In a Bloomberg editorial, Andreas Kluth estimates that the QAnon conspiracy theory has great potential for contagion and has erupted as an epidemic spreading from the United States to Europe and Germany. More frightening in his view than any virus currently circulating in the world, it should raise comparable concerns, being perhaps the most heinous fabrication of medieval stories about Jews poisoning wells and drinking the blood of Christian children.

These clever lies have led to centuries of programs and anti-Semitism. QAnon is in its early days, but it has a huge potential to produce evil of proportions.

Medieval patterns of QAnon

Stems of the same slanderous spirit, the two theories share a similar DNA. Similar to the European conspiracy narrative of “ritual blood,” QAnon recycles anti-Semitic metaphors in support of an international conspiracy that the rich and powerful of the world traffic, abuse, and even feed on children.

Born only in 2017, QAnon has the most modern accents, like an ancient virus displaced into a brand new superpathogen operating with all means of social media. At the same time, it is designed as an online multiplayer game that involves a clue hunt. Q, its creator and anonymous conductor (a person with access to government documents classified stores drops of cryptic information in peripheral areas of the Internet, and millions of people rush to confirm, interpret, or extend the thread in a narrative. nine. If conspiracy theories are generally gross simplifications of misunderstood realities, QAnon feeds on complexity, always creating new stories.

In the US, the collection of memes, the vectors of contagion, has turned in a direction defined by the right. Democrats like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and world celebrities like Bill Gates or George Soros are part of the pedophile network, while Donald Trump is described as their heroic opponent engaged in a secret struggle with the “parallel state”. to end with the release of the subjugated children.

A phenomenon that has crossed cultural boundaries

One would not have thought that a phenomenon born in a specific American cultural context could make sense in other cultures and yet it spread like a virus in Europe and especially in Germany where the movement is estimated to have hundreds of thousands of followers – most in the world after the US.

It’s a surprising fact at first glance. The US is strongly polarized between two political parties, while Germany’s multiparty system is not so antagonistic and the government is efficient and orderly: Angela Merkel has the support of 72% of the population. Then, in fact, populism in Germany is on a downward slope – from 32.85 in 2018 to 20.9% today.

On the other hand, Germany’s black history has taught us that history is not always made by a reasonable majority, but by small and mobilized minorities. Before Hitler took power in the last free elections in November 1932, the Nazi Party, a promoter of conspiracy theories, received 33.15 votes. Currently, 30% of Germans tend to believe in conspiracy theories.

QAnon in Germany has features in common with the US movement: it uses a suite of peripheral groups, including anti-vaccinists and left-wing esotericists, but overall turns strongly to the right. 74% of Germans have a negative opinion of Trump. However, the American president is adored by QAnon supporters. However, the movement seems to have merged with old Nazi theories. An example is the Reichseberger (Imperial Citizens) movement, which believes that its followers are subjects of the old Reich (including Hitler’s) and that today’s Federal Republic is in fact a corporation of victorious allies in World War II.

This explains the bizarre iconography presented at Germany’s recent huge protests against the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic: T-shirts, banners, Q-symbols appeared on T-shirts, and many protesters came with the imperial German flag. During one of the marches, a crowd of right-wingers tried to storm the Parliament building in a symbolic gesture.

Whatever its origins, however, QAnon has exposed a vulnerability of democratic societies – one of comparable proportions to the economic and medical weaknesses revealed by the pandemic – showing that there is no longer a common civic and informational space, but alternative realities. In this sense, conspiracy theories are our “metaproblem” – the one that prevents us from solving the others, from the pandemic to climate change, writes Andreas Kluth in Bloomberg.