Summing Up the “Epstain” Saga By Charles Taylor
Life is short, and the grim reaper awaits us all, and not merely knocks on the door, but smashes it off its hinges. Hence the need to quickly sum up the Epstein issue. The best, logical conclusion to the suicide/murder is given here by Greg Johnson, in my opinion:
“Thus when Jeffrey Epstein turned up dead with marks around his neck consistent with murder or suicide, everyone with two IQ points to rub together and a cursory knowledge of his case concluded that his death was no mere suicide. Let’s think this through. Jeffrey Epstein was either murdered or he committed suicide. Nobody has suggested that Epstein died of natural causes. I am surprised nobody has suggested auto-erotic asphyxiation, given what a colossal pervert he was. Because the Metropolitan Correctional Center had ways to prevent Epstein from committing suicide, if it was suicide, then Epstein was allowed to kill himself. If he was allowed to kill himself, it was either intentional or negligent. If Epstein was intentionally allowed to kill himself, then the probable motive is the same as murder, namely to prevent Epstein from testifying. If Epstein was negligently allowed to kill himself, then we have to conclude that the US government, particularly in New York City, is no longer a serious institution. Instead, it is functioning on a level somewhere between a Latin American banana republic and an African failed state. In particular, we have to conclude that the people in charge of New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center are either criminal or negligent, or perhaps a combination of the two.
Moreover, any intelligent person could have concluded all of this before we began hearing stories of mysteriously malfunctioning surveillance cameras, mysteriously discontinued suicide monitoring, and mysteriously absent guards. Whether it is murder or suicide, Jeffrey Epstein’s death is the scandal of the decade. Whether it is murder or suicide, and whether we ever get the truth or not, the Epstein case can only further unravel the average American’s already frayed trust in the political system and mainstream media. And that’s really good for populist dissidents like me, for populism feeds on the breakdown of trust in the establishment. When the Epstein debate is between those who think that the system was evil enough to murder him or incompetent enough to let him commit suicide, the system can’t win, and we dissidents can’t lose. No matter what happened, the truth hurts them and helps us. But what if we never even learn the truth? Then the debate will be between people who think the system is evil enough to cover up the truth and the people who think the system is too incompetent to find it. Heads we dissidents win, tails the establishment loses. I like those odds.
Furthermore, something else died on August 10th, 2019, something of potentially far greater import than Jeffrey Epstein: The phrase “conspiracy theory” lost its power to deter critical thinking about the consensus manufactured and imposed by the political and media establishment. In the hands of the establishment, “conspiracy theory” is simply a term of abuse masquerading as an objective category. For the establishment, a “conspiracy theory” is just a dissenting viewpoint that threatens its power. But there’s nothing wrong with conspiracy theories. A “theory” is simply an explanation that ties together observed phenomena in terms of an underlying set of causes, e.g., the theory of evolution or atomic theory. A “conspiracy theory” is an explanation that ties together observed phenomena in terms of underlying causes as well, in this case human planning. The Latin root of “conspiracy,” conspirare, means to “whisper together.” A conspiracy is a kind of human planning and action that has two essential characteristics. First, a conspiracy requires at least two people. An idea hatched and carried out by a lone person may be a plot or a crime, but it is not a conspiracy. Second, a conspiracy requires secrecy, because the things that people conspire about cannot be discussed openly without endangering the plan. Conspiracies are often criminal but need not be. Sometimes one must resort to conspiracies to do perfectly legal things because to plan and act openly would tip one’s hand to rivals and enemies. So when football players huddle, they are conspiring.
When businessmen develop products, they are conspiring. When governments plan espionage and warfare, they are conspiring. When political parties and candidates plan election campaigns, they are conspiring. When dissidents plan meetings and events, they are conspiring. I conspire every day of my life, from dawn to dusk. Much of human history springs from plans and actions that begin in secret. Thus to stigmatize conspiracy theories as such would require us to throw out a vast number of criminal prosecutions. The same goes for most journalism and historiography, which often seek to tie together multiple observed facts in terms of unified plans. Most of the best literature and film on politics, espionage, and crime would have to be discarded as well. Can you imagine a James Bond movie in which merely uttering the words “conspiracy theory” would paralyze thought and action? Moreover, the very same people who denigrate “conspiracy theories” engage in them all the time. But they don’t present them as theories. They just pass them off as facts. Consider this howler from Julia Ebner, who begins her essay “Stop the Online Conspiracy Theories Before They Break Democracy ” with the words: “Organised conspiracy theorist networks have launched an all-out information war across Europe.” Of course, an “organized network” is just a clumsy way of saying “conspiracy.” For the Left, Russia collusion, patriarchy, and white privilege are not conspiracy theories. They’re just facts. Which means that a “conspiracy theory” is just something that the establishment doesn’t want you to believe. A “conspiracy theory” is just a “dissenting idea,” which means that Ebner’s real title should be “Stop the Online Dissenting Ideas Before They Break Democracy.”
