The Left-hand of Politics

Serious question time.

One – When I refer to ‘left’ in the title of the post, what meaning of ‘left’ am I referring to?

Two – Are Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories inherently sinister/malevolent?

It’s an important question. Some people say ‘yes’ and some say ‘no.’ David Coady, in his introduction to Conspiracy Theories in ‘Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate,’ (Editor: David Coady), Ashgate, Hampshire, England, 2006, p. 1 writes:

Conspiracies are usually thought of as sinister. This characteristic does not seem, however, to be essential, and several authors in this collection cite examples of conspiracies that seem to be benign or at least harmless. It may be that we only think of conspiracies as sinister if and to the extent that we think of secrecy itself in this way.

which indicates that the answer is ‘no.’ I suspect that even if we all did agree with that asessement we might still be tempted to answer ‘yes’ if only because the kind of things we think of as being Conspiracy Theories are really those all-embracing malevolent versions like the New World Order and the American Orchestration of the 911 Attacks. Thoughts?

Three – Just how successful does a Conspiracy have to be (which has a little to do with my last post) to be considered successful?

Some writers argue that complete success (i.e. the Conspiracy is never discovered) is a) too high a standard and b) may well be true of several Conspiracies (and we would never know). Partial success, however, is a hard criteria; how is it defined? How far ahead do we need to forecast? There’s also the nature of the Conspiracy; some Conspiracies only need the plot to be kept secret; once the action is taken it can be revealed, whilst others need the action to be kept hidden as well. Coady (again) writes in his introduction (p. 5):

First, as Pigden points out, it is not strictly inconsistent with the conspiracy theorist’s position. A failed conspiracy can play an important explanatory role, and an explanation in terms of such a failed conspiracy is still a conspiracy theory, on either of the definitions I have considered in this introduction, and on other definitions in the literature (see for example Brian L. Keeley’s definition in chapter 4). The success of a conspiracy is one thing, the success of a theory which postulates it is another.’

In other news: I finally have got around to using the blockquote tag. Safari (my default browser) isn’t entirely compatible with WordPress, my blog software and so the WYSIWYG mode doesn’t work. It’s all hand-coded links and tags, ladies and gentlemen, and I likes it that way (even if I am lazy and can’t really be bothered working out some of the tags I could be using).