…conspiracies & anti-conspiracies…
This is very much a work-in-progress to which many other aspects of this Covid epoch will be added and developed. It has no pretension to being finished, let alone “definitive”. Watch this space.
1: The automatic knee-jerk
“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought… Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?”
– George Orwell, 1984
The automatic knee-jerk reactive insult hurled at those who have the “arrogance” to question significant aspects of this Covid crisis as “conspiracy theorist!”, “conspiralooon!”, “anti-vaxxer!”, “Covid denier!” etc. ad nauseam has to be questioned as much as those who genuinely adhere to the simplistic idiocies immersed in conspiracy theories [i].
“Conspiracy theorist!” has become a put-down endlessly repeated, as an easy way of pushing away all questioning, a soothing mantra to push away the anxiety, to go back to sleep. One can dispense with actually ‘thinking’ it – that is, with going through the complicated logical acts involved in verbal formulation of it, an examination of the contradictions of the facts, of how one selects the facts, of how they are interpreted. The concrete melts into an easy cliché and no one seems able to think of expressions that are not unearned received ideas, that are not a ready-made response to something that may well be far more nuanced than the usual either/or Manichean choices proffered by a servile media, or by their milieu. Such mechanization is essential for the repression of critique [ii] .
Caricaturing someone’s position is often a way for people, fearful of their own doubts, to repress looking at the current forms of complicity between different sections of capital. This is because recognising the enormity of the lies and manipulations going on tends to release an uncontrollable anxiety, which also involves being seen as a tinfoil hat conspiraloon themselves. To even approach such questions is likely to make themselves vulnerable to the conformist unthinking contempt that so many have for those who dare question aspects of science, the automatic dismissal of them as being “anti-science” (and/or anti-vaxxer) – they fear being shoved into the same mad category as David Icke. So people repress and harden themselves, because the onslaughts of this epoch have already made them feel fragile and they don’t want to make themselves more vulnerable by exposing themselves to the easy put-downs of those they assume they’re closest to, such as their family, their milieu, their friends. Incapable of seeing something beyond the false choices of conspiracy “theories” v. anti-conspiracy ideologies, they claim themselves to be anti-ideological in their mostly unnuanced support for what science has become much in the same way as those who accept without question the necessity of the economy and of money also see themselves as anti-ideological when others critique the economy and money. Now no-one is immune from ideology, particularly in this unprecedentedly confusing epoch where those trying to make sense of things are confronted with aspects of life that they hadn’t had to think too much about before – it’s a question of striving to undermine the ideological aspects of oneself, the untested assumptions. However, the ideological core of anti-conspiracy theorists has similarities with conspiracy theorists insofar as they both express not a struggle for communication, but the need for separation, for a superior arrogance, an image of self-assured confidence involving putting down those who don’t accept their largely received and rigid ideas. The anti-conspiracy theorist may even go so far as to claim they’re critiquing hierarchy and capital but in the current context of Covid it’s pretty meaningless, largely abstract, a rejection of how hierarchy manifests itself in details. If the conspiracy theorist can’t see the wood for the trees, the anti-conspiracy theorist can’t see the trees for the wood.
In all this “reason” is instrumentalised, taking on a kind of blind positive obviousness: such an ideological transformation of rationality hides its historical choices and asserts itself as representing undeniable facts, an interpretation that doesn’t even seem to be an interpretation. It becomes an easy method of waving away all arguments, a method of repeating what society has proclaimed as being as taken-for-granted as the blueness of the sky without making the effort to get your head around what someone is in fact saying so as to contest it honestly. So, for instance, even the mere healthy suspicion about the safety of the vaccine is caricatured as “conspiracy theory” – “Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign is meeting resistance due to conspiracy theories and fake news cropping up on Arabic-language social media, among other reasons…The main reason is fake news. They’re telling us that they want to wait and see what happens to the people who get inoculated,” said Fuad Abu Hamad, the director of the Clalit Health Services branch in Beit Safafa. “The rumors that two people died after receiving the vaccination didn’t help.” In fact, two people DID DIE after getting inoculated – whether this was due to the vaccine or not – so these were not “rumors”.
So if a criticism can’t be contested honestly it can only be utterly distorted to fit into something one has already found arguments against. This unthinking language is the ideological cage of the spectator who accepts without question being caged by the language of the consensus, the refuge of the ruling society. And acceptance of the language also becomes practical acceptance of the rules of this cage: follow the experts’ rules and you won’t get sick. When hierarchical power wants to avoid resorting to its material arms, it relies on dominant language, the language of domination, to guard the oppressive order. Concepts like “conspiracy theorist/conspiraloon/anti-vaxxer” become ‘streamlined’, rationalized, labor-saving manipulative tools. No need to try to think for oneself: thinking is thus reduced to the level of industrial processes, subjected to a tight schedule – a short cut which, in short, cuts off all chance of communication. As part of the reproduction of ideology, it contributes and intensifies divisions among those who potentially could contest this world, divisions reinforced because the working class has already been weakened by years and years of retreat from revolutionary perspectives.
2: In Germany
In Germany, during the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the Ministry of the Interior called in scientists from several research institutes and universities and instructed these scientific researchers to create a calculation model on the basis of which the authority of the Minister of the Interior would be able to justify the planning of “measures of a preventive and repressive nature”. In just four days, they developed in close coordination with the Ministry, the content of a document, which was declared secret, but was partly disseminated via various media in the following days. In this document, a “disaster scenario” was calculated, a so called “communication strategy” in which the authors pointed out how to induce a “shock effect” on the general public to make them accept repressive measures more easily. According to this document more than a million people in Germany could die of coronavirus if social life continued as before the pandemic. Apparently, emails between the Ministry and these scientists show the extent of the scientists’ collaboration and betrayal of the so called “autonomy of science” – which is, as we know, a myth anyway. See this in German – https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article225864597/Interner-E-Mail-Verkehr-Innenministerium-spannte-Wissenschaftler-ein.html and this in English – https://dialectical-delinquents.com/covid1984-latest/2021-2/february-2021/covid-19-strategy-paper-excerpts-translated/ [iii].
In most of its aspects, this affair has been known by the general public in Germany since spring 2020 – without causing much of a scandal. Apparently the shock strategy worked so well that it was not dangerous for the German ruling class to reveal its fabricated nature later. It’s not hard to imagine that similar things have been going on in many other countries as well. The scientific councils that surround the various governments, many of whom have direct links with the pharmaceutical industry, have an intrinsic financial incentive to maximise the terror and to minimise basic cheap immune-boosting methods of resisting Covid, or other means of helping to cure people if they get it. And have a “scientific” ideology utterly complicit and compatible with the reduction of human beings to their use for the accumulation of capital.
3: Why mention this
Why mention this here? Because if you’d said this as a possibility back in March 2020 without the definite proof which was revealed later you would have been instantly dismissed as a conspiracy theorist, a nutter.
Apparently when people – about 10 years ago or so – started to point out the fact that Facebook and Google sell the information they get about what sites are being clicked on by whom or the comments and tastes of their customers, Facebook and Google hit back by calling these people “conspiracy theorists”. Since then it has become a dominant strategy. This is certainly not to deny that some people genuinely are ridiculous conspiracy theorists but this indicates how essential it is to be vigilant, discerning – to recognise the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a person pointing out basic mutual capitalist interests, whether those of a single business or state or national ruling class in the more general sense [iv] or between different sections of capital usually seen as separate: in relation to Covid in particular, scientists and other “experts”.
The main philosophical critic of the “conspiracy theory of society” of the last century was Karl Popper who was possibly the most brilliant, if nauseating, exponent of positivism and liberalism during that epoch. In his 1963 book “Conjectures and Refutations” he wrote “The conspiracy theory of ignorance is fairly well known in its Marxian form as the conspiracy of a capitalist press that perverts and suppresses truth and fills the workers’ minds with false ideologies.”. There’s a certain irony in the fact that a version of his “critique” is now something that many people who claim to critique capitalism also espouse, albeit selectively. Popper saw this “conspiracy theory” in the Marxo-Hegelian dialectic. His was the philosophy of positivism, the cult of progress, of science, of open and pluralist democracy, of, in short, liberalism. This liberalism has now become neoliberalism – the vast imposture dominating materially and ideologically the world today: the “road to serfdom” and totalitarianism. Dominant mainstream perspectives now sometimes make a link between the critique of commodity science (based on the cult of exteriority, on the “objectivity” from which subjectivity has been expelled) and the current critique of the Covid-inspired pretext for social control as “conspiracy theory”. The end result of this dismissal of critique as “unscientific”or “anti-scientific” is the superficial and positivist glorification of appearances, seeking nothing beyond that which is endorsed by the ruling show backed by the reifiers of science and the media. But this time with the additional backing of “revolutionaries”.
