Let's Step Out Of The Box For A Moment, Shall We?
A reply To The Anticonspiratorialists

by Jon Phalen

June 3, 2002


[We strongly recommend that you first read the Words of Caution regarding this piece, by Gilles d'Aymery, Swans' editor and publisher.]

Sharing my deep skepticism about 9-11 with others, I can't help but notice the way some people reach frantically for ways to make a conspiracy scenario as implausible as possible. The narrowest and most literal definition of the term 'conspiracy' is easily their favorite device. Bringing it to bear on this argument, they divert it directly into their favorite cul-de-sac: "too many people would have to know, and there's no way it could be kept quiet." Since this 'too many people' premise isn't logically inevitable, and since the hemorrhaging of the official story actually seems to be deepening their convictions, those convictions appear to be a product of denial: these unfortunates have blinded themselves to the possibility that America's entire civic culture, a thing unto which they have staked their lives and their hopes, might actually be rotten to the core; a seething mire of duplicity. Sad thing is, anyone old enough to remember Watergate shouldn't need reminding.

People are free to squarely face the conspiratorial nature of politics and then mentally accommodate it. Indeed, this freedom is inalienable, but its practice requires rigorous thought; always an unpopular option, especially when it forces a realization that one's role in this world has been that of a tragic fool. What's more, choosing to be aware necessitates a dismal choice: to turn away from the crass bribery that has seduced us all, OR to commit oneself and one's children to a life of stark hypocrisy and spiritual bankruptcy. Far better to stay the easy course of denial and facultative stupidity, a.k.a. conservatism, than to grapple with these hideous realities -- or so they tell themselves. Subconsciously, of course.

I wish they could bring themselves to realize that the 'too many people' premise doesn't have to be true for 9-11; viable conspiracy theory does not require a huge plot between Osama, Bush, the corporations, the media, etc., etc. If there is foul play on the part of our government, it most likely originated among a tightlipped cadre of extremists in the CIA, or perhaps in some covert group we've never heard of, and these people may have acted on their own. If they were following orders, those orders just as likely came down from some corporate enclave as from the Executive Branch. Anyway, assume for the moment that some high priesthood of deranged spooks was actually behind 9-11. They would have been stupid had they failed to keep their plan as simple and secretive as possible -- and you can bet these people aren't stupid. Instead of weaving a gigantic web of conspiracy, as appearances would have it, they could pull all this off in a highly contained manner:

a) install a few True Believers in the maintenance departments of a couple major airline companies

b) have them wire some very interesting 'black boxes' into the avionics systems of a few planes

c) kill them

d) wait

e) when circumstances provide a logistical and political window of opportunity, remotely activate the black boxes (actually radio-control interfaces), and then take control of the airplanes using flight simulators as input devices.

f) fly the planes into buildings.

g) if necessary, the technical team needed to complete this mission can now be liquidated.

Mission accomplished.

According to some sources, AWACS planes can remotely commandeer other airplanes without any need for an installed device, making this scenario even more feasible. Furthermore, this use of AWACS technology supposedly wipes out the contents of the second plane's flight data recorder. When authorities recovered the data recorder of the plane shot down over Pennsylvania, it was found to be blank. Incidentally, this is the only flight recorder the media has mentioned, of the eight such devices on the four planes. Where the hell are the others? This doesn't have to mean the FAA and the entire media are 'in on it.' This deafening silence is just the sort of thing I would expect from both parties if the contents of the recovered recorders proved inconsistent with the official line of bullshit -- a line that has become the establishment's sacred dogma.

The civic response to 9-11 has snowballed into a capitalist/imperialist wet dream, of course, and the above scenario does not suffice to explain this. Foreign intelligence services, namely Mossad and MI6, were crucial to the assignment of blame that has vectored popular thought in just the right direction. The manner in which these sources were granted unconditional credibility means that high-level collaborating elements among them are all that's needed to make this scenario complete. If everybody's relying on the spooks to tell them which way is up, the spooks then have the power to steer the global political response in any direction they choose. And this scenario is still a zero-exposure proposition. After all, keeping secrets is what these people DO. Crafting strategic lies, demolishing political structures that stand in their way, casually killing people by the thousands -- these are also things that they do. In the case of 9-11, all that was needed was for a few collaborating cells -- ahem, "covert teams" -- to apply these arts in delivering a massive and well-directed push, whereupon this ball would have a headlong momentum all its own.

