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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The International Banks Conspiracy, Explained

If you're not a white supremacist, you may have missed why some people are saying Donald Trump's stump speeches echo anti-Semitic tropes, with references to a conspiracy of secret meetings "with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial power." I discussed the origins of this language in a paper earlier this year on the sovereign citizen movement, excerpted below. It's worth noting in this context that Trump has specifically called out the Federal Reserve in recent weeks for being part of a conspiracy to defeat his campaign.

Financial Conspiracy Theories

Figure 1: Excerpt from The Federal Reserve Conspiracy by Eustace Mullins

Posse Comitatus [a sovereign citizen precursor group] drew some of its ideology from a boutique industry of financial conspiracy theories that sprang up during the early 20th century, in response to the growing complexity of the American economy and banking system. In particular, the creation and function of the Federal Reserve has fueled an immense reservoir of conspiracy theories regarding public debts, the value of currency, and the "international bankers" who profit from America's supposed economic misfortunes. The U.S. abandonment of the gold standard has also contributed significantly to these conspiracy theories, as many people within the sovereign movement believe U.S. currency is without real value if it is not backed by gold. 

"Only falsehoods and false principles need be discussed in mysterious terms," wrote Gertrude Coogan, author of the 1935 tract Money Creators, cited by Posse as a guide to American economic history. "Any citizen of ordinary mentality can readily understand the money system of this country."[i] This concept—that something must be simple in order to be true—paradoxically serves to undermine the reality of history and modern economics, even as its proponents generate conspiracy theories that are often themselves breathtakingly complex.

Among other things, Coogan claimed the Civil War was not about slavery but instead was the result of a conspiracy by "certain bankers" and "internationalists" to weaken America for future economic exploitation. Coogan's book was coy about the identity of the "international money masters and their domestic pawns" who were responsible for subverting the Constitution and destroying capitalism, but other authors cited by Posse did not bother to mask their anti-Semitism. Eustace Mullins, author of the Posse-recommended The Federal Reserve Conspiracy, dutifully enumerated the biographies of the "enemy aliens" who had seized control of the American banking system with information cited to the "Who's Who in American Jewry."[ii]

Coogan, Mullins, Wickliffe Vennard, and other favored authors cited by Posse Comitatus were all published or republished by a company known as Omni Publications, which today continues to distribute their works under the name Omni Christian Book Club. Omni represents one of the most significant propagators of these conspiracy theories. Over the course of decades, Omni has propagated a vast array of material related to "international banking conspiracy," some of it carefully generic, others overtly anti-Semitic. (The company also distributed the infamous anti-Semitic hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.)

The short version of these various theories is that "international bankers," usually meaning Jews, rendered U.S. currency worthless in 1913 with the creation of the Federal Reserve. These theories generally hold that the international banking conspiracy was intended to subject Americans to "economic slavery." A 1968 Omni Publications pamphlet, The Green Magicians, blamed World War II on an "internationalist" effort to crush Hitler's superior financial system and includes an anti-Semitic quote falsely attributed to Ben Franklin. The "bankers" were in turn tied to the spread of Communism, a common theme in such publications from the 1950s onward.

Many of these concepts have filtered down into the sovereign citizen movement, but usually in a much-diluted form. While white supremacy and anti-Semitism can certainly be found among sovereign citizens, sovereign texts tend to strip out many details, including direct references to Jewish conspiracies, presenting a greatly simplified version of events with vague references to "bankers" as the source of the conspiracy. Key elements that have been carried into the modern movement, at something of a distance from their original context, include the sinister nature of the Federal Reserve, a host of incorrect inferences related to the effect of America's public debt, and the illusory nature of credit and the U.S. currency, with the accompanying implications for money-making procedures and schemes.

[i] Coogan, Gertrude. Money Creators. Unknown (1935).
[ii] Mullins, Eustace. The Federal Reserve Conspiracy. Christian Educational Association (1954). 

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Buy J.M. Berger's seminal book on American jihadists, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam

Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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