Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
How conspiracy theories about the famous Rothschild family tell the history of antisemitism

How conspiracy theories about the famous Rothschild family tell the history of antisemitism

The best ideas are timeless: Treat others how you want to be treated. Help people less fortunate than yourself.

Unfortunately, many of the worst ideas are also timeless as well. And antisemitism is certainly one such idea.

While many different people have been targeted by antisemitic conspiracy theories, the Rothschild family of Germany has a particular favorite among the world’s lunatics for centuries and more recently by the QAnon cult which has managed to recycle many old conspiracies for the internet age and invented some new ones as well.

There are so many conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds that you could fill a book with them all, and my guest on this episode has done just that.

Mike Rothschild isn’t related to the family that’s been the focus of so many bad ideas, but he does have a lot of experience focusing on conspiracy theories, having previously written a book about QAnon. His most recent book, which we’ll be discussing, is called Jewish Space Lasers: The Rothschilds and 200 Years of Conspiracy Theories.

The video of this episode is available. The transcript of the audio follows. It is automatically generated and is provided for convenience only.

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Theory of Change is hosted by Matthew Sheffield about larger trends and intersections of politics, religion, media, and technology. It's part of the Flux network, a new content community of podcasters and writers. Please visit us at flux.community to learn more and to tell us about what you're doing. We're constantly growing and learning from the great people we meet.

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Matthew Sheffield on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattsheffield


MATTHEW SHEFFIELD: Welcome to Theory of Change, Mike. Thanks for being here.

MIKE ROTHSCHILD: Thank you for having me.

SHEFFIELD: Okay, well, so, I have to imagine that you have two reasons why you became interested in this book as a topic. One being your last name, and then the other being that before this, you wrote a book about QAnon, right?

ROTHSCHILD: Yes, so I've been writing about conspiracy theories now for probably about 10 years, and right as soon as I started, the first comments I would get were a Rothschild debunking [00:02:00] conspiracy theories, how stupid do they think we are the matrix must be broken, somebody unplugged the simulation.

As this, stuff started to seep into mainstream culture. I started seeing all of these memes and conspiracy theories and accusations about the Rothschilds, and I knew I wasn't related to them. I've always known that, but. It felt like a really fertile ground to really do some myth busting and really kind of figure out what is this family? Who are they? What have they done? And I think much more importantly, what have they not done?

And a lot of that came out of QAnon. Rothschilds are mentioned a lot in QAnon. They own all the central banks and they control everything and they have these occult human hunting parties and their vast Austrian lodges and things like that.

So it really made sense for me as a next step after the Q book to really delve into the Rothschild myth.

SHEFFIELD: Okay. Yeah. And it is, I mean, it's a myth that's been around for a long time and, you do [00:03:00] note and I think correctly that, people have written a lot of books about the Rothschilds over the years, like the family itself but not about all the conspiracies about them, which is kind of interesting in and of itself that nobody's actually done that too much before in an extended length the way that you did here.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. Some of the biographies of the family touch on it a little bit. The, two volume Neil Ferguson books talk about it somewhat, but of course those were published in the late nineties.

So there's a whole swath of. Internet nonsense that they miss out on. One of the big biographies of the family that came out in the early 70s talks about some of the stuff about Waterloo and the myths around that, but nobody had ever really put it together and certainly nobody had applied it to the current spike in antisemitism that we're seeing right now.

SHEFFIELD: Oh, and yeah, absolutely. And so I guess, but before we get into all that maybe let's just do a quick overview of like I, some people want to, they actually don't even [00:04:00] believe that there are people that are Rothschild, that they even exist. I have heard people like, oh, that's just a made up thing on the internet have said that to me.

ROTHSCHILD: That, I have not heard that one. Wow, that'd be a very elaborate made up myth.

SHEFFIELD: Well, no, they just meant it as in that's just like Q, like as true as QAnon that there are Rothschilds. So, but yeah, okay.

So, but who is this family line that kind of let's maybe start there. I don't want to get too detailed in the, into the weeds here, but like what, country did they get started in? And what are they known for as a thing?

ROTHSCHILD: Sure. So the Rothschild dynasty that we know of really emerged out of the Frankfurt Jewish ghetto in the late 1700s.

And at that point, Frankfurt was a free city in the Holy Roman Empire. It was the seat of the Emperor. So it was a very prosperous town for trade, for commerce. A lot of merchants came out in and out of there. There was a lot of shipping and there was a constant need for money. So there was a very thriving Jewish [00:05:00] community that made loans, sold and dealt in rare coins and metals, worked in textiles and exporting.

They also lived in a ghetto, in a literal walled city that they were not allowed to leave except at certain times of the year. So out of that came it. The family patriarch mayor on shell Rothschild, and he very quickly became essentially the court banker to the crown Prince of Hess. 1 of the royalty of the Holy Roman Empire, essentially.

And he he worked his way up to essentially becoming kind of his. Go-to for loans, for coins. And eventually mayor got his son Oshe involved in the business. And this is the early 18 hundreds when of course, the Napoleonic Wars are raging. And as the French invade Frankfurt, the elector of Hess, who's now risen up to become essentially one of the, one of the conclave who elects the Holy Roman emperor has to go into hiding.

And has to hide the vast fortune that he has gathered and it's mayor and his son Amshel who are [00:06:00] essentially responsible for hiding this and a lot of what they do is they take this money and they essentially fund the opposition to Napoleon with it. So, they're, funneling gold and coins and things back and forth across the English channel.

