That the world is sharply Before I get into any minor critiques, first let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book. That the world is sharply divided between good and evil, and that there is a dark conspiracy almost satanic that is steadily eroding the good things that we have been able to achieve in this country.
This panic was a part of the general reaction to the French Revolution. In the United States it was heightened by the response of certain men, mostly in New England and among the established clergy, to the rise of Jeffersonian democracy.
Illuminism had been started in by Adam Weishaupt, a professor of law at the University of Ingolstadt.
Its teachings today seem to be no more than another version of Enlightenment rationalism, spiced with the anticlerical atmosphere of eighteenth-century Bavaria. Its humanitarian rationalism appears to have acquired a fairly wide influence in Masonic lodges.
Its author was a well-known Scottish scientist, John Robison, who had himself been a somewhat casual adherent of Masonry in Britain, but whose imagination had been inflamed by what he considered to be the far less innocent Masonic movement on the Continent.
Robison seems to have made his work as factual as he could, but when he came to estimating the moral character and the political influence of Illuminism, he made the characteristic paranoid leap into fantasy. He saw it as a libertine, anti-Christian movement, given to the corruption of women, the cultivation of sensual pleasures, and the violation of property rights.
In Maya minister of the Massachusetts Congregational establishment in Boston, Jedidiah Morse, delivered a timely sermon to the young country, which was then sharply divided between Jeffersonians and Federalists, Francophiles and Anglomen. Having read Robison, Morse was convinced of a Jacobinical plot touched off by Illuminism, and that the country should be rallied to defend itself.
His warnings were heeded throughout New England wherever Federalists brooded about the rising tide of religious infidelity or Jeffersonian democracy. Soon the pulpits of New England were ringing with denunciations of the Illuminati, as though the country were swarming with them.
The anti-Masonic movement of the late s and the s took up and extended the obsession with conspiracy. At first, this movement may seem to be no more than an extension or repetition of the anti-Masonic theme sounded in the outcry against the Bavarian Illuminati.
But whereas the panic of the s was confined mainly to New England and linked to an ultraconservative point of view, the later anti-Masonic movement affected many parts of the northern United States, and was intimately linked with popular democracy and rural egalitarianism.
Although anti-Masonry happened to be anti-Jacksonian Jackson was a Masonit manifested the same animus against the closure of opportunity for the common man and against aristocratic institutions that one finds in the Jacksonian crusade against the Bank of the United States.
The anti-Masonic movement was a product not merely of natural enthusiasm but also of the vicissitudes of party politics. It was joined and used by a great many men who did not fully share its original anti-Masonic feelings.
It attracted the support of several reputable statemen who had only mild sympathy with its fundamental bias, but who as politicians could not afford to ignore it. Still, it was a folk movement of considerable power, and the rural enthusiasts who provided its real impetus believed in it wholeheartedly.
The Paranoid Style in Action The John Birch Society is attempting to suppress a television series about the United Nations by means of a mass letter-writing campaign to the sponsor. The corporation, however, intends to go ahead with the programs.
Masonry was accused of constituting a separate system of loyalty, a separate imperium within the framework of federal and state governments, which was inconsistent with loyalty to them.
Quite plausibly it was argued that the Masons had set up a jurisdiction of their own, with their own obligations and punishments, liable to enforcement even by the penalty of death.
So basic was the conflict felt to be between secrecy and democracy that other, more innocent societies such as Phi Beta Kappa came under attack. Masonic constables, sheriffs, juries, and judges must all be in league with Masonic criminals and fugitives.
At a moment when almost every alleged citadel of privilege in America was under democratic assault, Masonry was attacked as a fraternity of the privileged, closing business opportunities and nearly monopolizing political offices.
Certain elements of truth and reality there may have been in these views of Masonry. What must be emphasized here, however, is the apocalyptic and absolutistic framework in which this hostility was commonly expressed.
Anti-Masons were not content simply to say that secret societies were rather a bad idea.The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.
Here is Senator McCarthy, speaking in June about the parlous situation of the United States. The Paranoid Style in American Politics. By Richard Hofstadter † Harper’s Magazine, November , pp. It had been around a long time before the Radical Right discovered it—and its targets have ranged from “the international bankers” to Masons, Jesuits, and munitions makers.
The Paranoid Style of American Policing. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. Oct 08, · Conspiracy theorizing has been a part of American politics from the beginning.
Richard Hofstadter published his famous essay “ The Paranoid Style in American Politics ” . In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds.
It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant. The Paranoid Style in American Politics - Kindle edition by Richard Hofstadter, Sean Wilentz. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets.
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