The Big History Behind January 6th, Part 5: Molestation, Cancel Culture, and QAnon
This is Part 5 in a series. Listen to the audio version here.
Molestation and Libertarianism
Today when people talk about molestation, they are almost always talking about sexual molestation. This wasn’t always the case. In the past, it had been used in connection to libertarian theory, which has since gone on to inform so-called “paleoconservative” political philosophies.
In libertarianism, molestation describes the subversion of the will of another. If someone has a cookie, and someone else takes it, the taker is “molesting” the cookie’s owner. This sounds nutty to a modern reader, but when this theory was being advanced in the 1950’s, it sounded more normal than it does today.
One of the best known advocates of this concept was Robert LeFevre. He lectured extensively on the idea of molestation and what he saw as the cure to the so-called “non-aggression principle.”
LeFevre and other hardline libertarian thinkers asserted that any “aggression” is inherently illegitimate, where “aggression” is defined as the “initiation” of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property.
To followers of this philosophy, taxation was a kind of aggression, as was any sort of intervention of any kind—to the point where government itself was seen as a violation of one’s individual rights. Because he was opposed to government, critics called LeFevre an “anarchist.” LeFevre responded by refining his views, claiming he was an “autarchist” — in favor of individual sovereign self-rule. He claimed that “natural law” is above the law of the state.
LeFevre was extremely influential, and advanced his philosophies to high-profile students through multiple educational institutions he founded, including Freedom School, Rampart College, and The Rampart Institute. LeFevre recruited notable proto-libertarian thinkers such as Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Rose Wilder Lane as teachers.
Jane Mayer reported in her book Dark Money (2017) that LeFevre recruited one follower who would go on to become very influential, Charles Koch. Through his father Fred’s connection to the John Birch Society, Robert Love of the Love Box Company introduced Charles to LeFevre’s school. Koch would go on to provide financial support to the Freedom School and also serve as an executive and trustee.
Another notable graduate of the Freedom School was Kerry Thornley, one of the founders of Discordianism, a kind of “parody religion” which exerted an outsized influence on later cultural movements.
But before LeFevre founded the Freedom school, and a brief stint in the US Army Air Corps, he had been indicted in 1940 for his participation in the “I AM” movement, along with its founders, Guy and Edna Ballard. According to Mayer, “I AM” was a movement that “worked audiences into frenzies as they chanted in response to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s names, ‘Annihilate them!’.” The growth of the “I AM” activity was closely aligned with rise of American fascism in the 1930’s.
The “Mighty I AM” movement persists today in the form of the St. Germain Foundation, based near Chicago, as well as through another branch, the Church Universal and Triumphant, based in Livingston, Montana.
For centuries, there have periodically been false allegations that Jews murder Christians — especially children — to use their blood for ritual purposes. It has persisted despite Jewish denials and official repudiations by the Catholic Church and many secular authorities. Most commonly, this is called the “Blood Libel Myth.”
Around 1902, a new piece of propaganda, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion appeared in Russia and was quickly disseminated around the world. A hoax, it alleged a global Jewish conspiracy to control the world. Today, holocaust deniers such as David Icke wrongly assert the factuality of “Protocols.” Both ‘Blood Libel’ and ‘Protocols’ have been readily incorporated into modern conspiracy thinking and have proven to be very resilient, if false, myths. On March 16, 2021, (the day this piece was published), a Capitol Police officer was suspended for having a copy of “Protocols” at his desk.
In recent years we have seen the rise of what’s come to be called “cancel culture,” wherein people who have been revealed as sexually transgressive are subjected to public reprobation. Whether it is for alleged abuse of children (Woody Allen), abuse of women (Harvey Weinstein; Bill Cosby), or even just behavioral impropriety in this area (Al Franken; Garrison Keillor; Andrew Cuomo), we are now all very familiar with what it means to be culturally “cancelled.” (And to be clear, there is no excuse for abusive behavior.)
A 2001 paper, commissioned by 4th Generation Warfare architects Paul Weyrich and William Lind, and authored by Catholic activist Eric Heubeck, offers a preview of what would become “cancel culture”:
“Our strategy will be to bleed this corrupt culture dry,” the document declares. “We will pick off the most intelligent and creative individuals in our society, the individuals who help give credibility to the current regime.” … “Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them…. We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left…. We will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime” (emphasis added).
Taken in the context of a 4th Generation “total war,” systematically “picking off” prominent figures is an effective way to shift cultural norms and mores. By conflating libertarian “molestation” of property with that of children and women — particularly when wielded against enemies such as immigrants, central bankers, and people deemed culturally transgressive—it is possible to effectively mobilize a wide swath of the population in service of the libertarian and right-wing agenda.
After all, who is willing to stand up in favor of “molestation?”
QAnon: Save The Children
One of the central narratives in the QAnon myth is that a cabal of Satanic pedophiles runs the world and drinks the blood of terrified children in order to obtain “adrenochrome,” enabling them to live forever. This is, of course, nonsense and a blatant recycling of the Blood Libel Myth.
While no one is sure of the exact origins of QAnon, by 2020 it had crawled from the sewer of obscure internet message boards to earn the endorsement of a long list of former military and intelligence professionals we cited in Part 4 of this series.
Michael Flynn has been deeply engaged in promoting QAnon and its many narratives, including pro-Trump missives penned by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò—an ally of Steve Bannon’s connected with the far-right Catholic faction Opus Dei. And Flynn is still promoting in QAnon in 2021, despite the fact that the last “Q” post was on December 8, 2020.
Investigations into QAnon have shown that Robert David Steele (video shown above) pushed the Pizzagate child sex abuse scandal as far back as 2016. Thomas Schoenberger, another person cited in investigations and linked to Flynn through mutual associates Nasser Kazeminy and Bijan Kian as far back as 2010, uses the alias “Thomas St. Germain”— a reference to “St. Germain,” the chief spiritual entity in the “I AM” cult movement.
Lisa Clapier, known as “SnowWhite7IAM” has also promoted “I AM” cult content, and was part of Occupy LA in 2011. Manuel Chavez III, known as “Defango,” worked with Schoenberger on an internet puzzle called Cicada 3301. Chavez also claims to have worked with Brittany Kaiser on the Obama campaign—before she joined Cambridge Analytica (see Part 1).
Both Steele and Clapier have promoted a two-part series of new-agey films called “Thrive” made by Foster Gamble, an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune. The film made something of a splash when it premiered in 2011, but reviewers quickly found that it in addition to being new age woo nonsense, it was anti-Semitic libertarian propaganda that used LeFevre’s non-aggression principle as a cudgel against central banks and government alike.
QAnon combines LeFevre’s “I AM”, Freedom School, and Rampart teachings into a cultish one-size-fits-all religion—modeled on the Discordianism created by LeFevre’s student Kerry Thornley in 1963, and pushed by Flynn and a network of former military and intelligence officials.
And it’s all born from a decades-long grudge rooted in rage over Roosevelt’s New Deal and the departure from the gold standard.
Continued in Part 6: The Bet
This is part five of a six part series that aims to provide historical context for the events that took place on January 6th. Please follow me on Twitter for subsequent updates as they become available. Media inquiries for features, podcasts, and the like may be directed via email. For additional details on this research, please see this exhaustive documentation.