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Why we must mock the virus pests & the Corona astrologers & the pandemicists as the plodding careerist losers that they are, & avoid casting them needlessly in the role of omnipotent evil schemers
We're not in power, they are, and this circumstance requires specific strategies.
Dr. James Alexander, writing for The Daily Sceptic, argues that I am wrong about the significance of the Lockdown Files and that these leaks Don’t Prove the Government’s Pandemic Response Was All a Giant Cock-Up.
He sees two problems with my approach. The first is that my analysis cedes too little space to evil, and that this amounts to “let[t]ing the politicians off the hook”:
It is as if we are saying to ourselves that Hancock was a sort of 1960s seaside postcard character, of ‘How’s Your Father’ vintage, who was a bit of a lad, nice but dim, got everything wrong, but had a good heart. He sought more than his 15 minutes of fame, and quite remarkably ended up with more than half an hour …
I think the policies were evil, and that if we attempt to point to casual correspondence and cynical utterances of the sort we see in the Lockdown Files in order to justify the idea that it was all just human comedy then we miss the significance of everything that happened.
The second problem “concerns the word ‘conspiracy’”:
In Book I of The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith famously said that people of the same trade “seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick”. He was referring to what he called ‘merchants’ but we may apply the same insight to politicians, bureaucrats, advisers, journalists, academics. Now, what is interesting is that Eugyppius agrees with this. He more than once points out that all these figures conspired against the public. But he nonetheless does not want to call the whole thing a conspiracy. Well, Eugyppius, we could instead call it ‘a congeries of conspiracies’: but, for short, and for simplicity’s sake, why not call it conspiracy? …
We do not have to envision Klaus Schwab as a Bond villain. But we do have to hold Schwab, Gates, Ferguson, Fauci, all of them, responsible: and the only way to do this is to credit them with enough Machiavellian intelligence to have had some idea of what the consequences of their actions must have been: and to have known that, to have acted as they did, they were contributing to the most successful conspiracy against lived life ever carried out by peacetime politicians.
The comments to my last piece on this subject show that many plague chronicle readers share Alexander’s perspective, and so – at the risk of extending this discussion beyond the limits of everyone’s patience – I’ll write a little further on matters evil and conspiratorial.
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To be clear: I think it’s totally appropriate to characterise what has befallen us these past three years as evil. I think it’s even appropriate to refer to the specific actions of specific people as evil and malicious. Nevertheless, Alexander is right that I emphasise the absurdity and the folly of the Hancocks and the Faucis and the Drostens at the expense of ruminating about how evil they are. This isn’t because I think they’re not bad, or because I think they’re just stupid or that they simply messed up and I want to minimise their complicity. It’s rather for two closely related reasons, one practical and one tactical.
The practical reason, is that I think evil is basically a theological concept, and that when you start thinking overmuch about evil in secular contexts, you very rapidly begin to lose your mind.
Consider that, in Christianity, evil is generally personified in the figure of the devil. This effectively removes the locus of evil to the supernatural realm, beyond the sphere of human activity. Religious thinkers are therefore freed to identify evil influences upon human affairs on the one hand, while understanding specific humans and their motivations in less absolute ways on the other hand. Individuals can act on behalf of the devil, they can plot with evil intent, but evil itself is something much bigger and distinct from any given individual. Secular discussions of history, politics and epidemiology don’t have this flexibility, and so the concept of evil in these contexts tends to attach itself to specific personalities, in the process exaggerating their significance and distorting their motivation beyond all recognition.
This brings us to the tactical consideration, namely that demonising pandemic malefactors in this way is directly counterproductive. Alexander writes of the need to hold people like Hancock responsible, and he believes that crediting them with a successful malicious conspiracy against humanity is a prerequisite for this project. If I were a prosecutor and they were prisoners in the dock, this is exactly what I would do. But I’m not in power; they are, which means that casting the pandemicists as evil villains hurts them not at all. If anything, they enjoy this kind of rhetoric, because it is remarkably compatible with the Covidian tendency to venerate these very same personalities as living saints and pandemic heroes. The distance between a villain and a hero is far less than you imagine. Both perspectives agree on the significance of the personality and differ simply on the moral question.
Happily, no evidence anywhere compels you to elevate the Schwabs and the Drostens to the status of secular satans (or saints). These men aren’t demons plotting our destruction; they gaze out upon the unwashed masses of humanity with all the indifference of a concrete wall. They think mostly about themselves and their friends and how they can use whatever is going on at the moment to get ahead. Hancock wants political prominence and power. Drosten wants to play the science man on television and secure more grant funding for his lab. Schwab wants to extend the influence of the World Economic Forum and hobnob with powerful people. Each of these men espouse specific political ideologies and support specific policies as a means to achieve these very personal, myopic ends.
Because we’re not in power, we can’t risk making these men more than they are. The correct strategy is instead to cut them down to size via relenetless ridicule. We must mock them everywhere as the visionless, unoriginal, plodding careerists that they at every moment prove themselves to be. We have to chip away every day at the technocratic cult surrounding people like Fauci and Drosten. Threatening them with Nürnberg 2.0 just makes them laugh. Pointing out that they’ve been wrong about everything is what really draws blood. You have to deride Schwab as an out-of-touch intellectual mediocrity, Drosten as an innumerate television virologist whose predictions are worse than half of the anime-themed accounts on Twitter, and Hancock as a subpar cabinet operative whose own text messages show that he orchestrated the British pandemic response for self-serving political reasons with no idea of how his policies were supposed to work or what effects they would have.
As for the evil: It lurks in the interstices of our bureaucratic institutions, which, as they have grown in size and complexity since the nineteenth century, behave in ways that are increasingly impossible to understand and contrary to human flourishing. They are massive machines constructed of human parts, which will continue to chew up our health, our culture and our lives, until we figure out a way to stop them. At base, I think my critics also know that this is true. There were no great hopes that the American public health establishment would suddenly become more reasonable in the wake of Anthony Fauci’s retirement, for example, or that Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation means that Scotland is now safe from future pandemicist hysteria. These sorry creatures are the mere fleeting incarnations of complex institutional forces, which have no shortage of willing servants.
Finally, I’d like to reassure Alexander that I don’t reject conspiracy in favour of cock-up. The pandemic was brought about both by plotting and by human idiocy. What I do object to, is the idea that pandemic events were steered, over a period of years, by shadowy globalist conspirators. This misunderstands the function and nature of government in the West. In fact what happened, is that specific plotting by specific people to bring Chinese-style lockdowns to the West set off a chain of events which established mass containment of SARS-CoV-2 as the central objective of Western politics for the space of nearly three years. Policy, during almost this entire period, was steered by legions of faceless bureaucrats whose collective will hapless cabinet secretaries like Hancock struggled to channel and to profit from.
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