Jonathan Cook – whose articles I think are of the best in general – disappoints in his latest article explaining his silence regarding COVID-19 and the anti-COVID-19 measures. Like many of the critical left Cook does not see the crisis worth speaking about except for a brief mention to then move back to business as usual (or, more appropriate, injustices world wide…).
To me, that is striking lack of realisation of the severity of the current crisis, not in medical terms but in opportunities for elite control and the continuation of the current neo-liberal and militaristic global system lead by the US. Class war demands constant propaganda to keep the masses »were they belong« as does the US militaristic foreign policy that needs »justification« for their interventions. The movements for more social justice before COVID-19 took over, i.e. more equal distribution of wealth and accountability of corporation especially in relation of climate change are a threat for the ruling class.
To keep the masses subservient the ruling class needs threats. The »war on terror« served that goal during the last 20 years, now it looks like that it is replaced or extended by COVID-19. That does not necessarily mean that some billionaires sat together in a dark room smoking fat cigars planning the whole thing for years to now play it out. It might well be that other factors that lead to the overreaction as we know it.2 But with the threat having been established, it is now used by governments all over the world to justify draconian reductions in constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. And like always, the bottom end of society is hit much harder than the top.
That the stars on the critical left do not speak out against these measures is – for me – disappointing. When Jonathan writes that they [those wishing he writes about COVID] think we can write about their concerns better than they can themselves he simply states a truism as he is a trained professional – in addition to the fact that his articles have a readership of a few 100k.
I expend my very limited resources and energies on trying to persuade readers of the very real and very visible conspiracies – structural conspiracies – perpetrated by our elites to maintain and expand their power. [emphasis added]
The corona measures are very real and very visible and they are used by our elites to maintain and expand their power, they caused tremendous harm already in developing countries3 and will do more harm in the near future4.
There are very explicit conspiracies that can be grasped with only a little critical thinking … such as … the five-year campaign to destroy the party’s former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, before he could reach a position where, it was feared, he would be able to disrupt the neoliberal status quo rapidly driving us towards extinction. That conspiracy embraced senior Labour party officials, leaked documents have shown.
A similar conspiracy by the Democratic leadership in the US to prevent Bernie Sanders becoming the party’s presidential candidate in 2016 was exposed in a leak of the DNC’s emails, though that, of course, has been largely plunged down the memory hole and replaced with a straightforward narrative about “Russian” malfeasance.
It is interesting to note that COVID-19 did disrupt Sanders campaign much more than those of his rivals. As the movement was in substantial part fuelled by people coming together – i.e. direct social contact – COVID-19 killed the movement. COVID-19 also killed the yellow west movement in France or at least delayed it substantially for a few months. COVID-19 then enabled governments to print money like in 2008 to extend the de facto bankrupt system. COVID-19 was therefore used against two »dangers«, that would be able to disrupt the neoliberal status quo rapidly, i.e. the Sanders movement and the looming collapse of the system itself. Both facts are very explicit and both can be grasped with only a little critical thinking …
COVID-19 does not appear to be one of those weak points in the western narrative, not least because it is very hard to discern any meaningful western narrative about the virus other than an agreement that it is a dangerous disease for some sections of the population and that its rapid spread could overwhelm most countries’ health services.
It is almost frightening to read that Jonathan ignored not only all non-mainstream information available on COVID-19 – information by luminaries in their field like Bhakdi, Ioannidis, Bhattacharya, Levitt and plenty of others – but ignores his own advice where he writes that there is a reason why overt conspiracies … are not instantly evident to a larger proportion of western publics: the coordinated efforts of corporate media … In an Orwellian double think, Jonathan not just believes the very same mainstream media he denounces just a few lines above but even states that there is no need to disbelieve them – even when they are controlled by the same billionaire donors that pursue narrow, self-destructive corporate interests for which they lobby for endless wars against an intangible “terror”. That “terror” might have now have been extended by “bioterror” i.e. COVID-19 does not occur to Jonathan at all.
