Hofstadter on the Paranoid Style

Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style” is always relevant and, lately, frequently quoted. If you have 20 minutes, it’s worth a read.

American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.

From “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” by Richard Hofstadter (Harper’s Magazine, November 1964)