Paranoïde politiek

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In november 1964 publiceerde Harper’s Magazine het essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics van Richard Hofstadter. Inmiddels is het een klassieker. Hofstadters analyse uit de tijd van McCarthy en Goldwater blijkt ook in de Nederlandse politiek anno 2008 onverkort toepasbaar.

Probeer maar eens niet aan Fitna te denken bij dit citaat:

A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. 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.

Of course, there are highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow paranoids, as there are likely to be in any political tendency. But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates ?evidence?. The difference between this ?evidence? and that commonly employed by others is that it seems less a means of entering into normal political controversy than a means of warding off the profane intrusion of the secular political world. The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.

Hofstadter concludeert uiteindelijk dat de paranoïde een meelijwekkend figuur is, die dubbel lijdt:

We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.

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