X Close

Conspiracies are the price of freedom The liberal dream will always have losers

For the conspiratorial mind, nothing is random (Getty)

For the conspiratorial mind, nothing is random (Getty)


February 17, 2023   6 mins

Here’s a conspiracy theory of my own invention. Why did Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald? Readers under the age of 80 may need to know that Jack Ruby was a Dallas bar owner and small-time crook who shot dead Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Nobody has ever thought that Ruby did this out of patriotic indignation. Somebody wanted to silence Oswald for good, and Ruby was the instrument they chose to do so.

But who? There’s evidence that Ruby was a low-level sidekick of the Mafia, so maybe it was the Mafia who shot Kennedy. But why kill Oswald as well? It’s here that my devilishly ingenious theory comes in. There’s no real evidence that the Mob killed the President, but they might have been incensed that someone else had. Not because they had any love for their leader, but because they had intended to assassinate him themselves. After all, they threatened the lives of both Kennedy brothers several times. Before they could get round to it, however, a private entrepreneur called Oswald stepped in and did it instead. By having Oswald bumped off by a known associate of theirs, the Mafia made it look as though Oswald, had he lived, could have revealed their guilt. My theory, then, is that the Mob bumped Oswald off because they didn’t kill Kennedy. They just wanted people to think they had.

Is this true? Probably not. When it comes to the death of JFK, the hardest question is who didn’t do it. There’s a comically long list of possible candidates: Oswald, the CIA, the FBI, the Dallas police, Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy’s driver or his bodyguard, Right-wing Cubans, the Teamsters Union, perhaps (who knows?) a 21-year-old Harrison Ford. Members of QAnon probably believe they were all in it together. As with equality and diversity programmes, genuine conspiracies must leave nobody out.

One shouldn’t be too cynical about conspiracies. After all, as new UnHerd polling has shown, more people in Britain are conspiratorially-minded than aren’t. But it’s true that there isn’t One Big Conspiracy, largely because there doesn’t need to be; it’s also true that people regularly gather together in private to plot the downfall of their enemies. On the whole, however, liberal capitalist states, like dishwashers, work all by themselves (when they work at all). They don’t depend on people meeting in missile-proof bunkers to plot how to stay in power. Modern societies don’t rely on some kind of collective consciousness to keep themselves afloat, partly because modern citizens are atomised rather than collective. In fact, consciousness or belief hardly comes into it. As long as you don’t try to overthrow the state, you can believe pretty much what you like. This is known as liberalism.

Besides, the more individuals are in the know, the more fragile a conspiracy becomes. One reason why the US moon-landing wasn’t a put-up job is that it would have involved too many people, any one of whom could have blown the gaff. And if the truth (as conspirators see it) had got out, the United States would have suffered the most calamitous loss of credibility in its history. Its reputation would have been trashed beyond repair. Fear of being discovered is a primary reason why some events can’t be faked, just as one reason why most politicians try not to lie is not because they are more angelic beings than the rest of us, but because the consequences of being found out mean that it just isn’t worth it.

If great masses of people maintain a certain belief over long periods of time, one can be fairly sure that there is something in it. This doesn’t mean that the belief in question is true, but it’s unlikely to be complete nonsense either. Myths tend to have a core of truth. For many centuries, everybody thought that the Sun moved around the Earth, which isn’t true; but it was a rational belief all the same, because the evidence seemed to support it. Much the same goes for paranoia. It isn’t true that creatures from Saturn have placed a secret device in your skull to beam your every thought to a control centre in the Glastonbury Tor, but it’s true that a mighty amount of surveillance goes on, much of it secret. Or to put the point more pithily, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the bastards aren’t out to get you. No civilisation in history has ever spied on itself so relentlessly.

Those who genuinely go off the deep end are those who imagine that we live our lives in private. The idea that what we do is covertly directed by a cabal of obscenely wealthy paedophiles is a delusion — but if you drop the “covertly” and “paedophiles”, it us not far from the truth. We are indeed governed by an elite, but there’s nothing particularly secretive about it. You can see them strolling around Davos or read about them in the newspapers. The phrase “Masters of the Universe” isn’t just a piece of flashy science fiction. There is a sovereign superpower whose presence can be felt in every nook and cranny of the globe, but its name is capital, not the Knights Templar. Like all power, what it needs to sustain itself is knowledge. Knowledge is no longer just what is conveyed in seminars, but priceless stuff which people are prepared to kill for.

