An excursion in conspiraloonacy

As you might well imagine, the fallout from last week’s attempt to silence Harry’s Place is rattling on nicely and it seems that not only does one of the principle characters, Jenna Delich, have a bit of previously undisclosed form when it comes to circulating links to material written by known conspiraloons but further inquiries into the provenance of the original article which Delich found on David Duke’s website author, Joe Quinn, have proven to be a veritable goldmine of evasive pseudologic and trenchant wingnuttery, prompting David T to the observation that:

It seems to me that what Quinn is doing is crystal-clear. He is recycling and promoting long standing ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ theories about Jewish control of other countries and simply applying them, wholesale, to ‘Israeli oligarchs’, Zionists, and Israel itself.

In a betimes hilarious but deeply disturbing follow-up on SOTTs website, which has yet to come to HPs attention, Quinn sets out what is for the most part an unintentionally funny e-mail exchange with a rather persistent character by the name of ‘Angus’ who, it has to be said, is far from the most incisive inquisitor I’ve ever seen but who, by no more than sheer bloody-mindedness, succeeded in drawing Quinn into making explicit the opinions of one of SOTTs owners, major contributors and co-author (with Quinn) of a book entited ‘9-11: The Ultimate Truth’, Laura Knight-Jadczyk, as they relate to this notorious antiSemitic hoax.

The trigger for this passage is Angus’s assertion that Knight-Jadcyzk is an antiSemite, which Quinn initially tries to blow off with a simple ‘I hadn’t noticed’, but when pressed further about comments which appear in ‘9-11: The Ultimate Truth’, Quinn offers up this commentary:

Again you are twisting the data, taking it out of context in order to suit your own prejudices. You must hate the truth. Is that so? The “protocols of Zion” are referenced twice in the book. The first is:

“It was after the full horrors of Nazi Germany had been revealed that Western Christianity realized that promoting anti-Semitism, à la The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, could be seen as sympathizing with the Nazis. So, those fundamentalists who were blatantly anti-Semitic backed up and regrouped.”

Which is, on the face of it, not that unreasonable an interpretation of events and fairly consistent with a number of contemporary political commentaries written during and after WWII, including Orwell’s ‘AntiSemitism in Britain’, all of which suggest that the association with Naziism did serve to sensitise many people to the evils of anti-Semitism. What follows, however, entirely beggars belief…

The second is an editors footnote:

“Ed. Note: The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is now well known to have been a hoax attributed to Jews. They could more accurately be called “The Protocols of the Pathocrats”. However the contents of the Protocols are clearly not “hoaxed ideas” since a reasonable assessment of the events in the United States over the past 50 years or so gives ample evidence of the application of these Protocols in order to bring about the current neocon administration. Anyone who wishes to understand what has happened in the U.S. only needs to read the Protocols to understand that some group of deviant individuals took them to heart. The document, “Project For A New American Century”, produced by the neoconservatives, expresses the same spirit as the Protocols.”

Let’s tackle this, and to kick things off we need to explain this whole business of ‘Pathocrats’, a term which exists only in the work of a Polish psychologist, Andrew Lobaczewski, which relates to the study of what he calls ‘Ponerology‘ – and Ponerology is…

Well, let’s do a quick compare and contrast between two different sources, which should clue you in on what were dealing with here. According to Wikipedia, Ponerology is…

…the name given by Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Lobaczewski to an interdisciplinary study of the causes of periods of social injustice. This discipline makes use of data from psychology, psychopathology, sociology, philosophy, and history to account for such phenomena as aggressive war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and police states. The original theory and research was conducted by psychologists and psychiatrists working in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary in the years before the institution of Communism such as Kazimierz Dąbrowski and Stefan Blachowski.

