QAnon as the religion of the revolution
By now everyone has heard of QAnon, which has emerged as the sort-of metaphysical component of the revolutionary movement known as the New Right, or MAGA. Like all religious sects, QAnon provides its peculiar society with its beliefs and unprovable truths, like a prehistoric shaman explaining how thunder is caused by the gods bowling. In QAnon’s case, their belief system includes stories like how Democrats and liberals are Satan-worshipping baby eaters; Donald Trump is divinely infallible; Earth is actually ground zero for various warring alien species; something about John F. Kennedy Jr. that I frankly don’t understand, and don’t particularly care to; and a vast and often self-contradictory web of conspiracy theories and myths for the orthodox to sift through like Benedictine monks.
There are enough explainers out there by now in the mainstream media for the specifics of this belief system, which originated with one or more internet trolls. I want to talk instead about how, like all religions, QAnon serves two very important roles for the culture it serves. One, it codifies the extant norms, customs, and ethics of its society of origin, the New Right in this case, giving these the blessing of its mythology to help strengthen their uniform adoption. Two, it evangelizes, converting people who otherwise would have never been Trump voters into his most fanatical supporters.
And by doing so, they give a good look into the curious, upside-down moral code, such as it is, of Donald Trump’s latter-day conservative movement writ large — even among those who explicitly reject QAnon.
Remember that what we now call the New Right, or MAGA, or Trumpism, is actually quite old. It traces its origins to the antebellum Know Nothings, through the Nazi-sympathizing isolationism of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin, on to the ’50s version led by McCarthy and the John Birch Society, and finally its ’90s talk-radio iteration, canonized by figures like Rush Limbaugh and spread wide through FoxNews and the internet. Only after this political movement’s final triumph in 2016, and only after Goldwater/Buckley/Kristol conservatism was banished to the history books, could the seeds of QAnon then be planted.
Let’s look at the values of the New Right, and how the new religion promotes them.
One norm of the New Right is a violent rejection of old Judeochristian values placed on the related concepts of charity, compassion, and kindness — a brief perusal of Donald Trump’s charitable giving can be instructive, and believe me, very brief. This rejection of compassion manifests in whom QAnon reviles as its demons. For instance, as the tech plutocrat they hold up as a Satan-worshipping pedophile and possible lizard person, they turned to Bill Gates. Gates is, by most estimates, one of the most philanthropic billionaires of the age. With nothing else left to prove in the business or tech world, Gates has devoted his post-Microsoft life to projects benefiting Third World nations in areas like education, women’s rights, contraception, nutrition, fighting malaria, and vaccine distribution.
That last point represented an obvious hook to the conspiracy theories of the nascent QAnon Scripture, but it is not specifically why they hate him. They hate him precisely because of the philanthropy writ large.
See, to a casual observer, a more logical target for the QAnon sect to literally demonize would have been Jeff Bezos. Far wealthier than even Gates, Bezos mistreats his employees so viciously that your local Wal-Mart looks like a worker’s paradise by comparison. He gives grudgingly if at all, despite the proven PR value of charity. In addition, his Washington Post remains an unalterable foe of Trump. Post employee Bob Woodward, for instance, has the latest anti-Trump book guaranteed to top the charts at booksellers like, oh, say, one called Amazon. Bezos oughta have shot right to the top of QAnon demonology alongside mainstays like Soros and the Clintons, right?
But to think this means not thinking like a conservative in the year 2020. While they might view Trump vs. Bezos as regrettable, they actually like Bezos; or at the very least, they like his approach to money and to labor. No, what they cannot comprehend, and thus view with suspicion and hostility, is Gates’ drive to make the world a better and kinder place, instead of a harsher and crueler one. That is why Gates features prominently in the QAnon faith.
You see this hostility to the old values all over the place with these guys. For instance, quick: who can you think of as the most decent, upstanding, blameless actor in all of Hollywood? If you’re normal, Tom Hanks, who literally played Mr. Rogers, at least made your top 3 list, right? Would it surprise you to learn that for QAnon, the face of the Hollywood division of Satanic Pedophilia, Inc. is not a known predator like Harvey Weinstein or Louis CK, but Tom Hanks?
To understand why QAnon is like this, one must first understand that what we now call the New Right, of which QAnon is a subset, is quite literally a revolutionary movement, and has always been since the 1840s. This means that conservatives in 2020 are not interested in just winning Senate seats or appointing Supreme Court justices or even re-electing the president they hold as a living God. It means they aim for fundamental transformation of society.
