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By Harlow G. Unger

A compelling new biography of America's strongest Speaker of the home, who held the divided country jointly for 3 a long time and who used to be Lincoln's guiding mild

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Extra resources for Henry Clay: America's Greatest Statesman

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A further development of this theory puts forward the idea that sometimes people at the very center of power might create (or perhaps just cynically promote) a popular outburst of demonology in order to further their own political schemes. This view is sometimes known as the elitist theory of moral panics, because it suggests that the elite deliberately fuel moral panics in order to legitimate repressive measures that would otherwise be unacceptable. Like the scapegoating theory, this position has the advantage of not relying on unprovable assertions about the psychological makeup of those inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, and at its best it can offer compelling and historically nuanced accounts of the vested political and economic interests that are really being served by the promotion of conspiracy beliefs.

107–132. Camp, Gregory S. 1997. Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-Times Paranoia. Grand Rapids: Baker. 24 Crews, Frederick. 1998. ” New York Review of Books 45 (25 June 1998): 14–19. , and Thomas M. Brown, eds. 1972. Conspiracy: The Fear of Subversion in American History. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Davis, David Brion, ed. 1971. The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un-American Subversion from the Revolution to the Present. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Dean, Jodi. 1998. Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace.

An important component of this theory is its suggestion that conspiracy theories about blameless victims are often whipped up quite cynically as part of a larger campaign of popular hatred. In this respect the psychology of belief envisaged by this theory is very different from that proposed by the “paranoid style” school. In that model, the believers in conspiracy theory can’t help themselves and are in a sense victims of a style of thought that clouds their judgment, along the lines of succumbing to an epidemic mass hysteria.

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