Dynamics of Right-Wing Populism

An Introduction

Right-Wing Populism is a blend of the various components listed below:


A binary division of the world into competing factions: one good and one evil. Also called Manichaeism.


Read More about Dehumanization and Demonization

The portrayal of individuals and groups as agents of pure evil, perhaps even in league with Satan. A precursor to scapegoating and conspiracism which encourages discrimination and violence against the target. Acts as a form of dehumanization or objectification.

Read More about Demonization


The social process whereby 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, so that the scapegoat bears the blame for causing the conflict, while the scapegoaters feel a sense of innocence and increased unity.
It is scapegoating whether or not the conflict is real or imaginary, the grievances are legitimate or illegitimate,
or the target is wholly innocent or partially culpable.

Read More about Scapegoating


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. From a Greek root word suggesting unveiling hidden information or revealing secret knowledge about unfolding human events.

In Christianity there are competing apocalyptic prophetic traditions based on demonization or cooperation. The dualist or demonized version involves a final show-down struggle between absolute good and absolute evil.
Central to Christianity, the tradition also exists in Judaism, Islam, and other religions and secular belief structures. Believers can be passive or active in anticipation; and optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome.


From Right-Wing Populism in America:

Canovan argues: all forms of populism “involve some kind of exaltation of and appeal to ´the people,´ and all are in one sense or another antielitist.” We take these two elements—celebration of “the people” plus some form of antielitism—as a working definition of populism.

Michael Kazin calls populism a style of organizing. Populist movements can be on the right, the left, or in the center. They can be egalitarian or authoritarian, and can rely on decentralized networks or a charismatic leader. They can advocate new social and political relations or romanticize the past. Especially important for our purposes, populist movements can promote forms of antielitism that target either genuine structures of oppression or scapegoats alleged to be part of a secret conspiracy. And they can define “the people” in ways that are inclusive and challenge traditional hierarchies, or in ways that silence or demonize oppressed groups.

Read Domhoff on the difference between conspiracist populism and progressive power structure research CLICK HERE

US populism drew themes from several historic currents with potentially negative consequences, including:~13

· Anti-elitism-a suspicion of politicians, powerful people, the wealthy, and high culture…sometimes leading to conspiracist allegations about control of the world by secret elites, especially the scapegoating of Jews as sinister and powerful manipulators of the economy or media;

· Anti-intellectualism-a distrust of those pointy headed professors in their Ivory Towers…sometimes undercutting rational debate by discarding logic and factual evidence in favor of following the emotional appeals of demagogues;

· Majoritarianism-the notion that the will of the majority of people has absolute primacy in matters of governance…sacrificing rights for minorities, especially people of color;

· Moralism-evangelical-style campaigns rooted in Protestant revivalism… sometimes leading to authoritarian and theocratic attempts to impose orthodoxy, especially relating to gender.

· Americanism-a form of patriotic nationalism…often promoting ethnocentric, nativist, or xenophobic fears that immigrants bring alien ideas and customs that are toxic to our culture.

· Producerism – (See below).

Read More about Populism


Producerism is the idea that the “real” Americans are hard-working people who create goods and wealth while fighting against parasites at the top and bottom of society who pick our pocket…sometimes promoting scapegoating and the blurring of issues of class and economic justice, and with a history of assuming proper citizenship is defined by White males.

See a slide show on how producerism works CLICK HERE


A conspiracist theory is a narrative that blames societal or individual problems on a scapegoat. Thus we refer to conspiracism.  While there are real conspiracies throughout history, history is not a conspiracy. Conspiracism is a parody of institutional analysis.

Conspiracism is a narrative form of scapegoating In Western culture, conspiracist scapegoating is rooted in apocalyptic fears
and millennial expectations

See a slide show of a timeline on various conspiracist movements throughout U.S. history, CLICK HERE

The current wave of anti-government conspiracism
has two main historic sources, irrational
fears of a
freemason conspiracy
and irrational fears of a Jewish conspiracy

. There are many purveyors of the conspiracist worldview  and the belief structure is surprisingly widespread. From the 1960s through the 1990s, conspiracist ideas were promoted largely by two different right-wing institutions, the John Birch Society and the Liberty Lobby.
Both groups used a form of
right-wing populism in which narratives such as producerism  are common.

The Liberty Lobby is now defunct, but the John Birch Society continues to operate. The antisemitic version of conspiracist narratives is still circulated by a variety of groups.

See a slide show on how different named scapegoats overlap and create a myriad of conspiracy theories CLICK HERE

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 with 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 are perilous to ignore,

· 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 less-threatening 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, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice and oppression can flourish.

Johnson’s Five Rules
of Conspiracism

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

· The conspirators are internationalist
in their sympathies.

· [N]othing is ever discarded.
Right-wing mail order bookstores still sell the Protocols of
the Elders of Zion
…[and] Proofs of a Conspiracy.

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

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

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

Read More about Conspiracism

Coded Rhetoric

When you hear someone claim that a handful of secret elites manipulate politics and the economy, who do you think they mean? The Trilateral Commission? Dick Cheney and his pals at Halliburton? Jewish Bankers? With a clever use of rhetoric, a speaker can mean all three, yet never mention the “Jewish Bankers.”

Using coded language to avoid an obvious appearance of bigotry has a long tradition.

When politicians talk about “Welfare Queens” many White Americans first envision a Black mother with ten children, even though most welfare recipients are White.

Dan T. Carter writes about how the 1968 third-party presidential campaign of Alabama Governor George Wallace used coded language:

“With an instinctive sense for language, [Wallace] exploited these racial fears through the skillful use of what soon came to be called coded language. He railed against federal, state and local officials for their timid response to Molotov-throwing urban rioters, but he never referred to them explicitly in racial terms.

