All conspiracy theories begin with simple observations then from these observations build a conspiracy framework, common sense observations are thus mutated into paranoid delusions. Conspiracy theories therefore kill politics by taking global events and reducing them to the hidden plan of an elite few. This aspect of conspiracy theories is best shown in their conception of history. To the conspiracy theorist history is simply the story of the specific conspiring elites controlling everything from behind the scenes. For instance the Russian Revolution was planned and of course funded by the illuminati. JFK was killed by the illuminati. The European Union was created by the illuminati. The Arab Springs was caused by the illuminati. Occupy was created by the illuminati. Need I continue? To argue this is to ignore the fact that nobody controls history, as every action of every human being in some manner creates history. While certain individuals or groups have a greater impact on history, it is foolish to argue that one specific group has complete control over it. Indeed one finds that the harder the event is to understand the more conspiracy theories there are about it.
In my opinion the reason why conspiracy theories root the events of society in the actions of conspiring hidden groups is to firstly make politics a black and white narrative of good vs evil, and secondly to absolve themselves from moral responsibility about disastrous global events. By blaming undesirable events such as 9/11, natural disasters and the erosion of civil liberties on what is to them a clearly conceived group such as the New Word Order, conspiracy theorists feel that they are no longer responsible for remedying the societal, institutional or political flaw that lead to the catastrophe. This seems to be based on the feeling that if I as an individual cannot change my own life or the world then some greater force must be controlling it. Conspiracy theories act as pleasurable illusions that allow individuals to deal with the suffering that occurs around them and the powerlessness they feel.
Conspiracy theories are therefore very similar to religion because all theistic religions in some manner fabricate an all powerful universal force which controls human affairs, conspiracy theorists do the same except their force is material rather than meta-physical. Moreover, both religion and conspiracy theories offer simplistic and easy to understand explanations of complex events. For instance a religious person feels that they cannot explain why it rains, where mountains came from, what caused the beginning of the universe and so postulate a meta-physical being which creates and causes them. To argue for God is therefore to be unable to explain things. The same is true of conspiracy theorists, to believe in a conspiracy theory is to be unable to explain an event and so explain it simply through a meta-narrative of ruling elites controlling society with an iron fist. In short, conspiracy theories represent the death of politics as rather than delving into the true causes of events, conspiracy theorists fabricate illusionary explanations that are easy to understand and ensure that the individual feels that they are no longer ignorant or confused about the world around them.
The similarities only continue when we consider the division within conspiracy culture between those who are awake and those who are asleep. The awakened are of course the conspiracy theorists as they are awake to the fact that the world is run by an elite minority, that vaccines sterilise people and so forth, while those who are asleep are well everybody who disagrees with them. Conspiracy theorists therefore advocate awakening people to the true reality of the world. This has awful religious connotations to concepts such as those who have been saved by Jesus and those who live a life of sin, those who are enlightened and those who are eternally on the wheel of Samsara. Conspiracy theorists also act remarkably similar to religious fanatics when individuals decide to stop believing. This is perhaps best shown by the extreme attacks on Charlie Veitch for changing his opinion about 9/11. He was labeled as being a new world order agent on the pay roll of the elite.
Conspiracy theorists also have a similar obsession with purity. Just as the religious advocate a sin-less pure spiritual life so too do conspiracy theorists argue for individuals to stop drinking tap water as it contains fluoride, stop reading mainstream news or watching television, as to do so would make you a sheeple. Therefore, by becoming awake and un-poisoned the conspiracy theorist elevates themselves to the status of the all knowing minority. This articulates the great collision within conspiracy theories between the desires to persuade the general population that conspiracy theories are correct and the sacred identity that they create about themselves due to their very lack of popular acceptance. If the objective of persuading everybody were to succeed they would cease to be conspiracy theorists and just become normal people. For instance Alex Jones would cease to be, in his own words, “breaking down the electronic Berlin Wall of media control” and no longer act as the “tip of the spear in alternative media”. Through their lack of popular acceptance conspiracy theorists make themselves believe that they are an info-warrior struggling against the New World Order. Just as fundamentalist Christians believe that they are the servants of Christ in the struggle against the Devil.
Conspiracy theories therefore function as religions; they are a form of civic religion. For Marx “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” For me, conspiracy theories are the same. They are the sigh of the oppressed individual who cannot articulate a critique of government and corporations within modern day political discourse and as a result feel alienated. It is this alienation from society which in my opinion leads people to postulate conspiracy theories. This claim is backed up by the popularity of conspiracy theories amongst those who advocate a return to the American Constitution and as a result feel alienated from the contemporary Democrat vs Republican divide.
I feel that in a similar manner to how rationality dies when religion is dominant in an individual’s mind, so too does politics die when conspiracy theories dominate an individual. It is almost impossible to have a rational discussion with a religious fanatic, likewise is it impossible to have a serious political discussion with a conspiracy theorist.
Most unfortunate of all is the fact that not everything conspiracy theorists say are false. They are correct to argue that mainstream media manufactures consent, that politician’s lie, that governments commit crimes, that the financial system dominates politics and so on. Importantly though, conspiracy theorists proceed to pollute these truthful sentiments with dark hidden plots and secret organisations. Conspiracy theorists thus quite literally kill politics in the sense that the small amounts of truth within their statements are suffocated by obscene amounts of paranoid blubbering.
The greatest error conspiracy theorists make is thinking that conspiracies actually succeed. History is full of dark plots by sinister groups, that is to say failed dark plots by sinister groups. They go from the premise that people conspire to the conclusion that these conspiracies actualise themselves in the world. If the modern world is as they argue the result of carefully and meticulously crafted plans made by global elites then these global elites are not very good at planning. In the same way that if God did indeed create the universe, life and everything, he did not do a very good job of it. So what is a simpler and better explanation? Well just as no sentient being is in control of the universe, no individual or group of individuals is steering society. That is the terrifying thing. No one is at the helm. No one is in absolute control. No one ever has been.