Paul Kingsnorth Hits Vaccine Tipping Point
If you don’t subscribe to Paul Kingsnorth’s Substack, you are missing out on some of the best writing on the Internet. He has just released an essay wondering what the hell is going on with Covid and our response to it. He’s asking the kinds of questions that our media ought to be asking, but are not. Here’s how it begins:
Perhaps it’s because I’m English, or perhaps it’s my age, or perhaps it’s just blind prejudice, but when I wake to the news that the Austrian government has interned an entire third of its national population as a ‘danger to public health’, a chill runs down my spine.
Austria, I think to myself. Ah.
I look at the news photos of armed, masked, black-clad police stopping people in the streets to ask for their digital papers, and I read stories of others arrested for leaving their own house more than the permitted once a day, and I hear Austrian politicians intoning that those who refuse to accede to the injection are to be shunned and scapegoated until they acquiesce. Then I watch interviews with ‘ordinary people’, and they say that the ‘unvaxxed’ had it coming. Some of them say that they should all be jailed, these enemies of the people. At best, the ‘anti-vaxxers’ are paranoid and misinformed. At worst they are malicious, and should be punished.
A few days later I wake up to some more news about Austria: from next year, everyone in the country will have a covid vaccine forced into them by the state, overriding their right to what certain people, who have gone very quiet recently, used to call ‘bodily autonomy.’
It’s about to be Germany too, according to German officials. Lockdown and forced vaccinations. Maybe — maybe — such police-state measures would be justified if vaccines worked. But notice this, says Kingsnorth:
I am watching all this from Ireland, the country which has the highest vaccination rate in Western Europe, at over 94% of the adult population. At the same time, curiously, we have the highest covid infection rates in Western Europe too. The government has not been able to explain this fact, but it is a trend that has recently manifested in some other highly-vaccinated places too: Gibraltar, Israel, West Flanders. High levels of vaccination do not seem to correspond with low-levels of disease; often quite the opposite.
In other parts of the world, strange things are happening too. Africa, for example. Africa’s population is the largest, fastest-growing and materially poorest of any continent. Few governments there can afford to supply their people with the pricey corporate vaccines which we in the West have staked our nations on. Only 6% of Africa’s population is vaccinated, and national healthcare systems barely exist in many places, yet the WHO describes the continent as ‘one of the least affected regions in the world’ by the virus. In fact, the richer, more ‘developed’ parts of the world seem to be suffering worst from the pandemic.
Nobody seems to be able to explain any of this, but that hasn’t changed the official direction of travel. Certainly in Ireland, the script remains the same. For six months we have been living with vaccine apartheid, with the ‘unvaxxed’ excluded from much of society, but it hasn’t worked. Rates of infection are shooting up as winter arrives – as you might expect with a respiratory virus. We were all told recently to work from home, and another lockdown is on the cards. A midnight curfew has recently been imposed on pubs and nightclubs. This is odd, as only vaccinated people have been allowed into them for months, and we have repeatedly been assured that vaccinated people are safe to be around.
In an honest society, all of this would have been subject to robust public debate. We would have seen scientists of all opinions openly debating on TV and radio and in the press; views of all kinds aired on social media; journalists properly investigating reports of both vaccine successes and vaccine dangers; serious explorations of alternative treatments; public debates about the balance between civil liberties and public health, and what ‘public health’ even means. But we have not seen this and we will not see it, for debate, like dissent, is out of fashion. The media here in Ireland has not asked a critical question of anyone in authority for at least eighteen months. Google’s algorithms are busy burying inconvenient data, while the social media channels from which most people receive their worldview are removing or suppressing critical opinions, even if they come from virologists or editors of the British Medical Journal.
Day after day, I have been waking and wondering: what is going on?
