As something of a conspiracy theorist I am often amused, and occasionally infuriated, by many of the people who share that same frequently-scorned and wildly-diverse platform.
I recently watched a UK television interview, conducted by political and publishing grandee and all-round BBC smart guy, Andrew Neil, who, along with London Times columnist and Conspiracy Theorist Witch finder General, David Aaronovitch, had chosen to discuss the Bilderberg Group.
To add some ‘balance’ to the ‘argument’ they invited the much maligned Alex Jones as a third man (pun intended) to sit between them, and a flanking attack on the voices of dissent was ready to air.
Now Alex Jones is part of the sometimes endearing, but more often than not ridiculous and annoying, conspiracy theory lunatic fringe.
His radical views are aired, or more frequently screamed, at any microphone or camera that is placed in front of him. The result is an often amusing, and more often tiresome, tirade of fanatical nonsense that may or may not be intended to convince.
This particular interview was brought to my attention, because it had apparently been watched by a great number of people in a very short space of time, or ‘gone viral on YouTube’ as those with nothing better to do than further pollute an already sadly polluted English language were saying.
Now The Bilderberg Group is a clique of supposedly influential individuals from both sides of the Atlantic, whose raison d’etre was first mooted in the fifties by Polish political exile Józef Retinger.
Retinger enlisted the aid of Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, and a couple of other European heavyweights, who in turn enlisted the aid of CIA chief Walter Bedell Smith, and another of Eisenhower’s advisers, former OSS member and psychological warfare expert, General Charles Douglas Jackson. The group then went on to further enlist the services of the crème de la crème of U.S. and mainland European political, economic, and social society. . . The Bilderberg Group was born.
The original stated intent of the group was to combat anti-Americanism in Europe, and presumably smooth the ongoing passage of cultural imperialism that has subsequently proved such a blessing to each and every one of us on this side of the pond.
The actual result was to bring together a group of rhetoric spewing politicians, favourite sons, and media luvvies, to act as a sort of decoy, catalyst, and general punch-bag for people like Alex Jones and the rest of the conspiracy theorist lunatic fringe.
Or so I had previously thought, and that brings me to my, somewhat laboured, point.
Conspiracies are, by their very nature, complex and secretive.
If they weren’t they wouldn’t be conspiracies they’d be failed plots, and easier to spot and piece together than the dismembered body parts of Guy Fawkes. Conspiracy theories require a degree of cynicism, much time to develop, vision, lateral thought, in-depth research, and the application of rationality and intellect.
Cynicism apart, I didn’t see or hear any of that on this particular episode of the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show, but if you’ve not already done so you can judge for yourselves by clicking on this image.
Now if there is a conspiracy to be unearthed in the activities of The Bilderberg Group, it won’t be found in a Sunday screaming match at the BBC.
Nor will it be found by ‘Alex Jones and the gang’ hanging around outside the group’s published meetings and haranguing the contributors as they come and go.
However, it just might be found in the actions of a an extremely clever BBC television interviewer, and a respected London Times columnist, on a mainstream political chat show.
Did the BBC bring the discredited figure of Alex Jones on to said mainstream political programme because they respected his rabid point of view? Were they adhering to the timeless wisdom of Voltaire, or did they feel The Sunday Politics Show was a little too dry and needed the debating equivalent of a Whitehall Farce to spice it up a bit?
Or was it because the easiest way to negate a point of view is to turn the spotlight of ridicule on those who purport to represent and adhere to that point of view?
Despite the obvious parallels to The Council on Foreign Relations, I have never bothered with The Bilderberg Group in the past.
You might think that, after listening to the Andrew Neil and Alex Jones Punch and Judy show, I would have even less interest in it now, but you would be wrong.
I don’t know the truth of The Bilderberg Group, whether that truth be malignant or benign, but when I have finally finished with The Etzel Trilogy I think I’ll look into it.
And so, thank you Alex Jones and Andrew Neil and David Aaronovitch and the BBC, you have heightened my curiosity and maybe even outlined my next project.
You see, that’s the nature of the true conspiracy theorist, as opposed to the lunatic rantings of the Alex Jones’s of this world. We research the facts behind the headlines, and consider the motives of those who are or were chartered to govern, influence, or inform. We do that not just in a superficial way, but in every way, at some depth, and from every angle.
