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MacIntyre: Solving the ‘conspiracy theory’ crisis caused by our corrupted institutions

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The mainstream media was finally forced to admit the truth last week after research published in the Lancet revealed that natural immunity acquired from COVID infection provided protection either equal to or superior to that granted by two doses of mRNA vaccine. Outlets like NBC News ran headlines prominently displaying a medical fact that was dismissed as a “right-wing conspiracy theory” for years by those same media outlets.

Conservative commentators, politicians, and even prominent physicians were regularly deplatformed from social media for stating simple medical facts that have been later proven scientifically, but no apology will be coming from the cult of COVID. Due to the constant stream of propaganda coming from both the media and government, trust in American institutions is cratering, especially among conservatives.

We are all seeking truth, but average people do not have time to sift every piece of data or read every study — they need reliable authorities that can be trusted to help evaluate and understand information. When the authorities charged with this task prove completely corrupt, individuals will speculate and grasp for narratives that help them make sense of the world around them. Many of those narratives will prove true, but just as many will prove false, which allows the left to smear all opposing narratives as “conspiracy theories” that can be easily dismissed.

The right lacks a network of parallel sense-making institutions to offer credible alternatives to the lies of the progressive left, and this puts conservatives at a distinct disadvantage in the battle for truth.

The modern American political system operates as an information-fueled oligarchy in which narrative control is the key to power. When popular sovereignty is the only acceptable mechanism for granting legitimacy, those who seek to maintain power must control the ways in which voters receive and process information.

Progressives understand this well, which is why they invested heavily in controlling institutions like the media, universities, Hollywood, and public education, which shape the way Americans see the world around them. When power is based on narrative control, any alternative story that helps the population make sense of what is happening is a threat to the power of the ruling elite.

This is why progressives work so hard to deny conservatives access to institutions that grant credibility and help to coordinate information. Academics, entertainers, media figures, and anyone else who weaves our cultural narratives must declare allegiance to progressive power constantly or face immediate destruction.

When actors with mildly conservative opinions get blacklisted in Hollywood or professors with dissenting opinions are ejected from academia, a clear message is sent: Any deviation from the approved storyline will destroy your career.

The lack of access to authoritative institutions robs the right of the tools necessary to participate in narrative warfare. In our modern age, research and data have been held up as the most powerful ways to grant legitimacy to any argument. But if only one team decides what data is legitimate and which topics are allowed to be researched, then that team gains a monopoly on truth. If heterodox research is defunded and blacklisted, then the opposition never has access to the data necessary to grant its position credibility.

The left not only denies conservatives access to authoritative institutions, but also works to make basic conversation impossible in public spaces. For years, any attempt by the right to have discussions on issues like the pandemic or even gender identity had to be heavily coded to avoid censorship on large platforms like social media. The language and assumptions of the left had to be adopted to even attempt the discussion, because failing to do so would result in an immediate ban, even for prominent figures or those with legitimate expertise. Scientific truth was no defense, because truth was determined by political affiliation, not empirical fact.

This made it impossible for the right to coordinate any cohesive narrative to challenge the ruling elite and led the opposition to splinter into dozens of subgroups, each pursuing its own version of the truth.

The difficulty the right has in sorting fallacious theories from legitimate opposing narratives is not a mistake. It is an intentional feature cultivated by the progressive hegemony of sense-making institutions. An observant reader will notice that ideas labeled “right-wing conspiracy theories” by the mainstream press have a shockingly good batting average when it comes to being vindicated.

When all your sense-making institutions have been thoroughly corrupted, betting against them indiscriminately is a pretty good strategy. It is not, however, a good long-term way for your side to arrive reliably at the truth.

Many joke about InfoWars host Alex Jones and his gift of prophecy, but there is nothing magical about what he is doing. Jones is embracing the opposite of whatever narrative the insanely corrupt oligarchy is demanding its institutions push onto the public. This means the InfoWars host is often right when far more “respectable” sources are wrong, though when this strategy fails, it fails rather spectacularly, in a way that causes permanent damage.

Our current elite rule through a distributed network of prestige, which relies on each node in the oligarchy to grant legitimacy to each other institution in the network. The New York Times relies on expertise from Harvard and Yale, whose professors rely on glowing articles and book reviews from the paper of record. This symbiotic relationship exists across the entire network of sense-making institutions in the United States and the wider Western world.

The good news for those who oppose progressivism is that this network is degenerating. The generation that has inherited this narrative-manufacturing device is far stupider and less disciplined than those who constructed it. The ruling elite are now so corrupt that they are burning the legitimacy of their network for cheap paydays and the opportunity to humiliate their enemies, which naturally brings about instability.

The regime elite shut down small business to enrich their powerful corporate donors, then found scientists who were willing to lie about violent Black Lives Matters protests not spreading COVID. That is the kind of vulgar display of power used by third-world dictators, not the delicate manipulation of a sophisticated information network.

The job of the right is twofold: to accelerate the destruction of credibility that is already under way in leftist institutions and to create alternatives that the public can turn to as those institutions collapse.

Instead of attempting to reform or correct institutions that progressives have captured, the right should seek to erode their prestige at every opportunity. The institutions should be mocked, discredited, and treated as irrelevant whenever possible.

At the same time, conservative leaders should seek to carve out spaces for the right to generate alternative institutions that will fill the void. Governor Ron DeSantis is working with Chris Rufo to transform New College in Florida into an institution where the right can flourish. These are early days, and it is yet to be seen whether that effort will be successful, but these are exactly the kind of moves the right must make. The progressive monopoly on the narrative fed to Americans cannot be broken until the right has an alternative network in which it can seek truth.
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