New Internationalist Background Research

New Internationalist

The Complete Interviews

  • Michael Barkun
  • Brenda E. Brasher
  • G. William Domhoff
  • Mark Fenster
  • Robert Alan Goldberg
  • Evan Harrington
  • Sonali Kolhatkar
  • Lee Quinby
  • Penny Rosenwasser
  • Holly Sklar

Books by G. William Domhoff

Other Resources

  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
  • Freemasons and the Illuminati
  • The Lyndon LaRouche Network
    • Justice for Jeremiah Duggan
  • Hate and Ethnoviolence
  • More on Antisemitism

Systems of Oppression

  • Understanding Systems of Oppression
  • Antisemitism
  • Christian Right & Theocracy
  • Government Misconduct
  • Hate and Ethnoviolence
  • Heterosexism & Homophobia
  • Racism & Xenophobia
  • Sexism & Reproductive Rights
  • Dynamics of Bigotry
    • Apocalyptic Dualism
    • Scapegoating & Conspiracism

What to Do!

  • Defending Democracy & Diversity
  • Building Equality
  • Get Involved

Conspiracism and Social Conflict

Conspiracism needs a conflict to flourish–some indigestion in the body politic for which the conspiracist seeks causation so that blame can be affixed. As Davis observes sympathetically, most countersubversives “were responding to highly disturbing events; their perceptions, even when wild distortions of reality, were not necessarily unreasonable interpretations of available information.”[1] The interpretations, however, were inaccurate, frequently hysterical, and created havoc.

Since conspiracist thinking flourishes during periods of political, economic, or cultural transformation, Davis observed that “[c]ollective beliefs in conspiracy have usually embodied or given expression to genuine social conflict.”[2] Davis identified four primary categories of persons who join conspiracist countersubversive movements:

  • Persons who are “defenders of threatened establishments;”
  • Persons being displaced, “put in new positions of dependency,” or facing oppression;
  • Persons with “anxieties over social or cultural change;” and,
  • Persons who see “foreign revolution or tyrannical reaction,” and who search for “domestic counterparts on the assumption that fires may be avoided if one looks for flying sparks.”

When people are mobilizing in defense of disproportionate privilege and power, they often devise rationalizations that divert attention from their underlying self interest. Scapegoating in the form of conspiracist scapegoating can provide the needed protective coloration. No matter what the form, Conspiracist rhetoric in mass movements emerges as a response to concrete power struggles.

Although the specific allegations about the plots and plans by the alleged conspirators frequently are complex–even Byzantine–the ultimate model is still simple: the good people must expose and stop the bad people, and then conflict will end, grievances will be resolved, and everything will be just fine. Conspiracist thinking is thus an action-oriented worldview which holds out to believers the possibility of change. As Kathleen M. Blee has observed through interviews with women in White racist groups, “Conspiracy theories not only teach that the world is divided into an empowered “them” and a less powerful “us” but also suggest a strategy by which the “us” (ordinary people, the non-conspirators) can challenge and even usurp the authority of the currently-powerful.”[3] Thus conspiracist scapegoating fills a need for explanations among the adherents by providing a simple model of good versus evil in which the victory over evil is at least possible.

[1] Ibid.

[2] Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, p. xiv.

[3] Kathleen M. Blee, “Engendering Conspiracy: Women in Rightist Theories and Movements,” in in Eric Ward, ed., Conspiracies: Real Greivances, Paranoia, and Mass Movements, (Seattle: Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment [Peanut Butter Publishing], 1996).

Conspiracism and Countersubversion

When conspiracism becomes a mass phenomenon, persons seeking to protect the nation from the alleged conspiracy of subversives gnawing away at the entrails of the society form counter movements—thus the term countersubversion.

David Brion Davis noted that movements to counter the “threat of conspiratorial subversion acquired new meaning in a nation born in revolution and based on the sovereignty of the people,” and that in the US,” crusades against subversion have never been the monopoly of a single social class or ideology, but have been readily appropriated by highly diverse groups.”[i]

Frank Donner perceived an institutionalized culture of countersubversion in the United States “marked by a distinct pathology: conspiracy theory, moralism, nativism, and suppressiveness.”[ii] This countersubversion hysteria is linked to government attempts to disrupt and crush dissident social movements in the United States.[iii] Conspiracists in the government and private sector periodically create a “countersubversive” apparatus as a response to dissent. The FBI’s counterintelligence program of illegally spying on and disrupting dissidents from the 1950s to the 1970s, dubbed COINTELPRO, is an example of an operational conspiracy ironically based on a conspiracist worldview that suspected widespread subversion by leftists.

Davis points out that:

===”genuine conspiracies have seldom been as dangerous or as powerful as have movements of countersubversion. The exposer of conspiracies necessarily adopts a victimized, self-righteous tone which masks his own meaner interests as well as his share of responsibility for a given conflict. Accusations of conspiracy conceal or justify one’s own provocative acts and thus contribute to individual or national self-deception. Still worse, they lead to overreactions, particularly to degrees of suppressive violence which normally would not be tolerated.”[iv]

The most influential conspiracist theory in the US during the twentieth century was the fear of the Red Menace. Donner argued that the unstated yet actual primary goal of surveillance and political intelligence gathering by state agencies and their countersubversive allies is not amassing evidence of illegal activity for criminal prosecutions, but punishing critics of the status quo or the state in order to undermine movements for social change.

A major tool used to justify the anti–democratic activities of the intelligence establishment is propaganda designed to create fear of a menace by an alien outsider. The timeless myth of the enemy “other” assuages ethnocentrist hungers with servings of fresh scapegoats. As Donner noted: “In a period of social and economic change during which traditional institutions are under the greatest strain, the need for the myth is especially strong as a means of transferring blame, an outlet for the despair [people] face when normal channels of protest and change are closed.”[v]

Conspiracism and Social

[i] Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, pp. xv–xvi.

[ii] Donner, Age, p. 10.

[iii] In addition to discussions of repression in Bennett, Levin, Donner, Higham, Preston, and Rogin, see also Robert J. Goldstein, Political Repression in Modern America, 1870 to Present, 2nd edition, (Rochester VT: Schenkman Books, Inc. , 1978); Athan Theoharis, Spying on Americans: Political Surveillance from Hoover to the Huston Plan, (Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press, 1978); Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the Unamericans: The FBI, HUAC and the Red Menace, (Philadelphia, Pa: Temple University Press, 1983); Athan G. Theoharis and John Stuart Cox, The Boss: J. Edgar Hoover and the Great American Inquisition, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988); Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall. Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, (Boston: South End Press, 1988); Kenneth O’Reilly, ‘Racial Matters:’ The FBI’s Secret File on Black America, 1960—1972, (New York: Free Press, 1988); Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall. COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States, (Boston: South End Press, 1989).

