CV-19 and the Great Reset

8 Feb

CV-19 as fictitious is not the only conspiracy theory in town.1 Just yesterday a fellow dog walker, a likeable bloke and seemingly sane, gave his view of the corona virus as unleashed by China. The “communists”, he told me, are after – I quote verbatim here – “world domination”. I could have asked how he’d arrived at that conclusion but didn’t. Nor did I interrupt or argue. Why do that? One unforeseen benefit of blogging, I find, is a gradual fading of the impulse to rush into exchanges of baked air at the drop of a hat. In any case the barkings at the less savvy end of the dog leash at times go beyond light entertainment. As measures of the diverse forms that brain-washed opinion manufacture may assume – while remaining fully in sight through the Overton Window – they can also be ethnomethodologically instructive.

(Overexposure to Guardian and Beeb-wash can leave a chap under-exposed to Telegraph and Mail-wash. I recommend dog walking. It’s good for mental wellbeing and can promote dialogue between the differently deceived).

Still, in my neck of the woods, for every home-grown who posits covid-19 as the evil fruit of evil China’s evil bid to rule the world,2 there’s ten will tell you the whole ghastly business was spun from thin air by Machiavellians near and far for the sole purpose of taking away our freedoms.

On March 25 I promoted an Off-Guardian piece, 12 Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic. In my post that day I wrote:

I’m resistant to the idea of covid-19 as a huge scam, cooked up for one or more of – introducing draconian curbs to liberty … tilting further the balance of class forces from labour to capital … covering up for a huge financial crash that was going to happen anyway … consolidating the grip of elite bankers, regardless of lost trillions in the ‘real’ economy. All of these possibilities and a few besides have been aired on social media.

But [some have been asking] how reliable is the evidence for covid-19 as unprecedented threat, hence for the extra-ordinary measures, their costs incalculable, we are now seeing? That’s a fair question when the ‘cure’, it can be argued, may be worse than the disease. When the global economy takes this level of battering, lives will also be lost ..

My response so far to those questioning the extent of covid-19’s threat has been that:

  • I don’t know, and neither do they. Because I oppose capitalism, its defects exposed as never before in my lifetime, more than I oppose authoritarianism I’ve been inclined to bend the stick of doubt in favour of accepting covid-19 as “a real and terrible” danger. But I’ve made clear I could be wrong, and suggested that time may swiftly tell. Nor, I hasten to add, do I offer anti-authoritarianism versus anti-capitalism as an objectively grounded either/or. Simply a framework, largely subjective, within which I make my leaps of faith where we haven’t the luxury of certainty.
  • If this is a devilish plot, I’m struggling to identify the beneficiaries. Not just the small and medium capitalists – always expendable in a crisis – but big capital too are being hit as never before. The costs of global lockdown will be measureless to man.
  • If this is a devilish plot, how come China, Russia and Cuba are in on it too?

I broadly stand by that view, though my first bullet looks to have been too optimistic about time “swiftly” telling. But almost a year on, and notwithstanding my loss of a dear friend to the virus in May, it has become more clear that, as Eric Van de Beek claims below, it is “deadlier than flu, but not a killer like ebola or Spanish Flu”. As for my second bullet, that was flat out wrong. Big capital has not been “hit as never before”; at any rate not evenly. Behemoths like Amazon, and lesser titans like Tesco, have seen profits soar under such exotic conditions. More generally the super rich, who do not sell their labour-power, have got richer.

And the professional castes, in many cases able to work from home, have so far been shielded from the worst economic effects. Indeed, with lower travel costs and less to spend money on, the biggest worry for this group is the threat to savings from looming negative interest rates.3

*

These days I don’t write much about CV-19, or the responses taken by governments in the name of protecting us. One reason being that I’ve grown more confused, not less, as to what many sceptics are actually saying.

On that last I used to think I could distinguish those who say the disease is real, but overstated, from those who say it is imaginary – a ‘shamdemic’. I thought too that I could tell those who say lockdown in its various forms is disproportionate and/or counterproductive, but not conceived in bad faith, from those who see the whole thing as cooked up – a ‘plandemic’. And prior to the Great Barrington Declaration in October 2020, I thought I knew the difference between left libertarians – with whom I differed but whom I respected – and Free Enterprise zealots.

Now I’m less sure of any of these things but that doesn’t leave me devoid of opinions. Take the conspiracy thesis of Gregory Sinaisky in Fabricating a Pandemic – Who Could Organize It and Why. In a footnote to my Great Barrington post, linked in the previous paragraph, I wrote:

Mr Sinaisky is fond … of unsupported generalisations. Some are flat out wrong, as when he says “media never compare the number of deaths caused by flu in recent years with Covid-19 deaths”. Even the most cursory search online shows that they do. Often. And his answer to the argument that those who cry global conspiracy must account for Beijing, Havana, London, Moscow, Tehran and (Trump or no) Washington being in on it? Not at all, he retorts. Few states have the resources to ignore WHO advice, and WHO is US dominated. That last is true. WHO, like OPCW, IMF and other “independent” bodies is indeed US dominated. But parties capable of an independent line include Beijing, Moscow and Havana.

Ruling classes are very good at turning crises to their advantage – as with the financial crash of 2008, which I’m equally loth to believe was engineered – and at making those least responsible pay for their greed and ineptitude. But I don’t buy the ‘scamdemic’ thesis and deplore the way committed and capable scourges – Jonathan Cook, Caitlin Johnstone and Media Lens spring to mind – of a criminal order are pilloried for not penning the covid-19 posts their detractors feel morally entitled, in many cases astoundingly given their own low input, to demand of them.4

In short, on some crucial aspects I remain agnostic. On others I’ve made up my mind. Pending convincing evidence to the contrary I don’t believe CV-19 the Great Decimator we’ve been sold on by politicians themselves in the grip – not least because epidemiologists have been saying since SARS 2003 that such a catastrophe is a matter of when not if – of panic.

Nor, also pending evidence to the contrary, do I believe it a scam or, less confrontationally, “no worse than flu”. I do believe some people are not only too sure of themselves on such points, but less interested in patiently winning others to their positions than in vilifying those who do not already share them. I also believe that a cacophony of the self righteous, with its damning of the infidel, diverts attention from the question of who will be saddled with the bill, and lets government incompetence and cronyism off the hook.

(Leaving criticism of said incompetence and cronyism to the likes of the Guardian, which would have us think the answer lies in a change of faces – in the corridors of what it calls power and I call office – and not in the demise of life-negating capitalism. But that’s a bit of a stretch, so I’ll back off a tad. While I’m setting out my CV Stall of Beliefs, here’s one more narrowly germane: that my writings on CV-19, sparse as they are, have done more than their ‘sceptical’ critics ever did to give a hearing to relevant but dissenting and hence deplatformed experts5 who see the disease as overstated, government responses as wrongheaded.)

