I see two types of functional conspiracies; the better known one where plotters meet, likely in secret, and devise a plan whereby they intend to subtly bring their agenda about without anyone noticing (at first) and without anyone knowing, or being able to prove (later) who’s enacting the conspiracy.
The other type would be what I choose to call a “grass roots” conspiracy. In this case a few individuals would start working to push an agenda on society, as a whole culture or, on a somewhat autonomous part of the overall culture. Although the individuals may not know each other or, if they do not know each other, each does know that the others are working on the same (or similar) agenda. As things progress; gradually in order to fulfill a desire to keep the affected culture from realizing that a conspiracy is being enacted; the different participants notice the “effect” part of cause and effect and; make one of three decisions. They could track the effect back to whoever is the “cause” part of the support and band together – thus moving from “grass roots” as they unify into the, aforementioned, underground group.
The second choice could be to become jealous and work to exclude each others work in some subtle way. This disharmony would disrupt would tend to disrupt whatever it is they’re trying to achieve, somewhat like random waves colliding on a surface or a pond as they criss cross each other thereby changing progress of the agenda into a minor tumoil. This would not fall into a functional category and, therefore, is not one of the two I mention however, it could remain relatively dormant and ready to be enacted if society becomes severly stressed and looks about for a desperate solution to the source of the stress.
Then there’s the third part, where the individuals of the “grass roots” type manage to effectively conform, to minor differences of approach where it doesn’t matter, and keep the main agenda securely progressing. This may be slow, anarchistic and would take patience but, there’s a chance for a greater security than in the secret cell structure of some organized conspiracies where no one (at least in the operative, or field, level) can betray more than a few others – if they rebel or if they are apprehended by the established authourity if that established authourity perceives the conspiracy as a threat.
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I admit that this is basically speculative but, I have based it on a lot of research including, but not limited to, thought experiment. However, while a thought experiment has limitations, mainly lacking validation (or not) from experiential testing that could help it evolve, I see some interesting masses of data which are most significant due to what appears to be a large quantity of that data.
For instance, virtually everytime I bring up the so-called “conspiracy theory” some one responds with ridicule. Now, ridicule is quite a powerful and destructive means of attack, even though it isn’t usually portrayed as such. So, how come no matter how many angles I come at the subject of conspiracy theories I approach from and, no matter how much I circle around looking for a possible opening I seem to encounter counter attack from what appears to a well organized army of defenders whose positions interlock into a very solid barrier. Kind of like a skilled cavalry screen around a pre firearm army.
Even if there is no army of ridiculers there may well be those who act on their own to ricicule (or not) the conspiracy theory. By (or not) I mean that while they may not ridicule the conspiracy theory but they do ridicule other things as a means of destruction. I’ve found that they can easily be dealt with by stating that the object of their ridicule isn’t ridiculous (or stupid or whatever they call it) just because it’s beyond their ability to understand. Beware; it’s good to be prepared for the guilt trip or other emotional attack which they may respond with. A counter response could be, “Truth hurts” “does truth hurt?” or some such.
The main problem with ridicule, or derision – as it is sometimes called, is that it does not not use much in the way of facts, data or any similar support. This makes it appear, to me, to be a form of subtle violence. Perhaps I should say “hidden” violence because detractors tend to use derision when I say subtle violence. I see this as a sort of effort to negate the pain of a victim who gets the metaphorical “smile in the face and knife in the back” and feels frighteningly closer to pure evil than I am comfortable with. I stress that I said that it feels that frightening and is not a proof but my feeling of fear is real. Never the less, fear is better when inspiring caution rather than submission.
Another factor about ridicule/derision is when it is used to portray something as less than it truly is, or less than it would obviously be seen as, by scorning (in a hidden, joking sort of way) like seeing a child developing their initiative as the child considers many possibilities (inductive logic) and trimming the ones which do not fit so as to examine the last one left (deductive logic) An adult who finds truth painful, or unpleasant, may condescendingly say that the child has “a rich fantasy life” and lure other adults into looking only at the child level of the early struggle as compared to adult role examples. This would be like looking at a toddlers ponderous steps and negating them because they’re nowhere near the quality of an adult gymnast or ballet virtuoso.
Also; since the child is a beginner at speculation that child will tend to range further into highs and lows which are above and below the practical possibilities which he/she will find later in life. These “fantastic” items of speculation may tend to validate any claims that all speculation is pure, and meaningless, fantasy.
I evolved the counter about truth hurting from a quote by Herbert Spencer; “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” which is in the appendix of the Alcoholics Anonymous Basic Text.