Maybe they are(n't) out to get us

Just one final dump of conspiracy theory related ideas before I get back to the magick and Tarot stuff that you're probably actually here for: I was wondering a while back about the seemingly higher prevalence of conspiracy theorists in America compared to the UK. Part of this is certainly cultural – the myth of the creation of America is very much based around throwing off a dangerous controlling power and the need for eternal vigilance against the like again; or alternatively one could see the creation myth as being a small band of powerful and influential intellectuals laying down the foundation of an entire culture. These myths both lend themselves to the idea that great power can lay in the hands of the few, and that we must be vigilant against their machinations against us.

But I think another issue with America is simply the proximity of power. America is bloody big, and most people are a hell of a long way from the seat of power. Distance – and the lack of familiarity it brings – allows you to imagine all manner of odd things.

I've been lucky enough to know someone who has worked extensively inside the UK parliament, I've known a CEO of a top UK media company, I've met millionaires, Master Masons, and got to know members, and the leaders of, a few 'secret' occult organisations. This isn't particularly special, just the kind of thing that happens if you live in London, hang out with Oxford graduates, and move in the UK occult scene. As a result, it's really hard to imagine there is an effective, secret, elite out there manipulating anything with any effectiveness. The kind of people that are in a position to do so they… they just aren't all that special. Clever, hardworking, on occasion very ambitious, but… when you've met them it's just hard to visualise them having the kind of super-human powers of organisation and ruthlessness that would be required for an effective world spanning conspiracy.

However, if one had never met a member of the 'elite', never spent time with a politician, if all you ever saw was TV pictures, and read hints of the workings of occult orders… it's easier to project on to them all manner of powers, abilities, potential and, well, evil.

The familiar just isn't that scary. It's hard to want to bomb Iran if you know a few Iranians, it's hard to think that all Muslim's want to destroy the West when you've argued about cricket with a few of them, it's difficult to imagine all occultists wield huge power and sacrifice babies when you've seen them trying to dance at a social event. Distance creates suspicion, and makes fear easier. Familiarity is comforting and brings people down to size.

The kind of conspiracies most often discussed require a level of organisation, structure coherence, secrecy and power I have never seen in anyone. People just arne't that competent. There are too many instances of people screwing up, whistle-blowing, leaking, launching investigations and all the petty rest of it. I can understand why the Bilderberg group worries people, but I imagine it worries people who have met some of it's members a hell of a lot less.

Which reminds me, I think one of the best books on conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists is Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson (who has met members of the Bilderberg group). He's a great journalist and writer, and his book is compelling, funny and reveals a great deal about much that underlies conspiracy theories. It does, also, provides some great insight into the Bilderberg group (and produces one of the best David Icke quotes ever).

And as a final note – my conviction that there is no single, powerful, shadowy organisation of occult power guiding the direction of the world remains anchored in one powerful and important fact: they've never asked me to join.

3 Responses to "Maybe they are(n't) out to get us"

  1. Kellie says:

    No, no, James–your engraved invite is in the mail. Really. We've decided to put you in charge of Area 51. 🙂

    I agree that America's hugeness & isolation contribute to the popularity of conspiracy theories over here. I recall talking to a Canadian friend quite a few yrs back. She was thinking of a second career in politics, and I was amazed that it actually seemed kind of doable once she laid it all out for me. It would not occur to me to run for senator without a history in politics.

    Your throwing-off-the-yoke idea is new to me. It's not something I would have come up with on my own, but perhaps we _are_ different from other countries in that respect. We certainly don't have a sense of a millenium of history at our backs.

    Watergate was a shock. I wonder if the rise in conspiracy theories can be traced back to that event?

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  3. Hal says:

    It's important for you to believe that "they're" not out to get you…. since "they" are only there because you believe "them" to be. It's all in your mind, my friend. Think about the good things, the happy things, the beautiful things, and these things will multiply in your sight. Don't carry the weight of your shame or guilt for shortcomings against yourself; rather, learn from your mistakes, and be kind to others. It's really a funny thing, all of this. Logic seems to say that that pursuing the bad and trying attempting to "kill" immensely complicated and seemingly diabolical (yet undefined and still faceless, thank goodness) enemies in order to to save the world would be one of the ways to fix something, but it turns out that the opposite is true. At some point, you'll realise that you're only chasing your shadow. Just as creating synchronicities based on paranoia will manifest, promulgate, and multiply your fears, the opposite is true if you focus on truth, love, and goodness; whatever makes you the happiest.

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