When it comes from the Left or “libertarian-communists”, one can see the idiocy of this unthinking dismissal of any significant critique of the massive manipulation surrounding Covid: such logic, in another epoch, would have been enough to have made them dismiss Chomsky and Herman’s “Manufacturing Consent” or Debord’s “Commentaries on Society of the Spectacle” as conspiracy theory. There’s an irony in the fact that “consensus” is evoked as somehow “objective” to describe anyone who opposes the dominant consensus as a conspiracy nutter, whereas – when it comes to aspects of society that could be defined as “political” or “economic” or “military”, these libertarians are not at all complicit with the “consensus”. But because it’s scientists and doctors, they are somehow considered “objective”, despite their obvious interests either directly in the pharmaceutical industry &/or their ambitions to rise in the hierarchy of state advisers or just their fear of the consequences for not toeing the line [iv b]. Politicians and the military have an interest in manipulating submission (in particular, via the media) but any critique of scientists and doctors outside of a rather obvious critique of the more modern developments in food-as-commodity production and distribution (the capitalist food industry) is reduced to purely subjective opinion at best. And the relatively small number of dissident scientists and doctors (especially in the anglophone world) have to be invariably associated with the Right, even when they’re not, and thus are claimed to have a secret agenda, even when they don’t. Apparently it’s the dissidents who are conspiring against the “objective truth”. These “libertarians” thus create a toxic atmosphere that automatically represses, censors and self-censors in advance any nuanced but fundamental critique as unscientific or loony-cum-conspiracist. Any little deviation from mainstream “logic” nowadays, to any critique of the vaccinations programme or of masks or of other aspects of this crisis are manipulatively linked to the miserable ideological form of such criticisms by the Right. Nowadays much of the so-called “libertarian” milieu adopts a classic amalgam technique, previously associated with Stalinism and other brands of Leninism, by attributing a “guilt-by-association” to critiques that have nothing to do with the so-called “libertarian” Right.
The term “conspiracy” evokes images of men in pointy tinfoil hats whispering to each other in dark and dank cellars. The dark web [v ] is the modern equivalent of all that, but somehow the image of “conspiracy” still conjures up something rather cartoonish and absurd. But you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognise that the ruling class and those high-ups who identify with and see their interests in defending them, do not invariably make public their discourse and strategies, however much they pretend to be “transparent” (no more than their rivals for power, whether it be in the official opposition, rival states or rival would-be states). For instance, the Israeli state has kept secret most of its contract with Pfizer.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognise that the state almost invariably takes advantage of crises that happen unintentionally but indirectly as a result of the logic of their political-economy in order to impose and reinforce social control. As Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, said in 2008 “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. I mean, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Or as the foremost ideologist of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman, said, “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable”. Of course the fact that the rulers or someone else benefits from an event doesn’t automatically mean they must have caused it.
Usually capitalism “conspires” at a very different level from that which classical simplistic conspiracy theorists expound. For one thing, often the information is, as they say, “hidden in plain view”, like Edgar Allen Poe’s “Purloined Letter”. And nor is it really useful to research endlessly the possible events and evidence that aim, but are almost never able, to prove such things. We have to deal with how the state uses these things. But for those who are into it, conspiracy ideology becomes a strategy which mediates all of reality, where secrets are wrapped in a nebulous environment that seems to bring the mundane to life. “Facts are relevant only as details in the landscape which jive or don’t jive with what the believer wants to see…. Conspiracy ideology does not set out to demonstrate the real motive forces behind human practice (including the actual role, if any, of conspiracies within the development of events), but rather takes the conspiracy as beginning and end, the totality of its substance”. (Chris Shutes, “Two Local Chapters In The Spectacle of Decomposition”)
Conspiracy “theory” is usually an obsession which aims to sell the “theorist” as a particularly lucid opponent of political intrigue. And, as a possessor of esoteric knowledge, feel they’re making themselves especially interesting and unique for being able to propound their “secret facts”. Whereas in reality, it’s just a grandiose internet-fueled political version of what used to be seen as petty gossip. Substitute “Jerry’s sleeping with his ex-wife’s girlfriend” with “Xi Jinping hates Zhou Xianwang because…”. In the past the largest section of society objectively reduced to being spectators of history – women – often resorted to gossip as a form of manipulation substituting for direct ability to influence events (this is not to be moralistic by implying that gossip is worse than other consolations for being reduced to a spectator). But nowadays there are many who essentially remain spectators who feel that they overcome their separation from history by spreading conspiracy “theories”. And of course such pretension to something deemed powerful compensates for the fact that we live in a world which previously had far more extensive daily direct forms of communities of class struggle which were genuine expressions of the power of resistance in a far greater practical way than the simplistic reductionism of conspiracy theories. And compensates for an inability and unwillingness to strive to understand what contributed to the defeat of these struggles, defeats which are the basis for our current impotence and impasse. Conspiracy theory becomes a shortcut version of “critique” that ignores a genuine critique of the hard-to-see contradictions of hierarchical social relations and their history.
In many ways, conspiracy ideology is a reflection in ideas of commodity production: each new detail at once creates the need for more details and confirms the value of all previous investigation (just as in commodity production, each new product at once creates the need for more commodities and confirms the value of all previous commodity production). Each detail is a commodity in and of itself. The goal – discovery – is always a letdown, a pageant of bureaucratic tedium. The process is everything. And it remains an interpretation that leaves you passive in relation to what you think you have revealed. After all, if, in the eyes of the conspiracy theorist, the ruling society can conspire at such a delirious level it’s obvious we are impotent to change anything. [vi]
“Conspiracy theories offer us a false target, a distraction. The remedy cannot be to expose and take down those who have foisted these trends upon us. Of course, there are many bad actors in our world, remorseless people committing heinous acts. But have they created the system and the mythology of Separation, or do they merely take advantage of it? Certainly such people should be stopped, but if that is all we do, and leave unchanged the conditions that breed them, we will fight an endless war. Just as in bioterrain theory germs are symptoms and exploiters of diseased tissue, so also are conspiratorial cabals symptoms and exploiters of a diseased society: a society poisoned by the mentality of war, fear, separation, and control.” – Charles Eisenstein, The Conspiracy Myth.
Nevertheless, given the massive distortions and contradictions even amongst experts about everything surrounding this epidemic, it’s almost inevitable that people speculate about what they conveniently give massive publicity to, what is referred to only fleetingly, what they’re hiding and how much has been deliberately allowed to happen. Only those utterly credulous and compliant, those submissive to the authority of experts even if these experts are as consistent as an alcoholic on speed trying to walk a straight line, would repress any sense of doubt or skepticism.
You need to be very discerning not to take sides between conspiracy theories and anti-conspiracy theories, to try to make sides. Clarity demands steering a winding path between the frying pan of “conspiracy theory” and the fire of “anti-conspiracy theory” ideologies. Two ideologies, each containing a partially true critique, including critiques of each other, fall into various forms of reductionism, losing a striving for some attempt at a coherent unity of historical thought but instead setting themselves up as an ideological authority in competition with each other. In an age of confusion and uncertainty, “conspiracy theory” and “anti-conspiracy theory” function like other forms of dogma – as a way of affirming a fixed idea that seems to rise above the turmoil of confusion. But each dismisses what is true in the other and doesn’t question what is false in themselves. In a world that’s utterly insecure, those on the absolute margin of existence seek out fixed certainties that substitute for confronting the complexity of this increasingly chaotic world, that substitute for a more open ‘nuanced’ attitude towards people and ideas. If one were to follow conspiracy “theory” routes one would end up constantly researching – and often twisting – evidence with the sole aim of proving something that’s largely impossible to prove without having direct access to the hidden secrets at the centre of Power, something that would take a successful revolution to achieve (even now, some classified state secrets remain secret despite 30-year or 50-year or 70-year rules before being released). And almost invariably this would involve ignoring any evidence that may conflict with the conspiracy ideology: having decided dogmatically on the fact that a situation is a conspiracy, it would grate and be inconvenient to look at anything that might run counter to such a possibility. And likewise the opposite: anti-conspiracy ideologists ignore any evidence that may conflict with the anti-conspiracy ideology. Having decided dogmatically on the fact that a situation is not at all indicative of elements of a conspiracy in the slightest, it would grate and be inconvenient to look at anything that might run counter to such a possibility. Ideology unchallenged within oneself allows for a smooth and easy interpretation that isn’t compatible with a difficult struggle for the complex truth.
4: The Chinese origin
The Chinese origin of Covid is a good example of how conspiracy theorists and anti-conspiracy theorists relate to aspects of Covid.
Firstly, it’s necessary to be aware that the Chinese state deliberately destroyed evidence concerning Covid’s origins.
