Welcome to the big tent of conspiracy theories

As all significant political movements do, conspiracy theorists are merging under one big tent.

image: Philadelphia Inquirer

Movements are convenient way of identifying where you fit in on certain issues. If you are a liberal, you can find a set of values consistent with yours. And if you aren’t sure what you should think about a particular issue, just look at what the group’s opinion is. It helps clarify who’s with you and who isn’t.

Big tents are the goal of successful political parties: the more voters you can include, the greater your chances of getting into power. Big tents are appealing to conspiracy theorists because they create communication networks.

For convenience, let’s label the conspiracy theorists movement as “popster” from populism meaning grassroots, and from Apophenia: the condition of seeing or imagining patterns in random occurrences.

Like any big tent movement, the overarching tenets of popsters are few: believe that a handful of sinister individuals control world affairs for their nefarious ends; that the scientific method to be a means of confirming what they know to be true; that freedom means acting contrary to public health such as vaccinations.

While the overthrow of the government often seems to be the goal of popsters, they seldom have a identifiable platform for replacement nor do they run for office.

An exception was the Trump administration which was a disaster. While President Trump echoed the anger and discontent of popsters, he was incoherent. Popsters are against governments of all stripes.

Conservative leader candidate Pierre Poilievre is making a mistake in thinking he can convince popsters to vote Conservative.

He thinks that by supporting “freedom convoys,” normalizing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, and wild talk about firing Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, that he will win support.

What Poilievre fails to realize is that popsters have a deep seated suspicion of political leaders because governments are just puppets of those really in control; one of those being Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

At a lunchtime rally for Poilievre in Ontario, a woman wanted know how Poilievre could be trusted when a “member” of the WEF was in his party.

She was referring to John Baird, the former foreign affairs minister under Stephen Harper. As foreign minister, he went four times. “I haven’t had any contact with them since 2015,” said Baird.

The same woman believes that Schwab, who founded the World Economic Forum more than 50 years ago, along with billionaires Bill Gates and George Soros are trying to take over the world.

Another attendee at the Poilievre rally believed that COVID-19 vaccines are “experimental drugs.”

Some popsters believe the WEF either created the pandemic or is using it to control people, through microchips in vaccines or stealth socialism.

Popsters have latched onto language used by the WEF – the “Great Reset.” The WEF used the phrase to mean a more greener and equitable post-pandemic world. Now popsters see the Great Reset as a sinister plot for global control.

Sensible Conservatives will realize that popsters will not support conservatives and if they do, it will attempt to undermine the Conservatives party.

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo is backing Jean Charest as leader of the Conservatives party.

Greta Thunberg gets it wrong

I sympathize with Swedish teen Greta Thunberg for her outrage at the mess that my generation has left the world in. We just wanted to create a culture with every convenience that minimized effort and maximized the burning of fossil fuels.

Greta Thunberg.  image, qz.com.

But my guilt is not going to solve the problem. Neither is her panic. “I don’t want you to be hopeful; I want you to panic,” implores Thunberg.

Panic is not a useful reaction says Calgary based author Chris Turner: “No society can function on panic indefinitely, and no one writes new building codes well in a panic (Walrus magazine, November, 2019).”

What will work? Well, one suggestion is to put ourselves on a war footing as we did during World War II. Back then, when our way of life was threatened by the enemy, we mobilized resources on a scale never seen before: retooling factories for the manufacture of weapons, rationing of vital resources, putting women to work in jobs traditionally held by men.

We could retool factories for green power and clean technology; deploy an army of citizens to install solar panels and erect wind turbines; build energy storage facilities, electric-vehicle charging stations, commuter trains, and bicycle lanes.

But just who is the enemy in this green war? There’s no shortage of villains: Big Oil, pipelines, Conservatives.

We are the enemy. While we want to save the planet, we don’t act like we do. Big Oil is not force-feeding us. Just look in Kamloops’ driveways to see what vehicles are popular: trucks. Canada’s bestselling vehicle is the Ford F-150, not known for its fuel efficiency. Just look where we live: in single-family houses that cost more to heat.

If the wartime model is wrong, what is the solution? Not individualism. We are told that if each of us were to cut back just a little, we could make a difference. It’s an appealing model because in our singular society, the individual is king. And we can be blamed for falling short of CO2 targets.

There is a way. We can act collectively –it’s called government, and you might be surprised to learn that B.C. is a North American model in reducing CO2. I’m not just talking about B.C.’s well-known carbon tax introduced by conservatives (BC Liberals) and supported by progressives (NDP).  No, carbon pricing is just part of the plan.

“In 2008, the BC government required municipalities to begin incorporating climate targets and plans into their growth strategies and community planning,” says Turner. “This triggered a wave of rethinking and new accounting methods—the kind that led to ‘sustainability checklists’ for all the workaday business of building management and construction.”

Then in 2017, the BC government became the first in North America to lay out clear, rigorous requirements and codes that would guide the province’s building industries to the construction of net-zero structures by 2032.

Panic puts people into a fight-or-flight mode. Individualism generates a false sense that something can be done. What works is the steady, almost imperceptible pace of dedicated bureaucrats writing building codes and working to achieve real change, government by government.

This kind of progress is not sensational. Slow but sure is the way but the wheels must be set in motion.