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Conspiracy Theories: A Tool to Conceal Mistakes and Incite Fear

From petty office politics to Prime Ministers there is a belief that an invisible force is acting against you. May it be Modi or Trump, they all believe so.  But with everyone, this belief isn’t grounded in reality.

While some genuinely attribute the real challenges they face while working for a greater good to hidden threats , some exploit this belief to conceal their mistakes.

“Today, if any country has made its mark on the global stage it is India. It is natural for anti-India forces to unite”, said the Prime Minister of India in Delhi once. What does the phrase anti-india forces denote? It comprises the opposition party members, Rahul Gandhi, the muslims, and the liberal Hindus of the country?

He is not alone.

Donald Trump is facing opposition from a shadow government filled with pedophiles, says QAnon, a pro-Trump supporter group. 

Ando some dictators let their propaganda machineries speak:

The failed coup of Turkey in 2016 was an attempt by the CIA and plotted by a retired US Army General, said a Turkish newspaper.

All of the above are fabricated lies – believing that one person or a group of people are acting against the leader and the interests of the country.  

How did these leaders come to power in the first place? Because people believed they were capable of bringing a change. But when they fail to do so, they don’t want to lose their super hero statuses. So they find some conspiracy theories to blame for their failures. Because, conspiracy theories offer simple answers to complex scenarios.

It is easier to blame a person or a party or a group of people than to explain macroeconomics. 

In all the above stated countries, inequality is rising through the roof. And their superhero leaders are dependent on conspiracy theories to stay in power as statistics and economic data often do not support their claims of progress.

From India’s Modi to America’s Trump and several other instances across the world, conspiracy theories have offered a narrative that spreads anger, division, and hatred among people, making the society toxic. The fear and tension might help them regain power but not their records.

These conspiracy theories are peddled to hide the mistakes of these leaders and to divide and divert attention of the masses to something that is more dangerous – a domestic enemy who is your neighbor.

What is the role of a government, if the opposition and the people find reasons to criticize it? To clear the doubts with evidence or the least by logical reason.

Only recently, it has become a trend to call the opposition (may it be a leader or a group of people) an enemy to the country and its people. 

The change expected from these leaders were positive and uniting but what they have created is more division and hatred, with help of conspiracy theories. 

Conspiracy theories from history

Conspiracy theories have always helped authoritarian regimes in the past.

One of the most famous conspiracy theories of the twentieth century is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It’s a book (if you Google it) but it is also a fraudulent document that falsely details how the Jewish community across the world are working together in secrecy to control the world and how they intend to hurt and destroy all other cultures including the Aryan’s. This led to widespread anti-semitism. Millions of copies of this book were sold in the 1920s.

Even the Fascists believe in conspiracy theories if it acts against their interest. 

The Nazis believed that Feminism is a conspiracy theory concocted by Jews to make the Aryan females infertile. Every women’s movement aimed at empowering women’s lives is a conspiracy theory. Feminism stops women from performing their duties of producing children; and it destroys the German family structure that requires the father as the chief commander – akin to the Fascist leader, a strong man as the chief decision maker of the nation who cares for all its children.  

Until 1950, conspiracy theories were more tolerated in the past. Because it offered simple answers to complex questions and scenarios, helping understand the mysterious world.

Back then the world was a very divided place with different communities of people with different beliefs and each of them trying to get widespread attention. And also the authority of scientific communities were not popular as they are today. These led to a proliferation of conspiracy theories.

Isn’t the above passage very relevant even today? Too much division, lack of trust in science and institutions give way to Fascism. And that’s what is happening today.

And for the same reasons, it was easy for authoritarian Fascists to spread rumors and engage in propaganda; and still it is. 

While Fascists call many liberal movements as conspiracy theories, they conveniently resort to a number of such theories to destroy logical arguments and establish their propaganda machinery against reasonable debates. This helps them achieve what Jason Stanley quotes in his book: “Fascist Politics replaces reasoned debate with fear and anger”.

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