Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism

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Dances with Devils
How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes
Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism
by Chip Berlet
Senior Analyst
Political Research Associates
This study originally appeared in the Fall 1998 issue of The Public Eye magazine.
Revised 4/16/99
Political Research Associates

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Part One:
The Roots of the Apocalyptic Paradigm
An Overview of the
Dynamics
The approach of the year 2000 has already
stimulated widespread discussion of apocalyptic fears
and millennialist expectations. Often lost in the
discussion is the important ongoing role that specific
types of apocalyptic and millennialist thinking play in
shaping the demonization, scapegoating, and
conspiracism used by various right–wing political and
social movements.1
A remarkable number of myths, metaphors, images,
symbols, phrases, and icons in Western culture flow
from Christian Biblical prophecies about apocalyptic
confrontations and millennial transformation.2 The
Bible’s Book of Revelation contains warnings that the
end of time is foreshadowed by a vast Satanic
conspiracy involving high government officials who
betray the decent and devout productive citizens, while
sinful and subversive tools of the Devil gnaw away at
society from below.
In The Origins of Satan, author Elaine Pagels
points out that today:
“Many religious people who no longer believe in
Satan, along with countless others who do
not identify with any religious tradition,
nevertheless are influenced by this cultural
legacy whenever they perceive social and
political conflict in terms of the forces of
good contending against the forces of evil
in the world.”3
The anticipation of a righteous struggle against evil
conspiracies has become a central apocalyptic narrative
in our nation’s religious, secular, political, and cultural
discourse.4 This is certainly evident in popular culture
where films such as “Armageddon” and “Apocalypse
Now” and the TV series “Millennium” name the
tradition while mainstreaming the ideas. Films including
“Rambo,” “Mad Max,” “Red Dawn,” “Die Hard,”
“Terminator” and their sequels reinterpret apocalyptic
visions while obscuring their origins.5 The “X–Files”
film and its related TV series are quintessential
apocalyptic narratives. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
stomps incarnate evil in a weekly TV series. Prophetic
scripture provides the paradigm for sensational scripts.
What is entertainment for some, however, is spiritual
and political reality for others.
The irrational fear of powerful conspiracies—
conspiracism—has flourished episodically throughout
US history. Usually it is right–wing groups that have
fanned apocalyptic fears of evil conspiracies to create a
powerful political weapon. The results can be
devastating. There have been crusades against sin;
waves of government repression justified by claims of
subversive conspiracies; and campaigns to purge alien
ideas and persons from our shores.6
Starting in the
1620s, witch hunts swept New England for a century,
and fears of plots by Freemasons or Catholics swept the
nation in the 1800s. This century has produced
allegations of a Jewish banking cabal behind the Federal
Reserve, and the anticommunist witch hunts of the
McCarthy Period in the 1950s.7
Could it happen again at the end of the 20th
century? Holly Sklar, author of Chaos or Community:
Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad Economics,
argues that it might:
“The demonization of immigrants, welfare
recipients, people of color, and single
mothers is already tolerated to an alarming
degree in mainstream political debate.
Now as we head toward the millennium, we
also face the rising fervor of those driven
by visions of culture war and apocalypse.”8
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Contemporary interpretations of apocalyptic
millennialism can be sorted into three related and
overlapping tendencies that range from sacred to
secular: First, in the view of some Christian
fundamentalists, we are in the apocalyptic millennial
“End Times” or “Last Days” prophesied in Revelation
and other books of the Bible; Second, a more generic
and often secularized apocalyptic world view of
impending crisis is reflected in diverse movements
across the political spectrum; Third, there is a generic
sense of expectation and renewal, generated merely by
the approach of the calendar year 2000, because it is a
millennial milestone in human recorded history.9
These apocalyptic fears and millennial
expectations in turn influence three broad contemporary
right–wing movements in the US:
 Activists in various sectors of the Christian
Right, ranging from electoral to insurgent, and with
varying views regarding whether or not the year
2000 marks the End Times. This includes attempts
by Christian hard–liners to purify the society as
part of a religious revival, such as the homophobic
statements by Trent Lott, and advertisements calling
on homosexuals to “cure” themselves by turning to
Jesus. The most aggressive activists engage in
theologically–motivated acts of violence against
abortion providers.
 Right wing populists, including survivalists, gun
rights activists, anti–elite conspiracists, and
participants in the Patriot & armed militia
movements. Conspiracist scapegoating is rampant
in this sector. A popular speaker in these circles is
Robert K. Spear who believes the formation of
armed Christian communities is necessary as we
approach the End Times. Preparing to survive the
coming apocalypse has led to a survivalist
subculture that stores food and conducts self–
defense traininga culture that now spans a
continuum from religious to secular in right–wing
populist groups.
 The far right, including neonazis and persons
influenced by far right versions of the Christian
Identity religion. Identity beliefs were behind the
assassination of Denver talk show host Alan Berg, a
spree of armed robberies and murders starting in the
1980s, the tragic shoot–out between federal agents
and the Weaver family in Idaho, andin some
reportsthe brutal dragging death of a Black man
in Jasper, Texas.
In each of these sectors, scapegoating is
widespread. Scapegoating always needs to be taken
seriously when it becomes tolerated in political and
social discourse.10 But scapegoating that is generated or
enhanced by apocalyptic fears has distinctive features
and targets.11 Any group can be framed as doing evil or
being evil, given enough creative energy on the part of
the scapegoater, although the actual framing of the
allegations will depend on the sector of the right
Christian nationalist, right wing populist, or far right.12
The approaching millennium creates an
apocalyptic milieu in which demonization, scapegoating,
and conspiracism could again have serious
consequences in our society, especially since rhetoric
has already turned to violence. If we are to limit the
potential short–term damage, and understand the
significance of the long–term dynamic, we need to better
understand the thinking of those who live in the shadow
of the Apocalypse.
Most people delving into the topic for the first time
find the layers of complexity, unfamiliar vocabulary,
and competing timelines to be daunting. The effort is
nevertheless worthwhile because it helps to explain
what often appears to the uninitiated as inexplicable
behavior among members of right–wing social and
political movements.13 What do Christian
fundamentalists mean when they warn about the “signs
of the times?” How did apocalyptic millennialism set
the stage for the Oklahoma City bombing? Why do
members of ultra–conservative groups such as the John
Birch Society and Eagle Forum worry that the UN is
trying to create a globalist “One World Government?”
What is the “The Mark of the Beast?”
Behind much of the current resurgence of
scapegoating and the spread of conspiracy theories
about secret elites lies apocalyptic and millennialist
themes as old as Satan.
Apocalypse
The word “revelation” is a translation of the Greek
word “apokalypsis.”14 The original Greek term referred
to unveiling hidden information or revealing secret
knowledge concerning unfolding human events. Thus,
the words “apocalypse,” “revelation,” and “prophecy”
are closely related. Prophets, by definition, are
apocalyptic.
In its more common usage, the word “apocalypse”
has come to mean the belief in an approaching
confrontation, cataclysmic event, or transformation of
epochal proportion, about which a select few have
forewarning so they can make appropriate preparations.
Those who believe in a coming apocalypse might be
optimistic about the outcome of the apocalyptic
moment, anticipating a chance for positive
transformational change; or they might be pessimistic,
anticipating a doomsday; or they might anticipate a
period of violence or chaos with an uncertain
outcome.15
In Christianity, the Apocalypse refers to a gigantic
global battle with Satanic forces that signals the end of
time. The apocalyptic tradition also exists in Judaism,
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Islam, and other religions, and pre–dated Christianity.16
Apocalypticism can also be found among a few New
Age devotees and environmental activists.17
Revelation Interpreted as Apocalyptic
Conspiracist Narrative
Christian apocalypticism is based on many sources
in the Bible, including the Old Testament books of
Daniel and Ezekiel, and the New Testament Gospel of
Matthew. The primary Biblical source, however, is the
Book of Revelation, the last book of the New
Testament.18 The central narrative of Revelation is that
righteous Christians need to know they will be tricked
and betrayed by trusted political and religious leaders
who are secretly conspiring with Satan. Revelation, the
chronicle of an apocalyptic vision, was written about 95
AD, but parts derive from prophetic elements of the
book of Daniel and other Old Testament books.19 The
identity of John of Patmos, the author of Revelation, is
disputed, but most experts suggest it was not the same
John, the disciple of Jesus, who authored the fourth
Gospel.20
Revelation describes in graphic terms what will
happen when an angry God finally intervenes in human
affairs at the end of time. The narrative describes the
End Times as a period of widespread sinfulness, moral
depravity, and crass materialism. The Four Horsemen of
the Apocalypse ride in bringing God’s wrath in the form
of wars, disease, civil strife, and natural disasters.
Satan’s chief henchman appears in human form as the
Antichrist, a popular world leader who secretly harbors
sympathy for the Devil. He promises peace and unity of
all nations under one world governmentbut it’s a
conspiracy. His agents are tracking down and punishing
Christians who refuse to abandon their faith. Satan’s
allies receive a mark—the Mark of the Beast—
represented by the number 666.
This period of hard times are called “the
Tribulations” and culminate in a final cataclysmic
doomsday confrontation of massed armies in the Middle
East, at a place named Armageddon. Good triumphs
over evil at the battle of Armageddon, ushering in a
millennium of Christian rule.
The narrative of Revelation provides important
clues for understanding the rhetoric and actions of
devout Christians who are influenced by apocalypticism
and millennialism. Among Christians, belief in an actual
coming apocalypse is particularly strong among those
Fundamentalists who not only read the Bible literally,
but also consider prophetic Biblical text to be a coded
timetable or script revealing the future.21 Those that
believe the apocalypse is at hand can act out those
theological beliefs in social, cultural, and political
arenas. An example might be when believers view
current world events as “signs of the End Times” or see
those with whom they disagree as agents of the
Antichrist. Today, apocalyptic themes influence many
diverse Christian groups, including those who do not
think the End Times are close at hand. Conspiracist
appeals also reach a wide secular audience of alienated
persons on a cultural and often unconscious level.
Millennium
Considerable attention has been focused on the
fact that the year 2000 marks the turn of a calendar
millennium. The word Millennium specifically refers to
a span of one thousand years. It has come to mean the
point at which one period of one thousand years ends
and the next begins. For most Christians, the millennial
year 2000 will be a time of celebration, reflection, and
renewal.
Contemporary Christian Fundamentalists interpret
Revelation as a prophetic warning about tumultuous
apocalyptic events marking End Times that herald the
second coming of Christ. Most also believe that when
Christ returns, he will reign for a period of one–
thousand years—a millennium. So the turn of the
calendar to the year 2000 doesn’t necessarily have
theological significance. Norman Cohn, in The Pursuit
of the Millennium, chronicles how Christian apocalyptic
fervor appears at seemingly random dates throughout
Western history.22 A major US episode of Christian
millennialist fervor occurred among the Millerites in the
1840s.23
Any date in any calendar system (Judaic or Islamic
for example) can be understood as significant given the
creativity of those using numerological equations to find
justification.24 But the rotund numerological
significance of the year 2000 has spawned millennialist
expectations both inside and outside Christianity, with
apocalyptic warnings now coming from contemporary
Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and New
Age prophets. 25
Visit a large bookstore and scan the titles in the
religion, prophecy, new age, and occult sections and you
will see a cornucopia of books anticipating the year
2000. Surfing the Web reveals a pulsating multimedia
cacophony of millennial expectation. The topics range
from secular to spiritual and from cataclysmic doom to
transcendent rapture in what Michael Barkun has called
an “improvisational style” of millennialism and
apocalypticism.26
For instance, the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in
1997 merged millennial prophetic visions from the
Bible, the prophecies of Nostradamus, and the literary
genre of science fiction.27 Conspiracist William Cooper
weaves an apocalyptic vision out of historic anti–
Semitism and modern UFO lore. 28
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Two Apocalyptic Traditions in Christianity
In Anti–Apocalypse, academic Lee Quinby argues
that “Apocalypticism in each of its modes fuels discord,
breeds anxiety or apathy, and sometimes causes panic,”
and that “this process can occur at the individual,
community, national, or international level.” What
makes apocalypse so compelling,” argues Quinby,” is
its promise of future perfection, eternal happiness, and
godlike understanding of life, but it is that very will to
absolute power and knowledge that produces its
compulsions of violence, hatred, and oppression.”29
Yet not all contemporary Christian interpretations
of the book of Revelation promote apocalyptic
demonization. Within Christianity, there are two
competing views of how to interpret the apocalyptic
themes in the Bible. One view identifies evil with
specific persons and groups, seeking to identify those in
league with the Devil. This view easily lends itself to
demonization. A more positive form of interpreting
apocalyptic prophecy is not based on demonization; it is
promoted by those Christians who see evil in the will to
dominate and oppress. Apocalyptic thinking, in this
case, envisions a liberation for the oppressed. The two
interpretations represent a deep division within
Christianity.
Even some relatively conservative and orthodox
Christians look to the prophetic tradition of siding with
the poor and oppressed, and these themes can be found
in both the New and Old Testaments.30 This is the
tradition of the Social Gospel in Protestantism, and
Liberation Theology in Catholicism. It can be found in
today’s Sojourners group and the tradition of “prophetic
anger” coupled with “evangelical populism.”31 Social
justice activist Daniel Berrigan uses apocalyptic
discourse in the Bible as a tool in challenging
oppression, corruption, and tyranny.32 Philosopher René
Girard argues that the New Testament can be used to
help unravel scapegoating.33 Author and activist Cornel
West identifies himself with a prophetic tradition rooted
in African–American Christianity and the struggle for
Black civil rights. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
preached from this tradition when he spoke truth to
power.
Within mainstream denominations, independent
evangelical churches, progressive Christian
communities, and followers of liberation theology are
many Christians who are painfully aware of those
historic periods when some Christian leaders sided with
oppression, and used demonization as a tool to protect
and extend power and privilege. This discussion seeks
to honestly explore the heritage of apocalyptic
demonization, or a doomsday version of millennialism,
but not to stereotype all Christians as continuing that
heritage.34 In The Good Book: Reading the Bible with
Heart and Mind, Peter J. Gomes, minister in The
Memorial Church at Harvard University, argues that the
Bible must be read carefully to avoid using the text to
legitimize “doctrinaire prejudices” in the dominant
culture. Gomes suggests Biblical literacy as an antidote
to Biblical literalism.35
Some of the most vocal critics of apocalyptic
demonization and conspiracist scapegoating come from
within Christianity. One such critique is Gregory S.
Camp’s Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End–
Times Paranoia, which is impressive both as a
historical and theological work. Camp warns of the
“very real danger that Christians could pick up some
extra spiritual baggage” by credulously embracing
conspiracy theories.36 As early as 1993, Bruce Barron
wrote a stinging rebuke of apocalyptic Christian
conspiracism in the Christian Research Journal, when
reviewing Pat Robertson’s 1992 The New World Order
and Gary H. Kah’s 1991 En Route to Global
Occupation.37 Paul T. Coughlin, cautions conservative
Christians in Secrets, Plots & Hidden Agendas: What
You Don’t Know About Conspiracy Theories.
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Even skeptics can attempt to be respectful of
Christianity as is author Tim Callahan who debunks the
idea that the Bible can be used as a crystal ball in the
1997 Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment?39 The
danger comes not from Christianity, but from Christians
who combine Biblical literalism, apocalyptic timetables,
demonization, and oppressive prejudices.
From Demonization to
Scapegoating to Conspiracism
The poisoned fruit of conspiracist scapegoating is
baked into the American apple pie, and the ingredients
include destructive versions of apocalyptic fears and
millennialist expectations. This is true whether we are
studying the sector of the Christian Right that is
consciously influenced by Biblical prophecy, or more
secularized right–wing movements for which Bible–
based apocalypticism and millennialism have faded into
unconsciousyet still influentialmetaphors. To fully
comprehend the subtext of many US right–wing
movements, we need to review the interactive dynamics
among demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism.
Demonization
Demonization often begins with marginalization,
the process in which targeted individuals or groups are
placed outside the circle of wholesome mainstream
society through political propaganda and age–old
prejudice. The next step is objectification or
dehumanization, the process of negatively labeling a
person or group of people so they become perceived
more as objects than as real people. Dehumanization
often is associated with the belief that a particular group
of people are inferior or threatening. The final step is
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demonization; the person or group is seen as totally
malevolent, sinful, and evil. Needless to say, it is easier
to rationalize stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination,
and even violence against those who are dehumanized
or demonized.
Demonization fuels dualisma form of binary
thinking that divides the world into good versus evil
with no middle ground tolerated. Dualism allows no
acknowledgment of complexity, nuance, or ambiguity in
debate, and promotes hostility toward those who suggest
coexistence, toleration, pragmatism, compromise, or
mediation. James Aho observes that our notions of the
enemy “in our everyday life world,” is that the “enemy’s
presence in our midst is a pathology of the social
organism serious enough to require the most far–
reaching remedies: quarantine, political excision, or, to
use a particularly revealing expression, liquidation and
expulsion.”40
Scapegoating
The ritualized transference of evil onto a
demonized “other” and the subsequent expulsion of that
“evil” is a familiar theme across centuries and
cultures.41 In western culture the term “scapegoat” can
be traced to an early Judaic ritual described in the Book
of Leviticus in the Bible.42 The term scapegoat,
however, has evolved to mean “anyone who must bear
the responsibility symbolically or concretely for the sins
of others,” Richard Landes explains. “Psychologically,
the tendency to find scapegoats is a result of the
common defense mechanism of denial through
projection.”43
One cannot, however, take a psychological model
and directly apply it to society.44 As psychiatrist Susan
Fisher explains, the mechanism of scapegoating within a
family—a well–studied phenomena—does not
necessarily work the same way as the scapegoating of
groups on a societal level where “the scapegoated group
serves more as a metaphor,”45 Scapegoating by large
groups and social movements is not an indication of
mass mental dysfunction, even though there may be
psychological issues involved, and even though some of
the individuals involved may suffer from a variety of
psychological problems.46 Recent research on the
subject suggests the phenomena is more complicated
than commonly pictured, involving several personality
types and multiple psychological processes.47
Scapegoating on a societal level can be seen as a
process whereby the hostility and aggression of an angry
and frustrated group are directed away from a rational
explanation of a conflict, and projected onto targets
demonized by irrational claims of wrongdoing. As a
result, the scapegoated group bears the blame for
causing the conflict, while the scapegoaters feel a sense
of innocence and increased unity. It is scapegoating
whether the conflict is real or imaginary, the grievances
are legitimate or illegitimate, or the target is wholly
innocent or partially culpable. Scapegoating can be used
as a rationale to justify the retention or acquisition of
unfair power and privilege.
Scapegoats are often pointed out by demagogues
leaders willing to use emotionally–manipulative
appeals coupled with simplistic and subjective
explanations.48 The arguments that demagogues use to
prove the culpability of the scapegoats may seem
obviously artificial, but given the unresolved anger and
frustration of the persons being mobilized, any attempt
at explaining and perhaps resolving the conflict seems
better than indifference and inaction. Demagogues often
portray the scapegoat as not just culpable but actually
evil; demonizing the scapegoat by claiming the
scapegoat is involved in a sinister conspiracy that
threatens to sabotage the entire society.
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. In conspiracist discourse, the supposed
conspirators serve as scapegoats for the actual conflict
within the society.49 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.50 Historian David Brion Davis notes that
movements to counter the “threat of conspiratorial
subversion” have a special status and meaning in the
US, “a nation born in revolution and based on the
sovereignty of the people.”51
By blaming a small group of individuals for vast or
horrific crimes, conspiracism serves to divert attention
from the institutional locus of power that drives
systemic oppression, injustice and exploitation. As
explained by Frank P. Mintz:
“Conspiracism serves the needs of diverse
political and social groups in America and
elsewhere. It identifies elites, blames them
for economic and social catastrophes, and
assumes that things will be better once
popular action can remove them from
positions of power.”52
Right–wing conspiracist scapegoating not only
identifies and blames elites, but also identifies and
blames alleged “subversives” and “parasites” from
groups that have relatively low social or economic
status.
In Western culture, conspiracist narratives are
significantly influenced by metaphors from Biblical
apocalyptic prophecy. Stephen O’Leary in Arguing the
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Apocalypse contends that the process of demonization is
central to all forms of conspiracist thinking.53 Leonard
Zeskind argues it is impossible to analyze the
contemporary political right, without understanding the
“all–powerful cosmology of diabolical evil.”54 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.”55
S. L. Gardiner 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.”56 The fear of a subversive
conspiracy to create a collectivist one world
government, however, spans a continuum of beliefs from
religious to secular.
Philosopher Herman Sinaiko observes that “The
most decent and modest communities have people in
their midst who are prone to scapegoating and who see
the world as run by conspiracies. A healthy community
is organized in a way that controls them and suppresses
their tendencies. When a community is in crisis, the
standards and control mechanisms are weakened, and
these people step forward and find their voice and an
audience.”57
Mass outbreaks of conspiracism are a distinct
narrative form of scapegoating in the political and social
arena rather than a mass outbreak of paranoid
psychological pathology. There are certainly mentally–
unbalanced individuals who promote paranoid–sounding
conspiracist theories, however it is simplistic to imagine
that these suspicious and often anti–social individuals
periodically join together to form large mass movements
around shared goals. It is also naive to assume that
power elites or government agencies are exclusively
populated by clinically paranoid leaders who see
subversion behind all social change and, therefore
unilaterally activate the repressive agencies of the state.
Conspiracist scapegoating certainly involves
psychological processes, but it plays an objective role
as a useful social and political mechanism in actual
power struggles throughout US history. An
understanding of that role is essential to explaining its
power and effectiveness.
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.58 An entrenched network of
conspiracy–mongering information outlets spreads
dubious stories about public and private figures and
institutions, using a variety of corporate and alternative
media. 59
In highlighting conspiracist allegation as a form of
scapegoating, it is important to remember the following:
 All conspiracist theories start with a grain of
truth, which is then transmogrified through
hyperbole and filtered through pre–existing myth
and prejudice,
 People who believe conspiracist allegations
sometimes act on those irrational beliefs, which has
concrete consequences in the real world,
 Conspiracist thinking and scapegoating are
symptoms, not causes, of underlying societal
frictions, and as such should not be ignored,
 Scapegoating and conspiracist allegations are
tools that can be used by cynical leaders to
mobilize a mass following,
 Supremacist and fascist organizers use
conspiracist theories as a relatively unthreatening
entry point in making contact with potential recruits,
 Even when conspiracist theories do not center
on Jews, people of color, or other scapegoated
groups, they create an environment where racism,
anti–Semitism, and other forms of prejudice and
oppression can flourish.
Key Narrative Roots
The Salem witch trials sought to expose witches
and their allies as conspiring with the Devil.60 Modern
scholarship has shown that persons accused of being
witches were disproportionately women who did not
conform to societal expectations, and that there was
frequently an economic dimension to the charge, such as
a disputed inheritance.61 This is evidence that
demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism
elements of every witch huntarrived on our shores
with the overwhelmingly Protestant early settlers and
their view that Godly persons were in a struggle with a
literal Satan. These ideas were influenced by the
apocalyptic narrative of Revelation, but were not
always linked to a specific widespread period of
millennial expectation. They did set the stage, however,
for the generalized paradigm of conspiracism in the US,
which revolves around narratives of subversion by evil
forces doing the work of the Devil.
Satan, the Devil, and the Antichrist
What Christians conceive as the embodiment of
evil has varied over time. According to Robert Fuller, in
his book, Naming the Antichrist, “During the first three
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centuries of Christian thought, the identities of Satan
and the Antichrist were frequently intertwined,” but after
