Cover up and conspiracy, or the reflex of inequality?

Conspiracy and cover up are very silly words, they imply a co-ordinated response with a singular aim. Anyone who has worked in a public sector organisation knows that conspiracy theories vastly overestimate the efficiency of large institutions.

Until the advent of social media, media narratives were broadcast and the process by which they are constructed, the context in which they are created, was invisible. Through social media we can contextualise media narratives within the social network and culture who create them, we can see how the institutions of politics, media, and even elite higher education institutions, underpin social networks and how it is this culture that shape political narratives.

Inequality is the power imbalance between two parties, in this case the country and institutions traditionally shaped by these media narratives and those who create them. Anyone who has worked with abuse is familiar with the reflex of inequality when abuse is alleged. A quick calculation of the political weight of the accuser vs that of the accused.

The difficulty people have in accepting that something bad could happen, could be done by one of their number. When media figures on twitter defame as reflex, that is the inequality reflex. In that split second they know that the power they hold means they can refuse to acknowledge harm they did and they react with defamation knowing their culture will back them up. Often through twitter accounts with millions of followers or using political publications. We see in the reaction of media tribes how social networks close in to protect the right of one their number to be abusive and how they then exercise their power to protect that. It looks very much like schoolyard politics.

THis is in fact what people mistake for conspiracy and cover up. This reflex. An astonishing account of the weeks post Baby P scandal, written by Ray Jones is a forensic examination of how child abuse is covered up.  and how institutions are harnessed to that end. The hysteria of the ‘I shagged Laurie Penny/Know Owen Jones school of lefty ‘radical’ politics’ when they are included in analysis of media is the same thing.  Their self image is under threat from those their identity is based on representing. It is the response of an abusive boyfriend when the object of his abuse challenges their behaviour. The hysteria of the Nick Cohen, and the Spectator over Tom Watson is the same demonstration.

The Prime Minister has come out to say that Tom Watson has questions to answer. THis is again a demonstration of how this works.

Cover up and conspiracy are words which imply a conscious decision to do this, when what you need to observe is the reflex of a culture and how it protects itself from allegations which may undermine it. The culture will protect itself from discussing the impact of what it does. That is how you observe cover up and conspiracy. The intent is not important and the more sincerely this can be done, the more effective. The impact is the same. Such is the nature of abuse of power.


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