“He talked about brutal and marauding criminals who transformed America’s urban streets into war zones. But he did not directly mention race.

“He constantly complained of shiftless free-loaders, collecting their welfare checks—paid for by the hard-working American. But he scrupulously avoided using racial language to describe this new parasitic welfare class.

“Even when he dealt with explicit racial issues, he always insisted that his objections to busing or affirmative action had nothing to do with race, but fairness for white as well as black Americans.”

–Dan T. Carter, “George Wallace and the Rightward Turn in Today’s Politics,” The Public Eye Magazine, Winter 2005.
Read the full article

Wallace welded together populism, libertarianism, and a White backlash against the civil rights movement.

To see how Wallace did this, read his statement about integration and the federal government CLICK HERE

The phrase “international bankers” is another example of a coded phrase that has long been used in public discussion. “International bankers” is often used by bigots to suggest Jewish bankers. So has the phrase “money manipulators.” This is complicated by the fact that for some conspiracists, the target is not Jews, but another banking group or family. For example, in the 1960s, the term “internationalists” can refer to Jews or the Rockefeller family, depending upon the author and context. In the early 1960s Phyllis Schlafly wrote about the “Secret Kingmakers” who controlled the Republican Party. Schlafly is referring to the Rockefeller wing of the Party, yet some readers who were antisemitic would assume she really meant the global Jewish elites.

See a slide show on how different conspiracist audiences interpret statements in different “coded” ways CLICK HERE

Propaganda & Deception

Read More about Propaganda & Deception


Canovan, Populism , pp. 289, 293, 294; Canovan notes that there are “a great many interconnections” among her seven forms of populism, and that “many phenomena—perhaps most—belong in more than one category.” She adds that “given the contradictions” between some of the categories, “none could ever satisfy all the conditions at once.”

Kazin, Populist Persuasion. See also Harrison, Of Passionate Intensity.


Apocalyptic Millennialism

Apocalypticism: 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. From a Greek root word suggesting unveiling hidden information or revealing secret knowledge about unfolding human events.

The dualist or demonized version involves a final show-down struggle between absolute good and absolute evil. In Christianity there are competing apocalyptic prophetic traditions based on demonization or liberation. Central to Christianity, the tradition also exists in Judaism, Islam, and other religions and secular belief structures. Believers can be passive or active in anticipation; and optimistic or pessimistic about the outcome. Sometimes used similarly to the term millenarianism.

Millennialism: A sense of expectation that a significant epochal transformation is imminent, marking either the end of a thousand year period, or signal its beginning, or both. Two major forms of millennialist response are passive waiting versus activist intervention. Can involve varying degres of apocalypticism. In Christianity, the idea that the Second Coming of Christ marks a thousand year period.

Apocalyptic Aggression: The merger of conspiracism with apocalypticism often generates aggressive forms of dualism. Apocalyptic Aggression occurs when demonized scapegoats are targeted as enemies of the “common good,” a dynamic that can lead to discrimination and attacks.

If premillennialists are waiting for the Rapture, why should they bother getting involved in secular politics?

In 1980 Tim LaHaye published a book, The Battle for the Mind, which amplified on the conservative Christian evangelical critique of secular humanism articulated by popular theologian Francis A. Schaeffer. The LaHaye book is dedicated to Schaeffer (1980, p. 5).

LaHaye writes in a chapter entitled “Is a Humanist Tribulation Necessary?” that the “seven-year tribulation period will be a time that features the rule of the anti-Christ over the world.” LaHaye explains that this “tribulation is predestined and will surely come to pass.” LaHaye claims there is another potential period of tribulation, however, that he dubs the “pre-tribulation tribulation—that is, the tribulation that will engulf this country if liberal secular humanists are permitted to take control of our government—it is neither predestined nor necessary. But it will deluge the entire land in the next few years, unless Christians are willing to become much more assertive in defense of morality and decency than they have been during the past three decades.”

LaHaye warns that adultery, pornography, and homosexuality “are rampant” and reminds readers of “Dr. [Francis] Schaeffer’s warning that humanism always leads to chaos” (1980, pp. 217-218).

More about Schaeffer and LaHaye:

Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Mind, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1980). Dedicated to Francis Schaeffer.

Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Public Schools: Humanism’s Threat to our Children, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1983).

Tim LaHaye, The Battle for the Family, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1982).

Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, revised, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, [1981] 1982).

Francis A. Schaeffer, and C. Everett Koop. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1979)

Apocalyptic Millennialism:
An Overview

This was written in the late 1990s

What do the Heaven’s Gate suicides, the Weaver family shootout, the Branch Davidian conflagration, the Montana Freeman standoff, terrorism against reproductive health clinics, armed militias, theocratic sectors of the Christian Right, and attacks on gay rights have in common? The apocalyptic worldview in the US is greatly influenced by religious and secular interpretations of the prophecies in the Biblical book of Revelation about the coming of a new millennium. Fundamentalist Christians expect that the end of time is preceded by a cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. When evil is vanquished, true believers enter a Millennium of peace and harmony under God’s rule. This period marks the return of Christ.

The prophecies in Revelation have been adapted by many other spiritual and secular philosophers and movements. Popular culture, including films such as Rambo, Mad Max, the Terminator series, and Red Dawn, reinterpret the vision while obscuring its origins. The film Apocalypse Now and the TV series Millennium name the myth while secularizing and mainstreaming it as a paradigm. Law enforcement abuse of power against the Branch Davidian’s in Waco, Texas and other dissidents creates cascading echoes of apocalypse throughout the society.

The Heaven’s Gate group merged prophetic themes with the dynamic of manipulative demagoguery in the setting of a totalitarian group with a charismatic leader. Three roots of key prophetic visions in the Heaven’s Gate group came from:

  • The Christian Bible, especially the book of Revelation.
  • The prophecies of Nostradamus.
  • Science fiction.