[iv] Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, p. 361.

[v] Donner, Age, p. 11.

How Conspiracism and Apocalypticism are Linked

In Western culture, conspiracist narratives are significantly  influenced by metaphors from Biblical apocalyptic prophesy. Stephen O’Leary in Arguing the Apocalypse contends that the process of demonization is central to all forms of conspiracist thinking.[i] Leonard Zeskind argues it is impossible to analyze the contemporary political right, without understanding the “all-powerful cosmology of diabolical evil.”[ii] To Zeskind, conspiracy theories are “essentially theologically constructed views of events. Conspiracy theories are renderings of a metaphysical devil which is trans-historical, omnipotent, and destructive of God’s will on earth. This is true even for conspiracy theories in which there is not an explicit religious target.”[iii]

  1. L. Gardner points out that many current “conspiracy theories directed against the government are part of a rhetorical strategy genuinely intended to undermine state power and government authority,” but this occurs in a “metaphysical context” in which “those in control are implicated in a Manichean struggle of absolute good against absolute evil. That they are the agents of the devil is proved by the very fact that they control a corrupt system.”[iv] The fear of a subversive conspiracy to create a collectivist “one world government” is rooted in this religious apocalyptic view, but now spans a continuum of beliefs from religious to secular.

The narrative of most conspiracist thinking is that the government is controlled by a relatively small secret elite. This fits the general paradigm of scapegoating because despite the actual size of the government and the power of the state, the conspiracists picture a handful of secret elites manipulating behind the scenes–a tiny cabal who would be no match for the sovereign “We The People” mobilized against them.

Conspiracism and countersubversion manifest themselves in degrees. “It might be possible, given sufficient time and patience,” writes David Brion Davis, “to rank movements of countersubversion on a scale of relative realism and fantasy,”[v] The distance from reality and logic the conspiracist analysis drifts can range from modest to maniacal.

[i] O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, pp. 20-60.

[ii] Zeskind, “Some Ideas on Conspiracy Theories,” p. 16; see also, pp. 11, 13-15, 16-17.

[iii] Ibid., 13-14.

[iv] S. L. Gardiner, “Social Movements, Conspiracy Theories and Economic Determinism: A Response to Chip Berlet,” in Ward, Conspiracies, p. 83.

[v] Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, p. xiv.

What is Conspiracism?

Conspiracism

It is very effective to mobilize mass support against a scapegoated enemy by claiming that the enemy is part of a vast insidious conspiracy against the common good. The conspiracist worldview sees secret plots by tiny cabals of evildoers as the major motor powering important historical events; makes irrational leaps of logic in analyzing factual evidence in order to “prove” connections, blames social conflicts on demonized scapegoats, and constructs a closed metaphysical worldview that is highly resistant to criticism.[i]

When conspiracist scapegoating occurs, the results can devastate a society, disrupting rational political discourse and creating targets who are harassed and even murdered. Dismissing the conspiracism often found in right-wing populism as irrational extremism, lunatic hysteria, or marginalized radicalism does little to challenge these movements, fails to deal with concrete conflicts and underlying institutional issues, invites government repression, and sacrifices the early targets of the scapegoaters on the altar of denial. An effective response requires a more complex analysis.

The Dynamics of Conspiracism

The dynamic of conspiracist scapegoating is remarkably predictable. Persons who claim special knowledge of a plot warn their fellow citizens about a treacherous subversive conspiracy to attack the common good. What’s more, the conspiracists announce, the plans are nearing completion, so that swift and decisive action is needed to foil the sinister plot. In different historical periods, the names of the scapegoated villains change, but the essentials of this conspiracist worldview remain the same.[ii]

George Johnson explained that “conspiratorial fantasies are not simply an expression of inchoate fear. There is a shape, an architecture, to the paranoia.” Johnson came up with five rules common to the conspiracist worldview in the United States:[iii]

“The conspirators are internationalist in their sympathies.

“[N]othing is ever discarded. Right-wing mail order bookstores still sell the Protocols of the Elders of Zion…[and] Proofs of a Conspiracy [from the late 1700’s].

“Seeming enemies are actually secret friends. Through the lens of the conspiracy theorists, capitalists and Communists work hand in hand.

“The takeover by the international godless government will be ignited by the collapse of the economic system.

“It’s all spelled out in the Bible. For those with a fundamentalist bent, the New World Order or One World Government is none other than the international kingdom of the Antichrist, described in the Book of Revelation.

Conspiracism can occur as a characteristic of mass movements, between sectors in an intra–elite power struggle, or as a justification for state agencies to engage in repressive actions. Conspiracist scapegoating is woven deeply into US culture and the process appears not just on the political right but in center and left constituencies as well.[iv] There is an entrenched network of conspiracy–mongering information outlets spreading dubious stories about public and private figures and institutions. They use media such as printed matter, the internet, fax trees, radio programs, videotapes and audiotapes.[v]

[i] Although they often disagree with my conclusions, my thinking on conspiracism has been shaped by comments and critiques from S. L. Gardiner, Loretta Ross, and Leonard Zeskind.

[ii] Higham, Strangers, pp. 3-11; Hofstadter, Paranoid Style, pp. 3-40; Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, pp. xv-xviii; Bennett, Party of Fear, pp. 1-16; George Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics, (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1983), pp. 17-30.

[iii] George Johnson, “The Conspiracy That Never Ends,” The New York Times, 4/30/95, Sec. 4; p. 5. The full text of Johnson’s rules is longer and far more erudite and entertaining.

[iv] On Christian right fears of a liberal secular humanist conspiracy, see Chip Berlet and Margaret Quigley, “Theocracy & White Supremacy: Behind the Culture War to Restore Traditional Values,” chapter in Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, Chip Berlet, ed. (Boston, South End Press, 1995) p. 60–61; On growing right/left conspiracism, see Michael Kelly, “The Road to Paranoia,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60–70; Janet Biehl, ”Militia Fever: The Fallacy of “Neither Left nor Right,” Green Perspectives, A Social Ecology Publication, Number 37, April 1996; Michael Albert, “Conspiracy?…Not!,” Venting Spleen column, Z Magazine, Jan., 1992, pp. 17–19; Michael Albert, “Conspiracy?…Not, Again,” Venting Spleen column, Z Magazine, May,. 1992, pp. 86–88.

