QAnon, the storming of the Capitol, and the other outbreaks of reactionary extremism that the U.S. has been experiencing in recent years are part of a ruling-class drive towards paramilitarism in response to intensifications of class conflict. The goal is to import the kinds of paramilitaries that exist within Colombia, where unaccountable death squads that function officially outside of law enforcement or the military are assisting in the government's campaign to massacre protesters.
It's yet another manifestation of the "imperial boomerang," where the types of violence that an empire creates around the world--in this case paramilitaries with a deep role in terrorizing the population--get brought into the borders of the empire. Paramilitaries have always been used to fortify U.S. capitalist and colonial control, like with the government-coordinated burning down of Black Wall Street a century ago by state-sanctioned white-supremacist terrorists. But with its death squads in places like Latin America and Africa, the U.S. empire has been able to innovate paramilitary-terror methods within environments where class contradictions are even more pronounced than inside the U.S.
As neoliberalism pushes the U.S. into conditions of similar inequality, and as the increasing militarization of U.S. police places the country's colonized communities into deepening military occupation, it's becoming increasingly likely that the poor within the U.S. will rise up in guerrilla struggle. This is what the sociologist Temitope Oriola has predicted will occur, anticipating an armed anti-police insurgency mainly from the country's black population sometime in our generation. And more importantly, it's what the military expects to happen; time and time and time again in recent years, military analysts have been anticipating that growing unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure, and climatic catastrophes like power-grid breakdowns will drive the poor towards rebellions, necessitating military occupations of the country's largest urban areas.
To make these occupations successful, the U.S. national-security state anticipates that it will need to carry out mass surveillance of the conflict-ridden areas, the suppression of information that could sway the population against the government, "compelling narratives" that prop up the state's perceived legitimacy, and--implicit in all of these demands--the ability to orchestrate atrocities with impunity. And engineering the proliferation of paramilitarism is a good route towards creating this kind of environment.
In Poland, the Nazis did this by making society stateless and lawless, which allowed the death squads to act without reservation. This can be replicated by carrying out a campaign of domestic destabilization. As commentator John C. Whitehead has described, since 9/11 our government has been doing exactly this, manufacturing what he calls an "American apocalypse" where the government has been carrying out a "plot to destabilize" the country:
By waging endless wars abroad, by bringing the instruments of war home, by transforming police into extensions of the military, by turning a free society into a suspect society, by treating American citizens like enemy combatants, by discouraging and criminalizing a free exchange of ideas, by making violence its calling card through SWAT team raids and militarized police, by fomenting division and strife among the citizenry, by acclimating the citizenry to the sights and sounds of war, and by generally making peaceful revolution all but impossible, the government has engineered an environment in which domestic violence is becoming almost inevitable.
In this last year, the fomenting of division and strife has produced the MAGA terrorist attack on Capitol Hill, as well as the adoption among most Republicans of the belief that Trump had the election stolen from him. These destabilizing events, along with the additional right-wing terrorist attacks like Kyle Rittenhouse's shooting rampage, have been cultivated through a multi-layered propaganda campaign, one that mirrors the kinds of psychological operations that the CIA has perpetrated in its foreign destabilization efforts. This parallel makes perfect sense, given that covert governmental propaganda directed at the U.S. population was officially legalized in 2013. Again, the imperial boomerang is at work.
It's at work in more insidious ways than it appears on the surface, or the ruling-class media is willing to consider. QAnon is almost certainly a psychological operation by U.S. intelligence, in the same vein as the ones that the CIA has carried out during covert foreign-disinformation efforts like the 1989 U.S. propaganda blitz through Radio Free Asia surrounding Tiananmen Square, the campaign to mold public opinion in Yugoslavia through fabricated stories justifying NATO intervention that were directed at Yugoslavia's population, and the promotion by U.S. intelligence of fraudulent narratives during Brazil's 2018 election to elect Bolsonaro. As Truthdig's Jefferson Morley described last year, exactly these kinds of CIA disinformation tactics were used to interfere in last year's election:
President Trump's ongoing purge of the intelligence community, along with Bernie Sanders' surge in the Democratic presidential race, has triggered an unprecedented intervention of U.S. intelligence agencies in the U.S. presidential election on factually dubious grounds. Former CIA director John Brennan sees a "full-blown national security crisis" in President Trump's latest moves against the intelligence community. Brennan charges, "Trump is abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow's interests, not America's." But congressional representatives, both Democratic and Republican, who heard a briefing by the intelligence community about the 2020 election earlier this month say the case for Russian interference is "overstated."