None of which sounds too unreasonable, even if seems to be a bit of a reach to be giving the study of war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc. a name and indentity all of its own. However, when we come to Lobaczewski’s own description of Ponerology, as sourced from Ponerology.com, we find this rather illuminating description:

“In the author’s opinion, Ponerology reveals itself to be a new branch of science born out of historical need and the most recent accomplishments of medicine and psychology. In light of objective naturalistic language, it studies the causal components and processes of the genesis of evil, regardless of the latter’s social scope. We may attempt to analyze these ponerogenic processes which have given rise to human injustice, armed with proper knowledge, particularly in the area of psychopathology. Again and again, as the reader will discover, in such a study, we meet with the effects of pathological factors whose carriers are people characterized by some degree of various psychological deviations or defects.”

‘Ponerology’ is (supposedly) the scientific study of evil, a concept that, if you actually understand what science is, you’ll immediately recognise as an oxymoron. What science investigates and studies it the natural world and natural phenomena and not metaphysical concepts such as ‘evil’ – for that you have to turn to philosophy.

Ponerology is yet another brand of pseudoscience and it carries with it all the usual trappings of pseudoscience, from its fundamentally flawed premise, to its undifferentiated mix and match of use of established clinical terminology and meaningless neologisms to the claim that it constitutes a whole new branch of science in its own right.

In the canon of psychological pseudoscience it sits somewhere between new age bullshit ideas like ‘rebirthing’ and ‘primal therapy’ and heavy duty cultish mindfuck stuff like dianetics and, as such, one might be easily tempted to simply write it off as nothing more than a bit of moderately harmless psycho-woo were it not for the fact that its central premise encompasses what is a genuinely dangerous concept:

PSYCHOPATHY: THE CAUSE OF EVIL

Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world.

The scope of evil does not respect any boundaries of race, doctrine, or ideology. All races carry the genes, and all schools of thought are susceptible to their influence. These pathological factors that influence behaviour form a complex web. It is only in such a web that the “environmental evil” wherein circumstances can influence a normal person to commit harmful acts can be understood.

Popular culture commonly and, to some extent, understandably equates psychopathic disorders with the metaphysical concept of evil much as schizophrenia and other related disorders were, before the development of psychology as a scientific discipline, commonly viewed as a form of supernatural ‘possession’. but this, in no sense, validates the use of religious metaphors in a diagnostic or therapeutic context or mark them out as concepts that merit scientific study. Psychopathy is a specific psychological construct associated with a particular set of behavioural characteristics and personality traits many of which would not be considered to be ‘evil’ in and of themselves but which may cause an individual to behave in ways that many would characterise as ‘evil’.

Not everything that is psychopathic is necessarily evil nor is everything that is evil necessarily psychopathic.

The concept of ‘biological evil’ is similarly flawed.

For all that there is some evidence of personality traits and behaviours associated with psychopathy being observed in individuals who have suffered brain injury where no such behaviours/traits were evident prior to the injury occurring and epidemiological evidence to show, as with schizophrenia, that the presence of a psychopathy-related disorder in a close family member and, in particular, a parent may leave an individual at an increased risk of developing such a disorder themselves, both of which suggest that biology has a part of play in psychopathy and its associated disorder, there is also evidence from adoption studies which shows that the environmental factors also have their part to play in the development of such disorders.

In other words, we don’t know precisely what causes psychopathic disorders but what we do know is both genetic and environmental factors have some part to play and that whatever the precise mechanisms that underpin the development of psychopathy are there are in so sense as crude or simplistic in operation as the term ‘biological evil’ might seem to suggest.

Lobaczewski’s biological theory of evil is no more credible than the biological theory of race that was prevalent during the 1930s and which played its part in animating the Nazi’s theories of Aryan superiority and their interesting in eugenics. Indeed, the fact that his original work on his so-called ‘science’ of Ponerology strongly suggests that his ideas on ‘biological evil’ are derived from the same flawed rootstock as the biological theory of race, which has, of course, long since discredited and debunked as our understanding of genetics has developed in the wake of Crick and Watson’s discovery of DNA.

