Just as egoists’ most effective mechanism of moral blackmail is to trumpet altruism, actual conspirators’ most efficacious gambit is to ridicule the idea of “conspiracy theories” and “conspiracy theorists.”

It should not take a genius level IQ to see either point, but it appears to me that most people are naive about ambitious people’s motives and machinations when it comes to either subject. 

It should be taken as a given that scoundrels would wrap themselves in the sanctity of altruism and transparency while behaving as egoists and as conspirators. But since we witness hours upon hours of political drivel wherein at least one party (the party in power, usually) assumes that all players are above board, it is obvious that the dishonest stratagems of egoists and conspirators have indeed successfully colonized the minds of the bulk of the populace, or at least the “engaged” populace.

Part of this may be the result of debate etiquette, in which disputants assume that their opponents have good motives and are above board until otherwise proven.

Though one hates to get rid of this element of manners, we should remember, even as we use it, that this is a conceit, a strategy not for the discovery of the truth about one’s opponents (or oneself) but a means to make argumentative discourse common and peaceful and even sometimes profitable. 

And it should sometimes be dropped.

Once one recognizes that altruism is often pushed by egoists and the ridiculing of conspiracy theorists has actually been (historically as well as at present) a means of social control perpetrated by conspirators, then the next level of analysis can be engaged: exploring the extent to which common forms of altruism corrupt otherwise good people into grifting egoists and transforms the normal play of politics into a chaos of conspiracies and counter-conspiracies.

And then, at long last, one can understand why partisan politics is such a pestilent swamp.


N.B. Just as it has become a sort of norm to describe groups of animals with special names fit for each species (a pride of lions; a gaggle of geese; a parliament of owls) groups of specific humans also could have special names — indeed, they do, but I’ve never heard of special names for groups of egoists or altruists. “Conspiracy” might work for both, as per the title, above.