A culture of dependency: Why the French are suckers for conspiracy theories

A rough rule goes like this: The freer a society the less inclined it is to conspiracy theories, while the greater its culture of dependency the more it will tend to see hidden hands at work everywhere.

France remains a nation of Napoleonic centralism where the functionary’s mentality holds sway. The ingrained reflex of that mind-set is to look to the state for salvation, to believe in some all-orchestrating higher power.

The nation’s world-class private sector, believers in agency rather than dependency, follows the old principle of “vivre heureux, vivre caché” — to live happily, live hidden — and thereby allows the functionary’s order to prevail as reference point. In this view, personal responsibility does not loom large.