So what we have here is not just any old pseudo-scientific psycho-woo but a distant cousin of the discredited theory of racial genetics that caused so many problems during the 1930s and 40s, one that would present little reason for concern were it not for Lobaczewski and his supporters making the following mental ‘leap’ forward from his theory of biological evil…

The ultimate cause of evil lies in the interaction of two human factors: 1) normal human ignorance and weakness and 2) the existence and action of a statistically small (4-8% of the general population) but extremely active group of psychologically deviant individuals. The ignorance of the existence of such psychological differences is the first criterion of ponerogenesis. That is, such ignorance creates an opening whereby such individuals can act undetected.

The presence of such “disease” on the individual level is described in the Almost Human section of this website. However, depending on the type of activity of psychopathic and characteropathic individuals, evil can manifest on any societal level. The greater the scope of the psychopath’s influence, the greater harm done. Thus any group of humans can be infected or “ponerized” by their influence. From families, clubs, churches, businesses, and corporations, to entire nations. The most extreme form of such macrosocial evil is called “pathocracy”.

Every good global conspiracy theory needs its secret cabal who’ve either already taken over the world and are secret running the whole show or who are plotting to take over the world. Some think its the Bilderbergers, some the Illuminati or the Freemasons or, of course, the Jews (who may even be, or secretly be behind, the Bilderbergers, Freemasons and/or Illuminati) and there are also, of course, those who think ‘V’ was a fucking drama documentary and that we’re all living on a world run by alien lizard people.

‘Pathocracy’ and ‘Pathocrats’ are, consequently, no more than Lobaczewski’s personal variation on a general and well-worn theme which was described, most aptly, by H L Mencken, in the following terms:

The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy.

While, in somewhat more academic terms, Berlet and Lyons observed that:

Conspiracism is a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm.

Yep, the world is secretly being run by biologically evil ‘almost human’ psychopaths and if you think that’s bullshit then you must obviously be one of them, as Quinn happily pointed out in response to Angus’s persistent questioning…

In the end, perhaps the best description of the type of “logic” used by Angus is found in Andrew Lobaczewski’s Political Ponerology:

Schizoid [psychopath] characters aim to impose their own conceptual world upon other people or social groups, using relatively controlled pathological egotism and the exceptional tenacity derived from their persistent nature. They are thus eventually able to overpower another individual’s personality, which causes the latter’s behavior to turn desperately illogical.

They may also exert a similar influence upon the group of people they have joined. They are psychological loners who feel better in some human organization, wherein they become zealots for some ideology, religious bigots, materialists, or adherents of an ideology with satanic features. If their activities consist of direct contact on a small social scale, their acquaintances easily perceive them to be eccentric, which limits their ponerogenic role. However, if they manage to hide their own personality behind the written word, their influence may poison the minds of society in a wide scale and for a long time.

The definiton of ‘Paramoralism’ is also a perfect description of Angus’ mentality:

From Enpsychopedia:

Paramoralism is a technique used by psychopaths and other pathological individuals to direct normal human behavior in a direction of their choice. It can take the form of verbal epithets which carry a special flavor of suggestion implying the target’s “otherness” (e.g. “witch”, “heretic”, “traitor”, “terrorist”, “Communist”, “Capitalist”, “Nazi”, “Fascist”, even “psychopath”). These are used on political opponents and other dissidents whose voice would otherwise bring attention to the pathological nature of the system which must make use of such epithets.

