“Ernie” is a freelance researcher and “conspiracy buff” who has posted comments on this blog, most recently about my “Strange But True” post of a few days ago (which was inspired by an e mail he sent me). He has spent decades compiling a database of primary sources germane to right wing conspiracy theories.
I have received about 500,000 pages of documents and quite often I have been the first person to request and receive these files and documents. (As of March 2007, the FBI informed me that I had submitted approximately 8900 FOIA requests during the preceding 28 years). Ultimately, I hope to compile an “Encyclopedia and Research Guide on the Extreme Right in the U.S. Since the 1920’s”.”
He has also assembled an indispensable bibliography of secondary sources: books, articles, pamphlets. Click on the link to his web page in the “Blogs of Interest” column on the right; click here to read as thoughtful and cogent an analysis of the purposes and nature of Conspiracy Theory (as opposed to studies of actual criminal conspiracies) as I have ever seen.
The actual “problem” which political conspiracy theories seek to address is explaining one’s sense of impotence—i.e. providing plausible reasons for why one’s values, ideas, policy preferences, and political candidates seem to be repeatedly ignored, disparaged, violated, or defeated – particularly over long periods of time. Consequently, the conspiracy theory expresses the rage felt when a person perceives himself or his group as persistent “losers” in all matters of importance.
“Most conspiracy theories,” Ernie writes, “focus upon enemies, not on opponents. One’s receptivity to logic and evidence diminishes drastically when one confronts “enemies” as opposed to ‘opponents’.” The chief epistemological hallmark of Conspiracy Theory is its “exceptionalism”–“the notion that we cannot apply our accumulated historical knowledge about conspiracies to the contemporary conspiracy alleged to be in operation.” For example, Ernie continues, the CFR-NWO conspiracy “which they allege has been in existence for decades does not operate according to normal rules of human behavior nor does it operate in the same manner (or leave footprints) as do all other conspiracies about which we have knowledge.”