Conspiratorial Agnosticism | John Power
Something strange is happening in America. The Democratic establishment, and the ‘New Left’, are denouncing the president for disputing the results of the election. Both of these disparate political forces have combined their voices to insist that the electoral process has unquestionable integrity. They denounce ongoing litigation as being rooted in baseless conspiracy theories.
This is an inconsistent position. The Democratic establishment, after all, fiercely contested the 2000 election. Their argument then was that Jeb Bush used his position of influence as governor to change the outcome of the Florida recount against Al Gore, in favour of his brother, President George Bush. Has the process by which America counts votes become free from tampering in the intervening twenty years?
And the New Left? The same people who denounce the US government interfering in democratic elections of other countries, recoil when the suggestion is made that this could happen to America. How can it be possible that those who despise the police, are so confident in the integrity of the intelligence services? What about the accusation that the DNC fixed the nomination in favour of Hilary Clinton over Bernie Sanders?
The Left have, since 2016, responded to the narrative of ‘fake news’ by constructing an intellectual framework whereby the truth is binary, and found within the source of the information. There is the truthful information, put forward by mainstream scientists, ‘credible’ figures in politics, journalism and the intelligence services, which is constantly under attack from the ‘untruth’. From Donald Trump to Alex Jones, lies are told which aim to undermine the ‘truth’ for political and personal objectives.
Whoever controls the mainstream narratives, in this framework, has an enormous amount of power. Anyone who contradicts the consensus and does not have the credibility to do so, is immediately deemed to be on the side of untruth. Political debate is inconsequential, because you either conform to reality, or you do not. Elections become a task of convincing the public to believe in the empirical evidence that proves the consensus to be incontrovertibly correct, fighting against the forces which seek to create chaos for profit.
There is a belief in the consensus which is tantamount to a religious faith. Entrenched in the highest positions of society, adoption of this belief, and outward obedience to it, is necessary to advancing your career and for acceptance into mainstream society. It’s scriptures are the New York Times, the New England Journal of medicine, and a raft of other hegemonic institutions whose credibility identifies them as sources for truth.
New Atheism, the intellectual movement which really advanced in America in the 21st century, constructed a narrative which suggested that the reason religion existed was not simply barbaric ignorance of science, but that religious figures had invented stories as a means to control and financially exploit people. The conspiracy theorist understands the establishment in the same way. Climate change, the conspiracy theorist believes, is a falsehood which is intended to personally enrich the charities and scientists which benefit from its hypothetical existence. Much like the Medieval Catholic priest who whips his flock into fear of hell for hours, before demanding payment for indulgences, to ease their passage into Heaven.
I do not identify with either side on this argument. I recognise an incentive, and means, for both the Republican and Democratic parties to attempt to manipulate the outcome of this election through underhanded means. Those who seem too certain of either side of this discussion, trouble me in the same way that Dawkins did when he denounced religious faith. Atheism is the active rejection of religion. How can you be absolutely sure that there is no supernatural element to the creation of the universe, which you cannot conceive of? This agnosticism, and scepticism, should also apply to the Democratic party, and the elite networks in finance and security to which elements of it are attached.
It is obvious why Trump would seek to manipulate this election and maintain his power by lying. However, I cannot yet be certain that the Biden administration, faced with another four years of Trump, did not take advantage of mail-in ballots in some way to alter the outcome. From the perspective of many within the Democratic establishment, Trump is Hitler reborn, and four more years of him would have destroyed the integrity of the United States permanently. If you were given the opportunity to fiddle with the 1933 election results, and stop Hitler from coming to power, would you let considerations about the integrity of Democracy stop you?
We are fortunate that unlike questions of the Universe, we have concrete methodologies that can be employed to find the truth out about this election. There is an established system of legal appeals, and a period between the election and inauguration, which is designed to ensure that the results of the election can be scrutinised. This is not the first time that a recount has been called.
The truth must be established through a process of rigorous and interrogative debate in the courts. The approach of the Left, and his counterpart, the Theorist, is to assess the merit of a claim based on its origin. We cannot determine the truth about this election by only assessing the intentions of those expressing scepticism. This approach is far more likely to obscure the truth than enhance it.
If we interpret scepticism to be an indication of lunacy, or a hunger for power and money, we will have surrendered our right to live in a truthful society.