Conspiracy theories certainly are sexy at the moment. Linda Thompson, the American lawyer who is the public spokesperson for the so-called militias, the people in the backwoods of America who think Bill Clinton is trying to usher in an America Reich, got half an hour on BBC TV last autumn. Look at the impact of 'The X Files'. I've been contacted by five or six TV companies in the past six months two last week all interested in making programmes about conspiracy theories. I even got a call from the Big Breakfast Show, from a researcher who had no idea who I was, asking me if I'd like to appear on it. He'd seen me billed as speaking here. The first thing of consequence that he asked me was: "What is the weirdest conspiracy theory you've come across recently?" He wanted me to appear on this wacky morning show and tell the viewers something wacky.
Of Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories:
The Truth Buried by the Fantasies
by Robin Ramsay
I said, I didn't think I was quite what the Big Breakfast was looking for. He asked me what kind of magazine 'Lobster' was. (He'd never heard of it, of course.) I said it had no pictures and that I'd once published an article in it about the Moonies and the Korean CIA, which had two hundred and sixty two footnotes, citing work in five languages. I could hear his interest waning. I sent him a few copies of 'Lobster' anyway; and guess what? he never called back.
Compare and contrast this situation with, say, 1963. Who was interested in conspiracy theories in 1963? In the UK, a handful of disgruntled racist Tories the League of Empire Loyalists and little groups of Hitler lovers clinging to the old Jewish banking, world domination myth. In the US, the John Birch Society and a handful of old time anti-Semites and American Hitler freaks. Conspiracy theories were out on the margin of the margins in 1963. Last year was it? on 'The X Files', one of the FBI agents dismissed someone as "one of the people who believe Elvis is dead". (Or so I have been told; I've never watched an entire episode of 'The X Files'.)
These days we've got conspiracy theories everywhere; and about almost everything.
CONSPIRACIES WITHOUT EVIDENCE
Here are a few choice examples from the last few months this is the stuff the Big Breakfast show wanted to hear about.
Two conspiracy theory books about the OJ Simpson case appeared in the Tom Davis catalogue in December. In the interesting one, the Davis catalogue summary says, the FBI blacklisted bar applicants i.e. would-be lawyers because of anti-war activities. Unemployed for years, these unemployed lawyers assassinated Nicole Simpson and framed OJ Simpson to compel the FBI to disclose the blacklist. Only in America, with one million lawyers, the home of the lawyer joke, would someone imagine a murderous cabal of unemployed lawyers!
Nearer to home (but nearly as far off the planet) somebody called Michael Todd, who lives in Selby, in Yorkshire, for a mere #95, is offering to provide evidence of a world-wide conspiracy called Operation PELT, with a secret HQ in Ireland and thirty offices world-wide. The aim of PELT, by the way, is to destroy the entire alternative movement; health, green, eco etc. I wrote asking for evidence, but did not get a reply.
The Administrator of the anti-fluoride, National Pure Water Association wrote to me suggesting that the reason for the vilification of Yorkshire Water in the summer and autumn of last year, was Yorkshire Water's refusal to add fluoride to their water. She wrote: "Much of the persecution of that Company this year leaks, dry reservoirs etc. is, we are sure, orchestrated `punishment' for their decision." I wrote asking her for evidence, but received no reply.
A UFO buff I know slightly tried to persuade me that the US has a secret base built under Loch Lomond in Scotland, from which emerge mysterious craft. (The UFOs as underwater craft is one of the minor themes amongst UFO theories.) Why, said I, would they put such a base under the single most popular tourist spot in the west of Scotland, visited every day by hundreds, if not thousands of people?
The difficulty or the delight for people like me is that buried in the stupid nonsense there is something of interest in almost all of these fields. There surely isn't a US base under Loch Lomond, and there surely isn't a secret conspiracy between the ET greys and the US government; and there surely aren't millions of Americans being kidnapped and sexually assaulted by aliens.
But a big but this doesn't mean that the entire UFO thing can be rationally written off as nonsense, hallucinations or whatever. There are now too many video tapes of strange things in the sky to add to the many reports from sensible, rational people. (The ubiquitous camcorder may yet resolve lots of this for us.)
The anti-fluoride case, after years of being on the crank list is creeping into the mainstream. Even 'Covert Action', the very serious, American, neo-Marxist, anti-imperialist, spy-watching journal has published an article on the fluoride issue (something that would have been unimaginable five years ago). The damage done to the anti-fluoride case by Sterling Hayden's portrait in 'Dr Strangelove' of the crazed US base commander, obsessed with the communist conspiracy to pollute America's precious bodily fluids, is being overcome, albeit slowly.
IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKELY, BUT ...
But once you make that initial move of trying to deal with these areas rationally, it gets very difficult very quickly. One of the subjects generating conspiracy theories at the moment is that which is now called mind control. We know that the CIA et al, and their Soviet counterparts, were busy in the fifties and sixties looking for a means of controlling the human mind. Drugs, hypnosis even one or two little US projects, still not disclosed, which seemed to be interested in electromagnetic fields. But there are now hundreds of people, in Europe and in the USA I know someone dealing with seventy such cases in the USA claiming to have been mind controlled; some claim to have implants in their head, or their body; they are being bombarded by energy weapons of some kind; they are being controlled. Timothy McVeigh, the alleged Oklahoma bomber, claims to have an implant in his body. I have photocopies of X-rays which appear to show something in some individuals in Sweden. Brain scans are now available in home-pages on the Net, apparently showing the same sort of thing. There are now agencies in the USA which, for a large amount of money, will debug your body. Used to be your house or office or car; now its your body. They will check you out and remove, if necessary bugs, implants, chips, whatever. I've got the written statements of half a dozen or more such victims in this country. I have been corresponding with, and have met, two people who tell me they hear voices in their head the voices of teams of psychologists and intelligence personnel monkeying around with their brains. I could just say, they're paranoid schizophrenics one of the classic symptoms of which is hearing voices in your head. Except that (a) I've known some schizophrenics and these two men don't seem like schizos to me; and (b) more importantly, the technology to do what they claim is being done to them may exist. As far back as 1962 an American scientist called Alan Frey demonstrated that, using a microwave beam, you could transmit sounds words into the head of an individual that were inaudible to other people. A Freedom of Information application by Jane Affleck produced a document from 1970, a report published by the Office of Technological Utilization in NASA called 'Implantable Biotelemetry Systems' implants, in short. Twenty five years ago they had them down to the size of a 5p piece. This 1970 report shows them, even gives wiring diagrams. Now, twenty five years later, some of them are practically invisible, like a strand of hair.
I don't mean I believe that there are people with implants; I have not yet seen any convincing evidence of this. Photocopies of X-rays don't quite make it. And even if there are such people, even if somebody turns up with evidence that can't be ignored, it is a long step from the existence of implants to the remarkable things claimed for them. How would an implant in your teeth, say, control your thoughts? But given the technology that existed in 1970, it is simply not possible to dismiss this stuff out of hand. No, it doesn't seem likely. But would you really be surprised to learn that the CIA or some other branch of the US government (or its NATO allies) were doing random tests of this technology? That's what they did with various nerve agents and LSD in the fifties just sprayed it round to see what happened. And, after all, if NATO scientists are trying out microwave weapons or mind entrainment devices, these kinds of tests have the most perfect cover of all: no-one will believe the victims.
Similar difficulties arise with the various conspiracy theories now surrounding the Oklahoma bombing. It doesn't seem likely to me that the Federal government did blow up the building themselves to give them a pretext to clamp down on the militias, as some on the right are now suggesting; or that the explosion was caused by a stray US missile as some others claim. But given what we know the US military and intelligence services have done in the past twenty five years, and given the incompetence of the military, these can't be instantly dismissed either.
FACT AND FANTASY
Nonetheless, most of the conspiracy theories floating around are crap; there is no evidence, and when evidence is offered, the evidence is crap. But why is this stuff on the increase? Why, after producing 'Lobster' for thirteen years have I now been asked to address this august if slightly cranky assembly? [See front page notes ed.] One factor is the increasing availability of computer technology. I first began to notice conspiracy theories in the late 1970s as a by-product of getting interested in the Kennedy assassination. In those days getting a decent-looking magazine together was expensive. You had to pay for typesetting. The fringe mags looked like fringe mags. These days about #700 will buy computer kit with which you can turn out an imitation of the 'Wall Street Journal' if you want to; and with a fax machine you can spread it round the world. There has been an increase in conspiracy theories; but its also that those that exist are getting round much faster than they used to.
