This essay will seem more of a stretch as a case study in the problems of dualism, but there is a method to my stretchy madness. The general point will be: what we see as evil acts by human beings, individual or communal, are the results of behaviors often quite consistent with the bad part of the spectrum of behaviors on the part of evolved “apes” and also sometimes consistent with hubris on the part of well-meaning human beings who think they know how human communities should be organized and how human individuals should behave.
I recently read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass. This book was recommended as the best on the topic by Ray McGovern, a long-time CIA officer. One paragraph from his bio on that website tells us:
Ray came to Washington from his native Bronx in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.
McGovern has been involved with various groups, some Christian, which have tried to re-orient our world towards peace. He also founded and has remained involved with a group of other retired intelligence professionals— Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an impressive group of men and women who’ve worked in the higher levels of the “honest” ranks of professionals in the CIA and FBI and State Department and in military agencies. (The group includes the admirable likes of Coleen Rowley, an FBI special agent who forced a meeting in the early summer of 2001 to ask the politically corrupt intelligence professionals why they told the agents in the Minneapolis FBI office not to investigate some illegal immigrants who were talking about flying jet-planes into buildings—these turned out to be men with loose but real connections to some of the alleged 9/11 attackers. We still don’t know the answer to Ms Rowley’s question. By “honest,” I refer to those below the “political” level in government agencies and not scheming to join that “political” level.)
McGovern discusses Douglass’ book in this article: The Deep State’s JFK Triumph Over Trump. I’ll quote him on just one interesting incident from his period of training for moving from agent to officer at CIA:
It was summer 1963 when a senior official of CIA’s operations directorate treated our Junior Officer Trainee (JOT) class to an unbridled rant against President John F. Kennedy. He accused JFK, among other things, of rank cowardice in refusing to send U.S. armed forces to bail out Cuban rebels pinned down during the CIA-launched invasion at the Bay of Pigs, blowing the chance to drive Cuba’s Communist leader Fidel Castro from power.
It seemed beyond odd that a CIA official would voice such scathing criticism of a sitting President at a training course for those selected to be CIA’s future leaders. I remember thinking to myself, “This guy is unhinged; he would kill Kennedy, given the chance.”
Our special guest lecturer looked a lot like E. Howard Hunt, but more than a half-century later, I cannot be sure it was he. Our notes from such training/indoctrination were classified and kept under lock and key.
In his deathbed confession, E. Howard Hunt—a police-state criminal and congenital liar for sure—claimed to have been in Dealey Square on 1963/11/22 as part of the CIA project to murder JFK; he claimed the project name was The Big Event. Jesse Ventura found mugshots of men appearing to be possibly homeless bums and they looked like Hunt and Frank Sturgis (another CIA covert agent involved in multiple crimes inside and outside the US including the so-called “Watergate burglaries”). (The wise reader will be skeptical about the Wikipedia article and most Wikipedia articles dealing with matters of interest to what some call the “deep-state” but it gives a start on learning about a man who was involved in a number of crimes including smuggling, regime-changes of legitimate governments, and (probably) assassination; at times, Hunt, a much published author, was the propaganda expert. In one of his collections of essays, Gore Vidal claims that Hunt certainly wrote the diary of Arthur Bremer; Hunt appears in almost all the books summarizing investigations into the political murders of the 1960s, CIA smuggling activities and regime-change crimes in Latin America, and Watergate. Hunt was somewhat bluish of blood and apparently took up as a loyal follower of Alan Dulles and a CIA warrior, maybe to avoid the boring life of the likes of his father, a successful lawyer and Republican Party official.
