People can be quick to judge anti-vaxxers who are currently converging on Canberra, Australia to (mostly) protest against vaccine mandates, children’s vaccinations and maybe 5G mobile telephone networks for some reason. Well, the actual reason is that, with modern communications being what they are, anti-vaxxers are themselves merely victims of mostly home made “psychological warfare operations” (or psyops – if you would like an example of a more polished one, please see “White Horse”).
These have been common in warfare for thousands of years but I don’t pretend that this current usage is for any kind of war. It seems, mostly, an attempt to gain notoriety, money, and in some cases, simply the attention of others. It’s a lonely world out there in the digital realm, and the anti-vaxxer movement has provided friendship, support, and community that many individuals involved may otherwise have missed out on.
Psychological warfare varies dramatically and can be something overwhelming and obvious, like the sound of thousands of Roman soldiers marching or the sonic booms of Israeli jets over Palestinian homes to shock and demoralise the enemy and civilians. In the case of the anti-vaxxer movement, the psyops involved are more clumsy (being made by amateurs and charlatans) and so generally (but not always) be targeted at vulnerable individuals. This is not done through fear, but rather through friendship.
In the same way, a terrorist recruiter will find vulnerable, lonely individuals that fit a certain profile to carry out suicide attacks. In the same way that two countries at war would seek out disgruntled citizens of their enemies to collaborate with. There is a reason these tactics are used – because they work. They have been practiced on people for thousands of years, most notably through religion and commerce.
Everyday you are bombarded with psycholigically targetted messages – mostly through advertising but also through personal religious and other beliefs. If you look deep enough, society is a psyop of its own, just one that can be beneficial for some more than others. Money, for example, has most of its value derived from the psychological trust we place in it. It has little to no real value in and of itself. We believe a US Dollar or an Australian dollar is safe and secure to trade in.
If we stopped believing that then there would be economic difficulties that would be hard to predict. In the case of the psyops perpetrated against anti-vaxxers however, there is little perceived benefit except from perhaps the social connections formed through the ‘recruitment’ process into the movement. “One of us” is a powerful feeling for human beings and I would place it under “religious psyop” – meaning anything that requires an unshakable belief in “the message”.
Wether the message is “Jesus is Lord” or “Covid-19 Vaccines Kill” or “Make America Great Again” there can be no questioning of that belief. No matter how illogical. The reason for doing this to initiates is the same as why militaries have basic training and all shave their heads. It is to “reset” an individuals core belief system and replace it with a shared one. A shared purpose. One of us.
The anti-vaxxer movement isn’t harmless. It has killed people. Far more people than any vaccine. The problem is, with decentralised, uncontrolled and ill disciplined psyops is that the damage is already done, and if you could stop it, it would just simply morph into something else. We already see that in the anti-vaxxer movement as they move on from opposing the vaccine outright to claiming to be “proptecting children” from the vaccine.
If you have an anti-vaxxer in the family I should say that there is little use confronting them with the reality of covid-19 and the quite effective vaccines. Delusional disorders are difficult for family and friends to deal with because the more you push against the delusion, the deeper it will dig in. In religions, we have holy texts that tell believers to shun non-believers and amateur psyops like the anti-vaxxer movement are not different. You will not be seen as “one of them” and by openly disagreeing with a family member or friend, you could easily be driving them away when they need you the most.
Besides, it’s not as if Australia hasn’t been subject to much more sophisticated psycholigical warfare operations in the past – just ask former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (not that he would remember):