Another factor is the increasing difficulty people have in working out what is real and what is not. In the USA Mrs and Mrs Joe Sixpack are faced with thirty, sixty, a hundred and twenty cable channels of TV putting out varieties of piffle at best; tabloid papers like the 'National Enquirer' and all its imitators in supermarkets putting out honest-to-god inventions as `news'; endless right-wing radio talk shows pumping out nonsensical conspiracy theories about the evils of liberalism. The chances are very high that the Sixpacks haven't read a book of any kind in the previous year maybe not since they left school. And the Sixpacks may have been born again: America is a profoundly religious society. People who believe in God and the Devil, people who are waiting for "rapture", haven't that far to go to believe that the sky at night is swarming with UFOs looking for people to abduct and experiment on.
The claim that people are finding it harder to distinguish between fantasy and reality is difficult to sustain and is always poo-poohed by people in the garbage media who claim that people know, for example, that the 'Daily Sport' or the 'National Enquirer' are not meant to be taken seriously. But I'm not so sure. The 'Sunday Telegraph' of 4th February this year carried a story about a policeman in London who was psychic. The policeman concerned was quoted as saying: "At first my colleagues in the police force thought it was all a bit odd. But since the BBC programme 'The X Files', many have given it a lot more credence." But 'The X Files' is fiction.
I have seen the explosion in conspiracy theories attributed to the approach of the millennium. Maybe it has some effect on some of the religious groups, but the average citizen doesn't seem to me to give a toss about the millennium. Me neither. It'll just be like New Year's Eve with more drinking and better fireworks, and back to work, and endless TV programmes looking back over the century. I'll bet they're busy making them now.
A VAST MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
Another factor in the rise of conspiracy theories is the existence of real conspiracies in recent US history. Look at American history since 1963: the assassination of the Kennedys, Dr King, most of the Black Panther leadership and Jimmy Hoffa; the shooting of Governor George Wallace. The revelation of CIA plots against foreign leaders. Massive domestic surveillance and disruption programs by the FBI and CIA. The CIA shipping opium in Laos and Vietnam, organising forty, fifty thousand assassinations in Vietnam under the Phoenix programme; tens of thousand more in Indonesia. Secret wars all round the globe trying to police the US empire. All this began to emerge in the 1960s after the destruction of the Warren Commission Report on the assassination of JFK and the revelations continued through the 1970s as part of the spin-off from Watergate. Since the advent of Republican administrations in the eighties we've had Irancontra; the October Surprise; the clandestine arming of Iraq; billions of dollars ripped-off from the Savings and Loan banks; hundreds of thousand of corpses in Central America including a few American nuns created by death squad regimes working as US proxy governments. A vast military-industrial-intelligence complex everything President Eisenhower warned America of in his farewell speech in 1960 totally beyond democratic control, gobbling up hundreds of billions of dollars.
Added to which, with Clinton and the Democrats in office, the Republican Party and its allies on the right are churning out conspiracy theories about Clinton. Some of these, about his role in the leasing of Arkansas to the CIA and the Reagan White House to run guns into Central America and cocaine back, seem to be true, or true-ish. The rest, especially the paranoia about Clinton trying to engineer an American Reich, suspending elections and putting the US under UN control, strike me as dotty in the extreme. Some of it looks political pay-back; the right having their revenge for the long line of Republican disasters beginning with Watergate and Nixon which were exploited however incompetently by the Democrats.
The cumulative effect of all this is that some redneck yahoo in the boondocks, with his weapons, a year's supply of canned food and Pepsi, his AppleMac and his fax machine can say: "Hey, buddy, don't tell me I'm paranoid, all right? Look at what we know the sons-of-bitches in Washington have done already! And that's just the bits we know about."
So: why are we getting more conspiracy theories? Technology, AppleMacs and faxes, information overload; the whole buttressed by what I'm still willing to call the objective reality of US political practice. Looked at another way: here we are in Uncle McCluhan's global village; and what is village life like? Word of mouth, rumour, gossip most of it inaccurate. Maybe conspiracy theories are just the gossip of the global village.
If I am talking mostly about America it is because America seems to be the source of most of this nonsense. I could be wrong. It may be that since I don't read any foreign language news sources or watch other countries' TV, I am simply unaware of, say, Austrian conspiracy theory culture; or Taiwanese. There are a lot of conspiracy theories on the right of Japanese politics, including some bizarre anti-Semitic theories bizarre because there are no Jews in Japan. And there is clearly an upsurge of anti-Jewish theories in the former Soviet Union and its empire; but anti-Semitism has been there since the last century that I know of, and probably centuries earlier. But as far as Britain is concerned this stuff is mostly coming across the Atlantic. And it's mostly coming from white people.