[v] Kintz & Lesage, Culture, Media, and the Religious Right. Detailed articles on the general theme of right-wing media can be found in Afterimage (Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY), special issue on “Fundamentalist Media,” 22:7&8, Feb./March 1995; and Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), special issue on “The Right-Wing Media Machine,” March/April 1995. Jim Danky and John Cherney, “Beyond Limbaugh: The Hard Right’s Publishing Spectrum,” Reference Services Review, Spring 1996, pp. 43-56. For radio conspiracism, see Leslie Jorgensen, “AM Armies,” pp. 20–22 and Larry Smith, “Hate Talk,” p. 23, Extra! March/April 1995; Marc Cooper, “The Paranoid Style,” The Nation, April 10, 1995, pp. 486–492; William H. Freivogel, “Talking Tough On 300 Radio Stations, Chuck Harder’s Show Airs Conspiracy Theories,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 10, 1995, p. 5B; David McHugh and Nancy Costello, “Radio host off the air; militia chief may be out,” Detroit Free Press, 4/29/95, p. 6A; Far Right Radio Review online at <http://www.clark.net/pub/cwilkins/rfpi/frwr.html>. For Internet, see: Devin Burghardt, “Cyberh@te: A Reappraisal,” The Dignity Report (Coalition for Human Dignity), Fall, 1996, pp. 12–16;. A regularly updated list of links to web pages of various groups on the right is posted by Political Research Associates. at <http://www.publiceye.org/lnk_dem.html> and by Hatewatch at <http://hatewatch.org>.

The Political Assumptions of Conspiracism

by Matthew N. Lyons

Radical politics and social analysis have been so effectively marginalized in the US that much of what passes for radicalism is actually liberal reformism with a radical-looking veneer. To claim a link between liberalism and conspiracism may sound paradoxical, because of the conventional centrist/extremist assumption that conspiracist thinking is a marginal, “pathological” viewpoint shared mainly by people at both extremes of the political spectrum. Centrist/extremist theory’s equation of the “paranoid right” and “paranoid left” obscures the extent to which much conspiracist thinking is grounded in mainstream political assumptions.

Consider a message sent through a computer bulletin board for progressive political activists. Following an excerpt from a Kennedy assassination book, which attributed JFK’s killing to “the Secret Team–or The Club, as others call it…composed of some of the most powerful and wealthiest men in the United States,” the subscriber who posted the excerpt commented,

“We, the American people, are too apathetic to participate in our own democracy and consequently, we have forfeited our power, guided by our principles, in exchange for an oligarchy ruled by greedy, evil men–men who are neurotic in their insatiable lust for wealth and power….And George Bush is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Scratch the “radical” surface of this statement and you find liberal content. No analysis of the social order, but rather an attack on the “neurotic” and “greedy, evil men” above and the “apathetic” people below. If only we could get motivated and throw out that special interest group, “The Club,” democracy would function properly.

This perspective resembles that of the Christic Institute with its emphasis on the illegal nature of the Iran-Contra network and its appeals to “restore” American democracy. This perspective may also be compared with liberal versions of the “Zionist Lobby” explanation for the United States’ massive subsidy of Israel. Supposedly the Lobby’s access to campaign funds and media influence has held members of Congress hostage for years. Not only does this argument exaggerate and conflate the power of assorted Jewish and pro-Israel lobbying groups, and play into antisemitic stereotypes about “dual loyalist” Jews pulling strings behind the scenes, but it also lets the US government off the hook for its own aggressive foreign policies, by portraying it as the victim of external “alien” pressure.

All of these perspectives assume inaccurately that (a) the US political system contains a democratic “essence” blocked by outside forces, and (b) oppression is basically a matter of subjective actions by individuals or groups, not objective structures of power. These assumptions are not marginal, “paranoid” beliefs-they are ordinary, mainstream beliefs that reflect the individualism, historical denial, and patriotic illusions of mainstream liberal thought.

Conspiracism as Parody of Institutional Analysis

The conspiracist analysis of history has become uncoupled from a logical train of thought. . .it is a non–rational belief system that manifests itself in degrees. Conspiracism blames individualized and subjective forces for economic and social problems rather than analyzing conflict in terms of systems and structures of power. Conspiracist allegations, therefore, interfere with a serious progressive analysis–an analysis that challenges the objective institutionalized systems of oppression and power, and seeks a radical transformation of the status quo. Bruce Cumings, put it like this:

“But if conspiracies exist, they rarely move history; they make a difference at the margins from time to time, but with the unforeseen consequences of a logic outside the control of their authors: and this is what is wrong with “conspiracy theory.” History is moved by the broad forces and large structures of human collectivities.”[i]

Many authors who reject centrist/extremist theory use power structure research, a systemic methodology that looks at the role of significant institutions, social class, and power blocs in a society. Power structure research has been used by several generations of progressive authors including C. Wright Mills, G. William Domhoff, and Holly Sklar.[ii] Some mainstream social scientists, especially those enamored of centrist/extremist theory, have unfairly dismissed radical left critiques of US society as conspiracy theories.[iii]

Power structure research is not inherently conspiracist, but conspiracist pseudo–radical parodies of power structure research abound. Examples include right–wing populist critics such as Gary Allen, Antony Sutton, Bo Gritz, Craig Hulet, and Eustace Mullins. Left–wing populist critics include David Emory, John Judge, and Danny Sheehan of the Christic Institute. Conspiracism tarnishes the artistic work of filmmaker Oliver Stone. A recent book by the respected left analyst Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths, contains a very problematic defense of conspiracism.[iv] There are also a plethora of practitioners who have drawn from both the left and the right such as Daniel Brandt and the late Ace Hayes.

Conspiracism blames individualized and subjective forces for economic and social problems rather than analyzing conflict in terms of systems and structures of power.[v] Conspiracist allegations, therefore, interfere with a serious progressive analysis–an analysis that challenges the objective institutionalized systems of oppression and power, and seeks a radical transformation of the status quo.

The subjectivist view of conspiracist critics of the status quo is a parody of serious research. As Lyons observes, “To claim, for instance, that the Rockefellers control the world, takes multiple interconnections and complex influences and reduces them to mechanical wire pulling.”[vi] As one report critical of right–wing populist conspiracism suggested:

“There is a vast gulf between the simplistic yet dangerous rhetoric of elite cabals, Jewish conspiracies and the omnipotence of ‘international finance’ and a thoughtful analysis of the deep divisions and inequities in our society.”[vii]

Separating real conspiracies from the exaggerated, non–rational, fictional, lunatic, or deliberately fabricated variety is a problem faced by serious researchers, and journalists. For progressive activists, differentiating between the progressive power structure research and the pseudo–radical allegations of conspiracism is a prerequisite for rebuilding a left analysis of social and political problems.


