Review: Prince of Darkness: Antichrist and the New World Order by Grant Jeffrey

To conspire: to plan or agree in secret with others to commit something subversive.

Sounds to me like the way a lot of the world works, especially in governments and finance. Hence, the world is awash in conspiracies. Hence, the world as we know it — or as we think we know it — is truly fucked. But then governments and financial institutions are typically the sources of the “official narratives,” of explanations that are distrusted.

If a conspiracy is a secret plan on the part of a group to influence events partly by covert action, we have to realize that conspiracies do occur. Watergate was a conspiracy. Most people believe that 9/11 was the result of an al-Qaeda conspiracy. Even Michael Jackson’s death was a conspiracy. There was either a conspiracy to organize the Holocaust, or else there has been a conspiracy to make it look real: one just can’t logically escape the conclusion that, one way or another, there was a conspiracy. Or at least I can’t escape it. (Every time I write or say something like this, people warn me that I should take a lot of care not to look like a “revisionist headcase.” Well, no, I am not a revisionist. I believe the Holocaust occurred for the same type of reasons that I believe the earth is not flat.)

David Aaronovitch once said that a belief in a conspiracy theory can be described as an unnecessary assumption of conspiracy when other explanations are more probable. Something to that effect. This book endorses conspiracy theories proposing that America from the very onset was founded with the intent of establishing world government; that a tightly organized network of family dynasties – representing Anglo-American and European aristocracy and Jewish finance joined by intermarriage, belief in the occult, hatred of Christianity, and Freemasonry – are out to destroy the billions of masses as they establish a neo-feudal world characterized by the topmost elite, their support staff, soldiers and serfs; that their ultimate goal is to achieve a Global-Godless Totalitarian-Communist-Police-State; and that the key to understanding these events is a canonical, fundamentalist reading of the Old and New Testaments.

These are not new, and such beliefs are usually unsubstantiated, implausible. They are often regarded as harmless. Yet this one is associated with an outcome – in the likes of how theories about the origin and treatment of HIV/AIDS have been proven to detrimentally affect attitudes toward preventative measures and adherence to treatment programs, or of how fears that concern the safety of childhood vaccinations have played and continue to play a major role in declining vaccination rates. (I, for one, mistrust vaccines, probably for unsubstantiated and implausible reasons.) The conspiracies that Jeffrey is espousing in Prince of Darkness are those theories that, if taken seriously, can lead to social and political disengagement and may foster political and religious extremism.

My only problem is that this book is extremely lacking in serious scholarship to merit a serious reading: one is naturally inclined to read it as one would read a gruesome fantastical horror-suspense story — much like Dan Brown’s novels — as low entertainment. However, it is grave in its attempts to inform and report on what many believe is a sinister conspiracy to establish control over the population of the world. The conspiracy is “exposed” with some – albeit not necessarily learned – at least compelling interpretations of the Old and New Testament, and explained in straightforward, layman’s terms, through which what Jeffrey believes is really happening in the world today seems suddenly very clear.

I understand that not every reader will be interested in reading the enthusiastic recommendations of Christianity, which are offered forcefully at regular intervals in the text. As an atheist I am expected to be appalled. But I was enthralled by the striking interpretations and comparisons drawn between the direction of modern “globalist” international affairs and the ancient biblical prophecy of the “apocalypse” and the New World Order. If you pay attention to Alex Jones and his shouty documentaries, present-day observations will suddenly resemble very specific signs, which many Christians believe will precede and forewarn the arrival of the mysterious “anti-Christ” and the advent of Judgment Day.

At most, this decent reading for anyone concerned about the important contemporary issues of globalization and corporatism, and the book should not be overlooked by readers interested in the New World Order conspiracy theory or end-times prophecies.

If, however, one is to take conspiracy theories of this sort seriously, trash this book and all books like these and set off to a philosophical inquiry about the nature of conspiracy theories and their epistemic status. Find something that sheds light, not only on conspiracy theories themselves, but also, in the process, on a variety of critical issues in social epistemology, political philosophy, and the philosophy of religion.

Perhaps because conspiracy theories play a major part in popular thinking about the way the world, especially the political world, operates, and perhaps precisely because they are “popular,” they have received curiously little attention from philosophers and others with a professional interest in reasoning. And this even though I bet some professional philosophers may themselves engage in conspiracy theorizing.

I think that this situation ought to change, that it can be worthwhile to approach this topic from the viewpoint of critical thinking, to inquire if there are particular absences or deformities of critical thinking skills which are symptomatic of conspiracy theorizing, and whether the methods and systems of reasoning actually guard or advise against them.

If one could only suggest some way around this problem for the rest of us folks trying to avoid conspiracy theorizing as a vocation. Let us not forget that the best place for a nefarious conspirator to hide is inside a conspiracy theory which by its nature is infinite in complexity, and that there are always other layers needed to cover up the inconsistencies.

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