QotD: Conspiracism

by VorJack

Mother Jones has an article about Bob Inglis, the former US Representative from South Carolina. Inglis is a profoundly conservative Republican, but wound up losing to another Republican in the primaries because he “strayed from his conservative roots.”

Some of that may be because he voted against the Surge in Iraq, but a lot of it probably comes from his unwillingness to work with the Tea Party wing. Here’s how he describes one meeting:

I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!” And I said, “Please forgive me. I’m just ignorant of these things.” And then of course, it turned into something about the Federal Reserve and the Bilderbergers and all that stuff. And now you have the feeling of anti-Semitism here coming in, mixing in. Wow.

The thing is, there’s very little new in this. Most of the things the Tea Party is spewing date back decades, or even centuries. As Richard Hofstadter pointed out in his famous essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics, these kinds of conspiracy theories date back to before the founding of America. Sometimes it seems like the only thing that changes is the nationality of the troops that are hiding just outside of our borders and waiting to invade.

I got into a discussion once with a professor who insisted that this is a uniquely American phenomena. I’m not quite as sure. So here’s my question: Is the kind of conspiracism seen above familiar to those outside the US? Do you encounter conspiracy theories regularly in your country?

This is mainly my own curiosity, so thanks in advance for your input.

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