There is also much background information in Russ Baker’s Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put it in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America that ties Wall Street and the National Security agencies and military into the murder of JFK, though it seems likely to me that most of those with some inside knowledge played relatively minor roles, knowing the goal was the destruction of JFK and RFK but not knowing the details of the plot. Some maybe didn’t even realize that JFK would be killed rather than being politically neutralized in some other way as later happened to Nixon; I wouldn’t defend Nixon to the death but he was less of a villain than those who destroyed him. Read the books and pay attention to the roles played by J Edgar Hoover and Lyndon Johnson, each of whom likely knew that powerful forces were trying to kill Kennedy, neither of whom did anything to protect Kennedy, each of whom moved to benefit from his death—it’s unlikely Hoover was an insider but possible Johnson was in on the details before that fateful day in Dallas. Pay attention also to the testimony of Hoover recorded in Douglass’ book that the CIA had even infiltrated the FBI and had used the FBI for CIA purposes.
I think this points to the great background truth that there is no centrally-organized conspiracy of the ruling elite of the United States against its own people and against other countries and their citizens; rather is it the case that the “space” is open to those from the right families or, at least, the right schools, with further entry into the right social clubs and, maybe, marriage `upwards’ into a family bluer of blood. That “space” is also not a region where all residents are at peace: rather is it something of a battleground between forces, each of which control only a part of the wealth and power of the United States. This is why they are now such bumbling fools in international relations—our lack of (peaceful) response to the growth of wealth and power in various Eurasian countries, especially China, is largely due to the battles of our ruling elites against each other; China builds up wealth and trade relationships and so forth while much of our ruling elite is devoted to the destruction of Donald Trump and the related war against Russia, our natural ally in protecting Western interests.
The murder of John Kennedy might prove to have been practice for a period of warfare of bankers against industrialists, military against state police (in which category I would put the CIA in its current condition), leaders of populist religious movements against the major religious institutions, and so on. On this level, JFK’s murder seems to have led to the elimination of some regional powerholders, ethnic political machines and truly progressive or truly conservative political parties. Generalize and also look back to the 1950s when Eisenhower acted to the benefit of the forces he would warn us about in his farewell speech; for example, the highway system was built to make nuclear war conceivable and, more generally, to give greater mobility inside the United States to the US military. It also gave advantages to corporations running centralized manufacturing facilities or centralized retail stores. The death of Main Street wasn’t a necessary result of modern technology or prosperity but it was a likely result once Wall Street and other money-centers, some major corporations, the national political parties, and the new entertainment industries (television and movies and all that) gained the upper-hand.
Anyone wishing to understand what is happening can search on the Internet or your local library website for Peter Turchin and his writings, especially those dealing with “overproduction of elites,” or they can read Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror for the story of some important aspects of the collapse of the remarkably prosperous High Middle Ages into a period when Northwestern Europe’s population dropped by perhaps 50% in a century overlapping with another century in which the common man regained some of his lost prosperity while Europe’s ruling elite reduced its own population by way of murder, war, starvation in prison, and other activities apparently being glorified in some of the current television shows and video-games—I hear only rumors of those realms. Anyone wishing to practice the art of tying together knowledge from different viewpoints or even different fields of study can also look up the writings of the economist, Michael Hudson—especially his explanations of damage done to the most prosperous of economies when wealth-producers are displaced by “rentiers” or wealth-holders who devote their energies to protecting their power and wealth and position relative to others and don’t make much effort to increase the wealth of the human race.
To return to the actual murder of John Kennedy and to leave behind for now the greater background issues and motives, it all seems to be unnecessarily complicated, a problem that always bothered me; Douglass claims at least some of the complications had to do with CIA incompetence—for example, their use of Oswald doubles led to Oswald being in two or three places at the same time at some of the most important points in the plot. According to Douglass: By the time of the Warren Commission, Johnson and Hoover were on board to help run the cover-up for whatever reasons and the FBI suppressed evidence that would have led to the recognition of a complex conspiracy by some powerful forces, whether the CIA, the Mafia, the KGB, or some other group.
I’ll move on to deal with the “Unspeakable” and why such notions are caused by dualisms which may be implicit in our thoughts even if we don’t think or speak in terms of the more explicit dualisms of immaterial created beings (angels or demons).