Conspiracy theorists are convinced that everything hangs together, which is indeed a symptom of paranoia. For the paranoid, nothing happens by chance. Even a gust of wind is secretly intended. The fact that the Prime Minister has five letters in both his first name and surname must surely be trying to tell us something. Freud thought that the nearest thing to paranoia was philosophy, because philosophers (he was thinking of the Hegelian type) also see connections between apparently unrelated items. There must be some way in which my left foot and the Vatican are secretly interrelated.

Once again, this isn’t complete nonsense. Even the most trivial of our actions send ripple effects through the thick mesh of social existence, breeding unexpected consequences in unpredictable places. None of our acts is purely our own. Reading this essay may cause you to tear great clumps of hair from your head, thus making you look too frightful to attend the dinner this evening at which you would have been offered the Governorship of the Bank of England. And don’t just blame me: blame the editors, sub-editors, technical assistants and so on. We all had a hand in tearing your hair out. It was a conspiracy, but not a conscious one.

These ripple effects are random. None of them needed to happen, or to happen in exactly the way they did. And this is where they differ from conspiracies. For the conspiratorial mind, nothing whatsoever is random, any more than it is for the paranoid. This is an alarming thought in one sense but a consoling one in another. A world of chance and contingency is a bewildering one, upending our schemes and thwarting our purposes. Far better to imagine that there’s a plot to it all, in both senses of the word, than accept the fact that a lot of things just happen, without any particular rhyme or reason, and that this is part of the price we pay for freedom. This was presumably what Harold Macmillan had in mind when he remarked to a reporter that the hardest thing about trying to run the country was “events, dear boy, events”.

Ironically, however, American conspiracy theorists are lovers of freedom. “Liberty or death!” ranks among their slogans, and by refusing to wear masks during the Covid pandemic some of them ended up with both. Among other things, conspiracies are symptoms of the anxiety which comes from freedom — from living in the precarious, unpredictable world of late modernity. They are antidotes to the open-endedness of history. Those who spin these yarns are for the most part on the wrong side of that history — those washed up by so-called modernisation, men and women who need someone to blame for their lousy living conditions but who point an accusing finger at fantasises of their own creation.

Conspiracy theories are also reactions to a diffuse, fractured, conflictive society in which there are just too many competing narratives around, so that falling back on a grand narrative which makes sense of everything is profoundly appealing. For a blessed moment, the whole lot falls neatly into place, as an opaque, impossibly complex world becomes luminously simple, purposeful and transparent. Because these myths spring from insecurity, which in turn breeds hatred, the grand narrative in question is almost always a sinister one. Anyone with an eye to how the world is going will have no quarrel with that, even if they don’t believe that Nancy Pelosi is a North Korean spy. They will have no quarrel either with the central assumption of the QAnonites and their ilk — that behind the surfaces of social life there lurks some exceedingly nasty realities, and that the official story is rarely the whole truth of the matter. What you see is most definitely not what you get. The good news is that no conspiracy can be entirely successful, since if it were we wouldn’t know about it.


Terry Eagleton is a critic, literary theorist, and UnHerd columnist.


Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

28 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

You know I am getting this strange sense of deja vu. It’s almost like I have had this same exact rant screamed at me in the past over multiple issues that turned out to be true all along. Does Nudge Theory have an expiration date? By the way, the whole “freedom bad”, “masking super-effective”, and “just obey or be on the wrong side of history” comes across as just a little tone deaf considering the subject matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I’m sure I reflect the opinions of many other readers when I say I am completely bored with the articles that Unherd deems worthy to inflict on readers that offer nothing that we haven’t already rolled our eyes at on most other media websites.

I like many others, was attracted to reading Unherd because we got to read articles that went against the grain of other media, intelligent critiques of censorship, writers who had otherwise been cancelled or paid the price for daring to step out of line. What do we get now? Poorly referenced hand wringing articles from writers who wouldn’t know what alt right meant if it kicked them in the backside, smug opinion pieces that parrot all the claims that the rest of the media have spent years beating us around the heads with, and of course, the endless articles about this so called survey which whenever it is critically examined appears to be poorly designed at best and outright manipulative at worst.