Science Fiction

A common science fiction theme is the idea that more advanced life forms and beings with higher consciousness arriving from outer space will visit Earth and select humans for travel or transformation. Some of the ideas propounded by the Heaven’s Gate group seem borrowed from this genre. A typical example would be the book Childhood’s End by respected science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Many people in the UFO movement embrace these fictional ideas as fact.

The Prophecies of Nostradamus

Nostradamus was a sixteenth century prophet who utilized astrological charts and visions to write a pre-history of the world making predictions about world events centuries in advance. The language is obscure and ambiguous, with many published commentaries claiming to unravel their meaning. One major prediction was the arrival of a great comet. Examples of commentaries currently available include Henry C. Roberts (updated by Robert Lawrence), The Complete Prophesies of Nostradamus, 1994 (1947); Stefan Paulus, Nostradamus 1999: Who Will Survive [A Comet is Hurtling Toward Earth…], 1997; and Jean-Charles de Fontbrune, Nostradamus: Countdown to Apocalypse, 1985 (1983). A contemporary version of the comet prophecy is Tom Kay, When the Comet Runs: Prophecies for the New Millennium, published in February 1997.

The Christian Bible & the Book of Revelation

The roots of a remarkable number of myths, metaphors, images, symbols, phrases, and icons used by many mass movements are contained in the few pages of prophecy in Revelation. The themes in Revelation influence diverse current right wing movements such as the new Christian electoral right, Protestant and Catholic theocratic groups, survivalism, the patriot and armed militia movement, Christian patriot constitutionalists, and the Christian Identity religion.

While not all practitioners of Christian Identity embrace racism and naked antisemitism, many believe there are two races on the planet, with White Christians having a more advanced status eligible for the rapture. This is the view of Aryan Nations, for instance.

An offshoot of Christian Identity is Racial Dualism, preached by the late Aryan Nations supporter, Bob Miles, who believed that White Christians were seeded by an advanced alien race from outer space. The vast majority of practicing Christians reject these interpretations, and the First Amendment guarantees the right of fundamentalists Christians, and all spiritual and ethical movements, to hold their beliefs without interference. How to defend the right to hold beliefs while protecting society from actions that are harmful will be a challenge as we approach the new millennium.

There are six key ways the predictions of Revelation influence popular culture:

Omens and Signs of the Times

Revelation predicts the beginning of the end times will start a series of signs warning that judgment is at hand. Believers watch for the signs of the times and seek significance and meaning in natural events such as comets, meteorite showers, alignment of stars and planets, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, crop failures, etc. The Branch Davidians believed the end times were approaching and were studying the meaning of the seven wax seals on a scroll mentioned in Revelation.

Apocalyptic Doomsday Cataclysm

Revelation predicts the end times will include great apocalyptic tribulations and the wrath of God, causing much destruction including famine, natural disasters, and plague. Believers prepare for the chaos of these times in different ways. Some expect all is pre-ordained and they can do nothing but live out their fate, others prepare for the hard times ahead, collecting food and water, fortifying their homes, buying guns, and even moving into communities of other believers for mutual protection. This is the basis for the survivalist movement, and what motivated the Weaver family and the Montana Freemen to withdraw to isolated locations.

Subversion and Countersubversion

Revelation predicts the betrayal of humankind by a world leader who unites all nations in the end times before being exposed as Satan’s agent. There will also be a false prophet who spreads a global religion that supports the world leader. In response, believers look for treason and subversion, paying special attention to those who call for world cooperation and international intervention by groups such as the United Nations. The idea of a global communist menace was frequently seen as proof that the Antichrist was based in the Soviet Union…the evil empire. This is the basis for the Star Wars trilogy. It is also partly the basis for the Montana Freeman rejecting government authority, and is influential in many, though not all, armed militia groups.

Armageddon and Holy War

Revelation predicts a great final battle between good and evil with troops clashing on the plains of Armageddon in the Middle East. Some believers are preparing for this battle. Some have already fired the first shots. Reign and Rule

Revelation predicts the faithful will experience a millennium of living in God’s kingdom, the new Jerusalem. Some say Christ will return at the beginning to reign and rule, but others argue that the godly must reign and rule for one thousand years before Christ returns. Believers argue it is their duty to attack the forces of evil and clean up secular society to prepare for the return of the Lord. Much of the violence against reproductive rights clinics and attacks on gay rights is based on this interpretation. These ideas are called dominion theology, with its most theocratic and authoritarian version called Christian Reconstructionism.

Transcendent Ascension and Rapture

Revelation predicts that some of the faithful will be “raptured” by God in a transformational ascension into the heavens where they will miss some or all of the tribulations on earth. Some millennialist movements in the past have set the date for the rapture, and some have even sold their possessions and waited on mountaintops for the rapture to free them from their earthy bodies.

The Choice is Ours

The millennium provides an opportunity for society to engage in a process of renewal and reconciliation, as well as an opportunity for demagogues, bigots, paranoids, and charlatans to spread messages of division and destruction. If a totalitarian group turns outward its members can engage in scapegoating with the most extreme outcome being homicide. If a totalitarian group turns inward its members can engage in scapegoating with the most extreme outcome being suicide.

In a society where inequality and injustice is creating deep divisions and tensions, we need constructive ways to channel anger and alienation toward demands for social change rather than apocalyptic withdrawal or aggression.

In societies suffering from economic and social stress, backlash movements take several form: racial or ethnic nationalism; religious fundamentalism or spiritual alternative; and right-wing populism and conspiracist scapegoating. These forms can blend and interact.

The more we all discuss the issues of millennial expectation, apocalyptic thinking, and scapegoating, the more likely the outcome will be positive rather than negative.

