The QAnon phenomenon has grown massively since its early days in 2017 as a fringe meta-conspiracy theory postulating that Donald Trump was leading a secret war against a “Deep State” that abducted and trafficked in children globally. In the past year alone, it has threatened to overwhelm the Republican Party from within with a tide of reality-denying extremism, culminating in its key role in inspiring the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and the continuing radicalization of the American right subsequently.
This is why Mike Rothschild’s new book The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything (Melville House, May 2021) is such a useful and important text: It is not just an up-to-date survey of the phenomenon as it has morphed and metastasized, but it provides a deeply grounded framework for understanding it as it continues to do so ad infinitum.
Rothschild appropriately devotes more of the text to exploring the toxic effects of QAnon’s spread than to debunking its claims or examining its origins, which he nonetheless does concisely and well. Importantly, he directly connects that interpersonal toxicity—the poisoned relationships, the unhinged behavior—arising from the movement to its broader social and political implications, manifested most memorably on Jan. 6.
Over the past year and more, we’ve seen QAnon spread during the COVID-19 pandemic to include anti-vaccination/anti-health restriction fanatics, as well as “Patriot” militiamen. We’ve seen the cult spread to law enforcement officers, and even small-town city halls.
The Storm is Upon Us is especially concerned with the effects of QAnon’s spread on families and friendships, and more broadly on communities, and ultimately the national electorate. Like my own book Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us, it offers some insights into how people are consumed by these behavior-altering belief systems based on authoritarian disinformation, what their friends and family members can do about it, and what they can’t do as well.
The fact that QAnon’s spread persists despite the ongoing failures of its predictions, and its originators’ utter disappearance after the November 2020 election, tells us that something more than a simple conspiracy cult is going on here. Rather, it—and the very real storm of authoritarian disinformation that besets democratic nations globally it represents—is a phenomenon with powerful social and political implications.
Rothschild boils it down:
QAnon is a cultish movement that’s not quite a cult, a movement with prophetic elements that’s not quite a religion, and a recipient of Russia boosting that’s entirely American. And despite being descended from long-running frauds, it’s not really a scam. …
… It’s a political movement that revolves not around patriotism or traditional conservative values, but bloody revenge against diabolical enemies. Its voters demand loyalty, fealty, blood in the streets, and the total overthrow of the political norms of the past.
The Storm is Upon Us is essential reading for our times, because it provides important insights into the authoritarian tide that threatens to overwhelm our democracy. Rising to meet that challenge requires understanding its many dimensions, and this book fills that need admirably.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.