Biden’s Biofascist Regime

Biden’s Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended the administration’s new Covid vaccine requirements, calling them “an appropriate legal measure” that fit in with traditional safety requirements in schools and workplaces. I discuss this tradition in my essay The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes. For more than a century, the United States has used Jacobson to justify law and policy undermining bodily autonomy, including the forced sterilization of American citizens deemed “unfit” to have children. That doesn’t make it “appropriate” any more than the history of racial segregation justifies new rules separating people on the basis of skin color. The United States has a history of establishing and entrenching rules that are profoundly unethical and unjust from a principled standpoint. It’s from that standpoint that we judge their appropriateness not tradition.

The first principle of bioethics is respect for bodily autonomy. To be free, individuals must possess their bodies. To put this another way, when others possess your body, they possess you. In this situation, whatever the creature comforts, you are not free. Maybe that’s okay with you. But it’s not okay with me. But is it okay for you? For years, to the applause of progressives, I have warned audiences about the tyranny of state control over the reproductive capacity of women (see, e.g., Liberty is America’s raison d’être. Preserving Reproductive Freedom for the Sake of the Republic). Yet, progressives, apoplectic over the Texas abortion law, are celebrating Biden’s federal vaccine mandate. At least they aren’t complaining about it. One might have hoped that opposition to the Texas law would have been based on principle. But contempt for democracy and liberty on the left side of the political aisle is truly appalling. Double consciousness notwithstanding, the left have told us with no ambiguity: “We are an unprincipled lot.”

For the record, I operate on principle. I oppose Biden’s mandate on the same grounds that I oppose the Texas law. Both unjustly trespass upon the terrain of bodily autonomy. Of course, Biden’s mandate affects far more people—tens of millions more. It affects not only consenting adults of both sexes, but children who cannot consent to a medical intervention they do not need and that may harm them (see “COVID-19 is Worse than the Flu”—For Whom?). This makes Biden’s mandate a more pressing concern. Moreover, for those who work from principle, it is ready leverage to lift from the backs of girls and women abortions restrictions. In either case, life and liberty seem not to really matter to conservatives or progressives. The partisan desire to control others is what is at work here. The pro-life crowd will wave around an image of an aborted fetus. The pro-vaccination crowd shares a meme about a COVID-19 patient. But neither image nor meme change the principle in question: a person must be decide for her or himself what happens to her or his body.

If censored:

In “The Perils of Scientific Obedience: Bioethics under the Spectre of Biofascism,” published in 2009 in Critical Interventions in the Ethics of Healthcare (Routledge), Stuart Murray warns us about the increasing “biologization” of bodies and political identities. The trend threatens to bring an end to the rational, autonomous subject. Since his essay was published more than a decade ago, scholars have identified a phenomenon associated with biologization, the neurotic and limiting culture of “safetyism” (see the work of Jonathan Haidt). Safetyism enables biofascism. Both flow from fear and authoritarian desire. (See Living at the Borderline—You are Free to Repeat After Me.)

In his essay, Stuart argues for “the relevance of Milgram’s insights in the context of modern Western healthcare, claiming that the rhetoric of healthcare demands a perilous obedience to scientific authority. This argument extends beyond medicine’s proverbial paternalism; indeed, the rhetoric of healthcare has become internalized as a worldview, and has come to authorize and regulate a limited set of normative terms—a language—in and through which individuals relate to the social world, to themselves, to their bodies, and even to their own genetic material. In other words,  healthcare discourses extend seamlessly beyond the medical sphere to touch every aspect of human life and death, increasingly underpinning modern subjectivity and identity—effectively spelling the end of the rational, autonomous subject in the traditional sense of the term.” (See Intelligent, well-meaning, young people are willing to call white black and “You Have No Other Choice, You Must Go On.”)

CNN reports that “Business Roundtable welcomes the Biden Administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against Covid.” Its CEO, Joshua Bolten, who served as chief of staff to George W. Bush, a president who himself presided over a vast expansion of the national security state, a move conveyed as vigilance in the fight against terrorism, said in a statement, “America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic.” The National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce said they, too, will encourage their members to follow the new rule. The ruling class approves.

What is Biden actually proposing? Biden has issued an expansive rules mandate, a directive cloaked in the name of protecting employee safety but designed to further the transformation of citizens in a federal republic into serfs beholden to corporate power. Biden’s rules mandate all employers with more than one hundred workers require vaccination or routine testing. This affects eighty million Americans. Workers at health facilities receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid will also have to be vaccinated, a rule covering another seventeen million people. Additionally, the mandate requires vaccination for employees of the executive branch and federal contractors. Here, there is no option for routine testing (not that routine testing is an acceptable alternative). Workers will have to be vaccinated or face discipline and likely termination.

All-in-all, Biden’s mandate compels some one hundred million workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccination—this despite growing evidence that the technology neither confers adequate and durable immunity nor prevents serious illness and hospitalization (albeit there is efficacy here). There are, moreover, safety concerns (side effects include anaphylaxis, Bell’s palsy, cardiac and thrombotic conditions, Graves’ disease, Guillain Barre syndrome, and menstrual cycle disruptions). As if this were not troubling enough, the vaccines may be exacerbating the pandemic or could potentially do so.

Robert Malone and Peter Navarro discuss these points in an essay critical of the mandatory vaccine push and come to a frightening conclusion. “The clear historical tendency for viruses crossing over from one species to another is to evolve in a way that makes them both more infectious and less pathogenic over time,” they write. “However, a universal vaccination policy deployed in the middle of a pandemic can turn this normal Darwinian taming process into a dangerous vaccine arms race.” They explain: “The more people you vaccinate, the greater the number of vaccine-resistant mutations you are likely to get, the less durable the vaccines will become, ever more powerful vaccines will have to be developed, and individuals will be exposed to more and more risk.” While these problems may be irrelevant to the ethic of autonomy, where a free individual determines for himself what happens to his body independent of abstract considerations, it raises another ethical issue: compelling individuals to participate in a corporate project that may worsen the situation for their fellow citizens. (See The Official Vaccine Narrative Completely Falls Apart; A Pandemic of the Vaccinated; Are We Forgetting Darwin?; Profits Before People: Civilians Denied Cheap and Effective Therapeutics.)

