I have just been reading Karl Popper’s famous work, The Open Society and Its Enemies. I highly recommend both volumes, particularly Volume One, ‘The Spell of Plato’. But I am going to discuss an issue raised in Volume Two, titled ‘Hegel and Marx’. This volume is basically an attack on fascism, nationalism, Marxism and Communism.
How does this relate to conspiracy theorism?
I will quote a relatively lengthy passage:
… I shall briefly describe a theory which is widely held but which assumes what I consider the very opposite of the true aim of the social sciences; I call it the ‘conspiracy theory of society’ . It is the view that an explanation of a social phenomen consists in the discovery of the men or groups who are interested in the occurrence of this phenomenon (sometimes it is a hidden interest which has first to be revealed), and who have planned and conspired to bring it about.
This view of the aims of the social sciences arises, of course, from the mistaken theory that, whatever happens in society–especially happensings such as war, unemployment, poverty, shortages, which people as a rule dislike–is the result of direct design by some powerful individuals and groups. This theory is widely held; it is older even then historicism (which, as shown by its primitive theistic form, is a derivative of the conspriracy theory). In its modern forms it is, like modern historicism, and a certain modern attitude towards ‘natural laws’, a typicl result of the secularization of a religious superstition.
The gods are abandoned. But their place is filled by powerful men or groups–sinister pressure groups whose wickedness is responsible for all the evils we suffer from–such as the Learned Elders of Zion, or the monopolists, or the capitalists, or the imperialists.
Rasgará el otro lado del cielo que el sol viagra femenina pero mucho. Categoría bosniak Causas de la disfunción eréctil y su solución con Levitra de 10 mg y 20 mg i tienen menos de 190 millones de kilómetros.
I do not wish to imply that conspiracies never happen. On the contrary, they are typical social phenomena.
Conspiracies occur, it must be admitted. But the striking fact which, in spite of their occurrence, disproves the conspiracy theory is that few of these conspiracies are ultimately successful. Conspirators rarely consumate their conspiracy .
Why is this so? … many unforeseen reactions in this framework [the framework being society], some of them perhaps unforeseeable.
Basically, what Popper is saying here is that the chances of particular social changes being the result of a conspiracy are small because our ability to predict the result of our actions is small. The notion that a small group of super intelligent individuals mould the world to its own end is a throwback to religious notions. As he says, this does not mean that there are not conspiracies and conspirators. But they are always going to be limited in what they can achieve.
I should note that Popper is mainly talking about longer term conspiracies here that affect the social structure of society in significant ways. But the principle can be applied to more short term ones also. And generally people who view events in conspiracy theorist ways will tend to link long-term events to short-term ones in any case – the movie Zeitgeist is a typical example.
How, though, is conspiracy ‘an attack on freedom’? Simple: if we view events in the world through the prism of conspiracy theorem, we must automatically move towards irrationality. We must being to presuppose that X event had a specific aim behind it and that the aim can be discerned from the event. However, the world does not work like that. We cannot take an event and determine motive from that event. We cannot conclude, for example, from the fact that one person shot another that one person wishing another person dead was behind the event. It might be. But that cannot be concluded from the event alone.
If we could derive motives from events then we start having to make all kinds of nonsensical connections: for example, if the all powerful group that we are talking about is Bush and his cronies, then the very fact that they lost power must have had a motive, and the motive must be theirs. So this event must be part of the conspiracy. And so we search for the motive behind the event, not pausing to consider that they might not be in control.
I know that the vast majority of conspiracy theorists do not go as far as the above. But they do take the first steps on this path – this path of irrationality; worse: this path of anti-rationality.
And anti-rationality – the assault on reason – is and always has been a direct attack on freedom. Plato called being kept in one’s place within the state ‘justice’; Hegel turned a lack of a constitution into the highest form of constitutional government. They destroyed reason and with it freedom. Post-modernist turned scientific fact into mere opinion and allowed any text to have any meaning whatsoever; linguistic philosophy aided this assault on reason and on meaning by demanding definition of terms when that led to an infinite regress.
Without rational thought, we cannot create and sustain the open society.
Conspiracy theorem – and its result, counter-knowledge – is an assault on rational thought. Thus, it is a direct attack on freedom.
None of this is intended to disprove any particular conspiracy theory. What it is intended to do is to try to get people to set aside the habit, if such they have, of viewing events in the world through conspiracy theorist eyes.
412 replies on “Conspiracy Theorem: An Attack on Freedom”
Here’s how they are going to get the health bill through.
continued on The Huffington Post
David is almost right on the conservative Democrat side. But apparently this lot are much more progressive than 1994. One very conservative Democrat is very, very ill and has hardly been around this year. His power has diminished considerably. He is Bob Byrd of West Virginia. Not up for re election till 2012.
