This is a follow-up to my widely-shared piece ‘The Reaction of the Left to Lockdown’, in which I criticised dissidents and radicals, like Media Lens, Noam Chomsky, John Zerzan and others for uncritically accepting the response to the coronavirus.
‘…that consideration which acquaints us with the inner nature of the world and thus takes us beyond the phenomenon, is precisely the method that does not ask about the whence, whither, and why of the world, but always and everywhere about the what alone’.
Why did all the governments of the world impose lockdown? Nobody knows for sure. Plenty of people say they know for sure, but nobody does. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plausible answers, with more going for them than for others, so let’s take a quick review of the four most popular options.
1. Governments really do care about our health. This is the official line and for that reason alone can be more or less instantly and completely discounted. Nevertheless, many people seem to be at least implicitly swayed by it. Governments don’t care enough about our health to do anything about the entirely preventable diseases which make the coronavirus look like, ahem, a bad cold; TB for example (twice as deadly as C-19), cardiovascular-disease (22 times as deadly), even cancer (12 times as deadly). They’re not too bothered about traffic deaths either (nearly twice as deadly as C19) or suicides (as deadly). Neither were they too concerned about the flu epidemics of 1957 and 1968, both of which killed more people that the coronavirus. Even recent flu epidemics have had comparable fatalities. But suddenly, all at once, all the governments of the world have decided that they are overwhelmingly super-interested in our health now that this one disease, with a survival rate of over 99.99%, has struck.
And of course all this is assuming, first of all, that official figures, the ones you can find on Google, are correct, that they weren’t inflated by including those who have been tested positive for C-19 but died of other causes, including death by forced incompetence. It’s also assuming, implausibly, that lockdown managed to keep the figures lower than they would have otherwise been, that Sweden was some kind of freak anomaly or even a failure because more fewer people still died in Norway. And we won’t talk about Japan.
But no, no, no; the coronavirus was as bad as presented, and in fact far worse than anything else on earth, and the authorities had to start turning the world into a maximum security online panopticon, and they had to make us wear masks wherever we go and stamp out gatherings larger than 30 and put millions out of work. They had to, because they care about us.
2. It was an accident. The ‘whoops we accidentally invaded another resource-rich, strategically well-placed country with a dictator who’s not doing what we want’ kind of accident. The kind of accident that, through our famous ‘excess of good-will’ we’re always blundering into. A deadly pandemic seemed to be on its way, after all, the health services of the world seemed to be under-threat, and so the best thing to do seemed to be to wipe out the poor, make an unprecedented transfer of wealth to a tiny band of elites and magnify the power of a now entirely unaccountable state. As with all our other mistakes, well it’s just a coincidence that the solution always seems to end up benefitting those who implement it, but it could just be a classic case of ‘disaster capitalism’, in which capital pounces on a tsunami or asteroid strike to make its own killing. The virus was a cruel blow of fate and the governments of the world took immediate advantage.
The accident theory certainly can’t be completely ruled out — ruling elites are notoriously incompetent and history is littered with the wreckage of their mind-bogglingly poor decision-making and so-called ‘disaster capitalism,’ taking advantage of ‘natural’ chaos and cataclysm, letting disasters wipe-out opposition, using them as a justification to increase repression and so on, is without question a central component to the operation of the system. But there remain . But there are a few holes in the plot. Firstly, there appear to be planning documents, records of preparatory meetings and precedents that suggest that something like this has been on the cards for a while. Secondly, there is good evidence that even the earliest reports of pandemic-chaos were inflated — something that, surely, elite governors were aware of. And thirdly, why, after it became clear that ICUs weren’t being overrun, that our health services weren’t going to crash, that the whole thing is practically over anyway did — and do — the authorities persist with repressive measures rolled out to contain it? If it was all an accident it appears to be one that nobody can stop making.
3. China did it. Some claim that the entire thing was engineered in Beijing. Either the virus itself was manufactured in China, or the panic, or both. There are two pretty solid counter-arguments — there is no reason why we should all be continuing with masks, lockdown measures, vaccine preparations and so on six months later, and it’s a tad implausible that all the security services of the West somehow missed something it took a few lone crusaders on twitter to discover — but it is just about possible. The CCP is led by the same miserable demons as every other country on earth, and they’re now immensely powerful, so why shouldn’t they try something audacious in order to cement their expanding control of the world? There seems little reason to accept such an idea — particularly as China is an official enemy, and it’s all too convenient to demonise them — but there is no reason to rule it out entirely.