Unherd is losing readers because of these issues, I can’t even be bothered to read much of what they offer most days, and the comments are generally better informed and more illuminating than the vast majority of articles.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Eagleton is a metroplitan liberal luvvie. He is not the only such dinosaur to have found a home on Unherd. Many of them are Guardian contributors who submit their work here because nobody reads The Guardian. Perhaps they, and the edifors of Unherd, should take a hint.

Mashie Niblick
Mashie Niblick
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

What’s The Guardian?

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Mashie Niblick

A newspaper

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Mashie Niblick

It’s a typo. He meant Grauniad.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  Mashie Niblick

A newspaper

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Mashie Niblick

It’s a typo. He meant Grauniad.

Mashie Niblick
Mashie Niblick
1 year ago
Reply to  polidori redux

What’s The Guardian?

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago
Reply to  AL Crowe

Eagleton is a metroplitan liberal luvvie. He is not the only such dinosaur to have found a home on Unherd. Many of them are Guardian contributors who submit their work here because nobody reads The Guardian. Perhaps they, and the edifors of Unherd, should take a hint.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I remember the refusal to believe that Iraq had WMDs being rubbished. Same people same lies. Did not call it a conspiracy theory then though .That is the progressives for you doing that.
No ruling class has ever been trusted .Can you imagine a Saxon peasant in the 12th century thinking that the Norman lords had any interest in his welfare. Or French peasant in the 18th century think that the Bourbons cared a jot .
So on and so on down the ages. But now we have the internet and it is making a difference. We know they cheat and lie and can ( for now ) talk about it among ourselves. Every single member of the ruling elites lies. That is my conspiracy theory. Trust has gone or is rapidly fading away and about time . Maybe just maybe we will find a few people willing to govern and to govern without lies and greed who actually really like us and respect the details of our lives. . I live in hope.

william arden
william arden
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I signed up to Unherd, not because of this execrable article, but because of the comments. The umbrella- term ‘conspiracy theory’ is invariable deployed by (usually) either main stream media or those pushing an agenda (such as attribution of all the world’s woes to capitalism, as here, or promoting yet another socially destructive form of propaganda under the guise of fake empathetic sentiments). This is invariably accompanied by a smug superiority whereby the intellectual position of that person who bears the privilege of a public voice casts those who refuse to accept the narrative into a ‘herd’ of mountain-dwelling, front tooth lacking, gun-toting (US dwelling) sub-humans- easily encapsulated under the ‘Q Anon’ label. It is interesting that one of the questionable US politicians who most frequently invokes this image is Hillary Clinton. The other technique that is invariably used by these commenters (is it because they are vehicles employed to crush dissent? Or is it because their vanity results in them simply not getting it?) is that of casting the ‘conspiracy theory’ so broadly that it is ridiculous (the ‘straw man’), or missing a vital point. So, as far as the Kennedy assassination goes, yes, Jack Ruby was a small- time nobody who had contacts with the mafia. Why the stretching out to a ridiculous theory that the mafia were upset that Oswald had achieved what they wanted to do? It is obvious to everyone who has internet access and who can thereby watch videos that the assassination could not have occurred unless facilitated from the very top. It required a complete failure of security accompanied by a later inquiry by which everything was completed covered up. The fact that the mafia may or may not have been peripherally employed in certain events is not the core issue – and the article either through an unintelligent analysis or by design – failed to address the central issue. So we have the main stream media and political manipulators who expend a vast amount of energy personally labelling and attacking anyone who challenges the story they put out, and they manage, each time, to avoid the central complaint , a complaint which is the consequence of the fact that their story simply doesn’t add up.

AL Crowe
AL Crowe
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I’m sure I reflect the opinions of many other readers when I say I am completely bored with the articles that Unherd deems worthy to inflict on readers that offer nothing that we haven’t already rolled our eyes at on most other media websites.

I like many others, was attracted to reading Unherd because we got to read articles that went against the grain of other media, intelligent critiques of censorship, writers who had otherwise been cancelled or paid the price for daring to step out of line. What do we get now? Poorly referenced hand wringing articles from writers who wouldn’t know what alt right meant if it kicked them in the backside, smug opinion pieces that parrot all the claims that the rest of the media have spent years beating us around the heads with, and of course, the endless articles about this so called survey which whenever it is critically examined appears to be poorly designed at best and outright manipulative at worst.

Unherd is losing readers because of these issues, I can’t even be bothered to read much of what they offer most days, and the comments are generally better informed and more illuminating than the vast majority of articles.

