Some conspiracy theorists have taken a very “philosophical” approach in how they define conspiracy theories. For example, Lyndon LaRouche, sometime North American presidential candidate and doyen of the far right, defines a “conspiracy” as:
“Conspiracy essentially means either a common purpose, a common philosophical and practical purpose, or a set of common and conflicting purposes which cause people to work together for common ends as well as conflicting ones,’’ explains Lyndon LaRouche. “And conspiracy is a general term which can mean a great number of things. One can’t say, ‘There is a conspiracy.’ One has to say, ‘What do you mean by a conspiracy? What kind?'””
For LaRouche, to engage in a conspiracy is to take onboard and work towards or for some philosophical project or objective. LaRouche imagines a world torn between hedonistic Empiricism and rational Idealism, with the proponents of the former being the malacious, malignant Conspiracy Theorists and the latter, which include such luminaries as himself defending Truth, Justice and, naturally, the American Way. Both sides engage in conspiratorial behaviour to achieve their aims.
LaRouche is representative of a certain group of conspiracy theorists, those who believe in, to coin a phrase, “all-embracing” or global conspiracy theories. Such conspiracy theories posit explanations of events in the world where everything is part and parcel of some conspiracy. Such conspiracy theories usually posit shadowy cabals of co-conspirators, made up of Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Jews, Mole people, the Roman Catholic Church and the like. These shadowy cabals are vast collectives of “Them,” a set of mysterious others who run the world and are, aside from the conspiracy theorists themselves, the only ones who really know why things happen and for what purpose.
[I decided against talking about LaRouche and his wacky all-embracing conspiracy theory because, well, it was proving too hard to succinctly deal with that brand of theorising. I can see why people like Robin Ramsay call LaRouche and his ilk a distraction from the real business of analysing conspiracy theories; it’s not that LaRouche is purposefully tainting the pool but, rather, his brand of conspiracy theory is just so different from the more mundane and plausible political instances that trying to analyse of both is difficult. Frankly, the theories of LaRouche and his ilk (I’m looking at you, David Icke) are probably best suited to a sociological or psychological analysis. I realise this is a cop-out on my part and I feel bad about it, but (and there is always a but, isn’t there); I can always come back to this material post the thesis.]