Archives for category: authoritarianism

Does it really matter?

Both fascism and communism appear when enough people are fed up. Really fed up.
So fed up that they have become gullible enough to accept the lies promised by those who want to get ‘at the top’, in the given circumstances.
The difference between fascism and communism, the only one, being the exact conditions which had caused the ire of the people.
Communism can, and will presently be, presented as the only possible alternative to those confronted by a ‘black ceiling’.
Fascism, on the other hand, can, and will presently be, presented as the only possible alternative to those confronted by a ‘glass ceiling’.
The always poor who have no chance of improving their lot will accept the lies promised by the communists. They don’t know any better so they believe those lies are possible.
The impoverished who have no chance of returning to their former situation will accept the lies professed by the fascists. They know what they have lost and need to find a culprit to blame for what had happened.

In a sense you can identify fascism with the right and communism with the left.
In reality, fascism and communism are the two ugly faces of the same fake coin.

For the outsiders, it seems like Gorbachev ‘made’ Putin.
Gorbachev had destroyed the Soviet Union and, thus, had set the scene for Putin to take over.

I’m afraid things are a little more complicated than that.

Gorbachev – at that time, the best informed decision maker in the whole USSR – had been smart enough to understand that no matter what he might had tried to do, the corpse was already rotten.
That everything but a major ‘upheaval’ could not accomplish anything more than prolong the agony. What he had done was nothing more than allowed the things to happen according to their nature.

I’ll make a short break here and remind you that all ‘imperium’ had eventually ended in failure. The tighter the control exercised by the ruler, the more abject the eventual failure. Check your history book.

So. Gorbachev had taken the appropriate steps. What he had done was in step with the natural flow of history.

Eltsin and Putin, on the other hand, had done the exact opposite.
Eltsin had tried and Putin had succeeded in regaining the ‘reins’ of the government. The reins, the whip, ever stronger control over the barn where the whole stash of hay is deposited…

Why things had unfolded like this?
Because they – Eltsin and Putin, had chosen this venue and because nobody else had been able to do anything about it.

OK, Gorbachev, Eltsin and Putin had made their respective calls in basically the same social and political environments. The economic situations were ‘somewhat’ different but this doesn’t change what I want to stress out. Each of them had done what had crossed each of their individual minds.
Each had been able to do whatever each of them had wanted because…
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ allows the ruler to make whatever decisions they may see fit.
Because that particular ‘social arrangement’ – dictatorship, no matter how much window-dressing had been slapped on it, allows the person who happens to clamber ‘on top’ to keep making mistakes until the whole ‘carriage’ disintegrates.

Until we learn this lesson…

There is an old Romanian saying which goes like this:

A bat is all you need to break a wagon-full of pottery.

When it comes to splitting fire-wood, things are no longer that simple.
Using the same blunt force approach, even if theoretically possible, would yield disappointing results.
‘Destroying’ has nothing to do with ‘re-shaping’.

Hence ‘wedge’.

On the other hand, a wedge can accomplish the same results as a bat by using a lot less brute force.
Simply because the wedge concentrates more effectively, and in a more precise manner, the available energy in a very small area.

But the more important difference is the fact that using a wedge demands a way more skilled operator than a ‘mere’ bat.

‘Why don’t you cut the crap and just spill out what you have brewed in that twisted mind of yours?’

Darius, Alexander, Genghis, Napoleon, Hitler.
All of them had started their campaigns in a very successful manner. Two of them had even ended their careers that way. Undefeated.
The fact that all of them, including the successful ones, had been nothing but tyrants is irrelevant here.

And where is the difference?

Darius, Napoleon and Hitler had been, eventually, defeated. Each of them by a coalition.

Alexander had basically vanquished one enemy. Which was already past its prime.
And Genghis had successively conquered a long list of ‘unrelated’ targets.
In both cases it was more about blunt force being applied in a more or less skillful manner and nothing about splitting anything. Except for some skulls…

Each of Darius, Napoleon and Hitler had been successful at first. They had started as skillful splitters of coalitions. But each of them had been eventually bogged down. In their own respective successes…

You see, a bat remains a bat. You have to shatter a huge amount of pottery before the bat wears down.
In fact, most of the times the batter goes out before the bat…

When it comes to wedging…
While pottery is ‘consistent’ – equally fragile, ceteris paribus, no two logs had ever been created equal. Furthermore, even when dealing with a single log, some sections may be easily split apart while others may so ‘tough’ that it’s easier to ‘destroy’ them than to use a wedge on them.
In these situations, being a skillful splitter means being able to recognize which sections should be left alone….
But which would-be emperor has ever been able to let somebody else be? Live in peace…

If they live long enough, all emperors will eventually ‘attempt’ an impossible-to-split coalition!

