There’s been more than one reason for my long silence on CV-19, so readers might forgive me – if they forgive me on nothing else – for so long an introduction to my first read of the month, by the Oxford theoretical epidemiologist, Sunetra Gupta.
My second read’s a characteristically close argued piece by Craig Murray on the transparency – in and of itself worrying – of the UK government’s attempts to silence “Russia trolls”. Yes, we know who they are by their use of the dog-whistle term, cui bono?
Finally, for the second time in less than a week, I’m offering in all seriousness a piece on China by that crypto-marxist outlet, the Economist. Try as it might, it can’t quite conceal its grudging respect for Mr Xi’s China!
I’ve been having a hard time over Covid-19. It’s not that I lost a dear friend to it in May. It’s more that, while I’m open to the views of some sceptics – Kit Knightly at OffGuardian, Profs Bakhdi and Wittkowski, Prof Piers Robinson and the Swiss Propaganda Group – my refusal to commit on a matter I don’t know enough about enrages or disappoints even some of my friends.
I’ve spoken of a religiosity of tone in many who challenge the idea that CV-19 is as serious as claimed. They may be right, though epidemiologists have been telling us since SARS 2003 that a global pandemic is a matter of when not if. (See Mike Davis, Planet of Slums author and one of my three April reads.)
Is this the big one we’ve been promised for the best part of two decades?
I don’t know, though I suspect not. But my agnosticism angers some. Which begs the question, what are they doing? It’s clear what those named in my opening paragraph are doing. They are tireless in alerting us to their view that we’re sleepwalking into ever more dangerous losses of liberty, or at the very least have bought into a suboptimal response to a threat overstated.
Like Professors Bhakdi (his open letter to Chancellor Merkel ignored by mainstream media) and Wittkowski (censored by Youtube) Professor Sunetra Gupta, my first read, insists that even on clinical, let alone socioeconomic grounds, wholesale lockdown is not the way to go.
But my experience is that those who apply Believes/Does Not Believe ‘the official narrative’ on CV-19 as the acid test of a person’s right to be heard on pretty much any subject are zealots. Yes, this is a moral judgment. And unlike those named earlier, most do nothing. No, this is not a moral judgment. My point – I paid top dollar for this insight from a flawed but brilliant spiritual teacher – is that the importance of the internal babble we call thought is more overegged than even the most draconian of claims by the CV-19 ‘official narrative’. How could it possibly matter a bean what a person believes, if no practical consequences follow?
It’s the same with 9/11. There’s a hard core of ‘truthers’ for whom a person who Gets This Wrong need not be listened to on any political matter. Not only is this an absurd piece of reductivism.1 Again the question is begged: what does it matter what we believe unless belief informs praxis?
We can’t all be writers or epidemiologists. But we can all apply our energies and organisational skills to advance causes we hold dear. If we mean business, why would we confine ourselves to sneering at the saps who’ve been taken in? It might make us feel good about ourselves, but it’s lousy salesmanship.
I take the questions arising from CV-19 and governmental responses seriously, but less so than the war fever on China (too similar in its drivers and implications to that on Russia for either to be viewed in isolation from the other). Even on its own terms I don’t see the question – is CV-19 truly as bad as they say? – as the most important. That honour goes to one more pressing, more practical, and in principle capable of uniting sceptics, agnostics and believers. Who will decide the terms on which lockdown ends and how will we resist our rulers’ inevitable attempts to saddle us, as they did after 2008, with the bill for its immense economic consequences?
But back to Sunetra Gupta. Call me a dirty lowdown agnostic, but might my promoting her here be an act almost as useful as sneering at the deluded?
The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing (5233 words)
.. the UK was asking its paid propagandists what they thought of Russian propagandists. Every one of the witnesses makes their living from postulating the Russian threat. They said the Russian threat is very big indeed.
.. the Intelligence and Security Committee Report on Russia is so flawed it is tempting to mock it. But it calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media who refuse to censor and remove material it believes inspired by foreign states. It accepts Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as good identifiers of material which should be banned – though Nimmo stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll
… It remains the most important single fact in British politics that, despite the fact almost everybody now acknowledges it was a disaster, nobody ever lost their job for supporting the Iraq war. Quite a few lost their job for opposing it, Greg Dyke, Carne Ross, Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Piers Morgan among them. It is a simple matter of fact that the Iraq War’s biggest cheer leaders dominate the London political and media landscape, whereas there is no critic of the Iraq War in an important position of power.
As the drive towards war on Russia (and more immediately China) continues apace – see my recent post, Our beautifully democratic wars – former UK Ambassador Craig Murray applies his forensic skills to the risible notion that “Russia, rather than deep disaffection of the less privileged classes, ’caused’ Trump, Brexit and even support for Scottish Independence.”
Xi Jinping is trying to remake the Chinese economy (3529 words)
Mr Xi is not simply inflating the state at the expense of the private sector. Rather, he is presiding over what he hopes will be the creation of a more muscular form of state capitalism. The idea is for state-owned companies to get more market discipline and private enterprises to get more party discipline, the better to achieve China’s great collective mission. It is a project full of internal contradictions. But progress is already evident in some areas.
As in my post earlier in the week on Huawei, I’m again recommending a China piece from the Economist. The well read red keeps tabs on that organ, whose mood music carries truths liberal media daren’t deliver.
Not that this fascinating read, replete with every prejudice in the Economist book – above all private profit good; state control baad – reveals any deep state secrets, or highlights fissures within Western ruling classes on matters China. It’s a good read simply because its look at China’s economy, under Xi’s stewardship, is not only more detailed than anything you’ll get in more general media. It is also, for all its obligatory deprecations, shot through with what looks suspiciously like grudging respect.
* * *
- Jan Oberg – Syria blogger who actually makes frequent trips there, splendid writer and photographer, and one of the few pacifists I truly have time for – has been attacked for not “speaking out” on 9/11 as an inside job. His response? “I blog only about things I know with certainty.” With you all the way, Jan.