People who question the mainstream narratives are often labelled “conspiracy theorists”. They are accused of having an “anthropogenic” and “anthropocentric” worldview. They are being criticised for, supposedly, believing that everything is caused by humans, or, more specifically, by the people of power. The “mainstream narrative dissidents” are said to have a tendency to personalise many events and processes that are supposedly natural.
In some cases, their critics reduce everything to absurd arguments such as “if you believe that the word is run by elitist groups who secretly control everything from the shadows then you clearly haven’t tried to organise a group project with more than five group members, haha”.
The most rabid conspiracy theory critics believe that people don’t have any agency over the world and society they live in, that nobody can organise anything (yet along keep it in secrecy), and that everything happens naturally, either through the “free market” forces (if they are liberal or libertarian) or through inanimate forces of Political Economy (if they are “vulgar Marxists” who haven’t had time to study the theory properly).
Those who deny any conspiracy theories would say that they find it hard to control a classroom of 25-30 children. Well, okay. But does it mean that everyone does? If someone personally struggles to calm down a group of kids, does it mean that there are no CEOs and boards of directors who control international multi-billion dollar corporations that employ tens of thousands of people? Does it mean that there are no such things as “soft power”? Does it mean that there are no government agencies and think tanks that forge policies, control the financial flows, who act strategically and implement long-term changes in society to fulfil their goals, the goals that often don’t go in line with the interest of the public?
It is as if there are no intelligence and security services who have been performing operations and running plots in secrecy, some of which have been uncovered and documented, academically, by historians, and otherwise. Did the 9/11 attacks just happen naturally, by themselves? Or were there perpetrators who conspired to make it happen, either Al Qaeda, the “Deep State”, or the alliance between the two, depending on where you lean on the issue?
I am old enough to remember, for instance, how everyone used to laugh at the conspiracy theory that all of our online interactions are being monitored by intelligence and security services, with corporate/digitalisation apologists arrogantly dismissing such claims, saying that companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple wouldn’t dare to release private data to anyone as they would run into big lawsuits. Even the Simpsons made fun of it.
And then, suddenly, the Snowden revelations happened…
Nowadays, we have people like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the richest individual in the world (at least officially), openly doing projects for the Pentagon and the CIA (thus colluding with them; oh, and I doubt that their relationship is solely commercial).
Now, of course, there are lots of childish conspiracy theories out there too, like the belief that everything is controlled by the “reptilian elites”, the lizard people, or that the government is trying to conceal the fact that the Earth is flat — all of that is obviously obscene nonsense that should be laughed at and made fun of in various ways. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t powers who would try to control and/or influence things form the shadows, to fulfill their agenda.
It is impossible to control everything, that is true. There are certain sociological and economic laws that can’t be defied, same way as there are natural laws of Physics and Chemistry. The laws of gravity don’t prevent people from flying planes and launching rockets into the outer space, though (provided, of course, that people know those laws well enough to use them to their own advantage).
It’s similar with the economy and society. If you grow powerful enough and accumulate enough wealth and information, you can play the rules of the system to make them work in your favour.
As a side note, people differ in their perception of time and their ability to set long-term goals. There’s this general notion that pathological substance abusers and people who suffer from bad cases of borderline/histrionic personality disorder always live in the moment, perceiving life as a chain of unrelated events, therefore they have trouble making long-term plans and sticking to them. Healthy people from what is called the “upper-middle class”, in contrast, normally have the ability to set long-term goals and work on them, making plans for up to 5-7 years into the future. And then there are people from the super-rich families and old aristocratic/noble families who think and operate in terms of their kin, maintaining their establishment and setting goals for generations ahead.
There are quite a few old super-rich families who have been existing for centuries and whose wealth can’t even be quantified properly — families and establishments such as the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Morgans, Baruchs, and the likes. They have been making long-term investments into various fields, threading connections with people in the government(s), intelligence agencies, forming alliances with other rich and powerful people with the goal to preserve their wealth and power, and to expand their influence as well, thus forming their own social class.
It is not even a conspiracy. It may sound obvious, but the antagonism between different social classes has been formally studied by various academics since the mid-19th century, both theoretically and empirically.
There is nothing strange or uncommon about people with common interests who have the ability and resources to influence things in their favour getting together and using the said resources to influence things in their favour.
And the techniques of large scale mind control and manipulation have been scientifically perfected by social psychologists and behavioural scientists since the late 1940s.
Relying on the mainstream media to form your worldview is hardly reliable, to put it mildly. Once again, nothing overly conspiratorial about that — the relationship between media and society, as it happens in reality (as opposed to an imaginary democratic free market utopia), in its various forms, has been documented and studied academically for decades. This relationship doesn’t always look mutually beneficial.
Big corporate and financial elites who invest into media outlets don’t do it because they want to inform you on the real state of affairs. They need you brainwashed down to the NPC level.
I am far from simplifying issues and reducing everything down to cheap conspiratorial cliches — the world is complex, there are many nuances in every phenomenon. But to believe that rich and powerful people don’t conspire, and that everything happens naturally, as it should be, with no powers trying to exploit anything or anyone, is anywhere between naive and idiotic.
I guess some people just find it comfortable to believe that history and politics are non-anthropogenic, and that there are no forces out there that have the agency capable of purposely screwing them over. Such beliefs give a false sense of freedom to not do anything about the injustice and just sit back and accept everything as natural, organic, and grass-root.
And it also relieves people from the need for a genuine analytic/intellectual inquiry —why bother searching for truth and thinking for yourself when everything you need to know is being served to you on the platter by the likes of the Guardian and the New York Times?