Let me add less contentiously that trends long in the making have been expedited. They include spiralling inequality, rising authoritarianism – some of it in the name of social inclusion6 – and a snitching culture. Less obviously problematic, they also include an accelerated shift to online shopping (further eroding social engagement) and, for the professional, to home working (more social erosion, plus further weakening of the ties between how we make a living and where we live). These trends, all promising knock-on effects, were already taking place but lockdown has acted as a catalyst and the changes look set to be either wholly irreversible or only partially reversible. The one thing all sides can agree on is that if and when this all ends we will not be going back to the way we were.

As I trust is clear from all this, my silence for more than three months has not been because I thought the matter of no importance. Rather, a mix of objective uncertainty with subjective and toxic ‘certainty’ on the one hand, on the other the existential threat of a US Empire enraged by the rise of Eurasia, has had me focus my limited energies elsewhere. It will likely continue to do so. But every now and then I’ve sought calm assessments of the covid/lockdown state of play; assessments which acknowledge differing views without hysteria, ad-hominem or triumphalism unwarranted, and leave room for what we we simply do not know. In a climate where nuanced reason on important aspects is easily drowned out, however, I’ve found such assessments few and far between.

Then the other day I read an Eric Van de Beek piece on the ICH site. Since Sputnik had run it on January 31, I post here in full. Make of it what you will. It comes close to my own thinking.

Fact or Fiction: The Great Reset Conspiracy

Due to the lockdowns, many people around the world are losing their jobs, businesses are going bankrupt and governments are indebting themselves to the hilt. Those who believe that the negative impact of the coronavirus measures are more damaging than the lives being saved have started asking themselves: Is there a hidden agenda behind it all?

Last week marked the 50th annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the first time, the forum was held in a virtual setting, with no heads of state, captains of industry and others physically attending. The theme of this year’s sessions: The Great Reset.

The Great Reset has become a buzzword in circles of conspiracy thinkers. Some think that it refers to global financial elites and world leaders that planned the pandemic, deliberately letting loose a coronavirus to cause conditions that will allow a restructuring of the economy, the financial system, politics and society. They refer to the pandemic as a ‘plandemic’. Others refrain from any opinion about the cause of the pandemic and merely think the elites are just taking advantage of the virus. Many believe the main goal of the Great Reset is to take global control by instituting a totalitarian regime, and by extension, a so-called new world order. Such a regime would abolish personal ownership and property rights, send the military into cities, impose mandatory vaccination, and create isolation camps for people who resist.

Conspiracy thinking has become a derogatory term. And, in fact, there are many examples of conspiracy theories that are ludicrous. But at the same time, conspiracy theories have often turned out to be conspiracy facts. And so what to make of The Big Reset Conspiracy Theory?

A hidden agenda

It is understandable that people have started asking themselves why governments have taken such draconian measures to stop the pandemic. The virus may be deadlier than the flu, but it’s not a killer virus like ebola or the Spanish Flu. To many, the cure seems worse than the disease. Due to coronavirus lockdown measures, many are suffering from severe physical and psychological stress. They have lost jobs or have gone bankrupt. Their governments are indebting themselves to the hilt. The World Food Programme (WFP) executive director, David Beasley, has warned that the world faces “multiple famines of biblical proportions” that could result in 300,000 deaths per day — a “hunger pandemic”. Financial experts have warned we are bringing ourselves to the brink of a financial crisis, one that could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. To an increasing number of people it seems that the lives that are being destroyed by the coronavirus lockdown measures outweigh the work of saving lives, by far.

Many therefore have started to think there’s a hidden agenda behind it all. This agenda, to conspiracy theorists, is called The Great Reset, and in their view, it is being masterminded by the global elites via the World Economic Forum in Davos. Klaus Schwab, 82, who founded the forum 50 years ago and is still leading it, is sometimes depicted on social and alternative media as the character Blofeld from the James Bond films: a bald-headed villain, holding a white cat, who directs the international criminal organisation SPECTRE and aspires world dominance.

The influence of Schwab on world affairs is of course grossly overestimated. The WEF does not control its members and participants; however, it supports them, serves as a consensus machine and confronts them with societal issues like climate change and social inequity.

Schwab co-authored a book published in July 2020 entitled ‘Covid-19: The Great Reset’. I’ve read this book and – to be honest – in the book I didn’t find anything that substantiates the Great Reset Conspiracy Theory. Schwab and his co-author, Thierry Malleret, simply voice their concern about the economical, political and societal impact of the virus. They warn for incremental measures and ad hoc fixes. They fear the climate and social crises will deepen and that measures taken to contain the virus will leave the world even less sustainable, less equal and more fragile. To prevent this from happening the authors call on the world community to put into motion a Great Reset.

“It’s about making the world less divisive, less polluting, less destructive, more inclusive, more equitable and fairer than we left it in the pre-pandemic era,” the authors clarify.

In essence there’s nothing new here. Schwab has been expressing idealistic ideas like these for at least two decades now. Naomi Klein, a well-known WEF critic, describes The Great Reset as “a coronavirus-themed rebranding of all the things Davos does anyway, now hastily repackaged as a blueprint for reviving the global economy post-pandemic by seeking a better form of capitalism.” As editor Andrew Stuttaford of the National Review puts it: “COVID-19 is just the latest excuse for Schwab to renew his longstanding campaign to replace free market capitalism with stakeholder capitalism.”

Moreover, many of the ideals expressed by Schwab and Malleret in their book, if not all, are inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (UN) that were set in 2015 and are intended to be achieved in the year 2030.

The catch phrase “building back better” that was used in Joe Biden’s election campaign and in speeches of Boris JohnsonJustin Trudeau and other world leaders does not stem from the WEF’s Great Reset initiative as is often claimed by conspiracy thinkers. It’s been part of the of the UN’s vocabulary for at least 15 years. It was originally used in the context of offering help to countries that were struck by natural disaster like hurricanes and tsunamis. To make these countries less vulnerable to future disasters the UN helped them by rebuilding a more disaster-resilient infrastructure.

And so: Move along, nothing to see here? No conspiracy going on at the WEF in Davos?

Danger of totalitarianism looming

There isn’t a shred of evidence the coronavirus was brought into the world on purpose. But at the same time it’s a known fact that, with every crisis, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

“The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their COVID-19 losses within just nine months,” NGO Oxfam reported last week on the opening day of the WEF. “But it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

Did wealthy actors take advantage of the coronavirus by pushing governments into taking draconian measures that would cause a worldwide economic crisis? As far as I know, there’s no supporting evidence for this theory at all.

However, concerns about the development towards authoritarianism or totalitarianism need to be taken very seriously. Western governments have taken a set of freedom-restricting measures that are unprecedented in peacetime. As the Austrian-British economist Friedrich Hayek put it: “Emergencies have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.” Governments are always eager to take more control over society – and once they’ve taken it, they will never easily let go of it.

