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Excerpt From Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy And Power In American Culture (Revised And Updated Edition), Mark Fenster Dec 2007

Excerpt From Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy And Power In American Culture (Revised And Updated Edition), Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

This is the introduction to the revised and updated edition of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2008). The book challenges the dominant academic and popular approach to conspiracy theories, which views them as a paranoid, extremist expression of marginal groups and individuals that pathologically challenges the basic assumptions of American history and the pluralistic political system of the United States. The book is premised on the contrary proposition that the prevalence of conspiracy theories is neither necessarily pernicious nor external to American politics and culture but instead an integral aspect of ...


The Opacity Of Transparency, Mark Fenster Dec 2004

The Opacity Of Transparency, Mark Fenster

Mark Fenster

The normative concept of transparency, along with the open government laws that purport to create a transparent public system of governance promise the world—a democratic and accountable state above all, and a peaceful, prosperous, and efficient one as well. But transparency, in its role as the theoretical justification for a set of legal commands, frustrates all parties affected by its ambiguities and abstractions. The public’s engagement with transparency in practice yields denials of reasonable requests for essential government information, as well as government meetings that occur behind closed doors. Meanwhile, state officials bemoan the significantly impaired decision-making processes ...