Even while plowing through all of Ron Paul’s 32 Questions posed in his farewell speech, we still find the time to make sure our fans get their weekly dose of Rothbardian wisdom every single Monday. Today we look at a clip where Rothbard addresses the concept of “conspiracy theory”. I’ve noticed over the years of speaking my mind that when I question the motive of any government action or official story I am often immediately slapped with the “conspiracy theorist” label. This is label is applied regardless of whether or not the facts support the supposed “theory”, as they often do. The mere act of asking the question itself is enough for the “conspiracy theorist” label to hold.
It should be no real surprise that libertarians often end up associated with this label. Libertarians are more likely to see the State as – as Rothbard puts it – a “gang of thieves write large” , thus it is more likely that they would look for ulterior motives to the State’s actions. Conversely, one who considers themselves a Patriotic American and truly believes that the government is well intentioned and there to protect them is more likely to accept the stories told to them by the State without question, much like a young child believes their parents’ tales about Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy.
Rothbard elaborates on why the term “conspiracy theory” is a loaded term:
One man’s conspiracy is another man’s great achievement. If some people get together and conspire to do something we don’t like we can easily call that a “conspiracy.” If a few people get together in a room and conspire about something people do like they will refer to it as “great solidarity for noble action”, as Rothbard sarcastically quips.
Any time two or more people get together and decide on a course of action, they are conspiring. It is clear, by definition, conspiracies that take place every single day. When John Boehner and Barack Obama had a secret meeting to discuss the “fiscal cliff” this past weekend, were they not conspiring? At some point after several meetings with various lawmakers, an agreement of some sort on the “fiscal cliff” will likely be reached. Will this agreement not amount to a “conspiracy?” And yet nobody will call it that. It will be hailed as a “grand bargain” or “great compromise”.
Many “conspiracy theories” are generally accepted by most of the public as conspiracy fact. Examples of this include the Bush administration at best fudging information about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq or the JFK assassination, about which 75% of Americans believe to be a conspiracy.
Much like beauty, conspiracy is often in the eye of the beholder. It’s fun to theorize about what goes on behind the scenes. It’s important to be armed with the facts when discussing historical events. You may not shed the “conspiracy theorist” label even by making sound, factual arguments. But with some truth on your side, you just might create a few more “conspiracy theorists”.
And if “conspiracy theorists” are the ones questioning the authority of the State’s decisions or the authenticity of it’s myths, that can only be a good thing.
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