Preface to the Booklet
America's Unknown Enemy: Beyond Conspiracy
Editorial Staff of the
American Institute for Economic Research
In the past several years, interest apparently has been rekindled in
the view that an elite conspiracy bent on world domination now is
directing global events. Concern about such a conspiracy seems to have
accelerated especially after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990,
when President Bush orchestrated United Nations' backing for the
Persian Gulf War and made frequent references to a "New World
Order." According to conspiracy mavens, that President Bush would
publicly reveal his commitment to the "New World Order"
simply testified to the haughtiness of the cabal's resolve to shape
world events for its own nefarious purposes. Subsequent events, which
have seen President Clinton reinstall in the State Department a number
of officials affiliated with organizations said to be directing the
conspiracy (such as the Council on Foreign Relations), have simply
reconfirmed for "true believers" that the conspiracy lives.
Notions of conspiracy have circulated for many years. As we observed
in earlier editions of America's Unknown Enemy, however, and
as is described in the first eight chapters of this edition, there is
little if any support for the notion that a conspiracy per se
is directing world events. Rather, we observed then that what some
view as a "conspiracy" more closely resembles the
power-seeking behavior, including collusive behavior, of a
socio-political elite. This elite has succeeded in acquiring
privileges that permit it to exercise authority vastly in excess of
its competence and to promulgate self-serving views that have enjoyed
public sanction even though they violate the most elementary
requirements of common sense.
In our view, the latter circumstance constitutes a far greater threat
to the commonweal than the possible operation of any conspiracy,
however grand. Indeed, the task of defeating even an international
cabal, if such were the primary threat, would seem incalculably
simpler than promoting a useful understanding of human problems and
sensible approaches to their solutions.
It is our hope, however, that by providing a critical view of some of
the currents of thought that appear to propel most notions of the "better
world" promised by global planners, we may contribute to such an
understanding. During the past several years, we have commented
elsewhere on a variety of ideas and events that would seem to relate
in one way or another to the formation of the type of views that are
reflected in talk of a "New World Order." They have embraced
many academic fields -- development economics, political science,
history, foreign policy studies, anthropology, and environmental
science, to name a few. And they have covered a wide range of topics,
from "Earth Day" celebrations in the United States to the
behavior of village peasants in Pahievi Iran. In this edition of America's
Unknown Enemy, we have reprinted a number of these commentaries as
Chapters IX through XVIII. In addition, we have included two pertinent
Appendixes: "The Counterrevolution," by AIER's founder E. C.
Harwood; and "Global Warming and Other Environmental Myths,"
by Dr. Dixy Lee Ray.
The difficulties that are posed by the flawed prescriptions for human
progress that currently are being written by America's power elite
thus extend far beyond narrow notions of conspiracy. In a broad sense,
they embrace many of the same obstacles to the pursuit of knowledge
that have confronted humans since the dawn of history, and that have
been a principal concern of AIER's research efforts throughout the
years. In our view, the intellectual pursuit of some nebulous
conspiracy (other than for the information it might yield about the
behavior of those who subscribe to conspiracy theory, which is not the
subject of this study) would be an enormous waste of time. The pursuit
of an understanding of human affairs grounded in useful procedures of
inquiry that promise to yield solutions to genuine human problems, on
the other hand, deserves all the time and resources at our command.