Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 4 Num. 57

("Quid coniuratio est?")


My transcription of a talk by Dr. Michael Parenti. Michael Parenti received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1962. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, and is the author of many books, including Democracy for the Few (St. Martin's; sixth edition); Inventing Reality: The Politics of News Media (St. Martin's; second edition); and *Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America (St. Martin's). I will include a list of his audio taped lectures at the end of this transcript.

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Thank you. It's very nice to be here. I made a note that I wanted to come tonight, when I heard that Peter Dale Scott and Michael Levine were going to be speaking. I had no idea I was going to be coming in this capacity -- a very last-minute thing.

I, I've been looking at history, and I've been impressed and depressed by the fact that history is really a chronicle of immense atrocities. What we have in history is the fact that, when surplus value develops, when there's more than a subsistence economy, you have some portion of the population that will do everything it can to enslave and to exappropriate the labor of the rest of the people. Whether it's a slave society (as in ancient Greece and Rome), or feudal society (where people were reduced to serfs), or in Capitalist society (where people are driven to the edge of insecurity and made to work faster and harder).

And one of the things that's used in that arrangement is a very conscious instrument of control, that's very necessary. And that instrument is called the State. That is, what they do is set up a State -- an organization that has, as Max Weber (who wasn't a Marxist), as Max Weber called it: "An organization that has a monopoly on the legitimate uses of force and violence."

But that's what we have today! We also have developed, in modern times, some democratic features, some means of trying to fight back and restrain this arbitrary power -- this use of power for the sheer sake of exploiting people for self-enrichment of a small elite.

What am I trying to say? That along with government, we also have a thing called "The State". And along with governance, along with policies, and along with those things, we have this other instrument -- even in a democratic State. And that instrument's goal, whether it's in democratic France or democratic England or democratic Germany or democratic Italy or democratic USA or democratic Canada, and all these countries... All of them have these other instruments and agencies, that ACT LIKE A BUNCH OF GANGSTERS!! That act repressively. That use surveillance. That use every dirty trick in the book: unequal enforcement of tax laws, name it; the bringing in of drugs into whole neighborhoods and communities; trumped-up murder charges; assassination. That you HAVE IN THE MIDDLE of these democracies, you have the state within the state -- known as the "national security state". And that State is capable of the most UNSPEAKABLE crimes that you can think of! And those crimes are perpetrated against their own people; they're perpetrated against people around the world.

Not long ago, I got a letter from a woman who's been a community organizer in Chicago. And she said with GRIEF in her heart, she said, "I remember the sixties! I remember the tremendous democratic organization and leadership that was developing in the Latino and African-American communities! And I remember those leaders! And every single one of them today is either DEAD (shot by the police) or in Marion prison on trumped-up charges! And I remember the demoralization that took place; the shattering of those organizations. And after those organizations were shattered, and demoralized, then in came the drug traffickers. And those drug traffickers, the thing I remember the most about them, is that they were aided and abetted by the feds! By the federal agents themselves."

And this is what happens. That is, we are dealing with a State that was engaged in domestic counter-insurgency. And it was more interested in having a population that was un-organized, and de-moralized, than a population that was organized, that was effectively fighting for its democratic rights. Because if it's organized, and it's effective, and it's powerful, it will start making demands and start pursuing its interests. And it will start cutting in on the interests that those police, and those "coppers", and those undercover people, and those forces of military and "law and order", are dedicated to protecting -- protecting the status quo, protecting those with property against those who don't have it.

And by the way, for the last thousand years we've had theorists who've made that point. Except they make it proudly.

Adam Smith said, "As the divisions of property become increasingly unequal, it is more and more necessary to have a State, to defend those who have property from those who do not."

John Locke: "The purpose of the State is to defend those who have property from those who do not."

James Harrington. You can go on. James Madison. Alexander Hamilton. The only difference was that when [Karl] Marx said it, he said "to defend those who have property from those whose labor is exappropriated by those who accumulate wealth off their labor, who have all the property." He changed it a little bit. And he said it wasn't just "haves" and "have nots", it was "haves" taking it from those who produced it and created the "haves".

