To a conspiracy theorist, everything is a hoax.
That is not to say that some events are not hoaxes. The very basis of most ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theories, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, was a massive hoax, perhaps perpetuated by the turn of the 20th century Tsarist Russian court, and is still believed by a large number of anti-Semites throughout the world.
The Protocols was taught to German youth after WWI and was used as a rationale for legitimating the internment of German and Polish Jews in ghettos and, later, concentration camps. Nazi Germany provides the archetypal ‘false flag’ as well, when someone set fire to the German Reichstag, allowing civil liberties to be suspended and Hitler to consolidate power.
Perhaps it is simply natural to view the changing, evermore interconnected and evermore seemingly dangerous world, to believe that highly sophisticated and total conspiracy is somehow at play. But that is neither likely nor is it even statistically possible.
The Paris Attacks that occurred on November 13th, 2015 were among a series of events that had been immediately suggested as a ‘false flag’ operation, a hoax perpetuated by a totalitarian shadow government hoping to trick the world into fear and submission.
The implications are, in fact, an ubiquitous commonplace conspiracy theory: the concept that some of the macro-level aspects of society are, in fact, controlled and regulated so that the individual can never break free. “The System is Rigged.” “THEY don’t want you to know…” “The ‘Powers that be’ want you to be quiet, docile sheep.” Et cetera. Though this smacks of paranoia, the psychological outcome is actually to simplify the world that is ever-so-much-more complicated.
Conspiracy Theories are actually coping mechanisms for an ever-increasing state of anomie.
From Anomie to Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracists, a.k.a. conspiracy theorists, do not all have the same reasons for their beliefs or political affinities but, rather, run the entire gamut from extremely liberal to the very conservative. Atheists, Christians, and members of every religion are susceptible to conspirative thought. The idea that there may be a plot afoot is, honestly, an obvious reaction to a constantly changing and increasingly combative world news, all being pumped in through the television and the internet.
Why, then, is there such a specific conspiracy theory that permeates nowadays? The idea that there is a total, super secret, covert ‘shadow government’ of un-elected rulers that controls the world and that, somehow, needs to orchestrate fake events to consolidate still more power is an increasingly popular narrative that is promoted via conspiracy theory fora, web sites, radio shows, television broadcasts, homemade and semi-professional videos as well as copious print publications. Should such a cabal be real, why would they need to conceal and consolidate their power?
The way conspiracy theorists see this ‘shadow power’ is essentially a tale of how they came to believe in The Big C9nspiracy to begin with. At one time, they believe, everything was right and good with the world (perhaps before the Vietnam War, the JFK Assassination, or even further back before The French Revolution). Then, disorder erupted (at some theorized date and time), and the upshot is that the ‘natural order’ and ‘moral compass’ of society appears to have been disrupted. From there, the mainstream or ‘Establishment’ media and news outlets become suspect and must be eschewed for a more ‘pure’ source of information and, ultimately, solidarity. This is how even a well educated person in 2016, or nearly every famous actor or musician, can become a conspiracy theorist.
From Anomie to Extremism
A common argument among the various conspiracy communities is that they simultaneously seek a fearful mass to control but also wish to take away all guns before revealing themselves as the true rulers of the world. This theory, popular within the American Militia Movement and III%ers (who off-handedly threaten armed insurrection and regularly identify with the Tea Party), is regularly invalidated by the various outcomes of armed insurrections and violent standoffs where superior police firepower and intelligence wins over homespun irrationality. It seems important to mention that this is only one aspect of conspiracist ideas popular within the United States and Canada at this time.
Something that I, as a politically liberal youth turning moderate with age and experience (or, as my younger self would say, through complacency), never wanted to deal with was the extreme Right-Wing and anti-Semitic origins of the above conspiracy theory narratives.I did not wish to attend to this glaring issue when I was a conspiracist (more specifically, a 9/11 Truther) but the issue is one that deserves addressing.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the earlier mentioned hoax par excellence also lays out the archetypal conspiracy theory of our age. A group controls all the wealth, controls all the world affairs under the noses of ‘common folk’ and seeks to use fear and desire to consolidate still more power before suspending all civil rights and revealing themselves as totalitarian rulers.The Protocols heaped all accusation on Jewish elite bankers, but the same narrative has taken various forms with various scapegoats. The Illuminati, for instance, is a secret cabal that was really started in Bavaria in the late-1700s but suspected of continuing to exist and being headed by either Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Atheists, Aliens or Satan depending on who you ask. The New World Order, a phrase poached from the Protocols, is a related conspiracy theory formulation that continues in the anti-Semitic tradition by citing the Jewish banking family, the Rothschilds, and linking apparently shadowy goings on to a presumed quest for total political and economic control. The general thrust always fits the same mold, with vile megalomania up against an innocent working class.
It is possible, then, to draw a line directly from the publication and promotion of the Protocols and the proliferation of some otherwise inconceivable conspiracy theories, and how they can seem believable to their adherents. Every event that occurs, every terrorist attack, is to the conspiracy theorist a ‘false flag’ operation; a hoax. As information comes out about the event, conspiracy theorists seek to find any and all contradictions in news bulletins, any victims whose stories don’t seem believable, any bit of rumor or unsubstantiated claim that fits their belief. Having prejudged an event as a hoax, conspiracists may then claim a survivor to be a ‘crisis actor’ (as the above video claims from 3:44 on).
Their is often an ideology attached to the conspiracist’s worldview. An ideology that does not permit that person from seeing nuance and contradiction in the actions of individuals and in the events of the world. If the outcome of an event goes against their ideology, that event must have been a ‘set-up’ of some sort. When an event such as the Paris Attacks occur, the majority of the world sees it as an act of deliberate terrorism by those who claim responsibility (ISIS) or by there sympathizers. That is not to say that many who are prone to conspiracist ideation don’t believe the same thing, if it fits their ideology they most definitely will blame ISIS or radical islamist extremists.
That being said, some blame Barack Obama, some believe it’s the Illuminati, some may claim it’s all part of a Jewish banking conspiracy. The ‘who’ does not matter to a growing community online, sharing theories and ‘research’ in forums and on their YouTube channels. Neither does the ‘what,’ the ‘how,’ or even the ‘is it physically possible’ come into play because the ‘why’ is so close to them that it can replace all doubt. The ‘why,’ it should seem, is to take away those intangibles of freedom and liberty and replace them with slavery, subservience and grief. To a conspiracist, all news is a hoax that constitutes an intentional fabrication to coerce the public into fear. In reality, we live in a changing world and that can be scary, how we choose to cope can make things better or make them much much worse!
Less than a week after the Paris Attacks, ask yourself, was fear the primary outcome of the attacks? Was it fear, or was it a few deep, uncomfortable questions about the world community? Would the Illuminati want America to have a soul search about its issues with asylum seekers? Would a top secret cabal want the Eurozone to work together to make sense of its intelligence and law enforcement communities? Would the jingoism of The West need to be called into question by The West, in effect self-shaming for having overlooked the Beirut Bombing just one day before the Paris Attacks? Call this an overly interrogative coda to a blog, but questioning is a popular evangelizing device among conspiracy theorists and “I’m just asking questions here.”
YouTube is place to find the more extreme conspiracy theories nowadays and, here are your conspiracy theories du jour for The Paris Attacks. The intersection of ideologies that come into play with these theories is a mix of Christian Enochianism, pseudoscience and good old fashioned fear of Government.