The word conspiracy brings with it all sorts of negative connotations and overtones. The dictionary definition is pretty simple:
to agree together, especially secretly, to do something wrong, evil, or illegal
But wait! There are more definitions that reveal the full breadth of what it means to conspire.
to act or work together toward the same result or goal.
to act together towards some end as if by design
any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.
from Latin conspīrāre to plot together, literally: to breathe together, from spīrāre to breathe
Based on some of these definitions, it appears that to conspire does not always require a heinous, far-reaching act. Could conspiracy
the seemingly innocent act of cooperation?
Here is the legal definition:
“Or an act that is innocent in itself, but becomes unlawful when done by the combination of actors.”
An agreement between two or more persons to engage jointly in an unlawful or criminal act, or an act that is innocent in itself but becomes
unlawful when done by the combination of actors.
I interpret this to mean that the conspiratorial act may be innocent/harmless, but that it becomes unethical when concerted by multiple parties or
Okay, so you may think I’ve bastardized the definition by now.
the understanding of what constitutes a conspiracy is subject to historical change. Furthermore, this change does not occurs[sic] in a uniform
manner ensuring that at any one moment there is a consensus about the meaning attached to the term conspiracy. Instead, different understandings of
the same term overlap.
But I’m going to roll with this. Could a conspiracy, in its broadest sense, simply be an act of two or more people cooperating to gain an (unfair)
advantage? Why would anyone need to gain an advantage? Well, because members of a species compete with each other to survive. What do humans compete
for? Three closely related things: resources, authority, and prestige.
It makes perfect sense to me that people can conspire in an attempt to beat their competition; even if the conspiratorial act is not an illegal
one—and it wouldn’t be viewed as unethical by the conspiring parties, right? It makes perfect sense to me that conspiracy
is only next door
It is said on ATS all the time that, “Not everything is a conspiracy!”
But what if that is simply not so? What if the key to our survival is the innate tendency to conspire? What if it’s part of human nature? We, as a
species and as individuals, are continuously taking part in conspiracies—innocent, everyday acts of cooperation that are designed to provide an
advantage over competition.
It follows that it naturally has to be secret, though this isn’t a central part of the definition.
They may be engaged in an intrigue but this isn’t necessarily for criminal or illicit purposes and doesn’t always have to be kept secret
”...an agreement between a group of people…”
‘Conspiracy’ can be used to describe either an agreement between a group of people
or the group itself.
Socially, we are constantly negotiating and vying for someone elses’ cooperation. We network to increase business opportunities. We campaign to win
elections, and we lobby to influence decisions.
Heck, we ask our golf partners for hot stock-tips. We ask our cousin for discounts on used cars. And then we attempt to charm and flirt our way out of
Even members of a family conspire against one another. Do I really need to provide examples? (If so, I will oblige through U2U.)
All of these examples involve a negotiated, perhaps even implied, level of cooperation with a designated goal in mind. These are the innocent,
everyday conspiracies that we take part in.
It is not necessary that the conspirators be involved in all stages of planning or be aware of all details
We don’t even have to be aware that we’re taking part in them!
Have you ever received a job because the employer was your mother’s cousin’s brother-in-law? How many jobs have you been turned down for because
you did not have the right familial connections or networking resources?
While most people would likely agree that there’s nothing wrong with getting leads on job openings and having others “put in a good word” on
their behalf—it is, in essence, nepotism—a dirty word that describes favoritism and familial bias.
Some definitions of conspiracy
call for a malevolent goal or motive. I reject this aspect of some
definitions because a) those who
conspire don’t need to be aware or acknowledge that their act is malevolent or unethical, and b) malevolent or unethical acts can be given a
positive spin (opportunism=acceptable vs. nepotism=unacceptable) so that it becomes a justified, accepted behavior. So, then if we are constantly
involved in these innocent, everyday conspiracies, the question has to be asked—is it natural? Is it evolutionary? Is it a behavior that we cannot
Indeed, it is observed in primate social behavior that many relationships are built on nepotism, familiarity, reciprocity, and cooperation.
There are pronounced nepotistic biases across the primate order, from tiny grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) that forage alone at night but
cluster with relatives to sleep during the day, to cooperatively breeding marmosets that rely on closely related helpers to rear their young, rhesus
macaque (Macaca mulatta) females who acquire their mother's rank and form strict matrilineal dominance hierarchies, male howler monkeys that help
their sons maintain access to groups of females and male chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) that form lasting relationships with their brothers.
Admittedly, such a question opens up a huge can of worms, but I want to investigate the possibility and ask it. It would have enormous implications
and repercussions if true. Indeed, everything would become a micro-conspiracy—every social, professional, academic, fiscal, familial, and romantic
relationship would be susceptible to conspiring.
So, what gives? People have to cooperate in order to survive. Gaining an advantage over the competition isn’t exactly unethical—but when does a
conspiracy stop being mutual cooperation and start becoming a sinister plot?
Who draws the lines in the sand?
Conspiracies can be lawful or unlawful, ethical or unethical. They can ripple across the globe or hardly make a dent. A conspiracy to kill Hitler
would be acceptable, but a conspiracy to gouge gas prices is not.
I submit that all of us are constantly engaged in seemingly innocent, harmless, acceptable micro-conspiracies in our daily lives. Indeed, everything
is a conspiracy of varying degrees.
But what’s the alternative? We can’t really avoid relationships, we can’t avoid cooperating, we can’t avoid competition, and we can’t just
join hands across the planet.
Can we at least agree that conspiracies of any nature are not so far-fetched, but rather, completely pervasive in everyday life?
I just ask that you, me, us, them—we must all conspire responsibly, and with love and selflessness! (Okay, cheesy conclusion was unavoidable ha)
I would be grateful to other members who can help me flesh out this idea, develop it, and attack it properly!
(note: just to be fair, this source that I have cited does have plenty of contentions to my arguments, but I have quoted some information to help
support my claim. www.conspiracyanddemocracy.org...
edit on 16-5-2013 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)