Will governments send the military into the streets to crack down on demonstrations? Will they impose mandatory vaccination and create isolation camps for people who resist?

In some European countries, including the UK and The Netherlands, politicians have already suggested to send the military to assist the police. In Germany, four federal states declared to have plans to detain repeated quarantine breakers in facilities that historically have been either detention or refugee centres.

To force people into taking a vaccination, governments do not have to make them mandatory. They can simply exclude people that aren’t vaccinated from activities like travel. Such measures are already being prepared. The more people that have been vaccinated, the harder it will become for vaccination refusers to resist.7 

To create a dystopian world like the one embodied in the Great Reset Conspiracy Theory, no conspiracy is needed. The erosion of freedom in the West started with the lockdown of the Hubei province in China, “leaked” videos from Wuhan of apocalyptic scenes likened to Zombieland and The Walking Dead – and with The World Health Organisation (WHO), imploring the world to “copy China’s response“. With one country after another following in China’s footsteps, pressure increased on governments that initially responded in a more relaxed or thoughtful manner. No malevolent intentions were needed to get where we are now. All it took was a global mass hysteria, peer pressured governments that overreacted or simply took the wrong measures, and – last but not least – fear struck, paralyzed citizens that – without offering considerable resistance – let their civil rights and liberties be taken away from them step by step, one by one.

* * *

  1. I use ‘conspiracy theory’ neutrally unless I say otherwise – in which case my objection will be that it is wrong on evidential or logical grounds, not that it posits a conspiracy. To use the term as means of a-priori dismissal is lazy or stupid. If I say this a shade too often it’s because I’ve a shade too often seen the term’s boorish usage, by people who deem themselves critical thinkers, to defend an indefensible status quo.
  2. It’s a truth universally acknowledged (invoke Jane Austen, I say, and you’re covered on irony) that Beijing, having bombed, sanctioned and/or invaded country after country in the global south, is forever telling us that we are an empire: we create our own reality” “we came, we saw, he died, ha-ha!” …”we lied, we cheated, we stole: it’s to the glory of the Chinese Experiment . Clearly, China, unlike the USA, wants to rule the world!
  3. Whilst its findings are far from conclusive, this LSE report on the demographics of resistance to lockdown finds some correlation with support for Brexit. To me that makes intuitive sense. I voted Remain (with peg on nose) but am often at odds with Remainers over the nature of the EU. Those who (absurdly) see it as internationalist are likely to have gained from globalism. Those who (absurdly) see their interests as aligned, by way of ‘Britishness’, with the likes of Rees-Mogg and Farage are less likely to have gained and more likely – having insecure and low pay jobs (or running small businesses) in which home-working via MS Teams is not an option – to feel betrayed. Statistically significant correlations of Remainer with lockdown gainer (or at any rate non loser) on the one hand, Leaver with lockdown loser on the other, seem likely. That said, this ignores two things. One, many white collar professionals are concerned for offspring less well placed. Two, should lockdown go on indefinitely, all bets are off. The very rich aside, few groupings – pensioners like me, shielded by a triple lock now in danger, and welfare state users like you and me both – will be safe.
  4. Re the attacks on Cook, Johnstone, Media Lens et al it’s not just a shrill and righteous certainty that dismays me. It’s also the reductivism. As with 9/11, there are those with a conspiracy view who apply it as acid test of a pundit’s credibility on pretty much any subject. It seems not to occur to such people, some of whom I know are doing – and many more of whom I suspect are doing – sweet FA themselves, that one might be wrong on CV-19 or 9/11 yet still have much of value to contribute.
  5. Those “relevant but deplatformed experts” include epidemiologists like the professors Bhakdi, Wittkowski and the naive but, I think, well intentioned Gupta (co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration).
  6. As Caitlin Johnstone so pithily observed: “in just two centuries we’ve progressed from expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while saying racist things, to expecting our leaders to murder brown-skinned people while condemning racism”. And while we’re on the subject of authoritarianism in progressive garb, a word to the good hearted ingenues who cheered Twitter’s banning of Donald Trump. Has it never occurred to you that tyranny may come by stealth, starting with the low hanging fruit? First they came for the unlovable …
  7. The vaccination question has long interested me epistemologically. Well before covid I’d heard strands of ‘anti-vaxer’ thinking which qualitatively (not quantitatively!) boiled down to “I played Russian roulette, am alive and well, so what’s the problem?” And it interests me as a moral question. I’ve fallen out with folk because I refused to accept, as a non negotiable principle beyond any specific context, that the individual’s right to refuse vaccination is sacrosanct. Always. I see so absolutist a position as blind to the reality that we are social as well as individuated beings. So would I surrender right of refusal at drop of hat? I would not. The case for overriding it in the name of a greater imperative has to be compelling. In the current circumstances no compelling case has been made so, regardless of any personal choice I might make, I’d defend the Right to Say No and, apropos Mr de Beek’s travel example, oppose any moves to make other rights conditional on having been vaccinated.

41 Replies to “CV-19 and the Great Reset

  1. I have to say I don’t have any time for Covid conspiracies, or the poeple who promote it.

    There is no doubt at all that there are conspiracies. There was a conspiracy one November to blow up the Houses of Parliament, which unfortunately failed. There was a conspiracy a few decades ago to oust the legal governments of Egypt by a cabal of Israeli, French and UK governments. There were conspiracies more recently to oust the legal governments of Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and others. There may well have been a conspiracy to murder JF Kennedy – there is some evidence, but the CIA/FBI have managed to keep the lid on that one so far. There was a conspiracy by the US government to gather all sorts of information illegally which was uncovered by Snowden and Manning. And so on.

    But conspiracies which involve very unlikely or impossible degrees of co-operation between rival power bases or competing countries/entities/firms, or involve the co-operation of very large numbers of ordinary workers, or involve unforseeable events as a cause, or work counter to the intersts of the establishment, can safely be dismissed without much thought. Similarly, although very rich people and firms may have common interests and might benefit from a conspiracy, if it involves inhuman degrees of efficiency, skill and organisation, this too can probably be discounted, as rich people are just as prone to making stupid mistakes as the rest of us. Governments even more so.

    Finally, conspiracy theories which impute superhuman powers of organisation etc. are destructive of any real effort to counter the activities of those who are actually waging war on ordinary people, by making them seem to be invulnerable and undefeatable – so why bother trying?

    It seems to me that ultimately this is a psychological problem – some people are drawn to propagate this stuff maybe through paranoia or a deep seated need to project their anxieties outward – or . . .?

    • conspiracy theories which impute superhuman powers of organisation etc. are destructive of any real effort to counter the activities of those who are actually waging war on ordinary people, by making them seem to be invulnerable and undefeatable – so why bother trying?

