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QAnon and other conspiracy ideologies’ impact on Sub-Saharan Africa in the age of Global capitalism

Kohnert, Dirk (2023): QAnon and other conspiracy ideologies’ impact on Sub-Saharan Africa in the age of Global capitalism.

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With the attack on the Capitol by the 'Proud Boys', Donald Trump's 'deep state' allegations reached the peak of US conspiracy ideologies. Conspiracy was at the core of Trump's policies, including his repeated claims that President Barack Obama was born in Africa. It reflects Trump's deep dislike of African states. After all, a third of the Republican electorate agreed with the far-right QAnon paranoia and other bizarre conspiracy theories. From the outside, the United States was taking on the shape of a banana republic. When US media identified a South African journalist as the mastermind behind QAnon's global rollout in 2019, many Republicans equated Africa with Pandora's box. However, it is no coincidence that the black continent is associated with occult powers. In the social sciences, the modernity of witchcraft beliefs in Africa has been debated hotly for decades. Modern techniques and utensils have become central to the occult's continued importance to Africans. The crisis of the modern nation-state is closely intertwined with the global spread of neoliberal capitalism and the 'invisible hand' that shapes its political and material conditions and forms of society. Beliefs in witchcraft and zombies reflect the alienation of labour, capitalist exploitation, and class formation in African societies. The poor of Africa and the people of the Global South in general, do not lack modernity but have been denied the promise of modernization. Today, even cybercriminals working in the Ivory Coast, impersonating Europeans on social media profiles and seducing partners into falling in love with them, feel compelled to seek the advice of witch doctors to outwit their prey. Given the worldwide importance of social media, this suggests that the virtual space of the global economy as a hotbed of magic and witchcraft is under researched. As in the US election campaign and its entanglement with fake news, examination of the cosmology of the occult in Africa and elsewhere reveals the threat of destructive forces inherent in social relations. African religions could provide a framework for valuable self-determined solutions to current problems in contemporary life, including the issue of witchcraft violence. In addition, this could open up an inspiring new dimension of philosophical thinking and emancipative action to the outside world, for example, regarding conflict resolution and reconciliation.

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