In 1964, as Barry Goldwaters firebrand conservatism was reaching fever pitch in the United States, the historian Richard Hofstadter detailed the emergence of an incendiary style of politics. This style was not, Hofstadter emphasised, attached to any particular political ideology: it could be found on both the left and right. Nor was it the product of a particular time and place: you can find examples scattered throughout the museum of incompetence that is political history.
What characterised the style was a conspiratorial worldview and a willingness to excite the animosities and passions of a small minority for political leverage. Hofstadter called it the paranoid style, simply becau