4.The world government did it. Working together the super-elites of the world, the WEF and the WHO have long planned a ‘great reset’, a controlled demolition of the world economy in order to rebuild a ghastly self-regulating anti-social death-machine. Some add depopulation to their dastardly plan; cull the overburdened Earth of a few bill, then hook up the rest of us to the matrix and chill with Zuckerberg, Bezos and a few supermodels on Branson’s island.
Personally speaking, I can’t see how depopulation could possibly be a viable plan, even for those monsters — how on earth would you guarantee that the right people survived? In fact I find it very hard to believe that a massive centralised plan was behind lockdown — I mean all these thousands and thousands of people at the apex of state-pyramids were all organised and coordinated, from the top down, annihilate society — and without spilling nary a drop of information? It’s just silly. But. There are, unquestionably, powerful people in charge of the world, more powerful than governments, and they do, unquestionably make decisions in their own interests and very much not in ours, and those secrets do happen in private, in secret, so it stands to reason that they have at least a collective plan, and it is quite possible that that plan has influenced the heads of various governments, who are just as compliant as regular citizens. There was, for example, no conspiracy to empty the shops of toilet paper, everyone just did it, because they are scared, compliant and fear shit.
But still, we’re left in the dark. Nobody actually knows — something that the subservient left, who are ‘waiting until the facts are in’ before making a judgement, are keen to point out. It’s all Twitter smoke and Facebook mirrors. There certainly is chilling evidence, but, given the extraordinary secrecy that even small corporations, let alone massively powerful elite organisations, are ruled by, anything uncovered that exposes their dastardly plans is prima facie suspicious. It could turn out that nothing like the worst fears of lockdown sceptics come to pass. I certainly wouldn’t bet on it, but it’s not certain.
So those are the options. No doubt the truth is a mix of all four. My guess would be 60% option four (a weak version of — via influence, not freaky-deaky control), 30% option two, 7% option three and — for there are well-intentioned people even in the bowels of the beast — 3% option one. My own pet theory is that elites, well aware of the horrors of the coming collapse, have made plans to increase control over their populations and this event, whatever the cause, has been a move (either opportunistic or planned or a mixture of the two) in that direction. Your guess will probably be different, and the truth, if we ever discover what it really is, will no doubt be different again. Perhaps it was just a big mistake? It’s possible. Or perhaps an interdimensional shape-shifting brotherhood really are behind it all? Or perhaps we’re all about to be uploaded into the next version of Windows?
But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.
Here’s an analogy. Suppose you wake up in a bad mood. Irritable for no reason. A weird kind of tension hovering in the craw that saps your mojo and makes you snap at people around you. You can’t see the funny side of anything, life is a chore, the future looks doubleplus ungood. Why? You start thinking about the reasons. Is it your wife? She certainly is being annoying this morning. Is it last night’s kebab? It was quite fatty and you’re feeling pretty skanky. Is it work? That’s certainly shit. Is it just a random strike of fate? Are you guilty here? Is someone or something else? You go over your problems, looking for the why, the why, the why; but, strange to say, even though you find answers which are unquestionably accurate, the tension doesn’t go away. If anything it gets worse.
Do you see where this is going? As I pointed out in my article about the failures of the lockdown left, and as I’ve just demonstrated in the thousand words or so that I’ve just written, hunting for ‘why’ is not an entirely useless activity. Perhaps work is making you feel frustrated and sad? If you can’t see how it’s sucking the juice out of your spine, then you can’t do anything about it. Perhaps your wife does hate you, or maybe your diet is bringing you down, and you need to see these things and act upon them? Or maybe it’s just biorhythms and the Mercury retrograde. But does such speculation — such theorising — ever uncover the real problem? Or solve it? Does a day spent thinking about your problems ever make you feel better, clearer, resolved? Does leaving a shit job, leaving an unloving partner or successfully dieting free you from the interminable rollercoaster of ups and downs that you spend your life on? Or do you find it’s not long before you’re discontent again?