Conspiracism as a Form of Scapegoating

Conspiracy Theories on the Societal Level are a Narrative form of Scapegoating. Because they demonize an “Other” as evil, conspiracy theories interfere with the ability for there to be “informed consent” in civil society. That is why conspiracy theories are toxic to democracy.

See the Report Toxic to Democracy

Hard Right Conspiracism & Apocalyptic Millennialism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


That is just INCREDIBLE!

[rest of text deleted]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Jorgensen, Ibid.


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.


Through 1996 at shortwave band 5.065 kHz .


Satcom1, transponder 15, audio channel 7.56.


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


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


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

Trump’s Demagoguery Threatens Democracy Itself

Now is the time for blunt talk. Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue generating “scripted violence.” Trumpism threatens not just the First Amendment but democracy itself. I call him a right-wing populist using fascistic rhetoric to target scapegoated groups. Other journalists and scholars have dubbed him a fascist or a totalitarian. But we all smell the stench of the burning bodies.

So let us have our terminological debates, but setting aside all intellectual disagreements, as citizens of an increasingly unfree society, we must stand up and speak out.The First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, and that includes the right to call religion ridiculous. It protects devout Roman Catholics and those in the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster–even those who sometimes wear colanders as hats. At Talk to Action, where this essay was first posted, we are nonpartisan, welcome respectful contributions discussing human, civil, and constitutional rights, and find debates between theists and atheists annoying (no trolls blasting either are allowed). Democracy is what we cherish…and it is in trouble.

Some early studies of prejudice, demonization, and scapegoating treated the processes as marginal to “mainstream” society and an indication of an individual pathological psychological disturbance. More recent social science demonstrates that demonization is a habit found across various sectors of society among people who are no more prone to mental illness than the rest of society.Philosopher Hannah Arendt taught us that ordinary people can become willing–even eager–participants in brutality and mass murder justified by demonization of scapegoated groups in a society

Lawrence L. Langer raises this as a troubling issue regarding the Nazi genocide:

“The widespread absence of remorse among the accused in postwar trials indicates that we may need…to accept the possibility of a regimen of behavior that simply dismisses conscience as an operative moral factor. The notion of the power to kill, or to authorize killing of others, as a personally fulfilling activity is not appealing to our civilized sensibilities; even more threatening is the idea that this is not necessarily a pathological condition, but an expression of impulses as native to ourselves as love and compassion.”

A troubling concept–that some of us who helped jumpstart this website have discussed for decades–is that when most people in a society realize that a fascist movement might actually seize state power, it is too late to stop it. So let us act now: as Republicans, Democrats, Independents and the folks who think voting just encourages a corrupt system. As people of faith, the spiritual, the agnostic, and those who think that God is Dead because she doesn’t exist. We are all in the same lifeboat here. Grab an oar.

Facing History and Ourselves reminds us of the “Fragility of Democracy” in a series of essays by Professor Paul Bookbinder, an international expert on the Weimar Republic in Germany in the period just before that nation collapsed into the inferno of Nazi rule and genocide. No, we do not face a crisis like that faced by the German people in the 1920s and 1930s. Yet as Bookbinder observes, there were moments when Hitler’s thugs could have been stopped.

In her small yet powerful book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt concluded that evil was banal, and that if there was one clear universal truth, it is that ordinary people have a moral obligation to not look away from individual or institutional acts of cruelty or oppression. We recognize the processes that lead from words to violence, they are well-studied, and the theories and proofs are readily available. Silence is consent. Denial is complicity with evil.


Resources on Trump’s Voter Base

The Trump Collection Landing Pages:

White people who are (or fear they are, or fear they soon will  be) downwardly mobile–so race and class issues–but cross-reference to the hetero-patriarchal “Free Market” Calvinists in the Christian Right — 15% of voters in Presidential elections. Intersecting with anti-Muslim/anti-Mexican xenophobes. A toxic brew.

Doug Brugge

January 1 ·2016

At least glance at the two maps that compare Trump support with racially charged internet searches. Pretty amazing correlation in my opinion. And the analysis…

See More

Donald Trump’s Strongest Supporters: A Certain Kind of Democrat

In a survey, he also excels among low-turnout voters and among the less affluent and the less educated, so the question is: Will they show up to vote?


A Berkeley professor tries to explain Trump to labor in Hartford https://t.co/u2piaE3Zc4 via @ctmirror

Unpacking Trumpism in the context of American history
https://t.co/x2XSQmtSFy via @HuffPostBlog

Republican Primary Voters Over 91% White, Older:
Posted by Arbiter Staff Writers

Who Are Donald Trump’s Supporters, Really?
Four theories to explain the front-runner’s rise to the top of the polls.
Derek Thompson, March 1, 2016, The Atlantic

Who Are Trump’s Supporters?
By David W. Brady & Douglas Rivers,September 09, 2015,
Real Clear Politics

The Media Myth of the Working-Class Reagan Democrats
by Neal Gabler, May 6, 2016, Moyers & Company
The numbers don’t lie. The notion that angry blue collar voters could sway the election just may not be true.

Pundits Will Pay No Price for Being Arrogantly Wrong About Trump
By Janine Jackson, May 6, 2016, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting

Why do Tea/Trumpists Feel Angry

‘Trumping’ Democracy:
Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action
by Chip Berlet


Folks who support the Tea Party and other right-wing populist movements are responding to rhetoric that honors them as the bedrock of American society. These are primarily middle class and working class White people with a deep sense of patriotism who bought into the American dream of upward mobility.46 Now they feel betrayed. Trump and his Republican allies appeal to their emotions by naming scapegoats to blame for their sense of being displaced by “outsiders” and abandoned by their government.

