Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Mythology of the Secret Societies, J.M.Roberts - Part 2

The godfather of the conspiracy theory of the French Revolution was an ex-Jesuit priest called Augustin Barruel.  In 1797, Barruel published Mémoires pour servir à l'Histoire du Jacobinisme, a work which ranks second only to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the ranks of conspiracy literature.  Barruel laid out a vast and expansive narrative of conspiracy in which he blamed the ills of the age on secularist philosophers, the Freemasons and the Illuminati.  These conspirators, whose roots went back to the Knights Templar and the ancient heresy of Manichaeism, had been working to undermine the Church, the State and society as a whole.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Living Dolls, Natasha Walter

This is an excellent book on the subject of what its subtitle describes as "the return of sexism".  Walter wants to stem the resurgent tide of sexist attitudes and behaviour that has been apparent in British society since the 1990s, and her book is a valuable contribution to contemporary literature on gender and feminism.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Bed of Procrustes, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This blog touts itself as offering "good-tempered" reviews, but I am going to interpret that sentiment broadly for the purposes of this post, since I am still quite annoyed at having paid £14.99 for this narcisisstic and second-rate book.  I freely admit that I skipped through some of it, and I don't feel any the poorer for having done so.  Extracts from it are available on Taleb's ostentatiously amateurish website.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

This overlong and rather boring pamphlet doesn't need much introduction.  Norman Cohn called it a "warrant for genocide".  Hitler thought it was "terrifying".  The judge at the Berne Trial of 1933-35 called it "laughable nonsense".  The writer and rabbi Joseph Teluskin was less amused: "Thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands, of Jews have died because of this infamous forgery".

The Mythology of the Secret Societies, J.M.Roberts - Part 1

"Anyone who knows how difficult it is to keep a secret among three men - particularly if they are married - knows how absurd is the idea of a worldwide secret conspiracy consciously controlling all mankind by its financial power; in real, clear analysis."

Such was the admirably rational opinion of Sir Oswald Mosley on the conspiracy theories of his own day.  Sadly, we are not all as level-headed as the blackshirted baronet, and conspiracy theories of all kinds continue to thrive.  Nor are they merely the preserve of frothing political extremists or young single men blogging from their bedsits.  It is said that 36% of Americans think that 9/11 was an inside job.  In recent years, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion have been endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Egyptian press.  You can even buy a book written by a British Member of Paliament and Under-Secretary of State explaining that Dr David Kelly was murdered for speaking out of turn about Saddam's WMDs.