An Erratic Orbit

A bipolar perspective on the 3rd planet


The Media

How To Avoid Fake News, Propaganda, And Downright Nonsense: 5. Conspiracy Theories. A Socialist Perspective.

‘Conspiracy Theory’ is a phrase invented by the CIA to stop people questioning the official version of events.

These are the words of former CIA operative, Steven Julius Bakerfield, regarding his department’s attempts in the 1960s to frustrate all independent investigations into the assassination of JFK.

SJ Bakerfield in 1968

Although some of us are more wary than others, we are all programmed to believe what we are told (and so what we read). Unless there is something that raises our suspicions the default is to think the other person is telling the truth. This makes sense. Too much paranoia isn’t just physically unhealthy, most of the time people do actually tell the truth, or at least what they think is the truth, so paranoia tends to leave us isolated from, not closer to, reality.

Image from

This is why, if you didn’t know that the quote that starts the article is a deliberate lie, you most likely believed it. You might have even seen it before. Yet it is not true. Not in the slightest. I made up the name Steven Julius Bakerfield too.

I hope you forgive me. I wanted to drive home the important starting point that gullible IS in the dictionary and it can be applied to anyone, at times. If you are aware that you, like all humans, are fairly easy to fool, then you are already on the way to being one of the least easy to fool.

Dictionary entry for

Conspiracy theories are much older than the 60s and are identifiable products of certain ways of thinking.

Firstly, our amazing ability to see and indeed create patterns. So, you can probably think of something to link Microsoft and dragons, although there is no real world link. For example, dragons are huge powerful creatures who hoard great wealth. That just came to my mind.

Secondly, a tendency to think that big events must have big causes. If the President is shot, the reason must be a huge story to do with the Russians and the Mafia, right? The Russians and the Mafia are part of the background after all, they MUST be the reason. But why, when you think about it? Because we think big events must have big causes. But sometimes they don’t. One man shot John Lennon. One man probably came up with the plan to shoot JFK and carried it out. (I’m not saying he wasn’t a terrorist. Terrorists can act alone and they are still terrorists). We think that it can’t just be about one person because we are looking to make sense of the world. If one person can cause such shockwaves, that’s scary. It’s also true. Sometimes one person can.

A Socialist does have the tools to make sense of this. Though we cannot control the world, we can have the understanding that small causes – Timothy McVeigh, Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Manson, or even an ISIS cell – are also symptoms. They are signs of the socio-historical forces that influence us all. The Cold War DID contribute to killing JFK, after all, and Jack Ruby WAS influenced by the Mafia. Not directly, most probably. Not in opposition to patriotic motives. One can see how, though, that an organisation exploiting working class deference (and the Mafia, for all intimidation, can’t function without exploiting working class deference) and operating as its own (self-interested) police force could influence Jack Ruby. Individuals can be canaries, their motivations a pocket of concentration of widespread anxieties, showing us little images of the waves and echoes of history at work in a localised sense. Even Donald Trump is a symptom. The forces that installed him are more important than his venality, low cunning, narcissism, disinterest, lack of concentration. Hyperconsumerism (eg Reality TV), alienation, white power, cronyism and various effects of late capitalism are the Why of Trump. Trump’s personality reflects what Capitalism is doing to us as a people.

So there are big causes but they are NOT, most often are not, the deliberate and convoluted plans of vast secretive networks. If something happens that shocks us, the Socialist analysis is not to assume “it can’t be like that” but to look at why it might be like that. It can be that “senseless shootings” happen in American schools. Yet they do make sense in the context of a seam of thinking that runs throughout US history and is perhaps best encapsulated by Ayn Rand. The extreme tiny-state libertarianism of the wealthy US elites is a way of securing their future at the expense of the less powerful. They sell this ‘dream that can become reality for You’ as “Freedom”, but of course it is “might makes right”. Those who own not just the means of production but the means of mass militarisation tell the people that their puny militias of one are the means of liberation. Yet they are ultimately the means of subjugation. The alienation that results does makes sense. You don’t even have to be poor for the dream not to come true. As long as you’re not a square chinned industrialist, you’ve failed. Now this facet of alienation is only a partial explanation of school shootings but there’s a brutal sense here, not a world that is so outside comprehension that tragedies must be staged by crisis actors.

