by Christopher Mason, February 4th 2021
January 6th was the culmination of events that have been stirring since Trump declared his intention to become President back in 2015. His ability to simultaneously make no sense but to give a clear message to his followers is what would eventually lead to the creation of Qanon. While Qanon only partially explains the Capitol riot it is a significant part and one that now includes elected officials as part of its followers. How Qanon came about and how it could lead many people to not only vote for Trump but to storm the Capitol building on his behest needs to be studied to better understand the fascist crisis brewing in America.
The Qanon worldview simplified consists of the belief that members of the “elite” such as George Soros, the Clintons and different figures in Hollywood are part a Satan worshipping cabal that regularly take part in rituals in order to eat children. This same cabal is also working with the “deep state”, a group of government workers who control the military, intelligence, and just about every other part of the government. The central figure is Donald Trump who according to many Q adherents fought tooth and nail against the deep state and the cabal using every government agency at his disposal. The Qanon title refers to an anonymous person who has been working in the deep state who has level Q access, thus this person is Q anonymous or Qanon. This figure’s posts on the internet supposedly expose all this corruption as well as Trump’s heroic efforts to save America. The original post regarding Qanon was in 2017 on a posting board called 4chan.
The insane nonsense of Qanon has only gotten weirder since the original “Q drop”, or online post, back in 2017. Qanon now is what would be called a “big tent conspiracy”, folding other conspiracies into the greater canon of Qanon including everything from the Freemasons to how the Chinese introduced 5G networks in order to spread COVID-19. There are also different variations from different nations around the world that all follow the basic template as the one that originated in the United States with more local conspiracies put in. But for the sake of focusing on the Capitol riots and the writer’s sanity this piece will focus on the US version.
The Qanon idea that “elites” both in America and around the world are out to destroy civilization for their own selfish reasons has of course some basis in reality. The “elite” in the form of the capitalist ruling class is responsible for almost all the world’s problems and monopolize political power, wealth and resources. It is also true that the crimes of the ruling class are not scrutinized, nor are they held accountable.
However the “logic” of the Q Anon conspiracy only reflects this reality in a distorted form and it is a logic that does not hold up. It divides the elites into “evil elites” such as Obama and Bill Gates and “good elites” such Donald Trump or Elon Musk with no logical rationale of how the designation of “good” and “evil” is made. If the “deep state” is able to control everything and Trump is in constant combat with them how is he able to get any federal agency to do anything? If COVID-19 is fake then how did Trump catch it? If there is a vast conspiracy to kidnap and eat children then how come more cases aren’t reported? Trying to get the holes filled results in calls from Qanon followers to “do your own research,” because to them all these things are so obvious that it should be easy to see the connection between a children’s toy and Pizzagate.
QAnon’s logic is further undermined when one considers that a real movement to “save the children” would go after someone like Elon Musk, who owns industries run by child labour in another part of the world. Or they would go after someone like long time friend of Jeffry Epstein, Donald Trump, whose administration has not only let children at the border die in concentration camps, but whose own family was responsible for stealing money from a children’s cancer charity.
While Trump’s social base is largely middle class the many working class Americans who identify with a self-proclaimed billionaire who has done as little as humanly possible to help the working class, is a symptom of a profound lack of the most elementary class consciousness. They are fighting for a cause and a person from which they will see no material benefit reflecting a lack of any understanding of their actual position in America. A lot of rhetoric around Qanon revolves around the idea that this is a fight between the “good” and the “bad”, those who wish to save America and those who wish to see its downfall. A lot of the talk around Qanon and from its adherents is about how this is a crusade, a fight for what’s right and often has Christian undertones attached to it. These are not binaries that foster a sense of class consciousness, in fact it does the exact opposite. The language of class is completely absent. The binary division that is missing is the antithetical interests of the ruling class and the working class!
There are also never any questions about the capitalist system itself, never any questions why so many people could lose their jobs and go hungry in the supposed richest country in the world. If Trump is the White House and thus is in charge of the system, then to most Qanon supporters the system is working simply since Trump is at the wheel. For Qanon followers it is not the capitalist system or the ruling class which directly benefits from the system, but rather nefarious individuals who take advantage of the system to get away with certain crimes.
This is why Qanon followers do not identify with the causes of BLM or Antifa despite them doing more to fight for and defend the working class than Trump. The police routinely harass, hurt and kill minorities and poor people and are essentially a weapon wielded by the ruling class to keep the masses in line. For Qanon followers if a person is arrested by the police or any law enforcement it means they did something wrong and are being punished accordingly since law enforcement both locally and at a federal level are deified by Qanon. The police are not the working class’ friends, but for Qanon followers who can’t identify as anything other than “good” or maybe just American, they see the police as on their side. The police will be the ones who place the cuffs around the “evil elites” who eat and sacrifice children. But this is what happens when society is not seen through eyes of social class but through the lens of capitalist individualism. People group together through their own moral choices, not forced together due to their common material conditions.
This lack of class consciousness in the face of capitalist decay would seem baffling to any Leftist. Clearly the US’s problems are not caused by politicians eating children but because said politicians will not vote on a universal healthcare program, or simply ensure that everyone has shelter or food. Qanon is fueled by the idea that all the world’s problems are caused by a shadowy group. Many Qanon believers simply do not take stock in their own material conditions and they cannot see it reflected in other groups who are facing similar issues. This inability to properly identify with other sections of the working class leads them to be exploited for both political and capital gain by sections of the ruling class. If they could identify that their material conditions were brought on by the real world actions of capitalists rather than fake nonsense maybe they could start on the path to having socialist class consciousness.
Lacking class consciousness doesn’t just lead Q followers to not being able to properly identify with the left but to outright hatred and painting them as the true enemy of the people. The development of fascism requires a mass movement mobilised in hatred against the left and socialism. Trump’s speech for his followers to storm the Capitol building was a last ditch effort to become what Trump has always wanted to become, a president with unquestioned power. His speech showed the world that Qanon was a force that could be used like a battering ram to at the very least disrupt the status quo— A status quo that deserves to be knocked over, but for very different reasons. Developing a mass of people who were willing to identify their own struggle with the struggle with of Trump to stay in office was the ultimate goal of not just Trump but also the section of the ruling class who benefit from Trump and Qanon alike.
Throughout US history conspiracy theories, regardless of how they start, have been used by section of the ruling class for political gain. Joseph McCarthy’s rhetoric and the idea of a vast Communist conspiracy within the US society spurred on many Americans to view communists or potential communists as evil or ani-American. There is even direct connection between Trumpism and McCarthyism in the form of Roy Cohn who at one point helped Trump with his legal issues and was once the right hand man of McCarthy. QAnon is just the latest example.
The vast majority of the tens of millions who support Trump gained nothing from him being in office. Yet people were willing to throw themselves onto a fire and risk everything, because fueled by Q they truly believed that Trump was the anointed saviour of the country and the world. The antidote to Qanon is the very thing that it lacks, class consciousness. Followers of Qanon, and the working class in general, need to be shown that their material conditions and interests are not the same as those claiming to be their champion. Qanon supporters are right to be mad at people like the Clintons and other powerful figures who exploit people for their own selfish needs. Not because they eat children but because they benefit from a capitalist system that is rapidly starting to make the planet inhabitable, make them wealthier and untouched from the fallout of their reckless choices and behavior. For now, however, Qanon is yet another tool for the ruling class to bring America a step closer to fascism. Despite what many liberals may tell everyone the fight to end facism does not end with Trump’s departure. If anything it is now worse and more violent thanks to Qanon and the capital riots.