This conspiracy theory classic is reported to have sold five million copies, making it one of the most popular books of the genre of all time
When Texas teenager Alex Jones went searching for explanations of who truly had their hands on the levers of power, he came across a text on his father’s bookshelf that more than any other would shape his future: the 1971 bestseller None Dare Call it Conspiracy.
That a young Jones was drawn to a book written by two members of the arch-conservative anti-communist John Birch Society is no surprise. None Dare was no self-published screed handed out on a street corner. It was a hugely popular tome mostly written by a prominent Bircher, organization spokesman Gary Allen (fellow Bircher Larry Abraham is also credited as a writer), who had served a speechwriter for pro-segregation Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace. And “popular” might be something of an understatement – None Dare is reported to have sold five million copies, making it one of the most read books of the genre of all time.
The early 1970’s were a time of deep distrust, paranoia, and political extremism as the “Summer of Love” gave way to the arch-conservatism of the Nixon administration and the continued decline of American fortunes in Vietnam. While Richard Nixon had once been held up as a paragon of virtue by the far right, they saw much of his agenda as a lurch towards socialism, especially with the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the opening of diplomatic relations with communist China.
For the John Birch Society, Nixon was not simply moving left. He was playing his part as a puppet of larger forces controlling western society, beholden to the political think tank the Council on Foreign Relations, an instrument of what the book calls the “World Super State of the Elite.” This supposed cabal had already been the subject of conspiracy theories for decades, with claims it was controlled and funded by Jewish power brokers seeking the enslavement of Christians.
Allen was stung by Nixon’s seeming betrayal. As he put it in a 1983 article called “Ten Years Later Many Americans are Calling it Conspiracy,” he had wanted to write a book that would do for Wallace what author John Stormer’s similarly titled None Dare Call it Treason had done for the anti-Civil Rights Act Republican presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater in 1964. They wanted to crystalize what many conspiracy believers already felt: that Wallace was the one to break the iron grip of the Jewish-Communist-Washington DC conspiracy.
But in 1972 just after the book was released, Wallace was shot and severely wounded, ending his insurgent presidential campaign. By that point, None Dare had already become an underground hit. The book was not just a polemic for Wallace, and he is barely mentioned in it. Instead, it serves as fast-moving, easily-understood, and hypnotically-written primer on how the global power elite, backed by Jewish bankers and communist politicians, was turning the working man into a slave through income tax, central banking, the national debt; while keeping him endlessly distracted by the mass media.
Allen was tapping into a deep cultural vein with a new twist: that someone above you is in control and taking away what you have worked for, so it’s time to get back at them.
But what None Dare had that many past (and future) conspiracy books lacked was brevity. Running at less than 150 pages, the citation-filled book does not get bogged down in rambling language or diatribes. Its introduction, written by then California Congressman John Schmitz, another Bircher, promised nothing less than a true story that “may have the effect of changing your life. After reading this book, you will never look at national and world events in the same way again.”
And for those eagerly devouring its rapid-fire prose, there was a lot to digest: a vast conspiracy by the most powerful banking families in the world, namely the Rockefellers and Rothschilds, working through the Council on Foreign Relations, to dominate the population through taxation; the establishment of a fraudulent central bank to hold the nation’s debt; and use of interest on that debt to fund wars that would be staged to collect and increase those debts and taxes.
As the conspiracy told it, every war of the 20th century, including the Vietnam War, was staged and run by Allen’s “insiders” to make more money, leverage their power, and consolidate their control over the masses. While it is tempting to write off None Dare as a work of antisemitic claptrap, Allen goes out of his way to make it clear that the Jewish families he attacks, most especially the Rothschilds and Warburgs, are not being attacked because of their Judaism, but because of their actions.
“It is just as unreasonable and immoral to blame all Jews for the crimes of the Rothschilds as it is to hold all Baptists accountable for the crimes of the Rockefellers,” Allen writes, though many of the future thinkers and authors who would be inspired by None Dare would pay no such lip service to absolving the greater population of Jews.
Unsurprisingly, reviews for the book were almost uniformly negative, especially from fellow conservative journals. In his ten-year anniversary article about the book, Allen spends much of his time raging against right-wing intellectuals and authors who panned None Dare upon its release for not getting it – or because they’re also part of “the insiders.”
But far more people were inspired by None Dare than would criticize it – many of whom would themselves become stars in the conspiracy firmament. Crucially, unlike many books of the genre, which go into exhausting detail about what “they” are doing without offering any kind of recourse, Allen’s last chapter is specifically titled “You Are the Answer” and serves as a call to action.
“The conspiracy can be defeated,” Allen concludes, because “the one thing these conspirators cannot survive is exposure.” Those who know they are being conned can fight back with knowledge, questions, and voting outside the “uni-party.” And they can recognize what Allen refers to as “Fourteen Signposts to Slavery,” which include restrictions on capital flight, gun ownership, and free association; as well as the forcible use of social security numbers in transactions and ruling by presidential executive order.
Here is where Allen has written something truly durable. Modern books on how to oppose right wing tyranny use much the same structure even if their content is completely different – expose what the tyrant is doing, reveal how they do it, and offer ways to oppose it. Allen sold millions of copies of None Dare because he took something that was already successful and adapted it for a modern, media-saturated audience desperate to push back against those conspiring to keep them down. It is an eternal message that always works, as exemplified by None Dare’s most prominent acolyte, Alex Jones.
Jones would adopt the same hyperactive style, full of dubious citations, outlandish accusations, and apocalyptic villains. Then he would make his listener feel like they were the only ones who could stop the looming disaster, through sharing his work and, of course, buying his branded products. The book lays out everything he and his fellow conspiracy pushers would come to believe: that there’s a vast conspiracy out there, and only they have the courage to call it what it is. And if they make a few bucks off it, hey, that’s just capitalism.
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