Rethinking Conspiracy

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by Shawn Hamilton, Foreign Policy Journal

The terms “conspiracy theorist” and “conspiracy nut” are used frequently to discredit a perceived adversary using emotional rather than logical appeals. It’s important for the sake of true argument that we define the term “conspiracy” and use it appropriately, not as an ad hominem attack on someone whose point of view we don’t share.

According to my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the word “conspiracy” derives from the Latin “conspirare,” which means literally “to breathe together” in the sense of agreeing to commit a crime. The primary definition is “planning and acting together secretly, especially for a harmful or unlawful purpose, such as murder or treason.”

It was in this sense that Mark Twain astutely observed, “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.”

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Rethinking Conspiracy

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Poet Gary Snyder, ‘Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais, 2005 (photo credit: Swill Bucket (Dan R and Shawn Hamilton)

Gary Snyder, Beat Poet

While on this trip, when I arrived in the rendevous spot in Marin County, my car was overheated and a nice person stopped by to see if he could help. Later I realized this good samaritan was Peter Coyote