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conspiracy theories/assassins/etc.

Reader comment on item: [Michael Barkun on] Old Conspiracies, New Beliefs

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Jan 13, 2004 at 19:04

It's very interesting to note how cultures that believe in the basic goodness of man (the post-enlightenment West, Islam) are very prone to conspiracy theory, at least among the weaker members of their societies. Those of us who believe in original sin (or the yetzer hara'?) figure that it's not surprising that fundamentally depraved people do evil things--what makes us amazed and awed is when goodness raises its head.

Please correct me if my history's wrong, but I understand that the original medieval Assassins were the ancestors of those generally pacific and industrious Isma'ili Shi'ah merchants you meet up and down the west coast of India and the east coast of Africa (South Asian-descended)--plus some villagers up in the Pamirs and Hunza. I gather they lost their stomach for guerrilla warfare/terrorism because Hulagu Khan's Mongols gave them what-for.
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