Paul, who remains unvaccinated, and explains why, says he’s not as worried about the vaccine itself as what the vaccine symbolizes. More:
We live in an apocalyptic time, in the original sense of the Greek word apokalypsis: revelation. What is happening on the surface is revealing what has always lain beneath, but which in normal times is hidden from view. All of the action now is in the underworld. Beneath the arguments about whether or not to take a vaccine that may or may not work safely, glides something older, deeper, slower: something with all the time in the world. Some great spirit whose work is to use these fractured times to reveal to us all what we need to see: things hidden since the foundation of the modern world.
Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is.
Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times. In the last month alone I have watched media commentators calling for censorship of their political opponents, philosophy professors justifying mass internment, and human rights lobby groups remaining silent about ‘vaccine passports.’ I have watched much of the political left transition openly into the authoritarian movement it probably always was, and countless ‘liberals’ campaigning against liberty. As freedom after freedom has been taken away, I have watched intellectual after intellectual justify it all. I have been reminded of what I always knew: cleverness has no relationship to wisdom.
I have learnt more about human nature in the last two years than in my preceding forty-seven. I have learnt some things about myself too, and I don’t especially like them either. I have noticed my ongoing temptation to become a partisan: to judge and condemn those on the other side of the question – those sheeple, those malicious enemies of Truth. I have noticed my tendency to seek out only sources of information which confirm my beliefs. Revelation is never comfortable.
Most of all, though, what the covid apocalypse has revealed to me is that when people are frightened, they can be easily controlled.
Control: this is the story of the times. Across the world we are seeing an unprecedented claim to control staked by the forces of the state, in alliance with the forces of corporate capital, over your life and mine. All of it converges on the revealed symbol of our age: the smartphone-enabled QR code that has, with frightening speed and in near-silence, become the new passport to a full human life. As ever, our tools have turned on us. Another revelation: they were never our tools to begin with. We were theirs.
One more passage:
My own sense of foreboding is deepening daily. Beneath the surface, down in those depths, I am far from the only one who can see what is emerging. The Narrative does not hang together, the story does not gel, but it is doing its job nonetheless. It is being used to summon forth and justify an unprecedented authoritarian technocracy which is hemming us all in with no consent, no debate, and no right to opt out.
In a short but momentous two years, this is who we have become. We in the West, who have spent decades, if not centuries, lecturing the rest of the world about ‘freedom’, and sometimes trying to bomb them into accepting it. We who invented this thing called ‘liberalism’; we who are now burying it. It didn’t take much, did it, for our words to be revealed as hollow?
Buy a subscription and read it all. Trust me, you will not regret it. His Substack essays are always terrific. With this one, Paul Kingsnorth moves himself from being someone you should read to someone you must read as a guide through the darkness ahead. Kingsnorth has reached a breaking point:
Next week I will write more on what I see happening, and where it is heading. But for now, it is enough to say that my personal Vaccine Moment has arrived. Where once I was on the fence, now I am firmly off it. Even if I were to be convinced that these vaccines worked safely, I could never get myself a vaccine passport and acquiesce in the technological segregation of society. I could never scan my code without shivering. I cannot participate in this.
We all have a breaking point, and we all should, because this is the means by which our human intuition screams to us that something is wrong. This is mine. I will not go along with what is happening. I will not validate what is emerging. I will resist it. I will take my stand.
Take a look, says Paul, at this clip from November 21 of the chief minister of Australia’s Northern Territory raging against the vaccine-hesitant — and not just the vaccine-hesitant, but anyone who questions mandates for any reason:
This man is a fanatic. And he holds immense power over the lives of Australians in his province.
As regular readers know, I am vaccinated (Johnson & Johnson), and got the jab first back in March because I am a middle aged fat guy who is immunocompromised. I don’t regret getting the vaccine, but given all the things Paul lists in his newsletter, I remain against vaccine mandates. What is the scientific reason that Covid cases are rising in even the most vaccinated places? You could claim, I guess, that without the vaccine Covid would be even worse in those places, but that’s not a falsifiable claim, is it? And even if you could prove it, would that still justify the extraordinary mandates that annul one’s right to control one’s body, and to refuse to allow the state to inject one with this serum?