The family becomes incredibly rich very quickly to the point where. Mayer dies in 1812, and he's still a very prosperous merchant. His son Nathan, who became kind of the leader of the family after Mayer's death, died in 1836, and he's one of the richest men in the world. So this family built up a huge amount of wealth very quickly.

And of course, wherever you see that, you find myths. And wherever you find myths attached to wealthy Jews, it eventually turns into conspiracy theories and anti Semitism.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And I guess the other thing about it is and I guess I noticed you didn't mention this, but like the reason that the Jews historically had been in the Western world associated with banking is that Christians in the New Testament were prohibited basically from engaging [00:07:00] in usury or the charges, which was interpreted essentially to mean the charging of any sort of interest.


SHEFFIELD: And so by definition, then you could not operate a bank and be considered a good Christian, right?

ROTHSCHILD: It was a canon law heresy on par with murder to lend at interest. At the same time these nobles and these churches they needed money. They needed money for palaces for great, houses of worship They certainly needed money to equip armies. So when they needed it, they went to the Jewish community because the Jewish community was allowed to lend it. So the Jews of really, up until the 1800s in Europe had a very precarious position of a lot of them had access to money, a lot of nobility needed it.

So they had to go to these people who were outsiders and it were sort of hated for their wealth. That was also needed for their societies to prosper. So it was a very paradoxical position. And Jews still find themselves in positions like that.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And, and, it is an [00:08:00] example of that, this these types of cross religious meeting needs-- they exist across the world in many different contexts.

So for instance, in Israel, on the Sabbath there are plenty of people who do basically have to do work for ultra Orthodox Jews who live there because they can't do their, work on the Sabbath on Saturday.

And then the Islamic world sent by the same token, during certain festivals, they can't do certain things. So they have to hire non Muslims to come in and do various things as well.

And so that's the, how all of this got started of Jews and banking in the European world. And the Rothschilds they basically sort of became the proxy in a lot of people's minds for this. And then of course, we have to say, that a lot of the, it isn't just that people were angry that there were people with money. It was also that they had a different religious viewpoint. And that they, were not [00:09:00] Christian and, and I'm like, I mean, that historically, obviously was a huge thing.

Now how did that over the years, was that something that people. I mean with the, Rothschilds specifically as a family, did you want to talk about that a little bit?

ROTHSCHILD: Sure. They were often held up as, I mean, certainly in Judaism, the Rothschilds were really an aspirational figure. They were the family that one day you could be like, or you could meet them if, you worked hard enough.

There was a mystique and an aura to what they had accomplished. But for many Christians and many antisemites and even now. They were considered to be one of the more visible Jewish families. They never really assimilated. You had a lot of these German Jewish banking families that left Judaism behind.

They converted. A lot of them changed their names. But the Rothschilds were always very visibly Jewish. They visibly donated to Jewish causes. There were Rothschild hospitals, Rothschild museums, Rothschild synagogues. And so because of their visibility, and because of their, [00:10:00] Philanthropy, they became these kinds of outsized targets.

And of course, there, there were aspects of the Rothschild mystique that were true. They absolutely played peacemakers to the royalty of Europe. They had enough money that if a prime minister. Or King said, I need 8 million whatevers to buy this, bridge or equip my army. The Rothschilds could do it.

There's a story I write about in the book where the, where Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister of England, needed a lot of money really quickly to buy the Egyptian share of the Suez Canal. He went to Rothschild. Rothschild made the loan. The Disraeli paid them back with interest. And the British took control of a big part of the Suez Canal.

For a century after that. So some of these things were true and did happen. It's just they're wrapped up in layers and layers of nonsense and conspiracy theory. Yeah,

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, that's true. The other thing about it, as you said, it would kind of [00:11:00] merged over time with, that they, with existing other conspiracies about Jewish people.

So, like that they're killing, Christian children et cetera, and, trying to or churches I mean, that, that's in it one interesting little aspect I think that maybe is not as Common nowadays, I feel like, with the Rothschild conspiracies about, that they secretly were controlling the Christian churches as well.

Right. You, let's talk about that one. that's kind of a, it's like a conspiracy gone by, if you will.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. You don't get quite so much of that anymore. The the idea of the Rothschild. The sort of global string pullers, I think it's much more connected to kind of finance and politics, but you get all kinds of different rabbit holes.

When you go into some of this material about things that the Rothschilds are secretly doing to all of us, they, are polluting our bloodline and they're sapping our resources. It's very kind of classic almost [00:12:00] eugenicist conspiracy theory in a number of ways. And that the Rothschilds fund both sides of every war.

So it really is that sort of whatever you're. Thank you. pet issue is, whatever thing is bothering you that day, you can blame the Rothschilds for it. You can find some book or pamphlet that blames the Rothschilds for it. It's a lot like how we view Soros these days. The guy who's just sort of behind everything, whether it is global wars or your own business failing, you can blame Soros for it and nobody in your community bats an eye.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, he's going to fact check it. Right. Yeah. And, so I mean, these, ideas about them circulated in Europe for a number of years, but they also came to the United States as well in the beginning people I guess now is it, you, write about this idea of by a guy named, I don't even know how you pronounce it, Xavient Hayes.

ROTHSCHILD: Oh, yeah, yes, one of the, Xavient, I think. I don't know, I can't remember.