Add this term to your dictionary: biofascism. Biofascism is where the corporate state controls a population using the technocratic machinery of public health. Biofascism is marked by an obsession with health and hygiene. It divides populations into the clean and the unclean, the fit and the unfit. It coerces individuals into accepting official health guidelines and medical screening and treatment. (The targets are still arbitrary. Will biofascism crush the fat acceptance movement? That depends on whether there is a pharmaceutical intervention. Like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, diet and exercise don’t generate billions for the medical industry.) The obsession over healthcare manipulates a large segment of the population to accept the ideology justifying involuntary medical intervention. This ideology amounts to a New Fascism. (See Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. See also Torches of Freedom, Vaccine Cards, and Our Civilian Lives.)

In a biofascist regime, the extended state apparatus, which includes business firms—indeed, the regime is directed by corporate power—gate-keeps and surveils individuals using ID tags of various sorts, the inconvenience of which will soon see their mass importation into the body. Some tags confer privileges; those who present them have access to resources and spaces denied to those who either have the wrong tag or cannot produce one. Vaccine passports are just one of many instantiations of biofascism (see The Immorality of Vaccine Passports and the Demands of Nuremberg). As most of you remember, employees of some businesses are shockingly eager to have microchips implanted in their bodies. There are people who still think that microchipping is a “conspiracy theory.” It’s not. Three years ago employees at the Wisconsin company Three Square Market were implanted with a RFID chip to use to access doors, login to computers, etc. The trend is spreading globally. The technology is easily repurposed to store medical records.

Three Square Market implants employees with a RFID chip to use to access doors, login to computers, etc.

The biofascist attitude is characteristic of totalitarian regimes. German national socialism is the most well-known example. An early step in Hitler’s consolidation of power involved the support of doctors, scientists, and professional societies, such as the progressive German Medical Association (GMA), to legitimize the practice of classifying populations in terms of fitness. There are those who will push back and say that the Nazis coerced doctors and scientists to participate in the project. But this is not true. In 2012, the GMA admitted that “the initiative for the most serious human rights violations did not originate from the political authorities at the time, but rather from the physicians themselves.” In the end, Germans were tagged with numbers tattooed on their arms that corresponded to variables on computer cards cataloged by the IBM punched card system (IBM did not have RFID technology back then). As these tags were easily concealed, business firms and government agents required external stigmata. The yellow Star of David marked the Jew. A pink triangle marked the homosexual.

It is vital to the defense of democracy to correctly ascertain the political-ideological character that animates biofascism. There is an extensive history of this character. I cannot do this history justice in a short essay, But I need to get out there a few basic facts about our own experience with biofascism as Americans. I emphasize that my argument is not reductio ad Hitlerum. I am not making an analogy. What I am reporting is actual history.

Note the syringe.

German doctors and scientists were impressed with the US eugenics programs progressive physicians, scientists, and reformers pushed in America to weed out the defective and diseased. (See Edwin Black’s War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create A Master Race. Black is also author of IBM and the Holocaust snd the Nazi Nexus). The Nazis passed the Nuremberg law which segregated the population. The Party used the military and the police to enforce the rule. Business owners were eager to carry out the measure. Imagine a world where opportunities for employment, entertainment, etc., are based on official and verifiable health status (throw in the file criminal records and all the rest of it). That’s what it was like in Nazi Germany, a nation that took medical tyranny to its logical conclusion. The United States of America under Biden is well down this road.

There is indeed a long history in our own country of biofascism. Germanys Nuremberg law was based on the California sterilization law. California was not the only American state to have a eugenics program. The practice of eugenics was funded nationwide by progressive philanthropic organizations Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Supreme Court, led by the Oliver Wendell Holmes (a majoritarian who also ruled in favor of the suppression of free speech) upheld hygiene laws (using Jacobson). Progressive administrators, legislators, and policymakers relied on experts (academics, doctors, scientists) for guidance. Selected elites were elevated in standing. Corporate state power determined their selection, as well as who could publish and speak. (Sound familiar?) Government offices established regulatory bodies (the FDA, the USDA, the CDC), wielding administrative law and agency authority to shield and legitimize the medical-industrial complex—all this under the guise of protecting the public, our schools and workplaces. We’re talking about the United States, don’t forget. The fetish for technocracy is characteristic of an authoritarian personality, and the United States had no shortage of such personalities, a type produced not only by disordered character but by the subjectivity generated by state corporatism and technocratic imperative.

In 1996, Daniel Goldhagen published Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Goldhagen argues in this book that the Nazi Party depended on the willing participation of rank-and-file Germans for success. The popular attitude that animated them grew out of medieval religious attitudes that had, over centuries, taken the form of secular attitudes. Goldhagen was inspired to study the German ideology because an earlier book, by Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men, used the Milgram experiment on obedience to explain police operations, and explanation that fueled the banality of evil thesis advanced by Hannah Arendt. Goldhagen disagreed. Although this was a piece of it, it was not enough to be a cog in the bureaucratic machinery. Those who carried out the desires of the German ruling class were “ordinary members of extraordinary political culture.”

On freedom and reason I have written about scientism and explained how it differs from science. Science is comprised of rigorous methods of producing knowledge that proceeds objectively in the context of free and open inquiry. Scientism, in contrast, is an ideology that pulls about itself scientific jargon to conceal its quasi-religious spirit. When progressives tell us to just “follow the science,” (the crude version: “Dont even think about it, bro”) this is a call to faith. Scientism does not permit criticism of its “findings,” its producers relying on state power and corporate governance to establish their conclusions as official truth. We see this in the manufacture of COVID-19 policy and the cult of personality surrounding Dr. Anthony Fauci. We see it in social media platforms censoring and deplatforming those skeptical of corporate power and product. We also see it in the elevation of critical race theory. Indeed, the New Fascism is like the old fascism in more ways than biologism. Its segregationist desire is apparent in more than hysteria over hygiene.

Corporations were eager to impose hygiene rules in Nazi Germany, so it is not surprising the business associations in the United States are chomping last the bit to impose Biden’s mandates. Private power understands that managing large populations requires deep control over civilians, which includes commanding their bodies. Besides, bossing around workers is fun. It’s not all about money. There are people in this world who are aroused by lording power over others, and they’re disproportionately located in positions of privilege (that’s part of why they are in positions of privilege). 

