Are Cultural Explanations of Racial Disparities Always Racist? Only By Conflating Race and Culture

Are cultural explanations of racial disparities always racist? A WordPress user self-identifying as an “educator and aspiring writer currently residing in Robbinsdale, Minnesota,” recently posted a blog titled “What Critical Race Theory looks like in my Social Studies classroom.” He cites a USA Today op-ed he uses in class that “enumerates the significant racial disparities that still exist today, particularly in regards to economic and education.” The author insists that “[t]hese disparities are not ideological inventions.” Indeed they are not. Blacks as a group trail whites as a group in every significant category of social endeavor.

“They are measurable and objective facts,” he continues, “and as I say to the kids, there are two ways to explain them.” I present below those two ways in the teacher’s words, with Explanation #2 said to be “a great representation of what Critical Race Theory looks like in practice—seeking to explain how structures and systems work to produce the racial inequities that have existed throughout history and that continue to exist today.” He adds, “It also shines a light on the absurdity of one of the primary attacks levied against Critical Race Theory by its opponents: That it teaches white students that they are all a bunch of racists.” It is not an absurdity. The portrayal of all whites as racist lies at the heart of critical race theory.

Explanation #1: The racial inequality that still exists today exists because there is something wrong with black people.  There is something about their race or their culture that prevents them from achieving educationally or economically at the same level as whites. The problem with this explanation is that it is literally racist.  It literally ascribes to black people some sort of shortcoming or inferiority that is rooted in the color of their skin.  Luckily, for those who believe in the inherent equality and potentiality of all human beings regardless of skin color—who believe that, everything else equal, black people, white people, and people of any race or color would all succeed and struggle at roughly the same rates—there is another explanation. 

Explanation #2:  The racial inequality that still exists today exists as a result of the historical and/or modern-day societal forces that produced it.  The racial disparities that exist in our country are not and have never been ‘natural.’  They were intentionally manufactured by a country literally founded on the idea of white supremacy—an idea that was built up and fortified over centuries through the history outlined above.  And while achievements during and since the Civil Rights Movement have dealt great blows to the system of white supremacy, we still very much live with that system’s legacy, and live with a current system that, despite many well-intentioned actors, continues to produce racist results.”

The teacher’s Manichean formulation fails. The United States was not “literally founded on the idea of white supremacy.” It was founded in the context of world slavery to establish a nation based on individual liberty and rights, promising within two decades to abolish the slave trade—and keeping that promise. It is a nation so not white supremacist that it fought a civil war to emancipate blacks from bondage, a war that saw three-quarters of a million Americans, the vast majority of them white, lose their lives, with millions more left without limbs and sound minds. I won’t pursue this here, since I have at length documented that historical arc of justice that proves the validity of American ideals. I want to take up Explanation #2.

Explanation #2 rests on an utterly false premise, namely that cultural explanations in the realm of race relations are racist. Recall the author’s words, “The problem with this explanation is that it is literally racist. It literally ascribes to black people some sort of shortcoming or inferiority that is rooted in the color of their skin.” The teacher’s argument presupposes that cultural differentiation is rooted in racial differences, which he explicitly defines by a phenotypic marker, the degree of melanin in the epidermis. The irony here—and this irony obtains whenever anybody reduces culture to race—is that the author is literally ascribing to black people the culture that in may, at least to some extent, explain the disparities he identifies as resulting from racism.

Racism is a belief and practices based on this belief that the human species is objectively divisible into racial groups differentiated not only by phenotypic markers, but also by innate behavioral proclivities, cognitive abilities, and moral aptitudes. Like religion, racism is an ideology. It uses language not to describe but to construct a reality. It invents constituents of an imaginary world. When one says that criticism of attitudes, customs, habits, norms, and values, i.e., culture, is racist, the necessary assumption is that culture is a projection of racial types that don’t actually exist, at least not in the way it presumes they do. Culture is not a projection of differentiated genotypes. Culture is socially constructed, learned, and transmitted. Even if we agree that there is such a thing as “black culture,” it is certainly acquired by blacks and members of any other race who are socialized in that environment.

The criticism of culture is not an attack on a person’s immutable attributes. It is a criticism of that which the person can abandon or change. Cultural criticism is concerned with attitudes, customs, habits, norms, and values that harm or limit individuals. There are cultures with features that are destructive and moribund, that deny human rights and degrade human dignity, and these cultures may be taken up by people of any race. In order for individuals to develop to their full potential, they need to throw off that culture, at least throw off those elements that prevent self-actualization.

Consider whites for whom culture is a barrier to success. For every poor black person, there are three poor white persons. Does one suppose the attitudes, customs, habits, norms, and values that fails them are an expression of skin color? There’s a word for that supposition (I think you know what that word is). When I raise children, I work very hard to shape their attitudes, conduct, and values in a manner that logic and experience show are valid and sound ways to live a successful life. If they take up action and belief that are contrary to this, my role as a parent is to intervene and make a course correction.

Like everybody who pursues this, frankly, racist line of thinking, this high school teacher is confusing individuals with abstract categories. He is stereotyping. But people are not personifications of demographic categories. Demographics are aggregates—generalizations based on assumption and induction. He insists that he never teaches his students that all white people are racist. Yet he collapses culture into race (selectively, of course, since he would have no hesitation criticizing what he would identify as “white culture”). The white kids in his class must be racist because their skin color associates them with the culture of white supremacy. Critical race theory literally identifies white culture as the “perpetrator’s perspective.”

There are black capitalists and managers who exploit the labor of white proletarians. There are affluent blacks in all walks of American life. Academics. Lawyers. Scientists. Were they able to achieve these things while maintaining the cultural sensibilities that scholars (such as Glenn Loury or Roland Fryer) find hold back other blacks? Or did those blacks who transcended the impoverished conditions of their birth achieve these things because they adopted the cultural norms and values that lead to success in life? They surely would not have found advantage in adopting the cultural sensibilities that hold back so many whites. 

The question of disparities is answered by asking questions about class and culture. Race has little to do with the achievement gap—except for those who believe in innate racially-differentiated cognitive capacity or who want to change standards to rationalize the failure of our educational system to close the racial achievement gap, a problem exacerbated by telling black kids that they live in a world that means to oppress them and that their rise or fall has nothing to do with norms and values. How else is one to account for the fact that six percent of the US population commits more than half of the homicides in America? That has nothing to do with culture? So the white oppressor makes black men kill other black men? How does that work? Or do blacks have a greater propensity to kill other people? Sounds racist, doesn’t it?

The choices we make in life affect the trajectory of our biography

The above video is a powerful illustration of the failure to address the role of culture in derailing the lives of our young people. The program suggests that he is touched by running into somebody with whom he attended middle school. That’s not what is happening here. This is a grief reaction. The regret and shame this man is made to feel by seeing clearly, probably for the first time, the end points of two different life trajectories overwhelms him. He has failed himself and those who believed in him and he realizes it.

Are cultural explanations of racial disparities always racist? Only if you conflate race and culture.

* * *

Over at the Manhattan Institute, Heather Mac Donald has been examining a controversy about classical music. (I wrote about this controversy back in February; see Whiteness in Music Theory. Yeah, It’s a Thing.) The controversy is that, because classical music is a European tradition, and because Europeans are white, classical music is an expression of white supremacy. The reality that few black musicians make it to elite symphony orchestras confirms the racist character of classical music. The fact that the Europeans who invented classical music happen to have less melanin in their epidermis is lost on the identitarians. For them, this proves the assumptions that race is real and that differential cultural expression is a project of innate differences between the races.

Conductor and violinist John McLaughlin

In a recent essay (“For the Love of Music”), Mac Donald writes about conductor and violinist John McLaughlin Williams who has a question for the advocates of removing to longstanding practice of blind auditions. Blind auditions is where musicians auditioning for a chair perform behind a screen while judges assess their playing ability independent of their identity. Those in pursuit of diversity, equity, and inclusion realize that this practice disproportionately excludes blacks, so they argue for a paradigm shift. They seek to change the selection criteria from excellence to identity. Deliberately put more blacks on orchestras so the composition of the orchestra looks like the composition of the United States is the idea. “Why hold an audition at all?” McLaughlin Williams responds. “Why not just send in a head shot?”

