Okay so here’s a quick run-down of what for me is the exact problem and “danger” in conspiracy theories and their use in modern analysis or whatever (I hesitate to call a lot of it “analysis”). Because I essentially agree with the basic idea of, you should test reality, ask questions, go and find out what is your truth, and how you can mesh that with the truth of others together fruitfully. (Whatever that means)
So in a nutshell, here it is. Contemporary conspiracy analysis online hinges on a single point:
1. Things are not what they seem.
And then there seems to be an in-built conclusion most people who get into that funnel find as the next logical step:
2. And it sucks.
Then, a lot of people just get stuck there. They know to ask questions. But they don’t necessarily always know which ones are the right questions that might lead them to fruitful personal & inter-personal experiences.
So they settle on simplistic lowest common denominator thinking, where they choose a convenient enemy & assign the cause of sucking to them. And we end up with the third corollary in the series:
3. Because group x.
If the average contemporary conspiracy person didn’t get stuck on step 2, they almost definitely get stuck on step 3. Because humans seem to have an in-built basic need to identify & maintain enemies. Or if not a “need,” per se (I would argue we can live without it), then at least a desire to blame badness on some “other.” And that’s what rises into varying shades of step 4:
4. So we should vote out/remove/jail/eliminate/prevent group x from y.
This desire to change the conditions which suck flows out of number 2. The recognition that things suck and we should try to change them is NATURAL and HEALTHY. And we can find healthy expressions of this recognition coupled with desire in things like voting people or parties out of office, pursuing them for legal violations, etc. Or we can find the ever-more-popular anti-social variants of wanting to randomly jail people or eliminate them because of “reasons.” Which are obviously hella shitty.
However, I think there is an alternate path one might take through the above steps, but one which branches off after 2) And it sucks, or even branches off earlier at number 1) Everything is not what it seems.
I would argue that the path of the psychonaut & allied practices might be like:
1. Yes, things are not what they seem.
But then go to:
2A. And it’s awesome
Or also recognize that:
2B. And it’s sometimes awesome and sometimes sucky
And then there is I guess we could call it the “Human Potential Movement” conclusion based on this that sets up an alternate to 3 (where we don’t land on “enemies” as a conclusion):
3B. And we have the power to change it.
With an alternative path of action to vanilla conspiracy step 4:
4B. We can change it by applying our imagination and will to effect changes within the field of consensus & personal reality
Which also seems to be the occult or “magick” perspective, though also that of, say, the entrepreneur, and the practitioners of the secular magics of growth-hacking and self-improvement.
There’s a saying in the Gospel of Thomas, I believe number 113, which I’ll paraphrase: The Kingdom of Heaven is laid out upon the earth, but men do not see it.
In terms of phildickian gnosticism (small “G”), people recognize and attempt to fight against but then become even more entangled by the Black Iron Prison. When really, simultaneously, we also live in the paradisaical Palm Tree Garden. But it’s hard to remember it, and to stay there, or to have the openness and imagination to see it again and again. But it’s always there waiting to be re-discovered, if you do forget or lose the tracks in the forest or the trail up the mountain, so to speak.
Granted, things do often and especially lately seem to massively suck. I want to recognize that at the root of today’s experience that drives people into conspiracy stuff in the first place. It’s good and healthy to recognize that, and to try to take steps to overcome it within the field of your own life & experience. I might even say it’s essential…
The bad part for me comes down to the failure of imagination to just say that everything sucks and to stop there, or to chase false “solutions” where you pin the blame on people you don’t like, and then attempt to leverage them out of the picture. That’s not freedom. That’s being chained to reaction and fear, and stopping short of finding real answers that might challenge those reactions and fears down to their very core, and find out they aren’t substantiated, or even that those reactions and fears are themselves not what they seem, but something much more malleable in the face of mind and will and the action of applied imagination.
Also, personally speaking, I recognize my position is somewhat of a fantasy. That clinging to hope is a fantasy. But long term, I find it a much more fulfilling and personally tenable position to hold that the contrary that says it sucks, and is caused only by bad people I don’t like. I can’t live like that day to day. Hatred and anger take too much damn energy to maintain. My position might be equally a fantasy (though at least not a dark one), but it’s an infinitely easier burden to bear day after day as we go through this thing called life.