On Conspiracy Theories

Given the fact that Satan is “the father of the lie” and “the god of this system of things,” it is always possible, maybe even likely, that many conspiracy theories are true. Could it be that the only conspiracies that exist are the ones we Witnesses specialize in, having to do with worship, blood misuse, and the “conspiracy” to ram evolution down everyone’s throat? Unlikely. The trick is to not get emotionally involved in them, let them become our new cause, nor let them distract from our existing cause of preaching the good news. Might some realized conspiracy theories create havoc in the long run? In the long run we’ll all be dead if we do not heed the kingdom message.

For a time, our publications were fond of quoting historian Arnold Toynbee. Somewhere there’s a demonstration of a Witness school child citing him about how nationalism is a cancer scuttling for sure any hope for a peaceful earth, leading into a witness, no doubt, on how God’s kingdom rule was the only answer. Maybe she cited words like these, all found in the JW online library research tool. They are number here to make clear they are separate excerpts, not just one long quotation. The bolding is mine:

1.  A basic reason for this deplorable condition is mankind’s adherence to political and national loyalties. These have kept the human family utterly divided and working at cross-purposes. That is why historian Arnold Toynbee said that nationalism “has been in truth the master religion,” since many people give worshipful obedience to it. Toynbee stated that this worship of sovereign states sets their respective members against one another “because this religion is an expression of self-centredness.” And he felt that this “self-centredness is the source of all strife.”

2.  Historian Arnold Toynbee described nationalism as the “most powerful and most vicious of the three post-Christian Western ideologies. [The others being, according to Toynbee, ‘world communism’ and ‘world capitalism.’] . . . Nationalism is about ninety per cent of the religion of about ninety per cent of the whole human race.” Yet nationalism has divided mankind for thousands of years. Then how can the God of peace rid the earth of this scourge?

3.  The present-day global set of local sovereign states is not capable of keeping the peace.”—Arnold Toynbee, Mankind and Mother Earth.

4.  Famous British historian Arnold J. Toynbee declared today that civilization had reached a point where the very continuity of the human race depends on formation of World Government. ‘It is the mutual interest of the nations to subordinate their national sovereignty to world authorities,’ he said. ‘This is the only condition in which the nations can survive in an atomic age.’”

Significant nationalism did not take root until the close of World War I, an event that always ranks high on our radar, for it marks the first time the entire world was concurrently at war and thus seems fine opening “birth pangs,” Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:7, that once they start, other pangs will dependably follow:

“For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”

So here we are thinking that Toynbee’s exposure of nationalism will turn people to the prospect of government by God. And that has happened with some. At a recent meeting, one sister commented on how it was the question “What do you think of theocratic rule—of government by God?” that first piqued her interest in Bible study.

However, it is not an either/or choice. Just because people can see the pitfalls of nationalism does not mean that they will choose submission to God as the alternative. Some will try to fix human rule. Since Toynbee has shown that you can’t fix human rule via the nation state model that only digs you deeper into a hole, the only human alternative is to push an overriding model. The only people with the wherewithal to do this will be the super wealthy. Many of these ones, as captains of business, industry, and technology, have already proven their managerial ability.

If “conspiracy theories” weren’t spun as maniacal efforts for control just for the sake of control, or clumsier yet, for the sake of the rich making themselves even richer, it would be easier to see them for what they are. They are efforts to save the planet per human terms from the ones who have the wherewithal to launch such efforts. Of course, they are designed so that the architects of such remain on top with their own interests unharmed, but anybody will do that—no mystery there.

Nuclear annihilation was the only doomsday scenario envisioned in Toynbee’s day; now there is worthy competition from any number of threats. If nationalism torpedoed efforts to bring peace, or even avoid nuclear annihilation, so does it torpedo efforts to solve more modern problems that left unchecked promise ruin to the earth—such as overpopulation, climate change, sustainability, and pollution. Those concerned over these things who have the power to push an alternative will do so. Of course, they can’t be open about it, for people like their human governments—usually they have had some role in putting them in power. So they have to push things secretly. They even make use of existing shells not effective in themselves, such as the United Nations. Hence they come across as conspiracies. It is just a subset of human rulership. The nation-state model doesn’t work, yet the powerful are in no mood to turn to God. If they are powerful enough, they push another human model.

It’s not just us who see the iron and clay don’t mix. If the iron can only neutralize the clay, that statue may yet stand. If the iron and clay can be mashed together by a clandestine human force more powerful than popular nationalism, that is what the schemes often labeled conspiracy theories seek to do. How far one will look into such things will be a personal matter, but the same principles of neutrality with regard to human political systems will apply.

Meanwhile at Bethel, they do the Luke 9:62 thing: “No man who has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well-suited for the Kingdom of God.” If you keep looking aside at all the conspiracy theories, the furrows get all wavy. We’ll just get the shot and be done with it, they say. That way they can keep focused on God’s rule and not just another variation of human rule.

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