Against conspiracy theories: Why our activism must be based in reality

Against conspiracy theories: Why our activism must be based in reality

The text of a talk given at Occupy Wellington, New Zealand, on October 27 2011. The talk was organised to try to counter the prevalence of conspiracy theories amongst the local wing of the Occupy movement.

Kia ora kotou, thanks everyone for coming. Firstly, a brief run-down of how this workshop will work: first, I'm going to give a brief talk, followed by an open discussion which anyone can contribute to. I also want to make it clear that I'm not here today to debunk or debate any specific conspiracy theory. I've got no interest in doing that, I don't think its particularly productive. What I want to be doing is talking about the title of the workshop is – why our activism must be based in reality. So we'll be talking about the whole conspiracy world-view, we'll be talking about what I think is a much better alternative to that, but I'm not going to sit here and argue with you over whether the Government is secretly poisoning us from the skies, or whether shape-shifting reptilian lizards are controlling our lives, or whether or not you can cure cancer with baking soda.

First up, who am I? For those of you who don't know me my name is Asher, I'm born and bred in Wellington, though I have also spent a few years recently living in Christchurch. I've been involved in activism and radical politics for around about 7 years, in a variety of different campaigns and struggles.

If we're going to talk about conspiracy theories, the first important question is obvious: what is a conspiracy theory?

Now, if you go by a dictionary definition, a conspiracy is just a group of people who get together to plan something, and don't tell others about it. If I'm organising a surprise birthday party for my friend, then I am conspiring with others. But that's not a particularly useful definition for the purposes of a discussion like this.

So, for this discussion, the way I'm defining a conspiracy theory is thus: a conspiracy theory is a theory based in supposition, one that flies in the face of evidence or science, often one that claims its correctness can be shown by the paucity of evidence in favour of it, in the sense that 'this conspiracy goes so far that they've even buried all the evidence that proves it!' Conspiracy theories often encourages an 'us few enlightened folk versus everyone else' world view. This creates an atmosphere where conspiracy theorists look down on people, or sheeple as they are often called, and ignores the fact that people, by and large, are actually pretty intelligent. In and of itself this world-view is hugely problematic for as I will discuss later, mass social change requires the participation of the masses and therefore, we have to have faith in the ability of people to decide things for themselves, to come to correct conclusions and ultimately to change the world.

Why am I interested in conspiracy theories, or at least arguing against them? Firstly, because I'm passionate about science and rationality, and I find it fascinating how and when these things are ignored.

Secondly, because I'm Jewish, and many conspiracy theories are antisemitic – whether directly and obviously (eg: Jews run the world, or the media, or the banks). Sometimes its more subtle – people might not talk about Jews explicitly but they may use Zionist as a code word, or talk about the Rothschilds, or an elite cabal of shadowy bankers who all coincidentally have Jewish surnames.

Lastly, I'm interested in conspiracy theories because I want radical social change, and to have radical social change, we need to have an understanding of how society actually works.

We are here at Occupy because we want to see change. What we want differs: some want new regulations on the financial sector, others want to change taxes or the minimum wage, while others still want to destroy capitalism and bring in a new form of production and distribution. Regardless of which of these boxes you fit in, if you fit in any of them at all, we all want change.

We're also here because we know we can't simply rely on Government to benevolently grant us the changes we desire. If we believed that, we'd sit at home and wait for the Government to give us these gifts. We're here because we know that those with power won't give it up lightly, and that it is only through our collective strength that we can win reforms, or create revolution.

But what do I mean when I say 'our collective strength'? I think it's important to clarify who is contained within the word 'our'. While people involved in the Occupy movements around the globe frequently refer to it as the 99%, I actually think that's a really imprecise term. So, instead, I refer to the working class. When they hear the term working class, some people think simply of male factory workers, but this is not what I mean. The working class is not limited to blue collar workers in factories, but instead it includes all of us who are forced to sell our labour power to survive. This includes people who are in paid employment, whether in a factory, office, café or retail store. It also includes those who are unable to find paid employment, or have chosen to refuse the drudgery of paid work in order to attempt to live on the meagre benefits supplied by the state, and who provide a vast potential pool of labour that enables the ruling class to further keep wages down. The working class includes stay at home parents, doing vital unpaid work to raise the next generation of human beings. It includes people who are too sick or unable to work for other reasons. In short, if you don´t own a business, if you aren't part of the Government, if you aren't independently wealthy (such as from an inheritance), then chances are you are a part of the working class that I'm talking about, this collective 'our'.

If we agree that we can't simply rely on Government to benevolently grant us gifts, and that we need to fight for it using our numbers and our power, then it becomes necessary to understand how society is structured and how capitalism actually functions, in order to know where our collective strength comes from, where we have the most power, and where we need to apply the metaphorical blowtorch.

So, why are conspiracy theories not helpful here? Why are conspiracy theories not useful for developing that understanding? There's a variety of reasons.

Some conspiracy theories, such as those around 9/11, even if they were true, which I don't believe they are, would only tell us “Governments do bad things”. That's not actually news to anyone. We know that the British Crown & the New Zealand Government stole vast tracts of land from Maori. We know that the Crown and the Australian Government engaged in genocidal acts against Australian aborigines. We know that Governments the world over have repeatedly sent people overseas to fight, kill and die in wars. There's so, so much more, but to cut a long story short, everybody knows that sometimes Governments do bad things. So theories that only serve to prove that, even if they were true, aren't actually particularly useful.

Some conspiracy theories are simply bizarre and the logical conclusions from them, don't fit with what their believers do. If you actually believed that the majority of people in power around the world was a blood-sucking shape-shifting reptilians from another solar system, then you wouldn't limit your activity to promoting one guy's book tours around the globe and chatting with other believers on the internet.