      Agreed. But to be fair on proponents of any specific conspiracy theory – and I note you avoided 9/11 in your second para examples – your third para …

      conspiracies which involve very unlikely or impossible degrees of co-operation between rival power bases or competing countries/entities/firms, or involve the co-operation of very large numbers of ordinary workers, or involve unforseeable events as a cause, or work counter to the intersts of the establishment, can safely be dismissed without much thought …

      … assumes that assessment of “very unlikely or impossible degrees of co-operation” is always easily made. I’ve got myself into trouble here since a CT which initially presents as requiring such unfeasible levels of cooperation may, on closer inspection and with a little lateral thinking, prove less extravagantly dependent on that front.

      Another error I made with 9/11 – and I’m certainly not accusing you of this – was my non sequitur that because, as a Marxist, my understanding of “the system” does not rest on conspiracy, conspiracy theories can ipso facto be airily dismissed. I didn’t make that non sequitur consciously – and therein lies the danger. (These days I suppose myself a 9/11 agnostic, tilting toward some form or other of “trutherism” insofar as the NIST Report is an insult to the intelligence.)

      I make these remarks in a spirit of generalisation. On the specific matter of covid I agree with you unreservedly.

      • As a fellow Marxist (maybe with a small ‘m’ if that’s acceptable) I think your initial understanding is worth holding on to.

        As for 11/9, well, there is a lot of engineering evidence pointing towards a conspiracy. But there is nothing in the material revealed by Snowden which casts any light on this. It would seem at present that there is not enough convincing evidence to take it into the Overton window.

        What I would say about any particular conspiracy is:

        Can we prove it, and how?
        Will it make any difference to the general advancement of socialism / anarchism / fighting the empire if we do prove it?

        If we can’t satisfactorily answer these questions then there seems no point in pursuing the matter.

        • Actually it’s only recently I switched from ‘marxism’ to ‘Marxism’. My thinking is convoluted (and screeds have been written, by disability rights activists even more obsessed with language than feminists in the 70s and 80s were, on whether to say ‘deaf’ or ‘Deaf’) but one reason for my delay is that lower case is more aesthetically pleasing than upper! (See in this regard my DTP induced OCD as confessed in this post.)

          My ambivalence on the question finds form in inconsistency of usage. Even on this thread you’ll find, in my comments yesterday, occurrences of both!

          Moving to matters more weighty, you offer this two-pronged test of a conspiracy theory:

          Can we prove it, and how? Will it make any difference to … fighting the empire if we do prove it?

          As ever, the principle is sound but (a) the burden of proof varies with context and (b) the devil lies, as he so often does, in the detail. Let’s apply both tests – without straying too far down that endless rabbit hole – to 9/11.

          Can we prove that 9/11 was an inside job/false flag? (Life is too short to give time of day to the space cadets – or false flaggers themselves – who say it never happened at all but was a video hoax.) I say we can’t. However, since so much has been done in its name to erode hard won freedoms and human rights – Patriot Act, ‘legalised’ torture, Orwellian mass surveillance – and wreak carnage in the middle east, that burden of proof lies decisively with the promoters and chief beneficiaries of the mainstream (hence ‘sensible’) narrative. On this front the mainstream’s best effort, an already cited NIST Report, fails wretchedly.

          Will it make any difference to … fighting the empire if we do prove it? I think not, but some folk I respect – and who know more about the matter – say different. My sense is that imperialism’s ablest opponents ignore ‘trutherism’ (else say the matter is irresolvable, taking us back to your first test) or explicitly reject it. But that’s all it is: my sense. I can’t claim this to be based on a wide or truly representative sample.

          • By “small ‘m’ Marxism” I was trying to imply that while I think Marxism is a useful revolutionary philosophy and tool, I am not as well read in it as I used to be (40 years ago, and I was no expert even then!) and that I adhere also to other lines of thought such as Anarchism and Buddhism which I think incorporate useful ideas for living well.

  2. I got into a facebook conversation with one of the covid conspiracy theorists last week. Because I was, as is my wont, polite and respectful, he sent me some recommended viewing and reading. The documentary featured on a far right website. The book was from 1966 by an american history professor, Quigley, who claims to have known personally members of a global secret group, who involved amongst others Cecil Rhodes, who amongst other deeds, heiped to foment the Bolshevik revolution. Needless to say I have neither viewed nor read; life’s too short. It’s quite right to be nuanced about not just rejecting conspiracy theory out of hand. I agree that one of the huge problems with them is they distract their adherents from identifying the true source of their discontent. And the fact that so many of these theories have led people to blame the blameless, such as The Jews, with disastrous consequences, is of course deeply worrying. But how to approach people who espouse these theories in any way likely to make a difference is difficult to discern. And social media is making it so much easier for vulnerable people to be recruited.

    • Hi Sue. A chap who used to comment a fair bit on this site made a useful distinction between specific and globally overarching conspiracy theories. I also found useful an observation by the late Alastair Cockburn (Patrick’s brother). He noted two things: one, that overarching CTs often if not invariably house anti-semitic tendencies; two, they have risen in direct proportion to the decline on the broad left of interest in marxist critiques of capitalism. Blaming Bildenberg, Davos and The Jews is so much easier than engaging with three volumes of Capital!

      how to approach people who espouse these theories in any way likely to make a difference is difficult to discern.

      Pass – alas!

      • Alastairs analysis sounds about right. I’ve found recently that a lot of supposedly left-wing sites I go to have found new and disturbingly right-wing tendencies which often involve a worrying degree of anti-semitism. ‘Strategic Culture’ in Canada, ‘The Saker’, ‘off Guardian’ and Sputnik news agency are among those. (Just to be clear, I regard the Israeli government as also being an extreme right-wing and racist organisation, involved in ethnic cleansing, which does not hesitate to brand dissenting Jews as ‘self-hating’!!!!).

        It’s a bit of a job really, finding reliable sources of news.

    • Hi Sue.

      I like the image of Cecil Rhodes as a secret Bolshevist – gives a whole new slant on such RS alumni as Bill Clinton – I just knew he was a left-winger, just like they said 🙂

    • I don’t believe Karl Marx would have been surprised by any of this. In fact he may have written much in a similar vein. At this stage in time from my reading of Marxism, I can’t remember. But this sort of thing is still going on in Wales and Scotland.

  3. It was Alex, not Alastair!
    I think that the problem he saw was that the people obsessed with the importance of revealing the truth about the Kennedy killing, 9/11 and the latest one, concerning the origins of the pandemic, are of the belief that once the truth has been revealed, exposed, teased out, the world will change. In other words the ‘conspiracy theorists’ are not materialists but idealists. In their view the truth is independent of class struggle and class society. And ‘evil’ is the product of ‘bad actors’, greedy people in particular.
    Cui bono is a vulgarisation of the complexity of capitalist society.
    Like Philip the least credible explanation of 9/11 I have seen is the Commission report, just as the least credible fiction coming out of the JFK killing was the Warren Commission’s story. But when the truths do emerge, leaking slowly over many years as they are doing, nothing much will change- the people will not rise up and throw out their governments, the media will not collapse in a vacuum of their credibility and the next set of lies will trip just as easily off the tongues of the exploiters and their ideologists.

