The phrase conspracy theory is in itself very ideologically loaded and is used to discourage the public to delve too deeply into certain topics (like 9/11, or the death of the Kennedies), but!:
To blame a "secret cabal" of powerful people for the issues we are dealing with in our societies is VERY problematic. The truth is, everybody is responsible for what is happening in our world today, and every single being contributes in some way. It was not a small group of nazis funded by rich individuals who brought about the third reich, it was the people of Germany who let the nazi coup happen. It was not a small group of wall street thugs and the military industrial complex that installed the american empire, it is the responsibility of all US citizens.
This is important, because, what can we do as individuals when there are those "powerful figures" controlling the "New World Order"? This believe in a conspiracy of the few who rule the world denies us the power we have and it absolves us from the responsibilities we have to face. One of our responsibilities is to understand the institutions of power we have allowed to exist and to question them and James Corbett brings to us great analysis of these power structures.
With little power comes great responsibility!
The believe that we are inconsequent in the face of powerful institutions thus is false, as we have ourselfs created them. It is part of the strategies that the global hegemony has successfully used to make us accept its rule and promote the feeling of powerlessness in the public.
People like Allen Dulles are indeed powerful individuals in positions of power that we created and that we could as easily topple. Their position of power is given to them only by us. The individual itself in this position of power is not consequential, the position of power itself is. Allen Dulles was formed by this position of power we granted him and removing the individual from the position of power would probably have changed nothing. Another individual would have taken the place and the systemic pressures might have taken him on a very similar path.
The power that controls us and that produces the institutions of power exists only in our own minds and is called ideology. To attack individuals of power will not change anything. Dont't get me wrong, this does not absolve those individuals, who might have more individual responsibility or guilt than others, and I believe that war criminals in government positions should be charged and tried for their crimes.
In order to know our own power we have to recognize the fact, that this ideology is imposed on us by power techniques, like propaganda and the control of knowledge by the elites. The knowledge that ideology is imposed on us in this way does also not absolve us from our responsibilities even if the techniques of power are very sophisticated today. It is our responsibility to know about the power techniques and question the ideology they impose on us.
So, yes, there are powerful individuals and yes, they do use the most sophisticated power apparatus ever known, but they don't have power. The power comes to them by the positions they are in and we allow them to have those positions of power by all the intersubjective power relationships we develop in our society. This in essence is what Michel Foucaults theory of power tells us. To a very short introduction to Michel Foucaults take on power, watch this video:
After reading the above again I want to clarify a very important point. The elites are not a cabal, because they are as much a group of individuals with different interests than any other social group or class. We have to understand, that they themselfs are ruled by certain perspectives, values and stereotypes that define their frames of conscious and subconcious practices. They dont have to get together in cabals and plan world dominance, because they already share a certain ideology. This ideology is free market, neoliberal capitalism. The ideology is the narrative of the elites that legitmizes their own practices for themselfs. Just as the slave master of old was telling himself that he "cared" for his slaves and their wellbeing and saw himself as the enlightend father entitled by his intellectual and moral superiority to rule over his "childlike" slaves, incapable of ruling themselfs, the elites tell themselfs that they are entitled to rule in the interest of the people.
The neoliberal ideology also legitimizes the exploitation of the working majority and our planet by the very rich and the suppression of any competing ideology by any means neccesary. Not because they are evil bastards, but because they truly believe the other ideologies to be wrong and dangerous. The elites do not share an ideology because they decided to rule the world in a sinister cabal (like the super villains from James Bond movies). The elites grew up and have been formed by the ideology like all the rest of us. Actually I would guess, that reflection on the believes imposed on them by their socialisations happens less often than for the rest of the public. Many of the stories told on behalf or by the elites in defence of the hegemony are told because they want to believe them as much as they want anybody else to believe them. It is much easier to sleep at night if you believe that the billions you own were not stolen from the poor but that you earned them yourself.
The system of neoliberal free market capitalism created the institutions of power, like the CIA, where the individuals making up those institutions largely make the institution act against those individuals interests. This is also true for most large corporations. People are forced to work for these institutions by the systemic pressures of neoliberal capitalism, even if they do not agree with the goals of these corporations. The story of Allen and James Dulles shows, that their upbringing as part of the self entitled elites and the many ties to wallstreet and the very rich made up their agenda. It seems obvious, that only a capitalist system could have created the CIA as it was created by Allen Dulles.
There is therefore no question, that the systemic forces of free market capitalism are very much working against most of its subjects interests in many ways and are and always have been undermining democracy. Critique of the institutions of power, like the banks, the CIA, the "government" or the corporations is therefore pointless without critque on the system that created them. The system, on the other hand, can only be changed by changing the dominant ideology and the discourse.
So we need to face capitalism and have a true discourse about it, if we want any change to happen. To topple the power structures that have dominated world politics, without also tackling the underlying ideology it stands for, seems futile. The pentagon system, the industrial military complex and the secret state are just other names for capitalism itself. To think there can be a capitalism without structures like those is ignoring all historical evidence.
Non systemic critique is also opening the door for identity politics. If its an invisible "evil cabal" that rules us, somehow, someone always gives those invisible bodies the faces of some minority group (like
"the jews"). Conspiracy theories are therefore open to fascism and those that are truly conspiring to kill or suppress whoever they choose to hate.