The mass hysteria surrounding the Covid pandemic has similarities to climate hysteria, with the difference that it has evolved over a period of months instead of decades, and its effects are immediate instead of hypothetical. The unrolling of events can therefore be observed in real time, with the decisions and behaviour of the main actors visible to us all. A close look at the Covid saga should therefore help us to understand the far more slow-moving and opaque story of catastrophic climate change.
Mike Yeadon has laid out in detail why the second wave does not exist and why there has been no pandemic since June in this article:
Though it concentrates on the issue of false positives with the PCR test, it covers the whole history of the Covid crisis in sufficient detail to permit a layman to raise the question: Why are we where we are? Yeadon is as puzzled as we are and provides a lot of detail that tends to close off the easy answer of incompetence. But if you eliminate incompetence, what are you left with except conspiracy?
There’s only one right way of doing things, but many wrong ones. Hence there are many factors which can lead to incompetence. I’d suggest, for starters: lazy thinking, stupidity, herd mentality and corruption. As an example of lazy thinking, take a current explanation for Boris’s second lockdown: that he will do anything to prevent images of people dying in hospital corridors.
If it’s true, it’s a sufficient reason for declaring him unfit for office. If government policy is really being designed to avoid certain images appearing on the front pages of newspapers, then there’s no hope for us. Government by focus group is a sign of weakness at the best of times. In this case, the idea of wiping 20% off GDP to avoid something that wouldn’t look good on breakfast television is suicidal madness.
“Whatever you do, don’t let the press mention hospital corridors,” Boris whimpered. Gove and Cummings exchanged glances. “Right, Prime Minister. So it’s decided, Tier Three all round.”
Unfortunately, it sounds plausible.
Lazy thinking merges into stupidity at some point. The argument against stupidity as a major factor is that there is a premium on intelligence in a crisis. The British system of government is not fundamentally autocratic, but rather anarchic in an End-of-the-Roman-Republic sort of way, in that anyone is at risk of being stabbed in the back at any time. In a collegial system, where everyone is aiming to shine, the guy with the bright idea should be able to make himself heard. If anyone in government has a bright idea, they’re keeping it to themselves.
Mike Yeadon links in his article to a ten-page briefing paper for MPs which he’s just issued. It’s clear enough for even the thickest of MPs to understand. It should, in a rational world, change minds. It won’t, and stupidity is not a sufficient explanation why not.
Herd mentality is a variation on the same theme, and it is certainly in play here. But in a functioning democracy, herd mentality automatically provokes a reaction, a counter-herd. We are that counter-herd of course, us sceptics, plus Nigel Farage, parts of the popular press, and the shaved headed Hard Right (our bulwark against fascism. Think about it.) The Hard Left, supposedly ready at the drop of a rouble to do Moscow’s bidding and weaken our national resolve, is right behind Boris, urging him on to further insanity (so maybe they are acting at Moscow’s bidding after all) except that they’re joined by the MI5-run hacks at the soft left Guardian, who delight in sneering at Nobel Prize winning scientists who dare question Boris’s scientific consensus. Whatever the motivations of the different factions, their herd is bigger than our herd. And Ofcom ensures that our herd remains unheard.
Incompetence rules, and the normal rules of rational discourse are suspended, which is nothing new to climate sceptics of course. Dr Yeadon is aware that this is not normal. A section of his paper is subtitled: “Government actions have been nothing but peculiar from the very beginning,” and he goes on to list some of their bizarre features: Ofcom guidelines (“…approximates censorship”) the forecasts of a second wave (“… mystifying”) lockdowns (“a fool’s errand”) and:
Acts of Parliament giving the executive a degree of power more suited to a war, and with it, a budget 10 times larger than any previous such emergency … none of these being justified by the situation or by science.
Remember that Dr Yeadon is tempering his language in order to maintain a reputation as a serious person worthy of being listened to. He goes on to discuss the uselessness of mass testing with PCR, and the fact that the “Lighthouse” Labs are using unqualified staff and unsafe procedures to analyse tests, thus depriving official NHS Labs of testing material. Dr Yeadon doesn’t suggest corruption, but there have been enough cases of contracts going to friends and relatives of well-placed people with no relevant experience to be sure that such corruption is rampant. New, untried methods of tackling a new, unknown threat are the moist orifices by which the virus of corruption enters the system. And when billions of pounds are at stake, you can be sure it won’t be eliminated by the disinfecting powers of reason.
Corruption can’t exist without conspiracy. At the very least it involves people in the know tipping off people they can trust about opportunities, with the necessary corollary of backhanders. Once the system is operating, the politicians who set it up have every interest to keep it going. Expect a third wave once we’ve recovered from the second.
The clearest example of conspiracy and corruption I know of is the case of hydroxychloroquine. Cheap, readily available, and tried and tested in multiple circumstances all over the world, it is used as a prophylactic against malaria by hundreds of millions of people, and it seemed to work against Covid. The attempt in France to denigrate Professor Raoult who was using it successfully in Marseille was excessive to the point of absurdity. The paper trashing it published by the Lancet and immediately retracted was an insult to the intelligence. If medical publishing was held to the same safety standards as, say, the food processing industry, the Lancet would be closed down, its papers declared unfit for human consumption, and the editor would be facing a prison sentence.
Big pharmaceutical companies didn’t want hydroxychloroquine, so neither did the medical establishment, nor Ofcom, nor the science and medical journalists, right down to Big Weed and the Flowerpot Men on Hancock’s Half Hour.
Hydroxychloroquine is to the Covid crisis what coal is to the problem of cheap energy faced by developing countries as they try to lift themselves out of poverty. Cheap (because the patent has expired) effective, and simple to use without complex infrastructure, it’s useless to Finance Capitalism that lives by taking a slice off the top of everything that moves.
Coal fumes will choke you if you’re prevented from burning it efficiently by the refusal of the World Bank to finance new plant. And hydroxychloroquine may kill you if you administer ten times the recommended dose. Used properly, both are cheap and efficient. Finance Capitalism doesn’t want things that work and are cheap. It wants a patented vaccine that has to be kept at -70°C, with opportunities for profit all along the logistic chain. It wants wind turbines that produce rent when they produce “free” electricity, and more rent when they don’t.
It’s an oddity of capitalism that it’s not much fun for capitalists when it’s working efficiently. When markets are free and transparent, people compete at making stuff, unemployment is low, and free bargaining keeps wages up and profits within reasonable limits. It’s difficult under these conditions to either live comfortably off unearned income, or make the kind of killing that excites the “vital spirits” that Keynes claimed were necessary to keep capitalism healthy.
It’s hard work digging coal or administering anti-malarial drugs in poor countries. In a slightly different sense, it’s hard work making money investing in these activities. Buying shares in a mining company or giving to a charity that distributes medicines in Africa may be sensible things to do, but they’re not going to get your vital spirits excited. What with readily available recreational drugs and free porn on the internet, it’s getting more and more difficult to excite our vital spirits. Sometimes only the threat of imminent catastrophe will do it.