SHEFFIELD: Okay, yeah.

ROTHSCHILD: I can't remember anything about his book, except it's really [00:13:00] stupid.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it's basically, according to him, the Rothschilds were behind the American Revolution as well, which is interesting.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, you can basically find somebody who is touting the Rothschilds as being behind anything. It's a big aspect of David Icke's books. Alexander Hamilton was secretly a Rothschild agent. I mean, it's ridiculous. There's no, the Rothschilds didn't have agents when Alexander Hamilton was alive. It just makes no sense.

But you find it, that sort of grain of truth to it. And of course, one of the truths is that the During the American Revolution, the British relied on these bought and paid for German mercenaries, many of whom came from Hetz. They were called Hessians. The Declaration of Independence in one of the 27 grievances singles out foreign mercenaries on American soil.

Many of them were sold by the elector of Hetz, who, of course, his court banker was Mayor Amschel Rothschild. [00:14:00] Now, that doesn't mean that the Rothschilds were funding both sides of the war. It's just one of those kind of. Little historical bits of trivia, but you can take it and run with it in any way that you want to, especially if you're just making it up.

There are conspiracy theories that the house painter who tried to kill Andrew Jackson was a Rothschild agent. John Wilkes Booth was a Rothschild agent. I mean, it's just anything that you want to apply to this family, you can do it and find some justification in some crank's pamphlet or book.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, well it is, it's like the conspiracist form of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, essentially.

ROTHSCHILD: Totally, yeah. Six degrees of the Rothschilds.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, Well, alright, so, maybe let's fast forward a little bit further to our more contemporary time here. That, I guess they... Had kind of, to some degree, like waxed and wane these, ideas about the raw sounds. But they kind of got new energy during the Cold War [00:15:00] in particular.

And it was through basically the idea that the, Soviet Union was stood up by the Rothschilds and and, then also I think the fact that they were overtly and, atheistic. Anti Christian, the leadership of the Soviet Union. So of course, in a very shallow and way makes people think, aha, so these people don't like Christians, so therefore they must be in league with the Jews and the Rothschilds.

And so this whole literature started kind of sprouting up about anti semitic and stuff about anti semitic anti communist literature. Let's maybe get into that for a little bit.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, this whole concept of Judeo Bolshevism, that the Rothschilds were secretly giving orders to Moscow on what to do and which proxy wars to fight, and that the, every, aspect of American life is infested by communists, all taking orders from the Jewish Illuminati.

Again, it's [00:16:00] completely ridiculous, but at a time when there was a great deal of fear of what the Soviets were doing, what kind of weapons do they have? How have they infiltrated our society? That kind of stuff almost always eventually comes back to Jews because before the Soviets were scapegoats, before communists were scapegoats.

Jews were scapegoats. So it's very easy to link them together. And then to take some of these very, minor bits of history and build essentially entire conspiracies around them. The idea that Karl Marx was the secret Jew. Well, his father had been Jewish, but had converted, I think before Karl was born.

So it doesn't really matter. But at the same time you go, Oh, Karl Marx. And then you give him a fake name and you give him a, put him in the elders of Zion. Of course, the protocols of the elders of Zion are hugely important right around this time. You have all of these anti communist Christian nationalist groups springing up.

You've got the John Birch Society. You've got white citizens councils. Yes. They have their own particular battles to fight, but [00:17:00] eventually it always comes back around to what the Jews are doing to us and how we're going to get back at them.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And they also, and it was done through several different books, which even now are continuing to be circulated among the far right. and you talk about several of them. Let's maybe get into some of those, if you could.

ROTHSCHILD: Sure, You've got one of the biggest touchstones of the post war conspiracy world, which is Secrets of the Federal Reserve.

Which was published for the first time in the late fifties, I believe, written by a conspiracy theorist named Eustace Mullins, who was a protege of Ezra Pound. And it was actually Pound who commissioned the writing of this book. As Mullins tells the story, he went to go visit Pound in his mental hospital in Washington, D. C., and Pound takes out a 10 bill and says, do some research on the Federal Reserve. And Mullins comes back with this book, can't get anybody to publish it, a couple of Pound acolytes. Put it out on their own press and it's a huge hit. It's hugely influential. It's, [00:18:00] still widely in circulation.

Mullen's kept republishing it with new information. It's very influential for people like Alex Jones for people like David Ike. A little while after that, you get the. Another hugely influential book for Jones, which is None Dare Call It Conspiracy, which is written by a speechwriter for the John Birch Society.

This book sold millions of copies. A little bit after that, you get The Creature from Jekyll Island, another anti federal reserve book. You get Pat Robertson's book, The New World Order in 1992. These are really big books. These, were Robertson's book was a New York Times bestseller. And it is openly laundering the protocols of the elders of Zion.

Putting the Rothschilds in this conspiracy with the Illuminati and the Freemasons and the occult to take control of global banking. That's straight out of interpretations of the protocols. And it was all of this stuff was hugely influential in these movements, and these books are still passed around.

I personally get people telling me, oh, you got to read Creature from Jekyll Island to understand what's going on. Well, it was written [00:19:00] by an avowed anti Semite, so maybe not.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, no, it's, it is and I, and it's still circulated and None Dare Call It Treason, which was the first one, like the anti Semitism and anti communism we re very closely linked in, a lot of these far-right ideologies, but, and of course, it, it is, I think we have to also note that there were some various, people who bought into some of these ideas as well.

