As someone who wages a win-some-lose-some battle against conspiracism in New Age circles, I very much appreciate this piece. I’ve analyzed whether there’s a historical affinity between the occult and fascism, and came down on the negative side (in my book Occult America). I think the sympathies for conspiracies on the New Age have to do with an innate (and sometimes healthy) questioning of mainline structures. But, as you allude, this can descend into rejectionism as an ideology and a willingness to believe in everything counter-mainstream as a go-to belief. Not only is this poor thinking but it distracts people from social problems and the potential for real reforms. Sometimes it serves as a cover for racism and anti-Semitism. The emergence of figures like Icke and others on the New Age scene reflect a depressing bend of the New Age in ahistorical and irrational political directions. It is important to note that the occult and progressive politics were once bedfellows, e.g. the 19th century marriage between spiritualism and suffragism. This conspiratorial bent takes up a lot of breathing space today in New Age culture — I reject it as a plainly and as often as I can. -M

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