Skip to comments.There Will Be Paranoia: As long as there're dispossessed white people, there'll be conspiracies
Posted on 03/13/2012 7:36:01 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Lengthy screeds featuring the dangers and hypocrisy of the New Right are common fare in progressive publications. Although I tend to agree with the screeds, I find them tiresome and sometimes counterproductive. By bestowing so much attention on the haters who have formed the Tea Party movement and largely co-opted the Republican Party, the authors of the screeds flatter those who would oppress the afflicted rather than help the afflicted help themselves.
But Arthur Goldwags The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right (Pantheon) is a welcome relief. Yes, Goldwag is worried about the men and women who constitute what he calls the Populist Right. But instead of mounting another frontal attack, Goldwag offers sober historical context. Nothing neutralizes bullies like derision grounded in research, and Goldwag offers enough material to yield a lifetime of snickering, if not outright laughter. He collected some of that material in his previous books: 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; and Isms and Ologies: All the Movements, Ideologies and Doctrines That Have Shaped Our World.
Goldwag wants to understand the origins of the hostility in his new book. Here is perhaps his best explanation: The New Hate is at once the expression of a quixotic desire to turn back the clock to a mythical golden age when women and minorities and gays and foreigners were less troublesome than they are today; when the government only gave and never took; and a cynical ploy to up the turnout of Republican voters. Most of the time its reflexive and vindictive to its core.
Goldwag underscores how the past serves as prologue. Again and again in The New Hate, he demonstrates how the theories, and the rhetoric spreading those theories, were devised decades and sometimes centuries earlier by previous generations of conspiracy-minded, history-twisting, racist, misogynistic, homophobic evangelicals. Since the internet spawned authoritative-sounding blogs and social media, the haters appear to have become better at reaching beyond the lunatic fringe. For example, right after Barack Obamas election, Goldwag noticed the controversy over Obamas birth certificate continued unabated. He wondered whether to add a paragraph about Birthers to a new edition of one of his previous books, but decided that references to such a transitory political derangement might just as easily date the book as update it. No one will remember the Birthers six months hence, he calculated mistakenly.
The equivalent of the Birther movement has existed in previous centuries and inspired books by clearheaded authors. As Goldwag notes, the canonical works of scholarship preceding his include The Paranoid Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter; Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort by Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons; and The Politics of Unreason: Right-Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1967 by Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab. Goldwags tome is the most up-to-date, naturally, but it is also the best written and the least paranoid about paranoid haters.
Because Goldwags book is so impressively grounded in historical research about the Populist Right, it does not come across solely as a polemic based on passion and selective use of evidence. Still, because of the targets sleaziness and stupidity, in some of the case studies Goldwag provides he cannot help editorializing. In a passage about Birtherism, Goldwag notes the alleged conspiracy would have required either supernatural forethought or time travel, as not only is a birth certificate with a raised seal and signature on file in Hawaiis office of vital records but contemporaneous announcements of Obamas birth were published in two Honolulu newspapers.
When Goldwag launched a blog a few years ago, he received lots of correspondence from individuals who probably never would have read his books, but found him online. What struck me, over and over again, was how old most of their causes turned out to be. Americans have been demonizing blacks, non-Protestant Christians, freethinkers, Asians and Jews since colonial times.
One of Goldwags revelations while researching past centuries is how a penchant for conspiratorial thinking leads to demonizing portions of the population who become the other. As he explains, conspiracists are, by definition, seeking scapegoats to blame for whatever seems wrong in society. Those scapegoats do not always have dark skin, and do not always profess objectionable religious faiths or atheism. As Goldwag realized, Income levels and years of schooling, sexual preference, gender, and political affiliation have all sufficed at one time or another to mark a person as belonging to a group that is dangerously other.