And you note that, polling does show that the belief that the Rothschilds are the secret people behind everything is one that was, pretty commonly, it was like, what was like pretty evenly split down the middle,

ROTHSCHILD: Right down the middle, really surprised, like the Soros belief is way far on the right, but the belief that the Rothschilds run the world is split entirely down the middle between conservatives and liberals.

It is, antisemitism is not just a thing on the right is not just a thing of conservatives. A lot of the earliest anti Rothschild books [00:20:00] were written by communities that we would now consider far left the socialist community, particularly in France in the 1840s, there's a great deal of, anti wealth fervor.

People believing that these banking families had too much wealth, too much power. The Rothschilds in particular were really hated by a lot of socialist France because of their building of the railroads. And the, they was seen as the destruction of France's beautiful forests. the naturalist community at that time was also extremely antisemitic.

So it, you kind of never know where these alliances are going to come from and how they're going to affect history down the line.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, exactly and you also saw some of these things in the Soviet Union as well which I mean there's a lot of anti semitism in the Soviet Union particularly under Stalin But I mean, I mean hell you could even like Karl Marx himself actually said a number of anti semitic things

ROTHSCHILD: Oh sure, Marx's writing is extremely anti semitic

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, which is ironic considering all the [00:21:00] people saying this stuff about him.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, it's funny how, how these strange bedfellows always seem to find each other.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah.

Well, at the same time, as you note with, George Soros, he has kind of displaced, at least in the United States on the far right, has displaced the Rothschild as sort of the bête noire of the far right.

And you do talk at length about kind of how that happened and, how, so let's maybe get into that if we could.

ROTHSCHILD: Sure. So, Soros was not particularly well known outside of the financial world, probably up until the early nineties when he made a huge amount of money shorting the British pound.

He became known as the man who broke the bank of England because he made a huge bet that the pound would be delisted from some European financial commission after it dropped below the value of the Deutsche mark. And he did, he made a huge amount of money. Now he did not break the bank of England.

But he kind of got saddled [00:22:00] with that moniker, and I think a lot of far right movements started to take notice of him, and it took a few more years, but Soros really started to get targeted by the Lyndon LaRouche movement, the sort of economic cult around the conspiracy theorist and perennial candidate.

For President Lyndon LaRouche, and he was, Soros was attacked as a, essentially as a court Jew of the Rothschilds that the Rothschilds had funded his hedge fund and were the secret power behind him. Soros never worked for the Rothschilds at all. there's no truth to it, but it was a very appealing idea among very, far fringes of crank world.

And that's really kind of where it stayed. Up until 2004 and in 2004, George Soros, who was a Republican at that point, and actually was, a big fan of Ronald Reagan started to get into American politics funding or helping to fund the campaign of John Kerry, because Soros really bitterly opposed the Iraq war.

And that was this time [00:23:00] when. The sort of toxic patriotism of post 9 11 conservative America was still very much in effect. This wasn't long after the time of Freedom Fries and all that other nonsense. And so Soros very quickly became a top tier enemy of the American right. And within a few years, you've got Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly.

Attacking him relentlessly as this puppet master who is funding all of these progressive causes, things like, free drugs for kids and sex changes in prison and all this other stuff that sounds crazy, but in a lot of ways, it really was the forerunner for the culture war that we're fighting right now with these, issues that are really blown out of proportion by conservative media.

A lot of that stuff started with Soros post 2004.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it did. And one of the other things about and I can say, because I have direct knowledge of this, that the main reason that these Soros conspiracies were pushed, they were pushed [00:24:00] actually from the very top by the, by right wing messaging people because this was around the time when the Koch brothers started getting a lot of media coverage. And several other big right wing donors like Richard Mellon Scaife, just in particular.

And, I know because somebody had said to me, we have to do something, people are concerned about, what was the phrase they use, it was like they're, the left wing is going after our entrepreneurial people who are preserving freedom in America. So we need to call attention to who is destroying America with lots of money.

And so they settled on Soros. This was told to, I saw it happen inside one of the organizations that I worked with at the time when I was on the right, , like they were intimately involved with the creation of Soros as a, as the sort of puppet master of everything.

And even, but they were not. For them, and it wasn't anti Semitic for themselves explicitly at that, but of course that [00:25:00] automatically just fed into a lot of this stuff.

ROTHSCHILD: Right. Soros, I think made a really, good scapegoat. He's old, he's foreign. He speaks with a thick accent. He's Jewish. He funds a lot of progressive causes and a lot of things that were seen as contributing to the downfall of American morality. It really makes sense why he was singled out with the ferocity. And the speed that he was attacked with.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. And so, and, you do see that like over and over in the American contemporary right wing that, you know, like things which seem to be just lunatic beliefs of the base, in fact, actually have a close connection with the party elites.

And, and, you see that with QAnon, for instance, I mean, let's, talk about that because like it, it, I mean, nobody knows for sure who was running the thing but it seems like they did seem to have some sort of connection into the Trump [00:26:00] White House over time. Yeah, as things progress with that, let's, discuss that if you will.

ROTHSCHILD: Sure. And I don't happen to think, and I've, never really seen any compelling evidence that Q that the Q posts had anything to do with the Trump administration, but I think he, there were people in that orbit who knew exactly how to manipulate the people who did believe it. This was a very savvy administration when it came to social media, when it came to trolling and when it came to understanding human psychology.

