There is a kind of conformity of vision in cognitive nonconformity, which I have pointed out before. It has always suggested to me that, although the content of these people’s beliefs couldn’t be more divergent, their derangement is probably similarly located.
To understand the comparison, you might want to check out that post first. For those who don’t want to make the click, here are a few examples from “outsider artists” Paul Laffoley and Adolf Wofli.
For this update, you also might want to read more about QAnon, a far-right conspiracy group, started in 2017, that believes many Hollywood actors and Democratic politicians are members of an international Satan-worshiping child sex trafficking ring, which overlaps the Deep State and the Illuminati and is opposed only by Donald Trump, who is waging a secret war against them.
The movement looks suspiciously like an alternate reality game, where posts on 4Chan from the group’s anonymous originator, called “Q drops,” periodically trigger a new round of speculation and activity. But there’s no question these folks really believe it. In May of 2018, a QAnon believer occupied a tower in Tuscon cement plant for nine days before police talked him down. He claimed the plant was secretly a child sex-trafficking camp.
The following month, an armed man in an armored vehicle blocked traffic to the Hoover Dam for 90 minutes, demanding that the Justice Department release the “full” OIG report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The report had actually been released the day before, but QAnon members believed it had been heavily redacted.
In March of 2019, Staten Island resident Anthony Comello shot Gambino crime family underboss Frank Cali ten times, believing he was a member of the Deep State pedophile ring. At his first court appearance, Comello flashed QAnon symbols and “MAGA forever.”
QAnon beliefs have so many variations and offshoots, and have changed so often, that they’re virtually impossible to summarize, although, as you might expect, they borrow heavily from Christian millenarianism, which has a long history in this country
QAnon may best be understood as an example of what historian Richard Hofstadter called in 1964 “The Paranoid Style in American Politics“, related to religious millenarianism and apocalypticism. The vocabulary of QAnon echoes Christian tropes—for instance “The Storm” (the Genesis flood narrative or Judgement Day), and “The Great Awakening”, which evokes the historical religious Great Awakenings from the early 18th century to the late 20th century. The forthcoming reckoning is said by some QAnon supporters to be a “reverse rapture” which means not only the end of the world as it is now known, but a new beginning as well, with salvation and a utopia on earth for the survivors. [Wikipedia]
Thankfully, a QAnon supporter and former graphic designer who worked in New York’s fashion industry, Dylan Louis Monroe, has created a series of maps to help his fellow believers keep track of it all. For those wanting to go down the rabbit hole, an interview with Monroe on bookseller Sam Jaffe Goldstein’s Substack reads like a piece of contemporary magical-realist short fiction.