While writing yesterday’s post, I several times wrote the word ‘conspiracy’ and then deleted it, because it sounded just too paranoid. A right-wing conspiracy to rule the world and crush the working classes? It’s the stuff of fevered Facebook posts but not really of reality. And to be honest, I don’t believe there is a conspiracy, certainly not in the sense of a Star Chamber of merchant bankers and corrupt politicians secretly meeting to decide the fate of the world. Anyone who watched the aftermath of the EU referendum for the likes of Boris and Gove, or even the elections for the next leader of UKIP after Farage, can dismiss the idea of a well-oiled fascist right machine operating to overthrow the liberal consensus in favour of a sinister cabal of shadowy overlords. It doesn’t exist.
And yet. And yet. There is certainly a conspiracy, albeit one which is much less well-organised and planned than we might sometimes fear, and the form it takes is pretty familiar to us. The award of the contract to the company owned by the chap that the decision-maker plays golf with, not because there has been a backhander or even any interference with the tender process, but simply because there is a pre-existing relationship of trust and liking which predisposes the decision maker in that direction. The fact that a business colleagues’ nephew gets the job, again, not because there has been anything underhand, but because the nephew has been coming in over the summer to work as an intern during his university years and is liked and respected as a known quantity who already knows the business, so that when a vacancy arises he is offered it, rather than the graduate who knows nobody at the business, could not apply as the vacancy is never advertised, and would be less likely to get the job even if he could as he already has less experience. The subtle pressure on politicians from lobbyists and fund-providers and media moguls to nod through the deal, not to rock the boat, not to make life difficult for everybody including themselves.And the constant drip-drip-drip of negative press about certain people and groups, which may be down to nothing more (or less) sinister than that it sells papers*, but which nonetheless subtly changes the context in which those groups operate, so that they are constantly ‘required’ to defend themselves and to ‘prove’ that they are not corrupt, nefarious, evil and out to destroy society, rather than them being accepted as generally good and decent people trying to live a quiet life in reasonable comfort like “the rest of us”.
More soon, but we might move to a Christmas Intermission tomorrow, I think.
*Or more likely, it’s the old joke: a banker, a Daily Mail reader and an immigrant are sitting round a table with nine buns. The banker has eight, the Mail reader has one, and the immigrant has none. “Look out”, says the banker to the Mail reader, “Watch that immigrant, he’s after your bun.”