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Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11
Author: Kathryn S. Olmsted
Publisher: Oxford University Press
This timely book links the explosion of conspiracy theories about the U.S. government in recent years to the revelations of real government conspiracies. It traces anti-government theories from the birth of the modern state in World War I to the current war on terror.
Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11- 10th Anniversary Edition
Author: Kathryn S. Olmsted
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Many Americans believe that their own government is guilty of shocking crimes. Government agents shot the president. They faked the moon landing. They stood by and allowed the murders of 2,400 servicemen in Hawaii. Although paranoia has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, in Real Enemies Kathryn Olmsted shows that it was only in the twentieth century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories became central to American politics. In particular, she posits World War I as a critical turning point and shows that as the federal bureaucracy expanded, Americans grew more fearful of the government itself--the military, the intelligence community, and even the President. Analyzing the wide-spread suspicions surrounding such events as Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, Watergate, and 9/11, Olmsted sheds light on why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them, why more people believe these theories over time, and how real conspiracies--such as the infamous Northwoods plan--have fueled our paranoia about the governments we ourselves elect. This 10th Anniversary Edition includes a new epilogue on conspiracy theories and the 2016 election and its aftermath.
Conspiracy Theories in the United States and the Middle East is the first book to approach conspiracy theorizing from a decidedly comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. Whereas previous studies have engaged with conspiracy theories within national frameworks only, this collection of essays draws attention to the fact that conspiracist visions are transnational narratives that travel between and connect different cultures. It focuses on the United States and the Middle East because these two regions of the world are entangled in manifold ways and conspiracy theories are currently extremely prominent in both. The contributors to the volume are scholars of Middle Eastern Studies, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Cultural Studies, and American Studies, who approach the subject from a variety of different theories and methodologies. However, all of them share the fundamental assumption that conspiracy theories must not be dismissed out of hand or ridiculed. Usually wrong and frequently dangerous, they are nevertheless articulations of and distorted responses to needs and anxieties that must be taken seriously. Focusing on individual case studies and displaying a high sensitivity for local conditions and the cultural environment, the essays offer a nuanced image of the workings of conspiracy theories in the United States and the Middle East.
The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism
Author: Kathryn S. Olmsted
In a reassessment of modern conservatism, noted historian Kathryn S. Olmsted reexamines the explosive labour disputes in the agricultural fields of Depression-era California, the cauldron that inspired a generation of artists and writers and triggered the intervention of FDR's New Deal. Right Out of California tells how this brief moment of upheaval terrified business leaders into rethinking their relationship to American politics - a narrative that pits a ruthless generation of growers against a passionate cast of reformers, writers, and revolutionaries.
This book focuses on the constant tension between democracy and conspiratorial behavior in the new global order. It addresses the prevalence of conspiracy theories in the phenomenon of Donald Trump and Trumpism, and the paranoid style of American politics that existed long before, first identified with Richard Hofstadter. Hellinger looks critically at both those who hold conspiracy theory beliefs and those who rush to dismiss them. Hellinger argues that we need to acknowledge that the exercise of power by elites is very often conspiratorial and invites both realistic and outlandish conspiracy theories. How we parse the realistic from the outlandish demands more attention than typically accorded in academia and journalism. Tensions between global hegemony and democratic legitimacy become visible in populist theories of conspiracy, both on the left and the right. He argues that we do not live in an age in which conspiracy theories are more profligate, but that we do live in an age in which they offer a more profound challenge to the constituted state than ever before.
Conspiracies theories are some of the most striking features in the American political landscape: the Kennedy assassination, aliens at Roswell, subversion by Masons, Jews, Catholics, or communists, and modern movements like Birtherism and Trutherism. But what do we really know about conspiracy theories? Do they share general causes? Are they becoming more common? More dangerous? Who is targeted and why? Who are the conspiracy theorists? How has technology affected conspiracy theorising? This book offers the first century-long view of these issues.
Feminism, Conservatism, and Conspiracy in the Heartland
Author: Erin M. Kempker
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Category: Social Science
The mid-Seventies represented a watershed era for feminism. A historic National Women's Conference convened in Houston in 1977. The Equal Rights Amendment inched toward passage. Conservative women in the Midwest, however, saw an event like the International Year of the Woman not as a celebration, but as part of a conspiracy that would lead to radicalism and one-world government. Erin M. Kempker delves into how conspiracy theories affected--and undermined--second wave feminism in the Midwest. Focusing on Indiana, Kempker views this phenomenon within the larger history of right-wing fears of subversion during the Cold War. Feminists and conservative women each believed they spoke in women's best interests. Though baffled by the conservative dread of "collectivism," feminists compromised by trimming radicals from their ranks. Conservative women, meanwhile, proved adept at applying old fears to new targets. Kemper's analysis places the women's opposing viewpoints side by side to unlock the differences that separated the groups, explain one to the other, and reveal feminism's fate in the Midwest.
9/11 was an inside job. The Holocaust is a myth promoted to serve Jewish interests. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School were a false flag operation. Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese government. These are all conspiracy theories. A glance online or at bestseller lists reveals how popular some of them are. Even if there is plenty of evidence to disprove them, people persist in propagating them. Why? Philosopher Quassim Cassam explains how conspiracy theories are different from ordinary theories about conspiracies. He argues that conspiracy theories are forms of propaganda and their function is to promote a political agenda. Although conspiracy theories are sometimes defended on the grounds that they uncover evidence of bad behaviour by political leaders, they do much more harm than good, with some resulting in the deaths of large numbers of people. There can be no clearer indication that something has gone wrong with our intellectual and political culture than the fact that conspiracy theories have become mainstream. When they are dangerous, we cannot afford to ignore them. At the same time, refuting them by rational argument is difficult because conspiracy theorists discount or reject evidence that disproves their theories. As conspiracy theories are so often smokescreens for political ends, we need to come up with political as well as intellectual responses if we are to have any hope of defeating them.
“The effects of 9/11 ramify through a network of conduits and pathways, including the examples of expressive culture this volume explores; and the registration of those effects will likewise be felt in an array of documents and texts. The cultural, literary, and mass mediated effects of 9/11 encompass the globe and the chapters in this volume assume a transnational and international range of vantage points. The topics examined include the representation of Islam and Moslems in a number of texts and genres, the political and psychological dilemmas faced by characters in a number of literary works, and the refraction of current psycho-cultural-political tensions in forms of expressive culture in which the effects of 9/11 are felt in other than explicit ways. Was 9/11 a moment that punctuated and disrupted the movement of history or, as one of the authors suggests, did it act as a catalyst to escalate existing stereotypes? The chapters investigate not just different genres and cultural forms but distinct modes of intersection between the political, the cultural and the psychological. One achievement of this volume is to show how 9/11’s effects at times insinuate themselves in discourse through nuance and subtlety, and at other times frontally assault texts and images. In the words of one article, “modern Dutch post-9/11 novels directly participate in current cultural and political discourses.” By the same token, these cultural and political discourses participate in novels, films, TV shows, and the effects of 9/11 proliferate and concentrate in this exchange. This volume draws timely attention to the multiple forms of this complex interaction.” Dr Patrick Hagopian, University of Lancaster