Resisting Conspiracy Theory
A New Politics of Hope for Difficult Times
The age that could be understood by Marxism is over. Things are different now. Conspiracy theory is the new ruling ‘class’ of the world. Not conspiracy. There is no single grand conspiracy, no ‘Committee of 300’, no ‘Elders of Zion’. This is not about criminals, aliens or intelligence agencies. It is about conspiracy theory itself manipulating events and discourses.
Conspiracy theory has broken cover recently: through a conspiracy theory about ‘the Establishment’. This suggests conspiracies by the entire political class in Washington and in Europe; it suggests that ‘the West’ is a conspiracy against everyone including all those who live as ordinary folk, just about managing, in ‘the West’. It embraces the sex abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton from a pizza restaurant in Washington and those EU bureaucrats who have been at war with the British Banger and curved bananas.
Combating the conspiracy theory ruling class in a post-truth world requires new tactics. Journalistic exposé and rigorous academic analysis don’t work any more. So, abandon any hope you may have that the Trump presidency will be brought down by some revelation of conspiracy.
Protest marches tell resisters that there are numbers in resistance; so they are useful for that alone. Yet, they also tend to be demoralising events. Activism through existing democratic parties is far more important. Paradoxically, because participating in bourgeois democracy is dull and ‘Establishment’. These are, after all, parties of the state; but we need to address the state, in defence of public spaces, of public services, and in support of democratising the control of the state. We need to defend located democracy and physically defend the corporeal process of voting with hands and feet and pencil and the tradition of counting the vote by hand in the public gaze.
We must remove ourselves from the electronic monitoring of preference by algorithms which turn our preferences back on us in the form of invitations and insistences to buy and behave in certain ways. This means withdrawing from all opinion surveys, Bake-Off voting, online quizzes, etc. Without abandoning social media, we must use it in a way that is less about self-expression than a floating free of our own ideas and narratives and images.
Support by all for anti-racist struggle is fundamental because institutional and popular malevolence is where conspiracy theory rules most intensely. We must win the right for everyone to define and diffuse their identity in terms of their deep interior and not by a categorisable appearance or simplified genealogy.
But the new politics must be more creative still. Each of us must begin to re-make the world. Our watchwords must be real freedom and post-pilgrimage. Stuff the country, we want our souls back. We’re going to make empathy great again. So great.
We must create a giant glassy structure without glass, beneath which lies not the poisoned and infected ground imagined by the conspiracy theory ruling class but the imaginary and real terrain of a heaven in Earth, where the abiding myth is of individual self-respect and realisation, and which is characterised by an obligation to the stranger, by empathy and care for others. This world is wholly different from the one we fear; it is wholly different from the dull and stodgy materials of conspiracy.
We can find this space in the contradictions, the gaps and voids of the present, and in our imagining the future as we explore this new world we find ourselves in.
Everyone must be encouraged to make their own post-pilgrimage; not to shrines, but in search of space free from malevolent gazes. This should be proclaimed as a mass-participatory event that is already in progress, an act of collective revolutionary dreaming in resistance to the hatred and fear and racism of the conspiracy theory class. It will be almost impossible to detect and almost impossible to stop. Everyone will be able to practise it; it will be a benevolent conspiracy against conspiracy; everyone will suspect that everyone else is doing it.
It is time to launch the pilgrimage; to assemble small groups of serious ‘pranksters’ who can write the founding documents, prepare the symbols, the images, the badges, the call signs, the maps.
19th January 2017
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Mytho (a.k.a CrabMan) is the author of Mythogeography, Counter-Tourism: The Handbook and numerous other books, films and essays listed here.