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Conspiracy Theory Book of the Month #4: Descent Into Slavery?

By Mike RothschildApril 22, 2024,

Des Griffin rehashes the same conspiracy theories and hoaxes about the Rothschilds that countless others have

Des Griffin (Illustration: CW)

Despite its title serving as an interrogatory rather than a statement, conspiracy theorist Des Griffin’s 1976 book Descent into Slavery? is not actually asking if we’re descending into slavery, but telling us all the way it’s already happened and who is to blame.

Born in Northern Ireland in 1934, a biography of Griffin on an e-books website claims that he emigrated to London in the 1950s, then to Canada, then eventually to the US. He was a self-taught researcher who lived a fairly quiet life until the mid-1970s, when he made the “shocking discovery” of the existence of the Illuminati and their plan for global domination.

Prodded into action by his “discovery,” he founded the publishing house Emissary Publications in South Pasadena, California. While it had gained a reputation as the far-left “land of fruits and nuts,” Southern California was also a hotbed of arch-conservative extremist politics and publishing, including as the headquarters of the John Birch Society. Tapping into that community, Griffin would quickly find success with his first book, The Missing Dimension in World Affairs. Written under a pen name, Missing Dimension was a rambling history of the New World Order and its supposed impact on global politics, and it was successful enough for Griffin to rewrite and republish it as Fourth Reich of the Rich.

Fourth Reich was a huge success and re-printed nearly a dozen times in the 1970s and 1980s, spawning a sequel in Descent Into Slavery? The first book focused mostly on the conspiracy theorist version of the Illuminati and their “master plan,” while Descent takes a wider and more grand view of the conspiracy, as it “zeroes in on the international bankers and […] their total involvement in the Illuminati plot to create a totalitarian One World government” as the book’s forward puts it.

Essentially, having revealed the existence of the plot, Griffin now wants to reveal who is funding the plot. And he hits on the same answer that countless other conspiracy theorists have and will continue to discover – the Rothschilds.

The Usual Suspects

Griffin spends a great deal of the first part of Descent rehashing the same conspiracy theories and hoaxes about the Rothschilds that countless others have. He claims that they rigged the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo to make untold amounts of money, that they financed both sides of the Civil War and had Lincoln assassinated, that they were responsible for the Bolshevik Revolution, they crashed the global economy in the 1920’s, and so forth.

Little of this will seem novel to dedicated conspiracists. Where Griffin’s work differs is that he attempts to use actual legitimate scholarship about the Rothschilds, particularly the hugely successful 1962 Frederic Morton biography The Rothschilds: A Family History, twisted out of context to make it seem like even the mainstream press has finally figured out this diabolical and power-mad clan.

A Viennese Jew born with the last name Mandelbaum, Morton and his family escaped Austria in the late 1930’s. The experience imprinted on the young Frederic to the point that he later wrote about his harrowing experience waiting for a visa at a Rothschild mansion that had been taken over by the Gestapo, who seemed to have a grudging respect for the power of the Rothschild name. Morton went on to write the first post-war biography of the Rothschilds, getting unprecedented access to their palaces, offices, art collections, and lush estates. As such, his writing has a tendency to valorize the family, particularly their earliest generation, as a type of financial pirates who achieved enormous success as the expense of everyone else by tapping into an innate financial wisdom no others had.

In his writing, Morton employs expressions like the family having a “demonic drive to succeed” and claiming “they saw neither peace nor war, they saw only stepping stones. Napoleon would be the next” as complimentary toward their acumen and tenacity. Unsurprisingly, Des Griffin decontextualizes all of this, using long stretches of quotes from The Rothschilds to paint the family as having “bought control of the British economy” after Waterloo, and as undemocratic, immoral schemers hiding behind an endless web of front groups and shell companies.

After running down the “real” details of the Rothschild-funded First World War and Rothschild-caused Great Depression, Griffin moves on to World War II, which he makes clear that what most of us think we know about the war was only printed by “peddlers of deception.” To Griffin, the war was mere theatre, a play written by the international bankers, and set into motion decades earlier with their phoney treaties and alliances.

War as a play

As theatre, Griffin’s version of the war is as elaborate as any Broadway show. It wasn’t Nazi Germany attempting to conquer the world, it was the Illuminati. It was England that goaded Germany into action, and Japan that was desperate to avoid war against the United States – a war begun under the orders of President Roosevelt. The Allies stalled and invaded fascist Italy in 1943 rather than occupied France so they could cause more death and let weapons manufacturers make more money. Japan never sought control over vast swathes of the South Pacific, they were manipulated into a war they knew they couldn’t win. And the west only funded the Soviet effort against the Nazis to lure them to their destruction. Legendary figures like General Eisenhower were the real war criminals, while the Nazis executed for actual war crimes were victims of a war they never wanted, carried out so the bankers could buy up destroyed German cities and rebuild the rubble of Japan for “a few cents on the dollar.”

To Griffin, all of the death and suffering of the war was merely a staged Illuminati “urban renewal” plan, funded by Rothschild banks and carried out by Rothschild politicians. It is a vast war on everything Western civilization holds dear – the family, Biblical authority, the Constitution, equality, and the very basics of the life we have come to know. It is quite literally a war between good and evil – with the freedom of humanity in the balance.

Midnight Messenger

Obviously, Des Griffin’s version of the events of the 20th century is ludicrous and antisemitic. And while he attempts to claim that the many Allied soldiers killed during World War II had no idea they were being used as pawns, his writing comes off as more than a little apologetic for the behavior of the Axis.

But that’s what his readers wanted, and there were many of them over the decades. Like many other conspiracy theorist authors, Griffin would continue updating Descent into Slavery? every time it was republished, spending new chapters picking apart the end of the Cold War, George HW Bush’s 1991 “Towards a New World Order” speech, the many fake scandals of the Clinton years, and beyond. Griffin parlayed the success of Descent and Fourth Reich into more books, including one exposing “The Man Behind the Myth” of Martin Luther King, Jr. He also started a newsletter called The Midnight Messenger in 1985, writing and publishing it on his website and in print on a bi-monthly basis until well into the 2000s from his new home in rural Oregon.  He would be name-checked on Alex Jones' InfoWars, and referenced in a whole new generation of conspiracy books with titles like The Ruling Elite: A Study in Imperialism, Genocide and Emancipation and It’s All About Evil.

Ultimately, Descent Into Slavery? doesn’t have the public profile that many other books of the genre have. Its conspiracy theories about the Illuminati controlling the world through its Jewish banks and front groups don’t read all that differently from None Dare Call It Conspiracy or the works of David Icke. But even though he says little that is new and what he does reveal is essentially the misinterpreted work of an actual biographer of the Rothschilds, Griffin still turned his “research” into a lucrative career.

In many ways, his success was a harbinger of what was to come. Griffin is hardly a household name and is less well-known than many other conspiracists. But his work still has cache, and at the age of 90, he is still cranking out material. The social media era made it possible to become an influencer in this sphere with nothing but consistent content creation and a message that people wanted to hear. All to achieve a measure of fame and fortune in a world full of people desperate to be told things they already think they know.

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Mike Rothschild
Mike Rothschild
Journalist and expert focused on the rise and spread of conspiracy theories, he is the author of the first complete book on the QAnon conspiracy movement, "The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything", and his newest book is "Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy Theories". In addition to his writing and interviews, Mike has worked as an expert witness in cases related to QAnon and the 2020 Election, testified to  U.S. Congress on the danger of election fraud disinformation, and submitted written testimony to the January 6th Select Committee on the role of QAnon in the Capitol attack.
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