Conspiracies upon contrivance are abhorrent, yes. But folks don't all agree which things are contrivances. Contemporary arguments aside, history books record reprehensible displays of power and ignorance. Merely as an example, from among many across the globe and throughout time, the British Empire dismantled, stole, and put out of order historical documents of great importance, also destroying symbols and cultural artifacts belonging to other nations and peoples. That's not the worst of the empire's actions, but it's relevant.

 

Now in 2022, there's some discussion of returning those items stolen decades or more ago, though some may still hold to the defense that Britain will take better care of the precious artifacts than the countries they were stolen from. Stuff over humans, basically.

 

When a power feels that great over others, even at local levels, shifty things can start to happen. The effect of power is believable, but it isn't evidence, itself. And that's an important distinction. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," said John Dalberg-Acton. A tendency, then.

Not a license to believe unfounded accusations.

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Conspiracies are suppressive even in subject matter. So, they keep us from talking. Full disclosure requires admitting to believing in things that at least some others consider fabricated conspiracy-isms.

Mentioning a conspiracy, or disparaging one (either way), leads one person to associate another with overall political camps. But if we're going to talk, we have to hold out for the possibility our extrapolations about each other could possibly be flawed.

Those "flaws," could be rays of hope, even if in small, isolated corners of our social lives. Because, we have to start someplace if we're all going to find a way home.

I'll deny a certain theory for the sake of discussion. You'll either agree with me or disagree with me. Either way is okay.

It took me a while to even figure out that little preface. But, now that it's there, it actually makes me rethink something a student of mine wrote. They did a personal experiment where they had conversations with people who have opposing views, and didn't protest. They just listened.

This, I think, was an outspoken person, normally, so that was revelatory for them, somewhat, but they had said their goal was to bring people together. That hadn't made sense, but at least creating a space, maybe, was their point? A small starting place.

That's not to say speaking out and activism don't also have their place, but, what do they say? "Hit 'em high and hit 'em low?" Maybe with a low, low, quiet voice, I can tell you now.

I don't suspect the 2022 US election was rigged in any way related to voting machines, vote counting, or other such direct matters like that. Not in a consequential manner, anyway. That's just what I think. Whatever. But numerous, active members of our American communities would beg to differ, perhaps vehemently.  

That's not to say I imagine domestic democracy isn't unhinged. It's eroded through lobbying by corporations, campaign funding, exclusivity in debates and primary elections, etc. But that's just neoliberalism at work. These ideas have a whole academic space established and lots of illustrative and systemic evidence. It's barely radical politically, and not rationally radical at all.

That's also not to say I think voter fraud is impossible or that their couldn't be a voter fraud conspiracy. As far as I know, that's possible, though probably incredibly hard. Knowing that precisely is outside my expertise.

Oddly, though, it's often the least knowledgeable and least experienced who feel they know things best.

We kid ourselves a lot and often don't even want to know the truth.

Not only are conspiracies hard to own up to if they were true, it's possible for a person to shield themselves from stories like what the US did to Guatemala. Nonetheless, the CIA was engaged in secret missions to depose a nation's president for motives related to fruit.

But there are things that just really can't be right, too, you know. Or ideas or "theories" that could possibly be true, but there's too little evidence to raise voices or take action on such imaginings.

Sources I view as credible didn't find fraud, and the sources that claimed fraud didn't provide what I felt was compelling evidence. So, it's not that I know it's not true. It's that I don't know if it is. But, so many say they see it differently. The media. Yes. It panders to the situation. It's a pickle. See. If I've got it twisted, I'm not aware of that. And if you've got it twisted, you're not aware. Right? 

 

Maybe we all need to look deep inside and make sure we aren't lying to ourselves.

 

 

I hear something that, to me, sounds outrageous. I say, "Well . . .," and I don't go at it too hard, but I let them know I'm not going to let them revel in whatever idea I hate without speaking to it. And, so, they don't revel in it and I don't speak to it, much. Or visa versa, I would suppose.

Jack White says, "You can't be a pimp and a prostitute, too."

Theories, Facts & Strange Results
 

Guatemala, 1954, there's a CIA led coup d'état at the behest of a US banana company doing business there. President Árbenz was a key figure as he put forth land reform that affected banana commerce.

The United Fruit Company was either succeeded, replaced, or turned into the Chiquita company we know today. Regardless, United lobbied to have Árbenz's regime overthrown.

So, that's what happened. And it's widely known and accepted to the point that Bill Clinton, in 1999, apologized to the nation of Guatemala.

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Humor me, still. Suspicion is suspicion, right? As in, not knowledge. So it can be misguiding when it's a motive to accept ideas that confirm it. Because we chose who we're suspicious of, we chose to believe regardless of evidence. More fundamentally, whatever we desire to be true has no bearing on reality, and, yet, we're bound to feel some inclination toward our desires.

Suspicion, perhaps, is best targeted at the self.

The caveat is that confirmation bias and artifice is something we need sometimes, personally or even in small communities. A movie made it cliché, with a line about human tolerances ("You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" or that's how I recall it).

We get hurt by someone and we're at war, but eventually the heart softens and realizes misapprehension. Then, guilt.

But even when there is evidence. And, even when something is in the history books and widely agreed upon, a person's worldview can also attract a sort of confirmation bias shield that silently deflects what many would consider facts. Things which can easily be looked up and verified in credible journalism, history books, peer reviewed journals, and any other sort of publication.

Maybe we all need to read history more closely. But they still argue whether Napoleon was great or a buffoons. Experts, I mean.

On a pretentiously British intellectual show, there's a debate titled thus on YouTube: "Napoleon the Great? A debate with Andrew Roberts, Adam Zamoyski and Jeremy Paxman." Paxman was partially referee, though he played favorites. As for the other two, they each made their cases regarding Bonaparte, but also had some back and forth. Zamoyski gave examples to show that the emperor was harsh and cruel (he threw harsher insults at other times). One example was the habit of pinching so hard that it left a bruise or a mark. Or pinching and not letting go.

It does seem a side issue compared to the Russian campaign in the winter, but the debate wanted to paint a more complete picture, and to put the leader in a positive or negative light.

Roberts didn't deny L'Empereur pinched. He more so corroborated that it left marks. He said it was an honor for a solider of la Grande Armée to return to the ranks of able to show off, pointing at their cheek to indicate they'd been pinched by the L'Empereur.

"Napoleon’s decisions to reinstate slavery in French colonies and sell the Louisiana territory to the United States, together with the triumph of the Haitian Revolution, made his colonial policies some of the greatest failures of his rule," says curriculum in an OER course about Western Civ.

Meanwhile, in 2022 there are Red/Blue workshops now, I hear.

Braver Angles, for example, explains their workshops like this:

5-8 Republican-leaning citizens (“Reds”) and 5-8 Democratic-leaning citizens (“Blues”) gather together for a half-day or full-day of structured conversations.  Independents are also welcome to attend. We only ask that for the purposes of the workshop they identify as leaning either Red or Blue, or attend as observers.

There are two types of Red/Blue workshops: 3-hour workshops that cover two exercises, and 6-hour plus lunch workshops that cover all four exercises. We recommend that people attend the 6-hour version if possible.

Two moderators, trained by Braver Angels, lead the workshop, ensuring that ground rules are followed and that everyone is treated respectfully.

It sounds stressful a bit, but, of course, I know folks who think differently than me sociopolitically, and talk with them peacefully. It is something we do, sometimes. My parents, your parents maybe, as well. That's common.

But there are like bubbles. No fly zones we we get together. Or there are sort of checks on things, like, hey, that'll get me riled up! Or it's just tiring to bring certain things up with people.

 

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