On 27th December 2019 a Chinese lab found the new virus and then hid the COVID-19 genome sequence test result for 14 days: “Upon testing, a lab in Guangzhou found out that the genome sequence of the new virus was 87 percent similar to Bat SARS-like coronavirus. The lab shared the results with the China Institute of Pathogen Biology and Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on 27th of December. However, the National Health Commission issued a new regulation banning all the labs from sharing and releasing their test results in early January. China only allowed the release of the genome sequence of COVID-19 to the World Health Authority (WHO) on 11 January, two weeks after they got hold of the result.” A report about this on 3/3/20 was censored by the state, surprise surprise (see also this).
Subsequent events can be summed up like this:
The state began censorship of information about it shortly afterwards (end of December 2019). On 7th January 2020 Xi Jinping admitted privately the severity of the virus : “… during a speech Xi delivered February 3, which was published by state media on Saturday [15th February 202], he said he gave instructions on fighting the virus as early as January 7. It was not until late January that officials said the virus could spread between humans and public alarm began to rise.”
The WHO were informed on 11th January 2020.
But it wasn’t until 22nd January 2020 that Xi made a clear request that Hubei province impose control: “On January 22, in light of the epidemic’s rapid spread and the challenges of prevention and control, I made a clear request that Hubei province implement comprehensive and stringent controls over the outflow of people.” (here again).
Yet in early February Xi warned officials that efforts to stop the virus could hurt “the economy”. That is, their economy; the need for money, which is the basic form of misery that capital has expanded to every single need, continues as before. What was feared for the ruling class was above all the Chinese economy’s competitive edge on its rivals. In other words, either through incompetence or through conscious policy, the virus spread or was allowed to spread.
As against the dominant story of its origins, it seems pretty likely that the virus did not start in Wuhan’s wet market. “Experts have ruled out the idea that the pathogen was concocted as a bioweapon. They agree that it began as a bat virus that probably evolved naturally in another mammal to become adept at infecting and killing humans. But so far, after months of concentrated research at sites and laboratories in China and elsewhere around the globe, no clear intermediary has come to light. The first three of Dr. Lucey’s eight questions center on the Wuhan wet market — a sprawling marketplace that sold fresh fish and meat before being shut down. It was initially viewed as the viral point of origin. That idea was quickly thrown into doubt when a study by Chinese scientists reported that roughly a third of the earliest hospitalized victims — including the first — had never visited the market. In a May blog, Dr. Lucey quoted the head of China’s Center for Disease Control as ruling it out as the pandemic’s place of origin. The market, the Chinese health official said, “is just another victim.”…no direct evidence has come to light suggesting that the coronavirus escaped from one of Wuhan’s labs….Finally, Dr. Lucey asks the W.H.O. team to learn more about China’s main influenza research lab, a high-security facility in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province. In May, he notes, a Chinese paper in the journal Science reported that two virus samples from Wuhan were studied there in great detail early this year, including in a variety of animals….” (from a 10/7/20 article here). In fact, the first publicly stated suspicion backed by some kind of evidence that it came from a lab seems to have been as early as February 2020 (see this and this).
Moreover, this says “It can also be revealed the Australian government trained and funded a team of Chinese scientists who belong to a laboratory which went on to genetically modify deadly coronaviruses that could be transmitted from bats to humans and had no cure”. This confirms the support and co-funding of the Australian government and adds that the People’s Liberation Army had been doing secret classified animal experiments in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Despite this, it’s 99.9999999999% unlikely that the virus was deliberately allowed to escape this lab so as to infect the world (I’m never absolutist about anything other than the obvious). The conspiracy theories, such as those which say that it was a deliberate Malthusian attack on the human race manufactured in a Wuhan lab designed to reduce what is commonly assumed to be the “overpopulation” of the planet, don’t make sense, not least because there are far more efficient methods of killing off masses of people, methods already happening – nuclear power-induced cancer, mass starvation, TB, malaria, air pollution, horrible work conditions etc. For anti-semites, this lab was inevitably one financed by George Soros, because it’s clear that Soros’ clones hide under everyone’s bed ready to come out at night to infect them with any hangover or belly ache they find themselves waking up with, obviously caused by him.
However, the cock-up theory of history is often just as simplistic as conspiracy theories [vii] , insofar as it ignores how the state can turn an accident to its advantage by elements of Machiavellian manoeuvering. In this case, not just to give the state the image of subsequently being the saviour, giving it a pretext for a “benevolent” intensification of social control, but also to manipulate the means of control so as not to ruin their precious economy. Hence all the contradictory state exigencies: as a Weibo user said “What’s the point of such lockdown measures if we are still required to go back to the office to resume work, where we are vulnerable to infections and human transmissions” – here. This latter, whilst being a basic implicit critique of the contradictions of wage labour and exploitation and social control in this Covid-epoch, is nevertheless the most obvious one to make, which often ignores and even suppresses others equally important.
The WHO investigation into the origins found that it was “very unlikely” it came from a lab, although how they can say this given the massive restrictive limitations imposed on them (see this March 4th 2021 open letter calling for a full and unrestricted international forensic investigation into the origins of Covid: “we wish to raise public awareness of the fact that half of the joint team convened under that process is made of Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, that international members of the joint team had to rely on information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them, and that any joint team report must be approved by both the Chinese and international members of the joint team. We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses – whether natural spillover or laboratory/research-related incident”) and the fact that the Chinese state refused to hand over vital data, is at best a mystery based on nothing but a hunch (see also this). More likely is that the essentially Chinese-dominated investigation was heavily leant on by the Chinese bureaucracy to state this. Some scientists say that it is highly likely – 90% certain – that it came from a lab (see this interview and this one). According to this interview, the People´s Liberation Army took over the virology institute immediately after the outbreak.
Here is an article by the interviewee in this last video laying out his views in detail:
“The closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 is a virus sampled by Chinese researchers from six miners infected while working in a bat-infested cave in southern China in 2012. These miners developed symptoms we now associate with Covid-19. Half of them died. These viral samples were then taken to the Wuhan Institute of Virology—the only facility in China that’s a biosafety Level 4 laboratory, the highest possible safety designation. The Level 4 designation is reserved for facilities dealing with the most dangerous pathogens. Wuhan is more than 1,000 miles north of Yunnan province, where the cave is located. If the virus jumped to humans through a series of human-animal encounters in the wild or in wet markets, as Beijing has claimed, we would likely have seen evidence of people being infected elsewhere in China before the Wuhan outbreak. We have not. The alternative explanation, a lab escape, is far more plausible. We know the Wuhan Institute of Virology was using controversial ‘gain of function’ techniques to make viruses more virulent for research purposes. A confidential 2018 State Department cable released this month highlighting the lab’s alarming safety record should heighten our concern. Suggesting that an outbreak of a deadly bat coronavirus coincidentally occurred near the only level 4 virology institute in all of China—which happened to be studying the closest known relative of that exact virus—strains credulity.” “Gain of function” is research that deliberately makes viruses found in nature more virulent, more infectious to humans, more contagious and potentially more deadly. There are several labs around the world conducting this research with the aim of learning how to avert or diminish damage caused by hypothetical future pandemics. Apparently, it is possible, perhaps likely, that as is the case with many other aspects of this pandemic, the “cure” inflicted on the world by that holy alliance of medical science and the state is worse than the threat from nature ever was, and the whole world has literally become an experiment gone wrong. Which shows that nothing was gained from any of the “gain of function” research conducted by the lab in terms of learning how to avert a pandemic caused by coronaviruses.
Given the fact that the doctor (Li Wenliang) who originally discovered this virus was arrested and accused of “rumour-mongering”, speculations that the Chinese bureaucracy intentionally wanted this virus to spread abound. Some suggested that the CCP, faced with the possibility of having this crisis undermine its own global bid for world market supremacy (the effect of the virus was initially to weaken Chinese capital) decided to let it develop in order to infect its competitors and maybe also to help suppress the threat of internal subversion perhaps triggered by the limited revolts in Hong Kong, and Wuhan itself. Whilst there are too many incalculable risks that makes it unlikely that the State would have proceeded in such a Machiavellian manner and implies that the State is omnipotent and invariably in control of forces that are often beyond its control, it’s worth noting that the Chinese economy is the only major economy to have achieved growth in 2020. However, far more likely is that the ideology of the omniscience of the Chinese state (by which they delude the Chinese masses and also partly themselves) meant that they had to repress Dr.Li Wenliang and probably let him die when he contracted the virus. And, though this is pure conjecture, perhaps conveniently blame the local bureaucracy in Wuhan of gross incompetence so as to get rid of rivals in the CCP’s internal battles.
