Sometimes a conspiracy theory exposes a conspiracy. Sometimes the conspiracy theory is the conspiracy.
JFK assassination plots are the only conspiracy theories to be widely accepted by the general public. The moon landing filmed in a studio, the Lincoln conspiracy or the World Trade Center being blown up by lasers from outer space never gained much credence because they lacked mainstream backing. Conspiracy theories ordinarily remain on the margins. The JFK theories were too important to the liberals who were really running things to allow them to die out.
There are probably more Americans who could tell you the ins and outs of the "magic bullet" than can recite the Bill of Rights from memory. More books have been sold about the Kennedy assassination than about any of the real government abuses taking place today.
The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination brings with it the usual weighty tomes, speculative articles and nostalgic reminiscing by liberal baby boomers about the utopia that might have been.
John F. Kennedy long ago stopped being a politician and became the collective egotism of a certain type of liberal of a certain age. He had become an unreal figure long before he died, composed of wishes and progressive fantasies, photos with cool celebrities and generational gloating. His death made that unreality permanent, relegating the real man to a Camelot of collective liberal fantasies.
The JFK assassination became a liberal martyrdom in search of a conservative inquisitioner. Oliver Stone's JFK was a laborious effort to connect the martyrdom of a liberal icon to the despicable conservative villains that the narrative of this political theology demanded.
The gnostic elements of martyrdom usually involve the revelation of spirituality in the mortal flesh. But JFK, like Obama, had always been more than mortal, a creature of flashbulbs and film, a messiah of a new generation and a new age. It was his opponents who represented the prosaic materialism of money and steel, three-piece suits and conservatism, who had to be exposed and outed.
For the Kennedy martyrdom to have deep spiritual meaning, it had to have come at the hands of those who represented everything that opposed the values of the Cult of Camelot. And so a vital element of JFK worship, like O.J. Simpsonism had to be the search for the real killers. And like O. J. Simpsonism, the real killer had to be searched for because everyone knew who the real killer was.
Camelot was a messianic age of political transcendence that had been aborted forcing us to live through more cycles of materialistic history. The political messianism of JFK was as doomed as that of Obama or any other liberal savior. Unlike Obama, it conveniently ended in a martyrdom which excused a generation of liberal failures.
The revolution didn't fail. It was murdered. The endless search for the real killers was not done to find them, but to perpetuate the martyrdom myth. The search could never be complete, the conspiracy theories could provide no closure, though the lynching of Nixon, for daring to try and make JFK's liberal legacy work helped put to rest the ghosts of Camelot for many angry liberals.
Most conspiracy theories have two purposes; they make the world seem like an orderly place in which everything happens for a reason and they sell books. The former is another reflection of the death of religion. The search for secret knowledge, a battle between the powers of good and evil for the soul of the world, is secularized and politicized for a materialistic spirituality.
JFK was the martyr of the new America that was being born. That America would be a chaotic place where madmen would do what they pleased, where the planners would fail and anarchy would rub shoulders with tyranny, meaning would be lost and those who pursued it would lose their minds and laugh their insanity for the entertainment of the masses. And that was just the seventies.
Three years after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas, an engineering student and another former marine would climb a tower at the University of Austin and open fire. The killing spree would become a starting point in an accelerating trend of mass killings.
The murder of John Lennon, another liberal icon, in the first year of a new decade that closed the door on the chaos of the counterculture, would be a death undignified by any larger meaning. From Charles Manson to Jim Jones, these were the mad horrors spawned by a damaged culture where the monsters and madmen were suddenly the only ones who understood the rules.
Kennedy was killed in a more innocent time when it was still possible to deny that the wave of change was not ushering in a brave new world, but the destruction of a culture that had kept the worst human instincts in check.
The Cult of Camelot sought a deeper meaning in his death because the alternative would have been to recognize that the world was not an orderly place and could not be made so by planning. And it sought to disguise the truth about his murder.
JFK was not killed by some miasma of right-wing hatred, by a confederacy of Cuban exiles, CIA agents and Sicilian mafia bosses.
