Conspiracy Corner – The TPPA

At 7:45am every Thursday morning, Matthew phones in his thoughts on the conspiracy theory of the week to Zac and the audience of bFM’s Breakfast Show.

Two weeks ago I talked a little about the TPPA; you can listen in here.

Notes:

In no way is this an ad for you to attend a protest on Saturday.

Honestly; I have no connection to the people involved in this protest at all; I just happen to be a concerned citizen who thinks that this kind of protest has a point in our civilised society.

So, this is no ad. Especially since I probably won’t be at the protest myself.

Or maybe I will. It’s hard to say. It depends on how much I celebrate the end of my first practicum on Friday night, really.

Sorry, I’ve got ahead of myself. What protest, you are probably asking? Why, the protest against the TPPA. It starts at 1pm at Aotea Square.

The TPPA, or Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is an agreement being negotiated in secret between eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States, which, if signed, might well be disastrous for Aotearoa.

Reasons it could be disastrous:

Trade agreements with the US always end badly because the US is big and is protectionist, so small countries like our own lose out.
We’ve seen drafts of the text of the agreement and it’s clear America wants us to cave on some of our sovereignty, like Pharmac and copyright, which means we’ll lose some of the benefits we have accrued in order to protect the profits of foreign corporations based (mostly) in the US.

Why did we get involved? Well, because the original version of the TPPA was between a number of smaller countries, which were essentially equal. However, the pool of potential signees grew and America came on board, which meant it was no longer small-but-equal countries negotiating. Now it is a number of small countries and some really big ones, and it’s no longer a relatively even playing surface.

What’s the conspiracy angle?

Two angles:

1. Because the negotiations are being undertaken in secret, no one is really sure what is on the table and what is not, and the fear is that whilst we’re being told our negotiators are fighting for us, the worry is that we are trying to appease America to get in their good books. Thus, people are concerned we are being lied to by members of the government, which makes it conspiratorial.

2. The secret nature of the negotiations feeds into certain New World Order conspiracy theories, where the TPPA is symptomatic of a wider goal of subsuming the world under one, single governing authority.

Let’s focus on the first conspiracy theory, the claim the government is lying to us about the real agenda behind our negotiations around the TPPA. The problem here is that it’s not clear what to make of it all. The PM, for example, has variously claimed everything is negotiable and yet also that some things aren’t like Pharmac. The leaks of the negotiations thus far indicate that our negotiators do seem to be working in (most) of our interests. However, there’s a whole of ambiguity and the fact the government insists that the negotiations must go on in private (despite no compelling argument to that extent) makes everything seem just a tad suspicious. After all, the PM saying “Pharmac is safe” doesn’t mean that Pharmac won’t change as a result of the negotiations. Indeed, some have pointed out that Pharmac just shed a large amount of its middle and upper management, in a move which some suggests looks suspiciously like the government changing it in order to make it fit in with a post-TPPA version of Aotearoa.

With respect to the second conspiracy theory, well… You don’t have to believe it to believe that the TPPA is suspicious, but if you believe in the existence of a plan to create a New World Order, the TPPA certainly fits the bill.

Claims that some set of conspirators have been working on a New World Order have existed for decades now and it seems they are still not quite there with the setting up of the single state. If the TPPA is part of that system of control, it seems as messy and prone to leaks as every other part of the suspected plot for world domination.

I tend to take a dim view of world domination conspiracy theories; there are enough warranted instances of conspiracy to go around without needing to worry about the mess that is trying to prove that the Illuminati still exist, or that there is a plot which spans both sides of the political spectrum to bring the world under the control of a single authority. Still, when governments act in secret and all we know about their negotiations is due to leaks by whistleblowers and concerned citizens, you can be excused for thinking something is up. After all, we live in a world where the Pork Board can surveil ordinary New Zealand citizens. Isn’t that right, Pork Board.

Yes, that’s right, you dirty commie vegan.


About Matthew Dentith

Author of "The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories" (Palgrave Macmillan), Matthew Dentith wrote his PhD on epistemic issues surrounding belief in conspiracy theories. He is a frequent media commentator on the weird and the wonderful, both locally and internationally. On occasion he can be caught dreaming about wax lions but, mostly, it is rumoured he works for elements of the New World Order.

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