that, “The Antichrist has generally been understood to
be Satan’s chief disciple or agent for deceiving
humanity in the final days….”62
The idea of the Devil, an incarnate powerful evil
demon leading a battle against God, gains prominence in
the eight and ninth centuries in Christianity.63 By the
thirteenth century, “the Devil reached the acme of his
influence.”64 Christianity, from the 1100s through the
1500s, experienced a period of militant millennialism,
and paid special attention to identifying the Antichrist
and his evil followers.65 By taking a hard line in
opposition to the practice of magic and witchcraft
during this period, Christian authorities taught followers
that some persons in league with the Devil possessed
special powers and skills. Alliance with the Devil might
be through demonic possession or soul–selling, it might
manifest itself as spreading the false religion of the
Antichrist, or recalcitrant sinfulness. The response
ranged from exorcism, to torture, to execution. With this
reading of the relationship between the Devil and certain
demonized individuals, the seeds of future witch hunts
were sown.
Devil worshipping is a charge that has been
leveled against religious reformers, followers of non–
Christian religious traditions, non–believers, and
dissidents of all stripes. According to Paul Caras in his
book History of the Devil, “[t]he saddest side of the
Devil’s history appears in the persecution of those who
were supposed to be adherents of the Devil; namely,
sectarians, heretics, and witches.”66 As Elaine Pagels
dryly observes, “Satan has, after all, made a kind of
profession out of being the ‘other’.” 67
Jews were linked by the Christian church to the
Antichrist as early as the second century.68 By the
twelfth century Jews are charged with the ritual murder
of children, poisoning of wells, desecration of
communion bread and wine, and other calumnies.69 The
original Papal inquisition in the thirteenth century was
largely directed against dissenters linked to Satanic
influence. The charge frequently served an opportunistic
purpose. The Christian order of the Knights Templar
was accused of “bestial idolatry” by “an avaricious king
of France…anxious to deprive them of their wealth.”70
The later Spanish Inquisition, in the fifteenth century,
frequently sought to test the sincerity of converted Jews
and Muslims, some of whom were suspected of
concealing sinister motives.71
The demonization of Jews as magical agents of the
powerful Devil gains strength during the sixteenth
century Renaissance and the Reformation. During this
period, the earlier false allegations about Jews secretly
engaging in murder and desecration again became
widely believed among Christians.72 Jews are even
accused of being agents of the Antichrist in a coalition
with the Amazons.73 Martin Luther believed Jews were
agents of the Antichrist in what he thought were the
approaching End Times, although he also included
orthodox Catholics loyal to the Papacy, the Turkish
invaders of Europe, and, eventually, just about everyone
who disagreed with him.74
Conspiracist movements in the US, from the 1800s
on, have derived their specific narratives from two
historic roots: false allegations about Freemasons and
false allegations about Jews.75 Implicit in both
narratives, as they were modified for US consumption,
is the theme that America is essentially a Christian
nation threatened with subversion by anti–Christian
secret elites with allies in high places. The secular
version of US conspiracism omits the overtly religious
references and simply looks for betrayal by political
and religious leaders.
Freemasons
Masonic lodges and individual Masons in the
fraternal societies of Freemasonry were first accused of
being the Devil’s disciples in the late 1700s, an idea
that flourished in the US in the 1800s.76 Those who
embrace this theory often point to symbols associated
with Freemasonry, such as the pyramid and eye on the
back of the one dollar bill, as evidence of the
conspiracy.77 The original allegation of a conspiracy
within Freemasonry to control the world traces back to
British author John Robison who wrote a 1798 book
with the lengthy title: Proofs of a Conspiracy Against
All the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried
on in the secret meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati,
and Reading Societies, collected from good
authorities.
78 Robison influenced French author Abbé
Augustin de Barruel, whose first two volumes of his
eventual four–volume study, Memoirs Illustrating the
History of Jacobinism, beat Robison’s book to the
printer.79
Both Robison and Barruel discuss the attempt by
Bavarian intellectual Adam Weishaupt to spread the
ideas of the Enlightenment through his secretive society,
the Order of the Illuminati, founded in 1775. The
rationalist Enlightenment ideas of the Illuminati were, in
fact, brought into Masonic lodges, where they played a
role in a factional fight against occultist philosophy.80
Weishaupt, a professor of Canon Law at the University
of Ingolstadt in Germany, was banished in 1786 by the
government, and the Order of the Illuminati was
suppressed.81
Weishaupt, his Illuminati society, the Freemasons,
and other secret societies are portrayed by Robison and
Barruel as bent on despotic world domination through a
secret conspiracy using front groups to spread their
influence.82 Barruel claimed the conspirators “had
sworn hatred to the altar and the throne, had sworn to
9
crush the God of the Christians, and utterly to extirpate
the Kings of the Earth.”83 For Barruel the grand plot
hinges on how Illuminati “adepts of revolutionary
Equality and Liberty had buried themselves in the
Lodges of Masonry” where they supposedly caused the
French revolution, and then ordered “all the adepts in
their public prints to cry up the revolution and its
principles.” Soon, every nation had its “apostle of
Equality, Liberty, and Sovereignty of the People.”84
Robison, a professor of Natural Philosophy at the
University of Edinburgh in Scotland, argued that the
Illuminati evolved out of Freemasonry, and called the
Illuminati philosophy “Cosmo–politism.”85
These books both promote three conspiracist
contentions that are still subscribed to today in some US
rightist groups: First, that the Enlightenment themes of
equality and liberty are designed to destroy respect for
property and the natural social hierarchy; Second, that
there is a plan to destroy orthodox Christianity and
replace it with universalism, deism…or worse; Third,
those with a cosmopolitan outlook, who encourage free–
thinking and international cooperation, are disloyal
subversive traitors, out to undermine national
sovereignty and promote moral anarchy and political
tyranny.
These conspiracist themes soon merged with the
idea that individual Masons influenced by the Order of
the Illuminati were in league with the Devil (as agents of
the Antichrist); a claim that quickly became entwined
with allegations that Jews were “behind everything.”
This web of conspiracy allegations crossed the Atlantic,
and during the 1800s produced outbreaks of Protestant
suspicion about Freemasons.86 This was followed by
the idea that Catholics were satanic agents of the
Antichrist, who allegedly had chosen to make his End
Times appearance as the Pope.87
Jews and the Forged Protocols
Jews returned as prime candidates for Satanic
collusion after circulation of the forged anti–Semitic
propaganda tract, The Protocols of the Learned Elders
of Zion, the root source in this century of anti–Semitic
allegations of a vast Jewish conspiracy.88
The Protocols grew out of propaganda intrigues
within the secret police of Czarist Russia in the late
1800s.89 The main Russian print source of the Protocols
first appeared as an appendix in The Big in the Small,
and Antichrist as a Near Political Possibility; Notes of
an Orthodox Person by Sergei A. Nilus, published in
1905 but republished to wider audiences in 1911 and
1917.90 The Protocols itself is inspired by (and
plagiarized from) earlier works that allege conspiracies,
especially a satiric 1865 French work, Dialogue in Hell
between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, by Maurice
Joly; and a 1868 German novel, Biarritz, by Hermann
Goedsche.91 Equally dubious documents claiming proof
of similar secret conspiracies have circulated for
centuries.92
The text of the Protocols purports to be minutes of
the secret meetings of a Jewish ruling clique conspiring
to take over the world. The Protocols incorporate many
of the core conspiracist themes outlined in the Robison
and Barruel attacks on the Freemasons, and overlay
them with anti–Semitic allegations about anti–Czarist
movements in Russia. The Protocols reflect themes
similar to more general critiques of enlightenment
liberalism by those supporting church/state oligarchies
and other theocratic—and thus anti–democratic—forms
of government. The interpretation intended by the
publication of the Protocols is that if one peels away the
layers of the Freemason conspiracy, past the Illuminati,
one finds the rotten Jewish core.
According to the Protocols, Jews work through
Masonic lodges and thus Jews are behind the plan for
global conquest. The list of charges in the Protocols is
long, and includes false claims that Jews: use liberalism
to weaken church and state, control the press, work
through radicals and revolutionaries, manipulate the
economy, especially through banking monopolies and
the power of gold, encourage issuing paper currency not
tied to the gold standard, promote financial speculation
and use of credit, seek to replace traditional educational
curriculum to discourage independent thinking,
encourage immorality among Christian youth, use
intellectuals to confuse people, control “puppet”
governments both through secret allies and by
blackmailing elected officials, weaken laws through
liberal judicial interpretations, and will suspend civil
liberties during an emergency, then make the measures
permanent.93
After the Russian revolution, Czarist loyalists
emigrated to countries in Europe and to the US, and
brought copies of the Protocols claiming they were the
plans used by the Judeo–Bolsheviks to seize power.94
The Protocols became a core source of allegations by
Hitler and his allies in the German Nazi movement of a
Judeo–Masonic–Bolshevik conspiracy. In early 1920 a
private English translation was printed in Britain, and
that summer London’s Sunday Post published a series
described by Norman Cohn as “eighteen articles
expounding the full myth of the Judeo–Masonic
conspiracy, with of course due reference to the
Protocols.”95 The newspaper’s correspondent in Russia,
Victor Marsden, produced a new English translation of
the Protocols that is still in print and sold today.96 The
Protocols are circulated in the US by anti–Semitic
conspiracists across the political spectrum, and are
posted on the Internet. Walter Laqueur reports that the
Protocols are still circulated by contemporary anti–
Semitic Russian nationalists.97
10
Many of the anti–Semitic allegations made during
this century come from the allegations found in the
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. These charges
continue to circulate today in the anti–Semitic US far
right, but if the scapegoated Jew is replaced with the
more diffuse target of cosmopolitan globalist liberal
secular humanism, many of the same allegations form
the core critique of the contemporary US populist right
and Christian Right. According to historian Richard
Landes, the Protocols is “behind much current anti–
modern discourse, especially the paranoid and
conspiracist texts, which are widespread on the Web.”98
Given the centuries–old Christian charge linking evil
with magical or devious Jews, at least some form of
anti–Semitism is intrinsic to most conspiracist thinking
in Western cultures, even when it is unconscious.
Variations on Conspiracist Themes
The charges against the Illuminati group and the
Freemasons embodied a backlash against the
Enlightenment. Subsequently, the same conspiracist
allegations were adapted for use against progressives,
Jews, communists, internationalists, and secular
humanists. The overall paradigm is apocalyptic
demonization, and the range of scapegoats that gets
demonized is vast. At the same time, the dynamics are
complex, involving distinct social, political. cultural,
and religious movement that frequently overlap.
In the US, the Christian fundamentalist movement
emerged in the early twentieth century as a backlash
against the principles of the enlightenment, modernism,
and liberalism.99 During roughly the same period, the
fear of a global subversive communist menace was
influenced by Christian apocalyptic millennialism, so
much so that Joel Kovel, titled his 1994 book on the
subject, Red Hunting in the Promised Land.
100 In 1919
the US government launched the Palmer Raids, which
rounded up thousands of Russian and Italian immigrants
as a response to fears that anarchists and Bolsheviks in
this population were subversives conspiring to bring
down the US government.101
The threat of communismrepresented as a Red
Menacebecame the main focus of apocalyptic
conspiracism. According to Frank Donner:
The root anti–subversive impulse was fed by the
Menace. Its power strengthened with the
passage of time, by the late twenties its
influence had become more pervasive and
folkish. Bolshevism came to be identified
over wide areas of the country by God–
fearing Americans as the Antichrist come
to do eschatological battle with the children
of light. A slightly secularized version,
widely–shared in rural and small–town
America, postulated a doomsday conflict
between decent upright folk and
radicalism—alien, satanic, immorality
incarnate.102
While political anticommunism took center stage,
subplots were woven into the script between the two
World Wars. An important synthesis of
Illuminati/Freemason and Protocols conspiracism is
work of Nesta H. Webster. Her major works are the
1919 The French Revolution, the 1921 World
Revolution: The Plot Against Civilization, and her 1924
Secret Societies and Subversive Movements.
103 While
Webster stressed non–Jewish secret elites, there are
anti–Semitic themes throughout her work. Webster
helped write the original London Morning Post series
which introduced the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to
a wide British audience.104
In 1935 two authors amplified the themes of a
conspiracy by international finance. Father Denis
Fahey’s The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern
World, was an openly antisemitic work envisioning an
organically populist (volkish) Catholic society.
Gertrude Coogan’s Money Creators, contained implicit
antisemitic conspiracist allegations linking the Illuminati
and the Rothschilds to a secret cabal that created the
Federal Reserve.105 According to Frank P. Mintz, “The
Coogan book…served as a classic of rightist populism,
enjoying distribution by the Liberty Lobby, Gerald L. K.
Smith’s Christian Nationalist Crusade, and the National
States Rights Party in the early 1970s.”106
In the mid–1930s Elizabeth Dilling transmogrified
many of Nesta Webster’s themes and applied them to
Roosevelt and the New Deal, portraying communism as
Jewish, and Roosevelt as an agent of the conspiracy.107
Dilling engaged in racist and anti–Semitic red–baiting
from the Patriotic Research Bureau in Chicago and
penned The Red Network and The Roosevelt Red
Record and its Background.
108 A more overtly anti–
Semitic tract was the 1941 New Dealers in Office, with
an appropriate subtitle “with their Red Front personnel.”
The booklet consists of a list of Roosevelt appointees
with supposedly Jewish–sounding names. The cover
sported the slogan, “Keep America Christian.”109
Leo Ribuffo’s study, The Old Christian Right,
demonstrates the influence of apocalyptic Biblical
prophecy on Protestant far right conspiracist movements
in the interwar period, especially on the major figures
Ribuffo profiles: William Dudley Pelley, Gerald B.
Winrod, and Gerald L. K. Smith.110 It was not difficult
for conspiracists and bigots within the conspiracist wing
of the Christian fundamentalist anticommunist
movement to weave in threads from the conspiracy
theories about Freemason and Jewish elites, especially
since anti–enlightenment impulses permeate all these
conspiracist theories. Pelley is an example of how
conspiracist allegations can “pull out all stops,”
especially in using anti–Semitism. An example of this
11
full–blown variation on the demonic Judeo–Bolshevik
theme appeared as a chart in Pelley’s 1938 publication,
Liberation:
111
Anti–Christ Christ
Judaism Christianity
materiality spirituality
modernism fundamentalism
leftist rightist
Jewish socialism individualism
Jewish communism constitutionalism
Protocols of Zion U.S. Constitution enforced
Communist Manifesto “Bill of Rights”
democracy constitutional republic
Communism Americanism
internationalism National patriotism
Jewish subversion American vigilantism
War Peace
After WWII overt anti–Semitism and pro–fascist
sentiments were deemed unacceptable by most
Christian conservatives, who were quickly re–
mobilizing against the Red Menace. The Cold War
spawned a number of God–fearing anticommunist
groups, some of which still exist, such as: the Freedoms
Foundation at Valley Forge, with its combination of free
market ideology and religious ecumenism, expressed by
its logo of General George Washington kneeling in
prayer; the Christian Anti–Communism Crusade,
founded by Fred Schwarz, which primarily networked
Protestants but includes a handful of Jews; and the
Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, run by Eleanor L.
Schlafly, which primarily networks among Catholics.
Conspiracist countersubversion themes are
imbedded in the rhetoric of many Christian Right
anticommunist groups. They have consistently hinted
that international communism was linked to betrayal by
secret globalist elites manipulating the US. Frequent
targets are the Rockefeller family and the Council on
Foreign Relations.112 A significant work in this genre
was the 1952 book by McCarthy supporter, Emanuel M.
Josephson, Rockefeller, ‘Internationalist’: The Man
Who Misrules the World. Josephson saw the Council on
Foreign Relations as a nest of conspirators carrying out
Rockefeller orders on behalf of international finance
capital.113 Another typical example is Dan Smoot’s
1962 The Invisible Government.
114 Similarly, Mary M.
Davison’s 1962 book, The Secret Government of the
United States, describes the Council on Foreign
Relations as “The King–Makers Club Which Has
Become The Nation’s Invisible Government.” run by the
“international bankers.”115
One of the most significant of the conspiracist
books published in the 1960s was Phyllis Schlafly’s
1964 book, A Choice not an Echo. The book was
written to promote the Goldwater presidential bid and
characterized the campaign as a revolt of “Grassroots
Republicans” against the secret internationalist
“kingmakers” alleged to control both the Democratic
and Republican parties.116 A Choice not an Echo
mainstreamed the conspiracist idea that the shadowy
elites behind Wall Street capitalism also propped up
Moscow communism.
Carroll Quigley’s 1966 Tragedy and Hope, saw
US history after the Civil War as shaped by a power
struggle between international finance capital and
industrial capitalism. Quigley saw British influence,
especially Rhodes scholarships, as crucial to
understanding role of foundations and politicians in
shaping US policy.117 Two authors affiliated with the
John Birch Society adapted and extended Quigley’s
work. Cleon Skousen’s The Naked Capitalist was self–
published in 1970. Gary Allen wrote several books,
including None Dare Call it Conspiracy, published in
1971, which sold over 5 million copies.118
One of the most prolific conspiracists in this genre,
from the mid–1960s to the mid–1970s, was Phoebe
Courtney, who also co–authored several books with her
husband Kent Courtney. The Courtneys’ and the John
Birch Society helped spread the anti–government
concept called “constitutionalism,” which embodies the
claim that secret elites manipulate the economy and the
political process, use the Federal Reserve and the IRS
as political weapons, and have created a huge federal
bureaucracy, all of which violates basic elements of the
original, unamended, US Constitution.119
12
In the 1960s, a great deal of right–wing
conspiracist attention focused on the United Nations as
the vehicle for creating the One World Government.
Mary M. Davison, in her 1966 booklet The Profound
Revolution, traced the alleged “New World Order”
conspiracy to the creation of the Federal Reserve by
international bankers, who she claimed later formed the
Council on Foreign Relations. At the time the booklet
was published, “international bankers” would have been
interpreted by many readers as a reference to a
postulated “international Jewish banking conspiracy.”
Davison included the standard call for the people to rise
up against internationalism and rebuild a constitutional
form of governmenta call echoed later by various
right wing populist groups including the contemporary
armed militia movement.120 Davison later wrote tracts
that were overtly anti–Semitic and tied to Christian
Biblical passages.121
The overt British–Jewish conspiracist theory
continues to be pursued in many publications, based
primarily on tracts “written by British fascists in the
1930’s,” according to Dennis King, who tracked Lyndon
LaRouche’s worldview back to this genre.122 The most
energetic purveyor of this theme is Eustace Mullins,
antisemitic author of the 1952 book Mullins on the
Federal Reserve and in 1954 The Federal Reserve
Conspiracy. Mullins writes in two styles, one ostensibly
focusing on banking practices, the other expressing open
and vicious anti–Semitism.123
Anticommunism became a broad umbrella under
which those with a wide variety of views as to “who is
really behind the conspiracy” could find common
ground. Was the plot run by Moscow Reds, Wall Street
Plutocrats, British Bankers, or the Jews? Issues could
have multiple subtexts.124 For instance there was
concern over the erosion of national sovereignty by the
United Nations because it was seen as favoring
communist–style collectivism. Right–wing conspiracists
expressed the conviction that the United Nations would
erode nation–state sovereignty, and facilitate intrusive
federal intervention on the local level. The concern over
federal violations of states’ rights was promoted in some
cases by libertarians, such as the publishers of the
periodical The Freeman, but “states’ rights” often
provided a veneer that masked underlying segregationist
and white supremacist sentiments, even if they were
unconscious.125
Anti–Jewish allegations could easily be added to
anticommunism. In the mid–1950s William G. Carr
promoted the anti–Semitic variant on conspiracism with
books such as Pawns in the Game and Red Fog over
America. According to Carr, an age–old Jewish
Illuminati banking conspiracy used radio–transmitted
mind control on behalf of Lucifer to construct a one
world government. The secret nexus of the plot was
supposedly the international Bilderberger meetings on
banking policy. The anti–Semitic Noontide Press
distributed Pawns in the Game for many years.126
Linking Godless communism to the Antichrist was
also an easy step for the more zealous right–wing
Christian activists in the 1950s. Typical of this genre is
One World a Red World, a pamphlet by Kenneth Goff
that claims to link Stalin and the “new world–order” to
the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast. Goff warns
that: “The dream of the ‘One–Worlders’ may look good
on paper but it all adds up to the age–old plan of Satan
to produce a Christless Millennial Reign—that man
himself can be God.”127 Goff, a former communist
organizer, turned to Christianity and then to white
supremacy, writing a 1958 pamphlet claiming biblical
support for segregation, Reds Promote Racial War, that
claimed communists promoted racial strife.128
Most Christian anticommunism, however, avoided
and eschewed overt anti–Semitism. A view more typical
of Christian fundamentalist concern with the Antichrist
was expressed by Gordon Lindsay in his 1966
pamphlet, Will the Antichrist Come Out of Russia? His
introductory blurb states that “All agree that Soviet
Russia has the spirit of the antichrist. She is a godless,
defiant power which seeks to get control over the whole
world.” But he also equivocates: “We demonstrate by
12 separate identifications that Russia is truly related to
the Beast system of Revelation 13, although this does
not mean that the antichrist will come out of her.”129 In a
similar vein is The Real Power Behind Communism, a
late 1960s pamphlet in which Dr. W. S. McBirnie warns
“We must do all in our power to struggle against the
greatest evil of the day, socialism and communism,
because they are of the Antichrist.”130 Claiming that
something is “related” to the Antichrist without being
more specific is common in this genre.
John A. Stormer, a Republican Party activist and
Protestant fundamentalist, wrote None Dare Call it
Treason in 1964, which sold over 7 million copies. The
book alleged a vast communist conspiracy manipulating
the government.131 In 1965 Stormer had a Christian
renewal experience and wrote a sequel, The Death of a
Nation, in which he explicitly linked the collectivist
conspiracy to destroy America to the work of the
Antichrist and discussed signs of the End Times and
possible millennial timetables.132
It is important to note that mainstream Protestant
denominations and the Catholic Church reject these
conspiracist notions. Nonetheless, subcultures among
Protestants and Catholics keep conspiracist ideas alive
within Christianity just as various non–religious
subcultures spread apocalyptic conspiracism in secular
society. Today, Christians with a conspiracist
interpretation of the Book of Revelation are especially
alert to betrayal by political leaders whom they suspect
13
of promoting collectivism and a tyrannical one–world
government. 133
Conspiracist Scapegoating and
Right–Wing Populism
An effective mechanism for inflaming conspiracist
scapegoating throughout US history has been
apocalyptic forms of right–wing populism, especially
when coupled with millennial expectation.134 This
dynamic has been obscured because right–wing
populism was branded by early academic studies as an
“extremist” phenomena among a “lunatic fringe” of the
“radical right” embracing a “paranoid style.” This idea
is a legacy from the first foray into establishing a broad
social science outline for studying right wing populism
the pluralist school of analysis which saw right–wing
social movements as outbursts of irrational collective
behavior fueled by status anxiety. This view is called
by critics “centrist/extremist theory.”135
Challenging Centrist/Extremist Theory
Centrist/extremist theory arrived with the 1955
publication of a collection of essays titled The New
American Right edited by Daniel Bell. Eight years later
the collection was expanded and republished under the
title, The Radical Right. Contributors to the expanded
volume included Bell, Alan F. Westin, Richard
Hofstadter, Seymour Martin Lipset, Earl Raab, Peter
Viereck, Herbert H. Hyman, Talcott Parsons, David
Riesman, and Nathan Glazer. Not all of the authors
shared all of the analytical views outlined in the
volume, but since 1955 a number of books appeared
that either elaborated on or paralleled the general
themes of centrist/extremist theory first sketched in The
New American Right.
136
Centrist/extremist theory, especially as outlined by
Lipset, Raab, Viereck, and Bell, sees dissident
movements of the left and right as composed of
outsiders—politically marginal people who have no
connection to the mainstream electoral system or nodes
of government or corporate power. Social and economic
stress snaps these psychologically–fragile people into a
mode of irrational political hysteria, and as they
embrace an increasingly paranoid style they make
militant and unreasonable demands to defend their
social and economic status. Because they are unstable,
they can become dangerous and violent. Their
extremism places them far outside the legitimate
political process, which is located in the center where
pluralists conduct civil democratic debates. The
solution prescribed by centrist/extremist theory is to
marginalize the dissidents as radicals and dangerous
religious political extremists. Their grievances and
demands need not be taken seriously. Furthermore, law
enforcement can then be relied upon to break up any
criminal conspiracies by subversive radicals who
threaten the social order.
Centrist/extremist theory ignores real power
struggles in the society. It is a status–quo oriented
frame of reference that too often dismisses dissidents of
all stripes. It stifles a healthy public debate over how to
unravel systems of oppression, allows individuals to
ignore their own complicity in oppressive behavior, and
obscures the supremacist forces woven into our
society’s central institutions.
An increasing number of progressive social
scientists and analysts reject centrist/extremist theory
and use a different set of theories to explain how social
movements work. 137 As Christian Smith observes:
“The 1970s saw a major break in the social–
movement literature with earlier theories—
e.g., mass society, collective behavior,
status discontent, and relative–deprivation
