I’ve been spending rather too much time reading about conspiracy things in recent times, and I’ve come to realise, after a certain level of digging, you tend to reach a bedrock of “Satanists did it”.
The latest exemplar of this is the deaths at the Astroworld festival - there are a number of people out there who are pegging the entire concert as a Satanic rite and looking for clues and symbolism in stage setting and the astronomical timing etc. But of course Satanic Panics go way back. You can take most events with suspicious undertones - JFK assassination, 9/11, Epstein - and find people who place these in a long lineage of mass rituals and sacrifice.
I’m interested in conspiracies from what I think of as a materialist sense - like, I think capitalism as a structural force shapes our world and that the behaviours of wealthy elites fits into that, and that many conspiracies can be explained as a function of this. I can’t make the leap to “People manipulate these bad things to worship the devil”.
Don’t really know where I’m going with this. Just find it interesting but can’t exactly bring it up in my morning work check-in.
You can talk about how avarice and sin can be easily applied to global elites but I think it’s simpler than that frankly.
I just think a large part of middle America struggle to see literally anything outside of the confines of the evangelistic Christianity boom from the early 80s onwards. A sort of comic book style good v evil mega war endlessly happening predominantly in their own minds.
I guess muscular Christianity has been a centrepiece of US thinking for a very long time, when you think about all the new religious movements of the 19th century (Mormonism, seventh day adventism etc).
But this is part of what confuses me, a lot of the people who talk about this Satanism as a real force don’t seem to have a response that is based in a traditional Christian or at least Abrahamic way of thinking. It’s not like “Epstein had a temple on his island to ritually kill children in the worship of Lucifer - we must respond with prayer and unswerving faith in Christ”. I can’t work it out, it’s like they think the Satanism is real and specific but the actual evil is broad and generic and just generally malignant - maybe because they know how kind of parochial and Western it would seem if their answer was Christian faith.
So a key text for a lot of modern conspiracy thinking is Programmed to Kill by David McGowan. The kind of central thrust of the book is that the explosion in serial killers of the 1970s, like Son of Sam, was the result of CIA mind-control experiments like MK ULTRA, which is pretty out there but I can kind of rationalise. Then the underlying thought is that it’s about creating terror, traumatising a population in order to further authoritarianism, the usual stuff.
But then underlying that is a broader narrative about how the elites do this in the service of Satanic rituals which is where I’m like Mark in Peep Show trying to watch gay porn: “Ah, that’s a little too rich for me”.
I think in order to believe that an omnipotent being is about to end the world and destroy everything that doesn’t believe in him, you need to look at everything in the world and go ‘‘well, this is obviously all evil, this is all devilry and needs to be destroyed’’. Because otherwise that would put your religion in the wrong. Cosmic genocide apologists, to be honest.