("Quid coniuratio est?")
ARCHITECTS OF FEAR
Review by Brian Francis Redman, Editor-in-chief, Conspiracy Nation Copyright (c) 1994 -- All Rights Reserved [Note, you may distribute this freely, but please don't alter it.]
Architects of Fear by George Johnson (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1983. ISBN 0-87477-275-3) is like Vankin's Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes in that it offers a compendium of a wide area. It is unlike Vankin's work in that Johnson believes, basically, that conspiracy theorists are nuts. Or at least I surmise that's what he thinks, due to his reliance on that time-honored crutch which "debunkers" of such theorists routinely rely on: that they are "paranoid."
But what is "paranoia"? It is "...excessive or irrational suspiciousness." It's O.K. to be suspicious, but if it's "excessive" or "irrational" then you are "paranoid." So we have Johnson saying that conspiracy theorists are wrong because they are irrational. And who decides they are irrational? Johnson and whoever he decides is rational, that's who.
Of course, Johnson dresses up his arguments with many variations on the theme of paranoia. He manages to take that old "you're paranoid" rejoinder and permute it so that it flows elegantly and not too obviously through his 200-page book. In this he is like another great "debunker" of note, C. Berlet, in that he constantly amazes one with the abundance of permutations on one theme: In Berlet's case, "fascism"; in Johnson's, "paranoia."
But (and here I offer this freely to all "debunkers" of conspiracy theorists) Johnson actually offers a new anti- conspiracy theories argument. For all of you who are constantly informing me that I am wrong because I am "paranoid," "crazy," etc., I offer you this new ammunition in the deep hope that you will make a big change in your responses from "you are crazy" to this new rejoinder. Johnson believes that there is a sort of incestuous footnoting in books of the conspiracy genre. He thinks that what we have got is a sort of pyramid scheme of conspiracy theorists. After the first few books of the genre were written, along came other conspiracy theorists who began to offer some of the original books as sources for their books. Then later, still other conspiracy theorists had even more written material they could use as references in their own books.
So, according to Johnson, the original errors of conspiracy theorists have had a snowball effect and now we have so much literature in this area (much of it relying on other literature in this area) that it is now pretty much impossible to sort it all out.
I offer this to all future "debunkers" because I would like to see them come up with something new in their "debunking."
For the record, I will add that so-called "respectable," "reasonable," "rational," etc. researchers can also be blamed for the above-mentioned incestuous footnoting. Johnson himself includes a variation on this theme when he offers the following quote from conspiracy theorist Claire Chambers (The SIECUS Circle, A Humanist Revolution):
Judging by the evidence at hand, it seems reasonably certain that among the major components of this worldwide conspiracy are Humanism, Socialism, Communism, the Council on Foreign Relations, the tax-exempt foundations, and occultism... Humanism is now engaged in a militant religious war, its Godless army having by now reached into almost every phase of our national existence... Little known to the public is their most cunning tactic: the art of labeling and quoting each other as "experts."
What is good about Architects of Fear is that it does give a good overview of various conspiracy theories, and it gives a good list of sources (included at the end of this essay) for persons interested in studying the escalating conspiracy phenomena.
Here are some of the theories covered, sure to fry your brain:
*** Recently, since the Industrial Revolution, we have come to believe that by gaining more knowledge we will progress. "But in medieval Europe, truth was more often considered something mankind had lost. Seekers looked to the past instead of the future."
*** Conspiracy researcher Des Griffin, asks, "[paraphrasing Griffin] If experts are so great, then why are we in such a mess?" Griffins thinks that what we are always told is "a complexity" is just part of a smoke-screen used to hide the truth. "It started, he believes, with the priests of ancient Babylon, who controlled the masses by presenting themselves as keepers of divine knowledge... Now, he believes, we are enslaved by the priests of reason..."
*** Alberto Rivera claims he is a former Jesuit priest. He says that the Catholic church is the Antichrist's one-world kingdom. One of the tapes he sells is entitled "Escape From a Catholic Convent, 'Sister Charlotte's Testimony'". "Sister Charlotte" tells of torture and murder in the "dungeons of her cloistered order."
