covert inc.

Covert Inc.

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The first QAnon message appeared on 4chan in October 2017. It claimed that many in the American government worshipped Satan. From there it spiralled into an entire movement that knit multiple conspiracy theories in support of one narrative: that there was a Satanic ‘deep state’ behind the US government that was a paedophilic cabal, which trafficked children to abuse and murder them. The man who was meant to expose this was Donald Trump, and he partially owes his fanbase to this movement. Of course, he served his term without ever unveiling any child trafficking rings or Satanic rituals amongst the ranks of the elected. On January 6th 2021, a group of rioters stormed the Capitol building, amongst them QAnon supporters who believed that the election had been stolen to prevent Trump from finally making the move. This ended in a number of associated deaths – including that of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol police officer – arrests and convictions, and Biden’s winning of the presidential race.

Although the finer details of QAnon are unique to the time and place in which it arose, it bears all the hallmarks of a classic conspiracy theory. Q’s posts on 4chan were styled as ‘breadcrumbs’ – hints that supposedly pointed those able to figure it out in the right direction, without ever making any real claims or providing any confirmation. Acronyms like ‘WWG1WGA’ and coded references to the ‘white rabbit’ appeared, creating an insular culture that separated QAnons from those not involved. People obsessively researched and explored, looking for evidence to support their belief system. Q’s anonymity added an extra mystique; it also somehow imparted a veneer of authority, that they must really be doing something important if they couldn’t come out and say it – and no one could prove otherwise, because there simply wasn’t anyone to ask.

But anonymity has never really mattered to conspiracy theories. David Icke was met with intense public ridicule and it has never wavered him from sharing his beliefs: that an inter-dimensional race of beings, known as the Archons or the Anunnaki, had created a hybrid lizard-human elite to control the planet through events designed to cause fear and produce “negative energy” to feed the Archons. These hybrid people he identified as the Illuminati, tapping into a centuries-old fear of shadow manipulation. Icke has said many things over the years – he first came to public attention in 1991 – and, despite the aforementioned ridicule, his beliefs have seeped into the mainstream lexicon. Many people speak in terms of an apparently super-human and omnipresent elite class, referenced ambiguously as “they”. The ambiguity, more than the anonymity, is what is truly important to the thriving conspiracy theory.

Icke’s USP (and arguably the reason why he has always been seen as eccentric but harmless) is that he blamed the advent of evil not on a group of humans but an alien race, something all humans could theoretically unite against in a powerful show of ‘goodness’. In another life, he could have been a Hollywood director, making bad vs good intergalactic superhero films for the masses. Instead, he uses his platform to make simultaneously vague but fantastical claims, placing responsibility on a group that he has no evidence even really exist and has no power to truly overthrow. He continues to play on people’s fears about the modern world by picking up on current issues and applying his unfalsifiable worldview to them, whilst offering no tangible solutions to this situation other than the nebulous pursuit of personal freedom and love, committing people who follow him to culture war type clashes over free speech and going down rabbit holes about NGOs.

He has been incredibly influential in the world of conspiracy theories; there are many echoes or even overt homages to Icke amongst the QAnon community. But it is not whether he is actually right or wrong that is important to this essay, but the influence he has had on how people approach and address the wrongs they believe exist in society. Much political debate online is now conducted in the framework of a global shadow elite – never positively identified, never taken to task for their actions, never removed from their seat of power, and as such never a realistic target for people to direct their actions towards. Instead they congregate around factual incidents and speculate wildly, and this speculation alone serves as the basis for their continued belief. The lack of tangible target serves a secondary purpose, and it is this which makes conspiracy theories so attractive to people: they are never expected to do anything about it, simply because they can’t. Icke could never turn around to his followers and say, “the Archons live on Mars, we must destroy them. To the spaceships!” In much the same vein, Q never actually identified anyone, and Trump has come a cropper courting the suggestion that he might be able to do that.

Conspiracies are a real occurrence, and it would be false to suggest they aren’t. However, there are ways to objectively critique a conspiracy theory – a conspiracy yet unproven – and one way to do that is to identify whether there is a real and legitimate source to the assertion. Take the Hillsborough disaster: it was likely that the theory was real because there was an identifiable and reasonable source of the cover-up. In Icke’s theory, an inter-dimensional race of lizards has not been and never will be identified and as such it’s hard to call it a reasonable claim. Although QAnon has identified multiple sources for their beliefs – such as the Clintons, Klaus Schwab, Bill Gates, and various celebrities, to mention but a few – the sheer range of their accusations and the extensively protracted nature of the evidence used in support makes it hard to objectively agree that they’ve been legitimised. Of course, it also doesn’t mean they are proven wrong, but their position is intellectually weak, easily dismissed, and, most importantly, is overall a waste of time and energy that could be used fighting immediate and tangible problems happening openly in their country.

People must come away from these conspiracy communities and productively channel their obvious dedication to righting the world’s wrongs. The potential to make change coming from a group so willing to learn, research, and implement in a communal manner is significant, and it is being wasted on these endeavours. Conspiracy theorists: we need your passion and ability to stand out from the crowd. Join a real cause today!

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What are you talking about you are speaking nonsense Hitler is secretly training an army of Argentinian super Nazis and any day now he will help storm the capital trust the plan Nazisare in control

Wouldn’t you know it, but it looks like they’re telegraphing their intent to steal the 2024 election too

Alex Jones was right

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