can any conspiracy theory be as naive as the James Bond fantasy?
Bond represents the opposite of such theories: the lone spy single-handedly
discovering the enemy’s secrets and then, for good measure, defeating
the enemy with a pistol and martial arts. Though Bond is a government
agent, the conspiratorial is minimized: he has contact with his superiors
only at the beginning and end of the story. No bureaucrat he!
To the extent that government withholds important information from
its subjects, it makes nonsense of the idea of self-government, and
it can expect to be mistrusted, feared, and hated. When it also constricts
their remaining freedoms, it practically makes “paranoia” a
necessity of survival.
Thomas Jefferson said that the basis of free government is not “confidence” — trust
and faith in our rulers — but “jealousy” — skepticism
and suspicion. The more trust our rulers demand of us, the less they
deserve to be trusted. Yet many people do trust them and willingly
submit, offering reasons like “I reckon the president knows more
about this than I do.” Of course he knows more than we do. He
sees to that. But what does he do with his privileged knowledge?
Government secrets remain secret long after they have served their
supposed purpose. Conspiratorial habits are hard to break. Even when
the original enemy has ceased to exist, as in the cases of Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union, the old secrets of World War II and the Cold
War are still kept from us.
You could even get the impression that the U.S. Government regards
the American people as the enemy.
Copyright © 2012 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on December 24, 2002.
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
and archives of some of his columns.
Watch Sobran's last TV appearance on YouTube.
Learn how to get a tape of his last speech
during the FGF Tribute to Joe Sobran in December 2009.
To subscribe to or renew the FGF E-Package, or support the writings of Joe
Sobran, please send a tax-deductible donation to the:
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
or subscribe online.