A deep dive into QAnon’s rabbit hole is must-read
Rothschild appropriately devotes more of the text to researching the toxic effects of QAnon’s proliferation than to debunking its claims or examining its origins, which it does nonetheless succinctly and well. What is important is that he ties this interpersonal toxicity – the poisoned relationships, the disorganized behavior – emanating from the movement directly to its broader social and political implications, most memorably manifested on January 6th.
Over the past year and beyond, we’ve seen QAnon spread during the COVID-19 pandemic to include vaccination / health restriction fanatics as well as “Patriot” militia officers. We have seen the cult spread to police officers and even to small town town halls.
The Storm is Upon Us is particularly concerned with the effects of the spread of QAnon on families and friendships and, more broadly, on communities and ultimately the national electorate. Like my own book Red Pill, Blue Pill: How to Counteract the Conspiracy Theories That Are Killing Us, it offers some insight into how people are being consumed by these behavior-changing belief systems based on authoritarian disinformation, what their friends and family members can do about it , and what they are not so good at.
The fact that QAnon continues to spread despite the continued failure of its predictions and the complete disappearance of its creators after the November 2020 elections tells us that more than a simple conspiracy cult is going on here. Rather, it is – and the very real storm of authoritarian disinformation that afflicts democratic nations around the world – a phenomenon with strong social and political ramifications.
Rothschild sums it up:
QAnon is a cultic movement that is not a cult, a movement with prophetic elements that is not a religion, and a recipient of Russia, which promotes this exclusively American. And while it stems from longstanding scams, it’s not really a scam. …
… It is a political movement that is not about patriotism or traditional conservative values, but about bloody revenge on diabolical enemies. Their voters demand loyalty, fidelity, blood on the streets and the total overturning of the political norms of the past.
The Storm is Upon Us is an essential reading of our time, as it offers important insights into the authoritarian tide that threatens to overwhelm our democracy. To face this challenge, its many dimensions must be understood, and this book admirably fulfills those needs.