By Michael Barkun
What do unidentified flying object believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in universal? in accordance with Michael Barkun during this interesting but irritating ebook, quite a bit. it truly is renowned that a few americans are keen about conspiracies. The Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma urban bombing, and the 2001 terrorist assaults have all generated complicated tales of hidden plots. what's a long way much less identified is the level to which conspiracist worldviews have lately turn into associated in unusual and unpredictable methods with different "fringe" notions reminiscent of a trust in UFOs, Nostradamus, and the Illuminati. Unraveling the extreme genealogies and diversifications of those more and more frequent rules, Barkun indicates how this internet of city legends has unfold between subcultures on the net and during mass media, how a brand new form of conspiracy considering has lately arisen, and the way this phenomenon pertains to higher alterations in American tradition. This ebook, written via a number one specialist at the topic, is the main finished and authoritative exam of up to date American conspiracism so far.
Barkun discusses a number material--involving inner-earth caves, govt black helicopters, alien abductions, mystery New international Order cabals, and masses more--that few detect exists in our tradition. taking a look heavily on the manifestions of those principles in quite a lot of literature and resource fabric from non secular and political literature, to New Age and alien ship courses, to pop culture phenomena reminiscent of The X-Files, and to web content, radio courses, and extra, Barkun unearths that the United States is within the throes of an unequalled interval of millennarian job. His publication underscores the significance of figuring out why this phenomenon is now spreading into extra mainstream segments of yankee tradition.
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Additional resources for A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
Nonetheless, the Soviet collapse seemed to some the definitive end of ideological battle, a point made with triumphalism by Francis Fukuyama in The End of History and the Last Man. Samuel Huntington, who reacted somewhat differently, argues that the resurgence of religion as a polarizing force was the result of the diminished salience of ideology. 3 While it may seem that ideology has died out in a post–Cold War world, islands of secular millennialism remain. They appear in the resurgence of ethnic nationalism in many parts of the world, notably the Balkans, the Caucasus, and South Asia.
In short, many forms of authority that might in other circumstances have interfered with the ability of new belief systems to arise have proved unable to do so. Taken together, open communications and weakened authority create an environment favorable to millenarian entrepreneurs. Unconstrained by confessional traditions or ideological systems, they are free to engage in the kind of bricolage that distinguishes the improvisational millenarian style. They can borrow freely from many religious traditions, from occultism and the esoteric, from radical politics, and from both orthodox and fringe science.
Even systems of millenarian thought that are clearly heretical or deviant define themselves in opposition to a known orthodoxy. For instance, the more militant forms of late medieval Catholic millennialism emerged in opposition to the official Augustinian doctrine of the church, just as fringe Maoist revolutionary groups later placed themselves in opposition to more established custodians of Marxist thought. Religious and secular millennialism are, to be sure, never absolutely pure types, emerging solely from within a single tradition with no outside influences.
A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) by Michael Barkun