Conspiracy theories often feed on people's mistrust and their fear. They claim to provide simple answers to complicated questions, but actually when you examine them in detail they're highly complex themselves. For example, with 9/11, it seems like a simple solution to say 'it was an inside job by the US Government'. But actually, when you look into what would be required for this to be true, the thousands upon thousands of people who would need to be lying, it becomes incredibly implausible.

Some conspiracy theories, such as many of the shadowy financial cabal conspiracies, only serve to mystify capitalism and falsely suggest a level of control that doesn't actually exist. Additionally, they remove any sense of our own power, whether real or potential. A theory which suggests such overwhelming power and control over the entire way we live our lives is actually a catalyst for inaction – if a group has such a high level of control over everything, then there's not really anything we can do about it. On the contrary, capitalism is not a static system, it is dynamic and changing and constantly adapts in response to threats. The threat of working class power has resulted in a number of changes to the functioning of capitalism over time, including the introduction of Keynesian and Neoliberal economics in the late 1930s and 1970s respectively.

Even if conspiracy theories can sometimes seem relatively harmless on the surface, they play a role of absorbing us into a fictional world, somewhat like a dungeons and dragons enthusiast. Once you are in this fictional world, it becomes really easy to get lost in it and to be defensive when challenged, even when challenged on a logical, rational basis.

I'll quote British political blogger Jack Ray:

Quote:
The trouble with conspiracy theories is that they're all rendered pointless by one fundamental, unarguable element of capitalism. That it is, whatever else you have to say about, positive or negative, a system of elites. It has elitism coded into it´s DNA, from the smallest company, to the largest multinational, from the political system to the culture. It's purpose is to promote elites. It does this legitimately within the logic of the system. It does this publicly, lording super-capitalists like Bill Gates or even for a time, Enron boss Ken Lay. It lays its theories of elitism out for all to see, in policy projects, in university research, through political theorists.

It has no interest in secret cabals, or conspiracies. It has no need for them. It is a system openly, and publicly, run by elites. They might go home at night and secretly dine with their illuminati, lizard-jew, Bilderberg Group friends, and laugh about how they've taken over the world. It doesn't matter to me or you whether they do or not. They are the elite, and we can see who they are and how they live their lives. People know that we live in a system of elites, that acts in its own interests, according to the logic of the society they dominate. Everyone who looks around know this. We don't need internet documentaries to tell us that we're dominated, we just need to go to work, or walk through a posh neighbourhood or have a run-in with any politicians, big businessman or even a celebrity to know that. What we need are weapons, ways of challenging that domination, so maybe we don't have to live under it forever.

So what is the alternative to this conspiracist world-view? For that, we need to look at history. The history of how social change comes about is not always easy to find. It suits those in power to downplay the role of mass movements, so the dominant narrative is often one that ignores the long term grassroots organising that has happened, and simply focuses on legislative change enacted by the Government of the day. But a people's history is out there – often in the form of first hand accounts by those who took part in these movements, such as those for homosexual law reform, of the 1970s strike wave across New Zealand, of the movement against native forest logging and so on.

One thing, from looking at this history, is abundantly clear. Mass action is vital for mass change. If you look through history, time and time again, it is when large groups of people have got together and shown themselves to be a threat to those in power that concessions have been granted. This happens on a small scale as well as a big one – when all 10 employees at a small business go on strike and refuse to work until their boss gives them a pay rise, the boss is forced to listen.

From this example, it becomes obvious that it isn't simply numbers alone that allow us to exercise power. It is also using those numbers strategically to hit those in power where it hurts. As workers, we create wealth for the bosses each and every day at our jobs. Some of this wealth is returned to us in the form of wages, but much is stolen. This stolen wealth is often called ¨surplus value¨. It is the accumulation of surplus value, stolen by our bosses, that forms the wealth of the ruling class. But because the goods and services that create this surplus value ultimately come from our hands and our brains, through collectively withdrawing our labour, we can force the bosses to give in to our demands.

So taking collective action the workplace is one way we can impose our power on the bosses to help us better meet our needs and desires. And if we extrapolate this to larger numbers of work-sites, to larger numbers of people both employed and unemployed, then we can begin to see how we can make changes to the functioning of society as a whole.

I don't have all the answers, though I do have plenty more to say than I've had time to touch on in this talk. But I want to open things up to discussion soon, because I think that's one thing that is really important about this Occupy Wellington space, that we can talk through things, together, to come to new ways of thinking and working politically.

To finish things off, I want to emphasise that while it is important to have an open mind, this must be tempered with a commitment to rationality and the examining of evidence. Or, to quote Australian sceptic and comedian Tim Minchin, “If you open your mind too much, your brain will fall out”.

Posted By

Anarchia
Oct 29 2011 04:29

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roach
Nov 1 2011 00:51

Salviati-
>>"I'm also arguing against conspiracy theories: especially the ones concocted by the state, which both you and Caiman appear to believe in."<<

see this is what i mean about believing in the capital 'T' truth. which is inherent in the name Truther

you are so damn hooked up on this shit that you can't seem to even rationally look at what i've said.

i never said anything about who brought the towers down (the conspirators). once again you are projecting onto who you are arguing with. i have not taken any position on nor claimed anything about who brought them down, nor do i care to.

i've just argued that focusing on these theories is not worth anywhere near this much time, given you information i know about heat and metal, and a few measurements, and told you that i watched the planes hit and the towers fall in real time with my own eyes (i wasn't 'right there' but i could still see it). all of that put together is why i really think it's quite silly to think they didn't fall because of the planes.

