Why conspiracy theories are reactionary
The defects of Hofstadter’s paranoid style
From 1950 to 1954 the Cold War exacerbated resulting in persecution of alleged communists and socialists in the US. This period is referenced as McCarthyism. Senator McCarthy headed the infamous hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which compiled an index of one million suspects. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) under Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was one of the most fervent anti-communists, led the investigations.
The number imprisoned was in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In the film industry, over 300 actors, authors and directors were denied work in the U.S. through the unofficial Hollywood blacklist. Charlie Chaplin was one of them. Blacklists were at work throughout the entertainment industry, in universities and schools at all levels, in the legal profession, and in many other fields.
“Guilt by association was the watchword, as loyalty oaths, blacklists, registration requirements, and congressional inquiries sought to identify and penalize those who were sympathetic to or associated with the Communist Party, irrespective of their involvement in any otherwise illegal activity.” (David Cole, 2002, p. 997)