Friday, December 30, 2011

Plots and True Believers

Plots, conspiracies, oil drilling, research labs, infantry companies and movie crews all are capable of achieving an objective through collective action, but vary considerably on the amount of central direction to do it. Whether facing one or running one, it is important to understand the differences.

Plots imply considerable formal planning covering a large number of details on the part of at least one of the participants, with decisions reached collectively or through manipulation. Most successful plots depend upon a supreme manipulator who can keep the inner secrets to him/herself like a spider in the middle of a web. Because of the vast number of details, long term plots are usually limited to the reign of the supreme plotter and the nature of the plot is the retention of his/her control. Such was the case of Adolph Hitler and
Joe Stalin.

Conspiracies, in the Common Law, do not necessarily require detailed central direction, only common action to an identifiable end. Those involved in a lynch mob, or those involved after the fact can be convicted of conspiracy even if no central plan or agreement has been made so long as the objective is illegal. Theoretically, rush hour traffic is a conspiracy, particularly here in Houston with thousands of illegal speeders invading the central city each day and nationally resulting in annual casualties in excess of the Vietnam War.

There is no word for good conspiracies, but there are numerous examples of collective action for positive ends without central direction. These are often called customs. Christmas shopping and decoration are customs with predictable results. Teenage social prancing within any given community or high school can achieve high degrees of complexity. In the days of “American Graffiti”, “dragging the main” was a ritualized method of mating behavior no less relevant than birds, bees, and bucks. There is a “way” of doing things. Many corporations have an instinctive “way” of doing things that defy central direction developed without central direction.

Giving something back to the community!

Infantry companies and the military in general have highly ritualized methods of making decisions and the military sends its members to formal residential training lasting as much as ten percent of a career soldier’s time to learn it. Houston traffic patterns vary little month to month, but the situation that an infantry unit faces can change radically in seconds which requires rapid and effective delivery of the decision making process even when the key decider has been killed. This is the military “way”, a decision making process independent of objective or motive.

The entertainment industry and the oil exploration business have something in common, a highly developed and intricate business process. The oil exploration industry is a vast conglomerate of independent, sometimes mom and pop, specialized companies like mud companies, mouse hole companies, hot wax companies, hot shot companies and fishing companies each dedicated to one particular slice of the drilling process. A mouse hole company drills the three holes the drilling stems are place when the bit is replaced.

Like drilling, the movie industry is a vast aggregate of small companies and talented individuals who have a specific role in a highly defined work process. Movie production is so defined that there is a specified number of checks that must be written “above and below the line”. Just look at the credits of a movie. That’s advertising and the credit counts in the trade. It’s a long list.

Research labs and intelligence agencies are full of giant egos, manipulative back stabbers, and incredible talent. Fortunately there are some standards of what constitutes professionalism, but mavericks abound. Leading such a mob is like herding cats. Put a plate of food in the room and get out of the way. Or find a chief cat the other cats admire and get out of the way.

While long term plots as the legendary Protocols of Zion, or International Communist Conspiracy, or Corporate-Media Capitalist conspiracy or Islamic terror are not the products of central direction but of custom, collective “ways” of direction which may include a formalized decision making process. There is, most importantly, no snake whose head removal will affect anything anymore than arresting the lead speeder at rush hour, other than a temporary slow down of gawkers. The Zionist "conspiracy" in effect is the custom of hard work and study which in many less energetic communities is seen as a personal threat. The Final Solution had little effect on a culture used to pograms, purges, and persecution.

The current Islamic Jihadi is a compendium of “ways” of doing business including the tribal connectivity of relatives, and the flotsam and jetsam of the various Communist efforts to overthrow capitalism. The Communist system of cells, methods of warfare, infiltration, propaganda, subversion, and deception developed in the Russian, Chinese, and Vietnamese experiences were passed on formally in the Lumumba Institute in Moscow, in Ghaddafi’s desert training camps, teach-ins at Berkeley, and in the mountain vastness of Afghanistan and mingled with various revolutionary dogma to add a flavor of righteousness to bloody business.

Ironically, while the terrorists trained in this network espouse ideological purity, the camps were quite ecumenical regarding ideology. Irish Catholic members of
IRA trained peacefully with Maoist Shining Path, and Islamic members of the Brotherhood. Even Al Qaeda is composed of often opposing views of Islam. And this is the important point, psychology not ideology counts.

This is the central theme of Eric Hoffer’s book “The True Believer” a title which has become a noun. Hoffer was a University of California Professor of Philosophy who never went to school and whose day job was as a Longshoreman on the San Francisco docks. He clearly pointed out that True Believers change sides, as he noted regarding former SS soldiers recruited in the East German Volkspolizei. It is doubly ironic is that Joseph Goebbels greatest achievement in the early Nazi days was to recruit the Communist Red Front into the SA “Brown Shirts”.

The psychology of the True Believer is not ideology or purpose, but rage. A rage most likely derived from a dysfunctional and abusive early family life. Hitler was beaten to an inch of his life by his half Jewish father. Hitler’s revenge was to turn his father’s gravesite into an artillery impact area and by extension the Final Solution. Stalin and Saddam likewise fared poorly from the immediate family male members and were coddled by an over protective mother. Their rage, like the rage expressed by Mohammed Atta drives the
War of Terror which runs on rails of Red rails of Ways of doing business.

And there are lots of very angry folks out there acting out Oedipal rage.