Gonzaga Debate Institute 2011 Mercury Conspiracy Theory


AT: Conspiracy analysis is productive politics



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AT: Conspiracy analysis is productive politics


Any understanding created is episodic not systematic

Barkun, professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and FBI consultant, 03

(Michael, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America,, pg. 182, SL)

These fringe beliefs, and the resulting pariah status of the believers, have stimulated the growth of an alternative communications system by which stigmatized ideas can be spread. This alternative system is necessary even though mainstreaming has opened popular culture to some traditionally stigmatized beliefs. Although this access has promoted both recruitment and enhanced legitimacy, it has significant limits. First, it almost always occurs within the context of fictional representations of the world, such as films and television programs. It does not purport to offer an accurate picture of reality, even though the fact-fiction reversals discussed earlier lead believers to regard it as truthful. Second, it is fragmentary and episodic rather than systematic. That is, the stigmatized material usually takes the form of an individual motif incorporated into the story, as in the reference to the power of FEMA in the film The X-Files. It does not take the form of a comprehensive and logically developed presentation of an alternative view of reality.


Conspiracy theory discourse makes political discourse impossible

Barkun, professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and FBI consultant, 03

(Michael, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, pg. 189, SL)

As New World Order ideas and attendant elements of the improvisational milieu break out of their traditional confinement, a new and disconcerting array of possibilities opens up, because those who espouse such ideas represent dissent of a particularly radical sort, rooted in divergent ideas about reality and knowing. While The X-Files motto, “Trust no one, ” may appear innocuous in an escapist drama, its literal application implies a culture war far more extreme than anything seen previously. If no one can be trusted (except, presumably, others in the truthseeking cadre), a society becomes divided between believers in received ideas about what counts as knowledge and a no-longer-hidden minority of challengers. The likely outcome of such a polarization is not pleasant to contemplate, for the challengers do not believe their opponents are merely misguided. Rather, the supporters of the status quo are thought to be at best the conspirators' dupes and at worst their accomplices. Hence the alternative reality sees itself as a fighting faith that must obliterate its adversaries. This is, to be sure, a worst-case scenario, and most worst-case scenarios melt away with time. One hopes that will be the case here. But the fact that the beliefs described in the preceding chapters are bizarre ought not to imply that they are necessarily innocuous or unworthy of careful scrutiny. Bizarre beliefs have broken into the open before. Indeed, new orthodoxies can emerge out of just such ideological undergrowth, sometimes with devastating effects.

AT: Conspiracy analysis is productive politics


Conspiratorial views of politics fail to interrogate the system

Domhoff, Professor of Sociology at UC-Santa Cruz, 5

(G. William,“There are no Conspiracies,” March, http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/theory/conspiracy.html, JSkoog)

There are several problems with a conspiratorial view that don't fit with what we know about power structures. First, it assumes that a small handful of wealthy and highly educated people somehow develop an extreme psychological desire for power that leads them to do things that don't fit with the roles they seem to have. For example, that rich capitalists are no longer out to make a profit, but to create a one-world government. Or that elected officials are trying to get the constitution suspended so they can assume dictatorial powers. These kinds of claims go back many decades now, and it is always said that it is really going to happen this time, but it never does. Since these claims have proved wrong dozens of times by now, it makes more sense to assume that leaders act for their usual reasons, such as profit-seeking motives and institutionalized roles as elected officials. Of course they want to make as much money as they can, and be elected by huge margins every time, and that can lead them to do many unsavory things, but nothing in the ballpark of creating a one-world government or suspending the constitution. Second, the conspiratorial view assumes that the behind-the-scenes leaders are extremely clever and knowledgeable, whereas social science and historical research shows that leaders often make shortsighted or mistaken decisions due to the limits placed on their thinking by their social backgrounds and institutional roles. When these limits are exposed through stupid mistakes, such as the failure of the CIA at the Bay of Pigs during the Kennedy Administration, then conspiratorial theorists assert that the leaders failed on purpose to fool ordinary people. Third, the conspiratorial view places power in the hands of only a few dozen or so people, often guided by one strong leader, whereas sociologists who study power say that there is a leadership group of many thousands for a set of wealth-owning families that numbers several million. Furthermore, the sociological view shows that the groups or classes below the highest levels buy into the system in various ways and support it. For example, highly trained professionals in medicine, law, and academia have considerable control over their own lives, make a good living, and usually enjoy their work, so they go along with the system even though they do not have much political power. Fourth, the conspiratorial view often assumes that clever experts ("pointy-headed intellectuals") with bizarre and grandiose ideas have manipulated the thinking of their hapless bosses. But studies of policy-making suggest that experts work within the context of the values and goals set out by the leaders, and that they are ignored or replaced if they step outside the consensus (which is signaled by saying they have become overly abstract, idealistic, or even, frankly, "pinko"). Finally, the conspiratorial view assumes that illegal plans to change the government or assassinate people can be kept secret for long periods of time, but all evidence shows that secret groups or plans in the United States are uncovered by civil liberties groups, infiltrated by reporters or government officials, and written about in the press. Even secrets about wars and CIA operations -- Vietnam, the Contras, the rationales for Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- are soon exposed for everyone to see. As for assassinations and assassination attempts in the United States, from McKinley to Franklin D. Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Robert F. Kennedy to Reagan, they have been the acts of individuals with no connections to any power groups. Because all their underlying assumptions are discredited by historical events and media exposures, no conspiracy theory is credible on any issue. If there is corporate domination, it is through leaders in visible positions within the corporate community, the policy planning network, and the government. If there is class domination, it is through the same mundane processes that social scientists have shown to be operating for other levels of the socioeconomic system. |





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