“Conspiracy theory” is a term that at once strikes fear and anxiety in the hearts of most every public figure, particularly journalists and academics. Since the 1960s the label has become a disciplinary device that has been overwhelmingly effective in defining certain events off limits to inquiry or debate. Especially in the United States raising legitimate questions about dubious official narratives destined to inform public opinion (and thereby public policy) is a major thought crime that must be cauterized from the public psyche at all costs.
Liberalism itself is a synthetic creation of the power structure, a humanitarian facade behind which the dirty work of policing the world can go on uninterrupted by idealistic spasms in the body politic.
Journalist Eric Norden’s perceptive critique, “The Tender Tyranny of American Liberals,” appeared in the early years of the Vietnam era, accurately identifying how a predominantly liberal worldview projected by the ruling technocracy and its intellectual adherents acted to subordinate genuinely Left-progressive ideas and social movements at home while ensuring the furtherance of US imperial designs abroad. Today Norden’s insights are worthy of reconsideration in light of how the Left remains largely devoid of its own voice or vision and more than ever liberalism provides ideological cover for aggressive Anglo-American militarism, the prerogatives of transnational corporations, and an ever-expanding police state.
In 1964 Harper‘s magazine published the now famous essay, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” by historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter. Appearing in the wake of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s Republican presidential nomination, the tract remains emblematic of liberal anxiety toward serious and in many cases unresolved questions regarding the forces behind American governance. “The Paranoid Style” overall helped establish the term “conspiracy theory” as perhaps the most powerful epithet in the American political lexicon. “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” Hofstadter wrote.
In the immediate wake of President Obama’s May 1, 2011 announcement of the alleged extrajudicial killing of Osama bin Laden by US military forces, a struggle reemerged over the official 9/11 myth that major journalistic outlets have been complicit in perpetuating over the past decade. The corporate media’s reaction to the robust skepticism over bin Laden’s assumed execution suggested a great deal about the extent to which they are locked in to upholding the broader 9/11 parable and serving the Anglo-American political-economic establishment and status quo.