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Thu Feb 13, 2020, 01:43 PM

If Russian hack made any difference, it's because fruit was hanging so low worms were able to feast

The Trump era is a golden age of conspiracy theories – on the right and left
The only way to fight the spread of conspiracy theories is to reduce the conditions of social inequality that produce them


Those intent on continuing oligarchic policies that serve the interests of an increasingly small fraction of the population cannot rely on it to form a majority. They turn to conspiracy-mongering in order to capture support and deflect the social resentment generated by the policies that leave most people in the lurch.

But even when they refrain from using such tactics and lose elections, they can indulge in conspiracy-mongering. When it comes to explaining the loss of the 2016 primaries and general election, American centrists have no qualms laying the blame on shadowy forces. They should know better. After all, it was their ultimate forbear, the 19th-century French liberal François Guizot, who acknowledged that conspiracies are what weak governments conjure out of the resentment they generate in order to cover up their own mistakes. This is clearly true of current governance too. But it also applies to all those who believe their elections are being stolen while never succeeding in garnering enough votes to win.

The point is not that Russia did not intervene in 2016 – everything indicates it did – but that the obsession with conspiracies misses the point. If the Russian hack made any difference, it is only because the fruit was hanging so low that the worms were able to feast on it. Peddling or debunking conspiracy theories are just two faces of the same coin: the avoidance of true politics.



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