This one isn’t any more cheerful

What nonsense, you may wonder, is going to afflict us next? Surely we’ve hit rock bottom. Nope.

Cult-like extremist movements appear to provide an antidote to the potent mixture of isolation, uncertainty, changing narratives, and fear we have experienced during the pandemic by offering a skewed form of safety, stability, and certainty, along with a cohort of people who are just like us, who believe us and believe in us. As the activist David Sullivan—a man who devoted his life to infiltrating cults in order to extricate loved ones from their grip—pointed out, no one ever joins a cult: They join a community of people who see them. In 2022, this appeal of cults will only grow, and those that arise next year will make QAnon seem like the good old days.

Yeah, great, I’m going back to bed. Wake me up in, oh, 2025 and I’ll reassess.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m sorry, but all the “isolation, uncertainty, changing narratives, and fear” doesn’t explain the virulent grown of a group that thinks that a global cabal of Satanic pedophiles–all of them left-leaning politicians and celebrities–rule the world and that the only way to defeat them is to establish a right-wing totalitarian state led by a slovenly, corrupt, racist, failed billionaire.

    I’m not the smartest ape-descended lifeform on this oblate rock covered in organic material. I struggled up until the last couple of years of high school and it too me 7 years to get my useless BA in Journalism and Basket Weaving. I suffer from several mental health conditions (i.e. ADHD, depression, anxiety, possibly autism). Hell, I was both a Catholic and a Conservative Republican most of my young life. However, even a moron like myself wrote off Q Anon as insane the instant after I heard its thesis statement.

    I don’t want to say that somehow immune to this sort of thinking, or that I’m intrinsically better than the average Alex-Jones-listening paranoid. That said, I have a hard time grasping how a movement based upon such easily dismissible claims could put in a place where our nation is staring down the barrel of civil war and fascist dictatorship. There has got to me more to this than just being cooped up for a year and not having paid attention in 7th grade Life Science when Ms. Beckman explained how vaccines worked.

  2. redwood says

    Christianity bears a lot of the blame for what’s going on now. Besides the whole cult schtick, it also convinces people to believe in such nonsensical ideas as immaculate conception and resurrection. Once you’re on board with those, your sense of what’s possible or true has been compromised and it’s then just a small step to believing conspiracy theories.

  3. grandolddeity says

    Mrs. g.o.d. emulsifies the rational and the irrational just fine, thank you. I used to could. Now when I put certain thoughts to her (even if they are a matter of eternal consequence), she can shuffle the particulates together and come out just fine.

    I smile a lot more easily because of it. :{]

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 2

    Yeah… I haven’t encountered a lot of atheists in Q Anon circles. Plenty of Fundimentalist Christians (thus the Satanism angle) and the New Agey “Yoga-and-organic-foods-will-create-the-master-race” types such as our friend, The Q Shaman. New Age kookery tends to gets labeled as “Left-wing” politically, but any examination of its history will reveal there were a lot of their gurus and leaders were white supremacists and fascists.

  5. kome says

    It’s worth considering that the stated beliefs of these people or groups are not the core beliefs that they’re trying to protect or advance. The history of conspiracy theory groups is a history of religiously founded racism. The earliest conspiracy theories are antisemitic, most notably the accusation that the Jews conspired to kill Jesus. These conspiracy allegations serve as a justification for perpetrating all manner of truly abhorrent violence. And conspiracies have been such a part of the history of (white) Christianity culture for centuries that a lot assumptions necessary for white supremacy to continue to thrive are just seen as either normal by much of society today – either ordained by God or an inevitable consequence of natural evolutionary processes.

    Until we actually start to engage in a long-term and sustained attempt at dismantling white supremacy, we’ll never be able to limit the influence of right-wing conspiracy theorists or severely curtail the violence that they perpetuate. This is made all the more difficult because these right-wingers will find in centrists and among some portion of the moderate left a lot of (mostly white) useful idiots who will unthinkingly end up defending some portion of white supremacist ideologies; most often by devoting more effort to fighting revolutionary progressive politics and ideologies than they do fighting the explicitly destructive politics and ideologies of the extreme right-wing. Just get people to believe in, for example, meritocracy or civility politics or an overly reductionist biological essentialism about complex and poorly defined psychological traits (such as intelligence or nurturing or aggression or whatever), and you can find unwitting allies of white supremacy in a surprisingly large number of people who think of themselves sincerely as left-wingers (e.g., the modern Democratic party; a lot of TERFs; etc.).

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    kome @ 5

    …and you can find unwitting allies of white supremacy in a surprisingly large number of people who think of themselves sincerely as left-wingers (e.g., the modern Democratic party; a lot of TERFs; etc.).

    Not to change the subject, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the TERF slogan of “Sex is real” sounds suspiciously like the White Supremacist battle cry “Race is real.”

  7. davidc1 says

    There have always been stupid people,now they are in the public eye because of the interwebs.
    All the sensible people have to do is mock them,I am talking Henry V level of mockery.
    Along with reminding them of when one of there happening wot they say is going to happened doesn’t.
    Like the big pile of bollox in Texas last year,JFK Jr appearing and all that kind of stuff.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    The recent film The Eyes of Tammy Faye reminds me grifters have always been around. Jim and Tammy Bakker were the most transparent crooks imaginable and people still fell for them.
    Social media have made the vicious scum more dangerous than ever.
    I am unable to provide meaningful advice, beyond “nuke them from orbit”.

    (PS GAM322 The Eyes of Tammy Faye provides a fun summary of the career of these scumbags as seen through the eyes of Noah, Heath and Eli)

  9. leerudolph says

    They join a community of people who see them

    and one (or more) of whom see them as opportunities for exploitation, of which financial exploitation is probably the least horrible.

  10. unclefrogy says

    “isolation, uncertainty, changing narratives, and fear”

    as well as feelings of powerlessness and actual powerlessness.
    none of those feelings have such a short history as starting in 2019 with the extremity of the pandemic they go a long way back decades in fact. They have been exploited by the right wing ruthlessly. The left wing has been made to fear being seen to really care for people so they soft pedal it all so as not to seem like “communists” . The right wing deliberately refuses to help people because of the same rational but then goes turns right around and blames the left for it.
    If there was well distributed prosperity I do not think the conspiracies would flourish so easily.
    If education was supported better not even lavishly though that would reap dividends that would out way any cost. the conspiracies would find less support
    If the people were listened too and their lives were helped and not just the interests of business and the economy first
    I have this feeling that if WWII had started before the “New Deal” you might not have seen such an exuberant response as you saw in 1941 though there was the racist card with japan but not so with Germany nor Italy.

  11. James Fehlinger says

    Yeah, great, I’m going back to bed. Wake me up in,
    oh, 2025 and I’ll reassess.

    “He said if you don’t have good words to say
    Don’t wake me up until the Judgment Day
    ‘Cause if nothing is the way it seems
    Then this life is just a haunted dream
    And all this love is just falling
    Down through the years
    And oh, I’d rather sleep

    Wake me up on Judgment Day
    Let me hear golden trumpets play
    Give me life where nothing fails
    Not a dream in a wishing well. . .”