theories—that emphasized the irrational
and emotional nature of social
movements…..There was at the time a
decisive pendulum–swing away from these
“classical” theories toward the view of
social movements as rational, strategically
calculating, politically instrumental
phenomena.”138
Using these new theories, a different paradigm
emerges. According to this new paradigm, most people
who join right–wing populist movements are not acting
out of some personal pathology, but out of anger and
desperation They are demonstrating a willingness to
grasp at straws in an attempt to defend hearth and home
against the furious winds of economic and social change
threatening their way of life. They may feel abandoned,
or claim that no one in power seems to be listening.
They come to believe that no one cares except others in
the same predicament. Their anger and fear are
frequently based on objective conditions and
conflicts—power struggles involving race, gender,
ethnicity, or religion; economic hardship; changes in
social status; conflicts over cultural issues; and other
societal transformations that cause anger, confusion, and
anxiety. Whether or not their grievances are legitimate
(or even rational) they join with others to confront what
they believe is the cause of their problems. Often,
instead of challenging structures and institutions of
power, they attack demonized scapegoats, often in the
form of conspiracist allegations. Sometimes they resort
to violence.
If this characterization of right–wing populism is
accurate, then activists developing strategies and tactics
to challenge these movements need to rethink the ideas
and rhetoric based on the centrist/extremist model that
favors labels such as “radical right,” “wing nuts,”
“lunatic fringe,” or “religious political extremists.”139
Racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti–Semitism—along
14
with other forms of supremacist ideology—are not the
exclusive domain of marginal and militant groups, but
are domiciled in mainstream US culture and politics.
Populist Conspiracism
When conspiracism is blended with populism, the
result is frequently a worldview called “producerism.”
Producerist movements consider the “real” patriotic
Americans to be hard–working people in the middle–
and working–class who create goods and wealth while
fighting against “parasites” at the top and bottom of
society who pick their pockets. 140
Gary Allen provides an example of producerism in
his 1971 None Dare Call it Conspiracy, which included
a graphic chart showing the middle–class being
squeezed between the ruling elite “insiders” above,
pressured by the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, and Council
on Foreign Relations, and the rabble below, pressured
by “naive radicals” of the left, such as SDS, the Black
Panthers, the Yippies, the Young Socialist Alliance, and
Common Cause.141 In 1974 Allen updated the scenario
in Rockefeller: Campaigning for the New World Order,
articulating the anti–globalist theme of much current
conspiracism in the Patriot and armed militia
movements.142 Allen’s work is championed by the John
Birch Society.
Producerism not only promotes scapegoating, but
also has a history of assuming that a proper citizen is a
White male. Historically, groups scapegoated by right–
wing populist movements in the US have been
immigrants and people of color, especially Blacks.
Attention is diverted from inherent white supremacism
by using coded language to reframe racism as a concern
about specific issues, such as welfare, immigration, tax,
or education policies.143 Non–Christian religions,
women, gay men and lesbians, youth, students,
reproductive rights activists, and environmentalists also
are scapegoated.144 Sometimes producerism targets
those persons who organize on behalf of impoverished
and marginalized communities, especially progressive
social change activists.145
The nativist and Americanist movements emerged
as a way to promote a broad Christian nationalism, and
a way to enforce implicitly white supremacist northern
European cultural standards among increasingly diverse
immigrant groups.146 Producerism played a key role in a
shift from the main early mode of right–wing populist
conspiracism which defended the status quo against a
mob of “outsiders,” originally framed as a conspiracy of
Freemasons or Jews or aliens. Today, right–wing
populist conspiracism targets the government and other
“insiders.” According to Michael Billig:
“With the replacement of the old aristocratic
orders in Europe and the increasing
participation of the middle classes in
political life, there came a change in the
themes of the conspiracy mythology. In the
United States the change accompanied the
threats to the hegemony of the old white
Anglo–Saxon Protestant group, posed by
waves of new immigrants in the middle of
the nineteenth century. The conspiracy
theory ceased to defend government
against conspirators, but located the
conspiracy within government, or more
often behind government.”147
Two organizations representing the nativist
traditionthe John Birch Society and the Liberty Lobby
played a significant role in promoting producerism
and helping it transform into populist anti–government
conspiracist themes during the 1960s and 1970s.148
The John Birch Society (JBS) maintains that
internationalist “insiders” with a collectivist agenda,
(claimed to be behind both communism and Wall Street
capitalism), are engaged in a coordinated drive to
destroy national sovereignty and individualism. JBS
members are primarily elitist, ultraconservative, and
reformist. Its conspiracist theories do not center on
scapegoating Jews and Jewish institutions, nor do they
center on biological racism. In a more subtle form of
racism and anti–Semitism, JBS promotes a culturally–
defined WASP ethnocentrism as the true expression of
America. Echoing historic producerist themes, implicit
racism and anti–Semitism are intrinsic to the group’s
ideology, but they are not articulated as principles of
unity. JBS conspiracist narrative traces back to
Robison’s book alleging a Illuminati Freemason
conspiracy. The Society’s roots are in business
nationalism, economic libertarianism, anti–communism,
Eurocentrism, and Christian fundamentalism.149
The Liberty Lobby’s conspiracist narrative is that
the secret elites are Jews (descended from non–
European bloodlines) who manipulate Blacks and other
people of color to destroy national unity and popular
will, which derives its strength from a racially–separate
organic tribalism. The Lobby is primarily populist,
fascist, and insurgent. It promotes conspiracist theories
that center on scapegoating Jews and Jewish institutions,
and on biological racism as the basis for white
supremacist xenophobia. However, through the use of
coded rhetoric, and appeals to racial separatism that
extol Black nationalist groups, the group attempts, with
some success, to mask its core racism and anti–
Semitism. The Liberty Lobby relies on historic anti–
Semitic conspiracist sources that trace back to the
Protocols and its many progeny. Its roots are in
isolationism, small business resentment of large
corporate interests, and eugenicist White racial
nationalism.
The JBS and Liberty Lobby both use populist
rhetoric, but JBS members distrust the idea of the
sovereignty of the people, and stress that the United
15
States is a republic not a democracy, which they dismiss
as a “mobocracy.” This explains how the JBS can
criticize the alleged secret elites, yet retain an elitist
point of view; they want to replace the “bad” elites with
the “good” elitespresumably their allies. Both groups
use conspiracist scapegoating, a common feature of
right–wing populism. Starting in the 1970s, other
branches of right–wing populist conspiracism began to
grow, in the Christian Right, the Christian Identity
religion, the Lyndon LaRouche network, and in both
secular and religious forms of survivalism.
Populism can come from the bottom up, but it also
can be deployed from the top downused to attack the
status quo by outsider business factions seeking to
displace entrenched power structures. These outsider
factions use populist rhetoric and conspiracist, anti–elite
scapegoating to attract constituencies in the middle
class and working class. As right–wing populist
movements grow, they can lure mainstream politicians
to adopt scapegoating, in order to attract voters. Their
theories can legitimize acts of discrimination, or even
violence. And reformist populist movements can open
the door for insurgent right–wing movements such as
fascism to recruit from their own movements by arguing
that more drastic action is needed.150 Fascism itself is a
distinctive form of conspiracist right–wing populism.
Fascist groups are not likely to seize state power in the
US (or in most countries), but can seriously damage
attempts to extend democracy and equality as they
encourage scapegoating and conspiracism in adaptive
and creative ways while engaging in recruitment and
ideological training.151
Because right–wing conspiracism so often rests on
an anti–elite critique, it has been known to fool gullible
leftists.152 Various Green Party activists have had to
struggle against conspiracism, including the anti–Semitic
variant, among members and even a handful of
leaders.153 Populist conspiracism also has found a home
in certain Black nationalist and Arab anti–imperialist
groups.154 Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi has
actually tried to unite left and right groups that oppose
the US government at meetings in Tripoli, Libya.155
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. Anti–regime
criticism is rampant in the conspiracist right.156 There is
a need to educate and thus inoculate large sectors of the
white middle class and working class against the dead
end of right–wing populism with its penchant for
scapegoating. If we tolerate the paradigm of conspiracist
scapegoating by right–wing economic populists simply
because it appears to advance a short–term anti–
corporate or anti–government agenda, we are creating a
dangerous alliance with people whose long–term vision
wittingly or unwittinglypromotes racist, sexist,
homophobic, and anti–Semitic outcomes.157 We will be
throwing our long–term allies overboard and helping
sink the ship of state, when we should be plotting a new
course on a sturdy vessel we all help to rebuild.
This is especially true given the current period of
apocalyptic anxiety and millennial energy, which infuses
the Christian right, populist right, and far right.
16
Part Two:
Apocalyptic Millennialism
and Contemporary US Right–Wing Movements
Examining the Different Sectors
As the millennium approaches, targets of
apocalyptic demonization already include Jews,
Catholics, Mormons, Moslems, Freemasons, New Age
devotees, peace activists, environmentalists, feminists,
abortion providers, and gay men and lesbians. Members
of groups ranging from the Trilateral Commission to the
National Education Association are suspectnot to
mention federal officials and UN troops. The person
targeted as the devil’s disciple could be you, or a
neighbor, or a friend.
Apocalyptic fears and millennial expectation play
an important role in three sectors of right–wing
populism in which demonization, scapegoating, and
conspiracism flourish: the Christian Right; the populist
right, including survivalist, Patriot, and armed militia
movements; and the far right, especially the neonazi
version of Christian Identity theology.
The Christian Right
The New Right coalition of the late 1970s
“represented a reassertion of the ‘fusionist’ triad of
moral traditionalism, economic libertarianism, and
militarist anticommunism,” explained sociologist Sara
Diamond.158 It was a coalition between secular
conservatives and traditionalist Christians. Much of the
New Right’s mobilization of supporters was based on
promoting a narrow, exclusionary, and northern
European version of traditional Biblical values.159 As
Laura Saponara puts it:
“The ‘deep structure’ of New Right rhetoric is
rooted in historic and contemporary
constructs of Biblical literalism articulated
through recurring, polarizing themes of
good and evil, personal salvation,
evangelism, and the inevitability of
apocalypse, among others.”160
Clearly, some of the Christians mobilized by the
New Right felt, and still feel, they are engaged in
“Spiritual Warfare” with Satanic forces.161 The role of
Biblical apocalyptic thinking within mainstream
Christian groups is well–documented by academics
such as Sara Diamond, Paul Boyer, Robert Fuller, and
Charles B. Strozier.
Open discussion of evil and Satanic forces is
unremarkable within the Christian Right, even among
savvy policy analysts and lobbyists. A 1983 booklet
from the Free Congress Research and Education
Foundation titled The Morality of Political Action:
Biblical Foundations includes a Bible–based defense of
the practice of Christian political activists misleading or
tricking opponents as justified by the higher purpose of
the Christian struggle against evil. The author advises
that while opponents may be doing the work of the
Devil, it would be wrong to publicly accuse them of
being “a card–carrying member of Satan’s band,” not
because it might be untrue, but because it falls under
“the scope of the Lord’s command: ‘Judge not lest ye be
judged.’ “162
Still, it must be remembered that some politically–
conservative fundamentalist groups oppose this
paradigm, and warn against demonization that conflates
church and state. For example, the Institute for the
Study of Religion in Politics argues that:
“…if the price of re–establishing a ‘public
Christian culture’ in this country means that
the church must ostracize its opponents,
ghettoize the adherents of other religions
and cultures, make enemies of women
17
who choose abortion, demonize
homosexuals, etc. as it seeks to gather
political power into its hands—maybe, just
maybe, the price isn’t worth paying.”163
Dueling Eschatologies
Within Christianity there are many competing
views regarding the millennial apocalypse; the
theological study of these views is known as
eschatology. At the center of eschatological study is a
debate over theological theories of the “end time,” when
the forces of evil will be vanquished and the forces of
good rewarded. 164
Post–millennialists believe that Christ returns only
after a thousand years of reign and rule by Godly
Christian men, and they urge militant Christian
intervention in secular society. Smaller sectors,
including preterists and a–millennialists, while still
anticipating the eventual return of Christ, believe the
prophesied millennium is not a major theological issue
for Christianity, or believe it already has happened, thus
de–emphasizing the Tribulations, the Rapture, and
Armageddon as practical considerations affecting daily
life.
Most Christian fundamentalists are pre–
millennialists, believing the return of Christ starts the
millennial, thousand–year period of Christian rule. For
them, the year 2000 doesn’t necessarily have
theological meaning or signify the End Times. More
important to them is the belief in an inevitable and final
apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Pre–
millennialists believe the second coming of Jesus will
occur before his thousand years of reign and rule.
For pre–millennialists, faithful Christians may
experience no tribulations, some tribulations, or all of
the tribulations. This difference is expressed in
eschatological timelines called pre–tribulationalist,
mid–tribulationalist, and post–tribulationalist.
Furthermore, not all pre–millennialist Christians believe
in “the Rapture”the temporary protective gathering of
Christians up into Heaven while the battle against evil
rages on Earth during the Tribulations. If they do
believe in the Rapture, there is no agreement on whether
or not raptured Christians then return to an earth purged
of evil. The exact sequence of the Rapture, the
Tribulations, and the battle of Armageddon is also
disputed.
For many decades, the primary Protestant
eschatology was a form of pre–millennialism called
Dispensationalism, an interpretation developed by
theologian John Nelson Darby that outlined specific
historical epochs or dispensations that are pre–ordained
by God.165 In this timeline, Christians are raptured up to
heaven before the Tribulations, the sinful are punished,
and then Christ returns for a millennium of rule over his
loyal flock. This combination of pre–tribulationist and
pre–millennialist views has sometimes encouraged a
large sector of the Christian faithful to passively await
salvation while remaining aloof from sinful secular
society, while at other times an activist mode seeks to
intervene in public affairs.
For example, aloof pre–millenialist
Dispensationalism gained renewed support after the
Pyrrhic victory for Christian fundamentalists in the 1925
Scopes “Monkey” Trial. This famous Tennessee case
ruled that teaching evolution (instead of creation) was
not proper in the public schools, but the case proved a
substantial public embarrassment to fundamentalists
who were widely portrayed as ignorant, backward, and
irrational.166 As a result, many fundamentalists retreated
from active participation in the electoral and legislative
arena. This lasted until an activist Cold War message
that Christians should re–engage in civic participation,
encouraged by evangelical groups such as Moral Re–
armament and evangelists such as Billy Graham,
brought many Christians back into the voting booths in
the 1950s. It wasn’t until the mid–1970s that
evangelicals began to mobilize around partisan political
issues in a way that directly linked their theology to the
electoral sphere.167
While many previously passive sectors of
Christianity were being mobilized by conservative
political organizers, a complementary theological
movement influenced by popular Christian philosopher
Francis A. Schaeffer and theologian Cornelius van Till,
called for a more “muscular” and interventionist form of
Christianity. The most zealous version of this renewal
movement was called Reconstructionism, a post–
millennial theology which argues that the US
Constitution is merely a codicil to Christian Biblical
law.168 Rooted in militant early Calvinism and the idea
of America as a Christian redeemer nation,
Reconstructionism sees religion, culture, and nation as
an integral unit in a way that echoes some European
clerical fascist movements of the 1930s.
Among the leading Reconstructionist ideologues
are R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, and Greg Bahnsen.
There are few Reconstructionists, but they have
facilitated the emergence of a more widespread and
softer form of dominionism, the theocratic idea that
regardless of religious views or eschatological
timetable, Christian men are called by God to exercise
dominion over secular society by taking control of
political and cultural institutions.169 The result is a
broad dominionist movement of Christian nationalism
that has spread from independent evangelical churches
into mainstream Protestant denominations and even
small sectors of Catholicism.
18
From Red Menace to New World Order
Apocalyptic millennialism provides a basic
narrative within the US political right, claiming that the
idealized society is thwarted by subversive
conspiracies.170 During the 1980s and 1990s, the main
demonized scapegoat of the US hard right shifted
seamlessly from the communist Red Menace to
international terrorists, sinful abortion providers, anti–
family feminists, homosexual “special rights” activists,
“pagan” environmentalists, liberal secular humanists and
their “big government” allies, and globalists who plot on
behalf of the New World Order. The relatively painless
nature of the shift was due in part to the basic
underlying apocalyptic paradigm, which fed the Cold
War and the witch–hunts of the McCarthy period.171 To
understand this dynamic requires stepping back a few
paces to the roots of fundamentalist belief.
One of the core ideas of the fundamentalist
Christian Right during this century has been that modern
liberalism is a handmaiden for collectivist, Godless
communism. Many conservative Christian
anticommunists believe that collectivism is Godless,
while capitalism is Godly. They often link liberalism to
Godless collectivism; then to the notion of a liberal
secular humanist conspiracy; and finally conclude that
globalism is the ultimate collectivist plot. Prior to the
collapse of communism, many leaders of the new
Christian Right had already embraced a variation on
their long–standing fear of secret elites in league with
Satan: the secular humanist conspiracist theory.172
According to George Marsden, the shift in focus to the
secular humanist demon:
“…revitalized fundamentalist conspiracy theory.
Fundamentalists always had been alarmed
at moral decline within America but often
had been vague as to whom, other than the
Devil, to blame. The “secular humanist”
thesis gave this central concern a clearer
focus that was more plausible and of wider
appeal than the old mono–causal
communist–conspiracy accounts.
Communism and socialism could, of
course, be fit right into the humanist
picture; but so could all the moral and legal
changes at home without implausible
scenarios of Russian agents infiltrating
American schools, government, reform
movements, and mainline churches.”173
A number of contemporary Christian Right
ideologues promote the secular humanist conspiracist
theory, including: Pat Robertson, founder of the
Christian Coalition; Beverly LaHaye, leader of
Concerned Women for America; her husband, the Rev.
Timothy LaHaye, a well–known Christian author; and
Dr. James Dobson, founding President of Focus on the
Family, whose syndicated radio program is on
thousands of stations.
The shift in focus from anti–communism to the
claim that secular humanism now plays the key
subversive role in undermining America is reflected in
right–wing author John Stormer’s two books, the second
an update for the 1990s of his influential 1964 book
None Dare Call it Treason.
174 Similarly, some militant
Protestant fundamentalists within the antiabortion
movement, influenced by hard right theological activist
Francis A. Schaeffer, claim a conspiracy of secular
humanists as the source of Godless disregard for what
they argued is sinful murder of the unborn.175 In 1991
David A. Noebel of Summit Ministries, an ultra–
conservative Christian training center located outside
Colorado Springs, Colorado wrote the 900 page
Understanding the Times textbook used in 850
Christian schools enrolling a total of over 15,000
students.176 The book argues that secular humanism has
replaced communism as the major anti–Christian
philosophy.177
Secular humanists—pictured as the torchbearers of
liberal Godlessness and New Deal statismare
scapegoated from a variety of perspectives: economic,
anti–elitist, and moral, as well as religious. The idea of
the secular humanist conspiracy also parallels and
buttresses the resurgent libertarian theme that
collectivism destroys individual initiative and saps the
vigor of the free market system. It also echoes the
concerns of conservatives, neoconservatives, and
paleoconservatives over creeping moral decay and the
failure of New Deal liberalism. This congruence of
various sectors of the right, each opposing liberal
secular humanism for its own reasons, has resulted in
some remarkable tactical coalitions following the rise of
the New Right in the late 1970s, especially around
issues of public school curricula and government
funding for education.
For many conspiracy–minded Christians,
communism was but one manifestation of Satan’s age–
old, one–world conspiracy. They argue that if the
ultimate villainous agent of control is Satan, the
ideologies promoted by demonic agents can easily shift
from Godless communism to secular humanism, and
from global communism to a new world order. The
collapse of communism in Europe allowed a shift in
focus to other aspects of the alleged conspiracythe
collectivism and statism promoted by liberalism and
secular humanism. As mentioned earlier, more secular
hard right groups had long contended that behind
Moscow Bolshevism and Wall Street capitalism were
the same shadowy secret elites with their traitorous
allies in Washington. Removing Soviet communists from
the alleged secret team still leaves other dangerous
players in the field.
19
Conspiracism in the Christian Right often is
overlooked by the mainstream media, despite the
prominence of those who promote it. Prior to the 1998
elections, Dr. James Dobson led a well–publicized
campaign to pull the Republican Party into alignment
with Christian Right moral principles. Dobson and his
colleague Gary Bauer co–authored Children at Risk:
The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Our Kids,
which sees an escalating civil war with the forces of
Godless secular humanism. Dobson praises Noebel’s
Summit Ministries, especially its youth training
seminars and its high school curriculum that immerse
students in apocalyptic conspiracist theories about the
secular humanist menace.178
Dobson’s endorsement of Summit is significant
because it illustrates how some of the more doctrinaire
leaders of the Christian Right are comfortable with Old
Right conspiracism. Among Noebel’s previous works
are Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles, and The
Homosexual Revolution: End Time Abomination.
Summit Ministries has a longstanding relationship with
the conspiracist John Birch Society, placing large ads in
the John Birch Society’s publications over many years.
In at least one instance, in 1983, Summit Ministries
appears to have served as a conduit for tax–exempt
donations for the JBS.179 Noebel recently absorbed the
newsletter of Fred Schwarz’ hard right Christian Anti–
Communism Crusade.
Even when not directly tied to diabolical schemes,
conspiracism is widespread in the Protestant Christian
Right. Pat Robertson’s The New World Order is littered
with conspiracist allegations and references, including
his invocation of the Freemason conspiracy “revealed in
the great seal adopted at the founding of the United
States.” Robertson links Freemasonry to End Times
predictions of a “mystery religion designed to replace
the old Christian world order of Europe and
America”180 Later in the book he says:
In earlier chapters, we have traced the infiltration
of Continental Freemasonry by the new
world philosophy of the order of the
Illuminati, and its subsequent role in the
French revolution. We then were able to
find clear documentation that the occultic–
oriented secret societies claiming descent
from Illuminism and the French Revolution
played a seminal role in the thinking of
Marx and Lenin. 181
As Michael Lind and Jacob Heilbrunn have
pointed out in a critique of the book published in The
New York Review of Books, Robertson moves beyond
the Illuminati/Freemason conspiracy and incorporates
allegations that originate in anti–Semitic sources. 182
Anticipating the End Times
While most mainstream Christian religious leaders
are reluctant to suggest the year 2000 marks the End
Times, some are hinting that the date has theological
significance, and a few have announced that the End
Times have already started. 183 There is even a glossy
full–color monthly magazine titled Midnight Call: The
Prophetic Voice for the Endtimes. One Christian
publishing house offers a catalog, “Armageddon
Books.” Its 1998 Internet version describes itself as the
“World’s largest Bible prophecy bookstore featuring
books, videos, and charts on armageddon, antichrist,
666, tribulation, rapture, revelation.” There are over 400
items. Credit cards are accepted. There are links to 160
other prophecy websites.184
Many Christian fundamentalists are scanning for
the “Signs of the Times,” a phrase used to highlight the
possibility that a specific worldly event may fulfill a
Biblical prophecy and thus be a signal of the End
Times, when faithful Christians are expected to engage
in appropriate (though highly contested) preparations.
Earthquakes, floods, comets, wars, disease, and social
unrest are commonly interpreted as such signs.
The demonic interpretation of apocalyptic Biblical
prophecy, such as found in the Book of Revelation, has
long encouraged conscious and unconscious fears about
evil subversive conspiracies. Apocalyptic
fundamentalists are thus especially concerned with false
prophets and political or business leaders who are
subverting God’s will and betraying the faithful by
urging them to abandon their righteous conduct,
especially in terms of sinful sexuality or crass
materialism. Many faithful Christians believe they must
take on special duties during the End Times. These
duties carry the weight of Biblical prophecy, and in
some cases, actions may even be felt to be mandated by
God. Revelation’s prophecies can thus motivate action,
especially on the part of those fundamentalists who
combine Biblical literalism with a textual timetable.185
When this worldview intersects with oppressive
prejudices, it is easy to prophesy the appearance of
demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism.
Author Hal Lindsey re–ignited Protestant
apocalyptic speculation in 1970 with his book, The Late
Great Planet Earth, which sold 10 million copies.186
Lindsey argued that the End Times had arrived and that
Christians should watch for the signs of the times.187
Billy Graham again raised expectations in his 1983
book, Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of
