Valid Conspiracy Theory

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Thu Jan 13 09:11:42 PST 2000

At 10:47 AM 1/13/00 -0500, Charles Brown wrote:
>I was reading an article in the bourgeois media yesterday and it made some
mocking reference to a "conspiracy theory" as an explanation for some media event. With that it is fully dawning on me that the bourgeois propagandists have succeeded in selling some of the U.S. left, such as it is and reflected on this list, on the idea that there are too many conspiracy theories circulating around as explanations of various public events and incidents. This came up recently here with all the ostrichlike responses to the idea that John F. Kennedy was assassinated according to a conspiracy by the rightwing in the federal government, probably J. Edgar Hoover, etc. Below is another brief, valid analysis of an actual and important political conspiracy and assassination right under the noses of the naive "left".

Charles, everything depends how you define "conspiracy." If it means any concerted action that is not totally transparent to th epublic - then yes, the world is nothing but conspiracy, but the term simply becomes meaningless - it means most conceivable human action, but none in particular.

Even if you narrow your definition to planning and executing actions that are illegal, you still have a problem. Is planning bankrupty in case of adverse business conditions a conspiratorial act? Is planning an unlawful demonstration? Would not revealing important material facts about a product qualify?

It seems that outside the areas clearly and unambiguously identified as criminal, such as assassination or subversion of a legally elected government, the application of the term "conpiracy" is not at all clear. Moreover, the term has a strong emotive component that often obscures its meaning - people may reject your argument because of that emotive component without even considering its substance. For example, if I hear phrases like "Jewish or UN conspiracy" or "world government" I simply stop listening, regardless of what the speaker has to say, because the chances are that it's bullshit.

Adorno et al. identified propensity toward accepting consipratorial views of the world as a typical element of "authoritarian personality." They link authoritarian personality to the person's tendency to see the world in terms of personal volition rather than objective principles. They attribute that to authoritarian practices in child rearing e.g. when the child's treatment in the family depends on the whimses of the parents rather than established principles (i.e. "because I say so" instead of "because it is the right thing to do.") I would add that such views are enforced by charismatic leadership, personality and celebrity cults -often perpeptrated by the media, especially those targeting the audiences with lower levels of eductaion (cf. National Enquirer).

>From that standpoint, conspiratorial beliefs tend to be a part of petty
bourgeois mentality.


More information about the lbo-talk mailing list