The gist of his message was that everything that happens has all been carefully pre-planned. Talking quietly and confidently to camera, Watts said he had researched "how the future is planned" and "how culture creation worked". He had, he said, read "the big players", the technocrats - the Kissingers, Huxleys, and Lord Bertrand Russells -. He even had his own library of hardback books. "They told us where they were taking the world... And the world has turned out exactly as they planned." And, he added thoughtfully, "This can't be coincidence." Theirs was a very, very powerful organisation, that could fund all sides, all oppositions. And it planned ahead in centuries. 50 year plans. 100 year plans. 150 year plans. "Every change in culture right down to fashion and music had to be authorised from the top." Social control had been refined into science. Anyway, in our modern, post-industrial era most of us bozos had become superfluous. We were, he said ominously, so many "useless eaters".
It was such a well-planned world that I wondered why he was bothering to tell anybody about it, because quite obviously there was nothing anybody could do about it. It was such a well-planned world that even the conspiracy theories about how carefully planned it all was were themselves carefully planned.
I suppose that the essence of any conspiracy theory is that it always depicts the historical process as meticulously planned. Russian revolution? That was planned. The gulag archipelago. Planned. Kruschev's secret speech. Planned years in advance. Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika. Meticulously planned 50 years in advance.
So also everything else. Elvis Presley? Planned. Mini-skirts? Planned. 9/11? Planned. The Kennedy assassination? Planned. Nothing happens that has not been carefully planned and rehearsed years beforehand.
If everything is so well planned, right down to fashion and music, and carried out by a super-powerful elite with thousands of years of hands-on empirical scientific experience going back all the way to Plato, what hope is there for anyone to change anything at all? What hope for the would-be Lenin or Castro rising up from the grassroots? The answer is: none at all. Lenin was planned. So was Castro. And Che Guevara too. The iconic photo. The T-shirts. Everything.
But what about scientific discoveries and technological innovations? Was that all planned too? Was it planned that Newton would set out the laws of motion and gravitation in 1680, and Einstein would come up with his theory of relativity in 1910. Did someone knock on young Einstein's door, and say "Right ho, Albert, you can start on your theory of relativity now." To which Albert would have no doubt replied, "What theory of relativity?" because he hadn't thought of it yet, obviously.
And if the course of history is so carefully planned, was it also part of the grand plan that I should stub my toe on a door frame this afternoon, and decide not to go shopping? Of course it must've been. There are no accidents round here.
Except I don't believe it. I don't believe that everything that goes on in the world is planned. No, it wasn't planned that I would stub my toe. Neither was it planned that Newton and Einstein were to come up with their insights into physics. They were accidents. Accidents are accidental. And so are discoveries.
At this point I suspect that someone like Alan Watts would retreat and declare that, well, not everything was planned in minute detail. But it was planned in broad outline, much like a motorway is planned and constructed. It might not be built exactly on schedule, but it would still be built.
But then I find it impossible to believe that even a large scale event like the First World War was "planned" in any meaningful sense. Yes, there were military plans. But they very rapidly became redundant. Thereafter, the war plans were restricted to particular battles. And even then, the plans always went awry.
In fact, it seems to me that, far from the historical process being one in which 50 year or 150 year plans are being meticulously carried out to the letter, hardly anything at all is actually ever planned. It's a process of continuous improvisation. Far from history following any carefully planned path or pattern, it is the more or less chaotic unfolding of events, and "one damn thing after another."
And yet, just because the unfolding narrative of history is not planned, it does not mean that it is chaotic. As I have several times remarked, the river on whose banks I've spent many an hour has not been planned by anyone. But it is still a very orderly and in many ways predictable thing. If it rains heavily, a few hours later the river will be in spate. Much of the natural world behaves in this unplanned but nevertheless orderly manner. In fact it's rather difficult to think of any natural process which is planned. And it is the task of the natural sciences to reveal that underlying order, and thus predict events before they happen. But to predict an event is not to plan it.
In fact, given that the natural world does not make plans, and that most of what happens in human life is equally unplanned, it's rather surprising that anyone seriously believes that human history has been planned out in advance.
It's probably perfectly true that there are a lot of politicians and pundits who have fully signed up to the idea of a New World Order. There may even have been numerous planning meetings, in which detailed plans have been set out for the orderly transition from from a democratic polity to a post-democratic one. But I would suggest that these plans are not really any different than the plans for the First World War by the general staff of the German army in 1914, and they are about as likely to be carried through successfully.
In fact, one might even say that the planned transition to a New World Order is an undertaking of such a magnitude that the military plans of the First World War, and even the Manhattan project, pale into insignificance beside it.
Given all this, it's a pretty safe bet that the New World Order hasn't any chance at all of success. It will degenerate into unforeseen disorder. Because it is, like so much else that goes on these days, a confidence trick. It is built upon getting enough people to believe that it's going to happen, and nothing can be done to stop it. But just because enough people believe something will happen doesn't mean that it actually will happen.
Anyway, it seems that my attempt to become a proper conspiracy theorist has foundered once again as my scepticism has roused itself from its temporary stupor. Perhaps I should try harder next time.