(note: this is an excerpt, written in April, from When China Sneezes: from the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis, a collection of long-form essays on the pandemic and the world's reactions to it. read the full chapter - and the work of a dozen other excellent writers, including the great Cynthia McKinney, the volume's editor - here. DO NOT purchase the book through Amazon, unless you never want to receive the book...)
Just as putting a country on a war footing predisposes its people to expect sacrifices—of luxuries, of liberties, even of basic needs—so too does it elicit a predictable and easily manageable form of reactionary patriotism. With two generations of Americans now having spent their entire adult lives in a country that was technically “at war,” the effect won’t be as pronounced stateside as when the US kicked off the War on Terror. Nevertheless, a spike in fear will manifest in xenophobia (already unprovoked attacks on Chinese and other Asians are on the rise) and suspicion of outsiders, even if the “outsiders” are just from across state lines. When one’s world has shrunk to the boundaries of one’s home over months of quarantine and “social distancing,” everyone is an outsider. In the UK, where cultural memory of having to “do without” during wartime is stronger, alerts from the National Grid that blackouts may occur (because of a virus?) lend verisimilitude to their leaders’ wartime rhetoric.
Social Distancing is just another term for alienation, and alienation has long been the means by which control of the individual is achieved. A person who has been alienated from the land, from society, from his family, and finally from himself is putty in the hands of his controllers, defenseless against any kind of psychological operation from totalitarian thought-reform down to the lowliest advertisement. Separated from their communities and forced to interact via artificial means, individuals under lockdown lose touch with their very humanity. There’s a reason why solitary confinement has been banned in many countries and considered a form of torture in many more.
Isolation’s negative effects on the individual are not merely psychological, either. Just a year ago, thought-pieces pondering the central role of loneliness in many common health problems were a dime a dozen. Social isolation, study upon study has found, is as deadly as smoking or obesity, with multiple studies finding it causes weakening of the immune system, inflammation, and several other ailments that would work synergistically with the coronavirus to greatly increase the likelihood of death. In fact, loneliness is most lethal to the elderly—the population most at risk for coronavirus. Social distancing not only does not save these lives—it actively helps end them.
An individual cut off from other human beings and the outside world loses touch with reality, becoming reliant on a media that has proven itself to lie as often as it tells the truth. Only by enforced isolation could the ruling power structure begin to rebuild the trust it has steadily lost over the past several decades, immersing the individual in a sort of epistemological sensory deprivation chamber and offering only the establishment narrative as an alternative to darkness.
Questioning authority became more rare, as it always does in times of war—as western countries inched closer than ever to criminalizing it. The average American was only too willing to scrap their constitutional rights in exchange for a vague promise of safety from a virus, just as they’d been quick to invite the government into their private lives in return for no more 9/11s. Given the prevailing narrative that “conspiracy theories” about coronavirus are a public health hazard, questioning the vaccine, when it arrives, will likely prove the camel’s nose under the First Amendment tent.
“Authority” now definitively includes medical authorities. As the foot soldiers on the front lines of the “war” on coronavirus, doctors and public health professionals became above reproach. The bizarre “balcony applause videos” heavily pushed on establishment media channels became the yellow ribbons and ubiquitous post-9/11 flag stickers of their day. As physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson quipped on late-night TV in what was not quite a joke, the coronavirus epidemic was in one sense a behavioral experiment regarding whether people can be made to listen to scientists—but it goes without saying that only the practice of allopathic (pharmaceutical) medicine conferred this authority. If it didn’t require a prescription, it was declared anathema, even tried-and-true herbal remedies like elderberry, echinacea, and astragalus whose immune-boosting and properties were scientifically established. Products containing colloidal silver, famous for its antibacterial and antiviral properties, were temporarily yanked from Amazon, supposedly because televangelist Jim Bakker and conservative political performance artist Alex Jones had claimed it could cure coronavirus.