And the first act of any revolution does not involve setting up a new system. It involves destroying the old system — in fact, for some revolutionaries throughout history, that is all they are concerned with. The initial goal of past revolutions, from the French to the Cuban to the Iranian to the Nazi German to the Communist Russian, was tearing out the old order from the roots on up. Only then could the revolutionaries institute a new society and new rules to benefit themselves, often fighting with each other in the process.
So it is with the New Right and the old values and customs of America. Think of the values of the Greatest Generation, the one that fought in World War 2 — everything they are for, the New Right, and therefore also QAnon, are against.
Charity? Suspicious, probably a conspiracy, because there is literally no reason to do something that does not benefit oneself. Hard work? Leave that to the worker bees. Truly great people like the Trumps inherit their wealth as proof of their greatness. Civic-mindedness? For the birds. Compromise and bipartisanship? Inherently wrong, because the other side are subhuman scum and deserve to be wiped off the face of the Earth. Patriotism? For those that look and live like you and me, sure — but the libs and the coastal elitists and the big cities of America must be hated as much as al Qaeda hates them, if not more.
Truth? What is this “truth,” anyway? Whatever you want to be true, is therefore true. From anti-vaxxism to flat-earth to secret rings kidnapping literally hundreds of thousands of children per year without a trace — your faith in the thing, no matter how insane, is what makes it real. On a related note, honesty? We’re dealing with the liberals and their evil mainstream media. With enemies like this, honesty is a weakness that must be purged. Jesus? LOL, there’s a reason why evangelicals, loyal soldiers that they are of the New Right, no longer call themselves “evangelical Christians.” Their leaders such as Franklin Graham know whom to worship in the year 2020, and it sure ain’t some longhair hippie from Nazareth. Leave that guy to the suckers and losers in the back pews. Military service too, while we’re at it.
So it is with QAnon. Strip away the bullshit conspiracy theories, and the purpose of this sect remains to reinforce the primary two virtues of the New Right that preceded Q’s first 4chan appearance: Hatred of anyone not of the New Right, especially those preaching the old values of kindness and virtue; and literal worship of the former host of Celebrity Apprentice. The old rules of what the normies consider “good” or “right” or “true” only get in the way of the primary two rules that matter; this is why the faithful are continually whipped into a hateful frenzy via endless Youtube videos and why people like Hanks or Gates must be recast as Satanic pedos. Like a Sunday preacher’s sermons, the endless videos of the QAnon movement help explain the unexplainable to the faithful in order to soothe their anxieties about a complex world, and keep them directed on the narrow path. That QAnon’s numbers have spiked during a plague is consistent with humans turning to religion or superstition during times of tumult and disaster.
By the by, why does QAnon always go with satanic pedophilia specifically for their enemies, anyway? Here’s why. Let’s say you hate someone with the rage of a thousand suns. Your horrible boss, say, or your spiteful ex. You want everyone else to hate them too, so you wanna make up a story about them so awful, so vile, that anyone would want to cast them into a volcano. And what are the worst things a person can be or do? Mere murder is not enough. Pedophilia though — aha, there’s a reason why child molesters are given a special “welcome” in prison by their fellow inmates. Start with pedophilia, throw in other debased crap you can think of (i.e. Satanism and cannibalism), and there you go. It is parallel to the anti-semitic blood libel.
Tom Hanks conveniently becomes a satanic cannibal pedophile because those are literally the worst things QAnon worshipers can think of. Nothing more, nothing less.
So your average red-hat-wearing, Upper East Side finance-bro, friend-of- Jared, Trumpworld hanger-on might find the theology of the QAnon faith as laughable as I do. But they also recognize just how useful it can be, which is why the White House will never denounce it (while consistently and repeatedly demanding Joe Biden denounce Antifa — hypocrisy is another fundamental value of the New Right).
While the lurid ravings of leading Qultists make for entertaining reads, they’re also ultimately the least important aspect of QAnon. Remember why QAnon preaches what it does, and for whom. And if their God-King decides to ignore or cancel the election next month and effectively turn himself into a dictator, which is as inevitable a step with the American New Right as it has been with all fascist movements throughout history, QAnon will be a major reason why a third of the population will passionately support him no matter what.