i was going to post this on tumblr but it broke. ah well.
what this anti-conspiracy leftish crowd seems to be defining as conspiracy is a very popular media fueled version. eg “They are doing x BECAUSE” (they want to control this or that aspect of you just because)
this is wrong because the most important aspect of looking at conspiracy is the power relations it fosters. people move up or out of the political structure based on their knowledge of how it works. this is not always positive for them which is why more deaths are likely assassinations within, and even if you don’t ideologically align with whoever’s targeted, just looking into the facts of one case alone can open up much with regard to how it functions.
another thing i see being read into “conspiracy freaks” is the assumption that they must fully trust or have “faith” in whatever the conspirators are working for. however you can be completely agnostic about whatever their goals are or even the nature of the conspiracy while still trying to uncover the layers. does this not lend toward understanding class relations and enemies?
an interesting case imo is Nutrasweet. the stuff is shit and was forced through the FDA even though the studies done on it were ghastly. there were a lot of connections needed to do so and profit to be made. now the different conspiracy-type sites i saw circulated mid-00s focused heavily on the “they’re out to poison us” side without so much a mention of, say, Rumsfeld’s role (and others’) politically. and unfortunately Rense’s site pops up first on a google search for this, so there you have it to the anti-conspiracists, case closed.
the connection to make here, as it were, is how desperately the power elite really do want a docile population through whatever means. and this gets conflated with a dozen guys in a dark room smoking cigars and making phone calls. the more likely conclusion is dozens upon dozens of groups comprised of individuals competing for a stronger foothold or merely survival within who don’t give a fuck about the general populace — if something as seemingly innocent as sweetener can not only be profitable but also a proposed bioweapon, no matter how ultimately absurd the claim or function may be, this is something worth knowing. because they don’t even know what the consequences of some of these chemicals ingested in specific ways will be. their own studies seem to show this no matter how spun out of control the claims become that are made by people hypothesizing conspiracy without a class analysis.
IMO “conspiracy theory” rightfully only applies to a fairly small number of cases, most of them involving a group united around personalities and esoteric ideology rather than institutional interest. Saying that the Bilderbergers, Bavarian Illuminati, House of Windsor or lizard people secretly control everything is a conspiracy theory. Believing in the Military-Industrial Complex or regulatory capture is not. And pearl-clutching liberals like Chris Matthews who can’t understand the difference are just plain stupid.
conspiring is a pretty mundane fact about political life and i don’t see any reason to relegate it to groups like that, real or imagined. do you know everything that the Clintons are the face of when it comes to biotech? why haven’t they had public, msm covered press conferences on the amazing cures for diseases they are working on instead of just inviting a few firms to exclusive locales in Southern California? it’s absurd that the idea of conspiracy should only apply to “the most extreme cases” or whatever. the effects of competing conspiracies affect all our lives.
I agree. But that connotation of “conspiracy” — the kind of conspiring that political and economic elites do as a byproduct of their normal everyday activity — isn’t what people like Chris Matthews refer to by “conspiracy theory.” Of course conspiracy is a thing, just on a normal basis. Any time a quorum of County Commissioners meet for an informal barbecue in the County Executive’s backyard and discuss using county equipment to pave the roads on the Exec’s ranch, that’s a conspiracy.
“Conspiracy theorists” IMO are those who see grand conspiracies as the main driving force, whereas I see them as an inevitable secondary outgrowth of the institutional structure. Once you have a small number of centralized, hierarchical state and economic institutions that all interlock together running the main functions of society, and the elites running those institutions circulate back and forth between, one of the main side effects of bringing these tiny elites together on a daily basis is to facilitate conspiracy.
my problem is with the connotation of conspiracy theorist itself. lately we’ve had nearly any leftist on twitter who attempts to draw out the inner workings of such activity labeled as crazy which has so many consequences, including very solid observations being thrown out all together because of what conspiracy has come to so many leftists. additionally i think there has been an institutional effort through the shaping of political intelligence — which is simply just data gathering on peoples’ political opinions, partisan or otherwise, prompting neoliberal packaging via information shaped for people via Google et al — that not only causes this phrase to be bandied about as a slur or smear but shapes the very methods by which we go about analysis.
Yeah, I hate “conspiracy theory” too. It’s a catchall that equates everyone who questions the official narrative, or doubts that “You can always trust Officer Friendly when you need help,” to Ickes & Co.