Military Conspiracies and QAnon’s Fascist Roots

Photograph Source: Anthony Crider – CC BY 2.0

Remote Reviewing Returns

Following on from the CIA’s early removal of themselves from psi-research in the mid-seventies, throughout the early 1980s one of the central characters in overseeing the US militaries excitable remote reviewing experiments was the late Brigadier General Albert Stubblebine III (1930-2017) – a man who was the commanding general of the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command from 1981 to 1984. Although he retired from active service in 1984, Stubblebine achieved global notoriety after the release of George Clooney’s Hollywood blockbuster The Men Who Stared at Goats (2009) in which he starred as the General who tried, but ultimately failed, to manifest the ability to walk through walls. In addition to promoting 9/11 conspiracy theories, delusional thinking always defined General Stubblebine’s life, and so it makes sense that his wife, Dr. Rima Laibow, remains a keen promoter of the health freedom movement’s nonsense concerning the allegedly sinister globalist agenda revolving around Codex Alimentarius. Such darkly paranoid views echo those of the president of the decidedly right-wing National Health Federation, whose president, Scott Tips, edited the movement’s now keystone text Codex Alimentarius – Global Food Imperialism (2007). For the record, Tips’ forerunner at the head of the National Health Federation was the late Maureen Salaman, whose longstanding activism with the John Birch Society was rounded off when she helped found the Populist Party with Holocaust denier Willis Carto and then stood as their vice-presidential candidate for the 1984 elections.

In 1990, General Stubblebine became chairman of the civilian remote viewing company Psi Tech, which had been set up the year before by Major Ed Dames. Major Dames being one of the four initial US Army Officers to be trained in psychic travel by Ingo Swann in the 1980s. One other trainee of the Armies fledgling program, whose work will be discussed later, was Captain Paul Smith, who went on to work as a consultant for Psi Tech, as did many other former and current remote viewers from the government’s psi scheme. With this work now in the private sector the dubious wonders of remote viewing were now on the free market for those who can afford to waste money. Thus, one of Psi Tech’s early missions involved locating Iraq’s hidden biological warfare stockpiles for the United Nations. Such lucrative and pointless contracts, which included investigating the crop circle phenomena, proved too much to resist for those seeking to cash in on their so-called magical powers, and in 1992 Swann was finally persuaded to join the company as a consultant, while Colonel John Alexander also joined Psi Tech’s board room around this time.

A long-time friend of Cecil B. Scott Jones (introduced later) and companion of the paranormal world more generally, Psi-Tech’s latest board member Colonel Alexander had remained active in the military despite officially retiring in 1998, and in 2003 he served as a mentor to senior officials in the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Like Stubblebine, Alexander has played a critical role in integrating New Age holistic therapies into the war machine. Having served as a Green Beret during the Vietnam War, Alexander had entered the Command General Staff College where he wrote an article which was published in the college’s journal, Military Review, which examined the potential use of remote viewing and psychokinesis in military operations. The piece entitled “The new mental battlefield” — complete with pictures taken courtesy of Kirlian photography — ran as the cover story of the December 1980 issue of the journal. In his article Alexander warned, “there are [psychotronic] weapon systems that operate on the power of the mind and whose lethal capacity has already been demonstrated.” This was heady stuff. “Certainly, with development,” he wrote, “these weapons would be able to induce illness or death at little or no risk to the operator.” Moreover, he added: “The psychotronic weapon would be silent, difficult to detect and would require only a human operator as a power source.” But if that wasn’t enough, he speculated that: “The use of telepathic hypnosis also holds great potential.”

At this stage Alexander was simultaneously working in Task Force Delta – a ‘blue sky’ think-tank that specialized in investigating the military relevance of subjects that had hitherto been considered outside the domain of normal warfare. The point being to determine how the military machine might be revamped to better deal with future combat situations. Out of this Task Force’s earlier work had previously arisen Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon’s First Earth Battalion “a notional unit” that Alexander says promoted “concepts easily three decades ahead of their time.” These concepts were derived from Channon’s deep forays into the mystical realm of the counterculture and were then retooled to ostensibly help create a battalion of warriors able to help the US government spread ‘peace’ and ‘goodwill’ across the planet. General Stubblebine was counted among the keen supporters of Task Force Delta, and he subsequently guided and enabled Alexander to pursue his own interests in the paranormal under the remit of the US Army Intelligence and Security Command, whether that be his interests in UFO phenomena, psychokinesis or orgone weather modification.

