Prophets of Deceit

Prophets of Deceit:A Study of the Techniques of the American Agitator

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How authoritarian and racist discourse functions

A classic book that analyzes and defines media appeals specific to American pro-fascist and anti-Semite agitators of the 1940s, such as the application of psychosocial manipulation for political ends. The book details psychological deceits that idealogues or authoritarians commonly used. The techniques are grouped under the headings "Discontent", "The Opponent", "The Movement" and "The Leader". The authors demonstrate repetitive patterns commonly utilized, such as turning unfocused social discontent towards a targeted enemy. The agitator positions himself as a unifying presence: he is the ideal, the only leader capable of freeing his audience from the perceived enemy. Yet, as the authors demonstrate, he is a shallow person who creates social or racial disharmony, thereby reinforcing that his leadership is needed. The authors believed fascist tendencies in America were at an early stage in the 1940s, but warned a time might come when Americans could and would be "susceptible to ... [the] psychological manipulation" of a rabble rouser. A book once again relevant in the Trump era, as made clear by Corey Robin's new introduction.


  • Beyond all doubt the most illuminating study of the techniques and the propaganda of the native American Fascist which has yet appeared.

    Cary McWilliamsNew York Times
  • To judge from this first volume, the Studies in Prejudice Series is likely to make many significant contributions to our knowledge of the dynamics of intergroup relations, social movements, and societal change as well as of prejudice as such. Löwenthal and Guterman especially deserve praise for a wise and significant volume.