Friday, 3 June 2011


These two lads are terribly worried about conspiracy theories. They have been given space in the august 'Comment Macht Frei' , The London Guardian's well policed protest zone, to air their somewhat irrational fears.
The article is largely a rehash of their recent piece of litter:

'the power of unreason-conspiracy theories, extremism and counter-terrorism'

While the article has the distinct advantage of being mercifully briefer than the original(They refrain from repeating the genuinely sincere opening and closing remarks. These, of course, contain the clarion call of deadbeat academics the world over; that more research is required!) they manage to summarise their main concern. This is as old as their conspiracy theory obsession itself (46 years young!):
  • Conspironauts are psychologically flawed
Conspiracy theories have become an attractive, addictive habit, offering a comforting explanation for an increasingly complex, mysterious world. For those who are distant from the great decisions and the powerful people that shape our lives, there is a mystique that allows little room for coincidence or accident.
  • Conspironauts are intellectually flawed
If, despite all evidence, we start explaining all events by cui bono, the world suddenly becomes perhaps a little darker, a little more treacherous and frankly a lot simpler and straightforward than it ought to be. We often find that the facts are crowbarred into a world view that has little time for things that aren't conspiracies.
This, I think is a little unfair, especially coming from two cunts who, in fifty sparsely worded pages, completely fail to demonstrate that distrust of our complex and less than straight forward institutions is a bad thing, or has anything, beyond their own etiolated imagination, to do with 'extremism' and is in anyway frustrating to 'counter terrorism'.

As they say in the original crap:
While it is not possible to demonstrate direct causal links between conspiracy theories and extremism, our findings suggest that the acceptance of conspiracy theories in contexts of extremism often serves as a ‘radicalizing multiplier’,* which feeds back into the ideologies, internal dynamics and psychological processes of the group.
How they can come to such findings when they admit:
We do not know how many people in the UK actually believe in the conspiracy theories, particularly among minority or disadvantaged communities. Baseline figures of this type would be helpful. Although there is some anecdotal evidence** to suggest a generalised belief in conspiracies may harm trust in government and political engagement, the relationship between belief and action is far fromclear.
escapes me.

But that does not prevent them from proposing a solution to a problem that might not exist.
This, as these two fancy themselves as thinkers, is of course to teach the unfortunate how to think. Specifically, how to think in a way that will repair the:
tears in the social fabric that extremists exploit
I would have thought sorting out the 'tears' so there is nothing for these undefined extremists to exploit would be a better idea. But then who, apart from these earnest authors, cares what I think?

Maybe I should have a go at this critical thinking they are banging on about.

How should I think about their publisher, DEMOS, whose business is apparently:

a think-tank focused on power and politics. Our unique approach challenges the traditional, 'ivory tower' model of policymaking by giving a voice to people and communities, and involving them closely in our research.

Which is a fairly unrevealing description of a parasitical bunch of flim flam artists forcing public and corporate money into its gaping, and supposedly left leaning, yaw.

Anyway, let's start with a few past and present members of their advisory council, how should I think about:

How should I think about its clients?

Bell Pottinger
More government departments than you can shake a stick at.

Would they benefit from a well connected group like DEMOS(Cui Bono? oops)?

How should I think about its usefulness to these clients?

Well the australian cuckoo, Patricia Hewitt (founder of the strangely similar IPPR) said on Channel 4's (another client, but then I don't really believe in monolithic conspiracies,honest) dispatches programme:

“Now the think tank and the seminar route I think is a very good one and will remain a good one and so identifying the right think-tank. Policy Exchange is a good one at the moment, Demos is another good one. And saying ok, does that think tank already have a relationship with Minister X? Can we invite Minister X to give a seminar on this subject? Your client would then sponsor the seminar and you do it via the think-tank. And that’s very useful, because what you get for your sponsorship is basically you sit next to the Minister.”

How should I think about its mysterious genesis?

Jacques and Geoff Mulgan (who would serve as advisor to the extremely right wing prime minister (and now upscale meeter and greeter) Anthony Blair) apparently set it up under the tutelage and inspiration of former Mont Perelin Society vice president Arthur Seldon. Another of hisinterests, the libertarian alliance, described DEMOS as
"a cavalry of Trojan horses within the citadel of leftism. The intellectual agenda is served up in a left wing manner, laced with left wing clichés and verbal gestures, but underneath all the agenda is very nearly identical to that of the Thatcherites."
Seldon's pal, eminence noir and conspiracy activist, Brian Crozier suggested:
The ultimate sophistication of subversion is to take over the government, not by unlawful but by lawful means
I don't think he was talking about getting elected.

So we have a Goldman Sachs/bilderberg general secretary, a creepy parapolitical agitator and a neoliberal ex communist mentored and inspired by an extreme right wing ideologue (whose partners describe the DEMOS project quite frankly as a false flag operation) peddling influence between powerful commercial and political players for their own miserable advancement.