However, conjecture is the only way this works – one endlessly speculates about this and that without ever being able to come to a conclusion let alone a practical use of a conclusion. Whilst such skepticism is healthy as compared to just accepting the dominant narrative, it’s very limited going down this road of hypothesis-fantasy. After all, it’s how the state actually uses this “crisis” that’s the most important not constantly trying to track down the manipulations and manoeuvres that seem to be behind it. An endless task that, as said in the 3rd paragraph above, “is a reflection in ideas of commodity production: each new detail at once creates the need for more details and confirms the value of all previous investigation”, though one can overstate this comparison. After all, since the whole of the situation over the last year or more has been permeated by mass manipulation on an unprecedented scale, uncovering aspects of these manipulations is essential as part of the project of providing evidence for this manipulation.
5: The apparently more obviously delerious “conspiracy theories”
The apparently more obviously delerious “conspiracy theories” are a mixture of half-truths and one-and-a-half-truths, partial truths distorted by lies and ideology.
The most obvious one is the idea of vaccinations introducing microchips into the body of the vaccinated.
Let’s look at the contradictions of what at first sight seems utterly absurd.
In December 2019 this article in a mainstream French TV news channel and online news site shows that in fact a vaccination tracking device under the skin was already starting to be developed a year ago . It’s probably the basis for the silly conspiracy theories being put out. Whilst certain totalitarian tendencies may well be planning to put such technology into operation, dependent on whether or not they could pass a law to make it legal and/or compulsory, but certainly they couldn’t do it now without taking the enormous, and very costly, risk of being discovered, costly in terms of mass submissive confidence in these would-be Mengeles:
“TOMORROW’S WORLD – Researchers have developed a technology which, thanks to an invisible tattoo embedded under the skin, makes it possible to display a person’s health record via the camera of a smartphone. Enough to provide doctors, especially in developing countries, with proof that the person has been vaccinated…Subcutaneous technological implants, used all over the world for livestock and pets, are starting to spread to humans, as in Sweden where several thousand people already use them as a key, train ticket or bank card. In the field of health, this time, a team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced that they had developed a revolutionary process: instead of implanting an electronic chip between the index finger and the thumb, nanoparticles are injected under the skin via a special syringe. These nanoparticles have the particularity of emitting a fluorescent light imperceptible to the naked eye, but visible from the screen of a smartphone. Concretely, the idea is to establish the proof of the vaccine in the body itself, especially in developing countries where paper vaccination cards are often incorrect or incomplete and where electronic medical records do not exist. So far, the technology has only been tested in rats, but researchers hope to test it on humans in Africa within the next two years….Scientists have spent a lot of time finding components that are safe for the body, stable and able to last for years. The final recipe is composed of copper-based nanocrystals, called “quantum dots”, measuring 3.7 nanometers in diameter. These nanocrystals are then encapsulated in microparticles of 16 micrometers (1 micrometer equals one millionth of a meter…)…. The implantation, which is done with a special syringe with a patch of microneedles 1.5 millimeters in length, is almost painless. Once applied to the skin for two minutes, the microneedles dissolve and leave small points under the skin, distributed for example in the shape of a circle or a cross. They appear under the effect of a part of the light spectrum invisible to us, close to infrared. Through the camera of a modified smartphone, pointed at the skin, the circle or the cross appears fluorescent on the screen. This symbol fluoresces on the screen when you point the smartphone camera…Researchers want the measles vaccine to be injected at the same time as these small dots. Because of this, a doctor could check if the person has been vaccinated years later. The technique is believed to be more durable than permanent felt markers. In the report of their work, the scientists indicate that they simulated five years of exposure to the Sun during laboratory tests. Another advantage of this device is that it requires less technology than an iris scan or the maintenance of medical databases. …The limitation of the concept is that the technique will only be useful in identifying unvaccinated children if it becomes the exclusive tool used. Also, will people accept multiple markings under the skin for each vaccine? And what will happen to the dots when children’s bodies grow older? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which funds this project, is currently conducting opinion polls in Kenya, Malawi and Bangladesh to determine whether people will be ready to embrace these microscopic quantum dots or prefer to stick to old vaccination cards.” [viii]
What is dumb about the conspiracy theorists use of this is the belief that “they” will automatically make a secret use of this technological advance. The chance of the state or private interests putting a tracking device or nanotechnological softeware into people’s bodies without their consent or knowledge would be a very dangerous game to play, given the chances of them being found out. And besides, the technological means of totalitarian social control do not necessitate such crudely underhand methods. Conspiracy theories at that level take a truth and develop it into an absurdity that then makes any critique of the true situation also seem absurd (to the point where it would be no surprise to find out that in fact sections of the ruling society put out mad versions of real “conspiracies” in order to tar the real with the same brush as the crazy). Like with individuals who persistently exaggerate and blow out of all proportion something true, one ends up thinking everything they say is bullshit, even if it’s not. “In a world which really is upside down, the true is a moment of the false.” said Debord in relation to dominant ideology, but it’s also true of much of supposed oppositional ideology also. Such a conspiracy theory distracts from the real dangers of the vaccines.
6: And then there’s QAnon
And then there’s QAnon. Nowadays in the United States this conspiracy movement is expressing itself in the most delerious manner, though I’ve even heard of equally insane theories coming from a mixture of Biblical references and ideas about extra-terrestrials. All indicative of the vast intensification of irrationality. QAnon denounces an alleged conspiracy by Satanist paedocriminals, which Donald Trump is (or was) allegedly fighting. This would be a joke if the far-right demonstrators who invaded the Capitol on 6th January had not included some of the main spokespersons of this movement, including Jake Angeli, known as QAnon Shaman, whose clown outfit and buffalo horns did little to conceal the supremacist and neo-Nazi tattoos with which he is covered.
The more capitalism hurtles the world towards the abyss, the more those who avoid striving to oppose the hierarchical separations that are at the base of the intensified destruction of life and sense succumb to a mixture of religious and sci-fi delusions that give them comfort in their acceptance of such separations. In the absence of much significant and explicitly conscious opposition aiming to arm itself with the development of clear ideas, mystical distractions fill the void. Conspiracy becomes a form of response to the loss of bearings, despair, anguish, and a channel for the anger that more and more oppressed people feel in the face of capitalism – a short-cut simplistic explanation to the ongoing catastrophe, in a situation where those at the margin of society are tossed from one mad drama to another, and yet have to face this feeling of being a powerless victim largely on their own. Conspiracy theory is a false exit from the struggle to find a common genuine “exit”, thriving on the ruins of the workers’ movement.
For the right, conspiracy theories function as a method of not looking at their own complicity in the miseries inflicted on humanity, as well as not looking at the structural systemic reasons for these miseries and the interaction between the two. Reducing the source of such miseries to individuals or little clandestine groups of individuals is their method of such an evasive mentality. But more of this in a later text, one that focuses more on the left v. right politics of confusion that pervades this Covid1984 epoch.
“A lie repeated 1000 times becomes a truth”
According to this, this sticker, amongst innumerable others, has been produced by a French extreme right wing group connected to QAnon, though the name “la rose blanche” (“The White Rose”) is the name of a group of students who resisted the Nazis between July 1942 and February 1943 in Germany, distributing dissident leaflets. The students wrote pacifist and anti-fascist slogans on the walls, collected bread for concentration camp inmates and looked after their families. The actions of the White Rose were taken as an example from January 1943 by intellectuals in southern Germany and Berlin. The line “A lie repeated 1000 times becomes a truth” is taken from Goebells.
I suspect that most people reproducing this sticker have no knowledge of what the group “the white rose” is nor the history of where the name was taken from. If this group is, as the article states, a group of Trump QAnon supporters it’s also indicative of how recuperative the Right have become: the sticker – without the Covid references – could have been produced by anarchists in previous epochs. It’s also indicative of how this epoch is confusing to almost everyone and that trying to untangle the massively proliferating mystifications, and trying to grasp why people are disseminating these mystifications, these half-truths and one and a half-truths is one of the tasks of those who want to stop the movement towards totalitarianism and generalised madness.
7: Some events around which elements of conspiracy definitely existed
Some events around which elements of conspiracy definitely existed:
The Zinoviev Letter – a successful attempt by sections of the UK secret service to prevent the election of a Labour government, back in 1924.
The American state version of the Gulf of Tonkin incident – which became a pretext for vastly expanding the Vietnam war – turned out to be a total lie, surprise surprise.
The bombing of a bank in Piazza Fontana in Italy in December 1969, blamed on anarchists, was a bombing initiated by a section of the state with the intention of repressing the social movements that erupted in 1969 in Italy.
