Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Thought 408: Evaluating Conspiratorial Angles

Many take issue with so-called conspiracy theories as well as the conspiratorial view of history (as opposed to the accidental one, i.e 'one thing after an other' or what Kant called 'the haphazard melancholy') and, unfortunately, this mere suspicion as regards the validity of conspiracy theorising amounts to enough of an argument in their heads to avoid engaging at all with conspiratorial angles in current and historic affairs.

How do they think some individuals wind up exerting coercive, subversive and often covert power over others other than through having conspired to do so? 

It is rather like those who pointedly refuse to philosophise, not realising that the decision to ignore philosophical ideas itself contains much philosophy, albeit not at a conscious level.

Yet it is a blind spot to dismiss the existence of conspiracies as these are self-evidently a mundane reality of human life, for to conspire means nothing more than to collude in secret with others to do harm for selfish gain (conspiracy comes from the latin to breathe together, to be imbued with the same life force). 

If people were honest with themselves they too would realise that they are conspiracy 'theorists' (or realists) in some areas if not others which is a point I attempted to drive home in my post We're All Conspiracy Theorists

I used many examples such as the well-established one according to which tobacco companies deliberately hid the risks of smoking to the general public and silenced those who attempted to make it common knowledge or the very British example of the media and establishment cover-up of the police's responsibility in the Hillsborough disaster.  

Of course, these events being now accepted as established fact by the mainstream, people fail to realise that they too started out as so-called 'conspiracy theories' - which has been said to be Orwellian doublespeak for 'truth-seeking' or even 'truth-telling'.

Taking another example, even those who still subscribe to the official script regarding the events of September 11th 2001 endorse the view, however unconsciously, that it was the fruit of a conspiracy, albeit by anti-American Muslim radicals rather than the shadow government, the latter being the angle of so-called 'truthers' who do however vary in their quality of factual analysis and moral enlightenment. 

All this to say is that just because something is pigeon-holed as a conspiracy theory does not mean it is a false theory by definition, however much it challenges consensus reality and established not to say comfortable perception. 

That is not to say, however, that all conspiracy theories are of equal worth and some may well be in error or even created conspiratorially by (intelligence) agencies to dis-inform and confuse the masses.

Indeed the document that was The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was used by pre-Revolution Russian authorities to deflect anger away from governmental impropriety towards people of Jewish faith and lineage, themselves obviously not directly responsible for the hardships of the Russian people and certainly not because they happened to be Jewish.

Critical thinking is therefore paramount to sift through the world of conspiratorial discourse, so much of it pushing for dark political agendas as was Hitler's own book Mein Kampf which declared Jews to be single-handedly responsible for all the ills of mankind.  

In light of these considerations, my girlfriend has chosen to distinguish conspiracy theories which can be based in truth and a desire to make others aware of some dark realities from the conspiratorial movement which systematically resorts to conspiracy theorising, often for the purposes of scapegoating certain demographics and demonising all things governmental. 

Thus, my provisional conclusion is that while conspiracy theories should not be dismissed out of hand on the mere ground of being conspiracy theories, they should not be uncritically and systematically endorsed either.

Addendum - In my experience I have often found that what is dismissed as conspiracy theorising often turns out to be fact-based and researched critical thinking, understanding that those in power and who pull the strings do not have our best interests at heart, and far from it. 

Addendum 2 - Of course conspiratorial discourse becomes far more controversial when it posits the view of a coming 'New World Order', i.e. a global conspiracy to enslave humanity. 

Addendum 3 - It could also be asked the extent to which apparent conspiracies are not simply due to the normal game of corporate capitalism, which seeks out a monetary profit regardless of (negative) social impact (see Business is Business). For example, the existence of so much unhealthy processed food might not really be due to a secret desire to cull the human population as opposed to the goal of making money by getting people addicted to such foods - which are generally engineered to be more-ish and addictive (e.g. Pringles crisps being a notable example) - and their convenient, easy to prepare quality for those who lack time and energy to cook.