The impending 10th anniversary of the events of 9/11/2001 puts me in mind of a state of affairs which, as nearly as I can determine, has been identified by certain of the media, but seldom is its true significance pointed out. It is, I would say, just too big, too overwhelming, to contemplate in any sort of rational manner. What I have in mind is the fact that there is a great divide in the American populace – every bit as profound in its implications as any previous one in history... and there have been plenty, among which we must count slavery and abortion. There are certain issues which, in most other countries, would lead to considerable civil strife, if not to outright civil war or revolution – disagreements so profound that no middle ground is possible (at least not for sane people – philosophy professors, “ethicists”, and politicians are another matter). And in fact, the issue of slavery did aid and abet the run-up to the Civil War, although there is disagreement to this day as to how critical that issue actually was.
What I have in mind at present, however, is the simple fact that a certain percentage of the populace continues to believe in, and defend, the official narrative as to the events of 9/11... whereas another percentage believes in, and defends, one or a combination of the many “conspiracy theories” surrounding those events. Now, what is significant about this disagreement is not on the same level as a disagreement about, let's say, the evidence pertaining to a trial... or to most historical events... or even to various economic models. There is, typically in those cases, “room for disagreement” without either side experiencing a mortal threat to their world view. Another way of putting it is there is room for a viable agnostic position... for gray areas. One doesn't have to have an entirely different world view from one's opponents across the debating table when discussing the causes of the Great Depression, for example... or of the fall of the Soviet Union. Even in a case like “what happened to Jimmy Hoffa?” there are various theories, but I don't think anyone would feel overly-threatened by the discovery of new evidence, unless they were directly implicated.
So what we have here are, really, two types of models of events, or two ways of building models of events. One way is limited, more or less, to the evidence at hand, and is reasonably willing to alter the model in the face of new evidence. This might be called the objective, or value-free, or emotion-free, model – and it is the one that courts and judges are supposed to adhere to at all times, although they clearly fail in this from time to time. The other model typically starts with evidence (or the lack thereof) but then proceeds to extrapolate and expand, based on other considerations – overall world view, political agendas, emotional needs, opportunities to make money or obtain power, etc.
Now – when it comes to money or power as motivators, I'm going to eliminate those factors as representing true differences of opinion or belief, although they can certainly disguise themselves that way quite skillfully – especially in the hands of a talented demagogue (of the political or “media” type). Political agendas, likewise, are suspect when it comes to genuineness; how many people can claim that they know what any politician really believes – about anything? Especially when their “beliefs” magically change every time new poll numbers come in?
So what does that leave us with? World view and emotional needs – and although emotional needs are authentic enough for a given individual, they aren't very reliable indicators of objectivity. But on the other hand, isn't one's world view founded largely on emotion – on what one thinks the world is, or ought to be, like, rather than what it actually is like? And going in the opposite direction, aren't our emotions – our feelings about events and situations – predicated largely on our world view, and how those events or situations fit into it? Isn't this, for example, what “values voters” are supposedly all about – voting for an ideal, or for someone who supposedly represents or promotes that ideal? But on the other hand, aren't all voters “values voters” in a sense? The media use this term to denote traditionalists and conservatives, but isn't someone who wants to stay on welfare for life a “values voter” too? Staying on welfare for life is a value, isn't it? It's just not a "traditional" one, although it's on the verge of becoming traditional when one considers how long the welfare state has been in place.
Is it, therefore, even possible to separate world view from emotion? The term “reality-based” has come into play lately, being applied to, for example, the “reality-based community” or “reality-based voters”. This is supposed to imply that there are people out there who are interested in “just the facts” and not in theories, models, strivings, emotion, nationalism, etc. Well, OK, but... how does one interpret “just the facts” unless it's on the basis of some pre-existing value system? Henry Kissinger pretended to be a master practitioner of “realpolitik”, but what his policies invariably added up to was the expansion of the American Empire, or its gradual merging with a one-world, New World Order empire. And doesn't that represent a “value” of some sort – an as-yet-to-be-attained ideal? No, I don't think it's in human nature to be satisfied with “just the facts”. Even the best courts and judges only use the facts as a basis for comparison to some ideal, as represented by the law. If the law represents a codification of morality and ethics, then it also represents the place in which those things encounter, or come into juxtaposition with, the facts – with actual events. We think we know, for example, what constitutes robbery, or murder; “It's obvious!” Right. But if it were always so obvious, there would be no need for trials or judges – the police could simply arrest people, gather evidence, and proceed with the execution (or jail time). Even the most barbaric societies at least pretend to have some modicum of “justice” above and beyond pure police work... some structure resembling a court, and judges (if not juries). There is a natural human resistance to the idea of being ruled by facts, and facts alone – a yearning, if you will, for nuance, for interpretation... for “judgment” in the broad sense.
