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Chasing windmills

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Title:
Chasing windmills the use of conspiracy theory based narratives by anti-Agenda 21 movements
Alternate title:
Use of conspiracy theory based narratives by anti-Agenda 21 movements
Creator:
Shaffer, Mikel ( author )
Language:
English
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1 electronic file (88 pages) : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Agenda 21 ( lcsh )
Agenda 21 ( fast )
Sustainable development -- United States ( lcsh )
Conspiracy theories -- United States ( lcsh )
Conspiracy theories ( fast )
Sustainable development ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Review:
Sustainable development has become a controversial issue in the United States. A fundamental part of the resistance against sustainability programs has manifested in the anti-Agenda 21 movement. Despite the fact that Agenda 21 is a several decade old voluntary United Nations sustainability program with no enforcement capabilities, the political right wing of the United States has worked the last few years to legally prohibit the program and label it as a nefarious plan that would damage American society. This movement has the support of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, several conservative think tanks, and various conservative aligned media outlets. The narrative used by these groups to attack the sustainability plan are rooted in a several decade old, obscure conspiracy theory that has been revitalized and has evolved to fit the current political climate. The following work analyzes the conspiracy narratives that allowed an obscure conspiracy theory to become a political issue that has triggered anti-Agenda 21 legislation as well as a right wing social movement. This analysis includes the birth of the conspiracy theory, how it evolved during its new iteration, and the effects this has on the American political system.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references.
System Details:
System requirements: Adobe Reader.
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mikel Shaffer.

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Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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920906299 ( OCLC )
ocn920906299

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Full Text
CHASING WINDMILLS: THE USE OF CONSPIRACY THEORY BASED NARRATIVES
BY ANTI-AGENDA 21 MOVEMENTS
By
MIKEL SHAFFER
B.S. University of Denver, Colorado 2010
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science Program
2015


This thesis for the Master of Arts Degree by
Mikel Shaffer
has been approved for the
Political Science Program
by
Lucy McGuffey, Chair
Tony Robinson
Glenn Morris
May 27, 2015
11


Shaffer, Mikel (MA, Political Science)
Chasing Windmills: The Use of Conspiracy Theory Based Narratives by Anti-Agenda 21
Movements
Thesis directed by Professor Lucy McGuffey
ABSTRACT
Sustainable development has become a controversial issue in the United States. A
fundamental part of the resistance against sustainability programs has manifested in the anti-
Agenda 21 movement. Despite the fact that Agenda 21 is a several decade old voluntary United
Nations sustainability program with no enforcement capabilities, the political right wing of the
United States has worked the last few years to legally prohibit the program and label it as a
nefarious plan that would damage American society. This movement has the support of the
Republican Party, the Tea Party, several conservative think tanks, and various conservative
aligned media outlets. The narrative used by these groups to attack the sustainability plan are
rooted in a several decade old, obscure conspiracy theory that has been revitalized and has
evolved to fit the current political climate. The following work analyzes the conspiracy
narratives that allowed an obscure conspiracy theory to become a political issue that has
triggered anti-Agenda 21 legislation as well as a right wing social movement. This analysis
includes the birth of the conspiracy theory, how it has evolved during its new iteration, and the
effects this has on the American political system.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Lucy McGuffey
m


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION...................................................1
Problem Statement........................................3
Review of the Literature.................................6
Theoretical Framework...................................10
Methods.................................................14
The Goals of this Work..................................16
II. AGENDA 21 FACTS AND CONSPIRACY BASED NARRATIVES................17
The Roots of the Conspiracy Theory: Malthus, the New World Order and
the John Birch Society..................................18
The Schiller White Paper: Creating a Conspiracy.........22
III. ELITE AND MEDIA USE OF AGENDA 21 CONSPIRACY THEORIES.40
Elites and Conspiracy Theories..........................40
Elite Organizations, the GOP, the JBS and the Tea Party.46
Right Wing Media and Agenda 21..........................58
IV. CONCLUSION....................................................69
REFERENCES................................................................77
IV


CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
There is strong resistance to sustainability programs in the United States. Concepts such
as climate change, sustainable growth as well as many other aspects of environmentalism and
green development have become highly contested political arguments. However, there is a
substantive amount of the debate constructed on conspiracy theory based ideology and
propaganda constructed from this type of worldview. The resulting social narratives used to
argue and work against sustainability programs or for anti-sustainability laws are then often
derived from these ideologies. In turn, these narratives become a window into how
environmental policies are argued in many instances in the United States. Through discourse
and narrative analysis, we can understand that many opponents of sustainability programs are
fighting said programs based on conspiracy theory driven worldviews that are often logically,
epistemologically, and factually incorrect (these aspects of conspiracy theories will be discussed
in depth below). One such concept that has been the subject of much debate and several state
laws working towards prohibition of sustainability programs is the United Nations sustainable
growth program entitled Agenda 21. Although this plan is a non-binding document that does not
proscribe any form of punishment for non-compliance, opponents have argued that it is actually
a nefarious plan to erode property rights and create a world system based on control and a
utopian environmentalist vision. The following study will look at how the Agenda 21 conspiracy
theory has come into existence, the methods with which it has spread and the social effects of
this conspiracy theory becoming the basis for political discourse and public policy.
Conspiracy theories are a well-entrenched part of the political culture of the United
States. From the early Puritanical fears that cabals of witches, sorcerers, and non-Christian
1


indigenous people were attempting to destroy the new colonies to modem claims that the
standing president is a foreign born Muslim who is using a socialist health care plan to kill off
the elderly with death panels (Goldberg 2001, 2-3) (Farhi 2010, 33-34). Further, there are
long-standing themes within conspiracy theories of incorporating political concepts that relate to
international politics and the UN into a grand narrative of worldwide conspiracy (James 2001,
83-84).
Conspiracy theories have served as an alternate explanation and, in some cases, the
official explanation, for events that cause social anxiety. It can be easy to brush off conspiracy
theorists as victims of a paranoid pathology and dismiss their ideas as fringe nonsense
(Hofstadler 1964). Culturally, our media and entertainment often portray conspiracy theories as
the beliefs of marginalized individuals who worry about UFO invasions, the secrets behind the
JFK assassination, or outsiders who think that a shadowy one-world government is behind
almost every conceivable social ill (Bell and Bennion-Nixon 2001). These people do exist in
some number, but as social science researchers point out, they often have trouble participating
and being a part of a normal, healthy, political life (Keeley 2006, 53-55). The point here is that
common conceptions (or misconceptions as I will later argue) of conspiracy theorists do not lead
us to an immediate assumption that these people would have a significant effect on political
culture.
However, the reality is that conspiracy theories and the social narratives they aid in
constructing have had a dramatic impact (often in very negative ways) throughout human history
(Aaronovitch 2010, 8-10). Rhetoric and the assignment of group identity to others based on
the belief in a conspiracy theory has led to systemic violence against Jewish people from the
Crusades to the Inquisition and later through various programs that went far as the Holocaust and
2


still serve as the basis of anti-Semitic violence today (Pipes 1997, 129-145). Individuals that
lived during the red scare period of the Cold War could have their civil rights denied and their
lives effectively ruined for having gone to a single Communist party meeting years before, for
socializing with people perceived to be communist, or for espousing unorthodox political views.
This political demonization of communists was directly tied to the conspiracy theories of the
era that labeled members of the political party as part of a worldwide plot to destroy the United
States and political rights, such as liberty and personal choice (Rogin 1987, 44-81).
A list of systemic violence based on conspiracy theories and narratives derived from said
conspiracy theories could go on at great length, but is unnecessary here. Instead, these examples
can help us understand two important points about this type of social discourse. First, we can see
that some conspiracy theories can be quite harmful. Not all of these concepts are simply
marginal ideas; instead, we can see that imagined conspiracies can lead to actual violence and
oppression. Second, we can see that the power required to initiate actions such as state
sponsored anti-Semitic violence or government-led witch-hunts against a specific political
ideology is not something that can be done by the paranoid individual outsider type described
above. These actions require power and the ability to garner mass support. In other words, these
events require political elites to be part of the process. The problem here is that we often neglect
to understand and explain the roles that political leaders have in the reinforcement and spread of
conspiracy theories and the ills they produce for society.
Problem Statement
The lack of attention in our political culture to the usage of narratives derived from
conspiracy theories as a form of propaganda and justification for policy by elites is mirrored by a
lack of attention to the same subject matter in the social sciences. A scholarly article
3


Conspiracy Theories: Cause and Cures, by Sunstein and Vermeule (2009) describes the gap in
the data succinctly in the following quote about the current limits of academic understanding of
conspiracy theories.
Most of the academic literature directly involving conspiracy theories falls into one of
two classes (1) work by analytic philosophers, especially in epistemology and the
philosophy of science, that explores a range of issues but mainly asks what counts as a
conspiracy theory and whether such theories are methodologically suspect; (2) a
smattering of work in sociology and Freudian psychology on the causes of conspiracy
theorizing (p. 203).
In essence, most scholars look at how conspiracy theories are built on poor logic and why people
continue to believe in them.
The research for this work is in agreement with Sunstein and Vermeules assessment of
academic literature involving conspiracy theories. I have only discovered a few authors such as
Goldberg, Rogan and Bratich, who address issues surrounding elites using conspiracy theories.
As Goldberg points out in his introduction, this is a very important dynamic but such work is
notably scarce (Goldberg 2001, xii). What is addressed in this limited pool of work is how elites
use conspiracy theories to justify counter subversion that stifles dissent or how leaders use
conspiracy theories in order to stimulate fear in order to gain support for a policy (Rogin 1987,
44-80) (Aaronovitch 2010, 52-86) (Goldberg 2001, 1-21).
These instances describe circumstances in which state actors have used conspiracy
theories against non-elites and other such groups. I will be looking at a case in which the
conspiracy fueled rhetoric and narratives are aimed at inter-elite conflicts or attempts by elites to
stop a policy they oppose. In essence, with this work on Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, I will
be analyzing how elites are using conspiracy theories as a method to attack other political elites,
or governmental bodies. This is not to say that political elites normally refrain from accusing
each other of participation in some form of dark machinations. There is a distinct flavor of
4


old, entrenched tin-foil-hat style conspiracy theories in the case I will be discussing. What
appears with this analysis is an entire narrative developed from a conspiracy theory. This
narrative appears as if it were part of the belief system of the paranoid non- politically
functioning individuals mentioned above, yet are used by members of the political elite as a basis
of policy. As I will show across this work, these alternative explanations of Agenda 21 are part
of an understanding of reality developed through the evolution of pre-existing conspiracy
narratives. This narrative may have changed slightly over time due to the speaker and social
context but the core beliefs and concepts remain intact. In turn, this leads to the construction of
public policy and anti-sustainability movements founded on concepts that are simply untrue.
If it can be shown that political leaders are increasingly spreading conspiracy theories and
making them part of our mainstream political culture and discourse as a method to gain popular
support, we could see the rise of many negative aspects of this type of belief system. These
problems run a gamut from a faulty understanding of cause-and-effect in political systems to
decreased participation and faith in the ability of legitimate government (Skinner 2001, 106-109)
(Keeley 2006, 56-59). Further, the belief in conspiracy theories is also credited with increased
polarization and an inability to understand the need for compromise and respect for other
viewpoints in contentious situations (Featherstone 2001, 31-38). Finally, and quite simply, many
if not most conspiracy theories, can be proven to be logically flawed and factually incorrect
(Basham, Living with the Conspiracy 2006, 61-69). If this is the case, then political elites and
supporters who work against sustainability programs due to unfounded fears are simply
misdirecting and harming important environmental policies.
5


Review of the Literature
There is much debate in the social sciences as to why conspiracy theories become a part
of our political narrative and why people believe in these alternative explanations of political
events. The main scholarly explanations can be broken down into four basic categories. These
categories include personal political psychology, social anxiety, adherence to ideologies that
understand events in a good-versus-evil dichotomy, and conspiracy theories as an elite political
strategy.
The concept that conspiracy theories are rooted in a persons psychology comes from
some of the first researchers to give the topic serious academic consideration. One of the earliest
modern scholarly attempts to explain conspiracy theories and their adherents was The Paranoid
Style in American Politics by Richard Hofstadter. This brief essay written in 1963 and viewed
conspiracy theories as the product of a type of social or collective paranoia in which a conspiracy
theorist believes that outsiders are plotting against their national culture and political beliefs
(Hofstadler 1964, 3-7). This type of group paranoia differs from the personal paranoia of a
clinically ill person who feels threatened as an individual (Hofstadler 1964, 3-7). Hofstadlers
work also discusses the roles that elites have in reinforcing such conspiracy theories, however, it
settles with an analysis in which the political psychology of individuals is to blame for the
behavior. British philosopher Karl Popper wrote a small piece in 1972 entitled The Conspiracy
Theory of Society that came to similar conclusions as Hofstadter regarding the paranoia of
individual conspiracy theorists. However, Popper goes a step further and depicts these
individuals as the antithesis of social scientists. For Popper, conspiracy theorists are people who
attempt to explain events, but do so in a dysfunctional manner and as a result create harmful
pseudo-sciences in order to achieve their goals (Popper 2006, 13-17). In 1997, Daniel Pipes,
6


author of How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where it Comes From, comes to similar
conclusion about the genesis and propagation of conspiracy theories. Like Hofstadter and
Popper, he believes conspiracy theories are the product of a paranoid political pathology.
Although he does touch upon the subject of leaders and their roles in conspiracy theories
becoming more prominent, he references less mainstream leaders, such as Joseph Stalin or Pat
Buchanan, who blatantly have a very ridged, extreme ideology on the far left or right of the
political spectrum (Pipes 1997, 21-36). Despite the fact that that these works do address leaders
espousing conspiracy theories the reader is left with the general impression that this is
uncommon and that these individuals are simply paranoid individuals that abuse their positions.
However, not all scholars agree with the assumption that conspiracy theorists suffer from
paranoia problems. Some researchers look at how social anxiety shapes the usage of conspiracy
theories as an explanation for political events. Jane Parish takes a different tone than the
scholars who deem paranoia to be the main cause. Instead, she looks at patterns of social change
and anxiety from pre-colonial witch scares to modern globalization in order to argue that people
indulge in conspiracy theorizing to make sense of their fears (Parish 2001, 1-16). Peter Knight
has a similar take on the subject. He explains that humans often make decisions in an
environment of risk. Although this factor comes from the unintended consequences of other
actions, the use of conspiracy theories as a method of explaining how the world works constructs
blame, labels an identifiable enemy, and seeks to add an elements of agency and control over
anxiety producing events (Knight 2001, 17-31). Alasdair Spark works with a similar idea of how
fear of random or unexpected social events also leads to conspiracy theorizing. His specific
focus is on New World Order style conspiracies. He argues that both the left and the right of the
7


political spectrum1 are less distinct than they were during the Cold War. This ebbing of
concrete political groups and their associated ideologies, in combination with rapid globalization,
pushes many people to indulge in conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories become a way of
reinstating the political duality and power relations associated with the Cold War and older
methods of international relations. Spark contends that the appeal of conspiracy theories is that
they seek totality and impose order (Spark 2001, 46-62). In essence, the villain(s) of a
conspiracy theory, despite their nearly omni precent nature give comfort in times of anxiety as
they become a scapegoat for social frustration and instability.
However, the need to create order in a chaotic world is not the only reason individuals
believe in conspiracy theories, a persons ideology is also a very influential factor. Nigel James,
while discussing right wing militia groups in the United States, argues that conspiracy theories
are often the product of religious and cultural ideologies that explain the world and events within
a good versus evil dichotomy. In turn, this right or wrong distinction fits perfectly within the
narrative of most conspiracy theories (James 2001, 63-93). Jonathan Skinner also touches on
ideological and identity based concepts that promote conspiracy based thinking. He argues that
belief in conspiracy theories is an attempt to construct a political narrative and functions as if it
were an evangelical religion. Conspiracy theorists often evaluate the world with a good-versus-
evil dichotomy with the belief system becoming an important part of ones identity. He further
argues that conspiracy theorist construct a political framework in order to evaluate the world.
However, he points out that this framework is often constructed though poor epistemology and
links singular events into an all-encompassing narrative. In turn, this poorly constructed
1 This is a bit of a rarity in the discourse, as most scholars attack conservatives and give left of center conspiracy
theorists a pass on their behavior.
8


narrative becomes ones personal identity but also as the basis for the persons political identity
(Skinner 2001, 93-111).
The first three categories focus on the psychology and belief systems of conspiracy
theorists, while the fourth explains conspiracy theories as a form of elite political
communication. Although some of the authors who focus on behavioral and ideological
explanations do discuss leaders and conspiracy theories, their work is based on the psychology of
elites.
Another important dimension of this topic is how leaders and elites use conspiracy
theories as a political strategy. Charles Pigden argues that elites take advantage of the
preconceived notions that society has about the term conspiracy theory and can label the
oppositions ideas as such in order to stifle debate and make the subject taboo within public
discourse (Pigden 2006, 17-45). Michael Rogin takes a different approach and shows how elites
use conspiracy theories in order to stimulate fear in a society and stifle dissent. In essence, he
argues that through a process of political demonology political elites use conspiracy theories to
create fear and justify harsh actions against dissent and unorthodox political thought (Rogin
1987, 44-87). Robert Goldberg reinforces this idea by showing several cases, ranging from the
witch-hunts in the New England colonies to the Red Scare during the Cold War in which leaders
espoused and acted upon conspiracy theories. Each instance ended with harmful results for many
members of the population (Goldberg 2001, 1-21). David Aaronovitch and Mark Fenster offer
similar support in two separate but similarly themed books that focus on elite and state-driven
conspiracy theories and the harms they have created throughout history (Aaronovitch 2010)
(Fenster 2008). Jack Bratich looks at a similar topic and argues that elites create conspiracy
panics that have long reaching effects across the rest of society (Bratich 2008). The above data
9


is a sample of the main scholarly debates concerning conspiracy theories. Although not
exhaustive by any means, these works display the four main academic explanations of
conspiracy theories and the subsequent externalities they produce. This study will look at
instances in which elites use traditional paranoid style conspiracy theories against each other
or a governmental body. However, unlike the other scholars who focus on elite use of
conspiracy theories and narratives, I will not be looking at the situation as though it is part of an
intentional strategy. As there is little data to support assertions that the elites discussed in my
work are lying about their beliefs for political gain, I will treat this situation as an honest
reflection of the subjects belief system. Further, I will be using this case to develop an analysis
of how conspiracy theories become part of a larger social narrative.
Theoretical Framework
In order to complete this study I will be working with several theoretical assumptions.
These frameworks and concepts will be derived from existing literature discussing conspiracy
theories. First, one must answer the question, what is a conspiracy theory? It is important to
define and work with a specific definition for this term. As one scholar reminds us, the official
explanation for the September 11th terrorist attacks is, in essence, a conspiracy theory in itself. It
just happens to be a conspiracy theory that is provable, accepted, and is often given credence
through official governmental channels. We also have a tendency to view a conspirators
activity differently when such activity is committed by people and/or groups we support (Coady,
Conspiracy Theories and Offical Stories 2006, 115-117) (Pigden 2006, 17-23). However, I will
be using the more common understanding of conspiracy theories with the negative associations
that this term often carries. This type of conspiracy theory, also known as an unwarranted
conspiracy theory or malevolent global conspiracy theory are implausible alternative
10


explanations that refute the accepted explanation of events (Basham, Malevolent Global
Conspiracy Theory 2006, 93-95) (Keeley 2006, 46-48). Further, these types of conspiracy
theories are often founded on errant data and poor logical reasoning (Keeley 2006, 46-48).
They assume shadow governments under the control of evil people use their power for
malevolent, world controlling goals (Sunstein and Vermeule 2009, 204-211). Further,
conspiracy theories assign agency where there is often just coincidence in order to construct
narratives that put order to the world (Coady, An Introduction to the Philosophical Debate about
Conspiracy Theories 2006, 8).
The next theoretical concept contained within this work is that conspiracy theories are an
ideology or worldview. The key point here is that people who believe in conspiracy theories
truly understand the world in a completely different manner than most of society. If they believe
the world is organized in a manner that allows secret powerful groups to run amok at the expense
of the masses, this implies a severely different view of systemic processes and the limits of
human power that non-conspiracy theorists do not hold (Keeley 2006, 59-60). Further, scholars
assume that this belief extends past a single conspiracy theory. If one believes that international
governmental bodies have the desire and capacity to infiltrate and manipulate governments, there
is no reason to discount their ability to hide assassinations, false flag terror attacks, or any
other type of malevolence. Although a conspiracy theorist may not openly admit to such belief
on every topic, the roots of this type of thinking are embedded in the basic methods with which
they define the world (Pipes 1997, 25). Conspiracy theories help the believer maintain their
sense of self and reality in times of anxiety and social stress. This can occur as the villains in the
conspiracy become a scapegoat for the conspiracy theorists problems. Instead of blaming, the
chaos of human relations and the unexpected externalities of events for their fears and problems,
11


the villains of the conspiracy theory take the blame (Melley 2008, 163). In turn, this process of
scapegoating presents an ideological paradox in which a person may lose faith in their way of
life when it is challenged or proven to be less than perfect (Melley 2008, 163). In essence, belief
in conspiracy theories is a way of life like any other political or religious ideology and functions
as such psychologically (Pipes 1997, 23-25) (James 2001, 78-83).
The next theoretical concept important to this work is that conspiracy theories are a form
of narrative. Early social science evaluations of conspiracy theories assumed that they were the
product of paranoia and were nothing more than a simple assemblage of claims and proofs
(Paf 2005, 58). However, in recent years many scholars have changed shifted the dominate
paradigm regarding of conspiracy theories and consider them a legitimate source of narrative and
argumentation (Paf 2005, 58-59). This is not to say that scholars now accept conspiracy theories
as accurate depictions of reality. Instead, researchers have recognized that despite the erroneous
nature of many conspiracy theories, they fulfill the requirements of a narrative and can serve as
useful analytical tools. As narratives, conspiracy theories follow a temporal progression that
narrates the past, explains the present and predicts the future (Paf 2005, 60). Further,
conspiracy theories fulfill narrative standards such as narrative probability and narrative
fidelity (Paf 2005, 62). Narrative probability refers to the internal cohesion of the story and if
follows basic guidelines such as having a discernable plot and characters (Paf 2005, 62). The
other category, narrative fidelity, explains how well the narrative fits within the audiences
expectations and understandings of the situation and reality (Paf 2005, 62). Overall, we can see
that modem standards for narratives no longer view conspiracy theories as a non-functional story
cobbled together to justify paranoia. Instead, modern evaluation of conspiracy theories 2
2 Although these standards may appear to describing concepts that one would use to evaluate fiction, they are also
standards used for non-fictional accounts. The author cited for this point discusses Lincoln's "House Divided"
speech and Hitler's Mein Kampf as his examples.
12


understand the alternative explanations as a coherent (though often factually flawed) system of
storytelling that attempts to explain the world.
Another important concept for this work is that elites use conspiracy theories and the
media and masses tend to follow their example. This concept is also well established in
scholarly writings involving conspiracy theories. Hofstadter explains that one of the key
problems with conspiracy theories is that if elites give them credence than the media and
subsequently the masses have a tendency to work themselves into a state of panic with the
information (Hofstadler 1964, 1-7). Other studies have pointed out that when a groups leaders
espouse conspiracy theories, the members of said group will follow the example in high numbers
(Simmons and Parsons 2005, 590-595). Further, historical analyses of conspiracy theories show
that leaders introducing conspiracy theories into political discourse creates panic that the media
spreads and reinforces among the population (Bratich 2008).
The final theoretical concept I will mention is that conspiracy theories matter in political
culture and are essentially harmful to society. Once started, a conspiracy theory often grows and
is hard to stop. This affects political behavior in a spiraling manner where historical myths, poor
logic, and misinformation reinforce each other (Spark 2001, 47-51). Additionally, belief in
conspiracy theories constructs a worldview in which political processes and officially sanctioned
knowledge are at best flawed and at worst outright lies (Keeley 2006, 56-57). Conspiracy
theories can also establish a good-versus-evil mentality that poorly equips one for a participatory
political life (James 2001, 78-83). Further, conspiracy theories construct ones worldview in
such a way have a greater tendency to view themselves as isolated and apart from others
(Featherstone 2001, 43-44).
13


In summation, conspiracy theories are attempts to explain political events by assigning
agency and responsibility to powerful secretive forces. These ideas are then blended with other
discourses (such as elite public discourse, existing conspiracy theories and fiction) to form a
narrative that explains the world. These explanations defy officially accepted answers as to why
something occurs and assumes some type of malevolent plot. Elites are often guilty of using
conspiracy theories in a strategic manner. The elite component gives credibility to the
conspiracy theory and thus they are spread by the mainstream media to the masses. Since
conspiracy theories are a type of ideology and are a part of our culture, these messages easily
find listeners and fantastical ideas of conspiracy become part of the narrative of our political
culture and can lead to actual harms to society. These ideas then become a part of the believers
identity, which leads to the incorporation of more ideas into the conspiracy and a greater
personal need to defend the concepts.
Methods
In order to complete this work, I will be using a qualitative study of the discourse
surrounding Agenda 21-based sustainability programs in the United States. I will look primarily
at statements, documents, and policy constructed by groups as this work focuses on narratives
and ideological patterns within groups. The goal is to establish the role of elites in spreading
these ideas via their statements. In turn, I will be interpreting how the media validate elite-driven
conspiracy theories and how this shapes the beliefs of the masses. The situations that I will be
studying to make my case are the anti-Agenda 21 arguments that have led to the formation of
anti-U.N. and anti-sustainability laws in several states.
I will look at the language used to argue against sustainability programs and such
arguments fit into a narrative based on long-standing conspiracy theories. The reason for
14


selecting this case is that it contains the following attributes. First, there is ample conspiracy
theory rhetoric available from elite political leaders and groups on the subject. Second, the
conspiracy theories espoused by elites mirror longstanding conspiracy theories found in our
culture. Third, there is ample media coverage of this concept that will allow an in-depth study of
the dissemination of these ideas. Finally, this conspiracy theory has had real effects on policy
and the implementation of sustainability laws in the United States.
In order to accomplish this goal, I will be conducting a discourse analysis utilizing
qualitative methods. The type of knowledge I am seeking is contextual to the situation in
which I am studying and is best found using an interpretivist theory that allows one to gauge
human volition within a situation (Della Porta and Keating 2008, 23). This type of study
intentionally focuses on subjective meanings and assumes actions are based on how people
perceive the world around them (Della Porta and Keating 2008, 24-25). In essence, I will look at
the political discourse and social narratives surrounding the above-mentioned issues. I will then
interpret how these ideas filter through the media and into the general population and become
part of our political culture.
In this work, I will use three main characteristics of conspiracy theories/narratives in
order to analyze this situation. First, conspiracy narratives tend to use a process of political
demonization against opponents. This term refers to discourse used to label people and groups
as monstrous villains (Rogin 1987, 41-81). Second, conspiracy narratives are often based on
unsubstantiated claims. Although conspiracy narratives may have an internal cohesion that
allows them to function as an explanatory story, this does not mean the logical flow of the work
is based on fact. This idea fits into Keelys explanation of conspiracy theories as concepts based
on errant data, poor logic, and assumptions (2006, 46-48). Third, conspiracy narratives often
15


attempt to assign agency to situations. Although all narratives assign human agency, conspiracy
narratives do so in a very specific manner. This occurs from assigning a greater level of human
agency than can be proven to opponents or by downplaying the agency of victims of conspiracies
(Melley 2008, 161). These three characteristics, along with the concepts of narrative fidelity
and narrative probability will be used to explain how the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative
functions.
The Goals of this Work
My goal with this work is to understand and explore the complexities of this particular
situation. Much like any study of narratives and discourse during instances of social conflict, the
analysis of this data must be contextual to the situation. Therefore, it is important to remark that
this work is only meant to determine the roots and shape of conspiracy theory based arguments
regarding the adoption and implementation of Agenda 21. It is true that many of the theoretical
aspects of the conspiracy theory discussed in the work may remain true across several narratives,
and that many conspiracy theories are part of an interrelated belief system of malevolent plots.
However, there is still distinct and important differences between the creation, dissemination,
and reinforcement of Agenda 21 conspiracy theory versus other conspiracy theory such as
birther or truther concepts. I will also show the intricacies of this specific narrative within
the common features shared by all conspiracy theories.
16