Emotions matter in building social movements. The linkage of emotion and politics are at the heart of a forthcoming book by University of California, Berkeley, sociologist and author Arlie Hochschild.

In it, Hochschild reports on many conversations with Tea Party members in the South, where the movement is strongest.47 Many she spoke with long doubted that Obama was American; even after the publication of his long-form birth certificate some still suspect that he is Muslim and harbors ill will toward America. Hochschild also observes that this set of beliefs was widely shared among people who otherwise seemed reasonable, friendly, and accepting. How she wondered, could we explain this?

Her premise is that all political belief:

is undergirded by emotion. Given the experiences we’ve undergone, we have deep feelings. These shape our “deep story.” And this is an allegorical, collectively shared, “honor-focused,” narrative storyline about what “feels true.” We take fact out of it, judgment out of it. A “deep story” says what happened to us from the point of view of how we feel about it.

The “deep story” of the Tea Party is that the American Dream has leveled off. Ninety percent of Americans between 1980 and 2012 received no rise in salary while dividends from a rising GDP rose dramatically for the top 10 percent.

Arlie Hochschild:

October 26, 2015, resources, an analysis, and abstract of the Hochschild talk, by Jonathan G. Haney.

[maxmegamenu location=max_mega_menu_3]
Right-Wing Populism:
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Just in Case: Progressive Security and Safety: Threats from Right-Wing fanatics spurred on by demagogic political rhetoric have turned into isolated acts of violence against progressives. Pick up your self-defense homework here.

Donald Trump, Nasty Rhetoric, and Scripted Violence

by Chip Berlet

Adapted from my published scholarly study:
“Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill:
How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,”

New Preface, December 2015

Trump is ratcheting up his xenophobia while making the “liberal” press his adversary. As he works to gain votes, he is throwing Muslims, Mexicans, and other scapegoats to the wolves.

Demagogic rhetoric targeting unpopular groups of people can incite violence. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump can claim he never told his followers to hurt anyone, and perhaps avoid legal consequences, but Trump is morally responsible. His nasty vilification produces “scripted violence.” The victims of Trumps rhetoric are piling up. The term “incited violence” also describes this process that draws from the media studies concept of “constitutive rhetoric.” Incitement to violence also has legal ramifications.

Last August the Washington Post in an editorial warned that “Mr. Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric breeds violence.”[1] In a column, Robert Reich collected a long list of violence in the path of Republican bigoted blustering. Those that commit bigoted violence “often take their cues from what they hear in the media” wrote Reich in November following the murderous attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.[2] Reich said “the recent inclination of some politicians to use inflammatory rhetoric is contributing to a climate” in which violence against targeted groups is real.

While Trump is a right-wing populist, his rhetoric recalls that of Hitler’s murderous German Nazism; while his demeanor is like a Saturday Night Live sketch of Benito Mussolini and his Italian Fascism.

Writing about Trump’s nasty rhetoric, and the alarming welcome it has found during the Republican pre-primary media blitz, American Prospect journalist Adele Stan put it bluntly:

===What Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.[3]

And it is not just Trump. Some of the other Republican hopefuls closer to the Christian Right also demonize gay people and feminists, and excoriate defenders of reproductive rights. One militant slogan is “If abortion is murder, then act like it is.”

Excerpt from Published Study

How does the process of scripted violence work? The leaders of organized political or social movements sometimes tell their followers that a specific group of ‘Others’ is plotting to destroy civilized society. History tells us that if this message is repeated vividly enough, loudly enough, often enough, and long enough—it is only a matter of time before the bodies from the named scapegoated groups start to turn up. Social science since World War II and the Nazi genocide has shown that under specific conditions, virulent demonization and scapegoating can—and does—create milieus in which the potential for violence is increased. What social science cannot do is predict which individual upon hearing the rhetoric of clear or coded incitement and turn to violence.

In their study of how media manipulation for political ends can help incite genocide, Frohardt and Temin looked at ‘content intended to instill fear in a population’, or ‘intended to create a sense among the population that conflict is inevitable’. [4] They point out that ‘media content helps shape an individual’s view of the world and helps form the lens through which all issues are viewed’.

Frohardt and Temin found that media can create a sense within a target population of potential perpetrators of violence that ‘imminent’ and serious threats were to be expected, even though ‘there was only flimsy evidence provided to support them’,

===When such reporting creates widespread fear, people are more amenable to the notion of taking preemptive action, which is how the actions later taken were characterized. Media were used to make people believe that ‘we must strike first in order to save ourselves’. By creating fear the foundation for taking violent action through ‘self-defense’ is laid.

In approaching some of these questions social science uses the concepts of ‘constitutive rhetoric’; the vilification, demonization, and scapegoating of a named ‘Other’; coded rhetorical incitement by demagogues; the relationship between conspiracism and apocalyptic aggression; and the process of scripted violence by which a leader need not directly exhort violence to create a constituency that hears a call to take action against the named enemy. These processes can and do motivate some individuals to adopt a ‘superhero complex’ which justifies their pre-emptive acts of violence or terrorism to ‘save society’ from imminent threats by named enemies ‘before it is too late’.

can see conspiracy theories built around fears of liberal subversion by President Obama;[8] fears of government attempts to merge the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union; [9]and fears that Muslims living in the United States are plotting treachery and terrorism.[10]

Conspiracism evolves as a worldview from roots in dualistic forms of apocalypticism. Fenster argues that persons who embrace conspiracy theories are simply trying to understand how power is exercised in a society that they feel they have no control over. Often they have real grievances with the society—sometimes legitimate—sometimes seeking to defend unfair power and privilege. [5] Nonetheless, Conspiracism can appear as a particular narrative form of scapegoating that frames demonized enemies as part of a vast insidious plot against the common good, while it valorizes the scapegoater as a hero for sounding the alarm. [6]

