I don’t have much of a dog in this race. But I confess that I’m put off by blanket attempts to distance anti-authoritarian politics from “conspiracy theories.”
In practical terms, whatever the literal meaning of the words, a conspiracy theory is an account of an event that differs significantly from the account of the event endorsed by the mainstream media and the political establishment—characteristically in a way that can be seen as injurious to the establishment’s interests, and often involving the attribution of responsibility for mischief to the establishment or its agents.
If those C. Wright Mills called “the power elite” are essentially thugs and bandits—as a sensible class analysis suggests that they are—then there is surely good reason to expect them to engage in theft and violence. If political leaders are selected for their ambition—and so their willingness to put principle to one side—and their inclination to serve the interests of the power elite, there is surely good reason to expect them, too, to engage in theft and violence. Thus, there’s an argument to be made that a story suggesting that members of the power elite or their retainers in the political class are up to no good is more likely to be true than a similar story about an ordinary member of the population.
Similarly, if the members of “the power elite” play a significant role in shaping both state policy and the stances of media companies, there is good reason to assume that the stories injurious to the interests of the power elite are less likely to receive support from the mainstream media and government officials than stories beneficial to their interests. So it is sensible to expect that true stories of misdeeds by the power elite will not be endorsed or publicized by the mainstream media.
That the members of the power elite and the political class are more likely than ordinary people to be involved in plunder and murder and that the mainstream media are unlikely to give much attention to stories of their involvement in such activities does not, of course, show that any particular story about elite misconduct that is ridiculed in the mainstream media is correct—each such story should be gauged on its own merits. However, it does provide good reason to suspect that some conspiracy theories might be correct and to refuse to dismiss such theories simply because they are treated as silly by the mainstream media.