Medical authorities wouldn’t be true police-state authority figures if they didn’t come armed, and while the US CDC does pack heat, coronavirus’ shock troops also came strapped with the infrared fever guns that had become an early visual symbol of the epidemic in China. While western media initially dismissed the guns as “notoriously not accurate,” Western governments soon realized that their value is not in their accuracy—after all, individuals infected with coronavirus may walk around spreading the virus for two weeks with no symptoms. Instead, they’re marvelously efficient at instilling fear. Having a gun of any sort pointed at you by a uniformed stranger is unnerving, and the sense of having no place to hide—is my body giving me away? I don’t feel sick, but what if I have a fever?—is unnerving.
Even the nigh-omniscient new tech-enabled Big Brother comes attended by legions of busybodying Little Brothers, unhinged by cabin fever and eager to refashion themselves as quarantine crusaders Doing Their Part for what front-line propagandists like CNN’s Chris Cuomo called “our 9/11” (apparently the original 9/11 no longer belongs to “us”). Several countries took advantage of the void left in citizens’ identities by newfound unemployment to draft them into service as junior members of the coronavirus Stasi. New Zealand’s website for ratting out quarantine violators was so overwhelmed with “Covid-19 L4 breach reports” on its first day that it crashed, according to police chief Mike Bush. Bellevue, Washington whipped up a similar app in an effort to discourage citizens from clogging 911 emergency lines with calls about social distancing violations, though Police Chief Steve Mylett insisted responding officers were “not going to arrest people.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti went even further, encouraging citizens to rat out construction sites that failed to follow the rules by praising “snitches,” quipping during a press conference: “You know the old expression about snitches, well in this case snitches get rewards.” It wasn’t immediately clear what those rewards would be, but it’s easy to imagine special privileges rolled out for the extra-obedient equivalent to an extra square of chocolate in our 21st-century 1984.
Hand in hand with the promotion of tattletale psychology came acceptance of the idea of collective punishment—putting all the kindergarten class in ‘time out’ because a few kids got in a fight. The UK tightened its lockdown and banned gatherings of more than two people, PM Boris Johnson stated, because some Britons hadn’t heeded the previous stay-indoors order, instead taking advantage of a warm weekend to revel in nature. Reuters and other establishment media encouraged this conceptualization, spreading videos that appeared to show right-thinking New Yorkers leaning out their windows and shouting insults at “irresponsible” people who dared to walk outside. Hashtags like #StayHome (and its more profane cousin, #StayTheFuckHome) trended relentlessly on Twitter and were even incorporated into users' handles, literally becoming part of people's internet identities.
Public shaming became an epidemic in itself, almost as if the fear-stricken public believed that by ratting out rule-breakers they could gain some degree of protection from the virus. Magical thinking like this thrives in isolation, bolstered by viral, dubiously-true “I-told-you-so” stories about girls who pooh-poohed social distancing testing positive for coronavirus and defiant spring breakers coming home from Cabo only to find that they were all infected. A strong link between obedience and health was encouraged. UK police even went above and beyond their expanded powers under medical martial law by scolding shopkeepers for selling “non-essential goods”—items like chocolate eggs which hardly hamper dealing in critical items but have the undesirable side effect of bringing joy to the purchaser. The threat of being ratted out for not maintaining “social distancing” in one’s place of business led even fully-stocked supermarkets to force ‘excess’ customers to line up outside, getting even those citizens who hadn’t been driven to bankruptcy in the wave of layoffs used to ‘queuing for essentials’ while their less fortunate peers waited in actual breadlines.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who. as the brother of self-styled Coronavirus Commissar Andrew Cuomo. held a critical propaganda role for Americans, laid it on thick with the wartime sacrifice schtick, channeling JFK and Rosie the Riveter as he implored the cable network’s geriatric audience, with equal parts guilt and shame: “You are being asked to stay on the couch.” At the same time, he poured on the fear: “Any of us could get it. Any of us could spread it, suffer. Maybe it doesn’t end.” When he supposedly tested positive weeks later, the narrative was sealed. Cuomo had made his sacrifice—will you?