If we assemble the ingredients and processes, we arrive at the following list which traces the linkages from words to violence:

  • Pre-existing prejudice or tensions in the society that can be tapped into.
  • Intensity of the vilifying language, its distribution to a wide audience, and repetition of message.
  • Dualistic division: The world is divided into a good ‘Us’ and a bad ‘Them’.
  • Respected status of speaker or writer, at least within the target audience. A constituency is molded.
  • Vilification and Demonizing rhetoric: Our opponents are dangerous, subversive, probably evil, maybe even subhuman.
  • Targeting scapegoats: ‘They’ are causing all our troubles—we are blameless.
  • The employment of conspiracy theories about the ‘Other’.
  • Apocalyptic aggression: Time is running out, and we must act immediately to stave off a cataclysmic event.
  • Violence against the named scapegoats by self-invented Superheroes.

Levin persuasively argues that both culture and self-interest shape prejudiced ideas and acts of discrimination or violence, which are ‘in many cases, quite rational’. According to Levin, respect for ‘differences can be so costly in a psychologically and material sense that it may actually require rebellious or deviant behavior’, in contrast to the existing norms of a society. Attacking the “Other” turns out to be a common human failing.

While scholarly research exists on its own intellectual merits, we need to recognize that helping unravel the complexity of bigotry and xenophobia assists those working to extend human rights.

Hannah Arendt, in Eichmann in Jerusalem concluded that evil was banal, and that if there was one clear universal truth, it is that ordinary people have a moral obligation to not look away from individual or institutional acts of cruelty or oppression. We recognize the processes that lead from words to violence, they are well-studied, and the theories and proofs are readily available. Silence is consent. Denial is simply evil.

Revised and expanded from my scholarly chapter “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,” in Matthew Feldman and Paul Jackson (eds), Doublespeak: Rhetoric of the Far-Right Since 1945, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2014.

Full Text Now Online Here at Academia.edu


[1] Washington Post Editorial Board, “Mr. Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric breeds violence,” August 21, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-trumps-politics-of-incitement/2015/08/21/c33d0f2e-483d-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html

[2] Robert Reich, “Why Hate Speech by Presidential Candidates is Despicable,” November 29, 2015 http://robertreich.org/post/134235925280

[3] Adele M. Stan. 2015, “A Nation of Sociopaths? What the Trump Phenomenon Says About America,” American Prospect, September 9, 2015. http://prospect.org/article/nation-sociopaths-what-trump-phenomenon-says-about-america.

[4] Mark Frohardt and Jonathan Temin, Use and Abuse of Media in Vulnerable Societies, Special Report 110, Washington, DC, United States Institute of Peace. October 2003, http://permanent. access. gpo. gov/websites/usip/www. usip. org/pubs/specialreports/sr110.pdf, (accessed 26/9/2012). Although an excellent study, the report is flawed by the failure to include a single footnote. See also Kofi A. Annan, Allan Thompson, and International Development Research Centre of Canada, The Media and the Rwanda Genocide (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 2007).

[5] Mark Fenster, Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1999).

[6] Berlet and Lyons, RightWing Populism, p. 9.

[7] Chip Berlet ‘Protocols to the Left’.

[8] Chip Berlet, “Collectivists, Communists, Labor Bosses, and Treason: The Tea Parties as Right–Wing Populist Countersubversion Panic’, in Critical Sociology, July 2012; 38 (4) pp. 565-587; Berlet, ‘Reframing Populist Resentments in the Tea Party Movement.’.

[9] Berlet, ‘Fears of Fédéralisme in the United States’.

[10] Brigitte Nacos and Oscar Torres-Reyna, Fueling Our Fears: Stereotyping, Media Coverage, and Public Opinion of Muslim Americans (Lanham, MD: Rowman& Littlefield, 2007); Center for Race & Gender and Council on American-Islamic Relations, Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States; January 2009—December 2010 (Berkeley: University of California, Center for Race & Gender, and Washington, DC: Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2011).

[11] Hofstadter, ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics.’

[12] Ibid., p. 4.

[13] Ibid., emphasis in the original.

[14] Thompson, The End of Time, pp. 307–308.


This is the resource page for
the concept of conspiracism


Conspiracism is a narrative. In this context, a conspiracy theory is a narrative form of scapegoating. Conspiracist thinking exists around the world, and in some circumstances can move easily from the margins to the mainstream, as has happened repeatedly in the United States.

“Right-wing pundits demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation.
Some angry people in the audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil.
Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States.”
Click here for the PDF of the Full Report

How Trump Taps into Right-Wing Conspiracism

by Anne Applebaum, New York Times

“Donald Trump’s campaign of conspiracy theories”


Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the Internet was seething with lurid conspiracy theories exposing his alleged subversion and treachery. Among the many false claims: Obama was a secret Muslim; he was not a native U.S. citizen and his election as president should be overturned; he was a tool of the New World Order in a plot to merge the government of the United States into a North American union with Mexico and Canada.

Within hours of Obama’s inauguration, claims circulated that Obama was not really president because Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts scrambled the words as he administered the oath of office. A few days after the inauguration came a warning that Obama planned to impose martial law and collect all guns.

Many of these false claims recall those floated by right-wing conspiracy theorists in the armed citizens’ militia movement during the Clinton administration — allegations that percolated up through the media and were utilized by Republican political operatives to hobble the legislative agenda of the Democratic Party. The conspiracy theory attacks on Clinton bogged down the entire government. Legislation became stuck in congressional committees, appointments to federal posts dwindled and positions remained unfilled, almost paralyzing some agencies and seriously hampering the federal courts.