Paul Kingsnorth is right to ask: What the hell is going on?! He is living with his wife and children in rural Ireland, and is now, or will soon be, a prisoner in his own home, because of his refusal to conform. I do hope you will subscribe to his fantastic newsletter, to give him the wherewithal to support his family under this duress, and to keep speaking out. And if you haven’t read his 2020 novel Alexandria, you should. It was written pre-Covid, but it is very much a tale for our times, in a way that Kingsnorth could not have anticipated. The novel set in the distant, post-apocalyptic future, and it is about the temptation to escape from bodily suffering by uploading one’s consciousness to the Cloud. By trusting everything to the technological solution, at the expense of one’s own humanity.
What have the Chinese done to us with this disease? What did their scientists create? I don’t believe this was released on purpose into the world — that would have been insane, from any perspective — but I do believe it was a lab leak. Why are scientists messing with things like this? We Americans helped pay for this gain-of-function research, you know, despite Dr. Anthony Fauci’s repeated
lies denials. The scientific class is now demanding that we surrender our liberties and trust in a technical solution that they offer as a fix to the problem they created in the first place, by doing research nobody should have been doing. The prominent science journalist Matt Ridley reports on new information showing that the lab leak theory is even stronger.
I have come to believe that Covid is being used as an excuse to institute a social credit system. When Covid abates, eventually, you watch: the controllers will not back down. Having seen that people will comply if they can be made to fear, the regime (government + corporations + institutions) will manufacture reasons to make the public afraid of thought criminals, and manufacture consent to keep them from polluting the body politic with their “bigoted” thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. This is what the entire “safe space” ideology from the Left has been after: convincing people that words and ideas are infectious and dangerous, and that those bearing the bad ideas should be quarantined and suppressed.
Are you seeing now the importance of the warnings that anti-communist dissidents give in Live Not By Lies? None of them foresaw Covid — the book’s reporting ended before Covid emerged — but they did see the creation of an all-powerful controlling regime, and the socialization of the population into accepting totalitarian measures to protect it from the Enemy. As Kingsnorth points out, the Covid crisis is in some ways the excuse the Machine (his word) uses to do what it has always wanted to do.
Here in the US, we have to fight as hard as we can against vaccine mandates. I am already hearing from Europeans who are trying to get to America ahead of their own governments’ draconian measures. One anti-vax activist I know told me that with Austria’s decision, “A Rubicon has been crossed.”
Tell me, readers: why are some of the most vaccinated regions of the world experiencing surges in Covid cases? What is going on with this disease? I have now (as of last week) been double-vaxxed, and I have done a lot of traveling this year without acquiring Covid. You could say that I’m a success story. But a good friend was vaxxed, and still got Covid (“It’s the sickest I have ever been in my entire life,” he told me). We have always known that vaccines are not foolproof, that at best they give the vaccinated person better odds against the disease. The fact that we have some breakthrough cases is not surprising, and is not a foolproof case against getting vaxxed. Still, if Ireland is 94 percent vaxxed, shouldn’t it be almost entirely Covid-free? And why is Africa, which is not vaccinated, getting off so light?
As Kingsnorth says, the story does not hold together. Meanwhile, the people who administer our societies — including those who control the Narrative — are creating conditions leading to the stigmatization and punishment of the unvaccinated. It is always risky to compare anything to Nazi Germany, but if you know anything about pre-Nazi Germany, then you must be aware that the campaign against the Jews began years before Hitler arrived on the scene, with antisemitic German media likening Jews to parasites and bacilli infecting the body politic. German anti-Semites led a campaign in the media to construe Jews as akin to a fatal disease. It stood to reason that isolating them from everybody else was a sensible thing to do. We know where that ended up.
Will that happen here, with vaccine resisters? I would guess not, that it will stop before it goes that far. But I am not at all confident in that judgment. We keep telling ourselves it can’t happen here, when we have the testimony of Solzhenitsyn, as well as survivors of the Nazi regime, telling us that it bloody well can.