To challenge and disrupt that narrative we need people on the left – the critical left – that use their fame to make people aware that, again – like in the case of previous lies –, the mainstream media is framing the discussion, discrediting those that do not believe what they serve us and dare to ask questions. People do not want to be locked up, writes Jonathan, but people do not want wars of aggression either – until you make them demand them. If the shepherd cries ‘wolf’ the sheep demand protection, if the government cries COVID-19, the people demand lock-down. Only if people like Jonathan were to speak out, raising the voice to heaven, then more people would question the narrative, overcome fear and demand appropriate measures instead of lock-down.
When Jonathan demands that exposing these conspiracies is the best hope of getting people to raise questions in their own minds what cold be a better exposé than the German government denouncing a few hundred thousands of peaceful protesters in Berlin as nazis, conspiracy nuts and anti-vaxxers but at the same time allowing a demonstration of Reichsbürger so close to a strangely unprotected Bundestag that its raid could just be expected, a raid that then dominated all the mainstream news and created the unshakable narrative that all those protesting were nazis.5
But sadly, in the case of COVID-19, Jonathan is part of the mainstream, shares the consensus of the western medical establishment without realizing the that medical establishment might be as well controlled by billionaire donors not even pursuing their own nation’s interests, let alone the interests of humankind and the planet.
COVID-19 measures are an inconvenient truth and if we as a society accept them because of bigger problems looming, a totalitarian society might be very likely as any pretext will be used by the ruling elite to justify the status quo (class war). If we were to accept such reasoning, even eco-fascism, a totalitarian society in the name of saving the planet from climate change, might emerge. Solving the world’s problem can only happen in democratic ways by inclusion of all people. We shall never accept a totalitarian society on the grounds of the greater good. This will almost always be a perverse lie to keep the elite in power.
We, who hoped for critical COVID-19 articles, will have accept that some of the left did not realize or do not want to realize the incredible framing and falsehood of the mainstream media in relation to COVID-19 reporting. But – in Caitlin Johnstone’s own words, another star of the critical left that remained mostly silent or did not give COVID-19 substantial importance –, «you wouldn’t have to knock these people off the pedestals you put them on if you hadn’t put them there in the first place.»
People have limits and keep silent sometimes for whatever reasons.
So «don’t plant fishes in the fields» and «don’t ask Chomsky about 9/11».
2Non-linear fluctuation amplifying where media, business (pharma), doctors obsessed by carrier and fame, etc. amplify rather harmless events until it becomes a global pandemic might be an explanation.
3India alone had an exess death toll due to corona measures of about 500’000, https://scroll.in/article/962147/stronger-health-system-could-have-averted-500000-non-covid-deaths-in-india-in-early-lockdown-period
4100 million expected to fall into poverty, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/22/world/africa/coronavirus-hunger-crisis.html
5Meanwhile official media stated the number of participants as 37’000, a little research makes it obvious that at least a few hundred thousand people participated. Judging from the video streams they were from all parts of society. Reichsbürger and Nazis were marginal (<1%). However, that the Berlin government officially allowed a demonstration of Nazis to take place in an area that is usually restricted and that even when hundreds of police men were on duty only three were guarding the Reichstag should be more than strange for a critical observer.
The Financial Times reports that «in many countries, these excess deaths exceed reported numbers of Covid-19 deaths by large margins» and shows graphs with peaks ways above the normal. However, putting this in proper context, changes the picture entirely.
I checked the data for Switzerland where FT states that the excess mortality is 27% above normal.
To put this data in perspective, we look at the graphs from the Federal Statistical Office depicting total deaths for the years 2020 and 2015.
An overlay using GIMP gives us this graph.
- Mortality in the COVID year 2020 was lower than in 2015 (1054 vs, 1322).
- Only one short peak with more than 1600 dead exceeds the year 2015
- We do have excess deaths compared to the average.
- We do not have an excess compared to regular 5-year peaks.