Such sacrifice was taken literally, with the crisis used to accustom societies to the notion that the old and sick are disposable, even a nuisance. Terminally ill and elderly patients in the UK were shocked to be presented with “do not resuscitate” orders, asked to put aside their lives for “the greater good” in this Brave New World of ‘healthcare rationing.’ While Llynfi Surgery, which sent out the forms, subsequently apologized and claimed the forms didn’t constitute “official guidance,” Sir David King, the one-time scientific adviser to former UK PM Tony Blair, pleaded with the oldsters for compliance anyway, urging those over 90 years old to skip hospital treatment should they fall ill to avoid overburdening the NHS his erstwhile boss had gutted while in power. A column from the Telegraph’s assistant editor, Jeremy Warner, confirmed that Social Darwinism had returned triumphantly to mainstream thought, reasoning that “from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents.” The situation was not too different across the pond, with several US states’ emergency plans explicitly deeming even mentally-disabled patients without a terminal illness to be “poor candidates” for lifesaving care. Other states’ rules were more vague, leading some patient advocates to fear these might be broadly interpreted by mercenary hospital administrators to deny otherwise-viable patients care.
Coronavirus patients in the US weren’t even given the option to sign away their future—hospital administrators were said to be “consulting” with ethicists to figure out if there was a way to impose (on a case-by-case basis, of course) DNRs against the will of the patient and their family. Northwestern Memorial Hospital intensive care director Richard Wunderink modeled the desired behavior for hospital staff when he expressed relief to the Washington Post that his coronavirus patients had experienced a slow and steady decline that gave him time to work their families for that vital DNR, rather than a sudden crash that would have required him to resolve some tricky ethical dilemmas on the fly. Such circumstances were unthinkable in medical ethics pre-coronavirus, but in a time of scarcity, one has to be, as the Post put it, “pragmatic.”
Certainly, if the coronavirus was mowing down thousands of healthy young individuals with no existing health issues, such upheavals in societal values could be understood as reasonable, and the climate of fear understandable. But statistics released by Italy’s national health authority in mid-March revealed that 99 percent of the country’s coronavirus deaths were in patients with serious comorbidities, usually more than one, a pattern that resurfaced again and again as “confirmed” infection numbers continued to soar. A small but vocal group of experts tried to draw attention to the testing kits’ inaccuracy—antibody tests didn’t imply someone was sick, but that their immune system had fought (and possibly beaten) the virus; coronavirus tests merely meant the person had a coronavirus, not Covid-19 (the common cold is a type of coronavirus). Municipalities like New York frankly admitted they were no longer making an effort to distinguish between coronavirus and other respiratory conditions as they continued pumping out disturbing numbers. Giving that respiratory conditions are the fourth leading killer of Americans normally, conflating the two permitted the epidemic-pushers to claim truly stratospheric body counts—and justify draconian interventions.
Other Covid-19 tests actually arrived contaminated, as if to further unbalance the population: nothing is safe. The lengthy incubation period of the virus—as long as two weeks before symptoms appear—added to the atmosphere of paranoia and justified social distancing even from loved ones, as everyone came to be seen as a potential carrier. Thus the nuclear-strength fearmongering which began subtly, with comparisons of the epidemic which was then still largely confined to China to the deadly “Spanish Flu” influenza pandemic of 1918 (a virus that was not, in fact, Spanish in origin, but American) coming out of the WHO and bolstered by a mysterious cadre of Wikipedia editors, had risen to a fever pitch by the time the virus arrived on western shores. By the time New York City mounted an emergency siren on the spire of the Empire State Building, citizens were too exhausted to take a critical look at the narratives of death and panic they were being sold, and they willingly retreated into the perceived safety of their homes and the comfort of following orders.
