The Populist Playbook

By: Andreea Gustin

This week centered on conspiracy theories and how they have become a part of the populist playbook in Europe. The last few weeks of the course, we’ve look at themes that have had transnational aspects. This week’s theme is no different as can be seen with Mark Scott’s article, QAnon goes European, which details how QAnon crossed the Atlantic and has become a part of protest, populist and conspiracy groups in Europe. 

It was interesting to see how this American conspiracy theory has integrated into different areas and groups within Europe and how social media and the network society has played a role in QAnon increasingly making their way into the existing online communities and protest movements across the continent. This new interconnectedness we are seeing as a result of the global network society and social media platforms has made it easier for conspiracy groups to spread information like wild fire and to target many different kinds of individuals and groups that they might not have otherwise reached. 

This is a very fitting time to talk about the role of conspiracy theories. As we’re navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been spending a lot more of their time online, as discussed in the Scott article, and it’s led people to come across a lot of disinformation, anti-vaccine content and other conspiracy content. I don’t necessarily believe that people spending more time online is automatically making them fall for conspiracy theory traps, but I do think that the new complexities of fake online sources and conspiracy theories have made them harder to spot now-a-days than it was traditionally. Foreign and unpredictable situations like the current pandemic make a perfect breeding ground for conspiracies. 

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