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Depathologized Conspiracy Theories and Cynical Reason: Discursive Positions and Phantasmatic Structures

Nebojša Blanuša orcid id ; Fakultet političkih znanosti Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: engleski pdf 109 Kb

str. 94-107

preuzimanja: 921



Publicly, conspiracy theories are considered a bizarre mode of thought. In the
academic discourse, they are unserious statements positioned between bad
imitation of scientific theory and political pathology. Therefore, their authors
and consumers experience a procedure of exclusion from the community of
“serious people”. But there are situations in which conspiracy theories are
taken seriously, and established precisely as an exclusion device. These situations
are predominantly interpreted as collective endangerment or political
crisis. In that case, conspiracy theories stem from the center of political power
as legitimate interpretation of reality. This was realized in an extreme way
in the Nazi regime. So, the present academic discourse produces the Other
by reason of standing for conspiracy theories. In political crisis and authoritarian
or totalitarian regimes, the Other is produced by conspiracy theories.
Historically, the academic attitude is partly produced by the consequences of
the other attitude, through triple “demystification” of the conspiracy panic of
Nazism/Fascism, Stalinism and, in the West, McCarthyism. But, structurally,
it is the attitude of conspiracy-theory panic, or mimicry in exclusion. We propose
a different approach, one that will simultaneously avoid acceptance of
conspiracy theories as “facts” and their reduction to a phenomenon of mass
hysteria. They should be considered beyond the opposition between delusion
and hidden truth. Therefore, we define them as an interpretation pattern, structured
as a double phantasm with the possibility of being traversed. This definition
is close to Sloterdijk’s conception of Cynical Reason, according to which
we can differentiate between cynical and kynical conspiracy theories. Cynical
conspiracy theories speak in the name of totalitarian and authoritarian power
trying to defend an organismic community, and preserve a phantasmatic structure.
Kynical conspiracy theories are speaking from the position of particular,
fragmentational and singular agents. From the periphery of discourse, they
criticize the power elite by indicating the cleavages that are concealed by cynics.
In that way, kynical conspiracy theories perform a positive function as a
way of “exposing the dirty linen” of the political regime.

Ključne riječi

conspiracy theory; cynical reason; cynicism; kynicism; psychoanalysis; double phantasm

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