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
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
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
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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