  4. It was Alex, not Alastair!

    My bad.

    the ‘conspiracy theorists’ are not materialists but idealists

    They are in the case of those advancing overarching conspiracy theories. And, like you, I’m a materialist.

    • Ha! ‘Materialism’ – now there’s a theme for an extended exchange of views (which of course will lead to no irrefutable conclusions, and might be fun, but also, I reluctantly concede, might be a complete waste of time).

        • Two bottles of Williamson’s Fraoch ale is my limit, but possibly I’m ‘inebriated by the exuberance of my own verbosity’ (don’t know who came up with that one!)

              • I’ll check it out. Decades ago a mate of mine used to homebrew an excellent pint which, instead of hops, used a moorland plant – which he religiously procured from Scotland’s bonnie braes – called bog myrtle. He insisted that, no matter how much you supped, it left you free of hangover.

                • ‘Bog Myrtle’ – if you ever come across any, pull a few leaves, rub them between the palms of your hands and sniff. Doesn’t get you high unfortunately, but very pleasant, kind of like eucalyptus. Sounds like an interesting brew!

  5. ‘To create a dystopian world like the one embodied in the Great Reset Conspiracy Theory, no conspiracy is needed. The erosion of freedom in the West started with the lockdown of the Hubei province in China, “leaked” videos from Wuhan of apocalyptic scenes likened to Zombieland and The Walking Dead – and with The World Health Organisation (WHO), imploring the world to “copy China’s response“. With one country after another following in China’s footsteps, pressure increased on governments that initially responded in a more relaxed or thoughtful manner. No malevolent intentions were needed to get where we are now. All it took was a global mass hysteria, peer pressured governments that overreacted or simply took the wrong measures, and – last but not least – fear struck, paralyzed citizens that – without offering considerable resistance – let their civil rights and liberties be taken away from them step by step, one by one.’

    The fact that all this has come to pass without it necessarily being a ‘conspiracy theory’ does not make it OK!

    Furthermore, I really don’t understand the obsession with identifying – or avoiding – ‘conspiracy theory’ with regard to Covid. The phrase has now been reduced to an ad hominem term of abuse and is essentially meaningless. I mean, we are now in more or less the exact situation that me and my fellow sceptics warned about back in March last year, with passport digital IDs on the horizon, and vaccines being indirectly forced on the entire population. Never mind The Great Reset – this state of perpetual lockdown and the stripping away of civil liberties was fully expounded in a paper in MIT Technology Review before any of this began.

    If people had actually listened to us, rather than loftily dismissing us as ‘conspiracy theorists’, they might have been able to resist this progression to madness before it was too late. Now it is happening; it is our reality. And I remain genuinely perplexed why writers such as Johnstone, Media Lens’ two Davids and yourself are so reluctant to examine THE issue of our time, and the single greatest power grab and tsunami of propaganda we have ever witnessed.

    Our lives are being changed forever, and there is a great deal more to be fearful about than the danger of being labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’. We are fighting for the future of society as we know it.

    • Hi Steve. I know you feel strongly about this. That’s no bad thing, provided it doesn’t lead you to misconstrue – it wouldn’t be the first time, would it? – what I have and what I have not said. I’m taking the night off but will respond point by point soon. Stay well.

    • ‘To create a dystopian world like the one embodied in the Great Reset Conspiracy Theory, no conspiracy is needed. The erosion of freedom in the West started with the lockdown of the Hubei province in China, “leaked” videos from Wuhan of apocalyptic scenes likened to Zombieland and The Walking Dead – and with The World Health Organisation (WHO), imploring the world to “copy China’s response“. With one country after another following in China’s footsteps, pressure increased on governments that initially responded in a more relaxed or thoughtful manner. No malevolent intentions were needed to get where we are now. All it took was a global mass hysteria, peer pressured governments that overreacted or simply took the wrong measures, and – last but not least – fear struck, paralyzed citizens that – without offering considerable resistance – let their civil rights and liberties be taken away from them step by step, one by one.’

      Just for the record, and offered neutrally for the avoidance of confusion, these aren’t my words but Eric Van de Beek’s.

      The fact that all this has come to pass without it necessarily being a ‘conspiracy theory’ does not make it OK!

      Agreed. I think I make this very clear. Did you actually read my piece?

      Furthermore, I really don’t understand the obsession with identifying – or avoiding – ‘conspiracy theory’ with regard to Covid.

      Strong word, that: obsession. Are you saying I’m obsessed? If not, why use the term? If so, give examples. You could do that quantitatively – search my site (right sidebar) on that term and you’ll find a few returns: posts decrying its use as a put down. Here’s an example. Can you show that, as a proportion of my output, I devote too much space to ‘conspiracy theorists’? I’m not asking for hefty content analysis here. A simple post count will suffice. I can then supply the overall number of posts written on this site.

      Or you could do it qualitatively. This may be more relevant since, in fairness to you, your charge of obsession is confined to “identifying – or avoiding – ‘conspiracy theory’ with regard to Covid”. Where this post addresses the term – most explicitly in footnote 1, and in replies to comments here, I say that: (a) some conspiracy theories are accurate; (b) some aren’t; (c) use of the term as blanket put-down is “lazy or stupid”; (d) CV-19 as conspiracy to rob us of hard won rights and freedoms fails tests set out in my comment on Gregory Sinaisky, and in the extract from my March 25 piece.

      How does any of this add up to obsession? One of my concerns is that valid criticisms of government assessments and responses, by experts who have a right to be heard, are vying for oppositional airtime with conspiracy takes. Given this it would be odd – nay, avoiding on my part – if my posts on Covid didn’t address the conspiracist angle. Indeed, this is what I had in mind when I wrote that: “I used to think I could distinguish those who say the disease is real, but overstated, from those who say it is imaginary – a ‘shamdemic’. I thought too that I could tell those who say lockdown in its various forms is disproportionate and/or counterproductive, but not conceived in bad faith, from those who see the whole thing as cooked up – a ‘plandemic’.”

      In light of these things, if you aren’t accusing me of obsession I’m left wondering why you threw the word in. And if you are, in defiance of the evidence of my own posts, I’m left wondering if your emotions are prevailing not only over reason but also your ability to read carefully.

      The phrase has now been reduced to an ad hominem term of abuse and is essentially meaningless.

      The phrase has indeed been reduced to ad hominem abuse, and for reactionary ends – as I make clear in this and a few other posts – but if you wish to accuse me of doing that it’s only right you supply instances. I try in my writings to steer clear of ad hominem. If on this or other occasions I’ve failed, I’d be glad if you could show me where. We can all do better!

