Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 11  Num. 47
                     ("Quid coniuratio est?")


How Aparatchiks Of The DemoPublican Government Mislead The Public

Like their counterparts in the former Soviet Union, the "loyal Party members" of the Obfuscating Class -- corporate "journalists," media mouthpieces, and corporate/academic "experts" -- get their little extra rewards for serving the Corporate State as "Judas Goats." But one brave professor is unafraid to truthfully speak his mind. Is this a trend? Will professors become free to think and speak? Or is it just an anomaly? Or is some local condition, such as atmosphere or food, behind the latest in several eruptions of honesty and courage from Professor Carl Estabrook?

Here is a partial transcript detailing rare, truthful remarks originating in the most unlikely place: the mind of a college professor. On November 29, 1997, Carl Estabrook and co-host Paul Mueth said as follows, on their weekly program "News From Neptune," courtesy of local volunteer radio station, WEFT. . . .

CARL ESTABROOK: I had a strange argument over the holiday. At our Thanksgiving Dinner-table there was a long argument about class. And an old friend of mine actually put forth the notion of, "America as a classless society." After which, the dinner table fell into a long discussion of what was meant by "class" and how that could be defended; and whether the notion of class was useful or not.

And it surprised me in part, because there seemed to be, underlying the argument, the feeling that, finally, one wants to buy another bit of American mythology: that, whatever else you want to say about this society, well, it really is a society open to talent, it really is a "meritocracy." [1] Of course, there are "difficulties" (you always admit there are "difficulties" when you make an argument like this), but finally, if people want to get out there and work hard, well, they can do okay. And the notion of class, whatever you mean by that, it really doesn't have much place in a discussion of American society.

Now that seemed to me to be a triumph of the education system once again. (You have to be "well educated" to accept nonsense like this.) There is a refusal to deal with arguments against it. If one proposes, for example, that our society is run as a struggle between the very small minority who control wealth and power in this country and the vast majority who rent themselves to the owners of Capital (and a largish segment in-between those two, that has the business of obfuscating what is really going on.) This is Gore Vidal's division: the fraction of 1 percent control the 80 percent who have their labor to sell. And the other 20 percent who have to mask what's going on: your college-educated group, so to speak, whose job it is to misinterpret what's happening.

If you make an argument like that to, particularly folks from the 20 percent [the elite-schooled obfuscating class], you're accused of putting forth a "conspiracy theory." (A "conspiracy theory" is, that there is any self-interested group in society whose interests do =not= correspond, and indeed are inimical to, those of the larger society.) =That= counts as a "conspiracy theory" and can be dismissed as soon as it's labeled as a "conspiracy theory."

PAUL MUETH: I've heard a number of shows lately, on our sibling station, that have this "psychological analysis" of the current political situation. Bizarre, =bizarre= stuff that's going down. The most recent one was about "political paranoia." A piece of work.

CARL ESTABROOK: It was incredibly objectionable. A fellow named Jerry Post(sp?) from George Washington University, who has been for years "covering sin with a smooth name" (as the Scriptures put it): that is, giving psychological accounts that justify American policy. They have a new book now which says, basically, if you're a critic of American policy on any sort of principled grounds, or if you hold any analysis =other= than the analysis that, e.g. Mack McLarty happens to hold at the moment, you are actually demonstrating signs of "paranoia," that we need to understand the psychology behind your dissent.

An older man called in on the radio to the show and pointed out: domestic needs that are served by the military budget. And this propagandist from George Washington University said, rather superiorily, "Oh, yes. You're thinking of 'The Military-Industrial Complex,' aren't you?" And then went on to explain where such "paranoid" thinking might come from.

I was reminded there was, more than a century ago: American physicians put forth an account of a condition they called "dramataphobia(sp?)" Dramataphobia was a "mental illness" that prompted slaves to run away from their masters. And it was often found with "efasia ethiopica(sp?)." Efasia ethiopica was a tendency of people of African descent not to do their work well. To be clumsy and break things, you see. Now these were "mental conditions," you see. These were "mental illnesses" that accounted for the fact that some slaves ran away from their "masters."

