By Michael Barkun
What do alien ship believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in universal? in keeping with Michael Barkun during this interesting but demanding e-book, rather a lot. it's popular that a few american citizens are keen about conspiracies. The Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma urban bombing, and the 2001 terrorist assaults have all generated problematic tales of hidden plots. what's a long way much less recognized is the level to which conspiracist worldviews have lately turn into associated in unusual and unpredictable methods with different "fringe" notions comparable to a trust in UFOs, Nostradamus, and the Illuminati. Unraveling the extreme genealogies and variations of those more and more frequent rules, Barkun indicates how this net of city legends has unfold between subcultures on the web and during mass media, how a brand new kind of conspiracy pondering has lately arisen, and the way this phenomenon pertains to higher alterations in American tradition. This booklet, written through a number one specialist at the topic, is the main accomplished and authoritative exam of latest American conspiracism up to now.
Barkun discusses a number material--involving inner-earth caves, executive black helicopters, alien abductions, mystery New global Order cabals, and lots more and plenty more--that few notice exists in our tradition. having a look heavily on the manifestions of those rules in a variety of literature and resource fabric from non secular and political literature, to New Age and flying saucers guides, to pop culture phenomena akin to The X-Files, and to web pages, radio courses, and extra, Barkun unearths that the United States is within the throes of an unmatched interval of millennarian task. His ebook underscores the significance of figuring out why this phenomenon is now spreading into extra mainstream segments of yankee tradition.
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Extra info for A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
Thus the attractions of the taboo and proscribed can always be met by visions of ever darker plots and ever more shocking revelations. The existence of a self-perpetuating domain of stigmatized knowledge means that the raw material for improvisational millennialism will remain plentiful. We can see the flourishing undergrowth of improvisationalism in the development of increasingly complex beliefs about conspiracies. Although belief in malevolent plots has a long history in American culture, it is safe to say that no period has evinced so strong an appetite for conspiracism as the last twenty-five or thirty years of the twentieth century.
The Coming Race purports to describe the journey of a young American narrator into the bowels of the earth, where he discovers a hidden civilization whose members represent a hitherto unknown race. They lead a pleasant and harmonious life underground, made possible by their discovery of a mysterious and unlimited source of energy called vril. Bulwer-Lytton’s novel obeyed the conventions of utopian fiction and, like many utopian novels, was a vehicle for social satire and commentary. 22 The transfer of The Coming Race from fiction to fact was facilitated G&S Typesetters PDF proof 02-C2713 6/13/03 12:46 PM Page 32 32 M I L L E N N I A L I S M A N D S T I G M AT I Z E D K N O W L E D G E by Bulwer-Lytton’s own flirtations with occultism, which led some in the occult subculture to assume he had adopted the conventions of fiction to cloak an astonishing but hidden feature of the real world.
Finally, they emerge in some antiglobalization rhetoric, with its implied nostalgia for a lost golden age of small, self-sufficient communities. Thus it would be incorrect to say that the older millennialisms, whether religious or secular, have disappeared; both can be found in numerous vital forms. Nonetheless, they have been joined by a third variety, which I call the improvisational millenarian style. The Rise of Improvisational Millennialism The improvisational millenarian style is distinctive for its independence from any single ideological tradition.