Tom Phillips & Jonn Elledge (2022) Conspiracy: A History of Bxllocks Theories, and How Not to Fall For Them.

I like to think I’m pretty good contestant at Conspiracy Theories. But any fellow conspirators, I guess, imagine the same thing. A general rule of thumb, whatever the 45th American President believed, I believe the opposite. The great thing about fiction is you can—literally—put words into people’s mouths. In Ugly Puggly, for example, this is exactly what I think, but not so exactly that anyone would believe a real person would think this way.

 “I tapped my pocket for my fag packet, even though I’d been off them for two years. ‘Yeh know yev got a hangover, when you waken up wae three socks—and only one of them is yers.’

Ugly Puggly sighed. ‘There’s a mystery there waiting to be unravelled by future conspiracy theorists, involvin lizards and flyin saucers. But imagine wakin up one mornin and findin oot the Americans, the once-great nation that used ex-Nazis to help land man on the moon, have elected the moron’s moron as President. And he doesn’t believe in anythin apart from his love-in with Putin, who he labelled a “genius” just before he invaded Ukraine for the third time. Certainly, no global warmin. Won’t sign yer Paris Agreement or attend Cop-out, whatever number we ur at. When all the major nations meet and agree to disagree, while the collapse of civilisation and the sixth great global extinction event is noo.’

I finished the dregs of filtered tea. ‘Fuck sake, I just asked for a burnt sausage, no a lecture. It’s too early fer that stuff.’

‘Nah,’ he pulled open the oven door and banged the Dalmuir duck about in its baking tray. ‘It’s too late. And it’s no jist about us.’ He nodded at the ceiling. ‘He’ll no have a future.’

‘Och, he’s no got a future anyway. Maybe he should join the Lib-Democrats. Or handcuff himsel to a petrol tanker. At least one of they hings might be useful.’

‘Maybe he should. Maybe we all should. There’d be worse hings in the word tae dae.’

‘Aye, it’s like eatin broccoli. Yeh know it’s good for yeh, but it tasted shite. But I draw the lines at the Liberal Democrats. Remember no long ago that was the same mob that formed an Alliance wae the worst o the Tory scum.’

Ugly Puggly raised an eyebrow. ‘Well, worst till noo.’

‘When yer scrappin the bottom of the barrel, there’s almost mair barrel tae scrape. It’s like the mystery of the smelly socks. There’s always another Tory cunt appears that’s worse than the last.’”

Phillips and Elledge get right into it with the history of ‘blood libel’. They ask and answer in Chapter 1, ‘What is a Conspiracy Theory?’

Saturday, Holy Week, 1144.

None of us were there. If you were, contact me, I’ll have a theory about that too.

The body of a twelve-year-old boy called William was found in a forest near Norwich.

Twelve-year-old now is boyish. Then it was middle-aged.

He was found at the foot of an oak tree.

Who killed him?

We don’t know, but we’ll blame the Jews, always comes in at one or two in the conspiracy theory top ten. Sometimes they can hold multiple spots at the same time.

Culprits caught. William mother alleged William was last seen going into the house of a Jewish family. But she wasn’t sure if she dreamt that bit. She was sure in the dreams the Jews were attacking her.

Fair cop. All Jews in Norwich murdered and their properties stolen. Heinrich Himmler and the SS did a similar job. But first they registered the Jews as being Jews and had them write down a complete list of all they owned.

Jews were killed for being Jews in the twentieth century. A tautology.

In the tenth century, a reason, however flimsy, had to be found for murdering Jews. Sir Simon de Novers was heavily in debt to a Jew. One of the wealthiest men in Norwich. The knight’s advocate was Bishop William Turbe. He argued that Sir Simon de Novers had not killed to avoid repayment of his debt. His motive was pure. He killed the ringleader of the killer of his nephew Willian of Norwich in a nefarious Jewish ritual and blood sacrifice of a pure Christian child.

Scotland has a Not Proven verdict. Simon de Noever’s case was Not Proven. He walked free. That might have been the end of that.

But his case was taken up by a Welsh monk living and working in Norwich. Thomas of Monmouth was responsible for writing the pamphlet: The Life and Passion of William of Norwich.  

