The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
A mere two years ago, the world painted in this article by Nick Hudson of PANDA would have been perceived to be so fictional that it could comfortably have read as a prologue to George Orwell’s masterpiece ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Published in 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four examined the role of truth and facts within politics and the ways in which they are manipulated. A classic literary example of political and dystopian fiction, the book centred on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of persons and behaviours within society. Today, our reality involves governments across the world implementing or seriously considering the implementation of measures such as vaccine passports – which are sold as a ticket to freedom, with the unfortunate downside that those without vaccine passports will not be afforded these same freedoms. In the name of Zero Covid objectives, individual agency has been incrementally surrendered and dissenting voices have been silenced. How societies have managed to accept such radical regression is not hard to understand when one considers the ability of fear to incapacitate rational thinking. In this article, Nick Hudson looks at the forces at play which, he believes, are ‘driving the world in the direction of centralist totalitarianism.’
Welcome to Clown World: Part 3 – The politics of Covid
By Nick Hudson, PANDA
This is the fourth of a series of talks:
- Time to Reopen Society described how every element of the Covid narrative was false.
- Covid and the Clash of Ideologies showed how media control and behavioural science have been deployed to promote that false narrative and induce what is best described as a mass psychosis.
- Question Everything explained how the rulebooks had been thrown out, deploying the myth of “pandemicity”.
- This talk turns to how these and other forces make this a most dangerous moment in history.
A false narrative about Covid has supported ineffective and highly destructive policies leading to the evisceration of individual rights, democracy and the rule of law in the name of a disease that presents negligible risk to most of the population. Virtually every element of the response has not been based on good science and the data prove that wherever you look.
The spectre has arisen of mandatory vaccination – just yesterday called a conspiracy theory. The injections do not substantially hinder infection or transmission of the disease and present net harms to the young and the recovered, who represent the vast majority of the population and for whom the virus presents miniscule risk. They cannot eliminate Covid.
There is therefore no sound epidemiological or medical basis for mandating injections, even if violation of bodily integrity was not egregious, which it is, let alone not a violation of both the Nuremberg Code and the Siracusa Principles, which it is.
Our public health officials, most of whom sadly now carry water for pharmaceutical companies, justify mandates on the basis that the injections are safe and effective, ignoring the absence of long-term safety experience and unprecedented adverse event reports, featuring thrombotic events, heart inflammation and reproductive system irregularities. Even absent the latter, this is shamefully—maybe even scandalously—poor logic. A banana could be called safe and effective, but that does not mean you should be forced to eat one at whatever interval for the rest of your life, especially when the only people telling you to do so are banana farmers.
This cultish behaviour was presaged by the Global Vaccine Action Plan, ratified by 194 governments back in 2012. In light of this ‘plan’, it is not surprising that in several countries mandates and vaccine ID or passport systems have been implemented, despite the lack of any logic for such measures. Some recognise natural immunity, for now, but that is beside the point. Such measures signify a very important thing.
A vision for our future is being implemented outside of any democratic scrutiny. And it is a dangerous vision.
At least three big forces are at play, driving in the direction of centralist totalitarianism. First there is the influence of China – its propaganda, its infiltration, its influence and widespread fetishism in the West for its surveillance state.
Second, there is a drift to authoritarianism – to a technocratic vision repeatedly referenced by political leaders, taking their cue from international organisations. We hear of “Build Back Better”, the “New Normal”, the “New World Order”, the “4th Industrial Revolution”, and the “Great Reset”. This kind of talk – long in the making – re-emerged with the very first death in Italy, and has been a constant presence ever since. In France you already can’t travel on a train without having your ‘passport’ validated. We are on the cusp of having our behaviour and speech “nudged” by our vaccine passport, the aim of which is to bring about a tyrannical system of social credit scoring.
If the WEF has its way, by 2030 we are to eat bugs instead of meat, own nothing and be happy, have our identity read at checkpoints by heart rate scanners so that we don’t have to take off our masks, not need vehicles as we’ll ‘never need’ to walk more than 15 minutes from our houses, connect to the internet only with government authorisation, benefit from a range of technological implants, and sacrifice bodily integrity to whatever injections authorities demand. Some say these are not goals, but predictions. Yet political agendas, as Marx showed us, are generally elucidated by way of predictions cast as inevitable outcomes to which the arc of history bends.
