Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It's time for writers to shine light on conspiracy theories

Image borrowed  from Zazzle
In Foucault’s Pendulum, semiotics originator Umberto Eco wrote the argument that should have killed any conspiracy theory involving Templars, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, the Illuminati and any other secret society that manipulated governments, courts, corporations and international organizations. Sadly, the nutbar ranters of the world are not very well read.

I received a spam email apparently from Alfonso Luigi Marra, who it turns out is a member of the European Parliament. The email exhorts unspecified justice systems to prosecute the twin dynasties of Freemasonry, the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, or “R&Rs.”

The R&Rs who are evident or silent owners of almost all the major banks in the world, or at least they control them and, through them, they have been controlling, for three centuries, the thoughts of the people, their orientations, their tastes in food, sex, sports, music, the gods they believe in, the scientific discoveries to be made known and those that are to be hidden, the laws to be enacted, the fashions, and in short everything that moves or is immobile under the sun, because they control the economy, the media, governments, the judiciary, trade unions, political parties, police, culture, revolutions, wars, Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter.
Wow. That’s a lot of control. Apparently, my bank controls my thinking. And everything that moves or is immobile under the sun. What does that leave?

Mmm, nutbars.
Image from Creative Commons.

At first glance, this speech is laughable. It reminds me of cheap tracts that would show up inexplicably in my parents’ or grandparents’ home when I was a kid, or the sheets handed out by shaky-handed men in threadbare tweed jackets at bus stops. Can any rational person believe any of this?

Normally, I glance at these things, laugh at the bad writing and chaotic reasoning and throw them out. But now that it’s come as email spam, and in keeping with my recent posts about the comment spam this blog gets, I thought I would present it to you, dear readers, as a warning.

People who believe in deep, dark conspiracies perpetuate damaging stereotypes and promote intolerance. The first sentence is actually chilling, if you consider where the author is going logically:

It is necessary to eliminate the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers (R&Rs) through the justice systems to thus eliminate Freemasonry, which they have used for three centuries to dominate the world with their criminal policies. An invocation to make provisions for the part of the judiciary that is neither Masonic nor pro-Masonic and especially the Italian judiciary and the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights), the last of which sold its role to the Masonic lobbies and reneged the jurisprudence that it had managed to wrest from it in twenty years of trials.

What does the writer mean by “judicially eliminate?”
First of all, however, I think it is necessary to identify the criminal responsibility of the Rothschilds and Rockefellers and strike them personally by arresting them, confiscating their assets, and in countries where it is allowed, condemning them to death.
There you have it. The nuts are still asking for the execution of whole groups of people because they control the world’s banks, industry and media. Remind you of anything?
Do we clear-minded people need to worry? On one hand, no. It seems that everybody and everything is part of Marra’s conspiracy of enemies:
The 'Enlightened' who, since they have existed (let’s say from 1723), have always been used, bought and sold, by the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, in their seignorage strategisms, to promote, infiltrate, corrupt and hijack everything: the French, Russian, Chinese, and Cuban revolutions, the Italian Risorgimento, the unification of Italy, and so on; every movement or event on every continent, the wars of independence, the world wars and politics today. 
What’s left? By Marra’s reasoning, most people in the West are Freemasons, whether we know it or not. Look at his list of secret, if prominent Freemasons:  
Robespierre, Napoleon, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Cavour, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Einstein, Freud, Roosevelt, Churchill, Allende, Spinelli, Gorbachev, Obama, the UN and the EU.
Similar conspiracy theorists describe the Illuminati as also controlling pop stars like Jay-Z, BeyoncĂ© and Rhanna. The proof: they make triangular symbols with their hands, evoking the image of the eye in the pyramid. 
Image from Lazer Horse:

(You can see it on the back of the US dollar bill. Hey, the Illuminati must be behind the repeated failure of the US to bring in a new dollar coin!)

Conspiracy theories can be a lot of fun. There's something seductive about them, too: the fact that they can never be proven supports the theory about their secretive nature. 

I keep telling people, especially those who love books like The DaVinci Code, they have to read Foucault's Pendulum. In it, Eco's heroes, three editors from Milan, prove that the easiest way to create a secret society is to start a rumour that it doesn't exist. Within weeks or even days, some nutbars will start up a wannabe conspiracy.

The down side

Creative Commons
Tracts and speeches like these are symptoms. If Marra believes this drivel, many others who don’t write about also believe it. Where have we heard of this before: there is a secret society of people, prominent among them a Jewish family, that controls banks, media and  governments, and that manipulates art and society?

So what’s the solution? First, let’s not shove these ideas into a dark corner. Let’s bring them out and understand them for what they are (which, given the quality of writing they typically display, can be a challenge). And then, let’s expose the hateful, damaging and just plain wrong reasoning. Let’s start with the obvious falsities, then the illogical reasoning, and finally, the underlying prejudice and racism that feeds on the ignorance and fear that these theories perpetuate.

And Professor Eco, if you read this, any insight would make a huge difference.

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