I happened onto this story on my way home from the grocery store tonight. It was on the NPR program Fresh Air and was an interview with Chip Berlet who is the senior analyst at Political Research Associates, at PublicEye.org.
The story was on a paper just released by PRA and Berlet on the damage wrought by conspiracy theories, demonizing rhetoric, and scapegoating, especially prominent in today’s media. The topic is not a new one as both the left and the right have blasted one another for years, but in the interview, Berlet went into some considerable depth in talking about the extent of present day conspiracy theories and their radicalization especially as it pertains to the arena of white supremacy and neo nazi movements here in the US.
At first the program seemed to be just another conspiracy talk, but it soon delved into how the white supremacy movements (including the recent murder at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC) are beginning to take on an ultra radical stance that has, so far this year, been the root of 9 murders. In the radical development of the conspiracy theories at their root is a black/Jewish cabal that embraces anti-semitism and racism hearkening to the slave south being taken over by the Rothschild banking family. Going even deeper, in James von Brunn’s writings, he indited the Illuminati and Freemasonry as being manipulated by the “crafty Jews” to take control of America.
It sounds like a bad conspiracy film, but in the interview, Berlet details how these theories have developed and what their evolution has been. Additionally, he details the Illuminati and Freemasonry for the host, portraying the fraternity into a very favorable light even acknowledging the fraternities link to the enlightenment and natural philosophy.
Interestingly, Berlet talks about the ideas of collectivism and socialism and their challenges when they radicalize and start to shape policy (you’ll remember the series from the Banks of the Euphrates a short time back). This is a good example of this social collectivism gone awry in Nazi Germany into totalitarian.
I highly recommend you give the program a listen. Also, if you have some room in your reading schedule, give the Toxic to Democracy paper a read. I just printed out a copy and at quick glance it looks like a very good read.