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    Conspiracy on trial

    Ertür, Başak (2011) Conspiracy on trial. In: Ertür, Başak (ed.) Manual for Conspiracy. Sharjah, UAE: Sharjah Art Foundation, pp. 29-40.

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    Abstract

    Book synopsis: The Latin etymological origin of the word “conspiracy” is conspīrāre, literally “to breathe together”, whence, “to accord, harmonize, agree, combine, or unite in a purpose, plot mischief together secretly.” Formally, conspiracy is a category of criminal law, and as such, it is functional across different legal systems, save for subtle differences. Generally, it denotes “illegal combinations” of persons, and is often prosecuted as a “crime of intent”, especially when the alleged conspiracy is of a political nature, i.e. when the security of the state is deemed to be the target. In other words, no actual damage or injury need to materialize for the crime of conspiracy to be prosecuted, with shared intent or alleged agreement between individuals being sufficient grounds. Technically, one can be tried for her state of mind, convicted for linguistic association of a particular kind, or for sharing a code deemed to be subversive. But then the charge of conspiracy often proves a misnomer in law. Across legal systems, conspiracy trials often signal misrecognition, or the law's inability and refusal to incorporate a proper understanding of the act/crime in question. The charge of conspiracy can be notoriously clumsy and nefariously vague. Then there are the countless conspiracy theories that bestow us with a world where everything is connected to everything else, where everything under the sun is controllable, and where everything, in the final instance, can be explained. Conspiracy theory, according to Frederic Jameson, is “a degraded attempt to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system.”[1] Such structural attempts tend towards a specific narrative genre of their own, arguably amounting to an epistemology replete with a distinct paranoid style. Often deemed to be politically irresponsible, immature and bereft of critical thought, conspiracy theories are apocalyptic and absolutist, fantastic and magical realist. These trials and theories are set against the backdrop of a world where conspiracy indeed proves to be a ubiquitous mode in which contemporary power operates, often with impunity. Brave investigative journalists and whistleblowers testify. Declassified and leaked documents corroborate. "Are you a history buff who wants to learn more about the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam or the A-12 Oxcart? Have stories about spies always fascinated you?" asks the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act website with that feigned marketing enthusiasm – the retailer spellbound by his own product. What exactly is the relationship between the surreal imagination of conspiracy theorizing, and the state of the world today? Is the world as vast a place for outrageous conspiracies precisely because those in power imagine it as such? And is it, perhaps, the law of the conspiring state that mistakes other forms of breathing together as conspiracy? The Manual for Conspiracy is a collection of critical and literary texts exploring the suspect epistemics and paranoid style of conspiracy, while reclaiming the uncertainty and subversive potential that lie at its core.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Law
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2013 09:54
    Last Modified: 13 Dec 2018 06:59
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/8346

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