There are some black conspiracy theories. Some of the black American religious sub-cultures apparently believed that Reagan had "666", the mark of the beast, tattooed on the back of his skull, under his hair; others believe that the distribution of heroin among the black population to a plot by the government to keep black Americans down. This is a sort of progenitor of the theory that AIDS was a biological warfare experiment which escaped. Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe was expounding this thesis in early April his son died of Aids with the twist that it was a germ warfare experiment designed by whites to kill blacks. (This Aids-as-germ-warfare-run-amok theory came from the Soviet Union; the KGB ran it through various third world media in revenge for the CIA conspiracy theory which blamed the KGB, through the Bulgarians, for the attempt to assassinate the Pope.) There are many other black conspiracy theories enough to fill a book this year by an American academic. But mostly it's white folk churning this stuff out; at any rate its white folk's theories which are getting the attention in the white-dominated mass media. And that is the clue.
"WHO'S BEHIND THIS?"
For it seems to me that the underlying cause of the explosion in conspiracy theories is the decline of the US empire. The American dream is faltering; at best, wage rates are no higher than they were twenty years ago for many of the working class. For many they are lower. There are said to be eighty thousand homeless people on the streets of Chicago. The gap between the top strata in the US and the bottom is wider than it has been since the war, and getting wider every year. Things are not going according to plan for many white Americans, and they need to explain this to themselves.
You can see the change reflected in the accounts of encounters with Extra Terrestrials. In the 1950s, when the US empire was booming, and Mr and Mrs Average White American consumer was being fed a relentless diet of stories predicting ever-increasing material prosperity, the Extra Terrestrials reportedly contacting the America citizen, were largely but not wholly benign. Now the US empire is falling apart and sections of the big American cities are turning into a reasonable facsimile of the set of 'Blade Runner', the skies over American at night are apparently bustling with hundreds of thousands of Alien Rapists, beaming down into peoples' bedrooms.
But since only two per cent of Americans have read a book in the last year, and their primary source of information, the TV, does not deal with such issues, the ability of most of them to explain something as complicated as the economic decline of a great power is limited.
And there is a psychological dimension: so deeply ingrained is the myth of America, the country of manifest destiny, the shining torch of freedom, democracy and the American way, the land of the brave and the home of the free, that most Americans seem to find it hard, verging on impossible, to believe that there is something wrong with the system. But if the system is fine, and things are going wrong, the problems are being caused by ... bad people.
Somebody's to blame! Somebody's behind this!
This is the approach of the most visible conspiracy theorist in the UK today, David Icke, erstwhile TV sports presenter and green activist, who lost his TV job for supporting the Green Party. Icke's a good-looking guy and he's been on TV, and that's enough for lots of people, I suspect. David lectures; they turn up, give him a fiver to get in. There's an Icke video, David recorded talking in a theatre in Liverpool. Icke lines up all our discontents; lists all the terrible things that are being done to the planet and the catastrophe approaching. That takes about fifteen minutes. He then asks the audience, not "What is the cause or causes of this?", but "Who is behind this?" Once you ask that question, you're off into uncharted territory. His answer is a mish-mash of American conspiracy theories about semi-clandestine groups like the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations; and to that he adds a smattering of ufology's greatest hits Majestic 12, the alliance with the Greys; and old chestnuts like the Illuminati. Like many of his American sources, Icke's methodology is, roughly: if it's in print it must be true.
"CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE ALWAYS WRONG"
The difficulty for a naive empiricist or rationalist like me is that in a sense the people who are currently producing and recycling all the rubbish about global conspiracies, the David Ickes and William Coopers of this world, are right. But only in a sense. Some of the world's politics and economics is influenced but not controlled by little groups of people. The Bilderberg Group does exist, does meet. The Trilateral Commission does exist, does meet occasionally and discuss a new world order. After all, these are the guardians of capital, and disorder is what they don't want. Global investment likes order. There are bankers ripping us off but few of them are Jewish. David Icke and the many Americans from whom he has adopted these ideas, have a little nugget of truth there, but thanks to the way they use it, they contaminate the subject matter and unwittingly play into the hands of the very people they think they are opposing.
