Kay argues that the structure of all conspiracies is identical to the Protocols, a document which managed to combine two competing strands of the conspiracist faith into a lethal hybrid:
… ancient forms of conspiracism typically vilified one of two enemies: Jews and secret societies. The Protocols twisted these two venerable strands into one deadly skein: The Jews, by this hateful telling, were both a filthy religious sect seeking to exterminate Christendom and a secret society bent on adapting world trade, politics, media, and all the other secular pillars of civilization to their evil schemes.
Even when the Third Reich lay in ruins, and anti-Semitism became widely detested in its bald-faced Nazi-style form, the Protocols would remain ensconced as a sort of universal blueprint for all the successor conspiracist ideologies that would come to infect Western societies over the next nine decades…
As naked anti-Semitism has gone out of fashion in polite circles since the Holocaust, conspiracism has been forced to evolve. Less frequently does one hear that “the Jews” are out to start wars, cheat Americans out of money, and institute a global slave state. Instead, now the term has been replaced with “globalists,” “neo-cons,” “bankers,” “Zionists,” “elites,” and other epithets.
Some conspiracist tracts even say to do this directly with the Protocols. William Cooper’s bestseller Behold a Pale Horse reprints the Protocols verbatim in one chapter but warns the reader not to be fooled by the Jews being named as the villains. This exposé of the history of conspiracist narratives is ultimately the most effective argument against the conspiracists (not that one should expect much success in persuading the true believers), but it’s still useful for correcting dabblers.
It’s wonderful that someone has finally laid all of this out and in such an effective way. Kay’s book is an important corrective, laying bare the history and psychology so often obscured by the 9/11 Truth Movement. It’s also accessible and written in a comfortable, inviting prose. This is Kay’s first book and I’ll be buying his second no matter the subject.
Among the Truthers’ sole flaw is omitting from the discussion the contributions of America’s most important analyst of conspiracy theory: Robert Anton Wilson, author of such books on the subject as Everything is Under Control, Cosmic Trigger: Final Secret of the Illuminati. One need only read Among the Truthers and one of Wilson’s books – perhaps the novel satirizing conspiracy theories that he co-authored with Bob Shea, The Illuminatus! Trilogy – to have a firm understanding of this quirky, paranoid world and the odd ducks who inhabit it.
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