To understanding why people would gravitate towards something like Q, which is offering, this, secret war between good and evil. And Donald Trump is on the side of Jesus and they're gonna they're gonna destroy the evil Democratic Party and the Hollywood elite and the banking elite. Of course, we know what we're really talking about when we start talking about globalists and banking elite. We know who that, who they're really talking about.

But I think that the Trump administration really understood there was a real need for a reason to [00:27:00] explain why things weren't going well. You know why Trump just kept failing over and over why the wall never got built. Why there was so much corruption. Why Hillary never got arrested. Obama never got arrested.

Well, it's part of a plan there. There's a, there's, a scheme at work here and you've just got to trust that everything's going to be okay. Trump is thinking 12 steps ahead of everybody else. And he's letting, that through Q, through these codes, through these riddles, these puzzles that you can solve, and then you can have the secret knowledge and you can know what's going on.

So I think they knew how to manipulate it. I think a lot of these, major content creators really knew how to monetize it. It didn't need to have any official involvement with the administration because everything was so enmeshed together.

SHEFFIELD: Well, yeah, I guess, and I should have stated that better that they, that over time, the Trump people were watching the Q posts and they would modify what they were doing according to them.[00:28:00]

So beginning to use certain music or beginning to use certain phrasing and, and, and, it is, and it's, it is actually a really important point that you're making here though, that that for, because Trump had promised to be a different kind of Republican, right?

And a lot of people voted for him because he had said that, and that he was, not the guy that laid off your father when you were a kid, right? That's not who he was. And so this was a way to and, you do see that, this has been a pervasive sort of re, there are these cycles of rebranding of populism by various right wing groups over the decades irrespective of conspiracy theories and.

So with, Trump, this was basically a way of saying, look, he is on the side of the people. And you just have to take it, you just have to, trust, well, trust the plan and realize he's on your side.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. That, meme [00:29:00] of him saying they're not after me, they're after you, I'm just in the way.

I mean, it's completely ridiculous. If you know anything about Trump or, watched anything that happened during his administration. But if you're looking for somebody who's going to fight back, it sounds great. It sounds like, Oh, finally you have a champion. You have somebody who's in your corner who understands your problems.

This blue collar billionaire shtick that he developed, people believed it without any evidence of it because they wanted it to be true. And I think so much of that kind of wanting things to be true, powers so much of conspiracy theories in general and really always has.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, no, definitely. Yeah, definitely does. And I think the other thing that you do see is that, the QAnon initially and you can, you can correct me if I'm wrong here, but it was not, it became more anti Semitic over time, and it became more, talking Rothschilds over time. And, [00:30:00] from what it seems like, like the, people who were writing the post and again, nobody's, been able to officially confirm who was doing it or because it's, it seems like more than one person was involved with them.

But. They began sort of grabbing all these different pieces of other right wing conspiracies and sticking them into QAnon. Sure. In this sort of farrago b******t if you will.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, QAnon really functioned as almost a buffet of conspiracy theories. You can take some of what you like, you can leave behind some of what you don't like.

So if you think Jewish families, in a bunker somewhere run the world, well, there's QDrops for that. But if you think, oh, that JFK Jr. stuff, I think that's stupid. I don't want to do that. Then you don't need to believe that. So QAnon essentially became like, everybody, every believer's personal conspiracy theory.

Every believer had a slightly different version of it. And that's really what made it so hard to combat. Because you weren't combating [00:31:00] one theory. You're not combating just... Rothschild's rule the world. You're combating the personal pet theories of every single person who believes this stuff. And that's really, tricky.

SHEFFIELD: It is and, the ultimately you're not combating an idea. You're combating a way of thinking.

ROTHSCHILD: You're, combating a belief system and you're combating something that offers people hope in a very twisted kind of way. And people, a lot of the writing about Q and on kind of misunderstood what it was all about, that it was just like, that it was like the Boogaloo Boys or something.

They just want to watch the world burn. That's not really what Q was about. Q really was about the people who were causing all of the problems being eliminated. That's what made it so scary to me at the beginning, is that it wasn't a financial windfall and it wasn't just the nihilism of accelerationism.

It was once we, kill all the Democrats, and all the bankers, and [00:32:00] all the Hollywood executives, then we will live in peace and freedom, and we will have the secret cures for cancer, and we'll have the water engines, then we'll never need oil again, all of that they kept from us, yeah. Right, that they kept from us, that they've been hiding it, and now we'll have it, and life will be great.

And that is a kind of utopianism that, of course, really lends itself quite well to fascism.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it does. And these things have just continued to, cycle and recycle and, until we get to the point. of The title of your book Jewish Space Lasers. So for those who may not remember the, that particular story why don't you remind us of that, please?

ROTHSCHILD: Yes, so this is 2018. Marjorie Taylor Greene is not a member of Congress. She's just a CrossFit mama in Georgia who has some questions about those wildfires in California. And, oh, isn't it weird that PG& E is working at Pacific Gas and Electric, is working with the solar space [00:33:00] generator company, and Diane Feinstein's husband, and Jerry Brown, and they want to build this high speed railway, and, oh, look at that, a PG& E board member is a vice president at Rothschild Inc. Ooh, I have some questions about that.

Now, her Facebook post, which is... Totally unfollowable. I mean, I try to sort of piece together how all of this theory is supposed to work and it's totally incomprehensible. It does not make any sense and it doesn't have to because it's all made up. That post never says Jewish, never uses the term Jewish space lasers.