- We do only have a few % of excess mortality over the entire year (if it stays)
In other words: we have a classical peak that occurs during a strong influenza wave. Such peaks are a normal phenomenon every few years:
Using weekly excess mortality instead of the excess mortality over the entire year is misleading. Every few years there are «excesses» as we can see in the graph above. This is a normal pattern. For a single week, we can measure an excess of 27%, 61% or even 451% above average but just a few weeks later the numbers come down. Over the year there will only be a marginal increase of a few percentages, e.g. in 2015 the total number of deaths was only 5.4% higher than in 2014 or 4.4% higher than in 2016. In a graph, the change in mortality rate is hardly visible.
Media reporting is in the full sense of the word out of proportion.
It was frightening to see how quickly the liberal left collapsed into totalitarianism when the causes for the measures were presented as being «compassion» and «care for the elderly and weak». As if compassion had any place in the neoliberal, capitalist economy and even less in US foreign policy (Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.).
It is also puzzling that the media reporting resembles in large parts Goering’s recipe for totalitarianism. ‘Being attacked’ is extended to ‘attacked by a virus’, and ‘the pacifists’ are replaced by ‘those who do not have compassion with the elderly’.
“Naturally, the common people don’t want war …. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
– Herman Goering
Having a «war against the virus» — a war — makes airplanes honoring the soldiers on the ground (health workers) fit well into the picture.
Apart from the 5 trillion financial aid that will be distributed with little oversight (i.e. to the usual suspects), corona killed the Sanders movement or at least derailed it substantially. Now people are asking for survival — and want to remain at home (!) — instead of going out and demonstrating for social democratic corrections of the system.
Was this Corona Hysteria orchestrated?
How was COVID turned into a weapon against the Sanders movement? The ‘simulitis’ article from the Washington Post seems to have started a propaganda coup for the lockdown. Presented with logic in itself — but without proof of applicability — the article tricked plenty into believing that for flattening the curve lockdown is a necessity. Meanwhile, the simulitis model is logic in and of itself, if this model is applicable to the present situation is an entirely different question. How does the virus spread in reality? The model is nice but it is just a model. If it maps current reality sufficiently well is another question.
If the whole COVID hysteria will turn out to have just been a panic without substantial underlying danger — and the chances are quite high for that — the movement against climate change will be put back for years. Scientific arguments demanding measures to prevent climate change will not be credible after «science» told us to go into lockdown for nothing and killed millions of jobs. That it was not science that ordered the lockdown but politicians listening to certain very questionable scientists with ties to big business will be rather irrelevant. The MAGAs who lost their jobs will not listen — understandably to a certain extent — as they were demonstrating and defending the constitution meanwhile the liberal leftists were — by following «science» — sitting at home and watching the country go bankrupt.
Instead of forcing a surveillance state on the people, let the people ask for it. With COVID fear people will demand that everyone is tracked 24-7 and has his or her vaccination data implanted in order to be checked anywhere at any time. To use an airplane a scanner scans all your vaccination. If you don’t have the required one, you can’t fly. Period. The same goes for concerts, metros, jobs, etc. It’s not compulsory, it’s just necessary to join the society.
By knowing who has contact with whom — allegedly for tracking infection — the organizational structure, i.e. the participants of any political movement will be known in detail. Imagine everyone Sanders spoke to for more than fifteen minutes and everyone that spoke to those that are around Sanders mapped minuscule details known to an organization that wants to undermine that movement …
So this little coronavirus ended socialist (social democratic) dreams, gives Wall Street et al. new cash they direly need, puts the climate movement back for years to the delight of the oil-industrial sector and starts the total surveillance state.
I think it’s time to start a war against this virus now!
Could this crisis be a successive build-up of more and more restrictions according to the decisions of the players involved? I am not at all an expert in game theory but I want to share some thoughts.
