We humans need stories to deal with what is happening around us or in the world at large. As popular historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari put it: “The truly unique trait of Sapiens is our ability to create and believe in fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities.
Both conspiracy and reformists are engaged in this very human process. By connecting events and facts, and tying red threads between them on their metaphorical bulletin boards, the conspirator and the reformer each develop a thesis on what happened. Stories help us to live with each other and with ourselves, and as a result of great and sudden suffering, we need something to continue.
It can be difficult to see how a story about a satanic blood sacrifice helps people live with themselves. But the story of the conspirator offers some kind of mercy for those involved, and perhaps for humanity as a whole. The image of onlookers booing a woman who climbed onto a platform to try and stop the show at Astroworld is hard to digest. It may be easier to believe that the events that unfolded were a satanic plot than to see them as the result of worldly human indifference.
The calming quality of the Reformist story is even easier to identify. Their measured improvement program offers hope for progress and the promise of control. For this, the reformist attitude is to be admired. If it is true that “the story you believe in shapes the society you create,” as Mr. Harari recently said in an interview, then reformists, with their efforts to eliminate systemic dysfunctions, are working towards a better world, or at the very least, a safer and only one.
The conspirator and the reformer tend to duplicate the narratives valued by their respective communities. The reformer lives in a world where expertise and problem solving have a cultural stamp. The conspirator lives in a world where spirituality and belief in higher powers can answer many big questions.
Of course, the distinctions between the reformist and the conspirator, between the Apollonian and the Dionysian, are not absolute. Within the same person, the lines become blurred: many of us may be reformists and conspiratorialists, prone to mysticism in some areas and beholden to reason in others. A tree can fall and almost kill you, leading you to believe it was a sign of the universe that you need to live fully and enjoy every day, even when you email city council to hire more tree growers. .
There are problems with the stories peddled by both conspiracy and reformers. The story of the plot, taken to its extreme, would have us believe that there is nothing we can do about accidents or problems because they are spawned by demons and cabals, independent evil forces. of our will. The extreme version of the Reformist story, on the other hand, would have us believe that there is nothing we can not dealing with accidents or problems, this reason can give us full control over our environment, and even over ourselves.