Recall from my last blog post (The Delta Crest and the Campaign to Dull Our Empathy) Jimmy Kimmel saying unvaccinated people shouldn’t be given hospital beds. I told you that Kimmel not the only one. Here’s another one. Prominent shock jock Howard Stern sends a message to those who choose not to be vaccinated that goes something like “Fuck their freedom. I want the freedom to live.”

Stern makes a bizarre argument representative of rank-and-file progressive sentiment. It’s the epitome of narcissist attitude. “Fuck other people’s freedom. I only care about my freedom.” We knew Stern was a self-centered prick. It’s a tick of the cultural manager. But here’s the truly bizarre piece. Presumably Stern is vaccinated. Stern doesn’t believe vaccines will save his life unless everybody else is vaccinated. This type of magical thinking is characteristic of the left. You see, for example, in the claim that responsibility for black suffering rides on the genes of white people. Wokeism is a religion.

Suppose vaccines save lives in the abstract. We live in the concrete world. We know that vaccines don’t save the lives of everybody who gets COVID-19. Fully vaccinated people are contracting COVID and not only winding up in the hospital but also winding up dead. They are spreading the virus to others. How does an abstraction save Stern’s life? He could be out taking pictures, encounter a vaccinated person with COVID-19, contract COVID-19, wind up in the hospital and die.

This problem is rampant on the left. Stern has confused the abstract with the real. Somebody needs to tell the man that he can never be sure he won’t get COVID-19. Suppose the vaccine makes it less likely that Stern will be hospitalized and die. Then it’s a good thing Stern is vaccinated. His chances of getting sick and dying depend on his level of protection against COVID-19 afforded to him by the vaccine he took (good luck with that). But, again, it’s magical thinking for Stern to believe that others being vaccinated is what will afford him the freedom to live. Either the vaccine protects him or it doesn’t.

Stern is not only self-centered. He is also a cruel person. This, too, reflects the rank-and-file progressive attitude. It’s why the corporate media can’t conceal schadenfreude in reporting stories about “anti-vaxers” dying COVID-19, accounts made even more sublime when the dying man (almost invariably obese and middle aged) Winston-like confesses his sins from his death bed. Like Kimmel, Stern believes the unvaccinated should be denied medical treatment. “You had the cure and you wouldn’t take it.”

The vaccine is not a cure. There is no cure for COVID-19. There is only immunity, and the vaccine doesn’t guarantee that. Indeed, the statistics suggest one should be skeptical of the power of the vaccine. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who get this virus survive it. They never wind up in the hospital. And the immunity they acquire is much more powerful and durable. But to call for not treat those struggling to breathe? That’s sadism (another marker of the fascist mentality). Kimmel and Stern’s attitudes are those of the authoritarian: irrational thinking, scapegoating, seeing human beings from other tribes as diseased and threatening, wanting to see them subject to state coercion or a miserable death. This is the subjectivity that produces popular support for Biden’s biofascist policies.

Murthy told Meet the Press that Biden’s mandate was neither illegal nor unusual. “What we cannot allow is for this pandemic to turn us on each other,” he said. “Our enemy is the virus; it is not one another.” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson followed Murthy and told the host that, while he “appreciated” the surgeon general’s remarks on fighting the virus through increased vaccination, the administration’s vaccine requirement is “an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority.” The legal and unusual tradition notwithstanding, and recognizing war and other catastrophic events, Hutchison is correct. “It divides our partnership between the federal government and the states,” the governor said. He then demolished Murthy’s attempt to find common ground: “it increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the vaccination uptake.”

Hutchison could have put this in much more strident terms. I have been on this earth for fifty-nine years and, while I knew it was possible, I never expected to see this level of overt tyranny in my own country during a pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is dangerous for those with compromised immune systems and certain comorbidities. But for the vast majority of people, this virus is asymptomatic or produces mild cold and flu symptoms. As for children, influenza is far more serious than SARS-CoV-2. There is no calamity justifying such extraordinary measures as a mandatory vaccination program. We are in the midst of a pandemic. But we are also in the midst of a New Fascism. And the latter is a far more dangerous development, one that has been in development for decades. I thought elites would keep finessing it. Keep it low key. You know, in light of American resistance to measures designed to undermine liberty and democracy. But elites have moved straight to the iron fist. And many Americans appear to have lost confidence in themselves. Safetyism has undermined the American spirit. The American republic is in deep trouble. Autonomy is in peril.

Where, you might ask, are the labor unions on this? You’d think they were out front in defending the autonomy of their members. Better think again. The National Nurses Union is applauding Biden’s mandate. The American Federation of Teachers stands alongside them. “Safety and health have been our north star since the beginning of the pandemic,” said AFT president Randi Weingarten, her majoritarianism in full expression: AFT’s support for mandates “creates great cheer among two-thirds of our people.” The AFL-CIO is praising mandates, issuing a statement, “The resurgence of COVID-19 requires swift and immediate action, and we commend President Biden for taking additional steps to help put an end to this crisis. Everyone should be vaccinated.” The unions are hitched to the Democratic Party jackass. Union leaders are tight with the progressives. They are the progressives. Who will defend the working class? The Democratic Party is the party, and progressives are the operatives and devotees of the corporate state. You can’t count on them. Our future lies with populist-nationalist and libertarian movements. There is spirit of freedom and skepticism continue to live.

The Delta Crest and the Campaign to Dull Our Empathy

Almost everyday I encounter “news” that confirms what I knew months ago—and said months ago out loud on Freedom and Reason. Here’s the latest, from Francis Collins’ blog: “COVID-19 Infected Many More Americans in 2020 than Official Tallies Show.” If you take time to study epidemiology, it became obvious a long time ago that many times more people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 than the case numbers show. I blogged about this as the pandemic was just getting underway. (See, for example, We Should Stop Citing the Case-Lethality Rate for COVID-19—or Start Using it for Influenza.)

