Conspiracy Theories

The Center Cannot Hold It Together


Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

I'm not the only writer who's been keeping an eye on the paranoid center. Here, for example, is Anthony Gregory:

Every act of violence or alleged plan to commit violence or even adamant anti-government activism that can be pinned on the "extremist right"–the shooter who murdered a guard at the Holocaust museum, the man who murdered an abortion doctor in church, the man who flew a plane through an IRS building, some "militia" members allegedly planning anti-government violence–all of this is seen as part of a general trend, even a rightwing conspiracy, one about as coherent as the neoconservatives' lumping together all anti-US Muslims under the banner of "Islamofascism." Indeed, I am surprised that not many have yet warned of the "Christofascist" threat to America, although there has been plenty of talk comparing the tea party movement to the Nazi brownshirts and talk that this kind of militia activity is often associated with "race war," even when the particular subjects at hand are not even accused of being racially motivated.

Kevin Carson:

[Josh] Marshall and [Keith] Olbermann—like conspiracy nuts—attempt to impose meaning on reality by reading a coherent narrative into random and unrelated events.

"Yeah, man, this guy believed some of the same things that those other guys believe, and then he went out and killed some people! So their entire belief system must be the same, and he must be listening to their dog-whistle! The truth is OUT THERE, man!"

That reasoning process, by the way, is exactly the same one used by Birchers to prove that anyone who talks about socialism is "really a communist." This or that word "really means" whatever the Communist Manifesto says, so by putting together different people's use of different words in concatenation with selected quotes from the Manifesto, one can syllogistically deduce a hidden agenda the size of Texas. It's the same reasoning process that sends Glenn Beck, based on some particular word somebody uses, to feverishly scrawling dotted lines between people's names on his chalkboard. The possibility that a wide range of movements might use similar language in different ways, without it functioning as a secret Masonic handshake, is apparently too nuanced for such people.

Chris Stirewalt:

It is usually those out of power who are drawn to paranoid conspiracies, but Democrats sound like a pack of John Birchers talking about a shadowy conspiracy that is plotting against them….

It's part of the unified media theory at the White House: Nutters say bad things about the president and his policies on the Internet and then Fox News takes on the case. Soon, establishment media outlets are reporting the story.

It's seen as a perpetual motion conspiracy that keeps more Americans from understanding what's good for them.

I disagree, incidentally, with Stirewalt's notion that it's unusual for the people in power to hold conspiracy theories. I'd argue that it's actually pretty common.

NEXT: M.S. Patient Gets Five Years for Medicinal Marijuana

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  1. Anthony Gregory must never have heard of Andrew Sullivan, who’s been ranting on about Christofascists for what, decades now? Or it seems that way.

  2. Paranoid is as paranoid does.

  3. “Indeed, I am surprised that not many have yet warned of the “Christofascist” threat to America …”

    In other words, the people I don’t like, whoever they are, aren’t really exhibiting the level of paranoia that I ascribe to them, which suggests that they must be deliberately concealing it.

    And what’s with the quotes around “militia”? Were those guys (and gals) not really a, you know, “militia”? If running around in the woods in camo outfits and waving you should excuse the expression assault rifles (with obligatory banana clip, of course) doesn’t make you a militia dude, what does?

    1. I always found it humorous that some on the left claim that the 2nd amendment is only for a “well regulated militia” but throw a hissy fit because militias are armed.

      1. What’s well regulated about the militia movements in America?

        1. I’d imagine lots. It’s a very structured environment, a militia that is.

          Two minute minority hate every day
          7:30 am, sharp.

          White male victimization workshop every wednesday at 3:00 pm, sharp.

          Non-gay man on man naked wrastlin, 7:45 am, 8:15 am, 8:45 am…etc, sharp.

          You try to keep a schedule like that!

          1. I believe he does.

            1. Zing!

              Tony doesn’t hate minorities though, he just wants to help them ’cause they are not as smart or able as him.

        2. You’re a thick skulled whiny girl. That’s what.

        3. What isn’t?

        4. They drink water from wells. It keeps them regular.

    2. Fucking A, Vanneman, please just go review Red Dawn and stop wasting our time.

      1. WOLVERINES!

    3. In other words, I love to put words in peoples’ mouths, comment on it, and run away like a bitch.

      Corrected for accuracy.

    4. We really need to have a chat.

      1. Why? Is Vannema writing a book about Holden Caulfield now?

        1. One with graphic sex scenes. Holden Caulfield Catches it in the Eye, perhaps.

  4. Kill them all, no one will sort them out.

    1. You win at the internet.

  5. So the journalism-acceptable form of the “paranoid center” observation is “Conspiracy-theorizing about the right is totally right-wing. Birch-Birch-Birch! [Spoon-toss.]” Cool.