The Falklands/Malvinas War: clearly allowed to happen. Even though Galtieri was sabre-rattling about it being Argentina’s possession, threatening to invade, a major UK battleship was withdrawn from the island giving him the green light to put his money where his mouth was. John Notts, the Minister of Defence, during an emergency debate in the House of Commons the day after the Argentinian occupation and shortly before the fleet headed across the Atlantic, said “If we were unprepared, how is it that from next Monday, at only a few days notice, the Royal Navy will put to sea in wartime order and with wartime stocks and weapons? …preparations have been in progress for several weeks.” (see Hansard for April 3rd 1982). The reasons for this? Thatcher, following massive opposition including riots in 50 towns and cities throughout mainly England the year before, was way down in the polls as a repetition of the riots were being predicted for the summer of ‘82. She clearly needed a massive boost in order to win the next election which she did, on the basis of national pride and her image as an Iron Lady who’d won a war, so as to subsequently take on the miners, something that had long been planned by the right-wing of the Tory Party.
There are undoubtedly others – maybe Saddam Hussein was given the green light to invade Kuwait, resulting in the 1991 Gulf War (amongst other obvious capitalist oil interests, it gave the world a post-cold war alternative to the bogeyman of “communism”). Maybe Pearl Harbour was allowed to happen (the evidence is contradictory on this one, though it obviously enabled Roosevelt to sell the idea of joining WWII to a formerly reluctant American population and allowed the US state to make its bid for world’s most powerful imperialist.). There’s plenty of evidence that the East German Rostock race riots of 1992 were encouraged by lack of police action – the cops were told to hold back from going in so that these riots could develop to a very vicious level.
“Watergate, COINTELPRO, Iran-Contra, Merck’s drug Vioxx, Ford’s exploding Pinto coverup, Lockheed-Martin’s bribery campaign, Bayer’s knowing sale of HIV-contaminated blood, and the Enron scandal demonstrate that conspiracies involving powerful elites do happen” – Charles Eisenstein, The Conspiracy Myth.
And there are doubtless others as well – the obvious one being the assassination of Kennedy [ix]. But also some aspects of the 1980s AIDS epidemic may be worth looking at [x].
i See, for instance, the thorough distortions from the leftists of libcom blog, who have dropped all pretension to the “libertarian” origins of their name “libcom”: https://libcom.org/blog/new-covid-denial-single-eric-clapton-van-morrison-21122020, in particular the constant manipulative use of the attribute “conspiracy” or “conspiracy theorist” to Nymphalis Antiopa’s posts by Steven and Red Marriott, manipulative ad hominem amalgam techniques which are in the same vein as classic Stalinist Newspeak, even if their politics are very different. However, their perspective, their social relations, are not anti-political: Politics as rivalry, as half-truths, as a method of functionalising people is at the centre of their discourse. “It’s necessary to criticise politics within daily life itself, where it started from, and only afterwards came to dominate daily life in the form of the State, the parties and all the various representations. …Thus , the critique of politicians and of politics shouldn’t limit itself to a crude anarchistic attack on “political men”: it only makes full sense in its application in daily life itself, to the politicians of daily life, just as it has already been applied to the politicians of organisation. The politics of and in daily life is the last possible expression of the State – i.e. daily life and its relations led in a way similar to the way in which the State or a commercial business (it comes to the same thing) are led. …Thus, it’s necessary to stop understanding “revolutionary” politics as it wants to be understood, that is to say in the so-called struggle it proposes to lead against the dominant society, which is merely the external justification for the necessity of its existence: politics is less a relation between two opposing sides than above all a relation within each side.” – Joel Cornualt, Pour le passage de la decomposition a des constructions nouvelles, 1978
As for Steven’s horror that my criticism of the compulsory wearing of masks outside had contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands people, see this link: file:///tmp/mozilla_nick0/Le%20Parisien%20-%204%20mai%202021.pdf
“By last summer, the mask had gradually made its way into public space in many municipalities. But in the meantime, knowledge has become more refined: scientists now agree that the possibility of contamination by SARS-CoV-2 is very limited outdoors, while enclosed spaces are more threatening. Epidemiologist Antoine Flahault even describes this risk as “extremely marginal”. “In the outdoor environment, aerosols [micro-droplets potentially containing the virus, editor’s note] exist but they dilute in the atmosphere very quickly. I don’t think there is any risk, except in the theoretical case of someone spitting on you nearby,” says the director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva. A staunch “ayatollah of the indoor mask”, he considers that imposing it outdoors is “nonsense”. In Ireland, for example, only 0.1% of positive cases originate from outdoor activities (building sites, sports, etc.), according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), reports the Irish Times.”
iiThis is a valid riposte to the clichéd caricature of criticisms: “What is it OKAY to criticise with current Covid policy?
Is it okay to question:
The use of PCRs as the only diagnostic tool, despite its poor specificity?
The use of lockdowns as the only intervention?
The use of behavioural psychologists to debate how to best “scare” people into compliance?
The use of SAGE’s subcommittees to override the will of the sitting Parliament?
The flip-flopping and constant policy reversals?
The regularity with which the NHS is overrun every single Winter?
The two years of lower Winter deaths in the published statistics?
The financial gain for contractors known to be linked to the Conservative Government?
The forced Vaccination programme and Vaccine Passports?
Is it OKAY to question ANY of this? – and not be a “Covid denying conspiracist”?
iii Among other things they say this horrifically explicit bit of “Youthanasia”: “With a case mortality rate that sounds insignificant in percentage terms, and which mainly affects the elderly, many then unconsciously and unacknowledgedly think to themselves: “Well, this way we get rid of the old people who are dragging our economy down, there are already too many of us on Earth anyway, and with a bit of luck I will inherit a bit earlier this way.” These mechanisms have certainly contributed to the downplaying of the epidemic in the past.”. etc. – a reified functionalising of people which is also pretty common among these “experts” themselves, because that is how they also see themselves: you are what you’re worth is to the commodity economy.
[iv] It seems obvious that rulers will do everything to protect their power in the event of catastrophe. For instance, by having a network of underground bunkers equipped with all the means necessary for their survival and the hope of their returning to the surface should they deem it safe. But if you suggest this is happening many would define this as a “conspiracy theory”. In fact at one time, the existence of “Mount Weather” was seen as a fantasy concocted by conspiracy theorists. Yet consider the Regional Seats of Government discovered in the 1960s by the British group “Spies for Peace”, a group close to the Committee of 100 of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament fame, which included many people who considered themselves anarchists or other categories of anti-state revolutionaries. In 1963 they broke into a secret government bunker, RSG-6 at Warren Row, near Reading, where they photographed and copied documents revealing that a small group of people who had accepted thermonuclear war as a probability, were consciously and carefully planning for it, quietly waiting for the day the bomb dropped, for that would be the day they’d take over. This is just an old example of such “conspiracies”, which nobody with any radical point of view at that time would have arrogantly dismissed partly because of the concrete proof of the “conspiracy”, partly because they placed this “conspiracy” within social terms that made sense, partly because publication of the information led almost immediately to various forms of action against these RSGs (pickets outside 3 of them) and partly because the word “conspiracy” was never used – it was just a reflection of how the elite function and was seen as such.
iv b See, for example, France’s Council of Order of doctors: political police? Or this: Belgium: interview (in French) with pathologist who lodged legal complaint against the medical order and the directive sent to all doctors in Belgium in January 2021 that vaccination is an obligation and that doctors must promote the vaccination programme or risk facing severe sanctions.
v It’s obvious that the dark web – which we know is not at all open to everyone – is not just for terrorists, arms and drug dealers, human traffickers and pedophiles, but also for equally obnoxious scum such as sections of the ruling class and their states. It’s pretty much well-known that the internet, 30 years or so before it became a publicly available mediation, was an integral part of US state secret communication, so why would that change?
vi “…there is a critical perspective, a suspicion of those in power, whose interests are seen as different from and in conflict with the wider public (the ‘people’). This populist assumption of ‘people vs elite’ is married to a notion of the hidden intervention of state forces, and – crucially – the notion that these forces would succeed. Alongside an anti-elitist ontology is an elitist epistemology, for the explanation of the fact that ‘mainstream’ knowledge is wrong is supposedly that the great mass of the population are dupes –the people are ‘sheeple’ –and only the small band of enlightened conspiracy theorists see the truth. One definition of conspiracism is the belief that powerful, hidden, evil forces control human destinies. Similarly, there is the notion of ‘history as will’. Related assumptions shared by many conspiracy theories include the idea that nothing happens by accident, everything is connected; that power is the hidden motive for everything else; that who benefits from an event must have caused it; and that history is determined by conspiracies.” – https://libcom.org/files/Conspiracy%20theories%20%20%20FINAL28-10-20.pdf . There’s a certain irony in the fact that this quote from an Aufheben article gives an accurate description of significant elements of conspiracy theory, whilst John Drury, one of the leading theoreticians of this group, supports all the standard methods of state & capital’s suppression of the crowd under the pretext of Covid1984. And not only supports but has been part of the state’s group of people operating their Covid1984 policies (see the list under “Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours”). Of course, this is no conspiracy – the guy is simply prepared to sell any fragments of soul he ever had in his ambition to climb up the greasy pole.
