[post] In which way should we take those extremist groups, fake news supporters and conspiracy theorists serious?
Curious to know if you have special opinions about this one. I want to suggest it first and improve the text and translate if you agree on the concept:
Because at first, intellectually serious they can not be: the fake news and conspiracy theorists are obviously wrong (certainly almost everyone in Belgium went to school until 18 years old at least) and supporting someone who just stole weapons from the military to plan some attack because someone shares his opinion, does not seem legit either.
It is even using platforms like Facebook, where its business is to get the attention of its users to what interests them, with the side effect it lets them continue to believe their weird theories as they will not be challenged. Facebook can put banners everywhere towards the official sources e.g. about covid-19, it won't change those users minds. Even if you try to challenge them, then you are the one who does not see the truth behind everything and if you report them, you will keep seeing other similar posts anyways. Facebook probably thinking you like to react on it. With all suggestive platforms that provide you "your news" or "your best videos", they focus on your attention and what you want is more profound information, but they keep you in the bubble of superficiality. And pirates know this can be improved: e.g. if we had each our own personal AI it would help us personally instead of helping Facebook.
The first reactions are that this is an attack on democracy and that we can not allow those opinions to be equal to others. Rightfully so. Their opinions take away the attention for the real truth. It is not whether Bill Gates putting patents on the AstraZeneca vaccine, might have held back production. No, it is about the chip he might implant?!
But the question remains: how should we take them seriously then? It is impossible that the chip will be implanted soon with the vaccine (but it will not take long for it to be possible). But the underlying tone tells something more: all those new technologies have only made the regular guy in the street more in control of the elite. The elite you don't see, but control it behind the scenes. Some superrich people will do everything and are so powerful regular people do not have the possibility to have their work seen as valuable and valid.
The reason Jürgen Conings might have so many sympathisers is because he uncovers weaknesses with the defence department along the fact that people feel that something is wrong with the way the pandemic measures kept being installed which gave them a bad feeling about people like Marc Van Ranst. He has also been demonized immediately by Dedonder giving him even more of a hero status.
And maybe we need to zoom in on why Marc Van Ranst is such a problem for them. Marc Van Ranst is a good communicator which was necessary to make clear to everyone at the start of the pandemic that it needed to be taken seriously. But he has also been a quite active N-VA/Vlaams Belang critic. And we could even say that it is good that Marc Van Ranst continues to try to convince everyone in social media that the virus is a problem. He might however still be seen as the one from the elite who maybe even unknowingly follows the (secret) elite on top.
Weirdly enough, Marc Van Ranst must have been the one who has been confronted with the Belgian political problems in the most direct way. With the many ministers of Health, the elaborous procedures to get something going, ... And he has said himself that something is wrong with our political structures many times. But somehow, he keeps polarizing against N-VA and Vlaams Belang. And this polarization could be good to uncover the underlying problems and bring the debate into the public, but the problem is that the polarization gets stronger and more absurd every time while the solutions we need never reach any attention. And it is true that in a democracy it should not be a problem to speak about the scientific facts as a virologist and dare to speak you personal opinion strongly elsewhere at the same time, but Belgium is not a democracy, but a particracy and then it might be wise to clearly state there is a problem with our state structures first. This way, you give in a bit on the extremist groups on the emotional side while at the same time being able to clearly state where they are wrong.
The same thing happened with the professors in Ghent that needed to confront their rector who said the president of Vlaams Belang is right in a specific argument. Which could be still technically wrong, but pragmatically right. Those professors try to defend our democratic values, but then, how democratic are we still, if in no way we put into question the undemocratic structures of our Belgian state? It gives the impression that if the left side just continues to say that we need to reduce CO2 emissions and we keep saying the extreme right is stupid that everything will be fine.
Not so and by the way, new technologies can even capture CO2 directly from the air for 200 € / ton. You need some 6000 km on your petrol car for that. So, we will solve this somehow, but as humans, we have been altering the ecology for quite some time now and we will need to see how we can continue to do this in a way that does not destroy nature and as we are part of nature, does not destroy us. To put it in positive terms, how humans and nature can go hand in hand even more with all the extra possibilities humans will get over nature.
The point is that the solutions we need are far more complex than just letting the less extremist groups dwell with democratic values, while our political structures need revision. For starters, intellectuals need to state first of all something is wrong with our political system in the first place, instead of trying to be the authority. This was necessary at the start of the pandemic, but now, we really need to look past that.
Then, the traditional pirate recipes apply: transparency as much as possible, basic income to avoid the 15% poverty and encourage people in Belgium to start their own business and innovate (which we do not risk enough, but we need that innovation to be able to thrive as human beings), participatory democracy to bring the nature/human/culture relationship into the cities of the future, personal AIs that will go beyond Facebook and favor ourselves and our communities instead. Through those recipes, you can see that solutions are possible, but they require out of the box thinking, also for intellectuals.
At least let the pandemic tell us it is ok to aim for a better society. It is the best way to take conspiracy extremist fake news serious and of course we can always teach them at the same time, although they should have been at school.