- Published on Thursday, 31 December 2015 09:26
A few years back Slavoj Zizek noted, during one of his numerous lectures posted on youtube, that he was suddenly receiving a substantial increase of criticism from mainstream media after years of being ignored. More recently, Stop the War have become the target of a focused media campaign aimed at discrediting them. The attack is unprecedented in the movement's far from radical but honourable 12 year history.
From the efforts to discredit him, Zizek deduced that he must be doing something right to earn such vitriol; after all, it wouldn't be happening if his opinions where not striking a chord with some of the public. Such reasoning could also be applied to an article on conspiracy theories by David Shariatmadari's that appeared a few days ago in the Guardian.
Shariatmadri, (who's biography reads as part- conspiracy) presents a highly condescending piece, backed by two social psychologists an author and a couple of ex- disgruntled American teens. There's something of the Parish Vicar's sermon in Shariatmadri's tone, holding back from a full attack on the poor truthers, preferring a more conciliatory approach. Quoting author Rob Brotherton; all of us have suspicious minds - and for good reason.....being sensitive to possible threats is what has helped us survive in a world where nature often is out to get you.
With reference to the experience of a random 19 year old Texan at the time of 9/11, comes more empathy; Early reports were confused or contradictory: as a result some treated the official version of events with scepticism. This lazy coverall may explain a proportion of doubters but fails to mention the masses of people who came reluctantly and through much soul searching to question the official version of the tragedy months or even years after. (see Citizen Journalist, James Corbett.) And in complete contrast to what Shariatmadri suggests, the Bin Laden/terrorist narrative was in place immediately following 9/11. Likewise, the attack on Paris last month came with a similarly promoted ISIS/terrorist narrative, that's been noted by more astute journalists but none in the MSM.
Karen Douglas,(social psychologist number one), points out the internet's role (in it's infancy at the time of 9/11 and now omnipresent) in giving people much easier access to conspiracy information: It’s very easy to go online and find other people who feel the same way as you. And Brotherton follows up by suggesting there are more out there than we'd care to imagine; behaving like suspicious children and paranoid drunks. The image of a clandestine threat; a frenzied, mouth-foaming mob bent on all kinds of resentful destruction, plays into justification for ever increasing online surveillance. All this of course is presented without a counter argument; the rational, caring, professional and selfless research work, currently available to all online: Barbara Honegger, Bill Still, Susan Lindauer, Sibel Edmonds, Tom Secker, Allyson Pollock, Richard Grove, John Taylor Gatto etc.
The question, should we try to stamp conspiracy theories out, then, occurs towards the end of the article. Once again, more tolerant condescension, after all you don't want conspiracy theories gaining momentum through applying a Mr Zizek type of logic. And anyway, Viren Swami, (social psychologist number two) seems to suggest a good education of analytical thinking will keep people wedded to the acceptable mainstream narrative. Funny then how John Taylor Gatto's tireless research over the years has exposed sanctified state schooling to be a form of flea training, that produces a malleable and unquestioning public.
There were over 3,000 responses to Shariatmadri's article by the time the Guardian closed the comments page. A huge number of those called the writer out for producing a lazy and manipulative piece. One thing the article clearly shows is how keen, those who ridicule Alt Media are, to simplify and present a conspiracy-theory-template to the public. That type of pigeon-holing serves to obstruct people fighting for a more open society, one in which individuals and communities have more of a say in the way they live their lives. The critical thinking Mr Shami is calling for is very much alive in the work of Free Critical Thinking however, Critical Thinking's collective findings are the polar opposite of what he predicts. What's more they have nothing to do with conspiracy and everything thing to do with broadening the narrative in spite of the mainstream media's attempt to trivialise and close down the debate.