(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)
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.