      I mean, we are now in more or less the exact situation that me and my fellow sceptics warned about back in March last year, with passport digital IDs on the horizon, and vaccines being indirectly forced on the entire population. Never mind The Great Reset – this state of perpetual lockdown and the stripping away of civil liberties was fully expounded in a paper in MIT Technology Review before any of this began.

      These things are worrying, and require combating. I think I make that clear. If you have practical plans, I’m all ears. I’d add only that here as in other matters outlined in my post, covid has expedited trends already in existence. (Some of them, like Patriot Act and their equivalents across the West, came on the back of 9/11, where I’ve shown my willingness to rethink an initial hostility to 9/11 as false flag conspiracy. As a matter of fact, it was my wrongheadedly a-priori dismissal of 9/11 as false flag that forced me to re-evaluate my thinking on conspiracy theories at large.)

      If people had actually listened to us, rather than loftily dismissing us as ‘conspiracy theorists’, they might have been able to resist this progression to madness before it was too late.

      I was listening for a long time Steve. But I may have missed your proposed resistance measures. Re the Great Barrington Declaration, I concluded that: (a) too many of its backers represent interests I’ve spent my entire life loathing; (b) it was widely and I say rightly derided for offering scant detail on how ‘the vulnerable’ could be protected as airily advocated. But did I miss other things? Like a coherent programme whereby we could “resist this progression to madness before it was too late”? Maybe I was absent that day, perhaps because I was obsessing over such triflings as US war manouevres in the South China Sea.

      And since you’ve again raised the ‘conspiracy theorists’ issue I wonder if you might be a tad obsessed. (After all, your non sequitur last year was an accusation that I was calling an Off-Guardian piece conspiracist when, as you were big enough to concede later, I was saying no such thing.)

      Now it is happening; it is our reality.

      I’m concerned, but not as convinced as you. In any case, my previous remark stands. Bhakdi, Gupta, Wittkowski and others offer concrete suggestions. What are you doing, that I am not, to evaluate and advance them?

      And I remain genuinely perplexed why writers such as Johnstone, Media Lens’ two Davids and yourself are so reluctant to examine THE issue of our time, and the single greatest power grab and tsunami of propaganda we have ever witnessed.

      I fear emotion is getting the better of you. Let’s unpack this. To call covid, and state responses, THE issue of the time is to say that a US Empire waning, making it triply dangerous, as Eurasia rises is less important and less urgent. Big statements like that require substantiation. Convince me. Ditto profit-driven plunder of nature. I say these things not to minimise the hill you’ve chosen to die on. I say them because if we don’t choose our words wisely they’ll sound silly and overblown, and be counterproductive.

      I say them also because Caitlin Johnstone chooses to focus her efforts on the evils of the US Empire and what she calls its narrative managers. In this she is both brilliant and herculean. The two Stakhanovs at Media Lens do a different but overlapping job, also brilliantly, as does Jonathan Cook (you don’t mention him but I did). Like mine, theirs are faint whispers. Why should they spread themselves thinly to please a largely armchair crowd? In a world of criminal insanity, with the bad guys commanding in ways direct and indirect all the heavy artillery of opinion manufacture, I pick my fights. Caitlin, Jonathan and the two Davids pick theirs. Shrill denunciations by folk who don’t show one hundredth of their commitment strike me – I’m being kind here – as absurd. Are you a shrill denouncer? Pass. I don’t know you well enough to say either way.

      I’m honoured to be included with Caitlin et al as objects of your “perplexed” state. But as you know, I have written posts on CV-19. Let me repeat the claim I make in this post. I have done more to promote sceptical voices on covid and lockdown than many of my detractors. Some, known to me personally, do literally nothing. Others take to their FB echo chambers and think they are achieving something. I beg to differ. What I see – or used to: I long ago stopped tuning into such voices on FB – are daily denunciations, cheered on by the faithful, of “suckers” and “morons”. As I say in my post: “I do believe some people are not only too sure of themselves … but less interested in patiently winning others to their positions than in vilifying those who do not already share them”.

      And you Steve? We met online as writers. We’d both penned reviews of the Ken Loach film, Sorry We Missed You. So let me speak writer to writer. For reasons already given in this reply, and in my post, I do not choose to focus all my limited efforts on Covid. But I do take it seriously and, again, have written more on it – and more that promotes sceptical experts like Bhakdi, Wittkowski and (though her expertise is more marginal and her judgment questionable) Gupta – than most of my detractors. Some of those posts are known to you. So here’s a question: where do I find your own writings – you being a writer – on the subject? Since you have chosen to criticise my “silence”, and since you are a writer, it’s only right that you show me examples of your own output on this matter.

      I ask for links to your work. Going on FB to post, “told you so” fashion, curated views, cherry picked numbers and fiery denunciations doesn’t cut it for me. It’s preaching to the choir. What I do is put myself out there. I give of myself, even on so crude a metric as hours spent, and that’s the least of it, than I ever gave a full time job. I reach out – a largely thankless task – to people who do not share my world view. I seek to persuade, through facts and logic, those who don’t much care for my opinions. (It’s cost me a few friends but, once in a while, I have someone say: “you convinced me”. Trust me, I didn’t do so by ad hominem or lofty generalisations but by offering facts and reason to those in the grip, usually stronger than either, of matrix narratives.) All in all I feel justified in asking you to show where you, a writer, left the comfort zones of likeminded souls, and occasional hit and run attacks on skim-read posts you dislike, to do similar. Though the pulls on my time and energy are many, I will read your own ATL writings closely and fair-mindedly.

      Our lives are being changed forever …

      Agreed.

      and there is a great deal more to be fearful about than the danger of being labelled a ‘conspiracy theorist’.

      (Weary sigh) also agreed.

      We are fighting for the future of society as we know it.

      I’m not sure how effectively, is all. But I do see you as one of the good guys. If I didn’t, I’d never have spent so much time as I have in this reply to you.

      • You should have been a diplomat, Phil – contesting without being confrontational, and at such length – something that is quite beyond me.

        It seems to be quite easy to step over the line from ‘just feasible, if you squint your eyes’ to ‘lookout! the bats! here they come again’. I feel Steve Jack has just slipped over that line – as described by the points you make, although it may not be his normal mode of operation. As you say, the restrictions resulting from Covid are actually slight and easily overcome, compared with actual pseudo-war events in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Venezuela,

        But it’s very understandable for anyone with any sort of empathy to go too far, in a world where Skripal and Navalny can be poisoned by imaginary Russian agents who are impersonated by MI5 agents, and the Twin Towers can collapse in what seems to be a controlled demolition, but as far as the MSM are concerned it was all down to Osama bin Laden and not to the Saudi zealots who ‘flew the planes’ besides whoever else was involved.

        • Diplomat, moi? Tell you what though, when push comes to shove I want big hearted and honest souls like Steve in my corner. That’s why I made the effort, when there are those I wouldn’t dignify with a single word of reply.

