Friday, November 18, 2011

The Confession in the Charge of Conspiracy

Let’s face it. Many of us are very gullible when leaders defend their interests by charging ‘conspiracy’ on the part of others. This phenomenon says many things. For one it shows we are becoming more suspicious of the conduct and thinking of our leaders.  We are also growing more cynical and skeptical of politics and public life. In everyday expressions, we feel ‘pissed off’, ‘fed up’, ‘disgusted’, ‘disillusioned’ over their antics and pronouncements. In many ways this is healthy, in the sense we are now more predisposed to be critical, cautious and discriminating in our public or civic life. We are no longer that credulous or naive as to accept everything at face value in our relations with leaders. We tend now to examine their doings and views from more angles, for hidden motifs or vested interests lurking under or behind their stance.
But then, many of us tend to fall into another form of credulity or gullibility under the very same charges of conspiracy kicked up as a smoke screen by our leaders or public figures. In   short we are no less naive, credulous or gullible than before, only that our taste and menu has changed somewhat. Errant and incorrigible leaders has now smart up to our blind spots or rather soft spot for conspiracy theories. Hence in our politics and civic life, ‘conspiracy’ has grown to be the first weapon of choice in the arsenal of leaders in crisis.
This is by no means confined to particular parties, organizations or affiliations. The utility of conspiracy theory has not been missed by any groupings worth their salt. The potency of the conspiracy theory is availed of by the ruling party, as well as the opposition. Just for example, at the very beginning of the National Feedlot Corporation issue, the Minister at the center of the issue proclaimed this is a move ‘ out to destroy Wanita UMNO’ . This is quickly chorused and echoed by many. This pattern represents many of the responses of the ruling party to scores of other issues as well.
As for the opposition, we know they thrive on it. In fact Anwar Ibrahim built a whole personal platform on this charge of conspiracy. Very early in the beginning of the sodomy case, when his supporters were earnestly defending him along legalistic and logical grounds, he had expressed the view that the charge of sodomy ‘is politically motivated and hence must be fought politically’. In gist, he attributed it all to ‘conspiracy’ as genesis as well as his defense to it.
While we are more than aware of the currency or prevalence of ‘conspiracy’ as a tendency, we need to understand it’s psychological, moral and political effects on us in a more in depth manner. Otherwise we would be deluded and made prey of, all the while thinking  we are being ‘critical’, ‘ aware’, ‘discriminating’, ‘conscious’, ‘politically matured’, ‘ liberated’, ‘emancipated’, ‘just’ and the like.

 ‘Conspiracy’ as technique or political tactic works in the following way, with its corollary effects: 

 a) It deflects from issues at hand. Hence in the case of the National Feedlot Corporation, it serves its cause to deflect public gaze by pointing to the machination of others out to destroy or undermine Wanita UMNO. This deflective function explains too why Anwar Ibrahim has not sued over his sex video, challenged the authenticity of the video, has not been forthcoming with DNA samples, has avoided the ritual of religious oath and the like, all of which are directly connected with the issue. On the contrary, he has been most vociferous in denouncing ‘conspiracy’ out to destroy his political career. Maximum deflection is usually accomplished by errant leaders by identifying their personal self with bigger cause or mission. Thus an individual problem becomes the fate of  ' Wanita UMNO' or a leader with personal issues becomes 'the survival of the opposition' or ' the very embodiment of opposition cause' .  

 b) the conspiracy theory is most effective in dividing people over issues, making for partisanship
and sectarian views. Once unfolded, the theory begins to influence people to gravitate around partisanship, regardless of the issues at hand. Hence people begin to collude and conspire themselves to divert, deflect, to cover up the real issue at hand, be it corruption or sexual videos and the like. This explains the gross and jarring inconsistencies and contradictions in our political life. Parties or groups which are normally fast in denouncing the corruption of adversaries all of a sudden become vehement protectors and apologists of corrupt parties. Likewise, groups and public members who are never wanting in censuring leaders for sexual misconduct overnight turn into apologists for promiscuity. This is particular schizophrenic when it comes to generally orthodox PAS , with its rather stringent sexual mores, ever zealous over khalwat (close proximity), adultery, or sexual segregation.  Only the theory of conspiracy could explain and reconcile Nik Aziz’s views that beautiful women should not be allowed to work with his view that those who oppose Anwar Ibrahim (in the heat the sex video controversy) can never go to paradise!
c)  the conspiracy theory also acts in a devious manner to relativise our values or to blur our sense of right and wrong, that is to compromise our principles. Because the theory deflects from issues, and divide us along partisanship regardless of issues, it forces us to compromise our principles and values too in the process. In this regards, even as we try to infuse public life with higher morality or conscience, under the spell of conspiracy theory, unknowingly we conclude with errand leaders in making our politics and civic life unscrupulous or immoral. Deluded by conspiracy theory, we collude or conspire along with errant leaders,

 d) conspiracy theory develops a form of ‘false consciousness’ among the public duped in its sway. It undermines proper appreciation and understanding of the real issues and in this manner prevents them from the right course of action in politics, be it pertaining to ‘ reformasi’ or ‘transformasi’ .
As stated above we need to understand the working of the theory of conspiracy frequently resorted to by leaders in crisis situation. It is very useful for them whenever cornered or held to account. As we outlined, the theory of conspiracy deflects from real issues, it divides people into partisanship or sectarianism away from moral principles, it compromises public conscience or relativise it, and it clouds public understanding of the real issues or situation. While the theory of conspiracy effects all the above, if we examine our errant leaders closely, we can infer their confession of sort in their very theory of conspiracy. As they deflect, we know what they are really hiding. As they divide, we know what public opinion they fear. As they relativise values and principles, we know what principle they fear the public would judge them by. As they whip up smoke screen  to confuse and cloud understanding, we know what they fear the public understand.
 In  other words, it may serve their cause in the short term to resort to conspiracy charges. Unknowing to them though, as they do so, they may be signing their very own confession. As they try to cover their tracks, they leave even more telling signs!

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