No, I haven’t read it. Thomas of Monmouth cited Turbe (as I’m citing Phillips and Elledge p43) to calm the Jews at Passover routinely sacrificed a Christian child. In this case, William of Norwich. They crowned him with thorns and crucified him. A parody and mockery of The Passion of Christ.

Simple arithmetic, which I’m not very good at. No conspiracy, I’m a bit thick. Jewish Passover happens once a year. This is 2023. This supposedly happened in 1144. SS Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann, who helped murder six-million Jews, estimated there were eleven million Jews in Europe, including Britain, in 1945. Subtract 11 144 from 2023 and multiply by 11 000 000 to estimate the number of innocent Christian children murdered by Jews since (and before) 1144. Don’t send me the answer. Eat it. The truth sets you free.

For every head, there is a tale. The flipside is the local sheriffs in Norwich had been bribed by the Jews to look the other way.

Comparisons can be made with Pizzagate. I didn’t know what this was until I read a book about QAnon. If you don’t know what QAnon is you’ve not been missing much. Jake Angeli is the face of QAnon. His face and bare chest covered in red, white and blue. A furry hat with horns. Armed with a spear with the Stars and Stripes American flag attached, he also carried a bullhorn, as he stood behind the desk of the United States Senate, 6th January 2021. A leading member of an army of incompetents called to Washington by the moron’s moron in the moral crusade to help unsteal the election.

Naively, I thought, chants at the moron moron’s rallies which called for the jailing of his Democratic rival, Hilary Clinton, had to do with an email account by aide John Podesta hacked by the Russians, and the information fed to Trump, and relayed back to her, in breach of federal law. She didn’t, for example, steal TOP SECRET documents and leave them lying around her house. Instead she ordered pizza. This was code for orgy, murder, cannibalism as innocent children were tortured and  sacrificed in a satanic paedophilic ring in which the Washington elite were party. They might have been lizard people, like former Queen Elizabeth II and Charles III. According to Donald Trump only one man could stop them and that was Donald Trump. There is a danger of repeating yourself, but QAnon concurred. He was the saviour for foot soldiers like Jake Angeli in a moral quest not only to save America, but the world.

One foot soldier, 4th December 2016, took an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and shot up a pizza restaurant named by Alex Jones, Infowars. He demanded captive children be freed from the basement. The restaurant didn’t have a basement. But the online world has many rooms.

The Illuminati feature in many. Also known as International Jewry.  New World Order. I quite liked the story that David Cameron went to the Shetlands to stop Scotland seceding from the Union and taking control of Clair Ridge oilfield. This would have made us like a Tartan Norway. London government could no longer fritter away tax revenues to fund tax cuts for rich people. Our proud nation would have a sovereign wealth fund equivalent to super-rich Norway and allow us to invest in a green future. I might have made that last bit up.

Phillips and Elledge in their Conclusion ask us to interrogate our beliefs with these questions.

Could anything disprove it?

 Yes, global warming and global catastrophe is not inevitable. But we are rushing towards each checkpoint quicker than anticipated.

How does it deal with contradictory evidence?

As a storyteller, I find this interesting. Some of the largest corporations in the world came together and lied, lied, and lied again. They paid for propaganda and politicians and took over the seats of government, penalising those that told the truth. Contradictory evidence was their battlefield. They used it to kill our children’s children.

Does it exist in a bubble?

I’m not a scientist or (as you’ve seen) not good with numbers. But I understand the null hypothesis. Conspiracy theories start the assumption the answer is obvious. Then it works backwards towards the evidence. Putin’s that blue-eyed Vikings were the first Rus in what is known now as Ukraine in the eighth or ninth century, and they helped create a great Russia and the Third Rome of the East. Ukraine therefore doesn’t exist outside Russia, because it is Russian.  

Global warming beings and ends with the data. Man-made or not? Not in terms of yes or no, but probability. The chances of Leicester winning the league were around 1000/1 at the start of the season. They won it. Bookies don’t say they won’t win it again. Scientists don’t say glaziers won’t freeze again, but they give odds of an upset. Over the longer term, bookies never lose. 97% of scientists are backing one winner and us as losers.

Are you applying the same standards to the conspiracy theory as you do to the official narrative?

No, I’m biased. I begin with the assumption that those rich money-grabbing bastards are lying to me, not because I count as anything, but because I count as nothing. Standard conspiracy theorist thinking.

