Empire and Conspiracy

A Heretic’s Log: A series of philosophical essays written between September 20, 2002 and July 15, 2004.

Does the abundance and proliferation of conspiracy theories preclude the actual existence of conspiracies? Or are conspiracies an established fact of our political subsistence, a fact which we cannot afford to ignore?

The entry of the American Imperium into a more blatant militaristic phase has served to create a ripe environment for all sort of conspiracy theories (especially in a region as volatile as the Middle East, for instance). Although most of these theories can be easily dismissed, the phenomenon itself, due to its prevalence, does warrant some consideration. As such, the above questions need to be addressed no matter how briefly.

For considering the fateful impact that a secret agreement such as the Sykes-Picot Accord has had over the modern history of the Middle East, and the continuing covert and overt dabbling of “foreign powers” in the affairs of the region, one has to give some credence to the latter alternative. Conspiracies, one has to admit, have always been a major force in the political development of human societies, and did indeed have an important role to play in the making of human history.

The above questions should, therefore, be rephrased as follows: to which extant do conspiracies shape our lives? And who is actually conspiring against whom?

Before attempting to answer these questions, it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves of the main reasons behind the occurrence of conspiracies.

Conspiracies, to put things in a more sociological framework, seem to stem from the attempt of certain social groups to guard their particular interests (lawfully gained, usurped or inherited) from the impact (imagined or real) of activities conducted by other social groups. Indeed, a typical human society will always be divided into a variety of such social or “special interest” groups, which reflect for the most part, differentiation along ethnic, sectarian, tribal and clan lines, class or business interests, divisions between ruling and ruled classes (regardless of how they are defined), and some considerations pertaining to gender, age, profession and sexual orientation. There are, then, a seemingly infinite number of ways for social interest groups to form. As a result, clash of interests has always been an unavoidable social phenomenon. Failure to find peaceful methods to address this clash and create the necessary balance of interests (or redress a certain perceived imbalance) has, in effect, been the main reason behind wars andconspiracies.

Moreover, and as most (neo)anarchists would rightly assert, conspiracies, very much like wars, are in fact a natural byproduct of institutionalism. Indeed, institutions facilitate conspiratorial schemes. Only those who run institutions are in a position to conspire, institution-less individuals and groups cannot.

As such, the “ruling classes” (that is, those in charge of running large-scale institutions, including politicians, entrepreneurs, and clergymen, among others) have traditionally been in a better strategic position to fend for their interests and to conspire, state institutions being, to varying degrees, under their control, and most supposedly “independent” and “private” institutions being mostly regulated, directly or indirectly, by them.

Democracy and rights like freedom of speech, expression, and assembly are mere checks on the powers assumed, usurped by or allocated to the ruling classes, but they are not in any way guarantors against conspiratorialism and corruption. Democracy will not change human nature. Power will still corrupt, and interest groups will remain an unavoidable phenomenon of people living together in societies and communities while exhibiting different capacities, beliefs and other “characteristics.”

Demography seems to facilitate things here as well. Rulers are, relatively speaking, few in number. As such, they can intercommunicate much more effectively and speedily than the ruled classes.[1] This puts them in a much better position to take advantage of the contemporary communications and information revolution than other social groups, including the amazingly diverse, fragmented and still unaware of its existence, Global Middle Class.

The “current conspiracy” then, not matter how unconscious it is, is being carried out by the Global Ruling Class, which is beginning to become increasingly aware of its existence as such, against the still fragmented Global Middle Class. The “current conspiracy,” then, does not pit East against West, nor North against South, as some people tend to think. Rather, it is the old “class struggle,” at work again, now taking place on a global level. But, and here is where we differ from Marxist ideology, it is the fragmented Global Middle Class that needs to unite and stand in the way of this “unconscious conspiracy” in order to prevent it from turning into a full-blown global conspiracy a là Sykes-Picot, a development that will have disastrous and potentially irreversible consequences for all of humanity, though different peoples might experience this at different times.


[1] though this fact is not a guarantor against miscommunication, with all the problems that can stem from that.