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Über dieses Buch

Europeans are being replaced by foreign invaders, aided by cultural Marxists who are plotting an Islamist subversion of the continent. The Bilderberg group – and/or the Illuminati – are instating a totalitarian New World Order. Angela Merkel is the secret daughter of Adolf Hitler, Barack Obama was illegitimate, and George W. Bush was in on the 9/11 attacks. Also, the Holocaust is a hoax, members of Pussy Riot are agents of the West, and the European Union is resurrecting the Roman Empire, this time as a communist super-state. These are some of the tales that are told by populist political actors across Europe, were raised during the Brexit debate in the UK, and have been promoted by presidents of both the US and Russia. Rapid rise of populist political parties around Europe and across the Atlantic in the early new millennium coincided with the simultaneous increased spread of conspiracy theories. This book entangles the two tropes and maps how right-wing populists apply conspiracy theories to advance their politics and support for their parties.



Chapter 1. Introduction

The rapid rise of right-wing populist political parties around Europe and across the Atlantic in the early new millennium, coincided with a simultaneous increased spread of conspiracy theories (CTs). The two phenomena are intertwined. Still, not all populists are conspiracy theorists and CTs don’t necessarily all have a populist political side. However, right-wing populists have proved to be especially prone to create and promote CTs, which is investigated here. Conspiracy theories have indeed emerged as one of the most striking features in the discourse of populist political parties. The populist far-right in the West increasingly identifies evil-doers in politics, who are seen as conspiring against the ordinary public. This chapter maps the recent rise of populist CTs and by way of critical discourse analysis, examines their use through history and how they are increasingly filtering into contemporary mainstream politics.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 2. Kinds of Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories can be tailored to any political viewpoint; they are of varying kinds and sorts, ranging from explaining single isolated events to explaining the entire human order. They can, thus, be categorized in many different ways. Recently, they have become an especially powerful force within the field of the nationalist far-right. In this chapter, Bergmann provides an overview of some of the most common CTs upheld in the public domain. The chapter opens with a general introduction into New World Order theories, the unravelling of sinister plots of evil actors controlling the world. The discussion moves on to examining theories of the Antichrist before delving into the many versions of stories around the notorious Illuminati. Next in line are anti-religion CTs—anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim. The chapter then moves on to stories around the Bilderberg group and suspicions of deep state actors. Tales around assassinations, false flag operations, deceptions, sinister sciences and politics are next in line, as well as stories around both black and white genocide.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 3. The Anatomy of Conspiracy Theories

Here, Bergmann explores the literature of CT studies and offers a novel frame for how they might be understood specifically within the context of populist politics. He starts with distinguishing between conspiracies and CTs and attempts to define what they constitute. A conspiracy theory is not a neutral term, rather, the label entails stigma. Thus, it is important to compartmentalize CTs properly and understand both their paranoia and indeed also their potential practicalities. Next, the author turns to distinguishing between different types of CTs. Bergmann explores their internal design, which is important to understanding their nature as non-falsifiable truths and their reliance on both secrecy and agency and how they tend to distinguish between good and evil in making sense of the world. This chapter analyses their appeal and investigates what causes people to turn to conspiratorial thinking.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 4. Dissecting Populism

Right-wing populists depart from mainstream political parties in the West by their willingness to dismiss many of the once shared democratic values of Western liberal democracy in the Post WWII era. This chapter offers a new frame for understanding contemporary right-wing nationalist populism, identified around ten common qualities. Here, Bergmann explores the roots of contemporary populism and maps both the birth and development of populist movements in Europe. The chapter opens with a discussion of a few underlying concepts, such as populism, nationalism and fascism. Next, Bergmann discusses the international architecture built after the Second World War and its institutional setup, which many nationalist populists have built some of their most persistent CTs around. Then, he explores the devolvement of cultural racism and separates between three main waves of far-right populism in the post-war era. Lastly, Bergmann identifies a winning formula of the conspiratorial far-right in the West.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 5. Disrupting the Trust—Nature of Populist CTs

Conspiracy theories thrive on insecurity and fear—on a feeling of disempowerment. Accordingly, most of the literature has focused on the powerless. Still, CTs are also being upheld by the powerful elite. It is thus important to separate between those in society that receive and subscribe to them and the political actors that produce and promote them for political gain. In this chapter, Bergmann examines common tropes of CTs and populism.The chapter analyses four powerful conspiratorial and populist actors in contemporary politics. First, those upheld by the Front National in France. Second, Bergmann addresses anti-Western theories in post-Soviet Russia. Third, the chapter looks into CTs spread by Donald Trump in the USA. Last, Bergmann turns to exploring further anti-EU CTs upheld, for example, by prominent players in the UK Brexit debate.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 6. The Eurabia Doctrine

This chapter explores the Eurabia CT, the fear of an Islamist takeover of Europe. This suspicion of subversion in Europe has been promoted by many movements of right-wing populists, for example, by nurturing the myth that migrants—especially Muslims—were taking over our national soil and heritage. The chapter starts with a brief look at migration in recent years and the general nature of anti-Muslim CTs before discussing a selection of three specific cases. First, Bergmann picks up the discussion from the previous chapter around Brexit in the UK, here focusing on the anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant rhetoric in the campaign. Next, he discusses the anti-Muslim politics of Donald Trump in America, and also the neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville in 2017. Lastly, he provides a more detailed analysis into anti-Muslim discourse across the Nordic countries.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 7. Transmission and Fake News

Disguised as news, CTs have recently been blazing on both sides of the Atlantic. Fake news is the deliberate publication of fictitious communication, often spread for a political purpose. In this chapter, Bergmann analyses how populist political CTs are transmitted. A recent decline in trust of mainstream media and the increased importance of online media has proved to be a fertile ground for the spread of CTs. These modern mediums have, over a very short span of time, provided the public with unprecedented and unhindered access to a wide range of unscrutinised information. This overflow of information can leave us incapable of interpreting it properly. This opens up a space for misinformation to thrive in a new environment, which has been branded Post-Truth politics. In this chapter, Bergmann analyses the spread of conspiratorial fake news stories in the British Brexit debate, around Donald Trump in the USA and those upheld in Putin’s Russia.
Eirikur Bergmann

Chapter 8. Conclusions: The Politics of Misinformation

Populist actors in politics often position themselves as the true defenders of the people, heroically standing against both the external threat and the domestic elite. This has proven to be a very powerful rhetorical construction. One feature of this process is in casting opponents as enemies of the people, rather than merely being political adversaries. This has moved the political rhetoric towards a more militant direction than before. A wedge of distrust is cast between different groups in society. This, for example, occurs by a process of de-humanization, as is explored here. Populist conspiracy theories (CT) can, as result, come to erode trust in society. They have been found to be a catalyst for radicalization and extremism.In this concluding chapter, Bergmann ties together the discussion from the previous chapters and and analyses how populists use CTs to advance their politics.
Eirikur Bergmann


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