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November 12, 2006

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Craig

Perhaps it is too obvious, but one wouldn't want to forget "credit" as in "borrowed capital to be repaid with interest." Or, perhaps, to "buy on credit" as in to command capital that one does not actually have (yet) or to have "a good credit rating." Or, perhaps taking it too far, what is "credit" in your sense in terms of a gold standard or a floating currency? But this opens up another series of avenues: the exchange of credit across currencies, for instance. And again into interest, lending rates, etc. (Central banks?)

artist

'why do you believe the Bush government's claims about 9/11 when you don't believe anything else that they've said for the past 6 years?"'

Because it is not 'the Bush government's claims' as such: It is everybody's claims, and some of the specifically 'Bush claims' are not believed, they had to be brought out by Suskind, Woodward, and countless others. But the Bush administration was not lying in the totally hypertrophied way they began to do after 9/11, at least not routinely. They were already lying about the 2000 election, it is true, but the CIA and FBI and all their personnel would have to have been in Acting Class at all times and continue to be, with vast files on Al Qaeda, etc., for this to be a 'Bush story.' In other words, a 'Bush 9/11 story' could only really be an 'insider job story.' The Bush narrative merely coincides with everybody else's, it is in fact a secondary thing. They started telling it as if it were their own only afterward, as part of their voracious pursuit to own everything, including all stories. But this is the one huge one they can relax with. The fact is that Bin Laden's comings and goings are documented through all levels and strata of government agencies, and the White House betrayal of CIA and the infighting between CIA and FBI would have to have been staged for 6 years for all these volumes to have occurred which nobody doubts the essentials of. The White House would have had to act without the CIA knowing anything and they do not even have the resources among the 10 or so inner circle people to fly more than a single plane among them. Things like the Daudet film would have to have been faked, there would have to have been no people seeing and filming the 2 planes into the WTC and no easy accounting for the one into the Pentagon.

The main point is: It's not essentially a Bush Administration story, they weren't lying about everything even after 9/11, but they began to get more brazen with their huge forms of lies, simply because they found that they could. However, even so, they weren't lying about everything. I think they were on the verge of this though, and they definitely had gotten to the point that it had become pleasurable to lie and pleasurable to actually cause harm and almost an insult to help their own people. The WMD and Iraq/Al Qaeda connection lies were carefully worked out among a few people over a relatively longish period, at least a year, but even this was full of clumsiness and was not something that was at all possible to hide--and they did not hide it less long because they wanted to; they hid because they found out. 9/11 is something people could have easily found out if they'd been involved. Not a soul has found out anything, and not a soul will. Chavez's legislature claiming that that 9/11 was 'self-inflicted' actually proves Chavez's own stupidity and wishful thinking, curiously, instead of Bush's, and its provocative nature is very suspect, and should be investigated even by his supporters, and he's just a big publicity hound himself.

glen

jodi,

you may like to check out charles firth's book "American Hoax" as it could serve as a pretty cool example of some of the things you discuss above, especially the notion of credibility as contagion. See below for some more info, but one of Firth's characters was the one who started circulating the idea that the War on Terror should be renamed the "Terror Wars" so then it be Terror War 1, Terror War 2, etc to provide some sense of closure and achievement. Apparently this sparked serious letters to the New York Times (which were published) on the matter.

http://www.americanhoax.com/

background/blurb:

By inventing five American characters, each representing a different segment of American life, Firth spends six months undercover (sort of) in the USA coming to grips with the American dream, confronting real Americans with their own rhetoric. One of his made-up characters is a right-wing economist, another is a national security consultant, another is a bleeding-heart advertising executive, another is a working class American gambling addict. Plus, of course, there's the token deaf mute Muslim woman poet (who also happens to be blind).

These five characters (all with really bad American accents) come complete with CVs and back stories to allow them to seep seamlessly into the background noise of American commentary. The result is a compelling, hilarious and at times astonishing tale of an Australian 'outsider' (with dubious acting skills) on his quest to discover which one of his characters will flourish in the land of opportunity.

artist

In short, 9/11 conspiracy theory had no choice but to develop as an extreme form of propaganda--and that's all it really is, more accurately so than 'drive', which merely sustains it, but it itself is of its nature propaganda--as an extreme mirror image of the Bush Machine's vast propaganda machine that nearly let them levitate (I think they had begun to do so, even if it still required planes for the most part, since they are not illumined yogis.) I think once one has radicalized into a deep belief in the power of propaganda. the drive follows automatically, and whether the specifics are true or false is of no importance at all.

artist

Finally, I think it's important to mention that we would not really have much difficulty in believing that the 'inside job theory' was true if we so despise the Bush Administration--it would still have had to have been organized by only a handful of people whom we wouldn't mind seeing tarred and feathered. The conspiracy theorists are completely wrong on this vital point: We would not have any difficulty in believing that these pricks did it because we think that badly of them anyway. In fact, we think that they WOULD have done it if they thought they could have gotten away with it.