But when has a would-be emperor been born wise enough to recognize such a situation?!?
Or every one of them, to date, have seen each coalition they happened to encounter as an opportunity?
As a log waiting to be split?

Which makes me wonder…
Why are would-be emperors so blind when it comes to reading history?
And how about their courtiers? Also ‘blind’?

Bonus reading. An excellent piece by Cynthia Calhoun.

How to split logs for firewood by hand.

“When you can’t split a log, do one of two things: give up and throw it in the pile or use a chainsaw.”

Interesting enough.

And yes, what you think about me is more about you than about the real me.

Nevertheless, the point of this post is:

For me,

You are what I think you are!

Quite a large number of people are complaining about how hot it is nowadays.
So uncomfortably hot that they have to stay indoors until late in the evening.

And no, they are not pensioners.
They work from home, earning enough money to be able to have everything delivered to them.

Which reminds me of my first job, right out of university.
A big factory building where water almost froze in winter and temperatures rose to 41-42 degrees Celsius in August.
Inside that building were, among other ‘run of the mill’ machine-tools, 3 top of the art automated Czech-built lathes.
This story goes back to 1986 and happened in communist Romania.
The lathes were very precise but couldn’t be used all the time. In winter they stopped working altogether and in summer they faltered. No amount of fine tuning could bring them back to yielding usable parts.
It took a few years for the brass to figure-out what was going on. The lathes were designed to work in a ‘controlled environment’. The temperature was supposed to hover between 15 and 25 degrees for the lathes to function normally.
Hence the lathes were ‘sheltered’ in an auxiliary building. A shed built inside the factory. And provided with efficient enough ‘temperature control’.

We, the people, had been left on the outside. Outside the shed but still inside the factory…. freezing in winter and sweat-drenched in summer. Still working, because we were sturdier than the top of the line machinery…

This morning I came across a FB post.

This brought about another memory.

Sometime in 1990-1991 I happened to lay my hands on a Newsweek magazine. Or a the Economist… I don’t remember exactly. Anyway… the article I was going to discuss with you was about the hard life endured by the American poor people. And was illustrated with a color picture.
I’m going to make a small break here and inform you that in the 1990 Romania colored magazines – let alone glossy, were hard to get by.
That picture, taken somewhere in the Bronx, contained a color TV and three pre-teen kids. All of them clad in blue-jeans and wearing ‘sports shoes’. You know, the likes of Puma/Adidas/ you name it.
In those times, in Romania, bluejeans or ‘sports-shoes’ could be had mostly on the black market. Where you had to fork out the wage earned in a whole month if you wanted to buy a pair of each. Or you could buy them in a brand store. For twice the price….

You see, the communist regimes have crumbled because the leaders had lost contact with reality.
The brass in the factory where I had started working couldn’t figure out – nor really cared about, the reason for which those lathes didn’t work properly.
And didn’t care about the fact that the workers had a very hard life. On the factory floor and outside its premises.

The liberal-democratic and capitalist regime has created huge opportunities. People used to live incomparably better there than in the rest of the world. And continue to do so.
On the other hand, in many of the ‘affluent’ countries people have lost contact with each other. The haves have no idea about how the poor live. Nor the poor have any idea about what it means to be rich.

We live in different worlds. In different realities.

Each of us on their own ‘tin roof’.

The problem being that all of them are becoming increasingly ‘hot’.
And I’m not thinking ‘global warming’ now…

Communism had crumbled because the rulers couldn’t understand what was going on. Couldn’t react efficient enough to changes brought about by normal evolution. Because the rulers had gradually lost contact with reality. Which inevitably happens in all authoritarian settings.

We are currently living in different realities. In ‘bubbles’. For now, these bubble still have something in common. We are still able to talk to each other. Sometimes we have a hard time understanding what the other has to say – or don’t really care, but the dialog is still possible.

I’m afraid of the day when the dialog will no longer be possible.

The guys in the pan are so obsessed about the taxes they have to fork out that they actually don’t pay attention to anything else.
The guys attempting to collect those taxes are so obsessed about what they want to do with the money that they actually don’t pay attention to anything else.

Meanwhile, the world is growing apart. The bubbles lose contact with each other. And with the hard core reality…

The cats can always jump down from the roof. Whenever it grows too hot or too cold.
Where are those two frogs going to jump when things will become uncomfortable?

