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(99) Zalatoy

If you look at early British trade unionism, you find that the “combinations” were often formed in total secrecy—in meetings held on moors, up mountains, or in remote fields. Pledges were made, boxes filled with money buried, documents secreted behind the walls in a friendly inn, and terrible oaths sworn on pain of death—on a skull or over the sign of a skeleton, or at least so I imagine. It had to be that way because the penalty for a “combination” was to be sent to Australia in chains; and so “patriots”—the vernacular is telling, cementing as it does the association between nationalism and socialism—had to be very discreet about their activities.

The left always says that the right is paranoid—obsessed by conspiracy theories—and yet the left itself organises in a conspiratorial fashion. Historically, it literally held midnight assignations where people were sworn to secrecy on pain of death—often with the view to, say, smashing the latest engines, the latest looms, the manufacturers had invented (if of Luddite bent). In other words, early trade unionism was conspiratorial and not without occult undertones—“sworn to keep the combination’s secrets over the sign of the skeleton”.

So the right is correct to be paranoid about conspiracies: Freemasons, trade union combinations, homosexual clubs, Satanists, child-sacrificers, paedos, occultists, the mafia, *the Jews*, the Bolsheviks, anarchists, Islamist terrorists—and sundry foreign subversives. These are all quite real groups that often organise in secret or semi-secret ways for “purposes”. Humans are quite conspiratorial; and people who want to break the law or long-standing social mores are secretive by necessity, and that secretiveness brings them into a world that naturally involves “strange oaths” and omertà—it brings them into Macbeth territory, itself a play about betrayal of legitimate authority, where men with dark purposes gather on the wild and windy heath. “When shall we three meet again—in thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurly-burley’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.”


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