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Arthur Goldwag


Arthur Goldwag: Big C and Little C Conspiracy Theories

(In 2010, Boing Boing was pleased to feature as a guestblogger Arthur Goldwag, author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more. The following is an excerpt from Arthur's latest book, The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right. - dp)

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Conspiracy theories often resemble a kind of misbegotten, debased form of theology — one that begins with a set of suppositions and then reverse engineers a fantastical version of reality that comports with them. History does not dispute, for example, the fact that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s mother’s father was Jewish. But in the auto magnate and arch-conspiracist Henry Ford’s telling, this genealogical detail held the key not only to Lenin’s entire character and political philosophy but to the vicissitudes of the former Russian Empire circa 1920 and to the historical development of Bolshevism worldwide. Lenin’s wife is Jewish, and his children all speak Yiddish, Ford insisted, a little hysterically. Russia’s yeshivas are the recipients of lavish subsidies from the Bolshevik state:

The Bolsheviks immediately took over all the Hebrew schools and continued them as they were and laid down a rule that the ancient Hebrew language should be taught in them. The ancient Hebrew language is the vehicle of the deeper secrets of the World Program.

And for the Gentile Russian children? “Why,” said these gentle Jewish educators, “we will teach them sex knowledge. We will brush out of their minds the cobwebs. They must learn the truth about things!” with consequences that are too pitiable to narrate.

Viewed through Ford’s monistic frame, Lenin’s grandfather’s one-eighth contribution of Jewish “genes” was sufficient to neutralize the very Russianness of the Russian Revolution, to reduce it to just another local skirmish in Judaism’s global war against the Gentiles.

Richard Nixon was forced to resign his presidency because of a small-c conspiracy to cover up the illegal activities carried out by his reelection campaign. But to conspiracists on his right, his whole presidency had been the enactment of a long-standing conspiracy to destroy America’s sovereignty; his breakthrough trip to China was just the latest in a long line of betrayals. “If Mr. Nixon has been only kidding about his devotion to forging the links in the chain of the World Superstate that is to be welded around America’s wrists, then he is a consummate hypocrite,” the John Birch Society’s Gary Allen wrote in 1971, a year before Nixon’s epochal meeting with Mao. “But his commitment to world government goes back nearly a quarter of a century and indeed he would not now be in the White House if he were not committed to this ultimate goal of the Insiders.”

Conspiracism, like racial bigotry, is almost always a murky undercurrent in the mainstream of politics, its propositions only glancingly acknowledged by the establishment and summarily dismissed. But as cartoonish as its heroes and villains might be, as disordered and disreputable and deranged as its proponents and its premises so often are, they are rarely without pertinence to an understanding of the social and political environment that spawned them.

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BP oil spill conspiracy theories

I wasn’t surprised when Rush Limbaugh noted the suspicious timing of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, occurring as it did on the eve of Earth Day and the impending Cap and Trade Bill announcement and just after Obama’s reluctant OK of new drilling leases.

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Haiti, HAARP, and conspiracy theorists

Arthur Goldwag, a former BB guestblogger, is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

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I was almost afraid to do it, because I knew it would get me upset. But with so much conspiracy-mongering already rife in the mainstream -- Pat Robertson and Haiti's deal with the devil (maybe Aricept would help?), Rush Limbaugh's insinuation that Obama is exploiting the catastrophe to burnish his creds with, in Limbaugh's words, "the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country" (lest his listeners forget that light skinned blacks are just as black as their darker-skinned confederates) -- I thought it behooved me to find out what the hard-core conspiracists are saying too. So I typed the words "Haiti" and "Conspiracy" into Google and watched to see what came up.

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Goldwag: The Sarah Palin Conspiracies

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

 Blog Wp-Content Uploads 2009 10 Sarah-Palin-Going-Rogue-Book-Cover-1 Today's is my last guest post here. I want to take this opportunity to thank Pesco and Boing Boing for inviting me here and giving me the latitude to say whatever I wanted to about whatever crossed my mind. I'm especially grateful to everyone who took the time to comment on my posts, whether you agreed with them or not. You're an amazingly thoughtful, opinionated, funny, articulate, out-of-the-box bunch, and for the most part admirably civil. The reservoir of wit, knowledge and intellectual firepower that Boing Boing has on tap is truly astonishing. As I'm sure I've said before, I don't write because I know so much--I write because it gives me an opportunity to learn. And you've all taught me a great deal. I hope I can come back and contribute to Boing Boing again; in the meantime, you're all welcome to drop by my own blog any time.