*** In 1966, the John Birch Society (JBS) magazine, American Opinion printed an article by founder Robert Welch which summarized JBS thought at that time: The "Insiders" had established the Federal Reserve and were the originators of the income tax. The middle class is robbed by this tax and the Insiders shelter "their own wealth with tax-exempt organizations... which [are] also used to fund social programs to mollify the masses."
*** Mary Stewart Relfe, author of When Your Money Fails... the '666' System is Here, believes that technology and occultism are working together to bring about the New World Order.
*** Phyllis Schafly's 1964 book, A Choice Not an Echo, claims that presidential nominees are chosen by "a small group of secret kingmakers using hidden persuaders and psychological warfare techniques." (Also by Schafly, The Gravediggers)
*** Information (a whole chapter) of a startling nature regarding that American original, the man that I call "The Wacky Frenchman," Lyndon LaRouche. For example, one night a team of professional assassins [CN -- Could they perhaps have been the same 6 Cuban assassins who later were chasing Perot?] came to LaRouche's door, "...and, through a comedy of errors, another assassin showed up." Final result? The various assassins scared each other off.
Here are some more of the sources mentioned in Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics:
+++ Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, also wrote a book (ca. 1835) called Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States.
+++ An interesting organization called "The Duck Club" which does and/or did publish a periodical called the "Duck Book."
+++ Horrible Pacts between the Devil and the Pretended Invisible Ones, published in Paris in 1623 by the Catholic church.
+++ In 1738, Pope Clement issued a papal denunciation of Freemasonry.
+++ This one is a classic: Memoirs of Jacobinism by Abbe Barruel. French, ca. 1790s.
+++ Another classic: Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions and Governments of Europe, etc. by John Robinson. Circa 1790s. May be available from the John Birch Society.
+++ Adam Weishaupt, A Human Devil (pamphlet) by the Reverend Gerald B. Winrod, ca. 1930s.
+++ Fourth Reich of the Rich by Des Griffin, ca. 1980s.
+++ Secret Societies and Subversive Movements by Nesta Webster, first published in 1924 and considered a classic of anti- Illuminism. Also by Webster, World Revolution and The Socialist Network.
+++ Anti-Illuminati literature available through firms such as Angriff Press of Hollywood, California; Alpine Enterprises of Dearborn, Michigan (publishers of a journal called Conspiracy Digest); and Omni Publications of Hawthorne, California.
+++ The Wandering Jew, an international best-seller published in 1844, an anti-Jesuit thriller.
+++ Female Convents: Secrets of Nunneries Disclosed, ca. 1830- 1840.
+++ Jesuit Juggling: Forty Popish Frauds Detected and Disclosed, ca. 1830-1840.
+++ Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal, by Maria Monk, ca. 1850s. A bestseller from that time, rivalled Uncle Tom's Cabin.
+++ Fifty Years in the Church of Rome by a former Catholic priest. Circa 1870s. Jesuits blamed for Lincoln's assassination.
+++ Conspiracy Against God and Man by Father Clarence Kelly, (apparently) circa 1980s.
+++ Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics by Francis Parker Yockey. According to Johnson, Yockey was Willis Carto's mentor.
+++ The Occult and the Third Reich, MacMillan, 1974. Translation of a book by 2 French authors using the joint pseudonym Jean-Michel Angebert.
+++ Gods and Beasts -- The Nazis and the Occult by Dusty Sklar.
+++ The Myth of the 20th Century by Alfred Rosenberg.
+++ To Eliminate the Opiate by Rabbi Marvin S. Antelman, 1974.
+++ None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen. A classic. Possibly available from the John Birch Society.
+++ The Scofield Reference Bible. King James Bible, footnoted and cross-referenced by fundamentalist scholar C. I. Scofield. The end-time sequence developed. A classic.
+++ The "End-Time Digest," periodical by Jim McKeever. Also his book, Christians Will Go Through The Tribulation -- And How To Prepare For It. Also, the "McKeever Strategy Letter".
+++ Whatever Happened to the Human Race? by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Attacks the influence of secular humanism. Co-authored by Francis Shaeffer.
+++ The SIECUS Circle, A Humanist Revolution by Claire Chambers. Published 1977 by the John Birch Society.
+++ (Fiction) Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. Three volumes: Book 1 -- The Eye In The Pyramid; Book 2 -- The Golden Apple; Book 3 -- Leviathan.
I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."
"Justice" = "Just us" = "History is written by the assassins."