Conspiracy theories: secrecy and power in American culture by Mark Fenster

By Mark Fenster

JFK, Karl Marx, the Pope, Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes, Fox Mulder, invoice Clinton, either George Bushes—all were associated with drastically advanced international (or even galactic) intrigues. years after Mark Fenster first released Conspiracy Theories, the assaults of Sep 11 stirred the imaginations of a brand new new release of believers. sooner than the black field from United ninety three had even been came across, there have been theories positioned forth from the improbable to the offensive and outrageous.
In this re-creation of the landmark paintings, and the 1st in-depth examine the conspiracy groups that shaped to debunk the September 11 fee file, Fenster indicates that conspiracy theories play a tremendous function in U.S. democracy. interpreting how and why they stream via mass tradition, he contends, is helping us higher comprehend society as an entire. starting from The Da Vinci Code to the highbrow background of Richard Hofstadter, he argues that disregarding conspiracy theories as pathological or marginal flattens modern politics and tradition simply because they are—contrary to renowned portrayal—an severe articulation of populism and, at their essence, are strident demands a greater, extra obvious executive. Fenster has tested once more that the folk who declare someone’s after us are, at the least, worthy listening to.

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64 Documenting practitioners on both sides of the political spectrum, Berlet warns that this seduction leads inexorably to the demagoguery and racism that are characteristics of fascism. 66 The left is particularly susceptible to such infiltration and manipulation after decades of conservative ascendancy, Berlet argues. 67 The title of an article he published in the magazine The Progressive, “Friendly Fascists,” epitomizes a theme that at times THEORIZING CONSPIRACY POLITICS | 45 pervades Berlet’s approach: that conspiracy theory operates by alluring and then corrupting the left, as right-wing extremists who seem to share leftists’ anti-elitism and fear of centralized power and wish to exchange intelligence and analysis infiltrate and pervert left-wing groups and politics.

The resulting mass man, created and manipulated by new technologies of control, posed a potentially more dangerous threat to political order. Specifically, mass culture threatened to destroy boundaries crucial to the success and stability of the postwar consensus. Andreas Huyssen has identified the dominant binary in nineteenth-century culture as being between, on the one hand, “mass culture” and women, and, on the THEORIZING CONSPIRACY POLITICS | 39 other, “authentic culture,” the prerogative of men.

50 Because status politics is difficult to reconcile within “the normal political processes of bargain and compromise” (Paranoid Style, 39), and proponents of such politics, “being less concerned with the uses THEORIZING CONSPIRACY POLITICS | 41 of power than with its alleged misuse, do not offer positive programs to solve social problems” (87–88), the paranoid style rises in importance when struggles over status that cannot be or refuse to be resolved through rational political discourse become most visible.

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