The god problem: the Capitol under attack was a “mass-delusion event”

Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, joined a Trumpist crowd last Wednesday and reported on what they were saying.

I found his report pretty revelatory, especially his profound perception of what happened as a “mass-delusion event,” one that skewed away from politics. (His first sentence below refers to the crowd’s insistence that Goldberg take off his mask if he wanted to walk with them. He refused.)

We will find out shortly if today’s insurrection was also a super-spreader event. What I do know, after spending hours sponging up Trumpist paranoia, conspiracism, and cultishness, is that this gathering was not merely an attempted coup but also a mass-delusion event, not something that can be explained adequately through the prism of politics. Its chaos was rooted in psychological and theological phenomena, intensified by eschatological anxiety. One man I interviewed this morning, a resident of Texas who said his name was Don Johnson (I did not trust this to be his name), told me that the country was coming apart, and that this dissolution presaged the End Times. “It’s all in the Bible,” he said. “Everything is predicted. Donald Trump is in the Bible. Get yourself ready.”

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