CONSPIRACY THEORIES ARE NOT WHAT THEY USED TO BE...
The term 'Conspiracy Theory' has been around for a long time. In the last few years, however, the expansion and availability of Broadband Internet both at home and through our mobile cellular phones, along with the dramatic changes in the functionality of our mobile devices, has entirely changed the meaning of such a notion.
Or perhaps that is over-simplistic. The widely held definition or implication of the 'Conspiracy Theory' label remains as an allusion to a paranoid, fanciful alternate narrative, a niche delusion possessed by a fringe minority of the population.
The causes and ontology of supposed 'Conspiracy Theories' have, however, transformed beyond all recognition. The term is perhaps even beginning to lose any true meaning, beyond it's frequent use as an insult. The term is increasingly used as a cynical dismissal of inconvenient, empirical facts or rationally valid opinions.
There has been a rapid expansion in the availability of information, and simultaneously, of the potential for divergent, decentralised presentations of facts to be made widely available.
For every news report offering one version of events or overriding narrative, there are a multitude of contradictory videos or photos, recorded by witnesses using their mobile phones. These can be instantly uploaded to social media in real-time. Mainstream media reports are quickly accompanied by exponential numbers of contradicting opinions and 'hot takes' of eclipsing extremity.
It is unclear whether our individual capacity to absorb and assimilate information has increased along with it's availability. Or, whether a more common response has been a subconscious selectivity in our attendance to information, to prevent undue personal conflict and confusion.
It seems that many have opted to defer responsibility to those they deem capable of assimilating more broadly than themselves, to provide a reduced and simplified stream.
The modern world provides a vast spectrum of possible thought leaders for an individual to choose from. The accountability of such leaders to behave with honesty or even to possess rationality is unclear.
Our society protects the majority of us from mortal danger, or anything beyond mild discomfort in our day-to-day lives. As such, dishonesty or irrationality of world-view is not a significant selection pressure upon our personal wellbeing.
Indeed, a world view that sweetens reality, excusing our own failings as expressions of a contrived form of innate, chronic victimhood is proliferating. Adherents are able to mask genuine, remote injustices wherever convenient. Employing the same obfuscation of reality, to deny, project or transpose emergent dishonest or victimising, abusive behaviors, often upon the direct victims of their actions.
In the absence of mortal consequence - protection from empirical refutation - 'realities', 'moralities' and 'truths' can be constructed for personal or group convenience. Then, imposed with an almost religious fervour and false piety. This is known as 'constructivism' and is becoming a dominant, acknowledged schema of thought and societal structure, throughout western academia and beyond.
The potential for authoritarian dominance in a world without empirical facts is obvious, and some may argue already apparent.
Previous to the Broadband / Smart Phone technological revolution, a 'Conspiracy Theory' was any interpretation of recent or historical events that varied from the narrative offered by the mainstream news and print media, or our National Educational Curriculum.
A 'Conspiracy Theory' then, was an interpretation of events that was incompatible with 'our' own.
Historically, this has been largely synonymous with an incompatibility with, to a greater or lesser extent, the 'Government Approved' and commonly held narrative. 'The facts' - albeit nuanced by our position upon the orthodox political spectrum - would be 'the facts'.
In todays society, using the same definition, all that is required for an interpretation to be labelled as a 'Conspiracy Theory' is variance from a person or group's 'Constructivist' narrative.
Divergence from 'My Truth', or 'Our Truth' can render any viewpoint outside of an individual's chosen convenience as an easily dismissed 'Conspiracy Theory'. It is too easy, especially when faced with direct provocation, to disregard any consideration of context - the realities that exist outside of what has become known as the 'Echo Chamber'.
There are many Echo Chambers in our 'social media world', often overlapping. We naturally form 'Tribes' the more established such a chamber becomes. 'Group think' emerges as ideology within a tribe, as do hierarchies of power.
Ideology, in the absence of mortal selection pressure, rather than responding to reality, DRIVES our interpretation of reality. Hence, alternative facts, alternative realities and dogmatic frameworks emerge.
Hierarchies naturally form within these dogmatic frameworks of constructivist logic. Merit is assessed subjectively according to the framework. Those best able to charismatically or aggressively impose 'their' constructive interpretation over the largest number of supporters, gain influence and so dominance.
While the internet and social media has provided a platform for this dispersal of consensus, it is also worth considering how the traditional and trusted media - newspapers and broadcasters - have managed to lose the interest, and in many cases, the trust, of so many members of society.
I can speak only for myself in this respect. There is only so long that I can watch a purported information source reporting what I am almost certain is incomplete, false or disingenuous information. That shelf-life is drastically reduced when I can see that this disingenuity is accompanied by clear partisan bias.
Once my doubts eclipse any perceived benefit in attending to a news source, or a politician for that matter, and I am almost completely sure the slant and dishonesty is politically motivated?
