Martin Bryant -- logically but not legally insane Martin Bryant -- and his 35 Port Arthur victims continue to confuse public thought in Australia. Bryant's jailing for life has no more settled all the doubts among all the people than did the Warren Commission convince all Americans that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he blew away President John Kennedy.
Only recently has Pauline Hanson rejected fevered claims that the massacre was a conspiracy and accepted that Bryant acted alone. Possibly reluctantly, and certainly belatedly, she repudiated one of the core beliefs of a largish proportion of her followers, particularly the element that hitched its anti-gun control hopes to her passing wagon of popularity. Such farfetched conspiracy theories remain lively and loopy talkback fodder.
However, lurking on the dark side of lunar politics is another outfit that builds its rickety house on a quicksand of far-fetched conspiracies. It is the Citizens Electoral Council, a highly organised and, one would presume, solidly financed local offshoot of the worldwide web of Lyndon LaRouche adherents.
LaRouche, who is lauded in the council's New Citizen paper for being as omnipotent and wise as any tinpot Marxist Great Leader, was last heard of on parole after serving part of a 15-year sentence in the United States for mail fraud, tax evasion and a grab bag of related crimes. His specialty is spinning webs for the fearful with impressive but meaningless graphs and weaving spells of economic and social mumbo jumbo.
The CEC, which is has eight Queensland House of Representative candidates and one Senate aspirant lined up for the next federal election, is running hard on a truly bizarre Port Arthur conspiracy theory. According to CEC (and I'm sure this comes directly from headquarters rather than the local stooges) the "Port Arthur events'' were co-ordinated by Tavistock, the "premier psychological warfare unit of the British Crown''. (The royal family, LaRouchites believe, runs the world drug trade, among its many sins). "Tavistock's strategic mission is to replace a civilisation of self-ruling, industrial nation states with a `post-industrial', globalised world ruled by a tiny oligarchy,'' the CEC explains.
"British intelligence,'' it warns, "will trigger such terrorist events where it has control over the local media and psychiatric, police and intelligence networks. ". . . it has this control in Australia, to which numerous of Tavistock's top operatives were deployed right after World War II. "Australia, which has seen a dozen mass murders since the infamous Hoddle Street Massacre of 1987, has been subjected to particularly intense Tavistockian profiling . . . ''
Apparently we are still paying the price of interference for breaking with the British Empire during the war and allying ourselves with the United States. And, at Port Arthur, Bryant was "monitored, directed and, in all likelihood, programmed by Tavistock networks in Tasmania'', the island state being a "perfect Tavistock laboratory''.
This ponderous nonsense continues for four closely-packed pages but quite where it really goes is beyond the thought processes of any sensible individual. It probably doesn't matter at all except to demonstrate how easy it is to use pseudo-scientific and quasi-political techniques to hijack the frustrations and energies of otherwise reasonable people. Lead articles in the CEC newspaper are headlined "LaRouche was right: The Depression is on!'' and "Stop fascist racial vilification laws''.
They tap into some of the same fears and frustrations that have spawned any number of the rightist groups that have splintered Australian politics in recent years. But, in this case, there is something intrinsically evil in the way LaRouche exploits the pressures of a society under stress to push his peculiar barrow. One Nation, by comparison, is positively benign. Naive, but benign.