The phenomenal spread of the Covid-19 virus pandemic has perhaps only been matched by the spread of stories as to how this virus emerged, where it started, who is to blame and who benefits from multiple countries around the world in lockdown? Economies have stalled and lifestyles have been utterly turned upside down. It does seem that with every day comes a new theory to explain things.
The links to Covid-19 of 5G telecommunications has been rightly debunked with no credible science or evidence to suggest 5G roll-out has either caused the virus to spread or is being used as a cover to accelerate 5G technology.
‘Conspiracy theories’ exist to give a counter explanation or exposure of information, by and large hidden, from the public on major world events. There are millions who believe the US moon landings were fake. Many Muslims say the Jews had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. Some cite the UK security services being behind the 7/7 London bombings. ‘Flat Earth’ conventions still gather thousands each year convinced that the earth is indeed flat and the anti-vaxxers movement gains traction every year when vaccine immunisation comes round.
We all have our own favourite conspiracy theory, however implausible; mine is how in the world Manchester United FC were denied a victory against West Ham on the last day of the 1994/95 football season. Victory at West Ham’s ground would have given them the premier league title, but despite dominating the match, hitting the post and the crossbar and the many attempts at goal the final score remained 1-1. Were the opposing players bribed, was the referee short-sighted or was there actually something wrong with the ball. In all seriousness, willing and wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true and no doubt my own confirmation bias as a committed Man Utd fan skews how I view that match.
So it’s quite easy to dismiss most conspiracy theories or the “tin foil hat” brigade as they are known when they are in the David Icke category, or as a bit of harmless fun when you meet someone who is convinced Elvis is still alive.
Things get a little more difficult when trying to explain how the apparent or accepted wisdom gets unravelled after many years and new opinions or facts get established. The tobacco industry went to extraordinary lengths to insist cigarettes were safe and deny the harmful effects of smoking. Saturated fats being linked to heart disease and the need to adopt a ‘low fat diet’ was the accepted scientific and nutritional norm for decades. It is only in recent times that the effects of a high carbohydrate/sugar diet in causing obesity and diabetes and the soft drinks multinationals role in misleading millions has emerged. Conspiracy, collusion or incompetence? Maybe it’s a mixture of all three.
My own disagreement with conspiracy theorists has less to do with their lack of evidence for their claims, but more their search for a “hidden truth” or revelation of a scandal by governments, politicians and the media. This is not to deny that cover-ups, misinformation and things not being as they seem, do happen. They clearly do.
What if the thing being looked for is actually, as the saying goes, hiding in plain sight? What if the dominant political, economic and social viewpoint in the world today, secular liberalism and democracy, or liberal values, is the real issue that needs to be addressed?
Anyone questioning this orthodoxy or having another viewpoint is essentially illiberal (note how the suffix ‘il’ reinforces the perceived correctness of the noun).
The basis of the liberal order is never scrutinised or put to the test in mainstream society. It is deliberately assumed to be the standard that everything is measured against without question. Consider the political system in the UK. Do the masses get to choose the philosophy of the system they live under and the basis of how legislation is made? Not at all. There has never been a referendum with the question to choose one of the following options: secular liberalism; communism or the Islamic Shari’ah? Nor is there likely to be.
We are all by now familiar with the daily graphs plotting Covid-19 deaths, new infections and hospital admissions on our television screens. There are very few graphs showing the everyday death, suffering, poverty and misery faced by millions of people across the globe surviving on a few dollars a day. The pandemic will subside, but what will remain unchanged is the secular, liberal worldview that was there all along and its contribution to the sorry state of humanity. The danger is we end up not talking about this at a time when it is most needed. Now, that would be a conspiracy.