Why don't you shut up?
Now that the celebrated exclamation of King Juan Carlos of Spain: Why don't you shut up has become an international slogan, spinning off an entire industry of ring tones, pop songs, videos, t-shirts and mugs, Chávez, being his usual self, is trying to use the incident at the Ibero-American summit in Chile to his advantage by implicating the King in the infamous coup of 2002. One wonders: What is it with Chávez and conspiracy theories?
His paranoid personality aside, the guy himself is the embodiment of an Über-Conspirator, spending twenty years plotting in clandestiny against elected governments only to lead a failed coup attempt in 1992 which, admittedly, catapulted him into the sphere of the political and the mediatic, a place he hasn't left ever since. But then again, conspiracy theory is what keeps him in power along with high oil prices, the military and the incompetence of the Venezuelan political opposition, of course.
So why are conspiracy theories so popular and not only in Venezuela, mind you ? From Witch Hunts to Masonic, Papist, Zionist, Marxist, Terrorist plots of world domination, all conspiracy theories share a common pattern: They present a simplistic way of explaining how the world works.
Conspiracism appeals to the emotional and irrational, promoting polarization: You are either with us or against us. It blames all the problems on a scapegoat, usually a minority group, thereby covering up abuses and exempting the rulers from any responsibility. It creates an atmosphere of suspicion, fear, mass hysteria and violence. Not that conspiracies never happen, they certainly do, but the problem is when conspiracy theories are shamelessly used as a political propaganda tool to agitate the masses and to perpetuate the rulers in power.