That came much later. But of course, by saying Rothschild Inc, she knows who she's talking about. And she, and the people who will be reading that post, they know what it means. They know Rothschild Inc means, the Rothschilds, means global domination and funding all the wars and all this other stuff. So this post because she's a private citizen, it kind of disappears.

I think it was deleted at some point. And [00:34:00] in January 21, just a couple of weeks after she's sworn in, Media Matters finds the post. And they publish it and everybody goes crazy and the next day New York magazine has a headline. Marjorie Taylor green blames California wildfire on a Jewish space laser.

So that's where that comes from. It is not exactly what she said, but the meaning is absolutely clear. And of course, she goes on this sort of long term defensive. Oh, I didn't know anything about the Roth child. I didn't even know they were Jewish. I just have some questions about the fire. Nobody really believes her, but it doesn't matter because it's already out there and she's already got her fan base and she's on Fox News every single day.

And she made herself a new media superstar off the backs of conspiracy theories, like PG& E worked with Jerry Brown and a startup company to use a laser to start the forest fires. So the Rothschilds are just 1 part of this ridiculous theory, but they are the part that everybody [00:35:00] focused on because that name is so well known.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. And then there was another and I feel like this story is not known as much. So I'm glad you started the book off with it. In your introduction about this woman who got into Mar a Lago claiming to be Anna de Rothschild who was a Russian. And she was none of those things, but I, feel like that story There, I mean, there are so many strange and weird characters in the Trump orbit and the Trump presidency that it's hard to keep them all straight but that one, I like, that, maybe tell, the audience that one in case they, they forgot that one.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. So last. Last summer I think it was the Pittsburgh Post Gazette broke this story about this woman calling herself Anna de Rothschild. Says she was a member of the Russian branch of the Rothschild family, that she was raised in a 13 million mansion in Miami Beach, and she owned real estate in Monaco, [00:36:00] and she was a great golfer, and she had a private jet, and charities for children, and she was at Mar a Lago, and at one point she gets a picture taken with her, and Trump, and Lindsey Graham, and...

Somebody offers her a million dollars for the picture and says, Oh, or wants to charge her a million dollars the picture and says, Oh, you're a Rothschild. You can afford it. Well, she wasn't. She was a Ukrainian grifter with connections to the Russian mafia. How this person gets near the former president of the United States, it's just such a colossal failure and so indicative of the ridiculousness that has surrounded Trump since day one of his political career.

But this idea of a fake Rothschild getting into Mar a Lago, simply because of that name, people just believed her. She looked the part, she acted the part, and she had the name of the part. And of course it was all fake.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, it was. And and I have to say, that was the kind of story that I, was surprised we did not see a lot [00:37:00] more of those yet, and I, think we will, of these people showing up at Mar a Lago.

Because, I mean, there was, I guess there was one other one where there was a woman who was a spy for China that was, had, was it had gotten into Mar a Lago as a member.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah there are the early stories about Trump looking at highly classified war plans just outside. And there's like people from the pool, just like walking by taking a look.

I mean, it's crazy for, especially for the Republican party, which was so staked to national defense and, putting America 1st and our safety and our security. The fact that they just sort of threw the doors open and now they're okay with Trump having stored like some ungodly amount of classified documents in the bathroom.

It is golf resort. It's just it's really indicative. Certainly of the other laxity of the Trump orbit, but also just kind of what. Yeah. These people will let him get away with that. They'll let him get away with things that no American [00:38:00] politicians really gotten away with maybe in a hundred years, since things like Teapot Dome.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, no, I think that's a great point. Well, so, what has, have people have any of these conspiracy theorists been angry at you for writing this book? You had any fun reactions from people?

ROTHSCHILD: I, Not so much for the book. I think because I've been doing this a while, the big conspiracy gurus, they kind of know that there's not much left they can say to me that I'm going to react to.

So, I, I'll check every so often to see if anybody on the, some of the far right Telegram channels, they follow the far right Twitter, they're really not talking about it at all. And they didn't really talk much about the Q book either. Where they have gone after me is when I went on CNN, I guess this was now a couple months ago, to talk about Sound of Freedom.

And to talk about how the the guy behind Operation Underground Railroad, Tim Ballard kind of falsified his background a little bit. And a lot of these statistics about human [00:39:00] trafficking are kind of fake and actual organizations that combat human trafficking want this guy to stop.

That, and that was like a four minute CNN appearance and I got deluged with insane messages for weeks. Tim Ballard was actually on Fox News yelling about me and like accusing me of stuff. Alex Jones talked about me for an hour on his show. That was crazy. That was like, a deluge of, just inanity coming at me.

A lot of it's sent by people. Using their personal email addresses or their LinkedIn accounts or their like work email addresses, uh, people, a Yahoo account, a Yahoo burner email is free. If you're going to harass somebody, you send somebody death threats, don't do it on LinkedIn.

SHEFFIELD: Don't use your employee email.

