Truth Telling E-zine - 22 September 2005
It's a fact. Conspiracy theories are emerging from secret chat rooms and dusty book shelves into public circles. Did Paul McCartney die in 1967? Was Hitler hiding in the Amazon jungle until the mid seventies? There’s new Mulder and Scullys investigating everywhere.
According to a MORI poll conducted in 1997, just 19% of the public thought that Princess Diana’s death was no accident. Just a year later, a Sunday Times survey showed that this figure had climbed two-fold. The most recent poll, courtesy of the Daily Express, found that 94% now believe that Diana was murdered. It may appear obvious that those polled were not the same people, but the discrepancies are remarkable.
A similar trend runs through the 9/11 conspiracy, which claims that President Bush and his junta planned and executed the attacks in New York. The tragedy was a gift to conspirators everywhere. Conspirators on www.oilempire.us commented on the events as “the American Reichstag Fire” and the “birth of the Fourth Reich”. A 2004 poll by CNN found that 90% believed that there was some kind of government cover-up, and the mere suggestion of a plot was taboo in the immediate years that followed the disaster (when a similar majority supported the Patriot Act).
Even after the London bombings in July, the British public are beginning to mutter the convenience of Blair’s whereabouts (safe in Gleneagles) and there are unofficial reports that an Israeli minister was warned about the attacks before they actually happened. Conspirators also point to Labour’s unimpressive election win (35% of the vote) as motivation for MI6’s arrangement of 7/7. The consequences – the public back ID cards and detention without trial, and political opponents can hold no popular ground if they continue to disagree. Blair had simply given up on his “imperative for national security” rhetoric, and had taken a leaf from Dubya’s colouring book. Our Prime Minister knew he could reverse his soaring unpopularity in a single day – and within a week he was being praised by Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy on the Commons floor.
The wave of mistrust has developed both sides of the Atlantic. In America: a majority of black Americans believe that the CIA encourages drug dealers to sell crack-cocaine in inner cities, with a third believing that the AIDS virus was manufactured by the U.S. government; Almost half believe that the government withholds information regarding extra-terrestrial life; four-fifths believe that “others” assisted Lee Harvey Oswald in Kennedy’s assassination and four-fifths of all Americans believe that the U.S. militar withholds information about Gulf War syndrome.
Ever since the dramatic Watergate revelations by Woodward and Bernstein, Western society has increasingly viewed our governments as dishonest and self-serving. As a result, election turnouts have dwindled.
The rise in suspicion has been met with a sharp fall in religious belief (and particularly Christianity). The significance? We no longer depend upon an omnipotent being, pulling our strings from heaven. In this mundane, post-religious world we live in, we instead rely on elaborate theories for comfort. What some believers fail to do is face the cold reality of secularisation. That sometimes, horrific things happen, often with no reason at all.
[POSTSCRIPT: It seems a lot of people liked this article, as it can also be found at www.thetruthmagazine.com - as well as the e-zine it was written for.]