[i] Bruce Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War, vol. 2, The Roaring of the Cataract 1947–1950 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990), p. 767.

[ii] C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, New York: Oxford University Press, 1956. G. William Domhoff, The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America, (New York: Vintage Books, 1979, (1978)); Domhoff, Who Rules America Now: A View for the ‘80’s, (New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 1986, (1983)); Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management, (Boston: South End Press, 1980); Sklar, Reagan, Trilateralism and the Neoliberals: Containment and Intervention in the 1980s, (Boston: South End Press (Pamphlet No. 4), 1986); Sklar, Chaos or Community: Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad Economics, (Boston: South End Press, 1995).

[iii] For example, David Brion Davis includes articles by progressive investigative reporter George Seldes and radical Black power advocates Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton in his collection of conspiracist writings, David Brion Davis, ed., The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un–American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1971).

[iv] Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths: Reflections on Politics, Media, Ideology, Conspiracy, Ethnic Life and Class Power, (San Fransisco: City Lights, 1996.)

[v] Michael Albert, “Conspiracy?…Not!,” Venting Spleen column, Z Magazine, Jan., 1992, pp. 17-19; Michael Albert, “Conspiracy?…Not, Again,” Venting Spleen column, Z Magazine, May,. 1992, pp. 86-88.

[vi] Matthew N. Lyons, working draft of chapter segment in Berlet & Lyons, Too Close for Comfort.

[vii] Jonathan Mozzochi and L. Events Rhinegard, Rambo, Gnomes and the New World Order: The Emerging Politics of Populism, (Portland, OR: Coalition for Human Dignity, 1991), p. 1.

Conspiracism and Right-Wing Populism

Conspiracism often accompanies various forms of populism, and Canovan notes that “the image of a few evil men conspiring in secret against the people can certainly be found in the thinking of the U.S. People’s Party, Huey Long, McCarthy, and others.”[1] Criticism of conspiracism, however, does not imply that there are not real conspiracies, criminal or otherwise. There certainly are real conspiracies throughout history. As Canovan argues:

“[o]ne should bear in mind that not all forms or cases of populism involve conspiracy theories, and that such theories are not always false. The railroad kings and Wall Street bankers hated by the U.S. Populists, the New Orleans Ring that Huey Long attacked, and the political bosses whom the Progressives sought to unseat–all these were indeed small groups of men wielding secret and irresponsible power.”[2]

The US political scene is littered with examples of illegal political, corporate, and government conspiracies such as Watergate, the Iran/Contra scandal, and the systematic looting of the savings and loan industry.

The dilemma for the left is that right-wing populist organizers weave these systemic and institutional failures into a conspiracist narrative that blames “secret elites.” In a lengthy article on snowballing conspiracism in The New Yorker, Michael Kelly called this “fusion paranoia.”[3] With the rise of “info–tainment” news programs and talk shows, hard right conspiracism, especially about alleged government misconduct, jumps into the corporate media with increasing regularity.[4] As Kelly observes,” It is not remarkable that accusations of abuse of power should be leveled against Presidents—particularly in light of Vietnam, Watergate, and Iran–Contra. But now, in the age of fusion paranoia, there is no longer any distinction made between credible charges and utterly unfounded slanders.”

This confusion of left and right populism also occurs in Europe with magazines such as Lobster in England. The subject is discussed in detail in the book Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience by Janet Biehl & Peter Staudenmaier.[5]

The US now exports globalist neocorporatism—a world economy controlled by corporate interests—as the hegemonic model that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. However, not all critics of globalist neocorporatism champion democracy and equality. We must be careful to draw a distinction between critiques that extend economic and social justice, and those that claim economic privilege for middle class consumers at the expense of social justice. Outsider factions composed of business and financial sectors with common goals regularly seek to displace the sectors in control of political and economic power in the US. A common tactic in this endless power struggle is to use populist rhetoric and anti–elite scapegoating to attract constituencies in the middle class and working class.

Some of the forces in the US that oppose neocorporatist globalism are outsider factions of business nationalists who favor protectionist trade policies and oppose international cooperation in foreign policy. In the past, business nationalism has also been the main sector in the US from which emerged campaigns promoting union–busting, White supremacist segregationism, the Red Scares, anti–immigrant xenophobia, and allegations of Jewish banking conspiracies.[6] When populist consumer groups such as those lead by Ralph Nader forged uncritical alliances with outsider faction of business nationalists to rally against GATT and NAFTA, the anti–elite rhetoric of right wing populism quickly emerged.

Why is this a problem? Because the conspiracist scapegoating of right wing populism masks a history of xenophobia and repressive authoritarianism on behalf of the majority. Right wing populist movements in the US have used scapegoating allegations of wrongdoing to rationalize White supremacy, antisemitism, and patriarchal heterosexism.[7]

The main scapegoats of right wing populism are people of color, especially Blacks. Attention is diverted from the White supremacist roots by using coded language to frame the issue in terms of welfare, immigration, tax, or education policies.[8] Women, gay men and lesbians, youth, students, and environmentalists are also frequently scapegoated.[9]

The removal of the obvious anti–communist underpinnings assisted left wing conspiracists in creating a parody of the fundamentalist/libertarian conspiracist critiques. Left wing conspiracists strip away the underlying religious fundamentalism, antisemitism, and economic social Darwinism, and peddle the repackaged product like carnival snake oil salesmen to unsuspecting sectors of the left. Those on the left who only see the antielitist aspects of right-wing populism and claim they are praiseworthy are playing with fire. This is a time for progressives to be wary of attempts by the political right to woo the left.[10] As one anti–racist group warned:

Left analysts and activists like Alexander Cockburn who are attracted to one or another point put forward by militia–led groups about “freedom,” such as the Fully Informed Jury Association . . .need to be aware of the poison pill of racism and anti–semitism covered by that sugar coating.[11]

Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer in New York, has commented on the resurgence of fascist ideas around the world. Henwood cited Karl Polanyi’s, The Great Transformation, which listed symptoms for a country infected with fascism, including “the spread of irrationalist philosophies, racialist esthetics, anticapitalist demagogy, heterodox currency views, criticism of the party system, widespread disparagement of the ‘regime,’ or whatever was the name given to the existing democratic set–up.” Henwood writes that “the list is a good description of the political scene in much of the world today—the denunciation of Coca–Cola capitalism by German skinheads, chanted between attacks on Turks and Mozambicans; the racist welfare–baiting of our own demagogues; and ubiquitous, vague, and nihilistic denunciations of ‘the system’ that offer little hope for transformation.”

