This week we return to our “Lunatic Fringe” series covering the core of the modern American Right, the hard right extremist base. This time we begin what will be at least a three-episode series covering conspiracy theories among the right. This week we focus on the “Classical” conspiracy theories of the pre-Alex Jones era. In this time period, no matter what the conspiracy was, or who was pushing it, you could be pretty sure that the evildoers supposedly behind it were “The Jews.” In more recent times, while antisemitism still makes up the core of conspiracism, and open white supremacists often play a more active role in crafting and spreading conspiracies, these forces have gone away from explicitly naming the Jews as the perpetrators of their conspiracies, opting instead to posit more vague villains to allow the believer to insert their own boogeyman.
Many of the conspiracy theories you hear today, if not their roots or components of them can be traced back directly to antisemitic conspiracy theories of yore, and today we talk about the grandpappy of most of them, the Russian Antisemitic Hoax Document, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. This document is not necessarily an origination point, but an amalgamation of many of the long-running anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have run through Christian societies since the Dark Ages. The main difference with the protocols is that they were seized upon and distributed widely, even being re-printed in the U.S. by Henry Ford, and being taught in school to children living under the Nazi regime in Germany.
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Conspiracy mentality and political orientation across 26 countries – Nature Human Behaviour
The Paranoid Style in American Politics – Richard Hofstadter – Harpers Magazine
Protocols of the Elders of Zion – HOAX DOCUMENT