Psychotronic Warfare

Despite his firm belief in UFOS – but apparent skepticism of unsubstantiated claims (?!) –Alexander’s military career only went from strength-to-strength as his psi-interests evolved and he soon positioned himself as a leading expert on the military application of non-lethal weapons in warfare. But even though his chilling and largely conventional book on this subject, Future War: Non-lethal Weapons in the Twenty-First-Century Warfare (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), was received with much admiration within academic circles, he still managed to squeeze in some of his bizarre beliefs. Thus, in the conclusion to his discussion of conventional electromagnetic (EM) hardware, he writes, “it is possible that a unique EM weapon that can prevent guns from firing may already have been discovered.” Here he relates a story told by one of his friends that just such a weapon may have been created in the 1970s by a “garage inventor” called Sid Hurwich. The reason he then gives for arguing that this fictional weapon should not be “relegated to folklore” was because “news sources” apparently confirmed that it was successfully used during the 3 July 1976 Israeli rescue operation at Entebbe, Uganda. Alexander adds:

“We cannot be certain that it was Hurwich’s device that allowed the success of the raid. However, we do know that shortly following the incident, at Toronto’s Beth Tzedec synagogue, Sid Hurwich was presented with the prestigious Protectors of the State of Israel award for his contributions to the raid.”

This is clearly ridiculous conjecture, but one could imagine that Alexander must have shown some restraint in his retelling of this story, as he would have been aware of the role that his friend Uri Geller had claimed to have also played in the same mission’s success. This is because he leaves his readers guessing about the identity of the person responsible for another thing that “amazed all observers” of the heroic rescue mission, that is that “the Israeli airplanes had flown the entire distance without being detected…” He doesn’t mention Geller’s involvement, but this is something that Geller regularly claims credit for. As Geller loves to boast about the time that he used his spoon-bending brain power to interfere with all the African radar tracking systems that might have otherwise spotted the planes!

Later, however, in Future War’s discussion of acoustic weapons, Alexander does spin another Geller-like story which he states provides verification for ancient Tibetan stories about the levitation of heavy objects. On this documented magic he writes: “A famed Swedish aircraft designer, Henry Kjeillson, observed and recorded heavy stones, each about 1.5-meter cube, being lifted to a position 400 meters above them by monks using musical instruments.” Although Alexander considers this story likely true, he then suggests that although “poorly documented, stories have suggested that a similar procedure may have been used to move stones at the pyramids in Egypt.”

Finally, considering Alexander’s own far-out beliefs in the power of remote viewing, and his early article about the unrecognized power of psychotronic weapons, it is ironic that he rails against conspiracy theories. Indeed, he says “Paranoia is running rampant in the United States” with many conspiracy theorists believing that the government may be using such non-lethal psychotronic weapons for the purpose of mind control “to enslave them for some unstated nefarious purpose.” But is it really any wonder that Alexander, the man who has worked in the upper echelons of the intelligence community, and who is connected with the infamous Cold Warrior, General Jack Singlaub, continues to be the focus of many conspiracy theorists’ nonsensical rantings. Either way, laughably Alexander then turns his anger against certified UFO skeptics, observing: “Nor is it likely that any amount of evidence would persuade them to change their minds.” Indeed, Alexander begins the prologue of his own UFO book by stating: “UFO are real! With no prevarication or qualifications of terms, there are physical objects of unknown origins that do transit our universe.” This statement having been preceded by a succinct quote from Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”