In this scenario, no giant network of collaborators is needed. Bush, Dan Rather, Congress, and all the rest are being manipulated just like the public, and are simply behaving in a predictably deceitful and opportunistic manner. This is not to say they aren't conspiring. So often, when humans behave in ways that might be described as treacherous and conspiratorial, they don't bother to analyze the group dynamics pushing them toward those behaviors. Hell, they don't even perceive their actions as sneaky or wrong! If enough people are influenced in this manner, collective patterns of behavior can arise that amount to conspiracies, even when they're completely devoid of conscious coordination.

Need an example? This thing called 'the Economy' is a gigantic conspiracy, driven by greed and encompassing the entire human race; a conspiracy in which most participants enjoy a perfect illusion of autonomy. No central "Greed Bureaucracy" is coordinating a master plan to erase all other forms of life so that ours can achieve a psychotic and pointless "supremacy," but this is in fact what's happening. This is by far the most evil thing humans have ever done, and yet few seem able to clearly see this. Interestingly, the present status of the environmental debate is very much like that of racial theories before the Holocaust: a vocal minority expresses their outrage while most people quietly practice the self-serving complacence that was Hitler's ticket to power. The racism evident in Mein Kampf provoked little comment in America, even after its translation in 1939, when Hitler became Time Magazine's 'Man of the Year.' This isn't very surprising, since Hitler's views on race were neither original nor exceptional; separatist and blatantly discriminatory racial policies were popular everywhere, and had prevailed for centuries. It was only after the West uncovered Germany's monstrous excesses -- a disclosure that brought about a stunning paradigm shift -- that people realized the enormity of Mein Kampf's racist subtext. Informed people throughout the West were abruptly forced to see race relations in a radical new way, so much so that their cultural memory of older paradigms has now been all but erased. Without this moral body blow, America's Civil Rights movement might never have happened.

The lesson here is that we humans have an appetite for selfish collusion, combined with a profound inability to see these patterns for what they are. Most of our conspiracies aren't masterminded at all, but are simply a product of whole populations trying to get away with whatever they can. This has less to do with central manipulation than with mass delusions, i.e., stupid ideas, that are voluntarily subscribed to. People have a way of waking up to the wrong-headedness of these ideas only after unbearable smells start wafting out from under the wreckage they create, and even then many will simply pinch their noses shut. As with their strictly defined counterparts, all participants in these systemic and organic conspiracies are culpable and 'guilty' (of weak-mindedness, more than anything) but then how do you go about punishing EVERYONE?

In the case of 9-11, the larger 'conspiracy' is not a tightly coordinated and gigantic criminal web, but rather a spontaneous and largely unconscious pattern of blind panic and political expedience. Accordingly, the list of conspirators can be seen to extend beyond Bush and the media moguls, etc., to include all the frantic flag-wavers, as well. I don't think this is unfair.

Let me add that the Bush Administration, the media, the corporations, etc., are not simply riding along on the stream of collective consciousness. They are actively conspiring in the literal sense as well, but each within their own enclave. Bush, his cabinet, his party, and his corporate pimps are all conspiring together to use this crisis to serve their long-established agenda. The Patriot Act might as well have been written by Oliver North fifteen years ago. The invasion of Afghanistan is blatant corporate imperialism, motivated by the Oil Industry's seven-year-old desire to liquidate the Taliban (see http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/oil.html). The media is also spinning this thing to their own advantage, mostly by saying what they think their corporate clients want them to say.

Finding the real villains behind 9-11 might require a long hard look into the inner workings of the world's most powerful 'government' -- the coalition of transnational corporations. It would hardly be shocking to find they have their own elite covert forces: spies seem to be a pretty mercenary bunch, while corporations now control most of the world's wealth, so it seems inevitable that they should attract the world's foremost spy network. The CIA, Mossad, MI6 -- perhaps these are now merely branch offices of a supreme intelligence service that answers only to Global Corpocracy. After all, if these agencies were truly serving the interests of their respective governments, they could never have perpetrated this attack, but if they are in fact ONE force, serving an unseen and unprecedented global power, all of this starts to make sense. Thanks to this crisis, the menace of capitalist hegemony now looms larger than ever, does it not? And political analysts of the 'covert operative' persuasion could have predicted this outcome... What's more, the private sector is a perfect place to conceal such activities from democratic oversight, since companies have substantial privacy rights -- rights that politicians are only too eager to respect when they apply to corporations!