The CDC did its part to gaslight Americans, telling them for months that face masks offered little by way of protection—unless one was a healthcare worker, in which case they could mean the difference between life and death. Despite the obvious logical disconnect, desperate Americans put their faith in the “experts”—only to watch their story change halfway through the epidemic. By April, the US media establishment was already floating the idea of the masks as the “new normal,” churning out heart-warming stories of newly-laid-off millennials whipping up hundreds of DIY face masks on their own to fill the supply gap it had helped create by stoking panic. Laredo, Texas even threatened residents with a $1,000 fine if they ventured outdoors without one. Hiding half the face from view has the effect of muting social cues, compounding the difficulty of readjustment as individuals emerge from weeks of enforced isolation with blunted ability to recognize emotion in their fellow humans.
To encourage this subservient psychology, the narrative managers tried to gamify it. Data-mining company Unacast.com created a tool to encourage competition between American municipalities, allowing local governments to pit communities against each other in ‘obedience contests’ after locking them down. The company’s “social distancing scoreboard,” updated in real-time as states pass new restrictions on movement, shows how well each community is obeying stay-at-home orders. This Orwellian delight uses cell-phone GPS data to track individuals and gauge their obedience, an apparent privacy intrusion that has gone utterly unremarked-upon in local coverage.
When even a libertarian outlet like Reason is singing the praises of a location-tracking app that turns an individual’s phone into a pocket-snitch recording the identity of every other phone it has been within six feet of, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Indeed, the coronavirus epidemic has seen surprisingly large swathes of the government-skeptical Right and Left uncritically embrace authoritarian measures like quarantines and surveillance, even when the circumstances do not justify their adoption. Such surrender of dissident political identity is one of the main goals of externally-imposed alienation of this nature. The narrative-managers might congratulate themselves for a job well done.
The moneyed technocratic elite have seen in coronavirus a flashing bat-signal (irony alert!) from the international community, crying out for global governance.. Former UK PM Gordon Brown called for a “coordinated global response” merging G20 and the UN Security Council, forming an entity that would wield the twin economic guns of a beefed-up World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Others pointed to those countries, like Sweden and Belarus, that refused to participate in wholesale panic-induced shutdowns as proof that a stepped-up form of global governance was needed. Clearly, nations couldn’t be trusted to responsibly police their own pandemic response; Bill Gates even hinted that those countries that refuse to comply with his vaccine regime would forever see their citizens quarantined by ‘enlightened’ countries. As globalist mouthpiece Emmanuel Macron reminded the world, “the virus has no passport.”
Even as international cooperation collapsed among NATO allies, with the US fighting tooth and nail with France and Germany to appropriate deliveries of medical equipment, the UN was unveiling a “multi-partner Trust Fund for COVID19 Response and Recovery,” scrambling to put together what even their press release referred to as an Agenda-2030-friendly remedy to “the socio-economic shock.”
“With the right actions, the COVID-19 pandemic can mark the beginning of a new type of global and societal cooperation,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared, stating that only international “solidarity” in the form of “a multilateral response that amounts to at least 10 per cent of global GDP” could defeat the pandemic. That fund would be in addition to the UN’s $2 billion “humanitarian response plan,” scheduled to run through the end of 2020 and provide testing kits, “handwashing stations,” lab equipment, and “airbridges and hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America” for moving humanitarian workers and supplies.
It’s not clear how the crashed economies of the West are supposed to come up with those funds—or why, when the virus has done comparatively little health damage in the Global South, billions should be spent on fighting it there—but that program’s head, Mark Lowcock, repeated a favorite globalist talking point that has become a rallying cry for coronavirus do-gooders: “nobody will be safe until everybody is safe.” The UN could hardly repurpose the funding from current initiatives, he argued—if aid agencies are distracted even for a moment from their existing fight against cholera and other diseases of poor sanitation in the world’s most destitute places, coronavirus could settle in for the long haul, periodically emerging from the slums to menace western liberal democracies.
