Are You a Conspiracy Theorist?

Are You a Conspiracy Theorist?
Dr. Anthony Fauci covers his face while President Donald Trump talks during a coronavirus briefing. (White House/Screenshot)
Jeffrey A. Tucker

Are you a conspiracy theorist? If you are thoughtful and interested in public affairs, the media will say you are. And they will smear and dismiss you for it.

For more than half a century, certainly since the Kennedy assassination, anyone who notices patterns and missing pieces in public life and attempts a possible explanation that suggests cover-ups or other nefarious dealing is denounced as a “conspiracy theorist” and hence self-evidently wrong and probably crazy.

The trouble is that it’s very difficult to make sense of public life today without some degree of speculation based on morsels of evidence. That’s because so much of the truth of things is hidden behind security walls.

Anyone who thinks that the public hasn’t been hoodwinked by some very powerful people is hopelessly naïve or not paying any attention. The sheer number of once-trusted institutions and individuals who have betrayed us is beyond belief. And this is true for a vast range of issues, from war to economics to public health to academia and medicine generally.

In the case of COVID—by which I mean not the virus, but the “whole-of-society” response—the rule-making power was transferred from public health to the intelligence community on March 13, 2020, with the emergency declaration. This isn’t speculation. We have all the documents. Upon release, they were marked confidential.

It was a remarkable shift in the American system, away from representative democracy and toward rule by administrative bureaucracies. Those are the people who closed your churches and schools. They did it without a vote or polls. They somehow gained the power to do it while bypassing every institution of consent.

This wrapped the whole of the biggest mass attack on liberty in living memory in a blanket of secrecy. Even now, people are afraid to talk. You hear things, but usually secondhand. The sources close to the operation keep everything under wraps because that is what they agreed to do. They live with this burden even now.

Yes, many secrets. There are still so many questions. And people are left to speculate. Was there one big plot or thousands and millions of little plots? Was this all directed toward an intended nefarious end (as so many say), or did it work more like an Ouija board, with no one in particular moving the planchette but rather reflecting the mind of the group?

Look at the word conspiracy itself. It derives from the Latin for breathe. It means to breathe together. Other words based on the same root are inspire (taking breath in, as if from God), aspire (to breathe upon with hope), and expire (to stop breathing).

To conspire doesn’t necessarily mean to plot. Or to plan. Or to scheme. It doesn’t even have to be driven by ill intent. It means only that the actors in the action know what they are supposed to do, as in breathing. They know their interests and can anticipate the actions of others without asking or being told. They gauge their own actions to coordinate with others.

In that sense, there doesn’t need to be a plot for there to be a conspiracy. There are certain things that you know for sure. If tonight I attended a high-end cocktail party at an exclusive Boston country club, I know for sure that a way to scandalize the guests would be to express disgust at Pride Month.

Doing that would cause people to avoid me for the duration and assure that I would never be invited back. The topic doesn’t even need to come up at all. I can make a reasonable assumption—without knowing any other facts—that the people at this event are all tacitly on board with Pride Month. It’s a given. Is it a conspiracy? In a literal sense, yes.

To have a conspiracy theory is simply to speculate as to the reasons for the coordination. The theory doesn’t have to point to a plan, but rather it could map out the coordination of interests toward a goal. That’s not disreputable. It’s simply a matter of being smart. It indicates that you have your eyes wide open and are curious for answers. You are merely trying to figure out how it is that people come to breathe together, seemingly acting with unity of intent.

For years, I conducted a choir of a special sort. We sang entirely without accompaniment and from a repertoire from the 16th century in which the beat is implicit most of the time. That meant that counting and comprehending the tempo depended entirely on an internal sense of timing. It has to be shared among the entire group. It’s conveyed by the conductor in part, but only as a guide and not the beat itself.

Internalizing the tempo is a much bigger hurdle than the notes themselves. If you can’t get the beat, the music simply doesn’t happen. That beat has to come from within.

I learned over time that when I was doing a clinic with a new choir that had never sung this type of repertoire, it was best to begin with tempo exercises. I would take at least 30 minutes to help people comprehend the tempo without any sound. It needs to be built into the heart and mind. It’s the only way that one can make sense of the entrances and exits section by section. If we couldn’t get this part right, the music would never come together.

Once it does come together, the conductor can eventually become superfluous. Ideally, by the time I finished the clinic, which usually lasted a day, we could sing several large pieces without any conductor at all. I needed only to start and stop the music. In professional choirs that specialize in this music, they do not even need that. They conduct themselves with looks and glances. That’s all they need. (If you are curious as to how this works, here is a fine example.)

An illustration drawn from the COVID years came from a Trump news conference in which Dr. Anthony Fauci was standing behind him. Trump was saying something particularly strange. Fauci strained to keep from laughing, and covered his face. Now, Fauci is a man of some discipline. Why did he do this? It was a signal to his friends in the media, pharma, and the whole gang that he wasn’t on board with the Trump administration. He was showing them that he could be counted on to manage a response contrary to what the president wanted.

In the same way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration didn’t need to get together with Pfizer and Moderna to map out a plan. They all knew each others’ interests and could anticipate each others’ actions. They are part of the same tribe, one that’s based on experience and trust. It was the same with media and tech. They joined in based on mutual interest and class rank. The signals and instructions don’t need to be written down or negotiated. They are in the air and discernible by the most minor signs all around us.

In that sense, they “breathed together” like a high-end professional choir. No percussionist is necessary because the beat is already known and understood by all the singers.

In the same way, we saw remarkable coordination between the federal government’s planning and that of the states. The public health departments are all on the same email chains and attend the same annual conventions. They know how each other thinks. They were all waiting for the great pandemic. They had gamed it all out many times in the past, and for at least a decade and a half. The only question was when to begin the exercise in real time—the moment when the piece of music was to begin.

Vast resources are being expended today to document everything that was happening behind the scenes via emails, texts, classified documents, and much more. We are discovering remarkable truths. And yet, in the end, the real conspiracy is not something one can ever fully document. It happens as if by autopilot or magic as an extension of a shared culture, sociology, and interest. The power elite know what to believe, and even what to do, without the necessity of any external plotting or direction.

That’s how really effective conspiracies work.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of "The Best of Ludwig von Mises." He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.
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