      • So sorry for taking aeons to come back to this, Phil.

        I was never not going to; but I suppose I have been putting it off because I had been (somewhat recklessly) shooting from the hip – as you correctly identified, in a state of heightened emotion and diminished logic / attention – and you responded at length with eloquence, grace and not a little forebearing. I probably didn’t deserve as much, but I thank you anyway.

        The truth is that, now I have re-read (or rather *properly* read your post for the first time), there’s really not much to disagree with, still less object to. So I’m sorry I took unwarranted liberties with my original comment, and will try not to do so again. (I will also, incidentally, mull your well-founded criticisms of my own output… not that, for various reasons, I feel in much of a position to do anything about that for the moment.)

        As an aside, I’m sure you’ve come across the writings of Simon Elmer, whose site, Architects for Social Housing, has – I think – contained some of the most impressive analysis of the whole ‘Covid period’. One of his more recent pieces not only covers a lot of ground, but goes right to the heart of the question you have been considering since all this began, so I’d recommend it to you if you haven’t already read it:
        https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2021/02/19/cui-bono-the-covid-19-conspiracy/

        I might be wrong, but I think you’ll also agree with most of what he says. (Though I’d be very interested to find out.)

        Thanks again, anyway (for your writing, your patience and your forebearance), and all the very best.

        Steve

        • Thanks Steve – you are bigger than most. That said, I’d be disinclined to over-personalise any tendency to “shoot from the hip”. It’s a reflection of how divisive this issue is. One reason I already gave – a mix of objective uncertainty with subjective ‘certainty’. (Whatever our stance, we humans aren’t good at bearing uncertainty on things that matter to us, and my claims of ‘religiosity’ are not limited to this side or that.)

          Another reason though is that the virus and state responses have pushed visceral buttons. On the one hand the pandemic – overstated or not – has exposed capitalism’s inadequacy as never before in my lived experience. On the other, responses to it have shown how easily hard won freedoms can be taken from us. Unfortunately, the tendency for each side to deride the other has made things highly toxic, and drowned out all nuance.

          The worst consequence being that folk who should be able to set aside their different takes and work together cannot. Many of us are critical of capitalism as unjust and life-negating – often literally so. One aspect being that the huge costs of lockdown will be passed on to the working class. I see no reason why differing views of the severity or otherwise of CV-19, or the necessity or otherwise of lockdown – should prevent anti-capitalists from uniting around the struggle to resist the service cuts and other means of saddling us with the bill.

          I will read the piece you’ve linked and come back with my thoughts. Thanks again.

        • Steve I’m half way through the long – close to 21,000 words – Simon Elmer piece you recommend, and have to say it is by far the most compelling thing I’ve read to date on the issue. I’ll have more to say in due course, when I’ve read the whole (probably twice) and checked out factual claims, especially those in the first section. But this appears to deliver what I’ve been missing this past year. Its discussion of the cui bono aspect lays out a magnificently dialectical materialist analysis of where capitalism is currently at.

          Masterful. Thanks.

    • . ..And I remain genuinely perplexed why writers…are so reluctant to examine THE issue of our time, and the single greatest power grab and tsunami of propaganda we have ever witnessed…

      This is hyperbole, unless ‘our time’ began a year ago. There has been no significant ‘power grab’- none was necessary for the ruling class, it was very happy to carry on piling up ever larger proportions of the gross product, while its agents churned out TINA propaganda with all the assurance and facility that comes from having done so, virtually unchallenged, for decades.

      Far from having been a marvellous opportunity for them the Covid crises have greatly undermined the credibility, and illustrated the callousness of governments which have clearly been trying to get through the challenges of pandemic by taking the very minimum of proper measures to cut down the carnage.

      In fact it is a matter of, largely unexplored, interest that government after government has been forced back-by the weight of public opinion allied with candid scientists- from its determination to pursue herd immunity and keep the ‘economy’ going. Far from, having been overwhelmed by a tsunami of propaganda or having been stripped of their political rights the ‘people’ have insisted that real rather than pro forma quarantines be enforced.

      And that- most significant of all in this neo-liberal era, whose totems inevitably feature workhouses and other references to the Poor Law Reform of 1834- everywhere, even in the USA, it is recognised that basic living incomes are essential. There has never been such a rapid spread of welfare state measures around the world. The cause of universal medical care has never been so popular, its coming to places like the USA so inevitable.

      It is true that -Tories being Tories- ruling classes have been characteristically opportunistic in using the excuse of emergency contracts to privatise , and privatisation to become cronyism. It is true too that, given an opportunity to inflate they have poured trillions into the laps of the financiers. (Much good it will do them.) It is true too, and hardly remarkable, that all manner of businesses have made enormous profits from the changed circumstances, with the growth of delivery systems and the collapse of old fashioned retailers a couple of examples. But from these trends and tendencies (keep your eyes on the Amazon unionisation struggles) the main deduction is that the system has had a shock and a lot of what was taken for granted is changed.

      And that is a good thing.

      As is the relative retreat of the Empire around the world. The expansion of US influence and military power has clearly ended, the slow retreat has begun. And the shocking inability of the US and its allies to deal with the pandemic is one of the discrediting facts noted around the world.

      Mr Jack’s argument is filled with references to a ‘past’ whose passing we should regret. Our lives need changing forever- for the great bulk of humanity those lives could hardly be changed for the worse. There is much to fear but nothing that the sort of organising that produces political changes cannot address.

      The worst aspect of this pandemic, which has revealed so much about the system, its callousness, the sinister nature of triage systems and healthcare economics, the collapse of public health systems, assets stripped for the benefit of the (hopefully discredited) Big Pharma, the impotence of a political class going through the motions as it awaits orders from authority, the hypocrisy and greed of the petit bourgeoisie, its trades curtailed , the worst aspect has been the unveiling of the true nature of our libertarian fellow travellers, the latest iteration of the old liberals who loved freedom so much that they defended the right of the rich to dispossess and enslave the poor.

      What this pandemic has shown is that the need to reorganise our society(s) on the basis of socialist principles has not ended, there is no alternative to socialism except barbarism- for an illustration of which look about you. It is here. It is a ‘madness’ with which the Jack dystopia of compulsory vaccination against disease ought to be compared. A madness in which, far from being compulsorily immunised, most of the world’s population (including a quarter of the United States’) has no access to scientific medical treatment. One of the great things about lockdowns is that they have exposed the disgraceful extent of homelesseness, while exposing the dangers of leaving pools of untreated people in which epidemics rage uncontrolled and sports and variants thrive producing ever deadlier variants of what Bolsonaro calls another ‘flu.

