Public Health ‘Authority’? Please
I've observed in this space in recent days the blatant hypocrisy of our public health authorities with regard to monkeypox -- the same kind of hypocrisy we saw in early Covid, with regard to the Black Lives Matter protests. In the former case, we were all supposed to avoid all public gatherings ... unless we were gathering to protest police brutality against black people, in which case the laws of public health were suspended for a Higher Good. Similarly with monkeypox, the public health authorities cannot bring themselves to shut down bathhouses or speak ill of gay male promiscuity as a spreader of disease. If people spread monkeypox by going to church, they would have closed churches by now, or at the very least have mounted a big campaign to encourage people to stay home on Sunday mornings. But stopping the orgies? What are you, a bigot?
Former Obama and Biden science adviser Andy Slavitt said on Twitter the other day that:
This is a flat-out lie -- and it's a political lie. Ben Sixsmith has at Andy Slavitt on this point. Excerpts:
It is clear by now that suffering has not been equally distributed. According to a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, 98 per cent of infected people across 43 sites in 16 countries were gay or bisexual men. “Transmission was suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in 95 per cent of the persons with infection,” the authors state.
The argument has been made that gay and bisexual men might be likelier to get tested, and that might be true, but it is surely not this true. Certainly, over the coming months monkeypox could evolve and spread more easily through other means. But this is where things stand at present.
I believe it is instructive to compare Mr Slavitt’s response to monkeypox with his prominent and influential responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, he had a more proactive approach towards stopping the spread. Mr Slavitt did not merely advise people to keep their distance from one another — he demanded the closure of schools, bars and churches. He told people not to have trips and holidays. He called upon them to avoid their families at Christmas (not just in 2020 but in 2021 as well).
Slavitt was full of disdain for people who criticised and ignored guidelines and regulations. Indeed, it was a “murderously selfish” thing to do. In his book Preventable, he sighed:
The United States has evolved from a country that sacrificed on a broad scale for its ideals and lives of others to one where a few months of isolation and wearing a mask was too much to ask.
Could it be clearer that many public health experts lie about these things, for the sake of political expediency? It's happening all over with transgenderism. Wes Yang is absolutely right here:
A pastor friend of mine told me the other day about a case he's working on in which parents in a very liberal state are watching their adolescent daughter coached by her school into believing that she is transgender. When the parents objected, the school called child protective services on them. The parents are helpless, fearing to say anything now, for fear that the state will seize their child.
Look at this Mengele stuff that American health care providers are executing on minors:
This is evil. And this is what the US medical establishment is forcing on us. It's what the Biden administration is forcing on us. It's what the media is forcing on us. Why are we allowing this to happen to us, to our families, to our children, to our country?
Y'all wonder why I am so high on Viktor Orban. The main answer is because he is the only national leader in the West with the guts to fight this civilization-wrecking evil without apology. It's why I will be high on this guy too, if he runs for president:
I don't have time now to read anything other than books for my own current book project, but a friend recommended a new book called The Psychology of Totalitarianism for me -- and not just because of Live Not By Lies (which, by the way, will be published in paperback on October 11). He said that there was stuff in there that would help me understand contemporary disenchantment. He's right, as it turns out, but man, what a powerful book about our totalitarian moment. The author is Matias Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Ghent, in Belgium.
The book (henceforth TPOT) draws heavily on Hannah Arendt's work on totalitarianism, but also provides basic psychological explanations for how totalitarianism works -- in particular, how the masses are prepared to accept totalitarianism. I haven't yet finished the book (almost there), but the one criticism I would have of it is that Desmet doesn't seem to grasp how, unlike in classic totalitarian theory, this new totalitarianism doesn't require state control to be effective. It works by having conquered all the normative institutions in society. Why have the state force gender ideology on you when all the major institutions of society already do it for them? Desmet writes:
Whenever a new object of fear arises in society, there is only one response and one defense in our current way of thinking: increased control. The fact that the human being can tolerate only a certain amount of control is completely overlooked. Coercive control leads to fear and fear leads to more coercive control. Just like that, society falls victim to a vicious circle that inevitably leads to totalitarianism, which means to extreme government control, eventually resulting in the radical destruction of both the psychological and physical integrity of human beings.
Not just government control, but control by institutions in the grips of an ideology.
What is particularly interesting about TPOT, though, is Desmet's discussion of how the Covid crisis has illustrated totalitarian themes. I will do a post later on TPOT alone, after I finish the book. Here, though, I want to talk about Desmet's claims about public health authorities blowing their credibility. It goes back to the mindless faith people today have in science, and scientific authority. Desmet talks about the massive replication problem in scientific research, and how science is shot through with researchers willing to cut corners and falsify data to reach preferred conclusions. He goes on:
As we will discuss more extensively in chapter 3, the most striking thing of all is that, in general, researchers themselves hardly realize that there is something wrong with their methodology. They generally take their scientific fiction for reality, confusing their numbers with the facts of which they are a distorted echo. The same applies to a large part of the population, blindly trusting this scientific ideology, with no other ideological hiding place, given the fall of religion. Numbers and graphs presented in the mass media by someone with credentials are considered de facto realities by many people. It is at this level that Hannah Arendt situates the ideal subject of the totalitarian state: the subject that no longer knows the difference between (pseudo)-scientific fiction and reality. Never before were there so many such people as in the beginning of the twenty-first century; never before were the societal conditions so prone to totalitarianism. [Emphasis mine -- RD]
See?! The people who lived through Communism, and who sense today the rise in a new form of totalitarian evil, really are onto something!
