“When the left doesn’t do its job, the conspiracy theorist will…

IN 1999, “Luther Blissett”, a militant and artistic subversive collective pseudonym, together with the Italian publisher Einaudi, publishes a book entitled Q, which quickly became a bestseller. The action of the novel, which was translated into French at Seuil last year, takes place between 1517 and 1555 and weaves a long-distance duel between a heretic of many names and a papal agent provocateur who spreads false information using letters signed with the biblical name Qohelet .

Twenty years later, the first traces of the QAnon movement are steeped in references to this book. So much so that when supporters of this movement, convinced to fight together with Donald Trump against a pedophile and satanic plan, managed to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Italian collective Wu Ming, heir to Luther Blissett, became Project, overwhelmed with interview requests. to find out “If it was really likely that what had started a process that culminated in an attack on the parliament of the world’s greatest power, it could have been a joke inspired by a novel”.

This is the starting point of the genealogical research conducted by Wu Ming 1, Roberto Bui, one of the members of the Wu Ming Collective, in the book Q as a conspiracy. How conspiracy phantasies defend the systempublished by Lux.

The book, centered on the QAnon phenomenon, but which also analyzes other similar phenomena, such as the alleged hidden death of singer Paul McCartney, the belief that Americans never went to the moon, or the DUMBs (Deep underground military bases) in which monsters would hold millions of children captive, is undoubtedly the most accurate work recently published on subjects where fantasy, invection, contempt, or platitudes most often take the place of comment.

First, the book uses a simple but effective rhetorical device, which is to stop talking about “conspiracy theories” to translate “conspiracy theory”which reminds that the term of “theory” does not have the same meaning in English, where it denotes more a hypothesis, even an imagination, than in French or Italian, where it is imbued with an aura of seriousness. By taking an interest in “conspiracy fantasies”, to narratives, to mechanisms, to genealogies, to correspondences, it is easier to understand what is at stake than to mechanically oppose a falsified theory to an established truth.

Then he refuses to stigmatize and pathologize those who fall in “rabbit hole” – reference to Alice in Wonderland to point out the shift towards an alternative reality – and judge “conspiratorial the one who is not satisfied[e] not official narratives, immediate appearances, power arguments”.

The worst mistake, the author believes, would be to link QAnon’s grasp to a problem of stupidity, ignorance, or mental illness, especially since it is embedded in a complementary error, “that which consists in believing that the sects only recruit on the right, among the fascists and the various reactionaries. Education, intelligence, mental health, affiliation with the left: none of this is immune[e] automatically against QAnon. »

Finally, he stands out from an opposite position, widespread in a certain left wing, which consists in minimizing the meaning and effects of these conspiratorial fantasies, on the grounds that there are real conspiracies by the powerful and that the latter use the “conspiratorial” ” syntagm and stigma to delegitimize their opponents. Admittedly, unfavorable, even degrading decisions are played out for the people behind the curtain. To be sure, satanic fantasies, esoteric devices or collective delusions do not originate today. But the QAnon phenomenon signals the entry of a new era of conspiratorial fantasy that cannot be easily set aside because it impedes the possibility of emancipation from the misdeeds of the contemporary economic and political system.

“If conspiracy fantasies were so widespread, if they had such a hold, it meant that they served a function. A system function », writes the author. By tearing the subject of conspiracy from morality to do a massive work of history and analysis, Q for conspiracy validates the hypothesis it formulates from its subtitle, namely that this systemic function consists, ultimatelyto protect a system out of breath.

“To use an electrician’s metaphor, conspiracy theories were the bedrock of capitalism: they drained the tension downwards and prevented people from bursting with the realization that the system needed to change.”writes Wu Ming 1.

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