Radio host David Barsamian who produces the syndicated Alternative Radio interview series from Boulder, Colorado warns that personalities who harp on conspiracies are providing entertaining confusion rather than helping people focus clearly on complex issues. He says progressives should not fall for “left guruism” where sensational anti–government theories are accepted without any independent critical analysis.

Barsamian feels some on the left have been “mesmerized by the flawless dramatic presentation” of people such as Daniel Sheehan of the Christic Institute. This demagoguery distracted attention from the “substance of the allegations which don’t all check out.” This created a climate—even a demand—for elaborate conspiracy theories to flourish. Barsamian acknowledges “we all are longing for simple comforting explanations, but by focusing on The Secret Team, or the Medellin Cartel, we ignore the institutions that keep producing the problems.”

There are differences between US and European right wing populism. Matthew N. Lyons says the following:

“Unlike the European countries, capitalism [in the US] did not emerge from feudal society, but rather was imposed abruptly through a special kind of mass colonial conquest. . .primarily the rule of White nationalism,”

“In the US the populist vision of cross–class unity is related to the dominant US ideology of classlessness, social mobility, and liberalism in general, but populism tends to break with political orthodoxy by circumventing normal channels and attacking established leadership groups, at least rhetorically.”

“White nationalism has meant (a) the absence of feudal remnants and the pervasiveness of liberal capitalist doctrines and institutions, and (b) a racial caste system that made working–class Euro–Americans part of a socially privileged White collective.” [12]

Progressive conspiracism is an oxymoron. Rejecting the conspiracist analytical model is a vital step in challenging both right-wing populism and fascism. It is important to see anti-elite conspiracism and scapegoating as not merely destructive of a progressive analysis but also as specific techniques used by fascist political movements to provide a radical-sounding left cover for a rightist attack on the status quo. Far from being an aberration or a mere tactical maneuver by rightists, pseudo-radicalism is a distinctive, central feature of fascist and proto-fascist political movements. This is why the early stages of a potentially-fascist movement are often described as seeming to incorporate both leftwing and rightwing ideas.

In the best of times, conspiracism is a pointless diversion of focus and waste of energy. Conspiracism promotes scapegoating as a way of thinking; and since scapegoating in the US is rooted in racism, antisemitism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia, conspiracism promotes bigotry. In periods of social or economic crisis, populist conspiracism facilitates the spread of fascist and para-fascist social movements because they too rely on demagogic scapegoating and conspiracist theories as an organizing tool. Radical-sounding conspiracist critiques of the status quo are the wedge that fascism uses to penetrate and recruit from the left.

[1] Canovan, Populism, p. 296.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Michael Kelly, “The Road to Paranoia,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60–70.

[4] Kelly, in his New Yorker article, writes of this seepage phenomenon from alternative to mainstream in terms of conspiracist anti–government allegations.

[5] Janet Biehl & Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience, (Edinburgh: AK Press, 1995).

[6] “Whiteness” is an ethnic identity, not a race or skin color, thus I capitalize “White.”

[7] By spelling antisemitism without a capital “S” or dash, I seek to recognize and respect the historic term while rejecting the false implicit idea that Jews are a race.

[8] Amy Elizabeth Ansell, New Right, New Racism: Race and Reaction in the United States and Britain, (New York, NYU Press, 1997) pp. 49–73; Anna Marie Smith, New Right Discourse on Race & Sexuality, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 18–70.

[9] People can be straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual—this is descriptive rather than an ethnic reference; but when referring to an ethnic identity, movement, or specific organization, I will refer to Gayness, Lesbian identity, the Gay and Lesbian Rights movement, the Lesbian Avengers group, and the Digital Queers group.

[10] Tarso Luís Ramos, “Feint to the Left: The Growing Popularity of Populism,” Portland Alliance, (Oregon), Dec. 1991, pp. 13, 18; Chip Berlet “Friendly Fascists,” The Progressive, June 1992; Berlet, Right Woos Left: Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo– fascist Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must Be Rejected. (Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates, 1990, (revised 1994)).

[11] People Against Racist Terror (PART) Turning the Tide, (“a quarterly journal of anti–racist activism, research and education,”), Summer 1995 Volume 8 #2; Chip Berlet & Matthew N. Lyons, “Militia Nation,” The Progressive, June 1995, pp. 22–25.

[12] Matthew N. Lyons, woking paper for Too Close for Comfort.

Hard Right Conspiracism & Apocalyptic Millennialism

The armed militia movement formed as the militant wing of the patriot movement following the government’s excessive use of force against the Weaver family in Idaho and the Branch Davidians in Texas. Patriots and militia members have an anti-government agenda laced with paranoid-sounding conspiracist theories, many of which echo apocalyptic millenialism of Christian fundamentalists. Endnote1

Persons in the patriot movement fear impending attack by government or UN troops and the establishment of a dictatorship as part of the New World Order. They distrust all mainstream media. The patriot movement made aggressive use of alternative electronic media such as fax networks, radio talk shows, shortwave radio, and online computer telecommunications. Endnote2

Much of the information circulated in this sector of the hard right is undocumented rumor and irrational conspiracist theory, some of it merely paranoid lunacy, some based on classic white supremacist and segregationist legal arguments or allegations of secret plots by international Jewish bankers traced back to the hoax text, The Protocols of the Secret Elders of Zion. Endnote3 Print sources frequently cited as having “proof” of the conspiracy include the New American magazine from the reactionary John Birch Society, the Spotlight newspaper from the antisemitic Liberty Lobby, and Executive Intelligence Review (EIR) and The New Federalist from the neofascist Lyndon LaRouche movement. Most of the contemporary conspiracist allegations in the US are variations on the themes propounded in the late 1700’s by John Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy and Abbe Augustin Barruel, Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, which claimed that the Illuminati society had subverted the Freemasons into a conspiracy to undermine church and state and create a one-world government. Endnote4

One of the earliest examples of the use of online computer networks for mass organizing occurred during the 1992 presidential campaign of independent Ross Perot. Libertarians and populist conservatives, who appear to have strongly influenced the politics of early cyber-culture and the Internet, helped circulate organizing documents and position papers for the Perot campaign, quickly reaching a large audience. Endnote5 Perot’s anti-government themes also attracted support from some persons in the hard right who later went on to promote the patriot and armed militia movements. These pre-exisiting online relationships were a factor in the use of computer networks by the patriot and militia movements, which was apparently the first major US social movement organized extensively via horizontal telecommunications networks. Endnote6