This techno-technocracy will apparently end not only viral pandemics, but all manner of perceived global threats, from climate change, gender-based violence, and toxic masculinity, to systemic racism, top soil erosion and other catastrophes du jour. A close working relationship between mega-corporations and a government of the global elite threaten to make it less important whom we elect at home than who is funded from abroad.
Our rights and liberties are in grave danger of being constrained in the interests of preserving the earth’s rights, as enshrined by the Terra Carta, squashing the Magna Carta back in its liberal box after eight centuries of escape.
Third, there is a background of financial unravelling, as decades of monetary mismanagement come home to roost, foreboding a financial crisis to make the last one look trivial. Central bankers are pushing for resolution by way of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which, in their ‘programmable’ form, allow for unprecedented state control of transactions and hence society.
Covid measures are a first taste of what a detached class, truly enamoured of these ideas, would like to impose upon you and me. Permanently.
We’ve just had our training wheels on.
Lockdowns and mandates arrived without precedent or any hint of due process, flagrantly disregarding time-honoured approaches to managing diseases with a wave of the hand. In the same way, the idea is that all of this should be imposed upon us without regard for our opinion. In this world, our opinions do not count.
The broad picture is one of an attempted concentration of power by powerful states and unaccountable organisations, segueing into the global level, of surveillance power in the mold of China. We can see clearly the ideology of centralism at work. It’s bedecked in the language of top-down power and social engineering. A far-off political and corporate mandarinate aims to determine goals and trade-offs for you.
Two bad ideas
Centralism appeals to those who wield power. Events such as Brexit and Trump’s election have made centralisers resentful of electoral democracy. But as a system for organising society at significant scale, centralism has an impressive failure rate – think of the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Hitler’s Third Reich. And the reasons for this are not too complicated.
At the most basic level is that most foundational of all subjects, epistemology – the theory of knowledge. Anything we don’t know about, every explanation we lack, is a manifestation of complexity by the standards of our times. In the face of this complexity, all knowledge creation is evolutionary. Nobody has the power to work it all out, so progress takes place by an endless cycle of very marginal conjecture and criticism. The analogy to biology is close. Whereas genes innovate by novel sexual combination and mutation, the evolution of knowledge, and hence of culture, occurs in a marketplace of ideas. Genetic evolution is tested over generations. Under the correct conditions, which only existed for brief periods in the ancient world, and for the last three hundred years in the West, knowledge creation can deliver swift and dramatic improvements in living standards. No sooner do we see a problem, than we solve it, even if somewhat imperfectly, and not always to everyone’s benefit. Those correct conditions are the ones which permit and protect innovation.
For most of human history the evolution of knowledge was prevented by political arrangements that centralised power and caused hierarchies to ossify. Unless their lives were upended by turmoil, people died in households that were largely indistinguishable from the ones they were born into. All challenges to such stasis were greeted by gruesome violence. The stasis was entrenched, dreary, devoid of creativity. Errors lingered. As the philosopher-physicist, David Deutsch, has proposed, the greatest evil is destruction of the means of error correction. Or to put it another way, it’s a big problem when we destroy our ability to discover and correct our mistakes.
It is only to would-be rulers and the chronically coddled that centralism holds any appeal. People who confuse their wealth and success with omniscience attract a following of bureaucrats and academics, who as a class are happily ignorant about the productive world of commerce and labour that pays their salaries, and which affords the distinct possibility that they will die in a house much better than the one they were born to.
In recent decades, the time-honoured technique of entitled technocrats has been rolled out before our very eyes. The pattern is that they fabricate or exaggerate a collection of problems to which only centralised, top-down, technocratic solutions are admitted. Maintain a steady flow of propaganda to stoke fear, and you can disrupt the cognitive capacity of entire populations, leading them to partake in wild goose chases. Manipulated into a state of mass psychosis, societies can be stultified into abandoning vital features of their worlds that enabled their flourishing.
A convergent political agenda is powerfully propagandised, causing an ideology to distil. Marx observed that the elites are the most important targets for propaganda. What the man in the street thinks is far less important than the beliefs and conduct of those who occupy the higher echelons of society. If agendas are to be advanced, elites must be kept onboard and well-disciplined. And elites are readily disciplined, through fear of smearing and being ostracised; excommunicated so to speak, like Galileo. By cajoling a sufficient mass of them, you can thus create the appearance that there is a consensus and air of inevitability, even if it only exists in an elite bubble.