the Apocalypse, where he observed that Jesus Christ,
“The Man on the white horse…will come when man has
sunk to his lowest most perilous point in history.”
Graham then discussed how bad things were in the
world. 188
20
Paul Boyer argues that Christian apocalypticism
must be factored into both Cold War and post Cold War
political equations. He notes that the 1974 prophecy
book, Armageddon, Oil, and the Middle East Crisis
sold three–quarters of a million copies.189 The
mainstreaming of apocalypticism received a major
boost when, in 1983, Ronald Reagan cited scriptural
authority to demonize the Soviet Union as an “evil
empire.”190 Grace Halsell wrote in her book, Prophecy
and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to
Nuclear War, of how some evangelists, including Pat
Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Hal Lindsey, hinted that
use of atomic weapons was inevitable as part of the
final battle of Armageddon.191
Halsell’s book, and a monograph by Ruth W.
Mouly, The Religious Right and Israel: The Politics of
Armageddon, argued that one reason certain sectors of
the Christian Right mobilized tremendous support for
the State of Israel during the Reagan Administration,
was in part because they believed Jews had to return to
Israel before the millennialist prophecies of Revelation
could be fulfilled.192
Prophecy belief is widespread in the US. Philip
Lamy reports that during the Gulf War, 14 percent of
one CNN national poll thought it was the beginning of
Armageddon, and “American bookstores were
experiencing a run on books about prophecy and the end
of the world.”193 In 1993 a Times/CNN national poll
found that 20 percent of those polled thought the second
coming of Christ would occur near the year 2000.194
The process of prophecy belief triggering
apocalyptic demonization and then leading to searches
for the Devil’s partners is continuously updated. Paul
Boyer points out that those seen as the prophesied
agents of Satan girding for End Times battle can be
foreign or domestic or both. He notes how in prophetic
literature the identity of Satan’s allies in the Battle of
Armageddon has shifted seamlessly over time,
circumstance, and political interest from the Soviet
Union to Chinese communists, to Islamic militants; and
warns of an increasing level of anti–Muslim bigotry in
some contemporary apocalyptic subcultures.195
Robert Fuller has looked at the range of current
targets:
“Today, fundamentalist Christian writers see the
Antichrist in such enemies as the Muslim
world, feminism, rock music, and secular
humanism. The threat of the Antichrist’s
imminent takeover of the world’s economy
has been traced to the formation of the
European Economic Community, the
Susan B. Anthony dollar…and the
introduction of universal product
codes.”196
Visions of the Satanic Antichrist are common in
relatively mainstream sectors of the new Christian
Right. Typical of the current apocalyptic genre is a
recent mailing from Prophetic Vision, a small
international Christian evangelical outreach ministry,
reporting that “prophecy is moving so fast” and “the
Return of Christ is imminent.” The mailing goes on to
declare that the Antichrist, “Must be alive today waiting
to take control!” and then solicits funds for the “end
time harvest.”
Rev. Pat Robertson frequently ties his conspiracist
vision to apocalyptic hints that we are in the millennial
“End Times,” and End Times themes have repeatedly
appeared on his “700 Club” television program. On one
July 1998 program Robertson hinted that a tsunami in
New Guinea coupled with the appearance of asteroids
might be linked to Bible prophecy. Just after Christmas,
1994, the program carried a feature on new dollar bill
designs being discussed to combat counterfeiting. The
newscaster then cited Revelations 13 and suggested that
if the Treasury Department put new codes on paper
money, it might be the Antichrist’s Mark of the Beast,
predicted as a sign of the coming End Times.197
Christians are also debating the importance of the
“Y2K” bug, the technical programming problem that
crashes some computer software when it tries to
interpret the year 2000 using earlier computer code
written to recognize only the numbers 0–99 for
calendar–based calculations. As in secular circles,
responses range from cautious preparations to
doomsday scenarios that have led some to establish
rural survivalist retreats.198 At the 1998 Christian
Coalition’s annual Road to Victory conference, a
workshop was devoted to announcing a plan to mobilize
churches to provide food, water, shelter, and medical
supplies in case the Y2K bug caused widespread
societal problems.199 This mobilization was justified by
arguing the anticipation of resulting disruptions was
appropriate no matter what the eschatological viewpoint;
and that if there was no serious disruption, the supplies
could aid the poor. This equation neatly sidestepped the
issue of the End Times, while allowing those who
believe we are in the End Times to work cooperatively
with those who do not.
Christian Reconstructionist author Gary North is
now a much–quoted expert on the Y2K bug. He sees
much chaos created by Y2K, but dismisses the link to
Christ’s imminent return.200 Some post–millennialists
are more in line with the suspicious view expressed in
the John Birch Society magazine, New American:
“Much like the Reichstag fire, could the Millennium
Bug provide an ambitious President with an opportunity
to seize dictatorial powers?”201
Most Christians, even those who think the End
Times are imminent, do not automatically succumb to
demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracist thinking.
Yet in the escalating surge of millennial titles, a scary
21
number name the agents of the Antichrist or claim to
expose the evil End Times conspiracy: Examples
include: Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist; One
World Under Antichrist: Globalism, Seducing Spirits
and Secrets of the New World Order; Foreshocks of
Antichrist; How Democracy Will Elect the Antichrist:
The Ultimate Denial of Freedom, Liberty and Justice
According to the Bible.
202
Gender issues play an important role in
apocalyptic millennialism. In describing the symbolism
in Revelation, one contemporary Catholic commentary
cautions against negative stereotyping of women.203
This is a needed caution, because anti–feminist,
misogynist and homophobic interpretations of
Revelation are widespread. A 1978 brochure with an
apocalyptic subtext from Texas Eagle Forum was titled:
Christian Be Watchful: Hidden Dangers in the New
Coalition of Feminism, Humanism, Socialism,
Lesbianism.
204 As Lee Quinby has noted, while it is
difficult to predict the outcomes of millennial moments,
the current manifestation is unlikely to be good for
women.205
A good example is the Christian evangelical men’s
movement, Promise Keepers, which has scheduled
“Vision 2000” rallies at “key population centers and
state capitols around the United States,” for January 1,
2000.206 At the massive Promise Keepers rally of
Christian men on the Washington Mall in October 1997,
questions about the approaching End Times elicited
eager responses.207
While the Promise Keepers is driven in part by
millennial expectation, it is also a response to the need
for men to find a coherent identity in modern culture
that responds in some creative way to the issues raised
by the civil rights and feminist movements.208
Nonetheless, when push comes to shove, men in the
Promise Keepers are still considered the spiritual
leaders in their families. As PK president Randy Phillips
said, “we have to listen and honor and respect our
wives,” but admitted, “[w]e talk about ultimately the
decision lying with the man.”209
Acknowledging the sincere religious devotion and
quest for growth of many Promise Keepers men,
academic Lee Quinby, who has extensively researched
the subject area, nonetheless sees political content in the
group’s vision of “apocalyptic masculinity,” which
rejects gender equality and scapegoats homosexuals and
feminists “as a threat to the pure community.” Quinby
calls this tendency “coercive purity.”210
Sociologist Sara Diamond reports that even some
Christians who are dubious of “hard” End Times claims
have nevertheless been re–energized by a “softer”
millennial view of the year 2000 as a time for
aggressive evangelism or even “spiritual warfare”
against demonic forces.211 The broad quest for purity
associated with the “softer” millennial thinking among
apocalyptic Christians can breed violence, such as seen
in the escalating attacks on abortion providers. It has
already sparked legislative efforts to enforce divisive
and narrowly–defined Biblical standards of morality.
The wave of newspaper advertisements calling on gay
men and lesbians to “cure” themselves by turning to
Jesus is another example of a Christian coercive purity
campaign influenced by millennial expectation. Richard
K. Fenn, a professor of Theology and Society at
Princeton Theological Seminary, argues that popular
“rituals of purification” in a society are closely
associated with apocalyptic and millennial beliefs.212
Jeremiah the Profitable Prophet
An example of a group profiting from a campaign
of millennial ritual purification is Jeremiah Films,
named after the Biblical prophet. Jeremiah Films and
Jeremiah Books are run by the husband and wife team
of Pat and Caryl Matrisciana.
Sen. Trent Lott, who in 1998 denounced
homosexuals as not just sinful but sick, had already
appeared in Jeremiah’s 1993 anti–gay video “Gay
Rights, Special Rights.” The video, used in several
statewide legislative campaigns to erode basic rights for
gay men and lesbians, also features former attorney
general Edwin Meese III and former education secretary
William J. Bennett, along with notable conspiracists
such as David Noebel of Summit Ministries. Lott also
stars in Jeremiah’s 1993 video “The CrashThe
Coming Financial Collapse of America,” which comes
in two versions, one with a secular doomsday scenario
and another with a special Christian cut featuring
discussions of End Times Biblical prophecy.
Jeremiah has a large collection of conspiracist
videos. Caryl Matrisciana, a leading author of Christian
Right books with conspiracist themes, co–hosted a
thirteen–part video series from Jeremiah titled “Pagan
Invasion.” The series includes videos that claim
evolution is a hoax, Freemasonry is a pagan religion,
Halloween is a tool for Satanic abduction, and
Mormonism is a cult heresy. The Jeremiah video on
Mormonism has earned rebukes from mainstream
religious commentators for its bigoted intolerance
toward the Mormon faith.213
One segment of the Jeremiah Films series “Pagan
Invasion,” is titled “Preview of the Antichrist.” It is
described in an online Christian Right catalog with the
following blurb:
“According to Ancient Hebrew scriptures, in the
last days mankind will urgently seek the
security of a one – world government. This
global desire for a super leader, who will
bring peace and safety to a world in chaos,
will ultimately leave the human race
vulnerable to the beguiling charm and the
22
most intelligent, powerful, and charismatic
person of all history. The Bible calls this
man the “anti–christ.” Ironically, he will
dominate the globe and orchestrate
society’s ultimate destruction. Chuck Smith
and Caryl Matrisciana host this blueprint of
apocalyptic events. Interviews with
prophecy experts Chuck Missler, Hal
Lindsey, and Peter Lalonde explain “why”
the world will follow this man into perdition.
Must viewing for all who desire a glimpse
of the future.”214
Jeremiah is best known for The Clinton
Chronicles, a video distributed widely by Jerry Falwell,
which alleges that the President is at the head of a vast
murderous conspiracy. The Clinton Chronicles video
and the subsequent The Clinton Chronicles book are the
work of Jeremiah’s Patrick Matrisciana, who is also
founder and president of Citizens for Honest
Government, a group dedicated to the impeachment of
President Clinton.215
Many of the conspiracist attacks on President Bill
Clinton originate in the apocalyptic sector of the
Christian Right. One example is a book penned by Texe
Marrs, titled Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary
Clinton And The White House Feminists Who Now
Control America—And Tell The President What To Do.
The book claims a plot by “FemiNazis” and their allies
in “subversive organizations whose goal is to end
American sovereignty and bring about a global Marxist
paradise.”216
Catholic Marianist Apocalyptics
Catholics who pay special devotion to the Virgin
Mary constitute a diverse Marianist subculture within
the Church. Some Marianist groups have clashed with
Church hierarchy over what constitutes an appropriate
amount of adoration expressed for the Virgin Mary in
relation to that reserved for Jesus Christ. Some
Marianists report sightings or apparitions of the Virgin
Mary; and these are sometimes considered End Times
warnings.217
The basic message of the Marianist magazine
Fatima Crusader, for example, is that we are in the
apocalyptic End Times and are facing a direct struggle
with Satan. Furthermore, the magazine urges that the
actions and religious devotions of true Catholics must
be based on End Times warnings and predictions made
in appearances by the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ
before the Catholic faithful.218
Visions of the Virgin Mary have inspired devout
Catholics to pay more attention to their religious duties
since 1531 when an apparition of Mary appeared at
Guadeloupe, Mexico. A shrine to the Virgin of
Guadeloupe was built at the site, and the appearance
was venerated in Europe.
The Virgin Mary also appeared several times
before three children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917, and a
shrine to Our Lady of Fatima was built there as well. A
major message delivered at Fatima was the need to
carry out the consecration and conversion of Russia to
Christianity.219 This mandate had serendipitous benefit
to the anticommunist movement within Catholicism,
which in turn had socio–political consequences in
Europe and the US.
Now, given the collapse of Godless communism in
Russia, this task might seem less pressing. Not so; in
the worldview of The Fatima Crusader, Russian
tyranny can come in many forms. The Fatima
Crusader’s editorial position is that the predictions at
Fatima refer to the threat of a Russian–style collectivist
One World Government ushered in by socialists,
liberals, secular humanists, homosexuals, abortionists,
and followers of the New–Age spirituality movement.
Articles in The Fatima Crusader also weave in
millennialist references to Biblical prophecies about the
End Times struggles against Satan and the Antichrist.
Numerous apparitions of Mary have been reported
at a number of locations, with disputes arising among
competing factions within the Marianist subculture as to
which appearances are true and to be venerated, and
which are hoaxes to be denounced. Medjugorje is a
Herzogovinian village in what was Yugoslavia, where
visions, first reported in the 1970s, draw Marianists
from all over the world.220 In Bayside, New York,
starting in 1968, the late Veronica Lueken reported
visions that became increasingly apocalyptic, including
news from the Virgin that the Antichrist was alive and
on earth.221 Starting in 1993 the faithful gathered at
Conyers, Georgia to hear divine messages from Mary
revealed through former nurse Nancy Fowler.222
In the Summer, 1994 issue of the Marianist Fatima
Family Messenger, Charles Martel writes, in an article
on “The Antichrist,” that “The Church is in a shambles”
characterized by:
 “Open rebellion against authority,
 “Enthusiasm for abortion, contraception,
divorce, etc.,
 “Addition of many clerics to Marxism,
 “Presence of un–Catholic teachings in
seminaries and universities,
 “Widespread and well organized homosexual
network,
 “Acceptance of New Age belief as the latest of
ecumenism.”223
Martel argues that “There is much more
indisputable evidence available which indicates that the
Antichrist is here and is in command.”224
Another right–wing Catholic publication with
apocalyptic themes is the Michael Journal, which
23
includes conspiracist articles about the parasitic nature
of financial elites that reflect historic anti–Semitic
themes. Michael Journal celebrates the memory of
Father Coughlin, the Catholic priest whose national
radio programs in the 1930s moved from labor populism
to anti–Semitism and eventually to fascist–style
demagoguery. Coughlin is described as a man “Who
courageously denounced the bankers’ debt–money
system.” According to the Michael Journal, “The
Illuminati are elite men, those on the top, who control
the International Bankers to control, for evil purposes,
the entire world.” Followers of the Michael Journal
lobbied against the Massachusetts seat belt law,
believing it was a collectivist step toward Satanic One
World Government. The newspaper featured an article
titled “The Beast of the Apocalypse: 666” which
proclaimed that “Satan’s redoubtable ally” was a
“gigantic auto–programming computer” in Brussels at
the headquarters of the European Common Market.225
Right–wing Catholic Marianists and apocalyptics
are a significant force in the militant wing of the anti–
abortion movement. Human Life International, a right–
wing Catholic group, is a major source of anti–abortion
materials for such activists. HLI publishes and
distributes books that feature conspiracist thinking and
misogyny, with titles such as Sex Education: The Final
Plague, The Feminist Takeover, and Ungodly Rage:
The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. HLI also
distributes the book New World Order: The Ancient
Plan of Secret Societies, by William T. Still, which
attacks the Freemasons as part of conspiracy to control
the country through the issuing of paper money.226 The
book is also sold by right–wing groups other than HLI.
According to Still, his book:
“…[s]hows how an ancient plan has been hidden
for centuries deep within secret societies.
This scheme is designed to bring all of
mankind under a single world
government—a New World Order. This
plan is of such antiquity that its result is
even mentioned in …Revelation….”227
As this comment citing Revelations suggests, the
battle against the conspiracy is the battle between good
and evil. The back cover blurb of Still’s book confirms
this by stating that the plan “to bring all nations under
one–world government” is actually “the biblical rule of
the Antichrist.”228
Asserting that the Federal Reserve is part of the
conspiracy, Still incorporates references to the
Rothschild banking interests in a way that reflects
historic anti–Semitic theories alleging Jewish control
over the economy.229 Still’s book is endorsed in a back–
cover blurb by D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., influential
senior minister of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
According to Kennedy’s blurb:
“Regardless of your views about the coming of
a world government, Bill Still’s new book
will make you reassess the odds. He
traces the historic role of secret societies
and their influence on the “Great Plan” to
erase nationalism in preparation for a
global dictatorship. He allows the facts to
speak for themselves, as he sounds an
ominous warning for the 21st Century.”230
Here we see apocalyptic conspiracism bridging the
divide between politically–active right–wing Catholics
and Protestants.
The Patriot & Armed Militia Movements
In the 1970s and 1980s far right Christian Identity
and Constitutionalist groups interacted with apocalyptic
survivalists to spawn a number of militant quasi–
underground formations, including some that called
themselves patriots or militias.231 During the height of
the rural farm crisis in the early 1980s, one of these
groups, the Posse Comitatusa loosely–knit armed
network that spread conspiracism, white supremacy, and
anti–Semitism throughout the farm beltcaptured a
small but significant number of sympathizers among
farmers and ranchers.232 Other groups, such as Aryan
Nations and the Lyndon LaRouche group were also
active, and soon a loose network was constructed
linking tax protesters to groups as far to the right as
various Ku Klux Klan splinter groups and neonazi
organizations.
The Patriot movement and its armed wing, the
citizen militias, are revivals of these and earlier right–
wing populist movements, emerging in the 1990s after
the collapse of European communism and the launching
of the Gulf War. When President Bush announced his
new foreign policy would help build a New World
Order, his phrasing surged through the Christian and
secular hard right like an electric shock, since the
phrase had been used to represent the dreaded
collectivist One World Government for decades. Some
Christians saw Bush as signaling the End Times betrayal
by a world leader. Secular anticommunists saw a bold
attempt to smash US sovereignty and impose a
tyrannical collectivist system run by the United Nations.
This galvanized into activism pre–existing anti–globalist
sentiments within the right.233
A self–conscious Patriot movement coalesced
involving some 5 million persons who suspected—to
varying degrees—that the government was manipulated
by secret elites and planned the imminent imposition of
some form of tyranny. The Patriot movement is
bracketed on the reformist side by the John Birch
Society and the conspiratorial segment of the Christian
right, and on the insurgent side by the Liberty Lobby and
groups promoting themes historically associated with
white supremacy and anti–Semitism. A variety of pre–
24
existing far right vigilante groups (including Christian
Identity adherents and outright neonazi groups) were
influential in helping organize the broader Patriot and
armed militias movement.234 The Patriot movement has
drawn recruits from several other pre–existing
movements and networks, including gun rights, anti–
abortion, survivalist, anticommunist, libertarian, anti–
tax, and anti–environmentalist.
Patriot movement adherents who formed armed
units became known as the armed militia movement.
During the mid–1990s, armed militias were sporadically
active in all fifty states, with numbers estimated at
between 20,000 and 60,000.235 Both the Patriot and
armed militia movements grew rapidly, relying on
computer networks, FAX trees, short–wave radio, AM
talk radio, and videotape and audiotape distribution.
These movements are arguably the first major US social
movements to be organized primarily through
overlapping non–traditional electronic media. The core
narrative carried by these media outlets was
apocalyptic: featuring claims that the US government
was controlled by a vast conspiracy of secret elites
plotting a New World Order, and was planning to
impose a globalist UN police state in the near future.
A key early figure in organizing the militia
movement using the short–wave radio and the Internet
was Linda Thompson, whose elaborate apocalyptic
warnings and conspiratorial assertions of government
plots were widely believed within the militia movement
until she called for an armed march on Washington, DC
to punish traitorous elected officials.236 Her plan was
widely criticized as dangerous, probably illegal, and
possibly part of a government conspiracy to entrap
militia members. Mark Koernke, aka Mark of Michigan,
quickly replaced her as the most–favored militia
intelligence analyst.
In anticipation of attack by government agents, a
significant segment of the Patriot and armed militia
movement embraces survivalism. Survivalism is an
apocalyptic view (with both Christian and secular
proponents), that advocates gathering and storing large
supplies of food, water, and medicine, in anticipation of
economic collapse, social unrest, or the Tribulations.
Some adherents also purchase gold and other precious
metals as a hedge against currency devaluation; and
some acquire weapons. Philip Lamy titled his book on
the subject Millennium Rage: Survivalists, White
Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy.237
As a protective maneuver, a number of survivalists
have withdrawn to remote, usually rural, locations, or
formed small communities for mutual self–defense.
This is what led the Weaver family to a remote region of
Idaho. Randy Weaver and his wife were survivalists as
well as Christian Identity adherents. Had the federal
marshals who surrounded their house in 1992 factored
these beliefs into their plan for arresting Randy Weaver,
the subsequent deadly shoot–out might have been
avoided. Federal Marshal William Degan, and Weaver’s
wife Vicki and son Samuel died. Randy Weaver and his
friend Kevin Harris were wounded.238
Some Christian fundamentalist survivalists believe
that to avoid the Mark of the Beast, they must live apart
from secular society for a period of up to 42 months.
Robert K. Spear, a key figure on the patriot and militia
training circuit, is the author of Surviving Global
Slavery: Living Under the New World Order.
239
According to Spear, we are approaching the Tribulations
of the End Times. Spear cites Revelation, Chapter 13,
and warns that Christians will soon be asked to accept
the Satanic Mark of the Beast and thus reject Christ.
True Christians, according to Spear, must defend their
faith and prepare the way for the return of Christ
through the formation of armed Christian communities.
His book is dedicated to “those who will have to face
the Tribulations.”
In 1993, the Branch Davidian compound in Waco,
Texas functioned as this type of fundamentalist
survivalist retreat. Davidian leader David Koresh was
decoding Revelation as an End Times script and
preparing for the Tribulations. The government’s failure
to comprehend the Davidian’s millennialist worldview
set the stage for the deadly miscalculations by
government agents, which cost the lives of 80 Branch
Davidians (including 21 children), and four federal
agents.240 TV coverage of this incident sent images of
fiery apocalypse cascading throughout the society,
further inflaming the apocalyptic paradigm within right–
wing anti–government groups.241
Throughout the late 1990s, the Patriot and armed
militia movements overlapped with a resurgent states’
rights movement, and a new “county supremacy”
movement. There was a rapid growth of illegal so–
called “constitutionalist” “common law courts,” set up
by persons claiming non–existent “sovereign”
citizenship. These courts claimed jurisdiction over legal
matters on the county or state level, and dismissed the
US judicial system as corrupt and unconstitutional.242
Constitutionalist legal theory creates a two–tiered
concept of citizenship in which white people have a
superior “natural law” or “sovereign” citizenship.
Amazingly, many supporters of constitutionalism seem
oblivious to the racism in this construct.
The most publicized incident involving common
law ideology was the 1996 standoff involving the
Montana Freemen, who combined Christian Identity,
bogus common law legal theories, “debt–money”
theories that reject the legality of the Federal Reserve
system, and apocalyptic expectation.243 On a global
level, many of the fears over declining sovereignty are
linked to the idea that “the UN is a critical cornerstone
25
of the New World Order,” as one Birch Society
publication put it.244
Three men suspected of shooting a law
enforcement officer while attempting to steal a water
truck in Colorado in 1998 had talked to friends about
the coming collapse of society, using Patriot–style
rhetoric. Two reportedly attended meetings of a local
Patriot group.245 Incidents like this are likely to increase
as we near the year 2000. However, the conspiracist
scapegoating of right–wing populism, like that in the
Patriot and armed militia movements, creates not only
individual acts of violence, but also what Mary Rupert
has dubbed “a seedbed for fascism.”246 Right–wing
populism is a recruitment pool for the far right.
The Far Right
The far right in the US is composed of groups such
as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, the Christian
Patriots, ideological fascists, and neonazis. The term
“far right” in this context refers to groups with an
aggressively–insurgent or extra–legal agenda, including
calls for denying basic human rights to a target group.
Christian Patriots combine Christian nationalism with
constitutionalism.247 Non–Christian neonazis are able to
work in coalitions with the Christian Patriot groups due
to shared anti–government sentiments and conspiracism
rooted in historic anti–Jewish bigotry.
The most significant worldview in the Christian
Patriot movement is Christian Identity, which believes
the US is the Biblical “Promised Land” and considers
white Christians to be God’s “Chosen People.”248
Michael Barkun in Religion and the Racist Right has
tracked the influence of apocalyptic millennialism on
major racist and anti–Semitic ideologues within
Christian Identity, including Wesley Swift, William
Potter Gale, Richard Butler, Sheldon Emry, and Pete
Peters.249 The neonazi version of Identity ideology
claims Jews are Satanic agents who manipulate
subhuman people of color.250
Christian Identity was a common core belief in the
Posse Comitatus in the 1980s. Some Ku Klux Klan and
racist skinhead groups now espouse Identity, as does
Aryan Nations. Identity is a millennialist ideology that
plans for an imminent apocalyptic race war, and history
has proved that they act on their beliefsmaking the
threat of violence especially real.251 Many proponents
of Christian Identity seek to overthrow the “Zionist
Occupational Government” in Washington, DC and
