Sunday, 23 October 2016

Tin hats at half-mast

I see the great people’s choice and oracle Diane Abbott is trotting out her favourite themes again - ‘white people’ and ‘playing divide and rule’ – as if she is entirely innocent of playing the race card herself at every opportunity. In her world view it appears there is a secret cabal of lilywhite puppet masters overseeing our every move, funding this, directing that, with the express aim of keeping her people down. It’s always keeping people down, you notice, never raising people up.

Others talk of Papal plots to dominate and control the christian world, some central force coordinating islamic attempts to overthrow the west, governments rigging elections and a global plan to deliberately dumb down the population into reliable, unquestioning drones to do the bidding of the One World President. Who he, you rightly ask, though answers are thin on the ground. Some posit a complex familial and historical conjugation of royalty and religion, tangled up with the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. Others see a mysterious, shadowy banker, coveting all the world’s wealth like Smaug in his lair.

I’m not saying people don’t conspire; we do it all the time, at some level, but I’d have more truck with global conspiracy theories if there weren’t so many of them. Everywhere you look people believe that dark forces thwart their ambitions because to believe otherwise reveals some unfortunate truths about the reality of human nature. In the same way believers in intelligent design can’t accept that the simplicity and elegance of evolution requires no contrivance, conspiracy adherents see the hand of Marx, or Rockefeller, in everything.

They would rather maintain their faith, with all the hard work that entails, than accept the simpler truth that conspiracies are such hard work. Keeping secrets is difficult, maintaining the lie is difficult and justifying every twist and turn that doesn’t accord with the imagined master plan is tortuously like trying to explain why your god allows floods, famines, earthquakes and terrorism to happen. It’s so much less contrived to just accept basic human naivety, fallibility and a yearning to explain the inexplicable.

The very idea of a planned society is attractive at some level. We all bring to the table what we can and we all take what we need; isn’t that the basis of socialism? To a struggling population this sounds completely fair until, of course, you feel that you are putting in more than you are getting out. Equality and fairness; don’t judge, accept everybody, embrace diversity. Again, it sounds wonderful until you realise some are accepting their favours without passing it on. And education; it is far easier to allow the slow drift downwards than to apply rigour, which looks too much like an authoritarian past.

Of course, sooner or later, society has to introduce legislation to enforce what started out as egalitarian ideals, but it just gets out of hand. Think though, if it really was a massive plot we wouldn’t have access to information sources like the internet and all our news output would be strictly controlled. Instead we have unprecedented oversight of everything happening pretty much everywhere. And what do we do to explain everything, when the chaos of human interaction is laid bare? We create even more conspiracy theories to address ever more specific themes.

Social evolution, not planning, has thrown up the mutations of feminism, black lives matter and all the many factions and splinter groups of the various gender, race, sexuality, equality and fairness movements. Occupy, Corbynistas, Nats, Cons, Neo-cons, Greens, Trumpettes, Hillaryites, Ukip, Charlie Hebdo, Pride... all supposed answers to various perceived problems. Which of them survive will ultimately depend on whether you can, metaphorically, breed from them!

In all the hubbub you could be forgiven for being confused.; for clamping your hands over your ears and shutting out the world. Which cause to follow; which to despise? Making choices is hard, it’s something we humans are notoriously poor at doing, which is probably why most people don’t become activists and just get on with living. But if that melee of competing demands for attention sounds like a conspiracy to you then maybe you are still looking for the intelligent designer solution; good luck and don’t forget your tinfoil hat.

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