I think that the people who approach the social sciences with a ready-made conspiracy theory thereby deny themselves the possibility of ever understanding what the task of the social sciences is, for they assume that we can explain practically everything in society by asking who wanted it, whereas the real task of the social sciences is to explain those things which nobody wants—such as, for example, a war, or a depression. (Lenin’s revolution, and especially Hitler’s revolution and Hitler’s war are, I think, exceptions. These were indeed conspiracies. But they were consequences of the fact that conspiracy theoreticians came into power—who, most significantly, failed to consummate their conspiracies.)
The conspiracy theorist will believe that institutions can be understood completely as the result of conscious design; and as to collectives, he usually ascribes to them a kind of group personality, treating them as conspiring agents, just as if they were individual men. As opposed to this view, the social theorist should recognize that the persistence of institutions and collectives creates a problem to be solved in terms of analysis of individual social actions and their unintended (and often unwanted) social consequences, as well as their intended ones.