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.


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.