The Schiller White Paper: Creating a Conspiracy
This brief overview helps us understand the roots as well as the cultural and ideological basis of this type of conspiracy theory. The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is based on a mixture of depopulation and NWO conspiracy theories. However, the melding of the two ideas into a single theory that attacks a specific policy is the work of a group called the Schiller Institute. The Schiller Institute is a conservative think tank named after a German intellectual from the late 1700s (The Schiller Institute 2014). The group is led by Helga Zepp LaRouche, wife of Lyndon LaRouche and advocates his economic and political theories (The Schiller Institute 2014).
LaRouche’s think tank refers to him as an “economist and political thinker” (The Schiller Institute 2014). However, he is also a conspiracy theorist that publicly supports several alternative political narratives. Some of his views include the idea that the Queen of England directly controls the military and foreign policy goals of Europe. He also supports claims that the long-term plans of the British Monarch include many dark and clandestine projects to destroy the sovereignty of the United States (Macky 2009). Further, concepts that LaRouche supports are the notion that the Affordable Healthcare Act is taken directly from the social policies of Nazi Germany. This includes many authoritarian aspects of the Nazi state, such as forced labor camps and forced euthanasia (Macky 2009).
On the surface, the group’s website does not appear to be any different from the websites of any other think tank or political action committee. However, if one delves past the front page stories that cry out for world peace and economic collusion, a different narrative appears. One of the current postings the website offers is an evaluation of “green” policies, in which the Schiller Institute describes sustainability oriented policies as “green fascism” and “green genocide” (The International Schiller Institute n/d). These concepts do not directly relate to Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, however as I will next explain, they use a similar set of frames and a similar narrative as another release by the Schiller Institute.
The initial document constructing the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory was originally a Schiller Institute white paper from the early 1990s. The paper, entitled “Eco 92 Must Be Stopped” was then reprinted in the magazine entitled Executive Intelligence Review and is published by the Schiller Institute (The Schiller Institute 1991). The paper is intended to serve as a step by step outline that explains the “true” intent” behind Agenda 21 and the Rio Conference.
This work is essentially the root of Agenda 21 conspiracy narratives and explains how the sustainability plan became a part of the New World Order and a part of Malthusian conspiracy theories. The next few pages will contain an analysis of the important narratives, framing devices, and implied ideological understandings of reality that make the conspiracy theory possible. This is not an attempt to “debunk” the Schiller paper in its entirety.This is not done with the intent of completely disproving the claims of the Schiller Institute, these points are included to help show the difference in how a narrative derived from conspiracy theories forms connections and interprets reality.
The “Eco 92” paper starts with a simple two-sentence summary of what Agenda 21 is intended to do (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28).Although this seems like a small slight aimed at the program, the initial questioning of the basic validity of the program sets the tone of disapproval and distrust that permeates throughout the rest of the work. After this brief and pejorative introduction, the author quickly finishes the introduction/abstract with the strong assertion that the policies and ecological goals are nothing more than a “hoax” and “giant fraud.” The Schiller institute “reveals” the real intent of Agenda 21 is to create a program meant to “consolidate the Malthusian New World Order promoted by the Anglo-American financial elite” (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28). This line in particular deserves some attention, as this is where we can see the establishment of a link between Agenda 21 and established conspiracy. With a simple connection such as this, the paper links the Malthusian conspiracy theories and New World Order conspiracy theories into a singular narrative and places the agency for the conspirator’s behavior (and all associated evils) in the hands of those participating in the Rio Summit. The author then finishes the introduction with a statement of purpose for the construction of this paper. The main point of Eco 92’s creation is to “expose the true intentions of the oligarchical (sic) architects of Eco 92”,“to debunk the pseudo-scientific myths upon which it is premised,” and “to explain the historical roots of the Malthusian policies” which the Schiller institute claims are the basis for Agenda 21 (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28). These claims help to frame Agenda 21 as more of the same malevolent behavior attributed to powerful elements of the international community (within conspiracy theory narratives) instead of a new and innovative plan to stop environmental degradation.
With the conspiracy narrative established, Eco 92 then proceeds to give a point-by-point analysis of the “The Real Agenda” that the Schiller institute claims to understand. The author starts by explaining that these ecological ideas are rooted in a form of pagan philosophy (that does not actually seem to exist outside of the conspiracy theory) derived from the teachings of a cult of which many of the attendants of the Rio Conference are members (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28). In this part of the writing we can see an attempt to label ecologically minded leaders and activists as part of an obscure and apparently (via the authors framing) offensive religion.
After this political demonization has occurred and Agenda 21 supporters are labeled as a cult filled of nature worshiping fanatics that “places man on a par with lower life forms such as microbes” the author begins to explain their assumptions about the true intention of the creators of Agenda 21 (Rogin 1987, xiii-xx) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28).