So rather than define our continuum on the basis of a duality, I propose that it be defined on the basis of a polarity – with “world view” (including the emotional component) on one end and “the facts” (including the unavoidable subjective component) on the other. I know, this is unsatisfying in that it does not represent a crystal-clear dichotomy; there is no room for guys wearing either pure white or pure black hats. But this seems to be the situation we are confronted with whenever we consider current events – a maddening array of pseudo-facts, propaganda, feelings and ideals disguised as facts, facts ignored in favor of feelings and ideals, etc. And as the “election season” goes into high gear (as if it ever isn't in high gear) these things are more and more on display – much to the delight of the media and fatigue of the public.
So with that as a very large note of caution, let us proceed to the actual topic at hand, namely the ongoing response to the events of 9/11/2001. And I say “ongoing” because, in an era where the highest value when it comes to traumatic events seems to be “closure”, there has been no significant closure with regard to 9/11, nor is there likely to be – and part of the reason is this great divide in opinion... or, more than opinion, in world view... in reality, even – almost on the metaphysical level. I don't think very many people out there would argue that the World Trade Center towers didn't come down, or that nothing happened at the Pentagon or in Shanksville, Pennsylvania that day. I mean – one day the towers were there, the next day they weren't. One day the Pentagon was intact, the next day it had a hole in it. And something clearly hit the ground in rural Pennsylvania. But this is where the resemblance ends! There are no other “facts” or assertions – including the official narrative – that are not, somewhere and by someone, debated or contradicted. If you don't believe me, do an Internet search. Wade through the endless swamps and thickets of 9/11 conspiracy theories and “truther” sites, and you will find that everything you think you “know” about those events has been held up to serious question... and in many cases, compelling evidence exists to the contrary. But, but! -- you might say – at least there are videos of the planes hitting the towers, or of one plane, or... but what plane, exactly? There is evidence that the plane that was alleged to hit the tower, and the one that actually hit the tower, were two different planes. And please note, this is not the most ambiguous, but the most direct piece of evidence in the whole story. Everything else is clouded, and shrouded in mystery... and that mystery only becomes deeper the more one reads and hears, which is why the official government narrative is so appealing – it clears up the mystery. In fact, it keeps there from being any mystery at all. There is a perfectly simple explanation for everything, and all the evidence – all the admissible evidence, that is – supports it, and there is no evidence – admissible, once again – that contradicts it. Case closed.
Now, you'll notice right away that the government's – Regime's -- criteria for admissible evidence are quite stringent. What they amount to is that any evidence that fits the narrative is admissible, and any that does not is not. So it becomes a perfectly closed system – a “closed shop”, if you will, when it comes to data. And in this it resembles nothing so much as the official version of the JFK assassination: The report is written, case closed, and anything that bubbles up later on is of no interest. And – this is key – not only is it of no interest, but it is obviously the work of “conspiracy theorists”, nut jobs, crazy people, insane people, “haters”, anti-government anarchists, etc. Whenever you see character assassination – including of the preemptive type – entering into the discussion, you know you're dealing with a very firm, deep, and profound agenda that has nothing to do with facts, and everything to do with the acquisition and maintenance of power. Let's say that the official 9/11 report had been written and issued, but then a standing committee of Congress had been established to consider new evidence whenever it should become available, and from whatever source. Then you might have said that the government was truly interested in the facts of the matter. What if the FBI had actually sifted through the wreckage in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania looking for evidence and clues? But the narrative had already been written and published... the American public had drunk the Kool-Aid... so the evidence could be trucked off to unknown locations, buried, or destroyed. In fact, the most dangerous thing you can do when everything depends on the official narrative being believed by everyone is to keep evidence around. And, I might add, the sequence of events following 9/11 matched, to a remarkable degree, the events following the JFK assassination – right down to the full cooperation of the ever-compliant media. Someday the book will be written comparing the two – and, hopefully, by that time, the “conventional wisdom” about 9/11 will have evolved in the same direction as it has about JFK, now that all the guilty parties are dead and gone.
