ARCHITECTS OF FEAR
Review by Brian Francis Redman, Editor-in-chief, Conspiracy Nation
Copyright (c) 1994 -- All Rights Reserved
[Note, you may distribute this freely, but please don't alter it.]
*Architects of Fear* by George Johnson (Los Angeles: Jeremy P.
Tarcher, Inc., 1983. ISBN 0-87477-275-3) is like Vankin's
*Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes* in that it offers a
compendium of a wide area. It is unlike Vankin's work in that
Johnson believes, basically, that conspiracy theorists are nuts.
Or at least I surmise that's what he thinks, due to his reliance
on that time-honored crutch which "debunkers" of such theorists
routinely rely on: that they are "paranoid."
But what is "paranoia"? It is "...excessive or irrational
suspiciousness." It's O.K. to be suspicious, but if it's
"excessive" or "irrational" then you are "paranoid." So we have
Johnson saying that conspiracy theorists are wrong because they
are irrational. And who decides they are irrational? Johnson and
whoever he decides *is* rational, that's who.
Of course, Johnson dresses up his arguments with many variations
on the theme of paranoia. He manages to take that old "you're
paranoid" rejoinder and permute it so that it flows elegantly and
not too obviously through his 200-page book. In this he is like
another great "debunker" of note, C. Berlet, in that he
constantly amazes one with the abundance of permutations on one
theme: In Berlet's case, "fascism"; in Johnson's, "paranoia."
But (and here I offer this freely to all "debunkers" of
conspiracy theorists) Johnson actually offers a *new* anti-
conspiracy theories argument. For all of you who are constantly
informing me that I am wrong because I am "paranoid," "crazy,"
etc., I offer you this new ammunition in the deep hope that you
will make a big change in your responses from "you are crazy" to
this new rejoinder. Johnson believes that there is a sort of
incestuous footnoting in books of the conspiracy genre. He thinks
that what we have got is a sort of pyramid scheme of conspiracy
theorists. After the first few books of the genre were written,
along came other conspiracy theorists who began to offer some of
the original books as sources for their books. Then later, still
other conspiracy theorists had even more written material they
could use as references in their own books.
So, according to Johnson, the original errors of conspiracy
theorists have had a snowball effect and now we have so much
literature in this area (much of it relying on other literature
in this area) that it is now pretty much impossible to sort it
I offer this to all future "debunkers" because I would like to
see them come up with something new in their "debunking."
For the record, I will add that so-called "respectable,"
"reasonable," "rational," etc. researchers can also be blamed for
the above-mentioned incestuous footnoting. Johnson himself
includes a variation on this theme when he offers the following
quote from conspiracy theorist Claire Chambers (*The SIECUS
Circle, A Humanist Revolution*):
Judging by the evidence at hand, it seems reasonably
certain that among the major components of this
worldwide conspiracy are Humanism, Socialism, Communism,
the Council on Foreign Relations, the tax-exempt
foundations, and occultism... Humanism is now engaged in
a militant religious war, its Godless army having by now
reached into almost every phase of our national
existence... Little known to the public is their most
cunning tactic: the art of labeling and quoting each
other as "experts."
What is *good* about *Architects of Fear* is that it does give a
good overview of various conspiracy theories, and it gives a good
list of sources (included at the end of this essay) for persons
interested in studying the escalating conspiracy phenomena.
Here are some of the theories covered, sure to fry your brain:
*** Recently, since the Industrial Revolution, we have come to
believe that by gaining more knowledge we will progress. "But in
medieval Europe, truth was more often considered something
mankind had lost. Seekers looked to the past instead of the
*** Conspiracy researcher Des Griffin, asks, "[paraphrasing
Griffin] If experts are so great, then why are we in such a
mess?" Griffins thinks that what we are always told is "a
complexity" is just part of a smoke-screen used to hide the
truth. "It started, he believes, with the priests of ancient
Babylon, who controlled the masses by presenting themselves as
keepers of divine knowledge... Now, he believes, we are enslaved
by the priests of reason..."
*** Alberto Rivera claims he is a former Jesuit priest. He says
that the Catholic church is the Antichrist's one-world kingdom.
One of the tapes he sells is entitled "Escape From a Catholic
Convent, 'Sister Charlotte's Testimony'". "Sister Charlotte"
tells of torture and murder in the "dungeons of her cloistered
*** In 1966, the John Birch Society (JBS) magazine, *American
Opinion* printed an article by founder Robert Welch which
summarized JBS thought at that time: The "Insiders" had
established the Federal Reserve and were the originators of the
income tax. The middle class is robbed by this tax and the
Insiders shelter "their own wealth with tax-exempt
organizations... which [are] also used to fund social programs to
mollify the masses."