Along those lines, take a look at the Austrian Catholic academic Christiaan Alting von Geusau’s piece about the Five Stages of Dehumanization. Excerpt:
For its establishment and durability totalitarianism depends as a first step on mass support obtained through playing into a sense of permanent crisis and fear in society. This then feeds the urge of the masses to have those in charge constantly take “measures” and show leadership to ward off the threat that has been identified as endangering the whole of society. Those in charge can “remain in power only so long as they keep moving and set everything around them in motion.”The reason for this is that totalitarian movements build on the classical failure of societies throughout human history to create and uphold a sense of community and purpose, instead breeding isolated, self-centered human beings without a clear overarching purpose in life.
The masses following the totalitarian movement are lost themselves and as a result in search of a clear identity and a purpose in life that they do not find in their current circumstances: “Social atomization and extreme individualization preceded the mass movement (..). The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
How familiar this sounds to any person observing modern society. In an age where social media and whatever else is presented on screens set the tone above all else and where teenage girls fall into depression and increased suicide attempts because of the lack of “likes” on their Instagram account, we indeed see a disconcerting example of this lack of normal relationships that were instead meant to involve in-person encounters leading to profound exchanges. In Communist societies it is the Party that sets out to destroy religious, social and family ties to make place for a citizen that can be completely subjected by the State and the dictates of the Party, like we see happening in China and North Korea. In hedonistic and materialistic Western societies this same destruction happens through different means and under the neo-Marxist guise of unstoppable “progress,” where technology and a false definition of the purpose of science erodes the understanding of what it means to be human: “In fact,” writes Dreher, “this technology and the culture that has emerged from it is reproducing the atomization and radical loneliness that totalitarian communist governments used to impose on their captive peoples to make them easier to control.” Not only have the smartphone and social media drastically reduced genuine human interaction, as any teacher or parent of schoolchildren can attest to, but the social framework has in recent times further dramatically deteriorated through other major shifts in society.
The ever-growing Big-Tech and government policing of language, opinions, and scientific information in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, accompanied by a level of censorship not seen since World War II, has greatly reduced and impoverished the public discourse and seriously undermined trust in science, politics and the community.
In 2020 and 2021, mostly well-meant yet often ill-advised government-imposed Corona measures such as lockdowns, mask-mandates, entry-requirements to public facilities and Corona vaccine mandates have further massively limited the unimpeded human interaction that any society needs to retain and strengthen its social fabric. All these externally imposed developments contribute from different directions to human beings, especially the young, increasingly and ever more lastingly being deprived of those ‘normal social relationships’ Hannah Arendt speaks of. Seemingly lacking alternatives, this in turn leads large groups of the population – most of them not even realizing it – into the arms of totalitarian ideologies. These movements, however, in the words of Arendt, “demand for total, unrestricted, unconditional, and unalterable loyalty of the individual member (..) [since] their organization will encompass, in due course, the entire human race.”
The final goal of totalitarianism, she explains, is the permanent domination of human beings from within, thus involving each and every aspect of life, whereby the masses have to be kept constantly in motion since “a political goal that would constitute the end of the movement simply does not exist.” Without in any way wishing to downplay the gravity and urgency of these issues in and of themselves, or the need as a society to devise ways to deal with existential threats arising from them, Corona political and media narratives are examples of such an ideological totalitarianism that wants to completely control how human beings think, speak and act in that area of life, whist keeping them in perpetual anxiety through well-planned regular dramatic news updates (One tool being used for this successfully throughout the world is the constant well-rehearsed press conferences by grave-looking ministers in suits behind Plexiglas and flanked by experts and state flags), instrumentalized heartbreaking stories and calls to immediate action (“measures”), dealing with (perceived or real) new threats to their person, to their cause and to society as a whole. Fear is the main driving force behind keeping this perpetual anxiety and activism going.