Dave Smith
Dave Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I remember the refusal to believe that Iraq had WMDs being rubbished. Same people same lies. Did not call it a conspiracy theory then though .That is the progressives for you doing that.
No ruling class has ever been trusted .Can you imagine a Saxon peasant in the 12th century thinking that the Norman lords had any interest in his welfare. Or French peasant in the 18th century think that the Bourbons cared a jot .
So on and so on down the ages. But now we have the internet and it is making a difference. We know they cheat and lie and can ( for now ) talk about it among ourselves. Every single member of the ruling elites lies. That is my conspiracy theory. Trust has gone or is rapidly fading away and about time . Maybe just maybe we will find a few people willing to govern and to govern without lies and greed who actually really like us and respect the details of our lives. . I live in hope.

william arden
william arden
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I signed up to Unherd, not because of this execrable article, but because of the comments. The umbrella- term ‘conspiracy theory’ is invariable deployed by (usually) either main stream media or those pushing an agenda (such as attribution of all the world’s woes to capitalism, as here, or promoting yet another socially destructive form of propaganda under the guise of fake empathetic sentiments). This is invariably accompanied by a smug superiority whereby the intellectual position of that person who bears the privilege of a public voice casts those who refuse to accept the narrative into a ‘herd’ of mountain-dwelling, front tooth lacking, gun-toting (US dwelling) sub-humans- easily encapsulated under the ‘Q Anon’ label. It is interesting that one of the questionable US politicians who most frequently invokes this image is Hillary Clinton. The other technique that is invariably used by these commenters (is it because they are vehicles employed to crush dissent? Or is it because their vanity results in them simply not getting it?) is that of casting the ‘conspiracy theory’ so broadly that it is ridiculous (the ‘straw man’), or missing a vital point. So, as far as the Kennedy assassination goes, yes, Jack Ruby was a small- time nobody who had contacts with the mafia. Why the stretching out to a ridiculous theory that the mafia were upset that Oswald had achieved what they wanted to do? It is obvious to everyone who has internet access and who can thereby watch videos that the assassination could not have occurred unless facilitated from the very top. It required a complete failure of security accompanied by a later inquiry by which everything was completed covered up. The fact that the mafia may or may not have been peripherally employed in certain events is not the core issue – and the article either through an unintelligent analysis or by design – failed to address the central issue. So we have the main stream media and political manipulators who expend a vast amount of energy personally labelling and attacking anyone who challenges the story they put out, and they manage, each time, to avoid the central complaint , a complaint which is the consequence of the fact that their story simply doesn’t add up.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

You know I am getting this strange sense of deja vu. It’s almost like I have had this same exact rant screamed at me in the past over multiple issues that turned out to be true all along. Does Nudge Theory have an expiration date? By the way, the whole “freedom bad”, “masking super-effective”, and “just obey or be on the wrong side of history” comes across as just a little tone deaf considering the subject matter.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Ben M
Ben M
1 year ago

The smugness of this is unbelievable. Just re covid – the data from the Diamond Princess showed this virus was not a worry for anyone under at least 70.
The world’s overreaction has been unbelievable and in the interest of a narrow group of people. However it was the co-opting of the mainstream media, lower ranking politicians, medical organisations that has been most worrying, and as more comes out about the disastrous response – yet still not reported it baffles those of us who took the time to investigate what really happened and yet MSM still call ‘conspiracy theories’.
Start with the origin of covid – which the WHO has just said it is not going to investigate further- probably because this (significantly Gates funded) entity is too busy pushing (for the second time – the first go they had was stopped by some African members – we owe them a debt of gratitude) a Global Pandemic Treaty where the Director of the WHO (and maybe you need to investigate him personally – remember he is not a medical doctor) can force a global lockdown. Just to say find out about the furin cleavage site etc in the virus.
So Jay Bhattacharya of the Great Barrington Declaration has pointed out the huge loss of life for poor people in places like India where the poor were sent back to their villages when India went into lockdown and the even larger number of under 5s in some parts of Africa where they died either directly because proper vaccines against life threatening diseases were stopped as everything switched to covid , or indirectly as global trade stopped pushing many who supplied the West into destitution and starvation.
Then there is the classification of who died with covid, eg the use in UK of Morphine midazolam benzodiazepines and opioids in care homes and hospitals in the first wave April 2020, (See NICE paper issued COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing symptoms (including at the end of life) in the community https://web.archive.org/web/202004090…)  
With PCR  testing – (which Kary Mullis the inventor said was not a diagnostic tool but should only be used in conjunction with symptomatic observation ) came the running of PCR tests at way above cycles recommended, the ability, discovered by many including schoolchildren , thatit is possible to get a positive test from a whole variety of things.
We all agree about the multiple problems of locking down a population by now
books will be written on it – the starring role going to modelling by Neil Ferguson – who had already shown how inept his models were with Foot and Mouth and Swine flu
Of course the repurposing of existing drugs was rubbished despite Front Line Covid Care Clinicians speaking in the Senate about them in USA – as we were travelling at warp speed towards vaccines. This is still not possible to discuss in MSM. So just to say one  â€˜Hyd’ had been around for over 60 years and was widely used eg for a form of lupus, and another ‘Iv’ widely used for River blindness in West Africa for 40 years and scabies in the West  (so safe and successful that its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2015) as these were both off-patent they cost pennies. Estimates by Peter McCulloch suggest that globally 85% of those who did die could have been saved – instead people were told to not do anything until too ill –then go into hospital.
Mentioning PM – reminds me of all the fantastic scientists and medics who did try to get their message out