Theorising about your personal problems and theorising about the world’s problems is certainly useful up to a point, but beyond that point they both serve to distract you from the actuality, the reality. In the case under consideration — the state of a dystopian world — the reality is that we live in a world-system that has been not just a few years in the making, since Bill Gates decided he was going to upgrade humanity, not just fifty years in the making, since borders were shattered in order to launch the debt-economy into the interplanetary stratosphere, not even five hundred years in the making, since the elites of the world decided to turn land and labour into commodities and flog them — literally and figuratively — on the market. The system has been ten thousand years in the making. We don’t just live in an imperialist country or a capitalist world market, but a world civilisation, the distal foundations of which — exploitation of nature and of human nature — like the proximal ones — our egoic fears and addictions — reach so far back in time, so far out in space and so deeply into our conscious experience, they are almost impossible to perceive; hence the inordinate attraction of medial causes; governments, celebrities, capitalism, communism, foreigners and conspiring cabals.
What actually lies “behind” our dystopian world goes far, far deeper than any plot or conspiracy theory that can ever be offered. The inhuman causes and terminal consequences of our civilisation are, in truth, the same as those of the ‘sub-civilisations’ which preceded ours — the various prototypes which have arisen since the first human-machine put itself together in ancient Mesopotamia — which either destroyed themselves by over-exploiting their resource-base or wiped themselves out by hyper-inflationary theft based on, and civil unrest as a result of, exploitation of men and women. There is an extremely potent argument — offered by Lewis Mumford, Jacques Ellul and Ivan Illich — that this exploitation was built on a technology which is now, after two-hundred years of post-industrial development, so invasive and pervasive that it is running the show autonomously.
We’re not at the stage of HAL9000 taking over, but that’s besides the point; human beings are now so dependent on an almost immeasurably complex and powerful technocratic system, with its own needs, demands, logic and power, that it doesn’t matter who is in charge or what they want to achieve; they have to serve technology, which is why, no matter who is in charge — socialists, capitalists, democrats, fascists, princes or priests — technology always ends up being served. Finally, the entire Leviathan, the Earth-eating super-computer we’re all plugged into, does not just run on vast quanta of energy, irreplaceable petrochemical products and rare-earth metals that we’re annihilating the wild to acquire, use and dispose of; it runs on us. Not just materially, but psychologically; we are completely addicted to the world in ways that vanishingly few of us can consciously face. It’s not the conspicuous reptiles who built the unworld we stumble around in — it’s us, all of us, all the time, for thousands of years. Countless ‘accidental’ gestures, ‘logical’ expediencies, ‘justifiable’ peccadillos and ‘ordinary’ daily activities have gone into and daily go into building the monolith. But of course seeing this, seeing our actual lives in the actual system, seeing how pathetically dependent we are on it — domesticated is the correct word — and endeavouring to actually free ourselves of systemic conditioning — uproot the tree, in the fearsome depths, rather than faff around in the intellectual branches — all this would mean actually doing something about the way we feel and act and actually live. Fat chance. Easier to point the finger at George Soros and his repulsive pals.
And that suits the powers that be juuuust fine. In days gone by, and in cruder Orwellian forms of the system, a critical word against the king could lose you your head, but an advanced dystopian system (the kind predicted by Kafka, Huxley and P.K.Dick — see here for an overview) tolerates and even encourages speculation about what the powers-that-be are up to.
This is because, ultimately, conspiracy theories serve power.1
‘Conspiracy theory’ is the correct term for all theories about what a group of people in power are conspiring to do. As all people in power do conspire — and secretly, and in rooms — you would expect, first of all, those without power to try and uncover their plans, second of all, for a certain number of these discoveries to be wrong, and, finally, for the accurate critiques to be conflated, by power, with the inaccurate ones. And this is what you do find; which is why ‘conspiracy theory’ has such negative connotations — if you are a conspiracy theorist you must have wild hair, a huge cork-board in the basement and an organon accumulator in the backyard. As Michael Parenti pointed out, people in power aren’t supposed to organise, collude, conspire, in order to further their own ends. They’re too stupid, aren’t they? Doesn’t the world just accidentally come together the way we find it? Clearly if you attempt to uncover and broadcast the self-interested activities of elites, you must, whether you are right or wrong, be a loon.
But, ultimately, it doesn’t matter.