CHAPTER II
AGENDA 21 FACTS AND CONSPIRACY BASED NARRATIVES
Agenda 21 is the name of the sustainability project developed by world leaders, NGOs,
and activists at the 1992 Earth and Development Conference (commonly known as the Rio
Conference or the Earth Summit). The conference focused on the creation of a worldwide
program of sustainable development and environmental policy in order to prevent further
excesses in use of resources and the creation of pollution (United Nations Department of Public
Information 1997). The conference had representatives from 172 countries with 108 heads of
state attending the event. Further, the conference drew over 2400 NGOs and tens of thousands
of other participants (journalists, business leaders, and individuals) resulting in the most
comprehensive and, if implemented, effective programme (sic) of action ever sanctioned by the
international community ( United Nations Department of Public Information 1997). In order to
understand the conspiracy theory and conspiracy narrative associated with this UN plan one must
understand the actual policy, how it relates to existing conspiracy theories, and how the
conspiracy theory has been adapted for use in current political context.
Agenda 21 addresses many issues concerning eco-efficiency and attempts to minimize
environmental degradation that occurs due to development and industrialization. The main goal
of the treaty is to encourage suitable and environmentally sound development in the coming
century (the 21st century, thus Agenda 21) by focusing on local initiatives that worked within a
global framework (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). This includes but is not
limited to planning land usage for business and homes, alleviating poverty and the many ill
effects that stem from resource deprivation, and other top down efforts to change normative
patterns of consumption in rich countries (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992).
Further, this is not just a fix for current ecological and economic issues. Many of these
17


ideas are designed to consider environmental concerns as future policy is developed (United
Nations Sustainable Development 1992). This is done by addressing issues such as industrial
pollution, projected consumption patterns in rich countries, the use of fossil fuels for energy and
transportation, and many other concepts related to ecology, and sustainability and poverty
eradication ( United Nations Department of Public Information 1997). The result of this
conference is the Agenda 21 document, a non-binding set of recommendations, that outlined
suggestions for the future that do not exacerbate economic and environmental problems that
have led to the worlds current state of environmental degradation (ICLEI2013).
The Roots of the Conspiracy Theory: Malthus, the New World Order and the John Birch
Society
Despite the information discussed above, this is not how many conspiracy theorists
understand Agenda 21 and its associated sustainability programs. Instead, many conspiracy
theorists view the United Nations plan as a political maneuver launched by collectivist elites in
order to facilitate an authoritarian global government (Field 2012) (Snyder 2014) (Dickson
2014). Agenda 21 conspiracy theories can be understood as an evolution of New World Order
and Depopulation (or Malthusian) Conspiracy theories. Although this work focuses on the
Agenda 21 theory, it is important to understand that these ideas do not develop solely as a
response to Agenda 21. Instead, like most conspiracy theories, they are part of a larger social
narrative that draws from a preexisting ideological understanding of reality (James 2001). In
order to understand how the Agenda 21 conspiracy is a product of longstanding conspiracy 3
3 Although it may seem more logical to call the subject of this paper a singular conspiracy theory this does not
accurately describe the situation. The concept of Agenda 21 conspiracy theories may follow a similar narrative
within a specific ideological framework. However, there is still some differences in how each theorist explains the
conspiracy. Much like a campfire story, the basics may stay the same, but little details change. Further, more
importance may be placed on one aspect of the conspiracy depending on the fears or agenda of the
speaker/author.
18


narratives that is now incorporating current social context, it is important to take a brief look at
some of the major components of the conspiracy. The most important roots of the current
Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is the depopulation conspiracy theory (also often referred to as a
Malthusian Conspiracy) and New World Order conspiracy theories.
The concept of a Malthusian/depopulation conspiracy is related to the works of 19th
century British philosopher Thomas Robert Malthus. Malthus wrote a philosophical essay on
population limits and resource production entitled An Essay on the Principle of Population
(Malthus 1798). This work discussed Malthus concerns about population increases and
resource consumption in the future. Malthus believed that populations would eventually exceed
our species capacity for food production and that evils and suffering such as famine, poverty,
and violence would spread to endemic levels and cause massive hardships for humanity (Malthus
1798). His suggestion is that societies take steps in order to limit excessive population growth in
order to avert disaster (Malthus 1798). However, conspiracy theorists have taken a different
view on this philosophy that go far past warnings to keep the world population within sustainable
limits.
Within conspiracy narratives, the term Malthusianism or Malthusian are used as
negative terms that do not refer to the externalities associated with overpopulation, or long-term
planning that would ensure that an overpopulation problem does not occur. Instead, this term is
laden with negative assumptions about population control that involve subjugation and mass
murder (Klenetsky 1992) (Maessen 2009). In the context of most conspiracy theories, the
assumption is that controls on population will be done in a manner that is violent, secretive, and
for the purpose of increasing the power of some type of shadow government in pursuit of an
extreme leftist political agenda. (Klenetsky 1992) (Maessen 2009). This last part concerning a
19


shadow government helps link this conspiracy theory with New World Order conspiracy
theories.
The other relevant pre-existing conspiracy approach that factors into the Agenda 21
theories is the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy. The NWO conspiracy theory is one of the
most recent iterations of what Pipes would classify as a secret society conspiracy (Pipes 1997,
28-29). This incarnation of secret society conspiracy is based on a paper from the John Birch
Society and is named after a statement on world peace and global governance by George H.W.
Bush during a post-Cold War speech4 (Stewart 2002, 147). However, The John Birch Societys
use of the term does not carry the same meaning as was originally intended by Bush. Bushs
speech was a hopeful prediction that the end of the Cold War would lead to peaceful, democratic
globalization (Stewart 2002, 147). The John Birch Society used this term as a label for an
authoritarian global government. The changes to how the idea is used fits into a conspiracy
narrative that voices fears about the loss of sovereignty and the destruction of the American way
of life by outside forces.
Unlike the roots of many conspiracies that are difficult to track to a single source, this
specific incarnation of the secret society conspiracy was constructed by the John Birch Society5
(Stewart 2002, 426). At the end of the Red Scare period of the early Cold War, the group found
themselves in a period of decline. During this period the group worked on a new theory in
order to ensure that collectivism and internationalism were still seen as ultimate evils, the
group constructed their master conspiracy (Stewart 2002, 426-430). The result of this attempt
4 Of course this is not the only instance of political elites using such language, it is simply one of the most famous
instances and cited by academics evaluating NWO conspiracies. The phrase itself can be traced back to the title of
anH.G. Wells novel.
5 Although this conspiracy has American roots and is authored by an American political group, there is strong belief
in this conspiracy theory in other countries. A poll by a Russian media source showed that 45% of respondents
believed that the world was run by a shadow government (The Moscow Times 2014)
20


was a large- scale conspiracy theory that incorporated the last several centuries of human history
into a united narrative that connected many political actors, groups, and ideas under the agency
of a mysterious group seeking a New World Order. In this master conspiracy theory, the Cold
War, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, and many other trade deals and treaties are minor parts of a
larger nefarious plan (Stewart 2002, 430-435). It is because the John Birch Society conspiracy
viewed communism as only a small part of a larger scheme that the idea of global collective rule
is still considered a threat (amongst conspiracy theorists), even after the end of the Cold War and
the collapse of the Soviet Union (Stewart 2002, 434-435). Within the narrative constructed by
the John Birch Society, communist movements were just a different tactic used by the same
groups that had been working against humanity for centuries.
The Malthusian and NWO conspiracy theories can be traced further back to other
conspiracy theories, such as narratives that focused on ideas of European monarchs, Freemason,
Jews, or the Catholic Church had secret plans intended to rule the world and destroy America
(Pipes 1997, 77-79). If one were to follow these ideas to their actual creation (not just the
current form), a long running narrative of conspiracy appears that creates agents and scapegoats
with which societies blame their anxiety over social change, trauma, and fears of the other
(Pipes 1997, 128-153) (Parish 2001, 2-10). However, this analysis does not require that we
follow each of these ideas to their roots in some ancient or medieval history. Instead, with the
data presented, one can understand that these ideas are simply the current evolution of a
consistent narrative based on conspiracy theories that assign agency to instances of social anxiety
By analyzing conspiracy theorizing as a form of narrative that explains an ideological
understanding of events, much can be understood through the basic logic of the theories. If one
believes that a group is able to control and depopulate much of modem civilization, then it
21


follows within that logic that there must be a powerful enough political entity in existence that
can perform such an action. Instead of understanding conspiracy theorists as people with an odd
view about one aspect of politics, one can understand that conspiracy theories as a complete
narrative that describes and explains the whole world. Within a normal understanding of
human power relations Agenda 21 conspiracies do not fit into common paradigms of
governance, the limits of human agency, or the limits on how societies work. However, the
people constructing and spreading these ideas have an entirely different understanding of
political reality, human agency, and social relations than those who accept official explanations
of events. Further, by understanding this narrative structure we can understand how these ideas
(much like any other social narrative) adapt to the contextual changes in society in order to
remain relevant.
The Schiller White Paper: Creating a Conspiracy
This brief overview helps us understand the roots as well as the cultural and ideological
basis of this type of conspiracy theory. I will now further delve into the specifics of how Agenda
21 became a part of this narrative. The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is based on a mixture of
depopulation and NWO conspiracy theories. However, the melding of the two ideas into a single
theory that attacks a specific policy is the work of a group called the Schiller Institute. The
Schiller Institute is a conservative think tank named after a German intellectual from the late
1700s (The Schiller Institute 2014). The group is led by Helga Zepp LaRouche, wife of Lyndon
LaRouche and advocates his economic and political theories (The Schiller Institute 2014).
LaRouches think tank refers to him as an economist and political thinker (The Schiller
Institute 2014). However, he is also a conspiracy theorist that publicly supports several
alternative political narratives. Some of his views include the idea that the Queen of England
22


directly controls the military and foreign policy goals of Europe. He also supports claims that
the long-term plans of the British Monarch include many dark and clandestine projects to destroy
the sovereignty of the United States (Macky 2009). Further, concepts that LaRouche supports
are the notion that the Affordable Healthcare Act is taken directly from the social policies of
Nazi Germany. This includes many authoritarian aspects of the Nazi state, such as forced labor
camps and forced euthanasia (Macky 2009).
On the surface, the groups website does not appear to be any different from the websites
of any other think tank or political action committee. However, if one delves past the front page
stories that cry out for world peace and economic collusion, a different narrative appears. One of
the current postings the website offers is an evaluation of green policies, in which the Schiller
Institute describes sustainability oriented policies as green fascism and green genocide (The
International Schiller Institute n/d). These concepts do not directly relate to Agenda 21
conspiracy theories, however as I will next explain, they use a similar set of frames and a similar
narrative as another release by the Schiller Institute.
The initial document constructing the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory was originally a
Schiller Institute white paper from the early 1990s. The paper, entitled Eco 92 Must Be
Stopped was then reprinted in the magazine entitled Executive Intelligence Review and is
published by the Schiller Institute (The Schiller Institute 1991). The paper is intended to serve as
a step by step outline that explains the true intent behind Agenda 21 and the Rio Conference.
This work is essentially the root of Agenda 21 conspiracy narratives and explains how the
sustainability plan became a part of the New World Order and a part of Malthusian conspiracy
theories. The next few pages will contain an analysis of the important narratives, framing
devices, and implied ideological understandings of reality that make the conspiracy theory
23


possible. This is not an attempt to debunk the Schiller paper in its entirety. However, I have
added commentary on the basic logic or factual nature of a claim in several places. This is not
done with the intent of completely disproving the claims of the Schiller Institute, these points are
included to help show the difference in how a narrative derived from conspiracy theories forms
connections and interprets reality. Further, I will show how this narrative uses political
demonization, how it uses a large number of un-substantiated claims, and how it assigns human
agency in order to function as a complete explanatory narrative.
The Eco 92 paper starts with a simple two-sentence summary of what Agenda 21 is
intended to do (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28). However, even in this initial explanation, the
author of the document set up the reader for a critique of the program by referring to the Earth
Charter as a so called document. Although this seems like a small slight aimed at the program,
the initial questioning of the basic validity of the program sets the tone of disapproval and
distrust that permeates throughout the rest of the work. After this brief and pejorative
introduction, the author quickly finishes the introduction/abstract with the strong assertion that
the policies and ecological goals are nothing more than a hoax and giant fraud. The Schiller
institute reveals the real intent of Agenda 21 is to create a program meant to consolidate the
Malthusian New World Order promoted by the Anglo-American financial elite (The Schiller
Institute 1991, 28). This line in particular deserves some attention, as this is where we can see the
establishment of a link between Agenda 21 and established conspiracy. With a simple
connection such as this, the paper links the Malthusian conspiracy theories and New World
Order conspiracy theories into a singular narrative and places the agency for the conspirators
behavior (and all associated evils) in the hands of those participating in the Rio Summit.
24


The author then finishes the introduction with a statement of purpose for the construction
of this paper. The main point of Eco 92s creation is to expose the true intentions of the
oligarchical (sic) architects of Eco 92,to debunk the pseudo-scientific myths upon which it is
premised, and to explain the historical roots of the Malthusian policies which the Schiller
institute claims are the basis for Agenda 21 (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28). These claims help
to frame Agenda 21 as more of the same malevolent behavior attributed to powerful elements of
the international community (within conspiracy theory narratives) instead of a new and
innovative plan to stop environmental degradation.
With the conspiracy narrative established, Eco 92 then proceeds to give a point-by-point
analysis of the The Real Agenda that the Schiller institute claims to understand. The author
starts by explaining that these ecological ideas are rooted in a form of pagan philosophy (that
does not actually seem to exist outside of the conspiracy theory) derived from the teachings of a
cult of which many of the attendants of the Rio Conference are members (The Schiller Institute
1991, 28). In this part of the writing we can see an attempt to label ecologically minded leaders
and activists as part of an obscure and apparently (via the authors framing) offensive religion.
After this political demonization has occurred and Agenda 21 supporters are labeled as a cult
filled of nature worshiping fanatics that places man on a par with lower life forms such as
microbes the author begins to explain their assumptions about the true intention of the creators
of Agenda 21 (Rogin 1987, xiii-xx) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28).
The first claim is that Agenda 21 is a method to destroy national sovereignty. This is a
somewhat similar to common argument from conservative politicians and legal scholars
concerning international treaties (Davenport 2005) (Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005). However, the
methods and reasoning offered by the Schiller paper are unsubstantiated and much different from
25


the concerns of legal scholars. Within the works mentioned above, the concern is primarily for a
weakening of American sovereignty due to the goals that are stated within the laws and treaties
(Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005) (Davenport 2005). In the case of the Schiller paper, we can see the
fear of not just weakened sovereignty, but a fear of the total surrender of sovereign rights.
Further, the argument made for why this would occur are not based on actual provisions in
Agenda 21, but are instead founded on conspiracy theory based assumptions that are constructed
around Agenda 21. Not only does this ignore the language and intent of the Agenda 21
document, but it also incorporates the document into embedded conspiracy narratives that fear
the loss of sovereignty to a world empire, commonly called the New World Order. By
referencing these ideas, the Agenda 21 conspiracy receives validity by making Agenda 21a
mechanism for other nefarious goals that the conspiracy theory community has believed for
some time. This helps to maintain the narrative fidelity and probability of the work by linking
this new narrative with existing conspiracy theories. In essence, Schillers explanation of Agenda
21 fits into a narrative of secret societies and shadowy cabals of elites intent on world
domination. At this point for the conspiracy theorist, Agenda 21 becomes more of the same, or
perhaps a new revelation, on how long standing fears of an evil world government will finally
come to power.
The next claim is that Agenda 21 is a plan to depopulate the globe. Although the work of the
Rio Conference does discuss the need to decrease population explosions and work towards a
sustainable human population, the Schiller paper frames this idea within the context of the
Malthusian Conspiracy Theory (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) (The Schiller
Institute 1991, 28-29). This is achieved by making unsubstantiated arguments that population
controls under Agenda 21 will be accomplished through involuntary abortions and sterilization
26


(The Schiller Institute 1991, 29). There is no reference to any of these ideas in Agenda 21. The
terms do not even appear in the document. Instead, there are passages that simply explain the
need for developmental policies to take population growth into account and work towards
alleviation of poverty and social conditions that exacerbate pollution (United Nations Sustainable
Development 1992, 25). Further, when discussing population, Agenda 21 stipulates that any
program that works towards population control must be done in a manner that includes full
recognition of womens rights (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 25) When
one compares the Schiller Institutes assumptions with the actual concepts embedded within
Agenda 21, it is almost impossible to understand where the ideas originated, unless you are
already familiar with the conspiracy-based explanations of the situation. However, if one
already believes in conspiracy theories, these claims provide narrative probability and fit well
within existing understandings of the situation.
The third issue discussed by the Schiller report is the concept of Technological
Apartheid. This term, as explained in Eco 92, is a situation in which controls on the use of
technology will be strictly held to environmental standards. The author postulates (with no
evidence or clear argument as to why) that standards will be so stringent that important or
lifesaving technology will be withheld from developing nations (The Schiller Institute 1991, 29-
30). Further, they predict that this will lead to a total ban on nuclear energy that will result in an
increased use of wood and fossil fuels, thus furthering pollution (The Schiller Institute 1991,
30). Although Agenda 21 does discuss technology at length, it does so in order to advise that
sustainability technologies should be given high research and development priorities. Further,
the UN plan suggests developing states should be supplied with sustainability technologies if
they cannot afford the cost (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). This point is in
27


stark contrast to the Schiller Institutes claims of a coming man-made technological dark age that
would place some populations at a pre-industrial level (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). The
Schiller Institutes claims about bans on nuclear energy is similarly unfounded as the sections
pertaining to this issue in Agenda 21 only advise that countries use careful planning when
developing a nuclear program in regards to handling the waste in a sustainable manner (United
Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 267).
The fourth goal of the Agenda 21 conspirators revealed by the Schiller paper is that
states will be forced to contort their economies to a condition of zero economic growth. This
point refers to the portions of Agenda 21 that hope to establish methods of sustainable
development. Normally this term would imply development that plans for or avoids factors that
could lead to greater environmental damage (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992).
However, in the Schiller report the concept of sustainable development is simply a euphemistic
term for stopping science, stopping the use of natural resources, and is a subtle justification for
radical depopulation (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). Once again, there is truly no basis in the
Agenda 21 document that substainates these claims.
The fifth statement against Agenda 21 is that it is an attempt to construct a system of
enforced backwardness. This statement starts by claiming that this nefarious goal will be
accomplished under the banner of defending Indigenous Rights (The Schiller Institute 1991,
30). The author then describes indigenous groups as people who essentially still live in an
unchanged Stone Age culture. It then suggests that Agenda 21 will force humanity to regress to
hunter-gatherer societies. The author then explains (uncited) that the earth can only support
around 10 million humans with this type of resource extraction. In turn, the Schiller report uses
this assembly of somewhat unconnected ideas as proof that Agenda 21 is part of a Malthusian
28


depopulation program (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). This point may seem a bit jumbled with
some jumps in logic, as if the reader must already understand part of the story. However, to a
person that already assumes that the NWO exists and that they are working on depopulation
programs, this idea supplies important information on how the enemy will act. In the narrative
constructed for conspiracy theorists, this chain of ideas not only makes sense, but also fits into
accepted norms and provides greater narrative probability.
The sixth claim is that Agenda 21 will be used for debt collection. In this context, the
debt collection refers to austerity programs and structural adjustment programs issued by the
IMF and World Bank (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30). The paper claims that these programs
will be used to force developing countries to halt development and only participate in sustainable
programs or face economic blackmail until they comply. This will be done by forcing states to
turn over sovereign territory to IGOs under the guise of conservation programs (The Schiller
Institute 1991, 30). Similar to the last two points, this statement is backed up with little proof or
logical argument development. Instead, the Schiller paper simply supplies a quote from one of
the U.S. delegates to the Rio conference that stated he hopes to not pay for any more
unsustainable development projects (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30).
The seventh claim that is made against Agenda 21 is simply titled Paganism. This
section of the paper is a bit harder to understand when one first reads it. However, the framing
and narrative attempts to construct the idea that environmentalism is not actually a scientific or
secular moral principle held by people who want to preserve the planet. Instead, the Schiller
paper claims environmentalism is rooted in a pagan Gaia worshiping religion (The Schiller
Institute 1991, 30-31). Once this idea is put forth, the authors then try to further the argument
with anecdotal claims based on the statements of British Royalty and the (at the time of Eco 92)
29


Brazilian Secretary of the Environment. The basic argument is that the Brazilian Secretary is a
member of a Gaia cult. His appointment was supposedly backed by a few members of the
British Royalty who are quoted in the Schiller report for making comparisons between bacteria
outgrowing their hosts and humans for destroying their environment. This portion of the Schiller
paper serves to demonize several supporters of Agenda 21 as well as the program itself.
The Schiller paper continues to argue that the architects of Agenda 21 are working
towards mass depopulation by quoting a member of the British Royalty as saying he would like
to reincarnate as a deadly virus in order to help the worlds overpopulation problem (The
Schiller Institute 1991, 31). The final point of the argument explains that another member of the
British Royal family once praised indigenous peoples for their understanding of sustainable
culture and humanitys place in the eco system (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31). This leads the
author of the Schiller paper to a conclusion that something nefarious must be going on with
Agenda 21. The basic argument when each point is united into a singular idea is as follows.
The Agenda 21/Eco 92 conference is going to be held in Brazil. The Brazilian secretary of the
environment is a pagan Earth worshiper who has backing from the British Royal Family. The
royals are also members of the Gaia cult and (due to some out of context remarks) show little to
no concern for humanity. Thus, Agenda 21 is the work of evil people who want to do harm to
humanity as a whole. In essence, this whole point is an attempt to create connections and label
the opposition. The result is not really a form of argument but instead political demonization
that constructs the opposition into villains. If one were to use this type of rhetoric in peer-
reviewed paper or in an article from a mainstream journalistic source it would likely be
discounted as a baseless claim meant only to smear an opponent. However, this point cannot be
dismissed as a simple attack or ad hominem fallacy as it is an important part of the narrative that
30


paints the situation as a battle of good-vs evil and often shows the proponents of Agenda 21 as
monstrous individuals.
As this paper is written utilizing a narrative based on conspiracy theories, this portion of
the paper fits an important niche. It assigns unified agency for a large global event and assists
the author in constructing the situation into a simple good versus evil scenario. As discussed
previously in this work, these are key aspects to how conspiracy theories function (James 2001,
74-75). Thus, the rhetorical methods used by Schiller may make Eco 92 less acceptable to
mainstream readers, but it helps make the document fit into the common ideological and
narrative parameters for this type of document.
The next section of the Schiller paper goes past assumptions about the U.N. and NWOs
hidden attempts to dominate and then depopulate the world. Once the author has established that
Agenda 21 is a cover for manipulating world society, they begin to argue that current science
about ecological degradation is simply false and constructed in order to justify the behavior of
conspirators. The Schiller paper claims that some of the worlds greatest scientists6 have
debunked these ecological issues, that the media is compliant in the cover up, and that
dissenting scientist were intentionally excluded from the Rio Conference and Agenda 21
planning (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31). The paper then launches a point-by-point analysis of
major ecological concerns and offers counter arguments based on unsubstantiated claims and
errant data as to whether or not they will actually have a negative impact on humans. These
points are listed below
The first ecological concern that the Schiller paper addresses is the depletion of the ozone
layer. The paper claims that the degradation of the ozone layer is simply untrue. In order to
prove this idea they offer data that claims the amount of natural chlorofluorocarbons, a chemical
6 Once again, unnamed scientists and uncited studies.
31


that is one of the core parts of ozone depletion, are much higher than human created CFCs (The
Schiller Institute 1991, 31). However, this theory has been disproven and can be debunked via
well-cited scientific data available from the EPA (United States Enviromental Protection Agency
2010). Aside from the dubious science and lack of citation offered by the Schiller paper, the
basic argument is not really on topic. Even if it were true that volcanoes or other natural sources
of CFCs do more harm to the ozone layer, volcanic eruptions are uncontrollable by humans
unlike the human-produced pollution that Agenda 21 tries to control. In essence, the Schiller
argument is founded on bad science and does not really address Agenda 21, but instead tries to
shift the point of the argument to fit within the narrative flow of the rest of the paper.
The next major ecological topic the Schiller paper attempts to discredit is global
warming. At the time that the Schiller paper was written, climate science was not as advanced as
it has become in the last few decades. However, the only data that the author offer is a critique
of computerized climate models and a vague reference to a handful of climate studies from the
1940s-1960s (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32). Given that the Schiller paper was first published
in 1991, it seems safe to say that a substantive amount of data is missing from this argument.
Further, the mentioned studies are not cited or explained, the Schiller paper simply conveys the
message that global warming is simply fake. This point is very much like the other scientific
topics as the argument is founded on the dismissal of ecological concerns. The Schiller paper
provides little evidence other than erroneously attacking the science behind climate research and
labeling the entire idea as false.
The third argument is that nuclear waste is not an actual problem. Instead, the Schiller
report explains that nuclear waste is a beneficial resource if handled properly. They claim that
only a small percent of the byproduct is truly a waste product and that much of it could be reused
32


for fuel. They even provide a brief amount of data with no citation or reference to how the
calculation was reached on how many barrels of oil or tons of coal could be saved if the United
States were to make use of the material (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32). Although some of this
data could be truthful in the correct context, a key point to this argument is the assertion that
humanity will eventually develop technologies that allow the reuse of nuclear waste (The
Schiller Institute 1991, 32). Thus, the real argument is that nuclear waste is useful and a good
thing for humanity, if we had the technology to do it. As we do not currently have access to this
form of waste recycling, this line of argumentation is based on scientific fantasy.
The fourth ecological point the Schiller paper addresses is opposition to the use of
pesticides. Instead of providing an analysis of how environmental scientists and activists are
incorrect, the author shift the topic from the environmental impact of pesticides to the possible
risks of not using pesticide. What is supplied as evidence are claims that the entomologist Dr. J
Gordon Edwards estimated that not using pesticides in the name of the environment has caused
at least 100 million human deaths (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32). The claim is that insect-
born-disease and lower crop yields result in the loss of many lives (The Schiller Institute 1991,
32). The Schiller paper does not offer any citation or explanation as to how these numbers are
reached. They supply a quote from Edwards that states, "I can't see any good reason for these
actions except that the environmentalists intend to cut the population in the poorer nations of the
world" (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32). Thus, the pesticide argument is framed in a manner that
gives murderous intent to environmentalists. Unlike some of the environmental points that the
Schiller paper addresses, Agenda 21 does discuss the use of pesticides. However, the discussion
centers on goals of either reducing toxic exposure to humans and wildlife, the development of
new less toxic pest-eradication methods and increased study of the health and environmental
33


risks of pesticides (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). There is no language in the
document to suggest that the use of pesticides would be banned (United Nations Sustainable
Development 1992).
The fifth point that the Schiller report addresses is the ecological fears of carcinogens.
This point, much like the pesticide argument, is founded on dismissing the claims of opponents
as false. The paper cites the studies of Dr. Bruce Ames that conclude that man-made
carcinogens are less common and also less dangerous than natural carcinogens (The Schiller
Institute 1991, 32). Dr. Ames has argued in his studies that natural carcinogens are far more
prevalent and deadly. Dr. Ames has stated that he feels environmentalists overplay the risk of
contracting cancer from pollution and carcinogenic sources (Brody 1994). Oddly enough, the
term carcinogens or any derivation of the word does not even appear in the Agenda 21
documents. The problem with the Schiller argument is that it does not really argue against the
proposals in Agenda 21. In fact, it does not really argue anything other than the concept of
manmade carcinogens. This may seem like an odd tangent. However, in does help to build the
Schiller papers narrative fidelity. It helps to make environmentalist look foolish and illogical
while urging the reader to question not just their scientific basis for discussing carcinogens but
any of these environmental topics. In essence, it perpetuates the image that the Schiller paper
wants the reader to have of Agenda 21 supporters and lends cohesion to the narrative .
The final ecological point that the Schiller report directly address is deforestation. This
argument diverges from the method used in the points above, because it does not attempt to
persuade the reader that the problem of deforestation is untrue or conflated. Instead, the author
fully embraces the notion that massive deforestation is occurring and highly detrimental to the
earth and humanity (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32-33). However, the reasons behind why
34