Then when the numbers dying dropped – and remember we were never given figures in context , that around 1500 people die every day in UK(in UK NHS figures from excel spreadsheets  show that , as expected with a respiratory virus, the number of WEEKLY deaths from mid July to midSeptember for covid never exceeded 100, fear had to be ramped up and you had to be reminded – hence masking . See the recent Cochrane  meta-analysis to see how masks don’t work .
Then the vaccines – but I’ll do that later…

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

But he nailed that in the piece: Capital. Capital and the interests of Capital is the “unseen hand” steering events. Vaccine mandates, trashing the environment, democratic impotence – you name it


Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

As a lifelong Communist, he would choose Capital as the culprit.
I actually found something useful in this article, and tend to disagree with those who berate Unherd for publishing such pieces, mainly since i don’t go anywhere near this type of viewpoint normally. So what i found useful was a reminder of how much i’m not missing by not doing so.
Having said that, i also found it more interesting than i was expecting to. For instance, i’d not come across Freud’s correlation between philosophers and paranoia before. I look forward to an even more interesting article on this matter by Kathleen Stock!

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago

Looking at it another way, ‘the ‘unseen hand’ is not a shady conspiracy of scheming plutocrats. Rather, it is the aggregated result of millions upon millions of consumer choices every day.

People buy the goods and services they want, weighing up the choices, the qualities, the prices, the conveniences.

Far from having their strings pulled in secret, millions of consumers (not in conspiracy together, but by making discrete personal choices with their spending) shape what ‘Capital’ must supply to meet their customers’ preferences. Or go out of business for failing to do so.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

As a lifelong Communist, he would choose Capital as the culprit.
I actually found something useful in this article, and tend to disagree with those who berate Unherd for publishing such pieces, mainly since i don’t go anywhere near this type of viewpoint normally. So what i found useful was a reminder of how much i’m not missing by not doing so.
Having said that, i also found it more interesting than i was expecting to. For instance, i’d not come across Freud’s correlation between philosophers and paranoia before. I look forward to an even more interesting article on this matter by Kathleen Stock!

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago

Looking at it another way, ‘the ‘unseen hand’ is not a shady conspiracy of scheming plutocrats. Rather, it is the aggregated result of millions upon millions of consumer choices every day.

People buy the goods and services they want, weighing up the choices, the qualities, the prices, the conveniences.

Far from having their strings pulled in secret, millions of consumers (not in conspiracy together, but by making discrete personal choices with their spending) shape what ‘Capital’ must supply to meet their customers’ preferences. Or go out of business for failing to do so.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

Thank you for that excellent off-piste digression.

Rus Bowden
Rus Bowden
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

I see, Ben. So all those millions who have died, and all those who have long covid, and all those who have vital organ damage, and all those who took and take up hospital beds around the world, that was all a conspiracy still now being propagated by tens of thousands of researchers, coroners, doctors, and hospital administrations? Right, I see, and who wrote this article we just read, and what have they done with the real Terry Eagleton?

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

But he nailed that in the piece: Capital. Capital and the interests of Capital is the “unseen hand” steering events. Vaccine mandates, trashing the environment, democratic impotence – you name it


CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

Thank you for that excellent off-piste digression.