ROTHSCHILD: Don't use your, dot yeah, don't use your, small business address. [00:40:00] Yeah. Very little poor thought put into this.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, well, so now one of the other, uh, and I, did want to talk about this, that, one of the other kind of weird, inflections of, conspiracy theories, and I guess maybe not as much about the Rothschild in particular, but there has been kind of a weird intersection of, belief in anti Semitic conspiracy theories among some Jews.

iS that that's, something I, it's always strange to see it. And I keep meaning to write an article about it, but I haven't done it yet. Yeah. But cause and I guess the biggest example of, what I, of that, what I'm thinking of is Benjamin Netanyahu's son I think his name's Yale, or something like that.

lIke he, he posted one of these Pepe memes that was like having a. It was like, one of those bait [00:41:00] memes where they were, like the Jew is holding something. And then there's somebody behind me. And, then there was, I think it was the Rothschilds actually.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. There is a lot of talk in, both Jewish circles and non Jewish circles, but who's a real Jew. You get a lot of oh, the Rothschilds are not real Jews. Soros is not a real Jew. There's, people who think Soros was in the SS. He, wasn't, he was a child at the end of the second world war. And he was a, Hungarian refugee which is basically in, in fear for his life.

But a lot of these books will make these sort of assertions that even real Jews, like actual Jews, whatever that is, should hate families like the Rothschilds and some of these other rich German Jewish banking families for the, shame they've brought on the Jewish people through their greed and their, plotting and their lies.

So there's a lot of arguing, especially in more Orthodox Jewish circles, that more reformed Jews, more secular Jews aren't really Jewish. [00:42:00] They're, they're loyal, maybe more to America or something else. So, Jews have never been a monolithic block. I mean, if you think all Jews agree with each other spend some time at a dinner table with some Jews and you're immediately going to get some pretty nasty arguments going.

But that kind of thing of one of us, not one of us kind of self hatred, that's very common in a lot of different outgroups. You'll have Black white supremacists, uh, I mean, it's just stuff that kind of makes no sense. And a lot of the ideology doesn't really matter. There's a lot of scholarly work that's being done now about young people, young men who will jump back and forth between neo Nazi movements and then like the black Hebrew Israelites or jihadist groups, because they're just looking for somebody to connect with and to.

Figure out who the real enemy is. And of course, so often the real enemy are these very rich, non Jewish Jews at the very top of the pyramid. So the [00:43:00] ideology doesn't make any sense. It's just about the group and it's just about togetherness and finding other people who are looking for the same enemies that you are.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, no, it is. And yeah, and it's unfortunate to see though, in, in these particular instances.

ROTHSCHILD: Yes, it is. It's very, unfortunate because it really does feel like these people are being used. And you, the, sort of Blacks for Trump and Latinos for Trump and Jewish people for Trump, like you, you are being used for, to give cover for this movement to make it seem more cosmopolitan and less exclusively white and wealthy, but people just don't see it that way.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and certainly that also is the case with, QAnon as well, that I mean, that the community at large, is, I think, pretty fair to say, traffics in anti Semitic conspiracy theories, but nonetheless, [00:44:00] they also at the same time will elevate Jewish proponents of their beliefs.

ROTHSCHILD: Oh, sure. There are Jewish QAnon believers. And you're like, how is that possible? But they don't trust Soros. They don't, they certainly don't trust the Clintons. They don't trust Obama. So you go, you run with the parts that make sense to you, and you discard the parts that don't make sense to you.

SHEFFIELD: Well, so what, I mean, have you thought about what people can do to if they see somebody they know kind of getting sucked into some of these ideas at all?

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, it's I think it's really the only solution. I mean, the idea that the government is, going to save us from these things. I think that is misguided.

And I certainly think the idea that the tech companies are going to save us from this stuff. Good luck. You're gonna be waiting a while for, especially Twitter, the way it is now to do anything about any of this, but we can't, we can do it in our own lives. If, you see people that, spreading this stuff, using these terms, falling into conspiracy theories, you [00:45:00] can say to them, maybe in private, say, hey, I saw that thing you posted.

That's actually a really racist conspiracy theory, or that's actually QAnon. Those people think Jews eat babies. I think a lot of people who are not sort of hardcore believers in this stuff, who just will share things that sound right to them, they don't want to be seen as anti Semitic. They don't want to be seen as racist.

So if you kind of catch them and maybe just have a conversation. Offline, so there's no social media dog pile. I think you can get through to people that way, but you know, the real true believers, the ones who are really spreading this stuff, who are creating this stuff, those people are gone. You cannot reason with them.

You can't debunk your way out of it. You can't debate your way out of it. I think you just kind of have to walk away from those people.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, and I, think you're right that trying to help people early on when they're starting to get sucked into this stuff is, key because yeah, because they don't have, they haven't invested anything in it yet.

Right. [00:46:00] Because, I mean, that's, I think that's a lot of what with, these beliefs is that, if, it's if you bought one thing from me, I'll, I've got another to sell you.


SHEFFIELD: And like in business, yeah, like your best future customer is your current customer.


SHEFFIELD: And, that's true with conspiracy theories as well in, in such that, that eventually it isn't even the ideas themselves that matter. It's, it's the mode of thinking that matters.

ROTHSCHILD: It's the mode of thinking. It's the community. It's the idea that someone is trying to get one over on you and by following these gurus or buying these books, you can get back at them.

Now, of course, what you can do with these people is really point out that a lot of the material that gets spread around in these communities is just plagiarized. It's just taken from earlier iterations of this stuff and is so lazy and low effort that it's like, Well, no, it's not the establishment that thinks you're [00:47:00] stupid.