Of UFO Research Wars and Intergalactic Travel

Alexander’s own personal mission to reveal the truth about UFOs was given a useful leg-up by the activities of real estate mogul, Robert Bigelow, who in 1995 established the National Institute for Discovery Science(NIDS) in Las Vegas, Nevada. This group was formed because Bigelow had become frustrated that he did not have enough control over the political orientation of the Fund for UFO Research. And the new Institute that Bigelow set-up in his effort to supplant the work of the Fund for UFO Research now focused on investigating both UFO phenomena and the continuation of consciousness beyond physical death. Alexander was thus quickly recruited to serve on NIDS scientific advisory board alongside the likes of Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmidtt and Dr. Edgar Mitchell. While another notable adviser included Harold Puthoff, who served as the chairman of the board. But high-profile believers rarely equate with high-quality research, and…

“The best-known and most controversial project undertaken by NIDS was its purchase of a supposedly “haunted” ranch in Utah (reported in this column back in May/June 1998), which some describe as a “Hyperdimensional Portal Area” or “Stargate.” The ranch is said to be infested by an alien or paranormal shape-shifting creature known as “Skinwalker,” taking its name from Native American legends similar to European legends about werewolves. NIDS researchers investigated the ranch starting in 1996. They compiled an impressive collection of what might be termed “ghost stories” but, in spite of having access to sophisticated electronic equipment, failed to obtain any actual proof that anything unexplainable was going on.”

During Alexander’s engagement with NIDS research, he also played a key role in setting up the International Remote Viewing Association with the aid of Harold Puthoff, Paul H. Smith, Captain F. Holmes Atwater, Angela Thompson Smith (the former research coordinator for Robert Bigelow’s philanthropic foundation), and the short-lived paranormal skeptic, Dr. Marcello Truzzi. Old-timer Russell Targ served as the Association’s founding president, and he remains a loyal adviser to the group. A more recent addition to the International Remote Viewing Association’s operations is the psi detective and former star of the Discovery Channel’s popular television series, Sensing Murder, Pam Coronado, who between 2013 and 2015 served as the president of the Association. The other self-proclaimed medium featuring in Coronado’s popular television show was Lauri Campbell; whose inability to demonstrate any psychic powers at all in ill-conceived experiments that were run by Dr. Gary Schwartz, and misreported in his 2003 book The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death, didn’t stop Schwartz from grasping at straws to assert his having found “evidence” of magic powers (hence the books title). But step back from Schwartz’s breathless mis-conclusions for a moment, and just imagine how different the world would really be if it really were true that psychic detectives existed.

That said, personally I would rather not imagine the dire consequences if such an uber-Orwellian scenario would ever eventuate. But thankfully this will not happen as there is no such thing as magic, only the illusion of magic. However, for many others, particularly libertarian conspiracy theorists, it seems that they already believe that such a totalitarian moment is upon us. For example, recall Walter Bowart’s influential book Operation Mind Control (Dell, 1978), which laid the foundational groundwork for deluded copy-cat rants. Unfortunately, such conspiracists are happy to accept the word of remote viewers as face value, which leads them to the ‘logical’ conclusion that the US government has been using occult powers against their own citizens for years. After-all, the conspiracists say, the government has proven its anti-democratic nature too many times before, so we should be very fearful about them having access to such a sophisticated array of mind-melting psychotronic weapons.

Of course, the ruling-class is manipulative, but paranoia only serves to cloud the public’s understanding of the roots of their own exploitation. We are after all talking about a motley crew of conspiracists who believe that they regularly travel to distant planets from the comfort of their own homes. Take for example the much-decorated retired Army officer, Joe McMoneagle, who formerly worked at SRI, and is now the head of Intuitive Intelligence Applications, in Nellysford, Virginia — where he sells remote viewing services to the public. McMoneagle is the author of Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time, and Space Through Remote Viewing (Hampton Roads, 1993), which amongst other things documents his time spent on Mars. Or take the story of Dr. Courtney Brown, a political scientist whose own remote experiences, as reported in his book, Cosmic Voyages: A Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestrials Visiting Earth (Dutton, 1996), “corroborates many of McMoneagle’s observations regarding this ancient Martian civilization.” Some might prefer to call this confirmation by its more likely name… not intergalactic travel, but plagiarism. But maybe this is being too harsh, as it seems that Dr. Brown’s familiar-sounding knowledge of Mars was most likely picked up from his Martian-loving psychic trainer, Ed Dames.

