Are Conspiracies Theories Centre Stage to World Changes?
Posted on November 26, 2018
I read an article the other day about a study undertaken by three professors, John Naughton, David Runciman and Richard Evans.
It was about conspiracy theories and whether they have an affect on how people make big decisions, rather than just laughing them off as a good fun read and a bit of light entertainment. As someone in the article said, surely“conspiracy theories are good because they keep nutters in pyjamas and off the streets”.
I always thought that conspiracy theories were generally produced by wacky types like David Icke and were found in the back end of the web or via YouTube, but it appears now that they play a large part in creating and driving populist movements, such as Trump’s America.
According to the report carried out with YouGov there were some quite alarming results where in the UK, Brexit voters are far more likely to take political action because of a conspiracy theory. In addition, over 30% of them believed that Muslim immigration is a plot to make Muslims the majority in the UK. This is a conspiracy theory that originated in French far-right circles and is called the “great replacement”.
The comparable figure amongst Remain voters was 6% which backs up my feeling that on the whole (but not exclusively) Remain voters either did more homework on the workings of the EU, or they were not prepared to take the risk of disrupting the economy or current geopolitical situation without enough knowledge, so they chose the status quo.
What is worrying about a large contingent of Brexit voters being susceptible to conspiracy theories, is how they could be subject to manipulation after the event (on the presumption Brexit will happen on the 29th March next year).
The report uses as an example the “stab in the back” myth that went viral in Germany after 1918. It was a conspiracy theory claiming that the First World War was not lost in conflict but by civilian betrayal on the home front.
When Hitler’s Nazis established power 1933 this was incorporated into documents and propaganda stating that the Weimar Republic created the “November criminals” who knifed the nation in the back to seize power in the 1920’s.
Basically, it was a conspiracy theory that was the inspiration for the Second World War. Suddenly, I found myself not finding conspiracy theories very funny anymore and I couldn’t help but imagine a post Brexit populist movement in Britain. Who is going to get it in the neck if the economy collapses under the weight of poor or non-existent trade deals that we were told would be easy?
Muslims? Germany? France? I guess Spain could be a red-hot favourite, as we have already had nut jobs like Michael Howard (I thought he was dead) stirring it up by comparing Gibraltar with the Falklands (plus they would be easier to defeat than other nations).
Of course, none of these scenarios are certainties (only a conspiracy theorist would say that) but an isolationist, populist pro-Brexit government would make these doomsday scenarios far more likely than they have been since Moseley’s Blackshirts emerged in the 1930’s.
Interestingly, whilst people are prepared to believe a lot of Trump inspired nationalist nonsense on social media (Facebook tried to ban this picture of a bacon sandwich etc etc) they are not prepared to believe solid information that emerges about the activities of Hard Brexit populists like Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson.
It is almost as if though the world has turned on its head and that the suspect non parliamentary activities of Rees Mogg and Johnson are conspiracy theories and they are the ones being wronged. If that is a strategic bludgeoning of people’s minds, it must be said it is very clever and certainly needs to be taken seriously by political opponents. I think it was Putin adviser, Vladisir Serkov who first utilised it, calling it non linear warfare, a process of confusing people with fake news.
As one journalist said last week, JRM appeared to have shat his own bed with his embarrassing leadership coup last week but if Theresa May’s deal with the EU is voted down on the 11th December, he will be back and so will Johnson. Those prepared to vote down the deal but opposed to a far right-wing movement better be well prepared as they will get peppered with accusations and conspiracy theories.
Jeremy Corbyn, for example, appears prepared to be disruptive enough in the up and coming parliament vote on Brexit, to take a chance on a ‘No Deal’ and go head to head against right wing populists. He seems content to gamble and win power with his own populist socialist movement should Theresa May fall, and a general election is called.
For centrists, there will be no winner unless common sense prevails and a U-Turn comes via a second referendum based on solid information. However, unless I am wrong, the common sense ship sailed a long time ago and if it comes back, it will be torpedoed.
With the offshore tax and financial interests of the owners of The Sun, The Times, The Telegraph, The Mail and The Express at stake, I know where my money will be with regards to where this mess will end up.
It won’t be on Jeremy Corbyn.