The common sense definition for an inflationary situation is ‘when too much money chase an inherently limited amount of goods and services’.

The ‘limited amount of goods and services’ part is easy. We live on a finite planet, we have a limited capacity to transform whatever resources we are able to identify into usable goods and services … so…
OK, we can always identify new resources and build new capacity but we cannot do any of this ‘on the spot’. We need time. And, even more importantly, we need to put ourselves to it!

Then ‘who does the chasing’?
After all, money is ‘inert’. It doesn’t do anything if let alone in a drawer. On under the mattress…
In reality, we – buyers and investors, are the true ‘inflationary agents’.
‘But it would be completely stupid to sit on a pile of money when inflation rages! You have to buy something otherwise you’ll loose a lot of value! At least, you need to invest that money…’
This is one of the best examples of a self-fulfilling prophecy!
Indeed. Buying or investing during an inflationary bout is the reasonable thing to do! Yet we need to understand that our actions will, temporarily, exacerbate the very inflation we are trying to ‘tame’.

But where does the excess money come from?!?

Until not so long ago, the sovereign was the only one person who could bring new money to the market.
And their ability to do that was severely curtailed by the amount of bullion available for this task.
In fact, the first major inflationary episode in the second millennium had been fueled by the gold brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors. Which bout of inflation brought about the first major change in the European economic thinking.
“To inspect the country’s soil with the greatest care, and not to leave the agricultural possibilities of a single corner or clod of earth unconsidered… All commodities found in a country, which cannot be used in their natural state, should be worked up within the country… Attention should be given to the population, that it may be as large as the country can support… gold and silver once in the country are under no circumstances to be taken out for any purpose… The inhabitants should make every effort to get along with their domestic products… [Foreign commodities] should be obtained not for gold or silver, but in exchange for other domestic wares… and should be imported in unfinished form, and worked up within the country… Opportunities should be sought night and day for selling the country’s superfluous goods to these foreigners in manufactured form… No importation should be allowed under any circumstances of which there is a sufficient supply of suitable quality at home.” Philip von Hornigk, 1684.

After a while, economy had become ‘complicated’ enough to demand ‘paper money’.
The amount of goods and services produced had become so large – and insufficient bullion was added to the money pool, that prices would have had to shrink if the balance was to be maintained.
Unsustainable! Nobody would have bought anything and everybody would have jealously guarded their precious money while waiting for the prices to fall further. This process is known as ‘deflation’ and is considered even more malign than a decent amount of inflation.
We have to note at this point that ‘paper money’ had been made possible by the advent of the ‘nation’.
This is a rather complicated discussion, for the present purpose it’s enough for me to mention that ‘paper money’ being accepted as ‘tender’ means that the general population has enough trust in the issuer of the bills. That the individual user of the paper money trusts/believes he is part of ‘something bigger’.
In those times, it was the issuer of paper money who practically controlled the amount of money which existed on the market.

Which brings us to the present times.

I’m sure all of you are aware of how “fractional reserve banking” works.

‘Yeah, the banks create money out of nothing!’

Wrong!
For banks to be able to ‘create’ new money, they have to extent credit!
For new money to be created in this way, somebody must walk into a bank with a business proposition.
That somebody might want to buy a house, a car or whatever else. Or that somebody might want to start a business. If that somebody convinces the bank that they is solvent or that their idea is worthy enough, then and only then new money is created!
Money doesn’t appear out of the blue! It is born out of trust. That somebody not only trusts themselves but they are convincing enough to determine the banker to extend that much needed credit!

But wait!
We’ve developed yet another mechanism which churns out money.
The stock market.
After developing the business started with the loaned money, the somebody we’ve been talking about above decides to make an IPO. To sell part of his business to investors. To monetize his initial investment.
Depending on the moment chosen for the IPO – and the economic data in the prospect, the IPO can be a huge success. For ‘somebody’ and for the early buyers. You see, each time the price of the stock goes higher, new money is created. Based more on the ‘market’s expectations’ than anything else…

‘But people who put their money on the financial markets are rational agents! They are experts in their field…’

Yeah, right…
You’re talking about the experts who had put together the collateralized debt obligations debacle…
And many others. Too many others…
Also, you’re talking about the experts who had bought those papers! Who had trusted the expertise of the first batch of ‘specialists’!

