by Marc Sapir

“Who doesn’t understand how disappointment destroys the soul…
What has he done to deserve this.
What have I done to deserve this..”  (from Ben Harper’s blues song, We Can’t End This Way)

Every important, scandalous, shockingly criminal, unjust, inhumane, and terrorist behavior by powerful governments and ruling elites cannot be censored.  Indeed, some of the most egregious behaviors are uncensorable.  I decided to write this article to discuss the situation that such uncensored stories confront us with.  Bear with me.

Recently the term “conspiracy theory” has once again aroused heated discussions.  Debate, of course, is a good thing.  It can engage and arouse people in the effort to achieve positive political change and social consensus.  Debate is also a method for collective enlightenment. On occasion however, debate, when the two sides only appear to be different, or the topic is trivial, can be a distraction.  A woman friend of  40 years had this to say about the issue of debating conspiracies (I paraphrase):  “what gets me is that so much talking and dust raising about various back room conspiracies tends to obscure the fact that there is a central crushing political conspiracy: Capitalism.”   I take this as my jump-off point.  What to call any society or State which, while calling itself democratic, deploys fundamental rules that assure the right (by law) of rich and powerful elites to use their riches and power to concentrate and privatize vast social wealth, opportunity  and resources that should belong in the commons?  What to call a State which enforces the rights of the powerful to do so by any means they can get away with including impunity in the face of laws which they are—not so conspiratorially—given to bend or re-write to suit their needs?  What else is this but the broadest social conspiracy?

We ought draw an important distinction between the conspiracy known as Capitalism and the many smaller sub-plot conspiracies such as the cover-up of the probably-accidental downing by a U.S. Navy missile of TWA 800 during a live-fire exercise off of Connecticut and Long Island over a decade ago, or the intentionally planned Bay of Pigs plot to take over Cuba, or the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, or the Gulf of Tonkin incident.  The sub-plot conspiracies—as devious, deadly and devastating as they are-are conspiracies of policy based in silence, detailed factual misrepresentations of events and overt censorship, of shutting down investigative journalists, of using media to lie, of avoiding blame, exposure, confession, restitution.  Exposing this is the realm of Project Censored.  But the other more central social conspiracy is proactive and operates in exactly the opposite way.  Though concealing some of its interstices it does not conceal, but cheers the inequalities it promulgates: its goal and methods are to promote and popularize the idea-as a system of thought, or ideology-that richness and poverty, success and failure, opportunity and lack of opportunity, life in a mansion and life under a bridge, comfort and security and a life of prison or drugs or stagnation result from meritorious behavior or its absence, or else are accidental  or incidental—simply inevitable by-products of who we are as a socially evolved species.  Many explanations are used to assert why there are many losers in these equations—from genetics, to poor upbringing, history, racist theory, bad parenting, laziness, bad luck, lack of creativity, lack of discipline and on and on.  The biggest lie is that we live in a “meritocracy” where each of us may prosper by hard work, individual prowess and creative brilliance.  We are taught that the failures of the many are “just the way the world goes round,” a normal Bell curve.  Yet we know full well in the 21st century from the biological sciences, sociology, comparative social anthropology and human history that all of these explanations are patently false and cynically constructed; human’s are complex, full of good and bad tendencies and capacities, but there is nothing inevitable in the standards upon which a society operates or the laws and mechanisms which enforce either justice or injustice and inequality, encouragement or discouragement of common people.  We citizens of the United States have that Declaration that calls forth the theme that all men are created equal; it stands up for liberty and justice for all; yet fifteen years later in 1791 a handful of prosperous white men, several being slave owners, could not bring themselves to craft a Constitution that actually assured those declared principles.  Slavery was not abolished.  Women and common men without property were not given the vote.  Indians and Slaves existed only in so far as to give extra power to their owners in the 2/3 compromise.  However, the very drafting of the Declaration of Independence in itself makes clear that we humans can and do aspire to, and so are capable of, crafting a higher social order and organization to assure our common rights.