Many things that we value in the modern West, such as our relatively high freedom—as individuals—in our social and political and economic and religious lives, have come about because of a history dominated at times, always strongly influenced, by men who were ruthless in their exploitation of other human beings. Those men put together the nations of Europe, their descendants were slowly brought into webs of disciplined power and of honor; the term `nobleman’ was often not a non sequitur when describing those who exercised power in post-Roman Europe, nor was it when describing the ancient Romans. At the same time, both Jeremiah the prophet and Lord Acton the historian made a point about wealthy and powerful men including a disproportionate share of evil men; I’ll quote Acton:
And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. [ Quotes by Lord Acton]
Such men have played important roles, good and bad, in American history. For example, you can read a little about the fortunes made in opium smuggling in China in James Bradley’s The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia}; those making fortunes included such blue-bloods as Warren Delano, grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In addition, as you can read in David Herbert Donald’s Lincoln: that president thought of his `mercy’ towards the South as simple justice since he knew that it was Northeasterners who sold African slaves to the Southerners and then left others to deal with the aftermath—the Africans and also Southerners in general, not just slaveowners or defenders of the Peculiar institution.
Some of the best families in the United States became “best” by way of drug-smuggling and slave-trading. They used the fortunes gained at the expense of Chinese and African victims to build railroads, to manufacture the large farm machinery which allowed the conquest of the middle of the North American continent, to build and expand the various textile and metal-product industries in a multitude of cities and towns in the US, along with much more in the way of high rate-of-return activities. They obeyed the Zeroth Commandment: Thou shalt seek the highest rate-of-return.
This is not so much different from other countries, however unexceptional they might be. It’s the way the world works and, under some conditions, those criminals can do some good, though it might involve doing bad to one group and good to another which includes themselves and their children. Americans, perhaps even more than others, had a talent for washing their memories. Some, such as Warren Delano, came back from dealing in opium and talked in front of the ladies about the “China trade” as if they’d made their fortunes selling some unknown stuff to the Chinese (who actually wanted no legal or moral goods that the United States or Europe could offer) and then coming back with valuable porcelains and jade statues and silk robes.
The United States seems to have been responsible for a new unleashing of men with the mentality of gangsters. Under the pretense of overthrowing the dead hand of European history, or something like that, the ruling elite of the United States actually overthrew the hard-won moral traditions of the West. The American citizenry didn’t seem to mind so long as they could look forward to a new television season and, of course, a great Superbowl.
In any case, so long as men with the “mentality of gangsters” flow toward the centers of power in the United States, so long as there are receptive groups (institutions or agencies or…simply gangs) to receive those sorts of men and develop their ruthlessness and reinforce their sense of having the right to run at least part of the world at the expense of productive citizens and other victims, then the United States will continue to suffer from strange events such as murders or attempted murders of public figures, sometimes by implausible characters or by way of implausible events. Those in the centers of power will continue to tell us that it’s plausible for these assassinations or other events to be carried out by badly schizophrenic young men or by demented loners or by illiterate nitwits from Saudi Arabia who didn’t even know enough to adopt false identities when infiltrating a country and who had never learned to navigate—other than one alleged pilot of one hijacked plane going out from Chicago. They will also tell us it’s crazy, “conspiratorial” thinking, to suggest that such events could be executed by highly-educated American men with many resources and high levels of technical understanding of airplanes and building structures, as well as governmental cover-up powers.
The citizens of the United States, from the end of the era of the Founding Fathers, have proven themselves incapable of self-rule.
There is no “unspeakable” aspects of the murder of John Kennedy and other public figures nor even of such events as the bombings of prominent American buildings. There are men with the mentality of gangsters among us and, currently, they seem to have grabbed a great deal of that power they crave. But they crave more and they need to fight others with the mentality of gangsters; after all, I have no power or wealth they can take. Be afraid, be very afraid, until they fail. But, they might be honestly investigated and prosecuted, perhaps to be hung. But don’t hold your breath.