Thinkers, from Freud to Kahneman and Ariely, have proven than humans are very good at rationalizing and less so at being truly rational.
That for a market to behave in a reasonable manner, it must preserve its freedom.
That it must be free from ‘bullies’ – individual agents who muster a lot of ‘clout’, and free from any mania.

The 1637 Dutch Tulip Mania is a very good example of what might happen when a market gets obsessed with something.
When too many people – not even a majority, forget about the fact that economy (oikonomia) is about making ends meet and that getting rich may be a nice consequence but is a terrible goal.

‘OK, nice try. But what about inflation?’

We have an inherently limited amount of goods and services.
A relentless mechanism which churns out money.
Meanwhile, some of us obsess about their need to conserve the money denominated portion of their stashed away fortunes.

Inflation is nothing but another mechanism.
Which re-balances the market.
Piece-meal – adjusting for daily changes, in normal times. When things evolve ‘freely’.
Suddenly when the market – the people who ‘man’ the market, find out about ‘the dark side of the moon’.

People are dying in Ukraine.

And what takes place there has consequences all over the planet.

The first two world wars had been fought by soldiers from almost every corner of the Earth.
Almost all countries have declared war on each other, even though not all of them have participated in military operations.
The third world war – the Cold One, had been fought ‘virtually’. And was the first to divide the world into three.
The ‘liberal-democratic’ camp, the ‘popular democracy’ camp and the non-aligned camp. As always, World War III had been lost by the least flexible among the combatants. By the more dictatorially run camp. By the camp, which, precisely because of the authoritarian manner in which its decisions were adopted, had failed to mobilize all the resources it had, potentially, at its disposal.

I’ll make a parenthesis.
Any act of aggression is an idiocy.
Regardless of the short-term, medium-term and long-term outcome, the aggressor has more to lose than the victim. This does not need to be demonstrated. The most perfunctory glance at history is eloquent enough.
Here I’m concerned about war as an ‘ongoing phenomenon’, I am not trying to integrate it into the narrative. Any war, any act of aggression, is initiated under certain conditions determined by the history spent until then and will be, at some point, integrated into the history written afterwards. And the way it will be integrated into history will determine the conditions under which the next war will be initiated. Or not…

Let’s go back to the present moment.
This, the fourth one, is the first mixed world war. The first ‘lukewarm’ war.
The consequences are felt around the globe, almost all states take part in it – also divided into three camps, while the act of ‘actual’ aggression is somewhat limited.
The reactions to this act of aggression – the way in which those who have to bear its consequences relate to the conflict, constitute the beginning of the way in which this episode of physical aggression will be integrated into history.
The liberal-democratic camp is helping the victim as much as it can – this could be the subject of a very long discussion.
The authoritarian-populist camp helps the aggressor. As far as it can, lest it shows its true colours…
The self declared ‘non-aligned’ camp claims it is one of the victims and urges negotiations.

Here’s the place where I need to make another parenthesis.
The aggressor is ‘Putin’. A collective character that has at its center the current Kremlin ‘gate-keeper’.
The fact that the collective character known as ‘Putin’ is currently leading Russia’s destinies is a matter of history. It has to do with Russia and the Russian people indeed, but placing all the responsibility for the atrocities which are taking place in Ukraine on Russia’s shoulders would be a mistake. A mis-diagnosis which would lead to a ‘counterproductive’ treatment.
Many of the analysts and commentators who write on this subject are ‘mesmerized’ by the ‘master of disaster’. By Putin. Some ‘highlight’ his actions and others want to distract us from what Putin is doing by trying to argue that Putin was forced to do what he had done because the ‘others’ had acted as they had done. As if the mistakes already committed could provide any justification for future atrocities…

Back to the subject.
The main idea which emerges from the ‘messages’ we are bombarded with – regardless of the motivations attributed to Putin, is that any surrender to the aggressor’s claims will be eventually ‘underwritten’ by all those involved.
For the simple reason that Putin will interpret the smallest crumble ceded by the victim of the aggression as a personal victory. Victory that will be attempted again, sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, all the other Putins in this world, all those animated by authoritarian whims, will feel encouraged by any shred of victory which Putin will have enjoyed.

‘Are we stupid?!? He pulled it through, didn’t he?
We should try it too!’

Well, so far, so simple.
Putin is not the first dictator to be scrutinized by psychologists. Or by political scientists.
‘Nothing new under the sun’ and no original contribution.
Almost everything Putin had ever ‘accomplished’ has already been analyzed and can be explained away with the help of quotes pulled from more or less famous authors. Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Marx, Ivan Ilyin.
Unfortunately – or fortunately? – Putin is ‘transparent’.
He becomes more than ‘obvious’ after the briefest analysis. And, in fact, dictators – all dictators, are very ‘simple’. Single minded individuals effectively enslaved by a single thought. Concentrated exclusively on how to obtain and preserve absolute power. Everything else about them is bullshit. Make belief and propaganda.

