Conspiracy: Podcast Brunch Club listening list (July 2020)

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Creation Date June 30th, 2020
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About This List

Podcast Brunch Club is like book club, but for podcasts. We have 70+ in-person chapters across 6 continents. Every month, we put together a thematic podcast playlist. The July 2020 theme is "Conspiracy." Join us: https://podcastbrunchclub.com/how-it-works/
  1. How are the origins of the French Revolution connected with Beyoncé, Jay Z and Rihanna? The answer lies with one of the world's most mysterious – and misunderstood – secret societies, the Illuminati. The strange evolution of the conspiracy theory surrounding this short-lived secret society, mirrors the modern history of conspiracy theories. We find out how in part three of our podcast series.The Illuminati was a real secret society of intellectual elites in the late 18th century. Michael Butter, professor of American literary and cultural history at the University of Tübingen in Germany, tells us their goal was to promote Enlightenment thinking – ideas such as rational thought and the separation of church and state.The society only lasted a few years before being forced to disband by the conservative authorities of the time. But conspiracy theorists say the Illuminati never really disappeared. They were accused of orchestrating the French Revolution, which started in 1789. Andreas Önnerfors, associate professor of intellectual history at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, says it was such a violent revolution and caused so much upheaval across Europe that people looked for someone to blame.We find out how the Illuminati then became the bogeyman for dark forces at work in the world. The conspiracy theory dramatically morphed in the 20th century, particularly following the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fake transcript of a secret meeting of Jewish leaders plotting world domination. Then, after the second world war, it was picked up by conservatives in the US and played a part in fuelling anti-communist witch hunts.Researcher Lindsay Porter explains how things take a weird turn in the 1960s when elements of the counterculture began to parody the conspiracy theory. And how today, certain pop stars are accused of being part of this secret society that rules the world.The Anthill podcast is produced by Annabel Bligh and Gemma Ware. Sound design is by Eloise Stevens, with original music from Neeta Sarl and audio from Epidemic Sound. Thanks to City, University of London, for letting us use their studios. Special thanks to Clare Birchall, Michael Butter and Peter Knight who helped bring this podcast into being, and to the COST Action COMPACT for funding it. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
  2. Since the beginning of the pandemic, conspiracy theories about the coronavirus have exploded. But conspiracy theories themselves are nothing new - in fact, they're fundamental to American life. In this episode, how conspiracy theories helped to create the U.S. and became the currency of political opportunists.
  3. Conspiracism A functional conspiracy theory uses facts and rational arguments to prove that things are not as they seem. Conspiracism is a conspiracy without the theory. Conspiracism takes the form of a bold assertion without any evidence, even fake evidence, to back it up. It’s an assault on common sense. Prominent examples are “climate change is a hoax!” and “the election is rigged!” Conspiracy claims spread quickly because they require no explanation and are impossible to counter. Moreover, they ring “true enough” by playing into an emotional narrative of fear or hatred. When the president engages in conspiracism, such as the press being the enemy of the people, he imposes his reality on the nation, with violent consequences. Dangers of conspiracism One of the most devastating side effects of conspiracism is the delegitimation of democratic institutions, such as the party system. The notion of a loyal opposition party is key to democracy; without it, democracy ceases to exist. Republicans rely heavily on this delegitimating tactic to hold power, and it’s growing more rampant. Birtherism towards Obama and painting Hillary Clinton as a criminal mastermind are examples of this. By equating Democrats with traitors, as the president has explicitly done, he implies they are not a loyal opposition but enemies of the state. Once delegitimated, violence against them becomes acceptable. This is an old tactic, but one we’re seeing for the first time in the US. Protecting Reality and enacting democracy Conspiracism is destructive, delegitimating, and disorienting. However, it has no program, no policy, and no ideology. Conspiracism is now mainly used by conservatives, but it can easily travel across the political spectrum. In fact, conspiracism has already replaced ideology as the dominant political tool in the US. It is critical to speak truth to conspiracism—not for the person spreading it, who is unlikely to be persuaded—but for yourself and others. For starters, it is morally right. Speaking truth also reinforces reality, shows other truth-seekers they are not alone, and creates solidarity. Equally important is voting for politicians who emphasize facts and explain how and what their actions are accomplishing. Lawmakers help sustain democratic norms when they are transparent and make acts of government open and legible. Find out more: Nancy Rosenblum is the Harvard University Senator Joseph S. Clark Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government emerita. Her field of research is historical and contemporary political thought. She is the co-author of A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy, among other books. Prof. Rosenblum is Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Political Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science. She has served as the President of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, Vice-President of the American Political Science Association, Board Member of the Russell Sage Foundation, and Chair of the Department of Government from 2004 to 2011.
  4. LANGLEY, VIRGINIA, 2011:The Scorpions’ song “Wind of Change” became the soundtrack to the end of the Cold War. But decades later, New Yorker investigative journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor from a trusted source: the Scorpions didn’t write the song. The CIA did.
  5. A young man finds escape on the internet. He doesn’t realize that on the other side of the screen, a force is pulling him in.

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