The conspiracy theory is itself only allowed to flourish through alienation. Once we can find a way to accept that awful things happen, or that those who oppose the right/West are often not progressive, or that the Russian Revolution was usurped and went sour, or specifically that ANY Socialism in Russia died a good two decades ago, that the world isn’t fairy tale simple so sometimes even Tory governments tell the truth, or that there might be some nuance regarding the BBC, then we are starting to be Socialist commentators. Only then do we need to bear in mind that “false flags happen” and the like. That is, we understand not only are they rare but we are now beginning to have the tools to engage with such complexity. Before that we are cowering at the messiness of the world and refusing to see it as it is.


Further reading on the etymology of “Conspiracy theory”:


Part 4

Back to the beginning


Brexit Means Ubik

Brexit: The universal salve? The universal corrosive? The universal package of all desires, all hopes, and all nightmares?

Its meaning changes constantly, the slipperiest of eels, because

–  “We” do not have control

–  “We” will not have control

–  No-one yet knows what it will look like

–  It will be hard on some

–  It will be soft on others 

–  It is hope of freedom but it will not give the ordinary people who voted (for or against it) any more power

– The UK could end up with a relationship like Norway (outside the EU but access to the single market)  or like Kenya

– It’s partly a rejection of Thatcherism by people who have admiration, or at least respect, for Thatcher

– It’s the face of an ideology almost everyone wants to escape from, but most people don’t know what that is. And Brexit might make us *more* vulnerable to its vicissitudes

– The referendum result broadly expressed two contradictory desires:  Nationalism and Anarchy

– The PLP are hung up on scapegoating

– The PCP are hung up on power

Brexit. Available Now! A Fantastic Opportunity! The Rejuvenation Or Death Of Neoliberalism.

On The Psychology Of The Centrists

​In the twenty-first century, as society becomes ever more complex, so conservatism, born of  a normalising instinct that evolved in small groups, goes into overdrive. Compliance becomes an acceptable goal. Then, Assimilation.

The political “centre”, a self-reinforcing coterie of sheltered and often awkward socially liberal elites, attempt to accommodate everything that has given them their advantages. This includes the very worst of capitalism. 

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

The attempt to encompass all they know, to reconcile the oppressive with their socially liberal attitudes, they interpret as “realistic”. After all, living with these tensions is especially real to them. 

Interventionism, being a political “reality” (or, behind the screen, a continuation from colonialism) is justified with falsehoods, from fabricated evidence to the rhetorical appropriation of Socialist principles. The centrists even begin to pander to the racism of the voters they have lost to the right, always convinced that triangulation keeps them on course between two sirens. As suits, they can look to the right and feel ethical, or to the left and feel “in touch with the public.”

They defend, or ignore, the indefensible. They justify atrocities as “pragmatism”. They have the contempt of the left for their lack of principles, their hypocrisy, their authoritarianism, and – ever more- their silence. The public hates them for their hypocrisy and their failures. They must fail after not too long, because the containment of capitalistic excess through appeasement is not achievable: They flatter themselves that they have influence through their alliances with the powerful and unscrupulous. It is they who are corrupted.

The lesser lights, at least, are aware that the centrist faction is both reactionary and at the mercy of bullies. They say to themselves that they are flexible, cognisant of political complexity, when in fact the constant turning of their heads ensures they allow the plight of the vulnerable to worsen in the long term. 

“If only we still had power” they say, unaware that their self-interest and lack of integrity can justify anything and will always lead to rejection. 

“I believe I did the right thing.” The narcissist’s excuse. As if faith and self-justification were morally relevant. 

And for the pleasers, who will always find themselves in the centre with sore necks: deep down, they don’t want too much to change. To be a part of the heady club prevents them facing their awkwardness. The cowardice behind their complicity is hidden from them. They fit in, after a fashion. They even have a little power. 

I see them as a grotesque magnification of tensions that of course we have to face on the left. How much are we ourselves prepared to let go of? Where and when we do need to step aside? 

The algorithmist – It’s a Facebook Thing

Try giving this post the angry emoticon. Unless you are a breastfeeding keep your tits in Hitler was right about one thing. British values. Poor Jayda. Can’t stand em. moslems moslems moslems do you have to do it in public? Breast milk is free. You sell baby food. From the industrial revolution to good old Maggie sinking the Belgrano and beyond lefty scum wining bloody remoaners, tits have gone out of fashion. Not Civilised. Get back in the kitchen. 1950s was the time. Good old keep em in your blouse no blacks and buy Buy Buy babyfood.

Then the Krays. In my day we was safer. Two fifties and straight to the seventies. Proper gentlemen, rape your arse, and change for five bob. Oi that’s my watch. But I bought-

Crackle crackle burning flesh.