But, really, you don’t need to know epidemiology to figure out what’s going on. As soon as I learned that most people who get this virus have mild cold symptoms or are asymptomatic, I knew that the case numbers underrepresented the true number of infections (On the Pains of Testing and Contact Tracing. It’s Worse than Folly). Many of those infected are simply not going to get tested if they don’t know they are infected or if they believe the media that this virus is on the scale of ebola and all they have are cold symptoms. (Remember, polls show that 40 percent of Democrats believe that catching the virus guarantees hospitalization, when the fact is that only a small proportion of cases require hospitalization. See “Whatever that number is”: Vaccine Hesitancy, Common Sense, and Stigmatizing Christians.) Even flu-like symptoms, which I experienced in March 2020, don’t always move a person to get tested. I considered it, but felt too bad to do anything about it (and there was another concern I will note in a moment). I did what I always do: sweat it out.

If you apply the metrics the CDC uses to estimate influenza cases, which likely undercounts coronavirus cases, since influenza is less contagious, half the population has been infected at this point (“COVID-19 is Worse than the Flu”—For Whom?). Many of these individuals got vaccinated (they should have been tested for antibodies—and I don’t buy this nonsense about “super-immunity”). As I have argued, herd immunity towards the known mutants is likely the reason cases dropped dramatically beginning in early January 2021. With the introduction of the vaccines, case numbers soared. Part of this is thanks to mutants that can get around the vaccine. It is also possible that the vaccine is driving mutation.

As Dr. Robert Malone, the inventor of mRNA technology, has told us, we cannot vaccinate our way out of the pandemic. We’re going to need therapeutics, and that means standing up to resistance put up by the medical industry to public access to cheap pharmaceuticals, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. We need to stand up to the corporate state and its technocratic corps and demand healthcare that puts people before profits. (See Profits Before People: Civilians Denied Cheap and Effective Therapeutics.)

The United States set a record on September 7, 2001, passing 300,000 cases in a single day

Despite the vaccine setback, I had hope that the latest wave was cresting based on the trend line as we were reestablishing herd immunity. But the number of cases reported today set a new record for daily cases. I don’t mean to depress you. I mean to keep you informed. Trump should have insisted on therapeutics more strongly than he did and not rushed the vaccine. He opened the door to this mess. Biden is worthless. Fauci should be removed and investigated. Public policy in this area has been a disaster.

When everything is said and done, I wonder what percentage of COVID-19 patients ventilators killed? What percentage of the 600-plus-thousand people. Remember when something like 9 of every 10 persons on a ventilator died? When I was considering whether to seek medical attention for my illness in March 2020, which was severe (and I have a history of pneumonia), I shuttered at the thought of being hospitalized, What would they do to me? The medical industry is the third leading case of death in the United States. As it turned out, my experience was typical of my experiences with flu-like illness. I was tired for some weeks after the symptoms passed (which was three days of high fever and profuse sweating). But I have suffered no long-term effects, except for rediscovering the necessity of being skeptical of the claims made by authorities and experts. After all, they’re only people.

Jimmy Kimmel says unvaccinated people shouldn’t be given hospital beds. He’s not the only one. More and more, we are seeing a desire that those who have opted for not taking the shots suffer terrible consequences. What about obese people? If it wasn’t for obesity far fewer people would be seeking hospitalization. Most people who are obese choose to be obese. Diet and exercise works. If you are fat, losing weight will sharply reduce your chance of serious complications from SARS-CoV-2. Why is the media neglecting this issue? However, nobody should be turned away from medical treatment. Doctors can recommend vaccination for the old and unhealthy, just as they can recommend diet and exercise. They cannot refuse treatment for people who need it.

A Spectacular Propaganda Achievement? Manufacturing a Moral Panic Around an Essential Medicine

“The country that was once predicted to be the first to vaccinate its entire population had the highest per-capita caseload of anywhere.” That country is Israel. See Bloomberg’s scary headline: “Israel’s Covid Surge Shows the World What’s Coming Next.” The situation points to something that we ignore at our peril, that any government would mandate a vaccine that doesn’t work should signal stupidity. But governments aren’t that stupid. It’s an agenda. By allowing the hosts of mutants to interact with others, a leaky vaccine that lessens symptoms short-circuits natural selection and prolongs the pandemic. (See my Are We Forgetting Darwin?)

From a humanitarian standpoint, the mass vaccine program is a disaster. In the United States, the delta mutation may be cresting. If so, this indicates that herd immunity is growing again through infection with this variant. But the vaccine can’t stop the mutants. Infection produces twenty times the antibodies produced by vaccination and antibodies produced by actual exposure to the virus have a better memory. At some point, the 99.9+% of those who will suffer at most a flu-like illness from the virus are going to have get one or more of these mutants. It’s the same process populations had to go through with adenoviruses and rhinoviruses. And humans still need lots of exposure to these cold viruses to develop the immunity that will protect them in their latter years. We should not be where we are. We are not here because of the unvaccinated. Scientists needs to bury their hubris and let evolution do its work.

CNN carried the headline: “‘Completely incorrect’: Dr. Fauci pushes back on DeSantis’ vaccine claim.” But Governor Ron DeSantis is right. If you are in a high risk category and you believe the vaccine can help prevent serious illness, then consider taking it. But the risks from the vaccine may outweigh the risks of the virus to a healthy person. Also, as trends in cases suggest, mass vaccination is prolonging the pandemic (see A Pandemic of the Vaccinated). The effort to portray the unvaccinated as the problem is one of the more despicable mass propaganda campaigns of the last several decades. Authorities have moved from humans-as-disease-vectors to a specific group of humans are-the-disease. The idea that it’s only the unvaccinated who can contract and spread the viruses is a big lie. We know that the vaccinated carry and transmit the virus to others. This fact makes the propaganda all the more obvious. Yet people keep falling for it. Scientific literacy is not in good shape.

People are also falling for the big lie about ivermectin. The Ohio judge who ordered a hospital to administer ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient has changed his mind. (Somebody got to him.) “Judges aren’t doctors,” the judge said in overturning his own ruling They don’t have to be. It’s not like doctors know everything anyway. Through medical error, over-treatment and under-treatment, doctors and medical staff kill people everyday, hundreds of thousands every year. No industry is responsible for more death and injury than the medical-industrial complex. Do they save lives? Sure. But they also kill. Besides, wasn’t it judges who said people could be compelled to be inoculated with the small pox vaccine, a ruling that other judges ran with, including judges today that are allowing mandates for mRNA gene therapy? (See The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes.) Judges can’t compel doctors to stop denying patients access to a drug the efficacy and safety for which is backed up by dozens of studies?

