‘Even paranoids have real enemies’

From the always-interesting John Simkin:

“There is a great book by Kathryn S. Olmstead (Professor of History at the University of California, Davies) called ‘Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War 1 to 9/11’ (2009).”

“Olmstead examines why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them. Her main conclusion is that the main reason is that they have done it so many times in the past that people are willing to believe they are doing it again. She argues that the ‘rampant fear of conspiracy at once invigorates and undermines American Democracy.’ Her account of McCarthyism is especially good. She makes the interesting point that several victims of this right-wing conspiracy, then became the leaders of the JFK assassination conspiracy claims. She starts the book with the Delmore Schwartz quote: ‘Even paranoids have real enemies.'”


  1. Stephen Roy says:

    It’s a shame that we sometimes can’t focus on smaller and realer possible conspiracies because the channels of communication are clogged with those who imagine, exaggerate and allege massive conspiracies.

  2. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    I very strongly recommend the professors book on the the elite media’s response to Watergate. It is practically a requirement for any study of 20th century politics.

    How disappointed I was to discover, then, her amazingly superficial treatment of the JFK case in the book mentioned above by John Simkin. And what a strange (?) mix: on the one hand a refreshing rebuttal and challenge to the overcooked Hofstadter “Paranoid Style of American Politics (published Jan, 1964, coincidentally) combined with an aggressively superficial treatment of the Coup of 1963.

    That could split and confuse influential audiences.

  3. Cary Jennings says:

    I wrote to Professor Olmstead about a year ago after reading her chapter entitled “Lapdog or Rogue Elephant? CIA Controversies from 1947 to 2004” in the book, “The Central Intelligence Agency: Security Under Scrutiny.” I pointed out how superficial her analysis was of agency involvement in the JFK assassination and its coverup, as she glossed over how the CIA lied to the Warren Commission, ignored the revelations concerning George Joannides and the subversion of the HSCA investigation, and passed over completely the CIA’s role in undermining Jim Garrison and the prosecution of Clay Shaw, who is now known to have been a CIA agent.

    To date, I have received no response from her.

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