How many people would this conspiracy theory need to involve? And what’s keeping them in line?

Money, power and  status are all interlinked to the product they sell and the lies they sow. How many? I’d guess 1% of 8 billion. Whatever that is, sounds about right? Multiply that number by around 100 for the ‘running dogs’ that do their master’s bidding. Perhaps more.

Does is ascribe a ridiculous level of competence to conspirators?

 Absolutely. It’s not us against them in a life-and-death struggle for the future of the planet and our children. It’s us question ourselves. While we do so, they create facts on the ground and in the air in the form of greenhouse gases that kill us. The sting in the tail is it kills them too. Any victory now will be pyrrhic.  

Does this plan rely on everything going right?

Yes, The Paris Agreement and Cop-22 show a willingness to believe, but not a willingness for rich countries to share their wealth with poor countries. This looks increasingly unlikely.

How has the conspiracy been kept completely secret, apart from a coded clue to the entire plot that the conspirators have deliberately placed in plain sight, like printing it on banknotes or something, as if they’re a serial killer taunting Mr Police?  

Fossil fuel companies did their own research. They placed their findings into departments and downplayed the results. They created an army of spies and hangers on, willing to do the dirty work. Some true believers, that also happened to be among the richest men in the world, such as the Koch Brothers and Charles Koch in particular.

Is it really likely that these people are working together?  

It seems unlikely that Charles Koch, who promulgates a Darwinian form or capitalism with little or no government in the economy and Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator who claimed to invade Ukraine to save it from fascists would have much in common. But their commonwealth and power is largely dependent on fossil fuels. A future without fossil fuels leaves both men like commanders of horse cavalry after the First World War. We still need millions of horses for the Second World War. But it’s the Third World War that worries me.

How does it make you feel?

 This is the big question. It’s not what you think, but how you feel? I’ve a pal that didn’t get the Covid vaccine. He came up with a lot of reasons that are in this book. Conspiracy. They’re out to get you. How do you know? How much are they making? I’ve not got all the answers. I’ve not got many of the answers. And I knew it wouldn’t really have mattered what I said. There’s always another ‘what if’ and get-out clause, if pigs could fly?

I know, or think I know that global warming is real. I think it will kill tens or hundreds of millions, perhaps billions as nations like India and Pakistan fight over fresh water, with China perhaps becoming involved. But emotionally, I don’t feel anything. I don’t really care. Because I’m not there. It’ll only be real when it’s real. A bit like the Jews watching the Nazis come to power and thinking everything will work out. Phoney war for now.

Eric Holthaus (2020) The Future Earth: A Radical Vision For What’s Possible in the Age of Warming.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist and he wanted to do something about global warming. He wrote a book and finished it November 2019.

Here is some advice he gives:

‘The key to writing a good book is to write a bad book and then fix it.’

I like that. The key to writing a book is firstly to finish it. Then to fix it. Holthaus managed that. He’s an optimist.

‘In 2035’, for example, he suggests, ‘global emissions finally started to sharply decline—down 50 percent from 2020 levels. Even though the temperature was still rising, we managed to avoid a 1.5-degree rise. We were in the middle of the great Drawdown, a period of rebirth that allowed us to scale back emissions through individualised and collective actions’.

What he imagines for 2050 is international cooperation in a caring and sharing global society in which reparations have been made from rich countries to poorer countries that have contributed less to global warming, but have suffered the worst effects. A third of Pakistan’s landmass, for example, being underwater would immediately by a coalition led largely by America. A Marshall Plan, which provided aid to Western Europe, but covered the world. This would be ratified by the Paris Agreement of 2050.

To paraphrase that old Coke ad, I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony

The second decade of the twenty-first century isn’t going as he envisaged.

“Many international bodies and national government are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to net zero, and it simply won’t work,” Bruce Robertson, the author of the IEEFA report, said.

Despite being a technology still in development, carbon capture and storage has been put forward as a key element in the UK’s plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A further challenge is finding suitable storage sites for carbon sequestration, where the gas will not merely be used to push out more oil. According to the report, trapped CO2 will need monitoring for centuries to ensure it does not leak into the atmosphere – raising the risk of liability being handed over to the public, years after private interests have extracted their profits from the enterprise.

The risk is that CCS technology will be used to extend the life of fossil fuel infrastructure long past the cut off point for maintaining atmospheric carbon at less than catastrophic levels, the report suggested.