“I never gave race any thought and never used it in my career,” Williams says. Mac Donald elaborates: “His colorblindness was an inheritance from his family. His parents—both accomplished pianists—met as music students at Howard University. Williams grew up hearing Chopin nocturnes and études, Bach partitas, and Beethoven sonatas on the family piano. Did it matter that those composers were white males? ‘It never came up,’ he answers. Williams’s parents also played William Grant Still, Ulysses Kay, and other black composers. But they acknowledged the greatness of the musical canon. ‘It’s why we play these things. All great ideas that have ever been born in the world were meant for everyone.’”

Was there a time when the music business was racist? Of course. There was time when sports and many other things were racist. Williams tells Mac Donald that the classical music industry was “racist in the day but not now by any means.” He does, however, understand the “reflexive charge of discrimination.” He opines that history makes it almost impossible for “black people to believe that any reverse in fortune or progress is not rooted in racism, because in the past, it always, always was.” Williams puts his finger on something I have talked about on Freedom and Reason, for example with respect to the 1619 Project, the idea that what is hailed as progress is white supremacy merely adapting itself to changed circumstances. This will be the subject of my next blog

Profits Before People: Civilians Denied Cheap and Effective Therapeutics

Newsweek ran with this headline today: “Ohio Judge Orders Hospital to Treat COVID-19 Patient with Deworming Drug Ivermectin.” The magazine is manipulating its audience. The judge ordered the hospital to treat COVID-19 with ivermectin authorized for use in humans. Ivermectin is listed on the WHO’s 2019 Model List of Essential Medicines under the category anti-infective medication, a model list applying to humans, not horses or other mammals. As Newsweek was running this headline, The Daily Beast was running this one: “Don’t Negotiate With Trump’s Disease-Spreading Zombie Army.” The author of the story, Wajahat Ali, is a fanatic.

Many of the drugs used for individuals of one animal species are effective and safely used in the treatment of individuals of other animal species. It makes sense when you consider that all mammals have a common ancestor. As I warned in a recent blog, we ignore scientific materialism at our peril (see Are We Forgetting Darwin?). Hundreds of drugs approved for use in cats, dogs, and horses contain active ingredients indicated for purposes identical to drugs used in human populations. They’re generic equivalents.

Ivermectin preparation for deworming horses

What’s the difference between ivermectin used in humans and horses? Brand name, dosing, and delivery. If you talk to those who work around animals (farmers, horse trainers, veterinarian staff), if they are forthright, and before the corporate propaganda campaign against ivermectin they has little reason not to be, they will admit to taking the drugs they give their animals. They understand which drugs work for which ailments and in what amounts. Now they have to worry about people looking at them in horror because they used a horse dewormer as a prophylactic or treatment for COVID-19. But that will only stop them from telling you about it.

In the May-June article, “Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19,” published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, researchers found that ivermectin is highly effective in the treatment of COVID-19. “Meta-analyses based on 18 randomized controlled treatment trials of ivermectin in COVID-19 have found large, statistically significant reductions in mortality, time to clinical recovery, and time to viral clearance. Furthermore, results from numerous controlled prophylaxis trials report significantly reduced risks of contracting COVID-19 with the regular use of ivermectin. Finally, the many examples of ivermectin distribution campaigns leading to rapid population-wide decreases in morbidity and mortality indicate that an oral agent effective in all phases of COVID-19 has been identified.”

A July-August article from the same journal, “Ivermectin for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 Infection: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Trial Sequential Analysis to Inform Clinical Guidelines,” also found the drug to be effective in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. In fact, the evidence indicates “that large reductions in COVID-19 deaths are possible using ivermectin.” Their study assessed 24 randomized controlled trials involving 3406 participants. “Using ivermectin early in the clinical course may reduce numbers progressing to severe disease. The apparent safety and low cost suggest that ivermectin is likely to have a significant impact on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic globally.” (You will find a good review of the data here.)

Doctors have long been empowered to prescribe off label. But pharmacists are not prescribing or filling prescriptions for ivermectin. Why? We live in a monopoly capitalist society where the regulatory agencies of the state apparatus have been captured by corporate influence and power. The truth is that cheap and effective therapeutics for COVID-19 aren’t profitable. Vaccines, on the other hand, are generating enormous profits. Pfizer’s mRNA platform is on track to generate sales of more than 33 billion dollars this year. Moderna is reporting that advance purchase agreements for 2021 represent more than $19 billion in sales. Profit lies in novel commodities and patents and control over demand. For these reasons, pharmaceutical companies have never been much interested in repurposing their drugs unless it gives a drug a new lease on life.* There is no money in ivermectin (same with hydroychloriquine). So don’t take it. (I cannot rule out that Trump derangement syndrome isn’t behind some of this.)

If authorities don’t want civilians taking ivermectin branded as horse dewormer, then they should stop denying civilians access to ivermectin branded for use in humans. Because it’s the same drug with the same benefits and the same safety profile. People are getting sick and dying because they are being denied the drugs they need to stay healthy and save their lives—and they are being shamed away from seeking those drugs by relentless mocking and ridicule. We are always hearing about the the “antivaxer” dying of COVID-19. How many people have died after refusing ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine because MSNBC told them it was horse dewormer? Where are those news stories?

* A notable exception to the reluctance to repurpose (but not the only one) is Sarafem, brandname for fluoxetine hydrochloride, an SSRI used in the treatment of PMDD. Fluoxetine hydrochloride is also known as Prozac, marketed for the treatment of depression. SSRIs work in nonhuman animals, as well. Fluoxetine hydrochloride is used to treat a variety of behavioral and mood disorders in dogs and cats. For example, it is used in the treatment of separation anxiety in canines.

C. Wright Mills and the New Fascism

C. Wright Mills, the author of The Power Elite (1956) and The Causes of World War Three (1959).

C. Wright Mills saw clearly the coming New Fascism, a growing threat I write about in Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. For Mills, fascism wasn’t going to come in the form of demagogues. It wasn’t going appear as ethnonationalism. It wasn’t going to be obviously rightwing. These are historical features of fascism. The plain Marxist and bonafide liberal must ask: What is the foundational logic of fascism?

In his The Causes of World War Three (1959), Mills captures the spirit of the New Fascism (see also his 1956 The Power Elite):

“The atrocities of The Fourth Epoch are committed by men as ‘functions’ of a rational social machinery—men possessed by an abstracted view that hides from them the humanity of their victims and as well their own humanity. The moral insensibility of our times was made dramatic by the Nazis, but is not the same lack of human morality revealed by the atomic bombing of the peoples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And did it not prevail, too, among fighter pilots in Korea, with their petroleum-jelly broiling of children and women and men? Auschwitz and Hiroshima—are they not equally features of the highly rational moral-insensibility of The Fourth Epoch? And is not this lack of moral sensibility raised to a higher and technically more adequate level among the brisk generals and gentle scientists who are now rationally—and absurdly—planning the weapons and the strategy of the third world war? These actions are not necessarily sadistic; they are merely businesslike; they are not emotional at all; they are efficient, rational, technically clean-cut. They are inhuman acts because they are impersonal.”

I have written about Sheldon Wolin’s thesis of “inverted totalitarianism,” presented in his book Democracy Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Political scientist Bertram Gross anticipates Wolin by several decades in his 1980 Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America. His analysis finds corporations melding with centralized state power. He argues, moreover, because capitalism is a global economic system, this combination is playing out on the world stage. Fascism is not intrinsically nationalistic. I have written several blogs on the character of the moment (see Scapegoating in the Era of Inverted Totalitarianism; Why I am not a Progressive; The Social Character of the Trump Moment; We Have Become Eisenhower’s Worst Fears; Navigating the Spectacle). Until people see this clearly, we won’t save democracy, let alone make progress towards a more free and equal world order.