The more cynical so-called “pragmatic” ideas and ideology which dominate much of our national culture and discourse through media and educational institutions, are structured for a conspiratorial purpose: they normalize a social environment in which the legal inequalities and their apparent, even transparent, criminality appear to us sad, even disturbing, but not really a conspiracy at all, but irresistible, to be accepted as human nature and the natural way of the world.  However, if we ruminate about the 20th century, its two world wars and uncontainable brutality, we should conclude that human civilization might not be able to survive for much longer unless we, en masse, throw over this way of thinking, this dominance of an anarchic elitist ideology.

Egregious examples abound of the ingenuity and the disingenuousness of inevitablist pragmatic ideology and its promotion by media and even in academic environments. Hollywood blockbusters and most commercial advertising are part of this cultural deal righteously promoting various supremacist principles.  An example of how the mass mind is turned away from the possibilities for socially transformative action is the widely circulated-even in some Left environments—blanket assertion that the collapse of the Soviet Union proved that Marx’s ideas and analysis of Capital were simply invalid and have nothing to offer us in the era of advanced Capitalism.  But anyone on the “Left” who believes this hype probably didn’t notice that when the 2008 economic crisis hit, the sales of Marx’s Capital to traders, entrepreneurs, bankers, Capitalists and political elites of every shape and size skyrocketed.  Marx flew off some shelves as if he had returned to life with his regular column in the New York Daily Tribune.  The very class that rules and brought us the crisis under their often illegal and devious monopolizing, speculating, concentrating and self-incinerating rules of Capital turned to Karl Marx to try to understand the fix they had led themselves, and all of us, into.  Meanwhile, their corporate media propagandists ramped up the paean about the death of Marxism.  I learned of this interesting phenomenon not from the Left but from the corporate media itself, in the business section of a major newspaper.  I use Marx or Marxism merely to show how the cultural conspiracy operates, in a way that is quite different from what we usually think of when the word conspiracy is bandied about.  This socio-cultural conspiracy’s main tools are not the coercion of bombs and bombers, secret plots, torture, drones and military might, murder, assassination or illegal hidden plans, but the dominance of thought.

All of the above is preface to say that corporate media “censorship”—as dangerous and, yes, conspiratorial as it often is-is not quite the greatest threat to our nation or our world.  Our own tendency to think in a restricted fashion rather than toward socialized methods of responding to this challenge is a greater threat.  How can we change our ways of thinking and of acting?  This relates, most importantly, to situations that arise when the elites, the political class and their corporate media collaborators, are not in a good position to suppress big stories which expose the ruthless, anti-democratic, criminality of their system itself.  In crisis they become reactive and act like impetuous children who fear they are losing their grip on the world.  And then they expose themselves.  Yet, despite these exposures of the most diabolical and outrageous systematic behaviors, we have so far not been able to rally a national movement to end this disease of tyranny.  Why?

Take the most egregious example of uncensorship currently in the news-that is, the case of the NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden-and the related story of the U.S. violation of international law in the Evo Morales airplane debacle.  The key feature of these events is that they have not been—they actually cannot be—censored, nor even well distorted.    And why is that?

If you’ve seen the film about Dan Ellsberg you know that when Ellsberg decided to blow the whistle on the deceptions and lying behind the US aggression against Vietnam (by releasing the top secret “Pentagon Papers”) many Congressional officials among those who opposed the war publicly refused to get involved when he approached them.  The effort to censor him was intense.  But Ellsberg could not be silenced both because he and his friends hid him and kept distributing the documents and because he was committed to ending that war of aggression.  The documents were so damning that eventually only the most cynical and bought journalists would stand with the conspiracy of silence. It was Ellsberg’s network of activity that led to the eventuality of the New York Times beginning to publicize the documents he provided them, and coverage then spread outward. As mirror image to the U.S. line about the big banks in 2008 being “too big to fail” or Capitalism would collapse, the Pentagon Papers story—given some high risk taking by Ellsberg and others who were not going to give up in the cause of justice—became too big to not break out of containment.  Thus one important condition that often overcomes censorship is: too big to be suppressed.  And another is what Project Censored demonstrates: a determination to outsmart the censorship apparatus.

