Sunday, February 3, 2013

Conspiracies for the Hard of Thinking

I know, I've been quiet lately (as in, for nearly two years now). There is a reason, and I'll blog about that too in due time (the details are still a bit painful). Right now, I'll just tackle the issue that made me take up the blog again: right-wing lunacy in my native Finland.

The facts as they are known at this point: some people wrote a book covering the activities of Finnish right-wing extremists. At the book's release, a bunch of people showed up armed with (mostly) improvised weaponry. Security turned most of them away but not before one attending person was knifed in the back, fortunately not fatally. (To be fair, police inquiry turned up some weapons on the defending side as well: trouble had been anticipated.)

Now, this in itself is reprehensible and wrong. Getting a knife in the ribs is something that should never happen in a civilised society, and if anything, book releases ought to be specially protected, simply in the interests of freedom of speech. Not to mention that this was a political book, raising the question if the violence was also politically motivated.

But the immediately ensuing discussion was where it started getting weird.

As expected, the first to speak up was the Homma forum, the primary stomping ground of "immigration critics" (the politically correct euphemism for "rabid racist"). The entire incident was so quickly and out of hand labelled a "false flag operation" (essentially, a publicity stunt) initiated by the authors of the book, even a forum moderator was ashamed.

(And here I was thinking that concept was itself an analogy for an epic discussion fail. As in, "This conversation has gone so low, if we were on Homma, even the moderators would facepalm.")

The vice chair of the True Finns party (whose executive includes a number of people with ties to right-wing extremist groups) even went on record echoing the publicity theory. (In subsequent interviews he has toned down his intent, but has not redacted his statements - which also included the observation that such attacks stand a better chance of success if the perpetrators do not attempt entry en masse, but infiltrate individually, nudge nudge, wink wink.)

All of the above made me think. It seems that these people live in a strange parallel universe where free will does not exist. If something happens, it's not a decision made by individuals or even groups, but by controlling agencies with their own overreaching agendas. In other words, nothing happens save as directed by a conspiracy.

(An observant reader will spot an apparent hole in the theory: If free will does not exist, how do the controllers make those decisions? I suspect that the conspiracy theorists would invoke radical fatalism: those who are destined to lead will lead those who are destined to serve. Now where have I heard this before?)

In this light, the arguments make sense (sort of). Since even the collection of hominids on Homma could see that attacking a book attacking the extreme right was a stupid idea, it couldn't have been organised by their side. Therefore, it had to have been orchestrated by the opposition, as spontaneous action by groups of like-minded people simply does not happen. (It's also rather telling of the world view of these types that knifing someone just for the attention seems like a perfectly rational course of action.)

Like all conspiracy theories, this one has the added bonus of requiring no evidence. If something - anything - happens, it does so because of a conspiracy. If we don't like it, it's the work of the opposition. If we can find a lot of things happening we don't like, then the opposition must be mobilising! We must act! Strike back first!

While we're at this, how about assuming the theory is valid and applying it to the actions of the apologists? Since they've been denying any involvement from the very moment of the attack, they must have an agenda. Since publicity for the book is on the firing line for them, they must be trying to suppress that. Since they're trying to suppress a report on the disruptive activities of the radical right, there must be an active conspiracy of right-wing extremists!

That's right, grasshopper: If you wave around a conspiracy theory, you may end up hurting yourself.

PS. The above-mentioned politician whom I don't like naming or linking to because he doesn't deserve the notice, stated in an interview that these "alleged extremists" only pop up when the most often-attacked of the writers is assaulted, and are never heard of otherwise. This is blatant smokescreening, as several recent attacks have been well publicised. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out his motives, for example using the turn-the-tables method above.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you're back, brother.

    Just be careful, now. A Finnish person who writes a blog in a foreign language is bound to arouse suspicions. You know, like "you must think you're so much better than the average Pulliainen, if your native blue-and-white language isn't good enough for you".

    You are surely a conspirator of the very worst kind.

    Now I wonder if children's playgrounds are already echoing with ardent dialogue such as...
    "You're one big conspirator!"
    "I'm not! You are!"
    "You are, you are, you are!"
    "Your mom and dad were in a conspiracy when they made you!"
    ...and so on.