establish an exclusively white, Christian nation. In this
ideology Jews are pictured as agents of the Antichrist
who must be eliminated to prepare the way for the
return of Christ.252
The Gulf War encouraged Christian Patriot groups
to peddle anti–Semitic conspiracist theories about
Jewish power behind US military involvement. An
example was the 40–page newsprint tabloid booklet by
Nord Davis, Jr., Desert Shield and the New World
Order, published in 1990 by his Northpoint Tactical
Teams.253 Other pre–existing Christian Patriot groups
quickly reached out to the emerging militia movement
with similar propaganda materials. For instance the
Tennessee–based Christian Civil Liberties Association
published The Militia News, ostensibly a newspaper but
actually a catalog of books and other educational
resources including guides on how to evade government
tracking and surveillance. The opening article, “U.S.
Government Initiates Open Warfare Against American
People,” is a good example of anti–Semitic Christian
Patriot dogma:
“…following the turn of the 20th century,
Communism (the Judeo–Bolsheviks of
Russia) and other diabolical movements
and philosophies—Fabian socialism,
materialism, atheism, and secular
humanism—would, like malignant
parasites, establish themselves in
America. Even our presidents, beginning
with Franklin Roosevelt, would begin using
the resources of this nation to finance and
support our foreign enemies, particularly
the Communist and Zionist
movements.”254
The article rails against what the author sees as the
unconstitutional attack on states’ rights by “Court
mandated integration and forced busing” in the 1960s,
and the “systematic de–Christianization of the
nation.”255 Warning this is part of a “satanic
conspiracy,” the author advises that for the government
to succeed, “the globalists must outlaw and confiscate”
firearms.
“Every gun owner who is the least bit informed
knows that those who are behind this
conspiracy—who now have their people
well placed in political office, in the courts,
in the media, and in the schools, are
working for the total disarming of the
American people and the surrender of our
nation and its sovereignty….The time is at
hand when men and women must decide
whether they are on the side of freedom
and justice, the American republic, and
Almighty God; or if they are on the side of
tyranny and oppression, the New World
Order, and Satan.”256
Mobilizing gun owners was the first step in
building the militia movement out of the Patriot
movement. The Weaver and Waco incidents focused the
attention of the Patriot movement as examples of
government tyranny, and served as trigger events to
galvanize a mobilization in 1993 and 1994 around
stopping the Brady Bill and gun control provisions of
the Crime Control Act.257 But more militant and
26
suspicious elements within the Patriot movement grafted
apocalyptic conspiracist fears onto the gun rights
campaign, arguing that if gun rights were restricted, a
brutal and repressive government crack–down on gun
owners would quickly follow. The Weaver and Waco
incidents were seen as field tests of the planned
repression, with the ultimate goal being UN control of
the US to benefit the conspiracy of secret globalist
elites. While for many this was a secular narrative, an
apocalyptic and millennialist End Times overlay was
easily added by Christian fundamentalist elements in the
movement. Another overlay was overt anti–Jewish
conspiracism. The solution, given this narrative, was to
create independent armed defensive units to resist the
expected wave of government violencethus the armed
citizens militias.
Timothy McVeigh, who had moved from
conspiracist anti–government beliefs into militant
neonazi ideology, blew up the Oklahoma City federal
building on the anniversary of the Waco conflagration to
protest government abuse of power which he, and
others, believed was prelude to a tyrannical New World
Order.258 It is likely that McVeigh wanted his act of
terrorism to push the more defensive and less
ideological militias into a more racialized and militant
insurgency. His act of terrorism mimicked a scenario in
the novel The Turner Diaries, which he distributed to
friends. Written by neonazi William Pierce, The Turner
Diaries has apocalyptic themes invoking the cleansing
nature of ritual violence typical of Nazi ideology, which
also sought a millenarian Thousand Year Reich.259
McVeigh’s apparently secular concern that during the
Gulf War the government had implanted a micro–chip
into his body echoes historic concerns among
fundamentalist Christians that the Mark of the Beast
might be hidden in electronic devices.
The Politics of Apocalyptic
Millennialism
The period immediately prior to a millennial date
can be marked by people turning inward in preparation,
removing themselves from society, and in extreme
cases, committing suicide. Conversely, some who
believe the end of time means there will be literally no
time for punishment, may act out on their anger by
killing their enemies. Other people swept up in
millennial expectation target demonized groups for
discrimination or violence to cleanse the society, or
push it toward the final showdown. During the post–
millennial period, people can turn outward, and express
anger over failed expectations by blaming scapegoated
groups for having prevented the transformation.260
In Robert Fuller’s view, apocalyptic fervor is
complex, and part of a “literary and theological
tradition,” that is “transmitted through a variety of
cultural institutions that are relatively immune” to
certain “social or economic forces.”261 Philip Lamy
agrees that millennialism has many sources, but
contends it generally can be tied to societal conflict and
resistance to change.262 An early study of millenarian
“Cargo Cults” in the Pacific Islands showed how they
grew as a resistance movement against colonialism.263
Millennialist movements in the US often have
reflected a manichaean framework of absolute good
versus absolute evil. As Jeffrey Kaplan notes:
“A manichaean framework requires the adherent
to see the world as the devil’s domain, in
which the tiny, helpless “righteous
remnant” perseveres through the
protection of God in the hope that, soon,
God will see fit to intervene once and for
all in the life of this world.”264
This perspective can promote a passive, fatalist
response, or can lead some to be pro–active and
interventionist, seeking to prepare the way for the
anticipated confrontation. Believers can be optimistic or
pessimistic about the outcome.
Fuller ties the millennialist viewpoint to the larger
issues of demonization and scapegoating when he
argues that:
“Many efforts to name the Antichrist appear to
be rooted in the psychological need to
project one’s “unacceptable” tendencies
onto a demonic enemy. It is the Antichrist,
not oneself, who must be held responsible
for wayward desires. And with so many
aspects of modern American life
potentially luring individuals into nonbiblical
thoughts or desire, it is no wonder that
many people believe that the Antichrist has
camouflaged himself to better work his
conspiracies against the faithful.”265
In many cases the worldview of the reader or
listener determines who gets scapegoated by the
conspiracist narrative. Some people exposed to the
same conspiracist article or radio program might decide
the villains are generic new world order secret elites
who are manipulating the government, while others will
be convinced it is demonic forces of the Antichrist
signaling the apocalyptic End Times. Some, inevitably,
will blame it all on the Jews. A skillful wordsmith can
address all three audiences at the same time by using
coded rhetoric.
The book Trilaterals Over Washington appears to
be a secular critique, but it takes on a new dimension
when the illustration on the cover is identified as the
three–headed beast mentioned in Revelation, which in
turn gives added meaning to the inside graphic with the
headline: “The Trilateral Commission: the Devil’s
Triangle of your future.”266
27
In some cases the audience provides its own
overlay that extrapolates beyond the intended message.
C. Wright Mills, G. William Domhoff, and Holly Sklar
have written structural and institutional critiques of
power that eschew conspiracism.267 Yet right–wing
populists cite these works, then claim that more
informed research has exposed the nest of secret elites
at the source of the conspiracy. Antony C. Sutton’s Wall
Street and the Rise of Hitler even features a chart
showing Sutton names more “conspirators” than
Domhoff, meant to prove that Sutton has the superior
analysis.268 Both Domhoff and Sklar have expressed
exasperation at having their work touted by right–wing
conspiracists.269
In November, 1997 the Center for Millennial
Studies at Boston University held an international
symposium to discuss the historical dynamics of
apocalypticism. Most of those at the symposium agreed
that the track record is bleak. Center director Richard
Landes expressed his concern that “most people don’t
understand how quickly demonization and scapegoating
can gain an audience in millennial times, particularly
when believers become disappointed and frustrated.”
Landes hopes the current millennial moment can
have a positive outcome, and that apocalyptic fervor
can be directed away from scapegoating and toward
constructive and self–reflective renewal projects.270
Stephen O’Leary points out that this will be tricky, “the
study of apocalyptic argument leads to the conclusion
that its stratagems are endless, and not susceptible to
negation through rational criticism.”271 He suggests
patience, a sense of tragedy in history, and a sense of
humor in interaction as the best strategies for mending
communities that have experienced the trauma of
apocalyptic confrontation.
As we approach the millennium, there is an
increase in, and a convergence of: apocalyptic thinking,
demonization, scapegoating, and conspiracism. At the
same time we are in the midst of the longest right–wing
backlash movement since the end of Reconstruction.
Ritual purification campaigns by the Christian Right
continue to spread divisiveness. For some apocalyptic
Christians, the End Times have arrived, and the witch
hunt for satanic agents has begun in earnest. A right–
wing populist revolt against globalization blames secret
elites and sinister conspiracies. Clinic attacks, terrorist
bombings, and racist murders can be linked to
increasing apocalyptic preparation or retribution. Yet
there has been reluctance to recognize the pattern and
face the dilemma, despite numerous books on the
subject by serious scholars.
Apocalyptic conspiracy theories played a role in
the criminal cases of John C. Salvi, 3d, convicted in the
murder of two reproductive health center workers and
the wounding of five others, and the case of Francisco
Martin Duran, who sprayed the White House with
bullets. Duran was known to listen to a conspiracy–
mongering right–wing Colorado–based radio talk show
hosted by Chuck Baker that broadcast conspiratorial
claims by adherents to the Patriot and armed militia
movements.272 Both Duran and Salvi showed signs of
psychological disturbance.
Salvi was arguably mentally ill, and later
committed suicide in jail. Prior to his deadly rampage,
Salvi distributed lurid photographs of fetuses from
Human Life International. He began quoting from
Revelation and warning about the need for increased
vigilance and action among devout Catholics.273 He had
expressed interest in the armed militia movement.274
Much of John Salvi’s rhetoric about the corrupt money
system echoed themes in the Michael Journal.
Magazines found in Salvi’s residence included The New
American and The Fatima Crusader, both published by
right–wing groups promoting conspiracist theories and
vociferously opposing abortion and homosexuality.275
One issue of The New American found in John Salvi’s
possession contained an article exploring the idea that
killing an abortion provider might be morally justified,
an idea promoted in some militant anti–abortion
circles.276
Some people with a mental illness who carry out
acts of violence cannot successfully control their fears
and anger and act them out against real targets. Salvi’s
psychological condition was not demonstrated by his
claims about a banking conspiracy, which are
commonplace in the Catholic apocalyptic right, nor was
his choice of targets random.277 Certainly a person like
Salvi does not represent the mainstream of Catholicism,
the anti–abortion movement, or the US political right,
but he expresses the views of a durable subculture with
conspiracist views that target scapegoats.
This dynamic of rhetoric triggering violence
functions more easily among the mentally ill. But
scapegoats can be injured or killed by those people—no
matter what their mental state—who act out their
conspiratorial beliefs in a zealous manner. The failure
of political and religious leaders to take strong public
stands against groups and individuals that
demagogically spread scapegoating conspiracist
theories encourages this dangerous dynamic. Yet when
President Clinton spoke out against the rhetoric of
demonization following the Oklahoma City bombing, he
was criticized by pundits across the political
spectrum.278
Many questions need more study. When does
demonizing rhetoric by demagogues motivate action
among followers who are not mentally ill? Why and
when do seemingly sane followers of ideological
leaders begin to act out their beliefs through violence?
When and how does apocalyptic violence become a
28
mass movement? How and when can it become state
policy?
Right–wing populist movements can cause serious
damage to a society because they often popularize
xenophobia, authoritarianism, scapegoating, and
conspiracism. This can lure mainstream politicians to
adopt these themes to attract voters, legitimize acts of
discrimination (or even violence), and open the door for
revolutionary right–wing populist movements, such as
fascism, to recruit from the reformist populist
movements.
According to Richard K. Fenn:
Fascist tendencies are most likely to flourish
wherever vestiges of a traditional
community, bound together by ties of race
and kinship, persist in a society largely
dominated by large–scale organizations,
by an industrial class system, and by a
complex division of labor. Under these
conditions the traditional community itself
becomes threatened; its members all the
more readily dread and demonize the
larger society.279
Fenn argues that apocalyptic themes that lead to
this tendency can be found in all three of the political
tendencies examined in this study: the Christian Right,
Patriot and armed militia movements, and the fascist
right.280
By understanding the apocalyptic and millennialist
roots of the conspiracist narratives peddled by right–
wing populist forces, we can better understand why their
claims—that seem on the surface to be outlandish—
nonetheless resonate in certain alienated sectors of our
society.281
Conclusions
The history of apocalyptic fervor and millennial
expectation is written by those secure in their
knowledge that all previous predictions of terminal
cataclysm have turned out to be false. After all, if the
end of time ever arrives, it will leave behind no
historians or sociologists, thus making skepticism an
appealing and safe alternative. While believers prepare
for the spiritual tsunami that will wash away both sins
and sinners, skeptics make the assumption that it is just
another wave that will eventually collapse, seeping
away through the infinite sands of time. Yet no matter
what we believe, we are all destined to experience the
effects of the apocalypse, because it invents itself in the
maelstrom of the human mind, and no logical arguments
can stop the storm.
Mere observation is morally insufficient. We need
to do damage control in anticipation of the apocalypse.
The challenge is to respect devout religious belief while
focusing societal energy on a millennial period of
introspection and renewal rather than a period of fear
and mistrust. We ignore apocalyptic fears and millennial
expectation at our own peril, and by ignoring the trends,
we put others in peril as well. Given the already evident
tendency toward apocalyptic scapegoating as we
approach the year 2000, it is entirely predictable that
more people will be targeted as evil agents of the
Satanic Antichrist, traitorous minions of the globalist
new world order, or simply sinners to be disciplined and
kept in line in religious campaigns of coercive purity.
In times such as these, history passes a harsh
judgment on silence. Instead of waiting to see who is
next on the list, we must speak out against all forms of
apocalyptic demonization, scapegoating, and
conspiracism, because they are toxic to democratic
discourse.
29
Author’s Note
Many of the themes and ideas expressed in this paper are the result of joint work
with Matthew N. Lyons on the forthcoming Too Close for Comfort. Seminars hosted by
historian Richard Landes, director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston
University, helped me frame this discussion, as did conversations with Sara Diamond,
Fred Clarkson, Philip Lamy, Aaron Katz, and Erin Miller.
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31
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Endnotes to Dances With Devils
{Original publication dates appear within brackets like these}
1
This article is adapted from working papers and the draft
manuscript for Too Close for Comfort, by Chip Berlet &
Matthew N. Lyons, forthcoming, Guilford Press. Many of the
themes and ideas expressed in this paper are the result of our
joint work. Seminars hosted by historian Richard Landes,
director of the Center for Millennial Studies (CMS), at Boston
University, helped me frame this discussion, as did
discussions with Sara Diamond, Fred Clarkson, Philip Lamy,
Aaron Katz, and Erin Miller. A number of people, too
numerous to list here, graciously made useful comments
based on earlier drafts and conference papers, and I thank
them for their assistance.
Portions of this article first appeared in:
Chip Berlet, “Apocalypse Soon: Are You Targeted as an
Agent of the Antichrist? As the Year 2000
Approaches, the List Grows…” The Boston Globe,
7/19/98, Focus Section, p. 1.
_______, “Mad as Hell: Right–wing Populism, Fascism,
and Apocalyptic Millennialism,” paper presented at the
14th World Congress of Sociology (XIVe Congrès
Mondial de Sociologie), International Sociological
Association, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1998.
_______, “The Ideological Weaponry of the American
Right: Dangerous Classes and Welfare Queens,”
(L’arsenal idéologique de la droite américaine:
«classes dangereuses» et «welfare queens»), paper
presented at the international symposium, The
American Model: an Hegemonic Perspective for the
End of the Millennium?, (Le «modèle américain»: une
perspective hégémonique pour la fin du millénaire?)
sponsored by Group Regards Critiques, University of
Lausanne, Switzerland, May 12, 1998.
_______, “Three Models for Analyzing Conspiracist
Mass Movements of the Right,” in Eric Ward, ed.,
Conspiracies: Real Grievances, Paranoia, and Mass
Movements, (Seattle, Northwest Coalition Against
Malicious Harassment [Peanut Butter Publishing],
1996).
2
The analysis of apocalyptic demonization and millennialism in
this paper is drawn primarily from the following sources:
For apocalypticism: Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No
More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture,
(Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press,
1992); Charles B. Strozier, Apocalypse: On the
Psychology of Fundamentalism in America, (Boston:
Beacon Press, 1994); Stephen O’Leary, Arguing the
Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Robert Fuller,
Naming the Antichrist: The History of an American
Obsession, (New York: Oxford University Press,
1995); Philip Lamy, Millennium Rage: Survivalists,
White Supremacists, and the Doomsday Prophecy,
(New York: Plenum, 1996); Damian Thompson, The
End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the
Millennium. (Great Britain: Sinclair–Stevenson,
1996); Richard K. Fenn, The End of Time: Religion,
Ritual, and the Forging of the Soul, (Cleveland:
Pilgrim Press, 1997).
For Christian critiques of conspiracist apocalyptics:
Gregory S. Camp, Selling Fear: Conspiracy
Theories and End–Times Paranoia, (Grand Rapids,
MI: Baker Books, 1997); Richard Abanes, End–Time
Visions: The Road to Armageddon?, (New York:
Four Walls Eight Windows, 1998); Tom Sine, Cease
Fire: Searching for Sanity in America’s Culture
Wars, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans,
1995); and Paul T. Coughlin, Secrets, Plots & Hidden
Agendas: What You Don’t Know About Conspiracy
Theories, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,
1999).
For progressive challenges to apocalyptic thinking: Lee
Quinby, Anti–Apocalypse: Exercise in Geneological
Criticism, (Minneapolis: Univ. of MN Press, 1994);
Catherine Keller, Apocalypse Now and Then: A
Feminist Guide to the End of the World, (Boston:
Beacon, 1996).
For apocalyptic demonization: Elaine Pagels, The Origin
of Satan, (New York: Vintage, 1996); and Norman
Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The
Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith, (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1993); James A. Aho, This Thing of
Darkness: A Sociology of the Enemy, (Seattle: Univ.
of Washington Press, 1994).
3
Pagels, The Origin of Satan, p. 182.
4
This can be found in a wide range of sources; see: Gerry
O’Sullivan, “The Satanism Scare,” Postmodern Culture v.1
n.2 (January, 1991); Frances FitzGerald, “The American
33
Millennium,” The New Yorker, 11/11/85, pp. 105-196; Grace
Halsell, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the
Road to Nuclear War, (Wesport, CT: Lawrence Hill, 1986);
Susan Harding, “Imagining the Last Days: The Politics of
Apocalyptic Language,” in Marty, Martin E. & R. Scott
Appleby (eds.); Accounting for Fundamentalisms, (The
Fundamentalism Project, Volume 4), Chicago: The University
of Chicago Press, 1994; Jeffrey Victor, “The Search for
Scapegoat Deviants,” The Humanist, Sep. /Oct. 1992, pp.
10–13; Leonard Zeskind, “Some Ideas on Conspiracy
Theories for a New Historical Period,” in Ward, ed.,
Conspiracies; Kathleen M. Blee, “Engendering Conspiracy:
Women in Rightist Theories and Movements,” in Ward,
Conspiracies; Evan Harrington, “Conspiracy Theories and
Paranoia: Notes from a Mind–Control Conference,” Skeptical
Inquirer, Sept./Oct. 1996, pp. 35–42; Kenneth S. Stern,
“Militias and the Religious Right,” Freedom Writer, IFAS,
October 1996; Robert M. Price, “Antichrist Superstar and the
Paperback Apocalypse: Rapturous Fiction and Fictitious
Rapture,” and Nicholas Stix “Apocalypse, Shmapocalypse:
You Say You Want a Revolution,” in “On the Millennium,”
Deolog, Feb. 1997, online,
<http://www.stealth.net/~deolog/297.html>.
5
Lamy, Millennium Rage, pp. 86–88.
6
Chip Berlet, “Three Models for Analyzing Conspiracist Mass
Movements of the Right,” in Ward, ed., Conspiracies.
7
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, ed.,
The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un–American
Subversion from the Revolution to the Present, (Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press, 1971); Richard O. Curry and
Thomas M. Brown, eds., “Introduction,” Conspiracy: The
Fear of Subversion in American History, (New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1972); George Johnson, Architects of
Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American
Politics (Los Angeles: Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1983); and
Frank P. Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right:
Race, Conspiracy, and Culture (Westport, CT: Greenwood,
1985); David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American
Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, (New
York: Vintage Books, revised 1995, {1988}); Joel Kovel, Red
Hunting in the Promised Land: Anticommunism and the
Making of America, (New York, Basic Books, 1994).
8
Interview with Holly Sklar, 1998; Holly Sklar, Chaos or
Community: Seeking Solutions, Not Scapegoats for Bad
Economics, (Boston: South End Press, 1995); A similar point
is made in Mary E. Kelsey and Mary Thierry Texeira,
“Scapegoating at the End of the Millennium: Symbolic
Legislation and the Crisis of Capitalism,” paper, American
Sociological Association, (ASA), San Francisco, 1998.
9
For ongoing detailed coverage of these diverse forms see the
quarterly Millennial Prophecy Report, Millennium Watch
Institute, POB 34021, Philadelphia, PA 19101–4021.
There are also eclectic apocalyptic sects. Such groups
can turn inward such as the Heaven’s Gate group
suicides which flowed from a mixture of Biblical
prophesy, the ancient predictions of Nostradamus,
and science fiction. The Order of the Solar Temple
imploded with group suicides in Canada, France and
Switzerland. Sometimes groups turn outward, such as
the Aum Shinrikyo sect which exploded with a gas
attack on the Tokyo subway; see: Thompson, The
End Of Time; Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in
America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right
to the Children of Noah, (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse
University Press, 1997).
Useful introductory anthologies are: Thomas Robbins and
Susan J. Palmer, eds., Millennium, Messiahs, and
Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements,
(New York: Routledge, 1997); and, Charles B. Strozier
and Michael Flynn, The Year 2000: Esssays on the
End, (New York: NYU Press, 1997).
For handy guides, see Robert G. Clouse, Robert N.
Hosack, and Richard V. Pierard, The New
Millennium Manual : A Once and Future Guide,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999); and Stephen
Jay Gould, Questioning the Millennium: A
Rationalist’s Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary
Countdown, (New York: Harmony Books, 1997). See
also “On the Millennium,” a collection of articles in
Deolog, Feb. 1997, online,
<http://www.stealth.net/~deolog/297.html>.
Discussions at the Center for Millennial Studies in 1998
have focused on the following topics: Authorities in
Israel are making plans for dealing with devout
Christians expected to flock to Jerusalem and other
sites to await (or perhaps encourage) the second
coming of Christ. Apocalyptic Christians, Muslims,
and Jews covet the Temple Mount. Messianic Jews
are looking for the flawless “red heifer” of ancient
prophecy.
10See: Mike A. Males The Scapegoat Generation: America’s War
on Adolescents; (Monroe, ME, Common Courage Press, 1996
To Reclaim a Legacy of Diversity: Analyzing the `Political
Correctness’ Debates in Higher Education, (Washington, DC:
National Council for Research on Women, 1993); and Ellen
Messer–Davidow “Manufacturing the Attack on Liberalized
Higher Education,” Social Text, Fall 1993, pp. 40–80; Mary E.
Kelsey and Mary Thierry Texeira, “Scapegoating at the End
of the Millennium: Symbolic Legislation and the Crisis of
Capitalism, paper, ASA, San Francisco, 1998.
11 Conversations with Landes,1997–98, based on his working
papers for the Center for Millennial Studies.
12 Chip Berlet, “Who’s Mediating the Storm? Right–wing
Alternative Information Networks,” in Linda Kintz & Julia
Lesage, eds., Culture, Media, and the Religious Right
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).
13 Sara Diamond, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian
Right, (Boston: South End Press, 1989), pp. 23–25, 130–141;
231–232; Diamond, Roads to Dominion: Right–Wing
Movements and Political Power in the United States, (New
York: Guilford, 1995), pp. 161–177, 228–256; David Cantor,
The Religious Right, (New York: Anti–Defamation League,
1994), pp. 22–24, 71–73, 119–129, 151–153; Fred Clarkson,
Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and
34
Democracy, (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 1997), pp.
125–138; Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 40–190; Lamy,
Millennium Rage, pp. 26–30, 63–157, 193–252.
14 Tim LaHaye, Revelation: Illustrated and Made Plain, (Grand
Rapids, MI: Zondervon, 1975). p. 9.
15 David G. Bromley, “Constructing Apocalypticism,” pp. 31–45;
and, Catherine Wessinger, “Millennialism With and Without the
Mayhem,” pp. 47–59; both in Robbins & Palmer, eds.,
Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem.
16 See generally, Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come.
17 Strozier, Apocalypse, pp. 223–248; John M. Bozeman,
“Technological Millenarianism in the United States,” in
Robbins & Palmer, eds., Millennium, Messiahs, and
Mayhem; See also, Millennial Prophecy Report, April 1996,
pp. 4–20.
18 In Protestantism the text has been called the book of
“Revelation,” New International Version of the Holy Bible
[Protestant “NIV” version] (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Bible Publishers, 1984 [1973]); and “The Revelation of St.
John the Divine,” The Holy Bible: King James Version (Iowa
Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers, 1986). In Catholicism, it
has been called “The Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle,”
New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible, Confraternity of
Christian Doctrine Edition, (New York: Catholic Book
Publishing Company, 1957); and “The Revelation to John,”
The Catholic Study Bible: New American Bible, Confraternity