For most of the chattering classes the media and knowledge industry, academics, politicians and their assistants the epithet `conspiracy theorist' is the kiss of death. One of the bed-rocks of the ideology of liberal democracies is that conspiracy theories are always wrong, and those who espouse them are mental incompetents at best. This unquestioned belief usually manifests itself in the endless genuflections like this: "of course I'm not a believer in the conspiracy theory of history", or: "as usual the cock-up theory of politics turned out to be true". Indeed, I would say that the espousal of the belief in the cock-up or coincidence theory of history is at the heart of what passes for political and intellectual sophistication in liberal democracies.
This is understandable up to a point. Who wants to be associated with nutters who believe the world's being run by a cabal of American politicians and extra-terrestrials? Or the Masons? What irritates me, however, is that this legitimate allergy to mega conspiracy theories extends much further than the crazy fringe to a general prohibition on conspiracies. And this is very strange, because it is blindingly obvious is it not? that political parties, for example, are intrinsically conspiratorial. Routine internal party politics is a network of interlocking cabals plotting how to get their hands on this group, committee, caucus meeting, council, party, pressure group. It is only a slight exaggeration to say, as Carl Oglesby did in the early 1970s, that conspiracy is normal politics. Yet this idea would produce everything from outrage to patronising shakes of the head from almost all intellectual and political circles in this country. "Really, old boy, the world just isn't like that."
I met this view of the world on my first visit the Newsnight office in 1986. I was then trying to persuade the media to take seriously the allegations of Colin Wallace about anti-Labour activities by the intelligence services in the 1970s. Wallace was then still in prison he was framed on a manslaughter charge. I had written to him and mentioned that I would be visiting Newsnight and Wallace wrote back warning me that up in the higher reaches of the BBC was a man called Alan Protheroe, who was an asset of the British secret state and who knew Wallace and what Wallace had been up to in Northern Ireland in 1974. When I met the Newsnight journalist who was interested in Wallace and was proposing to interview him when he came out of prison, I said "Wallace says watch out for Protheroe. He thinks he will ky-bosh your interview."
I got the patronising smile of the higher media who know everything: "Oh come on, the BBC isn't like that." What happened? Wallace was interviewed, and Protheroe blocked its transmission. The BBC then denied that the interview had ever taken place. About a year later it was revealed that M15 actually had an office inside the BBC from which it vetted applicants for BBC jobs.
HOW THE IDEOLOGY OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACY DENIES REALITY
The belief that our society "just isn't like that" is a part of the ideology of liberal democracy, which I identify as the concept of pluralism. This is mostly what's taught in Anglo-American universities. The last time I took a look at it, British academic politics was still wrestling with the discovery that interest and pressure groups intrude into the model of Westminster party politics. But the problem with `pluralism' is that it is essentially empty, merely telling us that many groups in society have some power. The interesting questions begin where pluralism stops.
A real world perspective what I would call a parapolitical perspective on the other hand, takes it for granted that there are clandestine influences at work in society. Not the ridiculous, world-controlling conspiracies like the Masons, or the Illuminati, or other such nonsense, but more mundane things like intelligence agencies manipulating domestic and international politics; companies buying government policies by making anonymous donations to the Tory Party etc. It became absurd to deny the existence of large-scale political conspiracies, of powerful `hidden forces', as soon as the existence of the CIA or KGB or SIS was revealed. The interesting questions, the rational questions, are not: Are there such things as covert influences conspiracies in political or social life?, but: Given that there manifestly are such things, where are they? Whose are they? How important are they? How can we tell fantasy from reality? And I would argue how do we put a stop to them?
Simple empirical observation says conspiracy is a very common form of political behaviour. The mysterious thing is not that some poor deluded fools insist on seeing conspiracies, but how it is that, for so long, so many otherwise apparently intelligent people most of Anglo-American political science, for example have, until very recently, managed not to notice that conspiracy is an everyday and rather important part of the phenomena they purport to be studying. Let me give a couple of examples. Since its formation in the 1920s until its demise about five years ago, the Economic League collected and spent, in today's money, millions of pounds every year working against the British left. It may have spent as much as the Conservative Party since World War I. Yet there was not one academic essay about the Economic League between its formation and 1980. Not one in sixty years. No account of British domestic politics in the twentieth century can be anything but hopelessly incomplete without incorporating the Economic League, but I have never seen one that does.
Academic American history somehow manages to skip over the fact that in a five year period in the sixties one President, the probable next President, and the most important black leader since the war were victims of assassinations which were never investigated properly and remain unsolved.
