LQCs: Conspiracy Theories and Authoritarians, One More Time

Links and comments today about the US Right’s continued taste for authoritarians and conspiracy theories.

NYT, 26 Feb 2022: ‘I’ll Stand on the Side of Russia’: Pro-Putin Sentiment Spreads Online, subtitled, “After marinating in conspiracy theories and Donald J. Trump’s Russia stance, some online discourse about Vladimir Putin has grown more complimentary.”

Print title: “Putin’s Fans On Far Right Cheer Online”


Alternet, Peter Montgomery, 26 Feb 2022: America’s conservatives adore​ Vladimir Putin’s far-right Christian Nationalism – more than freedom

Putin is the “savior of Christian civilization”; Pat Buchanan praised him as a “champion of Christianity ‘against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be.'”; how Trump praised Putin over US intelligence agencies.


NYT, 23 Feb 2022 (posted 26 Feb 2022): Fed Up With Google, Conspiracy Theorists Turn to DuckDuckGo, subtitled, “The embrace by some conservative influencers and conspiracy theorists is part of a broader effort to shift people away from Big Tech.”

Print title: “The Engine That’s Fueling Conspiracy Talk,” subtitled, “Some conservative influencers who say that Google is suppressing their views are embracing DuckDuckGo for searches.”

A search engine that allows more dicey, conspiracy-theory driven, sites than Goggle, which tries to filter to some extent sites that promote misinformation. This reminds me of “Conservapedia.com,” which has been around for some years now; per Wikipedia, it’s “a conspiracist English-language wiki-based online encyclopedia project written from a self-described American conservative and fundamentalist Christian point of view.” Among many other things, the site presumes to disprove Einstein’s theory of special relativity. (Why is that a concern of conservatives or religious fundamentalists?, you might wonder. Because it complicates the world.)

“Google is actively suppressing search results that don’t acquiesce to traditional viewpoints of the left,” Mr. Shapiro claimed last March. “I recommend you install DuckDuckGo on your computer, rather than Google, to combat all this.”

The endorsements underscore how right-wing Americans and conspiracy theorists are shifting their online activity in response to greater moderation from tech giants like Google. They have increasingly embraced fledgling and sometimes fringe platforms like the chat app Telegram, the video streamer Rumble and even search engines like DuckDuckGo, seeking conditions that seem more favorable to their conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

For “traditional viewpoints of the left,” read reality, rather than reactionary conspiracy theories and religious fundamentalism. The phrase “install DuckDuckGo on your computer” is telling; it’s a web browser–you don’t “install” anything. You just type in a URL, or click a bookmark. These people are not clear about how the world actually works.

(Update 27 Feb 2022: There have been TV commercials for DuckDuckGo, emphasizing its privacy aspects, and the commercial has words about “installing” something on your computer. Doesn’t seem like that would be necessary, but perhaps it’s just the angle of their advertising pitch.)

Also telling is the phrase “the truth is out there” (in one of the social media comments), which was the catch-phrase of the old TV show “The X-Files,” a show that always chose the conspiracy theory over the rational explanation. I think I saw it once, then didn’t bother any further. (Dawkins makes exactly this point about the show, in one of his books.)


VoX, 25 Feb 2022: The real and imagined history of Ukraine, subtitled, “Vladimir Putin says Ukraine isn’t a country. Yale historian Timothy Snyder explains why he’s wrong.”

Snyder is the author of the book On Tyranny, that I just summarized here 10 days ago.

From the interview:

You know, it’s like if I say that Canada is not a country, it’s just a creation of the United Kingdom. It’s going to sound ridiculous.

There are three terribly wrong things about this argument [that the creation of the Soviet Union established the Ukrainian republic]. No. 1, the Soviet Union is not the same thing as Russia. It was established deliberately as non-Russian, as an internationalist project.

No. 2, he’s got it completely backward because the Soviet Union was created as a federation of national units. (…)

But then the third point, I mean, the third way this is just absurd is that, of course, Ukrainian history goes way back before 1918. I mean, there are medieval events which flow into it, early modern events that flow into it. There was a national movement in the 19th century. All of that is, going back to your earlier question, all that falls into completely normal European parameters.

(Also today, NYT summarizes and debunks Putin’s various claims about Ukraine.)

None of this matters to the American far right who support him. He’s an authoritarian, he gets things done, and he supports traditional Christian values (if only nominally, like Trump, to attract supporters).

This entry was posted in Links & Comments, Politics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.