By Jack Z. Bratich
Examines modern nervousness over the phenomenon of conspiracy theories.
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Additional resources for Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture
The entire chapter addresses the “difficulty in distinguishing the real from the imaginary” and how it is “maddeningly difficult to keep [conspiracism] in focus” (p. 20). Pipes begins to perform a sorting operation upon the problem: “Reader and author alike need markers to distinguish the solid ground of fact from the swamp of fantasy, for it is this insidiousness that permits conspiracism to spread from the extremes to the mainstream” (p. 38). Pipes embodies the normal or noid style of thought, one that seeks division between the rational and its simulated excess but does not concern itself with distinguishing true from false (that is to say, with falsifying conspiracy theories).
That to which they pretend, they pretend to underhandedly, under cover of an aggression, an insinuation, a subversion, “against the father” and without passing through the Idea. Theirs is an unfounded pretension. (256–257) That is, the simulation does not resemble, it dissembles, it is an image without resemblance. Metaphysical thought, in Deleuze’s reading, has as its mission “to distinguish the true pretender from the false one” in order to assure the “triumph of the copies over simulacra, of .
While present at the founding of the nation, the paranoid style is not a constant presence—it has “successive episodic waves” of heightened activity (p. 39). ” From the impressionistic interpretations of Crevecoeur around the time of American Independence through Alexis De Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America and onward, meditations on “The American Character,” the “American Style,” and the “American Identity” have preoccupied analysts. This brief history of European intellectuals defining and appraising “the American” eventually gets taken over by “internal” 34 CHAPTER 1 reflection, continuing through such research as “culture and personality studies” in the social sciences and “American character” studies in the humanities (McGiffert, 1964).