So it's clear that the Regime has excellent reasons for putting the story to bed and keeping it there – and defending it against all opposition or skepticism by labeling the non-believers mentally deranged in some way. So we see that the lines are drawn along the political/power continuum, and that the “paranoid style in American politics” consists mainly of the establishment labeling anyone who disagrees with it “paranoid”. But what are people disagreeing with? The facts? Or, more likely, the political/power agenda, and there is no secret as to what that entails, because we see it on a daily basis, in both domestic and foreign affairs. So yes, the events of 9/11 do fit a certain political/power agenda... but just because they fit, does that make it a direct connection? Some have termed 9/11 a “happy accident” or a blessing in disguise for the Regime – that it came along just in time to provide a rationale for declaring war on Islam and for accelerating the construction of a police state on the domestic side. Others will say that because this one event – this set of events on this one day – benefited so many people, and entities, so handsomely, it's clear that they had something to do with it. This would be coming to conclusions about intentions based on results. And some would say that it would be like claiming that the Jews supported Hitler because they knew that the long-term outcome would be the establishment of the State of Israel – a position that some actually hold, but I find it way too conspiratorial even for my tastes. For one thing, it would have required a level of omniscience that I doubt anyone is capable of – although some people seem to come awfully close (like Warren Buffet and George Soros, e.g.).
The events of 9/11, on the other hand, are much more readily attributable to a conspiracy on the part of the power elite. Provocateur and “false flag” actions are time-honored methods in foreign affairs, and in this case what could be simpler (conceptually, at least) than mounting a “terrorist” attack, attributing it to Moslem fanatics, and therefore declaring war on Islam (not in so many words, but what do you call it when we add a new Moslem country, or regime, to our list of enemies every month or two?). And in whose interest is it that we declare, and fight, a war on Islam? Well, we've been over this before – suffice it to say that the Islamic world is up against a “perfect storm” of political opinion and political and financial power in the U.S., combined with counterparts in Europe. The season has arrived for a new Crusade (but without the cross), and a new war on Islam, and nothing is going to prevent it. Now, this is not to say that victory (whatever that would look like) is assured, any more than victory was assured the first time around. The Crusades seemed to succeed for a while, but eventually the European powers were worn down by the opposition and by their own internal struggles – not to mention issues of logistics and expense. They were overextended then, just as we are now, and I imagine the long-term result is going to be the same. But simply knowing this will not prevent the waste and folly, because those are a matter of faith – not religious faith this time, but nationalistic zeal, not unlike that which infected Germany under the Third Reich. When a nation becomes a religion, then any war it enters into is a religious war... and that, in turn, almost insures waste, folly, and eventual defeat. It is just the opposite of the “reality-based” approach – assuming there can be any such thing as “reality-based warfare”... and I think there can be, if we go back to “just war” theory. (But when was our last “just war”? 1812 is my guess.)
So here is what it amounts to. People who believe in the government's narrative about 9/11 – and evidence be damned – are not simply expressing trust in their leaders. It is an emotional response to trauma, and that response can be wildly irrational at times – like the proverbial horse running back into a burning barn. At times when our world is shaken, we seek reassurance and security – and what entity is better at providing this than the all-encompassing, welfare-state, “caring” government? We see, or sense, “terrorists” landing on our shores... swarthy men with week-old beards and daggers (or box cutters) in their teeth, speaking in a heathen babble, reeking of garlic... and what could be more comforting than to run to the waiting arms of a whiter-than-white president (in Bush's case) and his whiter-than-white vice president (Cheney or Biden) and his whiter-than-white secretary of defense (Rumsfeld or Gates)? Yes, these are the men – straight out of “Life With Father” or “Leave it to Beaver” -- who will protect us from all the nasty, smelly savages of the world who threaten to destroy “the American way of life” (whatever that means any longer).
