Would it astonish me to learn that Reddit users were tacitly encouraged to do the bidding of one hedge fund intent upon sabotaging another? Certainly not. Indeed, my first impression upon learning what had taken place was that the whole thing must have been some kind of plot undertaken by reactionary hucksters.

At present there is no evidence that anything of the kind has taken place here. (The closest we have to a right-wing pied piper in this case is Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports, who for days encouraged the squeeze and vowed on Thursday that he would rather lose $2 million than sell.) But what appears to have happened instead is something stranger and, in a sense, more sinister. It was not some obscure MAGA financier convincing the Reddit masses to live-tweet the revolution with T.D. Ameritrade screenshots, but the individuals themselves, like the companions of Oz opening the curtain only to find a mirror and their own voices issuing forth from the loudspeaker. This, I think, is a better explanation for the populist politics of the last four years than the parallel conspiracies usually evinced in fashionable circles.

The ridiculous narrative according to which the Great Gamestop Short Squeeze was some kind of revolt against unnamed representatives of the financial elite did not emerge from the fecund imagination of a Steve Bannon or a Jacob Wohl. Rather it appears to be the result of spontaneous generation, an essentially untraceable organic growth like QAnon. It was as if hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people had decided simultaneously to create the South Sea Bubble to own the libs.