This summer, I collaborated with comrades in New York City to produce a pamphlet criticizing conspiracy theories. We also set up a website to discuss and distribute the pamphlet. For some reason, I forgot to link it here on the Black Orchid blog, so I figured I’d put it up now.
Here is how the pamphlet starts:
Everyone talks about the Illuminati. You may have heard Jay Z and Beyonce are members of the Illuminati, and channel demons when they perform. You may have heard Obama is a member of the Illuminati, and plans to implant microchips in all U.S. citizens, to prepare for martial law. You may have heard the dollar bill contains secret symbols, which reveal the U.S. has been controlled by the Illuminati for hundreds of years.
Illuminati theory helps oppressed people to explain our experiences in the hood. Society throws horrible stuff in our faces: our family members get locked up for bullshit. Our friends kill each other over beefs, money or turf. Our future is full of dead-end jobs that don’t pay shit. We struggle to pay bills while others live in luxury. On TV, we see people all over the world dying in poverty, even though we live in the most materially abundant society in history. Most people act like none of these terrible things are happening. Why does this occur? We start looking for answers, and Illuminati theory provides one.
We believe Illuminati theory is wrong, and we wrote this pamphlet to offer a different answer. We wrote this pamphlet because we know people who think about the Illuminati usually want to stop oppression and exploitation. They’re some of the smartest people in the hood today. Forty years ago, Illuminati theorists would’ve been in the Black Panther Party. Today most of them sit around and talk endlessly about conspiracies. This is a waste of talent. The world is in a deep crisis, and big protests, rebellions and revolutions are happening. In Egypt, South Africa, Turkey–and even in the U.S.–these movements are already taking place. People who say we can’t do anything because no one else is fighting are simply refusing to join the fight themselves. With the right tools, we can participate in these actions, and make history with millions of others.
This pamphlet is a tool to help you understand the world around you. It offers a brief history of Illuminati theory: who invented it, when and where. It shows how Illuminati theory became popular in the hood after the defeat of the movements of the 1970s. It reveals that Illuminati theory is unable to explain how society works, or provide solutions for how to end oppression and exploitation. It offers an alternative explanation of why exploitation and oppression exists, and what we can do to change it. First, we have to unearth the origin of Illuminati theory itself.
To read the rest, click here.
yes, let’s pretend that the catholic church is not an international child-sex, human trafficking organization. let’s pretend that people who own more personal wealth than most nations have no more influence on world events, over generations, than anyone else. conspiracy nonsense, right!?!
who cares if jeff bebos owns amazon.com, has a $600 million dollar contract with the NSA and now owns the washington post – just a coincidence, no conflict of interest there.
pull your head out of your ass and stop alienating people you could be making bridges with.
who concretely do you think we should make bridges with, and how does this pamphlet not do that? The pamphlet acknowledges there are aspects of truth in conspiracy theories; it tries to expand on this truth while criticizing harmful, demoralizing, and fear-inducing aspects of conspiracy theories, the aspects that dissuade people from acting against the system.
okay – i’ll admit that i feel a little agitated by anyone who doesn’t take dissident voices seriously because their concerns are dismissed as “conspiracy.” guess because i’m running into open-minded, brilliant minds when i get outside of the activist ghetto, whereas most of my erstwhile anarchist “comrades” are willfully blinded by loyalty to ideas leftover by dead white guys.
and i’d rather share ideas with people who are using thier minds to explore the world as it exists now than listen to people spouting and defending 19th century ideology. but that’s just me.
I totally feel you on that. We definitely agree with you that there are brilliant minds outside the activist ghetto, and that some of the smartest people out here are into conspiracy theories. These are the folks I spend most of my time talking with, not people parroting 19th century ideologies. We wrote the pamphlet precisely because we take these folks (who are our friends, comrades, coworkers, etc.) seriously. There is a debate going on among many of the young intellectuals in the hood about the Illuminati, conspiracies, capitalism, whether it’s possible to change things or not. The pamphlet aimed to engage in those debates. We are not dismissing all conspiracy theorists, we’re arguing they’re partially right, but that it’s more possible to rebel against the system than some of them argue, since the system relies on our life energy to function.
is there no room in your theories for the role of the church in all of this? do you insist that “illuminati” only refers to the bavarian sect?
