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Conspiracy discourse and the occupy movement

Aistrope, Tim (2013) Conspiracy discourse and the occupy movement. Global Change, Peace and Security, 25 (1). pp. 113-118. ISSN 1478-1158. (doi:10.1080/14781158.2013.758092) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:72279)

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Conspiracy theory has come up frequently in media commentary around the Occupy Wall Street movement. For all their good intentions, Occupy is hampered by a paranoid style of populism that sees nefarious elites behind everything – or so the story goes. This paper takes the conspiracy discourse around Occupy as an entry point into the underlying dynamics of power and interpretation that help set the conditions of possibility for dissent in the liberal context. It is certainly tempting to accept that conspiracy narratives have played a role in some forms of populist interpretations, but in a way that revises the common sense understanding of conspiracy theory as irrational pathology, towards a more positive emancipatory account. This is a prominent approach in the literature around conspiracy theory. Following Jameson, we might say that conspiracy theory is just a ‘degraded attempt … to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system’, perhaps the only course available in a late capitalist culture disconnected from its base, where it is no longer possible to understand the economic and political conditions that produce social reality. In this article I focus instead on the context in which conspiracy theory emerges as a subject of concern for commentators and scholars writing about Occupy, and then draw out some implications for a more general account of dissent and political interpretation. My analysis focuses on an article by Naomi Wolf, the prominent author and activist, titled ‘The Shocking Truth about the Crackdown on Occupy’, published by The Guardian in late November 2011.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/14781158.2013.758092
Uncontrolled keywords: Conspiracy theory, Occupy Wall Street, Discourse, Dissent
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Timothy Aistrope
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 11:45 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:02 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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