In the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier, HYDRA is the science wing of the Nazi SS during World War II. Almost 70 years after the war’s conclusion, the organization lives on as a secret society whose acolytes include many defense personnel, government bureaucrats and politicians. With the American defense agency S.H.I.E.L.D. now controlled by HYDRA, they plan to launch a preemptive strike on the global public, killing 20 million people identified by data mining and NSA-style panopticon surveillance as potential dangers to world order.
(Their vision, in other words, is to make sure everything goes on largely as it has been. Hard to think of a more damning comment on America’s status quo.)
Much as I otherwise enjoyed the movie, using HYDRA to explain S.H.I.E.L.D.’s corruption was lazy. We have recent examples to illustrate that it doesn’t take a secret society to corrupt the State.
For instance, it’s not like Lois Lerner and her fellow Obamatons whispered some leftoid equivalent of “Hail HYDRA” in one another’s ears as they hatched the plan to use the IRS to target conservatives. (If they did, it would be something alliterative and collectivist, yet also alternative lifestyle-positive. “Masturbate Marx”, perhaps.) Instead, they all simply shared the same understanding–the same conceptual metaphor–of their political adversaries. Some variation of “conservatives are evil”, evil in this case being a noun rather than an adjective.
No secret groups or decoder rings needed. Just like-minded people following their beliefs to their natural conclusion. An organic conspiracy.
This is chilling in its implications. A real life HYDRA-equivalent would lose its power once it was uncovered, so much of its success depending on secrecy. The kind of organic conspiracy we see in the IRS scandal, on the other hand, loses nothing once a Lois Lerner is identified. Because an organic conspiracy has no formal structure, people that think precisely like her will remain undetected in their respective agencies,. They will wait like a dormant virus to activate once conditions are again favorable. And then they will once more use government apparatus to wage war against their supposed fellow citizens.
How to deal with these bureaucratic pod people? Shrinking the size of government would of course be the best way to lessen their power, but it’s a joke to think that’ll happen near-term.
Let us begin by at least updating our own conceptual metaphors. Given that our present age is one where politics is war by other means, thinking of leftoids as naive but well-intentioned idiots isn’t very adaptive. Rather, we should start thinking of them in terms similar to how they think of us. Perhaps then we’ll evolve some organic conspiracies of our own, if only in self-defense.