Despite the apparent broad appeal of its list of 17 “Global Goals,” Agenda 2030 has long been controversial among those who read the fine print, and with the coronavirus crisis, the mask has come off. A piece titled “The coronavirus crisis shows it’s time to abolish the family” appeared on OpenDemocracy.net in late March, complaining that the nuclear family model “genders, nationalizes and races us” and “norms us for productive work.” It promotes homeownership and private property—two major no-nos—but worst of all, “it makes us believe we are individuals.” OpenDemocracy isn’t some antifa kid’s Tumblr—it’s an NGO funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, among other globalist bigwigs. Such an open declaration of war on the fundamental building-block of society means Big Money has big plans for the post-pandemic restructuring.
The cashless society is a critical stepping stone to the globalist utopia presented in Agenda 2030, and its proponents seized on coronavirus early on to push their pet project. As the epidemic intensified in early March, a WHO spokesman urged the world to use contactless payment systems wherever possible because cash carries disease, a sentiment echoed by the Bank of England—whose former director, Mark Carney, recently waxed poetic about creating a digital “synthetic hegemonic currency” backed by a “basket” of other currencies including the euro and ruble and modeled after Facebook’s Libra. Another WHO spokesperson had to walk the claim back less than a week later, replacing the fatwa on cash with yet another reminder to wash one’s hands. While actual microbiologists cast doubt on the notion that cash is an especially virulent viral vector, cashless cheerleaders didn’t miss a beat, shifting to championing the efficiency of electronic money—wouldn’t you rather get your stimulus check in weeks than months? And the news media kept up the drumbeat that cash = dirty, spurred by “experts” like Deutsche Bank macro strategist Marion Laboure, who predicted that central banks would rush to develop their own digital currencies as touching money became a “risk factor.”
Many countries, as well as the UN, were already in various stages of developing central bank digital currencies (CBDC) before coronavirus struck. The US has been quietly researching a means of “modernizing the US payments infrastructure” since 2015, with the help of blockchain company Ripple. The UN integrated blockchain into its Sustainable Development Goals and has used the technology to track some 106,000 refugees from Syria alongside pigs and cocoa. While Bitcoin was introduced to the world as a subversive way to anonymously conduct transactions online, its descendants may end up locking down the market beyond what was previously thought possible.
Going cashless is key to adopting another central element of Agenda 2030—digital identity. Amid the height of the pandemic, with international travel at rock-bottom levels, the World Economic Forum unveiled the Known Traveler Digital Identity, an RFID chip that in its current form would be embedded in a traveler’s passport and hold a wealth of biometric data, immigration and border crossing records, and a detailed record of all financial transactions, hotel stays, immunization records, and other movements, all stored on the blockchain. Additionally, it would feature a Minority Report-esque “risk assessment” that would tip authorities off to the bearer’s likelihood of committing a crime or otherwise causing trouble, pre-assigning a “risk level” based on unspecified “biographical information” supplied to authorities at border checkpoints. Travelers supposedly decide what information to share ahead of a trip, becoming a participant in their own oppression in the same way as residents of Wuhan or Singapore downloaded the app meant to keep them obedient under quarantine.
KTDI is essentially a social credit score: “The more approved digital verification stamps a traveler acquires, the more credibility that individual will have in their next journey,” a chipper voiceover explains in a WEF-produced video. A white paper outlines a system with echoes of the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive,” in which positive interactions increase one’s credibility score (and presumably negative interactions decrease it—the paper mentions an exit-point assessment of whether an individual “acted appropriately” while in a country, though it’s unclear how this would be determined or by whom). While KTDI would begin life as a beefed-up passport, the WEF admits it “shows great potential for use beyond travel, such as in healthcare, education, banking, humanitarian aid, and voting” and stresses that “broad adoption is crucial for the success of the concept.” The paper also hints at developing a “framework” that “takes into consideration the digital identities of people as well as inanimate objects and entities,” whatever that means.