Torches of Freedom, Vaccine Cards, and Our Civilian Lives

In March of 1929, a group of women hired by propagandist Edward Bernays, who had been retained by George Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, the executive who sought “a gold mine right in our front yard,” marched in the Easter Sunday Parade smoking cigarettes, which had been elevated to the status of “Torches of Freedom.” Psychoanalyst AA Brill had coined the phrase to describe the nasty habit, theorizing that women innately desired to smoke, but were constrained by the social taboo against it and traditional feminine attitudes. Brill advised Bernays to take advantage of changing values and the psychodynamic phenomenon of “oral fixation.” The marketing campaign thus leveraged the first-wave feminist movement for profit, even recruiting feminist Ruth Hale to call on women to join in the march. “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”

A Torch of Freedom

When the first HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine became available in 2006, with the FDA approving Merck’s Gardasil, it was soon marketed with a stealth campaign of advancing the rights of girls and women, especially those from underdeveloped countries. In developed countries, surveillance measures, primarily the pap smear, had proven effective in reducing the morbidity and mortality of cervical cancer, which HPV is said to cause. Such measures are not widely available or affordable in underdeveloped countries. The vaccine was said to remedy that, although, as with the wearing of masks by the vaccinated in the COVID-19 pandemic, the failure of HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer comes with a recommendation to have routine pap smears anyway. More recently, marketing has targeted men and boys, who, while they cannot develop cancers associated with the female anatomy, are identified as carriers of HPV and urged to do their part for sake of girls and women. Moreover, some women’s groups working from the standpoint of sameness feminism, for example groups advocating for immigrant rights, have argued that mandating the the HPV vaccine for girls and women is sex discriminatory.

Beyond the question of efficacy, the HPV vaccine comes with safety concerns. There are side effects—or other effects as a close associate often reminds me to call them for the sake of accuracy. Although transnational corporate captured WHO denies it, Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), a condition marked by sudden onset muscle weakness caused by peripheral nervous system damage provoking the immune system to attack the subject’s body, has appeared in a number of recipients of the vaccine and a statistically significant association has been found to exist between the vaccine and autoimmune diseases and central and peripheral neurological disorders.

There is a woman whose staunch progressive feminism stands at the core of her identity. Critical of conservative women expressing skepticism about the safety and need for the HPV vaccine, she was elated when the HPV vaccine became available for the daughter. One day, in a highly public manner, the mother announced her intention to vaccinate her daughter against HPV. Later, when she was away from the crowd, a man asked her if she had looked into the harm the vaccine was known to cause, especially GBS. He hesitated saying this, of course, because, what if, heaven forbid, something bad actually happened. But he felt he needed to say something since he had studied the issue and knew about the risk. Determined to go through with the symbolic gesture, she brushed off his concerns as trivial even if true. Within days of the jab, the girl was paralyzed.

The mother in the news story shared below had a different reaction when she learned that the vaccine had damaged her teenage daughter. She had no political-ideological motive to not wish she had this decision to do all over again. Listen closely to the way this local news station spins the information.

A Case of GBS

Did you note the line about how there was no cause for concern because Merck and the regulatory agencies Merck has captured found that Gardasil was no more likely to cause GBS than any other vaccine? Buried lede: all vaccines cause GBS. Authorities and the media have known this at least since the 1970s. In 1976, pharmaceutical corporations and governments around the world, including the US government, manufactured a swine flu epidemic. I’m not exaggerating. Despite the fact that there were no confirmed cases of swine flu anywhere on the planet outside of thirteen soldiers at Fort Dix, a US military facility in New Jersey (sound suspicious?), the government rolled out a massive vaccination program accompanied by an extensive propaganda campaign involving print and television media.  Millions of Americans were injected with the experimental swine flu vaccine.   

The consequence of the program: scores of people suffering vaccine injury, several hundred of them developing a sometimes lethal and always devastating paralytic condition called, you guessed it, GBS. Shamefaced, the government canceled the program. That was before they could count on mass desensitization of the other effects of vaccines. Since then, mainstream news organizations have run interference for vaccine manufacturers by dissimulating the link between the vaccines and GBS. However, as Dr. Meryl Nass, an expert on vaccines and bioterrorism, points out, at least ten separate studies of the 1976 swine flu vaccine have confirmed the link.

I covered this story more than a decade ago on Freedom and Reason in the blog Medical-Industrial Propaganda: The Swine Flu Pandemic of 1976. In that blog, I shared a national news story about the case. YouTube has removed it. In his prophetic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell called this technique the “memory hole,” which appears in the novel as a tube down which workers at the Ministry of Truth disappear news stories inconvenient to the Party. But, unlike the Party apparatus of Airstrip One, the Internet is full of holes. We don’t yet live in the People’s Republic of China. I kept the video in my archives. I have now posted it to Rumble so you can viddy it, my brothers.

The Swine Flu Epidemic of 1976

I have argued on Freedom and Reason that progressivism, despite its rhetoric of speaking truth to power, is the popular ideology and policy philosophy of corporate governance. It will come as no surprise to many of my readers, that corporations sell products that are unsafe and unnecessary. For the sake of profits, corporations manufacture needs and exaggerate problems to stimulate consumer desire for their products. Recognizing that the population is not monolithic, that insecurities, preferences, and worries (which advertisers in part engineer) are demographically variable, they differentially target groups with deft propaganda techniques tailored to particular anxieties, desires, and sentiments. It doesn’t matter if the danger a corporation markets is in the brand of cigarettes or a niche vaccine or a war, the goal is profit, and the same emotional and psychological manipulations are deployed with remarkable efficacy.

The FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech product, which will roll out under the name Comirnaty, a novel mRNA gene therapy sold as a vaccine alleged to prevent COVID-19 (which, I hope by now, readers know it doesn’t) will be marketed to individuals sixteen years of age and older. The Pfizer vaccine, along with Moderna (which just applied for full approval) and a couple of others, continues to enjoy emergency use authorization that shields it from any liability (Pfizer has been indemnified in dozens of countries around the world). The FDA approved Comirnaty based on early clinical trials which reported few other effects and more than 90 percent efficacy. The real world experience with these vaccines finds people experiencing Bell’s palsy, clotting blood, Grave’s disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myocarditis, pericarditis, and even death, while data from Israel can’t get the Pfizer vaccine to 40 percent efficacy. (See The Official Vaccine Narrative Completely Falls Apart; A Pandemic of the Vaccinated.)

Especially disturbing in all of this is the marketing to teenagers and young adults, particularly males, who are at special risk for cardiac diseases (myocarditis and pericarditis) that have life-long consequences. More than marketing. There are now mandates. Mandatory vaccination of the U.S. military will begin ‘immediately,’ the defense secretary says, yesterday’s New York Times reported. There are 1.5 million active duty military personnel. The majority of them are young men.

According to a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, according to a real-world case-control nation-wide study from Israel (the country in which authorities determined less than 40 percent efficacy for Pfizer in preventing infection and only a little greater than efficacy in preventing COVID-19 disease), the Pfizer mRNA vaccine was found to be associated with a threefold increased risk of myocarditis. The media will want to tell you that those who contract COVID-19 are also at risk for myocarditis. But the authors of the study caution readers not to make that comparison.

“The effects of vaccination and of SARS-CoV-2 infection were estimated with different cohorts,” the authors write, emphasizing that “they should be treated as separate sets of results.” The researchers find that the “good safety profile” the FDA used to approve the Pfizer vaccine was found in preapproval trials (approval via emergency use authorization). This is not the case with real-world data. Young men are particularly vulnerable to heart disease associated with this vaccine, disease that has life long consequences. The reason for this is that the spike protein the mRNA vaccine teaches the cells to produce causes inflammation of tissues throughout the body. The heart muscle and lining (as well as the lungs) is especially subject to disease with downregulation of ACE2 receptor associated with the S spike protein. This is associated with the site of action namely the ACE2 receptor. ACE2 receptors are greater in number in males than females because of testosterone. (For the record, I told you this would happen on Freedom and Reason). And who knows what the effects will be on younger children.