Personally, I’m interested in something else than ‘what drives Putin to…’
Putin does what he does because he has the opportunity. Because he ‘enjoys’ a set of circumstances in which he can act his ‘fantasies’. And Putin got into this situation because those around him – those who could have done something about ‘this thing’, did not understand at the time what was going on before their eyes.
I can understand that! ‘Temporary blindness’ is not an ‘exceptional’ thing. But still. From a certain point onward – after ‘the milk spilled over’ and after reality had slapped you over your face, to continue with your head buried in sand… to remain ‘temporary blind’ only because you ‘enjoy’ your current position and/or your current paycheck… without realizing that you are being led to the abyss…

‘Putin’ doesn’t take prisoners.
Even if you considered yourself his ally, or his faithful servant, and no matter how many promises he has made to you, when he no longer needs you…. you’re toast!
When he no longer needs you, you become a cost. And in their world, in the world of dictators, costs must be cut! No other arguments will ever be considered.
Aside from the fact that you have a good chance of getting sacked as Putin becomes more and more powerful/callous, associating yourself with this kind of people is dangerous by definition. No matter how strong they seem to be at any given point, all ‘things Putin’ end up badly. The more powerful the Putin becomes, and the higher they get, the worse they fall. They along with those who ‘waited’ on him!….

Does anyone know a dictator who ended up on the throne?
Lenin?Stalin? Khrushchev? Brezhnev? Andropov?
Is this what we want?!?

The conclusion drawn by some observers, “In the end the outcome has only two valences: Putin loses or Putin wins” is valid only for the short term. Very short! In the long run, Putin loses. In the longer run Putin has always lost.
And it was us who had to endure! The ‘excesses’ committed while the dictator was at the helm and the ‘vagaries’ of the ‘transition period’ which followed. The point being that the more we endure ‘it’ – for the sake of momentary comfort or out of fear for what might happen, the more we will have to pull. In the near future!

As for the five dictators enumerated above, yes, four of them did die on their throne. Khrushchev had been deposed and lived for a while under ‘close supervising’. But after each of them had ‘transitioned’, their ‘close associates’ had been thoroughly ‘epurated’.

What happened to Russia during their ‘tenure’?

Whence my question.
Do we really want to take part, any part, in anything even remotely similar?

2017

““How could you square that statement with legal abortion?” Durbin asked him. “Senator, as the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the book explains that,” Gorsuch replied.

“Do you accept that?” Durbin asked. “That’s the law of the land,” Gorsuch answered. “I accept the law of the land, senator, yes.””

2022

“In a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins expressed her dismay that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented their alleged respect for precedent and private conversations with her and in their confirmation hearings. “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents,” she wrote.

Rolling Stone reported last month that Collins was deliberately manipulated by Trump officials into voting for Kavanaugh despite his judicial history indicating a liability to strike down Roe. The White House correctly predicted that as long as they “let the Susan Collins-es of the world think what they needed to think and hear what they needed to hear,” as one ex-official put it, the fence-sitters would fall in line and vote to confirm Trump’s nominee.”

2016

“My people are so smart — and you know what else they say about my people? The polls?” Trump asked a crowd at a Sioux Center, Iowa, rally Saturday. “I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that?”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said, referring to the major street in New York City that cuts through Manhattan’s large commercial district. “It’s, like, incredible.”

2022

“In its first hearing, the Jan. 6 committee last week played a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr testifying that he told former President Trump that claims the 2020 election was stolen were “bullshit.” In its second hearing, the committee on Monday played several additional minutes of Barr’s testimony, during which he described unsuccessful effort to convince Trump that the election was legitimate.”

“Barr met with Trump again on Dec. 14. “He went off on a monologue saying there was now definitive evidence of fraud through the Dominion machines,” Barr said of a Dec. 14 meeting with Trump, noting that he gave Barr a report he said proves that the election was stolen and that he would have a second term in office. Barr said the report looked “amateurish” with no real evidence to support its claims that voting machines were rigged. Barr said he was “demoralized” after looking at the report. “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality,” Barr said.”

2022-06-24

“In voters, lack of expertise would be lamentable but perhaps not so worrisome if people had some sense of how imperfect their civic knowledge is. If they did, they could repair it. But the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests something different. It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognize those gaffes as missteps.”

