The Screenplay-novel Manifestos

Less is more vivid

Monday, July 24, 2006

Differing from the official account

Mark Kaplan on conspiracy theory:

Heard the other day someone say “I prefer cock-up to conspiracy theory every time”. Really? Every time, automatically, without critical thought or reflection? How strangely dogmatic. Sure, there are crazy conspiracy theories, just as there are crazy cock-up theories. But too often, ‘conspiracy theory’ means little more than this: anything that speaks of goals, tactics, strategies other than the ones officially declared; in other words, 'conspiracy theory' as anything that differs too markedly from the official account, anything which – in an age of unprecedented spin and careful government PR – refuses to take such PR on its own terms.

Kaplan's comments are interesting on several levels. The first is that the word "conspiracy" is necessarily pejorative -- but it may simply reflect common sensical skepticism. The second is that the 21st Century so far has turned out to be a Time of Conspiracy Theory; that is, thinking of this sort has become popular. Some conspiracy theories are crazed and escapist. But others spring from a desire to discover the truth about long-buried truths. Some aspects of foreign policy include this. And, obviously, so do the actions of some militant groups.

The hidden aims of governments, groups -- all players in the political arena -- can be viewed, often healthily, through the prism of "conspiracy" ... that is,
viewing them simply to try to find out what these entities are really up to.


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