A left wing think tank is definitely an odd place for this lot to hang out, but even ginger nut Danny Alexander, chief secretary to Gideon's glans, is in the mix these days.

I am forced to conclude DEMOS serves as a craven,biddable flunky that will promote the desired policy of its political and corporate paymasters.

I am forced to critically conclude they are all full of shit.

I would say that anyway, but a proper professor (not some soppy 'research associate') wrote:

Instead funding was channelled to think thanks to lobby for policy outcomes. This was part of a major expansion of think tanks across the narrowed political spectrum with Demos, IPPR, the Social Market Foundation and others advocating the business friendly policies favoured by their funders. The think tanks are able to get close to ministers and key figures at party conferences and other events – to act as lobbyists in other words. Any measures to address privileged access and lobbying transparency must include these kinds of policy actors, as well as commercial consultants, in-house lobbyists and campaigning NGOs.

These problems are compounded by issues of privileged access to MPs, ministers and civil servants. We are seeing a complex nexus of relationships fostered by the revolving door in which former politicians like Blair (or Thatcher or Major before him – and last week Patricia Hewitt's consultancy with Boots and advisory work for Cinven ) or civil servants take up lucrative positions with corporations in order to secure business interests. Allied with the revolving door are other symptoms of privileged access such as secondments into and out of the civil service for business people. This can mean that organisations seeking government contracts or market advantage can have someone on the inside taking part in procurement or policy development processes.

If that doesn't sound like conspiracy, even only at a squalid level, it'll do until the real thing comes along.

A laurel and hearty handshake to the good people at:

Pink Industry

* I am afraid I don't understand this concept
** No problem with this one


The Antagonist said...

Paul, sir, you are a genius!

paul said...

Compared to those two, yes.

The Antagonist said...

No comparison required, really.

The Antagonist said...

I battled through that Demos stuff a while back, born as it ways beneath the little Rays of Sunnstein, with the intention of penning something highlighting some of the many areas of outright nonsense and illogicality, but the accompanying overwhelming, and frankly chilling, and bottomless ennui got the better of me.

paul said...

No human could blame you. These cocksuckers are as thick as shit. They wander the earth like the undead.

Stef said...

We're in this war for the species, boys and girls. It's simple numbers

Bring it on

Once you've been conspiracized there's no going back

Our ranks swell with each passing day

We will keep fighting and We will win

paul said...

That's the spirit!

gyg3s said...

It's staggering to think that a newspaper carries an article which urges its readers to believe something based upon whether or not it has been given the label 'official' (true) or 'conspiracy theory' (false). Isn't this simply a form of peonage towards whomever gets to apply the label?

Do the authors of the article conduct their analyses using this strategy? If not, why are they expecting the rest of us to do so?

paul said...

I suppose you could give them a break, one of them is a 'research intern' whose reward is presumably a gold star on the DEMOS pinboard which he can leave with his next internship.

Its hard to convey how desperate the original is, a lot of UNABOMBER, Aum Shinrikyo and Jim Jones, which I'm not really sure has much to do with the CT 'problem'. Tired old stuff stuff from hacks like chip berlet

As for method, that is thinly explained, they 'studied' around 50 groups (more likely studied the existing literature) to come to their non conclusions

Interesting one of their main sources (inspirations) is INFORM, linked to the International Cultic Studies Association the American Family Foundation funded by the Scaife Family Foundation whose director's office bathroom was the last thing Steve Kangas saw.

But as people who fail to notice the organisation they are marginally attached to is what W Burroughs would call 'a reasonably well organised cabal', curiosity is not their strong point.

paul said...

International Cultic Studies formerly the Association the American Family Foundation

Stef said...

"It's staggering to think that a newspaper carries an article which urges its readers to believe something based upon whether or not it has been given the label 'official' (true) or 'conspiracy theory' (false)."

The Guardian does one of these more explicit pieces every six months or so

Allowing the legions of keyboard monkeys who monitor CiF to cut and paste comments about Occam, Elvis, loons needing 'comforting' explanations of how the world works etc etc from the last time

It's all very ritualistic

And increasingly desperate

paul said...

...quite a few acting the 'truther' caricature as well, scattering hostages to fortune (Steeldoesn'tmeltyesitdoesnoitdoesn'twatchseitgeistnow!!!)
like ID on a tube train.

The Antagonist said...

Received and unchallenged wisdom is the best sort of wisdom.

At least it is for the purveyors of it.

Ironic, if only for the fact that the received wisdom emanates from those whose authority is predicated on the belief in an age-old conspiracy theory about the existence of god.

Stef said...

"...quite a few acting the 'truther' caricature as well, scattering hostages to fortune (Steeldoesn'tmeltyesitdoesnoitdoesn'twatchseitgeistnow!!!)
like ID on a tube train."

aaaaah, the sweet sweet stench of perfidious harm

Stef said...

"predicated on the belief in an age-old conspiracy theory about the existence of god"

Those of us of an agnostic bent are currently undecided as to the existence or non-existence of the Big Fella

But even if that obstacle were cleared empirical evidence that he actually gives a shit is pretty thin on the ground

Stef said...

