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W.E. Gutman: Conspiracies? Nah, just what comes naturally

Posted: December 11, 2009 4:01 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Used with discretion, the Internet is a fount of information. It can also be a cesspool of lies, gossip, partisan humbug and propaganda, crafted not to enlighten but to skew reality - or bury it - in the pursuit of mischief or ideology.

Sometimes, these half-truths and fabrications are subtle and alluringly plausible.

Unrelated and irrelevant facts are elegantly joined to erect impressive but improbable monuments to absurdity.

More often, the ideas purveyors of "revealed knowledge" put forward, the "facts" they present and the fears they inspire are so outlandish they end up in the vast and ghostly realm of "conspiracy theories."

Last June, Austrian journalist Jane Burgermeister wrote that the bird flu vaccine manufactured by Baxter AG and Avir Green Hills
Technology was deliberately tainted to trigger a deadly pandemic.

About 7 million people died of cancer in 2009. Half a million suffered fatal heart attacks. Fewer than 5,000 people died of the flu.

Fewer than 10 deaths are linked to vaccine-related allergic reactions.

Another rumor, no less ominous but infinitely more titillating, is the alleged emergence of a New World Order - a bureaucratic, collectivist government headed by a powerful and secretive assortment of globalists conniving to rule the planet and supplant sovereign nation-states.

Tremors in politics and finance, social upheavals and wars are being blamed on a pulp fiction-style cabal engineered by various front organizations to achieve world domination.

Before the early 1990s, New World Order conspiracism was limited to two U.S. subcultures, the rabidly anti-government right, and fundamentalist Christians obsessed with the rise of the Antichrist.

There is evidence right-wing conspiracy theories about a New World Order have not only been embraced by left-wing conspiracy theorists but have infected popular culture, thereby inaugurating an unrivaled period in which people are actively preparing for some sort of apocalyptic millenarian end-time scenario.

Hype merchants warn this development may not only fuel lone-wolf terrorism but also cause the far right and the far left to "join forces" and launch an insurrectionary national-anarchist movement that will destroy the established system of governance.

These comic-book scenarios are generally concocted by blogosphere jokesters and for-hire professional agitators, and peddled by chronic malcontents so bored with their lives they need to spice them up by granting themselves a foretaste of a ficticious doomsday they conveniently leave to others to avert.

It is always tempting to attribute the dirty deeds men do brazenly and without scruples to "conspiracies."

The truth may be more prosaic - a rerun of human nature in the context of unfolding history: Supersized egos. Unfetted ambition. Greed. Larceny. Conquest. Domination. Subjugation.

Stealing from the poor to enrich the hyper-rich. Ruthless soldiers crowning themselves king. Clever accountants becoming bankers. Wealthy lawyers entering politics.

Flag-waving cadets aspiring to be field generals. Diminutive corporals dreaming of empire.

What is being replayed before us is not some dastardly covert scheme by a "chosen few" to rule the world.

They rule it already. They always did. They always will. Feudal lords controlled their vassals' lives; slave owners, their chattel.

In theocratic states, "spiritual leaders" and the "morality brigades" redefine men's destinies.

In some industrialized countries, it's the capitalists at home; the death squads in other people's backyards.

In totalitarian nations, it's the secret police and the gulags.

That's adaptive evolution. Smart, strong-willed, ambitious, imaginative and self-reliant men always claw their way to the top. Others fall by the wayside.

Life itself is a "conspiratorial" biogenic process. Some of it takes place at the atomic level: white cells attack red cells, malignant tumors devour healthy tissue. A permanent change in the DNA sequence causes irreversible mutations.

At the macro-political-economic level, elites exploit the masses; the profit-motive eclipses morality.

It's in the nature of man to scheme, conspire, cheat and, if need be, kill to achieve his aims. Large dinosaurs ate small dinosaurs.

Big fish eat little fish. Powerful men make minced meat of lesser men.

Sometimes, as is the case with certain inconvenient truths, imperiled special interests strike back with consipiracy theories of their own.

They assert data on verifiable, observable scientific phenomena such as global warming is being manipulated to strengthen the argument for technology-caused climate changes.

What they fear, in fact, is mounting evidence of man's carbon imprint on nature's delicate balance will weaken states' rights and wreak havoc with Libertarian agendas - including the self-granted entitlement to foul the atmosphere with noxious emissions, to dump toxic wates into rivers and lakes and to retard the advent of environment-friendly legislation.

Homo hominis lupus. Man is a wolf to man. And that's no theory.

W. E. Gutman is a veteran journalist and Rosamond resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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