ON CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Al-Khaleej, UAE, September 3
Arabs and Muslims have long had an inexplicable obsession with conspiracy theories, myths and folklore. Many of us in the Arab world truly believe that greater forces, which are out of our control, shape the courses of our lives. This comes as no surprise to anyone living among us.
Yet I was shocked to read a recent study conducted in France, which shows that nearly 80% of the French people believe in conspiracy theories, including the idea that what is happening in our world today is somehow controlled by invisible governments. What are the similarities between our societies that might be causing these beliefs?
In my humble opinion, the French might feel inferior to the Anglo-Saxons, just like we, in the Arab world, often feel inferior to our counterparts in the West. Historically speaking, the French culture has been outweighed by the Anglo-Saxon one. So, in order to justify this inferiority complex, the French people resort to doing what many self-doubting civilizations do: developing beliefs about how forces beyond their control conspired in dark rooms to diminish their cultural, financial or political strength.
Unfortunately, adhering to these kinds of beliefs, even subconsciously, is extremely dangerous. As the Arab experience has taught us, this pushes societies to ignore their own failures, while absolving individuals of responsibility for their actions.
At this point you might be asking yourself how this applies to real life. Consider, for example, that politicians often use conspiracy theories to justify their failures. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who created Turkey’s currency crisis with his own two hands, insisted that his country was subjected to some foreign “crusade.” Like many other politicians, Erdogan simply didn’t want to admit his own failings, so he resorted to spreading false claims.
Instead of ascribing every failure to a conspiracy, we would be much better served if we demanded our leaders provide real, rational and logical explanations for their actions. Surely, there are sinister forces in the world trying to exert covert influence over economies and political systems, but they unquestionably aren’t behind each and every success or failure we experience on a day-to-day basis.