I'm not talking “reality” here, note – at least not in the usual sense. I'm talking about how the American sheep respond when the wolf hops over the fence into the fold. And what event in any of our lifetimes exemplifies that better than the events of 9/11? We felt violated; we _were_ violated. So we ran into the arms of our protectors, even though they had failed to protect us... and turned over to them our rights and liberties, because what are those silly, abstract things compared to being protected from “terror” -- and sure enough, “there has not been another significant terrorist attack on American soil...” etc. Don't you see that this is a perfect replication of an experimental paradigm with lab rats? You administer both shocks and rewards... and the rat doesn't have the wherewithal to realize that the source of the shocks and the source of the rewards are the same. And nor do the American people realize that, more often than not, our “protectors” are also our tormentors, and our “leaders” are the very ones who work night and day to annihilate our values, hopes, and dreams, and drive us into bankruptcy and moral anarchy. And yet they claim to not only have our best interests at heart, but also have the unmitigated gall to ask for our “vote”! The situation is ludicrous and pathetic – but it persists because the vast majority simply refuse to see it for what it is.
So... one can do worse than to assume that virtually any current event represents, at base, a power struggle – a struggle, that is, among people vying for power. The struggle between the power elite and the people has, of course, already been won, so that is not even an issue, regardless of what the “tea partiers” believe. There is no such thing as a “people's candidate” in the next election – at least none that has a chance of winning. You won't see a major candidate, or a successful candidate, that has not already sold out to the power elite; this is simply the price that has to be paid for political glory in our time (and, probably, the price that has always had to be paid). And this, by the way, is why populism – of which the “tea party” is only the most recent manifestation – is doomed by nature. Power can only percolate up, but it never trickles down; not really -- short of revolution, and hardly even then. Even when the Regime seems to be accommodating some popular movement – like labor unions or civil rights, for example – it is only re-positioning itself and preparing to co-opt, compromise, and exploit the movement in question. It will never give up any meaningful power... and will only give up symbolic power for just so long. Eventually, it all comes back to home base as if attracted by a gigantic gravitational field. And, I might add, the size of government makes a difference only in the speed of this consolidation, not in whether or not it occurs. The national government was gradually increasing in power even during our period of greatest liberty – that between the Revolution and the Civil War. Since then, our freedoms have suffered an almost continuous series of buffets and blows, with only the occasional period of relief and relaxation. And now that we have firmly adopted a Perpetual War economy and a supporting political structure, I fear that we have also seen the last of any sort of relief and relaxation. From now on, it's going to be a full-court press on the part of the Regime to extinguish any and all remaining liberties and freedoms, for the simple reason that they have decided they can get along and prosper perfectly well with an enslaved citizenry – and they have no “values” that would keep them from acting accordingly.
Now, I hope I have presented a credible rationale for, at the very least, why the events of 9/11 would have played into the hands of the ruling elite. But even people who heartily agree with this will still contend that it was, as I said before, a “happy accident” -- an opportunity to accrue and consolidate power, but not intentionally caused for that purpose. Even people who contend that Al-Qaeda “won” by forcing us to become a police state will identify it as a matter of dumb luck on their part, and not intentional. In other words, they weren't trying to change the U.S., only get it out of the Middle East and get back at it for having been over there for so long. Or – an alternative theory is that Al-Qaeda is perfectly innocent, and that the government itself is the only guilty party. This might be wishful thinking, however, since it seems clear that Al-Qaeda, and like organizations, did, and continue to, wish us harm. I mean – if they weren't responsible for 9/11, they would very much like to have been; let's put it that way. So I'm not about to let them off the hook. But on the other hand, I'm not going to let anyone else off the hook who clearly benefited from those events – especially when there is a mountain of unexplained evidence and another mountain of unanswered questions.
But here's the problem. The people who adhere to the official explanation of the events of 9/11 claim to be “reality-based”, and yet they become extremely emotional when anyone questions that explanation, and start hurling epithets. Plus, as I pointed out above, their criteria for admissible evidence are bizarre – they will accept “facts” from the government that are wildly unlikely, and little more than fairy tales... but will reject convincing pieces of evidence from skeptics, many of whom are experts in the fields in question. So I think it's safe to say that the die-hard, dogmatic adherents to the official line are driven principally by fear, emotion, and security needs... by the need to keep their world (the one in their heads, that is) intact. And this, in turn, is related to their unfortunate habit of making the government, and “America”, and an entire galaxy of symbols and delusions, an essential part of their world view. They simply cannot divorce themselves from their preconceptions about America – about this country they were born and raised in, and educated in (in government-run schools, by and large).