One reason that conspiracy theories tend towards the weird is because we can never really be sure what Bezos and Bloomberg and Buffet are up to, but we can get a good idea, if darkly, and that’s all for the good. Even if we can’t, Parenti’s immortal question holds; ‘Do you really think that because YOU don’t know what they’re doing, THEY don’t know what they’re doing?’ But. I submit that all conspiracy theories, both the batty ones, based on little more than pure paranoid fear and the more convincing ones with a good weight of reasoned analysis behind them are all, ultimately, besides the point. Not useless, but secondary.
Ultimately — ultimately I say — It doesn’t matter whether the Rockefeller Foundation are behind HAARP, or whether global warming is a hoax, or whether super-powerful alien demons from another dimension are controlling the world, or whether the lockdown has been ten years in the making, or whether secret phone calls between the world leaders are right now sealing our fate, or whether we are living in the Matrix, or whether dystopia was built by accident, or whether the whole sorry state we find ourselves in is the game of a sadistic demiurge, or whether it was all a ridiculous mistake. Although some of these are more likely than others, and although it is clearly important to get a fix on which ones, and although those who are doing serious investigative work in order to do so are not wasting their time, they are all second order effects of the system.
Those who own and manage the system know this — at least unconsciously — quite well. They would prefer you to assume that they have zero power, that what they do is in your interests and if not, that, well, it was all a big old mistake — because that lets them off the hook. Given that they are always making these mistakes, it’s pretty easy to convince folks that another one has slipped through the net. But if you don’t think that, they are quite happy for you to uncover blueprints for Lord Rothschild’s secret bunker — because it makes institutional analysis look nutty. And they are quite happy for you to tweet and protest and write ‘smoking gun’ articles about the powers-that-be — because they know that the powers-that-be are expendable. And they are certainly happy for people like David Icke to criticise them — because, what? You think lockdown is a massive totalitarian push towards a deathless dystopian nightmare? Hahaha! So does David Icke! You nutbag!
David Icke has done more to discredit reasonable critiques of the world-system than any conservative MP or corporate CEO could ever do. If he didn’t exist the elites of the world would have to invent him. Any reasonable fear expressed by sane people is instantly discredited by his association. Take 5G. Okay, David, it’s destroying our immune systems, implanting mind-control worms in our pituitary glands and shattering our testicles with gamma rays. Whatever. Voice an entirely realistic doubt about it — that 5G is a technology that nobody asked for, that nobody needs, that does nothing but enhance state-corporate power and, given that it is an extremely powerful new technology, will have disastrous unforeseen secondary consequences (on human and natural health). Point this out and hahahaha! David Icke says the same thing! You anti-vax, anti-science, irrational, chakra-sucking conspiracy theorist you!
David Icke’s reach and popularity, have, to some extent, ‘helped the current struggle,’ and maybe there’s an argument for ‘any port in a storm’, but here’s a conspiracy theory for ya. Why has he been trending for three days on twitter? Why was he invited to speak at the anti-lockdown rally in London? Why was his channel being taken down from YouTube reported across the MSN? As with all conspiracy theories ultimately it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, because the system automatically and unconsciously allows intellectuals who are superficially plausible2 but fundamentally risible, or whose work is full of irrelevant speculation, into the limelight anyway; for the same reason that, first of all, so many people share facts that back up their argument without checking them out first (or at least without offering a proviso, as I do — because I don’t have time to check them all out — that facts must always subject to doubt), and secondly, why we all seek out conspicuous idiots who share viewpoints we disagree with. You believe industrial technology has autonomous power over the earth? Hahahaha! So does Ted Kaczynski! You believe Jesus of Nazareth made sense? Hahahaha! So does Jordan Peterson! You believe coronavirus figures have been inflated? Hahahaha! So does Jair Bolsonaro! And so on. Guilt by association it’s called. Elites are quite happy for Ted Kaczynski, Jordon Peterson and Jair Bolsonaro to get air time, to promote them as figures of ridicule, because they are at best harmless and, to the extent they can be laughed at or reviled, actively useful. They want truth-shaped clowns like David Icke in the spotlight.3
What they don’t want, firstly and in this specific case, is for you to question the nature and reality of the lockdown. Not why it happened, but what it is and what can be done about it. Once again: Ultimately it doesn’t matter why. Getting drawn into the whys divides the anti-lockdown movement, makes it easy for pro-lockdowners to ridicule and smear it and deflects from the most elementary fact that it was pointless and wrong and — even if that fact turns out to be an error, and I’ve got egg on my face (which I’ve had on my face a few times in the past I can tell you) — that at least it should have been questioned at the start, throughout the past six months, and now. Imagine a man was going round your town locking up children. What would be the most important thing to do? Work out why he was doing it? Proliferate theories about his inner workings, his upbringing, his motivations? Or stop him? Well, there has been someone going round town doing that precise thing — the government, for six months.4
Secondly they don’t want you — and again, I’m speaking metaphorically, for you can’t be conscious of wanting to suppress consciousness — to face the nature and reality of the civilised system and the ego which built and maintains it, which automatically subjugates nature, destroys quality and forces life into systems of control, generating enemies (human and biological) to justify its growth. Genuinely radical critiques of the system are so far under the radar they barely register, certainly not enough to be censored or discredited [yet]. But it is this, and only this, that can make a difference, that can explain the nature and destination of the system — manifesting before our eyes — and show what actually needs to be done about it.