The continued existence of cash has long irked the technocratic elite because it’s difficult to surveil and control—individuals can use it to dodge taxes, to buy black-market goods, or simply to maintain their privacy. If the coronavirus crisis is harnessed to do away with paper money entirely, individuals can only buy and sell with the permission of the financial institution that holds their money. That’s bad enough—JP Morgan Chase has forced people to close their accounts over wrongthink online—but after lockdowns forced most of the world’s economic transactions online, the additional consent of both the online store (i.e. Amazon or eBay) and the payment processor (i.e. Paypal or Stripe) are needed—both of which have the power to decline transactions for those whose social credit scores are too low.
There will be ways to get one’s score up, of course, should one find oneself relegated to the digital ghetto. Reporting your neighbors for social-distancing violations will be an easy way to bolster even the lowest score. But there will be no cheating the blockchain.
Agenda 2030 won’t be content with a digital identity that is physically separate from its owner for too much longer. Bill Gates’ money is hard at work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other research facilities developing ways to get that information into the actual population, buoyed by feigned concern for the “unbanked” and the extreme poor, without cellphones to serve as digital wallets. The Gates-funded ID2020 program unveiled an initiative in October 2019 to implant a biometric identity in babies born in Bangladesh, hinting in the accompanying press release that such a project was already underway among the homeless in Austin, Texas. An MIT team developed a technology for storing vaccination history in a patient’s skin using a specially-designed dye, creating a pattern that can be read with a souped-up smartphone.
Once the psychological barrier of bodily integrity has been breached, the sky’s the limit regarding how the bodies of worker-bees might be put to use by their social betters. In March, Microsoft filed a patent for a cryptocurrency mining system that uses sensors to detect a person’s body activity and generates crypto if that activity “satisfies one or more conditions set by the cryptocurrency system.” The sensors can be simple, monitoring heart-rate, temperature, or blood-pressure, or complex in the manner of Elon Musk’s Neuralink—a network of minuscule fibers woven over the brain to chips that connect with as many as 1,000 brain cells each. While Musk’s invention, due to begin human testing in 2020, was initially touted as a route for humanity to merge with AI (rather than be “left behind” in the slow lane of the information superhighway), he later reframed it as a benign invention to help the paralyzed and the Parkinson-stricken—or perhaps the depressed, anxious, and otherwise emotionally-dysfunctional. Hooking Microsoft’s system into Musk’s neural net would allow the operator to specify in minute detail what brain functions are to be rewarded with crypto generation—perhaps a user would be rewarded for getting a warm, fuzzy feeling in response to an advertisement, but not if the ad left them cold. Perhaps the emotional stimulus could even be artificially-induced—via a Clockwork-Orange-esque form of conditioning, or by mere application of electrical stimuli in the right places. The only guarantee is that one’s “self” is no longer one’s own when wires and chips are deployed to alter the functioning of one’s brain.
Days after its patent was filed, the WHO debuted a “COVID-19 information highway” called MiPasa on the blockchain, built in collaboration with Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Hacera. The platform purports to be able to “help monitor and foresee local and global epidemiological trends. And detect likely asymptomatic carriers. By feeding big data on infection routes and occurrences to powerful AI processors around the world.” The initiative is backed by the US, European, and Chinese Centers for Disease Control, as well as the Canadian government and (who else?) Johns Hopkins University. Once humans are outfitted with sensors tracking their vital signs—the equivalent of a built-in Fitbit, hooked up to Microsoft’s human-crypto blockchain—epidemiology becomes nearly an exact science, and the medical police state becomes impossible to fool. One still hears of concerned parents faking their child’s vaccination certificates, desperate to enroll them in school but terrified of subjecting them to a chemical Russian roulette—but in Agenda 2030’s future, brought to you by the blockchain, this will be impossible.