Now it seems to me, what we have here is, the direct medical descendants of the "good medicos" of the mid-19th century are to be found in the late-20th century, in people like the man we're speaking of. They're giving you a psychological reason why all the criticisms of the powers-that-be stem from "mental illness."

PAUL MUETH: This was the second in a series. The other one was suggesting that there's something in our psychological structure that is primeval, that causes us to mistrust the political system.

CARL ESTABROOK: [Laughs] It's called "intelligence." Yeah, I think that's right: once the brain gets big enough, you realize that you're being had. [2]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- [1] The American "meritocracy," class supposedly based on merit. The supposed "meritocratic" process is described by Noam Chomsky, in an interview published in Rolling Stone magazine, May 28th, 1992.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever wonder about the psychology of these American commissars? You've written about the filtering process by which the obedient rise to the top and the disobedient end up elsewhere, but I wonder what goes on in their heads.

CHOMSKY: I don't think it's that hard to figure out. All the people I've ever met, including me, have done bad things in their lives, things that they know they shouldn't have done. There are few people who say, "I really did something rotten." What people usually do is make up a way of explaining why that was the right thing to do. That's pretty much the way belief formation works in general. You have some interest, something you want, and then you make up a belief system which makes that look right and just. And then you believe the belief system. It's a very common human failing.

Some people are better at it than others. The people who are best at it become commissars. It's always best to have columnists who believe what they're saying. Cynics tend to leave clues because they're always trying to get around the lying. So people who are capable of believing what is supportive of power and privilege -- but coming at it, in their view, independently -- those are the best.

The norm is that if you subordinate yourself to the interests of the powerful, whether it's parent or teacher or anybody else, and if you do it politely and willingly, you'll get ahead. Let's say you're a student in school and the teacher says something about American history and it's so absurd you feel like laughing. I remember this as a child. If you get up and say: "That's really foolish. Nobody could believe that. The facts are the other way around," you're going to get in trouble.

[2] Besides psychological-sounding attacks on conspiracists, two other supposed "counter-arguments" are in vogue nowadays amongst the "obfuscating class" (mass media mouthpieces, establishment journalists, "experts," etc.)

(1) "If there were really a cover-up, any good reporter would jump on the story. Think of how much money one could make if these conspiracy stories were true!" The myth is that an honest investigative journalist would be rewarded for efforts in bringing out the truth. But look what =actually= =happens= when such rare, honest reporters emerge. For example, Gary Webb whose "Dark Alliance" story broke news on CIA drug-smuggling connections to a wider audience. His reward?

Try calling Gary Webb these days at the San Jose Mercury News, and you're in for a surprise. After suffering close to a year's worth of ridicule from his mainstream colleagues for his three-part series "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion" (Aug. 18-20, 1996), Webb's paper in early June pulled him from the story he'd been investigating for two years, and transferred him to its bureau in Cupertino, California. There, a recorded voice answers your call with the greeting: "You have reached the San Jose Mercury News West Bureau editorial office and the home of the Community Focus Calendar, birth announcements and Lend-a-Hand Volunteer Column. No one is available to take your call right now." We wonder why Oliver North's career hasn't taken so ignominious a turn. (From Chicago Media Watch Newsletter, August 1997)

Other examples of "rewards" for good journalists who dare trying to get at the truth are Pierre Salinger (investigating TWA 800) and Robert Parry (investigating "October Surprise.")

(2) Another supposed "counter-argument" in vogue amongst the obfuscating class is, "And how did you know about such-and-such? You found it in the newspaper, that's how." Sometimes that's true: items are published in the back pages, in obscure stories; and sometimes the truth even makes it to page one. =But it's not emphasized=. It appears briefly and then is gone. Nonsense gets major emphasis from the obfuscating class; the truth is "just passing through and excuse the visit."

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