It's actually the conspiracy guru who thinks you're stupid, who thinks you won't notice. And I think, a lot of people don't want to be thought of as stupid and gullible. And I think there's a kind of inoculation aspect to debunking that is being explored a little bit more that involves a lot of that, of look, these people think you're stupid and they think you're an idiot and they think you're racist, so don't play into that.

And you can get people sometimes that way.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. No, I think that's a, I think that's a great point. All right, well, are there any other parts of the book here you want to make sure that we cover as we wrap up here? Anything? No, I think particularly amusing or anything like that, or,

ROTHSCHILD: I don't want to give anything away. Just, there's a lot of. There's a lot of outlandish characters. There's a lot of really bizarre historical events that happen. A lot of things that really surprised me in writing the book. And I felt like I kind of knew a lot about this family and a lot about this world. And I was constantly finding new things that made me go, wow, I cannot believe this exists.

SHEFFIELD: All right. Well, maybe let's maybe wrap [00:48:00] kind of the, there, there's some World War II variations on Rothschild conspiracies. What was the, one of the weirdest ones? What was your favorite weird one?

ROTHSCHILD: Well, it's definitely, there's this 1934 film called The House of Rothschild. It attempts to tell the story of the Rothschilds in a way that would not inflame the German film market, but would give dignity to the Jewish people. And the film was actually a success. It was an Oscar nominee. It did got good reviews. That was kind of forgotten after that. And the Nazis actually took that film, the house of Rothschild and made their own version of it called the Rothschild shares and Waterloo.

And I, in the book, I liken it to telling the story of the Titanic and making the iceberg the hero. It really is like taking all of the positives that the Rothchilds did and the perseverance in their business acumen and just turning them evil. And the, film [00:49:00] ends with one, some count or something like making a speech and showing where the Rothchilds had sent their sons and stringing all of these cities together with a star of David and then the star of David bursts into flames.

And it's just this is so incredibly uns subtle. But if you are a Nazi in 1940, and you're going, well, we're, we're at war with England and who's funding England kind of makes a little bit of sense for you. And so that was really 1 of the more interesting things was finding this just photo negative version of this story of Jewish dignity and achievement. And then one of the turns it into Jewish depravity. It was just really strange.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and, actually, I forgot one of the other ones I did want to talk about, which is the Stanley Kubrick film, Eyes Wide Shut that has kind of recently become, very influential in QAnon but people may not know that is there is a Rothschild connection to that as well.

ROTHSCHILD: [00:50:00] There is a slight Rothschild connection. So, the Rothschilds would have this these balls and they had one in 1972 called the, I think it was called like the Rothschild ball. I mean, it's a very plain name and it's like people in costumes and there's like servants and cat gear pawing each other.

It's very weird. It's very like rich people amusing each other kind of stuff. And those, photos came out in the early aughts, just a few years after Eyes Wide Shut had come out. And of course, Eyes Wide Shut was Kubrick's final film, and he died before it came out. Well, there's an orgy scene in the film that was shot using the the exteriors were shot.

And a Rothschild mansion called Mentmore Towers. Now, the Rothschilds don't own it anymore. They haven't in quite some time. But the idea of, Kubrick dies before this film comes out. And it was shot at a Rothschild mansion. And there's these Illuminati ball pictures that came out. And oh, did the Rothschilds knock [00:51:00] off Kubrick?

Because he was about to tell the truth about the family. And. All of this stuff was just made up by the film's screenwriter, and he would talk about it. He'd say, yeah, I made this all up. All of these, occult stuff that, that this, secret, rich organization is doing, yeah, I'm a writer.

I, I invented it. But the idea that the Rothschilds had Stanley Kubrick killed to prevent Eyes Wide Shut from coming out, and of course it came out anyway. It's well, you didn't accomplish much. But yeah, it's a very popular theory on the right.

SHEFFIELD: Yeah, I mean. I, that particular one, it reminds me of the idea that, that Bill and Hillary Clinton kill people. And it's if they did that, Anthony Weiner would have been assassinated like five or six times.

ROTHSCHILD: Donald Trump would have been assassinated. Ken Starr would have been assassinated. It wouldn't have been like some woman who was a White House intern for a month. Or Secret Service agents who 20 years after Clinton's presidency flew on an old [00:52:00] Clinton helicopter one time, like, why are you wasting your time on these people? go after the real people, Ken Starr is still, I mean, he's not anymore, but, go after him, go after the people who actually did something. it's just yeah,

SHEFFIELD: it is All right. Well, so I it's been a good discussion here Mike And let's so people who want to follow you on Twitter you are at rothschildmd. And I guess D is your middle initial.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah, so those are my initials I'm not a doctor. The name Rothschild is Jewish. I could have put some more thought into that too, but you can get the book on hardcover, you can get an e-book, you can get an audio book you can get autographed copies from some of the bookstores I've done events at. You can reach out to me to get more information about that. And yeah, it's, out there.

SHEFFIELD: Okay. Cool. All right. Well, thanks for being here, Mike.

ROTHSCHILD: Yeah. Thank you.

SHEFFIELD: All right, so that is the discussion for today. I appreciate everybody for joining us for the program. Thank you very much. [00:53:00] And if you want to get more episodes, just go to theoryofchange.show, where you can get all of the video, audio, and transcript of the previous episodes. And you can sign up on Patreon or on Substack at theoryofchange.show.

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Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? Join Matthew Sheffield and his guests as they explore larger trends and intersections in politics, religion, technology, and media.