The program’s boosters have sought to seize the moment created by the total economic collapse and rebuild the financial system “sustainably.” By now, it should be clear that the planet pimps are merely taking the Shock Doctrine approach, throwing everything at the wall and see what sticks during a period of chaos—any crisis could have triggered this outpouring of Agenda 2030-adjacent “plans,” and coronavirus has nothing to do with climate change. But the idea of sustainability represented by Agenda 2030 and its environmental “brands,” including the New Deal for Nature, is less about saving the planet than it is about monetizing it. With a straight face, the green grifters sell nuclear energy as the answer to fossil fuels, indulgence-like carbon offsets as the answer to carbon emissions, and greenwashing buzzwords as the answer to years of pollution and environmental devastation. It’s a twisted system under which deep-pocketed Bayer-Monsanto can hire a former German Green Party wunderkind as its star lobbyist to present the company as a saint of sustainability because its carcinogenic glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup allows farmers to grow more crops on less land. Any company that can afford to pay through the nose to hire a green consulting firm and sponsor a few photogenic sustainability initiatives is welcome in the New Green Future, represented by the acronym ESG (environmental, social and governance). But those corporations that can’t afford specialists to navigate a dense thicket of sustainability ratings—one such consulting firm, SustainAbility, remarked in its 2020 Rate the Raters report that keeping abreast of all the different types of sustainability investment ratings “can require hundreds of hours and multiple dedicated staff”—will increasingly find themselves exiled from the marketplace.
This is not an idle threat. In the same way that BlackRock, which now controls a substantial part of the trading activity of the US Federal Reserve and has declared war on those companies that don’t divest from fossil fuels fast enough, has made a point of shoehorning climate change into the asset management sector, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures was established to force “sustainability” into the corporate mainstream. Chaired by New York ex-mayor plutocrat Michael Bloomberg, TCFD is an international oversight body that purports to determine what risk a company poses to the environment and then communicate that to other financial institutions, which can then decide whether or not to do business with that entity. Unlike the other ESG-related ratings, however, the TCFD has teeth: it is partnered with nearly all the major banks and central banks, as well as many governments, and Carney (who founded it with Bloomberg) has threatened to force reluctant companies to adopt a set of climate risk disclosure rules if they do not do so voluntarily. An analogous body, the Network for Greening the Financial System, aims to integrate climate risk into the very fabric of the global financial system. Failure to play the sustainability game would thus not merely force one to look for a new bank—it would force one to give up on the global monetary system entirely. Adopting the blockchain to service such a system is merely placing a state-of-the-art security system on their gated community.
There’s something to be said for using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to let the grotesquely wasteful, destructive process of fracking die and investing that money in geothermal, wave power, and other truly sustainable forms of energy—certainly those with nefarious motives should not be the only ones permitted to “not let a crisis go to waste”—but that isn’t what’s happening here. The “net zero carbon emissions” demanded by Agenda 2030 are to be accomplished by balance-sheet trickery—“offsetting” the continued use of fossil fuels to wage war and power private jets with the purchase of carbon credits whose distribution will be controlled by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, operating like a sort of central bank for this new carbon currency. The IPCC is controlled by the same interests that are behind the fossil fuel infrastructure that has supposedly brought the planet to the brink of destruction—a conflict of interest if ever there was one. An artificial superstructure of emissions buck-passing will grow up around fundamentally unsustainable industries, all of whom will be able to claim they’re doing good even when not a single tree is planted.
Agenda 2030 is also obsessed with land use, namely dictating the ever-dwindling areas in which human activity is permitted. The New Deal for Nature, which glommed onto coronavirus as a cause célèbre early on, wants humanity kicked off 30% of the earth’s surface—land currently inhabited by indigenous peoples in the global South. Reasoning that the corona crisis has proved humanity can change dramatically in a very short time, groups like the Club of Rome—who’ve been singing the same songs of depopulation for close to half a century—are rushing to accustom western societies to a fossil-fuel-free future, while politically-correct rhetoric hides the same paternalistic racism and classism that has always seen the poorest nations of Africa selected for the dubious ‘privilege’ of receiving ‘free’ (experimental) vaccinations from the benevolent hands of Bill Gates.
