Most conspiracies do not happen in the manner set out in the sensational, influential, wholly fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There is no sinister midnight meeting of eternally scheming characters in an ancient cemetery, where they set out their devilish plans in painstaking detail, assign roles, map out larger strategies for global domination. Most conspiracies happen on a much more subtle level, based on common interests and shared goals.
A powerful group with a particular interest will automatically advocate for that interest, without any need for an actual meeting of principals or any assigning of particular roles — they just pursue identical self-interests simultaneously. Very little systematic coordination is needed. We see this, for example, in the recent return to Gilded Age style tax policy orchestrated by a loose coalition of Republican legislators, an insane chief executive and a small, determined band of billionaire “Libertarians”, corporate “persons” and upwardly mobile multi-millionaires. Many super-wealthy people, and wealthy corporate “persons” made it happen, but it’s hard to call their efforts a conspiracy in the classic sense.
The same thing can happen even within a small group, among people of limited individual power. I’m reminded of this by a personal experience, brought to mind by the recent odd blind cc of an email string from an emotionally challenged person I long considered a close friend. A person I now would not hesitate to punch in the face with the full force of cathartic American violence, that face triggering a hard-earned exception to my deeply held belief in the rightness of Ahimsa.
It was a few years ago, Sekhnet and I were going to take Sekhnet’s then 90 year-old Aunt Lillian to dinner at a great vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Main Street called New Bodai. Shortly before we were to pick up Lillian this friend called to say that he would like to take his daughter to the same restaurant, along with a mutual friend of ours, an angry and bossy woman he had suddenly become close friends with. We told them what time we would be at the restaurant; they countered that they’d like to eat a bit earlier, they were all hungry. We told them how long it would take to pick up Lillian and get to the restaurant. They agreed to meet us at that time.
When we arrived there were several empty plates on the table. They cheerily told us not to worry, they’d ordered the same for us, it was already on its way. We endured a joyless meal, eating dishes we had not ordered, and Lillian was largely ignored during the meal. We split the tab with these two inconsiderate creatures I eventually came to understand I was no longer friends with.
It strikes me now that they had not “conspired” in the classic sense of planning to serve an old lady a plate of warmed over shit by way of throwing down any kind of gauntlet. They had not consciously decided to shit on Sekhnet’s feelings, or her aunt’s, or mine. They were just feeling giddy to have discovered each other, two long-time friends of somebody they were both in the process of actively alienating anyway.
The guy, I learned from his bizarre email string, is in the process of divorcing his longtime wife, Hitler. His sex life with his new girlfriend, he reports, is frustrating and joyless, sad to say. I haven’t heard from the woman since her mother-in-law’s funeral, which I idiotically attended, though it is certain she still publicly whips her hapless husband in the face with the same sickening gusto as always.
If you deeply share interests with somebody, more likely than a plainly laid out plan of attack, all you will need is a nod and a wink to put things in motion. As much as many of the super-wealthy hate Trump, a crude, lying, ill-bred boor, when he abolishes the “Death Tax” and they can give every penny of their fortunes without any tax payment required of their chosen heirs, they will nod quietly, savoring their fleeting taste of immortality.