And throughout the world, dominant economic interests today have enlisted the efforts of assassins and torturers. As we talk, at this moment, the CIA and other such agencies, in this country and other countries, have sponsored violence, torture, death squads, drugs... in scores of countries. From Zaire to Angola to Mozambique to El Salvador to Guatemala to Indonesia to East Timor. And you go on and on and on. All... to western Europe to the USA! To Chicago and Detroit and Boston and New York. They have systematically targeted, in many countries, the clergy, the peasant leaders, intellectuals, journalists, student leaders, labor union leaders, workers, and any community activists and such. Tens of thousands have been murdered and assassinated to prevent social change; to destroy any kind of redistributive politics, any kind of government, any kind of social movement that is not willing to reduce its people to economic fodder.

And with NAFTA, with the North American Free Trade Agreement, we now see the Third World-ization of the USA will continue, full- speed ahead.

The gangster nature of the State is cloaked by the democratic facade, and by the democratic substance of the government. I mean, there is some democratic substance there. Democratic victories have been won. We have struggled, and certain things have been won.

And yet, in the midst of this, the State still goes on.

And what is so compelling about an issue like drugs (as Michael Levine is pointing out) is that it's not that we're saying, "The government is not doing enough about drugs," or that "We're losing the 'war against drugs.'" It's that the government, or elements in it, are active perpetrators and purveyors of drugs! {1}. {2}.

And what is so compelling about the JFK assassination is how nakedly the gangster nature of the State is revealed! It is an awakening. And to know the truth about the JFK assassination is to create a de-legitimating force that calls into question the entire State system and the entire social order it represents. And this is why, for 30 years, the mainstream press has suppressed, or dismissed out of hand, the findings about JFK's death, the findings of independent investigators like Peter Dale Scott, Harold Weisberg, Carl Oglesby, Mark Lane, Antony Summers, Phillip Melinson(sp?), Jim Garrison, Cyril Wecht, and dozens and dozens of others. They're called "assassination buffs". They're not "buffs". Even that word is a limiting and marginalizing and diminishing term. A "buff" is a kind of a hobby pursuer, you see. It's a kind of a quirky person with all his quirky little interests. Would you talk about "Holocaust Buffs"? Would you? No. They are serious investigators of a very serious crime which leads to all sorts of serious understandings about the criminal nature of the State.

[ be continued...]

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- {1} From Project Seek by Gerald A. Carroll (Carson City: 1994, Bridger House Publishers):

Now, it is difficult to distinguish legal activities from illegal ones when it comes to business and commerce. Most banks, whether they realize it or not, launder illegal drug money to some degree. They can't help it. Drug money serves to undergird our entire economy, especially when economic recession strikes. The drug business never sees bad times. If all the illegal drug money were to vanish tomorrow, our nation would be plunged into a deep economic depression, as would most of the Western world. [CN -- Our dollars, once backed by gold, are now backed by drugs.] And now that Communism no longer carries ideological clout, there is simply no protection from the exploiters of these controlled substances, other than conscious efforts from good people to abstain from using them.

Laws making street drugs illegal today serve only to make the cost of drugs 200 to 400 times greater than they would be if they were legal, taxable commodities. Then, drug use and addiction could be attacked as the social problem that it is, instead of a full-blown criminal offense. Under current laws, drug-selling "territories" in large urban areas become war zones, because the local drug dealers want to keep their market share up, and their competition down. It is an old- fashioned economic truth: Once a substance is "illegal," the price rockets upward, well beyond the normal price for the substance if it were "legal." Current law benefits the criminal and no one else.

{2} From Project Seek by Gerald A. Carroll (Carson City: 1994, Bridger House Publishers):

[Quoting from Gemstone Files] "All this dope processing and shipping is controlled and supervised by [organized crime] for [organized crime]. Dope arrests and murders are aimed at independent pushers and maverick peddlers and smugglers who are competing with, or holding out on, [organized crime]. While Nixon was conducting his noisy campaign against dope smuggling across the Mexican border, his dope officer in charge of protecting the [syndicate's] dope trade was E. Howard Hunt."


"Still more dope comes from South America -- cocaine, and now heroin. U.S. aid went to build a highway across Paraguay (Uruguay?). Useless to the natives, who have no cars; they use it for sunbathing during the day. All night, airplanes loaded with cocaine take off from the longest landing strip in the world -- financed by U.S. tax money for the benefit of international [syndicate] dope pushers..."

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