This 'unseen global power' doesn't need to resemble a fully realized government, complete with armies of bureaucrats. The various parties responsible for its existence don't even need to understand all this themselves! If a hundred diverse trends acting in concert throughout the world for centuries -- colonialism, industrial expansion, capitalist consolidation of wealth, preservation of wealth through wars and covert agendas, and so on -- converge to favor its emergence, this monster will spontaneously evolve. This is the true shape of conspiracies; nobody plans the really big ones -- no one's that clever or all-powerful -- they just happen. When they do, ruling elements will leap to improvise control of them, hoping to monopolize that control, and this is consistent with much of what we're seeing.

As for Osama being the great big villain behind all this, many people familiar with the man and his "organization" (including some American officials) think this proposition is ludicrous. According to these sources, Bin Laden and his raggedy militia aren't nearly sophisticated enough to have pulled this off. Considering that his base of operations is one of the most backward and impoverished countries in the world, this claim is fairly believable. Also, Director Mueller of the FBI has frankly stated that 'there is no paper trail whatsoever linking the attack to al Qaeda.' The official explanation for this is that al Qaeda's operatives have a superhuman ability to cover their tracks. Given the scale of the official scenario, this explanation is fairly UNbelievable. Finally, seven of the people named as terrorists are known to be alive and well in the Middle East, another one died two years ago, and it is likely that all of the terrorists had stolen or completely false identities, in which case their true identities become an impenetrable mystery, seeing as they all so conveniently vaporized themselves (or so the story goes...). The near-total lack of corroborating video footage from airport security cameras is also consistent with the "remote control" scenario. These cameras should have provided hundreds of images of the terrorists. Where are they?

King George II and his entourage are an unbearable presence but their actions throughout this crisis have not been inconsistent with what they might plausibly believe to be reasonable, given their obviously cynical and greedy mentalities. Perhaps it would be more prudent to focus suspicion on the professional Machiavellis and Rasputins of the world's "intelligence community" -- people who zealously analyze the world political scene, develop vile schemes to restructure it, and then actually put those schemes into practice. Again, 9-11 is exactly the sort of thing they DO. Both they and their major clients (ruling elites) have powerful motives for doing this (just look at the mileage they're both getting out of it); their means to do so easily outscale bin Laden's by a factor of hundreds; as for opportunity, these forces are powerful enough to manufacture such things as needed.

I say we look at the spooks first, then start on Bush and the corporations. If the present collapse of Bush's authority continues, if all the bloodstained corners are exposed to the light of day, if justice is truly served, this episode could lead to the end of neo-liberalism both here and across the world.


[Again, we strongly recommend that you read the Words of Caution regarding this piece, by Gilles d'Aymery, Swans' editor and publisher. Thank you.]

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Guest contributor, Jon Phalen, originally from Ithaca, New York, lives near Athens, Georgia. His muse is a wood-sprite whose presence he owes to three blessings: a home among trees, with windows into a larger world; a humble job, which grants him the freedom to clearly see; and a loving wife, who indulges his desire to dream.

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This Week's Internal Links

East Timor: A Child Is Born - by Michael Stowell

The Name For Our Profits Is Democracy - by Stephen Gowans

Conspiracy Caution (Introduction To Jon Phalen's Article) - by Gilles d'Aymery

Digging Through The Morasses (Second Opinion on Jon Phalen's Article) - by Milo Clark

Conspiracy And Paranoia As Distraction - by Jan Baughman

Oprah Closes The Book - by Alma Hromic

A Tiny Typo From Intellectual Responsibility To The Law Of Unintended Consequences - by Gilles d'Aymery

Going Home: iv - Memories of Dreams - Poem by Alma Hromic

Letters to the Editor


Published June 3, 2002
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