The current of centralist ideology merges with another great stream. Postmodern critical theory has been ascendent as a dominant social philosophy. In place of realism it honours lived experience, turning away from rational analysis of the facts. Ideas must be assessed not by virtue of their correspondence with reality, but in hegemonic terms—through the lens of discourse and power structures. The search for truth is irrelevant, because there is no truth. What counts is how much of a platform you have and how loudly your voice sounds. Opposing ideas are now greeted not with debate and engagement, but with censorship and deplatforming. People who disagree with you should not be “given a platform”. Speech acts are important, not because they disseminate ideas, but only insofar as they signal tribal allegiance.
This lays the ground for the emergence of the phenomena of political correctness, wokeness and virtue signalling. When they speak of “following the science”, what they mean is “follow the narrative”. Moral valence is interpreted only in terms of loyalty to the narrative. Disagreement constitutes violence. If I disagree with you, you will question my agenda, call me a bigot, call for me to be deplatformed, and demand curtailment of my speech.
The adoption of this philosophy of critical theory has been promoted by the Geneva organisations, embedding itself in the syllabi of educational establishments over the decades. The culture of debate and engagement is fast disappearing.
In the world of commerce and economics, it is held as an article of faith that capitalism is failing, and that we need to impose on corporate oppressors stakeholder governance, ESG scorecards, sustainability, best practice, inclusivity and inclusive growth. These word salads and hollow buzzwords trigger a deluge of pointless compliance bureaucracy. Little attention is given to how the items on the long checklist of desirable attributes are to be traded off, and the resulting ‘best practice’ decisions are often comically nonsensical.
With a flick of the wrist we call forth Modern Monetary Theory, facilitating gratuitous spending, absolving governments from balancing their books, whether nominally or substantively, and enabling financial repression of staggering proportions.
The temptation of the centralisers to say “this time is different” is tied up with the false notion that being able to control something complex, like the human race, has to do with how much information you have about it. The idea goes that if we put enough sensors into the field, uploading data all the time on our new 5G networks, then we will be able to design and manage our world towards better outcomes.
But it is not for want of information that social engineering fails. It fails for want of explanations – understanding. Given the rich complexity of the world, we cannot foresee the second-order effects of central planning, the unintended consequences, or articulate coherent objectives or trade-offs. The centralists demonstrated this most comprehensively with Covid. Not only were their models way out in terms of the burden of the disease, but the effects of their policies were not just smaller than they had projected, but entirely non-existent. In some cases they even worked in the wrong direction. So too it will go with any other aspect of our lives to which they turn their attention.
The political analog of all of this – indeed perhaps a root of it all – can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and in the proliferation of rights charters, that have expanded from tightly defined negative rights aimed at protecting the individual from the state, into a dazzling array of positive rights that afford tyrannical bureaucrats a claim against citizens in the interests of promoting whatever social agendas they find convenient. Apparently well intentioned attempts to improve the world are quickly exploited in damaging and even criminal ways. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but also haughty ones.
It was into these ideological waters of centralising arrogance that the notion of lockdowns and mandates as legitimate tools of public health were submerged, never to be subjected to challenge; instant axioms of woke dogma.
Lockdown’s assault on lower income people, the young and small businesses amplified already pronounced injustices that had threatened economic collapse. The resource claims of retired people have long necessitated a default on those claims or progressive enslavement of the youth, or some combination of the two. Much of the West is insolvent in this sense. A story cloaked by the early noise of Covid was the perilous frailty of the US monetary system in March 2020, and unprecedented activity by the Federal Reserve, under the moniker “Going Direct”. In short, the US has both a solvency and a liquidity problem. It is hard to see how curtailment of quantitative easing will not provoke yet another market crash and banking crisis.
All of this threatens to topple many governments or at least provoke profound electoral shifts. What will rise from the ashes? Well, I’ll say it again. A vision for our future is being implemented outside of any democratic scrutiny. And the vision is the global technocracy envisaged by centralists. If you’ve read some history or agree with even part of what I’m saying, you’ll surely agree that any move in that direction needs to be fought energetically and with immense resolve.
