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By Mark Fenster

JFK, Karl Marx, the Pope, Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes, Fox Mulder, invoice Clinton, either George Bushes—all were associated with enormously complex 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. ahead of the black field from United ninety three had even been chanced on, there have been theories positioned forth from the unbelievable to the offensive and outrageous.
In this new version of the landmark paintings, and the 1st in-depth examine the conspiracy groups that shaped to debunk the Sep 11 fee document, Fenster exhibits that conspiracy theories play an immense function in U.S. democracy. studying how and why they flow via mass tradition, he contends, is helping us higher comprehend society as a complete. starting from The Da Vinci Code to the highbrow background of Richard Hofstadter, he argues that pushing aside conspiracy theories as pathological or marginal flattens modern politics and tradition simply because they are—contrary to renowned portrayal—an extreme articulation of populism and, at their essence, are strident demands a greater, extra obvious executive. Fenster has validated once more that the folks who declare someone’s after us are, at the least, worthy listening to.

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Extra info for Conspiracy theories: secrecy and power in American culture

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But the search for a cause is both too easy and too difficult, given conspiracy theory’s pervasiveness and its overdetermination. It is longstanding in American (and human) history, and while it operates distinctly in different cultures and historical periods, some of its basic forms and practices remain consistent. Conspiracy Theories focuses on the description and analysis of these forms and practices, on the assumption that understanding how conspiracy theory works offers insight into the narrow world of conspiracy theorists, as well as into the broader implications of conspiracy theories as they circulate throughout the entirety of American popular political culture.

17 For Progressive historians, the Populist and Progressive eras were historical precedents to be championed; consensus historians (and especially Hofstadter), by contrast, viewed them with detached ambivalence as mixed episodes of reform and extremism. 28 | THEORIZING CONSPIRACY POLITICS As the Cold War developed, predominantly mainstream liberal and neoconservative historians articulated a notion of consensus in their vision of the United States as an outpost of pragmatic rationality in a dangerous world of ideology, totalitarianism, and fascism.

27 As Hofstadter’s work developed over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, however, he began to describe consensus in far more positive terms, privileging American substantive political moderation and its structures of political process as fortifications against the extremism and insurgency of mass democracy. 29 In his next book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963) (which, like Age of Reform, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize), he championed what he termed “political intelligence,” by which he meant the pragmatic engagement with structures of power and consensus.

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