I don't have a CiF a/c, though I know lots of people who do (did)

I'm sure CiF is lovely and all that but it strikes me as being the Infoconflict equivalent of going over the top at the Somme, with the added bonus of occasionally being shot at from behind by people pretending to be on your side

C'est magnifique mais c'est ne pas la infoguerre

The Antagonist said...

I wonder if the Demos wonkers might condescend to dedicating less than an an hour of their far more precious than anyone else's time to understanding the error of their ways:

Michael Parenti - Deep Politics Conference

The Antagonist said...

Probably not.

The Antagonist said...

Thinking back, Demos mailed J7 when their chilling report was published:

I am from the British think-tank, 'Demos', and work on their violence and extremism research project. We recently published a report on the role of conspiracy theories in extremist violence that may be of real interest to you, entitled "The Power of Unreason: Conspiracy Theories, Extremism and Counter-Terrorism". You can download it for free from our website here: Please feel free to get in touch with any thoughts or comments you may have, the authors are more than happy to discuss this report with any interested parties.

Stef said...

Didn't the very fragrant Rachel North try and run with this same delightfully Orwelllian line that people who 'deny' Official Narratives of events such as 7/7 and 9/11 are effectively supporting terrorism?

I don't think the people pushing this BS are that stupid. They're just kinda hoping everyone else is

Stef said...

"Michael Parenti - Deep Politics Conference"

Michael Parenti, now there's a man who clearly derives enormous amounts of psychological comfort from a simplistic, conspiratorial world view

The Antagonist said...

Here's that simplistic conspiratorial quote from Dick Cheney, who was at the time of speaking, American Vice President:

"We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective."

Stef said...

and, as an aside, what is it with West Coast American Leftists and smooth smooth Jazz in their films and radio programs?

How much better would that Parenti speech be with something like this as an intro?

Stef said...

[Karl Rove] said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

The Antagonist said...

Karl Rove and Dick Cheney just didn't know what they were doing.

Stef said...

not when they fessed up they didn't

The Antagonist said...

In fact, Dick Cheney is widely known to have been a prolific sleep talker and those words were recorded in the midst of a vivid nightmare that plagued him for all of a few minutes.

The Antagonist said...

When he wasn't shooting people in the face, that is.

Stef said...

legend has it that he never actually apologised for that unfortunate little incident

The Antagonist said...

If you were Dick Cheney, would you?

Stef said...

I was about to say, now that I've thought about it for a moment, why should he?

The Antagonist said...

While we're dealing in quotes of the simple minded fools that just accidentally happened to land in charge of everything and keep it all going in their own interests, here's a trio more:

“This is an impressive crowd -- the haves... and the have mores. Some people call you the elite -- I call you my base.” -- George W. Bush


"Either you're with us, or you are with the terrorists." -- George W. Bush

So, for anyone that hasn't quite grasped what the simpleton that accidentally landed himself in the Whitehouse is saying, the world's population is either a member of "the haves and the have mores", or they are a terrorist. Binary. Bi-Polar. Black and White.

And, bearing in mind the previous two quotes, there's this gem:

"Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories, concerning the attacks of September the 11th." George W. Bush

What a coincidence.

The Antagonist said...

Related: Anything that defies my sense of reason....: 9/11, 7/7, conspiracy theories, power surges & coups

The Antagonist said...

Of course, Bush also said Iraq had nothing to do with 11/9. But that was only afterwards.

The Antagonist said...

Some people think we're wonkers

paul said...

From the young lads themselves:

For those who are distant from the great decisions and the powerful people that shape our lives, there is a mystique that allows little room for coincidence or accident.

Cui Sunt?

Cui Bono?

If distant powerful people are shaping our lives there isn't any useful place for 'coincidence or accident', is there?

The Antagonist said...

Quoting from the report:

"While it is not possible to demonstrate direct causal links between conspiracy theories and extremism"

Which, technically, given the title of the 'report' is where the report begins and ends.

gyg3s said...

""We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

I regarded Rove's quote as on a par with Bumsfelt's 'known unknowns' quote with respect to perspicacity.

I think that there's a Heidegger quote (which I can't find at the moment) that goes along the lines of 'oppression is subordination to the reality of others'. Rove was simply outlining this philosophy. I think that this caused problems because critics didn't distinguish between objective and subjective realities. I'll try and find the Heidegger quote and prepare a (hopefully) more lucid comment.

Stef said...

"Rove was simply outlining this philosophy."

I'm guessing Rove is a big Aleister Crowley fan

paul said...

"While it is not possible to demonstrate direct causal links"..."our findings suggest"

There is no proof of A
We believe in a new undefined category of effect B, for which there is no proof
This, if it existed, could substitute for A
Not being A

We have no explanation for the amricanised spelling of B:

'radicalizing multiplier'

paul said...

..which seems to me a compelling example of unreason