of Christian Doctrine Edition, (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1990). The changes in the more recent versions reflect
newer scholarship that disputes that John of Patmos was the
apostle John.
19 Lamy, Millennium Rage, p.36.
20 Ibid., p.37.
21 George Johnson, Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the
Search for Order, (New York: Knopf, 1995), pp. 308–313.
22 Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1970 {1957}).
23 Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, pp. 80–85.
24 Gould, Questioning the Millennium. Gould also examines the
difference between “millenarian” groups and “millennial”
expectation.
25 John Yemma, “Countdown to Catastrophe: Doomsday Visions
Abound as Millennium Approaches,” Boston Sunday Globe,
December 29, 1996, p. 1, 20–21. Citing Research by Richard
Landes of Boston University and Charles B. Strozier,
professor of history at John Jay College in New York.
26 Michael Barkun, “Politics and Apocalypticism,” in Stephen J.
Stein (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, volume 3,
(New York: Continuum, 1998), pp. 442–60.
27 Stephen D. O’Leary, “Heaven’s Gate and the Culture of
Popular Millennialism,” Millennial Stew (newsletter of the
Center for Millennial Studies) Winter 1998, p. 1, 3–5.
Nostradamus was a sixteenth century prophet who utilized
astrological charts and visions to write a pre–history of the
world making predictions about events centuries in advance.
The text, written in quatrains, is obscure and ambiguous.
There are many published commentaries claiming to unravel
their meaning. One major prediction was the arrival of a great
comet. His predictions do not go beyond the year 2000. On
renewed popularity of Nostradamus, see, for example: Henry
C. Roberts, translated, edited, and interpreted, (updated by
Robert Lawrence), The Complete Prophesies of
Nostradamus, (New York: Crown, 1994 {1947}); Stefan
Paulus, Nostradamus 1999: Who Will Survive [A Comet is
Hurtling Toward Earth…], (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn
Publications, 1997); and Jean–Charles de Fontbrune,
Nostradamus: Countdown to Apocalypse, (New York: Henry
Holt, 1985 {1980}). A contemporary version of the comet
prophecy is Tom Kay, When the Comet Runs: Prophecies for
the New Millennium, (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads,
1997).
28 Milton William Cooper, Behold a Pale Horse, (Sedona, AZ:
Light Technology Publishing, 1991).
29 Quinby, Anti–Apocalypse, p. 162.
30See: in the Old Testament, Isaiah 10: 1–4. That religion can
oppose the status quo or seek liberation from oppression is
often overlooked or disputed. For a discussion of this, see
Christian Smith, ed., Disruptive Religion: The Force of Faith
in Social Movement Activism, (New York: Routledge, 1997),
especially pp. 29–46, 67–144,
31 Perry Bush, “Prophetic Anger: the lingering power of
evangelical populism,” Sojourners magazine, Jan./Feb. 1997,
pp. 34–37.
32 Daniel Berrigan, Ezekiel: Vision in the Dust, (Maryknoll, New
York: Orbis Books, 1997).
33 René Girard, The Scapegoat, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1986).
34 Frequently people of faith are described in patronizing
caricature or dismissed as ignorant, irrational, or even mentally
ill. The almost careless bigotry and stereotyping of many
liberal and left commentators is objectionable on both moral
and practical grounds. There has been a tendency among
social scientists to overlook the influence of sincere and
devout religious belief on political action. In recent years, a
number of researchers have attempted to seriously analyze
religiously–motivated social movements, and I have tended to
emphasize their work in this section. See: Harvey Cox, “The
Warring Visions of the Religious Right, Atlantic Monthly,
Nov. 1995, pp. 59–69.
35 Peter J. Gomes, The Good Book: Reading the Bible with
Heart and Mind, (New York: William Morrow, 1996), pp. 4–
52, 129–135, 161–162, 246–250, 348–353.
36 Gregory S. Camp, Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and
End–Times Paranoia, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books,
1997), p. 190.
37 Bruce Barron, “A Summary Critique,” Christian Research
Journal, Winter 1993, pp. 44–45. There are many other
examples. Gerry Rough’s website, In Pursuit of Reason, is a
Christian critique of conspiracism, especially, “Introduction:
The Rise of the Modern Conspiracy Theory Movement, ‘
online, <http://www.skyenet.net/~gerryr/index.html>; Rough
suggests four reasons for the growth of the current
“conspiracy theory movement:” the “socio–political
movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the development of the
conspiracy theory movement itself, the modern prophecy
movement within the Christian church, the technological
development of the Internet.” Another Christian critique of
35
conspiracism is the article “Christians & Conspiracy Theories:
A Call to Repentance,” online,
<http://www.best.com/~vandruff/conspire.html>. See also:
Tom Shine, “Suspicions of Conspiracy: How a Spirit of Fear
can Distort Scripture and History,” Sojourners, July–Aug,
1995.
38 Paul T. Coughlin, Secrets, Plots & Hidden Agendas: What You
Don’t Know About Conspiracy Theories, (Downers Grove,
IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999).
39 Tim Callahan, Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment?,
(Altadena, CA: Millennium Press, 1997).
40 James A. Aho, This Thing of Darkness: A Sociology of the
Enemy, (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press, 1994). “A
Phenomenology of the Enemy,” pp. 107–121.
41 Sir James George Frazier, The Golden Bough: A Study in
Magic and Religion, Abridged, (New York: MacMillan,
1922), pp. 624–686. for a comprehensive treatment of the
process and social function of scapegoating in historic
persecution texts of myth and religion, see: René Girard, The
Scapegoat, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1986).
42 Gordon W. Allport, Nature of Prejudice, (Cambridge, MA:
Addison–Wesley, 1954), p. 244.
43 Landes, “Scapegoating,” Encyclopedia of Social History, Peter
N. Stearn, ed., (New York: Garland Pub. Inc., 1994), p. 659.
Neumann has argued against using the term scapegoating
when discussing conspiracist movements, but I support the
Landes’ definition; Franz Neumann, “Anxiety in Politics,” in
Richard O. Curry and Thomas M. Brown, eds., Conspiracy:
The Fear of Subversion in American History, (New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972), p. 255.
44 For an interesting approach linking Jungian psychology to
interventions against scapegoating in dysfunctional small
organizations and groups, see Arthur D. Colman, Up From
Scapegoating: Awakening Consciousness in Groups,
(Wilmette, IL: Chiron, 1995).
45 Conversation with Susan M. Fisher, M. D. clinical professor of
psychiatry of Univ. of Chicago Medical School and Faculty,
Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, (1997).
46 Michael Billig, Fascists: A Social Psychological View of the
National Front, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
1978), pp. 313–316.
47 See discussions in Jaroslav Krej?í, “Neo–Fascism—West and
East,” in Luciano Cheles, Ronnie Ferguson, and Michalina
Vaughan, eds. The Far Right in Western and Eastern
Europe, 2nd edition, (New York: Longman Publishing, 1995),
pp. 2–3; David Norman Smith; “The Social Construction of
Enemies: Jews and the Representation of Evil,” Sociological
Theory, 14:3, Nov. 1996, pp. 203–240; Billig, Fascists, pp.
296–350; Elisabeth Young–Bruehl, The Anatomy of
Prejudices, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
1996), pp. 163–339. An excellent review of the psycho–social
aspects of authoritarianism and the Frankfurt school theories
is in Social Thought & Research, 1998, 21:1&2.
48 Gordon W. Allport, “Demagogy,” in Richard O. Curry and
Thomas M. Brown, eds., Conspiracy: The Fear of
Subversion in American History, (New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, 1972), pp. 263–276.
49 Davis, The Fear of Conspiracy, pp. xiv–xv, 1.
50 Although they often disagree with my conclusions, my thinking
on conspiracism has been shaped by comments and critiques
from S. L. Gardiner, Loretta Ross, Leonard Zeskind, Devin
Burghart, and Robert Crawford.
51 Davis, The Fear of Conspiracy, pp. xv–xvi.
52 Mintz, Liberty Lobby, p. 199.
53 O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse, pp. 20–60.
54 Zeskind, “Some Ideas on Conspiracy Theories,” p. 16. See
also: pp. 11, 13–15, 16–17.
55 Ibid., 13–14.
56 S. L. Gardiner, “Social Movements, Conspiracy Theories and
Economic Determinism: A Response to Chip Berlet,” in Ward,
Conspiracies, p. 83.
57 Conversation with Herman Sinaiko, Professor of Humanities,
University of Chicago, (1997).
58 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; See also: the special issue on “Conspiracy,” Skeptic,
Vol. 4, No. 3, 1996; and Jodi Dean, Aliens in America:
Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace, (Ithaca
NY: Cornell University Press, 1998).
59 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; Brian E. Albrecht, “Hate Speech,”
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), June 11, 1995, pp. 1,
16–17; David McHugh and Nancy Costello, “Radio
host off the air; militia chief may be out,” Detroit Free
Press, 4/29/95, p. 6A; James Latham, “The Rise of
Far Right/Hate Programming on the Shortwave
Bands,” Vista, the Newsletter of Radio for Peace
International, October 1994, pp. 2–4, find Far Right
Radio Review online at
<http://www.clark.net/pub/cwilkins/rfpi/frwr.html>.
For Internet, see: Devin Burghart, “Cyberh@te: A
Reappraisal,” The Dignity Report (Coalition for
Human Dignity), Fall, 1996, pp. 12–16; David Futrelle,
“CyberHate,” In These Times, May 15, 1995, p. 17;
36
Wayne Madsen, The Battle for Cyberspace: Spooks
v. Civil Liberties and Social Unrest,” CovertAction
Quarterly, Winter 1996–97; Todd J. Schroer, “White
Racialists, Computers, and the Internet,” paper, ASA,
Toronto, 1997. 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>.
60 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 56–61, 63.
61 Carol F. Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman:
Witchcraft in Colonial New England, (New York: W. W.
Norton, 1998), pp. 46–116.
62 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 5, 31.
63 Paul Caras, The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil,
(New York: Gramercy/Random House, 1996 [1900]), p. 280.
64 Ibid., p. 282.
65 Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, especially pp. 144–147,
163–169.
66 Caras, The History of the Devil, p. 306; See also Peter
Stanford, The Devil: A Biography, (New York: Henry Holt,
1996).
67 Pagels, The Origin of Satan, p. xviii.
68 Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium, pp. 77–78.
69 Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish
World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,
(London: Serif, 1996 [1967]), pp. 2–3.
70 Caras, The History of the Devil, pp. 306–307. When some
Freemasons constructed a history linking their order to the
Knights Templar, they inherited the charges of satanic
conspiracy.
71 Henry Charles Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages,
abridged, (New York: Macmillan, 1961), pp. 687–767.
72 R. Po–chia Hsia, The Myth of Ritual Murder: Jews and Magic
in Reformation Germany, (New Haven, CT: Yale University
Press, 1988); Heiko A. Oberman, The Roots of Anti–
Semitism: In the Age of Renaissance and Reformation,
translated by James I. Porter, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1984, {German edition 1981}).
73 Andrew Gow, lecture, “Jewish Shock–Troops of the
Apocalypse,” Center for Millennial Studies symposium, “The
Apocalyptic Other,” November, 1997.
74 Oberman, The Roots of Anti–Semitism, pp. 118–122. Pagels,
Origins of Satan, p. 180; for additional background on
Christian anti–Semitism, see Frederic Cople Jaher, A
Scapegoat in the New Wilderness: The Origins and Rise of
Anti–Semitism in America, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1994), pp. 13–82; Leonard Dinnerstein,
Anti–Semitism in America, (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1994), p. 3–34; Pagels, The Origins of Satan, p. xx;
Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 40–73; Jerome A. Chanes,
Antisemitism in America Today: Outspoken Experts Explode
the Myths, (New York: Birch Lane Press/Carol Publishing,
1995).
75 A good short summary of the Illuminati/Freemason and
Protocols conspiracies and their role in the contemporary
racist right can be found in James Ridgeway, Blood in the
Face (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1990). On the
Illuminati Freemasons, see Davis, The Fear of Conspiracy,
pp. 9–22; Hofstatder, The Paranoid Style, pp. 10–18;
Bennett, The Party of Fear, pp. 22–26, 48–51; George
Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and
Paranoia in American Politics (Los Angeles:
Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1983), pp. 31–84. On the
Protocols, see Cohn, Warrant for Genocide.
76 Davis, The Fear of Conspiracy, pp. 9–22; Hofstatder, The
Paranoid Style, pp. 10–18; Bennett, The Party of Fear, pp.
22–26, 48–51.
77 Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 31–84.
78 John Robison, Proofs of a Conspiracy—against All the
Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the
secret meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati and Reading
Societies, fourth edition with postscript, (Boston: Western
Islands, 1967 [1798]).
79 Abbé Augustin Barruel, Memoirs Illustrating the History of
Jacobinism, second edition revised and corrected, English
translation by Robert Clifford, reprinted in one volume,
(Fraser, MI: Real–View–Books, 1995 [1797–98]).
80 Ibid., p. 396; Robison, Proofs, pp. 11–56; Johnson, Architects
of Fear, pp. 43–50
81 Robison, Proofs, p. 9.
82 Robison’s first edition appeared as Barruel’s third volume, first
edition, was going to press; but Robison had not yet seen
Barruel’s work. In their second editions, both author’s
acknowledge the other, and Barruel engages in some criticisms
of Robison informal treatment of quotes. See Barruel,
Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, pp.396–398
83 Barruel, Memoirs, p. 185.
84 Ibid., p. 780.
85 Robison, Proofs, pp. 57, 272–273
86 Bennett, The Party of Fear, pp. 22–26.
87 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 96–100. Bennett, The Party
of Fear, pp. 35–53. For an example of mid–1850s anti–
Catholic Propaganda, see E. Hutchinson, Startling Facts for
the Know Nothings, (New York, self–published, 1855).
88 Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pp. 25–45.
89 Ibid., pp. 84–117; Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise
to Power,” (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1944), pp. 1–10.
90 Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, pp. 302–306.
91 Curtiss, Appraisal, pp. 32–60; Cohn, Warrant, pp. 66–83;
Walter Laqueur, Black Hundred: The Rise of the Extreme
Right in Russia, (New York: HarperPerennial, 1993), pp. 29–
44. Curtiss provides an appendix with many sample
paragraphs illustrating “parallels between passages from Joly’s
Dialogue and the Protocols as given in Nilus….” Comparisons
that demonstrated the plagiarism first appeared in a London
newspaper. Cohn appends a similar but more complete
analysis. Laqueur’s translation of the title as “The Big in the
Small” is more intuitively useful than the typical “The Great in
the Little.”
92 Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 32–43. One of the most
comprehensive discussions of conspiracist theories
throughout history, albeit in fictional form, is contained in the
novel by Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum, (New York:
Ballantine Books, 1990).
37
93 Based on several different translations of the Protocols of the
Learned Elders of Zion under a variety of names, on file at
PRA, primarily, Victor E. Mardsen, The Protocols of Zion,
“Translated from the Russian Text,” (Britain: 1934).
Republished by Ford’s Dearborn Independent, with full
inside title: The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned
Elders of Zion with Preface and Explanatory Notes.
94 Walter Laquer, Russia and Germany, (New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers University Press, 1990 {1965}), chapter 4–6. On how
the Protocols went from Russia to Germany, see: Heiden, Der
Fuehrer, pp. 18–22.
95 Cohn, Warrant, pp. 167–168.
96 Ibid. p. 169.
97 Laqueur, Black Hundred, pp. 34, 205, 208–209.
98 Interview with Landes, 1998.
99 George Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and
Evangelicalism. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans
Pub. Co., 1991.), pp. 9–61. Fuller, Naming the Antichrist,
pp. 108–133.
100 Joel Kovel, Red Hunting in the Promised Land:
Anticommunism and the Making of America, (New York,
Basic Books, 1994).
101 William Preston, Jr., Aliens and Dissenters: Federal
Suppression of Radicals, 1903–1933, (New York: Harper
Torchbooks, 1963).
102 Frank Donner, Age, pp. 47–48.
103 Nesta H. Webster, World Revolution: The Plot Against
Civilization, (London: Constable, 1921); _______, Secret
Societies and Subversive Movements (London: Boswell
Printing, 1924); _______, The French Revolution, (Orig.
pub., 1919). Republished by Noontide Press, 1988. For this
and other such works, see Singerman, Antisemitic
Propaganda.
104 Singerman, Antisemitic Propaganda, entry 0101, p. 29, citing
Colin Holmes, Anti–Semitism in British Society, 1876–1939,
(New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979), pp. 147–150; Cohn,
Warrant for Genocide, pp. 168–170.
105 Mintz, Liberty Lobby, pp. 17–22; Father Denis Fahey’s The
Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World, (Dublin:
Browne and Nolan, 1935); Gertrude Coogan’s Money
Creators: Who Creates Money? Who Should Create It?,
(Chicago: Sound Money Press, 1935).
106 Mintz, Liberty Lobby, p. 17.
107 Ribuffo, Old Christian Right, pp. 16–17, 167, 196–197, 211;
Bennett, Party of Fear, p. 269.
108 Elizabeth Dilling, The Red Network: A “Who’s Who” and
Handbook of Radicalism for Patriots, (Chicago: self–
published, 1934); Elizabeth Dilling, The Roosevelt Red Record
and its Background, (Chicago: self–published, 1936). See
also: excerpt from Dilling’s The Roosevelt Red Record and its
Background, in Davis, Fear of Conspiracy, pp. 273–276;
human rights activist Susan DeCamp traced some current
conspiracist theories circulating in Montana and other Rocky
Mountain states back to Dilling’s books at a workshop
presentation, “Conspiracy, Identity & the Religious Right,”
Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment
symposium, October 1998.
109 New Dealers in Office, (Indianapolis: The Fellowship Press,
circa 1941); for background on popular anti–Semitism during
this period, see Dinnerstein, pp. 105–149.
110 Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right, pp. 2–24, 58–72, 83–116,
175–177.
111 Chart from William Dudley Pelley’s Liberation, 8/21/38; as
cited in Singerman, Antisemitic Propaganda, p. xxx.
112 Mintz, The Liberty Lobby, pp. 47–64; Johnson, Architects of
Fear, pp. 78–80, 135–136.
113 Emanuel M. Josephson, Rockefeller, ‘Internationalist’: The
Man Who Misrules the World. (New York: Chedney Press,
1952). See Mintz, Liberty Lobby, pp. 61–64, 82–83. See also
Ed Merta, “Birth of a Conspiracy Theory,” unpublished paper
following the trail of the conspiracist view of the Council on
Foreign Relations. On file at PRA.
114 Dan Smoot, The Invisible Government. (Boston and Los
Angeles: Western Islands, 1962).
115 Mary M. Davison, The Secret Government of the United
States, (Omaha, Nebraska: The Greater Nebraskan, 1962), pp.
1–5. For a study of the role of women in battling globalism,
see Abby Scher, Cold War on the Home Front: Middle Class
Women’s Politics in the 1950s, doctoral thesis, sociology,
New School for Social Research, 1995.
116 Phyllis Schlafly, A Choice Not An Echo (Alton, IL: Pere
Marquette Press, 1964), pp. 111–121.
117 Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in
Our Time, republished by GSG Associates, (New York:
MacMillan, 1966); Mintz, Liberty Lobby, pp. 145–146.
118 Cleon Skousen The Naked Capitalist, (Salt Lake City, UT:
self published/Reviewer, 1970). Skoussen’s subtitle is, A
Review and Commentary on Dr. Carroll Quigley’s Book:
Tragedy and Hope—A History of the World in Our Time.
Gary Allen with Larry Abraham, None Dare Call It
Conspiracy, paperback edition, (Rossmor, CA & Seal Beach,
CA: Concord Press, 1972); reissued revised in hardcover:
Gary Allen and Larry Abraham, None Dare Call It
Conspiracy, (Seattle, WA: Double A Publications, 1983);
revised and expanded as sequel: Larry Abraham, Call it
Conspiracy, (Seattle, WA: Double A Publications, 1985). The
latter book featured a prologue by Christian Reconstructionist
Gary North.
119 See, for example, Phoebe Courtney, Beware Metro and
Regional Government! (Littleton, CO: The Independent
American Newspaper, 1973).
120 Mary M. Davison, The Profound Revolution, (Omaha,
Nebraska: The Greater Nebraskan, 1966), pp 1–18, 26–28, 84,
86–87. Davidson went on to form the Council for Statehood,
similar in ideology to the Committee of the States.
121 Mary M. Davison, Twentieth Century Snow Job, (Lighthouse
Point, FL: Council for Statehood, circa 1970).
122 Dennis King, Lyndon LaRouche and the New American
Fascism (New York: Doubleday, 1989), p. 282.
123 One book mixes the themes: Eustace Mullins, The Federal
Reserve Conspiracy, second edition, (Union, NJ: Christian
Educational Association, 1954). See also: Eustace Mullins,
Mullins on the Federal Reserve, (New York: Kaspar and
Horton, 1952); Eustace Mullins, The World Order: Our Secret
Rulers, second edition, (Staunton, VA: Ezra Pound Institute of
38
Civilization, 1992); Eustace Mullins, The Secret Holocaust
(Word of Christ Mission, no date). See also: listings on
Mullins in Robert Singerman, Antisemitic Propaganda: An
Annotated Bibliography and Research Guide, (New York:
Garland Publishing, 1982), including, Eustace Mullins, The
Biological Jew, (Staunton, VA: Faith and Service Books, ca.
1968); Eustace Mullins, “Jews Mass Poison American
Children, Women’s Voice (Chicago), June 1955, p. 11; Eustace
Mullins, Impeach Eisenhower! (Chicago, Women’s Voice, ca.
1955).
124 Chip Berlet, “Cardinal Mindszenty: heroic anti–communist or
anti–Semite or both?”, The St. Louis Journalism Review,
April, 1988.
125 See for example the implicit anti–Black prejudice in, Alan
Stang, It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights,
(Boston: Western Islands, 1965), especially pp.209–214.
126 Mintz, Liberty Lobby, pp. 59–61; The Noontide Press, book
catalogs, 1989 and 1995. Phyllis Schlafly’s A Choice, Not an
Echo, echoes Carr’s conspiracist view of the Bilderberger
symposiums, but without the overt anti–Semitism.
127 Kenneth Goff, One World a Red World, pamphlet, (Colorado:
self–published, 1952), pp. 56–57, 62.
128 Kenneth Goff, Reds Promote Racial War, pamphlet,
(Colorado: self–published [Soldiers of the Cross], 1958), pp.
13–16, 25–33.
129 Gordon Lindsay, Will the Antichrist Come Out of Russia?,
(Dallas: Voice of Healing Publications, 1966), inside cover.
130 Dr. W. S. McBirnie, The Real Power Behind Communism,
pamphlet, (Glendale, CA: Center for American Research and
Education, n.d., circa 1968), p. 15.
131 John Stormer, The Death of a Nation, (Florissant, MO:
Liberty Bell Press, 1968), pp. 152–174.
132 John Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason, (Florissant,
Missouri: Liberty Bell Press, 1964); on religious renewal
experience, see “About the Author,” page preceding the table
of contents.
133 Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, LA:
Huntington House Publishers, 1991); Pat Robertson, The New
World Order: It Will Change the Way You Live, (Dallas: Word
Publishing, 1991); Donald S. McAlvany, Toward a New
World Order, The Countdown to Armageddon, Oklahoma
City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing/Southwest Radio Church of
the Air, 1990); Dee Zahner, The Secret Side of History:
Mystery Babylon and the New World Order, (Hesperia, CA:
LTAA Communications, 1994); Dave Hunt, Global Peace and
the Rise of the Antichrist, videotape, (Dave Hunt,
1990);”What’s Behind the New World Order,” booklet,
(Jemison, AL: Inspiration Books Est, 1991).
134 Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, p. 312.
135 Portions of this section first appeared in “Three Models for
Analyzing Conspiracist Mass Movements of the Right,” in
Ward, Conspiracies.
136 Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to F. D.
R. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Random House, Inc.,
1955); Richard Hofstadter, Anti–Intellectualism in American
Life. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963); Arnold Forster and
Benjamin R. Epstein, Danger on the Right. (New York:
Random House, 1964); Daniel Bell, ed., The Radical Right:
The New American Right Expanded And Updated, (Garden
City, NY: Anchor Books, Doubleday & Company, Inc.,
1964); Richard Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American
Politics,” in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and
Other Essays (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965); Seymour
Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, The Politics of Unreason:
Right–Wing Extremism in America, 1790–1970 (New York:
Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970).
Transitional works would include: Donald I. Warren, The Radical
Center: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation,
(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976); and
William H. Riker, Liberalism Against Populism: A
Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the
Theory of Social Choice, (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland
Press, 1988 {1982}).
137 For criticism of the original academic idea that a conspiracist
“radical right” is somehow far outside the electoral system
(called centrist/extremist theory or the pluralist school), see
Michael Rogin, The Intellectuals and McCarthy: The
Radical Specter, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1967), pp.
261–282; Curry and Brown, eds., “Introduction,” Conspiracy,
pp. vii–xi; Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right, pp. 237–257;
Margaret Canovan, Populism (New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1981), pp. 46–51 179–190; Jerome L.
Himmelstein, To The Right: The Transformation of American
Conservatism, (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990), pp.
1–5, 72–76, 152–164. Diamond, Roads to Dominion, pp. 5–
6, 40–41; Michael Kazin, The Populist Persuasion: An
American History, (New York: Basic Books, 1995), pp. 190–
193; William B. Hixson, Jr., Search for the American Right
Wing: An Analysis of the Social Science Record, 1955–1987,
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 10–48, 77–
123, 273–292; }).
See also: Michael P. Federici, The Challenge of
Populism: The Rise of Right–Wing Democratism
in Postwar America, (New York: Praeger, 1991);
and, Allen D. Hertzke, Echoes of Discontent:
Jesse Jackson, Pat Robertson, and the
Resurgence of Populism, (Washington, DC:
Congressional Quarterly Press, 1993).
For statistical data that refutes claims made by
centrist/extremist theory about the social base of
the “radical right,” see Rogin, The Intellectuals
and McCarthy; Fred W. Grupp, Jr., “The
Political Perspectives of Birch Society Members;”
and James McEvoy, III, “Conservatism or
Extremism: Goldwater Supporters in the 1964
Presidential Election;” both in Robert A.
Schoenberger, ed., The American Right Wing:
Readings in Political Behavior, (New York: Holt,
Rinehart & Winston, 1969); and Charles Jeffrey
Kraft, A Preliminary Socio–Economic & State
Demographic Profile of the John Birch Society,
(Cambridge, MA: Political Research Associates,
1992). See also: Diamond: “How ‘Radical’ Is the
Christian Right?” The Humanist, (Watch on the
Right column), March/April 1994.
39
138 For an introduction to various contemporary academic views,
see: Aldon D. Morris and Carol McClung Mueller, eds.,
Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, (New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 1992); and Sidney Tarrow, Power in
Movement: Social Movements, Collective Action and Politics,
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994); John Lofland,
Social Movement Organizations: Guide to Research on
Insurgent Realities, (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1996.
See also: Carl Boggs, Social Movements and
Political Power: Emerging Forms of Radicalism
in the West, (Philadelphia: Temple University
Press, 1986); and Bert Klandermans, The Social
Psychology of Protest, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997).
138 Christian Smith, “Correcting a Curious Neglect, or Bringing
Religion Back In,” in Christian Smith, ed., Disruptive
Religion: The Force of Faith in Social–Movement Activism,
(New York: Routledge, 1996), p.3.
139 Sara Diamond: “How ‘Radical’ Is the Christian Right?” The
Humanist, (Watch on the Right column), March/April 1994;
Diamond, Opposition Research Column, “Shifting Alliances
on the Right,” Z Magazine November 1993; Diamond, “The
Christian Right Seeks Dominion: On the Road to Political
Power and Theocracy,” in Chip Berlet, ed., Eyes Right!
Challenging the Right Wing Backlash, (Boston: South End
Press, 1995), pp. 44–49.
140 Catherine McNicol Stock, Rural Radicals: Righteous Rage
in the American Grain, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,
1996), pp. 15–86.