      To sum up the pandemic has revealed much that is wrong about society and done so in ways that make those evils undeniable. We were heading towards dystopia, barbarism when the pandemic came. Our governments, our system, responded to the virus just as was to be expected. They didn’t want to know. They hoped that no changes would be needed. Things were going well far them- those who miss the significance of the Corbyn alternative which flickered so briefly will not understand this- everything was ready for the final heave back to 1834, the final demolition of the Welfare State, socialised medicine and trade unionism. The final blow for individualism, to shatter society back into its proper Hobbesian/Hayekian state, was about to be dealt when along came the one thing that the libertarians have always feared- a pandemic to remind us that all lives are equal, that we are all part of a whole, that an infection in one is an infection of all, that without a universal health care system no villa in the country was safe, that before the vulnerable succumbed they would pass on what killed them.

      The pandemic has changed nothing but if it reminds us that we must change or die it will have changed things for better.

      • Yes. Nice complement to Phil’s post just above. Absolutely spot on.

        A pedant adds: Maybe a space between each paragraph?

        • Speaking pedant to pedant, I just fixed that aspect.

          (For the record, I wouldn’t dream of altering the substantive content of any comment, nor of imposing my own grammatic prejudices – least of all with bevin, a highly competent writer. On layout, however, I’m in the iron grip of a demonic OCD.)

      • “the ‘people’ have insisted that real rather than pro forma quarantines be enforced.”

        What “people”? Where? I don’t know of anyone who demanded more lockdown measures. The WSWS tells us that all across Europe various wild cat strikes somehow forced the relevant governments to lockdown their entire economies. A rather odd notion considering that the 80s miners’ strike lasted a year and achieved nothing.

        Trotsky once said (paraphrasing) “The ruling class has never so much as yielded an inch unless it was being held by the throat”. It has been decades since it has been held by the throat. Although Bylinetimes tries to tell us that the gradual coalescence of various protest groups over the decades has managed to force the hand of ruling class into a Dickensian moment of penitence.

        As for Boris being dragged “kicking and screaming” into lockdown, well how about this?:

        https://www.rt.com/op-ed/504818-covid19-reverse-psychology-johnson/

        “The dominant narrative is that Bojo, the hapless ‘clown’ and his Keystone Cops Cabinet were pushed into lockdown. Pushed by public opinion. Pushed by the ‘experts’. Pushed by the Premier League. Pushed by the ‘Left’. Pushed by Piers Morgan. Pushed by ‘Professor Doom’ Neil Ferguson and his ludicrous ‘modelling’.

        But if they had already arranged a £119m lockdown advertising campaign, which referenced emergency economic measures in its communication strategy, it would mean the decision to lockdown had already been taken many weeks earlier. At the same time, the government was giving every impression that they weren’t going to lockdown.”

        So who is it that really wants the lockdown?

  6. Thanks for the detailed reply, Phil. I have not read it yet, but I will. I am pretty sure that what you have said will make sense to me, though; and I didn’t mean to sound as if I was getting at you personally. I’m just tired, fed up, and very, very angry… and I struggled to know what to write coherently, if I’m honest. I knew I had something to say to you, but I didn’t know exactly what, so it probably didn’t come out right in the end. I spent all of this morning in bed, exhausted by it all; I’ll be watching my team later this afternoon; and we’re going round to a friend’s for dinner tonight – gently breaking some of these lunatic rules. So today will hopefully go down as a ‘good day’. But I will come back to your comments, and thank you – as always – for taking the time to think and reply. (I will probably also read your post again in full, because I fear I might not have properly understood it the first time around.)

    • Hope your Valentine’s dinner was good, Steve.

      I worry more about how we – the working classes of blue or white collar stripe – can resist being saddled, as we were after 2008, with the bill for all this than I worry about threats to liberty. But here’s the thing, the tragic irony. I see no principled reason why those who share my prioritisation, and those who share yours, may not work together.

    • I always think it’s the cheapest move to go off on the psychological angle. Descriptions as to what others “must feel” depends on how YOU feel about what THEY feel. So perhaps we can discuss the psychological reasons for your rejection of what they feel?

      Also, people can believe something for all the wrong reasons and still be right. In the end we must confront the situation before us to determine what seems to be the case from the evidence.

  7. I haven’t had any input to this site for a long time. This is because my own point of view wasn’t based on what seems to me to be the instantly accepted assumption that covid really was this herald of the end times that it has been painted as. I have a flashback to that curious matter of the 2016 “mass rapes” in Cologne at New Year – a supremely unlikely tale eventually “backed up” by photos from other disturbances that were unconnected. And yet this dubious tale – so convenient to racists and xenophobes everywhere – was unquestioningly taken up by the media all the way from the BBC to Russia Today. Of course, I know this has very little in common with covid. I’m just referring to this curious lockstep certainty exhibited by the media.

    From my sceptical point of view, here’s how it looks:

    I find it incomprehensible that anyone considers the reaction to covid 19 to be “actually slight and easily overcome”.

    For almost a year now, the UK population has been subjected to a non-stop terror campaign without precedent. The news now seems to be filled with a third rate disaster movie script where a newsreader can actually say something like “The pressure on the NHS is off the scale” (off what scale?), I hear a regular use of the word “tsunami” and I hear someone say, “You can’t live with covid, you can only die from it” immediately followed by an article on “Living with long covid”(?!) And all of that is merely the tip of a vast iceberg of hyperventilating panic mongering.

    Even more curiously, I find the WSWS and the Left in general not only echoing all this without question but complaining that it is being understated (?!) (And yet it is the sceptics who are “fanatics” and “part of a church”?!)

    As you yourself have reported, Philip, the medical consensus is not uniform. Has there ever been an indication of the “renegade” doctors giving their point of view in the media?

    The population has been told to stay away from each other. All possible group conversation has been relegated to those séances like zoom meetings, informal interchanges are almost impossible (negating the possibility of the spread of any counter narrative), we cannot even see each other’s faces. Families have been split up. The author Ian Rankin, like myself, has been banned from approaching his own disabled son. Ultimately, we are reaching a situation where everyone is stuck in the house at the mercy of a TV which does nothing other than constantly scare them with the aforementioned script.

    Medical services have been rendered harder to access through and alleged “tsunami” of covid cases, livelihoods are teetering on the edge, and most disturbingly of all, we are told that this situation will go on indefinitely.

    And then there are these criminally undertested vaccines pushed out with “warp speed” according to one operation label. The media is as certain as to the safety of these vaccines as they are about the deadly effect of the virus. And it is interesting to see the same logic defending the vaccines as was dismissed when querying covid (“Don’t forget that thousands die every day anyway!”)

    I understand that all of the above can be excused by the assumption that covid really is the Black Death on steroids. But I note the curious outcome: divide and rule taken to an extreme never dreamt of by previous ruling classes, a war time scenario whereby any number of slashings to services can be excused, any number of “unfortunate emergency precautions” can be justified etc.

    Meanwhile Caitlin Johnstone finds “the whole thing ultimately irrelevant and boring”. I dearly wish I could achieve her summit of Zen like calm!

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