“Again, the key to the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not that unknowledgeable voters are uninformed; it is that they are often misinformed—their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.”

“….. himself also exemplifies this exact pattern, showing how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can lead to what seems an indomitable sense of certainty. All it takes is not knowing the point at which the proper application of a sensible idea turns into malpractice.”

I have no way of knowing what the creator of the meme actually wanted to convey through it.
All I know is what I make of it.

The ‘Austrian’ will eventually fall. Not only that nobody can stay in the saddle for ever but the guy uses only one hand to steer his bike. And the fact that he doesn’t use a helmet is the second proof that he doesn’t care much for safety. For his safety… At his age, he should have known better!

Hard to argue with Mises – the quintessential Austrian economist, if I remember right.
Specially since I grew up under a communist regime. Where laissez faire was absent and where the government was inept and immoral. Which regime, like all other authoritarian/totalitarian regimes in history, had crumpled under it’s own weight.

But wait!
Countries which use laissez faire had long ago invented the necessary mitigation mechanisms.
The unlucky entrepreneurs can declare bankruptcy and start all over.
The fraudulent entrepreneurs – well, many of them, go to prison.
While the inept and immoral governments get booted. Democratically!

My point being that laissez faire works better if there’s a safety net in place.
And that people should trust their government. But also keep it on a very short leash!

Wishful thinking!

Conspiracy theorists are absolutely convinced that they are the true critical thinkers…

That their critique of how things works on the face of the Earth is the only reasonable one!

Then what?
Sheeple and conspiracy theorists are nothing but the very same thing? Each of them on the other ‘side’ of the dividing mirror? The surface on which the conspiracy theory dew has been craftily etched? To blurr the vision of all those attempting to look through?

After all, what’s the difference between sheeple – those who follow the official narrative and consider the ‘alternative’ to be wrong, and the conspiracy theorists? Those who consider theirs to be the true version and the ‘official version’ a misleading lie?

Each of them exercise their right and ability to doubt. To look for alternatives. And to discard the alternatives they deem to be implausible!

Most conspiracy theories have already been proven as having been bogus?
With the current ones waiting in line?

This, I’m afraid, is the moment for me to remind you that science is wrong by definition. That all scientific theories are, by definition, falsifiable. That the scientific community is convinced that all knowledge is maybe not completely wrong but definitely incomplete!
Hence there’s a lot of room out there for conspiracy theories to thrive!

‘OK.
I can follow your arguments.
Or, more exactly, I can follow your logic….
But I still believe you’re wrong.
Conspiracy theories ARE bogus!’

Let me put it differently.
Both the official narratives and the conspiracy theories are fueled by the same human need.
By our need for consistency!
Human mind has a hard time processing cognitive dissonances. Pieces of information which contradict each-other. Hence we need a ‘script’. A meta explanation for ‘everything’. A way to discharge the tensions produced by the conflicting pieces of information which assault our attention.

‘And why some people choose to become sheeple – to buy into the official version of things, while others remain conspiracy theorists for life?’

You’ve just set aside the vast majority.
Those people who are explicitly or implicitly aware that both the official version and the conspiracy theories are at least incomplete. And sometimes promoted by people with ‘ulterior motives’.
People who have a deeper creed. Many times of a religious nature but not necessarily.
People who have too many on their heads, mostly worries, so are no longer ‘available’ for ‘petty things’.
As for conspiracy theories being bogus…
I just mentioned how science works. Whenever a theory is judged to be plausible by the peers involved, it becomes the official narrative. All other competing theories become bogus. But all those earnestly involved in the process are convinced that sooner or later the official narrative will be proven if not wrong, then at least incomplete!

‘Then what about ‘critical thinking’? Is it good or not?
And you haven’t answered my question!’

Critical thinking is a tool!
And as all other tools, it becomes good or bad only in the hands of the person who yields it!

The most important thing about critical thinking is that we must remain critical relative to our own opinions!
Open to whatever new evidence happens to cross our path!
Sometimes the evidence which comes first might be misleading. Or false. We might reach the wrong conclusion. If we cling to the already reached conclusion we might be wrong. It is absolutely understandable – admitting an error is hard, but still wrong. That’s why some people remain sheeple while others cling to their beloved conspiracy theories.

You see, the true definition for sheeple is not ‘those who believe the official version’. Far from it!
The real sheeple continue to pay lip service to the official version long after fresh evidence prove the official version has been ‘incomplete’!

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