Global public subsidies for fossil fuels almost doubled to $700bn in 2021, analysis has shown, representing a “roadblock” to tackling the climate crisis.

Despite the huge profits of fossil fuel companies, the subsidies soared as governments sought to shield citizens from surging energy prices as the global economy rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of the subsidies were used to reduce the price paid by consumers. This largely benefits wealthier households, as they use the most energy, rather than targeting those on low incomes. The subsidies are expected to rise even further in 2022 as Russia’s war in Ukraine has driven energy prices even higher.

“Fossil fuel subsidies are a roadblock to a more sustainable future, but the difficulty that governments face in removing them is underscored at times of high and volatile fuel prices,” said Fatih Birol, the director of the International Energy Agency, which produced the analysis with the OECD.

“A surge in investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure is the only lasting solution to today’s global energy crisis and the best way to reduce the exposure of consumers to high fuel costs,” said Birol.

“Significant increases in fossil fuel subsidies encourage wasteful consumption, while not necessarily reaching low-income households,” said Mathias Cormann, the OECD secretary general. “We need to adopt measures which protect consumers [and] help keep us on track to carbon neutrality, as well as energy security and affordability.”

The analysis covers 51 key countries and represents 85% of the world’s total energy supply. Subsidies that kept fossil fuel prices artificially low more than tripled to $531bn in 2021, compared with 2020. Subsidies for oil and gas production reached a record level of $64bn. The IEA said in May 2021 that no new fossil fuel projects should be developed if the world is to meet its climate goals.

Richard Powers (2018) The Overstory which won The Man Booker Prize tackles many of the issues Holthaus addresses, but in fictional form. Holhaus imagines a future, a regeneration in which agriculture which takes up half the earth and uses eighty percent of water is abloom with trees.

The nine main characters in The Overstory come together to protect the environment and around their love of trees as a keystone to regeneration of the world they know and love. They are idealistic. They are conservatives, seeking to conserve what is good. They recognise that corporations not only make the laws that protect them, but they run rings around any attempts to curtail profits. Activism, and putting themselves in harm’s way, does nothing to slow progress. And progress, like oil companies rushing ahead to open new fields, before any legislation kicks in dwarves any putative environmental gains and creates black holes and deserts. 

2030-2040: Radical Stewardship.

Holthaus uses a quote from Ursula Le Gun:

‘We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. But then so did the divine right of Kings. Any human power could be resisted and changed by human beings… The name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.’

Holthaus suggests that all it needs is three-percent of the population to turn and act as a vanguard for others to follow.

Similarly, Mark Fisher is often quoted (but not by Holthaus), ‘It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.’

The Bible provides a handy template. Which horse of the apocalypse are you backing? The White Horse symbolises righteousness (so Wikipedia tells me). But hold your horses. White might not be white, but whitewash, or even greenwash. Civil War and Pestilence. The antichrist, moron’s moron, in the White House. A plague and wild beasts?

The Red Horse means war. Sword pointed up to heaven. Division of Empire. Water, water, everywhere, but none to drink. Who owns the land owns the people of the land. But who owns the rivers and tributaries that run through the holy waters?

The Black Horse brings a set of temperature scales and famine. The Black Horse is the only one that speaks. It says all that you see is mine. All that you don’t see is also mine. What refugee I don’t see and you don’t see on that we can agree?

The Pale Rider is death. He is not carrying a weapon. The mushroom cloud leaves death and dying in its wake. Eternal night. Lost illusions? 

I’m backing the White Horse. It’s just getting into its stride. Denial. Doubt. Exceptionalism. Made Great Again.

Ideas versus Idealism? Eric Holthaus has some great ideas. I hope and pray he’s right. But he seems to forget the most important lesson history tells us, seismic shifts are written in blood. The Marshall Plan, for example, was conceived after hundreds of millions died. The second world war wasn’t just for the defence of what was right, but the defence of capitalism. Manufacturing boom and the military industrial complex were products of an arms race. Holthaus’s New Marshall Plan, American made and led, seems to be wishful thinking.

