“…Conspiracy theories therefore flourish in times and places of anxiety and uncertainty; but they come to full flower in those times when the government also fears conspiracies, i.e., does not trust the people. We here enter a truly murky area, where many people are presently under surveillance precisely because they once thought and said that the government might spy on them.
“If the government doesn’t trust the people, why doesn’t it dissolve them and elect a new people?” playwright Bert Brecht once asked. A government afraid of its people cannot “dissolve” them so easily, or replace them with a people seized and imported from somewhere else, so it simply spies on the people it has and probes into their privacy even more than usual.
“Superstitions like bats fly most at twilight,” Sir Francis Bacon wrote. Similarly, after studying conspiracy theory for nearly 30 years, I think that I have found that batty conspiracy theories and modern folklore in general thrive best in an environment of un-certainty and anxiety. When people do not know what will happen next, any wild yarn will travel very rapidly through the population; it appears humans need any narrative, even a nonsense narrative, rather than having no explanation at all about their predicament. And the essence of any good story is, as in conspiracy theory, the plot.
If the people do not trust the government, it does not trust them. If the government does not trust the people, they do not trust it. This merry-go-round is almost a perpetual motion machine…”
Robert Anton Wilson, Everything Is Under Control.