seriously, only giving people financial motivations in your theories misses the point completely. religions have been the primary force behind civilization, and to become “enlightened,” or to walk “in the light” has always been a goal for religiously-minded people. this means they have achieved a certain amount of understanding about how the world operates, that they have risen above the masses of humanity to the point that they are no longer ordinary, mortal beings. and once they show a willingness to “go along” with the backstage machinations the ruling elite utilize to manipulate the population, they can be indoctrinated into the ranks of the elite – if only as a footsoldier.
it was the same in ancient persia as it was in ancient egypt as it was in ancient china and as it is today: wars over poppy fields and resource extraction. in thousands of years of history, nothing has changed except our perception of how society worked.
there has always been a ruling elite in every civilization, they have always been the landed aristocracy, plus the people who create and manage money – originally an invention of the priesthood.
there has to be an explanation for why a nation founded by murdering, thieving rapists really and truly believe that they are a holy and righteous people, when the religion they use to justify everything they do teaches peace and compassion.
so, yes, there is a small group of people who manipulate society for their own aims. capitalism has created our modern world, but it has also outlived its purpose, so it is already a thing of the past. capitalism began to devour itself with the reagan revolution. nothing much left now but the bones, which they pretend to be worth much, much more than all the money that has and will ever exist.
the future looks bleak, and wasting time arguing about what to call THE Conspiracy does nothing to encourage dialogue about what we are going to do about it.
when coercion can’t reliably control the population, superstition will.
at least the people who believe that jewish bankers control the world are on the right track. the revolution should set as its goal the sweeping away of the power of the elites, and the most effective way to do that would be to stop using money – or even believing in money. its just clothpaper and ink.
i don’t believe in it, but i know others do, so i still utilize it, but i’m finding my way out of that trap, too. you’d better do likewise, because i don’t think it will be available much longer, and food is going to get very expensive really soon.
your pamphlet just pissed me off, even though i agree that we are in no danger from the bavarian illuminati. freemasons, on the other hand…
I agree religion is often used as an ideology to justify the power of ruling elites. On the other hand, sometimes oppressed and exploited peoples rebel and understand their rebellion in religious/ spiritual terms. In other words, religion is on both sides of the barricades.
The idea that Jewish bankers control the world is NOT a harmless or helpful one. That argument has been a popular one among fascists – its the same argument the Nazis made to justify murdering Jews. Fascism usually begins as a revolutionary movement from below against banks and finance capital, but instead of fighting capitalism as a system, the fascists fight people they claim personify “the elites.” From there they build up a racist, nationalist movement. We shouldn’t have any tolerance for these fascist ideas.
recognizing that the most heinous are jewish is not racist, and no one will EVER have a grasp on the cultural pressures in international politics without this knowledge.
only racists would condemn ALL jewish people because of that. if you are worried about fascists using this to their advantage, tehn counter their hateful propaganda anytime you encounter it – i certainly do.
what’s next – are you going to suggest that supporting human rights for palestinians is anti-semetic?
here’s something ya’ll on your end need to discuss:
are old-line dissident politics becoming so insular as to be irrelevent to society?
because your unwillingness to place blame where it belongs – on the people creating and enforcing widespread ruin and hardship on everyone on earth.
this isn’t happening due to abstract notions like “capitalism” or “economics,” it’s happening because of an ancient regime of patriarchal power has remained virtually intact for Thousands of years, with the only difference over the ages being in how the slave population is managed.
i gotta say, it’s really difficult for me to not HATE white folks. i’ve kept this in check because we live in a world dominated by white folks, and i understand power and the consequences of being marginalized and attacked by the powerful. but it isn’t easy, and sometimes the hatred i feel for white folks is overwhelming. it really does not help when people i would casually consider “comrades” start telling me how to think, what to say, or what not to say, think or feel.
btw – thanks for this thoughtful discussion. this sort of thing does not happen enough, and is the main reason i’ve published zines, published blogs, and written for other publications – to engage in discussions.