Yet I can see the progressive father and son, likely at the son’s urging, noisily marching to the physician’s office where the son will receive the jab for the “good of the community.” I can see the obnoxious Facebook statuses, the images of young men getting jabbed or showing off their bandaids encircled by a colorful virtue-signaling ribbon, “I’m doing my part!” Big Pharma has colonized territory deep in the progressive mind establishing vaccination as the public face of ritual action of devotion to scientism. The vaccine hesitant and skeptic are secular heretics and infidels. Authoritarianism and fear deliver even more to Big Pharma (the Associated Press reports “Half of US workers favor employee shot mandate: AP-NORC poll”).

“I’m doing my part!”

Ever seen the mock advertisements in the 1997 film Starship Troopers, Paul Verhoeven’s adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s shoutout to fascism? “I’m doing my part!” Heinlein appears to dig authoritarianism, but Verhoeven satirizes fascism in spectacular propaganda displays. Central to the politics of the book and movie is the differentiation between citizen and civilian. Citizenship is earned. People who join the Federal Service and honorably discharged are given the franchise, which bestows upon them privileges civilians so not enjoy. John Rico explains: “The difference lies in the field of civic virtue. A citizen accepts personal responsibility for the safety of the body politic, of which he is a member.” You know, like the virtue of getting jabbed and the privilege that comes with showing one’s vaccine passports. Internalizing authoritarianism comes with pride in having to justify your reason for being (anywhere, eventually). Did I mention that Starship Troopers is about fascism?

* * *

CNN is sad because Saint Fauci’s Big Pharma-serving narrative (at around 20 bucks and rising a pop, and masks everywhere, all fed by fear, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to very profitable) threatens to harm the chances of progressives in the mid-term elections. At least analyst Stephen Collinson is sad. The headline to his “analysis” tells us all about it: Fauci’s new 2022 timeline for Covid fight could be a political disaster for Biden and Democrat. Here’s a taste: “If the emergency does go on that long [through 2022],” he writes, “it will offer an opening for Republicans who are seeking to brand Biden’s presidency as a failure—and who are seizing on his chaotic evacuation from Afghanistan to paint a broader narrative of political decay.” The disastrous presidency of Joe Biden is a partisan construction, a “branding” and a “painting,” Republican propaganda that gives the dreaded Orange Man a chance to reclaim the White House.

This anxiety, a reflection of the absurdity of rank-and-file progressivism, is part of what lies behind the urgency of vaccine mandates. The true believers, their faith in the CDC and the FDA at religious fervor intensity, are all in on scientism’s miracles. They can save 2022, they believe, if they make the virus go away. “I’m doing my part!” But Fauci knows that vaccines won’t stop the virus. He has headed an agency for decades that never believed they could eradicate the flu—or any other RNA virus—with vaccines. Coronaviruses have always been with us. They will always be with us. The best way to deal with a perennial virus is to facilitate its evolution into a less-serious pathogen by building actual herd immunity (by letting younger people get it, for example) and reconcile ourselves to the fact that some years will be worse than others. But the best way for stakeholders is not the best way for shareholders.

The power of propaganda lies in portraying the ordinary and normal as extraordinary and abnormal. To be sure, SARS-CoV-2 came out of the gate impressively, killing an unusually large proportion of the elderly and morbidly obese it encountered. That is was less impressive among everybody else was obscured by lumping everybody into the same risk category and then showing the public the horrors of case-fatality rates, punctuated with sheet-draped corpses, slit trench graves, and exhausted and distraught nurses and physicians. They turned everybody into potential disease vectors via mask mandates. Now they are doing the same with vaccines. They deranged the social order by quarantining the healthy. The moral panic was replete with rampant war metaphors (Some Virus Did Something).

* * *

I have blogged a lot on the COVID-19 pandemic. I have decided to index these blogs here (except for what I cited in the present entry). This is not an exhaustive list nor is the list annotated. I used Google to search for entries, and Google has not been kind to my blog (albeit, it is not as bad as Facebook). I may update this post with more links and annotation. Quite a few blogs contain discussion of the pandemic but are mainly about other things. I have decided not to include these for now.

The first blogs were in late March 2020, as the pandemic saw school closures, including the institution where I teach. Here’s three in a row: Viruses, Agendas, and Moral Panics; Populist and Secular Humanist in the Face of a Virus; When a Virus Goes Viral

The months of April and May 2020 saw the most blog activity with respect to the pandemic. My first entry for April was Some Virus Did Something (see above). Here are others: COVID-19 and Chronic Stress Response; A Different Way to Lie: Selective Generalization in the COVID-19 Hysteria; We Should Stop Citing the Case-Lethality Rate for COVID-19—or Start Using it for Influenza; Future Containment of COVID-19: Have Authorities Done the Right Thing?; On the Pains of Testing and Contact Tracing. It’s Worse than Folly; The Relative Scale of Stupidity: The Scientific-Industrial Complex; The Wokescolds Have Lost Their Claim on Science April 2020 “You Have No Other Choice, You Must Go On.”; The Wuhan Virus, the Chinese Communist Party, and its Menagerie of Useful Idiots; When One’s Bubble Starts Collapsing: The Psychological Unwinding of a Moral Panic; Life is Risky. Freedom is Precious.

For May: Priming for Control: How Mass Psychology is Used to Transform Lifeworlds; The New Equity Principle: Healthy People Must Forfeit Their Dreams and Freedoms for the Sake of the Infirm; What Lies Behind the Mask? Technocratic Desire; Who’s Safer?; About that May 22, 2020 Lancet Article on the Efficacy and Safety of Hydroxychloroquine; Dr. Erickson Downplays the Threat of COVID-19. The Pro-Panic Crowd Turns on the Fog Machine; Science and Conspiracy: COVID-19 and the New Religion; More on the Unreasonableness of the COVID-19 Hysteria; Hunkering Down for No Reason; What’s the Big Deal With Wearing a Mask? Lots; How Deaths are Classified, Good and Bad Comparisons, and Other COVID-19 Insanity.

For other months in 2020, see Please, No Good News; We’re Trying to Have Hysteria Here (July) Panic and Paranoia Deaden Humanity and Sabotage Its Future (July) Mask or No Mask? (July) The Enduring Panic Over SARS-CoV-2 (August) The Problem of Critical Race Theory in Epidemiology: An Illustration (October) Determining the Current Aggregate Risk of Dying from COVID-19 (November). In this period, I focused on the riots in American streets and the color revolution to unseat Donald Trump and derail the populist movement against progressivism and transnationalism. The virus had waned. Moreover, I was on sabbatical, so my attention was on the subject of prisons and rehabilitation.

So far this year, I have penned several entries The Scientism of Getting Jabbed (January); Where Are We on this COVID-19 Deal? (February); On the Ethics of Compulsory Vaccination (February); The New Blasphemy—Why is it Such a Big Deal? (March); “Whatever that number is”: Vaccine Hesitancy, Common Sense, and Stigmatizing Christians (May); A Moral Panic. A Year Later (May); COVID-19 and Confronting America’s Racist Past (June); Crime and Viruses (June); Anthony Fauci’s Noble Lying (July); Will the Vaccinated Do the Right Thing and Mask Up or Stay Home? (August); Somehow, a Bill of Rights got Locked into the Constitution (August). Two recent blogs in August appear above. The ethics of vaccine mandates have spurred me to write more about the pandemic. Requirements to be vaccinated or routinely tested have caused me to put my college courses online. Now what I want, but I was left with no other choice.

Are We Forgetting Darwin?

Somebody asked me to explain why a vaccine that does not prevent infection but is associated with less severe symptoms among the infected compared to those of the unvaccinated is a problem. “So the vaccine becomes something of a therapeutic,” the person remarked in so many words. “Isn’t this a good thing?”

Not necessarily. The reason is found in grasping basic evolutionary biology, a paradigm that is exquisite in its logic and powerful in its explanatory power. Wherever the discipline of biology is on the question of ontogenesis, there is, outside of a handful of creationists, little doubt among scientists that the theory of evolution explains how, once life appears, all life changes over time. That same exquisite logic applies to microbes, including viruses (even if the question of whether viruses are properly living things is not finally settled).