The virologist is asked by the politician what to do as there seems to be a pandemic coming. The virologist has two options to offer:
Option A: do nothing
Option B: do quarantine
With option B the virologist has far less responsibility because the result is a) in the future and b) it is not he but others who implement the restrictions. When asked later, he can always say «I spoke from the perspective of a virologist, I am not a politician …» what is, of course, correct.
But option A makes him practically alone responsible for the outcome. If the catastrophe comes, he will be blamed for all future deaths. Therefore the virologist chooses B.
The politician sitting on coals due to all the frightening media reports – has two options:
Option A: do nothing
Option B: do quarantine
As long as possible he chooses option A because of economics. But then the media heats up the situation and neighboring countries take measures so he gets uncomfortable. If others take measures but he not, all will blame him. So he does what other countries do: take measures (option B) and deflects responsibility to experts and others.
After imposing restrictions, improvement is needed at all cost. The politician has three options:
Option A: end restrictions
Option B: continue with balanced & adapted restrictions
Option C: constantly increase restrictions
Option A is impossible as it would directly contradict the step taken before. It would look like a confession of the wrong decision.
The measures must bring positive results. If the more extreme measures were needed or not can only be verified much later and not with 100% accuracy so all strict measures will be right for now. Option B, on the other hand, even if it were the better option bears a big risk that people will complain that he didn’t do enough. If more restrictions would improve the situation nor not is just secondary. The risk of «he didn’t do enough» looms to frightening.
Option C is the safe bet: Even if the draconic measures will just have a slightly higher chance of reducing the infections, it will be impossible later to discern if the measures were truly necessary or not (or the findings come months of years later when the public does not care any more).
«We tried everything possible» (Nb. possible not best) is the slogan. So the politician will rather increase restrictions for some time.
Back to normal
With time – a few weeks to a few months – the public longs for and expects that things become normal again. As people long for it, the politician can now reduce the restriction step by step to please people. If the reductions of restrictions do not create a spike in infections then the decision will be accepted as everyone wants them.
Let’s see the crisis as a change. One looser is already obvious: the free market and capitalism do not solve the crisis.
But Solidarity does.
US interventions in other countries – a.k.a regime change – have brought innumerable suffering and death to millions but never fulfilled the stated aims: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria among others have been ruined with billions of dollars needed to rebuild the infrastructure and much more to heal the wounds inflicted. The goals like spreading democracy, reducing terrorism, etc. were never fulfilled and in case of terrorism the conditions have even been substantially worsened.
The well-being of the people is never the goal of US intervention. Simple measures for improvement like ending sanctions, normalising diplomatic relations, opening borders are routinely ignored and after destruction the people are left alone with their fate. Reparations are never paid.
International Law clearly forbids the use of force and the threat of it. The US routinely ignores International Law, using force and threatening to use force against independent states.
We all remember the lies that lead to Iraq war 2003 («weapons of mass destruction») – and we remember the outcome! Do not be fooled this time again.
Say no to meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
What a horrible country!
Every year the people celebrate their bloody uprising that replaced the ruling class but left thousands dead. With this revolution a reign of terror was unleashed. In trials that can only be described as mocking justice within a year more than 17’000 people had been executed.
But people are brainwashed and do not want to question the official doctrine. They identify with and believe that the event was their liberation and brought them an equal society. It is difficult to comprehend that such a doctrine is accepted by the masses when the privileged have everything but the poor do not know how to make ends meet.
Of course, there is a part of society that can be labeled middle class but the ideals that the state worships as credo is by far not met. Some few do have plenty and a growing underclass is simply poor. That does not reflect the promoted doctrine.
About 50 years a demonstration of a minority group was brutally shattered with hundreds (!) killed. The river of the capital is said to have been filled with corpses on that day. But the public is not aware of such incidents. What does not fit the grid of idealistic superiority is overlooked, suppressed, ignored. And so is its partially aggressive foreign policy and agitation in other counties with serious human rights violations mostly unknown.
Freedom of speech has its limitation, too. Dissident opinion became more and more difficult in recent years with teenagers being arrested for posting ironic comments on a social media platforms! Freedom of expression is just granted when it does not conflict with state-doctrine.
