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Conspiracy and intent

This entry was posted in Conspiracy Theories on 15 May 2013 by

Take, for example, the requirement that a conspiracy must involve malign intent on the part of the conspirators. Lots of bad things happen in the world which are the outcome of informal collusion between agents.  But the collusion doesn’t explicitly involve malign intent: just a shared set of values, or a shared ideology.

Take, for example, the recent case of the collapse in a garment-factory in Bangladesh which has killed over a thousand people.  In the aftermath of the tragedy, western fashion companies raced to distance themselves from the event, claiming that their clothing lines were not made in this particular factory, but it seems that Benetton, Primark and Mango were among the firms supplied by the factories in the collapsed building.  These firms obviously did not conspire to kill Bangladeshi workers, and it not their intent to cause the disaster; unscrupulous factory proprietors, poor working conditions and lax building regulations lay behind the collapse.  Nevertheless the ultimate cause of the disaster was a shared commercial philosophy among Western firms, namely that companies have an obligation to reduce their costs and maximise shareholder value, and outsourcing production to low-wage countries (which almost always have unsafe working conditions) is the most efficient way of doing that.

So there was no intent to cause the disaster (and therefore no conspiracy), but the outsourcing is done in the knowledge that there is a non-negligible probablility of factory fires, building failures or occupational disease occurring in the places to which production has been outsourced.