The first claim is that Agenda 21 is a method to destroy national sovereignty. This is a somewhat similar to common argument from conservative politicians and legal scholars concerning international treaties (Davenport 2005) (Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005). However, the methods and reasoning offered by the Schiller paper are unsubstantiated and much different from the concerns of legal scholars. Within the works mentioned above, the concern is primarily for a weakening of American sovereignty due to the goals that are stated within the laws and treaties (Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005) (Davenport 2005). In the case of the Schiller paper, we can see the fear of not just weakened sovereignty, but a fear of the total surrender of sovereign rights.
Further, the argument made for “why” this would occur are not based on actual provisions in Agenda 21, but are instead founded on conspiracy theory based assumptions that are constructed around Agenda 21. Not only does this ignore the language and intent of the Agenda 21 document, but it also incorporates the document into embedded conspiracy narratives that fear the loss of sovereignty to a world empire, commonly called the New World Order. By referencing these ideas, the Agenda 21 conspiracy receives validity by making Agenda 21 a mechanism for other nefarious goals that the conspiracy theory community has believed for some time. This helps to maintain the narrative fidelity and probability of the work by linking
this new narrative with existing conspiracy theories. In essence, Schillers explanation of Agenda 21 fits into a narrative of secret societies and shadowy cabals of elites intent on world domination. At this point for the conspiracy theorist, Agenda 21 becomes more of the same, or perhaps a new revelation, on how long standing fears of an evil world government will finally
come to power.
The next claim is that Agenda 21 is a plan to depopulate the globe. Although the work of the Rio Conference does discuss the need to decrease population explosions and work towards a sustainable human population, the Schiller paper frames this idea within the context of the Malthusian Conspiracy Theory (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28-29). This is achieved by making unsubstantiated arguments that population controls under Agenda 21 will be accomplished through “involuntary abortions and sterilization” (The Schiller Institute 1991, 29). There is no reference to any of these ideas in Agenda 21. The terms do not even appear in the document. Instead, there are passages that simply explain the
need for developmental policies to take population growth into account and work towards alleviation of poverty and social conditions that exacerbate pollution (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 25). Further, when discussing population, Agenda 21 stipulates that any program that works towards population control must be done in a manner that includes “full recognition of women’s’ rights” (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 25) . When one compares the Schiller Institute’s assumptions with the actual concepts embedded within Agenda 21, it is almost impossible to understand where the ideas originated, unless you are already familiar with the conspiracy-based explanations of the situation. However, if one already believes in conspiracy theories, these claims provide narrative probability and fit well within existing understandings of the situation.
The third issue discussed by the Schiller report is the concept of “Technological Apartheid.” This term, as explained in Eco 92, is a situation in which controls on the use of technology will be strictly held to environmental standards. The author postulates (with no evidence or clear argument as to why) that standards will be so stringent that important or lifesaving technology will be withheld from developing nations (The Schiller Institute 1991, 29- 30). Further, they predict that this will lead to a total ban on nuclear energy that will result in an increased use of wood and fossil fuels, thus furthering pollution (The Schiller Institute 1991,
30). Although Agenda 21 does discuss technology at length, it does so in order to advise that sustainability technologies should be given high research and development priorities. Further, the UN plan suggests developing states should be supplied with sustainability technologies if they cannot afford the cost (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). This point is in stark contrast to the Schiller Institutes claims of a coming man-made technological dark age that would place some populations “at a pre-industrial level” (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). The Schiller Institute’s claims about bans on nuclear energy is similarly unfounded as the sections pertaining to this issue in Agenda 21 only advise that countries use careful planning when developing a nuclear program in regards to handling the waste in a sustainable manner (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 267).
The fourth goal of the Agenda 21 conspirators ”revealed” by the Schiller paper is that states will be forced to contort their economies to a condition of “zero economic growth.” This point refers to the portions of Agenda 21 that hope to establish methods of “sustainable development.” Normally this term would imply development that plans for or avoids factors that could lead to greater environmental damage (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992).
However, in the Schiller report the concept of sustainable development is simply a euphemistic term for stopping science, stopping the use of natural resources, and is a subtle justification for radical depopulation (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). Once again, there is truly no basis in the Agenda 21 document that substainates these claims.
The fifth statement against Agenda 21 is that it is an attempt to construct a system of “enforced backwardness.” This statement starts by claiming that this nefarious goal will be accomplished “under the banner of defending Indigenous Rights” (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). The author then describes indigenous groups as people who essentially still live in an unchanged Stone Age culture. It then suggests that Agenda 21 will force humanity to regress to hunter-gatherer societies. The author then explains (uncited) that the earth can only support around 10 million humans with this type of resource extraction. In turn, the Schiller report uses this assembly of somewhat unconnected ideas as proof that Agenda 21 is part of a Malthusian depopulation program (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). This point may seem a bit jumbled with some jumps in logic, as if the reader must already understand part of the story. However, to a person that already assumes that the NWO exists and that they are working on depopulation programs, this idea supplies important information on “how” the enemy will act. In the narrative constructed for conspiracy theorists, this chain of ideas not only makes sense, but also fits into accepted norms and provides greater narrative probability.