7. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion 1890


The Protocol of the Elders of Zion is a text that purports to describe a Jewish and Masonic plot to achieve world domination. It is one of the most well known and discussed examples of literary forgery. Numerous independent investigations have concluded it to be either a plagiarism or a hoax. The Protocols is widely considered to be the beginning of contemporary conspiracy theory literature, and takes the form of an instruction manual to a new member of the “elders,” describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, and replace the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation.

Continued usage of the Protocols as an antisemitic propaganda tool substantially diminished with the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. It is still frequently quoted and reprinted by some anti-Semitic circles, and is sometimes used as evidence of an alleged Jewish cabal, especially in the Middle East. Elements of the text in the Protocols appears to be plagiarized from an 1864 pamphlet, Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, written by the French satirist Maurice Joly. Joly’s work attacks the political ambitions of Napoleon III using Machiavelli as a diabolical plotter in Hell as a stand-in for Napoleon’s views.

Interestingly, many of the protocols aims have been achieved. For example: Universal suffrage, wide acceptance of pornography, the spread of Darwinism, Socialism, and Materialism.

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