Citation

Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture

Author:
Fenster, Mark
Year:
2008

Legal scholar Mark Fenster argues that conspiracy theories are a form of popular political interpretation and contends that understanding how they circulate through mass culture helps us better understand American society as a whole. To that end, he discusses Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style in American Politics, the militia movement, The X-Files, popular Christian apocalyptic thought, and such artifacts of suspicion as The Turner Diaries, the Illuminatus! trilogy, and the novels of Richard Condon. Fenster analyzes the "conspiracy community" of radio shows, magazine and book publishers, Internet resources, and role-playing games that promote these theories. He believes conspiracy theory has become a thrill for a bored subculture, one characterized by its members' reinterpretation of "accepted" history, their deep cynicism about contemporary politics, and their longing for a utopian future. Probing conspiracy theory's tendencies toward scapegoating, racism, and fascism, he advocates what conspiracy theory wants but cannot articulate: a more inclusive, engaging political culture.--From publisher description.