European Parliament Library

The Oldest Trick in the Book, Panic-Driven Scapegoating in History and Recurring Patterns of Persecution, by Ben M. Debney

This book investigates the normalization of blame-shifting within ideological discourse as a broad feature of history, working from Churchill’s truism that history is written by the victors. To that end, it explores historical episodes of political persecution carried out under cover of moral panic, highlighting the process of ‘Othering’ common to each and theorising a historical model of panic-driven scapegoating from the results. Building this model from case studies in witch panic, communist panic and terrorist panic respectively, The Oldest Trick in the Book builds an argument that features common to each case study reflect broader historical patterning consistent with Churchill’s maxim. On this basis it argues that the periodic construction of bogeymen or ‘folk demons’ is a useful device for enabling the kind of victim-playing and victim-blaming critical to protecting elite privilege during periods of crisis and that in being a recurring theme historically, panic-driven scapegoating retains great ongoing value to the privileged and powerful, and thus conspicuously remains an ongoing feature of world politics. Ben M. Debney is a doctoral candidate in History at Western Sydney University, Bankstown, Australia. His research investigates the origins and outcomes of capital accumulation as they relate to the climate crisis, with specific focus on the relationship between ‘primitive accumulation’ or ‘accumulation by dispossession’ and the phenomenon of 'Othering', manifesting most typically as misogyny and racism.
Table Of Contents
1. Theorising panic-driven scapegoating -- 2. Patterning moral panics -- 3. Features of scapegoating -- 4. Modelling patterns of scapegoating -- 5. Case Study 1: Witch Panic -- 6. Case Study 2: Communist Panic -- 7. Case Study 3: Terrorist Panic -- 8. Conclusion: Scapegoating Doth Ever Prosper
Literary Form
non fiction
1st ed. 2020.
Physical Description
1 online resource (415 pages)
Specific Material Designation
Form Of Item

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