Rus Bowden
Rus Bowden
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben M

I see, Ben. So all those millions who have died, and all those who have long covid, and all those who have vital organ damage, and all those who took and take up hospital beds around the world, that was all a conspiracy still now being propagated by tens of thousands of researchers, coroners, doctors, and hospital administrations? Right, I see, and who wrote this article we just read, and what have they done with the real Terry Eagleton?

Ben M
Ben M
1 year ago

The smugness of this is unbelievable. Just re covid – the data from the Diamond Princess showed this virus was not a worry for anyone under at least 70.
The world’s overreaction has been unbelievable and in the interest of a narrow group of people. However it was the co-opting of the mainstream media, lower ranking politicians, medical organisations that has been most worrying, and as more comes out about the disastrous response – yet still not reported it baffles those of us who took the time to investigate what really happened and yet MSM still call ‘conspiracy theories’.
Start with the origin of covid – which the WHO has just said it is not going to investigate further- probably because this (significantly Gates funded) entity is too busy pushing (for the second time – the first go they had was stopped by some African members – we owe them a debt of gratitude) a Global Pandemic Treaty where the Director of the WHO (and maybe you need to investigate him personally – remember he is not a medical doctor) can force a global lockdown. Just to say find out about the furin cleavage site etc in the virus.
So Jay Bhattacharya of the Great Barrington Declaration has pointed out the huge loss of life for poor people in places like India where the poor were sent back to their villages when India went into lockdown and the even larger number of under 5s in some parts of Africa where they died either directly because proper vaccines against life threatening diseases were stopped as everything switched to covid , or indirectly as global trade stopped pushing many who supplied the West into destitution and starvation.
Then there is the classification of who died with covid, eg the use in UK of Morphine midazolam benzodiazepines and opioids in care homes and hospitals in the first wave April 2020, (See NICE paper issued COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing symptoms (including at the end of life) in the community https://web.archive.org/web/202004090…)  
With PCR  testing – (which Kary Mullis the inventor said was not a diagnostic tool but should only be used in conjunction with symptomatic observation ) came the running of PCR tests at way above cycles recommended, the ability, discovered by many including schoolchildren , thatit is possible to get a positive test from a whole variety of things.
We all agree about the multiple problems of locking down a population by now
books will be written on it – the starring role going to modelling by Neil Ferguson – who had already shown how inept his models were with Foot and Mouth and Swine flu
Of course the repurposing of existing drugs was rubbished despite Front Line Covid Care Clinicians speaking in the Senate about them in USA – as we were travelling at warp speed towards vaccines. This is still not possible to discuss in MSM. So just to say one  â€˜Hyd’ had been around for over 60 years and was widely used eg for a form of lupus, and another ‘Iv’ widely used for River blindness in West Africa for 40 years and scabies in the West  (so safe and successful that its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2015) as these were both off-patent they cost pennies. Estimates by Peter McCulloch suggest that globally 85% of those who did die could have been saved – instead people were told to not do anything until too ill –then go into hospital.
Mentioning PM – reminds me of all the fantastic scientists and medics who did try to get their message out

Then when the numbers dying dropped – and remember we were never given figures in context , that around 1500 people die every day in UK(in UK NHS figures from excel spreadsheets  show that , as expected with a respiratory virus, the number of WEEKLY deaths from mid July to midSeptember for covid never exceeded 100, fear had to be ramped up and you had to be reminded – hence masking . See the recent Cochrane  meta-analysis to see how masks don’t work .
Then the vaccines – but I’ll do that later…

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

Unherd: ”Give me 1000 words on conspiracy, 50p a word”

Writer: ”I’ll have it on your desk by noon”
ï»ż
sigh….

”For the conspiratorial mind, nothing whatsoever is random, any more than it is for the paranoid.”

So, think of a herd of several hundred sheep – going through fields, through gates, maybe across a small creek, through a bit of trees and scrub, down a country lane – into a pen – then on a truck and to the abattoir.

hundreds of sheep moving randomly individually; here and there they wander – moving forwards mostly, just ambling along with the guys, maybe a mouthful of grass picked up – just all of us wandering together…..nothing to see here guys, just a walk in the fields…….

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

They got a lot of mileage out of one poorly worded survey question.

