Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 12  Num. 41
                     ("Quid coniuratio est?")


Hard-to-find books include
(1) Seven Financial Conspiracies Which Have Enslaved the American People by S.E.V. Emery.
(2) The Problem of Civilization Solved by Mary E. Lease. (3) The Populist Movement by Frank L. McVey. (4) Shylock: As Banker, Bondholder, Corruptionist, Conspirator by Gordon Clark.

My thanks to author Richard Hofstadter, author of The Age of Reform, for tipping me to the above books by including them in the source notes of his book.

Also included in source notes in Hofstadter's above-mentioned book is mention of the book Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly. Donnelly's book =was= findable by me, not through the local citizens' library, however, but through the University of Illinois library located in the town where I live. BUT, the above-mentioned hard-to-find books, numbered 1-4 above, are VANISHED!! They (1-4 above) are tentatively assigned the status of BANNED BOOKS.

-+- Ignatius Donnelly -+-

Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901), though he lived in the late 19th century, was not a gunfighter. Since late-19th century America is portrayed as if it were only gunfights in popular romance, you might be surprised to know that there was this thing called "populism" going on back then. Maybe you heard that word, "populism," in 1996, when Pat Buchanan was scaring the bejeezus out of the East Coast Demo-Publicans when the upstart presidential candidate came from nowhere and scored major primary victories. About then, those "nicey-nice boys" in their suits and ties -- Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter "Waylon" Jennings -- looked gravely into the cameras and "asked": "What is populism?"

Ignatius Donnelly was one of those dreaded "populists" back in the 19th century, back when it all began. Referred to in his time as, "The Prince of Cranks," Donnelly now is totally forgotten. But back in the 1850s, Donnelly then made the radical move of joining the Republican party. (Back then, the Republican party was radical.) He served three terms as a congressman, but by then Donnelly had become too radical even for the Republicans and they gave him the heave-ho. Donnelly battled "the railroads, the banks, the traditional political parties, [and] the spreading industrial trusts." [1].

At the People's Party convention at Omaha, on July 4, 1892, Donnelly gave voice to popular discontent:

We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine on the bench [the judges]... The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced... and the land concentrating in the hands of the capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right of organization for self-protection; imported pauperized labor beats down their wages; a hireling army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down...

...A vast conspiracy against mankind has been organized on two continents, and it is rapidly taking possession of the world. If not met and overthrown at once it forbodes... the establishment of an absolute despotism.

Among Ignatius Donnelly's books are included: -- Atlantis: The Antedeluvian World (1882). Attempts to prove that Plato's Atlantis is a "veritable history." -- Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel (1883). A "worthy predecessor of Immanuel Velikovsky's... World's in Collision, which it in some ways anticipates." [2] -- The Great Cryptogram (1888). Asserts that "Sir Francis Bacon was the author of the plays usually attributed to Shakespeare, and... that the plays themselves contain an elaborate cipher devised by Bacon to establish his authorship to future generations." [3]
-- The American People's Money (1895). -- The Cipher in the Plays, and on the Tombstone (1899). A further defense of his "Bacon is Shakespeare" theory.

-+- "Caesar's Column" -+-

Donnelly's book, Caesar's Column (1890), is one of the former congressman's attempts to exposit his ideas through a work of fiction. Walter B. Rideout, in his introduction to the 1960 reprinting of Donnelly's book, compares it to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984. From the artistic standpoint, Donnelly's book does not equal either Huxley's or Orwell's later masterpieces. Yet there are times in Donnelly's book where he shows surprising (for a former congressman) artistic talent. The book is uneven, yet succeeds in hitting home intermittently. For example, Donnelly, writing circa 1890:

== Our courts, judges and juries are the merest tools of the rich. The image of justice has slipped the bandage from one eye, and now uses her scales to weigh the bribes she receives. An ordinary citizen has no more prospect of fair treatment in our courts, contending with a millionaire, than a new-born infant would have of life in the den of a wolf.

== ...the very assertions, constantly dinned in our ears by the hireling newspapers, that we are the freest people on earth, serve only to make our slavery more bitter and unbearable.

== ["Rudolph" enters a great hall, inside the home of an ultra-wealthy citizen] ...this is where they meet. This is the real center of government of the American continent; all the rest is sham and form. The men who meet here determine the condition of all the hundreds of millions... Here political parties, courts, juries, governors, legislatures, congresses, presidents are made and unmade... The decrees formulated here are echoed by a hundred thousand newspapers, and many thousands of orators; and they are enforced by an uncountable army of soldiers, servants, tools, spies, and even assassins. He who stands in the way of the men who assemble here perishes.

Donnelly also has an interesting theory on why it became important that American children receive a public education: so that they will be able to read the newspapers, the propaganda sheets of the ruling elite. (Note also how, with the advent of radio and television, the public schools' role of ensuring that all of us can read the newspapers became less important.) Writes Donnelly, circa 1890:

== The rich men owned the newspapers and the newspapers owned their readers... If [the public] had not been able to read and write they would have talked with one another upon public affairs, and have formed some correct ideas; their education simply facilitated their mental subjugation...

Enjoyable in Donnelly's book, Caesar's Column, is its intrinsic innocence. The former congressman, writing in a less harried age, tries to imagine the awful future, how it will be in 1988. (Rideout, in his introduction, points out how Donnelly's time-frame, 1988, is quite close to Orwell's: 1984.) Yet Donnelly's horse-and-buggy world cannot come close to foreseeing how bad things were to become during the 20th century. Even Donnelly's villains honor such things as oral contracts. The flavor of Caesar's Column is Neapolitan; even the villains have a touch of vanilla.

---------------------------<< Notes >>--------------------------- [1] From the Introduction, by Wallace R. Rideout, to the 1960 re-issue of Donnelly's book, Caesar's Column. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1960. [2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

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