Thursday, 20 October 2011
PREFACE TO CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND MASS FATALISM
Conspiracy theories have been popular largely because the human mind responds to the irrational and the intoxicating inexplicable largely because the rational and empirical explanation is not near;y as stimulating to the brain that craves excitement to fill the void. It has always fascinated me that people cling to conspiracy theories, even after empirical evidence is presented to prove conspiracies false. In some cases, empirical evidence validates conspiracy theories, thereby providing further ammunition to those that find conspiracy theories appealing, especially in cases involving social, political and economic elites.
In early April 2011, when I wrote the brief piece on conspiracy theories, it was because individuals with graduate degrees were telling me that there is a global conspiracy by the IMF and European Central Bank to lower living standards, and that the method adopted was no different than the CIA used in counterinsurgency operations. To no avail, I tried to argue that CIA operations have their own logic, and IMF austerity measures, now adopted by the European Central Bank, have a different logic that they follow and that analyzing counterinsurgency operations must be a separate enterprise from analyzing monetary and fiscal policy.
Given that I failed to convince even the most rational people, I asked why they yielded to conspiracy theories. In correcting my wrong impression, they made it clear that in embracing so-called conspiracy theories, they were indeed more intelligent than then naive person that tried to find a rational-empirical explanation. In probing deeper, it became obvious that belief in conspiracy entailed a degree of intelligence that the 'other' lacked, a degree of cynicism that was baptized 'intelligence'. This too is an integral part of our modern mass culture, given birth by the widespread cynicism in the political and economic arena, among the elites ranging from political and economic to religious and academic. Why do conspiracy theories persist?
In examining the "Iran-Mexico plot", it is somewhat clear that there was a rush to judgment by the mass media and US and pro-US governments, before there was a full investigation in the case. Today, there is some evidence that an exiled group may have been behind the plot, but that too is not proved. If proved, it would be very damaging to US credibility, not that US credibility regarding Iran has ever bee very sound in the first place. What are people to make when there are case, although they may not be frequent, that prove conspiracy theories?