There is no space here to do justice to the true nature of our ills, the true nature of the system, or the true nature of the solution, all of which goes far far deeper than I can even suggest here. The point is that the Chinese government, Bill Gates, the World Economic Forum, the illuminati and ‘the ruling class’ are not it. They are isolated, second-order effects of the system, just as 5G is, and the death of culture, and Billy bookshelves, and Kanye West, and fixed-odd betting machines, and Nandos, and Fortnite, and ‘kids today’ and the insect apocalypse. Again, there is some value in speculating on the unconscious symbolism of masks, in unearthing the glad-handing backrooming deals of the masters of the universe, in investigating the activity of their new world order, in attacking its dystopian hegemony and in making plans to meet what they might have in store for us. But, no matter how useful these enquiries are, they are not, as conspiracy theorists like to believe, ‘the big picture’.
The big picture is bigger.
And so, I don’t know why all this happened and I’m not particularly interested in why. I have almost zero interest in speculating about the motives of world governments and elite players and I’m not an expert on epidemiology or virology. All I am interested in — and have been interested in since March — is that the lockdown happened, that it is still happening, and that it should have been questioned and stopped. I’m not positing conspiracy theories, I’m not denying there was an illness that killed people and I’m not saying that nothing should have been done — upping precautions for old people and making some public-health recommendations along the lines of the Swedish government seems sensible to me. All I know, all that is clear, is that this illness has killed around the same number of people as a bad flu (and nothing like the number that pneumonia, TB, heart-disease cancer finish off), that the vast majority of those deaths were over 60s with serious commodities and that the cure has been and will be far worse than the disease. Everything else — despite complaints to the contrary — is secondary.
It has been suggested to me that I am ‘falling into the hands of the right-wing’ by challenging the lockdown or that ‘hur hur Donald Trump agrees with you’. On the whole, it has been as unpleasant to find ‘Keep Britain Free’ folks waving a flag for me as it has to have appeared on Icke’s website, but, as I pointed out in the previous piece, I have as much interest in ‘reopening the economy’ or in ‘getting kids back to school’ as I do in uncovering the diabolical plans of the Illuminati; namely zero, for reasons which should be perfectly obvious to anyone who has read my work. We have simply swapped a Huxleyan-oriented dystopia for an Orwellian one with Kafkaesque and Phildickian nobs on. What I object to is not the closing of schools, offices, factories, hospitals, law-courts and race-tracks — all of which would be, if free human beings were the agents, causes for celebration (my own office-free life has been lovely). What I am objecting to, or at least highlighting, is that what they are being replaced with is a) far worse b) that it has been done for, as far as I can see, no good reason and c) without the slightest critical scrutiny from the left.
I have written one book about the outer, visible system, and am about to finish a second exploring the vast personal underworld of the problem. Sign up to my mailing list to hear of it.
- Here’s another analogy, particularly for any British readers older than thirty. In the mid-90s there were two satirical new shows on, of all places, the BBC, Have I Got News for You and The Day Today. The former mocked politicians, celebrities and what was shown on the news. The latter satirised the nature of politics, celebrity ‘culture’ and the form of the news itself. Which one do you think was the more potent, radical and effective? And funnier? Compare this and this.
- They have to have some intelligence or people won’t be interested
- I’m now on David Icke’s site. He reprinted my lockdown left piece, apparently missing the bit where I mocked the Archons.
- In actual fact, not having to go through the alienating horror of school and work has been a psychological blessing for many, but the analogy holds, particularly of course for poor, city-dwellers.