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The Jesuit MythConspiracy Theory and Politics in Nineteenth-Century France$
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Geoffrey Cubitt

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198228684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198228684.001.0001

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(p.295) Conclusion
The Jesuit Myth

Geoffrey Cubitt

Oxford University Press

Conspiracy theory although it projects a simplistic vision of politics, is not an uncomplex thing. Conspiracy theory is a framework of disparate elements brought and held together, and the relationship between the framework and the elements is both complicated and unclear. Conspiracy theories seldom spring into existence fully formed however, a conspiracy theory that has survived for long in a developed formed creates an influence that attracts new influences and moulds older ones. The old myth of the Jesuit conspiracy took new root in the paradoxes of a Revolution defined both as rupture and as heritage, of a modern world experienced both as realm of novelty and as field of contestation, of an ancien regime consigned to its grave yet feared for its unceasing presence. Jesuit myth conspiracy spoke the needs of a Left which revolved around the rhetoric of conflict and the invocation of unity, between the need for modernity and the need to appeal to established values. However, the conspiracy never resolved existing paradoxes but rather it created an imaginative structure which permitted liberals and republicans to feel themselves possessors of a coherent and continuous political identity. The Left's fascination with the Jesuit conspiracy and the Right's obsession with Masonic plotting created a French politics surrounded by alarmism and complacency that dramatized insecurities and systemized mistrust and encouraged the habit of rhetorical intransigence and moral ostracism that bedevilled French public debate on several occasions during the century and the Revolution. The impending fear and the division of opinions on the nature of the conspiracy theory denied progress and improvement on the human affairs and the inherent openness of historical outcomes instead it encouraged politics of confrontation and exclusion.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, Jesuit conspiracy, Revolution, French politics, politics

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