And if you’re in any doubt as to the identity of these almost human psychopaths who’re running the world then…

As is the case with the Neoconservative ponerogenic union’s ostensible “unitary executive” George W. Bush, group propaganda maintains the erroneous overestimation of the ‘leader’s’ real power. This leader “is dependent upon the interests of the union, especially the elite initiates, to an extent greater than he himself knows. He wages a constant position-jockeying battle; he is an actor with a director. In macrosocial unions, this position is generally occupied by a more representative individual not deprived of certain critical faculties; initiating him into all those plans and criminal calculations would be counterproductive. In conjunction with part of the elite, a group of psychopathic individuals hiding behind the scenes steers the leader, the way Borman and his clique steered Hitler. If the leader does not fulfill his assigned role, he generally knows that the clique representing the elite of the union is in a position to kill or otherwise remove him.” In such a manner, George W. Bush is steered and controlled by a group of psychopathic advisors: Richard Perle to name but one.

Which is how we get neatly from the encapsulation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into Quinn’s pet conspiracy theory as the ‘Protocols of the Pathocrats’ to the assertion that:

…the contents of the Protocols are clearly not “hoaxed ideas” since a reasonable assessment of the events in the United States over the past 50 years or so gives ample evidence of the application of these Protocols in order to bring about the current neocon administration. Anyone who wishes to understand what has happened in the U.S. only needs to read the Protocols to understand that some group of deviant individuals took them to heart. The document, “Project For A New American Century”, produced by the neoconservatives, expresses the same spirit as the Protocols.

And, naturally, the Neo-Cons are best buddies with the Zionists and we come full circle to the idea that its the Jews who’re secretly trying to take over the world because, after all…

George W. Bush is steered and controlled by a group of psychopathic advisors: Richard Perle to name but one.

And Richard Perle is…

… a Jew.

Only, don’t tell Quinn I told you that – he’ll only add me to his personal list of almost human psychopaths who’re secretly agents of the New World Order and the Zionist Occupation Government.

It’s taken us a while to get there and the route has been something of a circuitous one what you’ve hopefully learned here is, for all his evasions and denials, its apparent that Quinn is, as David T suggests, merely ‘recycling and promoting long standing ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ theories about Jewish control of other countries’ albeit in a circuitious form which lends itself neatly to a deeply ingrained form of self-deception/delusion.

Quinn, it would seem, genuinely believes that neither he nor anyone else associated with SOTT is anti-Semitic even if, at times, the evasions he uses to sustain that belief stretch credulity to breaking point.., and nowhere more so than in this part of his exchange with Angus.

Angus:

7. You wholeheartedly endorse a book which runs along these lines;

‘In every other respect [The Protocols] is of inestimable importance, for it is shown by the conclusive test (that of subsequent events) to be an authentic document of the world-conspiracy first disclosed by Weishaupt’s papers. Many other documents in the same series had followed that first revelation, as I have shown, but this one transcends all of them. The others were fragmentary and gave glimpses; this one gives the entire picture of the conspiracy, motive, method and objective. It adds nothing new to what had been revealed in parts (save for the unproven, attribution to Jewish elders themselves), but it puts all the parts in place and exposes the whole. It accurately depicts all that has come about in the fifty years since it was published, and what clearly will follow in the next fifty years unless in that time the force which the conspiracy has generated produces the counter-force.”

Quinn:

Angus is referencing Douglas Reed’s book “Controversy of Zion.” I challenge anyone to read it and find proof in there that Reed was anti-semitic. He wasn’t. He exposed the history of Zionism with great sympathy for the masses of Jews, most of whom were opposed to Zionism. Until, of course, those opposed were eliminated in the Nazi gas chambers. All six million (or more) of them.

What Angus is actually pointing out is that Douglas Reed, whose Times obituary openly described him as a ‘virulent anti-Semite’, was quite clearly taken in completely by the hoax ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ and considered it to be absolute proof of the existence of a global Zionist conspiracy – but this is hardly news at all as Reed, despite turning on Hitler an opposing the policy of appeasement after recognising him as a megalomaniac, also has the dubious distinction – with Oswald Mosley, of being one of the earliest ‘Holocaust deniers’. He, like Mosley, openly denied in his writings that the Nazis were persecuting Jews, a point forcefully made by George Orwell in his 1943 review of Reed’s ‘Lest We Forget’.