when you get down to it, i've done the same thing you want to do, give some information and hope the person receiving it will give it a thought. and i haven't told you that you believe a bunch of "misinformation" or anything of the sort, a modicum of respect you haven't really given the rest of us. i've just given you some other info and my opinion on several things. and whether you want to accept it or not, my opinion comes from my experience, which also includes looking at much of the information you've linked to, if not the specific sites, long before this conversation started. and my opinion is still as previously stated, that much of this is pretty much a waste of time, and that it adds nothing to anarchist theory or praxis.

you can't simply assume that everyone just believes what they've been told. and you can't simply assume that people who don't agree with you do so only because they don't have 'the right information'. there are people who have the same information you do, sometimes even more, like actual experience with important physical factors that are a part of the discussion, and have come to different conclusions.

but you seem to be so caught up with this particular conspiracy theory, and how it is constructed in very particular detail in your head (because you seem to have spent too much time on it), that you are getting defensive and accusatory in in the face of information you don't want to process. so much so that you ignored the entirety of my last (very long) post to you. which is exactly why i think conspiracy theories tend to be a problematic waste of time. they usually lead to what resembles a dogma mentality, absorbing only what fits and ignoring or attacking what does not, then accusing the 'other side' of exactly that.

CornetJoyce
Nov 1 2011 01:46
roach wrote:
Cornetjoyce -

if you think that the u.s. is responsible for 9-11, do you actually think that the u.s. would investigate any criminal matter relating themselves to it? would a judge convict himself of a crime? that's is just nonsense. and i'd once again remind you that this is an anarchist site. it's not about reforming the state through litigation and court proceedings. it's about abolishing the state and it's courts. having one arm of the state interfere with the another is called reform. the only purpose of reform is to help the state survive longer.

And an "anarchist site" would swear to the state's fabications no matter how absurd? How in hell does that "abolish" the state? Is it supposed to laugh itself to death? Supporting the lies of the state is called collaboration.
In the absence of evidence, I have no theory about what happened to the towers of Ozymandias. The theories I've heard, including the state's and yours, are incredible. I've paid little attention to the matter but I'm sure I could study it around the clock and still not have enough information to form a theory.

Tojiah
Nov 1 2011 02:21

Actually this libcom article was part of a plot by the Bilderbergs to get all of you Truthers to show your faces on an unsecured website. Black helicopters are on the way to your houses. There is no point in escaping. It will be easiest for you if you don't struggle.

CornetJoyce
Nov 1 2011 03:00

The scales have fallen from our eyes: two airplanes knocked three twin towers straight down!
And now the state is abolished, yahoo!
Just goes to show: abolish the law of gravity and you abolish the state.

Tojiah
Nov 1 2011 03:10

As I recall it took a while. Some people even managed to escape before the buildings collapsed fully. From, you know, having had large passenger jets flown into them at ramming speed.

bastarx
Nov 1 2011 04:08

Truthers are just a bunch of racists who can't accept that a bunch of Arabs could pull something like 9/11 off.

Tojiah
Nov 1 2011 04:13

And who care more about 3000 Americans than about the millions of non-Americans the US has killed before and after 9/11.

jonthom
Nov 1 2011 07:29
Salviati wrote:
First, I'm not waiting for 'the sheeple' to 'wake up': hell will surely freeze over before that happens. Still, it would certainly be nice if a few intelligent and perceptive anarchists (such as I know I can find here) would stop swallowing corporate media propaganda.

Believe it or not, some people who disagree with you - even some people who agree with the "official version" of events! - are not simply "swallowing corporate propaganda". They are intelligent people who, like you, have looked at the evidence and reached different conclusions. To claim otherwise and insist they are just brainwashed is really quite astoundingly arrogant, to be honest.

Quote:
It's about understanding the methods of the enemy. It's also about understanding history in general and how hegemony sustains itself through lies. This helps you to avoid repeating past mistakes or falling for the subtle misdirection practised by governments and security agencies.

On this point I think we can agree to some extent. However, while understanding the way the ruling class operates is important, I really think we have far better tools at our disposal than the analysis given by Icke, Jones and the band of 9/11 Truthers. Chomsky, for example, has written extensively about the nature of propaganda, and sites like MediaLens, however imperfect, do help provide details of news which are generally left out of UK reports. Outside of studying the nature of propaganda, there are plenty of writings available - many of them on this site - demonstrating how capitalism and the state function in a great deal of depth, writings which are all the stronger because they don't rely on references to Bilderberg and other silliness (more on that below).

Quote:
For example, if the Walsall anarchists had been better able to recognise that they'd been infiltrated and fitted up, they could have stayed out of prison.

confused It was my understanding that the Walsall Anarchists did know they had been set up, and by whom, and even said as much in court.

Quote:
If anti-war activists had exposed the Tonkin Gulf incident earlier, the Vietnam War could have been curtailed.

I find that rather difficult to believe but, benefit of the doubt and all that: what's your grounds for saying this? Do you have any particular real-world parallel in mind?

IMO, outside of some sort of change of heart on the part of the US ruling class, the only thing that could have stopped the Vietnam War sooner would have been to make the US itself basically ungovernable - mass shutdown through strikes, sabotage, occupations, blockades, riots and all the other fun stuff. If 58,000 dead US soldiers couldn't accomplish that I'm not sure knowledge of the Gulf of Tonkin would have made much difference.

Quote:
If Italian anarchists had recognised Gladio for what it was, they could have countered it.

How?

(Not a rhetorical question btw - Gladio intrigues me and if you can point to some way in which it could have been countered at the time I'd be curious to hear it.)

Quote:
There's also the need to show solidarity with other activists coming under a propaganda attack. By legitimising the use of the phrase 'conspiracy theorist', you are handing an easy victory to the corporate media and giving them a weapon they will use against you, tomorrow.

