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Penguin Defends Publishing Spanish “Rothschild” Conspiracy Monger

(various links in this post via Jeremy Duns on Twitter)

From the Guardian:

Penguin has undertaken a “thorough” review of one of its books, Spanish colonel Pedro Baños’s How They Rule the World, after allegations of antisemitism were made against its author. The publisher concluded that while Baños’s views are “robust”, they are not antisemitic.

How They Rule the World, which promises to reveal “the 22 secret strategies of global power”, was published by Penguin Random House imprint Ebury Press in April.

…Comparing the Spanish language edition of How They Rule the World with the English text, [Jeremy] Duns found a section about the Rothschild family, a banking dynasty subject to many antisemitic conspiracy theories, which does not appear in the English translation. The Spanish edition contains three references to the Rothschilds, none of which appear in the English, including a section that compares their wealth with other rich families, and concludes: “It is clear that [the Rothschilds’] economic power is gigantic. As is their ability to influence in all senses, an aspect that, when considering their traditional distance from the media spotlight, has led to multiple speculations about their capacity to intervene in key global decisions.”

Penguin’s position thus appears to be that it has reviewed the book from which the antisemitism has been excised and found that the antisemitism is not present. Readers are thus deceived about the nature of Baños’s work and thinking, and more likely to be drawn into his populist conspiracy milieu. Of course, some argue that “Rothschild” conspiracy mongering is not anti-Jewish per se, but this is incorrect: as I’ve argued before, such beliefs emerged out of an explicitly anti-Semitic context (as discussed by Brian Cathcart here), and as a paranoid pseudo-explanation for human affairs they lead back into it.

It is telling that the publisher does not give any indication that it was unaware of the Rothschild content in the original Spanish version, and as such we should probably assume that Penguin made the cuts, rather than someone at the Spanish end or the book’s translator into English, Jethro Soutar. Amazon and Google Books indicate that one reference to the Rothschild family is present in the German edition, So beherrscht man die Welt: Die geheimen Geostrategien der Weltpolitik, translated by Luis Ruby and published by Heyne Verlag (another imprint of Penguin Random House).

Dun’s criticism has also been picked up in Spanish media, with a magazine supplement to El Mundo called Papel uncritically reporting a brief against him ascribed to “sources in Spanish military intelligence” close to Baños:

Mientras, fuentes de la inteligencia militar española cercanas al coronel apuntan a Papeque Duns es un “autor fracasado” de novelas de espías que lo único que busca con sus acusaciones es “publicidad a costa de la reputación del español.”

De hecho, ven una relación con la campaña de desprestigio que ya sufrió Baños cuando Pedro Sánchez estuvo a punto de nombrarle jefe de Seguridad Nacional. Entonces algunos medios acusaron al leonés de ser un militar “prorruso”. Finalmente, tras la polémica, su nominación para el cargo fue desestimada.

The article also tells us that

Según el inglés, en la edición original en castellano del libro hay tres citas sobre la influencia y el poder de los Rothschild, dinastía bancaria judía asociada a muchas teorías conspirativas, que han desaparecido de la versión inglesa.

In other words, the presence of the Rothschild material in a published bestseller is “according to the Englishman”, as if that wasn’t something that the journalists at Papel could check for themselves.

Criticism has also been made of the cover, which symbolises the book’s thesis through an illustration of an octopus’s probing tentacles. The German edition has since changed the cover image to a globe of the world (perhaps due to criticism from the Jüdisches Forum), whereas the English edition originally planned to depict an octopus sitting astride a globe – an image strikingly similar to Nazi propaganda. Clearly, then, Ebury Press was aware of the problem, so why not just avoid tentacles altogether? Instead, they argue that tentacles have been “a symbol of domination by an imperialist power” since the nineteenth century, which, while correct, is obtuse.

Octopus tentacles also appear on the cover of the Spanish edition of the text, Así se domina el mundo: Desvelando las claves del poder mundial, which was published by Ariel in 2017. (1) This is then developed into octopus tentacles enveloping the world in an apparent sequel published in 2018, titled El dominio mundial: Elementos del poder y claves geopolíticas. The various covers of How They Rule the World are shown below. It’s not clear why the English subtitle, which refers to “secret strategies of global power”, varies between there being 22 and 27 such strategies. I’ve noted more about the Spanish edition in the footnote under the image.

The Guardian also notes Baños’s broader conspiracy mongering:

A colonel in the Spanish army, he was previously the chief of counter-intelligence and security for the European Army Corps. In interviews with Spanish media, Baños has called the Rothschilds dominant and likened them to the Illuminati. On Spanish TV, he also once accused Israel of being behind the assassination of John F Kennedy.

UPDATE: A further detail is noted in a write-up published in The Bookseller:

Duns told The Bookseller: “Ebury have also added a passage about Cambridge Analytica and Robert Mercer to make Banos’ nutty views seem more balanced, and cut references to Orban and several other references to Soros, that paint him in a bad light….”

UPDATE 2: Ebury’s decision to double-down on its support for Baños is in contrast to a recent decision the same imprint made to drop a fiction author over two 2017 Tweets that contained mocking references to “trannies” and “gayboys”. Ebury said that these statements “conflict with our values as a publisher” and that as such the author, one Gareth Roberts, would be dropped from a volume of Doctor Who tie-in stories.


(1) It is difficult to access an official upload of the Spanish edition – Amazon makes only the first few pages of the electronic edition available (meaning there is no search function), while Google Books appears to have only a partial upload of the same version. However, a self-described educational website based in Spain has put online what appears to be a pdf upload of the entire electronic edition; it’s difficult to tell if it was done with the agreement of the publisher (hence no link), but it looks legitimate and it seems unlikely that the text has been tampered with.

The pdf has a subsection headed “LOS JUDÍOS EN LA PRIMERA GUERRA MUNDIAL”:

El 2 de noviembre de 1917, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores británico, Arthur James Balfour, firmó una carta dirigida al barón Lionel Walter Rothschild, en representación de la comunidad judía asentada en Gran Bretaña, con la finalidad de que se la transmitiera a la Federación Sionista de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda. Por medio de este documento, conocido como la Declaración Balfour, el gobierno británico se comprometía —en plena Primera Guerra Mundial— con el movimiento sionista a fomentar la creación de un «hogar nacional» para el pueblo judío en Palestina.

Pero esta aparente muestra de generosidad británica hacia el sionismo tenía también un propósito oculto, pues los ingleses confiaban en que, gracias a ese documento, los numerosos judíos residentes en Estados Unidos y Rusia presionarían a sus respectivos gobiernos para que potenciaran su implicación en una Europa sumida en la guerra.

The implication here is that Arthur Balfour believed that Jews in the USA and Russia were in a position to pressure their governments into greater involvement in the First World War, and that this was a hidden (“oculto”) reason for Balfour’s public show of support for Zionism. The proposition makes little sense, and of course no source is provided. It seems not to be in either the English or German editions.