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In Praise of Conspiracy Theorists
Brian Maher

Due to professional obligations we take aboard an overplus of daily “information.”

Some of it — perhaps more than some of it — sorts into the “conspiratorial” category.

For example: the theory that space lasers set Maui on fire.

For example: the theory that the Rothschilds ordered Kennedy shot dead.

For example: the theory that the Twin Towers were knocked down not by shanghaied airplanes but by pre-planted explosives.

Examples multiply and multiply.

Some have even accused this very publication — if you can believe it — of merchanting conspiracy theories.

These accusations have their origins in the pandemic.

We had expressed… skepticism… about certain government claims and conduct.

These concerned lockdowns, vaccines and the near-absolute suppression of unofficial information.

Thus the “conspiracy theorist” label came issuing.

Were we mistaken? Were we merely shouting wolf?

Or have subsequent discoveries validated our doubting Thomas skepticisms?

We leave that decision to you… our reader.

Being a Fool Doesn’t Make You a Criminal

Are certain conspiracy theories preposterous, debunkable and absurd?

We believe many are preposterous, debunkable and absurd.

For example, the theory that space lasers set Maui on fire.

Many others file into this category.

Yet if a fellow believes it, is he not free to believe it — and to preach it?

Is a fool a criminal? He is not.

And do you not enjoy the right to hear him yourself? Who would deny you the belly laugh his babblings would give you?

Who indeed?

Besides: If what he says is horrifically toxic, take it outside.

Let the sunlight disinfect it. Keep it dark and the thing fester and festers…  spreading like mushrooms in a dank cave.

To expose it is to kill it.

Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty

Today we rise in defense of the conspiracy theorist — of the man with his tinfoil crown.

That is because he is a suspicious fellow.

A suspicious man is an alert man. And an alert man is a superior citizen.

Did not Jefferson — Mr. Tommy Jefferson — argue that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty?

He may have said it and he may not have said it.

But if he did not say it someone else did say it.

And whoever said it was a very wise fellow.

The free society must remain perpetually upon its toes. It must remain alert to threats that menace its liberties.

And who is more alert to threats than the conspiracy theorist? Who spends more time upon his toes?

The answer is no one.

So the conspiracy theorist hallucinates. So he chases phantoms. So he connects dots that are not in fact connected.

So he is — in many instances — lunatic.

It is no concern. For he offers society an incomparable contribution.

His incomparable contribution to society is his suspicion. In particular, his suspicion of government.

Only a suspicious and distrustful people will keep an eye on their government — and if necessary, get their hands on its government.

If the people take their eye off their government their government will soon have its hands on the people.

That is precisely why the conspiracy theorist presents enormous value.

His eyes are perpetually glued to government.

They are not glued to his smartphone.

All Government Is Against Liberty

As the great Mencken observed:

All government, of course, is against liberty…

It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume… that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions…

The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse — that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it…

Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, criminal, grasping and unintelligent.

This is a thing to be constantly and eternally watched.

Cede it its proverbial inch and it will take its literal mile.

Against this tremendous rascal the conspiracy theorist is arrayed. Against this tremendous rascal the sound citizen is arrayed.

May the Lord bless them for it.

Is government — at times — innocent of the roguery and criminality its watchers suspect?

Perhaps at times it is. It may not always and in every instance menace us.

Yet it makes no nevermind.

The default assumption of a free people must be suspicion that government is always and in every instance a menace to their liberties.

What is history but a 5,000-year validation of that suspicion?

Putting the Fox in Charge of the Henhouse

There are nonetheless many who would voluntarily take their eyes off government.

What is more, they would train government eyes on us.

In brief, they want the fox to watch the henhouse.

For example, New York Times technology reporter Mr. Kevin Roose. From whom:

If left unchecked, networked conspiracy theories and online disinformation campaigns can lead to offline violence, as they did during [the Jan. 6, 2021] deadly Capitol riot…

Unless the Biden administration treats conspiracy theories and disinformation as the urgent threats they are, our parallel universes will only drift further apart, and the potential for violent unrest and civic dysfunction will only grow.

This Roose fellow even blessed the establishment of a “reality czar.”

Do we overstate or exaggerate? We do not:

Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar’.

Can you imagine it — a reality czar!

We invite and encourage you to revisit Mr. Mencken’s observations of government’s innate rascality.

Then come back. Recognize that Mr. Roose would place this frightful beast in control of reality itself.

Because I Say So!

What would this reality czar tell us?

That the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure election in history”… That lockdowns stopped the spread… that cotton surgical masks kept the virus out… that no workable treatments were available save the vaccines… that the same vaccines resulted in no death or injury…

That the Russians dynamited their own Nord Stream pipeline… that Ukraine is routing Russia…

That Hunter Biden is a gifted artist… that his father never discussed business dealings with him…

That the southern border of the United States is secure… that the economy has never been stronger…

We hazard a reality czar might inform us these claims are true.

How many are true? How many are false?

It does not matter. The reality czar wields the final verdict.

Let us then lift a hymn of praise for the conspiracy theorist.

He is the prickly thorn in a reality czar’s flesh — indeed, he is the prickly thorn in government’s flesh.

Without him they will proceed unwatched, unchecked and unstopped.

A free society requires him and his dark suspicions… be they anchored in truth or unanchored from truth.

His vigilance is the price he pays for his liberty.

Thus we speak our piece for the conspiracy theorist.

Long may he live! Strength to his arm!




Brian Maher is the Daily Reckoning’s Managing Editor. Before signing on to Agora Financial, he was an independent researcher and writer who covered economics, politics and international affairs. His work has appeared in the Asia Times and other news outlets around the world. He holds a Master’s degree in Defense & Strategic Studies.

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