This can lead us and those who read our work into a complex maze of impossible scenarios, implausible hypotheses, and unanswered questions.
But it can also lead us to the truth.
For example. . .
What is Alex Jones’ role in all of this? Is he, as Andrew Neil and David Aaronovitch would have us believe, a loud-mouthed and incompetent idiot with a lunatic point of view, or is he a misguided and misunderstood champion of intellectual freedom and true democracy? Or, then again, maybe he’s an establishment stooge, put in prominent place to hog a fickle media’s attention and overpower any rational assessment of The Bilderberg Group by drowning the great unwashed in a sea of unpleasant noise and irrational rantings?
And why did someone at the all-powerful BBC feel it necessary to illuminate and ridicule such an already acknowledged figure of scorn, and, ipso facto, by applying that same indiscriminate process, tar and feather every other Bilderberg Group conspiracy theorist?
It might be that they genuinely thought it in the public interest. It might simply be a case of incompetent programming and human error at the BBC. It might well be nothing more than one loud-mouthed fanatic being given a public platform through lack of proper research. . .
Or it might, just might, be something that is far more complex and sinister.
Have a good one.
Well, the new year is almost upon us, and I can’t say I’m sorry, because 2012 has been an annus horribilis for so many reasons.
The year began with The Costa Concordia disaster, and the loss of thirty innocent lives, and ended with the massacre of twenty-six innocents in Newtown Connecticut. Both tragedies were, arguably, preventable, but somehow I think that only the Costa Concordia disaster will see any meaningful measures taken to prevent a recurrence.
Some say the answer to the Newtown massacre is a ban on handguns, but I just don’t know.
Irrespective of how unfair, unconstitutional, and undemocratic, the lobbying power of the NRA is, I don’t see how amending The Constitution to deny ordinary decent and law-abiding people the right to defend themselves against cranks and lunatics, can possibly bring an end to such tragedies.
Here in the UK we have no fundamental or constitutional right to bear arms. Following the Hungerford massacre of 1987 semi-automatic centre-fire cartridge rifles were banned, weapon sales strictly limited, and gun licenses equally-strictly controlled, and yet we still saw the horrific tragedy of The Dunblane Primary School massacre just nine years later. This was followed by another amendment to the firearms act in 1997, which effectively made owning firearms illegal in The UK, and yet, thirteen years after that, we saw a lone gunman in Cumbria kill twelve people before turning the gun on himself.
I just don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure that anybody else does. All I do know is that my heart goes out to all those parents, family members, and neighbours who have been so devastated by such a wholly evil and terrible event.
On a lighter, and yet still serious, note; 2012 saw the end of freedom of speech in The U.K.
It began with a racist insult, allegedly, made by John Terry, a former England soccer captain, to an opponent during a match, and ended with the English Football Association overruling a ‘not guilty’ court ruling, and effectively banning any comment that might imply or include some sort of racist slur or insult.
On this I have to agree with Voltaire. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right in any civilized society, irrespective of the diatribe spoken and the apparent ignorance of the speaker. When we start to erode that fundamental right, we cause all manner of problems down the line.
Like many others, I have no time for any form of racism, or for the man in question and his alleged behaviour, but when organisations overrule the courts of the land, irrespective of the weasel words used to justify that process, they place us and them on a very slippery slope.
On a personal note, 2012 was a very sad time for my own family. During the year we lost three of our five Burmese cats, and now the house feels very empty without them. Never let anyone tell you that pets don’t give and generate love, and never let anyone tell you that their passing causes anything other than acute heartache and pain. We will miss Monty and Fred and Suki very much, and we will always remember how their living so enriched our home, our family, and our lives.
But on to 2013. The year during which I will become the world’s number one best-selling author, the year during which my ship comes in, the year during which. . . well, who can tell, but I’m sure it won’t be as sad and as bad for me as 2012 has been.
Because that is the true beauty of any New Year: It gives us all hope. It rekindles the flame of aspiration, and it offers each of us a new beginning and a fresh start.
And so I wish each of you a Very Happy Christmas, and a New Year filled with all that you wish for yourselves.
Have a good one.
A few weeks ago I took a trip into the village. Even though it’s only a five minute walk from my front door to the farthest shop, I did as I always do and took the car.