Here, you might well ask how does a member of the public become a proficient remote viewer? Well, Dr. Brown traces his first explorations into human consciousness to his learning an “advanced version” of Transcendental Meditation called the Sidhis, which he evidently mastered after only a couple of years practice while holding down a full-time job at university. He recalls that he chose to begin with this casual form of training in 1991 because he had been intrigued by the so-called Maharishi Effect; although from his own documentation it seems more likely that his interest in yogic flying stemmed from the fact that his wife was a Sidhia and a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. Dr. Brown notes that the second “stage of training” for extraterrestrial travel consisted of a week-long course called the Gateway Voyage Program which took place at the Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia, where much to his surprise, he first met his alien friends. However, it was only after he had completed the final stage of his training under the guidance of Ed Damesthat he became the proficient remote viewer that he is today. And so it was, in September 1993, that Dr. Brown, while sitting in Psi Tech’s offices in Beverly Hills, California, made his first controlled visit to Mars.


Tuning in to Apocalyptic Nightmares

Ed Dames has now moved on to fresh libertarian pastures and still maintains an income living off the fearmongering he generated when he produced a unique DVD titled Killshot: Approaching the Moment(2011) – a DVD which describes the apocalyptic future as foretold by remote viewing. This film is very much in keeping with Dames’ previous (“I promise they are 100% correct”) failed predictions of immanent catastrophe, and as the advertising blurb packaging for his film puts it, the DVD bravely “reveals what top-secret military Remote Viewers have known for years… how the world will end!” To cut a long story short, to save yourself from the solar flares that will destroy most of life as we know it Dames predicts that learning remote viewing will be vital for your survival. Dames warns in the DVD’s trailer, that “Knowing where to go with your last tank of gas, is so important…”

Like many of his evangelical remote viewing friends, Dames hawks his wares and ominous predictions on late night libertarian radio shows, which are well-known breeding grounds for all manner of noxious conspiracy theories. One such radio DJ who had always maintained a soft spot for Dames was the late Art Bell (1945-2018). Here it is noteworthy  that Bell’s radio career got off the ground in 1992 with the financial backing of the real estate magnate Robert Bigelow, with Bell’s original paranormal show “Area 2000” eventually morphing into the hugely popular Coast to Coast AM. Regular contributors to this dirge of fantasy include George Knapp (a close associate of Bigelow’s extraterrestrial ventures via his work at Bigelow’s National Institute for Discovery Science) and Linda Moulton Howe (who first brought the issue of alien cattle mutilations to the public eye in 1980 with her film A Strange Harvest – a phenomena that was also documented at Bigelow’s ghost-busting hangout, the Skinwalker Ranch). In 1999 Bell even managed to team up with former Gurdjieff devotee Whitley Strieber to coauthor the millennialist book The Coming Global Superstorm (Atria Books, 1999). Strieber having risen to fame in the late 1980s with his first book Communion (Avon Books, 1987), which provided a boon to alien abduction researchers when it ended up reaching number one on the New York Times best seller list.

When Art Bell finally went into semi-retirement in 2003, he handed over his insanely popular paranormal-themed radio show, Coast to Coast AM, to George Noory – a show which at its peak claimed 15 million listeners nightly. Bell’s protégée, George Noory, can now also be found via online streaming services as since December 2012 he has hosted Beyond Belief, an inane show that explores the mysteries of the world. This showcase of paranoia is produced by leading lifestyle media company, Gaia TV (formerly Gaiam TV) — a company that states they are committed to “streaming titles that challenge modern paradigms and allow you to manifest the reality that defines your being.” A rare article investigating Gaia and the dangerous fare they serve up to their viewers, provides a more accurate summary of their streaming services:

“Instead of the Hollywood fare offered by the big players, Gaia’s catalog is a kaleidoscopic array of wild claims, conspiracy theories, and new-age mysticism loosely classified as “conscious media.” Claims of a “shadow government” secretly behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks jostle with yoga instructional videos; the forbidden truths about President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s secret summits with aliens in Palm Springs are presented alongside meditation techniques. The video content blends together into a hallucinatory slurry of time-traveling psychic CIA spies, purported dangers of vaccines, Bigfoot sightings, alchemists’ secrets for transmuting gold, and the founder of JPMorgan’s clandestine plot to sink the Titanic.”