Channeling Yes Minister:
Do you believe that elected representatives fail to deliver their manifesto pledges?
Do you believe that the MPs are often more influenced by powerful economic interests than those of their constituents?
Do you believe that MPs are lobbied by the rich and powerful to effect particular legal outcomes?
Do you believe that groups of powerful individuals consort outside of public and media scrutiny?
Do you believe that a secret elite control the world?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Elliott Bjorn

They got a lot of mileage out of one poorly worded survey question.

Channeling Yes Minister:
Do you believe that elected representatives fail to deliver their manifesto pledges?
Do you believe that the MPs are often more influenced by powerful economic interests than those of their constituents?
Do you believe that MPs are lobbied by the rich and powerful to effect particular legal outcomes?
Do you believe that groups of powerful individuals consort outside of public and media scrutiny?
Do you believe that a secret elite control the world?

Elliott Bjorn
Elliott Bjorn
1 year ago

Unherd: ”Give me 1000 words on conspiracy, 50p a word”

Writer: ”I’ll have it on your desk by noon”
ï»ż
sigh….

”For the conspiratorial mind, nothing whatsoever is random, any more than it is for the paranoid.”

So, think of a herd of several hundred sheep – going through fields, through gates, maybe across a small creek, through a bit of trees and scrub, down a country lane – into a pen – then on a truck and to the abattoir.

hundreds of sheep moving randomly individually; here and there they wander – moving forwards mostly, just ambling along with the guys, maybe a mouthful of grass picked up – just all of us wandering together…..nothing to see here guys, just a walk in the fields…….

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago

It was a conspiracy, but not a conscious one.

Eagleton’s terrible writing, encapsulated in one sentence.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
1 year ago

It was a conspiracy, but not a conscious one.

Eagleton’s terrible writing, encapsulated in one sentence.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

Seems to be lumping all conspiracy theorists into one easily managed monthly payment, as if ocean finance did opinion pieces. Some have A conspiracy theory, some have multiple theories that may or may not be interconnected, rather the author lumps them all into a pot of dribbling Qanon anti-vaxx nutjobs. Smear tactic?
And some just see the truth behind the news stories and 6 months later are proved correct. I wonder what success rate one needs to go from the rank of ‘conspiracy theorist to being a conspiracy predictor and taken seriously.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

The conventional commentators, of course, never admit that their latest ideas were previously derided by them as ‘conspiracy theories’. They almost never mention that their ‘insights’ are second hand. Do we keep score on this? No, we cannot be bothered.
And the result is that we become more and more suspicious of every interpretation of the ‘news’. Insofar as there is ‘news’ any more. It looks more a fatsuit of opinion draped over a thin body of events.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny Stud

The conventional commentators, of course, never admit that their latest ideas were previously derided by them as ‘conspiracy theories’. They almost never mention that their ‘insights’ are second hand. Do we keep score on this? No, we cannot be bothered.
And the result is that we become more and more suspicious of every interpretation of the ‘news’. Insofar as there is ‘news’ any more. It looks more a fatsuit of opinion draped over a thin body of events.

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

Seems to be lumping all conspiracy theorists into one easily managed monthly payment, as if ocean finance did opinion pieces. Some have A conspiracy theory, some have multiple theories that may or may not be interconnected, rather the author lumps them all into a pot of dribbling Qanon anti-vaxx nutjobs. Smear tactic?
And some just see the truth behind the news stories and 6 months later are proved correct. I wonder what success rate one needs to go from the rank of ‘conspiracy theorist to being a conspiracy predictor and taken seriously.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
1 year ago

That’s funny. This article is doing exactly what it accuses conspiracy theorists of doing. Wrapping up the world in a way that lets the writer feel that he—as an initiated—fully comprehends it. The word comprehend is important there. Like the world is in his head, instead of his head being in the world.