But we don't believe it because there is not a shred of credibility in the conspiracy theorists' case. We would love to believe there was, in fact, but they conveniently make a point of never having even the slightest of credible arguments. That's why the Chavez legislature is just running its own propaganda--it's obviously the chic thing to do these days.

Chronos

Credibility? What about the credibility of those who have, for years, mistaken an economic critique for ethics or psychoanalysis: Zizek himself rarely addresses economic or distribution issues, instead focusing on his usual "guilty by reason of the improper desire" or something. One hates to side with Karl Marx, but most of these narcissistic fops and aesthetes and postmodernists are an insult even to the empirical power of trad. marxist analysis: few PoMos--or analyticals---have apparently read the Surplus value theory, nor do they bother to refute it. KM would probably grant (--or he should have) that it was not a law in the sense that gravity or photosynthesis are laws, but there is plenty of evidence at least to demonstrate great disparities in wealth, income, assets. etc. whether at local, state, nation levels. Do those large discrepancies between workers and management/owners/financiers matter or not then being the real issue--the presumed mental states of the Oppressor or Oppressee mostly irrelevant.

Alain

I think credibility has been replaced by "truthiness." How else to explain the last six years?

hugh

I apologize, in a way, for this comment, because on the whole I think that people making analogies to quantum mechanics, shouldn't.

However, I want to suggest the analogy here, as follows. If you look closely at subatomic particles, you find that they don't really have any particular position, etc. In fact, some current conjectures are that if you look closely at space-time (at magnifications which we aren't really capable of at the moment) you would find that the background of space-time isn't even "there" as a uniform basis against which objects could be located.

If you don't look closely, you see classical physics, in which a body moves along a single path, according to a completely predictable physical law.

The point I want to make, I guess, is that "not looking closely" isn't necessarily a bad thing! Different kinds of phenomena are visible at different scales.

So maybe describing what is credible as what is not attended to puts credibility in an unwarrantedly bad light.

Jodi

Hugh,

thanks, that's interesting and helpful. I actually wasn't intending a negative tone with respect to describing it as not attended to. Would background knowledge be better? Or, maybe I need to think more about scale--but I'm not sure the term works as well when thinking about socio-political matters. I liked the idea of describing the unconscious as credible--with the idea that it is the other's and that which conditions our perceptions, reactions, etc in ways of which we remain necessarily unaware.

hugh

Oh, you know, about what is not attended to, I think it's just that I have this idea I ought to be attending to everything, impossible as that is, so what is not attended to, is an instance of failure to attend on my part.

Okay, so this next bit is somewhat crazy, but I want to think of the Big Bang as trauma. So we completely fail when we try to think it, of course. (And physicists are starting to realize this.) The problem is partly that our idea of what reality is, is conditioned by our post-trauma reality. (Physicists would say this in terms of how much energy there is.)

Part of why I am mentioning this is a probably-illegitimate reading of your "background knowledge". There is this "background radiation" in the universe, which we can listen to, and possibly it will have information from before the big bang. ("Microwave signatures"). So this "background knowledge" is actually the universe's unconscious, that is to say, a memory of the repressed pre-traumatic state.

Although one would prefer to think this through using a version of repression that didn't assume that there really was a traumatic event. And in fact, that's what some physicists want to do. The big bang wouldn't actually ever have happened; it would be a flawed extrapolation backwards based on information that is true in our universe now, but wouldn't have been true then. (But this physics is controversial compared with the usual Big Bang stuff.)

What do you mean when you say that the unconscious is the other's? That sounds like a standard formulation, but it's not one I've encountered before.

hugh

Jodi, I realized there's something which you might mean, but I don't think you mean, by the unconscious being credible. That would be that fantasies are what is credible. (So people believe Bush knew about 9/11 because it either does or doesn't match their fantasies.) Like I said, I don't think this is what you mean, but I was wondering if you could distinguish it from what you do mean. (I'm not sure why I find this idea unsatisfactory, but I think it might be because of the way it fails to engage with the ways that people's beliefs do have some relation to the consensus view of reality.)

Jodi

Hugh,
The unconscious as the unconscious of the other refers to the way that folks often react not to what the other says but to what the other seems to be saying and this seems is a combination of effects/affects of which the other is unaware and of suppositions and patterns of which we are not aware. Fantasy comes in as the frames that hold things together until we traverse or take them apart.

So, I'm working with the idea that
1. nothing can stand up to thorough scrutiny;
2. but, we persist in everyday life without scrutinizing everything and persist just fine, albeit with glitches and anxieties and reactions that we tend to ignore
3. the persistent everyday, then, is all that is credible, and it's only credible as long as it remains in the background

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