deforestation occurs and the method with which human agency in the situation is assigned forms
their argument against Agenda 21 sustainability policies. The Schiller report states that much of
the deforestation that occurs is due to people in poor countries using wood as a fuel source (The
Schiller Institute 1991, 32). The assumption made by Schiller about the primary causes of this
ecological problem is based on outdated assumptions that have long been discredited by peer
reviewed scientific sources. The myth that deforestation is being driven by the use of wood as a
fuel source can be traced to policy decisions in the 1970s that were intended to deal with possible
externalities of recent population booms (May-Tobin 2011). In some developing countries,
leaders were afraid that the increased population would lead to heavy deforestation. In turn, they
developed programs in order to offset this perceived problem. However, once scientists studied
these assumptions, they found that firewood was not a significant factor in deforestation (May-
Tobin 2011). Further, the Schiller report makes two other false assertions in their remarks about
deforestation. The first is the manner in which the Schiller report only discusses firewood when
speaking about the use of biomass as a source of energy. By only including firewood and
ignoring other forms of biomass, the claims of the Schiller paper are not only inaccurate, but
appear to be picked only to justify the rest of the argument put forth in the conspiracy.
Second, there is no part of the Agenda 21 documents that calls for a ban on fossil fuels.
A small section points out the importance of moving away from fossil fuel dependency through
the implementation of different forms of energy generation. Further, Agenda 21 actually
prescribes a greater use of fossil fuels (with supplements of firewood) in poor and rural regions
that have energy deficiencies (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). This point is
quite important as we see the Schiller papers concern is heavily based on the notion that since
Agenda 21 is an environmental policy it will call for draconian restrictions on the use of fossil
35


fuels despite the human cost. However, as one can see despite the environmental focus of
Agenda 21, it values humans having access to necessary utilities even if it requires the use of a
polluting energy source. This does not fit into the narrative constructed by Schiller that paints
the architects of Agenda 21 as an obsessive cult of environmentalists with little regard for human
life.
With these sections of the paper complete, the Schiller paper shifts the argument to who
is behind this massive conspiracy. This portion of the document works within the above-
discussed narrative that paints the architects of Agenda 21 as villains using false pretense to
hijack the worlds politics. However, this portion of the paper takes on a different tone. The
above listed sections (although often done with problems) are constructed as an argument. When
discussing the supporters of Agenda 21, the Schiller paper is less informative then
confrontational. This portion of the paper attempts to discredit and create villains of the financial
backers and NGOs that contributed to the cause. It begins by explaining that the people behind
Agenda 21 (Eco 92) have constructed a myth that environmental political causes are part of a
grass-roots movement (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33). The paper explains that the fact is
that Eco 92 (Agenda 21) is actually the fruition of several decades of elite planning to orchestrate
a Malthusian Conspiracy (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33). With these statements, we can see
that the Schiller report is attempting to remove the agency of grass roots environmentalists and a
variety of political actors that worked towards the Rio Conference and Agenda 21 Instead, we
are to believe that the real power and motivation behind the program is to facilitate the plans of a
small and nefarious group of financial and political elites..
The Schiller report then introduces Maurice Strong into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory
(The Schiller Institute 1991, 33). Maurice Strong is a former energy and finance executive
36


turned environmental policy maker. He has served in a few leadership roles within the United
Nations and was the organizer of both the Stockholm Conference of 1972 and the Rio
Conference in 1992 (Manitou Foundation 2012). Further, Strong is also a key figure in many
conspiracy theories due to his role in international politics (Hickman 2010) (Infowars 2009) .
The Schiller paper points out Strongs ties to environmental groups and international
sustainability projects, which are all true, though discussed as some type of manipulation by the
rhetoric used in the Schiller paper. By doing so, the Schiller paper starts to build conspiracy
based connections between Strong and other financial backers of environmental policies. The
Schiller paper at this point again describes Agenda21/Eco 92 as a Malthusian plot, then states
that it is financed by blueblood elites from Europe and the United States (The Schiller Institute
1991, 33). Although this could seem like a simple attempt to label these people and foundations
as aloof elites, the reality is these labels help to keep the Eco 92 conspiracy theory within the
narrative already established by LaRouche, in which European royalty and a few powerful
Americans are villains (Macky 2009). The rest of this section simply lists several charitable
foundation, large banks, and corporations that have donated funds to the NGOs that worked
towards Eco 92/Agenda 21. There is no analysis or commentary provided from the Schiller
paper at this point, there is simply a large paragraph that lists all of these people and groups (The
Schiller Institute 1991, 33). One may assume that there would be need for the Schiller paper to
further elaborate as to how these groups are connected to the conspiracy theory (past donations
to NGOs). However, if a person looks at the source of the material (LaRouches political
periodicals) they can understand that nearly anyone that can be labeled as an American or
European political or financial elite, is already condemned and considered part of some
conspiracy theory (Macky 2009). A reader of Executive Intelligence Report would likely have
37


been exposed to and would be familiar with the concept that political elites are part of a larger
conspiracy. This white paper follows a well-established narrative that does not need further
clarification.
The last section of the Schiller paper are a few paragraphs entitled Stopping Eco 92.
This section starts by stating that approval of Eco 92/Agenda 21 was not going well at the time
of the documents creation (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33). The document lists a few political
actors, such as the Prime Minster of Malaysia, the Algerian delegate to the UNCED (United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development) and several unnamed members of the
Brazilian military and congress who are supposedly in opposition to the plan due to concerns
over sovereignty (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33). Further, the Schiller paper hints that at least
77 (unnamed) delegates to the UNCED stated they would not agree to any plan that revoked their
sovereignty over natural resources within their territorial boundaries (The Schiller Institute 1991,
33). This point is particularly interesting as the Schiller paper implies that these representatives
are wholly against Agenda 21. However, all that it really tells us is that many representatives
who attended the conference wanted to ensure that their countrys sovereignty was protected. If
one assumes that the Schiller papers narrative is true, and Agenda 21 is a Malthusian
conspiracy that will strictly control resources and development, then it is easy to believe the
implied idea that these representatives would refuse to sign Agenda 21. However, when one
realizes that the works of the UNCED did not allow for the strict controls that Schiller predicted,
the suggestion that many representatives would resist Agenda 21 on the grounds of protecting
sovereignty becomes a much less important and convincing point.
As one can see, there are many problems both logically and factually with the claims of
the Schiller report. If one understands the efforts of Agenda 21 and the actual limits of power
38


that a United Nations non-binding resolution has in regards to domestic policy, the majority of
the above claims simply fall apart. However, past understanding that the Schiller paper is
essentially a work of fiction, the analysis of the Schiller Institutes Agenda 21 conspiracy theory
helps to illustrate the complexities, connections and underlying ideological assumptions
necessary in order for a conspiracy theory to function as a cohesive narrative. Although many of
the points are factually incorrect or debatable, and some of the conclusions drawn by the author
are made from poorly assembled logic, the result is a fleshed out narrative that seeks to explain
events in an identifiable manner in which a person can understand and interact with. This
narrative, despite its roots has found a home within the Republican Party and the Tea Party
movement. The methods with which these groups (and smaller associated groups) have adapted
and used the conspiracy theory will be discussed in the next chapter.
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CHAPTER III
ELITE AND MEDIA USE OF AGENDA 21 CONSPIRACY THEORIES
In this chapter, I will discuss and analyze how the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has been
used in our political culture. In order to do this, I will look at the manner in which several elite
groups, including influential think tanks, political parties and conservative media sources, take
part in Agenda 21 conspiracy theories. I will use the previously outlined criteria for conspiracy
narratives in order to discuss the situation. The discourse and rhetoric that follow includes elite
and media dissemination of conspiracy theories, as well as arguments for anti-Agenda 21
legislation or laws against programs that may be influenced by Agenda 21.. The second concept
is quite important as many sustainability programs can easily be incorporated into a narrative that
associates sustainability with Agenda 21 and the UN. This is due to the narrative constructed by
conspiracy theorists and elites who help spread the ideas, as well as the broadness and contextual
nature of the recommendations of Agenda 21. Through an analysis of the discourse and the
narratives elites use when explaining the need to suppress plans related to Agenda 21 one can
understand the ideological basis and social narrative justifying their behavior. Further, looking
at the declared goals (whether a piece of legislation is successful or not) of an elite actor can help
us understand the possible externalities of using conspiracy theory as an argument for policy
debates. Finally, this portion of this work is not just helpful for understanding the elite
component of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory; it also allows us to understand the ramifications
of elite involvement in similar conspiracy based narratives.
Elites and Conspiracy Theories
Elites are often the enemy in conspiracy theories, yet history and current events are
awash with elite actors espousing conspiracy theories to explain social events. Many infamous
40


leaders such as Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, used conspiracy theories in order to justify their
actions and gamer public support (Aaronovitch 2010, 44-86). During the Red Scare era of the
Cold War, many Americans had their basic rights violated and public lives mined by elite actors,
based on conspiracy theories about communism (Rogin 1987, 63-77). The same communism
based conspiracy theories evolved into the John Birch Societys New World Order conspiracy
theory that still serves as the basis for many current conspiracy theories (Stewart 2002, 435-437).
More extreme American politicians, such as Pat Buchanan and Lyndon LaRouche, have
practically built their political careers by using conspiracy-laden rhetoric (James 2001, 86)
(Macky 2009). A variety of groups, such as white supremacists, fundamentalist Christian
militias and to some extent the Tea Party, are controlled by leaders espousing conspiracy theories
to help support their ideological stance (Burack and Snyder-Hall 2013, 443-446) (James 2001,
66-70).
Further, prominent religious leaders, such as televangelist Pat Robertson, Louis
Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, and leaders of many fundamentalist religious groups
(regardless of their faith) weave narratives that explain the perceived evils of the world through
conspiracy theory (James 2001, 72-74) (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 8-10). Although the above
examples are of elite actors who are often at the extreme end of a political or religious spectrum
and perhaps less descriptive of more mainstream elites, one can also see a large influx of
conspiracy theories throughout the Republican Party since the election of Barack Obama and the
growth of the Tea Party. This can be seen in the discourses surrounding very prominent
conspiracy theories such as Birther conspiracies, and the conspiracies surrounding the
Affordable Health Care Act (Contantini 2013) (Eichelberger 2013). Further, one can see this
41


trend in other debates, such as the UN Small Arms Treaty and the UN Treaty for the Disabled
(Kane 2012) (Beauchamp 2012).
When looking at elites using conspiracy theory one should not look at just the depth of
the conspiracy or how paranoid and fantastical their beliefs appear. Leaders may show different
levels of belief in conspiracy theories. As Daniel Pipes points out, leaders such as Joseph Stalin
or Louis Farrakhan, incorporated nearly every concept into existing conspiracy theories, while
other elites may only brush the surface of conspirator thinking (Pipes 1997, 22-24). Further, a
person who subscribes to some conspiracy theories is accepting the basic tenets of a different
ideology and others have no real method of determining how deeply they subscribe to all the
tenets of that ideology (Pipes 1997, 25). This concept has been described as an ideological
funnel in which many people may be at the large end of the device. Some believers may stay
at the top and represent people who identify with conspiracy narratives in very broad terms.
While a smaller group of people will fall deeper into the funnel and only accept an ideology
derived completely from conspiracy theories (James 2001, 64). This occurs as the conspiracy
theorist develops a deeper understanding of conspiracy theories and incorporates the ideas into
their understanding of the world (James 2001, 64-65). Additionally, if we understand conspiracy
theorizing as a form of ideology and that conspiracy theorists often realize they are following
unpopular and possibly embarrassing beliefs that most of the population would reject, they have
an interest to self-censor their public opinions in order to make them more palatable to the
general public (Pipes 1997, 20-24) (Bacon 2012, 783). This creates a situation in which one
cannot truly evaluate how deeply a person who expresses a belief in some conspiracy theories
accepts an ideology based solely on conspiracies. A conspiracy theorist has already accepted
some aspects of a narrative that is counter to dominant ideological concepts within a society
42


unless conspiracy theories are the norm for the society, such as the USSR under Stalin or
Germany under the Nazi Party. However, unless the person is very open about their beliefs we
cannot accurately appraise how deeply one has gone into the funnel.
This point is relevant in the fact that if we have powerful elected officials who embrace
conspiracy (even smaller, less paranoid conspiracies), they are essentially functioning within a
belief system that often sees the political structure they serve as the enemy. However, one must
understand that there are differences between a conspiracy theorist and a leader that may see an
actual problem within their government. The non-conspiracy theorist leader is fighting within a
system against observable moral or legal wrongs that take place in the chaos of history (James
2001, 83-88). While the conspiracy theorist beliefs are based on a good vs. evil dialectic that
assumes some type of nefarious agency at the roots of social problems (James 2001, 83-88).
It may seem easy to dismiss elites who use conspiracies in their political rhetoric as
paranoid or members of a fringe ideology. However, many of the elite political groups discussed
later in this chapter are not part of a political fringe movement or filled with individuals that base
much of their career on conspiracy theories. Many of these political groups work closely with
the Republican Party or are simply part of the GOP. Additionally, this problem is not based on
the efforts of a few individuals within the GOP. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has
officially joined in accepting the conspiracy narrative when discussing Agenda 21. Despite the
erroneous nature of many conspiracy theories, there is a real effect when leaders communicate in
this manner to their followers. Some of the more extreme examples above such as Hitler and
Stalin need little elaboration. However, the leaders in question do not have to reach these
extremities in paranoia in order to shape the behavior of their followers.
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The British think tank Demos has released a paper on extremism and conspiracy theories
that analyzes the effects of groups when their leaders use conspiracy theories as an explanatory
method for events (Bartlett and Miller 2012). The study explains several important factors as to
how groups are shaped by leaders using conspiracy theories as the basis of the group narrative.
Conspiracy theories often function by demonizing the enemy (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6).
This process helps create a cohesive identity for the group, but also constructs villains as a side
effect (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6). This leads to a situation in which non-believers or those who
question the ideology can be easily labeled as sympathetic with the enemy or part of the
conspiracy (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6). This factor can weed out moderates and other
voices of dissent within the group (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6). Further, groups that use
conspiracy narratives as a key part of their ideology have a tendency to justify and embrace the
use of violence for their cause (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6).
As these groups define themselves through their resistance to whatever conspiracy they
believe and the villain in their narratives is often the government, they cannot healthily work
within an established political system (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6-8). Further, the Demos study
suggests that as these groups grow they can form their own political entities, which can lead to
greater recruitment of marginalized people (Bartlett and Miller 2012) The authors further explain
that these are the basic steps that led to the creation of groups such as al-Qaeda and militant
white power groups (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 7).
It is important to state that the groups in the Demos article are much more extreme
(regarding violence and their use of conspiracy narratives) than groups such as the Tea Party or
Republicans who support GOP- issued conspiracy theories. The inclusion of this information is
not meant to suggest that groups who identify with the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory will
44


coalesce into an international terrorist group. However, one of the key points of the Demos
article is that conspiracy theories can serve as a radicalization multiplier within a group
(Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3). Even if groups do not become violent, conspiracy theories
exacerbate the problems of dehumanizing ones enemy and not being able to function well in a
political environment based on democracy, compromise and multiple diverse viewpoints still
exist (Sunstein and Vermeule 2009, 216-218). Further, believers in the Agenda 21 conspiracy
theory share anti-government and anti-international viewpoints with extremist right wing groups
(Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3-10). This is not to say they have similar behavior or will eventually
turn into extremists. But it is important to realized that many of the concepts that form the basis
of the Agenda 21 conspiracy also form the basis of the ideology followed by right wing militias,
violent Christian fundamentalists and white separatists/ white supremacists groups which have
little ability to function in a normal political system (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3-5) (James 2001,
74-75). Looking at the situation using the funnel metaphor describe earlier in this work, one
can realize that followers of conspiracy based ideology can cause damage to a political system
by how their belief shape their political behaviors without reaching the extremities of the
ideology such as people like Timothy McVey or members of al-Qaeda.
As one can see, conspiracy theories are not just the domain of paranoid recluses, draped
in tin-foil hats as many people assume from our current social narrative involving conspiracy
theorists. We must understand that conspiracy theorists are a broad group of people who may fit
the preconceived notion of a marginalized paranoid type, but also there are conspiracy theorists
in positions of power. In turn, this allows conspiracy theories, despite their often-fantastical
nature, to be a very real factor in politics, often to the determent of less powerful groups and
society in general.
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Elite Organizations, the GOP, the JBS and the Tea Party
In this section, I will discuss the political groups that use the Agenda 21 conspiracy
theory as part of their official discourse with the public. This includes groups such as the
Republican National committee, the conservative think tank The John Birch Society, and other
conservative media outlets.
An important moment of elite validation of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory can be
found in the 2012 Republican Party Winter Meeting resolutions. The result of the 2012 Winter
Meeting is a ten-page document of resolutions by the RNC. Page three of the document is
dedicated to Agenda 21 and entitled Resolution Exposing United Nations Agenda 21
(Republican National Committee 2012, 3). The resolutions adopted at the 2012 GOP Winter
Meeting are close in content and narrative tone to existing conspiracy theories. Despite the fact
that the resolution does not directly state that Agenda 21 is a Malthusian plot engineered by the
New World Order, many of the statements about its sustainably program fit within the
framework laid out by the Schiller paper and other grand malevolent conspiracy theories. The
GOP resolutions expresses a set of very similar (yet less detailed/fleshed out) expectations of the
results of Agenda 21.
Agenda 21 is explained in a manner that assumes the supporters of the program have a
hidden, malevolent plan for world politics and that the sustainability project is a ruse intended to
facilitate this plan. In essence, the narrative reaches a similar conclusion as the one constructed
by the Schiller paper, but the paranoia often attributed to conspiracy theories has been
sanitized. Whether this is intentional in order to make the document more palatable to the
general public, or simply a newer context/adaption of to the conspiracy theory, the result is an
official document intended to shape the policies of our nation based on conspiracy and
46


assumption (Knight 2008, 182-183) (Bacon 2012, 783). The key difference is the manner in
which blame is assigned. Instead of a cabal of business people, members of the royal family and
the Schiller papers cult of eco pagans, this document simply blames the United Nations. This
does not change the bulk of the narrative but instead, omits some of the detail given in works
such as the Schiller paper. As the more developed conspiracies blame the United Nations under
the control of a secret group, the resolutions the RNC simply places the responsibility for the
perceived malevolence with the United Nations or the Agenda 21 document.
The winter meeting document (much like any resolution of this kind) begins with several
declarative statements that make claims about the nature of Agenda 21. These statements each
begin by stating Whereas (in this context, the word meaning is in view of the fact) and then
making claims against Agenda 21 (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). This method of
rhetoric may be commonplace for this type of resolution, yet it is important to realize that this
language implies that all of the statements are a matter of fact and are not open to interpretation.
The first of these statements explains a basic overview of Agenda 21 from the GOP perspective.
It claims that Agenda 21 is comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social
engineering, and global political control (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). This
immediately sets the tone of their resolutions by declaring the extremity of the plan and
suggesting that it is not just a plan for avoiding future ecological destruction, but also a method
to control and contort societies. As with other global malevolent conspiracy theories, this
portion of the resolution establishes a remote, shadowy villain
The next statement claims that Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local
communities by the NGO, the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
(Republican National Committee 2012, 3). Although the ICLEI is one of the primary
47


mechanisms with which the policy recommendations of Agenda 21 have been actualized, the
RNC statement frames the implementation as something coerced by a branch of the United
Nations. This point goes on to explain the methods that the ICLEI uses to implement the plan
upon states. They list several aspects of sustainable development such as Smart Growth,
Wild lands Projects, Resilient Cites, Regional Visioning Projects and other Green or
Alternative programs, and state that these concepts are a method for the ICLEI to covertly
push political control over states (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). However, the
importance of this point is not only the terminology used but the way the terms are written. The
concepts sustainable development, green and alternative are written in scare quotes meant to
imply some type of irony to the terms and invalidate the ideas (American Psychological
Association 2015). This helps to further the conspiracy narrative by portraying the basic
vocabulary of Agenda 21 supporters as somehow false or terms that obscure the truth.
The next statement also begins with the ironic/dismissive use of quotation marks while
describing Agenda 21 as plan of radical so-called sustainable development (Republican
National Committee 2012, 3). This phrase in this context implies that there is some form of
deception in the statements of their opponents and that the ideas at their most basic level (such as
green or sustainable,) are somehow dishonest concepts themselves. The rest of this point is
dedicated to explaining that Agenda 21 threatens the American way of life such as private
travel, home ownership, family farms and private vehicle ownership as they are seen as
environmentally damaging (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). There is no clarity or
detail as to how these concepts are specifically related to Agenda 21 programs or how they
would be harmed. Instead, there are just vague comments written in a manner that implies these
concepts are threatened by the UN plan.
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The next section of the resolution explains that the United Nations concept of social
justice includes the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources
afforded us by society and the environment (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). Alone
this sentence is close to the truth explaining how social justice involving resources is described
in Agenda 21 (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992). However, the next part of the
sentence takes a turn by explaining that under Agenda 21 this type of social justice would be
accomplished by socialist/communist redistribution of wealth (Republican National Committee
2012, 3). These terms are not defined in a manner that would explain why this type of
redistribution should be considered harmful. The terms fit into the conspiracy narrative in a
manner that implies that these economic systems are offensive and authoritarian and can only
have a negative outcome. The lack of reasoning coupled with the implied negativity of the
concepts constructs the ideas as bogeymen with little clarification as to why a person should be
concerned. This section of the document concludes by explaining that Agenda 21 sees domestic
national sovereignty as a social injustice. This point is not factual, as a primary aspect of
Agenda 21 is to keep sovereignty intact by working with local governments through voluntary
programs to adapt sustainability programs to their specific regional context (ICLEI2013).
However, as the loss of sovereignty to international agencies is a key factor to Agenda 21 and the
New World Order conspiracy for which it is derived the concept fits well into this story and
provides greater narrative probability.
With the completion of this list of claims against Agenda 21, the document then begins to
list the solutions and resolutions to these perceived problems. First, the document explains that
the RNC recognizes the destructive and insidious nature of United Nations Agenda 21
(Republican National Committee 2012, 3). The reason for these claims is to ensure that political
49


elites are aware of the dangerous intent of the plan. In this line, we can see further invalidation
of the ecological plans as it is labeled as something evil that must be stopped through educating
their party members. This fits into conspiracy ideologies and narratives as they often function
within a good versus evil mentality that morally obligates believers to resist the evil and act as a
force for good (James 2001, 75). This is of great importance to understanding the conspiracy
theory and its vague approach to explaining the whys of the enemies plan. As James Nigel
points out, a conspiracy based on good-versus-evil duality does not have to explain the
ideological differences with opponents. As the narrative labels the opponents as evil, their
motivations are based on this inner darkness instead of differences in ideology (James 2001, 75).
Thus, there is no need to explain further or seek compromise because evil is simply evil.
The next resolution to these issues is an explanatory point that is truthful and should
invalidates the fear of the conspiracy theorists, by explaining that the United States is not
required legally to follow Agenda 21 (Republican National Committee 2012, 3). This is true;
although the United States signed on to the document at the Rio Conference; it is not a legally
approved, formal treaty. If this set of resolutions was less vitriolic and conspiracy laden this
statement would appear as nothing more than the truth of international and domestic laws.
However, in the context of these resolutions, this statement is not intended to assure readers that
Agenda 21 is a voluntary program that lacks coercive legal power over domestic actors and
institutions. It is another method to strip validity and support for the program. In this context,
explaining that Agenda 21 is not formally a law does not serve to quiet fears about possible
overreach by IGOs or threats to domestic laws. It is included as a method to invalidate Agenda
21 and the programs domestic supporters on the grounds that there is no legal requirement to
follow the suggestions of the program. Several resolutions follow this statement by explaining
50


that the GOPs response will be to inform every level of the American government of the threat
of Agenda 2land its destructive strategies for sustainable development (Republican National
Committee 2012, 3). Further, the GOP promises with this resolution that it will endorse
rejection of its (Agenda 21) radical policies as well as any associated funding for said programs
(Republican National Committee 2012, 3). Again, the resolution uses language that implies the
program is disruptive and dangerous while creating a political position that rejects any
compromise on the issue. .
The document closes by ensuring the reader that the party will ensure that all relevant
members of their party including elected officials, members who are running for office or
members who can vote at a party assembly will all receive a copy of this document and work
towards making these resolutions a part of the Republican national platform. This last pledge, to
make resistance to Agenda 21 part of their official party platform, did happen.
The section of the party platform that is derived from the winter meeting is discussed
very briefly, but stays within conspiracy narrative. In a small sub category titled Sovereign
American Leadership in International Organizations the document explains that the Republican
party, due to concerns of sovereignty, is adamantly opposed to several international treaties
(GOP Platform Committee 2012). There is a passage that claims that UN programs are
responsible for forced abortions in China and Mexico. The platform explains concerns for the
long range impact of several UN policies on the American family, such as various
declarations from the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (GOP Platform
Committee 2012). The platform does not explicitly connect the ideas of forced abortion
programs with the UNCED. However, the flow of the document does not separate the ideas or
clarify why they are lumped together at all. The reader is shocked with statements about forced
51


abortions and then is immediately told that the GOP has concerns about American families due
to a sustainability policies. Although this is not as deeply developed as the Schiller paper, these
statements fit well into the Malthusian aspect of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. In the next
line of the platform, Agenda 21 is directly mentioned as follows: We strongly reject the U.N.
Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty, and we oppose any form of U.N. Global Tax
(GOP Platform Committee 2012). This line flatly states that Agenda 21 will damage American
sovereignty and attaches the idea that participation in the program will result in America being
forced to participate in a global taxation system. This is very close to the conspiracy narrative
for Agenda 21 that assumes the program would strip states of autonomy and force harsh
redistributive policies on the world. And much like the conspiracy narrative in the Schiller
paper, this is accomplished by making several unsubstantiated claims against Agenda 21.
With this small paragraph, the Republican platform touches on the key points of the
Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. It subtlety and without mentioning the roots of the conspiracy,
expresses fears of an authoritarian control over reproductive health, fears over erosion of
sovereignty, and fear of the loss of American culture. These concepts are a nearly perfect
summary of the main points of the Agenda 21 conspiracy, but are discussed with less detail then
found on a conspiracy website or a work like the Schiller paper. However, the result is very
similar. A narrative based on unsubstantiated claims that demonizes international political
groups and assumes they are working to destroy the United States.
Before an analysis of how this proclamation affected the behavior of the GOP there is
another important part of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory that requires discussion. As stated in
chapter 2 of this work, the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is built upon pre-existing conspiracy
theories. One of the most important of the pre-existing conspiracy theories is the New World
52