I still think your’e shadow boxing with other people, not me. I’ve organized divestment campaigns in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for liberation, I’m against Zionism, and I believe the state of Israel is a white supremacist colonial settler state that needs to be dismantled. I don’t care if people call me anti-semitic for taking those stances. But I am also against fascism and anti-semitism, and I don’t like ideas that support it, including the idea that Jews control the banks. The economy is global these days, so the bankers are from a wide variety of nations and cultures. Historically they have been majority white anglo saxon protestants, not Jews. The majority today probably still are WASPS.
I was part of the Decolonize/ Occupy movement where we militantly opposed bankers, and hundreds of thousands of us were in the streets together. If this is what you mean by irrelevant, then what would “relevant” look like? I am against bankers of every culture. I am against all class societies, from ancient patriarchy through capitalism. I just don’t think there is a secret cabal running these systems I aim to dismantle.
thank you for the discussion as well. I’m checking out your blog, it looks interesting.
Capitalism/Imperialism is inherently conspiratorial. And parasitic.
That’s part of why its been able to hold on and suck blood for as long as it has.
“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins, signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production…(Marx.)” (i.e.- the “start-up capital” of the dominant social/political/economic system(s) that exists on the planet today) could NOT have occurred without the synergy of both ‘legal’ and ‘extra-legal means. Both require planning, often in secret.
Many in the leadership, as well as many of the foot soldiers, involved in the “rosy dawn of capitalism” belonged to secret societies (some more ‘secret’ than others) within their respective communities. What makes their memberships significant is not the membership, or the fact that their particular organization existed, what is significant is their function: these organizations are where (mostly) young men learned of the culture, etiquette, traditions, and social connections required to function in bourgeois society. Marx and to some degree Bakunin, both of whom were initially Freemasons (Marx was a York mason, while Bakunin was Scottish Rite), attempted to turn that idea on its head.
Today, if a worker or a group of workers get together, in particular if 3 or more black men get together (especially if its on a strictly economic basis), U.S. law often calls it a “conspiracy”; especially if it involves drugs, guns, finance, property, real estate, or politics.
Yet, some of these same unlawful acts, and a whole lot more, are often considered “good business sense” in capitalist society, especially by the amerikkkan 1% and their followers.
There is also a certain amount of ‘conspiracy’ involved in ones attempts to get free from capitalism/imperialism. How and why this is I won’t go into because of the fact that U.S. law often calls this work “conspiracy”. Many of us got a taste of what this conspiratorial coordination looks and feels like during the nationwide raids upon the numerous Occupy encampments.
In amerikkka, even pacifist organizations are closely monitored via the collaborative (i.e.- conspiratorial) efforts of the Dept of Homeland Security and local police.
I don’t disagree with any of the facts you’re presenting. I definitely agree capitalism has always involved some aspect of planning, and has always required the state as an integral part of it’s functioning. This has never been “democratic” except for a select few. The pamphlet is not disputing that; it is disputing the idea that every form of oppression is controlled by an all powerful secret cabal which can never be defeated. It’s one thing to say that state-driven colonialism was / is the means by which capitalism gets it’s start up capital (so called “initial/ primitive accumulation”). I totally agree. It’s another to say that the same secret societies that ran early colonialism run it today and therefore no resistance is possible. This overlooks the history of resistance by oppressed peoples – the slave revolts during the dawn of capital, workers and indigenous rebellions today, etc. Resistance is possible, because the system cannot function unless the capitalists commodity indigenous land and exploit workers’ labor.. and there are many places in that process where people successfully resist.
These rebellions also continually push the capitalist class and their state to adapt and adjust, recalibrating their shock absorbers. Capital and the state are often flexible; they are able to coopt and absorb some of their opponents into their midst. They are not eternal, unchanging conspiracies. Anyway, I know you know that – I don’t think we’re debating your politics here, we’re debating people who argue that Jews control the banks and the banks control everything, or that the rise of Black bourgeois politicians cannot be explained in class terms and is a result of people selling their souls to Satan, etc.
where can we get copies in print??
I had printed a bunch but I passed them all out already; I think I have one left if you want it. Once I get more time on my hands, I’m hoping to print a bunch more to distribute; when I do, I’ll pass you some.
there is a printing collective working outta black coffee who i am pretty sure would love to help you print this…
Thanks for the heads up
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This is brilliant. A seriously effective retelling of the Marxist narrative in regular English. Thanks for doing this.