See this and this for earlier critiques of this creep. And this for links to most references to the 9-year old scandal.
vii During the Kosovo war, the Americans bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Their story was that it was a mistake, that they had acted on the basis of an old out-of-date map. In other words, a cock-up. Later, however, it was revealed (without being seriously contested) that they had done it deliberately. The state sometimes prefers to claim its incompetence as opposed to its conscious policies. Just as sometimes it does the opposite.
viii The MIT research is confirmed by this mainstream media as well as this one and the development in Africa confirmed by Le Monde (all in French). And the information about Sweden is confirmed here and here (also in French and also mainstream).
ix Amongst people whose attempts to contribute to social movements is mostly theoretical, there are those who, so as to imagine in their heads that they are not essentially conservative in their practice, think they’re being rebellious by trying to refute such an obvious conspiracy as the assassination of JFK. Since the publication of the Warren report into his assassination there were increasing criticisms of its obviously dubious (and shoddy) nature to the point where it became pretty clear that there was some conspiracy behind his assassination and that Oswald, regardless of whether he was the guy who shot him or not, did not act alone. Since then intellectuals who give credence to any idea as long as it seems a bit different from classical alternative-type criticisms of anything and regardless of its social implications, indulge in the possibility of official definitions of what’s going on as being correct, even when most of the evidence is against this version. In this reactive manner of “criticism” they end up full circle on the side of dominant society. In relation to JFK they’ll say it was Oswald acting alone and in so saying think they’re being very unconventional and daring even if it was the conventional “wisdom” back in 1964 when the Warren Report was first published and those who dared criticise the report were vilified without end. Not that those who constantly harp on about the conspiracy behind JFK’s assassination have the slightest critique either: almost invariably it’s in order to say what a great guy he was and that Vietnam wouldn’t have happened if he’d been president (against all evidence – it was Kennedy who first increased the US “advisors” to the South Vietnam military). All that bullshit just ends up thinking one man in the “right place” (ie head-of-state) can alter the course of history.
x The following about AIDS is significant:
On March 31st 1987 there was a meeting between Reagan and Chirac (France’s Prime Minister at the time) at the White House where the 2 leaders agreed settlement to the dispute concerning who had discovered the AIDS virus HIV. The settlement included a definitive, though not exhaustive, scientific history of the retrospective contributions by the Nationaol Cancer Institute in Maryland (USA) and the Pasteur Institute in Paris, of the discovery of the AIDS virus. The 2 leading researchers of each institute, R.C.Gallo and L.Montagnier and their colleagues agreed “not to make nor publish any statement which would or could be construed as contradicting or compromising the said scientific history” (“AIDS Truce Brings History to a Halt”, New Scientist, p. 21, 9/4/87, an article not online). This degree of political involvement in the official history of medical science was unprecedented at the time. We must remember that back in the latter part of the 1980s, the universally held racist “fact” propagated by WHO and all the powers-that-be and the media (including – horror shock! – The Guardian and the British Communist Party’s journal “Marxism Today”), and virtually the whole of the scientific “community”, was that AIDS began in Africa from human contact, probably sexual contact, with a Green Monkey, something that was pretty much publicly refuted 3 years later (see, for instance this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12282947 ). This despite the fact that 70% of the cases recorded by WHO were in the USA. At that time 2 doctors who contested this racist ideology (a couple with the surname of Chirimuuta) were forced to self-publish and self-distribute their book “Aids, Africa and Racism” at considerable cost because no publisher or distributor would touch it with a million-mile bargepole. And anybody who attacked this ideology as racist was accused of avoiding scientific fact by playing the race card. It’s true that HIV migrated from primates to humans as a result of colonialist domination of Africa in the early 20th century, which led to the industrialisation of the bushmeat market as cheap food for the working class, as well as explicitly racist malpractice by colonial medical staff — it was spread by doctors because they didn´t bother to sterilize needles when vaccinating blacks. But that hardly explains why the first epidemic of it, some 60 years later, was not at all in Africa but amongst especially gays in California and New York and then needle-using drug takers.
Added 26/6/21: The connection between HIV and AIDS still seems to not be definite. In a December 1993 editorial, Nature magazine was forced to state that “almost ten years after H.I.V. was identified, the evidence that it causes AIDS is still only epidemiological”. And in the 1980s there was significant scientific research into AIDS victims that found no trace of HIV antibodies in 10% of the dead victims of AIDS.
See also “Dirty Medicine” by Martin J. Walker for some insights into how the pharmaceutical industry manipulated the mainstream gay “community” about cures for HIV and AIDS (this book is also an interesting critique of mainstream medicine in general).
Article on how internet article on Dr Li Wenliang, the whilstleblower doctor who first alerted the Chinese state of the virus and was arrested for spreading false rumours was censored and how people have constantly and persistently found temporary ways round the censorship –
Liberal hand-wringing re. the Wuhan lab leak:
A link to this text was put on libcom by Nymphalis Antiopa without comment. It was taken off and replaced with this warning “admin: link to Covid denial conspiracy nonsense removed. If you persist in posting this dangerous, anti-working class bullshit, you will be banned. “
Nymphalis Antiopa sent the following:
” ” Covid denial conspiracy nonsense“. Yet another set of lies from libcom: neither Covid denial nor conspiracy nor nonsense but a significant critique of your and other people’s idiocies. You’ve become as censorious as Facebook and Youtube, doing the same work as the state and capital under a “libertarian” label. You’re no better than Stalinists throwing your amalgam techniques at anybody who strays from the path of Manichean false choices.
As the text linked to says
“The automatic knee-jerk reactive insult hurled at those who have the “arrogance” to question significant aspects of this Covid crisis as “conspiracy theorist!”, “conspiralooon!”, “anti-vaxxer!”, “Covid denier!” etc. ad nauseam has to be questioned as much as those who genuinely adhere to the simplistic idiocies immersed in conspiracy theories.
“Conspiracy theorist!” has become a put-down endlessly repeated, as an easy way of pushing away all questioning, a soothing mantra to push away the anxiety, to go back to sleep. One can dispense with actually ‘thinking’ it – that is, with going through the complicated logical acts involved in verbal formulation of it, an examination of the contradictions of the facts, of how one selects the facts, of how they are interpreted. The concrete melts into an easy cliché and no one seems able to think of expressions that are not unearned received ideas, that are not a ready-made response to something that may well be far more nuanced than the usual either/or Manichean choices proffered by a servile media, or by their milieu. Such mechanization is essential for the repression of critique .
Caricaturing someone’s position is often a way for people, fearful of their own doubts, to repress looking at the current forms of complicity between different sections of capital….
… the ideological core of anti-conspiracy theorists has similarities with conspiracy theorists insofar as they both express not a struggle for communication, but the need for separation, for a superior arrogance, an image of self-assured confidence involving putting down those who don’t accept their largely received and rigid ideas. The anti-conspiracy theorist may even go so far as to claim they’re critiquing hierarchy and capital but in the current context of Covid it’s pretty meaningless, largely abstract, a rejection of how hierarchy manifests itself in details. If the conspiracy theorist can’t see the wood for the trees, the anti-conspiracy theorist can’t see the trees for the wood.
In all this “reason” is instrumentalised, taking on a kind of blind positive obviousness: such an ideological transformation of rationality hides its historical choices and asserts itself as representing undeniable facts, an interpretation that doesn’t even seem to be an interpretation. It becomes an easy method of waving away all arguments, a method of repeating what society has proclaimed as being as taken-for-granted as the blueness of the sky without making the effort to get your head around what someone is in fact saying so as to contest it honestly….So if a criticism can’t be contested honestly it can only be utterly distorted to fit into something one has already found arguments against. This unthinking language is the ideological cage of the spectator who accepts without question being caged by the language of the consensus, the refuge of the ruling society. And acceptance of the language also becomes practical acceptance of the rules of this cage: follow the experts’ rules and you won’t get sick. When hierarchical power wants to avoid resorting to its material arms, it relies on dominant language, the language of domination, to guard the oppressive order. Concepts like “conspiracy theorist/conspiraloon/anti-vaxxer” become ‘streamlined’, rationalized, labor-saving manipulative tools. No need to try to think for oneself: thinking is thus reduced to the level of industrial processes, subjected to a tight schedule – a short cut which, in short, cuts off all chance of communication. As part of the reproduction of ideology, it contributes and intensifies divisions among those who potentially could contest this world, divisions reinforced because the working class has already been weakened by years and years of retreat from revolutionary perspectives. “
A report dismissive of the Wuhan lab hypothesis:
Re. the Chinese origins in the main article on this site – this was written some time before it became (yet again) another hypothesis of how this virus developed. Some say that this hypothesis is being paraded because of political-economic conflict with China, and it’s merely part of the propaganda war. Not vital to argue one way or another about this hypothesis – for proletarians it won’t make any difference other than to maybe be more wary of scientific research and its contradictions.
