The dizzying pace of the conspiracy theory machines has me recalling when Jamil al-Sayyed told al-Hayat that the killers of Rafik Hariri had to be “either donkeys or Einsteins.”
Indeed, but in truth, there are among us very few donkeys and even fewer Einsteins (I will leave it to the moral philosophers to tell me whether this is a “good” thing or not, although I tend to agree with St. Augustine that the “City of God” suggests that it does not matter much). The truth of the matter is always somewhere in between, so the question is always: what is by design and what is by accident. As the “light of london,” otherwise known as bech-bouche, has pointed out: “there are no conspiracies only post hoc policies following specific readings of political bursts.” Thus, Jamil’s comment (actually I believe it is best understood as a kind of warning) is telling in untold ways.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. All we can do is adopt a healthy attitude of doubt toward the givers (and signs) of meaning, (all who remember, doubt. Who calls that strange?), while at the same time refusing to submit to the paralysis of despair. In all things, we are truly called to heed both “the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the will” (even good athiests like Gramsci cannot escape the Passion). The eternal discipline of patient circumspection is very much its own reward.
And in that spirit, let me just offer this as you join me in trying to wade through all of this: the only difference between politicians and gangsters is that politicians also read newspapers.