During my over 30 years of studying and teaching European history and the sources of law and justice, a pattern has emerged about which I already published in 2014 under the title “Human rights, history and anthropology: reorienting the debate.” In this article I described the process of “dehumanization in 5 steps” and how these human rights’ violations are not generally being perpetrated by ‘monsters,’ but for a large part by ordinary men and women – helped by the passive ideologized masses – who are convinced that what they are doing or participating in is good and necessary, or at least justifiable.
Since March 2020 we have been witnessing the global unfolding of a serious health crisis leading to unprecedented government, media and societal pressure being exerted on whole populations to acquiesce in far-reaching and mostly unconstitutional measures limiting people’s freedoms and in many cases through threats and undue pressure violating their bodily integrity. During this time, it has become increasingly clear that there are certain tendencies to be seen today that show some similarities to the sort of dehumanizing measures employed as a rule by totalitarian movements and regimes.
Endless lockdowns, police-enforced quarantines, travel restrictions, vaccine mandates, the suppression of scientific data and debate, large-scale censorship, and the relentless deplatforming and public shaming of critical voices are all examples of dehumanizing measures that should have no place in a system of democracy and the rule of law. We also see the process of increasingly relegating a certain part of the population to the peripheries whilst singling them out as irresponsible and undesired because of the “risk” they pose to others, leading to society gradually excluding them. The President of the United States expressed pointedly what this means in a major live-televised policy speech:
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing. But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.” “If only.”” – President Joe Biden September 9, 2021
The five steps
Those peddling political rhetoric today that sets up the “vaccinated” against the “unvaccinated, or vice versa, are going down a very dangerous road of demagoguery that has never ended well in history. Slavenka Drakulic, in her analysis of what led to the 1991-1999 Yugoslav ethnic conflict, observes:” (..) in time those ‘Others’ are stripped of all their individual characteristics. They are no longer acquaintances or professionals with particular names, habits, appearances and characters; instead they are members of the enemy group. When a person is reduced to an abstraction in such a way, one is free to hate him because the moral obstacle has already been abolished.”
Looking at the history of totalitarian movements eventually leading to totalitarian regimes and their campaigns of state-controlled persecution and segregation, this is what happens.
Read it all, to learn the Five Steps. Prof. Alting von Geusau’s essay, and Kingsnorth’s, might be the most important things you will read today.
UPDATE: From a friend in Romania:
I must say that we are all with a heavy heart due to the imminent introduction of the Green Pass in our country. Those of us who don’t want to get the vaccine will face suspension at work and in the end dismissal. And its not just that — although its hard as it can be, but its also the completely in-your-face system of segregation, annulation of the most basic rights, tyranny and gross propaganda that is taking form. No logic and no science can be in policies that constrain people by blackmailing them to get the vaccine (for them and soon for their children too). It cannot be for the sake of the ”public health” that the ”superclass elite” and their local bailiffs are willing to constrain and surveil people in spite of all the risks, social and political costs. The eschatological words of Jesus comes to mind: „For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (In fact, in Romanian is not ”tribulation”, but ”strâmtorare”, wich means also to constrain, to force someone, and is much more close to the greek original). What is happening now is not some ”medical” problem; it’s a system of power and control both of the mind and of the body. After all, the soft totalitarianism is not to be found only in the ideological drive of the woke revolution; there it is, taking an ”objective” form and imposing upon us under the noble goal of saving lives.
