A Critique of Conspiracy Theorists

While at the Occupy Tuscon teach in someone suggested I view Ben Stewart’s Esoteric Agenda and Kynatica. Two documentary films that were offered as  examples of an alternative story of a grand conspiracy emerging about the system.

However I found Kynatica to be more attractive and distinct when comparing the two because, I found it to have some great insights about the roots of life on earth.

The fact that the same filmmaker made the same films struck me as really odd because Esoteric Agenda had some big contradictions in it that made me doubt its factual grounding more than Kynatica which I developed sympathies for and identified with early on in the film. His tendency to combine different conspiracy theories into one big grand conspiracy is noted on the Skeptic Project’s Ben Stewart Page. While the author of the page says it makes Stewart one of the more interesting conspiracy theorists, he notes that its also a stretch because it makes the premise he is putting together in the film look untenable and even absurd.

Specifically Stewart’s embrace of efforts by other conspiracy theorists on the Right that attempt to drag down of the environmental movement seem absurd, contradictory and counter-intuitive to the core assertions he makes in Kynatica about humans losing sight of the Earth Wisdom that was given to us as consciousness beings.

By attaching himself to the allegations that the Club of Rome is an illuminati organization and part of the global conspiracy moving us towards One World Government (which I’m not sure would be such a bad thing since we have increasingly become part of one large corporate dominated global economy) – seemed a bit too much in Esoteric Agenda – it really detracts from many of his interesting ideas and the general thesis of his creative and intellectual efforts as a film-maker.

This gets to the problem with Conspiracy Thinking and Conspiracy theorists is that their thinking ultimately becomes their intellectual undoing that de-legitimizes important assertions that they make about a fundamental problem with the global governance and economic power structure run by an increasingly small and elite group of people.

Conspiracy Theorists seem to over-reach on some key points and assertions and that makes them seem amateurish and unprofessional:

  1. Lack of due dilligence and intellectual rigor – they seem to link together ideas that are not rigorously tested for factual validity. That is admittedly difficult if the establishment is seeking to make you like a fool but that is why care and prudence is important in formulating ideas
  2. Over-reaching – means that their is a tendency to link things together as conspiracy that are not really conspiracies
  3. Paranoia and/or Cult-Like Thinking – Many of the people in the movement seem to have tendencies of psychological delusion and unable to function as critical thinkers. This may be leading to some shared collective delusion within the group and creating a group think that is ironically similar to how what they criticize as the dominant and driving forces both elite power structure and the mainstream society
  4. Linking Contradictory Thoughts  that don’t Sensibly Mesh – its understandable to want to create a meta narrative or a Grand Conspiracy. Foster Gamble does this well in Thrive because he appears thoughtful and mainstream. Stewart however ultimately stumbles because he goes deeper into anti-environmentalism in Esoteric Agenda in a way that discredits the very assumptions he makes in his other documentary Kymatica.

The fatal flaw that seems to de-legitimize the movement is the tendency to lump together or combine every conspiracy into a mass conspiracy story that is hard to verify. The problem is that a lot of people talking about the Power Elite conspiracy are simply for what ever reason exaggerating or misrepresenting facts.

Their agenda is that they as they struggle in this world to understand and put together a coherent meta theory of what is going develop their own delusions that enable a loss of conscious ability to due dilligence in collecting information and make sure that allegations are backed up by some kind of facts. The claim is that the state and power elites are actively trying to suppress this information make the facts elusive and harder to verify than they normally would be in a research process that was sanctioned by the state or that it was indifferent to.

One observation from my limited interactions with people who immerse themselves in conspiracy writers and thinkers is that it has some kind of strange cult like psychological effect on them. They seem to often become conspiracy addicts as they learn more about all these theories of what is going on behind the scenes and it becomes an obsession that stifles the part of their mind that is fully able to process thoughts in a critical way. So it becomes another form of collective shared delusions framing a world that is often convenient to one preconceived notion of reality. I don’t see this as being the change or walking the talk. Another problem related to this is that by lumping leadership into conspiracy groups they serve to dehumanize them by making their intentions wholly suspect and I think this is neither fair nor a true reflection of the reality that leaders often do have to make tough decisions and that most global leaders do believe in the public good and that they are acting in a manner that is consistent with that.

Now this is not to say that I reject conspiracy theory as a legitimate form of political, philosophical discourse. When we consider the history and philosophy of humanity its clear that its does provide factual evidence that the word CONSPIRACY is not just about delusional wackos talking about things that do not exist. However what is missing among a lot of the people putting together these materials is a thoughtful and intellectually rigorous process of developing ideas in the creation of a thesis or anti-thesis that alleges some kind of mass or grand conspiracy of of a group of elites over the mass public.

My view is that these people are tolerated for several reasons (of course if what they said was true and they were getting traction in the public they would be taken out)

  1. They are not taken seriously by the intellectual class or the general public
  2. Their ideas are often not rigorous and intellectually solid opening them up to attack and ridicule by intellectuals
  3. They may actually serve the state or elite by creating straw man arguments that combine left and right to refute environmentalism or global warming for example

The third assumption put forward by Stewart in Esoteric Agenda was the most mind boggling to me. I could keep my mind open to much of what was said in the documentary but when he featured far right thinkers attacking Agenda 21, the Club of Rome, the Overpopulation problem and Global Climate Change I found that too much to take.

This line of reasoning is weak not only because it seems absurd but because he follows the line of the conspiratorial community  by  not explaining why if they are doing all these bad things to us that they also would not be polluting the planet and causing all these problems associated with the global environmental movement.

Furthermore my own experiences as a progressive led me while working with oneVillage Foundation into meetings with people involved with one organization in particular that was mentioned in Esoteric Agenda – the Club of Rome. What was interesting was that there were actually two separate links in my network to this supposedly shadowy and elitist organization that is part of the one world government impulse.

However in working with several active and ongoing members of the Club or Rome I found little evidence or signs that these people were part of a grand global conspiracy as implied by many in the movement. What I found is that they were operating despite their elite links were in a surprisingly grassroots way with limited funds and resources despite their stature or representation within the global elite community that seemed concerned with the ecological and social sustainability of contemporary civilization.

My thought is that if there are conspiracies going on they are complex and existing within competing blocs of power. Some of these blocs are more sympathetic to reevaluating and reformulating the existing power structure and its externalized impact on the world than others. The Club or Rome and Global Environment Movement formed through the research and thoughts of concerned environmentalists who saw factual data indicating there was a serious problem with the direction of the mainstream leadership class. Some of these people were industrialists themselves who grew concerned with the impact of their own industries on the environment such as the environmentalist industrialist Aurelio Peccei who after being involved with Fiat in Italy went on to form the Club of Rome.

Gunter Pauli a Protege or Peccei (who I have met several times over the years) later went on to start his own organization Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI). Even though he is well known and influential in many global circles I see no indication that he is part of a secret agenda by elites to impose a draconian new world order.

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