The Paranoid Style in American Politics

Source: Conor Lynch, Salon, July 7

“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have demonstrated how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.”

This is a quote from “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” by Richard Hofstadter. The essay was written in 1964 – shortly after Donald Trump had graduated from high school – and described the Barry Goldwater movement. It was published in November, the month of the 1964 presidential election.

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One response to “The Paranoid Style in American Politics

  1. King Townsend

    What a great find! I remember reading, many years ago, Hofstader’s The Progressive Historians (Turner, Beard and Parrington) and thinking he was the best non-fiction writer that I had ever encountered.