Yet there are other real events that simply cannot be suppressed even when there is no Dan Ellsberg or Bradley Manning.  The events following Snowden’s exposure of the NSA spying on the entire U.S. population prove this point.   Like Ellsberg, who well planned his exposure of U.S. duplicity, Snowden planned his whistle-blowing well enough that he was safely out of the country when his story hit the street.  What happened next, though predicated upon his action, was that the political class and its leaders panicked and became reactive.  Unable to defend their essentially criminal spying conspiracy against the public’s right to be secure in their own lives, the government became impulsive.  They labeled Snowden; they behaved like reactionary Republicans, calling him an enemy and trying to justify the unjustifiable—a charge of treason.  And when that failed them they arranged the Evo Morales gambit to flex U.S. muscles against anyone (particularly the growing unity in Latin America) who might even think of collaborating against U.S. power in the world in this way.  In doing these things, the Administration provided an enhancement to Snowden’s uncensoring of truth:  they added much fuel to the NSA fire, exposing the larger truth—the social conspiracy that is neither temporary nor isolated.  Such uncensorship will eventually be the downfall of their ideology and their political economic dominance of our culture.

The cause of that process and the misjudgments of the elites lies in the obvious instability of Capitalism in its 2013 moment of continuing world crisis, an instability that forecasts (if history is any lesson) out of control worsening wars—including civil wars- brutality, uprisings, many forms of resistance, and then reactive control mechanisms here in the U.S. as bad as we saw in the worst days of the 20th century. “Out of control” is the operative phrase, for the elites, despite all their power, technological controls and ideological dominance find their structures of dominance collapsing around them due to a simple fact: capitalism is self-destructive.

If we fail to build and join a bandwagon of outrage as systemic crimes like the NSA-Snowden-Morales exposure become uncensored, we do so at great risk.  For this expanding story, without much explication, reveals that the U.S. government is a government that rules over, but not of, by or for the American public.  The whole affair reveals that the laws of the U.S. and its very Constitution are only props, shreds of paper that are trashed when not useful to the elites.  The Snowden affair, in and of itself, is ample justification for a new American revolution to rid us of that rot.  Even a hypothetical discovery of material proof that 9/11 was an event engineered by the Bush-Chaney clan could not be more powerful than this unmasking-by the government’s own behavior—of finance capitalism’s wanton criminality and disregard for our rights and our social continuity as a nation.    If the American people cannot react and organize against the irrationality of the unhidden cultural conspiracy that capitalism and its social relations represent even when that irrationality publicly undresses itself like the famous Emperor and his new suit, then we will be doomed.

Conspiratorial cover-ups of criminal behavior abound.  They are real and toxic.  But beyond the un-cover-ups by Project Censored and other honest journalists, uncensorship in and by the corporate media and their government present the greatest opportunities for an aroused public to understand, to organize and to act.  Don’t let these opportunities pass by or think them of lesser importance because they achieve the level of uncensorship without our help.  They are key rallying points for millions who seek a just society for all.

Marc Sapir is a primary care physician in public and non-profit settings in California for 40 years. A grandfather of six, he lives with his wife in the Bay Area.  With Mickey Huff and Warren Gold he organized and led www.retropoll.org in 2004. He is also one of the www.madashelldoctors.com  and can be reached at marcsapir@gmail.com.  





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  • http://wonderwheels.blogspot.com/ Gregory Wonderwheel

    Yes, go for the direct approach and call Capitalism what it is, the conspiracy to control and accumulate wealth and power. But wait, isn’t that already the acknowledged “American Dream”? The so-called American Dream is the brainwashing reverie of our American Brand of Fascism. Landed feudalism gave way to corporate feudalism or corporatism controlled by the lords the corporations just like the lords of the manor controlled the lands. We are all serfs and indentured servants of the corporate lords of our American Brand of Fascism.