On the other hand though, by distancing ourselves from conspiracy theorists, we get to make it clear that opposing capitalism doesn't involve wittering on about the Masons, Illuminati, fluoride in the water and related silliness. Which I think is a good thing, to be honest; the anarchist analysis of capitalism and that offered by the conspiracy community (or Truthers, or "alternative historians" - whichever term you'd prefer) are actually quite different.

You mentioned the Bilderberg Group elsewhere in this thread. I first came across them a while ago, I think in a book by Icke; wound up reading a bit more about them both from "alternative theorists" on the one hand and mainstream sources on the other. It's somewhat interesting reading, certainly, if you're into that sort of thing. But that was the best part of a decade ago and knowing about the Bilderberg Group has yet to have any impact whatsoever on my political analysis or activity. More to the point, however, I don't see how it possibly could.

That capitalists conspire amongst themselves is hardly a novel observation. Even Adam Smith commented on that. Sometimes they conspire in public, through national governments and international organisations like the G8 and G20. Other times they do so behind closed doors through organisations like the Bilderberg Group. It seems entirely plausible - in fact, all but inevitable - that the discussions held at Bilderberg (and other gatherings) have an impact on the sorts of policies the governments in question go on to enact. However, I'm at a loss as to what possible difference knowing about these groups could make to our activity in the here and now. If you have something in mind, however, I'm all ears.

To be honest, the examples of successfully exposed conspiracies you've brought up seem to argue against, rather than in favour of, the idea that this should be our focus of activity. The Cold War era alone brought all sorts of conspiracies and scandals to the surface - Gulf of Tonkin, MK ULTRA, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Gladio and so on. Yet their exposure doesn't seem to have done the slightest damage to either capitalism or the state, nor provided any real boost to movements against them. They had an impact on the individuals implicated in the controversies, of course, but that as best I can tell is pretty much it.

Caiman del Barrio
Nov 1 2011 11:48
Salviati wrote:
roach wrote:
caiman-

the article is called against conspiracy theories. it is about conspiracy theories. i'm arguing against conspiracy theories. exactly how is any of what's happening not on topic?

Funnily enough, I'm also arguing against conspiracy theories: especially the ones concocted by the state, which both you and Caiman appear to believe in.

Eh? No, read my post rather than projecting your paranoid elitism! I just wanted you to go somewhere else with your boring flouride bullshit.

Apologies to Roach, I thought he was engaging with you when he's actually making some good points about why we shouldn't have to.

Chilli Sauce
Nov 1 2011 20:19
jonthom wrote:
Salviati wrote:
First, I'm not waiting for 'the sheeple' to 'wake up': hell will surely freeze over before that happens. Still, it would certainly be nice if a few intelligent and perceptive anarchists (such as I know I can find here) would stop swallowing corporate media propaganda.

Believe it or not, some people who disagree with you - even some people who agree with the "official version" of events! - are not simply "swallowing corporate propaganda". They are intelligent people who, like you, have looked at the evidence and reached different conclusions. To claim otherwise and insist they are just brainwashed is really quite astoundingly arrogant, to be honest.

Quote:
It's about understanding the methods of the enemy. It's also about understanding history in general and how hegemony sustains itself through lies. This helps you to avoid repeating past mistakes or falling for the subtle misdirection practised by governments and security agencies.

On this point I think we can agree to some extent. However, while understanding the way the ruling class operates is important, I really think we have far better tools at our disposal than the analysis given by Icke, Jones and the band of 9/11 Truthers. Chomsky, for example, has written extensively about the nature of propaganda, and sites like MediaLens, however imperfect, do help provide details of news which are generally left out of UK reports. Outside of studying the nature of propaganda, there are plenty of writings available - many of them on this site - demonstrating how capitalism and the state function in a great deal of depth, writings which are all the stronger because they don't rely on references to Bilderberg and other silliness (more on that below).

Quote:
For example, if the Walsall anarchists had been better able to recognise that they'd been infiltrated and fitted up, they could have stayed out of prison.

confused It was my understanding that the Walsall Anarchists did know they had been set up, and by whom, and even said as much in court.

Quote:
If anti-war activists had exposed the Tonkin Gulf incident earlier, the Vietnam War could have been curtailed.

I find that rather difficult to believe but, benefit of the doubt and all that: what's your grounds for saying this? Do you have any particular real-world parallel in mind?

IMO, outside of some sort of change of heart on the part of the US ruling class, the only thing that could have stopped the Vietnam War sooner would have been to make the US itself basically ungovernable - mass shutdown through strikes, sabotage, occupations, blockades, riots and all the other fun stuff. If 58,000 dead US soldiers couldn't accomplish that I'm not sure knowledge of the Gulf of Tonkin would have made much difference.

Quote:
If Italian anarchists had recognised Gladio for what it was, they could have countered it.

How?

(Not a rhetorical question btw - Gladio intrigues me and if you can point to some way in which it could have been countered at the time I'd be curious to hear it.)

Quote:
There's also the need to show solidarity with other activists coming under a propaganda attack. By legitimising the use of the phrase 'conspiracy theorist', you are handing an easy victory to the corporate media and giving them a weapon they will use against you, tomorrow.

On the other hand though, by distancing ourselves from conspiracy theorists, we get to make it clear that opposing capitalism doesn't involve wittering on about the Masons, Illuminati, fluoride in the water and related silliness. Which I think is a good thing, to be honest; the anarchist analysis of capitalism and that offered by the conspiracy community (or Truthers, or "alternative historians" - whichever term you'd prefer) are actually quite different.