However, Quinn’s personal exoneration of Reed is as nothing when compared to the statement that follows…

He exposed the history of Zionism with great sympathy for the masses of Jews, most of whom were opposed to Zionism. Until, of course, those opposed were eliminated in the Nazi gas chambers. All six million (or more) of them.

What Quinn is referring to here is Lenni Brenner’s claim that during the 1930s, a number of Zionist political organisations ‘collaborated’ with the Nazis, all of which sounds pretty damning, particularly as Brenner has produced documentary evidence to support his claims… until you do a bit a bit of reading and realise that what Brenner has uncovered has everything to do with these organisations playing realpolitik during a period before it became apparent what the Nazi’s real intentions were and absolutely fuck all to do the Holocaust.

Between 1993 and 1937, or so, the German Zionist Federation and other Zionist organisations tried to cut deals with the Nazis in order to advance their political interests in Europe and move them towards their ultimate objective, the creation of Jewish state in Palestine – it seems they figured that they were gettng nowhere fast with the British, despite the Balfour Declaration, a decided to try and cut a deal or two with the new guy on the political block, Adolf Hitler, in the hope that he might be a bit more forthcoming…

…and that, with the benefit of hindsight, makes them a bunch of suckers.

What we’re talking about here is, perhaps, best illustrated by this extract from a secret memo sent by the German Zionist Federation to the Nazi Party, in which you can quite easily see how and why the got it wrong:

“Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition. Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend, symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear, which it seeks to overcome by carrying out its challenge to transform Jewish life completely.

“It is our opinion that an answer to the Jewish question truly satisfying to the national state can be brought about only with the collaboration of the Jewish movement that aims at a social, cultural and moral renewal of Jewry–indeed, that such a national renewal must first create the decisive social and spiritual premises for all solutions.

“Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group. For the Jew, too, origin, religion, community of fate and group consciousness must be of decisive significance in the shaping of his life. This means that the egotistic individualism which arose in the liberal era must be overcome by public spiritedness and by willingness to accept responsibility.”

Zionism was, and is, a nationalist political movement and embodies all the primary characteristics of such movements. so its make perfect sense that when it runs across some else who appears to be talking in much the same political terms about their own people, which in this case was Hitler but, during that same period, could just as easily have been Mussolini or Ataturk or even Gandhi, who was also a nationalist albeit very different in personal character to the others.

Brenner paints a picture of the Zionist movement of the 30’s, and of number of key figures who would go on to play a pivotal role in the founding of Israel and its subsequent development and government as a bunch of unprincipled political opportunists who’d have happily cut a deal with the Old Nick to advance their objectives and who went on rewrite a history in order to conceal some of their less salubrious activities and associations in order to cover their arses and give the State of Israel a relatively clean and easily digestible national ‘myth’, all of which sounds a bit morally dubious but is, in the long run of history, no more than par for the course. Let’s not forget that the US Declaration of Independence, which solumnly pronounces that it’s self-evident that all men are created equal was written by Jefferson, who owned slaves and therefore, quite obviously, failed to put this particularly fine-sounding sentiment into practice, the House of Saud were, at one time, not much more than a bunch of brigands and Richard the First of England, who is generally considered to be an iconic figure in England’s national myth spoke no English at all, spent next to fuck all in the the country during his entire reign and was a rabid anti-Semite in whose documents one finds the earliest documentary reference to the use of the word ‘holocaust’ to describe the systematic persecution of Jews.

National myths, of the kind on which a sense of national identity tend to be founded, uniformly incorporate their fair share of bullshit, lies and deliberate omissions – that there’s direct documentary evidence of this in relation to the State of Israel merely demonstrates that they following an already well-worn path and this is all a bone of political contention only because the circumstances in which Israel came into existence led to the creation of two contending national myths amongst two different populations each of which seeks to lay claim to the same patch of ground.

