The campaign to demonize all deep political research continues in this month’s Scientific American, which offers “insights” into the minds of the “conspiracy community.” Of course, the article attacks straw men running obviously fake disinfo sites, people like David Icke and Alex Jones, who’s job it is to create paranoia and to make it difficult to navigate the secret trails favored by the hidden power structure. But anyway here are the major points in a nutshell:
- People who believe in one conspiracy theory are likely to espouse others.
- Conspiracy ideation is linked with mistrust of science.
- Mere exposure to information can erode engagement in societal discourse.
- Conspiracy theorists tend to share a core set of traits including low self-esteem.
Let me explain something about propaganda: it works. The longstanding campaign to brand any investigative researchers who don’t accept the government’s version of world events as “crackpots” has been very successful. Two years after 9/11, only around 8% of Americans distrusted the government’s account of the tragedy. Today well over half don’t swallow the official story simply because that version is so full of holes. Most skeptics don’t offer an explanation for what happened, we just don’t buy into the version constructed by the 9/11 Commission Report, a belief shared by some who sat on that Commission.
Marijuana prohibition was spearheaded by that master of propaganda, William Randolph Hearst, someone I’ve blogged about often because his life gives a glimpse behind the curtains of power. There was a ton of propaganda produced against marijuana before the Tax Act was voted on. For me, the existence of that propaganda campaign is proof enough of a conspiracy to outlaw marijuana. But marijuana wasn’t the only elaborate propaganda campaign undertaken by Hearst. He manipulated the war with Spain, for example, and also made a fascinating propaganda film that was released just two weeks after FDR took office, in a time of great crisis in America.
Hearst was a Democrat who longed to be President but was never able to buy enough votes to make that dream come true. He positioned himself as the alternative to the Republican power structure ruled by J.P. Morgan and other post-Civil War Robber Barons, all of whom were closely allied with certain European banks. Hearst railed against British banking’s influence, but consistently entered into profitable (albeit secret) business deals with those very banks he denounced in public, leading to the suspicion he was playing a carefully constructed dialectal game. (After Hearst lost his fortune and split with FDR, that role was undertaken by W. A. Harriman, while George Soros seems to hold that position today).
Hearst ran the largest newspaper chain in the world, not for profit, but for propaganda, something he was a master at. Marijuana prohibition was largely his operation as he cleared the way to disappear the world’s greatest source of medicine. But Hearst had other elaborate propaganda campaigns, one of the most telling of which is the film Gabriel Over the White House.
You need to watch this film because it was based on events then unfolding. Walter W. Waters had led 17,000 unemployed WWI vets in a march on Washington DC to demand payment of a bonus they’d been promised but never been paid. The Great Depression had wiped out millions of jobs and these vets wanted work. Behind the scenes, Marine Major General Smedley Butler (the most decorated and most popular WWI Vet) was approached and asked to become the new leader of the “Bonus Army” encampment (whose ranks had swelled to over 40,000 once the women and children arrived)… to replace Waters, who could have easily been assassinated to make room for Smedley as the new leader. (False flag assassination is a great way to take over a movement, providing you have the Knight in Shining Army ready to ride to the rescue.) But something unexpected happened: Smedley was an honest, patriotic American, and after being approached with a plot to establish a military dictatorship to “save the country,” Smedley began collecting evidence against the conspirators, a list that may have included the Goodyear, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller and DuPont families, as well as other established old money families located on the Eastern seaboard.
Smedley came to Congress to denounce the conspiracy as soon as he had sufficient evidence to prove his case, a development that prompted Congress to go into secret session so they could sweep the whole thing under the rug as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, a film obviously designed to aid this operation was released on schedule. The entire scenario described by Smedley is laid out in this amazing film, which I just saw today on TCM for the first time. In the film, the President is a loyal and corrupt member of his party who rubber stamps whatever the party bigwigs put before him. But after an auto accident and brief coma, he decides to throw the puppet masters out of his cabinet and chart his own course. He quickly repeals alcohol prohibition and turns the military on the bootleg gangsters. He gives jobs to WWI vets and dismantles the military industrial complexes around the world. Just before dying of a heart attack, he is able to manifest world peace. Of course, to achieve this noble goal, he had to become a benevolent dictator and suspend all Constitutional rights. This film was made at a time when Hearst was printing unedited opinion pieces by Herr Goebbels and Herr Hitler and helping fund the rise of Mussolini in Italy.
Was Gabriel Over the White House planned to help sweep Smedley Butler into power and establish a fascist dictatorship? It sure seems possible and some of the speeches in this film are quite eerie. It seems all incredibly contemporary. At one point the President warns that unless his plans for world peace are universally accepted soon, another major war will be fought with much more catastrophic weapons and women and children will be among those massacred. It only took a decade to manifest those predictions.
In the film, the President is asked to order the Army to scatter the WWI vets approaching the city, but the President refuses by saying he will “never turn the military against its own people.” Instead he goes to meet with the vets and broker a peaceful deal. In real life, however, President Hoover sent General MacArthur to destroy the Bonus Army encampment in Washington, DC, which included 26,000 women and children. Four were killed and over a thousand injured. Two years later, when FDR took office (and this film was released), another Bonus Army began appearing in Washington and, in a scene stolen right out of this film, FDR offered them New Deal jobs working for the Civilian Conservation Corps., thereby defusing the situation without resorting to violence.