Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Paul Stott has linked to a paper he gave at a recent Anarchist Studies Network Conference. Stott is a Class War veteran and posts on the 'truth' movement at 9/11 Cult Watch and its associated blog.

The paper is worth a look and focuses on the development of 9/11 conspiracy theories in the Muslim world, arguing that the link between Arab conspiracy theorists and those in the West is anti-Semitism, which he sees as central to the whole movement.
Yet the problem of anti-semitism within the UK 9/11 ‘truth’ movement cannot be seen as a few isolated individuals joining a web forum, instead anti-semitism can be found in the truth movement from the top down.
Stott sees the far right as the main vehicle for anti-Semitism and, as a result, he reckons that 9/11 conspiracy theory is not just nonsense, but dangerous, fascist nonsense. As he points out, despite the rise in hostility to Muslims following the attack on the Twin Towers, "In 2006, Greater Manchester Police figures suggested Jews are nearly six-times more likely to be victims of faith-hate based crime than Muslims."

In emphasising links to the far right, I think that he understates the strength of left anti-Semitism. There has been much focus on contemporary left anti-Zionism as a vehicle for anti-Semitic discourses recently, but this is a far older tradition in the left and I have have come across casual and deeply unpleasant anti-Jewish racism in 19th Century Anarchist material. Arguably, this is more important than covert fascism for explaining the appeal of this nonsense, especially when allied to an unthinking anti-Americanism. Anarchism today is not exempt either as Contested Terrain points out in this excellent post. This makes Stott's intervention all the more welcome.

There is one other factor too, which should never be underestimated in the appeal of these ideas. Imaginative fictions are so much more attractive than banal reality, certainly to those with messianic tendencies, but even to ex-Labour Cabinet ministers as well. Whatever, this type of conspiracy thinking is delusional and dangerous and gets in the way of a proper understanding of the world based on truth, scholarship and reason.

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