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(44,048 posts)
6. It's shocking to see so many leftwingers lured to the far right by conspiracy theories
Sun Feb 18, 2024, 12:22 PM
Feb 2024
It’s not just anti-vaxxers. The themes of resisting power and regaining control of our lives have been cynically repurposed


It’s an uncomfortable thing to admit, but in the countercultural movements where my sympathies lie, people are dropping like flies. Every few days I hear of another acquaintance who has become seriously ill with Covid, after proudly proclaiming the benefits of “natural immunity”, denouncing vaccines and refusing to take the precautions that apply to lesser mortals. Some have been hospitalised. Within these circles, which have for so long sought to cultivate a good society, there are people actively threatening the lives of others. It’s not just anti-vax beliefs that have been spreading through these movements. On an almost daily basis I see conspiracy theories travelling smoothly from right to left. I hear right-on people mouthing the claims of white supremacists, apparently in total ignorance of their origins. I encounter hippies who once sought to build communities sharing the memes of extreme individualism. Something has gone badly wrong in parts of the alternative scene.

There has long been an overlap between certain new age and far-right ideas. The Nazis embraced astrology, pagan festivals, organic farming, forest conservation, ecological education and nature worship. They promoted homeopathy and “natural healing”, and tended to resist vaccination. We should be aware of this history, but without indulging what Simon Schama calls the “obscene syllogism”: the idea that because the Nazis promoted new age beliefs, alternative medicine and ecological protection, anyone who does so is a Nazi. In the 1960s and 70s, European fascists sought to reinvent themselves, using themes developed by revolutionary anarchists. They found fertile ground in parts of the anarcho-primitivist and deep ecology movements, which they tried to steer towards notions of “ethnic separatism” and “indigenous” autonomy.

But much of what we are seeing at the moment is new. A few years ago, dreadlocked hippies spreading QAnon lies and muttering about a conspiracy against Donald Trump would have seemed unthinkable. Today, the old boundaries have broken down, and the most unlikely people have become susceptible to rightwing extremism. The anti-vaccine movement is a highly effective channel for the penetration of far-right ideas into leftwing countercultures. For several years, anti-vax has straddled the green left and the far right. Trump flirted with it, at one point inviting the anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr to chair a “commission on vaccination safety and scientific integrity”. Anti-vax beliefs overlap strongly with a susceptibility to conspiracy theories. This tendency has been reinforced by Facebook algorithms directing vaccine-hesitant people towards far-right conspiracy groups. Ancient links between “wellness” movements and antisemitic paranoia have in some cases been re-established. The notion of the “sovereign body”, untainted by chemical contamination, has begun to fuse with the fear that a shadowy cabal is trying to deprive us of autonomy.

There’s a temptation to overthink this, and we should never discount the role of sheer bloody idiocy. Some anti-vaxxers are now calling themselves “purebloods”, a term that should send a chill through anyone even vaguely acquainted with 20th-century history. In their defence, however, if they can’t even get Harry Potter right (purebloods is what the bad guys call themselves), we can’t expect them to detect an echo of the Nuremberg laws. I believe this synthesis of left-alternative and rightwing cultures has been accelerated by despondency, confusion and betrayal. After left-ish political parties fell into line with corporate power, the right seized the language they had abandoned. Steve Bannon and Dominic Cummings brilliantly repurposed the leftwing themes of resisting elite power and regaining control of our lives. Now there has been an almost perfect language swap. Parties that once belonged on the left talk about security and stability while those on the right talk of liberation and revolt.

Liz Cheney May Run For President [View all] gab13by13 Feb 2024 OP
RFK isn't siphoning from Biden. onecaliberal Feb 2024 #1
There are anti vaxers on the left too Fiendish Thingy Feb 2024 #3
Sure, but they are very unlikely to be 'Biden voters'. Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #12
Ross Perot anamnua Feb 2024 #15
That isn't clear at all. Voltaire2 Feb 2024 #22
All it takes is a couple of thousand Biden votes switched out of millions in a swing state Fiendish Thingy Feb 2024 #17
It's shocking to see so many leftwingers lured to the far right by conspiracy theories Celerity Feb 2024 #6
I could see blue dog dems voting for her. I don't like this at all mucifer Feb 2024 #2
Just my opinion. bluestarone Feb 2024 #4
I think she'd pull way more disaffected Rs than Ds TwilightZone Feb 2024 #11
As a Blue Dog from a family of BDs, I say NOPE. Runningdawg Feb 2024 #21
I'm guessing she won't run Fiendish Thingy Feb 2024 #5
That's what I think too, gab13by13 Feb 2024 #7
I'm not convinced that most Never Trumpers would vote for Biden. TwilightZone Feb 2024 #13
Out of millions of votes in a swing state, all it would take is a couple of thousand Fiendish Thingy Feb 2024 #18
That's assuming they would have voted for Biden otherwise. TwilightZone Feb 2024 #20
2,000 votes out of 5-7 million is a rounding error Fiendish Thingy Feb 2024 #24
It depends on whether her main "base" are the same Republicans who voted Libertarian in 2016... JHB Feb 2024 #8
Can I offer a reality check? brooklynite Feb 2024 #9
reality check intelpug Feb 2024 #23
I trust her on this matter. Tom Rinaldo Feb 2024 #10
I believe Liz is anti-choice, and pro-religious school public funding, right? lindysalsagal Feb 2024 #14
Which means she would siphon off more Repub then Dem votes. anamnua Feb 2024 #16
Her goal is to keep stinky out of the White House Norbert Feb 2024 #19
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