A voluminous amount of information and numerous discussions about tactics and strategy for the armed militia and patriot movements moved across the Internet, appearing in Usenet newsgroup conferences such as <alt.conspiracy>, <talk.politics.guns>, <alt.sovereignty>, <misc.survivalism> and <alt.politics.usa.constitution>. Eventually a militia conference was established at <misc.activism.militia>. Information also appeared online at individual BBS’s set up by patriot and militia technophiles, tossed to multiple BBS’s through FidoNet and other messaging and echoing networks, and appeared in commercial online system discussion groups. Endnote7

Not all scapegoating conspiracist theories originate on the right. Alternative analysts who merge the rhetoric of the right and the left in their conspiracist diatribes include Linda Thompson, Mark Koernke, Sherman Skolnick, Dan Brandt, David Emory, Bob Fletcher, John Judge, and Ace Hayes. In a lengthy article on snowballing conspiracism in The New Yorker, Michael Kelly called this “fusion paranoia.” Endnote8 With the rise of “info-tainment” news programs and talk shows, hard right conspiracism, especially about alleged government misconduct, jumps into the corporate media with increasing regularity. Endnote9 As Kelly observes, “It is not remarkable that accusations of abuse of power should be leveled against Presidents–particularly in light of Vietnam, Watergate, and Iran-Contra. But now, in the age of fusion paranoia, there is no longer any distinction made between credible charges and utterly unfounded slanders.”

A-albionic Research describes itself as “A private network of researchers dedicated to identifying the nature of the ruling class/Conspiracy(ies).” A-albionic and the New Paradigms Project web page, <http:a-albionic.com>, are run by James H. Daugherty, a mail-order distributor of printed matter who believes the Vatican and British Empire are locked in a mortal battle for world control. Endnote10 Daugherty’s anti-Catholic bigotry tracks back to earlier allegations that the Pope was the antichrist. Endnote11

Conspiracist information circulates in online newsletters such as “Conspiracy Nation” by Brian Francis Redman, and “The People’s Spellbreaker” by John DiNardo. Glenda Stocks runs a computer information network pushing even more exotic theories. DiNardo’s The People’s Spellbreaker carries the flag motto “News They Never Told You…News They’ll Never Tell You.” The People’s Spellbreaker sometimes consists of transcripts of radio programs. In the following excerpt, the text is transcribed from “A World of Prophecy,” a conspiracist radio program hosted by Texe Marrs. The title was “New Currency: The Banksters’ Way To Rob Us Of Our Life Earnings.” Endnote12

TEXE MARRS:You know, most investment advisors don’t understand how the money system works. They don’t know of the problems being concocted by the New World Order. They don’t know the Illuminati conspiracies. And they simply cannot address these things. But I’ve got a gentleman on the line, and I’ll bet he has got some exciting information to give you. And keep in mind God’s prophetic word, and see how these things are working out. David Dennis, I’m so glad to have you on A WORLD OF PROPHECY.

DAVID DENNIS:

Well, I’m certainly glad to be on your show, Tex, and I bring the greetings of Lawrence Paterson. He asked me to say hello.

TEXE MARRS:

Well, good. I’m glad to hear from Lawrence Paterson. I get CRIMINAL POLITICS Magazine every month. I love to open that envelope and read that magazine. It’s one of the first things I grab ahold of when it comes in the mail. David, you’re the resident editor there.

One subject of interest is the new currency. You’re sort of ahead of your time. You’ve been warning us about a “two-tier dollar.” I’d like to get into that a little bit later. But what is this new money, this new currency?

DAVID DENNIS:

The new money actually was introduced not long ago. However, it might come as a surprise to all your listeners that the new money was NOT introduced here in the United States to our public. Rather, it was introduced in Moscow, [Russia] by the United States Treasury Department. And the idea was to have it serve as sort of a trial run, if you will. And, also, to let the Russian People know that the United States currency, which they depend so much on for value, will continue to be of value, even after this new currency comes on-line. So, it’s quite interesting that our new currency would not be discussed [or introduced] here in the U.S. first. Instead, it was introduced in Moscow to the Russian People.

TEXE MARRS:

That is just INCREDIBLE!

[rest of text deleted]

The information in this posting certainly is “INCREDIBLE!,” but is typical of the genre. Note the plug for Paterson’s conspiracist Criminal Politics newsletter and the mention of the Illuminati variation of the longstanding freemason conspiracist theory. Marrs is the author of a book on the Illuminati titled Dark Majesty: The Secret Brotherhood and the Magic of A Thousand Points of Light, described in an ad in the John Birch Society magazine as revealing “a secret society of grotesque rituals…whose symbol is the death’s head–the skull and bones…their plot has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.” Endnote13This apocalyptic tone is typical. Consider John DiNardo’s tag line to his posting:

I urge you to post the episodes of this ongoing series to other newsgroups, networks, computer bulletin boards and mailing lists. It is also important to post hardcopies on the bulletin boards in campus halls, churches, supermarkets, laundromats, etc.–any place where concerned citizens can read this vital information. Our people’s need for Paul Reveres and Ben Franklins is as urgent today as it was 220 years ago.

The most zealous sector of the hard right is the far right or ultra-right, which mixes scapegoating conspiracism with open race hate, fascism, and neonazism. Even in this sector their is a vigorous debate over policy. Endnote14 One online skinhead conference is dominated by neonazi skins, but attacked by anti-racist skins. Endnote15 The screed of Holocaust revisionists can be found posted in <alt.revisionism> where they are isolated by the majority of Internet netizens (citizens of cyber space) who wish to preserve intellectual freedom but refuse to allow Holocaust deniers even the smallest space to spread their views on other conferences. In <alt.revisionism> you can find the rebuttals to the deniers posted by online human rights activists such as Ken McVay, Jamie McCarthy, Danny Keren, and others. Ted Frank posted scores of carefully-researched rebuttals to hard right legal arguments on <alt.conspiracy>. Endnote16A few ultra-right participants manage to post messages in discussion groups on the commercial services such as America Online (AOL), sometimes suggesting the purchase by mail-order of specific anti-government books and pamphlets with innocuous-sounding titles. When the material arrives in the mail it is often accompanied with a list of other materials with white supremacist or antisemitic themes. This attempt to hide or encode overt race hate and antisemitism is a common tactic of the ultra-right. The following excerpt from the Pennsylvania-based Christian Posse Comitatus newsletter The Watchman was found on the home page of Stormfront: Endnote17

“Meet the torch with the torch; pillage with pillage; subjugation with extermination.”–Colonel William C. Quantrill

As we enter the fall season, which is incidentally the best time of the year to recruit new people, I feel it necessary to comment briefly on new developments nationally. I received a phone call this morning from an acquaintance who asked me if I would like to receive an interesting fax. I did and it regarded a newspaper article about a “Klanwatch” report. Joe Roy of Klan Watch alleges that more than thirty right-wing extremist groups are gathering information about governmental agencies and so-called civil rights groups. He fears that this intelligence will be used in a future terrorist campaign against these same agencies. This is also evidently the fear of many law enforcement agencies as I have been contacted by such officials who expressed their concern. My answer to them was that public servants are supposed to be afraid of the people, do…us no further harm and all will be well.

