Conspiracy theories are a cultural phenomenon of the 20th and 21st centuries which conceptualise a set up by a corrupt, shadowy, and powerful group, often political in motivation enacted for an ulterior purpose.
Frankly, I have never had much time for conspiracy theories as to my mind, they operate a little like ghost stories, outstanding entertainment, but light on credibility.
Over the last decade, however, they have gained popular cultural awareness and are almost universally attributed to right-wing politics and conservatives.
Some common examples include the “chemtrail” theory favoured by right-wing groups in the United States which proposes that water condensation trails from aircraft contain chemical agents designed to control the minds of citizens or the “Deep Water Horizon” theory pertaining to a fatal oil rig industrial accident in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging sabotage by those seeking to promote environmentalism.
The image of a “tin foil hat wearing” right-winger has infiltrated popular culture and regularly features on parody television programs aired by the likes of the ABC and Channel 10’s The Project.
The truth of the matter is that in 2020, the most prolific exponents of unhinged conspiracy theories come from the far left and the trend is growing.
The left, for example, view Israel as an imperialist state, acting as the United States envoy in the Middle East. They believe that international affairs are being driven from behind the scenes by a network of pro-Israel groups.
The British Labour Party has become so riddled with anti-Israel sentiment, that former leader, Jeremy Corbyn once described the notorious terrorist organisation Hamas as “an organization that is dedicated toward the good of the Palestinian people”.
Locally, the Australian Greens carry the torch of conspiratorial suspicion of Israel. The party’s own principles require it to “oppose Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for its settlements”.
The Greens have a pathological distaste for Israel and its foreign policy intentions. The left’s view of Israel is, at its core, nothing more than a delusional left-wing conspiracy theory.
The conspiratorial preoccupations of the Greens were also on show recently when to her credit, South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young, warned against the rising tide of anti-vaccination sentiment within her own party.
Many anti vaxers (as they are known) believe that pharmaceutical companies are conspiring to sell expensive and harmful products to control the community and bolster their bottom lines.
They beat the drum of “evidence-based” policy yet a recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study has confirmed that low immunisation rates exist in areas of high Greens support such as Byron Bay and inner-city Melbourne. The left now effectively owns the anti-vax movement. The anti vax movement is nothing more than a delusional left-wing conspiracy theory.
In my home state of South Australia, the hard left and the Greens have flaunted their claims to the conspiracy theory crown through their strident opposition to genetically modified organisms.
Despite the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence proving GMOs to be safe, the advocates of “evidence-based” policy in the far left prefer to be selective with the science upon which they rely and instead argue that GMOs pose significant risks to natural and agricultural ecosystems and human health.
In 2014 Greens Senator Rachel Siewert summarised the opposition when she said “GM crops are not the answer to feeding the world, regardless of what international companies want us to believe”.
It is opposition predicated on the view that greedy corporations are conspiring to profit from damaging the planet. A truly herculean and delusional left-wing conspiracy theory.
The broader extent of the left’s conspiratorial obsession was showcased during the recent release of the so-called ‘Palace Letters’ between former governor-general Sir John Kerr and Buckingham Palace at the time of the dismissal.
In the 40 years after that tumultuous period, it became a left-wing rite of passage to theorise that the dismissal was a high-level overseas monarchical hit job on a socialist prime minister in the Australian parliament.
Sadly, for the dinner conversation at the homes of inner-city Melbourne academics, the Palace letters have confirmed that the Queen neither wanted nor had any advance knowledge of the dismissal of Gough Whitlam.
The letters reveal that Kerr went as far as to write to Sir Martin Charteris from Buckingham Palace to tell him that “I have taken a decisive step and terminated the commission of the former prime minister Mr Whitlam and commissioned Mr Fraser to act as a caretaker Prime Minister….’’
This episode has put to rest the left-wing conspiracy theory that the monarchy sought to intervene in Australian politics and proved to be one of the most recent, if not most fanciful of all delusional left-wing conspiracy theories.
Conspiracy theories are best left in the light entertainment basket but whether it’s a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, a corporate conspiracy to sell pharmaceuticals or destroy the environment using GMOs or a monarchical conspiracy to destroy socialism, the far left now has the carriage of the delusional conspiracy theory.
The baton of illusion has been well and truly passed and one wonders whether it’s time the caricature of the tin foil hat wearing right-winger make way for the hand-crocheted rainbow coloured hemp beanie-wearing conspiracy theorist.
Alex Antic is a Liberal Senator for South Australia.
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