Order conspiracy, a product of the John Birch Society. Within the John Birch Society Master
Conspiracy Theory all other conspiracy theories are part of the New World Orders plan for
global communal rule (Stewart 2002, 442). Given the JBS history of embracing and spreading
conspiracy theories, it is not surprising that we can find the conservative NGO at the heart of a
campaign to spread the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory and pass legislation against the United
Nations sustainability plan. There is a page on the website Scribd (an online digital library)
created by Hal Shurtleff, a JBS coordinator for the northeastern United States (John Birtch
Society 2011). This page contains 48 document templates for state laws against Agenda 21
(Shurtleff 2012). The site explains that there are no documents for the states of Alabama and
Michigan, as Alabama has already passed an anti-Agenda 21 bill and Michigan was working on
passing a similar law when the documents were posted (Shurtleff 2012). The model bills are all
essentially the same with the exception of the states name in each individual template. The bills
start by affirming a right to due process in regards to property issues within all of the states
political subdivisions. It then declares that no environmental or development policy can
infringe or restrict the property rights of the owner of the property (Shurtleff 2012). Although
this line could simply be an affirmation of property rights within the state, in the context of the
subject being discussed, and the views of the NGO that constructed this document, the statement
fits well in the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative that assume the U.N. sustainability plain will
result in property seizures.
The next section of the bill simply outlines the reach of the proposed law and explains it
would affect every level of government in the state (Shurtleff 2012). Then the template states
that the law would prohibit any level of the states government from actions that would
deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as
53


may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to "Agenda 21
(Shurtleff 2012). The bill further states that it would offer protection against Agenda 21 or any
other international law that may conflict with the federal or state constitutions (Shurtleff 2012).
This portion of the bill essentially makes a claim by offering protection from a non-existent
issue. Outside of the conspiracy narrative, Agenda 21 does not enable the United Nations to
seize property. However, this part of the bill explicitly supports the assumption that Agenda 21
policies may require property seizure through methods illegal in the United States. The
construction of a law against this behavior implies that it not only exists, but that the issue is
pressing enough that Americans need to be protected. This lends validity to conspiracy theories
that espouse similar claims. This section also implies that Agenda 21 is an international law as
opposed to a set of recommendations. As with many claims made by opponents of the
sustainability plan, this is simply not true.
n
The final part of the bill deals with the groups working towards implementation of
Agenda 21. The bill states that the United Nations has accredited and enlisted numerous non-
governmental and inter-governmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies
relative to Agenda 21 around the world. It also states any level of the states government may
not enter into any agreement; expend any sum of money, or receive funds contracting services;
or giving financial aid to or from those non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations
as defined in Agenda 21. This section of the bill offers a few points for analysis. First, it
furthers the narrative that the NGOs and supporters of Agenda 21 are working towards goals
dangerous to the American public. Additionally, this part of the proposed bill would actually
have an effect on policy. The early lines about prohibiting constitutionally illegal property 7
7 There is another small paragraph that offers a timetable for implementation of the bill upon approval. However,
it is simply a matter of when the provision would become active if the law was is passed and offers no relevant
political discourse.
54


seizures by NGOs and IGOs would not cause any real change to the issues due to existing
property laws, the supremacy of the American constitution in these matters, and the lack of legal
and coercive power behind Agenda 21. However, the ban on governments voluntary taking part
in sustainability programs associated with Agenda 21 could actually impede sustainability plans
as it would cripple the NGOs that assist local and state governments by providing, scientific
information, support, and funding for sustainable development. As Agenda 21 has no
enforcement power and is developed for voluntary regional projects, prohibitions on the methods
for implementation could genuinely harm any future hope of utilizing the plans environmental
recommendations. An important point here is that when the conspiracy theories go this far it is
o
no longer simply shaping norms or narratives instead it becomes a concrete factor in the
political system that creates (if the law passes) a fixed official state response to the matter.
As of the writing of this document, conservative political groups, such as the GOP, Tea
Party, and smaller ideologically similar groups have attempted to pass anti-Agenda 21
legislation in at least 26 states8 9 (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 209). These laws have
come to vote as both binding laws and non-binding resolutions (Frick, Weinzimmer and
Waddell 2015, 209) (Shurtleff 2012). All of the legislation contains language that prohibits the
state from working with or receiving funds from the United Nations or any of the political groups
that is associated with implementation of Agenda 21 (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015,
218).
A few of the state bills/resolutions included lines that would require the state to set up
studies of the sustainability plan in order to determine if it was harmful (Frick, Weinzimmer and
Waddell 2015, 218). Some of the states attempted to pass both laws and resolutions. However,
8 This can be damaging enough within a political community.
9 A few of these states attempted to pass more than one of the bills or resolutions.
55


only Alabama, the first state to consider this type of legislation, has passed laws against Agenda
21. As for the non-binding resolutions, only four have been approved (Frick, Weinzimmer and
Waddell 2015,218).
The very low rate at which these pieces of legislation pass may seem like a victory for
sustainability activist and a social barometer for the acceptance of the conspiracy theory. In
actuality, the bulk of anti-agenda 21 activists interviewed felt that even if a law was not passed it
had served to further the cause by making more people aware of Agenda 21. The same sense of
victory was observed in activists when legislators proposed non-binding resolutions (Frick,
Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218). The hope of many activists and anti-Agenda 21 groups is
that the continual proposal of these bills, regardless of passage, will create a chilling effect on
future sustainability programs by making their opponents afraid of introducing environmental
programs due to the resistance they will face (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218).
There is no method to determine if these bills will have any future deterrent effect on eco
activism. But the above lines help us see that, at the very least, these bills have an empowering
effect for anti-agenda 21 activists and groups.
A recent study of such bills and related resolutions and how they spread shows that there
are several key concepts that remain consistent across the debates. The authors of the article
found several factors that shaped public approval and acceptance of anti-Agenda 21 bills. Some
of these factors include former military service, rates at which the state already had high levels of
social spending, and the amount of vehicle dependent homes in the state10 (Frick, Weinzimmer
and Waddell 2015, 218-224). However, two of the major influencing factors were whether or
not the state elected Republican Tea Party candidates in the 2010 election and if the voters in the
region subscribed to a set of Tea Party narratives concerning the federal government (Frick,
10 As well as many other small concepts that offered very minor changes in the statistical data.
56


Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 223-4). Whether or not the state elected Tea Party members in
the 2010 election is in line with the analysis provided in my work. For the most part this
conspiracy theory, with only a few notable exceptions11 have been created, spread, and kept
alive by the works of conservative think tanks and right aligned political groups and media
sources. A persons adherence to Tea Party narratives is also unsurprising, however, the specific
set of narratives that the researchers found to be important are quite helpful in further
understanding of the situation.
The study looked at four different aspects of the Tea Partys narrative that were repeated
by interviewees. They can be summarized as follows: anti-Agenda 21 activists were Citizen
Patriots combating government overreach. Interviewees recounted belief in a mythological
Founders Tale based on property ownership and defense of American culture from outsiders, a
belief that the American middle class is threatened by lower income groups through
redistributive social policies, and a sense of romanticism based on the struggle of neophyte
legislators fighting the other issues (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 213). We can see
that the primary concepts that are attributed to Tea Party narratives fit well within the Agenda 21
conspiracy theory. There is fear about the loss of property and the American way of life from
the machinations of foreigners. The narrative also denotes a fear of redistributive principles
deemed socialist or authoritarian. Finally, we see that the narrative offers a romanticized
version of history that assigns a hero status to those combating the evil of powerful central
governments. The study also found that many of the people interviewed were less concerned
with loss of sovereignty then they were with The Affordable Healthcare Act. Despite the fact that
the two have nothing to do with each other, a narrative that Obama was forcing healthcare
legislation on people became a point of resistance and a spur to activists against other public
11 Such as the group Democrats Against Agenda 21.
57


polices the group felt were the result of an overgrown government forcing redistributive polices
on the nation (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 224). Overall, we can see a situation in
which similar narratives between conspiracy theorists and the Tea Party have provided a fertile
environment for elite political groups to use the concept for policy and their public rhetoric. This
has allowed for the conspiracy theory to spread and become normalized as part of our political
discourse and in some instances public policy.
Right Wing Media and Agenda 21
The final elite aspect of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory I will discuss in this chapter is
how media sources discuss and use the concept. Many journalistic sources regularly release
stories about the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory with a variety of perspectives. This ranges from
discussing the situation factually with a neutral ideological stance, to left-of-center media outlets
that insult and attack anti-Agenda 21 groups, to the right-wing media that often embrace some
aspect of the conspiracy or at the very least find fault in Agenda 21. However, the sources that
are important to this work are the third group, the news channels, radio shows, and websites that
cater to political conservative audiences. These sources are important not simply because they
discuss this topic with greater frequency and within the conspiracy narrative. The additional
relevance of these conservative media sources appears when we understand that their role in
stimulating the growth of the groups and ideas that form the basis of the anti-Agenda 21
movement is part of an intentional political maneuver. Scholarly data on the growth of the Tea
Party and the resurgence of the GOP in 2010 looked at several factors that allowed this situation.
One of the most important factors in the study was the growth of ideologically driven new
sources.
58


There has been a long history of conservative media beginning in the Depression Era
with news radio programs featuring religious leaders that warned against communist
conspiracies, anti-American conspiracies, and other points of social anxiety (Burack and Snyder-
Hall 2013, 446). However, the very politically driven news media that we are accustomed to
today did not start to take shape until the 1980s. During this period, Rush Limbaugh began a
new format for a call-in talk show based on conservative politics (Burack and Snyder-Hall 2013,
477). The result was a very popular radio show that focused on attacking liberal values and
groups that opposed (or groups that were opposed by) Republican values through discourse
labeled hate radio by its critics (Burack and Snyder-Hall 2013, 477). This type of
programming was previously disallowed until 1987, when Ronald Reagan ended the Fairness
Doctrine (policies that required balanced viewpoints in news media) from broadcast rules
(Burack and Snyder-Hall 2013, 477) Today, these conservative radio shows are an important
sources of news and entertainment for nearly one-in-five Americans, mostly white, middle-class
males.
The two most popular hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, actively promote
Republican ideals and serves as an echo chamber for conservative ideology (Burack and
Snyder-Hall 2013, 477). The reach of conservative media grew much larger when News Corp
unveiled the television channel Fox News in 1996. The network offered content very similar to
conservative news radio under the guise of fair and balanced broadcast news (Burack and
Snyder-Hall 2013). The network slow grew in popularity with several spikes in viewership
during George W. Bushs 2000 presidential campaign, the 9/11 attacks and the election of
Barack Obama. During the networks growth, it became home to Glen Beck, a key figure in
both the Tea Partys growth as well as an adamant supporter of anti-Agenda 21 conspiracy
59


theories (Burack and Snyder-Hall 2013, 448). Further, there is data that show these media
companies are simply one part of a much larger conservative political network that disseminates
conservative political ideology and political agendas (Meagher 2012, 469-470). This vast
conservative network funds and organizes a variety of think tanks, non-profits and the media
outlets that share their ideas with the public. The result is a well-designed social network that
works as a pipeline of ideas from think tanks and politicians to activists and voters (Meagher
2012, 469-470). In the remaining part of this chapter, I will discuss the messages concerning
Agenda 21 that are coming from the media arm of the conservative political network.
The data provided in this section are by no means exhaustive. However, the information
provides a good sample of how some of the more popular broadcasters in conservative media
treat the situation. Sean Hannity is the host of both television and radio shows. During his time
on the air, he has had anti-Agenda 21 supporters such as Tom Deweese (head of the conservative
group American Policy Center) and Newt Gingrich (at the time a presidential candidate) on his
radios show to discuss the situation (DeWeese 2012). As one may expect the guests discussed
the subject within the conservative narrative previously analyzed in this work (DeWeese 2012).
Past the use of the Republican conspiracy narrative, an important point to gather from these guest
interviews is the empowerment it gives anti-Agenda 21 activists and the validity it lends to their
cause. When an important figure in the GOP voiced his support for the Agenda 21 conspiracy
narrative on one of the most popular conservative new shows the story becomes much more
credible to the general public then information gathered from a conspiracy website with
questionable authority in the matter. This has been described in an editorial for the conservative
news magazine The New American as an important moment for the cause as it served as a sign
60


that the mainstream Conservative movement is coming on board in the Agenda 21 fight
(DeWeese 2012).
Rush Limbaugh, one of the most popular voices in conservative media, talks less about
Agenda 21, but still uses the narrative of anti-Agenda 21 supporters. Internet searches of Rush
Limbaugh Agenda 21 provides several links from left leaning media sources criticizing the
Republican party and pundits such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh for taking part in the
conspiracy theory (Lacey 2012) (Media Matters 2014). However, these links do not document
any instances of Limbaugh actually attacking Agenda 21. The search also provides several links
to right wing media sources and conspiracy websites that have reposted an article by a
conservative/conspiracy author Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh (Paugh 2013). In the article, Paugh
supports the conspiracy narrative associated with Agenda 21 and references a specific
monologue from Rush Limbaugh that she feels supports her case. This monologue does not
reference Agenda 21 either. Further searches of the media archives on Limbaughs site provide
little support to either sides assertion that Limbaugh regularly (or at all) discusses this subject.
However, as multiple sources on both sides of the political spectrum have mentioned this
specific segment in reference to Agenda 21 conspiracies it seems appropriate to include it in this
analysis.
During one of his 2013 monologues, Limbaugh delivers a long speech about the evils of
central planning, mass transit, and in essence any form of government interference with land
development. He never expressly mentions Agenda 21 during the diatribe, however, the
narrative he uses to attack the federal government, HUD, and liberal development is close to the
works of anti-Agenda 21 activists (Limbaugh 2013). He discusses at length his opinion of HUD
programs from the 1970s that he considers an attempt to strip away people rights in order to
61


create racial equity in housing (Limbaugh 2013). After this, Limbaugh switches to an assault on
current HUD policies that he criticizes for attempting to regulate urban density and what type of
housing can be build. This is very much within the narrative for Agenda 21 conspiracies as
many of the conspiracy based fears concern a large central government that forces people from
their current living situation into dense urban area. Finally, Limbaugh discusses his view that
central planning of this nature is a liberal plot to keep people from living within the groups and
cultures they choose (Limbaugh 2013). This part of the monologue, although not directly related
to Agenda 21, touches on the narrative as it implies liberals are using central planning schemes,
under the guise of equity and smart planning to chip away at American cultural norms. Of the
narratives shared in this paper, Limbaughs monologue is the least similar to the conspiracy
theories of the Schiller paper and the Republican documents. However, the narrative is close
enough that both sides of the Agenda 21 debate feel that his is part of the discussion and thus
relevant to how they understand the situation.
The last media figure I will discuss and perhaps one of the strongest voices against
Agenda 21 is conservative pundit, talk radio host, and author Glen Beck. The former Fox News
host has been a strong supporter of both the Tea Party movement and anti-Agenda 21 groups on
his television and radio shows. Further, his news site The Blaze features its own web portal
specifically devoted to stories related to the topic. Additionally, he has co-authored a fictional
novel about Agenda 21. What follows is a sample of Becks work against Agenda 21.
In a television segment that is representative of his broadcasts on the subject, Beck gives
an overview of his opinions and understanding of the United Nations plan. He begins by
pickings small sections of the document that appear innocent in wording and gives his summary
of how these ideas are actually masking plans for central planning of all human life on earth.
62


(Beck 2011) He then explains this is all because of socialist redistribution that is outlined in
Agenda 21 (Beck 2011). Next, Beck attacks Dr. Gro Brutland a former Prime minster of
Norway and one of the key figures in planning The Rio Summit of 1992 (Barlund n/d). After
mocking the pronunciation of her name and implying she is unattractive and dour, he states she
is a member of several socialist groups and friends with Bill and Hilary Clinton (Beck 2011).
Although these concepts may not seem that damming in some political circles, Beck rolls his
eyes, mocks these people, and through his behavior and dismissive statements implies that these
social connections are proof that Agenda 21 is much more than a simple sustainability plan. ,
After attacking Dr. Brutland, Beck moves on to his next target, a figure in international politics
that anyone familiar with the Schiller paper would recognize, Maurice Strong. Beck then spends
several minutes talking about how Strong is part of many sustainable development plans, and
implies these plans are a ploy (Beck 2011). He then states that Strong would require people to
be licensed to have children and that he hopes for industrial society to collapse (Beck 2011). He
offers no source or context with which these comments were supposedly made, he simply states
sarcastically no, nothing nefarious there (Beck 2011).
Beck moves on to how this will affect viewers. He uses this time to explain that any
instance in which local or state governments are attempting to use programs deemed
sustainable are likely something that is secretly being pushed by the ICLICE. Much like other
conspiracy based works concerning Agenda 21 he labels the ILCIE as a covert attempt to push
United Nation control over American municipalities (Beck 2011). He then attacks several
people within the ILCIE. He labels these people as either socialists or communists working
towards a malevolent world government (Beck 2011). Beck then explains that Agenda 21 is a
long-term covert plan to enact global government under the guise of environmentalism (Beck
63


2011). He goes on to talk about how large and well-entrenched the plan is within policy and
international politics. After he has built a fearful monster out of Agenda 21 and its supporters,
one that may seem undefeatable to viewers, Beck explains his theory that God will take part in
this situation. He explains that God will step into protect freedom. He then quickly shifts the
topic to how anti-Agenda 21 activists have been keeping the nation aware of the problems and
are fighting back (Beck 2011). At the end of his diatribe, he warns viewers to look for the terms
sustainable planning and social justice as buzzwords used by the enemy to trick people
into believing that Agenda 21 and environmental policy are positive for society (Beck 2011).
This monologue by Beck is very interesting as it uses more of the original conspiracy theory than
the works of other major conservative broadcasters. Limbaugh uses a similar narrative but shifts
the blame for central planning and loss of freedoms to the federal government, Beck fully
embraces the narrative of the Schiller white paper. He discuss the plan and highlights aspects of
Agenda 21 that fit both Malthusian and New World Order conspiracies. He attempts to explain
the plan as a covert and nefarious action by a cadre of international elites. Finally, Becks
narrative explains the situation as a battle of good vs. evil and implies that God is on the side of
anti-Agenda 21 activists.
This monologue provides us with a good example of the style and narrative in which
Becks broadcasts discuss Agenda 21. However, this is not the only method that Beck has used
to malign the sustainability plan. Becks news website The Blaze features a special section that
deals with nothing but Agenda 21 conspiracy theories (The Blaze Inc. 2015). This section of the
website features dozens of articles from the last few years that discuss instances in which groups
have fought against Agenda 21 or a local sustainability plan is being labeled as part of the
64


conspiracy (The Blaze Inc. 2015). These articles all work within the frame that Beck has
developed to support his assertions about the evil of Agenda 21.
The last and perhaps strongest piece of work Beck has put forth concerning Agenda 21 is
a fictional novel he co-authored with Harriet Parke. The novel is titled Agenda 21 and is a
dystopian science fiction novel set approximately fifteen years after the implementation of the
United Nations sustainability plan (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012). The plot of the book
takes several aspects from classic dystopian science fiction novels. The setting is a bleak
totalitarian world in which the protagonist has imperfect/unreliable information about the world
in which she lives, creating a very similar social settings to both George Orwells classic 1984 as
well as Ayn Rands novella Anthem (Orwell 1961) (Rand 1995). The book centers around a
teenage girl who was born shortly after the implementation of Agenda 21 and describes her
experiences in a nightmarish world created by the provisions of the sustainability plan. The main
plot points are directly related to the conspiracy narrative surrounding Agenda 21. The main
characters live in a small dense settlement under the control of a distant authoritarian centralized
government that serves as the New World Order (Beck and Parke 2012, 10-13). The society
appears very underdeveloped and has strict controls on the use of technology, energy, food and
any natural resource (Beck and Parke 2012, 10-12). These aspects of the book are much more
vivid than the warnings of the Schiller paper, yet follow the narrative almost perfectly.
There are other sections of the book that illustrate the narrative of conspiracy theorists,
such as a scene that describes a shrine-like feeding area that produces fat, over fed squirrels and
wildlife, while humans starve (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012, 29). This scene appears to
address the parts of the conspiracy theory that assume that the Agenda 21 plan is run by an eco-
cult that worships nature and has little regard for human life. Another important sub-plot is how
65


reproduction and population are strictly regulated through either a centralized breeding program
for the young or a euthanasia program for the old and weak (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012,
34-40). These points supply the Malthusian aspect of the conspiracy that warns of harsh
government controls concerning population and reproduction. Overall, the novel follows the
predictions of conspiracy theorists, covering all of the major points of works, such as the Schiller
paper with graphic and often violent scenarios.
However, it is not simply what is said that is important with this work. For this
discussion, it is important to understand the type of book one encounters when reading Agenda
21. This work is not an ethical political novel that seeks to provoke an interest and open
discussion about a social situation (McAlear 2009, 197-198). Instead this novel is written with
methodological and narrative tactics (whether intentional or not) that mirror propaganda novels
such as The Turner Diaries (McAlear 2009, 198). The novel does not contain situations of moral
ambiguity that could lead one to debate the concepts or wrestle with questions that arise from the
context of the work. Instead, the work is written as a personal narrative that follows the
perceptions of a single character. This format has been analyzed by scholars as a less effective
method for provoking discussion with a political novel and as a method better suited for the
dispersal of propaganda and persuasion (McAlear 2009, 197). Beck and Parkes novel follows a
similar method used for the creation of the The Turner Diaries an infamous dystopian
propaganda novel written by a white supremacist about American society after a race war
(McAlear 2009). Further, Beck and Parkes novel Agenda 21 has other similarities in narrative
construction with The Turner Diaries. Both novels are written with framing and narratives in
which the current era is corrupted, and a better future is expected to come from a new era that
takes people back to the purity of a lost past (Beck and Parke 2012, 347-353) (McAlear 2009,
66


194). These concepts form the basis of the resolution in Beck and Parkes novel as the
protagonists flee their prison-like society to escape the current totalitarian order and to rediscover
social conditions from the past before Agenda 21 (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012).
This is much different than other political dystopian novels such as Alexus Huxleys A
Brave New World or Ray Bradburys Fahrenheit 451. Although the format of these novels do
have some similarity with Parke and Becks Agenda 21 novel and the Turner Diaries, using the
standards applied above they also have a greater ethical content (McAlear 2009, 198). This is
based on the structure of the novels that focus on the view point of various characters, show
more than one moral viewpoint and leave the reader with a bit of tension as to why people follow
the authoritarian governments and how the situations occurred (Bradbury 1951) (Huxley 1932)
(McAlear 2009, 197-199) In works such as The Turner Diaries and Agenda 21, these concepts
are notability missing and the antagonists are simply evil or villainous as opposed to complex
characters making decision within a social context that effects their motivations and actions.
A final point about the novel Agenda 21 is the special afterward written by Beck. In a
short section at the end of the book, Beck addresses readers directly. He compliments Parke for
her work and explains that the method of using a novel to tell the story has had a great influence
in spreading awareness about the issues (Beck and Parke 2012, 356-7). Beck then explains that
the novel is fiction, that he is not a conspiracy theorist, and that the scenarios in the novel are the
most extreme examples of what could happen under Agenda 21 (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21
2012, 357). However, immediately after he assures readers that the events of the novel probably
will not happen, he then offers several pages of information to show how it could happen. This
includes a short outline of the conspiracy theory concerning Agenda 21. The outline includes a
list of supporters of the plan such as Maurice Strong and their supposed connections with
67


socialist groups; a primer on how to watch for any language usage that could be connected to the
plan, and a list of resources for readers to better inform themselves about the dangers of the plan
(Beck and Parke 2012, 358-376). Further, Beck urges activism against the plan at every level of
government. Finally, he finishes the work by thanking the Republican Party for officially
supporting anti-Agenda 21 movements through the resolution approved at the GOP 2012 Winter
Meeting (Beck and Parke 2012, 379).
This is a fascinating piece of work for this analysis. It fully embraces the conspiracy
narrative concerning Agenda 21 and gives graphic illustration as to how the world could look if
conspiracy theorists are correct. The novel is entertaining, yet never really deviates from the
established framework that views Agenda 21 as a Malthusian plot by the New World Order to
control all life. The novel is a piece of political fiction, yet it is written with methodology that is
better suited for propaganda. After 350 pages of anxiety-inducing prose, Beck directly addresses
the reader and supplies ample amounts of information that helps to add validity and authority to
the work. Although he attempts to downplay the possibilities of the horrors in the novel, he only
does so for a few sentences before he begins to preach as to how this all could happen. The
novel as a whole gives more weight and detail to the conspiracy than a non-fictional account, as
anything that seems too implausible can be discounted as fiction as opposed to the ravings of a
paranoid person.
In this chapter, we have seen how a network of conservative think tanks, political parties
and media sources have adapted and used an older conspiracy theory to modem public policy. In
the final chapter of this work, I will discuss some of the ramifications of this behavior and what
this type of behavior could mean in the future.
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CHAPTER IV
CONCLUSION
Throughout the course of this work, I have attempted to explore and explain the evolution
and usage of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. For the majority of this analysis, I have looked at
the narratives used by conspiracy theorists and political groups to rationalize and justify their
opposition to a several decade old, voluntary sustainability plan. What was once a grand
malevolent style conspiracy theory cobbled together out of existing Malthusian and New World
Order conspiracy theories by fringe elements of the conservative/conspiracy crowd has evolved
into a mainstream political concept.
For the most part this political phenomenon is a product of conservative aligned political
groups. A few exceptions exist, such as Democrats Against Agenda 21. The group is led by
Rosa Koire, a self-proclaimed Democrat, who states she is in favor of many left leaning causes
such as marriage equity (though oddly described as pro-gay marriage), civil rights, and other
progressive causes (Koire n/d). Despite this assurance that she is an active part of the political
left in America, Kories website offers little proof of her claimed political allegiance. The
website is filled with quotes and videos supplying the same conservative conspiracy narrative
discussed in this work, including links to her appearances on Glenn Becks television program
(Koire n/d). However, Korie is an exception to the general rule of who is spreading this type of
narrative. From its creation, the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has been the work of conservative
and right wing political groups. As we have seen previously in this document, the Schiller
Institute, under the leadership of Lyndon LaRouche published a conspiracy narrative for its
extremely conservative followers. The Schiller paper was based on the works of other
conservative and conspiracy-based groups, such as the John Birch Society and their New World
69


Order master conspiracy theory. Then we see the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory becoming more
mainstream and part of the Republican Partys public political discourse and public policy. This
occurred with the rise of a well-developed network of conservative political groups and partisan
media outlets as well as the growth of the Tea Party.
This summary of my previous analysis helps us to see a few things. The most obvious is
that this current conspiracy theory is the product of the Republican Party and their support
network. The states that have attempted to pass or have passed anti-Agenda 21 legislation or
resolutions with small exception are all red states or states that primarily elected Republicans
and voted heavily for Tea Party candidates in the 2010 elections (Frick, Weinzimmer and
Waddell 2015, 218-222). The bulk of the mainstream media that supports anti-Agenda 21
movements and conspiracy theories are all part of a well-developed and well-funded
conservative social network (Meagher 2012, 469-471). All of these factors help demonstrate that
homophily is a factor in this situation.
Homophily is a term for the concept that humans tend to associate and form groups due
to similarities in ideology and social status (Lazer, et al. 2010, 249). This factor of human
interaction draws people with similar viewpoints together for a variety of reasons. Some
homophilic behavior is simple human psychology and the fact that we are attracted to people
with similarities to ourselves (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250). Homophily is also shaped by systemic
factors that often result in work places and living situations in which people of similar attitudes
and socio-economic backgrounds often end up in groups (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250). There are
several reasons that humans have a tendency towards this behavior. These include, gathering
information, forming strong social bonds, a sense of validity that comes from being with others
of similar viewpoints and an avoidance of cognitive dissonance that can occur in relationships
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with people that are ideologically dissimilar (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250). Each of these factor help
to explain the situation concerning Agenda 21. With the creation and growth of conservative
media networks there is ample news that provides an ideologically similar outlet for gathering
information. If this source is one of the more popular conservative news sources, the viewer will
be receiving the anti-Agenda 21 movements version of the narrative. This factor could greatly
increase the spread of this conspiracy narrative as the people often discussing Agenda 21 such as
Glenn Beck, Rosa Koire, and even state legislators while arguing for anti-Agenda 21 legislation,
encourage their audience to do their own research on the topic (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21
2012, 357-379) (Koire n/d) (Jost 2013). If a person that does such at the behest of a conservative
media figure or politician and the research is preformed via conservative media, they will find
ideologically similar information that adds validity to the conspiracy narrative. Through this
human tendency towards similarity and a well-developed political network designed to take
advantage of such behavior we can begin to understand how an obscure, three decade old
conspiracy theory is shaping current political behavior.
Another important factor to address is the subtle changes in the narrative. Although we
can see a consistence in the manner with which conservatives and conspiracy theorist understand
Agenda 21, there is some variation as to how each source tells the story. There are a few
concepts that help explain this. Foremost, is that narratives must change and adapt with social
context. Conspiracy theories are often an indicator of points of social anxiety (Parish 2001, 2-
10). As the reasons for this fear shift with the passage of time and new events, conspiracy
theories must adapt as well. Another important factor is that political and social elites have an
interest in keeping their narratives believable to their audience. When elites construct alternative
narratives to explain situations they go through a process selective appropriation in which parts
71


