Friday, April 12, 2013

On The Origin of "Conspiracy Theory" - 2

One band of 'conspirators'
In this series we are taking a look at the origin and evolution of the species we denominate as "conspiracy theory."

Previous Dredd Blog posts have shown how the modern forms evolved in the court systems of England, and now have become prolific in the American legal system (On The Origin of "Conspiracy Theory").

Additionally, we are looking at the perversion of that concept by the American Media, as a function of propaganda, which may harm the justice system by destroying one of the system of justice's most useful tools:
The concept of criminal conspiracy has its earliest roots in fourteenth century English common law. At that time, it saw limited use as a legal theory. It became more broadly applied in the United States in the nineteenth century, though still the scope of prosecutions was not wide. Today, however, conspiracy is a far-reaching legal principle, embracing antitrust actions, an enormous number of more traditional criminal cases, and even tort lawsuits. It is the basis of prosecutions dealing with, among other crimes, drug violations, securities fraud, murder for hire, bank robbery, and extortion.

... Conspiracy is an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime.
(ibid, quoting Dept. of Justice Conspiracy Theories). The McTell News has perverted the concept of "conspiracy theory" in the minds of the public, who are the source of those who become jurors in federal prosecutions.

So, that media incompetence and malpractice may affect law enforcement by turning jurors against conspiracy theories before they ever sit on such a case to hear official conspiracy theory charges against a defendant.

Next, the exercise in this series of fusing propaganda into the mix is quite logical since the U.S. is the original modern source of the most proud of propagandists, the one who thought up the "conspiracy theory" known as the shadow government:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Edward L. Bernays

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
(A Closer Look At MOMCOM's DNA - 4). That quote in the post is what once federal government employee Bernays wrote in his book "Propaganda."

Why Bernays is associated by Dredd Blog posts with McTell News is, among other things, that he is called "The Father of Spin."

He is the originator of American Public Relations ("PR"), which is another way of saying deceiving the public:
Today, few people outside the public relations profession recognize the name of Edward L. Bernays. As the year 2000 approaches, however, his name deserves to figure on historians' lists of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

It is impossible to fundamentally grasp the social, political, economic and cultural developments of the past 100 years without some understanding of Bernays and his professional heirs in the public relations industry. PR is a 20th century phenomenon, and Bernays -- widely eulogized as the "father of public relations" at the time of his death in 1995 -- played a major role in defining the industry's philosophy and methods.
"Bernays' papers . . . provide illuminating and sometimes disturbing background on some of the most interesting episodes of twentieth-century history, from the way American tobacco tycoons made it socially acceptable for women to smoke to the way other titans of industry persuaded us to pave over our landscape and switch to beer as the 'beverage of moderation.' The companies involved aren't likely to release their records of those campaigns, assuming they still exist. But Bernays saved every scrap of paper he sent out or took in . . . In so doing, he let us see just how policies were made and how, in many cases, they were founded on deception."

In an industry that is notable for its mastery of evasions and euphemisms, Bernays stood out for his remarkable frankness. He was a propagandist and proud of it.
(The Father of Spin, PR Watch Magazine, Vol. 6 No. 2, p. 11, 1999, emphasis added). Note also that Dredd Blog for years has been pointing out the growth of the PR industry:
One of the most important comments on deceit, I think, was made by Adam Smith. He pointed out that a major goal of business is to deceive and oppress the public.

And one of the striking features of the modern period is the institutionalization of that process, so that we now have huge industries deceiving the public — and they're very conscious about it, the public relations industry. Interestingly, this developed in the freest countries—in Britain and the US — roughly around time of WWI, when it was recognized that enough freedom had been won that people could no longer be controlled by force. So modes of deception and manipulation had to be developed in order to keep them under control
" ...
(The Deceit Business). In a recent Dredd Blog post we quoted a journalist trained in the U.S., but now working in Jordan, who calls the journalism prevalent in the U.S. "professionally criminal" (Origin of the Classic Nuclear Bully).

Thus, it is no wonder that our culture is ignorant of "conspiracy theory" even within our own culture, much less other cultures that have also had a positive use for them:
Delving into multiple genres, Pagán offers a powerful critique of how conspiracy and conspiracy theory can take hold and thrive when rumor, fear, and secrecy become routine methods of interpreting (and often distorting) past and current events. In Roman society, where knowledge about others was often lacking and stereotypes dominated, conspiracy theory explained how the world worked. The persistence of conspiracy theory, from antiquity to the present day, attests to its potency as a mechanism for confronting the frailties of the human condition.
(Conspiracy Theory in Latin Literature, emphasis added). Even the book that sells more copies than any other in the U.S. has a conspiracy theory or two in it:
She [Esther] finds favor in the king's eyes, and is made his new queen. Esther does not reveal that she is Jewish. Shortly afterwards, Mordecai discovers a plot by courtiers Bigthan and Teresh to assassinate Ahasuerus. The conspirators are apprehended and hanged, and Mordecai's service to the king is recorded.
(Wikipedia, "[Bible] Book of Esther", ~400 B.C., emphasis added). The conspiracy theory that Mordecai spoke to the King of the Persian Empire was not rejected, but rather ended up saving the lives of a lot of people and bringing justice to bad people.

This post is long, so I will continue it in a future post of this series.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Nick Jonas & the Administration and their Conspiracy Theory (lyrics here):

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