I don’t particularly want to ape Apathy Jack by quoting things without commentary, if only because I plan to put up my notes on a related page. This is so that you (yes, I can see you sitting in the Engineering Department reading this material when you should be working) can go through and pillage, for yourselves, the pithy quotes I am accumulating. You know, it really is a pity that pithy quotes do not a thesis make.Anyway, the real jewel of Vanakin’s book (‘Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes’) is the chapter on Lyndon LaRouche. Not due to the association of ‘The Grateful Dead’ with the Occult Branch of the British Secret Service (surely that was obvious from the start?) but rather for the revelation that I’m probably a key player in the greatest conspiracy of all time. I’ll let Vanakin channel LaRouche on this one:â€˜The nay sayers to these brillant ideas, the â€œpessimists,â€ are the empiricists|: David Hume, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hobbes, Bertrand Russell. They and their philosophical ilk, in LaRoucheâ€™s interpretation, base their moral reasoning not on rationality but on experience (empirical facts, hence the term, â€œempiricismâ€).â€˜Experience is a muddy thing. If we base our moral judgments on our experience, then weâ€™ll confuse things that feel good with things that are good, morally. Empiricst morality, as LaRouche reads it, is governed by â€œirrational hedonism.â€â€˜…â€˜Thus was born the LaRouchian conspiracy theory. Historyâ€™s bad guys have been the â€œirrational hedonistsâ€ of empiricism, whose â€œpessimismâ€ has spawned all of the evils mankind has endured in its nasty, brutish, and, so far, short existence. If their conspiracy succeeds, the human race will plunge into an anarchic abyss. The LaRouchian term is â€œNew Dark Ages.â€ The tool theyâ€™ll use to cast us into darkness, he believes, just may be a nuclear holocaust.â€™ (p. 36-7)Yep, it’s the damn philosophers (well, more properly our progeny) that will bring the fall of human civilisation. It’s a pity LaRouche hasn’t read anything since the 1960s when Empiricism and Rationalism were done away with (Philosophical Rationalism, I should point out, doesn’t map the vulgar term in use today; it’s a specific school of epistemology that argues that all knowledge can come from contemplation). Indeed, LaRouche would be either very glad or very sad to see that it’s the Kuhnian Weltanschauung view that is popular in Science today (a theoretical framework which is descriptive of scientific practice rather than prescriptive (as Rationalism and Empiricism) were) and probably does go distance in explicating moral judgement calls and how certain aspects of morality shifts with time. Still, I suspect that doesn’t really matter to him; I’m probably just an empiricist trying to fog the issues and bring America to ruin.You win this round, Mr. LaRouche, but I’ll be back with my funny ideas and socialist agenda, just you wait.
About Matthew Dentith
Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.All posts by Matthew