As Morley concluded, this internal-propaganda campaign has been motivated by "not just fear of Trump, but fear of losing control of the presidency. From 1947 to 2017, the CIA and other secret agencies sometimes clashed with presidents, especially Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Carter. But since the end of the Cold War, under Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, the secret agencies had no such problem." During this latest instance where the CIA has clashed with a president--one that stemmed from Trump's unreliability when it came to carrying out the CIA's preferred anti-Russian cold-war escalations--the spooks have gone so far as to engineer a psyop that's motivated the president's supporters to commit violence.
In addition to the evidence that FBI operatives have been behind the promotions of QAnon (and have subsequently tried to pin this on "Russian interference"), QAnon has fulfilled every red flag for being a controlled-opposition movement that's orchestrated by U.S. intelligence. It's called for regime change in Iran. It's persuaded the Trump supporters who follow the conspiracy theory into disbelieving that Washington is behind a campaign to persecute Julian Assange. It's mimicked the aesthetics of an authentic whistleblowing source, like WikiLeaks, to steer right-leaning people who might have otherwise become class conscious towards worshiping a Republican politician as a messiah. It's no wonder why WikiLeaks has called QAnon a likely "pied piper" operation by intelligence operatives.
Whether or not the Capitol Hill riot was part of what the intelligence community wanted to come from this, QAnon has served the dual functions of diverting potential revolutionary energy and creating narrative leverage for replacing Trump with the CIA's preferred candidate Biden. QAnon's violent consequences have also provided the U.S. national-security state with an excuse to intensify its censorship against anti-imperialist voices (especially Palestinians), who are the ones who've mainly gotten classified by the CIA's partnered social-media companies as dangerous in the aftermath of January 6th.
The consequences of these internal information-based destabilization operations have been the strengthening of the militarized police state via tightened "counterterrorism" measures, the shrinking of the ability of revolutionaries to influence the narrative online, and the galvanizing of paramilitarism. Following the 2020 election, Arizona saw a spike in Google searches where radicalized MAGA followers asked about updates from QAnon, how to join militias, and how to make explosives. This is just the beginning of an uptick in right-wing extremism that the U.S. national-security is eager to covertly nurture. And as AZ Monitor has reported, this process has already been accelerating since the election:
Arizona was a hotbed of QAnon behavior both online and offline. The "Az Anons" took to message boards like 8kun to share their support for Arizona's Jacob Anthony Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman or Jake Angeli, with many still seeing him as a true believer and martyr of the cause. Angeli was one of the more prominent and flamboyant figures at the Jan. 6 insurrection, and is now in federal custody awaiting trial. "Understanding the messianic tendencies of QAnon, it is likely that Angeli's performance and resulting fame will set a precedent for increased offline action in the future," the report says. "Some Q supporters have noted that Arizona has 'the nation's best gun laws,' citing them as an advantage in the crusade against the 'cabal.'"
For now, what the intelligence communities are content to facilitate is stochastic terrorism, where a propaganda source encourages lone wolves to commit acts of violence. Last year's shooting of protesters by Kyle Rittenhouse and this year's anti-Asian hate crimes have been examples of this proliferation of ideologically motivated but ill-coordinated bloodshed. When class and colonial contradictions intensify to a point where the government has to fight off a rebellion, this stochastic terrorism will morph into government-coordinated militia terrorism.