I began last Monday with my lucubrations about Orly Taitz and the birther movement. For the sake of symmetry, I will close out with some remarks about another woman of the right, Alaska's ex-governor Sarah Palin.

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Goldwag: Cranks, Curiosities, and the Process Church

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

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Charles P. Peirce's bestseller IDIOT AMERICA: HOW STUPIDITY BECAME A VIRTUE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE includes a wonderful portrait of Ignatius L. Donnelly (1831-1901), the lawyer, US Congressman, founder of a failed Utopian city, and bestselling author of three influential books: ATLANTIS: THE ANTEDILUVIAN WORLD (1882), which sparked the Atlantis mania that continues to this day, RAGNAROK: THE AGE OF FIRE AND GRAVEL (1883), which anticipated Immanuel Velikovsky's WORLDS IN COLLISION (1950) by more than half a century by attributing a world-wide deluge that sank Atlantis and wiped out the world's Mammoths to a near-collision with a comet (TRIVIA QUIZ: Can you guess what other pseudo-scientific classic was published in 1950? ANSWER: L. Ron Hubbard's DIANETICS), and then in 1889, THE GREAT CRYPTOGRAM, which argued that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare's plays and scattered clues to his authorship throughout them. Pierce considers the wildly creative, fiercely productive, and swiftly-forgotten Donnelley to be one of America's great cranks. "Cranks are noble," Peirce says, "because cranks are independent. A charlatan is a crank who sells out." It's like the difference between kitsch and dreck--people who make kitsch are sincere. Cynical purveyors of political and cultural dreck like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh know better--they're in it for the money and the power and the fame.

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Goldwag: I Was A Teenaged Straussian

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of “Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more” and other books.

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Goldwag: Books that inspire me

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Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

Pesco requested that I write about some of the books that inspired me as I was writing CULTS, CONSPIRACIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES. I'll need to ask for your indulgence, because I'm going to flash back to my boyhood. When I was in the sixth grade, I came across a mass market paperback called IMPOSSIBLE: YET IT HAPPENED, which, I just learned from the magic of the Internet, was written by R. Dewitt Miller in 1947. It was a prime exemplar of what is sometimes called Forteana, after Charles Fort (1874-1932), a failed novelist, close friend of Theodore Dreiser, and avid collector of news clippings about the eerie and the unexplained--he also gave his name to the magazine The Fortean Times (its cover story this month is about Masonic symbols in Washington, DC). Miller's yarns about spontaneous human combustion, ghosts, premonitory dreams, ESP, apparitions of air-born crucifixes in the smoke-filled skies over World War I battlefields, a fortyeight hour-long midnight that enveloped Colonial New England and I don't know what else, scared the living daylights out of me--but at the same time, I couldn't stop reading it, especially at night, by flashlight. It was an addiction and I eventually had the wisdom to go cold turkey, by giving the book away.

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9/11 Truth and the Paranoid Style

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of “Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more” and other books.

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Freemasonry, Dan Brown, and the New New Age

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of “Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more” and other books.

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Goldwag: Hoaxes, celebrity, and death on the Net

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Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

Some of you might remember a story about a little boy and a runaway balloon that erupted in the news a few weeks back. Like Edgar Allan Poe's 1844 scoop about Monck Mason, an English balloonist who was blown off course en route to France and made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina (illustration above), the story turned out to be false in most of its particulars. There really was an aeronautist named Monck Mason, but he hadn't crossed the ocean. There really was a little boy and a UFO-shaped balloon, but... well, you know the rest.

