An Interview about conspiracy theories and the tactics of the communication guerilla with the authors of the Wu Ming collective
Question: There are strange things going on in the within the social networks inhabited by right wing groups, like 4chan – even considering the low standards of the extreme right. A bizarre conspiracy theory is gaining traction, titled simply as „Q“, exactly like one of your most popular Works. „Q“ states on 4chan, among other things, that Donald Trump as a true American hero is engulfed in a titanic struggle against a global conspiracy, organized by a mighty pedophile organization. Did you as Wu Ming provoke this conspiracy-theory by using tactics of communication guerilla?
Wu Ming: Wu Ming and the Wu Ming Foundation don’t pull media pranks. That was one of the activities of the Luther Blissett Project, which lasted from June 1994 to December 31st, 1999. After the end of that project, all participants moved beyond and founded new projects and collectives.
Wu Ming is the name adopted in January 2000 by the authors who, using the collective moniker Luther Blissett, had previously written the novel Q. After the end of the LBP and the global impact of Q, we decided to keep experimenting with the novel form and meta-historical fiction. In the following years we wrote 54, Manituana, Altai, The Army of Sleepwalkers and in these days we’re finishing a new novel titled Proletkult. We also wrote heavily researched, fact-filled works which one might simplistically describe as creative non-fiction. We ourselves call them „Unidentified Narrative Objects“, UNOs.
In Italy, a sort of „fan activism“ has developed around our novels and UNOs, a vast community developed out of our blog Giap and our Twitter profile, with lots of experiments, transmedia storytelling, collaborative projects, open workshops and seminars, new blogs and collectives, even new mountaineering clubs. This process had already started in the 2000s, but it intensified and accelerated during the 2010s. This „collective of collectives“ is what we call the Wu Ming Foundation.
We got involved in the international debate on the QAnon hoax because it bears many resemblances to both the LBP’s work and our old novel. Many people got in touch with us in the past weeks. We had received dozens of emails and twitter DMs even before the Buzzfeed interview. Anyone who read our novel and then read the news about the QAnon phenomenon found it obvious that the latter took inspiration from the former, and wanted to know what’s our take on the whole thing.
Not only the references to our novel are hard to overlook – starting from the most apparent: «Q» himself and his dispatches – but the similarities between QAnon and the kind of media pranks we used to play back in the Luther Blissett days are striking.