of the story are taken from existing understandings of culture and history (Bacon 2012, 781).
When they supply the alternative explanation in hopes of it becoming the primary narrative on
the subject, they must be careful that their viewpoint is believable to their audience or they risks
unraveling the narrative, with potentially catastrophic results for narrators with regard to their
legitimacy (Bacon 2012, 782-783). A final narrative-shaping factor is that conspiracy theories
as a whole are starting to change. Peter Knight discusses this in a study of different narratives
concerning the 9/11 conspiracy theory. He observes that newer conspiracy theories are less
likely to blame singular agents or malevolent secret societies (Knight, Outrageous Conspiracy
Theories: Popular and Offi cial Responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States 2008, 193).
Instead, there is a growing trend that conspiracy theories are becoming a portrait of power as
decentered and dispersed into a vast network of interlocking vested interests within the wider
process of globalization, a picture that cannot easily be pinned down to an evil cabal, even if at
the surface level it is presented in those traditional terms (Knight, Outrageous Conspiracy
Theories: Popular and Offi cial Responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States 2008, 193).
In essence, we can understand that conspiracy theories may change over time in small ways due
to social context and how the audiences expectations shape the narrative.
This helps us understand how the Schiller Institute and Glenn Beck may have a slight
different story than the RNC as to the dangers of and who is behind Agenda 21, yet the narrative
remains basically the same. It has been adapted by the speaker in order to ensure the belief of
its intended audience, while at the same time carful taking the important points from past
iterations of the narrative in order to maintain legitimacy. Further, changes in the narrative that
move the concept away from global malevolent conspiracy theories to an approach that blames
the collusion of IGOs, NGOs, and Agenda 21 supporters show a broader understanding of
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globalization and political interconnectedness amongst conspiracy theorists and anti-Agenda 21
activists.
A final point worth mention in this analysis is the possible damage that the anti-Agenda
21 movement may cause. Although the bills and resolutions put forth by the GOP have had little
success, they still serve as a source of empowerment for anti-Agenda 21 activists (Frick,
Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218). Further there is a commonly repeated theme amongst
Agenda 21 conspiracy theorists that attempts to label nearly any term related to ecological and
environmentalism as covert methods to trick people (Beck and Parke 2012, 375-376)
(Republican National Committee 2012, 3) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28-29). These attacks on
sustainability concepts and vocabulary are aimed at Agenda 21; however many of the ideas are
much broader ideas that are used to describe nearly any type of environmental movement. If
conspiracy theorists co-op these terms and construct them as negative concepts within the debate
about Agenda 21, there is little reason to believe they will accept the concepts in other situations.
This leaves us with a political situation in which the basic concepts and narratives required to
discuss and solve important problems are fractured and a point of contention before the real
debates even begin.
However, my research was not able to prove that this narrative has had a large impact on
public policy or public opinion. As discussed in the previous chapter, nearly all of the anti-
Agenda 21 laws and resolutions have failed to pass. Further, the most important question to this
study is whether the conspiracy narratives concerning Agenda 21 have had an effect on
American political norms. Currently, it appears that anti-Agenda 21 media, legislation, and
activism has not had a significant effect. Utilizing several public opinion polls there appears to
be no major resistance to either Agenda 21 or sustainability programs.
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A 2012 poll by the American Planning Association found that 85% of respondents when
asked, Do you support Agenda 21 did not know enough about the program to answer the
question ( American Planning Association 2012, 22). Of the remaining 15 percent of
respondents, 9% supported the plan, while only 6 percent opposed Agenda 21 ( American
Planning Association 2012, 22). Further, polls concerning sustainability and the environment do
not give any indication that anti-Agenda 21 movement is shaping Americans view of
ecologically centered public policy. This is important, as the narrative discussed in this work
often labels sustainability and many environmental concepts as part of the conspiracy.
A 2014 Gallup poll about global warming revealed that only 25% of respondents had no
concerns about global warming (Saad 2014). This is 3% drop from the 28% of respondents who
did not believe in global warming in 2010 (Saad 2014). The Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative
explains that global warming is a false concept, manufactured for the sake of justifying political
controls by international elites. If the narrative was having a great effect on the American public
we would expect to see in increase in the number of people who disbelieve global warming is
occurring and is an important issue. However, this poll helps us understand there are no increase
and actually a slight drop in the number of people who hold this opinion.
A 2013 poll showed that 66% of Americans believed that the villain of the conspiracy
narrative, the United Nations plays a necessary role in the world today (Jones and Wendt
2013) Of the respondents who identified as Republicans, 46% said they thought the UN was
necessary (Jones and Wendt 2013). If the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative was greatly shaping
Americans perceptions of the program and the United Nations, it is not likely that the majority of
Americans would respond that the United Nations is necessary. Further, as the Agenda 21
conspiracy narrative is disseminated by a conservative policy and media network, it does not
74


seem likely that the narrative is shaping norms if almost half of Republican respondents view the
United Nations favorably.
Finally in n a large data set that looked at trends in environmental polls since over the last
few decades there is little data to support postulation that Agenda 21 conspiracy narratives have
led to negative perceptions of sustainability programs and environmental politics. The
consolidation of these polls show an overall trend in which the majority of respondents were
concerned about ecological issues and in most cases backed some type of political response from
the federal government (Gallup 2014). An important question to my work asked if the United
States should sign a legal binding treaty based on the Copenhagen climate change summit. The
majority of respondents (55%) thought that the U.S. should sign the treaty, with only 38%
opposed to the plan (Gallup 2014). This is not what one would expect if the conspiracy narrative
had convinced people that international sustainability plans were part of an evil plot. The fact
that a majority of people believe that the United States should sign an international treaty
intended to ensure sustainability and protect the environment, helps us understand that the
Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative has not greatly shaped public opinion.
These polls help us see that American norms and political views have not been greatly
affected by the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative. The vast majority of people do not even know
enough about the program to decide if they support or oppose it. Of the very small percent of
people that do have an opinion, less than half are opposed to the program. If we look further at
public opinion regarding sustainability programs and environmental politics, we see
environmental and sustainability issues are important to most Americans. Further, Americans
see the United Nations as a necessary institution and believe that their country should participate
in international agreements concerning the environment. All of these polls ask questions about
75


concepts that fit within the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative. However, the available data does
not show an increase resistance to or disbelief in these ideas. For now, it appears that this
narrative is not a strong influence on American public policy or norms.
76


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CHASING WINDMILLS: THE USE OF CONSPIRACY THEORY BASED NARRATIVES BY ANTI AGENDA 21 MOVEMENTS By MIKEL SHAFFER B.S. University of Denver, Colorado 20 10 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colora do in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science Program 20 15

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ii This thesis for the Master of Arts Degree by Mikel Shaffer has been approved for the Political Science Program by Lucy McGuffey, Chai r Tony Robinson Glenn Morris May 27, 2015

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iii S haffer, Mikel (MA, Political Science) Chasing Windmills: The Use of Conspiracy Theory Based Narratives by Anti Agenda 21 Movements Thesis directed by Professor Lucy McGuffey ABSTRACT Sustainabl e development has become a controversi al issue in the United States. A fundamental part of the resistance against sustainability programs has manifested in the anti Agenda 21 movement. Despite the fact that Agenda 21 is a several decade ol d voluntary Uni ted Nations sustai na bi lity program with no enforcement capabilities the political right wing of the United States has worked the last few years to legally prohibit the program and label i t as a nefarious plan that would damage American society. This move ment has the support of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, several conservative think tanks and various conservative aligned media outlets The narrative used by these groups to attack the sustainability plan are rooted in a several decade old, obscure conspiracy theory that has been revitalized and has evolved to fit the current political climate. The following work analyzes the conspiracy narratives that allowed an obscure conspiracy theory to become a political issue that has triggered anti Agenda 2 1 legislation as well as a right wing social movement. This analysis includes the birth of the conspiracy theory, how it has evolved during its new iteration and the effects this has on the American political system The form and content of this abs tract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Lucy McGuffey

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 1 Problem Statement ................................ ................................ ...................... 3 Review of the Literature ................................ ................................ ............. 6 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ............. 10 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 14 The Goals of this Work ................................ ................................ ............. 16 II. AGENDA 21 FACTS AND CONSPIRACY BASED NARRATIVES ............... 17 The Roots of the Conspiracy Theory: Malthus, the New World Order and the John Birch Society ................................ ................................ .............. 18 The Schiller White Paper: Creating a Conspiracy ................................ .... 22 III. ELITE AND MEDIA USE OF AGENDA 21 CONSPIRACY THEORIES ....... 40 E lites and Conspiracy Theories ................................ ................................ 40 Elite Organizations, the GOP, the JBS and the Tea Party ........................ 46 Right Wing Media and Agenda 21 ................................ ........................... 58 IV. CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 69 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 77

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION There is strong resi stance to sustainability programs in the United States. Concepts such as climate change, sustainable growth as well as many other aspects of environmentalism and su bstantive amount of the debate constructed on conspiracy theory based ideology and propaganda construct ed from this type of worldview. The resulting social narratives used to are then often derived from these ideologies. In turn, these narratives become a window into how environmental policies are argued in many instances in the United Sta tes. Through discourse and narrative analysis, we can understand that many opponents of sustainability programs are fighting said programs based on conspiracy theory driven worldviews that are often logically, epistemologically, and factually incorrect (t hese aspects of conspiracy theories will be discussed in depth below). One such concept that has been the subject of much debate and several state laws working towards prohibition of sustainability programs is the United Nations sustainable grow th program entitled Agenda 21. Although this plan is a non binding document that does not proscribe any form of punishment for non compliance, opponents have argued that it is actually a nefarious plan to erode property rights and create a world system based on con trol and a ut opian environmentalist vision. The following study will look at how the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has come into existence, the methods with which it has spread and the social effects of this conspiracy theory becoming the basis for politica l discourse and public policy. Conspiracy theories are a well entrenched part of the political culture of the United States. From the early Puritanical fears that cabals of witches, sorcerers, and non Christian

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2 indigenous people were attempting to destroy the new colonies to modern claims that the standing president is a foreign born Muslim who is using a socialist health care plan to kill off (Goldberg 2001, 2 3) (Farhi 2010, 33 34) Further, there are long standing themes within conspira cy theories of incorporating political concepts that relate to international politics and the UN into a grand narrative of worldwide conspiracy (James 2001, 83 84) Conspiracy theories have served as an alternate explanation and, in some cases, the official explanation, for events that cause social anxiety It can be easy to brush off conspiracy (Hofstadler 1964) Culturally, our media and entertainment often portray conspiracy theories as the beliefs of marginalized individuals who worry about UFO invasions, t he secrets behind the JFK assassination, or outsiders who think that a shadowy one world government is behind almost every conceivable social ill (Bell and Bennion Nixon 2001) These people do exist in some number, but as soci al science research ers point out, they often have trouble participa ting and being a part of a normal, healthy, political life (Keeley 2006, 53 55) The point here is that common conceptions (or misconceptions as I will later argue) of conspiracy theorists do not lead us to an immedi ate assumption that these people would have a significant effect on political culture. However, the reality is that conspiracy theories and the social narratives they aid in constructing hav e had a dramatic impact (often in very negative ways) throughout human history (Aaronovitch 2010, 8 10) the belief in a conspiracy theory has led to sy stemic violence against Jewish people from the Crusades to the In quisition and later through various programs that went far as the Holocaust and

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3 still serve as the basis of anti Semitic violence today (Pipes 1997, 129 1 45) Individuals that he Cold War could have their civil rights denied and their lives effectively ruined for having gone to a single Communist party meeting years before for socializing with people perceived to be communist or for espousing unorthodox political views. era that labeled members of the political party as part of a worldwide plot to destroy the United St ates and political rights such as liberty and pers onal choice (Rogin 1987, 44 81) A list of systemic violence based on conspiracy theories and narratives derived from said conspiracy theories could go on at great length, but is unnecessary here. Instead, these e xamples can help us understand two important points about this type of social discourse. First, we can see that some conspiracy theories can be quite harmful. Not all of these concepts are simply margina l ideas; instead, we can see that imagined conspiracies can lead to actual violence and oppression. Second, we can see that the power required to initiate actions such as state sponsored anti Semitic violence or government led witch hunts against a specif ic political above. These actions require power and the ability to garner mass support. In other words, these events require political elites to be part of the process. The problem here is that we often neglect to understand and explain the roles that political leaders have in the reinforcement and spread of conspiracy theories and the ills they produce for society. Problem Statement The lack of attention in ou r political culture to the usage of narratives derived from conspiracy theories as a form of propaganda and justification for policy by elites is mirrored by a lack of attention to the same subject matter in the social sciences. A scholarly article

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4 Vermeule (2009) describes the gap in the data succinctly in the following quote about the current limits of academic understanding of conspiracy theories. Most of the ac ademic literature directly involving conspiracy theories falls into one of two classes (1) work by analytic philosophers, especially in epistemology and the philosophy of science, that explores a range of issues but mainly asks what counts as a ically suspect; (2) a smattering of work in sociology and Freudian psychology on the causes of conspiracy theorizing (p. 203) In essence, most scholars look at how conspiracy theories are built on poor l ogic and why people continue to believe in them. academic literature involving conspiracy theories. I have only discovered a few authors such as Goldberg, Rogan and Bra tich, who address issues surrounding elites using conspiracy theories. As Goldberg points out in his introduction, this is a very important dynamic but such work is notably scarce (Goldberg 2001, xii) What is addressed in this limited pool of work is how elites use co or how leaders use conspiracy theories in order to stimulate fear in order to gain support for a policy (Rogin 1987, 44 80) (Aaronovitch 2010, 52 86) (Goldberg 2001, 1 21) These instances describe circumstances in which state actors have used conspiracy theories against non elites and other such groups. I will be looking at a case in which the conspiracy fueled rhetoric and narratives are aimed at inter elite conflicts or attempts by elites to stop a policy they oppose. In essence, with this work on Agenda 21 conspiracy the ories, I will be analyzing how elites are using c onspiracy theories as a method to attack other political elites, or governmental bodies. This is not to say that political elites normally refrain from accusing each other of participation in some form of d f

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5 foil hat style conspiracy theories in the case I will be discussing. What appears with this analysis is a n entire narrative developed from a conspiracy theory This narrative appear s as if it were part of the belief system of the paranoid non politically functioning individuals mentioned above, yet are used by members of the politic al elite as a basis of policy. As I will show across this work, these alternative explanations of Age nda 21 are part of an understanding of reality developed through the evolution of pre existing conspiracy narratives This narrative may have changed slightly over time due to the speaker and social context but the core beliefs and concepts remain intact. I n turn, this leads to the construction of public policy and anti sustai na b ility movements founded on con cepts that are simply un true. If it can be shown that political leaders are increasingly spreading conspiracy theories and making them part of our m ainstream political culture and discourse as a method to gain popular support, we could see the rise of many negative aspects of this typ e of belief system. These problems run a gamut from a faulty understanding of cause and effect in political systems to decreased participation and faith in the ability of legitimate government (Skinner 2001, 106 109) (Keeley 2006, 56 59) Further, the belief in conspiracy theories is also credite d with increased polarization and an in ability to understand the need for compromise and respect for other viewpoints in contentious situations (Featherstone 2001, 31 38) Finally, and quite simply, many if not most co nspiracy theories can be proven to be logically flawed and factually inco rrect (Basham, Living with the Conspiracy 2006, 61 69) If this is the case, then political elites and supporters who work against sustainabilit y programs due to unfounded fears are simply misdirecting and h arming important environmental policies.

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6 Review of the L iterature There is much debate in the social sciences as to why conspiracy theories become a part of our political narrative and why people believe in these alternative explanations of political events. The main scholarly e xplanations can be broken down into four basic categories These categories include personal political psychology social anxiety, adherence to ideologies that under stand events in a good versus evil dichotomy and conspiracy theories as an elite political strateg y comes from some of the first researchers to give the topic serious academic con sideration. One of the earliest This brief essay written in 1963 and viewed conspiracy theories as the produ ct of a type of social or collective paranoia in which a conspiracy theorist believe s that o utsiders are plotting against their national culture and political beliefs (Hofstadler 1964, 3 7) This type of group paranoia d iffers from the personal paranoia of a clinically ill person who feels threatened as an individual (Hofstadler 1964, 3 7) work also discuss es the roles that elites have in reinforcing such conspiracy theori es, however, it settles with an analysis in which the political psychology of individuals is to blame for the behavior. British philosopher Karl Popper wrote a conclusion s as Hofstadter regarding the paranoia of i ndividual conspiracy theorists. However, Popper goes a step further and depicts these individuals as the a ntithesis of social scientists. For Popper, conspiracy theorists are people who attempt to explain events but do so in a dysfunctional manner and as a result create harmful pseudo sciences in order to achieve their goals (Popper 2006, 13 17) In 1997, Daniel Pipes,

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7 author of How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where it Comes From comes to similar conclusion about the genesis and propagation of conspiracy theories. Like Hofstadter and Popper, he believes conspiracy theories a Although he does touch upon the subject of leaders and their roles in conspiracy theories becoming more prominent, he references less mainstream leaders, such as Joseph Stalin or Pat Buchanan, who blatantly have a very ridged, extreme ideology on the far left or right of the political spectrum (Pipes 1997, 21 36) Despite the fact that that these works do address leaders espousing conspiracy theories the reader is left wit h the general impression that this is uncommon and that these individuals are simply paran oid individuals that abuse their positions. However, not all scholars agree with the assumption that conspiracy theorists suffer from paranoia problems. Some researchers look at how social anxiety shapes the usage of conspiracy theories as an explanatio n for political events. Jane Parish takes a different tone than the scholars who deem paranoia to be the main cause. Instead, she looks at patterns of social change and anxiety from pre colonial witch scares to modern globalization in order to argue that people indulge in conspiracy theorizing to make sense of their fears (Parish 2001, 1 16) Peter Knight has a similar take on the subject. He explains that humans often make decisions in an ough this factor comes from the unintended consequences of other actions, the use of conspiracy theories as a method of explaining how the world w orks constructs blame labels an identifiable enemy, and seeks to add an elements of agency and control over a nxiety producing events (Knight 2001, 17 31) Alasdair Spark works with a similar idea of how fear of ra ndom or unexpected social events also leads to conspiracy theorizing. His specific focus is on New World Orde r style conspiracies. He argues that both the left and the right of the

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8 political spectrum 1 are less distinct than they were during the Cold War. This ebbing of concrete political groups and their associated ideologies, in combination with rapid globali zation, pushes many people to indulge in conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories become a way of reinstating the political duality and power relation s associated with the Cold War and older methods of international relations. Spark contends that the app eal of conspiracy theories is that (Spark 2001, 46 62) In essence, the villain(s) of a conspiracy theory, despite their nearly omni precent nature give comfort in times of anxiety as they become a scapegoat for social frustration and instability. However, the need to create order in a chaotic world is not the only reason i ndividuals believe in conspiracy theories influential factor Nigel James while discussing right wing militia groups in the United States, argues that conspiracy theories are often the product of religious and cultural ideologies that explain the world and events within a good versus evil dichotomy. In turn, this right or wro ng distinction fits perfectly within the narrative of most conspiracy theories (James 2001, 63 93) Jonathan Skinner also touches on ideological and identity based concepts that promote conspiracy based thinking. H e argues that belief in conspiracy theories is an attempt to construct a political narrative and functions as if it were an evangelical re ligion. Conspiracy theorists often evaluate the world with a good versus evil dichotomy with the belief system becomi argues that conspiracy theorist construct a political framework in order to evaluate the world. However, he points out that this framework is often constructed though poor epistemology and links singular events into an all encompassing narrative. In turn, this poorly constructed 1 This is a bit of a rarity in the disco urse, as most scholars attack conservatives and give left of center conspiracy theorists a pass on their behavior.

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9 (Skinner 2001, 93 111) The first thr ee categories focus on the psychology and belief systems of conspiracy theorists while the fourth explains conspiracy theories as a form of elite political communication. Although some of the authors who focus on behavioral and ideological explanations do discuss leaders and conspiracy theories, their work is based on the psychology of elites. Another important dimension of this topic is how leaders and elites use conspiracy theories as a political strategy. Charles Pigden argues that elites take adva ntage of the discourse (Pigden 2006, 17 45) Michael Rogin takes a different approach and shows how elites use conspiracy theories in order to stimulate fear in a society and stifle dissent. In essence, he racy theories to create fear and justify harsh actions against dissent and unorthodox political thought (Rogin 1987, 44 87) Robert Goldberg reinforces this idea by showing several cases, ranging from the witch hun ts in the New England colonies to the Red Scare during the Cold War in which leaders espoused and act ed upon conspiracy theories. Each instance ended with harmful results for many members of the population (Goldberg 2001, 1 21) David Aaronovitch and Mark Fenster offer similar support in two separate but similarly the med books that focus on elite and state driven conspiracy theories and the harms they have created throughout history (Aaronovit ch 2010) (Fenster 2008) (Bratich 2008) The abo ve data

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10 is a sample of the main scholarly debates concerning conspiracy theories. Although not exhaustive by any means, these works display the four main academic explanations of conspiracy theor ies and the subsequent externalities they produce. This stu dy will look at or a governmental body. However, unlike the other scholars who focus on elite use of conspiracy theories and narratives, I will not be looki ng at the situation as though it is part of an intentional strategy As there is little data to support assertions that the elites discussed in my work are lying about their beliefs for political gain I wi ll treat this situation as an honest reflection o f the subject belief system. Further, I will be using this case to develop an analysis of how conspiracy theories become part of a larger social narrative. Theoretical F ramework In order to complete this study I will be working with several theoretica l assumptions. These fram eworks and concepts will be derived from existing literature discussing conspiracy theories. First, one must answer the question, w hat is a conspiracy theory ? It is important to define and work with a specific definition for this term. As one schol ar reminds us, the official explanation for the September 11 th terrorist attacks is, in essence, a conspiracy theory in itself. It just happens to be a conspiracy theory that is provable, accepted, and is often given credence through o fficial governmental activity differently when such activity is committed by people and/or groups we support (Coady, Conspiracy Theories and Offical Stories 200 6, 115 117) (Pigden 2006, 17 23) However, I will be using the more common understanding of conspiracy theories with the negative associations that this term often carries. This type of c onspiracy theory also know are implausible alternative

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11 explanations that refute the accepted explanation of events (Basham, Malevolent Global Conspiracy Theory 2006, 93 95) (Keeley 2006, 46 48) Further these types of conspiracy theor ies and poor logical reasoning (Keeley 2006, 46 48) They assume shadow gov ernmen ts under the control of evil people use their power for malevolent, world controlling goals (Sunstein and Vermeule 2009, 204 211) Further, conspiracy theories assign agency where there is often just co incidenc e in order to construct narratives that put order to the world (Coady, An Introduction to the Philosophical Debate about Conspiracy Theories 2006, 8) The next theoretical concept contained with in this work is that c onsp iracy theories are an ideology or worldview The key point here is that people who believe in conspiracy theories truly understand the world in a completely different manner than most of society. If they believe the world is organized i n a manner that al lows secret powerful groups to run amok at the expense of the masses, this implies a severely different view of systemic processes and the limits of human power that non conspiracy theorists do not hold (Keeley 2006, 59 6 0) Further, scholars assume that this belief extends past a single conspiracy theory. If one believes that international governmental bodies have the desire and capacity to infiltrate and manipulate governments, there is no reason to disc ount their ab other type of malevolence. Although a conspiracy theorist may not openly admit to such belief on every topic, the roots of this type of thinking are embedded in the basic methods with which they define the world (Pipes 1997, 25) Conspiracy theories help the believer maintain their sense of self and reality in times of anxiety and social stress. This can occur as the villains in the conspira cy become a sca problems. Instead of blaming the chaos of human relations and the unexpected externalities of events for their fears and problems,

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12 the villains of the conspiracy theory take the blame (Melley 2008, 163) In turn, this process of scapegoating pre s which a person may lose faith in their way of life when it is challenged or proven to be less than perfect (Melley 2008, 163) In essence, belief in conspiracy theories is a way of life like any other political or religious ideology and functions as such psychologically (Pipes 1997, 23 25) (James 2001 78 83) The next theoretical concept important to this work is that conspiracy theories are a form of narrative. Early social science evaluations of conspiracy theories assumed that they were the (Paf 2005, 58) However, in recent years many scholars have changed shifted the dominate paradigm regarding of conspiracy theories and consider them a legitimate source of narrative and argumentation (Paf 2005, 58 59) This is not to say that scholars now accept conspiracy theories as accurate depictions of reality. Instead, researchers have recognized that despite the erroneous nature of many conspi racy theories, they fulfill the requirements of a narrative and can serve as useful analytical tools. As narratives, conspiracy theories e (Paf 2005, 60) Further, conspiracy theories fulfill narrative standards b (Paf 2005, 62) Narrative probability refers to the of the story and if follows basic guidelines such as having a discernable plot and characters 2 (Paf 2005, 62) The other category, narrative fidelity, explains how well the narrative fits within the audie expectatio n s and understandings of the situation and reality (Paf 2005, 62) Overall, we can see that modern standards for narratives no longer view conspiracy theories as a non functional story cobbled together to justify paranoia Instead, modern evaluation of conspiracy theories 2 Although these standards may appear to describing concepts that one would use to evaluate fiction, they are also standards used for non fic Mein Kampf as his examples.

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13 understand the alternative explanations as a coherent (though often factually flawed) system of storytelling that attempts to explain the world. Another important concept for this work is that elites use conspiracy theories and t he media and masses tend to follow their example This concept is also well established in scholarly writings involving conspiracy theories. Hofstadter explain s that one of the key problems with conspiracy theories is that if el ites give them credence than the media and subsequently the masses have a tendency to work themselves into a state of panic with the information (Hofstadler 1964, 1 7) leaders espouse conspiracy theories, the members of said group will follow the example in high numbers (Simmons and Parsons 2005, 590 595) Further, historical analyses of conspiracy theories show that leaders introd ucing conspiracy theories into political discourse creates panic that the media spreads and reinforces among the population (Bratich 2008) The final theoretical concept I will mention is that c onspiracy theories matter in pol itical culture and are essentially harmful to society Once started, a conspiracy theory often grows and is hard to stop. This affects pol itical behavior in a spiraling manner where historical myths, poor logic, and misinformation reinforce each other (Spark 2001, 47 51) Additionally, belief in conspiracy theories constructs a worldview in which political pr ocesses and officially sanctioned knowledge are at best flawed and at worst outright lies (Keeley 2006, 56 57) Conspiracy theories can also establish a good v ersus evil mentality that poorly equips one for a participatory political life (James 2001, 78 83) Further, conspiracy theories such a way have a greater tendency to view themselves as isolated and apart from others (Featherstone 2001, 43 44)

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14 In summation, conspiracy theories are attempts to explain political even ts by assigning agency and responsibility to powerful secretive forces. These ideas are then blended with other discourses (such as el ite public discourse, existing conspiracy theories and fiction) to form a narrative that explains the world. These explan ations defy officially accepted answers as to why something occurs and assumes some type of malevolent plot. Elites are often guilty of using conspiracy theories in a strategic manner. The elite component gives credibility to the conspiracy theory and th us they are spread by the mainstream media to the masses. Since conspiracy theories are a type of ideology and are a part of our cult ure, these messages easily find listeners and fantastical ideas of conspiracy become part of the narrative of our politica l culture and can le ad to actual harms to society. These identity, which leads to the incorporation of more ideas into the conspiracy and a greater personal need to defend the concepts. Methods In order to co mplete this work, I will be using a qualitative study of the discourse surrounding Agenda 21 based sustainability programs in the Un ited States. I will look primarily at statements, documents, and policy constructed by groups as this work focuses on narrat ives and ideological patterns within groups. The goal is to establish the role of elites in spreading these ideas via their stateme nts. In turn, I will be interpreting how the media validate elite driven conspiracy theories and how this shap es the belief s of the masses. The situations that I will be studying to make my case are the anti Agenda 21arguments that have led to the formation of anti U.N. and anti sustainability laws in several states. I will look at the language used to argue against sustaina bility programs and such arguments fit into a narrative based on long standing conspiracy theories. The reason for

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15 selecting this case is that it contains the following attributes. First, there is ample conspiracy theory rhetoric available from elite poli tical leaders and groups on the subject. Second, the conspiracy theories espoused by elites mirror longstanding conspiracy theories found in our culture. Third, there is ample media coverage of this concept that will allow an in depth study of the dissem ination of these ideas. Finally, this conspiracy theory has had real effects on policy and the implementation of sustainability laws in the United States. In order to accomplish this goal, I will be conducting a discourse analysis utilizing qualitative me (Della Porta an d Keating 2008, 23) This type of study per ceive the world around them (Della Porta and Keating 2008, 24 25) In essence, I wi ll look at the political discourse and social narratives surrounding the above mentioned issues. I will then interpret how these ideas f ilter through the media and into the general population and become part of our political culture. In this work, I will use three main characteristics of conspiracy theories/narratives in order to analyze this situation. First, conspiracy narratives tend to use a process of political demonization against opponents. This term refers to discourse used to label people and g roups as monstrous villains (Rogin 1987, 41 81) Second, conspiracy narratives are often based on unsubstantiated claims. Although conspiracy narratives may have an internal cohesion that allows them to function a s an explanatory story, this does not mean the logical fl ow of the work is based on fact. This idea fits into explanation of conspiracy theories as concepts based on errant data, poor logic and assumptions (2006, 46 48) Third, conspiracy narratives often

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16 attempt to assign agency to situations. Although all narratives assign human agency conspiracy narratives do so in a very specific manner. This occurs from assigning a greater level of human agency th an can be proven to opponents or by downplaying the agency of victims of conspiracies (Melley 2008, 161) These three characteristics along with the concepts of narrative fidel it y and narrative probability will be used to explain how the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative functions. The Goals of this Work My goal with this work is to understand and explore the complexities of this particular situation. Much like any study of narrative s and discourse during instances of so cial conflict, the analysis of this data must be contextual to the situation. Therefore, it is important to remark that this work is only meant to determine the roots and shape of conspiracy theory based argument s regarding the adoption and implementation of Agenda 21. It is true that many of the theoretical aspects of the conspiracy theory discussed in the work may remain true across several narratives and that many conspiracy theories are part of an interrelated belief system of malevolent plots. Howe ver there is still distinct and important differences between the creation, dissemination, and reinforcement of Agenda 21 conspiracy theory versus other conspiracy theory such as I will also show the intricacies of this specific narrative within the common features shared by all conspiracy theories.