As far out as Gaia TV’s New Age drivel is concerned, it is not that different in content from mainstream media narratives that continue to advance so many irrational conspiracy theorists. Nevertheless, Gaia can certainly boast of doing its part in contributing to the ongoing war on rational thinking. For example, another long running and popular Gaia show that popularized all manner of occult garbage was Wisdom Teachings,which was a weekly show hosted by right-wing mystic David Wilcock, a man who has claimed to be the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce no less. In all Wilcock starred in 263 episodes between 2013 and 2018 before parting company with Gaia – in an acrimonious split which is a bizarre story in itself. But Wilcock continues to preach his deep state conspiracies, his belief in QAnon — a conspiracy that would have you believe that the world is run by a tiny elite of Satanic pedophiles – and his accompanying aim to ensure that humanity can all be truly inspired and filled with love.

Another rising star of both Gaia TV and of the patriotic QAnon scene is the former Navy Seal and psychic traveler Michael Jaco. Jaco – a remote viewing guru, bodybuilder and vitamin supplement salesman — appears to have been in tune with the spiritual realm for some time having previously self-published the 2011 book The Intuitive Warrior: Lessons From a Navy SEAL on Unleashing Your Hidden Potential. Only in recent years has Jaco revealed that he was trained on the planet Mars as part of the so-called Secret Space Program. In July 2021 Gaia TV thus chose to promote Jaco’s new revelations like this:

“Retired SEAL Team-6 Chief Petty Officer Michael Jaco has over 35 years of extensive combat experience including 11 years as a CIA security officer. Appearing for the first time on Cosmic Disclosure, Jaco uncovers his repressed memories through the help of hypnotherapist Barbara Lamb. These memories suggest he may have been involved with a secret space program, beginning with his training at an early age. As he untangles this web of hidden memories through the regression, Gaia viewers are privy to the past experiences he was never fully conscious of.”

Although the idea of alien contact is nothing new, it has only been in the last few years that people have begun to come forward to claim they have been part of a secret military program based on distant planets. For example, Laura Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of former United States president Dwight Eisenhower, has contributed to constructing such paranoid dreamscapes; but it was in 2015 that such tall tales really started to take a firm hold in New Age circles. This new development coincided with an interview that David Wilcock undertook on Gaia TV with a so-called “space program” whistleblower named Corey Goode. Since then, further details and juicy revelations have been pushed hard by all manner of figures, most notably through the work of the one-time peace studies researcher turned right-wing conspiracist, Professor Michael Salla, who first incorporated Goode’s delusions into his 2015 book Insiders Reveal Secret Space Programs & Extraterrestrial Alliances.

As Salla explained, part of Goode’s groundbreaking testimony on Gaia TV asserted that “a galactic human slave trade exists where millions of captured humans are taken off planet to distant colonies on other worlds to be bartered or abused.” Although this story might have remained on the fringe of the UFO community, it then exploded somewhat in June 2017 when the former CIA spy, Robert David Steele, was interviewed by Alex Jones on InfoWars. Both Jones and Steele had just played key roles in pushing the toxic Pizzagatepedophilia conspiracy, and now in their latest interview Steele stated

This may strike your listeners as way out but we actually believe that there is a colony on Mars that is populated by children who were kidnapped and sent into space on a 20 year ride. So that once they get to Mars they have no alternative but to be slaves on the Mars colony.

QAnon’s Fascist Roots

Rather unsurprisingly Robert David Steele would go on to become one of the world’s leading peddlers of QAnon lies, and the following April he would act as the “Chief Counsel” of the cultlike “Judicial Commission Inquiry into Human Trafficking and Child Sex Abuse” that had been convened by the wealthy New Age conspiracist Sacha Stone. In his plenary speech to this “Commission” Steele talked nonchalantly about Pizzagate and observed that “in the United States of America the acknowledged number” of children who are illegally trafficked each year by pedophiles and their consorts, “not counting the children being bred without birth certificates and not counting the children being imported without documentation, is between 600,000 and 800,000 a year.” Since then Steele was involved in the publication of the 2020 book Pedophiles and Empire: Satan and Sodomy in the Deep State. In the foreword to this hate-filled diatribe Steele writes that he now understands how…

“…every aspect of our government, economy, and society is controlled by a Satanic elite [that “begins with the Rothschild family”] using a Deep State construct to manage all people, all corporations, all property, all land, and even all social conventions including the legalization of homosexuality and (had Hilary [Clinton] been elected) the legalization of bestiality and pedophilia.”

