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Re: <nettime> The Paranoid Style in American Politics
Francis Hwang on Mon, 27 Oct 2003 19:34:02 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> The Paranoid Style in American Politics

More recently, Carrie McLaren interviewed Mark Crispin Miller in her 
excellent zine Stay Free! about conspiracy theories. ( 
http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/19/mcm.html ) This passage in 
particular scared the bejeezus out of me:

"... those most convinced that there is an evil world conspiracy tend 
to be the most evil world conspirators. ... If you look at those who 
have propagated the most noxious doctrines of the twentieth century, 
you will find that they've been motivated by the fierce conviction that 
they have been the targets of a grand conspiracy against them. Hitler 
believed he was fighting back, righteously, against "the Jewish world 
conspiracy." Lenin and Stalin both believed they were fighting back 
against the capitalist powers--a view that had some basis in reality, 
of course, but that those Bolsheviks embraced to an insane degree. (In 
1941, for example, Stalin actually believed that England posed a 
greater danger to the Soviet Union than the Nazis did.)

"We see the same sort of paranoid projection among many of the leading 
lights of our Cold War--the first U.S. Secretary of Defense, James 
Forrestal, who was in fact clinically insane; the CIA's James Angleton; 
Richard Nixon; J. Edgar Hoover; Frank Wisner, who was in charge of the 
CIA's propaganda operations worldwide. Forrestal and Wisner both 
committed suicide because they were convinced the Communists were after 
them. Now, there was a grain of truth to this since the Soviet Union 
did exist and it was a hostile power. But it wasn't on the rise, and it 
wasn't trying to take over the world, and it certainly wasn't trying to 
destroy James Forrestal personally. We have to understand that there 
was just as much insanity in our own government as there was with the 
Nazis and the Bolsheviks.

"This paranoid dynamic did not vanish when the Cold War ended. The U.S. 
is now dominated, once again, by rightists who believe themselves 
besieged. And the same conviction motivates Osama bin Laden and his 
followers. They see themselves as the victims of an expansionist 

Francis Hwang

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