The directions in which the JFK conspiracy theories point reveal what they are trying to hide. John F. Kennedy was not murdered by a miasma of hatred on the right, but on the left. Before liberals became leftists, leftists had a propensity for killing liberals. And Lee Harvey Oswald was as far to the left as you could go.
There was never really any disagreement about Lee Harvey Oswald's politics. The media has avoided the issue by not talking about it while characterizing him as a screwball who wasn't happy anywhere. That much is true, but Lee Harvey Oswald was a militant Socialist screwball who defected to the Soviet Union and plotted the murders of people he considered "right-wing".
The piles of conspiracy theories shove him to the side as an excessively convenient killer. But Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a continuum of left-wing terror in America. The murder of JFK was a bridge between the explosions of violence in the twenties by anarchists and by the Weathermen in the seventies. Oswald was part of the leading edge of left-wing violence in America.
Like so many radicals, Oswald was bored and shiftless. The reality of the Soviet Union with no revolution, just factories to work at, did not appeal to him. Instead he drifted back to America, a weapon in search of a target. The actual murder may have shocked the nation, but it would not be very long before left-wing violence would once again become part of life in America.
All this is far more consistent and far more dangerous than any of the alternative explanations. Worse still, it's simple. And even worse, it's obvious. Which means that it can't possibly be true.
JFK was not killed by a military-industrial complex or a vast right-wing conspiracy. No group of men in suits sat around a table plotting his death. The forces that killed him were the same political ideas of the left that led young American men and women to cheer for the Viet Cong, plant bombs and wage war against their own country.
To understand why JFK died, you must understand the Weathermen and Leon Czolgosz who murdered President McKinley, you must understand the Atom Bomb Spies and Sacco and Vanzetti and a century of left-wing sabotage and terrorism in America.
It’s much safer to talk about magic bullets, than magical thinking ideologies that promise that a workers’ paradise is only a bomb away.
Conspiracy theories rely on finding the inconsistencies and unanswered questions that can be found in just about any event if enough threads are pulled on and enough experts with magnifying glasses crawl over the evidence. They suspect the simple, even as they replace it with byzantine and the complexity, replacing logical answers with to the unending search for the unanswered question. They stare at the static of the television screen, at the Heisenberg Effect of unanswerable questions, at the details that shift close up, and it becomes their obsession and their faith.
The conspiracy theorist has faith that life has meaning. It is a secular sort of faith and its faith object is not divine, but malignant. The meaning of life is malicious. It operates the way it does because evil people behind the scenes refuse to allow for any coincidences or random chance. No sparrow shall fall because a dozen secret agencies are always monitoring it from space.
It is a faith not in good, but in evil.
Kennedy politics had been meant to be optimistic, but the assassination accelerated the liberal reversion to the underlying pessimism and paranoia, the sense that life was doomed, that people had to be rigidly controlled to keep society from coming apart.
The assassination was a warning, not from some secret organization, but from the consequences of the ideas of the left. Instead of searching for Cubans in the CIA, liberals should have looked in the mirror instead. The chaos and violence they were afraid of was not coming from some secret organization, it was coming from inside the movements of the left.
It still is.
The real Kennedy conspiracy was an effort to suppress the basic truths of what had happened and to replace them with a recursive loop of conspiracy theories that could never resolve anything while convincing everyone that the basic truths of what happened could be safely ignored.
The conspiracy did not cover up the work of the secret organization that killed JFK, but the secret organizations of the left whose ideas led to his murder. The real JFK conspiracy concealed the deeper secret that the left is destructive and that its ideas carry a dark wind of chaos and violence.
The left cannot make history come out the way that it wants to, but it can always lie about it. Its myths of the past, dreams shattered by vast right-wing conspiracies, swallowed up by the greed of the 80s and 00s, are tawdry attempts at refusing to learn the lessons of history so that it will be given the freedom to repeat its terrible mistakes.
Lee Harvey Oswald was the stepchild of the left's destructive ideas on society. The same madness that led to Guyana and the bombing of the Pentagon had its day fifty years ago in Dallas.