In the first field-guide post of the series, this Report outlined how the axioms of New Age spirituality and conspiracism overlap. The second instalment looked at how some New Age and wellness practitioners are already living in the afterglow of a fascist fever dream that can make them vulnerable to QAnon.
Now we can turn to features of 1980s-onwards political economy that helped transform conspiracism into a mainstream commodity and marketing tool. There are surely psychological reasons for why New Agers, yoga teachers, and wellness professionals were attracted to the premises of QAnon and its related myths throughout 2020. But enthusiasts and practitioners alike —in America especially, where conspirituality has become a primary export—have also been groomed by four decades of globalization and deregulation into a series of dessicated attitudes that have piled up for conspirituality to ignite. They include:
- A fading trust that anything approaching a social contract could exist in a de-unionized, trickle-down, banking-and-technology oriented landscape.
- A vaguely shameful belief consumerism as a restorative in times of crisis, expressed best by Bush Jr. advising that Americans go shopping after 9/11.
- Waning interest in politics. (In 2008 I tried to organize yoga networks to phone-bank for the Obama campaign. Not because I thought he was a super option, but because I thought it was a pragmatic good and should be easy to organize. I was wrong. The majority response was not only a lack of concern for politics, but the assertion that political activism was both useless and unenlightened.)
- A fading hope that universalized and/or holistic and integrated health care was an achievable goal.
- A growing feeling that health care is primarily self-care, as the hope of universalized care evaporates. Cue the rise of supplement and essential oil MLMs. (As a researcher of injury and abuse in the yoga world, I’ve talked with countless practitioners and teachers who turned to yoga as their primary form of health care, even as their practices exacerbated…