Now... it should be possible to appreciate, and respect, this country for its better qualities, and for what is has done, and continues to do, right; this is a healthy kind of patriotism, and one that has characterized a goodly number of our citizens from the beginning of the republic. But at some point, a thin line is crossed, and what was a healthy attitude turns into nationalism, fanaticism, an obsession with Manifest Destiny, with policing the world, with “spreading democracy” -- and then it all gets crazy and foolish, and invites push-back from the rest of the world... the sort of push-back we got on 9/11. And associated with this are other subordinate collective neuroses – like progress for progress' sake, war for war's sake, triumphalism, bullying, and general obnoxiousness on the world stage. And make no mistake – the rest of the world actually holds a lower opinion of us than we think. It's just that we're still big, and still powerful, and also mean, irrational, and violent – so they have to cool it with their opinions. But there will be no end of rejoicing – even from our “allies” -- when our empire finally crumbles to dust. It's like the town bully whom everyone defers to, but when he finally meets his comeuppance they line up to create an unsanitary condition on his grave. And this is not even to say that what follows will be better! It will just be different; it won't be “us”. Then it will be someone else's turn to go through the same changes and follies – to retrace the same trajectory, and with the same ultimate results. If the highest spiritual aspirations of man are manifested in religion and great art, architecture, and music, then his highest (not to say best) political aspirations are represented in the building of empires... but those political aspirations have a way of getting humbled and rebuffed, and yet they persist from one generation to the next, because, as we all know, history never applies to the present day. “This time is different.”
So when it comes to 9/11, the people who want and need to believe, without question, the official line are, arguably, acting according to emotion much more than to facts. They are, apparently, acting in contradiction to many facts. And in this, they are expressing a kind of perverted faith – not in a religious creed but in a secular entity. (I don't worry too much about “the separation of church and state”, but I would certainly like to see more separation of faith and state.) And what if the government were shown to be, indeed, evil and malevolent; would this rock their world all that much? It would if they were brought up to believe that the government was their ultimate protector – their refuge of last resort. And sure enough, this is exactly the message that government schools – which the vast majority of them attended – provide. The ancient verities are no longer in force... family, ethnic group, race, church may all fail, but the government will always provide; this is the message, and it is believed on a profound level – even by the “tea partiers”, because they believe that the way to fix what's wrong with government is to come up with a different government – nothing else will do. Kind of like hiring a bodyguard to protect you from school bullies – which is great, except you still have to pay the bodyguard, and what happens when one of the bullies offers him a better price to stop protecting you? Or what happens if he simply loses interest? Government cannot cure government any more than eating more can cure obesity. What the “tea partiers” should be doing is re-examining the entire concept of government; but this is something they seem unwilling or unable to do. It should be remembered that the “tea partiers” are not, by and large, libertarians. They don't want to eliminate, or even necessarily reduce the size of, government; they just want to alter its priorities. But that, again, is like a bullfighter expecting the bull to become hypnotized by that red piece of cloth, and forget that he's in the ring. It might work for a while, but then... maybe not. (And, I might add, how many of the “tea partiers” are also skeptics when it comes to 9/11? Very few if any, I'd say – they are still much too “establishment” for that... much too wedded to the basic narrative, or metaphysics, of what the government is all about.)
I hope I haven't dismissed all of the people who adhere to the official line on 9/11 in a cruel fashion. I know that they are products of the public schools... the mainstream media... the “system”... and that they feel they “owe” their leaders more than a modicum of trust. They feel, especially, that although politicians may occasionally exaggerate, and bend the truth, or even lie... that they are patriotic citizens like you and me, and would never commit heinous, treasonous acts just for the sake of power, or to please some dark, unknown, evil entity somewhere in the world. After all, aren't they human too? Didn't many of them rise from humble origins – humbler even than my own? Well... the problem is that things happen to people when they rise to power – evil things, profound things. They get what I call that invisible plate implanted in their heads; they become pod people. They suffer not so much from physical lesions of the brain as from moral lesions... permanent damage to the conscience. And so yes, even from humble origins they come into the light and rarefied atmosphere of power, wealth, and carnal gratification (and don't, please, underestimate the importance of that last item), and they really do change. They cease to be like us in almost every way. So yes, they are, or become, capable of thought processes, and motives, and acts that the rest of us can barely conceive of. This, it seems to me, has to be part of our thinking on these matters – but it very seldom is. To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Let me tell you about politicians. They are different from you and me.” But unlike Fitzgerald's rich elite, they are, by and large, not born that way but become that way – and this is difficult, if not impossible, for the average person to understand. “How is it that power can change people so profoundly? It wouldn't have that effect on me.” But how do you know? And – even more mysterious – do the people who attain power know that they've changed? Maybe they really think that their values and actions now are perfectly consistent with those of their youth. (And if they do, that is further proof of their insanity.) And, I might add, the bigger government becomes the more instantly intoxicating its level of power becomes... so a politician who might, in former times, have remained in his right mind for at least a while turns into a power junkie almost immediately. Many mayors in our time oversee more people than kings did in ancient times; they employ more people and control more wealth. So imagine how it is for governors or presidents.