Charles Darwin, who codiscovered the principle of natural selection in the mid-nineteenth century

Here’s how I explain the problem. A virus has no interest in killing or immobilizing its host. The virus needs relatively healthy people to be up and moving about and interacting with other potential hosts to transmits itself. It needs the host’s cellular machinery to reproduce itself. A virus that kills or immobilizes a significant number of its hosts won’t get around as much as a virus that produces mild to moderate symptoms. For example, cold viruses (of which coronaviruses is one type) have evolved via natural selection of random mutation (mistakes occurring in the process of the virus copying itself) to be more contagious but, for those with reasonably intact and experienced immune systems, either asymptomatic or associated with only mild to moderate illness.

This process yields circumstances in which children get half a dozen or more colds a year, while adults get one or two colds annually (having more experienced immune systems), and life goes on. Thanks to the process Darwin describes to explain his discoveries, over time the less dangerous variants of a virus become the dominant variants of the virus and life goes on. Herd immunity works alongside decreasing severity of illness to produce situations in which humans live, work, and go to school in environments teaming with microbes that rarely severely sicken them. (Influenza is a bit different because of the way it ravages cells. But its dominant variants nonetheless present with less severe consequences over time, as well. It makes you a lot sicker than an adenovirus or rhinovirus, but the vast majority of people live to tell about the experience.)

One of the ways this evolutionary process may be disrupted is the development of interventions that allow persons with more dangerous variants of a virus to suffer less severe illness sufficient to allow a greater proportion of the sick to be up and moving about interacting with other potential hosts than they would otherwise. Good for them, of course. They are not as sick as they could be (at least proportionally speaking, since many still get very sick and some die). But this can be bad for a population.

If a vaccine is highly efficacious in preventing infection, and a sufficient number of people are vaccinated, or have acquired immunity through infection, then the virus struggles to find those who are not adequately protected and the vaccine is successful. However, if the vaccine is leaky, that is, the vaccine suffers low efficacy with respect to preventing infection yet continues to enjoy significant efficacy in preventing severe symptoms, then this allows the vaccinated to carry more dangerous variants of the virus to more people, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Mutations that would have likely been weeded out during natural selection may indeed thrive in a context where the typical natural trajectory has been derailed. Add to this low durability of a vaccine and those who are vaccinated themselves increasingly begin to suffer severe symptoms.

It may be that, in time, the virus will continue to evolve to become less dangerous, but its path to this end will have been drawn out by the intervention. More troubling, it could also be the case that more deadly mutations survive to produce an even more dangerous situation for everybody.

Imagine a scenario where a population, appearing to have reached herd immunity via natural acquisition to a virus, suddenly sees an explosion of infections with widespread deployment of a vaccine. I hasten to emphasize that the problem is not vaccines per se. The problem is leaky vaccines with low durability. One would expect that the medical-industrial complex would not confront such a development with humility, but would instead double-down on hubris while casting aspersions on the skeptic. The vaccinated could not possibly be the problem. They follow orders.

A Pandemic of the Vaccinated

Yesterday we learned that, in Los Angeles, 30 percent of new COVID-19 cases are so-called “breakthrough cases.” That term “breakthrough case,” is an industry euphemism for poor vaccine efficacy. It means that fully-vaccinated individuals fail to develop effective immunity for the target pathogen. Data show that, of the vaccines, the most efficacious, the Pfizer mRNA platform, is less than 40 percent effective in preventing infections.

Despite this, it not only continues to enjoy emergency use authorization, but is set to be approved by the FDA next week. If you were worried about mandates before approval, brace yourself for approval. It’s not like the authorities have ever been concerned about Nuremberg. Now they will hammer the vaccine hesitant relentlessly. “What’s your objection now?” As if there is not good reason to object to these vaccines. No matter. Whether the thing works or not, you will need that vaccine card to be a functioning member of society. Passports are here. And they don’t come with free masks.

It’s highly likely that the number of “breakthrough cases” in Los Angeles and around the nation is much greater that what is being reported. A vaccinated person has reason to believe, based on the propaganda he received from trusted sources (the CDC and Anthony Fauci, CNN and MSNBC, Facebook and Twitter), that the cold symptoms he is experiencing—if he experiences any symptoms at all—do not indicate COVID-19 and therefore there is no need for a COVID-19 test. Maybe he doesn’t need to get tested. But his reasoning for not doing so is faulty. Hospital testing as part of routine intake assessment is discovering that COVID-19 infection is rampant among the fully vaccinated.

The authorities are telling us that this is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” That is not true. Scientific study shows that the fully vaccinated carry the same viral load as the unvaccinated and, given that the vaccinated tend to be healthier individuals able to interact with others in social situations, their positive status unsuspected, the vaccinated are almost certainly major contributors to the rise in COVID-19 cases. Operating with a false sense of security, they are infecting other people, vaccinated and unvaccinated. But this reality has to be pushed out of view. After all, we need to get shots in the arms of children and infants.

Looking at the chart, it appears, as I warned only a few days ago, that the progress the nation made prior to widespread vaccination, when it appeared we had reacher herd immunity, has been erased with the introduction of the vaccines. I am not necessarily saying this rise is mostly due to vaccines. But you might consider that possibility. The media won’t. And now deaths are rising, too (see chart below). Thankfully the case fatality rate is down, which is likely the result of the expected evolutionary path viruses take to become less lethal and thus more communicable, a path again very likely helped by those healthy enough to socially engage with others.

That these trends are occurring during the summer months is alarming. If you look at the trends in the first chart, last year’s cases went down during late July and August. They didn’t start significantly rising again until late October. Moreover, the numbers then were nowhere near the numbers they are presently at any time prior to peaks experienced during the fall and early winter 2020-21 when viruses usually prove most devastating due to cold weather and confined social spaces. 

The speed and incline of the current upward sweep does not bode well for the upcoming COVID-19 season. COVID-19 may very well be sweeping the nation again. And with our borders open wide on the south, the millions pouring into the country are bringing new strains of the disease, as well as other diseases long ago eradicated in the United States (more than half the world’s nations are represented among the immigrants, and the vast majority of them are Third Worlders), this winter may be catastrophic. Where are the immigrants going when they get here? I suggest you take look at what’s happening across the souther United States.

I leave you with several clips from today’s War Room Pandemic’s special on vaccines and therapeutics and corporate state machinations. Remember, vaccine hesitancy is the rational default position.

Dr Reveals Stunning Truth About Covid Vaccine
We Have ‘Leaky Vaccines’
No Test, Just Get Vax Card
Shocking Report Out About Covid Vaccine Injuries
There’s An Alternative And Ethical Strategy To The Jab
Pharmacies Told Not To Distribute Medications That Combat Covid

Hell on Earth or Earthly Heaven? The Totalitarian Threats Facing the West

Western civilization, the pinnacle of world historical development, materially and morally, is facing two foreign totalitarian threats: the People’s Republic of China and Islam. The PRC is the secular paradigm of authoritarian statism, an Orwellian nightmare world of total control (China Represents the Existential Threat of our Time—and the Democratic Party is an Enabler). Islam, not quite the threat the PRC represents, is nonetheless the most aggressive form of clerical fascism in the modern period, its doctrine of subordinating all of society to God plagiarized from the worst of ancient Western Asian ideas, maintaining the cruel grounds its sources, Judaism and Christianity, long ago departed. Collapsing the profane into the sacred and the backwardness that ensures, and without effective Western opposition, a substantial proportion of Islam’s 1.8 million adherents is ripe for incorporation in the Middle Kingdom’s sphere of influence.

Throngs of people running alongside a US Air Force C-17 preparing for takeoff at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

Considering these threats, especially in light of the global order Western transnationalists have sought for decades, this conjuncture, a gathering historical moment that appears as an unfolding, could not have come with a worse US president. Jimmy Carter and his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski began this debacle in the 1970s—allowing Iran to fall to the Islamists (Who’s Responsible for Iran’s Theocratic State?) and building up Islamism in Afghanistan, the later ultimately producing the Taliban and preparing the way for al-Qaida to establish a base of operations (Sowing the Seeds of Terrorism? Capitalist Intrigue and Adventurism in Afghanistan), so it is in some sense expected that Biden should be installed to finally betray the Afghan people—and the world.