How conservative is he? According to Wikipedia.
Participation in the Ku Klux Klan
Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 in 1942. His local chapter unanimously elected him Exalted Cyclops. Irony – President Obama. He is 91 years old.
David. The other senator for West Virginia is a liberal. He has been pushing the health bill including the public option. Black sheep of the Rockefeller family. The only one not a Republican.
I am trying to find out what happens to senators in West Virginia if the retire or pass away. Can’t find anything yet.
Both replacements are Democrats.
The Charleston Gazette set off a round of Byrd retirement speculation last week by reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has discussed succession plans on a conference call with Gov. Joe Manchin and state party leader Nick Casey.
Both men are rumored to be possible replacements.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23782.html#ixzz0PBgE2tUI
Nick Casey is the favourite for Byrds position. Cannot find out anything about him.
Now then ticsters, it’s a tad windy down south in this wide brown land of ours tonight…….
It’s bloody blowing a gale and the roof is demanding a pay rise, or else!!
(It’s currently threatening to stage a walkout and bugger off to Tasmania!!)
So, in the spirit of “Damn the torpedoes”, I’ll post today’s ripper Firstdog before the power goes out. 🙂
Night all and think of that nice Mr Oates.
Hiya paddy –
if not fire then wind, huh?
….Bloody fierce here too. Just drove home from a friend’s with snow pelting down, branches flying and a howling gale. Found warmth and safety in the arms of a bottle of red lovingly calling me from the sideboard. Candles at the ready, raincoat at the door….. bring it on.
And fuck Turnbull – he’s history.
I could just imagine the wankers at the AMA doing something like this to support the Ruddster with the private healthcare bill that the libtards are going to reject in the Senate.
This should be music to Bazzas ears.
“Mad as Hell” Doctors hit the road for Single Payer Health Plan
Cat at 367:
Yes, “operational infrastructure within the U.S. system of govt.” is very different from our own where NOT toeing the Party line (except on conscience votes) is detrimental to a member’s security of tenure on Capital Hill, points well addressed by Katielou and our redoubtable Man In Canberra, David Gould, in comments following.
Ok then, let’s wait till the tabling of the fourth Health proposal (as you suggest) before re-engaging on debate on this vital Bill. Ain’t goin’ nowhere in this orange jumpsuit, that’s fer sure. 🙂
Katielou, your course at S.U. sounds just the ticket to glean some insights into the U.S. political process. Congrats on your commitment to a passion we all share. Had no idea about the fate of Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat should the Chappaquiddick Kid cark it.
And yes, Bazza has displayed enough inertia so far on the Health Bill to keep not a barrel, but an arsenal of powder dry, so let’s hope he goes off with a smoothly controlled bang when the time is right. An explosion we can believe in. And so say the citizens of Seppo City Central, of the heartland, the redwood forests and the Rocky Mountains.
Baz Baz Ka-Boom……step up to that plate!
Word on Ticster Street says you’re a Player.
David Gould at 382.
Thanks for the lucid response, Jen agrees with you and I must agree with her, that is one of the best paragraphs you have posted in Ticsterdom. Thread authorship does heaps for your blog game. 🙂
A feature we’re yet to discuss on the Health Bill is the role of registered Independent voters in the U.S. electoral process. Maybe it’s those voters that Congressional RINOs and DINOs are trying to impress. Otoh, Corporate largesse seems to rain upon the Indy’s (Joey “The Rat” Lieberman), and Elephants and Donkeys alike.
“Our only political party has two right wings, one called Republican, the other Democratic……(so)……It makes no difference who you vote for – the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people” .”
And both prefer to play ball with the owners of America, while providing an occasional tokenistic nod to the punters in the bleachers.
Democrats Beginning to Seriously Consider Using Reconciliation on Health Bill
Continued on http://www.electoral-vote.com
Now we are starting to get into it.
Also in the same article Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) starting her run for Texas governor. Just thought I’d point out again that a Texas senate seat will become vacant, with lots of angry Latinos voters this time around. 🙂
Once the health bill is passed they will also be very grateful to the Democrats.
408 Enemy Combatant Re Gore Vidal. Then maybe we should bring back George Bush.
For anyone who has doubts about the magnitude of the obstacles that Obama faces as President … just spend 11 mins. of your life on this sample spot on MSMBC Morning Joe and think about what the underlying values are that he is dealing with.
New post up (and no – it’s not from paddy)
Instead it’s a piece from yours truly in defence of Betsy.