In his 1961 Farewell Address, he warned:
We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
Eisenhower’s warning wasn’t new. Presidents Washington and Madison also warned about the danger that could arise if the new American Republic allowed the establishment of an organized interest in waging war. Because entanglements and conflicts with foreign powers would necessarily result in massive government spending on the army and navy, this would likely result in organized military interests
The inner workings of such complexes, in which participants are motivated by financial rewards, raise a question that goes to the heart of the human condition. Under certain circumstances, can normal and decent people lose their moral judgment to the point of “losing their souls”? As Dr. Magee pointed out, studies have shown that people working together in a profitable enterprise tend to be less constrained by ethical consider- ations than they are in their dealings with family and friends.
Their highly focused goal orientation is perhaps reminiscent of Paleolithic hunters in single-minded pursuit of valuable prey. It seems that when we are engrossed in this mental state, we tend not to think about the negative consequences of our behavior for others outside of the enterprise.
People may be slow to recognize that their organization or community has been corrupted if they benefit from it. As Upton Sinclair famously put it, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Herein lies the power of patronage. If your patron—i.e., the wealthy man or company that pays your salary and benefits—starts behaving dishonestly, you will probably be reluctant to see and oppose it. This isn’t a matter of willful denial. Because your status, sense of purpose, and remuneration are provided by your patron, you may never even think about questioning his conduct.
Amplifying this is what cognitive psychologists call “normalcy bias.” When immoral conduct seeps into an organization and goes unopposed for a long time, it may become endemic and therefore seem normal. Americans witnessed this in the corporate scandals of the 2000s, starting with Enron in 2001. This period of financial malfeasance culminated in the great Financial Crisis of 2008, largely caused by the massive sale of fraudulently valued mortgage-backed securities. After the crisis erupted, many wondered why regulatory agencies hadn’t seen it coming and stopped it. At root of the problem was “regulatory capture”—that is, incentives for the people who worked for agencies, and especially bond-rating agencies, to turn a blind eye to the corruption they were supposed to be preventing.
A singularly terrifying corruption of a society occurred in Germany during the 1933–45 period, when the country—previously the most advanced and cultured in the world—lapsed shockingly far from civilized norms. Likewise, many intellectuals who prided themselves on their moral and intellectual discernment failed to recognize the criminal nature of the Soviet Union and its allied regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.
Reflecting on this disturbing reality, the Swiss playwright Max Frisch wrote a black comedy titled
The arsonists then arrive at his house, and through a combination of apparent normalcy and charm, they persuade Mr. and Mrs. Biedermann to allow them to stay in their attic. In a key scene, one of the arsonists proclaims, “The best disguise, even better than humor and sentimentality, is the truth, because no one believes it.” The naive couple can’t see what is about to happen to them precisely because it is so out in the open. They mistakenly assume that such perfidy would be cleverly concealed and not hiding in plain sight. The arsonists then set the house on fire, which spreads to the neighboring houses and burns down the entire town. In the final scene Mr. and Mrs. Biedermann are transported to the gates of hell, where they encounter the arsonists, who introduce themselves as the Devil and his companion Beelzebub.
Mr. and Mrs. Biedermann’s trip to the gates of hell is suggestive of observations made by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who believed that all human beings have a dark side that renders them capable of committing or participating in grossly immoral and even criminal acts. Those who fail to recognize the “Shadow,” as he called the dark side of human nature, often fail to recognize that they are participating in a corrupt enterprise. Preferring not to see evil makes them susceptible to it. As Jung put it:
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
A dramatic twist of people failing to see what’s right in front of them was presented with delightful effectiveness in the 1995 film
Within the context of current affairs, a similar aphorism may be said of powerful interest groups—namely, “The greatest trick that powerful interest groups ever pulled was convincing the world that everyone who detects and reports their activities is a conspiracy theorist.” Only the naivest consumer of mainstream news reporting would fail to recognize that powerful interest groups in the military, financial, and bio-pharmaceutical industries work in concert to further their interests. Their activities cross the line into conspiracy when they commit fraud or other crimes to advance their interests. The term “conspiracy theory” suggests the feverish imaginings of a crackpot mind. This ignores the fact that the United States government prosecutes the crime of conspiracy all the time. As one prominent defense attorney described this reality:
Any time the government believes that it can allege that two or more individ- uals were a part of a common agreement to commit the same crime, they will include a charge of conspiracy into the indictment. There is no requirement that all of the members of the conspiracy even know about each other, or even know each other personally.
A person may be charged with conspiracy to commit a crime even if he doesn’t know all of the details of the crime. When COVID-19 arrived, the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex vigorously and exclusively pursued the vaccine solution instead of the early treatment solution. In order to realize their ambition, multiple actors simultaneously waged a propaganda campaign against hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and other repurposed drugs.
It’s likely that only a relatively small number of these actors knew they were making fraudulent claims about the generic, repurposed drugs and knew they were taking action to impede access to these drugs based on fraudulent claims. These actors were the conspirators. Countless others unwittingly played roles in the conspiracy because they themselves believed the propaganda.