Accidental Anarchist: Life Without Government, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, directed by John Archer and Clara Glynn.

carne ross.jpg

This is the kind of programme I felt I should watch. For a start it’s got Anarchist in the title. I could mention Kropotkin, but I don’t know who he is, or Sid Vicious, Anarchy in the UK. For me it’s more an attitude. Life Without Government? Like Huxleys’s Utopia, I’m not sure it’s possible but Carne Ross seems to think it is. I hope he’s right.

What privileged position does Carne Ross come from that he gets his own documentary and an hour of our time to espouse his views and tell us what he thinks? Well, he’s an ex-diplomat. That should be impressive and for someone like me, working class and poor, you’d probably assume I don’t know, or meet, very many diplomats. But you’d be wrong. Old Lawrie who drinks in the same shithole as me, has a daughter who was a diplomat, and he’s been to Moscow, visiting her in the Foreign Office and some other places in China, but we’re not really interested in world peace because we’re watching Celtic and that’s all that matters. He loves Celtic and is always wants to ‘put one on him’ (punch him in the face). It’s his war cry when watching. His daughter is diplomatic when she hears him or comes to pick him up when he’s had one too many, but listen, who’s counting.

Carne Ross isn’t that kind of diplomat. You’ve just got to listen to his name. He’d fit in with the Brown and Blairs and ex-public school boys that do the right thing by serving their country, and even then he claimed he wanted to be –you’ve guessed it – not Prime Minister, like servant of the people David Cameron, nor Chancellor of the Exchequer, like that nice man George Osborne, but a diplomat.  He’s the kind of guy that stood behind Blair at the United Nations in New York ready to whisper in his ear and briefs him on the latest embryonic imbroglio in the Middle East.

What we need now is a Damascene conversion. You probably read in Acts about Saul’s conversion. He’s happily going along working day and night persecuting men and women that are Christian in a fashion similar to the way George Osborne persecuted poor people. A flash of light from heaven blinds Saul and allows him to see.

Carne from his apartment witnessed 9/11 and the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. He remembers the smoke and the ash lying on his window for months afterwards. These are novelistic details. He watched George W Bush ramp up the search for bad guys to blame so he and fellow Americans could play the good guys and take care of business. This led to wars in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. He was friends with government scientist David Kelly, who in his role as weapons expert, said unequivocally there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In other words there was no reason for the invasion of Iraq. He had a front-row seat of the cover-up of ‘fake news’.

Pause there. Carne took a year’s sabbatical to think and read.  If you’re an ordinary Joe don’t try that at home. Don’t shout at your boss on the way out, I’m outta here, see you next year and I might come back as an anarchist you fuckwitt.

He didn’t know that at the time. He lucked into it in the same way that Saul/Paul bumped into Christians. It seemed obvious that those rich guys that were screwing the poor and were quite happy to invade other nations weren’t to be trusted.

Evidence that we can do things differently. Ho-hum. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. Carne interview Catalans that were there and some that were not. They all agree that if Stalin hadn’t betrayed POUM (the Anarchist Movement and Hitler hadn’t been developing his new blitzkrieg tactics and if Mussolini hadn’t sent troops) then things could have turned out different. Even if not the roots of Anarchism remain in a collective that took back some unused land and used it to farm and build houses. Here we see them building their own houses. These are called outliers. Think of the images of deprivation George Osborne used to slaughter those on welfare. Outliers that smoked and drank and had eight children.

He sees Anarchist roots in the Kurdish-run region of Rojava, which helped defeat ISIS but is bordered by Turkey and Syria.

He sees it in the ‘Occupy Movement’.

I don’t. And I’m sure the Chechens also thought they would be able to get autonomy from Russia, only to be crushed. Let’s not mention China, the new number one superpower and hardly a case for free speech and anarchism. And let’s not forget George W Bush was so dim he had to wear socks labelled ‘left’ and ‘right’ but compared to the moron’s moron that is the current President, well, I’ll let you fill in your own analogy (if you need any help with what analogy means don’t ask Donald J Trump). And the hawks of yesteryear seem like Christian doves compared to this US cabal of warmongers. I’m not betting against a world war. North Korea, of course, is only too happy to show the world its weapons of mass destruction. And let’s not forget the moron’s moron and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change he did not sign. That means in the short term millions on the move. I see anarchy, but not the vision  Carne Ross has of it. More like the four-horsemen-of-the apocalypse anarchy so beloved by novelists and the bible.  I pray he’s right.