Uff. I reach Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport where I will take my plane to North Korea leaving France behind me. I really hope people will become aware of their history and that liberté, égalité, fraternité will be put into practice at all the levels of this society …
- From the beginning of 1793 to the Thermidorean Reaction, 17,000 people were sentenced and beheaded by some form of revolutionary court in France (in Paris or in the provinces), in addition to some 25,000 others who were summarily executed in the September Massacres, retributions in the War in the Vendée and elsewhere. The Paris Revolutionary Tribunal was responsible for 16% of all death sentences. [wiki]
- The Paris massacre of 1961 was a massacre in Paris on 17 October 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62). Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French National Police attacked a forbidden demonstration of some 30,000 pro-National Liberation Front (FLN) Algerians …
- It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony. …
The Guardian’s Vilification of Julian Assange
At the G-20 summit the question «how to greet Muhammad bin Salman?» has become the litmus test for politically correct behaviour. The public judges and rates politicians for how they greet Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Putin’s «high-five» to Salman was especially despised on social media.
Well, there are a few aspects to consider here.
The fist aspect is that state representatives have to respected. It is rather silly to think that we can solve human rights violations or any other problem by simply spitting another head of state in the face. Showing contempt for a representative that one is meeting is a contradictio in eo ipso. Just don’t meet him or her if you want to express contempt. But refusing to talk will rarely solve things.
In most cases the best option to solve a problem is dialogue. And dialogue can only happen with manners and politeness. Protocol applies.
The war in Yemen
Next, this one murder is just a tiny, almost insignificant detail in the main killing spree of Saudi Arabia. The war in Yemen with probably more than 50’000 dead and children starving daily surpasses this single assassination by orders of magnitudes. Indignation about this killing has an odour of hypocrisy.
Business with Saudi Arabia
But not only Saudi Arabia is guilty of murder, mass murder. All the countries that continued and continue making business with Saudi Arabia in general and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in particular during the last years are guilty of supporting the massacres in Yemen.
Should a ugly face when greeting the Prince Salman be enough to whitewash all the complicity?
A vicious world
When Trump was asked about who should be held accountable for the killing, he deflected the question and said that «maybe the world should be held accountable, because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place». Meanwhile a vicious world can’t whitewash murder, that the world is a vicious place is correct: the one million killed in the Iraq war since 2003, the war in Afghanistan, the 500’000 children killed by US-imposed sanctions (Iraq 1991-2003), the chaos in Libya after US intervention, the drone strikes, etc. The list of US crimes is long but only a few on the radical left demand that we stop shaking the hands of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama, etc.
20’000 dead children — daily
Every single day about twenty thousand children die from preventable diseases due to lack of basic necessities (clean drinking water, malnutrition, etc.). The cause is mainly the current global world order, i.e. (US-led) neoliberal capitalism. If we feel indignation about the murder of Khashoggi, we must feel indignation for the murder of all these children, too.
The world is indeed a vicious place but most of it is man-made. As long as head of states do not attempt to change neoliberal capitalism, the daily mass murder continues. Most of the guests at the G-20 summit are the guardians of the neoliberal world order. In such meetings – in principle – world order can be changed: military de-escalation, nuclear disarmament, Tobin-tax, carbon-tax, fair trade commitments, poverty alleviation, etc. are possible. It all just depends on political commitment, unlikely at the moment but possible …
Leaving NATO …
The states themselves can do their part, too, even when the current political climate is clouded by Trumpian egoism. European states could leave NATO and say no to an increase of military budgets. The EU could promote fair business with development countries and increase development aid. That would also help reduce some of the causes for migration.
The minimum …
Of course, to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and to any other state that is involved in illegal wars is the top priority. That means that not just Saudi Arabia has to be banned from receiving weapons but also Israel and the US!
It is obvious that these actions will not happen – not because they are impossible but because our leaders are so deeply entrenched in the global neoliberal world order that they don’t care about the twenty thousand children that die daily nor for the children in Yemen nor about US crimes. They care only for business.