You mentioned the Bilderberg Group elsewhere in this thread. I first came across them a while ago, I think in a book by Icke; wound up reading a bit more about them both from "alternative theorists" on the one hand and mainstream sources on the other. It's somewhat interesting reading, certainly, if you're into that sort of thing. But that was the best part of a decade ago and knowing about the Bilderberg Group has yet to have any impact whatsoever on my political analysis or activity. More to the point, however, I don't see how it possibly could.

That capitalists conspire amongst themselves is hardly a novel observation. Even Adam Smith commented on that. Sometimes they conspire in public, through national governments and international organisations like the G8 and G20. Other times they do so behind closed doors through organisations like the Bilderberg Group. It seems entirely plausible - in fact, all but inevitable - that the discussions held at Bilderberg (and other gatherings) have an impact on the sorts of policies the governments in question go on to enact. However, I'm at a loss as to what possible difference knowing about these groups could make to our activity in the here and now. If you have something in mind, however, I'm all ears.

To be honest, the examples of successfully exposed conspiracies you've brought up seem to argue against, rather than in favour of, the idea that this should be our focus of activity. The Cold War era alone brought all sorts of conspiracies and scandals to the surface - Gulf of Tonkin, MK ULTRA, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Gladio and so on. Yet their exposure doesn't seem to have done the slightest damage to either capitalism or the state, nor provided any real boost to movements against them. They had an impact on the individuals implicated in the controversies, of course, but that as best I can tell is pretty much it.

Fuck me! Beautiful post Jonthom.

Salviati
Nov 2 2011 22:13

There's far too much to reply to, but here goes:

1) I don't ever recall mentioning anything about Illuminati, fluoride, contrails, Lizard Men or TEH JOOOZ. My point is that many of these ideas are indeed bullshit. Chaff, if you like. But there is a deliberate effort on the part of intelligence agencies to associate these absurd ideas with others which are far from absurd, because they want to misdirect you.

To dismiss a plausible idea without considering the evidence for it, just because it is associated by the media with other, less plausible, ideas is lazy thinking: arrogance even. Stereotyping is a common propaganda technique used against non-mainstream groups, including anarchists. For example, anarchists are stereotyped as violent advocates of chaos, just as 9/11 truth campaigners are stereotyped as loony anti-Semites. The fact is that the Truth movement began with the victims' families (especially the Jersey Girls) and includes many eminent professionals and academics, some of whom are also Jewish. See the film, Press for Truth:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3979568779414136481

or The Elephant in the Room:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4701757632630708538

But don't let these inconvenient facts spoil your lazy stereotypes. It is your own attitude towards 9/11 sceptics which deserves to be called 'arrogant'.

2) I have very little in common with Alex Jones and even less with David Icke. Frankly, I have no idea what David Icke believes and I have no interest in his views. I look at primary evidence and use my own brain to draw conclusions. Unlike anyone else on this thread, I've taken the time to read the full official NIST report into the collapse of WTC 7 (the one that wasn't hit by any jetliners) from an informed perspective, having a PhD in applied maths from an engineering faculty and a degree in physics.

Having looked at the scientific evidence from an informed perspective and taken account of the views of other informed, well qualified professionals, I know with 99% certainty that all 3 towers to collapse on 9/11 were destroyed by pre-planted explosives. I'm sorry to tell you that, because until 2 years ago, I would have considered it fanciful, myself. Indeed, the evidence did not all come out until 2009. It is now a cut-and-dried scientific fact, as well established as man-made global warming or evolution by natural selection. You may think that sounds arrogant. I don't care. I'm not going to pretend I don't know something just so you might like me.

I greatly admire thinkers and writers such as Chomsky and Monbiot, but they are not gods. Whilst I tend to agree with 99% of what they say, they are simply wrong about 9/11, both on the facts and the political consequences. Neither of them has sufficient knowledge of physical science or the facts of 9/11.

The fact is, whenever I speak to PhD qualified scientists, engineers or architects about this matter, they always agree with me. For example, I was recently at a talk at the Royal Institute of British Architects, addressed by Richard Gage. There were plenty of professionals in the 200-strong audience and nearly all agreed with the views I've expressed. I've not found a single well-informed non-government scientist who can defend the official account. The evidence repudiates it utterly and decisively. Deal with it.

I'm sorry that you don't seem to think it is of any importance but the title of this piece said that 'our activism should be grounded in reality'. Guess what? I absolutely agree. Let's ground ourselves in reality.

3) I'm not claiming that revolution would necessarily follow if the truth about 9/11 were revealed and became widely known, but it is absurd to insist on this as a pre-requisite for judging an issue to be worthwhile. Many people now know that the banking system is a kleptocracy but I don't expect a revolution any time soon in consequence of this. I'm not going to stop campaigning on it, though.

To be honest, the main focus of my own campaigning is anti-capitalism generally. I've been heavily involved in UK Uncut actions in the UK and I take part in Occupy London. 9/11 has taken almost none of my campaigning time, but I do still feel it is important. It is just as important to reveal the truth about the secret coercive and propaganda techniques of the state as it is to reveal the truth about how the banking system impoverishes us all or how capitalism leads to war.

In fact, I'm dumbfounded as to how anyone can argue that the murder of 3,000 people by their own state is of no political consequence for us. It was a crime which was then used and is still being used to justify even greater crimes all over the world. It absolutely beggars belief that people think it is not even worth investigating the roots of all these crimes.

It's all very well to say it's capitalism which is the root cause of all this. Actually, I agree, but most people aren't listening to you because they still think they live in some kind of a democracy.