Not that it's difficult to explain why this odd situation has prevailed for so long. Britain has been run for most of this century by two intensely secretive, overlapping groups; one is the British state, about which we know almost nothing especially its secret branches about which even MPs are not allowed to ask questions. And the other is the Conservative Party, about which even its members know almost nothing of how it is run or who funds it. In the US, since the war, a group of government agencies, with their satellite supply companies, headed by the CIA and the Pentagon, have been operating largely in secret, and very profitably, too. God knows it's hard sometimes to show the links between ideology and interests, but in these instances it looks pretty straightforward to me. The most powerful interests in Britain and the US don't want their conspiratorial activities examined; and gee whiz, it turns out that being interested in conspiracies is intellectually forbidden in both societies.
Of course there's one obvious exception to the official prohibition on interest in conspiracies. Since 1918 we have all been officially encouraged to believe in the existence of one conspiracy: the red menace. In Britain the most significant recent conspiracy theorists were the cold warriors, who pumped out endless theories of Soviet espionage and subversion in this country since the war. Mrs Thatcher was one of those. She looked at the Trades Union Congress at Uncle Jack Jones, one of the nicest and most decent people who ever existed and saw Moscow subversion. And to ensure that we believed in the reality of this approved conspiracy theory, the Anglo-American intelligence services, the outstanding example of institutionalised conspiracies in the twentieth century, have spent a ton of money your money propagating it, while denigrating anybody who turned up with any other kind of conspiracy. This hypocrisy reached some kind of peak in the late 1960s when the CIA a vast world-wide conspiracy put out a message to all its stations and personnel about the Kennedy Assassination. The instruction from Langley was that they were to use their political and media assets to put out the line that the kind of conspiracy described by the Warren Commission critics could not possibly exist!
Four years before this comic event the CIA's relationship with the Warren Commission investigating JFK's assassination was handled by the late James Jesus Angleton, head of CIA counter-intelligence. He believed, among other things, that the split between the Soviet and Chinese communist parties (up to and including a shooting war on their borders) was a disinformation campaign to lull the west into a false sense of security. There are still people on the fringe of the UK-US intelligence services who believe the collapse of the Soviet empire in the last decade has been a deception operation.
THE CONSPIRACIES WHICH ARE THE STATE
My interest in conspiracies, not conspiracy theories, is political. As well as being a naive empiricist, I am also a naive democrat. I believe that the political process should be open, transparent. I don't like secrecy, and that means I don't like conspiracies. Be it the Trotskyist groups trying to enter the Labour Party; be it the foot soldiers of MI5 and Special Branch trying to conjure up a new enemy to keep themselves in work; be it companies bribing governments. And, yes, be it the Masonic networks in the police, local government, the state etc. The Masons are significant, though a Mason I met recently told me that their membership in Britain was falling; it's just that they don't and never did run the world. The important conspiracies we should be looking at are those run by the state in this benighted country we might say the conspiracies which are the state.
The garbage we are now getting so much of, the global conspiracy baloney, is simply background noise, a distraction. Anthony Summers, the British investigator and writer, summed up the position very well: he said he wasn't interested in conspiracy theories, but he was interested in theories about conspiracies.
Six years ago I wrote a piece about this subject I was thinking of Britain, not the US. We were then in the aftermath of three years of revelations of official conspiracies, generated by the 'Spycatcher' episode and the related revelations of Colin Wallace about the attempts by the British and American intelligence and security services to undermine the Wilson government. I concluded that piece thus:
"As a concept `conspiracy' would be of little interest or explanatory value were it not for the defensive refusal of our chattering classes to acknowledge its legitimacy. We can only look forward to the day when the term has lost the connotations it has at the moment and rationality finally prevails. Meanwhile, with our eyes and ears open, we `naive empiricists' just have to get on with trying to understand the nature of political and historical reality."
And I will be doing this long after the mass media have moved on from the X-Files agenda of the moment to something else equally trivial.
Political Notes No. 128 ISSN 0267-7059 & ISBN 1 85637 339 8 An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance, 25 Chapter Chambers, Esterbrooke Street, London SW1P 4NN, England. (c) 1996: Libertarian Alliance; Robin Ramsay This publication is the text of a lecture delivered to 'Unconvention 96', which was organised by the 'Fortean Times', at the Institute of Education, London, April 20th 1996. Robin Ramsay is the editor and publisher of 'Lobster'. he is co-author of 'Wilson and the Secret State' (Fourth estate, London, 1991) and has written widely for the radical media The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers. LA Director: Chris R. Tame Editorial Director: Brian Micklethwait FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY
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