Apocalyptic Dualism & Conspiracism

The Protocols and Antisemitic Conspiracism

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a hoax document fabricated by the Czarist secret police in the early 1900s to divert grievances caused by an oppressive monarchy toward the scapegoat of Jews.

While anti-elite conspiracism on the right shares many features, the role of Jews in the alleged conspiracy is hotly debated. Who really is behind the age-old plot? It is a small step for some to take conspiracist themes of manipulation by secret elites and append them to historic antisemitism and allegations of a Jewish banking conspiracy. It is difficult to overestimate the role in antisemitic conspiracist thinking worldwide of the forged antisemitic propaganda tract, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.

Most researchers believe the Protocols grew out of propaganda intrigues of the secret police of Czarist Russia in the late 1800's. The main Russian print source for the Protocols first appeared as an appendix in The Big in the Small, and Antichrist as a Near Political Possibility; Notes of an Orthodox Person by Sergei A. Nilus, published in 1905 but republished to wider audiences in 1911 and 1917. Another (but far more obscure) publication is by G. Butmi de Katzman, Enemies of the Human Race, published in 1906. The versions are not identical but very similar, and Nilus' Protocols are more often the source for versions translated and printed internationally. The Nilus version contains 24 protocols as opposed to Butmi's 27.

The text purports to be secret minutes of meetings of a nonexistent Jewish ruling clique conspiring to take over the world. The Protocols incorporate many of the core conspiracist themes outline in the Robison and Barruel attacks on the Freemasons, and overlay them with antisemitic allegations about anti-Czarist movements in Russia. This highlights the similarity to more general critiques of enlightenment liberalism by those supporting church/state oligarchies and other anti-democratic and theocratic forms of government.

According to the Protocols: Jews are behind a plan for global conquest, Jews work through Masonic lodges, Jews use liberalism to weaken church and state, Jews control the press, Jews work through radicals and revolutionaries, Jews manipulate the economy, especially through banking monopolies and the power of gold, Jews encourage issuing paper currency not tied to the gold standard, Jews promote financial speculation and use of credit, Jews seek to replace traditional educational curriculum to discourage independent thinking, Jews encourage immorality among Christian youth, Jews use intellectuals to confuse people, Jews control "puppet" governments both through secret allies and by blackmailing elected officials, Jews weaken laws through liberal interpretations, Jews will suspend civil liberties during an emergency and then make the measures permanent.

The Protocols themselves are plagiarized from and inspired by earlier works that allege conspiracies, especially a satiric French work Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu by Maurice Joly published in 1865; and a German novel Biarritz by Hermann Goedsche published in 1868. Equally dubious documents purporting to reveal secret conspiracies have circulated for centuries.

After the Russian revolution, Czarist loyalists emigrated to countries in Europe and to the US, and brought copies of the Protocols claiming they were the plans used by the Judeo-Bolsheviks to seize power. The Protocols became a core source of allegations by Hitler and his allies in the German Nazi movement of a Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevik conspiracy. In early 1920 a private english translation was printed in Britain, and that summer, London's Sunday Post published a series of "eighteen articles expounding the full myth of the Judeo-Masonic conspiracy, with of course due reference to the Protocols." The newspaper's correspondent in Russia, Victor Marsden, had produced a new english translation of the Protocols, that is still sold today.

The Protocols are circulated in the US by antisemitic conspiracists across the political spectrum, and are posted on the Internet. Walter Laqueur reports that the Protocols are still circulated by contemporary antisemitic Russian nationalists.

Antisemitic conspiracism can come in a variety of guises. Some conspiracist groups that claim not to be antisemitic appear to be unaware when they stray over the line. Others claim not to be antisemitic as a cover for their real hatred of Jews so as to not attract widespread public scrutiny. Coded rhetoric is a key feature in this milieu with the term "internationalist bankers" often clearly understood to mean "Jewish bankers."

One derivative theme mixes antisemitism with historic US anglophobia and contends that British royalty's intermarriage with Jews resulted in the Rothschild family exerting control over the financial center called the City of London, which is alleged to control world finance. Although Anglophobia can exist without antisemitic overtones, it is often used as an introductory cover more later revelations about Jewish influence. A US corollary is that Jewish banking families created the Federal Reserve system to extend Jewish/British control over the US economy. Jews have also been accused of creating a culture of cosmopolitanism with its worldly secular transnational focus undermining patriotism and sovereignty. This theme often emerges in the lore of various far right movements such as the Christian Patriot movement, and is employed in a coded manner by Lyndon LaRouche. Some of the views expressed by Christian right leader Pat Robertson contain elements of anglophobic antisemitism, and they are clearly central to the worldview of the LaRouchites and Liberty Lobby.

Not all antisemitic versions of the alleged conspiracy are rooted in Christian theology. LaRouche staff collaborate with Nation of Islam staff to promote the claim of a Judeo-freemasonry conspiracy involving Weishaupt of the Illuminati, Civil War General Albert Pike, the Ku Klux Klan, and the B'nai B'rith, an eclectic allegation that nonetheless mirrors allegations from the book Freemasonry first published in Arabic in 1980 by the Muslim World League in Saudi Arabia, and later in an English translation. The English edition is available in the US from the Muslim World League offices in New York City or from commercial vendors including some Islamic and Afrocentric bookstores.

Conspiracism, Millennialism, Satan, the Antichrist, and Antisemitism
Because the Protocols continue to be an important source of conspiracism, it is necessary to trace the roots of its allegations in Christian Biblical prophecies.

Conspiracist scapegoating arrived on our shores with the overwhelmingly Protestant early settlers and their view that Godly persons were in a struggle with a literal Satan bent on subverting God and country. The Salem witch hunts were designed to expose conspiratorial subversion by agents of Satan in the form of witches and their allies. During this same period the idea that Jews were in league with a literal Satan overlapped with the common Christian belief that Jews were the Christ-killers, a matter of religious doctrine for most Protestants and Catholics.

In Western cultures, at least some form of antisemitism is intrinsic to most conspiracist thinking, even when it is unconscious. This is certainly true within the patriot and armed militia movements. In the case of some neonazi movements such as Christian Identity, antisemitism is both overt and pivotal to the worldview. There are two types of Christian antisemitism framing Jews as the diabolical enemy "other;" Jews as agents of Satan the manipulator and tempter, and Jews as agents of the all powerful demonic Antichrist who must be defeated by true Christians.

To Leonard Zeskind, all conspiracy theories "are essentially theologically constructed views of events. Conspiracy theories are renderings of a metaphysical devil which is trans-historical, omnipotent, and destructive of God's will on earth. This is true even for conspiracy theories in which there is not an explicit religious target."

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