Here it is important to reflect upon the historical predecessors for many of the dangerous ideas that are still being promoted by QAnon devotees worldwide. Thus, the Rothschild obsession makes sense when we understand that the primary political inspiration for many contemporary conservative conspiracists has been the work of Nesta Webster (1876-1960) — one of the twentieth century’s most famous anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. Writing in Britain in the wake of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Webster, who was a dyed-in-the-wool fascist whose reactionary ideas had inspired Winston Churchill’s own anti-Semitism – saw her own occult super-conspiracies as a fitting way to defend Christian civilization from the threat of socialism. With the help of her many aristocratic friends, Webster’s writing brought about a new renaissance in anti-Semitic theories that revolved around the hidden hand of the Illuminati. These ideas then gained a new breath of life on American shores shortly after her death, when in the mid-sixties the John Birch Societyrediscovered and subsequently popularized her back catalogue of anti-communist tracts. To this day Webster’s delusions continue to inspire Christian patriots and militia activists in America, while conspiracists like David Icke have upcycled her toxic texts into their own variant of New Age fascism.

Following in Nesta Webster’s footsteps, far-right activists, including those leading the QAnon movement, luxuriate upon the lewdest plots of the hidden controllers, and continue to place child abuse at the center of their deeply disturbing delusions. In her influential 1924 book Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, Webster describes the activities of one apparently Satanic individual, Gilles de Rais (1405–1440) whose evil, she asserts, was driven by Jewish spiritual traditions. She explains that after Gilles had “offered himself to the powers of darkness” he became involved in “perverted vice in every form” which included “holocausts of little boys and girls collected by his agents in the surrounding country and put to death with the most inhuman tortures.” These “strange perverted rites which we associate with the dark ages” were, Webster assured her readers, still “going on around us today. Illuminism, Cabalism, and even Satanism are still realities.”

In this way we can understand that QAnon’s quest to help lead a world movement against baby-gobbling elites did not just materialize out of thin air. Such elite-fixated witch hunts can in fact be traced back even further in time to the first century BCE and the manufactured demonization of the pre-Christian pagan cults – a troubling history that is recalled in Norman Cohn’s 1977 book Europe’s Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch-Hunt. As Cohn summarizes:

“In each case, the murder and the cannibalistic feast form part of a ritual by which a group of conspirators affirms its solidarity; and in each case the group’s aim is to overthrow an existing ruler or regime and to seize power. There is no evidence that such murders and feasts took place. … But even if it could be shown that groups of conspirators really did sometimes indulge in such practices, that would not affect [the] argument. Ritual murder and cannibalistic feasts belonged to one particular, traditional stereotype …of the conspiratorial organization or secret society engaged in a ruthless drive for political power.”

More relevant contemporary precursors to QAnon’s ever-evolving obsession with the pedophilia of the powerful include the satanic moral panics that swept across America in the 1980s. As we know now, this specific panic, or witch hunt, was in large part fueled by the overzealous interrogation of infants through the misuse of leading questioning and the misplaced reliance upon hypnosis induced Regression Therapy. Together these ill-suited and high-pressure techniques led to deeply disturbing (albeit fictitious) revelations of satanic childhood abuse apparently being perpetuated on an industrial scale. This tragic story of such wrongful accusations of satanic torture is best exemplified by the McMartin preschool trial; and one far-right conspiracy theorist who built bridges between this trial and his ongoing obsessions with the Illuminati was a man named Ted Gunderson (1928-2011). A stalwart supporter of J. Edgar Hoover, Gunderson was a truly deluded individual, who until the late 1970s had acted as the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for the FBI.

