We’re in a new construction, for a while at least, in which everything outside its boundaries is conspiracy.
Immune systems are a conspiracy theory.
Human rights are a conspiracy theory.
Geo-politics are a conspiracy theory.
You’ll notice that everything is a conspiracy theory on condition that it goes against… well, against what, exactly? I’m struggling to find a term for it.
Let’s call it the story.
The story is what you find on, for example, the BBC, CNN or NHK, or in the Guardian. It’s a version of events in which life has only one purpose, which is to avoid dying of Covid-19.
The story has one tone, one pitch, one angle, and has not changed for over a year. In the story, there is a limited range of emotions: fear, guilt, shame, compliance, and anger at those few who manifest other, more optimistic feelings.
And the story‘s theme is predictable and monotonous. It’s all about safety, control, and submission.
The motifs are deadening. Technology and pharmaceuticals.
Aesthetically, there is no art or beauty or free expression. There are prophylactics, perspex barriers, and tape on the floors. If you glimpse, perhaps, a cherry tree in bloom, then the faces of those observing it will be masked.
Every scene is cluttered with disposable plastic, the purpose of which is to ensure there is limited interaction between characters.
The characters themselves are made indistinguishable from one another, and all have the same lines.
This story is the only one you’re allowed. All other productions have been boxed up and placed in storage, there are no other shows, and there are several episodes a day, every day.
Unless, that is, you stray off-script, on to a rogue channel, somewhere out there on the internet.
Perhaps not on YouTube. YouTube is strictly sterilised, and might remove alternatives to the story. But still, you can find other analysis, often well researched, and concerned with looking beyond the uniform messaging offered by governments and mainstream media. And these analyses are called conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories might have you believe, as mentioned above, in things like young people’s immune systems having the natural capacity to deal with a virus that is, to young people, not especially dangerous.
Or they might insist on strange, flickeringly familiar notions, like allowing people to move around freely and make their own decisions.
They might tell you that powerful, authoritarian nations such as technocrat-Communist China exert tremendous global influence, and are self-interested.
They might tell you that individuals in control of vast corporate empires and all the power those empires imbue, such as Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, should be monitored closely, and not assumed to be acting for everyone’s greater good.
These ideas, though, are not part of the story, and so in the world of the story they are not allowed to be real, even though you’re sure they used to be real, and they sound pretty real… and they were real, weren’t they? A year or so ago? But then skip back to the beginning of the story to check, and there is no prologue. Nothing exists before Chapter One, and Chapter One is set last spring, and that’s where reality begins. The new, officially authorized reality.
The story was commissioned because there’s a perfect storm blowing through.
Firstly, there is a generational shift in values, as predicted in a book called The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. While the Baby Boomers were libertarian and permissive, and Generation X cynical but tolerant, Millennials have shifted towards a culture of safety, compliance and conformity.
Next, we have total attention capture through mobile devices. You no longer turn off the news and step out of your house. Instead, you carry a permanent media stream everywhere you go, via your smartphone, which will issue alerts and hector you for attention.
What’s more, this is not passive consumption, which you might not be particularly engaged with. It’s interactive. You participate. You’re integrated into and perhaps even feel that you are shaping it, which you are, in a small way, but not as much as it shapes you.
Coupled with attention capture is message reinforcement through social media. As is well known now, but never meaningfully addressed, there are bubbles, and filters, and echo chambers. The view of reality your media stream feeds to you does not correspond with what I am receiving. This might mean a slight discrepancy, or it could mean that we are at polar opposites to one another. That what you are reading posits me as your enemy and the source of all your problems, and vice versa. So if you happen to have hooked up to the story, as most people have, then that is the only thing you receive, while being informed that all else is false, if its existence is even acknowledged at all.
Tech is at a point where it permeates everything, and as such its high priests are vested with cultural dominance. So if the story is what they have chosen, then it’s the story that gets promoted, while there are constant purges of channels and accounts on social media that dissent from the story.
And speaking of priests, we have the collapse of religious participation and spiritual connectedness, and all that goes with those things, such as preparedness for and comfort with death, a mindset that reaches beyond the material and utilitarian, scientific skepticism, a holistic value system, a constant moral compass, loyalty to the unseen and incorruptible, reverence for nature, and communal sacred worship.
Hovering somewhere in the background to all this, there is the World Economic Forum, and its Great Reset, which anyone with a few spare hours can easily research, and find that the WEF’s own words are every bit as disturbing as anything you might hear from our much maligned conspiracy theorists, who often simply draw attention to what the WEF itself has said.
Also, ominously, there is China’s increasing global dominance, reaching into the World Health Organization, backed by economic clout, manufacturing, a growing military presence, and a total rejection of liberal democratic ideals, in favour of totalitarian government and absolute surveillance of its population.
And there’s that one other component, that held the story together: a virus.
Although, strangely, that starts to feel like it barely matters anymore.
Like a device, now redundant.
Or a starting point.
But there are larger mechanisms at work now, and we are into the unknown.