I have a certain wry fascination with conspiracy theories. Here’s an interesting insight into this ubiquitous phenomenon by F. Rudmin, University of Tromsø, Norway.
CONSPIRACY THEORY AS NAIVE DECONSTRUCTIVE HISTORY
What is of interest too is the author’s reference to how,
“in earlier eras other pejorative labels, such as “heresy,””witchery,” and “communism” also worked like (conspiracy theories). The charge of “conspiracy theory” is not so severe as these other labels, but in its way is many times worse. Heresy, witchcraft, and communism at least retain some sense of potency. They designate ideas to be feared.”
Or in the words of Carlo Ginzburg:
“What we witness in the spring of 1321 is the idea of the great conspiracy, the notion that external enemies can ally themselves with persons in our midst in order to undermine the entire social structure. This idea had an overwhelming impact in the period under review. In 1348, for example, Jews all over southern France were massacred after being accused of spreading the Black Death. Early in the fifteenth century, this conspiracy model reemerged, though in a different guise. This time it was the practitioners of the Black Arts who were supposed to be behind the veiled attack on Christianity. They were no longer in league with the Muslims, but with the Devil. Conspiracy had thus become omnipresent. It could no longer be linked to a specific section of the population; and it was no longer rooted in human conflicts, but on the contrary in the absolute struggle between God and the Devil. With this, a mainstay of the belief in the existence of a Witches’ Sabbath was firmly in place. The effects of that belief were to make themselves felt throughout the whole of Europe for more than two centuries afterwards.”
A thought: am I mistaken in seeing something eerily familiar in this? “The idea of the great conspiracy, the notion that external enemies can ally themselves with persons in our midst in order to undermine the entire social structure…” makes me think about the islamophobia gripping Europe in the wake of the most recent heinous attacks in Paris. Have we once again identified an evil “Other”?