I feel disrespected and cheated, and I worry about what sort of society the West is becoming. Or worse, has become.
I suspect that am very much not alone. Anywhere across the political spectrum.
CONSPIRACY THEORY OR HIDDEN TRUTH?
In the 'offline' past, alternative narratives had to be constructed based on often lengthy and technical questionings and re-interpretations of the exact same evidence used to construct the orthodox view.
A 'Conspiracy Theory' was a challenge to the majority consensus of what constituted 'the facts'.
Prior to the wide adoption of 'constructivist' logic, a fact was primarily defined by empirical evidence. This being, rational science, academic theology, political, legal or economic consensus. Consensus was not enforced by ideological dogma in secular democracy, rather, it was emergent from evolutionary pressure with a direct link to mortality, the stability of a societal framework.
Within an evolving, capitalist democracy, 'Conservativism' refers only to a preference for firm and yet not total resistance to societal change - protecting the successful paradigm, hierarchy and structure.
'Liberalism' or 'Progressivism' is a preference for making changes assessed as serving a subjective 'greater good', often to promote increasing equality across society.
These notions are ultimately subjective, rather than ideological, depending on the existing structures and applicable policies, derived from the current context.
Hence, capitalist democracy can move in a subjective 'liberal' or 'conservative' direction. Neither term exists outside of capitalist democracy.
Socialism or Communism, and Hegemony or Fascism are ideologies.
The further from a capitalist democracy a society moves, the more ideological it becomes. Where ideology and dogma begin to replace pragmatic thought, alternative opinions are more likely to be interpretted and so dismissed as 'Conspiracy Theories'. Or demonised as dissent.
The battle faced in convincing others of an alternative theory, is in overturning Occam's Razor - challenging the 'facts'.
When the alternative view runs counter to that offered by a national government - 'the facts' - the balance of probability has to be overturned, based on information that has been allowed into the public sphere.
Before the recent 'explosion' of information availability, the released information would specifically favour the desired, common narrative. It would be made available through tightly controlled sources - radio, television, newsprint and books.
The role of the news media - roving reporters - should be to doggedly attempt to uncover more and more information over time. As they do so, alternative narratives sometime emerge - the razor begins to tip.
The job of the press should be to hold the Government to account, to prevent a divergence of narrative from reality. A free press has a responsibility to expose where our society may be losing touch with ideals of liberty, truth and justice.
A free press is necessary for democratic liberty, and capitalism to function. Capitalism and democracy, if divorced from reality become hegemony. Authoritarianism, totalitarianism and eventual revolution are likely to follow.
In an accountable society, Occam's Razor predominantly remains in support of the commonly held 'truth'. Mostly, because the orthodox narrative is as close to being 'true', as the necessary minimisation of wider context allows. No conflicting information either exists or becomes widely available and believed, for a majority of situations. Consensus can be easily formed.
Sometimes though, the passage of time, and associated investigatory revelation, tips the balance. This, when combined with instinctive public suspicion of a past or current event, may coalesce to form a cultural phenomenon. A kind of mass-obsession, for example over the assassination of JFK.
In the past, something that began as a 'Conspiracy Theory' would usually follow one of two paths. Either it would become an unresolved 'mystery' - the subject of books or films - essentially entertainment. Or very rarely, it would possess such momentum that 'the facts' would change - retrospect and disclosure or discovery would overturn the outcome of Occam's Razor.
WHEN DEMOCRACY DIES, IT IS NOT ONLY ALTERNATIVE FACTS THAT DIE ALONG WITH IT
'Liberalism' and 'Conservativism' essentially represent contextual 'directions' or 'rates' of change within a capitalist democracy.
Whether a change is libertarian and reduces the power of the state, or authoritarian and increases state control may be classed as either 'liberal' or 'conservative'. This is not ideological, but empirical - what is the intent and likely outcome? To protect and maintain the status quo, or to alter the status quo towards a common good. Either of which may reduce liberty or promote liberty, increase or decrease Government control, depending on the fluid context and desired outcome.
In this case, politics is downstream of, and responds to cultural shifts.
In an ideological State - be it a Socialist/Communist State or a Hegemony/Fascist State, there exists only a desire and ability to use authority to enforce the ideology. Hence, whether considered 'left' or 'right' of Democracy, an ideologically driven State is Authoritarian.
No ideological or sectarian state can be 'liberal' or 'conservative' - only rigid and dogmatic.
Ideology imposes cultural change and so is upstream of culture.
An authoritarian state will naturally become a totalitarian state as the power to enforce ideology becomes more and more centralised. It may be possible to interpret an ideology in more than one way, however, consensus must be reached - 'our Truth'.
Through history, every Communist and Fascist State has eventually become a Dictatorship. A charismatic leader, usually aggressively so, applies 'their truth' to rule. Or from their persepctive, 'My Truth'.