Desmet contends that totalitarianism is a phenomenon that could only have come into existence in modernity, when all traditional social practices and modes of identity-formation are disrupted, and post-Enlightenment people came to replace an organic way of thinking with a mechanical one. We became the sort of people that craved certainty as a way of dealing with our anxiety from displacement, and we came to believe that scientists, physicians, and engineers could provide us with that certainty. He writes:
The discourse surrounding the coronavirus crisis shows characteristics that are typical of the type of discourse that led to the emergence of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century: the excessive use of numbers and statistics that show a “radical contempt for the facts,” the blurring of the line between fact and fiction, and a fanatical ideological belief that justifies deception and manipulation and ultimately transgresses all ethical boundaries. We will describe these characteristics in detail in chapters 6 and 7. But first, in chapter 5, we consider the social conditions that prime a society to cling to this numerical illusion of certainty. We will see that the flight into false security is a logical consequence of the psychological inability to deal with uncertainty and risk, an inability that has been building up in society for decades, perhaps even centuries.
Desmet goes on:
The transition from a democracy to a totalitarian technocracy, in which the coronavirus crisis was a Great Leap forward, actually formed part of the logic of the mechanistic ideology from the very beginning. In a mechanistic universe, it is inevitably the technical expert who has the last word, based on his superior mechanistic knowledge.
This is an extremely important point. Surely the reason why we have surrendered our children to these Mengeles is because we trust the authority of the Experts, who tell us now that our sons are daughters and our daughters, sons, and who warn us that these kids will kill themselves if we don't submit. That, and that they will sic the State on us, in the form of Child Protective Services, if we don't bow down. I think many people really are afraid to be on the other side of "the Science" and "the Experts," even though we now know that these people can be full of ideological claptrap, and should not be believed.
Here is one more passage for you:
How exactly do these conditions lead to mass formation? The catalyst for mass formation is a suggestion in the public sphere. If, under the aforementioned circumstances, a suggestive story is spread through the mass media that indicates an object of anxiety—for example, the aristocracy under Stalinism, the Jews under Nazism, the virus, and, later, the anti-vaxxers during the coronavirus crisis—and at the same time offers a strategy to deal with that object of anxiety, there is a real chance that all the free-flowing anxiety will attach itself to that object and there will be broad social support for the implementation of the strategy to control that object of anxiety. This process yields a psychological gain. Firstly, the anxiety that previously roamed through society as a tenebrous fog is now linked to a specific cause and can be mentally controlled via the strategy put forward in the story. Secondly, through a common struggle with “the enemy,” the disintegrating society regains its coherence, energy, and rudimentary meaning. For this reason, the fight against the object of anxiety then becomes a mission, laden with pathos and group heroism (for example the Belgian government’s “team of 11 million” going to war against the coronavirus). Thirdly, in this fight all latent brewing frustration and aggression is taken out, especially on the group that refuses to go along with the story and the mass formation. This brings an enormous release and satisfaction to the masses, which they will not let go of easily.
Don't you see? This is what the High Holy Month of Pride is about: mass formation, and conditioning the masses to deal with its free-floating anxiety about identity by giving it a story to control that anxiety. The "enemy" becomes the bigot and the haters who resist the story, and who supposedly have the blood of transgender people on their hands. The pathos and the group heroism of those who fight the Enemy is glorified constantly throughout Pride month in the media, in corporate America, and in other institutions of the ruling class. Finally, parents who object to their children being propagandized and colonized, to the point of wanting to cut their breasts or their testicles off, are vilified by school boards and others in authority, who take satisfaction for having fought the Enemy.
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This is how we get to the point where one of the top public health experts in the country says that a nasty disease that affects gay men almost exclusively, and passes primarily through sexual contact, cannot be fought by telling gay men to stop being promiscuous. Andy Slavitt will not permit himself to have that thought. None of these people who rule us will. It runs utterly counter to the Narrative that gives their lives meaning, and tells them who to hate. The same psychological and political dynamic worked itself out with Covid and the BLM protests and riots.
If we allow our children to be seized by these ideological monsters, and stand by doing nothing because the Experts and the Science tell us to, then we will deserve the contempt of future generations for having surrendered our democracy to totalitarian technocrats. I mean, look below, these are the loons who govern us. This is the ideological idiocy they are pressing on us all. They have lost their legitimacy. Why should we trust a damn thing they say? Why should we follow where they lead? The live by lies, and demand that we do the same. I was a lot more trusting of these people during Covid than I am now.