Friday, 4 March 2011

Infamy, Infamy, They've All Got It Infamy

We all know that the United States allowed Pearl Harbour to be attacked so that Frank Sinatra could win the Best Supporting Actor for From Here to Eternity. But websites like the and will try to convince us otherwise. ‘Wake up’ is the battle cry of the conspiracists. If we refuse this imperative, we must be one of the ‘sheeple,’ or else a disinformation agent in the pay of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Conspiracy theories elevate the importance of the individual: we feel flattered that we are privy to a truth hidden from public view, just as we feel cheated when fed a line from our elders and betters. The websites devoted to the investigation of the shadow government running the world not only satisfy our demand for control and assurance, but also flatter our sense of our own importance. They make us believe that if we, the online mass, noble citizen journalists all, merely swallow the official version of history then we abrogate the essential responsibility of the investigative reporter: to get at truth, whatever it might be and wherever it might be found.

The likes of Alex Jones, David Icke, Alan Watt and Glen Kealey represent a paranoid counter-culture that has extraordinary currency online, particularly on YouTube. They peddle psychological horror as genuine insight and analysis. Their infantile Manichean separation of the angelic and demonic is fine for a bedtime story, but has nothing to offer any considered engagement with real life. When such idealism is allowed to dominate realism the result is a dogmatic refusal to countenance serious intellectual discussion.

I must confess to being a sucker for these clandestine and nefarious games. Plots and inside jobs get my blood flowing like little else on our spinning top of a planet: cover ups; patsies; shadowy figures on oddly named bits of grass; tall buildings that fall as if detonated, fluttering lunar flags, the Bilderberg group. Conspiracy theory is as emotionally thrilling as a Wilkie Collins novel, but as intellectual stimulating as Eastenders. Jump into the matrix and fall down the rabbit hole – to use two of the conspiracists’ favourite cultural reference points – is the way to madness of course. Spend too much time with those who have made a cult out of getting six from adding two and two – and you’ll soon forget your name. One minute you’re asking yourself whether Tower 7 was brought down by a cackling and sinister cabal of Masonic overlords, the next you are sweating pure fear and have forgotten that 1984 (the conspiracists’ bible) was a black comedy.

Oops. That’s the doorbell. I’ll just peep out the window, see who it is. Probably someone selling flannels or horticultural services. Good Google. There are two of them, both wearing black suits and Ray Bans. They look as if they are from elsewhere. Neither is smiling.

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