141 Gary Allen, None Dare Call it Conspiracy, p. 125.
142 Gary Allen, Rockefeller: Campaigning for the New World
Order, pamphlet from an article in the JBS magazine,
American Opinion, February 1974; a similar theme was
promoted by the Lyndon LaRouche network, see: King,
Lyndon LaRouche, pp. 38–40, 125.
143 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.
144 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 the Gay and Lesbian Rights
movement, the Lesbian Avengers group, and the Digital
Queers group.
145 See for example Allen, None Dare Call it Conspiracy, p. 125.
146 Bennett, The Party of Fear, pp. 48–182; John Higham,
Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism
1860–1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1972); Diamond, Roads to
Dominion, pp. 140–160.
147 Billig, Fascists, p. 296.
148 Frank P. Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right:
Race, Conspiracy and Culture, (Westport, CT: Greenwood
Press, 1985); note that there is much on the John Birch
Society in this book.
149 For more on the JBS, see: William V. Moore, The John Birch
Society: A Southern Profile, paper, Southern Political Science
Association, 1981; J. Allen Broyles, The John Birch Society:
Anatomy of a Protest, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964);
Diamond, Roads, pp. 52–59, 140–141, 147–148; Gene
Grove, Inside the John Birch Society, (Greenwich, CT:
Fawcett, 1961).
150 Mary Rupert, “The Patriot Movement and the Roots of
Fascism,” in Susan Allen Nan, et. Al. eds., Windows to
Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Framing our Field,
(Fairfax, VA: Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution,
1997); Peter Fritzsche, Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism
and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany.(New York:
Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 149–150.
151 This paragraph reflects the ideas of Matthew N. Lyons in
working papers for Too Close for Comfort. For a related
argument regarding Britain, see Michael Billig, “Rhetoric of the
Conspiracy Theory: Arguments in National Front
Propaganda,” Patterns of Prejudice, 22:2, 1988.
152 Tarso Luís Ramos, “Feint to the Left: The Growing
Popularity of Populism,” Portland Alliance, (Oregon), Dec.
1991, pp. 13, 18. See also Chip Berlet, Right Woos Left:
Populist Party, LaRouchian, and Other Neo– fascist
Overtures to Progressives and Why They Must Be Rejected,
report, revised, (Cambridge, MA: Political Research
Associates, revised, 1994 {1991}); _______, “Friendly
Fascists,” The Progressive, June 1992; and, _______, “Big
Stories, Spooky Sources,” Columbia Journalism Review,
May/June 1993.
153 Biehl, “Militia Fever;” Matthew Kalman and John Murray,
“The Icke Man Cometh,” New Moon, November 1995.
154 See, generally, Daniel Pipes, The Hidden Hand: Middle East
Fears of Conspiracy, (New York: St. Martins, 1998); Patricia
A. Turner, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Rumor in
African–American Culture, (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1993); Berlet, Right Woos Left.
155 Howard Goldenthal, “Khadafy Connections,” Now (Toronto),
7/4/91, p. 14.
156 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).
157 For a critique of conspiracist anti–globalism, see Mark
Rupert, “Globalization and the Reconstruction of Common
Sense in the US,” in S. Gill and J. Mittelman, eds., Innovation
and Transformation in International Studies, (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997).
158 Diamond, Roads, pp. 127–131, 179–180. On fusionism, see
Himmelstein, To The Right, pp. 43–60. His discussion of the
practical problems of uniting the three strands into a
conservative movement is especially useful and perceptive.
159 Chip Berlet and Margaret Quigley, “Theocracy & White
Supremacy: Behind the Culture War to Restore Traditional
Values,” in Berlet, Eyes Right, pp.15–43.
160 Laura Elizabeth Saponara, Ideology at Work: Deciphering the
Appeal of New Right Discourse, Master of Arts Thesis,
University of Texas at Austin, 1997, p. 27.
161 See generally, Diamond, Spiritual Warfare.
162 William H. Marshner and Enrique T. Rueda, The Morality of
Political Action: Biblical Foundations, (Washington, DC: the
Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, 1983),
pp. 35–48.
40
163 ISRP web page, URL: <http://www.isrp.org/welcome.html>,
10/6/98.
164 Revelation, 20–22. Whether Christ returns at the beginning or
the end of this thousand year period is disputed among pre–
millennialists and post–millennialists. Fuller, Naming the
Antichrist, pp. 6–7; Marsden, Understanding
Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, pp. 40, 112–114;
Diamond, Spiritual Warfare, pp. 130–138, 240; Michael
Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the
Christian Identity Movement, (Chapel Hill, NC: University of
North Carolina Press, 1994), p. 75–79, 104–105, 213.
165 Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, pp. 80–112.
166 Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and
Evangelicalism, pp. 60, 147, 163; Martin, With God on Our
Side, pp.14–15.
167 For general background, see Himmelstein, To The Right,
Diamond, Roads to Dominion; Martin, With God on Our
Side.
168 Fred Clarkson, Eternal Hostility, pp. 77–123.
169 Some analysts use the term “dominionism” solely to refer to
forms of Reconstructionism, but others use it as I do here, in
the broader sense of exclusionary Christian nationalism.
170 Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, 254–290.
171 Joel Kovel, Red Hunting in the Promised Land:
Anticommunism and the Making of America, (New York,
Basic Books, 1994); Didi Herman, The Antigay Agenda:
Orthodox Vision and the Christian Right, (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1997), pp. 19–24, 35–44, 125–
128, 170–172,
172 Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 169–173; Diamond, Spiritual
Warfare, pp. 84–87, 233; Berlet and Quigley, “Theocracy &
White Supremacy,” in Berlet, Eyes Right!, pp. 32–33.
173 George M. Marsden, Understanding Fundamentalism and
Evangelicalism, pp. 109. See also: Diamond, Roads, pp.
246–248; William Martin, With God on Our Side: The Rise of
the Religious Right in America, (New York: Broadway
Books, 1996), pp. 194–198, 331–333, 344–347, );
Thompson, The End Of Time, pp. 310–312.
174 Stormer, None Dare Call It Treason; Stormer, None Dare
Call It Treason…25 Years Later, paperback, (Flourissant,
MO: Liberty Bell Press, 1992 {hardcover, 1990}).
175 Martin, With God on Our Side, pp. 194–197; Dallas A.
Blanchard, The Anti–Abortion Movement and the Rise of the
Religious Right, (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994), p. 97;
Susan Harding, “Imagining the Last Days: The Politics of
Apocalyptic Language;” For examples of Christian
antagonism toward secular humanism, see Francis A.
Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, revised, (Westchester, IL:
Crossway Books, 1982 [1981]), pp. 117–130; Franky
Schaeffer, A Time for Anger: The Myth of Neutrality,
(Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), pp. 15–25, 76–78;
John W. Whitehead, The Stealing of America, (Westchester,
IL: Crossway Books, 1987), pp. 31–59; Tim LaHaye, The
Battle for the Mind, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell,
1980), pp. 141–179.
176 Christian Anti–Communism Crusade, newsletter, April 1,
1998, p. 2.
177 David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times: The Story of the
Biblical Christian, Marxist/Leninist and Secular Humanist
Worldviews, (Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Ministries Press,
1992).
178 The author purchased curricular materials during a tour of
Summit Ministries in 1997. On file at PRA.
179 Documentation, including correspondence between Welch, his
aide, and a donor outlining the procedure, at PRA in file:
“John Birch Society, Nonprofit Funding Conduits.”
180 Pat Robertson, The New World Order, 1992, p. 36.
181 Ibid., pp. 261–62.
182 Michael Lind, “On Pat Robertson: His Defenders”, The New
York Review of Books, April 20, 1995, pp. 67–68; and
accompanying article: Jacob Heilbrunn, “On Pat Robertson:
His Anti–Semitic Sources”, pp. 68–71.
183 See generally Camp, Selling Fear.
184 “Armageddon Books,” Cliffside Publishing House, General
Catalog, Fall/Winter 1996;
<http://www.armageddonbooks.com>, 11/13/98.
185 For an interesting discussion of this trend, see: Joel Schalit and
Charlie Bertsch “Millennial Revelations: Religious Extremism
and the Preparations For a Secular Apocalypse,” Deolog,
Feb. 1997, online,
<http://www.stealth.net/~deolog/SchalitBertsch297.html>. A
fascinating development is the post–rapture ministry, which
creates evangelical outreach materials to be “left behind” after
the authors are raptured up into heaven; see: Peter and Paul
Lalonde’s work including the popular video, “Apocalypse:
Caught in the Eye of the Storm;”
<http://www.jvim.com/catalog/apocal.html>; and the website
articles, “Oops, I Guess I Wasn’t Ready,”
<http://www.novia.net/~todd/rap49.html>; and Kurt Seland,
“The Post Rapture Survival Guide,”
<http://www.novia.net/~todd/rap34.html>.
186 Hal Lindsey, with C. C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet
Earth, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House,
1970).
187 See the analysis of Lindsey in O’Leary, Arguing the
Apocalypse, pp. 134–171.
188 Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse, (Minneapolis, MN: Grason, 1983), pp.
222–224.
189 Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, pp. 148–149, 327;
referencing John F. Walvoord, Armageddon, Oil And The
Middle East Crisis. What The Bible Says About The Future
Of The Middle East And The End Of Western Civilization.
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990
{1974}).
190 Johnson, Architects of Fear, pp. 28–29; F. H. Knelman,
Reagan, God and the Bomb, (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus
Books, 1985); pp. 175–190; Boyer, When Time Shall Be No
More, p. 162.
191 Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on
the Road to Nuclear War, (Wesport, CT: Lawrence Hill,
1986). For a Christian manual on how to survive the nuclear
Armageddon through bomb shelters, see: Arthur Robinson &
Gary North, Fighting Chance: Ten Feet to Survival, (Cave
41
Junction, OR: Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine,
1986).
192 Ruth W. Mouly, The Religious Right and Israel: The Politics
of Armageddon, (Chicago: Midwest Research [now Political
Research Associates], 1987).
193 Lamy, Millennium Rage, p. 155. See also: Boyer, When Time
Shall Be No More, pp. 327–331.
194 Sara Diamond, “Political Millennialism within the Evangelical
Subculture,” in Charles B. Strozier and Michael Flynn, The
Year 2000: Essays on the End, (New York: NYU Press,
1997), p. 210.
195 Paul Boyer, lecture and seminar, Boston University, 11/12/98–
11/13/98.
196 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, p. 5. There are still some
Protestant apocalyptics that see the Vatican as controlled by
the Devil, see: “Conclusive Proof From The Bible That The
Pope Is The Antichrist,”
<http://www.pacinst.com/antichri.htm>.
197 “700 Club,” 7/23/98 and 12/27/94, author’s notes made while
watching programs.
198 Cover story and series of articles on Y2K from a Christian
perspective by Joel Belz, Roy Manard, Chris Stamper, and
Lynn Vincent, in World (God’s World Publications), 8/22/98.
See also: “Y2K: Playing the Millennium Card,” Culture Watch,
The DataCenter, Sept. 1998, for a very useful roundup of the
topic.
199 Author attended the workshop; speakers were Michael Hyatt,
author of The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming
Chaos and the Day the World Shut Down, and prominent
Lousiana Republican Dr. Billy McCormack of the University
Baptist Church. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Larry Burkett,
Jack Van Impe, and many other Christian evangelical leaders
have added apocalyptic fuel to the Y2K furnace; see: Falwell’s
video, “Y2K: A Christian’s Guide to the Millennium Bug.”
online, <http://www.otgh.org/otgh_site/offers/y2k.html>. See
also: the site maintained by the Inspiration Network,
<http://www.insp.org/y2k/>.
200 See Gary North’s web page, URL:
<http://www.garynorth.com/y2k/index.htm> (9/16/98).
North’s apocalyptic predictions about Y2K and the need for
survivalist–style preparations echoes his previous stance on
surviving nuclear war during the Reagan years: Robinson &
North, Fighting Chance.
201 Dennis Behreandt, “Millennium Mayhem,” The New
American, 9/14/98, p. 14; for coverage of hard right fears
about Y2K see “Y2Kaos,” Intelligence Report., Southern
Poverty Law Center, Fall 1998 (#92); and Berlet, Y2K and
Millennial Pinball: How Y2K Shapes Survivalism in the US
Christian Right, Patriot and Armed Militia Movements, and
Far Right,” paper, Center for Millennial Studies at Boston
University, 1998.
202 Dave Hunt, Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist; (Eugene,
OR: Harvest House, 1990); Peter LaLonde, One World Under
Antichrist: Globalism, Seducing Spirits and Secrets of the
New World Order; (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1991);
William T. James, ed., Foreshocks of Antichrist; (Eugene, OR:
Harvest House, 1997);Arno Froese, How Democracy Will
Elect the Antichrist: The Ultimate Denial of Freedom,
Liberty and Justice According to the Bible, (West Colombia,
SC: Olive Press, 1997).
203 Catholic Study Bible, commentary on Revelation, p. 399.
204 Vicki Frierson and Ruthanne Garlock, Christian Be Watchful:
Hidden Dangers in the New Coalition of Feminism,
Humanism, Socialism, Lesbianism, pamphlet, (Dallas: Texas
Eagle Forum, 1978); on file at PRA.
205 Quinby, symposium presentation, “The Millennial Cusp:
Western Cultures at 1000, 1500, 2000 and Beyond,”
sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston,
October 12, 1996. In the classic sci–fi film Five Million Years
to Earth an ancient Martian space ship is unearthed at the
aptly–named Hobbes End Underground station in London.
When its passenger comes to life it appears as the Devil,
complete with little horns. A women falls under its spell, and
using superhuman powers supplied by the Devil, attempts to
stop the male heroes planning to block the fiery apocalypse
using logic and science.
206 “Vision 2000: Frequent Questions,” Official PK Web Site,
URL: <promisekeepers.org/2000faq.htm>, 7/17/98.
207 Ferrini Productions, “10.4.97 Promise Keepers,” video,
(Boston: Center for Millennial Studies, 1997); interviews by
author at Promise Keepers Mall rally.
208 Steven L. Gardiner, “Promises to Keep: the Christian Right
Men’s Movement,” Dignity Report, 3:4, Fall, 1996; Linda
Kintz, Between Jesus and the Market: The Emotions that
Matter in Right–Wing America, (Durham, NC: Duke
University Press, 1997), pp. 111–139; Connie Anderson,
Visions of Involved Fatherhood: Pro–Feminists and
“Promise Keepers,” paper, ASA, Toronto, 1977, Family &
Kinship Session (#113); ASA 1998 roundtable on Promise
Keepers, with papers presented by Mary Stricker; Amy
Schindler and Jennifer Carrol Lena; R. Lorraine Bernotsky and
Joan M. Bernotsky, with discussion leader Jennifer Reich
209 Interview with Promise Keepers leader Randy Phillips on
“Late Edition,” CNN, 10/5/97; 10 am ET, from transcript, p.
9.
210 Lee Quinby, “Coercive Purity: The Dangerous Promise of
Apocalyptic Masculinity,” in Charles B. Strozier and Michael
Flynn, The Year 2000: Essays on the End, (New York: NYU
Press, 1997), pp. 154–156; note, however, that conservative
evangelical women can find spheres of influence and agency
within the constraints of submission, see Brenda E. Brasher,
Fundamentalism and Female Power, (New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers University Press, 1998).
Christian Right demonization of gays and lesbians in the same
style as anti–communism and anti–Semitism is described in
Didi Herman, The Antigay Agenda. See also: Jean Hardisty
“Constructing Homophobia,” in Berlet, Eyes Right!, pp. 86–
104; Arlene Stein, “When the Culture War Comes to Town:
An Ethnography of Contested Sexuality in Rural Oregon,”
paper, ASA 98; and “Whose Memories? Whose Victimhood?
Contests for the Holocaust Frame in Recent Social Movement
Discourse,” Sociological Perspectives, Vol. 41, No. 3, 1998,
pp. 519–540; Surina Khan, Calculated Compassion: How the
Ex–Gay Movement Serves the Right’s Attack on Democracy,
(Somerville, MA: Political Research Associates, 1998).
42
211 Diamond, “Political Millennialism,” in Strozier and Flynn, The
Year 2000, pp., 206–210.
212 Richard K. Fenn, The End of Time: Religion, Ritual, and the
Forging of the Soul, (Cleveland, Pilgrim Press, 1997), pp.
127–149.
213 Find charges and response at URL:
<http://www.saintsalive.com/mormonism/nccj.htm>.
214 Church on the Web, Video List, URL:
http://www.churchontheweb.com/bookshop/paganinvasion/8.
html.
215 Patrick Matrisciana, ed., The Clinton Chronicles, fourth
edition, (Hemet, CA: Jeremiah Books, 1994). See also: the
related Clinton Chronicles video.
216 Texe Marrs, Big Sister Is Watching You: Hillary Clinton And
The White House Feminists Who Now Control America—
And Tell The President What To Do, (Austin, TX: Living
Truth Publishers, 1993.)
217 An exceptional and detailed survey of Catholic apocalypticism
can be found in Michael W. Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan,
Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary
American Catholicism, (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1997). See also: Thompson, The End Of Time, pp.175–190.
Useful overviews of key right–wing Catholic groups are in
Steve Askin, A New Rite: Conservative Catholic
Organizations and Their Allies, (Washington, DC: Catholics
for Free Choice, 1994).
218 The Fatima Crusader, Summer 1992, p. 2.
219 Charles Martel, “Why Sr. Lucia Went Public,” Fatima Family
Messenger, April–June 1992, pp. 2–4, 44–48.
220 Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan, pp. 44–46, 172.
221 Ibid., pp. 154–177.
222 Victor Balaban, “The Virgin and the Millennium: Marian
Sightings in the United States,” lecture, Center for Millennial
Studies and Boston University School of Theology, 1/20/98.
223 Charles Martel, “The Antichrist,” The Fatima Crusader,
Summer 1994, pp. 6–9.
224 Ibid. p. 9.
225 “Father Coughlin, a great apostle of social justice who
courageously denounced the bankers’ debt–money system,”
The Michael Journal, May–June 1995, p. 10; and various
undated Michael Journal reprints handed out in the Boston
area from 1995–1998, on file at PRA; see Denis Fahey’s
pamphlet, The Rulers of Russia, reprinted in 1940 by
Coughlin’s Social Justice Publishing, in which Fahey claims a
“Judaeo–Bolshevist” influence over both capitalism and
communism.
226 William T. Still, New World Order, (Lafayette, LA: Huntington
House, 1990).
227 Ibid., Introduction.
228 Ibid., back cover.
229 Ibid., pp. 140–141, 148–149.
230 Ibid., back cover.
231 Cheri Seymour, Committee of the States: Inside the Radical
Right, (Mariposa, CA: Camden Place Communications,
1991).
232 James Corcoran, Bitter Harvest: The Birth of Paramilitary
Terrorism in the Heartland, (New York: Viking Penguin, 1995
[1990]).
233 Mark Rupert, Globalization and the Reconstruction of
Common Sense in the US, in S. Gill and J. Mittelman, eds.,
Innovation and Transformation in International Studies,
(Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997). See also
Rupert’s marvelous Web page, “A Virtual Guided Tour of Far
Right Anti–Globalist Ideology,” URL:
<http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/maxpages/faculty/merupert/far–
right> An important study of socio–economic factors is
Deborah Kaplan, “Republic of Rage: A Look Inside the
Patriot Movement,” paper, ASA 98.
234 Kenneth S. Stern, A Force Upon the Plain: The American
Militia Movement and the Politics of Hate, (New York:
Simon & Schuster, 1996); Lamy, Millennium Rage.
235 Chip Berlet & Matthew N. Lyons, “Militia Nation,” The
Progressive, June 1995, pp. 22–25; Scott McLemee, “Public
Enemy,” In These Times, May 15, 1995, pp. 14–19; Chip
Berlet, “The Violence of Right–Wing Populism,” Peace
Review, 7:3/4 (1995: Journals Oxford, Ltd.), 283–288.
236 Jason Vest, “The Spooky World of Linda Thompson,”
Washington Post, May 11, 1995, pp. D1, D8–D9.
237 Not all survivalists are part of white supremacist or anti–
Semitic movements, but many are.
238 Jess Walter, Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy
of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family, (New York:
Regan Books, 1995), pp. 64–87.
239 Robert K. Spear, Surviving Global Slavery: Living Under the
New World Order, (Leavenworth, KS: Universal Force
Dynamics, 1992); Spear, Creating Covenant Communities,
(Leavenworth, KS: Universal Force Dynamics, 1993).
240 James D. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher, Why Waco? Cults
and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1995); Dick J. Reavis, The
Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, (New York: Simon &
Schuster, 1995); Kenneth Samples, Erwin de Castro, Richard
Abanes, & Robert Lyle, Prophets of the Apocalypse: David
Koresh & Other American Messiahs, (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Books, 1994).
241 Quinby, Anti–Apocalypse, pp. 155–162; ); Thompson, The
End Of Time, pp. 278–321; Mark S. Hamm, Apocalypse in
Oklahoma: Waco and Ruby Ridge Revenged, (Boston:
Northeastern University Press, 1997);
242 Devin Burghart and Robert Crawford, Guns and Gavels:
Common Law Courts, Militias & White Supremacy,
(Portland, OR: Coalition for Human Dignity, 1996).
243 Ted Daniels, “Another Standoff: The Montana Freeman,”
Millennial Prophecy Report, April 1996, p. 1–4; Mark
Pitcavage, “Every Man a King: The Rise and Fall of the
Montana Freemen, The Militia Watchdog website, May 1996.
244 Letter from JBS American Opinion Book Services, in
promotional catalog of anti–UN materials, August 1998, on file
at PRA.
245 Robert Unruh, Authorities Speculate Fugitives May Have
Slipped Away–Again,” Associated Press, 6/5/98; “Authorities
Tracking Two People They Believe Could Be Fugitives,”
Associated Press, 7/10/98; David Foster, “Vast Manhunt
Comes up Empty, Associated Press, 8/8/98; Greg Burton,
“Cop Killing: A Meeting of Radicalism, Religion,” Salt Lake
43
City Tribune, June 21, 1998, online,
<http://www.sltrib.com/1998/jun/06211998/utah/39732.htm>.
246 Mary Rupert, “The Patriot Movement and the Roots of
Fascism,” in Susan Allen Nan, et. al. eds., Windows to
Conflict Analysis and Resolution: Framing our Field,
(Fairfax, VA: Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution,
1997), p. 96.
247 James A. Aho, The Politics of Righteousness: Idaho
Christian Patriotism, (Seattle: Univ. of Washington Press,
1990). Stern, in footnote 4 of “Militias and the Religious
Right,” puts it this way:
Some commentators do not distinguish between
Christian Identity and Christian Patriotism because,
on the American far right, most who are Identity
adherents are also Christian Patriots.
But it is important to distinguish the two. Identity comes
from a 19th century belief called “British Israelism.”
One can be an Identity adherent in Australia,
Canada, et cetera. Christian Patriots, on the other
hand, only exist in America, and one can be a
Christian Patriot without subscribing to Identity
religion. For example, James Nichols, brother of
accused Oklahoma City–bomber Terry Nichols, is a
Christian Patriot who flirted with, but was talked out
of, Identity theology by a Methodist friend.
248 Patrick Minges, “Apocalypse Now! The Realized Eschatology
of the ‘Christian Identity’ Movement, paper, American
Academy of Religion Conference, 1994; Susan DeCamp,
“Locking the Doors to the Kingdom: An Examination of
Religion in Extremist Organizing and Public Policy,” in Eric
Ward, ed., American Armageddon: Religion, Revolution and
the Right, (Seattle, Northwest Coalition Against Malicious
Harassment [Peanut Butter Publishing], 1998).
249 Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right, pp. 47–49, 60–70,
106–107, 116–118, 205.
250 Christian Identity is inherently a racialized religious philosophy,
but the degree of white supremacy and anti–Semitism can vary
depending on the views of each autonomous local group.
Here we use Identity to refer to the highly bigoted neonazi
form of Christian Identity. See Leonard Zeskind, The
“Christian Identity” Movement, (Atlanta, GA: Center for
Democratic Renewal/Division of Church and Society, National
Council of Churches, 1987). For early examples of how
British Israelism came to America, see: J. H. Allen, Judah’s
Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright, fifteenth edition, (Haverhill,
MA: Destiny Publishers, 1917 {1902}); and W. G.
Mackendrick (The Roadbuilder), The Destiny of Britain and
America, new revised edition, (Toronto: McClelland &
Stewart, 1922).
251 Minges, “Apocalypse Now!”
252 All major Christian religious institutions denounce Christian
Identity.
253 Nord Davis, Jr., Desert Shield and the New World Order,
Northpoint Tactical Teams, 1990, appearing as the
September–October 1990 issue of On Target, the Northpoint
Team Report.
254 The Militia News, (Afton, TN), Christian Civil Liberties
Association, 1994, p.1.
255 Ibid., p. 2.
256 Ibid., p. 3.
257 Thomas Halpern and Brian Levin, The Limits of Dissent: The
Constitutional Status of Armed Civilian Militias, (Amherst,
MA: Aletheia Press, 1996), pp. 2–4, 42–52; Stern, A Force
Upon the Plain, pp. 107–118, 135–138; Richard Abanes,
American Militias: Rebellion, Racism & Religion, (Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), pp. 22, 43–71.
258 Author’s review of documents admitted into evidence in the
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols trials. The author was
subpoenaed and questioned as an expert by the defense in the
Nichol’s trial but never called to testify. McVeigh adopted
neonazi beliefs while Terry Nichols, on the other hand,
appears more of a generic constitutionalist. See also Hamm,
Apocalypse in Oklahoma, and Joel Dyer, Harvest of Rage:
Why Oklahoma City is Only the Beginning, revised, (New
York: Westview, 1998 [1997]).
259 Andrew Macdonald, [pseudonym of William Pierce] The
Turner Diaries, (Washington, DC: National Alliance Books,
1978).
260 O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse; pp. 4–14, 178–179, 218–
224; Richard Landes, working papers for the Center for
Millennial Studies, on file at PRA.
261 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, pp. 9–10, 191–200.
262 Lamy, Millennium Rage, p. 265; Thompson, in The End Of
Time, also ties End Times belief to periods of societal stress,
pp. 71–72, 178.
263 Peter Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of
“Cargo” Cults in Melanesia, second, augmented, edition,
(New York: Schocken Books, 1968, pp. xxxix–xliii, 225–243.
264 Kaplan, Radical Religion in America, p. 171.
265 Fuller, Naming the Antichrist, p.168.
266 Antony C. Sutton & Patrick M. Wood, Trilaterals Over
Washington, (Scottsdale, AZ: The August Corporation, 1979),
find graphic in back coupon section.
267 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, (Pamphlet No.
4), (Boston: South End Press,1986); Sklar, Chaos or
Community?
268 Antony C. Sutton, Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, (Seal
Beach, CA: ‘76 Press, 1976), pp. 170–171.
269 Author’s conversations with Domhoff and Sklar at academic
conference panels on power structure research. One presumes
Mills would have objected as well.
270 Interview with Landes, 1998.
271 O’Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse; pp. 221–222.
272 Leslie Jorgenson, a freelance reporter in Colorado first
reported Duran’s tie to militia–oriented talk radio. See her
article “AM Armies” in the March/April 1995 issue of Extra!
where she discusses the Chuck Baker program in detail.
44
William E. Clayton, Jr., “Colorado Man Charged with Trying
to Kill Clinton,” Houston Chronicle, 11/18/94, p. 1.
273 Chip Berlet, “Armed and Dangerous,” The Boston Globe,
1/6/95, Op–Ed, p. 23. Chip Berlet, “Clinic Violence, The
Religious Right, Scapegoating, Armed Militias, & the
Freemason Conspiracy,” The Body Politic, in two parts, 5:2
February 1995, and 5:3, March 1995.
274 Sarah Tippit, “Chilling New Link Suspected Among AntiAbortion
Activists,” Reuter News Agency, Transmitted
01/14/95.
275 The New American is published by the John Birch Society
based in Appleton, WI. The Fatima Crusader is published by
the National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of
Canada, and distributed in the US by the Servants of Jesus
and Mary Fatima Center in Constable, New York.
276 Charles E. Rice, “The Death Penalty Dilemma,” New
American, April 4, 1994, p. 24. Rice, in another publication,
suggests considering a Biblical passage interpreted by some
as sanctioning death for homosexuality.
277 The author was subpoenaed and questioned as an expert by
the defense in the Salvi trial but never called to testify. The
discussion is based on conversations with professionals with
a direct knowledge of Salvi’s mental health status.
278 Jacob Weisberg, “Playing with Fire,” New York magazine, May
8, 1995, pp. 30–35.
279 Fenn, The End of Time, p. 224.
280 Ibid., pp. 196–227; for a discussion of how this dynamic can
enforce oppressive race and gender hierarchies, see Abby L.
Ferber, White Man Falling: Race, Gender, and White
Supremacy, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).
281 Discussions with Lauren Langman and Carl Boggs regarding
various papers they presented at the American Sociological
Association and International Sociological Association
meetings in 1997 and 1998.