The seriousness of the threat makes telling people “told you so feel” feel cheap and petty. But there is truth in there: the Democratic Party is aligned with the transnationalists managing the decline of America and the West; the consequences of Party hegemony is predictable.

Biden is compromised by his decades-long association with Chinese Communist Party (“Dear Hitler…” or Joe Biden is the Neville Chamberlain of Our Time). But he is not the only one who desires the rise of the PRC. Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, who advised Biden as Vice-President and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of the State, is on record as not only encouraging the PRC’s rise but creating “an environment more conducive to a peaceful and positive-sum Chinese rise.” The rhetoric of cooperation with the totalitarian People’s Republic comes with the expressed desire to gently push the PRC is a democratic and liberal direction. As if that is possible under totalitarian communism. As if the West hasn’t fallen down on its commitment to either value. If it was hard to detect two years ago, the ensuing two years made it plain that the CCP model of social control was one of the PRC’s major exports.

Detainees in a political education camp in Lop County, Hotan Prefecture, Xinjiang, China, April 2017.

The managed decline of America is an integral part of the transnational project to shift global hegemony eastward as a step towards materializing the dream of a one world corporatist government—the realization of which requires cancelling the Enlightenment (The New Left’s War on Imaginary Structures of Oppression in Order to Hide the Real Ones). Hence lockdowns and vaccine passports, Black Lives Matter and critical race theory, and the postmodernist rejection of scientific truth and objectivity (what Brown University economist describes as “identitarian epistemology”), all of which I have blogged about extensively on Freedom and Reason. Full of the hubris that a life disconnected from reality and money-power intoxication bring, and dismissive of the Thucydides Trap, the transnational elite appear to believe they can finesse the decline of America and the West. If so, then their derangement threatens humanity. But there’s more to it than conceit and ignorance (See Why Did The West Build Up China? America at a Crossroads: Corporations Poised to Take Control of the Republic.)

What is the Thucydides Trap? Harvard political scientist Graham Allison coined the term to describe the dilemma the United States faces with a rising China. Based on his analysis of sixteen cases over 500 years in which twelve resulted in Kinetic war, Allison warns that the likely result of a situation where a rising power threatens to displace a ruling one is military conflict. The dilemma gets its name from the Greek historian Thucydides, who wrote, “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” It is not always possible to escape a process with military conflict as its apparent terminal point, but it should be obvious that the strategy of managed decline of the ruling power coupled with building up the rising power is precisely the wrong strategy if one wants to avoid war—unless the goal is to incorporate what remains of the former into the latter. In concrete terms, that would mean dismantling democracy and liberty and assigning the peoples of the West to the role of serf in a global neo-feudalist order governed by transnational corporations (see section three of Mao Zedong Thought and the New Left Corruption of Emancipatory Politics; see also What the Flag Officers 4 America Letter Gets Wrong). Of course, the other option in avoiding war is to stop building up the rising power.

One only needs a handful of facts to understand this existential problem. I will use one to illustrate: China’s control over the means of the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions.

Under cover of global climate change, Western elites are transitioning their economies from gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. The batteries that run electric vehicles depend on rare earth minerals (REMs). Leveraging US and Europe’s pension funds and other money-capital to fuel the rapid development of its high-tech sector, the establishment of free trade zones, and expansion of PRC-controlled infrastructure around the planet—Western finance pumps hundreds of billions of dollars of direct investment into China annually—the CCP now effectively controls most of those regions where REMs are found. China alone is responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world production of REMs. China produces three-quarters of the world’s lithium-ion batteries and half of its electric vehicles. Afghanistan is one of the richest countries in terms of REMs. Last year, REMs in Afghanistan were estimated to be worth between 1 trillion and 3 trillion dollars. Biden has just effectively handed Afghanistan to the CCP.

Beyond Afghanistan’s resources, Biden gave the CCP the greatest gift a world power could give: the abandonment of the Afghan people signals to Xi Jinping that the US will likely not intervene when Taiwan falls to the PRC. Taiwan is the center of advanced chip design and production. Controlling advanced chip manufacturing is to the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions what fossil fuels were to the Second Industrial Revolution. (Without mentioning China, the Party of Davos, i.e., the World Economic Forum, tells its audience what’s at stake in this article: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond.”) The nation that dominates in this area will control the economic—and political and military—power in the world. When the United States under Trump limited Huawei’s ability to outsource its chip designs to the Taiwanese chip foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the CCP threatened to retaliate. The CCP understands what is at stake. Deprived of these foundries, US consumer and defense industries would be set back at least several years (see “The Chip Wars of the 21st Century”).

The progressive left screams “Western imperialism!” when one expresses concern over the loss of control over the global means of production. But the question is what sort of world do you want to live in? One in which the people are governed by a democratic republic with a bill of rights focused on individual liberty? Or one in which a centralized state governed by corporate power controls every aspect of human affairs? What sort of world do you think the rank-and-file Chinese want to live in? The United States is the paradigm of a nation founded on individual liberty and human rights—proving its validity by realizing its founding ideals in history by ending the slave trade, abolishing chattel slavery, recognizing universal suffrage, and granting equal rights to all regardless of race and sex. The secular nation-state our founders established is a blueprint for people around the world to adopt in building more equal and just societies. Why are Western elites giving up on these values?

Establishment ideology tells us what progressives elites have in store for us. Its followers live in a dream world where the West is evil and those outside it are the enlightened ones. To speak of American and Western exceptionalism is “ethnocentric” and “nativist.” To criticize cultures that do not recognize the ideals democracy and liberty is “racist” and “xenophobic.” In the eyes of progressives, and this is explicitly articulated in the rhetorics of critical theory and thirdworldism, the West is a vehicle for white supremacy and patriarchy. There can be no progress here—the system merely periodically reconfigures itself to sustain race and sex privilege.

In their deep loathing of America, and fetishization of simulacra of the exotic, progressives pine for a mythical world beyond experience and knowledge—a world where people live simple uncomplicated lives. The brutal truth is that the world outside the West is a world where men own women and girls and throw homosexuals from towers. It’s a world of total surveillance and control. Islam erases the line between government and religion, asserting only one true God and doctrine, casting everybody into a hell on earth. Chinese communism is a religion where the Party is God—and that God promises an earthly heaven, what the Chinese have long referred to as the Middle Kingdom. Our enemies don’t think in terms of months and years. They think in terms of decades and centuries.

What Explains—and Doesn’t Explain—Inequality

The social class location of an individual is determined primarily on the basis of that person’s relationship to the means of production. The class that buys labor is capitalist, the class that sells labor is worker, and so forth. It may be the case that people can, unlike race (a caste relation), leave the working class and become a capitalist, or fall out of the capitalist class and have to work, but this does not change the structure of a society, since there are still those who buy labor and those who sell labor and, overall, those who buy labor, that is, those who earn their income through profits (which are derived from the labor of workers), enjoy more power and privilege. This is reflected in the fact that government policies reflect the interests of the wealthy primarily, whereas the preferences of the general population, which is mostly working class, have little influence on policy (see Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” in Perspectives on Politics, 2014). Moreover, because of inherited affluence, which includes social and cultural location, there is actually very little social mobility.

Concerning the functionalist theory of stratification, which is also the classical economic liberal’s perspective, the claim that poverty has always existed is false. Most human societies down through history were egalitarian. Inequality only emerges with the state and religion around 6,000-8,000 years ago. Humans have been around for at least 200,000 years and possibly date as far back at 800,000. And even before then, their predecessors, who weren’t much different than modern humans, also lived in egalitarian communities. Class stratification is, therefore, in the long view of things, a recent development. Put another way, the natural distributions of intelligence and talents do not explain social class or economic inequality.