Israel has its national myth and the Palestinians have theirs and the objective truth, such as compenents of it might still be discoverable, almost certainly lies somewhere in between and definitely has no bearing whatsoever on the presumed legitimacy of the expressed aspirations of either side.

Brenner’s work doesn’t particularly alter anything so far as the contemporary political situation in the region is concerned and, getting back to Quinn’s, it certainly doesn’t offer any support whatsoever to his apparent claim that…

…those [Jews] opposed [to Zionism] were eliminated in the Nazi gas chambers. All six million (or more) of them…

That’s not only a load of bollocks but a pretty blatant recycling of the blood libel that has been used to incite and justify the persecution of Jews since the first century AD.

And to emphasis the point here – which is that Quinn is blatantly peddling anti-Semitic screed no matter how much he prefers to kid himself that he isn’t – he continues on from the suggestion that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order exterminate anti-Zionist Jews by trying to co-opt the work of Hannah Arendt in to his already perverse thesis.

Meanwhile, as Hannah Arendt reports in her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” many criminal Jews were saved and sent to Israel to become the “founding fathers.”

Arendt’s commentary on the Eichmann trial certainly rubbed a few people up the wrong way in the manner in which she, quite correctly identified the utter banality of Eichmann’s expressed motives in his role in the Holocaust, which strongly echoed the testimony given by Albert Speer at Nuremburg but, in doing so, also argued not only that Eichmann was not a psychopath but that he was not even an anti-Semite.

Arendt’s characterisation of Eichmann has not gone unchallenged, not least by David Ceserani who, in his 2006 book, upbraided Arendt for what he sees as her incorporating her own prejudice against Eatern European Jews – Arendt was a German Jew – into her commentary on Eichmann’s trial and, in particular, her criticism of the conduct of the Chief Prosecutor.

Far be it from me to seek to adjudicate on a dispute between two eminent academics but, having read both books, I’m more inclined towards Arendt’s view, not least because this is consistent both with the testimony given by Speer and will what we no know about the psychological dynamics of authority, from the work of Richard Millgram, although I can well appreciate that, on a purely atavistic level, the suggestion that Eichmann was an anti-Semite may be a little easier for some to swallow as it lends an element of comprehensibility to his actions that is otherwise absent if one considers them to be purely a product of the bloodless bureaucratic mindset described by Arendt.

Neither perspective in any sense diminishes the horror of the Holocaust nor Eichmann’s part in it and I would suspect that one’s choice of perspective is likely to depend as much on whether one finds the irrationality of anti-Semitism or the banality of the bureacratic mind, when exercised without regard to the moral characteristics of one’s actions, to be the more disturbing and existential form of horror regardless of the intellectual force of the argument advanced by either.

However, Quinn’s interest in Arendt rests, naturally enough, not in her account of complexities of Eichmann’s character and motives – she did, after all, reject outright the suggestion that Eichmann was a psychopath and, in doing so, fails to provide Quinn with a thesis to suit his belief in ‘Ponerology’, but rather in the unsympathetic and often sarcastic tone with which Arendt referred to Jews, specifically Zionists, who collaborated with the Nazis. As with Brenner, there is nothing in Arendt’s work which would support Quinn’s extrapolation of the political opportunism of parts of the European Zionist movement during the 1930’s into the blood libel which tries to suggest that this misguided period of collaboration led to only non or anti-Zionist jews being murder.

Quinn is simply and illegitimately seeking to distort Arendt’s views in order to suggest that her work provides the authority for his blood libel, which is entirely unsurprising given the evident intellectual dishonesty and self deception that characterises the rest of his work.

While it is certainly possible to advance a critique of Israel and/or political Zionism that is not either predicated on or coloured by anti-Semitism, if that has been Quinn’s intention in his commentaries on ‘The Palestinian Question’ then he has not only failed miserably in that objective but he relying entirely on self-deception if he genuinely thinks otherwise…

…in other words, he’s just your average conspiraloon.