The Occult in Militia Country

Ted Gunderson never relented with his obsession with occult sacrifice, and in the nineties he went so far as to assert that there were more than 4 million practicing Satanists in America who were carrying out between 50-60,000 human sacrifices every year. Among the far-right milieux, of which he was a central part of, Gunderson had already become famous for exposing the existence of an alleged group called “The Finders” which, as he explained, was a “covert CIA operation” whose only purpose who to kidnap tens of thousands of children a year. These children were then allegedly sold for up to $50,000 each to wealthy pedophiles. But Gunderson was adamant that “to really understand this you have to go back 235 years or so when the Illuminati was established in 1773” with the central involvement of the Rothschild family who, according to Gunderson, aimed to take control of the world through the control of satanic cults. For those interested in learning more about the specifics of this dastardly mission Gunderson refers his followers to William Guy Carr’s “great book” Pawns in the Game (1958).

Again, there is a lot of continuity between various conspiracists on the far-right, and we can see that William Guy Carr’s work was greatly inspired by the work of Nesta Webster. However, although Carr certainly incorporated all manner of anti-Semitic tropes into the body of his writings, he did so in a way that enabled him to distance himself from direct accusations of discrimination. Carr tried to do this by saying that the leading role that powerful Jews had played in the satanic conspiracy (like the Rothschilds) was a clever trick hatched by the Illuminati that aimed to encourage antisemitic interpretations of history that “play[ed] right into the hands of the Illuminati.” So, while Carr believed in the legitimacy of the anti-Semitic forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion he asserted that it had originally been written by the Illuminati. This deceptive argument is one that has been deployed by many other Rothschild-obsessed conspiracists, most famously by Bill Cooper, David Icke, and John Coleman.

Gunderson like many other enraged right-wing conspiracists became enthralled by the burgeoning militia movement during the 1990s, and speaking to a meeting of The Granada Forum (in 1996)  Gunderson launched into his speech by recommending that his rapt audience read Carr’s Pawns in the Game. Later, during his wide-ranging talk, Gunderson reminded his fellow patriots that he had formerly teamed up with the one-time Nebraskan senator John DeCamp in what proved to be an ultimately failed attempt to expose a huge pedophilia ring – a story later recounted in DeCamp’s 1992 book The Franklin Cover-up: Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska. DeCamp after publishing this book went on to serve as a lawyer for the Militia of Montana — a group which played a leading role in organizing The Granada Forum.

Another Christian patriot who, in 1996, gave a now-famous talk to The Granada Forum was Cathy O’Brien – who during her speech bore personal witness to the abuse she said she received while being forced to serve as a personal sex slave to the leaders of the Illuminati. It turns out that in the same year O’Brien had published a book which detailed her own Satanic experiences (as Trance-Formation of America). David Ickerapidly assimilated this story into his own best-selling conspiracy tome, I Am Me, I Am Free (1996). In his own derivative book, Icke rehashed the sordid details of O’Brien’s sexual abuse for some 24 long drawn-out pages, abuse which was apparently meted out by the staff at a NASA facility, numerous world leaders who were attending Satanic-inspired meetings at the Bohemian Grove, and by leading American politicians (Clinton, Reagan and Bush) who she says all raped her at the “covert mind-control slave camp” at the military base in Mount Shasta (California). Furthermore, flowing from O’Brien’s detailed descriptions of her abuse, Icke famously introduced his readers to the proposition that some members of the Illuminati were reptiles. He arrived at this bizarre conclusion because O’Brien had suggested that “holographic projections were used to give the appearance to her of people turning into ‘lizard-like’ aliens.” But Icke was not wholly convinced by O’Brien’s recollections, and asks: “What if it was not a hologram that Cathy saw?” It would seem that the truth is out there; although it is safe to say that is probably won’t be found within the pages of Icke or O’Brien’s books.

This essay is an excerpt from the tail-end of the opening chapter of The Occult Elite: Anti-Communist Paranoia and Other Ruling-Class Delusions (2022) – a chapter that explores the history of mystical and occult obsessions in America over the past century.

Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of Philanthropy (2017).