Have you heard about the Rolling Stone magazine story about Oklahoma hospitals being so swamped by ivermectin overdoses that gunshot victims were turned away? Turns out that it wasn’t true (see National Review’s “Like a Rolling Stone for details). Rolling Stone did not issue a correction or retraction, however, but an “update.” Clever. (It this really why Matt Taibbi left the magazine?) The ivermectin panic is a straightforward case of propaganda and confirmation bias. It started as a local story with one source. Because the corporate news media wants stories that show ivermectin in a bad light (the scientific research indicates that it is effective in preventing and treating COVID-19 and that is bad for the pharmaceutical companies that advertise with corporate media—for details see my See Profits Before People: Civilians Denied Cheap and Effective Therapeutics—and because elites want to make people in the heartland look like ignoramuses who foul everything up, they picked up the disinformation and ran with it without bothering to confirm the facts. The usual suspects like Rachael Maddow and Joy Reid took the bait big time. Only one of the hospitals this doctor worked for (he has privileges at more than one) reported cases of ivermectin problems and—I will use quotes here because this is the spokesperson’s characterization of the supposed tsunami of ivermectin overdoses—these amounted to a “handful” of cases. There is zero evidence that this had anything to do with bed shortages in Oklahoma hospitals. 

This story is an example of corporate propaganda that began with the planting of disinformation that could not in the end withstand factchecking. But that doesn’t mean it won’t prove successful in the end. Many people heard it, believed it, and won’t bother to find out whether it is true. It fits the narrative and that is too often all that matters. These are the sort of people who dishonestly characterize ivermectin as “horse dewormer” or ignorantly believe that’s what it is. It’s not. Ivermectin is listed on the WHO’s 2019 Model List of Essential Medicines under the category anti-infective medication. Then there are those outlets (CNN is exemplary) that, in supposedly clarifying the story, turn it into an attack on those who debunked the story.

Such stories are hard to get rid of once they have been planted. Remember needles and razorblades in apples? Or Richard Gere and gerbiling (there’s no evidence gerbiling is even a sexual practice—although one can imagine some cosmopolitan type doing it because he thinks it is thanks to an urban legend)? I have no doubt that there were parents back then rationalizing the fact that, while there was no evidence that Halloween apples contained needles or razorblades, it was best to throw out the candy. When people are frightened, they imagine incredible things. Stories of poison-laced Halloween candy were more frequent, for example, in the context of the Tylenol scare. Richard Gere’s gerbiling was a product of jealousy over the tendency of wives and girlfriends to dwell on his good looks.

The manufacture and exploitation of fear is an important driver of mass hysteria used by elites to manipulate the emotions of the gullible and control them. (A sampling of my essays on panic: The Enduring Panic Over SARS-CoV-2; Panic and Paranoia Deaden Humanity and Sabotage Its Future; Viruses, Agendas, and Moral Panics.) The COVID-19 pandemic is a clinic in moral panic. Tens of billions of dollars have been made on it. Of course, not from ivermectin, which is why there is so much disinformation concerning it. There’s no money in ivermectin. Or hydroxychloroquine.

Disordering Bodies for Disordered Minds

Sociology is not merely concerned with external social forces and relations but also with the mental life of its subject matter, which necessarily includes people. At least it should. I have always found sociological work that excludes or minimizes concrete individuals and human agency as incomplete at best.

Lately, I have been writing more about matters of psychiatry and social psychology. Although I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from a major state university, critics may claim I am unqualified to speak on this topic. In addition to several years conducting program evaluation for an alcohol and treatment facility, in which, despite not being qualified to evaluate clients, I was nonetheless exposed to psychiatric categories, cases, and industry-wide aggregate statistical patterns, I also have a masters degree and a PhD in sociology.

There is a robust social psychology in my chosen discipline. George Herbert Mead, a principal founder of the perspective Herbert Blumer tagged “symbolic interactionism,” describes his own views as “social behaviorism.” Erving Goffman writes powerfully on mental life, as you will see below, as does Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann (social constructionism). Howard Becker and his cohort pioneered labeling theory. There is also a robust tradition in sociology of critical examination of the institution and practice of medicine. This essay is an instantiation of that tradition.

Have doctors “over-treated” this woman?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a condition where persons obsess over perceived defects in their appearance. A woman with an emaciated body sees a fat person in the mirror. Another woman wishes to be an alien because the human form is ordinary. She want to become a “beautiful monster,” as the woman in the above video who appears to be wearing a mask describes herself. A man might see an arm that shouldn’t be there, so he removes it with a power tool. Another will crush his legs beneath concrete slabs so doctors will amputate them. The transabled person, if you will accept that construct for a moment, is a person who feels trapped or feels like an imposter in his own body. It’s the wrong body and he seeks to transform it into the right body, to become that which he feels is in him. His disability is by choice. Another man finds his genitals alien to him. I am describing actual cases.

The person suffering from BDD may desire to surgically alter her appearance in ways that are disfiguring to those who do not suffer from this disorder—and even to herself, if and when she realizes what she has done. In a bid to specify BDD in light of these cases, which are growing in frequency, a newer label has emerged, namely Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). This named disorder appears around 2013. BIID is diagnosed when a person has a pathologically strong desire to remove an appendage or substantially alter his body. It is a species of BDD.

Some doctors believe persons who want to transform their bodies in disfiguring ways should be allow to do so. Such surgery is already occurring in the United States. Align Surgical Associates Inc., a medical firm based in San Francisco, endorsed by, among others, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, and the Aesthetic Society, will perform a surgical procedure known as “nullification” on those who wish “to enjoy a relatively smooth genital area,” a “mostly unbroken transition from the abdomen down.” The firm offers this procedure for those who wish to “enjoy a body that looks closer on the outside to the way they feel on the inside.” Some people wish to have no genitals and Align Surgical Associates Inc. will make that happen. For a fee, of course. (The firm’s website has a gallery, if you are interested.)