A similar scenario is already hobbling the work of the Obama administration. The histrionics at congressional town hall meetings and conservative rallies is not simply craziness — it is part of an effective right-wing campaign based on scare tactics that have resonated throughout U.S. history among a white middle class fearful of alien ideas, people of color and immigrants.

Unable to block the appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, the right-wing media demagogues, corporate political operatives, Christian right theocrats, and economic libertarians have targeted health care reform and succeeded in sidetracking the public option and single-payer proposals. A talented environmental adviser to the Obama administration, Van Jones, was hounded into resigning Sept. 5 by a McCarthyite campaign of red-baiting and hyperbole.

Support for major labor law reform has been eroding. With a wink and a nod, right-wing apparatchiks are networking with the apocalyptic Christian right and resurgent armed militias — a volatile mix of movements awash in conspiracy theories.

Scratch the surface and you find people peddling bogus conspiracy theories about liberal secular humanists, collectivist labor bosses, Muslim terrorists, Jewish cabals, homosexual child molesters and murderous abortionists. This right-wing campaign is about scapegoating bogus targets by using conspiracy theories to distract attention from insurance companies who are the real culprits behind escalating health care costs

Quick Clicks

Collectivism Phobia A selection of well-known books

Currency Conspiracism

Conspiracy Theory Generator

Money Manipulators (Coming soon)

Debunking the Federal Reserve Conspiracy Theories
(and other financial myths)
by Professor Edward Flaherty
last updated September 5, 2000)

Gerry Rough Collection

A History of Printed Money (really! a serious website)

Right-Left Coalition Building

Pressebüro Savanne: Right-Left – A Dangerous Flirt

Site Reviews
Web of Debt

Ellen Hodgson Brown, http://www.webofdebt.com/

“Our money system is not what we have been led to believe. The creation of money has been ‘privatized,’ or taken over by private money lenders.”

Brown is frequently cited on progressive websites as an authority on money and debt. Her claims on currency and the Federal Reserve are at their core revisions of the myths and conspiracy theories refuted  in the Flaherty Series.

It’s Our Economy

“It’s Our Economy is dedicated to changing the dynamic of the current economy designed for the wealthiest to an economy built on principles of equity, cooperation, and sustainability. An economy that puts people and the planet before profits would reduce the wealth divide while giving people more control over their economic lives. We believe that a more just, modern, and restorative economy would involve the people in economic decision-making in both their communities and the nation more broadly.”

This is an excellent website and highly recommended. It supports public banking and many other reforms. The review below of Popular Resistance is in no way a criticism of It’s Our Economy.

It’s Our Economy is a project of Popular Resistance.

Popular Resistance

Popular Resistance Report on “Fed-Up 100” demonstrations

Occupy Oakland posted reports from San Francisco: “San Francisco: Illuminate The Fed. A Mission Well Accomplished.”

“Occupy activist Jane Smith described their purpose: ‘The Federal Reserve is owned entirely by Wall Street banks, so our money is issued by a private institution.  Money should be created by the government as money, not interest bearing debt.’ ”

Jane Smith illuminated the crowd with a well-prepared and well-executed talk about what the Federal Reserve is (a private bank, owned by other, private, Wall Street banks) and what it does (controls the money supply to the benefits of its bankster owners). She was one of the original SF Occupiers in October of 2011, now of Occupy Bay Area United and Strike Debt Bay Area, and was one of the main organizers of the event.

From Washington, DC

“What’s going to happen when your pension is sucked up by these corporate cabals of bankers? What’s going to happen when your life savings is taken away?”

That’s what Barry Knight demanded to know as police hustled him off the steps of the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank

United Front Against Austerity (UFAA), an organization backing today’s protests against the Federal Reserve, suggests nationalization of the Federal Reserve ….

The report from Philadelphia at the bottom of the post includes a video that begins with Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” apparently with no clue this would be offensive.

RT Russia Today

RT Carried a piece on the Fed Up demonstrations.

FED up? Hundred years of manipulating the US dollar

Adrian Salbuchi is an international political analyst, researcher and consultant. Author of several books on geopolitics in Spanish and English (including ‘The Coming World Government: Tragedy & Hope’), he is also a conference speaker in Argentina and radio/TV commentator. He writes op-ed pieces for RT Spanish as well as RT English, and is a regular guest on alternative media radio and TV shows in the US, Europe and Latin America.

According to Salbuchi:

In 1995, American investigator and author, G. Edward Griffin, published what is clearly the most authoritative book on the“FED” – as it is colloquially called in banking circles and by the mainstream media – “The Creature from Jekyll Island”.

Griffin’s book is one of the best known of conspiracy theory books about the Federal Reserve.

United Front Against Austerity (UFAA)

The page on recommended reading shows 3 out of 4 essays are by Webster Tarpley, the former LaRouchite and notorious antisemite who still spins conspiracist theories.  http://againstausterity.org/recommended

Tarpley spoke at the 2014 Left Forum:

“Webster Tarpley revisits his riveting lecture to the 2014 Left Forum. Essential, a must watch! Continued at tarpley.net – See more at: http://againstausterity.org/article/end-fukuyama-re-starting-history-after-quarter-century-unipolar-globalization

Basic Bibliography

J. Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860–1925, New York: Atheneum, [1955] 1972; R. Hofstadter, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” in The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965, pp. 37–38; D.B. Davis (ed.), The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un–American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1971; D.H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement, revised and updated, New York: Vintage Books [1988] 1995; G. Johnson, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics, Los Angeles: Tarcher/Houghton Mifflin, 1983, 17–30; F.P. Mintz, The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1985; R.A. Goldberg, Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America, New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 2001; M. Barkun, A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2003).

Introduction to the Report:
Toxic to Democracy

Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States the Internet was seething with lurid conspiracy theories exposing his alleged subversion and treachery.

