By Michael Barkun
What do alien ship believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing conspiracy theorists have in universal? in response to Michael Barkun during this attention-grabbing but annoying ebook, rather a lot. it truly is renowned that a few americans are enthusiastic about conspiracies. The Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma urban bombing, and the 2001 terrorist assaults have all generated complex tales of hidden plots. what's a long way much less recognized is the level to which conspiracist worldviews have lately develop into associated in unusual and unpredictable methods with different "fringe" notions equivalent to a trust in UFOs, Nostradamus, and the Illuminati. Unraveling the intense genealogies and diversifications of those more and more common principles, Barkun exhibits how this net of city legends has unfold between subcultures on the web and during mass media, how a brand new kind of conspiracy considering has lately arisen, and the way this phenomenon pertains to higher adjustments in American tradition. This ebook, written by means of a number one professional at the topic, is the main complete and authoritative exam of up to date American conspiracism up to now.
Barkun discusses quite 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 become aware of exists in our tradition. having a look heavily on the manifestions of those principles in a variety of literature and resource fabric from spiritual and political literature, to New Age and alien ship courses, to pop culture phenomena similar to The X-Files, and to web content, radio courses, and extra, Barkun unearths that the US 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 resources for A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
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. In an environment in which authority has come into question, the very unclassifiability of these belief systems makes them attractive. Are they Christian or Buddhist, Western or non-Western, scientific or antiscientific, religious or secular?
And even Kurzweil is literate, well-spoken, and far better dressed than his fugitive life would lead one to expect. Popular culture can also reduce the potency of conspiratorial themes by depriving them of some of their allure. Once hidden, they are now revealed. Once intended only for the knowing few, they are now placed before the ignorant many. Once mysterious, they can now appear banal, the building blocks of not particularly distinguished popular entertainments. Those who frequent the domain of stigmatized knowledge do so in part because it confers feelings of chosenness: only we few know the truth.
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.
A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) by Michael Barkun