Tojiah
Nov 3 2011 00:56

So, cherry picking the small percentage of conspiracy-laden nutcases that are likely to be in any profession, in this case the sciences and engineering, you think you've actually viewed "evidence" of the idea that some kind of US government agency simultaneously crashed planes and instigated controlled explosions in three large, highly-used commercial buildings (and the Pentagon, where they didn't seem to feel the need to use explosives) in order to instigate wars in the Middle East, when the US never has had any need to find such difficult to execute excuses in the past, for some reason most of the people involved have kept mum, and most importantly, people like you who are spreading the "truth" are still out there rather than being "disappeared". None of the US diplomatic cables, including top secret ones, that have been leaked in the past few years have held any evidence for this.

I'm not sure if this is more or less a pathetic logical malfunction than moon landing denial, but it's definitely of that caliber.

CornetJoyce
Nov 3 2011 01:35
Tojiah wrote:

I'm not sure if this is more or less a pathetic logical malfunction than moon landing denial, but it's definitely of that caliber.

The state's conspiracy theory only contradicts gravity, not anything about the moon as far as I know.

Tojiah
Nov 3 2011 02:29
CornetJoyce wrote:
Tojiah wrote:

I'm not sure if this is more or less a pathetic logical malfunction than moon landing denial, but it's definitely of that caliber.

The state's conspiracy theory only contradicts gravity, not anything about the moon as far as I know.

I'm pretty sure that blaming Al Qaeda for planning and executing the crashing of passenger jets into public buildings does not contradict gravity in any way. Unless they claimed the instigators floated up to the planes while those were in flight.

roach
Nov 3 2011 06:53

Salviati -

>> "there is a deliberate effort on the part of ______ to associate these _____ ideas with others which are ____, because ___ want to misdirect you." <<

this is exactly what i'm talking about. you have described exactly how you yourself are acting. there are several people who have not just "stereotyped" you, myself included. but because you believe that you know the holy Truth with a capital 'T', o convert, you ignore others who actually push you to consider what your (T)ruth amounts to. instead you glaze over when those ideas come up, then you lob unfocused attacks on stereotyped and somewhat conjured-up opponents.

>>> "There's far too much to reply to, but here goes" <<<
> translation!!!
>> ""several points and questions here i would actually have to think about instead of just posting the same cookie cutter "believe my (T)ruth" argument, with trademarked links from so-called experts (hierarchy), so i will ignore these possible heresies, post my same cookie cutter argument, stereotype all responses to my (T)ruth in the the most negative and baiting way possible and hope that some more people will come along and fit the stereotype, so that it won't be so obvious that i'm being extremely hypocritical"" <

you keep citing experts (appeal to authority, possibly appeal false authority) and attempting to convert people. i keep talking about personal experience with important and relevant physical matters, and with these all too similar cut and paste (T)ruther arguments, trying my hardest to not inform you that you really do sound exactly like every other (T)ruther i've conversed with since 2002-3, especially when confronted with opposing information.

>> "Unlike anyone else on this thread, I've taken the time to..." <<
has anyone ever told you that you tend to be really arrogant? you make so many assumptions about everyone you converse with. it's a really bad idea. it's bad manners, it's insulting, and you are usually wrong when you do it. you believe what you do with such fervent faith, that the idea that other people could have actually read most of what you have and still not believe what you do, simply does not register in your brain. and that is another part of why what you believe is dogma, otherwise known as (T)ruth.

Jason Cortez
Nov 3 2011 11:00
salviati wrote:
Chandler's analysis is superb and NIST was in fact forced to agree with him. They had to retract their earlier claim that WTC 7 was not in free fall. The end points for the timing are irrelevant, since what matters is the instantaneous acceleration, as this tells us about the forces involved (since F = ma). WTC 7 was in free fall for over 2 seconds, which means that none of its 82 steel columns was offering any resistance to collapse during this time. That is impossible, unless nearly all those columns were simultaneously severed.

So we now are being asked to believe that after ramming two planes into the twin towers and using explosives and nano-themite to bring them down that the conspirators then thought it was also absolutely necessary to bring down WTC7 or there is no way that the US could to war. So 82 steel columns were rigged with explosives, to make sure. This is a classic case of getting lost in the technical details and finding supporting 'evidence' for theory, despite it making no logical sense. The technical claims and counter claims get ever more detailed, but the motives remain broad brushed and vague. Would it really take more than one plane and subsequent collapse of a single twin tower, to provide the excuse for the invasion of Afghanistan ?

madboy
Nov 3 2011 17:16

The final word on 9/11, whether you think it was a conspiracy or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAMlF3KO1vs

Salviati
Nov 3 2011 17:26
Jason Cortez wrote:
Would it really take more than one plane and subsequent collapse of a single twin tower, to provide the excuse for the invasion of Afghanistan ?

No, it wouldn't. But if one plane failed, you would need another. Four hijacked planes provides valuable redundancy in case one or more failed. Hey, why not ask Khaled Sheikh Mohammed? I guess you believe he was the 'mastermind'? Maybe we'll find out if he ever stands trial in an open public court. Fat chance of that.

There were other reasons to bring down WTC 7, not connected to Afghanistan but to government corruption and also probably as a necessary part of the destruction of evidence relating to whole operation. It housed CIA offices, the mayor's OEM and crucial case files relating to the Enron and Worldcom SEC investigations, in which the Bush administration was up to its neck.

tastybrain
Nov 3 2011 17:35
Salviati wrote:
There were other reasons to bring down WTC 7, not connected to Afghanistan but to government corruption and also probably as a necessary part of the destruction of evidence relating to whole operation. It housed CIA offices, the mayor's OEM and crucial case files relating to the Enron and Worldcom SEC investigations, in which the Bush administration was up to its neck.

If that sort of thing was a big enough deal for the government to blow up a building a lot more shit would be blowing up.