But if the conventional, party-line thinkers about 9/11 can be tried and found wanting, how about the “conspiracy theorists” and “truthers”? Are they any closer to the facts? Are they any less emotional? Do they have agendas of their own – particularly emotional agendas, every bit as powerful as those held by the conventional thinkers (or non-thinkers)? Do they, in other words, depend, to keep their world view intact, on the premise that the government is intrinsically evil and malevolent, and that the people who inhabit it are murderers and traitors? I think we can start getting a feel for this if we take a look at how nuanced their arguments are. If they start with the facts, or evidence, or at least questions, without prematurely attributing blame or motive, that is one thing. If they start with the premise that because government is intrinsically evil, it can and will do anything, and therefore it must have done this – that is another thing. Now, the second group may be right, but the argument from premise is unlikely to convince anyone else. And yet, it's unlikely that many of them are going to alter their line of argument, since they have some reason – personal, most likely – for deeply distrusting the government. Maybe it's an actual experience that they have extrapolated into a general view of things – again, not necessarily wrong. Or, maybe it's more on the Freudian side – problems with authority, father figures, what have you. But again, “just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't out to get you”. If we start making ad hominen arguments – that a person has to be in perfect mental and moral health before I'm willing to listen to them about anything – then where does it stop? Eventually we get into that (alleged) Quaker business about “only me and thee, and I have doubts about thee.” Again, I think it helps to get into the dynamics of the thing – the “which came first” question – the world view or the facts? Which one is the driver, in other words? A person may have an agenda, but if they have facts, evidence, and questions that cannot be ignored, then it's a disservice to the truth to ignore them – or to demand that others do so.
And yet, as I said, then it comes to things like 9/11, there are very few “agnostics” out there – and a lot of believers. And every believer believes that he has the facts, and that the facts support his beliefs. So what we are seeing when it comes to 9/11 is not unlike a religious war, albeit a “cold” one. It's a conflict of faith, which uses facts as ammunition – but seldom with success. But it is, nonetheless, remarkable in that it constitutes a great and profound divide in this country – an epistemological divide for certain, and perhaps a metaphysical divide as well. And that a difference this profound can exist, and yet people go on living their lives in a more or less normal way, strikes me as astonishing... and yet it's absolutely the case, and one which our leadership never comes to grips with, either because they can't or they won't. And is it even “poisoning” our political dialogue, the way the abortion issue is said to do? No! And it's clearly not because the skeptics are in a tiny minority. I think it's more likely that the skeptics are, almost without exception, people with no political power and who are not interested in acquiring any. In other words, they are, politically, no-shows and nonentities, which means they will not be listened to no matter how good a case they make. And this is no accident. It seems that people who are skeptical about government tend to avoid it, quite naturally and understandably. And they are the same people who are ready to believe that government, and its functionaries, are capable of anything. Those who “believe in” government, on the other hand, cut off all other options – among which are the ability to see contradictory facts, analyze them, and act on them. This is, as much as anything else, the real “great divide” we are faced with, and, by comparison, it makes the contrived opposition between Republicans and Democrats, and between liberals and (so-called) conservatives, trivial to the point of non-existence. There are no “sides” within the system; if you're in the system, that's the side you're on. If you're not in the system, then anything is possible – conceptually. But not everything is necessarily true. This is the point at which facts again come into play – if only we can make our agendas conditional and give the facts priority, rather than make the facts conditional on our agendas.