What’s happening outside of the elite bubbles? They may not be alive to much of what I’ve said so far, but on the street people are questioning – large strata of people that do not participate in the elite ‘consensus’. While system-ensconced elites may believe that capitalism is failing, ordinary folk know that it is their governments and crony corporatists – the centralisers – that they need to be wary of. The sense of an emergent neo-feudalism is palpable, and they would concur with the sentiments of Shmuel Yosef Agnon:
“The wise men do not partake in leading the world because they know there are even wiser men and wish the world to be led by them. Meanwhile, up jump the fools and evil men and come and take the world into their hands and lead the world according to their evil and stupid ways.”
Who is the enemy? Facing an ideology and institutional capture so widespread, it is hard to work backwards through the propaganda to the source of the political agenda. This is a many-headed hydra. But the same names come up time and time again, corrupting our institutions of public health and medical science, channelling our media into a unison chorus, and corporate executives into unthinking subscription, and bribing both incumbent and opposition politicians into co-option or abeyance. The Gates, Open Society, Rockefeller, Blair and Clinton Foundations, and the WEF show up all the time – but there is a long list of entities in whose cases it is difficult to tell whether they are primary actors, opportunists or simply part of the apparatus. The Geneva organisations; in the media space, Reuters, Associated Press, Project Syndicate and Publicis, and the creepily named censorship organisations, Trusted News Initiative and Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity.
We should not ignore significant propaganda disseminators – Purpose, Global Action Plan, Common Purpose, One Young World and Global Citizens, and their various chapters and think tanks, preaching centralism behind a veil of virtue signalling and lofty ambitions. The world of Big Pharma and Big Tech, and large financial firms that effectively control them.
The array of actors doesn’t constitute a shady conspiracy, but rather a broad, open ideological network. As perpetrators of the immense and destructive power-grab dressed up as the Covid policy response, this network must be fought on a broad front.
What can we do about this, faced with massively funded propaganda, rampant censorship, and elites befuddled by the manipulations of behavioural science?
We need to resist, to push back. This is not about a virus. It’s about the battle between authoritarianism and real ground-up democracy, between centralism and localism. For people who have been terrorised by this bug, this is a difficult message to process. It’s hard for them to accept that both the Covid outcome and the collateral damage would have been far better had we reacted like we did to the similar scale epidemics of the 50s and 60s—which is to say, by doing virtually nothing.
So we need to provide a unified alternative for people who have called bullshit on the whole narrative, even though they have had no platform to say they have done so. Mainstream media has buried the extent of such dissent, which comes largely from the people who actually kept society running during lockdowns. This last year witnessed the largest peaceful protests that have ever occurred, yet they have been downplayed as “a few hundred antivaxxers” who “took to the streets”. Religious groups are starting to get the picture, or at least to exhibit signs of internal conflict, as with the Catholic Church. We need to help them along by reminding them of the many who died to afford us valuable liberties.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Should we now cower in the corner?
What kind of governance should we be aiming for? Many would veer to the other side of the spectrum, where we find the utopian dreams that are the opposite of the centralists’ – those of the anarchists and radical libertarians. A more plausible way would be to consider the doctrine of subsidiarity – the idea that sociopolitical issues should be dealt with at the most local level that is consistent with their resolution. This conceptualisation permits the diversity and decentralisation necessary to foster knowledge growth and economic growth, both of which we require to solve our real problems. It respects autonomy, thus limiting domination and injustice. It can appeal to civil liberty defenders from the non-authoritarian left, and to libertarians from the non-authoritarian right.
We need to shift the emphasis from Covid by highlighting the dystopian potential of centralists’ dreams, at the same time supporting people who are establishing decentralised platforms, whether in the domains of cryptocurrency or social media. We need to deploy these to create parallel societies, projecting a more attractive vision. We need to vote, if we ever do again, for political movements that genuinely push back. We need to demonstrate the courage and humanity that centralists never possess, and model the vigour and creativity that bureaucrats can only envy.
We need to become more vigilant, to tune our ears to the word salad. When we hear terms like “sustainable”, “inclusive” or “best practice”, we must not blindly accept the admonitions that follow them.
We need to have the courage to “just say no”, to insist that it’s time to move on. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage consists of overcoming fear. It’s up to every individual out there to overcome fear. We need to turn away from mainstream media and listen to dissenting voices. We’re going to have to find a more realistic, humane way for the sake of society and our children. This is going to require great courage.
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- The UGLY truth about the Covid-19 lockdowns – Nick Hudson, co-founder of PANDA
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