I regret that it does not appear that government learned this lesson in Oklahoma City. There is currently legislation pending that will effectively outlaw free speech and classify such organizations as Aryan Nations, militias and the Posse as terrorist organizations.

Prepare for the men and boys to be separated! I personally believe the militia movement to be a bunch of well-intentioned persons who have a bit to learn. It is all well and good to prepare for another Ruby Ridge or Waco but the belief that hundreds or even thousands of conventional soldiers will be able to stand down the United States Army is ludicrous. It also stands to reason that the feds are infiltrating the militias as they did the Klans in the 1960s. Use the militia movement as a place to spread the truth and to meet people but beware the agent provocateur. The militias are also filled with the ridiculous rhetoric about “black helicopters” and even “space aliens” controlling the government from a secret base in the desert and so on. The helicopters were green at Randy Weavers and at Waco and they were sent and operators by White traitors.

While there is yet a little time arm yourselves and prepare to face some very difficult decisions. Knowledge is power, go to the Gun shows and buy the how-to books and learn the art of war. Live free or die!

FOURTEEN WORDS!

An average reader might miss the neonazi subtext of this posting. The “Aryan Nations, militias and the Posse” are lumped together and portrayed only as victims of demonization whose free speech rights are threatened. The Aryan Nations and the Posse Comitatus promote Christian Identity, a vicious antisemitic religious philosophy that often overlaps with neonazi beliefs. The phrase “fourteen words” is a coded pro-Hitlerian reference to the phrase “To secure the existence of the white race and a future for our children.” Endnote18 Notice how the author derides the “ridiculous rhetoric” of conspiracism in the militias, but points out a real example of government infiltration. Endnote19The networking through alternative media implied in this text is as interesting as the ideological assumptions. A phone call leads to the receipt of a fax containing a facsimile of a text article. This in turn leads to an article in a print newsletter that is then posted on the Internet, and ends up on the Web home page of a sympathetic group in another state.

The gun shows mentioned are a major meeting place for patriot and revolutionary right activists, and while most attendees and display tables focus on weapons, a handful provide books, magazines, pamphlets, audiotapes, and videotapes servicing the armed hard right. Endnote20 At gun shows different tables have different selections based on ideological loyalty with tables featuring The New American magazine from the John Birch Society, videotapes of militia stars Linda Thompson and Mark Koernke, copies of the Spotlight newspaper, and overt White supremacist and neonazi books. Endnote21

Radio is another vehicle for education and recruitment into various sectors of the hard right. Generic right-wing scapegoating theories are broadcast daily on mainstream commercial AM and FM, with programs featuring Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, and G. Gordon Liddy, and scores of similar hosts. Much anti-government rhetoric flows back and forth on right-wing radio, and it helped create the mindset that led to the growth of the patriot and armed militia movements. Endnote22 Sometimes there is crossover, such as Colorado Springs AM radio host Chuck Baker interviewing Linda Thompson in August of 1994 about her plans for an armed march on Washington, DC to remove the “traitors” in Congress. Thompson later canceled the march and lost much credibility in the militia movement, but one Baker listener, Francisco Martin Duran, drove to the capital city in October and shot-up the White House. Endnote23

Major purveyors of right-wing conspiracist scapegoating in recent years have included radio personalities Tom Valentine, Chuck Harder, Craig Hulet, Mark Koernke, John Stadtmiller, Norm Resnick, William Cooper, Linda Thompson, Jack McLamb, Tom Donahue, and Bo Gritz. Sometimes right-wing populist radio shows introduce hard right ideologues as innocuous experts. On his “For The People” syndicated program, Chuck Harder once used notorious antisemite Eustace Mullins as an expert on the Federal Reserve. Harder’s newspaper, tied to the radio program, sold several Mullins’ books––including one claiming a Rothschild family Jewish banking conspiracy––for over a year. Yet Mullins did not sound antisemitic on the radio program. Harder stopped promoting Mullins after a listener documented Mullin’s beliefs. Endnote24

Many programs are part of elaborate information networks. For example, Paul Valentine hosts a daily talk show called “Radio Free America” (RFA), that is originally broadcast from WBDN 760 AM in Tampa, Florida. RFA is also broadcast on the shortwave band operated by World Wide Christian Radio (WWCR). Endnote25 The RFA program is also carried by satellite into homes with receiving dishes. Endnote26 Most people are unaware that audio programs can arrive through a home satellite dish simply by turning off the video and tuning in a specific audio frequency. Audiotapes of RFA are sold through the quasi-Nazi Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight newspaper which carries capsule descriptions of recent RFA programs in every issue accompanied with an order blank. Valentine is affiliated with the southern regional bureau of the Spotlight newspaper, but his on-air demeanor avoids hateful rhetoric.

World Wide Christian Radio (WWCR) carries more mainstream evangelical programs along with hard right programs broadcast on several shortwave frequencies. WWCR played a key role in networking and assisting the growth of the patriot and armed militia movements in 1994 and 1995, airing a program by Linda Thompson and the show “The Intelligence Report” hosted by Mark Koernke and John Stadtmiller, which was pulled off the air after the Oklahoma City bombing. A number of conspiracist radio programs are sponsored by precious metals commodities dealers and those selling gold and silver coins. The pitch is that precious metal is a secure investment to hedge against possible financial chaos and economic collapse that might deflate paper currency or cause bank failures. Endnote27 Shortwave listeners can also hear conspiracism and scapegoating from WRNO based in Louisiana, WINB from Pennsylvania, and several other stations. Endnote28 There are so many right-wing shortwave radio programs that a progressive shortwave radio station broadcasting out of Costa Rica, Radio for Peace International, has a radio program called “Far Right Radio Review” devoted exclusively to monitoring and discussing the rightwing broadcasts.