 Taxil  Images Taxil Devil01A few days after Balloon Boy's non-event The Yes Men, professional hoaxers with a genuine political agenda, pulled off a coup when they impersonated officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and announced to the press that the Chamber had reversed its policies on global warming. I wrote about the Yes Men in Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies in the context of the bizarre nineteenth century hoaxer Leo Taxil. Taxil was the pen name of Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pages (1854-1907), an ex-free thinker and a highly public convert to Catholicism who, in a series of sensational books, claimed to have discovered Palladism, a devil-worshipping Masonic sect associated with Albert Pike and the Scottish Rite. In 1897, he called a press conference in Paris and admitted that he had made the whole thing up. Not just Palladism, everything-starting with his conversion. For more than a decade, he had been telling the Catholic Church exactly what it wanted to hear, setting it up for a stupendous fall when "the most colossal hoax of modern times" was exposed. Already a prankster as a teenager, Taxil had created a panic about fictitious shark attacks in the waters off Marseilles (shark attacks remain a staple of the sensationalistic media to this day); a few years later he fed Swiss newspapers a bogus story about a sunken city beneath Lake Geneva.

Are there wider lessons to be gleaned from any of this, besides not believing everything you read in the newspaper (or hear on the radio, watch on TV, or read on the Web)?

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Cult scene: New Zealand and Africa

“Medication” by Andrew Brandou, from his Jonestown paintings

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of “Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more” and other books.

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Goldwag: Some thoughts about 9/11 Truth

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

9/11 -- the sheer shock of it, the deaths, the sense of violation-still rouses incredible emotions. The seven years of international adventurism, state-sanctioned torture, domestic spying, rampant privatization, and upward redistribution of income that followed, all of it promoted by waving the bloody flag, have left us more polarized as a society than we've been since at least the 1960s.

I recently heard from Daniel Edd III, a passionate and voluble member of the 9/11 Truth Community. "How do you feel about this guy's qualifications?" he asked, posting a link to the Wikipedia entry on Steven E. Jones. "Have you ever watched the documentary 9/11: Press for Truth?" he continued.

National Park Service 9-11 Statue Of Liberty And Wtc Fire

I do not understand how anyone could watch this documentary, argue against the victim's families, and still consider themseleves a Patriotic American Citizen. The evidence has been served up on a silver platter, and I promise you that I will see to it that the truth gets exposed.

I joined the US Army in a combat arms MOS just three months after 9/11. I believed that defending my family, friends, and fellow countrymen from those who attacked us was a cause worth dying for. My beliefs have not changed. I raised my right hand and swore to defend this country against all enemies, foreign or DOMESTIC. Now that I know beyond any doubt that Osama bin Laden and 19 cavemen did not bring down the towers, I will continue upholding my oath by pursuing the TRUE perpetrators until I take my last breath.

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, but Yeats's words in "The Second Coming" seem strangely apt when it comes to 9/11 Truth: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." Which isn't to say that 9/11 Truthers are all "bad." Many of them -- Daniel Edd Bland III, for one -- are absolutely sincere and well-intentioned. Part of the reason I try to avoid getting into arguments with them is because I don't want to seem to be impugning their intelligence or their characters. What's "worst" in them is their critical methodology-their emotionally-colored, conspiratorial, often magically deterministic view of the world.

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Arthur Goldwag on the queen of the "birther" movement

Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

Orlybirthhhh-3Hello everybody. I'm excited to be guest-blogging for Boing Boing for the next two weeks and I look forward to meeting some of you--many of you, I hope--through your comments. As you know, I am the author of the book "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies", which Vintage published last summer. Around the time the book came out, I started my own blog, where I have been posting fairly regularly, sometimes about other things, but mostly on the issues of the day as they pertain to cults, conspiracies and secret societies. In this season of birtherism, 9/11 Truth, death panels, sweat lodge homicides, C-Street Christians, The Lost Symbol, rogue balloons and Northwest Airline jets, I've had no lack of fodder.

I make no effort to disguise my predispositions and biases--I am respectfully agnostic on most religious issues, lean leftwards politically, and am resolutely skeptical when it comes to the paranormal or the outlandish. I hope I am not dogmatic or snide or gratuitously ad hominem, but please don't hesitate to call me out if I am. Today's entry features conspiracy theorist Orly Taitz, DDS Esq., the Moldovian-born emigrant (via Israel) to Orange County, California who has become instantly recognizable to Cable TV news viewers as "the wide-eyed queen of the so-called birther movement--that subset of individuals who still, despite all evidence, don't believe Obama was born a citizen of the United States" (Time magazine -- click here for their "2-minute bio").

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