With respect to race, this interview with the late Richard Lewontin is excellent. So is this interview with Stephen Jay Gould. Lewontin is a pioneer in genetics research and his argument is the state-of-the-art. Race is a social construct, and it is constructed by the system of racism, which has two aspects: (1) the ideology of racial classification and associated hierarchy; (2) the structure of social and economic and occupational segregation. Race does not exist apart from these aspects. In other words, race is not a natural category, but an invention. Historically speaking, race is a very recent development, emerging with capitalism (which is itself a new system), and is the result of European colonization of the world and the need to control labor populations. Race was very consciously created by the capitalist class, what Barbara Fields has usefully termed “racecraft” (read an interview here). Colonial powers wrote laws defining and dividing populations and developed an ideological system that explained the system of exploitation in terms of innate racial differences.

A similar argument is made with respect to class when it is supposed that people are rich because they have some biological characteristics that allow them to out-compete others. This is Hayek’s argument in his Constitution of Liberty. Hayek avoids the race question, but the claim that class inequality is explained by biology mirrors the racist argument: if people are poor because they are inferior to those who are rich, and if black people as a group are poor compared to white people as a group, and if this is not because of racism but innate differences, then it follows than blacks are racially inferior to whites. But the explanation for why blacks as a group are poorer than whites as a group does not follow from racial differences because race is not a real biological category. Thus the explanation lies in something else. It is the result of political economy, just as class inequality is the result of political economy (see above).

Finally, with respect to gender inequality, it is true that occupation and life choices explain much of it. Women as a sex-class do appear to prefer work in helping professions (teaching, nursing, etc.). Whether this is biological or environmental, i.e. the result of socialization, or both is not that important in explaining gender inequality. To explain inequality between the groups one must ask why occupations in which women are more likely to work are associated with lower pay and less prestige.

One might use the functionalist theory of stratification to explain that the work that men do enjoys higher pay and more prestige because their work is more valuable to society. But the functionalist theory doesn’t work. We can see why from what I said previously. On a functional basis, what is more valuable to the survival and wellbeing of a society than childrearing, childhood education, and keeping the population healthy? How is a CEO maximizing shareholder profit more valuable than those functions? It’s not that the jobs men do commands higher pay and more prestige because these jobs are more important than lower paying and less prestigious jobs. Rather, the consistent factor in all this is that, generally speaking, the jobs that command higher pay and prestige are the jobs in which men are overrepresented.

Clearly another explanation is needed. Even if the differences in occupation and life choices are attributable to biological differences between men and women, there is no reason why this would explain gender inequality. After all, most human societies were matrilineal and egalitarian. It was not until 6,000-8,000 years ago that gender inequality emerges. It is with the emergence of class inequality, the state and law, and religion that we see gender inequality. Economic-class and sex-class inequality appear roughly the same time in history throughout the various civilizations They are historical developments, not natural facts. Same with race, also not a natural fact, which only emerges within the last 500 years as a capitalist strategy to control the working class.

Intent vs. Impact and the Matter of Collective Guilt

One of biggest piles of crap ever shat on the floor of the (post)modern culture landscape is this notion that intent doesn’t matter, that it is only the effect that matters. This slogan “Intentions don’t matter” is an attempt to get around the rational requirement that a speech act—or even a physical act—is explained or understood by the intent of the actor.

To be sure, the effect of an action is a big part of holding wrongdoers responsible. The Latin term for this is actus reus, the standard definition of which is voluntary action or conduct that is a constituent element of a crime as opposed to the accused’s mental state. Actus reus generally refers to voluntary physical action causing harm forbidden by law (not all physical harm is forbidden).

However, intent is a big part of determining not only the severity of punishment, but whether a person is at all responsible for the act that may find him facing punishment. This is called mens rea, and it means “guilty mind.” Mens rea is the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that is a constituent element of a crime over against the voluntary action or conduct of the accused.

There are many things that may excuse mens rea. For example, in the realm of physical acts, if I took somebody’s coat because I mistook it for my own, then I did not steal it because it was not my intent to. I should of course make an effort to return the coat, and failing to do so may indicate intent, but if the other person’s coat is exchanged for my own, no crime has occurred. Mistake of fact is one of many excuses and justifications for negating mens rea.

Of course, the slogan “Intentions don’t matter” is really aimed at speech. Straightaway, the idea that people are to be punished or disciplined for the impact of their speech is problematic in light of the free speech right. In my case, as a college teacher, there is an extra layer of protection that comes with academic freedom. I have a responsibility to be true to the facts of history as I know them. Furthermore, I have to be free to use words for effect and realism. Not only must I resist the desire to sanitize history (for sanitizing history isn’t merely revising history, which may occur in light of new facts, but the act of suppressing it), but I must also reflect the reality of the people I study, a reality that is conveyed and experienced symbolically. Words indeed matter—which is why we must not censor them.

Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller’s 1990 documentary on COINTELPRO, The FBI’s War on Black America

I show a documentary in class, The FBI’s War on Black America, in which the word “nigger” is used several times. Bull Connor, for example, uses the word in glorifying violence perpetrated against civil rights marchers. I have yet to have a student complain. But, in this climate, every time I show the documentary, I expect complaints. I expect complaints because of all the cases in which a teacher is disciplined for saying something that affected one or more of his student.

For example, in 2020, Harvard dismissed a Title IX complaint made by a transgender student who accused anthropology professor Arthur Kleinman of sexual misconduct for comments made in a general education class concerning the risk of violence transgender individuals faced in a nonwhite culture after the student expressed support for excluding white people from certain spaces because, “as a transgender woman of color,” it made her feel safer. Kleinman apologized to the class for his comments.

More recently, again at Harvard, human evolutionary biology lecturer Carole Hooven made comments on a Fox News show defending the usage of the terms “male” and “female” to refer to biological sex in medical classes. Graduate student Laura Lewis tweeted that Hooven’s remarks “appalled and frustrated” her and characterized them as “transphobic and harmful.” Lewis countered that transgender men can also be pregnant, which of course is true, since they are biological females. Hence the controversy. (Hooven explains the situation on this podcast.)

In the realm of speech acts, if I use a racial slur in a  discussion about the history of racism, my intent is very different than if I use that slur to angrily insult a person or to publicly diminish them. If my intent in referring to male and female in terms of the size of the gametes in a lecture on biological reality is to accurately convey the science of sex differences, not to diminish those who do not conform to traditional gender identities visàvis their sex, it should not change anything to say that it does not matter what my intent is because effect is all that matters. That will only change things if we allow it to. These are words and information. Who determines their effects if intent is irrelevant? It must be the person who claims to have been affected.

Therein lies the rub. By reducing words to effect only, and then leaving the truth of intent to the person claiming to have been affected, and emplacing a system that punishes people for their utterances, a person may be punished for the utterances regardless of intent. This is a terrifying world. The person who claims to have been affected determines the truth of your speech act. Based on what? His feelings. Any burden to prove intent has been lifted from the accuser. The “victim” determines what is right and wrong on the basis of his subjectivity. Even if the least of it is the expectation that the person who uttered the offending words will apologize for uttering it, this is unacceptable if we mean to live and work in an objective and rational world.

* * *

“Four little girls were killed in Birmingham yesterday. A mad, remorseful worried community asks, ‘Who did it? Who threw that bomb? Was it a Negro or a white?’ The answer should be, ‘We all did it.’” This was said on Monday, September 16, 1963, by a young Alabama lawyer named Charles Morgan Jr., a white man, who stood up at a lunch meeting of the Birmingham Young Men’s Business Club and delivered a speech about race and prejudice.

Investigators work outside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., following an explosion that killed four young girls. (Picture and caption from NPR)

This is the theme of Andrew Cohen’s 2013 Atlantic essay, “The Speech That Shocked Birmingham the Day After the Church Bombing.” He claims that Morgan was forever shunned for saying this. While I do not support forever shunning (any length of shunning, frankly), Morgan does deserve severe criticism for making such an argument. For it is not everybody who did this. The people who threw the bomb did this. They alone are to blame. We know it was four members of a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan who committed this crime. They were tried for and convicted of the murders.

