One of the 1990s conspiracy theories which I recall hearing about in popular media and internet lore is that of the ‘Beast Computer’. The 1998 track ‘Information‘ off the (Wu-Tang-Clan affiliate) Killah Priest album ‘Heavy Mental‘ might be the best popular cultural example which I can to point to that may reflect this kind of thinking. (Much like the RATM canon artistically it’s not a bad album IMHO and I like the sound, although it is chock full of anti-Americanism. Just be sure to enjoy the lyrics critically from a strategic perspective as they probably relate to a legacy of disinformation.)
It is apparent that the track captures an online premillennialist zeitgeist of apocalyptic / popular eschatological concepts. I think this strongly represents the late 90’s online anti-American conspiracy thinking which accompanied such ‘viruses of the mind‘ as ‘Nostradamus‘ and ‘Bill Gates 666 Disinformation‘ and are likely traceable to Russian active measures activity (see also, ‘False Flag‘). Specifically, for the purposes of this post, the ‘Information‘ track mentions the idea of a ‘Beast Computer’ within the context of anti-CIA/NSA sentiment, anti-semitism, anti-capitalism, and even cyberspace (lyrics). The controversy surrounding the so called ‘Beast Computer of Belgium’ is in fact cited in the context of a 1998 ‘mind virus’ as well which is specific to Russia, but the conspiracy has been associated with Russian Orthodoxy overseas since at least 1982.
While the idea of a Beast Computer – 666 Barcode conspiracy may not have apparently originated in Russia, it was close to the time of the original encapsulation of this idea in the privately-printed 1981 book ‘The New Money System 666‘ that the encouragement of such beliefs appeared in Russian Orthodox texts. It was cited as part of a proper ‘Orthodox World View’ by Father Seraphim Rose. Rose was an American convert to Russian Orthodoxy who is now venerated by some Orthodox but is controversial for his integration of Russian Orthodox ideas with Protestantism and Fundamentalism apparently (- not to mention conspiracy theory).
—The increasing centralization of information on and power over the individual, represented in particular by the enormous new computer in Luxembourg, which has the capacity to keep a file of information on every man living; its code number is 666 and it is nicknamed “the beast” by those who work on it. To facilitate the working of such computers, the American government plans to begin in 1984 the issuance of Social Security checks to persons with a number (apparently including the code number 666) stamped on their right hand or forehead—precisely the condition which will prevail, according to the Apocalypse (ch. 13) during the reign of antichrist. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the first person to get himself stamped 666 is the antichrist, or the servant of antichrist, but once you are used to this, who will be able to resist? They will train you first and then they will make you bow down to him.
…It was in 1998 that Igumen (now Achimandrite) Tikhon (Shevkunov), father superior of Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, first uttered warnings about new trouble coming from the West and betokening nothing less than the advance of the Antichrist. He spoke out against the bar code being placed on goods for sale; prompted by like-minded men in Greece, our fundamentalists had discovered there the number 666. Passionate discussion began in the church press and in the parishes as to whether it was admissible for Orthodox believers to buy bar-coded goods. The Sretensky Monastery is one of the church’s largest publishing houses, so widespread propaganda was easy to achieve…
Simply, I think it is worth pointing out that even the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion were closely connected to the Russian Orthodox Church – much like the same figures behind the ‘Protocols’ were connected to the canonization of Seraphim or Sarov (which also formed part of the basis for Stalin’s policy of ‘Atomic Orthodoxy’); and how The Protocols were on sale in Orthodox Churches alongside canonical texts up until the mid-2000s.
Despite not being apparently tied to a massive chain mail or usegroup campaign as in the case of the other supposed ‘mind viruses’, the idea of a 666 ‘mind virus’ directly connected to the Russian Orthodox Church via conspiracy theory would seem to be consistent with what emerged in the Bill Gates disinformation and Nostradamus cases; and may be part of a manifest 1990s strategy to resurrect Russian greatness by hard-liner nationalists which has resulted in
Lavrenti Beria Jr.’s Vladimir Putin’s return ascension to power. As the history of The Protocols or even Seraphim of Sarov shows, the Russian Orthodox Church has a long affiliation with conspiracy theories which were seemingly intentionally produced by elements of the Russian secret police and served as the basis for longstanding ‘active measures’ campaigns. Many of the top leaders of the Russian church have a past affiliation with the secret police.
This post-Yeltsin government has shown a particular emphasis on the renovation of the Russian Orthodox Church which seems to put it in alignment with Western Christian right wing fundamentalists and also the employment of advanced cyber technologies to spread disinformation.
Perhaps the ‘Beast Computer’ is yet another good example of a cultural conspiracy which emanated somehow from the Russian secret services with the assistance of agents within the Russian Orthodox Church.