I can almost hear what you’re thinking. Indolent, unhealthy, environmentally irresponsible. . . yes, I know all that, but I still prefer to do my walking along the cliff path or on the golf course.
Now Cornish folk are always affable, and more often than not downright friendly. I always highlight the difference between people from Cornwall, and those from the more-fashionable English counties around London, by saying that Cornish people will never give you the impression that they believe themselves to be more important than you. That is seldom the case around the English Home Counties, but, like every other one of the façades that we tend to assume whenever we open our front doors, it is only so deep.
She was a typical Cornish girl, with a face lined by hardship and time, and those wild salt-laden gales that constantly drive in from the North Atlantic, over the craggy North Cornwall coastline and across the moors. She had parked her car, on the no-parking lines, immediately outside the local grocery store, and was sitting with the engine switched off, presumably waiting on a friend.
A second car had parked behind her, and, as I approached from the opposite direction, the driver began to pull out and into the road.
Being familiar with the outwardly obliging nature of Cornish folk, I stopped my car and called the second driver on, before continuing on my way and parking some thirty yards farther along the street. I pulled in at the side of the road, got out of my car, and then walked back to the grocery store.
As I passed by, she climbed out and began studying the back of her vehicle.
“I can’t see any damage.” She said. I replied with an uncertain smile.
“Yes. You just hit the back of my car.” I carefully studied her, not sure if she was deranged or joking. She glared back. “You’re lucky, you didn’t dent it or damage the paintwork.”
I naturally protested my innocence.
“I can assure you that, whoever hit you, it wasn’t me. I was travelling in the opposite direction. I didn’t come within thirty yards of the back of your car.”
“Oh yes you did. . . I felt the bump.”
Not wishing to point fingers of suspicion, or apportion blame, I didn’t mention the other driver, who had just pulled out from behind her. Instead, I pointed to where my car was parked, thirty-odd yards farther along the street and facing in the opposite direction.
“Look. My car is facing the other way, and nowhere near yours. I don’t know who hit you, but it can’t possibly have been me.”
“Oh, yes it was. . . You Incomer!”
That was it. The ultimate insult in Cornwall.
Forget about casting dispersions on parentage, or four lettered words, or sexual innuendo, or graphic descriptions of inadequacy, or any other form of abuse. In this part of the world ‘Incomer’ is just about as insulting as it gets, and in Cornwall its use is widespread.
It means that I wasn’t born and bred in Cornwall. It means, the local tradespeople are very happy to take my money at the store, or fix the electricity or plumbing for a fee, or deliver the mail as part of their job, or smile and say ‘how are you’ as I pass on by, or superficially welcome me and my family whenever we stop in for a drink or a meal at the local pub, but in truth, even after seven years of friendly residence, I don’t fit in around here, and I never will.
And, you know the strangest thing. . . to my way of thinking that word was as shocking as any crass and vulgar commentary, or racist ethnic slur, could have been.
In fact, I would have much preferred she had used the more common and vulgar expletives.
The F and C words may be more graphic, and may, to the untrained ear, seem to be more shocking and outrageous, but, as insults go, telling your neighbour that he or she is only welcome for what they can pay you, or give to you, or do for you, or bring to your business, seems to me to be a thousand times worse.
I am told that the Japanese don’t ‘do’ swearwords. Apparently the Japanese language allows no place for them.
Now I always found the Japanese to be overwhelmingly pleasant and courteous, and I believe that we should always speak as we find. However, if you were to ask an American or British or Australian Second World War veteran, or even a billion Chinese, which is the cruellest race, they would undoubtedly point to the Japanese.
Perhaps the use of vulgar language, when remonstrating, is not simply for the purpose of insult, but more of a pressure-release valve. Maybe the Japanese have merely lacked the linguistic facility to release the pressure. Maybe my Daphne du Maurier heroine, with the unmarked and untouched car, was faced with a similar disadvantage in her available vocabulary. Who can tell, but that one seemingly innocuous incident contrived to permanently sully my opinion of Cornwall and the people who live there.
I will still smile and speak kindly, and give way to other drivers, and laugh and joke with the local tradesmen, and bid a cheery good morning to passers-by, but I no longer feel that Cornwall is my home.
And so, the next time someone calls you a f***ing this or that, just smile and be grateful.
It could have been a whole lot worse, and anyway, they’re probably just letting off steam.
Have a good one.