Richard Hofstadter 1964 Essay The Paranoid Style In American Politics

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And no matter how the British National Party fare in this week’s election, it is obvious that the dominant mood among today’s British electorate is one of hostility towards the political class.What has caused this transatlantic spike in suspicion? Of course trust is down and suspicion and rage are up.Last week’s May Day clashes in bankrupt Greece, in which anarchists and extremists wreaked havoc, only prove this trend.These are just a small slice of the conspiracy theories floating around the global ether of rumour and innuendo.Such theories are hardly a new phenomenon in world politics.Polio vaccines in Nigeria are part of a Western plot to make African women infertile.Foreign zombies are replacing indigenous labourers in South Africa.The European Commission poll showed that, while trust in Europe-wide institutions declined as the Great Recession hit, trust in national governments actually increased.In the United States, the Pew survey revealed that 58 per cent of Americans believed that the federal government was interfering too much in state and local affairs.Another obvious explanation for the rise in global paranoia is the advent of the internet.In recent weeks, online political commentators in the United States have been debating whether the conservative movement in America is suffering from ‘epistemic closure’.

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