Europeans are being supplanted by foreign invaders, aided by cultural Marxists who are plotting an Islamist subversion of the continent. Angela Merkel is the secret daughter of Adolf Hitler, Barack Obama was illegitimate, and George W. Bush was in on the 9/11 attacks. These are just some of the tales that are told by populist political actors across Europe and the US.
In his new book, Icelandic politics professor, Eirikur Bergmann explores how the rapid rise of populist political parties around Europe and across the Atlantic in the early new millennium has coincided with an increased spread of conspiracy theories.
The first two chapters of 'Conspiracy & Populism' give numerous examples of conspiracy theories and explain how these theories are devised. Bergmann then goes on to dissect what is meant by populism, before discussing how populists create and exploit conspiracy theories to advance their political messages. In a dedicated chapter, Bergmann explains 'Eurabia' - the idea that an influx of migrant Muslims to Europe will alter the face and fabric of the continent. He follows this up with analysis of how conspiracy theories are transmitted and the role of fake news.
Throughout the book Bergmann identifies patterns in the statements made by key actors, such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, Recep Tayy?p Erdogan, Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen.
'Literature on conspiracy theories has, up until now, tended to focus on the marginalized and powerless, the paranoid and delusional. Recent trends though have shown that populist conspiracy theories can be upheld by the powerful and influential. These leaders who espouse such theories move conspiracy theories from the fringes to the mainstream and thus pose a threat to the liberal political system,' says Bergmann.
About the author
Eirikur Bergmann is professor of politics at Bifrost University, Iceland, and director of its Centre for European Studies. He is the author of eight academic books and three novels and is a frequent commentator in the media on politics and European affairs.
Conspiracy & Populism: The Politics of Misinformation
2018, 186 p.
Softcover $34.99, €37.44, £19.50
Also available as an eBook