Another emerging alternative media, fax networks and fax trees, were used extensively by the armed militia movement in its formative stages and continue to be utilized by the hard right including the far right. The Spotlight featured a cover story on how rightwing populists in New Jersey had distributed fliers and faxes opposing a proposed state environmental law. According to The Spotlight, “Virtually overnight hundreds of thousands of copies of the flier appeared as if by magic on bulletin boards, store windows and fax machines throughout the state.” The flier was circulated in part through a fax hotline operated by northern New Jersey resident Franklin Reich. Endnote29


Endnote1

Daniel Junas, “Rise of the Citizen Militias: Angry White Guys with Guns,” CovertAction Quarterly, spring 1995; Chip Berlet & Matthew N. Lyons; “Militia Nation,” The Progressive, June 1995, pp. 22-25; Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

Endnote2

See Brian E. Albrecht, “Hate Speech,” The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), June 11, 1995, pp. 1, 16-17.

Endnote3

Eric Ward, ed., Conspiracies: Real Greivances, Paranoia, and Mass Movements, (Seattle: Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment [Peanut Butter Publishing], 1996). On Protocols, see Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).

Endnote4

On nativist roots, Ray Allen Billington, The Origins of Nativism in the United States 1800-1844 (New York: Arno Press Inc., 1974); John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860-1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1972).; David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, (New York: Vintage Books, 1995, (1988)). Richard Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); David Brion Davis, “Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature,” in Davis, ed., The Fear of Conspiracy, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1971), pp. 9-22.

Endnote5

On Perot’s online support, author’s monitoring of political postings on the Internet and various BBS conferences. On libertarian influence on cyber-culture, conversation with Paulina Borsook 11/96 based on her forthcoming book.

Endnote6

Some of my research into the right online was to prepare for an interview by Grant Kester that appeared as “Net Profits: Chip Berlet Tracks Computer Networks of the Religious Right,” in Afterimage, Feb./March 1995, pp. 8-10.

Endnote7

A BBS in its simplest form is a single computer hooked to a phone line through a modem that allows offsite computer users with a modem to connect through a phone line to a menu-driven list of information and messages. More elaborate BBS’s can handle multiple phone lines, and some are networked through systems such as FidoNet or linked into the Internet.

Endnote8

Michael Kelly, “The Road to Paranoia,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, pp. 60-70.

Endnote9

Kelly, in his New Yorker article, writes of this seepage phenomenon from alternative to mainstream in terms of conspiracist anti-government allegations.

Endnote10

David McHugh “Conspiracy Theories Grow,”Detroit Free Press, 4/29/95, p. 1A.

Endnote11

Davis, The Fear of Conspiracy, pp. 9-22.

Endnote12

From “A World of Prophecy,” hosted by Texe Marrs, broadcast over WWCR, 5.065 Megahertz shortwave, December 23, 1995, 8:00 P.M. EST. Downloaded in late 1995 from <alt.conspiracy> and posted to private e-mail list of persons studying far right. Original posting by John DiNardo. Spelling corrected as a courtesy.

Endnote13

Ad for Texe Marrs, Dark Majesty: The Secret Brotherhood and the Magic of A Thousand Points of Light in The New American, 10/5/92, p. 41.

Endnote14

Betty A. Dobratz and Stephanie Shanks-Meile, “Conflict in the White Supremacist/Racialist Movement in the United States, International Journal of Group Tensions, Vol. 25, No. 1, 1995, pp. 57-75.

Endnote15

In the US many skinheads are culturally identified youth rebels who are not explicilty racist, and in some cases are actively anti-racist.

Endnote16

Rebuttals to Holocaust deniers is collected globally at <http://www.nizkor.org>.

Endnote17

Newsletter from fall 1995, located and downloaded in early 1996 and posted on private e-mail list for persons studying the far right. Stormfront homepage was at the time: <http://www2.stormfront.org/watchman/watch-on.html>.

Endnote18

According to the Coalition for Human Dignity, the phrase “fourteen words” is a coded white supremacist greeting that originated with David Lane, a member of the neonazi Order. Another coded phrase is “88,” representing the eighth letter in the alphabet as in “HH” for “Heil Hitler.”

Endnote19

Although the FBI infiltrated some ultra-right groups during the 1960’s and ’70’s, it also formed alliances with the paramilitary right to infiltrate left and people-of-color groups which sometimes faced extralegal and sometimes lethal repression not experienced by the right until the 1980’s. See for example: Frank J. Donner, The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980); Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall. Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, (Boston: South End Press, 1988); Kenneth O’Reilly, “Racial Matters:” The FBI’s Secret File on Black America, 1960–1972, (New York: Free Press, 1988); Ward Churchill & Jim Vander Wall. COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI’s Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States, (Boston: South End Press, 1989); Brian Glick, War at Home: Covert Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It, (Boston: South End Press, 1989).

Endnote20

Kristen Rand, “Gun Shows in America: Tupperware® Parties for Criminals,” Violence Policy Center, 1996.

Endnote21

Author’s visit to gun shows in Ohio and Massachusetts.

Endnote22

Leslie Jorgensen, “AM Armies,” pp. 20-22 and Larry Smith, “Hate Talk,” p. 23, Extra! March/April 1995. Ed Vulliamy, “Clinton Tackles the Mighty Right,” The Observer (London) April 30, 1995, p. 16. Steve Lipsher, “The Radical Right,” The Denver Post, January 22, 1995, p. 1.

Endnote23

Jorgensen, Ibid.

Endnote24

Marc Cooper, “The Paranoid Style,”The Nation, April 10, 1995, pp. 486-492. William H. Freivogel, “Talking Tough On 300 Radio Stations, Chuck Harder’s Show Airs Conspiracy Theories,” St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 10, 1995, p. 5B.

Endnote25

Through 1996 at shortwave band 5.065 kHz .

Endnote26

Satcom1, transponder 15, audio channel 7.56.

Endnote27

David McHugh and Nancy Costello, “Radio host off the air; militia chief may be out,” Detroit Free Press, 4/29/95, p. 6A.

Endnote28

The author monitors far-right shortwave broadcasts on a Radio Shack DX-390. See also James Latham, “The Rise of Far-Right/Hate Programming on the Shortwave Bands,” Vista (Radio for Peace International), Oct. 1994, pp. 2-4. Contact RFPI, POB 20728, Portland, OR 97220.

Endnote29

The Spotlight, 12/11/95, p. 1.