I did not label the practice of complete removal of genitalia “nullification.” This is the term Align Surgical Associates Inc. use in marketing their services. It’s an industry term. In a world increasingly conveyed in Orwellian Newspeak, nullification is a straightforward way to describe a procedure that erases the genitals. To nullify is to make of no use or value, to cancel out, to invalidate. The difference between invalid and invalid is only a matter of pronunciation.

At this point, I want to emphasize two things. First, just as we have sympathy for those stricken with cancer or other serious physical afflictions, we must also have sympathy for those who suffer from mental afflictions, who feel trapped in the wrong body or find normal appendages alien or repulsive. The agony of such obsessive and self-destructive thoughts is nothing we would wish on others or should make light of. In the effort to destigmatize mental illness (without excusing the harm such illnesses may cause), we must treat such conditions seriously and in a manner that future generations won’t look back on in horror at the harm the doctor wrought. Psychosurgical interventions, such as the lobotomy, serve as poignant reminders of the excesses of surgical intervention in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Second, there are cases where a person has a defect, disfigurement, or a feature that does not conform with social expectations and wishes to change her or his appearance to experience greater inclusion in society. Sociologist Erving Goffman wrote about this in his landmark work Stigma, published in 1963. Goffman defines stigma as an “attribute that is deeply discrediting” (see this essay for a useful summary of his ideas and their elaboration in the literature). Plastic surgeons play an important role in helping persons suffering from physical stigma achieve a more socially inclusive appearance. The desire to erase or minimize physical stigma with surgical intervention is not BDD, but rather an effort to normalize a person.

One response to the desire to alter one’s body to align with social expectation is to demand that society reform its expectations—as if these expectations are arbitrary or chosen. Fat shaming is to be met with body positivity or children should be presumed genderless, to take two examples. The lethality of obesity in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the wrongheadedness of the fat acceptance movement. However, social expectations roots, at least in part, in natural history and serve necessary functions for, among other things, the successful propagation of the species. Gender cannot be entirely disentangled from sex for this reason: humans don’t always get the sex of their desire right, but, if gender aligns, they get it right enough to produce offspring. We are startled by the woman’s appearance in the video because we have brains that evolved to detect faces that are within a normal range of appearance. Fetishes aside, faces lying outside that range create anxiety because they signal danger, deformity, or disease. Our brains tells us that she is a monster.

We can see that the woman in the video has disfigured herself. One is lying to if he says he believes she hasn’t. Or, again, maybe that person has a fetish for beautiful monsters. Perhaps, at first, she could not see what she and her doctors had done. In her mind, she was becoming what she feels on the inside. She thought she had cheeks like a hamster, she tells us in the video; she wanted bigger cheek bones. The process unfolded for her in much the same way it did for Michael Jackson. Was it Jackson’s goal to resemble a white-faced version of the Red Skill from Marvel Comics? At some point, people who do this to themselves must realize they have altered their face beyond the normal. The woman in the video certainly does. She realized this because of the societal reaction she provokes, especially from children who have not yet learned the practice of civil inattention. Rationalizing perhaps, she now describes herself as a monster, but a beautiful one. In the few short minutes we see her, it appears that a cluster B personality disorder accompanies her BDD.

I need to say more about stigma to get to the heart of the problem I see with surgical intervention to treat the various forms of body and identity dysmorphia. One day, I was picking up my son from school. All the parents were waiting outside, as they always do. There was a man on crutches who was missing a leg. He was unfamiliar to those assembled. At least I had never seen him before. Maybe a visiting uncle? A war veteran ready to face the world? Those who knew the man could see them engaged in civil inattention, i.e., the habitual disregard for abnormality. The adults behind the man, when they thought nobody could see them, stared at the empty space where a leg should be.

Of course, the man knew he had a leg missing. He also knew those engaged in civil inattention were acknowledging that fact by not acknowledging it. The thing with civil inattention is that its occurrence is quite conspicuous to those who are its subject. They shoulder the burden of knowing they are different, that everybody knows they are different, but that people are ignoring the difference because they believe regarding the difference would cause the person embarrassment or pain. It’s an act of reflexive empathy. Mature civil inattention can be so complete that the person doing the disregarding is not even aware that he is doing it. It is automatic.

My mind was working in that particular sociological way as I stood there observing the scene. I knew I was about to experience a Goffmanian moment. I wondered how many other parents knew what was about to happen. Soon, the bell would ring, the kids would burst from the school doors, and they would all see the man with the missing leg. Soon enough, the bell rang and the children burst from the doors, chockfull of the energy tedium accumulates. The limb difference immediately disrupted the expected social flow. The children’s gait quickly reduced to a slow walk. Mesmerized, they all looked at the empty space their parents had pretended not to notice. It was all the children could focus on. Of course it was. It was if time had slowed down.

I watched, one by one, as parents scolded their children, in that silent way, with a firm squeeze of the arm, and sometimes a hush when the child asked what they did wrong. I imagined the talk on the way home. Not hard to imagine. The children were made to feel bad over something they had no control over. Their animality worked as it should. But it is precisely our animality that requires suppression in human society. They were punished for being what nature made them, disciplined with an eye towards reflexively burying that nature beneath on overbearing ego.

In Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, Anne Hathaway’s character, the Grand Witch, has missing fingers.

How far should we take denial of abnormality? Perhaps you remember a recent controversy concerning Warner Bros’ remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches. Anne Hathaway’s character’s hands depict an abnormality or deformity (or difference, to be politically correct) called ectrodactyly, commonly known as “split hand.” Advocates from the disability community, self-appointed spokespersons the social problems literature sometimes refers to as “moral entrepreneurs,” complained that the depiction is insensitive and even harmful, as it associates disability with disgust, evil, fear, loathing, monstrosity, etc. Warner Bros apologized for any offense caused.

The complaint is problematic for a couple of reasons. I have already at least implied much of this. It is not the portrayal of limb difference that causes anxiety or instills fear in children, reactions that may take extreme forms, for example apotemnophobia or dysmorphophobia (pathological fear or loathing of missing limbs or deformities respectively). Even a slight deviation from the normal can produce anxiety in many children. At least it will draw their attention. As people with strabismus (crossed eyes) or ptosis (drooping eyelid) will tell you, slight misalignment of an eye or a squinty eye will almost invariable cause children to ask, “What’s wrong with your eye?” Especially if their parents aren’t around. As a child, I suffered from apotemnophobia, a malady that my parents quickly corrected in a series of dinners with a lovely young friend of theirs missing her arm at the elbow. At first, I didn’t want to come out of my bedroom. Soon she once driving me to the movies in her VW. I marveled at her ability to shift gears.