*** Mary Stewart Relfe, author of *When Your Money Fails... the
'666' System is Here*, believes that technology and occultism are
working together to bring about the New World Order.
*** Phyllis Schafly's 1964 book, *A Choice Not an Echo*, claims
that presidential nominees are chosen by "a small group of secret
kingmakers using hidden persuaders and psychological warfare
techniques." (Also by Schafly, *The Gravediggers*)
*** Information (a whole chapter) of a startling nature regarding
that American original, the man that I call "The Wacky
Frenchman," Lyndon LaRouche. For example, one night a team of
professional assassins [CN -- Could they perhaps have been the
same 6 Cuban assassins who later were chasing Perot?] came to
LaRouche's door, "...and, through a comedy of errors, another
assassin showed up." Final result? The various assassins scared
each other off.
Here are some more of the sources mentioned in *Architects of
Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics*:
+++ Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, also wrote a book
(ca. 1835) called *Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of
the United States*.
+++ An interesting organization called "The Duck Club" which
does and/or did publish a periodical called the "Duck Book."
+++ *Horrible Pacts between the Devil and the Pretended Invisible
Ones*, published in Paris in 1623 by the Catholic church.
+++ In 1738, Pope Clement issued a papal denunciation of
+++ This one is a classic: *Memoirs of Jacobinism* by Abbe
Barruel. French, ca. 1790s.
+++ Another classic: *Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the
Religions and Governments of Europe, etc.* by John Robinson.
Circa 1790s. May be available from the John Birch Society.
+++ *Adam Weishaupt, A Human Devil* (pamphlet) by the Reverend
Gerald B. Winrod, ca. 1930s.
+++ *Fourth Reich of the Rich* by Des Griffin, ca. 1980s.
+++ *Secret Societies and Subversive Movements* by Nesta Webster,
first published in 1924 and considered a classic of anti-
Illuminism. Also by Webster, *World Revolution* and *The
+++ Anti-Illuminati literature available through firms such as
Angriff Press of Hollywood, California; Alpine Enterprises of
Dearborn, Michigan (publishers of a journal called *Conspiracy
Digest*); and Omni Publications of Hawthorne, California.
+++ *The Wandering Jew*, an international best-seller published
in 1844, an anti-Jesuit thriller.
+++ *Female Convents: Secrets of Nunneries Disclosed*, ca. 1830-
+++ *Jesuit Juggling: Forty Popish Frauds Detected and
Disclosed*, ca. 1830-1840.
+++ *Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal*, by
Maria Monk, ca. 1850s. A bestseller from that time, rivalled
*Uncle Tom's Cabin*.
+++ *Fifty Years in the Church of Rome* by a former Catholic
priest. Circa 1870s. Jesuits blamed for Lincoln's assassination.
+++ *Conspiracy Against God and Man* by Father Clarence Kelly,
(apparently) circa 1980s.
+++ *Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics* by Francis
Parker Yockey. According to Johnson, Yockey was Willis Carto's
+++ *The Occult and the Third Reich*, MacMillan, 1974.
Translation of a book by 2 French authors using the joint
pseudonym Jean-Michel Angebert.
+++ *Gods and Beasts -- The Nazis and the Occult* by Dusty Sklar.
+++ *The Myth of the 20th Century* by Alfred Rosenberg.
+++ *To Eliminate the Opiate* by Rabbi Marvin S. Antelman, 1974.
+++ *None Dare Call It Conspiracy* by Gary Allen. A classic.
Possibly available from the John Birch Society.
+++ The Scofield Reference Bible. King James Bible, footnoted and
cross-referenced by fundamentalist scholar C. I. Scofield. The
end-time sequence developed. A classic.
+++ The "End-Time Digest," periodical by Jim McKeever. Also his
book, *Christians Will Go Through The Tribulation -- And How To
Prepare For It*. Also, the "McKeever Strategy Letter".
+++ *Whatever Happened to the Human Race?* by former U.S. Surgeon
General C. Everett Koop. Attacks the influence of secular
humanism. Co-authored by Francis Shaeffer.
+++ *The SIECUS Circle, A Humanist Revolution* by Claire
Chambers. Published 1977 by the John Birch Society.
+++ (Fiction) *Illuminatus!* by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert
Shea. Three volumes: Book 1 -- *The Eye In The Pyramid*; Book 2
-- *The Golden Apple*; Book 3 -- *Leviathan*.