There are plenty of tinfoil-hatted lunatics running around these days alleging all kinds of crazy shit: Hillary Clinton was involved in a paedophile ring that used a pizza restaurant as a front; 9/11 was an inside job; prominent members of royal families, banking institutions and government figures are actually giant alien reptiles wearing human costumes.
But every once in a while, a conspiracy theory actually turns out to be true. We take a look at some conspiracies that actually did happen…
There was a fascist plot to stage a military coup in the USA
What if I told you that the self-declared Land of the Free was once the site of a conspiracy to oust the elected president and install a fascist government? What if I told you that the patriarch of one of America’s most established political dynasties was involved in said plot?
There are plenty of Trump supporters who already believe that this sort of thing is happening right now, of course. But it’s time to shut the fuck up whilst grown folks is talking and take a look at the fascist plot that actually happened in 1930s America.
In 1933, New Deal promulgator and master of Alphabet Agencies Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the President of the US, and boy was he rattling some cages. FDR had some wacky un-American ideas like poor people getting fed and rich people actually contributing something to society. As is usually the case when someone threatens their vast reserves of wealth, the rich folk didn’t cotton to this and decided to do something about it. William Randolph Hearst, generally considered to be a total piece of shit, decried FDR’s progressive new tax laws as ‘despotic’.
But rather than throwing money at lobbyists or engaging in underhanded smear campaigns like real red-blooded Americans, our cabal of rich folk actually began to plot to oust FDR via force and install a fascist government. Thus was born the Wall Street Putsch.
Their choice of puppet was, sadly for them, a thoroughly decent former soldier and advocate for veterans by the name of Major General Smedley Butler. Butler was simply out for better pensions and rights for army veterans. The richest men in America, being the massive douchenozzles that they were, looked to subvert this idealism and make Butler their front man.
Butler, however, smelled a rat from the off when approached by the group’s agent. He played along for a while until his suspicions were confirmed – America’s richest men were indeed plotting to overthrow FDR and install a fascist government with Butler as the face. Their agent of choice, a slimy piece of shit by the name of Gerald McGuire, literally came out and said “we need a Fascist government in America” to a reporter he mistakenly assumed was sympathetic to his dipshit masters.
Butler, being an actual patriot, came forward and blew the whistle on the plot. America being America and rich people being slick as Teflon when it comes to dodging legal repercussions, nothing much happened and a good portion of the public and media laughed off the accusations as ludicrous.
The ringleaders of this coup included a former Democratic presidential nominee, the heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, and one Prescott Bush. Yes, that Bush.
The coup might not have got off the ground, but a historian later commented that “the plot had in it three elements which make successful wars and revolutions: men, guns and money.”
The CIA started a programme in an effort to mind-control people
This is one of those wacky plots that sounds like it came straight out of the X-Files. The CIA, a US government agency expressly forbidden from operating on US soil, experimented for years with LSD and other drugs in an attempt to brainwash captured enemy agents, create Manchurian Candidate sleeper agents and perfect the ultimate ‘truth drug’.
The project, codenamed MKULTRA, violated pretty much every clause of the Geneva Convention and involved uninformed drug testing, testing without consent, hypnosis on unwilling subjects and even the sexual abuse of children. The programme was OK’d by the head of the CIA, and one of its top testers was a British psychiatrist by the name of Donald Ewan Cameron. When not inducing federal officials to commit sex acts with captive children in order to extort funds from them, Cameron was the first chairman of the World Psychiatric Association and president of the US and Canadian Psychiatric Associations.
The human cost of the CIA’s programme was immeasurable. Several people committed suicide as a result of the drug testing they were forced to undergo, and many more were left permanently mentally scarred as a result of MKULTRA.
MI5 and high-ranking British Army officials repeatedly tried to instigate a coup against Harold Wilson
OK, so we realise it might come off a little like we’re picking on the Americans here. That’s OK, because the UK has its fair share of fascistic pricks too!
In the late 60s, After the CIA (sorry, there’s the Yanks again) prompted fears that UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was actually a Soviet mole, MI5 took rather drastic steps to neutralise him. They burgled the homes of his aides and bugged their phones, spread scurrilous propaganda about the Prime Minister in the media, and met with high-ranking military officials to plot a coup.
One of the arch-conspirators was former Viceroy of India and member of the Royal Family, Lord Louis Mountbatten. The conspirators had concrete plans to use the military to seize the BBC, Heathrow Airport and Buckingham Palace. The Queen was to (whether willingly or otherwise) give a speech urging support of the Armed Forces. Lord Mountbatten would be the head of the new ‘interim’ government.
Surely this was all just spitballing, right? They would never have actually done it? Well – the conspirators were serious enough about their plot that they had a Ministry of Defence spokesman, known for his pesky conscience, pre-emptively framed before he could speak out on, amongst other things, the MI5 plot to discredit Wilson.
Wilson resigned abruptly and without explanation in 1976, obviating the need for a full-blown military coup. Rumours still abound as to the reason for Wilson’s sudden resignation (he later developed Alzheimer’s), but it’s possible that the MI5-orchestrated campaign of harassment, intimidation and disinformation might have had something to do with it.
Let’s not forget that this was an attempted military coup in one of the world’s oldest parliamentary democracies. The fact that it barely registers as a blip in the public consciousness is nothing short of a scandal.
The Tuskegee Experiment
Oh, America. Oh dear oh dear.
If you have never heard of the Tuskegee Experiments, where to begin? The US historically has not treated non-whites very well (and still doesn’t, in many respects), but the Tuskegee Experiment was three ways fucked from Sunday.
The Tuskegee Experiment began in 1932 in Macon County, Alabama. The study was originally conceived as an observation of the progression of syphilis in black men for a period of six to nine months, followed by treatment.
Unfortunately, the ‘treatment’ phase of the study failed to materialise, and the ‘observation’ part was extended. For how long? Try 40 years.
The men inducted into the study were frequently told they had ‘bad blood’ and received, initially, poor and highly toxic ‘remedies’ for syphilis that did little to alleviate the men’s symptoms. Of course, once penicillin was found to completely cure syphilis, the doctors administered treatment and cured the men, right?
Nope. They continued to outright lie to the men whilst monitoring their deteriorating condition. The Tuskegee patients never even knew they had syphilis.
In the mid-sixties, a Public Health Services investigator by the name of Peter Buxtun learnt of the experiment and filed a protest on ethical grounds. His concerns were dismissed as irrelevant. After a further complaint was dismissed, Buxtun took the only recourse left to him and leaked the details to the Washington Star in 1972. A massive public outcry ensued, and the experiment was finally shut down.
399 syphilitic men enrolled in the Tuskegee experiment. At the time of its termination in 1972, only 79 survived. 128 men had died either as a direct result of syphilis or from complications thereof. 40 of their wives had been infected, and 19 children had been born with congenital syphilis.
In 1997, the US government finally got around to apologising. President Bill Clinton issued a statement:
“What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry … To our African American citizens, I am sorry that your federal government orchestrated a study so clearly racist.”
You could argue that the damage was done. As recently as 1999, 80% of male African-Americans believed that the US government had deliberately infected the Tuskegee patients with syphilis. Surely they’d never do something so unethical, right?