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17 CHAPTER II A GENDA 21 FACTS AND CONSPIRACY BASED NARRATIVES Agenda 21 is the name of the sustainability project developed by world leaders, NGOs, and activists at the 1992 Earth a nd Development Conference ( commonly known as the Rio Conference or the Earth Summit). The conference focused on the cr eation of a worldwide program of sustainable development and environmental policy in order to prevent further excesses in us e of resources and the creation of pollution ( United Nations Department of Public Information 1997) ce drew over 2400 NGOs and tens of thousands t comprehensive and, if implemented, effective programme (sic) of action ever sanctioned by the international community ( United Nations Department of Public Information 1997) In order to understand the conspiracy theory and conspiracy narrative associated with this UN plan one must understand the actual policy, how it relates to existing co nspiracy theories, and how the conspiracy theory has been adapted for use in current political context. Agenda 21 addresses many environmental degradation that occurs due to development and in dustrialization. The main goal of the treaty is to encourage suitable and environmentally sound development in the coming century ( the 21 st century, thus Agenda 21) by focusing on local initiatives that worked within a global framework (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) This includes but is not limited to planning land usage for business an d homes, alleviating poverty and the many ill effects that stem from resource deprivation, and other top down efforts to change normative patterns of consumption in rich countries (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) Further, this is not just a fix for current ecological and economic issues. Many of these

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18 ideas are designed to consider en vironmental concerns as future policy is developed (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) This is done by addressing issues such as industrial pollution, projected consumption patterns in rich countries, the use of fos sil fuels for energy and transportation, and many other concepts related to ecology, and sustainability and poverty eradi cation ( United Nations Department of Public Information 1997) The result of this conference is the Agen da 21 document, a non binding set of recommendations, that outlined suggestions for the future that do not exacerbate economi c and environmental problems that have led to the worlds current state of environmental degradation (IC LEI 2013) The Roots of the Conspiracy Theory: Malthus, the New World Order and t he John Birch Society Despite the information discussed above, this is not how many conspiracy theorists understand Agenda 21 and its associated sustainability programs Instead, many conspiracy st elites in order to facilitate an authoritarian global government (Field 2012) (Snyde r 2014) (Dickson 2014) Agenda 21 conspiracy theories 3 can be understood as an evolution of New World Order and Depopulation (or M althusian) Conspiracy theories. Although this work focuses on the Agenda 21 theory, it is im portant to understand that these ideas do not develop solely as a response to Agenda 21. Instead, like most conspiracy theories, they are part of a larger social narrative that draws from a preexisting ideological understanding of reality (James 2001) In order to understand how the Agenda 21 conspiracy is a product of longstanding conspiracy 3 Although it may seem more logical to call the subject of this paper a singular conspiracy theory this does not accur ately describe the situation. The concept of Agenda 21 conspiracy theories may follow a similar narrative within a specific ideological framework. However, there is still some differences in how each theorist explains the conspiracy. Much like a campfir e story, the basics may stay the same, but little details change. Further, more importance may be placed on one aspect of the conspiracy depending on the fears or agenda of the speaker/author.

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19 narratives that is now incorporating current social context, it is important to take a brief look at some of the major components of the conspiracy. The most important roots of the current Malthusian Conspiracy) and New World Order conspiracy theories. The concept of a Malthusian/depopulat ion conspiracy is related to the works of 19 th c entury British p hilosopher Thomas Robert Malthus Malthus wrote a philosophical essay on population limits and resource production entitled An Essay on the Principle of Population (Malthus 1798) about population increases and resource consumption in the future. Malthus believed that populations wou ld eventually exceed and violence would spread to ende mic levels and cause massive hardships for humanity (Malthus 1798) His sug gestion is that societies take steps in order to limit excessive population growth in order to avert disaster (Malthus 1798) However, conspiracy theorists have taken a different view on this philosophy that go far past warnin gs to keep the world population within sustainable limits. Within conspiracy narratives, negative terms that do not refer to the externalities associated with overpopulation, or long term planning that would ensure that an overpopulation problem does not occur. Instead, this term is laden with negative assumptions about population control that involve subjugation and mass murder (Klenetsky 1992) (Maessen 2009) In the context of most conspiracy theories, the assumption is that controls on population will be done in a manner that is violent, sec retive, and for the purpose of increasing the power of some type of shadow governmen t in pursuit of an extreme leftist political agenda. (Klenetsky 1992) (Maessen 2009) This last part concerning a

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20 shadow government helps link this conspiracy theory with New World Order conspiracy theo ries. The other relevant pre existing conspiracy approach that factors into the Agenda 21 theories is the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy. The NWO conspiracy theo ry is one of the (Pipes 1997, 28 29) This incarnation of secret society conspiracy is based on a paper from the John Birch Society a nd is named after a statement on world peace and global governance by George H.W. Bush during a post Cold War speech 4 (Stewart 2002, 147) However, The John Birch use of the term does not carry the same mea ning as wa s originally intended by Bush. speech was a hopeful predicti on that the end of the Cold War would lead to peaceful, democratic globalization (Stewart 2002, 147) The John Birch Society used this te rm as a label for an authoritarian global government. The changes to how the idea is used fits into a conspiracy narrative that voices fears about the loss of sovereignty and the destruction of the American way of life by outside forces. Unlike the root s of many conspiracies that are difficult to track to a single source, this specific incarnation of the secret society conspiracy was constructed by the John Birch Society 5 (Stewart 2002, 426) At the end of the Red Scare period of the early Cold War, the group fou nd themselves in a period of decline. During this period the group worked on a new theory in group construct (Stewart 2002, 426 430) The result of this attempt 4 Of course this is not the only instance of political elite s using such language, it is simply one of the most famous instances and cited by academics evaluating NWO conspiracies. The phrase itself can be traced back to the title of an H.G. Wells novel. 5 Although this conspiracy has American roots and is auth ored by an American political group, there is strong belief in this conspiracy theory in other countries. A poll by a Russian media source showed that 45% of respondents believed that the world was run by a shadow government ( The Moscow Times 2014)

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21 was a large scale conspiracy theory that incorporated the last several centuries of human history into a united narrative that con nected many political actors, groups, and ideas under the agency of War, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, and many other trade deals and treaties are minor parts of a larger nefarious plan (Stewart 2002, 430 435) It is because the John Birch Society conspiracy viewed communism as only a small part of a larger scheme that the idea of global collective rule is still considered a threat (amongst conspiracy theorists), even after the end o f the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union (Stewart 2002, 434 435) Within the narrative constructed by the John Birch Society, communist mo vements were just a different tactic used by the same groups that had been working against humanity for centuries. The Malthusian and NWO conspiracy theories can be traced further back to other conspiracy theories, such as narratives that focused on ideas of European m onarchs, Freemason, Jews, or the Catholic Church had secret plans intended to rule the world and destroy America (Pipes 1997, 77 79) If one were to follow these ideas to their actual creation (not just the current form), a long running narrative of conspiracy appears that creates agents and scapegoats with which societies bl (Pipes 1997, 128 153) (Parish 2001, 2 10) However, this analysis does not require that we follow each of these ideas to their roots in some ancient or medieval history. Instead, with the data presented, one can understand that these i deas are simply the current evolution of a consistent narrative based on conspiracy theories that assign agency to instances of social anxiety By analyzing conspiracy theorizing as a form of narrative that explains an ideolo gical understanding of events m uch can be understood through the basic logic of the theories. If one believes that a group is able to control and depopulate much of modern civilization then it

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22 follows within that logic that there must be a powerful enough political entity in existence that can perform such an action. Instead of understanding conspiracy theorists as people with an odd view about one aspect of politics, one can understand that conspiracy theories as a complete narrative that describes and e xplains the whole world. Wit of human power relations Agenda 21 conspiracies do not fit into common paradigms of governance, the limits of human agency, or the limits on how societies work. However, the people constructing and spreading these ideas have a n entirely different understanding of political reality, human agency, and social relations than those who accept official explanations of events. Further, by understanding this narrative structure we can understand how these ideas (much like any other so cial narrative) adapt to the contextual changes in society in order to remain relevant. The Schiller White Paper: Creating a Conspiracy This brief overview helps us understand the roots as well as the cultural and ideological basis of this type of conspi racy theory. I will now further delve into the specifics of how Agenda 21 became a part of this narrative. The Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is based on a mixture of depopulation and NWO conspiracy theories. However, the melding of the two ideas into a sin gle theory that attacks a specific policy is the wor k of a group called the Schiller Institute. The Schiller Institute is a conservative think tank named after a German intellectual from the late 1700s (The Schiller Institute 2 014) The group is le d by Helga Zepp LaRouche, wife of Lyndon LaRouche and advocates his economic and political theories (The Schiller Institute 2 014) (The Schiller Institute 2014) However, he is also a conspiracy theorist that publicly supports several alternative political narratives. So me of his views include the idea that the Queen of England

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23 directly controls the military and foreign policy goals of Europe. H e also supports claims that the long term plans of the British Monarch include many dark and clandestine projects to destroy th e sovereignty of the United States (Macky 2009) Further, concepts that LaRouch e supports are the notion that the Affordable Healthcare Act is taken directly from the so cial policies of Nazi Germany. This includes many author itarian aspects of the Nazi state, such as forced labor camps and forced euthanasia (Macky 2009) of any other think tank or politic al a ction committee. However, if one delves past the front page stories that cry out for world peace and economic collusion a different narrative appears. One of e Schi ller (The International Schiller Institute n/d) These concepts do not directly relate to Agenda 21 conspiracy theories, however as I will next explain they use a similar set of frames and a similar narrative as another release by the Schiller Institute. The initial document constructing the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory was originally a Schiller Institute white paper from the early 1990s Executive Intelligence Review and is published by the Schiller Institute (The Schiller Institute 1991) The paper is intended to serve as This work is essentially the root of A genda 21 conspiracy narrative s and explains how the sustainability plan became a part of the New World Order a nd a part of Malthusian conspiracy theories The next few pages will contain an analysis of the important narratives, framing devices and implied ideological understandings of reality that make th e conspiracy theory

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24 possible. chiller paper in its entirety. However, I have added commentary on the basic logic or factual nature of a claim in several places This is not done with the intent of completely disproving the claims of the Schiller Institute, these points a re included to help show the difference in how a narrative derived from conspiracy theories forms connections and interprets reality. Further, I will show how this narrative uses political demonization, how it use s a large number of un substantiated claim s, and how it assigns human agency in order to function as a complete explanatory narrative two sentence summary of what Agenda 21 is intended to do (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28) However, even in this initial explanation, the author of the document set up the reader for a critique of the program by referring to the Earth th e initia l questioning of the basic validity of the program sets the tone of disapproval and distrust that permeates throughout the rest of the work. After this brief and pejorative introduction, the author quickly finish es the introduction/abstract with the stron g assertion that the policies and ecological goals are nothing more th The Schiller Malthusian New World Order pr omoted by the Anglo (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28) This line in particular deserves some attention, as this is where we can see the establishment of a link between Agenda 21 and established conspiracy. Wit h a simple connection such as this, the paper links the Malthusian conspiracy theories and New World Order conspiracy th behavior (and all associated evils) in the hands of those p articipating in the Rio Summit.

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25 The author then finishes the introduction with a statement of purpose for the construction oligarchical (sic) architects of Eco scientific myths upon which it is premised institute claims are the basis for Agenda 21 (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28) These claims help to frame Agenda 21 as more of the same malevolent behavior attributed to powerful elements of the international community (within conspiracy theory narratives) instead of a new and innovative plan to stop environmental degra dation. With the conspiracy narrative established, Eco 92 then proceeds to give a point by point The author start s by explaining that these ecological ideas are rooted i n a form of pagan philosophy (that does not actually seem to exist outside of the conspiracy theory) derived from the teachi ngs of a cult of which many of the attendants of the Rio Conference are members (The Schiller Instit ute 1991, 28) In this part of the writing we can see an attempt to label ecologically minded leaders and activists as pa rt of an obscure and apparently (via the authors framing) offensive religion. After this political demonization has occurred and Ag enda 21 supporters are labeled as a cult forms such as begins to explain their assumptions about the true intention of the creators of Agenda 21 (Rogin 1987, xiii xx) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28) The first claim is that Agenda 21 is a method to destroy national sovereignty. This is a somewhat similar to common argument from conservative politicians and legal scholars concerning international treaties (Davenport 2005) (Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005) However, the methods and reasoning offered by the Schiller paper are uns ubstantiated and much different from

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26 th e concerns of legal scholars. Within the works mentioned above, the concern is primarily for a weakening of American sovereignty due to the goals that are stated within the laws and treaties (Casey and Rivkin Jr. 2005) (Davenport 2005) In the case of the Schiller paper, we can see the fear o f not just weakened sovereignty, but a fear of the total surrender of sovereign rights. Further, the argument made for Agenda 21, but are instead founded on conspiracy theory based assumpti ons that are constructed around Agenda 21. Not only does this ignore the language and intent of the Agenda 21 document, but i t also incorporates the document into embedded conspiracy narratives that fear the loss of sovereignty to a world empire, commonly called the New World Order. By referencing these ideas, the Agenda 21 conspiracy receives validity by making Agenda 21 a mec hanism for other nefarious goals that the conspiracy theory community has believed for some time. This helps to maintain the narrative fidelity and probability of the work by linking this new narrative with existing conspiracy theories. In essence, Schil lers explanation of Ag enda 21 fits into a narrative of secret societies and shadowy cabals of elites intent on world domination. At this point for the conspiracy theorist, Agenda 21 becomes more of the same, or perhaps a new revelation, on how long standi ng fears of an evil world government will finally come to power. The next claim is that Agenda 21 is a plan to depopulate the globe. Although the work of the Rio Conference does discuss the need to decrease population explosions and work towards a susta inable human population, the Schiller paper frames this idea within the context of the Malthusian Conspiracy Theory (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28 29) This is achieved by making unsubstantiated arguments that population

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27 (The Schiller Institute 1991, 29) There is n o reference to any of these ideas in Agenda 21. The terms do not even appear in the document. Instead, there are passages that simply explain the need for developmental policies to take population growth into accou nt and work towards alleviation of pover ty and social conditions that exacerbate pollution (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 25) Further, when discussing population, Agenda 21 stipulates that any program t hat works towards population control mus (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 25) When s with the actual concepts embedded with in Agenda 21, it is almost impossible to understand where the ideas originated, unless you are already familiar with the conspiracy based explanation s of the situation. However, if one already believes in consp iracy theories, these claims provide narrativ e probability and fit well within existing understanding s of the situation. Apart hei tec hnology will be strictly held to environmental standards. The author postulate s (with no evidence or clear argument as to why) that standards will be so stringent that important or lifesaving techn ology will be withheld from de veloping nations (The Schiller Institute 1991, 29 30) Further, they predict that this will lead to a total ban on nuclear energy that will result in a n increased use of wood and fossil fuels, thus furthering pollution (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) Although Agenda 21 does discuss technology at length, it does so in order to advise that sustainability technologies should be given high research and development priorities. Further, the UN plan suggests develo ping states should be supplied with sustainability technologies if they cannot afford the cost (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) This point is in

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28 stark contrast to the Schiller Institutes claims of a coming man ma de technological dark age that pre industrial (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) The claims about bans on nuclear energy is similarly unfounded as the sect ions pertaining to this issue in Agenda 21 only advise that countries use careful planning when developing a nuclear program in regards to handling the waste in a sustainable manner (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992, 267) states will be forced to contort their economies to a condi This point refers to the portions of Agenda 21 that hope to es could lead to greater environmental damage (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) However, in the Schiller report the concept of sustainable development is s imply a euphemistic term for stopping science, stopping the use of natural resources, and is a subtle justification f or radical depopulation (The Schiller In stitute 1991, 30) Once again, there is truly no basis in the Agenda 21 documen t that substainates these cl aims. The fifth statement against Agenda 21 is that it is an attempt to construct a syst em of This statement starts by claiming that this nefarious goal will be (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) The auth or then describes indigenous groups as peo ple who essentially still liv e in an unchanged Stone Age culture. It then suggests that Agenda 21 will force humanity to regress to hunter gatherer societies. The author then explain s (uncited) that the ear th can only support around 10 million hu mans with this type of resource extra ction. In turn, the Schiller report uses this assembly of somewhat unconnected ideas as proof that Agenda 21 is part of a Malthusian

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29 depopulation program (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) This point may seem a bit jumbl ed with some j umps in logic, as if the reader must already understan d part of the story. However, to a person that already assumes that the NWO exists and that they are working on depopulation programs, this idea supplies important e enemy will act. I n the narrative constructed for conspiracy theorists, this chain of ideas not only makes sense, but also fits into accepted norms and provides greater narrative probability debt collection refers to austerity programs and structural adjustment programs issued by the IMF and World Bank (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) The paper claims that these programs will b e used to force developing countries to halt development and only participate in sustainable programs or face economic blackmail until they comply. This will be done by forcing stat es to turn over sovereign territory to IGOs under the guise of conservatio n programs (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) Similar to the last two points, this statement is backed up with little proof or logical argument dev elopment. Instead, the Schiller paper simply supplies a quote from one of the U.S. delegates to the Rio conference that stated he hopes to not pay for any more unsustainable development projects (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30) The seventh claim that is made against Agenda 21 is simply tit This section of the paper is a bit harder to understand when one first reads it. However, the framing and narrative attempts to construct the idea that environ mentalism is not actually a scientific or secular moral principle held by peopl e who want to preserve the planet. Instead, the Schiller paper claims environmentalism is rooted in a pagan Gaia worshiping religion (The Schiller Institute 1991, 30 31) Once this idea is put forth, the authors then t ry to further the argument with anecdotal claims based on the statements of British Royalty and the (at the time of Eco 92)

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30 Brazilian Secreta ry of the Environment. The basic ar gument is that the Brazilian Secretary is a member of a Gaia cult. His appoin tment was supposedly backed by a few members of the British Royalty who are quoted in the Schiller report for making comparisons between bacteria out growing their hosts and humans for destroying their environment. This portion of the Schiller paper serves to demonize several supporters of Agenda 21 as well as the program itself. The Schiller paper continues to argue that the architects of Agenda 21 are working towards mass depopulation by quoting a member of the British Royalty as saying he would like to (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31) The final point of the argument explains that another member of the British Royal family once praised indigenous peoples for their understanding of sustainable (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31) This leads the author of the Schiller paper to a conclusion that something nefari ous must be going on with Agenda 21. T he basic argument when each point is united into a singular idea is as follows. The Agenda 21/Eco 92 conference is going to be held in Brazil. The Brazilian secretary of the environment is a pagan Earth worshiper w ho has backing from the British Ro yal Family. The royals are also members of the Gaia cult and (due to some out of context remarks) show litt le to no concern for humanity. Thus, Agenda 21 is the work of evil people who want to do harm to humanity as a w hole. In essence, this whole point is an attempt to create connections and label the opposition. The result is not really a form of argument but instead political demonization that constructs the opposition into villains. If one were to use this type of rhetoric in peer reviewed paper or in an article from a mainstream journalistic source it would likely be discounted as a baseless claim meant only to smear an opponent. However, this poin t cannot be dismissed as a simple attack or ad hominem fallacy as i t is an important part of the narrative that

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31 paints the situation as a battle of good vs evil and often shows the proponents of Agenda 21 as monstrous individuals. As this paper is written utilizing a narrative based on conspiracy theories, this portion o f the paper fits an important niche It assigns unified agency for a large global event and assists the author in constructing the situation into a simple good versus evil scenario. As discussed previously in this work, these are key aspects to how consp iracy theories function (James 2001, 74 75) Thus, the rhetorical methods used by Schiller may make Eco 92 less acceptable to mainstream readers, but it helps make the document fit into the common ideological and na rrative parameters for this type of docu ment. hidden attempts to dominate and then depopulate the world. Once the author ha s established that Agenda 21 is a cover for manipulating world society, th ey begin to argue that current science about ecological degradation is simply false and constructed in order to justify the behavior of conspirators. The S 6 ha ve s, that the media is compliant in the cover up, and that dissenting scientist were intentionally excluded from the Rio Conference and Agenda 21 planning (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31) The paper then launches a point by point analysis of major ecological concerns and offers counter arguments based on unsubst antiated claims and errant data as to whether or not they will actually have a negative impact on humans. These points are liste d below The first ecological concern that the Schiller paper addresses is the depletion of the ozone layer. The paper claims that the degradation of the ozone layer is simply untrue. In order to prove this idea they offer data that claims the amount of natural c hlorofluorocarbons, a chemical 6 Once again, unnamed scientists and uncited studies

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32 that is one of the core parts of ozone depletion, are much higher than human created CFCs (The Schiller Institute 1991, 31) However, this theory has been disproven and can be debu nked via well cited scientific data available from the EPA (United States Enviromental Protection Agency 2010) Aside from the dubious science and lack of citat ion offered by the Schiller pa per, the basic argument is not real ly on top ic. Even if it were true that volcanoes or other natural sources of CFCs do more harm to the ozone layer, volcanic eruptions are uncontrol lable by humans unlike the human produced pollution that Agenda 21 tries to control. In essence, the Schi ller arg ument is founded on bad science and does not really address Agenda 21 but instead tries to shift the point of the argument to fit within the narrative flow of the rest of the paper. The next major ecological topic the Schiller paper attempts to discredit is global warming. At the time that the Schiller paper was written, climate science was not as advanced as it has become in the last few decades. However, the only data that the author offer is a critique of computerized climate models and a va gue reference to a handful of climate studies from the 1940s 1960s (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) Given that the Schiller paper was first published in 1991, it seems safe to say that a substantive amount of data is mi ssing from this argument. Further, the mentioned studies are not cited or explained, the Schiller paper simply convey s the message that global warming is simply fake. This point is very much like the topics as the argument is founded o n the dism issal of ecological concerns The Schiller paper provides little evidence other than erroneously attacking the science behind climate research and labeling the entire idea as false. The third argument is that nuclear waste is not an actual p roblem. Instead, the Schiller report explains that nuclear waste is a beneficial resource if handled properly. They claim that only a small percent of the byproduct is truly a waste product and that much of it could be reused

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33 for fuel. They even provide a brief amount of data with no citation or reference to how the calculation was reached on how many barre ls of oil or tons of coal coul d be saved if the United States were to make use of the material (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) Although some of this data could b e truthful in the correct context, a key point to this argument is the assertion that humanity will eventually develop technologies that allow the reuse of nuclear waste (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) Thus, the real argument is that nuclear waste is useful and a good thing for humanity, if we had the technology to do it. As we do not currently have access to this form of waste recycling, this line of argumentation is ba sed on scientific fantasy. The fourth ecological point the Schiller paper addresses is opposition to the use of pesticides. Instead of providing an analysis of how environmental scientists and activists are incorrect, the author shift the topic from th e environmental impact of pesticides to the possible risks of not using pesticide. What is supplied as evidence are claims that the entomologist Dr. J Gordon Edwards estimated that not using pesticides in the name of the environment has caused at least 10 0 million human deaths (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) The claim is that insect born disease and lower crop yields result in the loss of many lives (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) The Schiller paper does not offer any citation or explanation as to how these numbers are reached. They supply a quote from Edwards that states, "I can't see any good reason for these actions except that the environmentalists intend to cut the population in the poorer nations of the world (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) Thus the pesticide argument is framed in a manner that gives murderous intent to environmentalists Unlike some of the environmental points that th e Schiller paper addresses, Agenda 21 does discuss the use of pesticides. However, the discussion centers on goals of either reducing toxic exposure to humans and wildlife, the development of new less toxic pest eradication methods and increased study of the health and environmental

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34 risks of pesticides (United Nations Sustainable Development 1992) There is no language in the document to suggest that the use of pesticides would be banned (United Nati ons Sustainable Development 1992) The fifth point that the Schiller report addr esses is the ecological fears of carcinogens This point, much like t he pesticide argument, is founded on dismissing the claims of opponents as fals e. The paper cites th e studies of Dr. Bruce Ames that conclude that man made carcinogens are less common and also less dangerous than natural carcinogens (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) Dr. Ames has argued in his studies that natural carci nogens are far more prevalent and deadly. Dr. Ames has stated that he feels environmentalists overplay the risk of contracting cancer from pollution and carcinogenic sources (Brody 1994) Oddly enough, the term carcinogens o r any derivation of the word does not even appear in the Agenda 21 documents. The problem with the Schiller argument is that it does not really argue against the proposals in Agenda 21. In fact, it does not really argue anything other than the concept o f manmade carcinogens This may seem like an odd tangent. However, in does help to build the Schiller papers narrative fidelity It helps to ma ke environmentalist look foolish and illogical while urging the reader to question not just their scientific b asis for discussing c arcinogens but any o f these environmental topics. In essence, it perpetuate s the image that the S chiller paper wants the reader to have of Agenda 21 supporters and lends cohesion to the narrative The final ecological point that the Schiller report directly address is deforestation. This argument diverges from the method used in the points above, because it does not attempt to persuade the reader that the problem of deforestation is untrue or conflated. Instead, the author fully em brace s the notion that massive deforestation is occurring and highly detrimental to the earth and humanity (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32 33) However, the reasons behind why

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35 deforestation occurs and the method with which human agency in the situation is assigned forms their argument against Agenda 21 sustainability policies. The Schiller report states that much of the deforestation that occurs is due to people in poor countries using wood as a fuel source (The Schiller Institute 1991, 32) The assumption made by Schiller about the primary causes of this ecological problem is based on outdated assumptions that have long been discredited by peer reviewed scientific sources. The myth that deforestation is being driven by the use of wood as a fuel source can be traced to policy decisions in the 1970s that were intended to deal with p ossible externalities of recent population booms (May Tobin 2011) In some developing countries, leaders were afraid that the increased population would lead to heavy deforestation. In turn, they developed programs in order to of fset this perceived problem. However, once scientists studied these assumptions, they found that fi rewood was not a significant factor in deforestation (May Tobin 2011) Further, the Schiller report makes two other false assertions in their remarks about deforestation. The f irst is the manner in which the Schiller report o nly discusses firewood when speaking about the use of biomass as a source of energy. By only including firewood and ignoring other forms of biomass, the claims of the Schiller paper are not only inaccurate, but appear to be picked only to justify the res t of the argument put forth in the conspiracy. Second there is no part of the Agenda 21 documents that call s for a ban on fossil fuels. A small section points out the importance of moving away from fossil fuel dependency through the implementation of different forms of energy generation. Further, Agenda 21 actually prescribes a greater use of fossil fuels (with supplements of firewood) in poor and rural regions that have energy deficiencies (United Nations Sustainable Develo pment 1992) This point is Agenda 21 is an environmental policy it will call for draconian restrictions on the use of fossil

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36 fuels despite the human cost. However, as one can see despite the environmental focus of Agenda 21, it values humans having access to necessary utilities even if it requires the u se of a polluting energy source. This does not fit into the narrative constructed by Schiller that paints the architects of Agenda 21 as an obsessive cult of environmentalists with little regard for human life. With these sections of the paper complete, the Schiller paper shifts the argument to who is behind this massive conspiracy. This portion of the doc ument works within the above discussed narrative that paints the architects of Agenda 21 as villains using false pretense to er takes on a different tone. The above listed sections (although of ten done with problems) a re constructed as an argument. When discussing the supporters of Agenda 21, the Schiller paper is less informative then confrontational This portion of the paper attempt s to discredit and create villains of the financial backers and NGOs that contributed to the cause. It begins by explaining that the people behind (The Schiller Ins titute 1991, 33) is that Eco 92 (Agenda 21) is actually the fruition of several decades of elite planning to orchestrate (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) With these statements, we can see that the Schiller report is attempting to remove the agency of grass roots environmentalists and a variety of political actors that worked towards the Rio Conference and Agenda 21 Instead, we are to believe that the rea l power and motivation behind the program is to facilitate the plans of a small and nefarious group of financial and political elites . The Schiller report then introduces Maurice Strong into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) Maurice Strong is a former energy and finance executive

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37 turned environmental policy maker. He has served in a few leadership roles within the United Nations and was the organizer of both the Stockholm Conference of 1972 and the Rio Conference in 1992 (Manitou Foundation 2012) Further, Strong is also a key figure in many conspiracy theories due to his role in international politics (Hickman 2010) (Infowars 2009) The Schiller paper point s to environmental groups and international sustainability projects, which are all true, though discussed as some type of manipulation by the rhetoric used in the Schiller pap er. By doing so the Schiller paper starts to build conspiracy based connections between Strong and other financial backers of environmental policies. The th at it (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) Although this could seem like a simple attempt to label these people and foundations as aloof elites, the realit y is these labels help to keep the Eco 92 conspiracy theory within the narrative already established by LaRouch e in which European royalty and a few powerful Americans are villains (Macky 2009) The rest of this section simp ly lists several charitable foundation, large banks, and corporations that have donated funds to the NGOs that worked towards Eco 92/Agenda 21. There is no analysis or commentary provided from the Schiller paper at this point, there is simply a large para graph that lists all of these people and groups (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) One may assume that there would be need for the Schiller paper to further elaborate as to how these groups are connected to the conspirac y theory (p ast donations to NGOs). However, if a person periodicals) they can understand that nearly anyone that can be labeled as an American or European political or financial elite, is already condemned and considered part of some conspiracy theory (Macky 2009) A reader of Executive Intelligence Report would likely have

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38 been exposed to and would be familiar with the concept that political elites are part of a larg er conspiracy. This white paper follows a well established narrative that does not need further clarification. This section starts by stating that ap proval of Eco 92/Agenda 21 was not going well at the time of the document s creation (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) The document lists a few political actors, such as the Prime Minster of Malaysia, the Algerian delegate t o the UNC ED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) and several unnamed members of the Brazilian military and congress who are supposedly in opposition to the plan due to concerns over sovereignty (The Schiller Ins titute 1991, 33) Further, the Schiller paper hints that at least 77 (unnamed) delegates to the UNCED stated they would not agree to any plan that revoked their sovereignty over natural resources within their territorial boundaries (The Schiller Institute 1991, 33) This point is particularly interesting as the Schiller paper implies that these representatives are wholly against Agenda 21. However, all that it really tells us is that many representatives who attended t one assumes that the Schiller paper conspiracy that will strictly control resources and devel opment, then it is easy to believe the implied idea that these representatives would refuse to sign Agenda 21. However, when one realizes that the works of the UNCED did not allow for the strict controls that Schiller predicted, the suggestion that many r epresentatives would resist Agenda 21 on the grounds of protecting sovereignty becomes a much less imp ortant and convincing point. As one can see, there are many problems both logically and factually with the claims of the Schiller report. If one understands the efforts of Agend a 21 and the actual limits of power

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39 that a United Nations non binding resolution has in regards to domestic policy, the majority of the above claims simply fall apart. However, past understanding that the Schiller paper is essentially a work of fiction, t helps to illustrate the complexities, connecti ons and underlying ideological assumptions nec essary in order for a conspiracy theory to function as a cohesive narrative. Although many of t he points are factually incorrect or debatable, and some of the conclusions drawn by the author are made from poorly assembled logic, the result is a fleshed out narrative that seeks to explain events in an identifiable manner in which a person can underst and and interact with. This narrative, despite its roots has found a home within the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement. The methods with which these groups (and smaller associated groups) have adapted and used the conspiracy theory will be dis cussed in the next chapter.