Charles Eisenstein on conspiracy theories and dominant ideology as Good v. Evil/Evil v. Good:
…somewhat oversimplified but…
It’s lonely when you harbour no dissenting voices.
A reference to what? S. Artesian?
As I say on the homepage: “This is not an open access site: it has no pretensions to being “democratic” in the sense of being welcoming to absolutely anybody. Anyone who persists over time in dogmatic ideological arguments which go nowhere will be censored and/or banned. Undoubtedly there will be many who have ideologically petrified notions whilst also having some lucid ideas and interesting facts to contribute. But if they persist in pursuing their dogmas impervious to argument, then their useless & facile comments will be suppressed. The aim of this site is not to get into head-bashing ego-battles, to repeatedly refute the same stale ideas, but to develop perspectives that clarify and help advance social contestation, to bring a breath of fresh air.”
But if you really want to know what the guy said on the June Covid page, here it is:
“Blahblahblah– As expected you refuse to answer the concrete questions: is Covid19 a real public health threat requiring measures to a) mitigate its impact where and if it can’t be suppressed b) the adoption of preventive therapies, including mandatory vaccinations to reduce rates of infection and mortality?
Instead, we get your dissembling about my supposed authoritarian tendencies.
And this is fucking priceless: “But in the case of measles it was very common, when I was a child, to have measles’ parties amongst kids so that everyone would have it at a young age so as not to have it as an adult when it becomes a far worse illness. Which is presumably why if you type in measles vaccinations into Google you get this coming up “People who aren’t vaccinated are at a higher risk of catching the disease. It’s generally accepted that adults born during or before 1957 are naturally immune to measles.” ”
Apparently you and Google have no clue regarding the outbreaks of measles that occurred several years ago in the US.
If clowns like you had their way, we’d still be dealing with smallpox. and polio, and tetanus, and rubella.
Like I said, when you can answer the questions about Covid19 as a public health threat, we’ll talk. Otherwise, I’ll simply hold you up to the ridicule you so richly deserve.
Censor away, you “libertarian anti-hierarchical” pompous fraud.”
Am I meant to seriously waste my time responding to such silliness?
You claim to be anti-authoritarian yet you harbour authoritarians legitimising the use of “mandatory vaccinations” by the state on your website. No, you are not supposed to waste your time with “such silliness”, nor you should harbour such ignorance.
I’ve chucked him in the harbour: see final reply to this solipsist on the June 2021 (Covid 1984) page.
This is not a conspiracy! A video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH_JWgJXxLM
Was made by an ex-journalist.
English subs (man-made, not auto-generated) available if you choose it in the options.
It’s not the Society of the Spectacle or anything, and is made in the common fashion of documentaries of that sort, but still provides good insights into how different players played their role (notably the media, but also the virologists), and manages not to be hysterical or sensationalist.
SF: Although the perspective is far from being a radical critique and doesn’t say much that’s new, it brings together lots of aspects of the situation that are usually considered separately, and in doing so generates a feeling of thoughtful anger that makes it well worth watching. Most interesting bit for me was an interview with a doctor who worked in an Intensive Care Unit who was sacked merely for his critical views, just in the middle of an epidemic when hospitals apparently needed people like him the most. Another interesting bit was the fact that in Belgium they used young good-looking actors with make-up supposedly on ventilators in ICUs to convey the image of the virus attacking young people; and the Ministry of Health press conference and extensive headlines about a 3-year-old dying of Covid, when the child was already dying of neuromuscular disease when she caught Covid. The father’s complaints about the child being instrumentalised for propaganda purposes were ignored. Also the irony of Facebook allowing Flat Earthers to share their delerium but discussions about Covid outside of the consensus are censored.
More on dodgy safety practices at labs — this example from the US:
“Yet after forgotten specimen vials dating to the 1940s and 1950s were discovered at the NIH in an unlocked cold storage room, nothing was done to ensure their safe transportation. They were allowed to bump around in a cardboard box with dozens of other old biological specimens as a lone laboratory worker walked them to another building about two blocks away, federal records show.
One vial had already shattered.
The world got lucky that day, as it often has when safety breaches occur at biological laboratories in the United States and around the world.
A deadly epidemic wasn’t unleashed. It was only a tissue specimen that broke and nobody got sick.
“Had any of the six glass vials containing the Variola virus been breached, there would have been nothing to contain the agent and prevent its release to the surrounding environment,” according to a joint investigation report by the FBI and federal lab regulators.”
More from the above:
´As members of a World Health Organization expert team have made international headlines recently dismissing as “extremely unlikely” the possibility that a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China, could have sparked the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t stop thinking of the hundreds of lab accidents that are secretly occurring just in the United States.
As an investigative reporter, I have spent more than a decade revealing shocking safety breaches that officials at laboratories in our own country don’t want the public to know about.
I have uncovered exotic and deadly bacteria that have hitched rides out of high-security labs on workers’ dirty clothing, silently spreading contagion for weeks. I have revealed how spacesuit-like protective gear and tubes carrying safe oxygen to scientists have torn or broken – repeatedly – and high-tech safety systems have failed dramatically. Vials of viruses and bacteria have gone missing. Researchers bitten by infected lab animals have been allowed to move about in public – rather than being quarantined – while waiting for signs of infection to appear.
These and similar safety lapses are happening with disturbing regularity at elite U.S. labs operated by government agencies, the military, universities and private firms. There is no reason to believe they aren’t happening at labs in other countries as well.´
I’ve just finished the thoroughest article I’ve encountered on the subject, from New York Mag:
It’s very long. It speaks, among other things, on the huge amount of labs and scientists working on gain-of-function research and the dubious nature of it all, the fact the research is done on non-existing or projected infectious diseases, the danger of such research and the conditions under which it is done – as many have pointed out – much outweighs the benefits. Also about the role of Faucci, quoted as saying somewhere along the way, to justify continuing funding such research: “Nature is the worst bioterrorist”…
“After the 9/11 attacks, and the mysterious anthrax mailings that began a week later (which said, “TAKE PENACILIN sic NOW / DEATH TO AMERICA / DEATH TO ISRAEL / ALLAH IS GREAT”), the desire for biopreparedness became all consuming. Now there were emerging biothreats from humans as well as from the evolving natural world. Fauci’s anti-terror budget went from $53 million in 2001 to $1.7 billion in 2003. Setting aside his work toward an AIDS vaccine, which was taking longer than he’d foreseen, Fauci said he would be going all out to defend against a suite of known Cold War agents, all of which had been bred and perfected in American weapons programs many years before — brucellosis, anthrax, tularemia, and plague, for instance. “We are making this the highest priority,” Fauci said. “We are really marshaling all available resources.”
Vaccine development had to progress much faster, Fauci believed; he wanted to set up “vaccine systems” and “vaccine platforms,” which could be quickly tailored to defend against a particular emergent strain some terrorist with an advanced biochemistry degree might have thrown together in a laboratory. “Our goal within the next 20 years is ‘bug to drug’ in 24 hours,” Fauci said. “This would specifically meet the challenge of genetically engineered bioagents.” The first Project BioShield contract Fauci awarded was to VaxGen, a California pharmaceutical company, for $878 million worth of shots of anthrax vaccine.
By 2005, so much money was going toward biothreat reduction and preparedness that more than 750 scientists sent a protest letter to the NIH. Their claim was that grants to study canonical biowar diseases — anthrax, plague, brucellosis, and tularemia, all exceptionally rare in the U.S. — had increased by a factor of 15 since 2001, whereas funds for the study of widespread “normal” diseases, of high public-health importance, had decreased.
Fauci was firm in his reply: “The United States through its leaders made the decision that this money was going to be spent on biodefense,” he said. “We disagree with the notion that biodefense concerns are of ‘low public-health significance.’ ”
In 2010, by one count, there were 249 BSL-3 laboratories and seven BSL-4 laboratories in the U.S., and more than 11,000 scientists and staffers were authorized to handle the ultralethal germs on the government’s select pathogen list. And yet the sole bioterrorist in living memory who actually killed American citizens, according to the FBI — the man who sent the anthrax letters — turned out to be one of the government’s own researchers. Bruce Ivins, an eccentric, suicidal laboratory scientist from Ohio who worked in vaccine development at Fort Detrick, allegedly wanted to boost the fear level so as to persuade the government to buy more of the patented, genetically engineered anthrax VaxGen vaccine, of which he was a co-inventor. (See David Willman’s fascinating biography of Ivins, Mirage Man.) Fauci’s staff at NIH funded Ivins’s vaccine laboratory and gave $100 million to VaxGen to accelerate vaccine production. (The NIH’s $878 million contract with VaxGen, however, was quietly canceled in 2006; Ivins, who was never charged, killed himself in 2008.)