Salviati
Nov 3 2011 18:22
Tojiah wrote:
So, cherry picking the small percentage of conspiracy-laden nutcases that are likely to be in any profession, ...
... for some reason most of the people involved have kept mum, and most importantly, people like you who are spreading the "truth" are still out there rather than being "disappeared". None of the US diplomatic cables, including top secret ones, that have been leaked in the past few years have held any evidence for this.

Wow, everything you said is easily refuted:

1) There are very few scientists or engineers actively backing the official account; just a handful who work for government agencies or whose research grants are provided by the military. Very few professionals would have read the official reports. When they do, as I did, they are stunned by how inadequate those reports are.

Have you ever met Richard Gage, Tony Szamboti or Niels Harrit? Are you seriously suggesting these people are 'conspiracy-laden nutcases'? Perhaps you'd care to throw that charge at many of the victims' families too, at people like Bill Doyle or the Jersey Widows? Well, if so then you really are a total idiot or just a troll.

2) Why would the actual perpetrators speak out, unless they want to face the death penalty? Plenty of others with inside knowledge have spoken out and some of them have 'disappeared' or died in mysterious circumstances (e.g. Barry Jennings). Others have been subject to multiple gagging orders, such as former FBI interpreter, Sibel Edmonds.

Whistleblowers are legion: former Los Angeles FBI chief, Ted Gunderson, ex-CIA asset, Susan Lindauer, ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley, the list goes on. Here's a brief guide to a few of them:

http://www.corbettreport.com/articles/20100305_911_whistleblowers.htm

More come out every year. We can now add Richard Clarke (Bush White House insider and counter-terrorism advisor), who openly claims the CIA misled the FBI about two of the hijackers, who were well known to them before the attacks:

http://publicintelligence.net/richard-clarke-says-cia-tried-to-recruit-911-terrorists/

There are plenty of others but the fact that you don't know any of this simply testifies to the limitless depth of your ignorance. If you're going to have an opinion, make it an informed one.

3) FYI, there were no 'top secret' embassy cables released by Wikileaks. The highest classification is 'secret', which is really little more than gossip which over 3 million Americans are cleared to access. As a signatory to the OSA, I'm also cleared to that level myself. There's very little of interest in them to anyone.

Again, get your facts straight.

Salviati
Nov 3 2011 18:32

I'm not going to waste my time here any more, as I have an action to help organise in London (nothing to do with 9/11 but against the City of London Corporation - the financial mafia). Frankly, 9/11 is a bit of a distraction from the main issue, as it seems no one here is amenable to rational argument on that subject. My position can be summed up thus:

Should our activism be grounded in reality? Yes, it definitely should be. The reality is that false flag ops and psyops are very common weapons used by the state to maintain power and control over citizens. If that's not an anarchist issue, then nothing is.

THE END

Salviati
Nov 3 2011 18:46
madboy wrote:
The final word on 9/11, whether you think it was a conspiracy or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAMlF3KO1vs

Nice one! I think this guy deserves the last word.

jonthom
Nov 3 2011 19:07
Salviati wrote:
1) I don't ever recall mentioning anything about Illuminati, fluoride, contrails, Lizard Men or TEH JOOOZ. My point is that many of these ideas are indeed bullshit. Chaff, if you like.

Indeed. I probably should have made clear that I wasn't talking about you individually there but rather, the conspiracy scene as a whole. My apologies.

(Though to be fair, you did talk about Bilderberg, theories about which tend to come from the same scene as the Illjewminati et al)

Quote:
But there is a deliberate effort on the part of intelligence agencies to associate these absurd ideas with others which are far from absurd, because they want to misdirect you.

Hm. I'm assuming you have some evidence for this?

Quote:
To dismiss a plausible idea without considering the evidence for it, just because it is associated by the media with other, less plausible, ideas is lazy thinking: arrogance even.

See, this just leads back to the problem I pointed to earlier: you seem to assume that those who disagree with you are dismissing ideas without considering the evidence, swallowing corporate propaganda, just taking the state's version at face value. And that's just not true. There are plenty of reasoned, intelligent people who know just as much as you, have seen the same evidence as you, and have come to different conclusions. I realise that might be hard for you to believe but it's true. And not all of them are state assets, for that matter.

Quote:
I have very little in common with Alex Jones and even less with David Icke. Frankly, I have no idea what David Icke believes and I have no interest in his views. I look at primary evidence and use my own brain to draw conclusions. Unlike anyone else on this thread, I've taken the time to read the full official NIST report into the collapse of WTC 7 (the one that wasn't hit by any jetliners) from an informed perspective, having a PhD in applied maths from an engineering faculty and a degree in physics.

For the bit in bold, see my comment above. More generally, I'd rather not get into the whole 9/11 specifics since frankly it's not that interesting. And FWIW, my mentions of Jones and Icke were simply as two fairly prominent figures in the conspiracy scene.

In passing, though, I would echo Jason Cortez's sentiment that 9/11 theories tend to get so wrapped up in the minutiae of technical details and minor supposed inconsistencies in the "official story" that they have little to say about the bigger picture. In this case, how would one go about priming three enormous buildings with enough explosives to bring the lot of them down, without a: anyone noticing you doing it, and b: any of the people involved saying anything? And similarly, why you would need to destroy WTC7 in order to get rid of evidence when you could just, well...get rid of the evidence?

Ack, and there was me saying I didn't want to get into the specifics of this...I really don't neutral. Personally I find the vast majority of writing about 9/11 utterly without merit. Others disagree and think there's something to it - anything from WTC7 being brought down intentionally all the way to there not being any planes at all and the whole thing done with holograms. Fine. Whatever. The main question - and the question raised by the original article here - is a quite simple one: what impact should this have on our activity?

My answer is none. You seem to disagree but I still don't quite understand why.

