|A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Nesta Helen Webster (1876–1960) was a British author, conspiracy theorist, and Nazi sympathiser. She was a member of the British Fascisti and the British Union of Fascists, and wrote extensively on the Illuminati and international Jewish conspiracies, including publicising the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in 1920 and popularising ideas about Adam Weishaupt and the Illuminati. She also had a strong interest in Freemasonry, Kabbalah, and other mystical or esoteric topics. Although she has never been respected by historians, she was praised by right-wingers from Winston Churchill to Pat Robertson and Gary North.
She studied at Westfield College, London, and as a young woman travelled through Asia visiting India, Burma, Singapore, and Japan, all except the last then part of the British Empire. She married Arthur Templer Webster, an officer in the British Indian Police.
After the war, she delivered a speech which proved hugely popular on Bolshevism and the threat of world communist revolution, and she was asked to repeat it multiple times to British army and police officers. It was eventually published as World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilisation in 1922. British military leader Lord Kitchener called her Britain's "foremost opponent of subversion".
She published several other books includingSecret Societies and Subversive Movements (1924), The Need for Fascism in Great Britain (1926), The Menace of Communism, and The Origin and Progress of the World Revolution (1932). She also wrote for The Patriot, a highly antisemitic and conspiracy-minded magazine which was published by the 8th Duke of Northumberland, one of the richest landowners in Britain.
Webster was involved in several far-right organisations, including Rotha Lintorn-Orman's British Fascists, Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, the Anti-Socialist Union (which campaigned against the Liberal Party's reforms in the 1910s), and 1930s Anglo-German friendship organisation The Link (which included a few pacifists and true Germanophiles along with a lot of antisemitic and very right-wing members).
Works and ideas
She first set out her view of history in a book called The French Revolution: a Study in Democracy (1919), which claimed the revolution was a result of a conspiracy of Jews and freemasons. Winston Churchill praised her work in an essay of his called "Zionism versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People", writing:
This movement among the Jews is not new. … This worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognisable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution.
She suggested her knowledge and understanding of the French Revolution may have been derived partly by supernatural methods: "her mother might have read about France while pregnant with Nesta" or it might have derived from the minds of the dead or spiritual presences.
World Revolution: The Plot Against Civilisation (1922) explored the links between Marxism, Jews and the Illuminati. One Amazon reviewer summarises it:
Her writing is simply excellent. And her scholarship is outstanding. Herein, Mrs. Webster has left us with a beautiful and compelling account of the revolutionary movement from the French Revolution to the Bolshevik, the Chinese, the Indochinese, and the African. According to her excellent account, there is a guiding thread throughout all of this revolutionary activity, illuminated Freemasonry. And the author certainly makes a solid case for this, skillfully tying together the writings of Weishaupt with the pronouncements of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and the actions of the Soviet state.
However the writer of this comment, Michael Tozer, was critical of the fact that Webster exculpated Anglo-Saxon freemasonry from any involvement in the international Jewish conspiracy.
Secret Societies and Subversive Movements
Secret Societies and Subversive Movements (1924) links the Russian October Revolution and rise of communism with the Bavarian Illuminati, a short-lived secret society founded by philosopher and Freemason Adam Weishaupt, and runs back and forward in time to present a secret mystical tradition spanning thousands of years. Her work is heavily dualistic, with almost everything, even freemasonry, having both a good and an evil side: British freemasonry is good, French bad. This includes the mystical tradition of Kabbalah, which she claims is "older than the Jewish race, a legacy handed down from the first patriarchs of the world", and later corrupted by evil Jews. Her writing rapidly shifts from conventional conspiracy to esoteric religion: "one must know that the Cabala is double; that one is true, the other false. The true and pious one is that which elucidates the secret mysteries of the holy law according to the principle of anagogy (i.e. figurative interpretation). This Cabala therefore the Church has never condemned. The false and impious Cabala is a certain mendacious kind of Jewish tradition, full of innumerable vanities and falsehoods, differing but little from necromancy." Rosicrucianism and Scottish Rite Freemasonry are also tied into a complex web of secret societies. Secret Societies… included the antisemitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an appendix.
In 1938, she wrote Germany and England to defend Hitler's Germany against claims that it was anti-British and to call for peace and cooperation between the two nations. It celebrated Hitler as, like Mussolini, "a saviour from the greatest enemy of the human race", the threat of Bolshevism. She blamed Jewish propaganda for claims of Nazi antisemitism, contrasting what she described as the Nazis' benevolence with the (genuine) evils of Stalin and claiming that "some of the acts of violence committed against the Jews has been spasmodic outbreaks of popular feeling, not ordered by the Government and even in certain cases condemned by it". She suggested Nazi attacks on Jews were legitimated by Jewish crimes: "outbreaks by individual Nazis [were] reprisals for those outrages committed on their comrades", such as the murder of Ernst vom Rath by a Polish Jewish youth in Paris in 1938, which she suggested was part of a larger conspiracy.
Her views on the role of women were moderate, supporting education and more access to careers for women, but even though she wanted better opportunities for some women she favoured a traditional role for most. She did not join the suffrage movement and believed that defeating the menace of communism and international Jewry was more important than women's rights.
She is credited as having repopularised the Illuminati, which had been long-forgotten, and to have legitimised a range of conspiracy theories with her apparently respectable academic writing style. Many of her works remain in print, and she has been cited as an influence on later extremists such as the John Birch Society and the American Militia movement.
Christian Dominionist Gary North praised The French Revolution, saying "This book is never mentioned in university history departments. This is because it is accurate. The book reveals the Illuminist and Masonic background of the revolution. These topics have been politically incorrect since the end of World war II."
- See the Wikipedia article on Nesta Helen Webster.
- Nesta Webster, Spartacus
- Conspiracy Rising: Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life, Martha F. Lee, p 137
- Wonderful; Enlightening; Imperfect, Michael Tozer, Amazon
- , whale.to
- His Anti-Semitic Sources, Jacob Heilbrunn New York Review, 30 April 1995
- Germany and England, ch 1, Nesta Webster
- Germany and England, ch 6, Nesta Webster
- Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction, J Byford
- "Nesta Webster: The Voice of Conspiracy", Martha F. Lee, Journal of Women's History, Volume 17, Number 3, Fall 2005, pp. 81-104
- , GaryNorth.com
- Chart of the Illuminati Conspiracy: Week 56 of Illuminatus! Group Reading, HistoriaDiscordia.com