When society is suffering, it feels the need to find someone to blame for its disease, wrote more or less Emile Durkheim, one of the fathers of modern sociology, way before conspiracy was mainstream.
First thing, we have to distinguish between plots and conspiracy theories. The first always existed, since the ancient regicides. Usually they are secret pacts ascribable to single individuals, concerning elites fighting to conquer or preserve power. Sometimes is not even a direct intervention, like many countries do in places they want to influence politically or economically, see the Cold War.
Conspiracy theories are a way of thinking, almost a surrogate of religion. Rational and scientific until they can be, conspiracies reinforce themselves when the final piece to the puzzle is missing. Of course something can’t be explained, “they” are able to hide evidence. And that’s a substantial difference with plots. Conspiracies attribute to generic groups (“they”) the course of events: masons, illuminati, jews, Bilderberg, high finance, Jesuits, communists, capitalists (it depends on the historic frame).
We think is a recent phenomenon, made stronger by internet, but it’s not. Let’s just think of Hitler and his plans. He blamed the jews for the international crisis of 1929, using the Sion protocols (a fake) as a proof. Technology can spread the word immediately and gives everybody the possibility to express a thought, even when we are not familiar with a topic. But the mindset is identical to the past.
The master of plots is, with no doubts, Niccolò Machiavelli, thanks to his famous masterpiece The prince. So, since the Middle Ages, Italy gained the fame of land of scandals and murky politics. It couldn’t be otherwise, couting the fact that the Vatican is there. A history that makes Frank Underwood of House of Cards appear like an amateur.
But it’s not only the Reinassance. During fascism, Mussolini blamed a conspiracy plotted by jewish, masons and plutocrats, his opposers said that England helped him to obtain power, how could a simple guy from a small town get so far otherwise? After World War II things got even worse. Terrorism (the CIA was behind?), P2 lodge, scandals, secret agreements of the government. It generated a mistrust of the institutions and a systematic culture of suspicion, corroborated by the links between the State and mafia.
Of course it went out of control. One thing is the transparency of governments, another thing is believe to chemtrails, which alterate climate and minds, implanted microchips, the connection between autism and vaccines, artificial earthquakes, the project Haarp. The funny thing is that conspiracy is a real part of life, as even disqualified athletes like Alex Schwazer, eliminated from the Olympic Games for doping, use that to counterattack: “it’s a conspiracy!”, he yelled to the media.
The only Country with more conspiracy than Italy is probably the United States, of course with a reason to be. First, it sells. Second, a simple answer doesn’t give satisfaction. Who really killed Lincoln and Jfk, and why? Is it something about a hidden homosexuality (Lincoln) or was it the mob (Kennedy)?
9/11 became easily the cornerstone of conspiracy, the master plan. Suspects don’t grow from nothing, sure. The American politics in Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Wolfowitz Doctrine and all that in the 80’s and 90’s contributed a lot to create the myth behind 9/11. And sure the secret service wasn’t that smart in preventing the attack. But that’s far from thinking that the CIA itself put tons of explosive at the base of the towers. Anyway, one American out of four believes that.
Credibility of power is low, and that’s right. None should trust blindly a government, because it’s in the nature of authorities to lie, to keep control. Even parents lie constantly to their babies, like “the toy store is closed, the ice cream store is closed” and so on. Innocent lies used to not raise a spoiled kids or to save money.
It’s the same with the institutions, they lie, but they also put some truth in it, to make it more plausible. Believe everything or nothing is too basic, we should have a critical ability to distinguish what’s real and most of all how to read between the lines of a statement. And sometimes the most obvious is the right option, like in the tradition of the best detectives.