Let’s apply Occam’s razor to Jeffrey Epstein’s untimely death. Which of these scenarios makes more sense: that a powerful billionaire who knew all about a global elite sex ring was murdered in jail by the same unaccountable forces that allowed him to evade justice for years, or that he suddenly killed himself while on suicide watch?
Oh, he wasn’t on suicide watch? Well, that’s normal. It’s all very simple: Epstein must have killed himself after, very sensibly, being left alone to his own devices, despite being the most high-profile defendant in the country. What are you, a conspiracy theorist?
The premise of the existence of a wicked class of jet-setting pedophiles is simple. It is that power can do anything, that injustice and evil is the rule and not the exception in this world. But to allege that a depraved global elite exists is to validate the fears and anxieties of people who watch Infowars and support Donald Trump. That’s just not allowed.
The attraction of conspiracy theories, they say, is that they provide satisfying answers to unaccountable evils. How could Donald Trump possibly have won an election? It makes sense that conspiracy theories are so popular now, especially in a time of low trust and highly concentrated global power, when multinational corporations, elite media, and public officials conspire to immiserate and deceive the public. Truth no longer has real currency; there is only the convenient fact.
We live in a Nietzschean hell-world of relativism, and everyone has some “conspiracy” for making sense of the postmodern blast crater.
Some of these conspiracies are fashionable, while others are kooky. In the NPR universe, everything that is good and holy in the world is under constant attack by a host of corporate and subliminal demons: Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Fox News, the NRA, Mitch McConnell, “white supremacy,” white people in general, “male privilege,” men in general, and so on.
The liberal Left’s idea of the powerful connotes not a global elite, but people included within certain privileged identity groups as well as the politicians and media backing them up. In the respectable world of MSNBC-addled data crunchers, it is now axiomatic that the president is sitting in the Oval Office because Vladimir Putin has secret tapes of Trump getting peed on by Russian prostitutes, and that Fox News is helping to bring about a white supremacist insurgency. But the people who believe this stuff think that it’s crazy to suggest that there exists a global cabal of evil people with no allegiance to either political party.
For those who feel besieged by this global elite, it seems perfectly natural that the same powerful class preventing their political party from doing anything in their interest, that constantly accuses them of having unearned privilege while their standard of living declines, that floods their country with illegal scab labor and then calls them racist for noticing, just murdered a well-connected billionaire who knew all about a global elite sex ring.
The most innocuous explanation for Epstein’s “suicide” is no comfort. Epstein’s death, whatever the cause, is an infuriating demonstration of the truism that there are two sets of laws, one for the powerful and another for the powerless. It is further evidence that, yes, we are ruled by wicked people, and yes, they will get away with it. Epstein evaded justice for years; now he has eluded it for good, while those implicated in his crimes may never be held accountable.
If Russiagate is any example, the Epstein case will get memory-holed with the help of the same elite propagandists in our national press who stoked the Russian conspiracy theory. There have been no consequences for the central players in the Russia drama, least of all the press that pushed the delusion. No; the self-satisfied news media, and powerful bureaucrats like James Comey, are as convinced as ever that they are correct and that they are untouchable.
When Russiagate fell apart, the conspirators pleaded that there was no malice in the matter; it was all an honest mistake. Comey and John Brennan and MSNBC had all dearly hoped that the president was not a Russian agent, and—what a relief!—their worst fears were discounted.
Time to move on now; let’s not think too hard about how this whole thing started.
It’s a feature of our corrupted constitutional order, not a bug, that the very people who portend to check the powerful run interference for them. Now, the same media that pushed back against Trump’s attacks on the exalted “intelligence community,” which insisted that “spying” isn’t actually spying, and now expects people to believe that there was nothing unusual about Jeffrey Epstein’s “suicide.”
Let’s not get carried away. Couldn’t mere coincidence, ordinary incompetence, explain the sudden death of the man who, according to Alexander Acosta, “belonged to intelligence?” Couldn’t a little administrative misstep explain why he wasn’t being monitored?
There’s nothing crazy about the Epstein conspiracy theory. In fact, it’s banal. But the banal truth must be suppressed at all costs. What would happen if people started asking questions about their ruling class? People might start to wonder whether they are not ruled by their betters, that the liberal “elites” who occupy our most powerful institutions are not only incompetent but downright evil.
We can’t have that, can we?