I’ll bet you thought that one feature of democracy is protecting dissenting ideas. That is certainly the purpose of the First Amendment in the United States. Freedom of speech needs to be a constitutional right to allow people to dissent from the opinions of the powerful, who might otherwise censor and punish disagreement. Like “discrimination” and “generalization ,” which the establishment also stigmatize as wicked, conspiracy theorizing—like theorizing in general—is simply a form of intelligence. Theorizing is what smart people do when faced with bewildering and complex phenomena. An establishment that praises credulity and stupidity is obviously up to no good. Indeed, attacking conspiracy theories as such is an act of desperation. If truth is on your side, then it should be easy to refute contrary positions. The only reason one would want to disqualify dissent as such is the inability to refute dissenting views on their individual merits. But that’s exactly what one would expect from a system founded on lies, particularly the strange, self-contradictory lie that people are all equal and their differences are always a source of strength. Conspiracy theorizing has been rising in recent years as trust in the establishment declines, and the establishment was pushing back. Before Epstein’s death, there was an alarming trend to weaponize the “conspiracy theory” smear to silence dissidents.
For instance, on August 6, 2018, Facebook, Apple’s iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify removed all content by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars site from their platforms. What’s the most plausible explanation for all four platforms dumping Jones on the same day: conspiracy or coincidence? In January of 2019, YouTube announced that it would tweak its algorithms to recommend fewer “conspiracy theory” videos . Of course, YouTube does not define Russia collusion as a conspiracy theory, but it does brand white genocide and the great replacement as conspiracy theories. Then on August 1, 2019, Yahoo! News reported on an FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, which identified “conspiracy theories” like Pizzagate and QAnon to be domestic terrorist threats. But since Epstein’s death, “conspiracy theories” are no longer marginal. They are mainstream. Donald Trump has retweeted speculations that Bill Clinton was behind Epstein’s death. Democrats, for their part, are floating the theory that Trump was behind Epstein’s demise. Both Trump and Clinton are womanizers who knew Epstein. Former New York Mayor and prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani pronounced the story of Epstein’s suicide “incredible ” and claimed that there are “probably 50 very important people that have a motive to kill him.”
Current New York Mayor Bill De Blasio agreed, saying that Epstein’s death was “way too convenient ” and could not be attributed to “traditional human error.” De Blasio basically said, “I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but . . .” But, as De Blasio put it, “sometimes you see a series of events that you cannot give a normal explanation for, and there needs to be a full investigation”—which pretty much sums up the feelings of conspiracy theorists on this matter. Since Epstein’s death, media attempts to contain speculation with the “conspiracy theory” canard have been rather half-hearted, with the lamest attempts coming from the most authoritative sources. For instance, the BBC clucks disapprovingly that “[j]ust hours after the high-profile financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday, unsubstantiated theories about his death began to gain traction online.” Epstein’s death is obviously fishy to any intelligent person. So of course people immediately began to speculate about alternative scenarios. Complaining that such theories are “unsubstantiated” is silly. Of course they are unsubstantiated. There has not been time to substantiate them. Every theory is unsubstantiated before it is tested. That’s why we need to test them. Let’s put some of the BBC’s investigative journalists to work on that, shall we? But apparently people at the BBC would like you to suspend judgment about the Epstein case and simply believe what they tell you.
After Epstein, we’re all conspiracy theorists now. The distinction between marginal “conspiracy theories” and mainstream “facts” has collapsed. The only relevant distinction now is between good conspiracy theories and bad ones, true conspiracies and falseones. I will discuss that distinction in a future article. This is a necessary labor, because I have a strong distaste for bad conspiracy theories, which often draw on false metaphysical assumptions and smack of madness. Conspiracy theories are organically connected with populism. Populism holds that government is legitimate only if it governs for the common good. Populists regard factions and special interests as inimical to good government. Populists believe that government deliberations should be maximally transparent to guard against subversion by special interests, which of necessity must conspire in secret against the public good. As I argued above, Epstein’s death helps populists no matter what the outcome of the case. First and foremost, Epstein’s death has deprived “conspiracy theory” of its power to marginalize, stigmatize, and paralyze critical thinking. Second, no matter what side of the Epstein debate you take, the system loses: If Epstein was murdered or intentionally allowed to commit suicide, the system is evil. If Epstein was negligently allowed to commit suicide, then the system is incompetent.
If we never learn the truth about Epstein’s death, then the debate will be between those who think the system is evil enough to cover up the truth or too incompetent to discover it.
Please note that none of these populist gains are contingent on ever discovering the truth about Epstein’s death. The system has already written off these losses and moved on, leaving us to capitalize on them. The best-case scenario for the system entails a catastrophic loss of public trust, prestige, and narrative control. It’s almost as if Epstein’s death was engineered by people who have no investment in the long-term viability of the American system. Perhaps America isn’t their country. Or maybe they simply fear a much worse outcome. Which makes me wonder: What would happen if the system’s worst-case scenario came true, namely that we learn the full truth about Jeffrey Epstein and his friends ? Given the waning power of the conspiracy canard and the role of genuine investigative journalism in bringing Epstein’s crimes to light, there is some reason for hope. But we shouldn’t wait around for such an eventuality. Instead, we should be capitalizing on the gains the Epstein case has already handed us.”
The take home message is that the label of conspiracy theorists no longer cuts much ice, since the establishment has been revealed as totally corrupt. No longer are conspiracies on the fringe, since we have seen in the Epstein saga, the wildest things confirmed. All we really need now are lizard creatures in flying saucers to make the cake. But who knows, maybe even that will be forthcoming!