The Khashoggi murder – with its exceptionalism – is therefore a welcomed opportunity to show indignation without having to act and change. Praise to our moral superiority …
1 There is a distinct difference between form and content. Formal politeness does not mean to agree in content. And it is a entirely different case when one personally knows and meets a person in private compared to a meeting between states.
2 Unless we introduce the concept worthy and the unworthy victims (unpeople) and rate a wealthy Washington Post columnist like Khashoggi as worthy in relation to the unworthy Yemeni, continuous mass murder is far worse than a single murder.
5 To be honest, I guess some women have also their share in it …
6 Like ending the flooding African markets with cheap meat and other goods that destroy local production especially agriculture.
7 A long-term demand of NGOS is the raise of development aid to 1% GDP, a “burden” the Western nations could shoulder easily.
RT brought a story about a new entry on medium.com called “International Assadists References Directory” listing alleged ‘Assadist’, i.e. people that whitewashed or defended Bashar Al-Assads regime or actions in any way.
Apart from the fact that the page contained factual errors, the page labels anyone an ‘Assadist’ that dares to say that the Syrian conflict is not black and white and sees faults and responsibility for the conflict not only by Assad alone.
I came in contact with Kester Radcliff, the creator of the article, about two years ago. We were friends on facebook where he spilled his propaganda blaming Assad and Assad alone for the situation in Syria. When I pointed out that the reality was not so black&white as he portrayed it and posted a link to an article by Robert Fisk, he got wild. After a few exchanges of arguments – if I can call his answers arguments – he blocked me from his fb page and cancelled the friendship. No more dialogue.
Kester Radcliff is a good example of what I would call Anti-Assad-Propagandist (AAP). The characteristics of how these AAP behave and ‘argue’ is as follows:
- put all the blame on Assad
- propagate that view emotionally (i.e. use expressions like “the worst mass murderer of the last 65 years”, “genocide”, etc.
- don’t tolerate other views. If someone disagrees, get as much angry as possible and discredit the person for even thinking outside of the above parameter.
- do not argue on an intellectual level. Just use emotions to discredit the other. “You want to defend the worst mass murderer …”, “how dare you to say … when 500’00 people have been massacred.”,
- do not accept the standpoint ‘neutral’
As it was rather difficult to get trustworthy information about Syria and the Western media – as usual – favoured the NATO view, contradicting someone that and calls himself a “human rights activist”, holds a seemingly rock-solid opinion and passionately defends it, is not so easy. Especially when you are part of the “volunteering family” you will not want to loose your community. I guess many agree therefore or at least do not oppose the view as they want to save the friendship and not end up as an “outcast”.
Kester Radcliff is not the only one. There were other people I met on facebook behaving similarly. A woman deleted all posts critical to her original posts that tried to whitewash the “White helmets”. First she retorted in short phrases like “Educate yourself before you comment please”, then she had to enter the discussion as the poster showed that he was educated. But a day later only the reaffirming posts remained on the page. See the page before and after. (At least she had a discussion even when deleting it after.)
The question is not about political opinion. The question is that a some people are trying to suppress any meaningful discussion before it even starts and demand loyalty. By bullying people into adopting an emotion-based opinion that is entirely black&white and refusing to acknowledge the existence of – fact-based – other perspectives is not at all in accordance with the alleged ideals of liberal Western democracies this people claim to represent. On the contrary, their behaviour resembles – in essence – much more those authoritarian dictatorships where censorship is standard and deviation from doctrine is forbidden. A free society where plurality of opinion is honoured and welcomed would neither bully nor censor. Welcome to Western hypocrisy.
But anyhow, as Eva Barlett wrote:
“In fact, instead of successfully smearing us, Kester has compiled a go-to list of people to follow for original and truthful content on important international issues today, particularly Syria, Palestine, and Yemen,”
So, Kester, put me on that list, too. I would be an honour!