Counterculture and feminism bloody feminism. Cultural Marxism more like. What’s all these breastfeeding articles and Marxism crap in me feed. Feed me mama. Behold the rise of the human billboard. That’s you mate. Breast milk is free. Keep yer tits in.

Advertising shits in your head

The new ellipsis moslems moslems moslems

You are free to sell baby food, to eat baby food, only what baby likes. Don’t like this.

Why do you think that? You don’t. think

you’re so clever and classless and free

admit it you fucked up. When will you accept yourself. Smart animal not as smart as he thinks. In the instructions go. Out the advert comes. Baby food.

Breast milk is free. You will shit babyfood adverts. You’re so free. You’ve taken back control. This is Control. We can’t market breast milk. You hate breastfeeding in public. Puts you off your baby food.

Sweet dreams John, Mike, Bill, Adam, Brian, Hal, Steve, Dave.

Johnboard. Mikeboard. Poor Bill. Sweet dreams.

Arbeit Macht Frei. My little human billboards. And not forgetting the indignant Lexiteers. 

This post sponsored by the sickly dream that brown sugary fizzwater makes you happy:

Theresa May Tells Aliens: “Buy British” 

It’s no secret the UK is looking to expand trade with markets beyond Europe. Today, the PM welcomed media reports of the discovery of 234 alien civilisations, and was keen to talk up the merits of Digestive Biscuits and Cheddar. 

“Civil servants have drawn up a list of British goods the aliens will want to import.” Mrs May announced at a hastily arranged press conference. 

ET the alien with glowing finger
Brexit… Ouch! (

In addition to our biscuits and cheese, it is believed the aliens will be lacking in anything resembling Viz and Fox’s Glacier Mints. 

The greatest barriers to trade are the long distances to the stars and the high prior probability of a natural explanation for the signals. 

Alien grey
“Rumours of my existence have been greatly exaggerated” (image: LeCire)

Theresa May dismissed the distance problem as “a technicality. We can sort that out by sending them some of our faster than light neutrinos.” 

A senior government source revealed there is nonetheless more optimism in the cabinet regarding these new opportunities than there is for negotiations with the EU. 

Rupert Stole Your Soul

I’ll let the The Artist Taxi Driver explain. Simply, brilliantly. 

A Handy Ranking Of Offensive Words

Words relating to disability were only seen as mild or medium

Notes on an apparatus

Please help me. I’m trapped in a cult.  It’s an amusing and horrifying experience. Will you let me tell you about it?

I am no-one and vulnerable. The lowest bug. I want to open up my wings and fly away but the cult won’t allow that to happen. I see boots. Many boots. Everyone wants to wear the boots. Marching, marching, safety in numbers, organised rows and columns, profit and prophet, up and down the Mall, up Whitehall, turning left as one great creature to salute Mickey Mouse, our glorious leader, eyes forward, forward march into Picadilly Circus. And that’s where it really gets scary.

I try to talk to people about the cult. They shrink away from me. In truth I am monstrous. In truth I am tiny. My eyes are set in purplish blotches, dark in the dark. My stare is intense. Male gaze.

I am dissent. Put on the boots. I am six foot two, a large leer of a man. I totter and weave through the columns and rows, I skittle chairs in the bar, trying to squeeze by, pushing through the mass of covered flesh and sharp bones, a breathing bony slug, chattering, two hundred fanlike attachments, chitin hard they rise from the slimy dermis, the creature bristling, then clatter against each other, clackaclack, harsh wave of annoyance, as a succession of lines descends the wooden staircase all-at-once and the mass settle, out of time.

The bell. A Pavlovian device. Does it stimulate thirst? The first bell? The second? No need to think about it. Twenty minutes and glasses please. Clinkaclink, all-at-once.

The stragglers disperse. No-one hears boots. I hear boots. Tottering, weaving. Tomorrow they take up their places. There is nothing to be frightened of. Man is a farce. And any woman who would aspire to be like us. I don’t mean the organs, the appearance, I mean the essence of the cult. The cult has no essence. Oh a powerful woman must take on the trappings, as Solomon Perel wore the garments of the Hitler Youth. Yet if women who wear the uniform would replicate Mankind, they will fail miserably. It is not that women are or must be the gentler sex. It is simply that there are many millions, all along the gender spectrum, who can threaten, use violence, rise tall, toss a grenade. But to dismantle the patriarchy? Create anew.

What is the cult? Oh yes, the cult of fear. I’m going to make a cup of tea.

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