Children only learn civil disobedience—the ability to disregard deviation or disturbance—over time. Moreover, extreme reactions towards difference are not always marked by fear and loathing. In some children and adults, limb difference may generate attraction, for example, in apotemnophilia, a fetish for amputees. And, of course, in a properly ordered personality, empathy is the common response, which reflect one’s horror at the thought of this being their own circumstance. The point is that it’s not the reaction that is social, but rather the non-reaction. The initial reaction is natural. The animal brain, an evolved organ, assumes normality. We inherited facial recognition wetware from our ancestors. It’s primordial. If a face is not quite right, it will produce anxiety or fascination. Phobias and fetishes are rooted in recognition of physical or behavioral deviation from the norm. Differences may produce anxiety or empathy, but they are inevitably experienced.

Second, monsters of all sorts, vampires, witches, etc., are the sublimations of behavioral and physical abnormalities in people. The real world is the concrete substance of folktales and myths, horror stories. It is the source of Zemeckis’ vision of the Grand Witch. This has been a feature of human society since the dawn of civilization—and likely long before then. Fear management and negotiation of difference may be functional. If a witch in the Warner Bros movies should not be so depicted because that is offensive to some in the disability community (and we cannot assume the moral entrepreneurs speak for the community—or that there even is a community), then there are great many movies that should not have been made or should not be made in the future. But if there are useful functions associated with literature and art made around difference, should we avoid it for the sake of those who are offended?

Which brings us to the heart of the problem. What we see in the cases of surgical treatments of BDD and BIID is changing the appearance of a person not to erase or minimize an objective appearance others find startling or revolting, but changing appearances others regard as normal into something they will find startling or revolting. The person seeking surgery in this case falsely perceives a defect or deformity, and in changing that feature, produces one.

In the video, the interviewers refer to what doctors did to this woman (will they do more?) as “treatments.” The doctors are making money by disfiguring her. The more people doctors can convince to accept as treatment for psychiatric disorders the surgical altering of the body to align with delusion, the more money these doctors can make cutting on people. The woman reports that none of the medical staff who have treated her have ever told her that she has gone too far. Look at her. Those who are supposed to care for her enabled her transformation into “beautiful monster.” The interviewers rationalize the situation saying that appearance is “subjective” and that the surgeon who believes she has been “over-treated” (even he can’t get away from the Newspeak) is expressing an opinion that apparently has no greater weight than the opinion of the victim of the medical-industrial complex.

This is a psychiatric disorder. As Thomas Szasz taught us, the mind is not something that can be defective or diseased. The notion of mental illness is a metaphor. But that doesn’t change much practically. The mind lives in the brain and the brain can be damaged, defective, or diseased, and such conditions can result in disordered thoughts and distorted perceptions. In BDD, there is a disruption in the normal process of transduction of environmental stimuli. The brain has difficulty accurately mapping the body and processing visual information. Those suffering from BDD have difficulty processing other faces, which confirms their perception that there is something wrong with their bodies. They see neutral faces as angry and judgmental faces. This suggests that something is going on in the regions of brain that process body language and facial expression, chief semiotic indicators of attitude and intent.

There is still a great deal we do not know about the pathophysiology of BDD, but “clues to its possible neurobiological substrates and abnormalities in information processing are starting to emerge,” writes Jamie Feusner and associates in “The Pathophysiology of Body Dysmorphic Disorder,” published in Body Image (2008). Here’s part of the abstract:

“This article reviews findings from genetic, brain lesion, neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and psychopharmacological studies that have allowed us to develop a tentative model of the functional neuroanatomy of BDD. There is likely a complex interplay of dysfunctions in several brain networks underlying the pathophysiology of BDD. A combination of dysfunctions in frontal-subcortical circuits, temporal, parietal, and limbic structures, and possibly involving hemispheric imbalances in information processing, may produce both the characteristic symptoms and neurocognitive deficits seen in BDD. An improved understanding of the pathophysiology of BDD will be crucial to guide the development of better treatments.”

When the medical industry develops those better treatments, how will society rationalize the legacy of the beautiful monsters who paid for the palatial estates of ambitious and enterprising plastic surgeons? Will we be allowed to tell the truth about it? Will we be allowed to use that truth to prevent the creation of future monsters?

Masks and COVID-19: Are You Really Protected?

Popular social media meme

I have seen this meme now several times. Pay attention to language. SARS-CoV-2 is a virus, not a bacteria. Bacteria are much bigger than viruses (by at least a factor of ten). Viruses range in size from 0.02 to 0.25 micron diameter. Bacteria are also much less likely to be aerosolized than viruses. They are heavier and fall downward at a faster rate. This is why surgeons use face mask, so that bacteria do not fall from their noses and mouths and contaminate surfaces (or are less likely to do so). Aerosolized viruses are not in the form of respiratory droplets that masks are designed to stop. That’s why that other meme showing the man pissing on another man’s leg is so absurd. Aerosolized particles are nothing like urine. Viruses easily go through and around the sides of masks. Wearing a mask to stop a virus is like trying to keep out mosquitos with a chainlink fence.

Because viruses are so small, they remain in the air for days. Inside. Not outside, where sunlight kills them. Inside, where the experts told everybody to go. Viruses accumulate inside. So when you’re at the grocery store with your mask on, and there have been people in the store with COVID-19, you are walking through aerosolized virus, suspended for an even longer time thanks to constant airflow. Your mask does not protect you.

Stephen Petty – On PPE and Aerosols

Watching lectures by industrial hygienists on the efficacy of masks vis-a-vis viruses (for example, see above), it becomes obvious that the obsession with masks amounts to a ritual act in the worship of the corporate state. Masks are like hijabs. Both function to avoid offending powerful entities that limit freedom for the sake of glorifying control. The only things wearing them will protect you from are shame and discipline.

