In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread.
The seemingly disparate groups that attend these protests are part of a shifting coalition of conspiracist and far-right groups. One of the primary organisers of Saturday’s protest is a UK-based anti-5G movement known as Stand Up X (or by the unbeatable acronym “SUX”). According to Hope Not Hate, the group has previously backed smaller protests by a US-linked, QAnon-friendly outfit in Manchester and other UK cities. They say the groups are part of a growing number of conspiracy outfits “willing to sideline differences in belief” in order to collaborate. And previous investigations by journalists in the US have found far-right organisations behind Facebook groups arranging lockdown protests.
All of this is part of a recent blending of multiple strands of conspiratorial thinking and far-right politics. Conspiracies have always had points of overlap, but over the past few years the anti-vax movement has become more pointedly right wing, while mainstream far-right and right-populist parties have become more conspiratorial.
The Italian Five Star Movement and Northern League have recently questioned vaccine effectiveness, as has France’s Front National. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán regularly suggests the Jewish financier George Soros is about to swamp the country with migrants. And Trump this week claimed his opponent Joe Biden was “controlled” by “people that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows.”