Outside of that consensus is dissent, and of course, conspiracy. Totalitarian and Authoritarian regimes have historically been unwelcoming to dissenters and conspirators. Even those that were formerly allies.
QANON - IS IT A CONSPIRACY THEORY?
The sudden increase in the availability of information has encouraged 'constructivist' logic to coalesce into ideological tribes via social media. Individuals seek leaders and groups to form consensus amidst the confusion.
These tribes are present on both 'sides' of our political spectrum. And in varying degrees of extremity. The tribes have chosen or are choosing 'leaders' and according degrees of rigidity of ideology.
QAnon as an information source is not an Ideology. More, it seeks to expose and resist some assumed existing undemocratic structure.
The QAnon movement is becoming tribal however. Ideological, dogmatic frameworks are being extracted from the source material, and enforced on social media. False information is also being created and weaponised in the 'community'.
The QAnon movement exhibits all of the same characteristics of our information heavy society, with it's fractured consensus of what comprises 'the facts'. As such, the movement is no more or less of a 'Conspiracy Theory' than any other part of our fractured culture.
The 4chan and 8chan posts, known as 'drops', that began in October 2017 are objectively and empirically no more or less factual than any Mainstream Media source of information. Albeit that this is not a ringing endorsement, by any means.
That is what makes them so intriguing. An honest appraisal of the information reveals many 'predictions' made by 'Q' to be incorrect. However, the same appraisal reveals an unsettling number of 'predictions' or 'proofs' to have been correct and verifiable.
The verifiable 'predictions' - 'proofs' - could only have been sourced from individuals with access to the US Executive Branch, specifically the Oval Office; be it the Trump Administration or cooperating Military leaders.
There is no other readily apparent explanation, in my view. Although, I would encourage independent research from a variety of sources and will offer no shortcuts here.
These 'proofs' or 'breadcrumbs' demonstrate which posts claiming to be from 'Q' are bona fide. And yet, they do not prove that all bona fide Q posts are true.
Only in retrospect can the veracity of Q's posts be confirmed. Many predictions are verifiable, and yet equally, many are incorrect or false.
The sheer weight of verifiable 'proofs' indicates that whatever they are and whoever is posting them - anyone that has a stake in, could benefit from, or is threatened by the issues addressed, but that is not party to the information themselves, cannot afford to ignore them.
Anyone that does not immediately dismiss them as a hoax cannot easily ignore them either. Even sceptics may eventually be intrigued, as I have become. Many of those that are engaged support the stated motives behind whatever may be occurring.
And the notoriety and awareness of QAnon continues to grow, day-by-day.
There is clear bias and disingenuity within the mainstream media - well exemplified both by the coverage of Brexit and even more so by the Mueller Investigation into the phantom collusion of Trump's Presidential Campaign with the Russian Government.
For such disparate narratives on these and so many other issues, with varying degrees of partisan rhetoric - often based on little to no empirical proof - to exist for so long?
For organisations to routinely deny clear errors, engage in transparent gaslighting, wriggle and lie to excuse or obscure their clear bias, or even corruption?
For organisations to maintain a stance that is by the logic of Occam's Razor entirely illogical and unreasonable?
Especially, considering their citation of the principle in reaching premature and incorrect conclusions...
Then, it is clear that 'the truth', as offered by them, is not in any way reliable.
I suspect that their reporting hasn't been even handed for as long as I can remember. I have held suspicions for that long, and yet, always granted the benefit of the doubt.
Yet, from what I have seen, the wider QAnon community is as fractured - and in some growing 'factions' within it deluded - as any other part of society. Some 'factions' appear to be evolving into typical, dogmatic perpetrators or victims of emergent authoritarianism.
There is a lot of falsified information circulated, together with potentially 'constructivist' interpretations of genuine data.
With respect to the apparently genuine 'Q posts', however, I am unable to ignore the implications of the many verified 'proofs'. The underlying narrative is at least as credible as that of the mainstream media.
I understand the advantages of distributing false information and misdirection. As an intelligence gambit, it is as old as the hills, for a good reason.
Being, as I see it, as likely to be the truth as any other narrative on offer, and considering the importance to Western Liberty that the campaign, if genuine, is a success...
I wish them the best of luck, and offer my thanks.
I don't believe Q requires anything from the public other than a kind of notorious publicity. As well as to resist the temptation to turn away from rational thought, for the sake of expediency, or in the face of authoritarianism.
And then, to vote or act in support of democracy and liberty as far as that can be discerned.
While that remains the case, whether a hoax or not, I am with the sentiment.
Count me in.
I would have a word of caution for Q, though. The chasm of honesty created before the 2016 election, that is being harnessed as a weapon against those that wield it, is a deep wound.
Few noticed the cut being made. The swordsman that inflicted it must be skilled, ruthless and patient.
There will be a parry, eventually.
Make sure you are protecting your necks.