Anti-Masonic Conspiracism

Chip Berlet & Jeffrey Croteau, 2013.“Anti-Masonry in the United States,” (translated into Spanish) Papeles d Masonería, Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos, Madrid.

Chip Berlet. 2004. “Anti-Masonic Conspiracy Theories: A Narrative Form of Demonization and Scapegoating.” In Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris, eds., Freemasonry in Context: History, Ritual, Controversy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

 

Conspiracy Theory Generator 1

The Structured Genre of Conspiracism

Are Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Part of a Vast Conspiracy of Subversion???

This story is over 100 years old old, and you probably got it wrong.
But wait! Now you can create your own conspiracy theory here!


It is entirely possible that Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and others in the Trump Administration and the Republican campaign broke laws.

But the Internet is flooding with antisemitic conspiracy theories like the one that opens up on the conspiracy theory generator below which is based on the antisemitic hoax and forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

So click on the drop down boxes and make your own conspiracy theory to see how they all are based on the same narrative structure of baseless blame.

And enough with the antisemitic click bait fantasies.


What’s Really Going On?

In order to understand 
you need to realize that everything is controlled by a  run by the 
under the direction of the sinister 

Working through 
the conspirators are Their conspiracy began
In fact, the conspirators have been responsible for many events throughout history, including Today, members of the conspiracy
are everywhere. They can be identified only byThe conspirators have help from powerful elite 

The conspirators want to 
all  
and round up resisters in 

Even now they are infiltrating our groups using !

Their conspiracy benefits undeserving 
at the expense of  .
to establish 

In order to prepare for this, we all must

All of this was revealed years ago

Since the media is controlled by
 
you should get your
information only from 

 


Apologies for what may appear as too glib, but this page
offers a way to explore how conspiracism as a genre is a structured
combination of a stylistic meta-frame of tragic apocalyptic
dualism
merged with narratives built around the components of
demonization and scapegoating.

While some of the resulting stories may be absurd, often
the result (or a very similar result) can be found in texts on
contemporary internet websites.

=Chip Berlet

Prepared for the conference “Reconsidering The Protocols
of the Elders of Zion: 100 Years after the Forgery.” This conference
was held at Boston, University  to re-examine the infamous
Protocols of the Elders of Zion published in 1905 in Russia.

This conspiracy theory generator adapted from Turn Left.

Antisemitism-Sklar


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Understanding the relationships
linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Interview:
Holly Sklar

New Internationalist: You have given several interviews where you make a clear distinction between your work and the work of conspiracists. Why is this imporant to you as a progressive analyst?

Sklar: When I write about influential elite planning groups such as the Trilateral Commission, I don’t portray them as omnipotent puppet masters manipulating politicians and policies in a vast conspiracy. Elite planning groups work to forge consensus among their own members on key issues and then work to put shared views into practice. These power players are more successful when they face less opposition from other elite national and international planning groups, and when progressive opponents are distracted, divided and ineffective.

When progressives grab onto conspiracy theories it undermines effective strategic analysis, planning and action. It plays into the hands of nonprogressive forces looking to sway more people with their absurd and malicious antisemitic conspiracy theories and underlying antisemitism. And it makes progressive change even more difficult to achieve.

Books by Holly Sklar


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Antisemitism-Rosenwasser


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Understanding the relationships
linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Interview:
Penny Rosenwasser
(Penny Rosenwasser is active with Jewish Voice for Peace and the Middle East Children’s Alliance)

New Internationalist: How do we find the proper balance between our concern for justice in the Middle East and resistance to antisemitism and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories?

Rosenwasser: Both Jewish Israeli people and the Palestinian people have a right to land, resources, dignity, security, peace, and most important…justice.

It is important to understand why some Jews, in Israel and around the world, are terrified. There is a very real legacy of historical persecution, and the resulting fears have been carried down through generations. And there are reminders. In downtown Berkeley I recently learned of graffiti that read “kill the Jews,” and saw swastikas, and that is disturbing.

These fears have been manipulated by us Jewish leaders and Israeli Jewish leaders and right-wing leaders reinforcing a Jewish victim mentality. But we are no longer victims–and believing we are victims keeps us from healing our historical fears, and distorts our present thinking. This is not our fault, but I do think it is incumbent on us as Jews to examine and heal those fears. This will make our lives much better and will also make us more effective community leaders and teachers and activists.

I have a friend, Irena Klepfisz, who teaches Jewish studies at Barnard, and who is a holocaust survivor. Her father was a leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, and he died in that struggle. So I take it to heart when she says that our fears as Jews are real, but we cannot let these fears get in the way of doing justice.

For me, this obligation to seek justice is drawn from our Jewish prophetic tradition. It is important to me as asocial justice activist to not only speak out against any kind of oppression or bigotry against Jews, but also to speak out for justice for all people, including speaking out against ant-Arab and anti Muslim racism. And this is an obligation, in part, because as Jews, we know what its like to be targeted, deported, and attacked.

In that same vein, just as I will always stand against real antisemitism-the blanket condemnation of Jewish people just for being Jews-I don’t believe that criticizing Israeli policies is inherently antisemitic. In fact as progressive Jews were are called upon to speak out against any human rights abuses against any people; and to speak out against any violations of international law including violations by the U.S. government.

I feel it is important to speak out against any anti-Jewish bigotry and important for us as U.S. Jews to speak out against ant-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.

Sometimes when people on the left criticize Israeli government policies they step over the line. I think it is mostly because of ignorance, of being misled. I was at a peace demonstration recently and I saw someone with a sign that had a Nazi swastika inside a Jewish Star of David. It breaks my heart what the Israeli government and army and settlers are doing to Palestinians. Some of these things are similar to what was done to Jews by the Nazis-but it’s not on the same scale as the Nazi genocide. And this is an example of how some people blur the distinction between the Jewish people and the policies of the Israeli government. So I try to make it a teaching moment, and I went up to the person and pointed this out and explained that it doesn’t help anyone or anything to have those types of hyperbolic signs.

Some people have even started blaming a Jewish cabal for us foreign policy. They point out that some prominent neoconservatives in the Bush administration are Jews. Hey, there is nothing new in blaming Jews for a worldwide conspiracy-but now some people on the left buy into it, and they should know better. This is scapegoating, and it confuses people because it shifts the focus away from where the real power is, which is not held by some mythical Jewish cabal.

Antisemitism has been historically used to divert attention from the people who really make the decisions. Historically Jews have often been set up as buffers, as the visible faces of the oppressor–whether as tax collectors, small landlords or business owners, teachers or social workers (and sadly, sometimes individual Jews have colluded in making unjust decisions). When we blame U.S. foreign policy on Israel or some Jewish cabal it divides the left and takes the heat off those who are the real decision makers. We need to aim our criticism at the proper targets. U.S. foreign policy is influenced more by corporate interests, the Christian right, and the arms manufacturers than by the Israeli government. It’s U.S. foreign policy that has to be changed. Blaming scapegoats diverts us from our work for human rights and justice.

At the same time, when all protests of Israeli government policy are called antisemitic, I think it takes something away from facing real antisemitism-real targeting of Jews, real bigotry and scapegoating. Since 9/11 I have been deeply upset at the increase in the scapegoating of Jews, along with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim scapegoating. We need to challenge oppression, injustice, and bigotry wherever we see it, and support human rights for all people. That is what Tikkun Olam– the healing of the world-is all about.

 

Books by Penny Rosenwasser


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linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Antisemitism-Quinby


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Understanding the relationships
linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Interview:
Lee Quinby

New Internationalist: What is the relationship between apocalyptic thinking and conspiracism?

Quinby: The crux of the relationship between apocalyptic thought and conspiracism is a paradoxical attitude toward truth and power. On one hand, both stances hold that the full truth is beyond them. For apocalyptic believers, this is usually divine, “capital T,” Truth, that transcends human knowledge. For conspiracists, the truth “out there” is a secular plot in which a powerful group is perceived as capable of pulling the strings that control the rest of us. On the other hand, there is a sense in which each of these self-designated underdog groups — the apocalyptic Elect or the conspiracy Exposers–themselves hold a truth that others either miss or reject. Hence, both believe that they hold a special status in relation to the truth. For apocalyptic believers, this comes from a revelation from the divine source, often appearing by way of a vision that is then recorded in sacred scripture for true believers to discern.

Conspiracism also holds to this idea that they are the people “in the know,” the ones who have not been duped by the powerful plotters who seek to take over. In both instances, there can be efforts to convert others to this belief system even as there is an insistence that evildoers–whether Satan, an antichrist figure, or a manipulative political leaders–will do everything in their power to deceive the masses. In both of these systems of belief, the ultimate reward is a complete triumph over the enemy, a convergence of power and truth in which the believers not only acquire full truth but also full power over the forces of deception. This may be an eternal heavenly reward or a secular victory.

New Internationalist: Do you really think that the apocalyptic style breeds scapegoating?

Quinby: The tendency for the apocalyptic style to breed scapegoating stems from a “we vs. them” kind of thinking that is integral to the narrative of a final end in which the true believers will attain salvation. Apocalyptic belief is a story of cosmic Good versus Evil that gets manifest in the world by followers of each camp. The Elect cleave to the Good whereas those who follow Evil are of necessity the enemy, those who must be defeated. Scapegoating occurs when a particular group is designated as sufficiently distinct, different, “other” from the true believers. This group’s belief system and practices of daily life are seen to threaten the well-being and ultimate salvation of the Elect and thus must be conquered, even annihilated.

New Internationalist: Why should progressive people be sensitized to the issue of apocalyptic thinking and conspiracism?

Quinby: Progressive thought falters under the weight of apocalyptic and conspiratorial thinking because both of those perspectives rely so heavily on being the only holders of the truth rather than admitting that there really are many sides to any given story. In other words, disagreement and dissent are disallowed, democratic debate is precluded, and differences of opinion are penalized.

Progressive activists become overly narrow when they engage in conspiratorial thinking or apocalyptic righteousness because they latch on to the belief that they are the ultimate holders of the supreme truth and come to see themselves as arbiters for others, rather than being able to listen to dissenting points of view that not only deserve to be heeded but may well provide necessary information about issues of concern.

New Internationalist: Doesn’t it help build a constitutency that challenges that status quo?

Quinby: The energies that are marshaled together under apocalyptic and conspiratorial belief tend to seek a sudden and complete transformation in which the enemy is utterly defeated. So, although there may be a strong challenge to the status quo, it is unlikely to be able to continue in the face of transition, modification, and compromise. Democratic practices involving coalitions tend be perceived as selling out to the enemy.

New Internationalist: What do you mean by “Coercive Purity?”

Quinby: Both apocalyptic and conspiratorial discourses draw on images of purity–both of bodies and ideas. In apocalyptic writings, a body unstained by or washed clean of sin is the goal to achieve. In conspiricism, pure truth is in danger of being contaminated by lies. In each case, there is an intimate link between the concept of total truth and that of absolute morality. Differing ethical conceptualizations are thus seen as threatening. They are scapegoated as impure and the people holding them are often cast as physically unclean or sullied as well as debased and malignant in thought. This functions coercively by mandating obedience to what is perceived as the only proper morality. Compliance to the decreed truth becomes a prime virtue and any challenges to that authorized belief are then seen to justify punishment and/or ostracism. The discourse of purity hence coerces or compels adherence to a sense of certainty that forecloses on dissent.

New Internationalist: Is it really fair to say it is rooted in a male dominated view of the world?

Quinby: The notion of purity that is integral to western apocalyptic thought has a history of misogyny that represents most women as impure, like Eve in the book of Genesis or Jezebel in the Book of Revelation, for example. Women are seen as agents of deception and contamination of men, who must overcome their tempters, oftentimes by brutal action which is seen as just retribution. This world view emerged out of patriarchal culture in which men were dominant and it reflects the belief that women must be submissive to men for their own good and the good of their children. Women’s sexuality in particular is singled out as threatening to men, hence the edicts to cover themselves so that men won’t be tempted to impurities. This view continued over millennia of male dominance–indeed, the feminist challenge to male dominance is of relatively recent history. Despite the anachronism of such views in contemporary democratic society, a belief that women should be subordinate to men has been retained in fundamentalist readings of these ancient religions texts.

Books & Articles
by Lee Quinby


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linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Antisemitism-Kolhatkar


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Understanding the relationships
linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Interview:
Sonali Kolhatkar

New Internationalist: As an alternative journlaist, how do conspiracy theories affect your work?

Kolhatkar: Well, I don’t really hear conspiracists in the mainstream. Then again, I don’t hear too much good investigative reporting on the mainstream either… But in alternative media, I don’t think the conspiracists have crowded out the serious journalists – not yet.

I think the real problem is when serious journalism is mixed in with conspiracy theory. For example conspiracists will start talking about perfectly reasonable things like the CIA and FBI spying on citizens, and then take that into the nether realms. So they start out sounding reasonable, suck in innocent listeners, and then draw far out conclusions. It’s hard to resist unless you are a complete skeptic and willing to do lots of homework to check their facts and dubious claims.

Another problem is when journalists discuss serious and verifiable issues but are heckled by a few extremely vocal audience members to stretch their thinking to include the conspiracies in their journalism. That’s pretty disheartening. It happens to me often, when I talk about the war in Afghanistan, which is my specialty – one or two people will question the whole premise of the topic by bringing up the 9/11 attacks as some sort of “inside job” which implies that my talking about Afghanistan is a moot point when I should really be talking about the “much bigger story” of the 9/11 attacks. That really depresses me.

 


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Understanding the relationships
linking antisemitism to conspiracism and apocalypticism


Antisemitism-Harrington


Interview:

Evan Harrington

New Internationalist: Why do some people appear to be overly suspicious or even paranoid about plots and conspiracies, especially in high places or by people in positions of authority?

Evan Harrington: To some extent I believe that suspiciousness is part of human nature. Within the field of evolutionary psychology, researchers have attempted to link observable trends in human behavior to our distant collective evolutionary past. Seen in this light, it makes sense that distant ancestors who were suspicious of strangers would have had an advantage over those who were overly trusting. But suspiciousness can backfire too, evolutionarily, in that individuals who were obsessively suspicious would not have traded anything with anyone and so would have been at a distinct disadvantage. Humans evolved in small societies, not unlike chimpanzees and bonobos, who are our closest relatives. If our evolutionary ancestors trusted all strangers, they likely would have been taken advantage of quite often. However, if they trusted members of their own social groups while being suspicious of strangers, then they would have advanced their own interests and the interests of their social groups, while remaining safe from predation by strangers. Of course this is completely conjecture and not open to empirical testing.

From a more social perspective, in America it is common to see leaders who are narrow-minded and greedy. There have been numerous examples recently of corporate leaders whose actions benefited themselves to the detriment of the company and stockholders. The Bush White House has been called one of the most secretive administrations in our history. So there may be some very good reasons to distrust authority figures. When you have a lack of information on a topic that people feel strongly about, the situation is ripe for rumor and gossip. Rumors tend to grow when people feel strongly about the issue (remember the “Paul is Dead” rumor after the release by the Beatles of the Abbey Road album?). I see gossip, rumors, and conspiracy theories as a sort of continuum. What sets conspiracy theories apart is that there must be a will to believe where people suspend disbelief, much the same as when reading a book or watching a movie. Only then do you get people endorsing what appears to be a silly or foolish conspiracy theory. A person probably has to be deeply involved in an issue before they accept a conspiracy theory as truth. Extreme events, such as being in the center of a disaster like Hurricane Katrina, might lead to a suspension of disbelief. I understand there were quite a few conspiracy theories used by residents of New Orleans to explain the incompetence of the rescue efforts.

New Internationalist: How is it that many conspiracy theorists grasp onto extraordinary claims put forward by self-described “truth-tellers” while rejecting, or not even seeing, copious solid evidence that undermines these claims?

Evan Harrington: I think there is a leap of faith that occurs, and this is quite similar to a religious conversion experience. A person may spend months or even years thinking an issue before they come to endorse it. Within cults, the conversion experience happens at a much faster rate. I once spent 2 weeks at a summer camp run by the Unification Church, otherwise known as the “Moonies”. I was engaged in participant observation of their cult recruitment techniques. I witnessed troubled people from New York City being initiated into the fold within the course of several days, culminating in a religious experience for them. Once an individual makes such a deep investment in a belief system, whether it is a religion or a conspiracy theory, it can be very difficult to dissuade them. Experiments have shown that we all, to some extent, have a “disconfirmation bias” in which we try to explain away information that doesn’t fit what we already believe. When it comes to a strongly held belief system, disconfirmation bias will be bolstered by the threat to personal identity that destruction of the belief would entail. Some clinicians would call this a threat to ego identity.

New Internationalist: The brain seems to like solving puzzles, but some people can’t accept that some puzzles can’t be solved with the available evidence. Do we as humans have a need to “fill in the blanks” or “connect the dots” to resolve ambiguity or lack of information? Are some people more prone to this than others?

Evan Harrington: Humans are excellent at seeing patterns. Part of our evolutionary heritage is that we are amazingly adept at seeing patterns in the events that happen around us. Cognitive psychologists have studied this for years. The need to see patterns, or to “resolve ambiguity” is not really detrimental. In fact, it is to our advantage that we humans are able to take enormous amounts of information from our social worlds, process this information quickly and efficiently, and then act accordingly. The price we pay for being so efficient at organizing social information is that we often to make errors in certain predictable areas. Some cognitive psychologists have spent their careers identifying what these areas are and how they operate. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman were pioneers in this research. People routinely overestimate the risk of flying in airplanes (I do this myself) and underestimate the risk of driving on the freeway. According to Tversky and Kahneman, it is much easier to imagine a plane crash than a car crash, for the simple reason that plane crashes are more dramatic. Flying in airplanes is much more rare for most people. Since it is easier for us to recall dramatic plane crashes, and because our own experiences with planes are rare (compared to driving), we tend to overestimate the risk associated with planes. Swimming pools are far more deadly to children than is having a loaded gun in the house, though many people will say that the gun poses a greater risk, simply because gun accidents are very easy to remember. So we have a strong tendency to make associations between events, though we often ignore base rate information, causing our errors when thinking about risk.

On the other hand, there has been some psychological research indicating that some people have a greater need for resolution of puzzles than others. Some people do appear to have a greater intolerance for ambiguity than others. Researchers working with patients exhibiting anxiety disorders have found that intolerance for ambiguity is associated with higher levels of worry and anxiety. This would make an interesting psychology study: does intolerance for ambiguity correlate with willingness to believe irrational things? One might hypothesize that a good conspiracy theory reduces ambiguity, thus reducing anxiety for those who are intolerant of ambiguity. Believing in a conspiracy theory might be expected to increase anxiety, but paradoxically it might reduce anxiety for these people. This might be a good topic for someone’s dissertation.

New Internationalist: Do some people tend to see the world in dualistic ways with little appreciation for nuance or complexity?

Evan Harrington: Milton Rokeach, a personality theorist active in the 1960s, identified rigidity of thinking as a personality style, but there hasn’t been a lot of research specifically on this topic. The 18th French chemist and tax collector Antoine Lavoisier noted that the mind tends to get “creased” into certain ways of looking at the world. Lavoisier was certainly correct to an extent – it’s easy to get into a routine and follow it. Changing one’s path through life on a daily basis can make things more exciting, but it can also be bothersome. Ellen Langer has studied what she calls mindlessness, which is essentially this tendency to adopt an autopilot approach to the mundane areas of life. If you think of mindfulness as a basic yearning for novel experiences and a desire to learn new things, then it makes sense that people high on mindfulness would have more appreciation for ambiguity and detail.

New Internationalist: How is dualism related to demonization?

Evan Harrington: Categorization, what you term dualism, is another commonly seen element of human nature. That’s not to say that we have to see the world in terms of us-and-them, but it occurs quite frequently and at a young age. Psychologist Henri Tajfel did in the lab what Jane Elliot did in the classroom with her blue-eyed and brown-eyed students. Tajfel divided children into groups based on meaningless variables such as a coin toss, or the estimate of how many dots were on a wall. Placed into groups, the children tended to support other members of their own group even to their own detriment, apparently out of a desire for their group to succeed. We’re the good group and, by extension, you must be the not-so-good group. If dichotomies are set up then differences will tend to be accentuated, although research indicates that members of the more powerful of two groups will be somewhat oblivious to disparities of power, or will come to believe that their accumulation of power is justifiable and based on merit rather than oppression. To the extent that disparity of power is seen by the weaker group as being unjustifiable, members of the weaker group may attempt to change the situation by joining the more successful group, changing the power dynamic, or in rare instances through social conflict (e.g., riots or terrorism). When you think of the global conflict being encouraged by Salafists like the al Qaeda organization, it is clear that the roots are in dualism and the different values held by modern Western countries and the types of fundamentalist Muslims who seek a return to the power of the Islamic Caliphate. Those who join the Jihad appear to be more educated than average, usually with secular educations, who feel powerless within industrialized European countries, and seek to address the global power imbalance through terror. They appear to have convinced themselves that in this way they will return Islam to the superpower status it enjoyed during the European medieval period. I would hypothesize that conspiracy theories are extremely common at al Qaeda training camps.

One point that Tajfel made is that group identity is transitory and shifts from one situation to the next. One thing that absolutely astonishes me is that cultures in which genocide was practiced can, within a few years time, go back to an apparent state of peace. If no one fans the flames of ethnic division then the group identities of former rivals might shift so that being a member of a nation becomes more important, for example.

New Internationalist: I argue that when conspiracy theories flourish in a community they are a “narrative form of scapegoating.” Why are demonization and scapegoating mechanisms that are so common among humans? We all seem to be tempted by demonization and scapegoating, but some people embrace it wholeheartedly. Why?

Evan Harrington: I think the answer lies in the allure of sadism. Social psychologist Philip Zimbardo recently published an excellent book examining the events at Abu Ghraib prison, and how social forces can compel people to do things they ordinarily would never dream of doing. When I think of the abuses at Abu Ghraib I think of children who pull the tails of cats, oblivious to the distress they are causing. To some extent, children need to be socialized to be empathic (e.g., Timmy, how do you think Fluffy felt when you pulled his tail?). There is an allure to cruelty, and with children the answer is to ask them to be both empathic and to ask them to be self-reflective. If children see the animal as something with feelings, and if they consider themselves to be kind natured, then they won’t want to hurt the cat. At Abu Ghraib people with no experience in corrections were acting as prison guards and they had no rules regarding how to handle prisoners. These soldiers were tired from massive overtime duties, they were anxious from all the hostile action outside the walls of the prison, they were bored, and they had no oversight from commanding officers. As Zimbardo says, it’s not a question of if abuses will happen, it’s a question of how bad will they be? I believe the tendency to scapegoat is always there; empathy and self-reflection prevent most of us from acting on these impulses. The power of the situation to set aside empathy and self-reflection cannot be overstated. The guards at Abu Ghraib for the most part had been known as good people prior to being in the prison setting. One guard, interviewed for Rory Kennedy’s documentary The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, said that that setting foot in the prison was like going into another world, one in which the old self was left behind. It is the situation that brought out these behaviors where people wholeheartedly acted in a heartless manner and, judging by the photos, with amusement and glee.

Conspiracy theories may indeed be related to scapegoating, but I doubt it is a one-to-one relationship. Many examples of historical scapegoating exist where conspiracy theories were absent. In my days as a graduate student I attended conferences held by fringe therapists who believed in a massive conspiracy of incestuous satanic cannibals. These cannibals were thought to have killed 50,000 people a year in the USA, or so these therapists believed. This was a situation in which conspiracy theories flourished yet there was little scapegoating (and needless to say, no evidence for the grand cult). Conspiracy theories may at times act to justify a larger aggressive agenda such as genocide, or they may help individuals justify instances of cruelty they are committing, but at other times conspiracy theories may simply be beliefs that do not lend themselves to skeptical analysis. Perhaps the most powerful tool against conspiracy theories is the skeptical mind, but skepticism and the scientific approach is sadly not one of the primary values in the American educational system.