There is still a lot to figure out about organized haters, even for dedicated scholars such as Goldwag. He concedes being caught unprepared five years ago, after publication of Isms and Ologies. Radio talk show host Tavis Smiley asked Goldwag why the books index failed to list the term racism. Improvising a reply, Goldwag said, Thats because I confined myself to specific systems of thought. I wrote about racist philosophies, but racism in general signals the absence of thought. Goldwag could tell Smiley found that answer weak, as did Goldwag. As a result, he conceived The New Hate as a book about the role of organized hatreds in the historical arc of American politics.
Organizing his book to demonstrate that searing, depressing insight proved to be a challenge. After an introduction worth the price of admission, Goldwag devotes two chapters to lots of definition, first The Paranoid Style of Hatred followed by What Is Conspiracy Theory? Then he moves to lump together movements by generation, touching on everything from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to white supremacists.
Goldwag comes to realize that what stands out most about contemporary paranoids and conspiracists is, ironically, their lack of newness: The most depressing thing about the demagogues who tirelessly exploit it in pamphlets and books and partisan newspapers two centuries ago; on websites, electronic social networks, and 24-hour cable news today is how much alike they all turn out to be. They cannot, will not, look inside themselves for the source of their perceived or real suffering. Finding conspiracies to blame is their default position.
Perhaps at least some of the haters are somewhat self-aware. As Goldwag concludes, Though millions of Americans claim to believe that Obama is a Muslim and a foreigner, and some of them hate him because of the color of his skin, most of them know that the real issue isnt what Obama is, but what they increasingly fear theyre not. What they are not is part of the ruling class, despite the privilege they believe being born a white American should bestow.
And this is just one more example of why there is no compromise with the left. They are irrational and delusional beyond belief
Of course they ignore the fact that most “white people” want him out based on his policies, not the color of his skin.
Ignore the facts ... white people put this putz in office. And the majority of thinking voters will dump his can, regardless there color.
This whole article is creepily bizarre.
Speaking of conspiratorial thinking how about - The Population Bomb, Global Warming, The Club of Rome, Nuclear Winter, Vast Right Wing Conspiracy... No one does freak-out sky is falling like the left.
Chip Berlet is an old SDS leader and has worked against our law enforcement and defense intelligence systems since the 1970’s.
He is one of our enemies. Hofstadter and Lipset were liberals if not closet socialists. Read their works with caution and learn more about their own views.
Goldwag sounds like a nut but those on the far-left are not rational beings as we know them. They are just as paranoid as some of those they write about.
Oh, by the way, In These Times is a socialist/marxist newspaper that was started by the communist-marxist founded and funded Institute for Policy Studies(see S. Steven Powell, “Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies”, 1987, Greenhill publisher).
Yes, Virginia, conspiracies do exist and the communists/marxists have been the masters of them for the past 100 years (makes Hitler look like an amateur).
A true classic.
Conservatives and white people are, of course, the "other" who are responsible for all the problems of society.
They absolutely cannot see they are themselves doing what they claim we are.
The left can't get beyond Obama's race and see what a disaster he has been even for them.
The left can't get beyond Obama's race and see what a disaster he has been even for them.
“Of course they ignore the fact that most white people want him out based on his policies, not the color of his skin.”
Well, everyone on FR would think Obama was a pretty good president if he were white, no?
With his current policies, I doubt it.
I read stuff like Goldwag’s writing, and I wonder where these people he writes about live in America. It sounds like no one I know, then I realize he is writing about me, my neighbors, and my family.
This person is delusional.
Does anyone believe people like Weinberg have actually sat down and talked to average Tea Party members? I doubt it. The far-left types like Weinberg are comfortable in their ignorance. According to people like Weinberg, nobody can have a reasonable disagreement with proponents of the welfare/totalitarian state. No, you have to be a conspiratorialist wacko/hater/racist. I harbor a very strong suspicion that many people like Weinberg and the “expert” he quotes assiduously avoid talking to average Americans. They don’t want anyone to break up their comfortable, prejudiced radical-left bubble.
Steve Weinberg is whacked. The Tea Party is not full of haters.
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