Monday, March 4, 2024

Peter Dale Scott: Conspiracy Politics


Peter Dale Scott: Conspiracy Politics

Peter Schultz


                  For Peter Dale Scott, the question is: “To what extent has our visible political establishment become one regulated by forces operating outside the constitutional process, rather than through it?”


                  Scott offers this question to offset the more common view that external forces, foreign forces such as Cubans or communists – like Lee Harvey Oswald – assassinated JFK. For Scott, the assassins are insiders, although they are operating as constitutional outsiders. These assassins could be some in the CIA, the military, or some in organized criminal groups, or some combination thereof. Such a possibility may then be said to engage in extra-ordinary politics or what Scott labels “deep politics.” Ordinary politics occurs through constitutional processes, the implication being that ordinary politics are constitutional politics and, hence, aren’t conspiratorial.


                  But this seems a bit of a stretch insofar as ordinary politics, constitutional politics is often conspiratorial, and taken as legitimately so. Consider the charge that Nixon and his campaign conspired to thwart LBJ’s attempt to get peace negotiations started immediately before the 1968 presidential election. LBJ had evidence that this had happened and confronted Nixon with that evidence. Nixon, of course, denied the charges and promised that he would stop it were it to occur. This implies that conspiratorial politics is thought to be illegitimate and, hence, is practiced as “deep politics.” But LBJ’s actions were not viewed, even by Nixon, as illegitimate even though he was trying to control the outcome of the election by surreptitious means, by pretending to want peace negotiations when his real motive, his secret motive, his conspiratorial motive was to throw the election to Humphrey. So, in fact, both LBJ and Nixon were being conspiratorial, practicing conspiratorial politics.


                  So, conspiratorial politics may be practiced through constitutional processes and are considered legitimate. No one doubts, for example, the legitimacy of “dirty tricks” during campaigns no matter how much they may be criticized as unfair. That is, no one doubts the legitimacy of acting conspiratorially in order to win an election. That is one reason it happens so often. In fact, our elections are defined by, inundated with such conspiracies, and very few politicians have hesitated running conspiratorial campaigns in order to win elections.


                  What’s the point? Simply that Scott’s concept of “deep politics” makes it appear that American politics consists of apocalyptic battles between visible, constitutional forces – the “good guys” – and invisible, secret, or “deep” forces – the “bad guys.” Conspiratorial forces practice “deep politics,” whereas constitutional politicians practice visible politics, i.e., legitimate politics. And so, according to Scott, when one of America’s “recurring suspicious political crises” occurs, it is necessary to dig deep in order to expose the conspirators and their conspiracies.


                  But insofar as conspiracies are considered legitimate and occur regularly, there is no need to recur the idea of “deep politics” to explain political events. Conspiracies do not indicate the existence of “deep politics,” ala’ Scott. As they often are indications of ordinary politics, there is no need to treat them as mysterious or even suspicious. As General Giap said to Robert McNamara when they came together, with others, to discover how the tragedy of the Vietnam war happened, no discovery was necessary. As Giap said, the war occurred because of American imperialism. Without that imperialism and the conspiracies it gave rise to, there would have been no war. And, similarly, once you entertain the possibility that conspiracies are to politics what sex is to lust, then the assassination of JFK becomes much less mysterious. He was deemed by some to be a threat to the national security of the United States and, hence, had to be dealt with one way or another. His enemies could not take the chance he would be defeated for re-election in 1964, after which he would be free – or freer – to take on the nation’s Cold War mentality and its blind anti-communism, as well as the military-industrial complex along with the CIA.


                  Watergate and Nixon’s demise might be explained in the same way as Nixon, after his landslide victory in 1972, had promised he would go all out for change in his second term. And Nixon made his removal easier than it should have been, as he recognized himself in his farewell remarks when he said that hating your enemies was self-destructive. He knew what had happened because he had been so conspiratorial himself. He knew he had been done in by constitutionally legitimate but none the less conspiratorial politics. 



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