THE OTHER VIRUS - CONSPIRACY THEORIES
In 2013 I posted an article called ‘In Defence of Conspiracy Theories’ wherein I defended the conspiracy world as having a legitimate and relevant voice in the conversation about world events. It was a world I was very much immersed in and thanks to the internet, so were millions of others. For many years, I read all the books, watched all the videos and had fully bought into the necessary mindset. Many of the songs on my earlier albums were about tiny cartels of power, man made diseases and mind control — with the standard arrogant dismissal of anyone who disagreed, as being ‘sheep’ or ‘zombies’. That same year, I attended the protest of the Bilderberg meeting in Watford and can be seen in photos, standing proud (whilst wearing silly white sunglasses) behind David Icke as he delivered his speech to the crowds there. I was a fully signed up conspiracy guy — I’d found my team.
I was also politically inactive, paranoid, a touch arrogant and just a little bit full of shit. And I was politically irrelevant — exactly what power wanted me to be. Everything became a waste of time. There was no point voting “cos they’re all the same and it’s all rigged anyway”. Protest? “I’m not being choreographed by a Zionist puppet master”. Traditional left wing values? “Left wing and right wing are just different wings of the same Eagle, man” (whatever the fuck that means). Basically, I’d tied myself up in so many tangled layers of conspiracy that I was completely unable to actually ‘do’ anything politically useful — except talk absolute bollocks on social media. How convenient for the powers that be. Maybe it was a conspiracy itself : a government purposely accommodating the proliferation of distracting and pacifying theories in order to…well, distract and pacify its citizenry from actually engaging in normal political life. Ooooooh…
But what turned me off in the end wasn’t the empirical gymnastics and logical loop holes one has to navigate in order for these theories to work — it was the arrogance. The grossly over-confident, snidey, cocky, cynical, lazy and completely unsympathetic arrogance that beams from conspiracy fans. It’s not a good look. And it’s certainly a barrier to making more ‘converts’ amongst the ‘sheeple’ — i.e. the very mass of humanity needed to mobilise an actual resistance to the bad guys. I sense though that making converts isn’t the aim. Reverence for ones own immense knowledge is the aim. The “look how clever I am” syndrome. As a result, I’ve grown to be instantly dubious of anyone who’s a little too confident in their own opinion — engaged and interested humility is way sexier (and way less boring).
The ‘Dunning-Kruger Effect’ is a proven correlation between ones confidence in expressing an opinion and their actual lack of understanding of it. Sound familiar? Not only is the tone of conspiracy theorists generally self reverential and arrogant — but also the very premise that they could challenge the expertise of people who have spent decades intensely studying a subject (like the climate) as a result of consuming some Youtube videos and books put out (by other conspiracy theorists), is an arrogant loop of ‘Confirmation Bias’ in the extreme.
And then there are the Gurus. The superstars of the conspiracy world. The preachers of that secret wisdom who manage somehow to turn absolutely every minor event that happens anywhere into a sensational confirmation of their personal gospel. Accidents, randomness, failures, surprises or general acts of nature do not exist in the world of the conspiracy guru. And of course, if you disagree with even one small part of anything these guys say, then you are no longer engaged in an exchange— you are cast out as ‘the enemy’, an illuminati ‘shill’, a ‘sheep’. It’s because these guys aren’t interested in exploring a subject with an excited passion for the truth — their interest is in being right, even if it means having to invent an entire arena of discourse that fits the worldview they’re selling. These guys can NOT be wrong — about anything.
In much the same way that a religious person will twist every mental, genocidal, homophobic and sexist element of the Bible into something which actually confirms their preferred story of Christianity as rosy, loving and kind to all — so to with the conspiracy theorist. Any turn of events that ever challenges their proclamations is conveniently mangled into confirming it perfectly somehow. What a miracle. And much like a religious fanatic, conspiracy followers no longer need to formulate varied opinions of their own, for they have their book, the word of their guy who will tell them all they need to know — about everything. All hail the leader — as they lead us to passivity and another book sale.
I’m not saying conspiracies don’t exist. Of course they do. They happen because we live in a world run by humans. Flawed, imperfect, illogical and emotional humans, prone to greed, inequality, injustice and violence. Of course the powerful conspire to remain powerful. Of course politicians lie. Of course we should distrust the media, big pharma, big banks and the arms industry. And of course we humans have done some mental things in our time (human experiments, bio-warfare, assassinations, mind control programmes and so on). And of course we should keep power in check and always question the official line. But believing that absolutely everything is part of some impenetrable and meticulously orchestrated global plan only makes resistance to any part of it seem futile. The truth, in my opinion, is more boring and more interesting at the same time. The guys in power may be bad — but they’re not blood sucking, shapeshifting lizard alien bad — they’re just regular ole human bad. And we can do something about that.
Many forgotten truths have come to the surface as a result of the Corona virus pandemic, such as the universal kindness of all people everywhere — but also, how thoroughly fragile and under-planned our political and economic systems truly are. The barriers to meaningful social change are not as strong as we thought and are certainly nowhere near as impenetrable as the conspiracy theorists lead us to believe. This is good news, no?
The Corona virus has also sparked a rapid increase in conspiracy theories (it’s a government plot / it’s the ushering in of the global police state dystopia etc) but I, for one, am no longer falling victim to the circular and pointless mentality that this paranoia breeds. Instead I’m going to focus on those cracks the system has just shown us. I’m going to focus on what I can do to actually help build a practical and meaningful resistance to power that benefits real peoples lives — in the real world. I’ve ‘awoken’ from my paralysing conspiracy nightmare and that’s a threat to power already. Now just imagine if a few million more of us stopped reading about aliens and got involved.