Climate change is the pandemic’s spiritual forebear in that it is held up as a reason for humanity to unite under a global government. “This is too big for any one country to solve” has been the recurring refrain. The same billionaires fronting the “cause” of saving the planet—the descendants of the robber barons whose fossil fuel empires trashed the planet in the first place—claim to be intent on saving humanity, even though their own words betray their loathing for the species.
THE NEW NEW NORMAL
The shifts set in motion by the coronavirus pandemic have fundamentally reoriented society along draconian lines that were once unthinkable in the “liberal democracies” of the West. Humanity’s fundamental adaptability is typically considered an asset, but there are some circumstances one should actively fight against “getting used to.” As lockdowns drag on for weeks, with some nations threatening months more indoors, memories of the vibrant, people-filled Life Before the Plague will begin to fade, replaced with a sense of fatalism: it has always been like this, therefore it will always be like this. A sort of inertia will set in, accompanied by an emotional numbness to each new horror as it is unveiled.
The narrative managers, unsurprisingly, encourage this view. “Life will never be the same” was the line taken by War on Terror mythmaker Bill Kristol—whose publication The Bulwark couldn’t even wait until US coronavirus deaths exceeded the 9/11 body count to publish a “COVID-19 Has Killed More Americans Than 9/11” think piece. Just as the 9/11 fearmongers warned Americans that failing to go to war in Iraq would guarantee that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud, MIT Technology Review editor-in-chief Gideon Lichfield warned the world that if they did not ‘go to war’ against their own way of life, recurrent coronavirus outbreaks could force societies to re-adopt social distancing cyclically, spending half the year on house arrest. The only alternative, according to these leading lights of the ruling class intelligentsia, is to submit to endless surveillance including bodily intrusion, listen to bought-and-paid-for “experts,” and “sacrifice the me to the we,” in the words of ruling class toady Chris Cuomo.
In the new technocratic future, everything is measured, tracked, and monitored. Smart meters gauge electricity use (and throttle an individual’s consumption if some distant manager decides they’re getting too greedy); smart streetlights monitor a city’s residents as they walk through the streets, constantly scanning for rule-violators (have you gotten your flu shot this year? good luck entering this neighborhood); smart, self-driving cars move people from place to place, within limits of course (don’t even try driving after curfew, and remember that all your conversations inside the car are being monitored for disinformation—loose lips sink ships); smart chips implanted in every individual track their whereabouts at all times and interact with every other object in the 5G-enabled “smart” cities of the future. This is not science fiction—“smart cities” rolled out in Toronto and China. The only elements that aren’t smart are the people. Why bother to use your brain, when your environment does the thinking for you?
Even Henry Kissinger, the eminence grise of the US empire, emerged from the shadows to weigh in on the opportunity represented by coronavirus with a Wall Street Journal op-ed about how “the coronavirus pandemic will forever alter the World Order.” Personally responsible for millions of deaths and unable to travel to several countries for fear of being arrested for war crimes, Kissinger clearly wasn’t content to rest on his laurels—he demanded all national recovery programs be coupled with a “global collaborative vision and program,” warning that failing to heed his advice will result in untold suffering for humanity. Kissinger can perhaps consider himself a godfather of this pandemic—it was he who wrote the infamous 1974 report that called for the imposition of strict population-control measures on the Third World, to ensure its resources would be easily plundered for decades to come. Listening to Kissinger and his fellow oligarchs, who see humans as speed bumps on the road to power, was what got the US into this mess. Continuing down that path—embracing the police state ever more tightly, giving away ever more liberty in the name of ever more hollow security-theatre—will only compound our suffering.
Those who lived through 9/11 and saw the destruction it wrought upon the US’ national character can see it happening again on an international scale. It is our duty to warn the world and avert that outcome. One country falling under the thrall of a totalitarian technocratic police state is a tragedy; the entire world falling under an authoritarian global government is a nightmare from which humanity might never wake up.