QAnon and Russiagate: How the capitalist elites produced a mass conspiracy hysteria to maintain power
In his new documentary Can't Get You Out of My Head, Adam Curtis traces the origins of popular conspiracy theories that survived up to our days and spread rapidly due to Internet. As a result, Curtis finds that Trump election and Brexit triggered a conspiracy paranoia that took over both the liberal establishment and the ultra-conservative camp.
The story begins in the late 60s, when Kerry Thornley and his friend Greg Hill had started what they called Operation Mindfuck. They had spread the conspiracy theory that the Illuminati were really the secret rulers of the world. They had done it to parody and ridicule all conspiracy theories because they thought that they undermined the confidence of individuals and made them easier to control.
But now, in the mass of data online, those stories about the Illuminati got mixed up with other conspiracies, both true and false, and out of it came extraordinary dreamlike stories built out of fragments of truth and fiction.
After the shock of Trump's election victory, the liberal opposition became lost in an endless conspiracy theory, constantly searching for hidden clues, links and fragments of evidence to prove that, really, Vladimir Putin and firms like Cambridge Analytica had orchestrated Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. It was a mood of hysteria that ran out of control.
But what had really been manufactured by the hysteria and the suspicion, was a constant source of those high-arousal emotions that the machines needed. They didn't care about the meaning of what people thought or felt about Donald Trump. They just fed off the waves of paranoia, making the technology companies ever more profitable and powerful.
But many of those old institutions, who had been sidelined, also found that by promoting the suspicions, they could regain their power.
Major newspapers in America and in Britain that might have gone bankrupt without Donald Trump were rescued by the continual waves of conspiracy theories they revealed. While the intelligence agencies, who only a few years before had been hated because they had invented the weapons of mass destruction, now became heroic truth tellers, revealing ever more hidden conspiracies.
And Vladimir Putin, whose power, in reality, was becoming increasingly fragile at home in Russia, became, in the eyes of the West, a dark, malevolent force, which made him seem far stronger than he really was.
But for Donald Trump, the paranoia allowed him to hide the fact that he was doing nothing to get rid of the corruption in America, as he had promised. His supporters, though, had their own conspiracy theory - QAnon - that explained why nothing was happening. Trump was being stopped by a secret cabal of paedophiles in Washington.
And for the liberal opposition, it was a way of avoiding facing up to the genuine grievances and the very real anger in America that Trump's election had revealed. That he might be the product of a country where large areas had fallen into both desolation and despair - towns where all the factories had closed, millions had become addicted to opioids, and yet no-one in power had come to rescue them.
But the liberals couldn't face this because they, too, had no idea of how to solve those problems. And outside, in the real world, nothing actually changed. The structure of power, the inequalities and the decay all carried on unchecked. While all kinds of groups who wanted to cling on to power protected themselves behind this brittle shell of conspiracy theories, built out of disconnected fragments.
If we combine Curtis' conclusions with the capitalist civil war theory, we find that conspiracy theories have become a powerful tool for both capitalist camps. And a common goal is to draw the working class attention away from their power structure, which is responsible for most of the bad outcomes in the era of neoliberal domination.
Yet, apart from the common goal, each capitalist faction essentially used its own conspiracy as a psy-op to manipulate voters, in order to elevate the electoral power of its affiliated political party.
The QAnon conspiracy was used by the pro-Trump capitalists through their conventional media and mostly through their powerful social media and their troll army, to smear political figures of the liberal camp.
On the other hand, Russiagate was used by the liberal capitalist faction to boost the hate of liberals and moderate Leftists against Trump. Contrary to the QAnon conspiracy, the main carriers of the Russiagate related narratives were the known liberal mainstream media. While the social media and the liberal troll farm have been used mostly as the means of spreading those narratives to wider audiences.
It's impressive that while the liberal camp until that moment was usually portraying itself as the voice of rationalism against the far-right crazy conspiracies, eventually burned that card on the altar of the conspiracy paranoia frenzy race. And this is another indication for the escalating wildness of the capitalist civil war.
In the end, the most unfortunate fact in the whole story, is that the US working class doesn't seem to understand that it has been heavily manipulated by both capitalist factions that are now fighting each other. And that both these capitalist factions won't hesitate to shed the blood of the US working class in a brutal civil war, just to protect their interests.