If the argument is that those who bombed the church did so because of anti-black prejudice, and that, since anti-black prejudice is socially conveyed, we are all responsible for prevailing social conveyances, then the argument still fails, since, while anti-black prejudice may indicate the bomber(s) motive (I think it does), and thus explain the bombing, and while we should condemn anti-black prejudice (although there is no required for individuals to do this), the fact that the prejudice was learned can in no way implicate society in the act, since individuals either choose to perpetrate wrongdoing or they are not responsible for their actions. Actus reus requires that an action is voluntary to be a crime. Society is not a voluntary actor.

It’s rhetoric like Morgan’s that deranges the civil rights struggle. Civil rights becomes a quasi-religion at this point, replete with transcendent notions of collective and intergenerational guilt. That Morgan’s words echo down through history as if they bent the arc of the universe a little towards justice, as Cohen claims, tells us just how much popular understanding of justice has been shifted from one of rational adjudication of the facts to that of magical thinking and superstition. Because we all know that belief in collective guilt is widespread in American society.

This way of thinking is easy because it happens in the context of a culture of believers. Because of ubiquity of religious thinking in the United States, the majority is primed to believe in such magical and superstitious notions as collective guilt, to see individuals whose behavior is not directed by an organization as belonging to abstracts grouping that do direct their actions. Thus, without a directive or chain of command, by virtue being in society, the individual is responsible for actions taken by others. This is the irrational basis of such constructs as white privilege and the demand for reparations.

Those who believe in the supernatural expect to see ghosts—to be haunted by them. They are prone to accept claims that root in the spirit realm of sin and salvation. None of this is true, of course. But, in any case, none of this can be part of a secular system in which religious belief is the prerogative of the individual but the obligation of none. We see in Morgan’s speech (much of which is reproduced in Cohen’s essay) the logic of critical race theory. Critical race theory, a quasi-religious system, eschews the burden to prove intent. And we should shun critical race theory.

The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes

“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.”

Illustration by David Parkins

Horrified? That was the ruling of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in the Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, 274 US 200 (1927), a decision that upheld the power of the state to force women onto an operating table.* The compulsory vaccination rule he refers to is the Supreme Court decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 US 11 (1905). That decision upheld state government’s power to compel smallpox vaccination, ruling that, under certain circumstances, citizens are subject to the police power of the state on matters of public health.

At least that is the way it is being used. It was Justice John Marshall Harlan, the only judge to dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, who authored the majority opinion in Jacobson. In his defense, Harlan warned against “arbitrary” or “oppressive” regulation and expressly associated compulsory vaccination with the scourge of smallpox. But the keen sense that could see the future legacy of separate-but-equal failed to anticipate the blunt instrument Jacobson would become in the hands of technocracy.

A 2008 Harvard Law Review article notes that “Jacobson is a foundational public health law case. Its reasoning and logic pervade vaccine law decisions to this day.” And more than vaccines. In Vernonia School District v Acton, 515 US 646 (1995), Jacobson was used to justify the random drug testing of students (despite the Court recognizing the action as constituting searches under the Fourth Amendment). More recently, Jacobson has been cited as a precedent in rulings concerning face masks and home confinement orders. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a court extended Jacobson to cover matters of reproductive liberty. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit leaned on Jacobson to uphold a Texas ban on non-essential medical services and surgeries that included abortions. (See The 115-year-old Supreme Court opinion that could determine rights during a pandemic).

The matter of reproductive freedom cannot be ignored by those of us who care about bodily integrity and personal sovereignty—our most fundamental human rights. Trump appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett just refused to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate presumably on grounds Jacobson established. She gave no reason, but just wait until she gets her hands on an abortion case. If the state can compel the vaccination and sterilization of a person for the sake of others (Buck v. Bell still stands), then does it not follow that a woman can be compelled to carry a fetus to term? You thought it was “your body your choice,” but the abuse of Jacobson may prove otherwise. Did you forget? The Supreme Court has been Catholicized.

The Harvard Law Review article I earlier cited notes that “Jacobson was decided in a different time. It addressed issues about medicine, disease, and society that are no longer relevant today.” Indeed. Why are courts leveraging a precedent from a time when rights and science were in a very different place? Compared to the revolution in rights that followed the horrors of Nazism, freedom for early twentieth century Americans was sharply constrained. It was the Progressive Era, and its technocrats desired totalistic control over the masses. It was during this period that, among other things, alcohol was prohibited, drugs were regulated, and eugenics programs operated in a majority of states. Moreover, today, science has become a quasi religious system (see The Problem of Scientism).

With the emergence of corporate governance in the wake of the Civil War, enabled by the Supreme Court’s recognition of corporations as legal persons, person with the rights of human citizens sans conscience, the regulatory apparatus was soon captured by big business, which, as Richard Grossman has pointed out, is a clever way of distancing progressivism from corporatism; regulatory capture was the point of progressivism all along. For progressives, mass society is too massive for self-government, whether on the plane of individual sovereignty or the populist collective, neither finding the people up to the task, so the management of people becomes the responsibility of a technocratic elite. (The writings of public relations industry pioneers Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann is paradigmatic of the attitude that pervades the organic intellectual space of progressivism.) (See We Have Become Eisenhower’s Worst Fears: The Establishment of the Scientific-Industrial Complex; Progressivism—an Excerpt from The 1776 Report.)

That same technocratic desire prevails today. Astonishingly, in the wake of the horrors of Holocaust, where the Nuremberg Code was established to protect the rights of individuals from the power of the state to force medical interventions, and the Declaration of Human Rights to cover many more, courts in the United States are ruling on matters on the basis of an arcane precedent established more than a century ago during a period in US history where censorship, compulsory sterilization, prohibition of contraception, de jure racial segregation, open borders. Justice Barrett’s ruling proceeds without apparent recognition of the horrors of the past, nor with regard for the spirit of our founding or appreciation for the progress of human freedom. Barrett is as blind to the past on this matter as Harlan was to the future. (See On the Ethics of Compulsory Vaccination.) It seems that the post-WWII period of expansive individual freedom was exceptional.

This blindness is pervasive. A profound disconnect (or dishonesty) appears in the way the establishment media talks about the ethics of vaccine mandates. Liam Drew, in an article for Nature, writes, “Governments can never force someone to get themselves or their child vaccinated—it is a foundational principle of medical ethics that consent must be given for any procedure.” Well said. Yet, in the very next sentence, Drew contradicts the principle he so clearly articulates. “The decision to make vaccination mandatory is therefore a decision to impose some form of penalty on those who do not follow the law.” If one is punished for not doing something, then one is being forced to do something. I believe I can make this point obvious to the reader. If a man straps a bomb on your body and instructs you to rob a bank or suffer death, while you may choose not to rob the bank, no court is going to deny that you were forced to rob a bank if you choose life. One does not consent with a gun to his head. At the very least, we must admit that the person who is punished for exercising his right does not really possess that right. It cannot be said, for instance, that one enjoys a right to freedom of speech if one is punished for his utterances.

What about the scourge of COVID-19? What about it? Every third person died from smallpox, and the rate was even greater for babies. Survivors were often blind and scarred for life. The modern smallpox vaccine, developed in the nineteenth century, is a live virus preparation of the vaccinia virus, which is safe and cross-protective for cowpox, monkeypox, and smallpox (variola). The smallpox vaccine is effective in preventing infection in 95 percent of those vaccinated. Get back to me when SARS-CoV-2 becomes that lethal and there is a vaccine that successful. (See The Official Vaccine Narrative Completely Falls Apart; The Immorality of Vaccine Passports and the Demands of Nuremberg; The Communitarian Nightmare We Feared is Here; Somehow, a Bill of Rights got Locked into the Constitution.)

* * *

Note:

* Holmes, by the way, a man beloved by progressives and pragmatists, is the same man who, in Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919), in a judgment anticipating the attitude of the People’s Republic of China, used the utterly absurd analogy of “shouting fire in a crowded theater” to explain his reasoning that speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. I note this to establish a pattern indicating Holmes contempt for liberty. (For more, see Fire in a Crowded Theater: Failing Free Speech and the Manufacture of Consent.)