Kate Madrid
Kate Madrid
1 year ago

That’s funny. This article is doing exactly what it accuses conspiracy theorists of doing. Wrapping up the world in a way that lets the writer feel that he—as an initiated—fully comprehends it. The word comprehend is important there. Like the world is in his head, instead of his head being in the world.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

This piece starts quite well and falls off into meandering bathos.
Point to be taken..
Why did Ruby kill Oswald is, indeed, a more important question than ‘did Oswald do it’. But Eagleton needs to go on with the whys. Why did the Mafia want Kennedy dead? And on from that.
Point left out…
How much of ‘conspiracy theory’ is the frantic yelling of those of us who see how many serious problems are ignored by conventional commentators- like Eagleton?
Like shouting at Mr..Punch as he’s beating his wife ‘Look, look, the crocodile’s behind you’
Also. Capital, Schmapital. Do try to explain calmly what that stuff is before seeing it as the secret cause of all evil.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  michael harris

Capital, the need to invest it safely and profitably, is the thing that motivates those who actually have enough wealth to call it “capital”. (Most of us have a bit of savings, maybe even some investments, but only genuine capitalists can live grandly off the interest.)
Since these capitalists share this motivation in common they get together and talk about what works and what doesn’t; just like people who hunt deer get together to talk about killing deer.
But since these capitalists have more money than G*d they try to change the rules, move the goal posts, etc, in order to suck up the rewards for themselves and their friends. And, in the process, control the rest of us to make it easier to get their hands on our money, too.
That’s the “conspiracy”. Whether it’s secret or common knowledge doesn’t really matter. Either way it’s “evil”.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago
Reply to  michael harris

Capital, the need to invest it safely and profitably, is the thing that motivates those who actually have enough wealth to call it “capital”. (Most of us have a bit of savings, maybe even some investments, but only genuine capitalists can live grandly off the interest.)
Since these capitalists share this motivation in common they get together and talk about what works and what doesn’t; just like people who hunt deer get together to talk about killing deer.
But since these capitalists have more money than G*d they try to change the rules, move the goal posts, etc, in order to suck up the rewards for themselves and their friends. And, in the process, control the rest of us to make it easier to get their hands on our money, too.
That’s the “conspiracy”. Whether it’s secret or common knowledge doesn’t really matter. Either way it’s “evil”.

michael harris
michael harris
1 year ago

This piece starts quite well and falls off into meandering bathos.
Point to be taken..
Why did Ruby kill Oswald is, indeed, a more important question than ‘did Oswald do it’. But Eagleton needs to go on with the whys. Why did the Mafia want Kennedy dead? And on from that.
Point left out…
How much of ‘conspiracy theory’ is the frantic yelling of those of us who see how many serious problems are ignored by conventional commentators- like Eagleton?
Like shouting at Mr..Punch as he’s beating his wife ‘Look, look, the crocodile’s behind you’
Also. Capital, Schmapital. Do try to explain calmly what that stuff is before seeing it as the secret cause of all evil.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago

…no conspiracy can be entirely successful, since if it were we wouldn’t know about it.

Is that logically correct?

To me, it actually reads like a description of what the perfectly successful conspiracy would look like. (That is, it wouldn’t look like anything … thus benefiting the conspirators without anyone being aware.)

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

You are spot on, it is a nonsensical proposition, which summarizes the article perfectly.

Suzanne C.
Suzanne C.
1 year ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

You are spot on, it is a nonsensical proposition, which summarizes the article perfectly.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago

…no conspiracy can be entirely successful, since if it were we wouldn’t know about it.

Is that logically correct?

To me, it actually reads like a description of what the perfectly successful conspiracy would look like. (That is, it wouldn’t look like anything … thus benefiting the conspirators without anyone being aware.)

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

The antidote to conspiracy theory is to accept that our lives are in the hands of a power much higher than those who desire to rule over us. In attempting to make slaves of others they merely turn themselves into slaves.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I would quite simply argue that “to accept our lives are in the hands of a power much higher than those who desire to rule over us” comes from the same wellspring as conspiracy theories.
Why do that? Why not simply accept the randomness of the universe, and get on with it? I find that infinitely preferable, and not in the least uncomfortable.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I would quite simply argue that “to accept our lives are in the hands of a power much higher than those who desire to rule over us” comes from the same wellspring as conspiracy theories.
Why do that? Why not simply accept the randomness of the universe, and get on with it? I find that infinitely preferable, and not in the least uncomfortable.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

The antidote to conspiracy theory is to accept that our lives are in the hands of a power much higher than those who desire to rule over us. In attempting to make slaves of others they merely turn themselves into slaves.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

When all is said and done one must admit the shooting was OUTSTANDING!
None of this modern “suppressing fire” nonsense.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

When all is said and done one must admit the shooting was OUTSTANDING!
None of this modern “suppressing fire” nonsense.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago

Politics is a pathway for paranoia.