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The Conspiracy of an Idea

March 8, 2011

On occasion I’ve been called a “conspiracy theorist.” One gentleman who attended a lecture of mine even called me a “grand conspiracy theorist.” After explaining himself I realized this was meant as a compliment, without the negative connotations frequently attached to such a highly charged statement.

So the question must be raised: Are conspiracies real? The simple answer is “of course!” Anytime a group exists there is potential for two or more within the group who, after collaborating “beyond earshot,” endeavor to change the goal, structure, or influence of the larger body in a way that circumvents the knowledge and intent of the other members. Every day “conspiracies” occur in the workplace, in school staff rooms, corporate boardrooms, church committees, and sadly, among groupings of family and friends.

Conspiracies also exist in the legal system. Any time two or more individuals agree in the committing of a crime, including intent to break the law at some future point, they run the risk of being criminally charged under conspiracy rulings. Such charges can also be laid in a civil suit.

But what about “big conspiracies”? Are they real? Logic dictates that if small conspiracies exist, larger ones do as well. A cursory study of the history of warfare and espionage demonstrates this fact. Indeed, conspiracy is the central platform in the world of espionage, and the complexities can be mind-bending – rightly described as labyrinthine.

The sincere question isn’t “do they exist?” Rather, this query may be more reflective of our cultural disdain for wild-eyed speculation. At the same time, there is a danger to brushing aside controversial probings; blindness to the the real question. Often this is accompanied with an emphatic, “Conspiracy theories can never be proven, that’s what makes a good conspiracy theory.”

Nonsense. Such a statement reflects an unwillingness to engage the complexities and perplexities of historical fact, for the overriding question behind such theories is “why?”

Why did such-and-such happen? The fact that it did occur is uncontested, but the “why” needs to be answered, and this always swings around to the “who.” All the w’s (and one h) of investigation come into play: What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it happen? Who made it happen? And How? If the above can’t be explained openly, then you have a mystery – and there may, or may not be a conspiracy behind it. Obviously “Cui bono” arises as part of the “who” – but it goes beyond who did it. Rather, whom does it benefit? (the two are not necessarily the same). Can this be answered with transparency? If not, why not?

Why do “conspiracy theories” exist as a cultural theme? Because the complexities and perplexities of a situation – the hard questions of an event – have not been answered in a way that reflects transparency or closure. Furthermore, if troubling contradictions are evident when scrutinizing the accepted version of an event, then the door remains open for continuing investigation. This situation, especially when left unreconciled, provides fodder for many conspiracy theories. But here too we have to be careful; for it doesn’t mean a conspiracy automatically exists. Instead, this speaks to asking more questions and engaging in deeper examination – and hopefully a plausible answer emerges, and the mystery is resolved either by uncovering an actual conspiracy, or by demonstrating other factors.

Granted, the above points typically refer to specific circumstances – usually a single event. But there is another type of conspiracy that is more subtle, and potentially more problematic: The conspiracy of an idea. What makes this ethereal is that it exists in the realm of worldviews and pressure, or influence. How does a worldview move from an idea to acceptance? Who moves it? What events or situations gave the idea traction? Can a time-line be observed (this constitutes the when)? Where did the idea come from; where can it be found circulating; where does it take root? Why is the idea postulated? Cui bono: Whom does it benefit? On the flip side; what is challenged or replaced, and who loses?

H.G. Wells understood the conspiracy of an idea. His 1928 book, The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution, was all about advancing a worldview that would act as a game-changer for Western society. It’s the story of a “big idea.”

The latest issue of Forcing Change likewise explores a big idea – the development of a worldview and its attempt to become tangible: world government.

If you’re a member of Forcing Change, log on today and download this edition: The Conspiracy of an Idea.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 9:45 am

    Hi Pearl,

    Thanks for the email, and I’m glad the article was of use to you. By all means, use the piece on your own blog. Moreover, if you feel inclined to use other articles by myself, don’t hesitate. You have my permission.

    In Christ Jesus,
    Carl Teichrib

    • Pearl permalink
      April 19, 2011 10:44 am

      Much obliged, Sir! 🙂

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