John directed me to this essay, which contained quotes from Bernard Bailyn’s Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. The essayist at one point sums up Bailyn’s analysis of political pamphlets from the Revolution thusly: “America obtained its independence because of a war that was started by people who were genuinely terrified of the 18th-century equivalent of black helicopters.” He is referring to the belief in late colonial America that there was a big plot to subvert liberty, both in the American colonies and in England. In hindight, apparently, it is pretty clear that no such conspiracy existed.
Reading about these colonial conspiracy theorists, I was reminded of another blog post I read recently about the mentality cultivated in madrasas in Pakistan. What a strange parallel to draw between different places at different times, from colonial America to the tribal areas of Pakistan.