Among the many false claims: Obama was a secret Muslim; he was not a proper citizen of the United States and his election as President should be overturned; he was a tool of the New World Order in a plot to merge the government of the United States into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada.[i] Within hours of Obama’s inauguration, the Internet circulated claims that Obama was not really President of the United States because the wording of the oath of office had been scrambled by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

A few days after the inauguration came a warning that Obama planned to impose martial law and collect all guns.[ii] The first clues of the impending tyranny would involve changes in traffic laws and signage. Many of these false claims recall those floated by right-wing conspiracy theorists in the armed citizens Militia Movement during the Clinton administration – allegations that percolated up through the media hierarchy and were utilized by Republican political operatives to hobble the legislative agenda of the Democratic Party.[iii]

The conspiracy theory attacks on Clinton damaged far more than the Democratic Party. The entire government became bogged down. Legislation became stuck in Congressional committees and appointments to federal posts dwindled and positions remained unfilled, almost paralyzing some federal agencies and seriously hampering the federal court system.[iv]

During the same period, the lurid (and false) claims of the Militia Movement suggesting Clinton had engineered the death of his associate Vince Foster or that he had engaged in a cover-up of drug-smuggling and child molestation created an atmosphere of suspicion and fueled a crisis of legitimacy for the entire government. [v]

While suspicion of government remains high, especially in the U.S. Political Right, it was the conspiracy theories that told of foreign troops massing along U.S. borders under the command of the United Nations that mobilized “patriots” across the country to join “Border Watch” organizations. To this day there are acts of intimidation and violence by paramilitary vigilantes along the southwestern border areas, and a growing xenophobia toward immigrants, especially people of color.[vi]

A similar scenario to Clinton’s could make the work of the Obama Administration more difficult. When Obama’s “web-savvy” aides saw “conspiracy theories building up on the internet,” they staged a repeat swearing in as “the fastest way to stop the speculation getting out of control.”[vii] If past is prologue, it is inevitable that some activists on the Political Left will become mesmerized by the startling and convoluted explanations of the plot.

The study begins by looking at the rise of conspiracy thinking in recent years, especially after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It traces the bigoted roots and dangerous dynamics of conspiracy theory as a form of political analysis in the United States. The study follows periods in United States history when conspiracy theories gained a mass public following. It demonstrates how the basic dynamics behind conspiracy theories remain the same even though the named scapegoated targets are interchangeable at different moments in our history as a nation.

It is easy to dismiss conspiracy theories as marginal phenomena with little importance. This study argues otherwise, and suggests that progressives need to be critical of conspiracy theories no matter where they come from on the political spectrum. Even the most sincere and well-intentioned conspiracy theorists contribute to dangerous social dynamics of demonization and scapegoating—dynamics which are toxic to democracy.

[i] On the North American Union, see Chip Berlet, “The North American Union: Right-wing Populist Conspiracism Rebounds,” The Public Eye Magazine (Spring 2008), http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v23n1/NA_Union.html (accessed January 15, 2009).

[ii] Conveyed by a researcher who received the warning at a coffee shop while on his way to work.

[iii] “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce,” memo prepared in 1995 by the White House counsel’s office, with attachments, obtained from the White House Press Office. First revealed by editorial writer Micah Morrison in Wall Street Journal, January 6, 1997. See criticism of the memo in “Who’s Shooting the Messenger Now?” Media Watch, March 1997.

[iv] Joe Conason and Gene Lyons. The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (New York City: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), pp. 369-373.

[v] On the theory of delegitimization and social turmoil, see Jürgen Habermas, (1973). Legitimation Crisis. Translated by Thomas McCarthy (Boston: Beacon Press, 1973).

[vi] Juan F. Perea, Immigrants Out! The New Nativism and the Anti-Immigrant Impulse in the United States (New York: New York University Press, 1997); Dale T. Knobel, “America for the Americans”: The Nativist Movement in the United States (New York: Twayne, 1996); Devin Burghart, “Do It Yourself Border Cops,” The Public Eye Magazine 19 no. 3 (Winter 2005); Roberto Lovato, “Far From Fringe: Minutemen Mobilizes Whites Left Behind by Globalization,” The Public Eye Magazine 19 no. 3 (Winter 2005).

[vii] Ewen MacAskill, “Obama retakes oath to quell conspiracy theories,” The Guardian (London), January 23, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/23/obama-presidential-oath (accessed January 23, 2009).


Scripted Violence

“Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,”

Extracted from: Chip Berlet. 2014. “Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence,” in Matthew Feldman and Paul Jackson (eds), Doublespeak: Rhetoric of the Far-Right Since 1945, Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag.

Online at: https://www.academia.edu/26640115/


Apocalyptic Aggression


Many Christian Right Republicans see Obama & the Democrats as Millennial Apocalyptic End-Times Satanic Agents (No...Really!) You Can't Compromise with the Devil! (This is not a new idea - click here for book list - click here for links on Talk to Action) Overviews How this Apocalyptic Aggression Works The merger of apocalyptic frameworks and conspiracy-based belief systems spawns aggressive confrontations that undermine civil society in a democracy. Apocalyptic Aggression occurs when demonized scapegoats are targeted as enemies of the “common good,” and a confrontation seen as not just a political necessity but a sacred duty. Society is portrayed as split between the forces of good and the forces of evil. This dualistic worldview creates needless confrontations and in its most fanatical forms can lead to lead to discrimination and even physical attacks. Aggressive Apocalyptic Religious Triumphalism can become a form of Theocratic Neofascism or Clerical Neofascism in tiny subcultures of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, & Judaism. Apocalypticism: 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. From a Greek root word suggesting unveiling hidden information or revealing secret knowledge about unfolding human events. The dualist or demonized version involves a final show-down struggle between absolute good and absolute evil