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40 CHAPTER III E LITE AND MEDIA USE OF AGENDA 21 CONSPIRACY THEORIES In this chapter, I will discuss and analyze how the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has been used i n our political culture. In order to do this, I will look at the manner in which several elite groups, including influential think tanks, political parties and conservative media sources, take part in A genda 21 conspiracy theories. I will use the previously outline d criteria for conspiracy narratives in order to discus s the situation. The discourse and rhetoric that follow includes elite and media legislation or laws against programs that may be influenced by Agenda 21. The second concept is quite important as m any sustainability programs can easily be incorporated into a narrative that associates sustainability with Agenda 21 and the UN. This is due to the narrat ive constructed by conspiracy theorist s and elites who help spread the ideas as well as the broadness and contextual nature of the r ecommendations of Agenda 21. Th r ough an analysis of the discourse and the narratives elites use when explaining the need to suppress plans related to Agenda 21 one can understand the ideological bas is and social narrative justifying their behavior. Further, looking at the declared goals (whether a piece of legislation is successful or not) of an elite actor can help us understand the possible externalities of using conspiracy theory as an argument f or policy debates. Finally, this portion of this work is not just helpful for understanding the elite component of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory; it also allows us to understand the ramifications of elite involvement in similar conspiracy based narrativ es. Elites and Conspiracy Theories Elites are often the enemy in conspiracy theories, yet history and current events are awash with elite actors espousing conspiracy theories to explain social events. Many infamous

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41 leaders such as Joseph Stalin and A dolf Hitler, used conspiracy theories in order to justify their actions and garner public support (Aaronovitch 2010, 44 86) During the Red Scare era of the Cold War, many Americans had their basic rights violated and pub lic lives ruined by elite actors, based on conspiracy theories about communism (Rogin 1987, 63 77) The same communism theory that still serves as the basis for many current conspiracy theories (Stewart 2002, 435 437) More extreme American politicians, such as Pat Buchanan and Lyndon LaRouche, have practically built their polit ica l careers by using conspiracy laden rhetoric (James 2001, 86) (Macky 2009) A variety of groups, such as white supremacists, fundamentalist Christian militias and to some extent the Te a P arty, are controlled by leaders espousing conspiracy theories to help support their ideological stance (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 443 446) (James 2001, 66 70) Furth er prominent religious leaders, such as televangelist Pat Robertson, Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, and leaders of many fundamentalist religious groups (regardless of their faith) weave narratives that explain the perceived evils of the world thr ou gh conspiracy theory (James 2001, 72 74) (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 8 10) Although the above examples are of elite actors who are often at the extreme end of a political or re ligious spectrum and perhaps less descriptive of more mainstream elites, one can also see a large influx of conspiracy theories throughout the Republican P arty since the election of Barack Obama and the growth of the Tea Party. This can be seen in t he dis course s surrounding very prominent Affordable Health Care Act (Contantini 2013) (Eichelberger 2013) Furthe r one can see this

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42 trend in other debates, such as the UN Small Arms Treaty and the UN Treaty for the Disabled (Kane 2012) (Beauchamp 2012) When looking at elites using conspiracy theory o ne sho uld not look at just the depth of the conspiracy or how paranoid and fantastical their beliefs appear. Leaders may show different levels of belief in conspiracy theories As Daniel Pipes points out, leaders such as Joseph Stalin or Louis Farrakhan, inc or porated nearly every concept into existing conspiracy theories while b rush the surface of conspirator (Pipes 1997, 22 24) Further, a p erson who subscribes to some conspiracy theorie s is accepting the basic tenet s of a different ideology and others have no real method of determining how deeply they subscribe to all the tenet s o f that ideology (Pipes 1997, 25) This concept has been described as a n ideological end of the device. Some believers may stay at the top and represent people who identify with conspiracy narratives in very br oad terms. While a smaller group of people will fall deeper into the funnel and only accept an ideology derived completely from conspiracy theories (James 2001, 64) This occurs as the conspiracy theorist develops a deeper understanding of conspiracy theories and incorporates the ideas into their understanding of the world (James 2001, 64 65) Additionally, if we understand conspiracy theo rizing as a form of ideology and that conspiracy theorists often realize they are following unpopular a nd possibly embarrassing beliefs that most of the population would reject, they have an interest to self censor their public opinions in order to make them more palatable to the general public (Pipes 1997, 20 24) (Bacon 2012, 783) This creates a situation in which one cannot truly evaluate how deeply a person who expresses a beli ef in some conspiracy theories accepts an ideology based solely on conspiracies. A conspiracy theorist has already accepted some aspects of a narrative that is counter to dominant ideological concepts within a society

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43 unless conspiracy theories are the norm for the society, such as the USSR under Stalin or Germany under the Nazi Party. However, unless the person is very open about their beliefs we This point is relevant in the fact that if we have powerful elected officials w ho embrace ies), they are essentially functioning within a belief system that often sees the political structure they serve as the enemy. However, one must understand that there are differences between a conspiracy theorist and a leader that may see an actual proble m within their government. The non conspiracy theorist leader is fighting withi n a system against observable moral o (James 2001, 83 88) While the conspira cy theorist belie fs are based on a good vs. evil dialectic that assumes some type of nefarious agency at the roots of social problems (James 2001, 83 88) It may seem easy to dismiss elites who use conspiracies i n their political rhetoric as paranoid or members of a fringe ideology. However, many of the elite political groups discussed later in this chapter are not part of a political fringe movement or filled with individuals that base much of their career on co nspiracy theories. Many of these political groups work closely with the Republican Party or are simply part of the GOP. Additionally, this problem is not based on the efforts of a few individuals within the GOP. The Republican National Committee (RNC) h as officially joined in accepting the conspiracy narrative when discussing Agenda 21. Despit e the erroneous nature of many conspiracy theories, there is a real effect when leaders communicate in this manner to their followers. Some of the more extreme ex amples above such as Hitler and Stalin need little elaboration. However, the leaders in question do not have to reach these extremities in paranoia in order to shape the behavior of their followers.

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44 The British think tank Demos has released a paper on e xtremism and conspiracy theories that analyzes the effects of groups when their leaders use conspiracy theories as an explanatory method for events (Bartlett and Miller 2012) The study explains several important factors as t o how groups are shaped by leaders using conspiracy theories as the basis of the group narrative. (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6) This process helps create a cohesive identity for the group, but also constructs villains as a side effect (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6) This leads to a situation in which non believers or those who question the ideology can be easily labeled as s (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6) (Bartlett and Mill er 2012, 6) Further, groups that use conspiracy narratives as a key p art of their ideology have a tendency to justify and embrace the use of violence for their cause (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 6) As these groups de fine themselves through their resistance to whatever conspiracy they believe and the villain in their narratives is often the government, they cannot healthily work within an established political system (Bartlett and Mil ler 2012, 6 8) Further, the Demos study suggests that as th ese groups grow they can form their own political entities, which can lead to greater recruitment of marginalized people (Bartlett and Miller 2012) The authors furt her explain that these are the basic steps that led to the crea tion of groups such as al Qaeda and militant white power groups (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 7) I t is important to state that the groups in the Demos article are much more extreme (regarding violence and their use of conspiracy narratives) than groups such as the Tea Party or Republicans who support GOP issued conspiracy theories. The inclusion of this information is not meant to suggest that groups who iden tify with the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory will

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45 coalesce into an i nternational terrorist group. However, one of the key points of the Demos (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3) Even if groups do not become violent, conspiracy theories exacerbate the problems of dehumanizing one s enemy and not being able to function well in a political environment based on democracy, compromise and mul tiple diverse viewpoints still exist (Sunstein and Vermeule 2009, 216 218) Further, believers in the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory share anti government and anti international viewpoints with extremist right wing grou ps (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3 10) This is not to say they hav e similar behavior or will eventually turn into extremists. But it is important to realized that many of the concepts that form the basis of the Agenda 21 conspiracy also form the basis of the ideology followed by right wing militias, violent Christian fu ndamentalists and white separatists/ white supremacists groups which have little ability to function in a normal political system (Bartlett and Miller 2012, 3 5) (James 2001, 74 75) Looking one can realize that followers of conspiracy based ideology can cause damage to a political system by how their belief shape their political behaviors with out reaching the extremities of the ideology such as people like Timothy McVey or members of al Qaeda. As one can see, conspiracy theories are not just the domai n of paranoid recluses, draped in tin foil hats as many people assume from our curren t social narrative involving conspiracy theorists. We must understand that conspiracy theorists are a broad group of people who may fit the preconceived notion of a margi nalized paranoid type, but also there are conspiracy theorists in positions of p ower. In turn, this allows conspiracy theories, despite their often fantastical nature, to be a very real factor in politics, often to the determent of les s powerful groups an d society in general.

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46 Elite Organizations, the GOP, the JBS and the Tea Party In this section, I will discuss the political groups that use the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory as part of their official discourse with the public. This includes groups such as the Republican National committee, the conservative think tank The John Birch Socie ty, and other conservative media outlets. An important moment of elite validation of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory can be found in the 2012 Republican Party Winter Mee ting resolutions. The result of the 2012 Winter Meeting is a te n page document of resolutions by the RNC. Page three of the document is (Rep ublican National Committee 2012, 3) The resolutions adopted at the 2012 GOP Winter Meeting are close in content and narrative tone to existing conspiracy theories. Despite the fact that the resolution does not directly state that Agenda 21 is a Malthus ian plot engineered by the New World Order, many of the statements about its sustainably program fit within the framework laid out by the Schiller paper and other grand malevolent conspiracy theories. Th e GOP resolutions expresses a set of very similar (y et less detailed/fleshed out) expectations of the results of Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is explained in a manner that assumes the s upporters of the program have a hidden, malevolent plan for world politics and that the sustainability project is a ruse intended to facilitate this plan. In essence, the narrative reaches a similar conclusion as the one constructed sanitized Whether this is intentional in order to make the d ocument more palatable to the general public, or simply a newer context/adaption of to the conspiracy theory, the result is an official document intended to shape the policies of our nation based on conspiracy and

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47 assumption (Knight 2008, 182 183) (Bacon 2012, 783) The key difference is the manner in which blame is assigned. Instead of a cabal of business people, members of the royal family and eco pagans, this document simply blame s the United Nations. This does not change the bulk of the narrative but instead, omits some of the detail given in works such as the Schiller paper. As the more developed conspiracies blame the United Nations under the c ontrol of a secret group, the resolutions the RNC simply places the responsibility for the perceived malevolence with the United Nations or the Agenda 21 document. The winter meeting document (much like any res olution of this kind) begins with sev eral declarative statements that make claims about the nature of Agenda 21. These statements each context, making claims against Agenda 21 (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) This method of rhetoric may be commonplace for this type of resolution, yet it is important to realize that this language implies that all of the statements are a matter of fact and are not open to interpretat ion. The first of these statements explains a basic overview of Agenda 21 from the GOP perspective. It claims engineerin (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) T his immediately sets the tone of their resolutions by declaring the extremity of the plan and suggesting that it is not just a plan for avoiding future ecological destruction, but also a method to control an d contort societies. As with other global malevolent conspiracy theories, this portion of the resolution establishes a remote, shad owy villain communities national Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) Although the ICLEI is one of the primary

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48 mechanisms w ith which the policy recommendations of Agenda 21 have been actualiz ed, the RNC statement frames the implementation as something coerc ed by a branch of the United Nations. This point goes on to explain the methods that the ICLEI uses to im plement the plan upon states. Wild lands Projects, Resilient Cit (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) However, the importance of this point is not only the terminology used but the way the terms are writt en. The concepts sustainable development, green and alternative are written in scare quotes meant to imply some type of irony to the terms and invalidate the ideas (American Psychological Association 2015) This helps to furt her the conspiracy narrative by portraying the basic vocabulary of Agenda 21 supporters as s omehow false or terms that obscure the truth. The next statement also begins with the ironic/dismissive use of quotation marks while describing Agenda 21 called (Republican Na tional Committee 2012, 3) This phrase in this context implies that there is some form of deception in the statements of their opponents and that the ideas at their most basic level (such as green or sustainable,) are somehow dishonest concepts themselv es. The rest of this point is dedicated to explaining that travel, home ownership, family farms and private vehicle ownership as they are seen as environmentally damaging (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) There is no clarity or detail as to how these concepts are specifically related to Agenda 21 programs or how they would be harmed. Instead, there are just vague comments written in a manner that implie s these concepts are threatened by the UN plan.

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49 The next section of the resolution explains that the United Nation s concept of social the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) Alone this sentence is close to the truth explainin g how social justice involving resources is described in Agenda 21 (United Nation s Sustainable Development 1992) However, the next part of the sentence takes a turn by explaining that under Agenda 21 this type of social justi (R epublican National Committee 2012, 3) These terms are not defined in a manner that would explain why this type of redistribu tion should be considered harmful. The terms fit into the conspiracy narrative in a manner that implies that these economic sys tems are offensive and authoritarian and can only have a negative outcome. The lack of reasoning coupled with the implied negativity of the concepts constructs the ideas as bogeymen with little clarification as to why a person should be concerned. This se ction of the document concludes by explaining that Agenda 21 sees domestic national sovereignty as a social injustice. This point is not factual, as a primary aspect of Agenda 21 is to keep sovereignty intact by working with local governments through volu ntary programs to adapt sustainability programs to their specific regional context (ICLEI 2013) However, as the loss of sovereignty to international agencies is a key factor to Agenda 21 and the New World Order conspiracy for which it is derived the concept fits well into this story and provides greater narrative probability With the completion of this list of claims against Agenda 21, the document then begins to lems. First, the document explains that (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) The reason for these claims is to ensure that political

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50 nvalidation of the ecological plans as it is labeled as something evil that must be stopped through educating their party members. This fits into conspiracy ideologi es and narratives as they often function within a good versus evil mentality that morally obligates believers to resist the evil and act as a force for good (James 2001, 75) This is of great importance to understand ing the conspiracy p lan. As James Nigel points out, a conspiracy based on good versus evil duality does not have to explain the ideological differences with opponents. As the narrativ e labels the opponents as evil, their motivations are based on this inner darkness in stead of differences in ideology (James 2001, 75) Thus, there is no need to explain further or seek compromise because evil is si mply evil. The next resolution to these issues is an explanatory point that is truthful and should invalidates the fear of the conspiracy theorists, by explaining that the United States is not required legally to follow Agenda 21 (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) This is true ; although the United States signed on to the document at the Rio Conference; it is not a le gally approved, formal treaty. If this set of resolutions was less vitriolic and conspiracy laden this statement would appear as nothing more than the truth of international and domestic laws. However, in the context of these resolutions, this statement is not intended to assure readers that Agenda 21 is a voluntary program that lacks coercive legal power over domestic actors and institutions. It is another method to strip validity and sup port for the program. In this context, explaining that Agenda 21 is not formally a law does not serve to quiet fears about possible overreach by IGOs or threats to dome stic laws. It is included as a method to invalidate Agenda follow the suggestions of the program. Several resolutions follow this statement by explaining

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51 that th (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) Further, the GOP pro (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) Again, the resolution uses langua ge that implies the pro gram is disruptive and dangerous while creating a political position that rejects any compromise on the issue. The document closes by ensuring the reader that the party will ensure that all relevant members of their party includin g elected officials, members who are running for office or members who can vote at a party assembly will all receive a copy of this document and work towards making these resolutions a part of the Republican national platform. This last pledge, to make re sistance to Agenda 21 part of their official party platform, did happen. The section of the party platform that is derived from the winter meeting is discussed very briefly, but stays w ithin conspiracy narrative. In a small sub category titled Sovereig n American Leadership in International Organizations document explains that the Republican party, due to concerns of sovereignty, is adamantly opposed to several international treaties (GOP Platform Committee 2012) There is a passage that c laims that UN programs are responsible for forced abortions in China and Mexico. The platform explains concerns for the everal UN policies on the American family declarations from the U.N. Conf (GOP Platform Committee 2012) The platform does not explicitly connect the ideas of forced abortion programs with the UNCED. However, the flow of the document does not separate the idea s or clarify why they are lum ped together at all. The reader is shocked with statements about forced

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52 abortions and then is immediately told that the GOP has concern s about American families due to a sustainability policies. Although this is not as deeply developed as the Schiller paper, these statements fit well into the Malthusian aspect of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. In the next line of the platform, Agenda Agenda 21 as erosive of A (GOP Platform Committee 2012) This line flatly states that Agenda 21 will damage American sovereignty and attaches the idea that participation in the program wil l result in America being forced to participate in a global taxation system. This is very close to the conspiracy narrative for Agenda 21 that assumes the program would strip states of autonomy and force harsh redistributive policies on the world And mu ch like the conspiracy narrative in the Schiller paper, this is accomplished by making several unsubstantiated claims against Agenda 21. With this small paragraph, t he Republican platform touches on the key points of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. It s ubtlety and without mentioning the roots of the conspiracy, expresses fears of an authoritarian control over reproductive health, fears over erosion of sovereignty, a nd fear of the loss of American culture. These concepts are a nearly perfect summary of t he main points of the Agenda 21 conspiracy, but are discusse d with less detail then found on a conspiracy website or a work like the Schiller paper. However, the result is very similar. A narrative based on unsubstantiated claims that demonizes internati onal political groups and assumes they are working to destroy the United States. Before an analysis of how this proclamation affected the behavior of the GOP there is another important part of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory that requires discussion. As s tated in chapter 2 of this work, the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory is built upon pre existing conspiracy theories. One of the most important of the pre existing conspiracy theories is the New World

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53 Order conspiracy, a product of the John Birch Society. Wit global communal rule (Stewart 2002, 442) Given the JBS history of emb racing and spreadi ng conspiracy theories, it is not surprising that we can find the conservative NGO at the heart of a campaign to spread the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory and pass legislation against the United Nations sustainability plan. There is a page on the website Scr ibd (an online digital library) created by Hal Shurtleff, a JBS coordinator for the northeastern United States (John Birtch Society 2011) This page contains 48 document templates for state laws against Agenda 21 (Shurtleff 2012) The site explains that there are no documents for the states of Alabama and Michigan, as Alabama has already passed an anti Agenda 21 bill and Michigan was working on passing a similar law when the docum ents were posted (Shurtleff 2012) The model bills are all in each individual template. The bills start by affirming a right to due process in regard s to propert y issues within all of (Shurtleff 2012) Although this line could simply be an affirmation of property rights within the state, in the context of the subject being discusse d and the views of the NGO that constructed this document, the statement fits well in the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative that assume the U.N. sustainabilit y plain will result in property seizures. The next section of the bill simply outlines the reach of the proposed law and explains it would affect every level of government in the state (Shurtleff 2012) Then the template sta tes

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54 may be required by policy recommendations orig inating in, or tra (Shurtleff 2012) The bill further states that it would offer protection against Agenda 21 or any other international law that may conflict with the federal or state constitutions (Shurtleff 2012) This portion of the bill essentially makes a claim by offering protection from a non existent issue. Outside of the conspiracy narrative, Agenda 21 does not enable the United Nations to seiz e property. However, this part of the bi ll explicitly supports the assumption that Agenda 21 policies may require property seizure th r ough methods illegal in the United States. The construction of a law against this behavior implies that it not only exists, but that the issue is pressing enough that Americans need to be protected. This lends validity to conspiracy theories that espouse similar claims. This section also implies that Agenda 21 is an international law as opposed to a set of recommendations. As with many claims made by opponents of the sustainability plan, this is simply not true. The final part of the bill 7 deals with the groups working toward s implementation of Agenda 21. United Nations has accredited and enli sted numerous non governmental and inter g overnmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies may not enter into any agreement; expend any s um of money, or receive funds contracting services; or giving financial aid to or from those non governmental and inter governmental organizati ons This section of the bill offers a few points for analysis. First, it furthers the narrative that the NGOs and supporters of Agenda 21 are working towards goals dangerous to the American public. Additionally, this part of the proposed bi ll would actually have an effect on policy. The early lines about prohibiting constitutionally illegal property 7 There is another small paragraph that offers a timetable for implementation of the bill upon approval. However, it is simply a matter of when the provision would become activ e if the law was is passed and offers no relevant political discourse.

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55 seizures by NGOs and IGOs wou ld not cause any real change to the issues due to existing property laws, the supremacy of the American constitution in these matters, and the lack of legal and coer cive power behind Agenda 21. However, the ban on governments voluntary taking part in sust ainability programs associated with Agenda 21 could actually impede sustainability plans as it would cripple the N GOs that assist local and state governments by providing, scientific information, support, and funding for sustainable development. As Agenda 21 has no enforcement power and is developed for voluntary regional projects, prohibitions on the methods recommendations. An important point here is that when the conspiracy theories go this far it is no longer simply shaping norms or narratives 8 instead it becomes a concrete factor in the political system that creates (if the law passes) a fixed official state response t o the matter. As of the writing of t his document, conservative political groups, such as the GOP, Tea Party, and smaller ideologically similar groups have attempted to pass anti Agenda 21 legislation in at least 26 states 9 (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 209) These laws have (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 209) (Shurtleff 2012) All of the legislation contains language tha t prohibits the state from working with or receiving funds from the United Nations or any of the political groups that is associated with implementation of Agenda 21 (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) A few of t he state bills/resolutions included lines that would require the state to set up studies of the sustainability plan in order to determine if it was harmful (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) Some of the states at tempted to pass both laws and resolutions. However, 8 This can be damaging enough within a political community. 9 A few of these states attempted to pass more than one of the bills or resolutions.

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56 only Alabama, the first state to consider this type of legislation, has passed laws against Agenda 21. As for the non binding resolutions, only four have been approved (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) The very low rate at which these pieces of legislation pass may seem like a victory for sustainability activist and a social barometer for the acceptance of the conspiracy theory. In actuality, the bulk of an ti agenda 21 activists interviewed felt that even if a law was not passed it had served to further the cause by making more people aware of Agenda 21. The same sense of victory was observed in activists when legislators proposed non binding resolutions (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) The hope of many activists and anti Agenda 21 groups is that the continual proposal of these bills, regardless of passag future sustainabilit y programs by making their opponents afraid of introducing environmental programs due to the resistance they will face (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) There is no method to determine if these bills will have a ny future det errent effect on eco activism. But the above lines help us see that, at the very least, these bills have an empowering effect for anti agenda 21 activists and groups. A recent s tudy of such bills and related resolutions and how they spread shows that there are several key concepts that remain c onsistent across the debates. The authors of the article found several factors that shaped public approval and acceptance of anti Agenda 21 bills. Some of these factors include former military servic e, rates at which the state already had high levels of social spending, and the amount of vehicle dependent homes in the state 10 (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218 224) However, two of the major influencing fac tors were whether or not the state elected Republican Tea Party candidates in the 2010 election and if the voters in the region subscribed to a set of Tea Party narratives concerning the f eder al g overnment (Frick, 10 As well as many other small concep ts that offered very minor changes in the statistical data.

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57 Weinzim mer and Waddell 2015, 223 4) Whether or not the state elected Tea Party members in the 2010 election is in line with the analysis provided in my work. For the most part this conspiracy theory with only a few notable exceptions 11 have been created, sp read, and kept alive by the works of conservative think tanks and right aligned political groups and media sources. A person s adherence to Tea Party narratives is also unsurprising, however the specific set of narratives that the researchers found to be important are quite helpful in further understanding of the situation. by interviewees. They ca n be summarized as follows: anti n belief that the American middle class is threatened by lower income gr oups through legislators fighting the other issues (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 213) We can see that the primary c oncepts that are attributed to Tea Party narratives fit well within the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. There is fear about the loss of property and the American way of life from th e machinatio ns of foreigners. The narrative also denotes a fear of redistrib utive principles deem ed socialist or authoritarian. version of history that assigns a hero status to those combating the evil of powerful central governments. The study also found that many of the people interviewed were less concerned with loss of sovereignty then they were with The Af fordable Healthcare Act. Despite the fact that the two have nothing to do with each other, a narrative that Obama was forcing healthcare legislation on people became a point of resistance and a spur to activists against other public 11 Such as the group Democrats Against Agenda 21.

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58 polices the group felt were the result of an overgrown government forcing redistributive polices on the nation (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 224) Overall, we can see a situation in which similar narratives between conspiracy theorists and the Tea Party ha ve provided a fertile environment for elite political groups to use the concept for pol icy and their public rhetoric. This has allowed for the c onspiracy theory to spread and become normalized as part of our political discours e and in some instances public policy. Right Wing Media and Agenda 21 The final elite aspect of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory I will discuss in this chapter is how media s ourc es discuss and use the concept. Many journalistic sources regularly release stories about the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory with a variety of perspectives. This ran ges from discussing the situation factual ly with a neutral ideological stance, to left o f center media outlets that insult and attack anti Agenda 21 groups, to the right wing media that often embrace some aspect of the conspiracy or at the very least find fault in Agenda 21. However, the sources that are important to this work are the third group, the news channels, radio shows, and websites that cater to pol itical conservative audiences. These sources are important not simply because they discuss this topic with greater frequency and within the conspiracy narrative. The additional relevance of these conservative media sources appears when we understand that their role in stimulating the growth of the groups and ideas that form the basis of the anti Agenda 21 movement is part of an intentional political mane uver. Scholarly data on the growth of the Tea Party and the resurgence of the GOP in 2010 looked at several factor s that allowed this situation. One of the most important factors in the study was the growth of ideological ly driven new sources.

