American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.He explains his choice of terminology.
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. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.Does that sound like a description that has pertinence today? I am thinking of Campus Rape Hysteria, the fixation on Racism as an explanation for everything, the original Anthropogenic global warming claims, the myth of Gender Wage Discrimination, etc. All these have some small foothold in real world circumstances but "It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant."
Some more tidbits:
In the end, the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship, is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position but how it has managed to survive at all.A fascinating and deeply informative read from beginning to end.
The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms — he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millennialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date for the apocalypse.
One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed.
The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent — in fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world.