Quote:
I'm not claiming that revolution would necessarily follow if the truth about 9/11 were revealed and became widely known, but it is absurd to insist on this as a pre-requisite for judging an issue to be worthwhile. Many people now know that the banking system is a kleptocracy but I don't expect a revolution any time soon in consequence of this. I'm not going to stop campaigning on it, though.

Of course not everything has to trigger a revolution in order to be worthwhile. But I do think if - as you've advocated here - we're to devote our political energies to something, there should be some actual benefit to doing so. And I've yet to see what the supposed benefit is in 9/11 work, even if the "theories" were accurate.

FWIW, I also think there's something of an issue with anti-capitalism which focuses on "the banking system" as the source of all evil, which seems to be a fairly popular sentiment around the Occupy stuff at the moment.

Quote:
To be honest, the main focus of my own campaigning is anti-capitalism generally. I've been heavily involved in UK Uncut actions in the UK and I take part in Occupy London. 9/11 has taken almost none of my campaigning time, but I do still feel it is important.

Hm. Earlier in this thread you suggested that we should "be doing everything we can to ensure that the evidence of those crimes is exposed in public". Did you change your mind or what?

Quote:
In fact, I'm dumbfounded as to how anyone can argue that the murder of 3,000 people by their own state is of no political consequence for us. It was a crime which was then used and is still being used to justify even greater crimes all over the world. It absolutely beggars belief that people think it is not even worth investigating the roots of all these crimes.

They have been investigated. Though in all honesty I would probably be more interested if I felt the theories had some kind of validity. As an aside, though, I would point out that people are killed by their own state all the time - through the death penalty, murder by cops, deaths in custody and prison, plus things like inadequate access to healthcare or being sent to die in a war. All of which I think are more pressing issues than vague, poorly substantiated and generally unproveable claims about 9/11 et al.

Edit: Oh. They left. Never mind then.

roach
Nov 3 2011 19:13

>> "I'm not going to waste my time here any more" <<

the fact is that you consistently only engage with what you think you can refute and you consistently ignore anything that challenges your worldview.

>> "it seems no one here is amenable to rational argument" <<

you have constantly pretended that any comment that actually is a rational argument does not even exist. in reality, you choose to not engage with any rational argument, because it does not fit your response style. i have attempted to engage you, personally, not some stereotype of you, for days. you are simply too stuck in your own personal world of conspiracies against you to notice.

what you believe is dogma. the fact that you can't even see comments that challenge your worldview, let alone respond to them, is the final proof that it is dogma. yes, go be insane somewhere else.

CornetJoyce
Nov 3 2011 21:15

If there was no conspiracy to destroy the Three Twin Towers, then it had to be done by one person.

radicalgraffiti
Nov 3 2011 23:33
CornetJoyce wrote:
If there was no conspiracy to destroy the Three Twin Towers, then it had to be done by one person.

your trolling or Admin: no flaming.

CornetJoyce
Nov 4 2011 01:05

Admin: no flaming.

Salviati
Nov 7 2011 14:47
jonthom wrote:
... The main question - and the question raised by the original article here - is a quite simple one: what impact should this have on our activity?

My answer is none. You seem to disagree but I still don't quite understand why.

You'll clearly never accept anything I say, so I'll let George Orwell answer for me:

George Orwell wrote:
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

Do you understand now? It's fine if you disagree with this, but there really isn't much more to say on the matter.

Arbeiten
Nov 7 2011 15:18

I love the plasticity of Orwell roll eyes

Salviati
Nov 7 2011 15:49
jonthom wrote:
...
See, this just leads back to the problem I pointed to earlier: you seem to assume that those who disagree with you are dismissing ideas without considering the evidence, swallowing corporate propaganda, just taking the state's version at face value. And that's just not true. There are plenty of reasoned, intelligent people who know just as much as you, have seen the same evidence as you, and have come to different conclusions. I realise that might be hard for you to believe but it's true. And not all of them are state assets, for that matter.

Who are these people you speak of? I'm not joking: I'd really, really, really love to speak to someone fitting the following criteria:

1) Has read most of at least one official report into the events of 9/11, with a critical mind. For example, this one:

http://www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=861610

2) Has read most of the peer-reviewed scientific papers relevant to the debate, including the papers by Bazant and Seffen which claim to support the official account, together with the highly critical discussions of those papers published in the same journal (the journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers). They should also have read or at least understand the conclusions of the paper by Harrit et al (2009):

http://www.benthamscience.com/open/tocpj/articles/V002/7TOCPJ.htm

3) Is familiar with the vast amount of eyewitness testimony contradicting the official account of the collapses of the 3 towers in New York, especially the testimony of (now disappeared presumed dead) Barry Jennings, which completely contradicts and is totally omitted from the report referred to in point 1) above:

http://911blogger.com/node/16573

4) Is not an employee of a government agency or military contractor and was not involved in the 'cleanup' operation (i.e. destruction of evidence after 9/11).

5) Still thinks that the official account is correct and that the official investigations were adequate.

I know quite a few people who fulfil criteria 1-4, including myself, but none who fulfil all 5. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I have yet to hear from them, so please put me in touch, as I always like to have my views challenged by genuinely well-informed people.

Maybe you're referring to critics of (alternative) 'conspiracy theories', like Chomsky and Monbiot? But they don't fulfil any of the first 4 criteria and cannot be considered 'informed' critics. They hold their very strong views on the basis of near-total ignorance of the facts. Quite apart from the fact that they do not possess the necessary scientific background to assess the forensic evidence, they are also woefully uninformed about the circumstantial evidence. Hence, they appear to believe very strongly in the official al-Qaeda conspiracy theory, despite the fact that there is virtually no actual evidence for it whatsoever, beyond the obvious and superficial fact that 4 planes were hijacked and two of them were flown into the twin towers.