    It is usually those out of power who are drawn to paranoid conspiracies

    Those not sated by what power they can make psychically theirs, actually. So the actually powerless and the powermad are equally drawn, being equally distant from Full Powa. The little vicarious taste of tyranny Obama’s shitty attitude gives Democrats has made them marginally more evil.

    1. The Obamabots are just mad that all white conservatives aren’t bowing down to Obama because of his teleprompter reading skills.

  6. I think it’s less “paranoid center” and more “I’m so fucking insanely partisan that I consider my opponents inherently evil and therefore find it easy to attribute ridiculously malicious motives to them”.

    Thus, you get Hyperbolberman thinking that the average person who doesn’t want socialized medicine is actually plotting to kill Democratic senators.

    1. Wait, you mean we’re not plotting to kill them?

      1. Oh, we are, but don’t let Hyperbolberman know that.

        1. I believe the correct name is Hyperolbermadcow. They only bifurcate for broadcast and then re-fuse at night for regeneration.

          1. We are merely exchanging long protein strings. If you can think of a simpler way, I’d like to hear it.

  7. On what planet is Olbermann in the center? He’s pretty clearly on the paranoid left.

    Gregory and Stirewalt were also clearly talking about the left as well. In fact, it was in the title of Gregory’s post. Shouldn’t the phenomenon be “the paranoid left”?

  8. or even adamant anti-government activism that can be pinned on the “extremist right … all of this is seen as part of a general trend

    If only “extreme right” (/snark) anti-government people like at H&R WERE a “general trend”, rather than outliers in a sea of statism …

  9. Dude, Christofascist is not the preferred nomenclature. Christfag, please.

    1. /b/ is that way —>

  10. So i guess conventional media wisdom has finally decided that the IRS plane guy was a right-winger after all, despite the fact that he was pissed off about NOT getting free health care from the government?

    T’ain’t the paranoia i’m worried about, it’s the stupidity.

    1. Who needs facts?

      1. Nobody loves me.

        1. Shut up bitch and learn your place!

  11. …one can syllogistically deduce a hidden agenda the size of Texas.

    I see a hidden agenda in the size of Texas. You really think there isn’t a sinister reason a border state like that is so big?

  12. What a bunch of whining nancies.

  13. Dissent is treason.
    War is peace.
    Capture is reform.
    Corporatism is competition.

    Please update your syllogisms for the Oabma era.

  14. Obama syllogism additions:

    Control is freedom.
    Waste is thrift.

  15. about as coherent as the neoconservatives’ lumping together all anti-US Muslims under the banner of “Islamofascism.”

    I know! Nearly as coherent as lumping all non-libertarians together as “statist”. Thank Science we don’t have any of that here!

    1. You may have missed it, but language is a science too. While Islamofascist is a highly specific term, Statist is a highly general one. In all but a perfect case, calling someone an Islamofascist involves a narrowing conversion. In all cases, calling someone a Statist involves the opposite.

    2. Statist Islamofascist Racist!

    3. Statist Islamofascist racist!

  16. [Josh] Marshall and [Keith] Olbermann — like conspiracy nuts — attempt to impose meaning on reality by reading a coherent narrative into random and unrelated events.

    All humans everywhere do this. If we didn’t impose random meaning on reality we’d go nuts.

  17. While I admit GB goes off the rails every now and then, what TV show do you know of that aired a coherent, truthful expose of Che Gueverra, Mao, Stalin and others that the educational system and the MSM constantly whitewashes?

  18. I wouldn’t be paranoid if people weren’t out to get me!!

  19. Gregory implies that virtually every single threat the FBI has ever dealt with was wholly imaginary, when that’s far from the truth. It was an anarchist bombing campaign that triggered the Palmer Raids (the same sort of anarcho-socialist violence that Benjamin Tucker condemned, to which the anarcho-socialists by firebombing his office). Einstein had a KGB girlfriend who had him meet w/ Soviet agents & agree to advocate sharing nuclear secrets w/ Stalin. The FBI fought the Klan, the New Left was plenty violent before COINTELPRO, etc. As I commented about it on Facebook, it’s a textbook example of lying by omission and misinterpretation.

  20. “Every act of violence or alleged plan to commit violence or even adamant anti-government activism”

    WTF is anyone doing comparing violence to being adamant?

    “Oh, my God… he wrote a letter to the local newspaper saying we should put a freeze on all government hiring and spending for one year. Obviously, this man is going to build a pipe bomb, because that’s what all anti-big government activists do.”

    Jesus tapdancing Christ, the Tonys of the world are stupid fucks.

  21. …about as coherent as the neoconservatives’ lumping together all anti-US Muslims under the banner of “Islamofascism.”

    Wait…what? Muslims who hate the US are actually motivated by a variety of completely non-religious grievances?

  22. They are correct in that all domestic terrorism comes from the “extreme right.”

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