'they' are a loose conglomerate of very powerful individuals who are out for themselves, only "teaming up" with other 'elites' when the situation may benefit them. As you say, that's pretty much always been the case, and most people would assume just as much. Some will always seek control over others, no matter the circumstances.
But, for whatever reason, a lot of folks seem to think that the sort of cutthroat behavior so often seen in the business world somehow doesn't apply to those at the top of the chain (nor does the law, apparently), that their actions are 'for the greater good' or some such. Trying to convince people otherwise is usually when the 'crazy' part comes in, IMO.
edit: Of course, those who act as if 'they' all meet up twice a week in some Transylvanian-style castle to plot against humanity doesn't help matters...
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