UPDATE: A friend in Poland e-mails:
Yesterday I saw an article on your blog in which you forward a few ideas from Paul Kingsnorth. To be honest, having briefly accustomed myself to it, I got really worried. I am afraid that the text contains seriously misleading information, and its impact may not be a good one. I am strongly pro-vaccination, based on sources I trust. I have a strong conviction that receiving a vaccine is an act of truly Christian solidarity. Maybe I have misunderstood something from the article – correct me please if I did – but what I have seen in the text made me really negatively surprised. Based on what I know, I want to try to show a different perspective on some of the things mentioned there:
Kingsnorth, basing on few examples mostly from Western Europe, makes a point that there is no strong negative correlation between vaccination and infection rates. The thing is, that Kingsnorth seems to cherry pick data there (I do not accuse him of doing this intentionally). If you take a broader view, for instance the whole EU, the correlation is clear (see: https://twitter.com/EU_Commission/status/1463119478099693571; by the way it is not clear for me whether Kingsnorth counts infections per 1 million of each country’s inhabitants, or simply compares big and small countries without adjusting the data, which would be a mistake). It also works when it comes to regions of my country – there is a visible correlation between low level of vaccination and high level of infections (https://www.facebook.com/kartografiaekstremalna/photos/1789493007903208). Kingsnorth also seems not to take non-medical factors into consideration which may play a role, such as density of population. West Flanders has a high density of population, and high infection rate. Slovakia has ca. three times lower population density, and despite lower levels of vaccination there are relatively not many infections there (that’s my private unprofessional explanation, I have not imported it from a professional source). When it comes to Africa – the low level of officially confirmed covid cases may be explained by simply pointing out the fact that there are not many covid tests made there and covid deaths are not always properly reported (vide comment on one of the Polish universities website: https://www.umcs.pl/pl/komentarze-eksperckie,22097,covid-19-w-afryce-duzo-mniejsza-liczba-zachorowan-czy-jeden-wielki-fake-news,105161.chtm). All in all – it is definitely NOT true that vaccines do not make a difference.
Moreover, Kingsnorth critically mentions the fact that “we repeatedly have been assured the vaccinated people are safe to be around”. He seems to misunderstand how vaccines work. I do not know what doctors in England or US have said, but to the best of my knowledge the covid vaccines were always not professionally regarded to be totally infallible. Vaccinated people are not 100% “safe”, but much “safer” than unvaccinated. Vaccines significantly cut the risk, but do not eliminate it. For instance, the Polish government data indicate that – while now ca. 54% of Poles are vaccinated, and ca. 46% are not – only 4,5% of covid deaths reported since start of the distribution of the second dose in Poland were of those fully vaccinated. Recently, unvaccinated make 90% of people newly infected or in hospitals with covid (See: https://twitter.com/MZ_GOV_PL/status/1461720923539591171 and https://www.rp.pl/ochrona-zdrowia/art19080681-niedzielski-w-ostatnim-czasie-20-30-proc-hospitalizacji-zgonow-to-zaszczepieni).
I have also not come across any coverup machine Kingsnorth belives to exist. Anti vaccine messages are quite widely present in Polish discourse. But, on the other hand, all the qualified people I trust are pro vaccine. It seems no coincidence for me.
To clarify – there is nothing wrong in asking questions, as long as you do it sincerely, constructively, responsibly and you look for an answer in reliable sources which you are qualified to interpret properly. But what horrifies me is that Kingsnorth pretends TO KNOW while he seems to cherry-pick data and contradict, as far as I know, basic medical knowledge (I do not say that he does it consciously or on purpose, I have no intention to assume his bad will). He acts as if he was an expert, but he is not (or at least the text does not show it). He jumps into really far-reaching conclusions based on what are rather his intuitions and guesses, not proper investigation. It is not helpful, I am afraid.
I am really afraid that because of low vaccination rates my grandmother may get infected. If she gets covid, the consequences may be tragic, even though she is vaccinated (she is old and has serious lung problems). In Poland hospitals run out of beds for sick people. We are in the middle of a grave crisis, to which vaccines seem to be the only solution, even if this solution is not absolute. Regardless whether we are pro or against vaccine mandates, I think it is important to encourage people to vaccinate for the common good. I am sad to see an article on your blog which may make some of your readers resign from vaccination or even drop basic safety measures (which are also presented by Kingsnorth as an aggressive, illegitimate imposition, as far as I understood). I allow myself to write this, because I find you my friend and I feel this matter is important, not to just moan and groan.