There are some other useful conclusions to draw from what industrial hygienists are teaching us. First, most people have been exposed to this virus repeatedly but not everybody who is exposed gets sick. Why? It is likely that, since most of us have had coronavirus infections throughout our lives, we already enjoy some immunity from it. As I have explained on Freedom and Reason, coronaviruses are among the several viruses that causes the common cold (rhinoviruses and adenoviruses are other common cold pathogens). This means the R0 associated with SARS-CoV-2 is low compared to, say, the R0 with measles. I am not choosing the most extreme R0 to make the comparison. Anthony Fauci is the man who argues that SARS-CoV-2 is so contagious that we need to reach the same vaccine coverage as measles (around 95 percent) to reach herd immunity. SARS-CoV-2 is more in the R0 range of the flu. That means that, if these vaccines work, a big if, we surpassed herd immunity by virtue of the numbers vaccinated so far, approaching 55 percent for fully vaccination, with more than 60 percent having received at least one shot, which expects tell us has a significant degree of efficacy. But the vaccines are leaky, which means that they don’t prevent infection. The likely reason why we are back where we were during the peak (see chart below) is leaky vaccines that keep the vaccinated healthy enough to get out in the world and spread the virus and, moreover, keep the more sickening strains from being victims of natural selection.

COVID-19 cases have soared with the spread of vaccination.

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According to the CDC, during the 2018–2019 season, 136 deaths in children with laboratory–confirmed influenza virus infection were reported in the United States. The CDC notes that influenza-associated pediatric deaths are likely under-reported as not all children whose death was related to an influenza virus infection may have been tested for influenza. Using several sources of data, the CDC estimates that there were approximately 480 deaths associated with influenza in children during 2018–2019. For the 2017-2018 flu season, 186 pediatric deaths were reported, which was the highest number since the 2009-2010 season, where 348 pediatric deaths were reported. The CDC does not estimate numbers for these other seasons in the report, but if they look anything like the estimates for the 2018-2019 season, then the numbers of pediatric deaths in any of them greatly exceed pediatric deaths from COVID-19.

COVID-19 involves vastly higher rates of testing, so the need to estimate is not as pressing. As of August 26, 4.8 million children had tested positive for COVID-19. To date, taking the greatest range of ages that could conceivably be classified as children (0-18), there have been 470 pediatric deaths during the pandemic. Keep in mind that this is over an eighteen-month time span, a much greater timeframe than any flu season (ask yourself why they are doing a continuous run of disease and death with COVID-19 and not breaking it up into seasons like influenza, which is also a continual thing). This means fewer pediatric deaths over a longer period of time from COVID-19 compared to influenza. The pediatric case-fatality rate for children is 0.00979. The infection fatality rate is considerably less than this. And they want to mandate masks and vaccines. We locked down schools for this.

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According to the CDC, the average number of serious health conditions, or comorbidities, associated with COVID-19 deaths is four? as I have reported before, according to the CDC, only five percent of those who have COVID-19 listed on their death certificate died of COVID exclusively. This is why it is important to eat right and exercise. Obesity is a real killer. But should we mandate it?

I got push back for this. A pregnancy is not contagious. This, of course, misses the point. The principle in question is bodily autonomy (libertarian concern) over against harm to others (communitarian concern), not whether pregnancy is contagious. If one is going to argue that the state can violate a person’s bodily autonomy for the sake of other people on a medical matter, then the argument about abortion is lost. The fetus is alive. It is a human by virtue of its genetics. Abortion kills a human. Therefore, the woman’s body can be controlled for the sake of the fetus.

That’s the wrong argument. Totalitarianism flows from the abandonment of the principle of bodily autonomy. It makes people pawns of technocratic goals, of public health authorities (who, quite clearly, are not oracles). This isn’t at all like a man who intentionally harms others. Imagine the state commandeering our bodies to support the lives of those with diseased kidneys. It’s not my fault somebody’s kidneys are diseased. They can’t have one of mine. Indeed, the case against abortion is much stronger than the case for vaccines because vaccines are imposed on healthy people who may not get infected (and may be injured by the vaccine), whereas an abortion is almost guaranteed to kill a human being (there have been a tiny percentage of fetuses that survived an attempted abortion). And hundreds die every year waiting for a kidney, while most people have two functioning ones. Isn’t society killing people with kidney disease by failing to use other people’s kidneys to save them? 

COVID-19 is not the only contagion. There are a myriad of pathogens transmissible through human contact. If that’s the principle, then we should mandate vaccines for each and every vaccine produced by Big Pharma—and administer all available antivirals for those who testing positive. HPV for men. Who cares if they don’t have a uterus. His body must be clean for others. Etcetera. It won’t do to say that COVID-19 is more serious than all those other pathogens—as a factual matter, it’s not. In fact, if you are not obese, then you will are almost certain to survive COVID-19. So why don’t we regulate civilian food intake? Why don’t we poke people with sticks until they get off the couch? No, we instead recommend people diet and exercise and get a vaccine. If they don’t to do these things, that’s on them.

Even if one wanted the argument to be about contagion, it is clear at this point that there is COVID-19 vaccine in existence or in the conceivable future that prevents infection and transmission—or even sickness and death—from SARS-CoV-2. It’s like influenza, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, etc. (all potentially lethal, by the way). Look at the trend lines in the above chart. The vaccine not only isn’t working, but it’s increased use is associated with a rise in cases. Are the causally related? Could be. There’s a compelling argument about that. However, we are now back where we were when COVID-19 was at its worst, and it’s not because people aren’t getting vaccinated. 

The communitarian argument crashes not only on the rocks of bodily autonomy, but upon the spiked protein of a leaky vaccine. What the vaccine does do is make people who are infected less sick. If a person wanted to reduce his personal risk of getting sick, he’d think about the vaccine and weight the risks. Same with going on a diet and exercising. But that’s up to the individual.

It has pointed out to me as if I didn’t know that the Supreme Court has long held that the state has the power to compel vaccination. See my essay The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes, where I analyze the Supreme Court decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 US 11 (1905), the decision that 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. Despite the very narrow constraints the decision placed on state power, the Supreme Court has since interpreted state power to compel vaccination—and other things, including forced sterilization—broadly.

As I wrote in that essay, “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 ApartThe Immorality of Vaccine Passports and the Demands of NurembergThe Communitarian Nightmare We Feared is HereSomehow, a Bill of Rights got Locked into the Constitution.)

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.