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59 There has been a long history of conservative media beginning in the Depression Era with news radio programs featuring religious leaders that warned against communist conspiracies, anti American conspiracies, and other points of social anxiety (Burack and Snyder Hal l 2013, 446) However, the very politically driven news media that we are accustomed to today did not start to take shape until the 1980s. During this period, Rush Limbaugh began a new format for a call in talk show based on conservative politics (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 477) The result was a very popular radio show that focused on attacking liberal values and groups that opposed (or groups that were opposed by) Republican values through discourse (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 477) This type of programming was previously disallowed unti l 1987, when Ronald Re a gan ended n news media) from broadcast rules (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 477) Today, these conservative radio shows are an important sources of news and entertainment for nearly one in five Americans, mostly white, middle cl ass males. The two most popular hos ts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, actively promote (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 477) The reach of con servative media grew much larger when News Corp unveiled the television channel Fox News in 1996. The network offered content very similar to (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013) The network slow grew in popularity with several spikes in viewership aign, the 9/11 attacks and the election of growth, it became home to Glen Beck a key figure in Agenda 21 conspiracy

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60 theories (Burack and Snyder Hall 2013, 448) Further, there is data that show these media companies are simply one part of a much larger conservative political network that disseminate s conservative political ideology and political agendas (Meagher 2012, 469 470) This vast fund s and organize s a variety of think tanks, non profits and the media outlets that share their ideas with the public. The result is a well design ed social network that works as a pipeline of ideas from think tanks and politicians to activists and voters (Meagher 2012, 469 470) In the remain ing part of this chapter I will discuss the messages concerning Agenda 21 that are coming from the media arm of the conservative political network. The data provided in this section are by no means exhaus tive. However, the information provides a good sample of how some of the more popular broadcasters in conservative media treat the situation. Sean Hannity is the host of both television and radio shows. During his time on the air, he has had anti Agenda 21 supporters such as Tom Deweese (head of the conservative group American Policy Center) and Newt Gingrich (at the time a presidential candidate) on his radios show to discuss the situation (DeWeese 2012) As one may expect the guests discussed the subject within the conservative narrative previously analyzed in this work (DeWeese 2012) Past the use of the Republican conspiracy narrative, an important point to gather from these guest interviews i s the empowerment it gives anti Agenda 21 activists and the validity it lends to their cause. When an important figure in the GOP voiced his support for the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative on one of the most popular conservative new shows the story become s much more credible to the general public then information gather ed from a conspiracy website with questionable authority in the matter. This has been described in an editorial for the conservative news magazine The New American as an important moment for the cause as it served as

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61 (DeWeese 2012) Rush Limbaugh, one of the most popular voices in conservative media, talks less abou t Agenda 21, but still uses the narrative of anti ng media sources criticizing the Republican party and pundits such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaug h for taking part in the conspiracy theory (Lacey 2012) (Media Matters 2014) However, these links do not document any instances of Limbaugh actually attacking Agenda 21. The search also provide s several links to right wing media sources and conspiracy websites that have reposted an article by a conservative/conspiracy author Dr. Ileana Johnson Paugh (Paugh 2013) In the article Paugh supports the conspiracy narrati ve associated with Agenda 21 and references a specific monologue from Rush Limbaugh th at she feels supports her case. This monologue does not reference Agenda 21 either. Further little support to ei (or at all) discuss es this subject. However, as multiple sources on both sides of the political spectrum have mentioned this specific segment in reference to Agenda 21 conspiracies it seems appropriate to inc lude it in this analysis. During one of his 2013 monologues, Limbaugh delivers a long speech about the evils of central planning, mass transit, and in essence any form of government interfe rence with land development. He never expressly mentions Agenda 21 during the diatribe, however, the narrative he uses to attack the federal government, HUD, and liberal development is close to the works of anti Agenda 21 activists (Limbaugh 2013) He discusses at length his opinion of HUD programs from the 1970s that he considers an attempt to strip away people rights in order to

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62 create racial equity in housing (Limbaugh 2013) After this, Limbaugh switches to an assault on current HUD policies that he critici zes for attempting to regulate urban density and what type of housing can be build. This is very much within the narrative for Agenda 21 conspiracies as many of the conspiracy based fears concern a large central government that forces people from their cu rrent living si tuation into dense urban area. Finally, Limbaugh discusses his view that central planning of this nature is a liberal plot to keep people from living within the groups and cultures they choose (Limbaugh 2013) This part of the monologue, although not directly related to Agenda 21, touches on the narrative as it implies liberals are using central planning schemes, un der the guise of equity and smart planning to chip away at American cultural norms. Of the narrat theories of the Schiller paper and the Republican documents. Howe ver, the narrative is close enough that both sides of the Agenda 21 debate feel that his is part of the discussion and thus relevant to how they understand the situation. The last media figure I will discuss and perhaps one of the strongest voices against Agenda 21 is conservative pundit, talk radio host and author Glen Beck. The former Fox News host has been a strong supporter of both the Tea Party movement and anti Agenda 21 groups on h is television and radio shows. Further, his news site The Blaze features its own web portal specifically devoted to stories related to the topic. Additionally, he has c o authored a fic tional novel about Agenda 21. What follows is a sample of Beck s work against Agenda 21. In a television segment that is representati ve of his broadcasts on the subject, Beck gives an overview of his opinions and understanding of the Unit ed Nations plan. He begins by pickings small sections of the document that appear innocent in wording and gives his summary

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63 (Bec k 2011) He then explains this is all because of socialist redistribution that is outlined in Agenda 21 (Beck 2011) Next Beck attacks Dr. Gro Brutland a former Prime minster of Norway and one of the key figures in plann ing The Rio Summit of 1992 (Brlund n/d) After mocking the pronunciation of her name and implying she is unattractive an d dour he states she is a member of several socialist groups and friends with Bill and Hilary Clinton (Beck 2011) Although these concepts may not seem that damming in some political circles, Beck rolls his eyes, mocks these pe ople, and through his behavior and dismissive statements implies that these social connections are p roof that Agenda 21 is much more than a simple sustainability plan. After attacking Dr Brutland, Beck moves on to his next target, a figure in international politics that anyone familiar with the Schiller paper w ould recognize, Maurice Strong. Beck th en spends several minutes talking about how Strong is part of many sustainable development plans, and implies these plans are a ploy (Beck 2011) He then states that Strong would require people to be licensed to have childr en and that he hopes for industrial society to collapse (Beck 2011) He offers no source or context with which these comments were supposedly made, he simply states (Beck 2011) Beck moves on to how this will affect viewers. He uses this time to explain that an y instance in which local or state governments are attempting to use programs deemed ing pushed by the ICLICE. Much like other conspiracy based works concerning Agenda 21 he labels the ILCIE as a cover t attempt to push United Nation control over American municipalities (Beck 2011) He then attacks several people within the ILCIE. He labels these people as either socialists or communists working towards a malevolent world government (Beck 2011) Beck then explains that Agenda 21 is a long term covert plan to enact global gov ernment under the guise of environmentalism (Beck

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64 2011) He goes on to talk about ho w large and well entrenched the plan is within policy and international politics. Af ter he has built a fearful monster out of Agenda 21 and its supporters, one that may seem undefeatable to viewers Beck explains his theory that God will take part in this situation. He explains that God will step into protect freedom. He then quickly shifts the topic to how anti Agenda 21 activists have bee n keeping the nation aware of the problems and are fighting back (Beck 2011) At the end of his diatribe, he warns viewers to look for the terms to trick people into believing that Agenda 21 and environmental policy are positive for society (Beck 2011) This monologue by Beck is very interesting as it uses more of the original conspiracy theory th a n the works of oth er major conservative broadcasters. Limbaugh uses a similar narrative but shifts the blame for central planning and loss of freedoms to the federal government, Beck fully embraces the narrative of the Schiller white paper. He discuss the plan and highli ghts aspects of Agenda 21 that fit both Malthusian and New World Order conspiracies. He attempt s to explain the plan as a covert and nefarious action by a cadre of international elites. Finally, Beck s narrative explains the situation as a battle of good vs. evil and implies that God is on the side of anti Agenda 21 activists. This monologue provides us with a good example of the style and narrative in which to The Blaze features a special section that deals with nothing but Agenda 21 conspiracy theories (The Blaze Inc. 2015) This section of the website features dozens of article s from the last few years that discuss instances in which groups have fought against Agenda 21 or a local sustainability plan is being labeled as part of the

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65 conspiracy (The Blaze Inc. 2015) These articles all work within the frame that Beck has developed to support his assertions about the evil of Agenda 21. The last a nd perhaps strongest piece of work Beck has put forth concerning Agenda 21 is The novel is titled Agenda 21 and is a dystopian science fiction novel set approximately fifteen years after the implementation of the United Nations sustainability plan (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012) The plot of the book takes several aspects from classic dyst opian science fiction novels. The setting is a bleak totalitarian world in which th e protagonist has imperfect/unreliable information about the world in which she live s, creating a 1 984 as Anthem (Orwell 1961) (Rand 1995) T he book centers around a teenage girl who was born shortly after the implementation of Agenda 21 and describes her experiences in a nightmarish world created by the provision s of the sustainability plan. T he main plot points are directly related to the conspiracy na rrative surrounding Agenda 21. The main characters live in a small dense settlement under the control of a distant authoritarian centralized government that serves as the New World Order (Beck and Parke 2012, 10 13) The society appears very underdeveloped and has strict controls on the use of technology, energy, food and any n atural resource (Beck and Parke 2012, 10 12) These aspects of the book are much more vivid than the warnings of the Schiller paper, yet follow the narrative almost perfectly. There are other sections of the book that illustrate the narrative of conspiracy theorists, such as a scene that de scribes a shrine like feeding area that produces fat, over fed squirrels and wildlife, while humans starve (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012, 29) Th i s scene appears to address the parts of the conspiracy theory that assu me that the Agenda 21 plan is run by an eco cult that worships nature and has little regard for human life. Another important sub plot is how

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66 reproduction and population are stri ctly regulated through either a centralized breeding program for the young or a euthanasia program for the old and weak (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012, 34 40) These points supply the Malthusian aspect of the conspira cy that warn s of harsh government controls concern ing population and reproduc tion. Overall, the novel follows the predictions of conspiracy theorists, cov er ing all of the major points of works such as the Schiller paper with graphi c and often violent sce narios. However, it is not simply what is said that is important with this work. For this discussion, it is important to understand the type of book one encounters when reading Agenda e an interest and open discussion about a social situation (McAlear 2009, 197 198) Instead this novel is written with methodological and narrative tactics (whether intentional or not) that mirror propaganda novels such as The Turner Diaries (McAlear 2009, 198) The novel does not contain situations of moral ambiguity that could lead one to debate the concepts or wrestle with questions that arise from th e context of the work. I nstead, the work is written as a personal narrative that follows the perc eptions of a single character. This format has been analyzed by scholars as a less effective method for provoking discussion with a political novel and as a method better suited for the dispersal of propaganda and persuasion (McAlear 2009, 197) similar method used for the creation of the The Turner Diarie s an infamous dystopian propaganda novel written by a white su premacist about American society after a race war (McAlear 2009) Agenda 21 has other similarities in narrative construction with The Turner Diaries Both novels are written with framing and n arratives in which the current era is corrupted, and a bet ter future is expected to come from a new era that takes people back to the purity of a lost past (Beck and Parke 2012, 347 353) (McAlear 2009,

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67 194) These concepts form the b asis of the resolution in protagonists flee their prison like society to escape the current totalitarian order and to rediscover social conditions from the past before Agenda 21 (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012) Fahrenheit 451 Although the format of these novels do ha Agenda 21 novel and the Turner Diaries using the (McAlear 2009, 198) This is based on the structure of the nov els that focus on the view point of various characters, show more than one moral viewpoint and leave the reader with a bit of tension as to why people follow the authoritarian governments and how the situations occurred (Bradb ury 1951) (Huxley 1932) (McAlear 2009, 197 199) In works such as The Turner Diaries and Agenda 21 these concepts are notability missing and the antagonists are simply evil or villain ous as opposed to complex characters making decision within a social context that effects their motivations and actions. A final point about the novel Agenda 21 is the speci al afterward written by Beck. In a short section at the end of the book, Beck addresses r eaders directly. He compliments Parke for her work and explains that the method of us ing a novel to tell the story has had a great influence in spreading awareness about the issues (Beck and Parke 2012, 35 6 7) Beck then explains that the novel is fiction, that he is not a conspiracy theorist, and that the scenarios in the novel are the most extreme examples of what could happen under Agenda 21 (Beck and Parke, Agenda 2 1 2012, 357) However, immediately after he assures readers that the events of the novel probably will not happen, he then offers several pages of information to show how it could happen. This includes a short outline of the conspiracy theory concernin g Agenda 21 The outline includes a list of supporters of the plan such as Maurice Strong and their supposed connectio ns with

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68 socialist groups ; a primer on how to watch for any language usage that could be connected to the plan, and a list of resources for readers to better inform themselves about the dangers of the plan (Beck and Parke 2012, 358 376) Further, Beck urges activism against the plan at every level of government. Finally, he finishes the work by tha nking the Republican Party for officially supporting anti Agenda 21 movements through the resolution approved at the GOP 2012 Winter Meeting (Beck and Parke 2012, 379) This is a fascinating pi ece of work for this an alysis. It fully embraces the conspiracy narrative concerning Agenda 21 and gives graphic illustration as to how the world could look if cons piracy theorists are correct. The novel is entertaining, yet never really deviates from the established framework that views Agenda 21 as a Malthusian plot by the New Wor ld Order to control all life. The novel is a piece of political fiction, yet it is written with methodology that is better suited for propaganda. After 350 p a g e s of anxiety inducing prose, Beck dir ectly addresses the reader and supplies ample amounts of information that helps to add validity and authority to the work. Although he attempts to downplay the possibilitie s of the horrors in the novel, he only does so for a few sentences before he begins to preach as to how this all could happen. The novel as a whole gives more weight and detail to the conspiracy than a non fictional account, as anything that seems too implausible can be discounted as fiction as opposed to the ravings of a paranoid perso n. In this chapter, we have seen how a network of conservative think tanks, political parties and media sources have adapted and used an older conspiracy theory to modern public policy. In the final chapter of this work, I will discuss some of the ramif ications of this behavior and what this type of behavior could mean in the future.

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69 CHAPTER IV CONCLUSION Throughout the course of this work, I have attempted to explore and explain the evolution and usage of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory. For the maj ority of this analysis, I have looked at the narratives used by conspiracy theorists and political groups to rationalize and justify their opposition to a several decade old voluntary sustainability plan What was once a grand malevolent style conspiracy theory cobbled together out of existing Malthusian and New World Order conspiracy theories by fringe elements of the conservative/conspiracy crowd has evolv ed into a mainstream political concept. For the most part this political phenomenon is a product of conservative aligned political groups. A few exceptions exist, such as Democrats Against Agenda 21. The group is led by Rosa Koire, a self proclaimed Democrat, who states she is in favor of many left leaning causes such as marriage equity (though oddl y described as pro gay marriage), civil rights, and other progressive causes (Koire n/d) Despite this assurance that she is an active part of the political claimed political allegiance. The website is filled with quotes and videos supplying the same conservative conspiracy narrative (Koire n/d) However, Korie is an exception to the general rule of who is spre ading this type of narrative. Fr om its creation, the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory has been the work of conservative an d right wing political groups. As we have seen previously in this docu ment, the Schiller Institute, under the leadership of Lyndon LaRouche published a conspiracy narrative for its extremely conservative followers The Schiller paper w as based on the works of other conservative and conspiracy based groups such as the John Birch Society and their New World

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70 Order master conspiracy theory. Then we see the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory becoming more mainstream and part of the Republican P l discourse and public policy. This occurred with the rise of a well developed network of conservative political groups and partisan media outlets as well as the growth of the Tea Party. This summary of my previous analysis helps us to see a few things. The most obvious is that this current conspiracy theory is the produc t of the Republican Par ty and their support network. The states that have attempted to pass or have passed anti Agenda 21 legislation or and voted heavily f or Tea Party candidates in the 2010 elections (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218 222) The bulk of the mainstream media that supports anti Agenda 21 movements and conspiracy theories are all part of a well deve loped and well funded conservative social network (Meagher 2012, 469 471) All of these factors help demonstrate that homophily is a factor in this situation. Homophily is a term for the concept that humans tend to associate and form groups due to similarities in ideology and social status (Lazer, et al. 2010, 249) This factor of human interaction draws people with similar viewpoints tog ether for a variety of reasons. Some h om o philic behavior is simple human psychology and the fact that we are attracted to people with sim ilarities to ourselves (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250) Homophily is also shaped by systemic factors that often result in wor k places and living situations in which people of similar attitudes and socio economic backgrounds often end up in groups (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250) There are several reasons that humans have a te ndency towards this be havior. Th ese include gathering information, forming strong social bonds, a sense of validity that comes from being with others

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71 with people that are ideolog ically dissimilar (Lazer, et al. 2010, 250) Each of these fact or help to explain the s ituation concerning Agenda 21. With the creation and growth of conservative ideologically similar out let for gathering information. If this source is one of the more popular conservative news sources, the viewer will be receivi ng the anti Agenda 21 movem This factor could greatly increase the sprea d of this conspiracy narrative as the people often discussing Agenda 21 such as Glenn Beck, Rosa Koire and even state legislators while arguing for anti Agenda 21 legislation, encourage their audience to do their own research on the topic (Beck and Parke, Agenda 21 2012, 357 379) (Koire n/d) (Jost 2013) If a person that does such at the behest of a conservative media figure or politician and the research i s preformed via conservative media, they will find ideologically similar information that adds validity to the conspiracy narrative. Through this human tendency towards similarity and a well developed political network designed to take advantage of such b ehavior we can begin to understand how an obscure, three decade old conspiracy theory is shaping curr ent political behavior. Another important factor to address is the subtle changes in the narrative. Although we can see a consistence in the manner with which conservatives and conspiracy theorist understand Agenda 21, there is some variation as to how each source tells the story. There are a few concepts that help explain this. Foremost, is that narratives must change a nd adapt with social context. Co nspiracy theories are often an indicator of points of social anxiety (Parish 2001, 2 10) As the reasons for this fear shift with the passage of time and new events, conspiracy theories must adapt as well. Another imp ortant factor is that political and social elites have an interest in keeping their narrative s believ able to their audience. When elites construct alternative rts

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72 of the story are taken from existing understandings of culture and history (Bacon 2012, 781) When they supply the alternative explanation in hopes of it becoming the primary narrative on the subject, they must be careful that their viewpoint is believable to their audience o unraveling the narrative, with potentially catastrophic results for narrators with regard to their (Bacon 2012, 782 783) A fi nal narrative shaping factor is that conspiracy theories as a whole are starting to change. Peter Knight discusses this in a study of different narratives concern ing the 9/11 conspiracy theory. He observes that newer conspiracy theories are less likely t o blame singular agents or malevolent secret societies (Knight, Outrageous Conspiracy Theories: Popular and Offi cial Responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States 2008, 193) Instead, there is a growing trend tha dec entered and dispersed into a vast network of interlocking vested interests within the wider process of globalization, a picture that cannot easily be pinned down to an evil cabal, even if at the surface level it is presented in those traditional terms (Knight, Outrageous Conspiracy Theories: Popular and Offi cial Responses to 9/11 in Germany and the United States 2008, 193) In essence, we can understand tha t conspiracy theories may change over time in small ways due to social context and how the expectations shape the narrative This helps us understand how the Schiller Institute and Glenn Beck may have a slight different story than the RNC as t o the dangers of and who is behind Agenda 21, yet the narrative remains basically the same. I t has been adapted by the speaker in orde r to ensure the belief of its intended audience, while at the same time carful taking the important points from past ite rations of the narrative in order to maintain legit imacy. Further, changes in the narrative that move the concept away from global malevolent conspiracy theories to an approach that blames the collusion of IGOs, NGOs, and Agenda 21 supporters show a broad er understanding of

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73 globalization and political interconnectedness amongst conspiracy theorists and anti Agenda 21 activists. A final point worth mention in this analysis is the possible damage that the anti Agenda 21 movement may cause. Although the bill s and resolutions put forth by the GOP have had little success, they still serve as a source of empowerment for anti Agenda 21 activists (Frick, Weinzimmer and Waddell 2015, 218) Further there is a commonly repeated the me amongst Agenda 21 conspiracy theorists that attempts to label nearly any term related to ecological and environmentalism as covert methods to trick people (Beck and Parke 2012, 375 376) (Republican National Committee 2012, 3) (The Schiller Institute 1991, 28 29) These attacks on sustainability concepts and vocabulary are aimed at Agenda 21; however many of the ideas are much broader ideas th at are used to describe nearly any type of environmental movement. If conspiracy theorists co op these terms and construct them as negative concepts within the debate about Agenda 21, there is little reason to believe they will accept the concepts in othe r situations. T his leaves us with a political situation in which the basic concepts and narrative s required to discuss and solve important problems are fractured and a point of contention before the real debates even begin. However, my research was not able to prove that this narrative has had a large impact on public policy or public opinion As discusse d in the previous chapter, nearly all of the anti Agenda 21 laws and resolutions have failed to pass. Further, the most important question to this stu dy is whether the conspiracy narratives concerning Agenda 21 have had an effect on American political norms Currently, it appears that anti Agenda 21 media, legislation and activism has not had a significant effect. Utilizing several public opinion pol ls there appears to be no major resistance to either Agenda 21 or sustainability programs.

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74 A 2012 poll by the American Planning Association found that 85% of respondents when nswer the question ( American Planning Association 2012, 22) Of the remaining 15 percent of respondents, 9% supported the plan, while only 6 percent opposed Agenda 21 ( American Planning A ssociation 2012, 22) Further, polls concerning sustainability and the environment do n ot give any indication that anti ecologically centered public policy. This is important, as the narrative discussed i n this work often labels sustainability and many environmental concepts as part of the co nspiracy. A 2014 Gallup poll about global warming revealed that only 25% of respond ents had no concerns about global warming (Saad 2014) This is 3% drop from the 28% of respondents who did not believe in global warming in 2010 (Saad 2014) The Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative explains that global warming is a false concept, manufactured for the sake of just ifying political controls by international elites. If the narrative was having a great effe ct on the American public we would expect to see in increase in the number of people who disbelieve global warming is occurring and is an important issue. However, this poll helps us understand there are no increase and actually a slight drop in the number of people who hold this opinion. A 2013 poll showed that 66% of Americans believed that the villain of the conspiracy (Jones and Wendt 2013) Of the respondents who identified as Republicans, 46% said they thought the UN was necessary (Jones and Wendt 2013) If the Agenda 21 conspir acy narrative was greatly shaping Americans perceptions of the program and the United Nations, it is not likely that the majority of Americans would respond that the United Nations is necessary. Further, as the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative is dissemina ted by a conservative policy and media network, it does not

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75 seem likely that the narrative is shaping norms if almost half of Republican respondents view the United Nations favorably. Finally in n a large data set that looked at trends in environmental pol ls since over the last few decades there is little data to support postulation that Agenda 21 conspiracy narratives have led to negative perceptions of sustainability programs and environmental politics. The consolidation of these polls show an overall tr end in which the majority of respondents were concerned about ecological issues and in most cases backed some type of political response from the federal government (Gallup 2014) An important question to my work asked if the United States should sign a legal binding treaty based on the Copenhagen climate change summit. The majority of respondents (55%) thought that the U.S. should sign the treaty, with only 38% opposed to the plan (Gallup 2014) This is not what one would expect if the conspiracy narrative had convinced people that international sustainability plans were part of an evil plot. T he fact that a majority of people believe that the United States should sign an international treaty in tended to ensure sustainability and protect the environment, helps us understand that the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative has not greatly shaped public opinion. These polls help us see that American norms and political views have not been greatly affect ed by the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative. The vast majority of people do not even know enough about the program to decide if they support or oppose it. Of the very small percent of people that do have an opinion, less than half are opposed to the progr am. If we look further at public opinion regarding sustainability programs and environmental politics, we see environmental and sustainability issues are important to most Americans. Further, Americans see the United Nations as a necessary institution a nd believe that their country should participate in international agreements concerning the environment. All of these polls ask questions about

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76 concepts that fit within the Agenda 21 conspiracy narrative However, the available data does not show an inc rease resistance to or disbelief in these ideas. For now, it appears that this narrative is not a strong influence on American public policy or norms.

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77 REFERENCES American Planning Association. Planning in America : P erceptions and Priorities. Research Summary, Washington D.C.: American Planning Association, 2012. Aaronovitch, David. Voodo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History. New York: Riverhead Books, 2010. American Psychological Ass ociation. "When Do You Use Double Quotation Marks?" APA Style. 2015. http://www.apastyle.org/learn/faqs/use double quotes.aspx. Bacon, Edwin. "Public Political Narratives: Developing a Neglected Source through the Exploratory Case of Russia in the Putin Me dvedev Era." Political Studies 2012: 768 786. Brlund, Kaj. "Sustainable development Concept and Action." Unitede Nations Ecomonic Comission for Europe. n/d. http://www.unece.org/oes/nutshell/2004 2005/focus_sustainable_development.html. Bartlett, Jamie and Carl Miller. The Power of Unreason: Conspiracy Theories, Extremism and Counter Terrorism. London: Demos, 2012. Basham, Lee. "Living with the Conspiracy." In Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate by David Coady, 61 75. Burlington: Ashgate Pub lishing Company, 2006. Basham, Lee. "Malevolent Global Conspiracy Theory." In Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate by David Coady, 93 105. Burlingtion: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2006. Beauchamp, Zack. "High Ranking GOP Senator Advances UN Gun C onspiracy Theory." thinkprogress.org. November 15, 2012. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/11/15/1195131/high ranking gop senator advances un gun conspiracy theory/. Beck, Glenn. ""Agenda 21" The UN's Diabolical Plan for the World is Explained on the Glenn Beck Show" ." Youtube. June 23 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esJY2SK_4tE. Beck, Glenn, and Harriet Parke. Agenda 21. New York: Pocket Books, 2012. Bell, David, and Lee Jane Bennion Nixon. "The Popular Culture of Conspiracy/The Conspiracy of Popular Culture." In The Age of Anxiety: Conspiracy Theory and the Human Science by Jane Parish, & Martin Parker, 133 152. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.

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78 Bratich, Jack. Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Political Culture. Albany: State Un iversity of New York Press, 2008. Brody, Jane E. "Scientist at Work: Bruce N. Ames; Strong Views on Origins of Cancer ." The New York Times July 5, 1994: Web. Burack, Cynthia, and Claire Snyder Hall. "Introduction: Right Wing Populsim and the Media." New Political Science 2013: 439 454. Casey, Lee A., and David B Rivkin Jr. "The Dangerous Myth of Universal Jurisdiction." In A Country I Do Not Recognize by Robert H. Bork, 135 184. Standford: Hoover Institution Press, 2005. Coady, David. "An Introduction t o the Philosophical Debate about Conspiracy Theories." In Conspiracy Theories: The Philosophical Debate by David Coady, 1 11. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2006. Coady, David. "Conspiracy Theories and Offical Stories." In Conspiracy Theories: Th e Philosophical Debate by David Coady, 115 128. Burlington: Ashgate, 2006. Contantini, Christina. "Senator Ted Cruz and 7 Other Politicians at the Heart of the Birther Conspiracy." ABC New. March 20, 2013. http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/senator ted c ruz birther conspiracy theories/story?id=18773244. Davenport, David. "The New Diplomacy Threatens American Sovereignty and Values." In A Country I Do Not Recongnize by Robert H. Bork, 113 124. Standford: Hoover Institutional Press, 2005. Della Porta, Dona tella, and Michael Keating. Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences : A Pluralistic Approach. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. DeWeese, Tom. "2011 Was an Incredible Year as Agenda 21 Becomes a Major Issue ." The New American. Feb 24, 2012. http://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/10961 2011 was an incredible year as agenda 21 becomes a major issue. The Daily Beast. April 13, 2014. http://www.thedailybeas t.com/articles/2014/04/13/agenda 21 the un conspiracy that just won t die.html. Eichelberger, Ericka. "The 7 Craziest Obamacare Conspiracy Theories: And Why They Are Wrong." Mother Jones. August 6, 2013. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/7 obamac are conspiracy theory. Farhi, Peter. "From the Fring to the Mainstream." American Journalism Review 2010: 32 37.

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