“The whole incident amounted to a snake eating its own tail,” wrote Wendy Orent in an August 2008 piece titled “Our Own Worst Bioenemy” in the Los Angeles Times. “No ingenious biowarrior from Al Qaeda sent the lethal envelopes through the U.S. postal system. An American scientist did.” What confirmed Ivins’s guilt, according to the FBI, was that there was a genetic match between the anthrax used in the killings and the strain held at Fort Detrick.”
War on Covid as the new War on Terror?
As was previously discussed …, since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, we are witnessing how officially-sanctioned Health is becoming the new State Security, and how, gradually, almost any kind of critique of it is taken for the new Terrorism, usually lumped together as belonging to a single entity, be it the Anti-vaxxer, the conspiracy theorist Covid-denier or the right-wing extremist – “Derogatory labels… that are meaningless. They are purely tactical terms, like the term ‘extremist’. Their only purpose is to demonize anyone who questions or challenges the official ‘New Normal’ narrative.”
CJ Hopkins describes this in a pretty nice way in his latest blog-post, this despite him having an annoying type of sarcastic writing in my opinion, and not to mention his dubious and partly conspiracy-theory political analysis of our current world.
In which he describes German and US authorities and/or experts comparing the abovementioned “extremists” to domestic terrorists and how this discourse is becoming more prevalent. I don’t see this as something completely new, but as a continuation of the War on Terror, using the same political mindset to guide it, only now with scientists at the briefing-room or news studio instead of military experts/military personnel.
He gives for example this from Nature magazine: “COVID vaccines: time to confront anti-vax aggression. Halting the spread of the coronavirus will require a high-level counteroffensive against new destructive forces.” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01084-x
Or this opinion column from the Washington Post: “Anti-vaccine extremism is akin to domestic terrorism”
“…Nihilism, of course, is no mere philosophical position, but the intellectual window-dressing on a psychological state of despair. In fact, this despair is always latent in modern society, because (1) Its reigning reductionism renders the universe into a meaningless scribble of atoms and void; (2) Its reigning theory of life tells us we are here to survive and reproduce; (3) Its reigning economics directs our creative energies toward unfulfilling work and mindless consumption, and (4) Its dominant social patterns cut us off from nature, community, place, and the experience of belonging. For a while, rapid increases in wealth and dazzling technical achievements kept the despair at bay. But it was there all long, a gnawing void at the heart of the ideology of progress. It was there all along, an inner poverty mirroring the destitution progress had wreaked upon other cultures and non-human beings. It was there all along, our own shadow that followed us as we raced toward a Utopia ever just at the horizon. Now as the glamour of progress dissolves, as our exhaustion mounts, and as we face the sobering realization that the horizon grows no closer no matter how fast we run, despair overtakes us at last.
Nihilism is a natural response to the shoddy and tired myths offered to us as sources of meaning. How many of us have had experiences directly contradicting what our main epistemic authority (science) tells us is possible? How many of us sequester narrative-busting data points in a separate mental compartment, living more or less in official reality but unable to wholeheartedly believe in it?
One reason that cults and conspiracy theories are so compelling is that they gather threads snipped away from official reality and weave them into another fabric. Some of those threads may have been snipped because they are simply untrue, and have no place in anyone’s reality. Others may have been snipped because they clash with the color scheme of the main fabric; that is, they disturb reigning institutions and paradigms. These are the threads we must weave into any tapestry of meaning that could be a satisfying successor to today’s dominant political narratives.”
“reporting from The Wall Street Journal found that a U.S. intelligence report revealed that several researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized after experiencing flu-like symptoms in November 2019, just before COVID-19 began spreading across China and around the world. “
“…just as the coronavirus crisis has produced a spate
of conspiracy theories about its origins, authors and ends, so the
threat of their irresistible power has given rise to an opposed
phenomenon, which the current crisis has formed into some of the most
bizarre statements to be published in even the UK press. Since this
crisis has begun, anyone who attributes any influence or deliberation or
intentions to any organisation — whether that’s to previously less
well-known organisations like the World Health Organisation, the World
Economic Forum or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, or to
organisations that have been at the forefront of recent political
debates, like the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund,
or indeed the UK Government itself — is immediately denounced as a
‘conspiracy theorist’. Faced with evidence of the power of these
organisations to ‘create our own reality’, our first resort, it seems,
is to denounce their existence, like children who hope that, by closing
their eyes, the monster at the bottom of their bed will disappear.
It’s not as famous or as often quoted as the line about philosophers
interpreting the world rather than changing it, but in the same text
Marx wrote that ‘all mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their
rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of that
practice’. So I want to start our awakening from the sleep of reason by
looking at the social practices of the coronavirus crisis, and at how
this can correct the conspiracy theory of an elite with their hands,
like the Wizard of Oz, on the gears of history. Let’s pull back that
curtain and look at the machine of history. We all know its name, and
despite all the renewed predictions of its death it hasn’t gone away. On
the contrary, it’s just going through a revolution — perhaps one worthy
of a new prefix — but its name is still the same. Capitalism.”
conspirouettes — generally a brilliant essay, at least the first three sections (part 1,2,3), but marred by the covid origins and china section – a very murky area that requires wading thru (and rejecting) even MORE shit than the author may have bargained for; in any case a rather poor illustration of what the author was trying to illustrate. Regardless, brilliance of 1,2,3 is redemptive. Though I wish this essay would be re-cast without the China stuff.
Edited from original reply.
I’d be interested in why you think the China origins are incorrect. Maybe they are – but it seems quite possible that this is what happened. Perhaps I should have been more hesitant about this – ie surrounded it with an emphasis on it being a possibility but maybe emphasised this: “However, conjecture is the only way this works – one endlessly speculates about this and that without ever being able to come to a conclusion let alone a practical use of a conclusion. Whilst such skepticism is healthy as compared to just accepting the dominant narrative, it’s very limited going down this road of hypothesis-fantasy. After all, it’s how the state actually uses this “crisis” that’s the most important not constantly trying to track down the manipulations and manoeuvres that seem to be behind it. An endless task that, as said in the 3rd paragraph above, “is a reflection in ideas of commodity production: each new detail at once creates the need for more details and confirms the value of all previous investigation”, and suppressed this ” though one can overstate this comparison. After all, since the whole of the situation over the last year or more has been permeated by mass manipulation on an unprecedented scale, uncovering aspects of these manipulations is essential as part of the project of providing evidence for this manipulation. though one can overstate this comparison. After all, since the whole of the situation over the last year or more has been permeated by mass manipulation on an unprecedented scale, uncovering aspects of these manipulations is essential as part of the project of providing evidence for this manipulation. .” But I must admit I find it very difficult to find a balance between realistic and potentially useful hypothesis and useless hypothesis.
PS: re covid origins, please download and read Unz’ book. Not presenting this as the “last word” by any means, but an important contribution to a big and as I said quite murky subject.
PSS: just download the book itself and ignore the right-wing racist madhouse that is unz.com (or at least most of it, albeit mixed with other stuff of much different nature).
For various reasons I can’t concentrate on all this – perhaps you can make a brief resumé of it. I presume it’s saying it was a biowarfare attack by the US on China, but I’ve only browsed superficially. Correct me if it’s more nuanced.
If I’ve got this right, I think going along this road is pointless – for the reasons stated above – ie “conjecture is the only way this works – one endlessly speculates about this and that without ever being able to come to a conclusion let alone a practical use of a conclusion. Whilst such skepticism is healthy as compared to just accepting the dominant narrative, it’s very limited going down this road of hypothesis-fantasy. After all, it’s how the state actually uses this “crisis” that’s the most important not constantly trying to track down the manipulations and manoeuvres that seem to be behind it. An endless task that, as said in the 3rd paragraph above, “is a reflection in ideas of commodity production: each new detail at once creates the need for more details and confirms the value of all previous investigation””
I’m a bit confused about what you want to say about all this. On the one hand you say “a very murky area that requires wading thru (and rejecting) even MORE shit than the author may have bargained for”, on the other hand you say ” re covid origins, please download and read Unz’ book. Not presenting this as the “last word” by any means, but an important contribution to a big and as I said quite murky subject.” Not clear if you’re rejecting this or if you’re saying it’s valid or what. Or maybe you’re saying I should have rejected other stuff, though what is not clear to me.
On the dismissal of the theory that Covid came from a lab as being “conspiracy theory”: