The role of the liberal/progressive media in the times of Covid.
- Teaser: The liberal progressive media like to think they are concerned with a just society, emphasizing social and economic equality, looking after the poor and downtrodden, using the structure of the state to protect to protect civil rights and the right to dissent from any abuse of power in society.
As modern capitalism has evolved in the last thirty years, eroding the middle class, making life for the most unfortunate even worse and entrenching even greater economic inequities in society, one would think that it would be clear that the progressive voice would know what to say. The influence of big money in the democratic process -especially in the USA - the sheer power of the major corporations to get away with so much, including avoiding taxes and having an unhealthy relationship with the political process to support their own agenda; all of this offends the progressive view. Traditionally they have railed against the military-industrial complex, Big Oil, the car industry and companies like Monsanto. Environmental issues have taken front stage, at times under the guise of climate change but more broadly at the fact of planetary environmental degradation. Much of this has been needed. However, what we have been seeing in the 10-20 years is the ever-growing power of Big Tech and Big Pharma, compounded with the extraordinary advance in technology, allowing ever greater surveillance and control of the populace. Artificial Intelligence is just coming to fruition and being rolled out. The West has been looking at China in the last 10 years and quietly thinking, is this the way we need to go? Big Tech and Big Pharma are two of the biggest engines of modern capitalism and now dominate much of the political agenda and this has come to full flowering with Covid-19. They are the immediate faces of corporate power in times of Covid.
As corporate power has grown significantly in the past two decades, paralleled with the technology to monitor the global population and since 9/11, with corresponding draconian laws like the Patriot Act and now Covid19 regulations, the question is now whether governments representing traditional western democracies are beyond saving, left or right. What does the liberal media have to say about the state of western democracy in the times of Covid and are they focusing their attention on the real agendas being rolled out during Covid19?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Where have been the voices of the left-wing and broad liberal progressive movement when it comes to challenging the challenges to civil rights experienced during lockdown and subsequent legislations passed that erase fundamental liberties because of Covid19? Where are the voices questioning the influence of someone like Bill Gates, whose connection with Big Pharma, WHO, CDC, NIH, vaccine companies, Agricultural companies etc have made him one of the most powerful people on the planet. He is now the biggest donor to the WHO since the USA pulled out increasing his influence even more. Where are the progressive voices challenging the narrative that a vaccine is the only solution to the Covid-19 crisis and even accepting the concept of a global mandatory vaccination agenda with digital biometric identification, that can monitor and regulate basically everything. This is the vision of Bill Gates. Is this OK? For most of the progressive media and leftish political groups, it seems to be just fine. We see more concern from the traditional libertarian right than we do the progressive left, who generally have believed the narrative of the Covid19 crisis that the virus is threatening the future of humanity unless we lock the planet down and wait for the vaccine. Many leaders – left and right – have parroted this narrative after the WHO/Gates/Fauci said it back in March. There was no difference really, whatever one’s political position in governments.
Why does Big Pharma and those that represent it often get a free ride in the liberal media? When it comes to the idea of social equity and collective responsibility, the liberal/left wing quite like the idea of vaccines for all, saving humanity, with good, accessible and free healthcare etc, without questioning the nefarious influence of Big Pharma, whose main concern is not the wellbeing of all but the maximization of profit and influence. Their goal is to simply increase the amount of medications being taken by humanity, including vaccines. It seems impossible today to have a nuanced discussion on vaccines, to look at which ones are more useful and which ones are more superfluous and even dangerous. In the USA, there has not been much resistance from the liberal left to ever more authoritarian laws mandating vaccines for all children. Most go along with this, thinking it’s for the collective good. It makes people feel better. People are not asking important questions about the collusion of big Pharma in dictating health policy. In fact, it is in the states run by the Democratic party in the USA that more mandatory vaccines laws have been passed, including California. The moral and legal ramifications are huge but the progressive voice is usually absent when it comes to these serious issues. Big Pharma gets away with it again and again and their influence has just continued to grow. Covid19 time is a perfect storm for them.
And now its High-Tech’s turn
In the High-Tech world, the influence of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and others has not garnered as much interest from the liberal left as it has from more right-wing, libertarian sides. Many involved in those companies are likely to espouse the same liberal sentiments as those in the liberal/left media and yet now, their involvement in the active censorship of many alternative views of the Covid-19 crisis shows how profoundly insidious and invasive their influence has become, albeit being backed by government. Compounding that is the advent of ever intrusive technologies that can potentially monitor everything a person does and even thinks. It would seem to be something that people should be concerned about.
This also includes a more open analysis of the possible impact of 5G technology and all that entails, from the possible health risks to the massive invasion of privacy and possible establishment of a permanent surveillance culture. Is this something that people are taking a stand on? It seems not. It is generally portrayed as whacky and conspiratorial to address these issues seriously. The term conspiracy theorist or “denier” is now being used to broadly to define anybody who questions the agenda of Big Pharma/governments in imposing the vaccine solution and who thinks that 5G is anything but safe and wonderful. This is despite much evidence to question its safety and also whether or not the people of the world have been asked if they want it. Also, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Elon Musk of Tesla amongst others are planning on sending up thousands of satellites beaming 5G radiation onto the whole planet. Have they or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked the rest of the world about this?
Media confusion and abasement to the powers that be
Much of the mainstream media (MSM), including more liberal media have basically repeated the conventional narrative on Covid19. Lockdown was necessary. Masks, social distancing and contact/tracing are essential to suppress and control the pandemic. They have believed the rhetoric of the World Health Organization, of health experts and governments in telling us that there has been no option but to stop the world and basically impose martial law onto the vast majority of the global population. There has been little debate whether locking down millions upon millions of the poorest people in the world in Africa, where Covid19 is virtually non-existent is a good idea. There has been very little analysis of the influence of Big Pharma and the other large global banking and tech corporations in defining this agenda. In the USA, it has all become highly politicized with President Trump being a lightening rod for various opinions. If you think lockdown is bad, you are immediately identified as right wing and pro Trump. The liberal/left have become obsessed with getting rid of Trump and therefore have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to Covid19. The right-wing have challenged the lockdown strategy a little more, mainly concerned about short term economic harm that would damage Trump’s re-election in November. It is a mess.
For those on the traditional left who are questioning whether the COVID19 crisis is now being used by the corporate “deep state” elites to roll out their technocratic surveillance culture, they are finding more common ground more right wing, libertarian media, from the UK and US Spectator, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail in the UK and even Fox News in the USA, along with a slew of alternative media. This is very strange! What it reveals is that in this instance, the concerns of civil liberties and hesitation in believing medical experts and government agendas is coming more from the traditional right than the left. Much of the liberal media and politicians have accepted the idea of lockdown and its consequences, accepted the role of Dr Fauci and Bill Gates in pushing Big Pharma solutions and shown a deep lack of concern of the infringement of personal freedoms. This is very disconcerting.
The following are examples of how the liberal mainstream media have portrayed the Covid19 crisis:
Part One: The Cult of Scientism
An article in the famous liberal magazine, the New Yorker https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/04/20/how-anthony-fauci-became-americas-doctor on Dr Fauci on April 10th had the most adulatory article imaginable. Fauci was quoted as saying, You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological,” Fauci says. “I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.” What an unbelievable statement. He was put on a pedestal as high as President Lincoln in Washington DC and consistent with the New Yorker, it went on and on. The author, Michael Spector, who has written for the New Yorker for over 20 years, has written a book called The Denialists, the subtitle being “How irrational thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet and Threatens our Lives.” The author feels that Americans have come to mistrust institutions and especially that of Science today, more than ever. To quote from the Amazon description:
“Now, science is viewed as a political constituency that isn’t always in our best interest. We live in a world where the leaders of African nations prefer to let their citizens starve to death rather than import genetically modified grains. Childhood vaccines have proven to be the most effective public health measure in history, yet people march on Washington to protest their use. In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and “natural” cures have almost no value, and often cause harm. We still spend billions of dollars on them. In hundreds of the best universities in the world, laboratories are anonymous, unmarked, and surrounded by platoons of security guards—such is the opposition to any research that includes experiments with animals. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed.
As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress. “The issues may be complex but the choices are not: Are we going to continue to embrace new technologies, along with acknowledging their limitations and threats, or are we ready to slink back into an era of magical thinking?” In Denialism, Specter makes an argument for a new Enlightenment, the revival of an approach to the physical world that was stunningly effective for hundreds of years: What can be understood and reliably repeated by experiment is what nature regarded as true. Now, at the time of mankind’s greatest scientific advances—and our greatest need for them—that deal must be renewed.
Is this guy serious?” Anyone who disagrees with his view is threatening the planet with their views, with magical thinking, with questioning anything to do with vaccines and to think that Big Pharma are anything but benign enlightened companies serving humanity. And in such a patronizing way, saying African leaders prefer children to starve than have GMOs and companies like Monsanto messing with them with seeds that can’t be reused and impregnated with chemicals and the amazing benefits of Roundup! I am sure Bill Gates and Dr Fauci would agree with these sentiments – being such enlightened thinkers. In the book, both Jerome Groopman and Malcolm Gladwell write positive reviews. Both are frequent and well-known contributors to the New Yorker and have been extremely influential in their writings for many years.
This position is not uncommon in the more liberal, secular, scientific spheres, and those that don’t agree fully with this idea of objective scientific progress in helping humanity to evolve are seen as luddites and worse. They are enemies of progress. Those who support organic agriculture, believe that nutritional supplements may work, that have benefitted from alternative forms of medicine and that believe that science is not neutral but is now used more than ever for economic and political agendas of Big Pharma and governments should not be taken seriously. They are resisters to the inevitability of their view of scientific progress. This view is called Scientism – that is making a religion out of science. Many of the more progressive, secular, rational thinkers that are involved in medicine, science and the mainstream media pay some homage to the omnipotence of Science today and therefore are unwilling to make a radical critique if it is going awry. Therefore, Big Pharma often get away with it whereas Big Oil don’t, well at least not so often.
Many people on the traditional left have fallen for this view, and because of this are unable to seriously critique Big Pharma and their agenda. This is why Bill Gates is now both deified and vilified. For some, he is the most significant benefactor for the future of humanity, espousing technical and scientific solutions, wedded to Big Tech, Big Pharma and Big Ag, to help humanity make the next leap. For others, he is a power-hungry Dr Strangelove character, imposing his will on the planet through his financial largess, manipulating governments through organizations like the WHO, GAVI Vaccine Alliance and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), ID2020 etc. His position in the Covid-19 crisis has become increasingly clear. Massive investment, to the tune of billions of dollars into drug companies making vaccines, mandatory vaccine laws worldwide so every man, woman and child gets a Covid19 vaccine; legal exemption for all companies and governments involved in rolling out a vaccine; digital biometric ID with vaccine history on; monitoring of all movement and travel based on your digital ID/vaccine status. A post-cash future where the same digital ID card would be used for all financial transactions etc. This may just be the beginning. A scientific, technocratic, quasi-privatized world, boldly going where no world has gone before.
Part Two: Focusing on the puppets, not the puppeteers
Some of the liberal media in the UK and North America has been very willing to critique the government’s lack of action during Covid19 and not looking at the role of Big Pharma and other corporate masters in Big Tech and Telecoms Industry. A traditional left-wing environmentalist and Journalist George Monbiot, eviscerated the right-wing conservative UK government for how they have handled the crisis and of course also President Trump and the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. Much of what he said is true and progressives would all agree. These governments are sick and corrupt to the core. But he did not question the Covid19 narrative at all, dismissed herd immunity and seemed to imply we should have been locked down sooner. He didn’t say anything about the agenda being rolled out now to eviscerate basic freedoms based on faulty modelling and the machinations of Big Pharma. Being known for his environmental concerns he then panned to an image of an arid place and said that with the global warming crisis, we will starve if temperatures are allowed to continue to rise. That may have been good strategy to make a point, but it seemed manipulative in this context. We are talking about the planet being locked down for a disease that is the equivalent of a bad flu season, destroying the livelihoods of millions of people and he uses it as a time to push the climate change agenda.
Even John Pilger, one of the great investigative journalists of the last 50 years and with a justifiable reputation for integrity and truth telling said on his site that contact tracking, testing and tracing needed to be done that much more, believing the mainstream narrative that deaths due to Covid19 are any more significant than a bad flu season and lockdown was the only solution. He has been an ardent supporter of the National Health Service in the UK and his criticisms of the way in which successive conservative governments have weakened the NHS are true, leading to greater deaths in the current crisis. However, a more nuanced argument over what we are now seeing and the possible fatal damage to the remaining freedoms we have in our society would be in place. The excess deaths he mentions can be argued to be from the consequences of lockdown, not just the anaemic state of the NHS. He does point out the tragic care home situation, which is where the government is most seriously to blame, not the fact of locking down otherwise healthy people, where all evidence shows are highly unlikely to get sick from Covid19. He even mentions Imperial College and their modelling figures, when they have been shown to consistently get everything totally wrong and defended Neil Ferguson’s hypocrisy when caught literally with his pants down, contravening the very strategies he recommended. It didn’t need this scenario to justify critiquing Ferguson, as Pilger implies. The shoddy and exaggerated mathematical analysis would be enough. Pilger does critique the possibility of Big Tech rolling out possible mass surveillance technologies but in the same breath advocates mass testing, tracking and tracing, which are some of the same technologies to be used for surveillance. Testing and tracking may be viable in the beginning of an epidemic/pandemic or for localized outbreaks, but as a national ongoing programme is highly suspect. For all intensive purposes, the death rate is negligible as those susceptible have succumbed and the herd immunity strategy Pilger and Monbiot disparage has happened anyway.
Whereas Pilger’s position is in critiquing the neo-liberal order and the evisceration of the NHS, Monbiot’s criticism is the environmental impact and the impending doom of climate change. But neither are calling out Big-Pharma and Bill Gates. Wade Davis, Canadian writer takes another perspective in his article in Rolling Stone, entitled “The Unravelling of America”, stating how the Covid19 crisis has revealed the fundamental flaws and limits of the American dream, and how the gaping divide between the haves and have nots and the state of economic and social decay in much of American society has reached the precipice, and maybe there is no way back. China is waiting patiently in the wings to take up the slack once the USA’s social and economic decline has eaten enough of the fabric of U.S. society. He condemns Trump’s government, as many “liberal” voices do but recognizes to some extent that Trump is not the cause, but a symptom of the current situation.
Bu Davis then does criticize Trump in his ineffectual response to the crisis, blaming him for the high death rate but what else could Trump have done, really? Lock people down more, when each state has their own legal mandate. To give more funds to hospitals, who already were getting huge amounts from the CARES ACT and which encouraged them to falsely identify patients as Covid19 positive even if testing negative, as they were getting more money that way. Trump advocated the use of hydroxychloroquine while Dr Faucet resisted, with strong evidence that the trials on its use were deliberately sabotaged by Faucet, WHO, and Big Pharma? Is that Trump’s fault? Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York was responsible for the care home strategy that led to so many deaths. That wasn’t Trump’s fault. Trump supplied extra ventilators and a hospital ship that weren’t even needed. Therefore, Davis’ attacks are easily made but harder to really justify. Would Hillary Clinton have done any better? As Davis puts it: “In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.”
Trump’s government cannot be held largely responsible for death rates. Perhaps he could have coordinated things better in the beginning and protected the most vulnerable with more federal guidance. But he did stop flights coming in and basically followed Dr Fanucci’s advice. That is what the democrats may say but ask Andrew Cuomo, a democrat whose state had the most deaths because of its disastrous care-home policy, similar to that in the UK.
That being said, Davis’ searing critique of the state of the union rings true, from the ingestion of antidepressants, to all the socio-economic travails that afflict a large percentage of the population. It is grim and some of these factors have caused a higher death rate from Covid-19, from the lack of medical care for the poor, to the overuse of ventilators and metabolic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and over medication, all of which are co-factors in increasing morbidity if someone does get Covid19. And as Davis states, Covid19 simply revealed existing inequities and injustices in tragic ways but ones that are well-known: if you are poor, black or brown, you are generally going to suffer more.
However, in making such a devastating analysis, the role of Big Pharma, Big agriculture and other corporate players should be held more accountable in his analysis. It is not just the policies of Trump. Davis’ actual analysis of the Covid19 crisis is one sided. He states: “As a number of countries moved expeditiously to contain the virus, the United States stumbled along in denial, as if wilfully blind. With less than four percent of the global population, the U.S. soon accounted for more than a fifth of COVID deaths. The percentage of American victims of the disease who died was six times the global average. Achieving the world’s highest rate of morbidity and mortality provoked not shame, but only further lies, scapegoating, and boasts of miracle cures as dubious as the claims of a carnival barker, a grifter on the make.” Some of this can be debated. Cases v. deaths is not a good measure. Who knows how many cases there are really? Tests don’t work well and are too random. A simpler measurement is deaths v. total population. In that regard, the USA is no worse off than many countries and in most of the country, especially in the mid-west there are virtually no deaths. It is mostly in urban areas and as in other countries, about 50% are in care homes, the average age of death is around 80 years old. The deaths of despair due the consequences of lockdown are likely to be worse than Covid19. For the rest of the population it is of very low risk. Therefore, in that light, some of Davis’ claims are exaggerated. If you take California for example, with 35 million population, there are about 10,000 deaths, half of which are in L.A. County. That means only 5,000 extra deaths in the whole of the state. This is not a pandemic.
The tendency of liberals to demonize the culture of individualism in the USA can actually blinker itself from looking at what is happening during this time. Davis states: “How can the rest of the world expect America to lead on global threats — climate change, the extinction crisis, pandemics — when the country no longer has a sense of benign purpose, or collective well-being, even within its own national community? Flag-wrapped patriotism is no substitute for compassion; anger and hostility no match for love. Those who flock to beaches, bars, and political rallies, putting their fellow citizens at risk, are not exercising freedom; they are displaying, as one commentator has noted, the weakness of a people who lack both the stoicism to endure the pandemic and the fortitude to defeat it. Leading their charge is Donald Trump, a bone spur warrior, a liar and a fraud, a grotesque caricature of a strong man, with the backbone of a bully.”
Is Trump really as bad as all that? Canadians like to criticize their neighbour. But stating that those attending political rallies are risking others is specious. If people feel that being forced to stay at home, wear masks and to social distance https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/ is coercive and not backed by science, they have every right to demonstrate. Why should the interests of Big Pharma to keep unwarranted fear and control going until a vaccine is produced and mandated – their clear agenda and of Gates and Faucet – not be confronted. The scientific argument that these things are necessary has simply not been made. As stated, over 90% of those infected with Covid19 get better soon and the majority don’t even know they had it. Tests mean very little. Davis argues that Canada has dealt with it much better than the USA, which may be true. Canada’s health system as well as basic social care is way better, which again is one of the lessons here. Lockdown or not may make little difference. What is more important is the basic level of healthcare and social systems in place in a society. The overall health of a country will determine its ability to deal with the crisis, not the ability to impose draconian lockdown policies that may do more harm than good.
Much of what Davis writes regarding the state of the USA may be accurate but more analysis is needed of why that is the case and the power of big corporations to control the political process and the media, keeping the average American in a state of ignorance and fear. Fear is the weapon used all the time to manipulate the people and it is being used now to keep people locked down while the economic and political elites exploit the situation. These corporate elites, including Big Pharma have no loyalty to the country, even if they are American. They are simply about profit and control. Davis should have made this case more clearly.
Part Three: The Age of Technocracy - Too tempting to resist
The Atlantic magazine is another bastion of liberal media in the USA and published an article in April on the issue of freedom of speech in the modern era and the pressures now put on the big tech companies to more effectively monitor all forms of speech and behaviour on the internet. The title of the article was “Internet Speech will never go back to normal”, In the debate over freedom versus control of the global network, China was largely correct, and the U.S. was wrong.
It questions how, as the Covid-19 crisis perhaps diminishes, things will still be in a more controlled and censored environment. The article explores how after Edward Snowden revealed in 2013 the extent of the surveillance by the various National Security Agencies of government with the tacit compliance of tech companies was much greater than anyone imagined. And after the election in late 2016 and apparent Russian manipulation and infiltration of the social media networks, it became clear that greater control of the internet needed to happen. Also, in the earlier years of the century when there was a basic laissez-faire attitude in the west that over-regulation was not good, which was affirmed in the Communications Decency Act in the USA, people were relatively free to say what they wanted, which led to obvious abuses. It is now accepted that both tech companies and governments have some responsibility to monitor social media platforms. With Covid-19, this has now been amped up to openly censor a lot of discourse that challenges the conventional narrative. This has made many people concerned where this is going and why tech companies are being pressured to remove legitimate concerns over the way Covid-19 is being used to support certain agendas, including the suspension of basic liberties.
The technology is there now to monitor everyone nearly all the time. It has taken place more behind the scenes in most western countries, but has been more invasive in the USA and UK and perhaps the other members of Five Eyes (intelligence alliance of the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia). The rest of western Europe initially resisted some of the extremes of the burgeoning surveillance culture. But now since the genie is out of the bottle, it is very hard to put it back in and with one’s smart phone being a perfect contact-tracing tool, it is very possible now that it will be accepted that the pervasive monitoring most feared by many will become a permanent reality. As the Patriot Act has stayed since 9/11, laws put in place since Covid19 will also stay unless strongly challenged in court. However, as has been seen in this crisis, most people so far have accepted this as part of the strategy to contain the virus. The big question is whether it will now be ramped up even more. This should be of grave concern but so far, many on the more liberal wings have been willing to accept this in the face of the crisis. The Atlantic journal article also accepts this is the necessary cost of combating the Covid19 crisis and the larger issue of social media control, once again accepting the given narrative that Covid19 is as serious as we are being told and the projections of possibly millions of deaths has only been averted through the draconian lockdown measures.
The Atlantic article states that Covid19 only accelerated what was already happening in the USA and western democracies. The technology existed and in the last twenty years, a greater degree of control and surveillance has occurred. It hasn’t been as blatant as China’s but now since Covid19 it has been seriously fast tracked. Even since the article was written in April, this has increased considerably, with a much greater level of outright censorship on anybody who questions the conventional narrative. However, this censorship has not just been in stopping perhaps extreme or potentially dangerous views but even respectable scientists and citizens who just happen to disagree with the “facts” as they have been given. It seems that any questioning of the narrative dominated by Big Pharma, WHO and Bill Gates is no longer acceptable.
The authors in the Atlantic article think this is just fine: “In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.” The authors wrote this in context to the broader development of the internet and the need for greater control of what happens on it, but however, the fact of it being written in the context of Covid19 is important because now, this control is being used to push a very specific agenda and very few in the liberal media are calling tech companies and their backers out on this. They think it is necessary in such extreme times and they are entrusting Big Tech and governments to control what is being said on social media. That is an extraordinary level of trust to give to governments and private companies. For so-called “conspiracy theorists”, this is exactly the plan. A crisis is manipulated, exaggerated and used it to justify new laws to control people even more. Yet the Atlantic think this is just fine. The technology was there waiting to be used but you need a pretext. Covid19 was a convenient pandemic to be able to impose this censorship and control. It happened after 9/11 and the subsequent permanent War on Terror, another excuse to control and survey people, and it has happened again now. Should this not be of more concern to well-meaning liberals who care about each other and fundamental liberties or is permanent surveillance, biometric I.D. cards and mandatory vaccines all well and good. Another article in the Atlantic on August 12th critiqued the situation in the UK and their high mortalities and makes the same basic assumption. Lockdown was needed and ideally should have happened earlier. There is no radical evaluation of whether the pandemic is being exploited for another surveillance agenda, perhaps avoiding any insinuation of being a “conspiracy theorist.”
The article in the Atlantic clearly articulates how far Big Tech in the USA can already do most of what has been happening in China, including the dreaded “Social Credit” ratings, where everything is monitored, measured and potentially used against you. And yes, your smart phone is a spy for the tech companies and governments that are using them. It is accepted now that everything you say or do is potentially being monitored and stored. The contact/tracing apps that now automatically load onto your phone will be used to monitor you. And if you think that once Covid19 is over, it will no longer be used, think again. Like the Patriot Act, once here, it will stay. It is hard to erase any technology once it has been implemented. As the article explores, how far tech companies go in protecting remaining privacy and the desire of governments to have ever more access and control is the question. This is perhaps too good an opportunity to go amiss. The Atlantic article make the case that we better get used to this ever-increasing control.
There is some critique in the liberal/left media into the imposition of a surveillance culture post Covid. In the Intercept of May 8th, Naomi Klein writes about the implications of the democrat governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo creating partnerships to look at a post-Coved world. This has Eric Schmidt, ex CEO of Google as one partner and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Michael Bloomberg as other partners. They are talking about using technology for everything, from distance learning, to a state of semi-permanent isolation, testing and monitoring for Covid-19 (and maybe other diseases) and a whole slew of other things. It’s the perfect opportunity to roll out their vision of a society permanently under control, surveyed and monitored at all times in the convenience of your home! As Naomi Klein’s title says, a “High Tech Dystopia”. Now, every newspaper on the planet should be screaming about the implications of this and good for Klein and The Intercept in bringing this to the table. However, so far, there hasn’t been much written in the Intercept about Bill Gates ideas to mandate a vaccine for every man, woman and child with digital ID and even travel restrictions based on this. The Intercept has not gone very far in challenging the very foundation of the Covid19 crisis, and whether the figures and the fear are being ratcheted up to support the technocratic agenda of the elites. Why not? Is there not plenty of “scientific evidence” to challenge the narrative of the WHO and global governments who are simply throwing money at drug companies to produce the saviour vaccine. The liberal media tend to stay away from challenging the Big Pharma narrative.
The yearning to transcend confrontational analysis
The environmentalist and author Charles Eisenstein adopts https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/the-coronation/?_page=10 a somewhat more transcendent view of the Covid19 crisis, seeing this ever increasing control as part of the human agenda, Covid19 just being the outward reason for the internal need to control society and the need to have some form of external enemy to combat, like the War on Drugs, on Terror, on Cancer etc, part of an existential drama that always needs an enemy. This time it is Covid19. He at least recognizes the very real fears of many who see the looming technocratic surveillance world as something to be concerned about – which is more than most other writers are doing who would identify as liberal thinkers – but he explains it as part of the inevitable desire of humans to control the world and environment, in a way to address the fear of the unknown, in this case, the illusive, invisible virus threatening to devastate the planet. The fear is a primal and existential one, and which needs a dramatic response to it. The dynamics of liberty and control are being played out now in ever more polarized and extreme ways.
Eisenstein explores how our current medical model seeks to control and has declared a war on pathogens - bacteria and viruses that we have to conquer and control, part of heroic medicine that has come to define the modern scientific method, the quest for knowledge that will conquer nature itself. Perhaps this impulse and the belief in our quest for the vaccine or drug that will relieve us of Covid19 comes from this need to control and to abate this visceral fear. But the question is whether it is the most foolish and paranoid way of relating to the earth and our relationship to it. Is it revealing the most extreme aspects of our modern culture, one obsessed with technology to be used against each other and against the earth itself – to control, conquer and ultimate destroy itself – to see the enemy in every other thing, every bug or person, to militarize all technologies for ever increasing oppression and control.
Does it reflect a profound separation from the planet, a disconnect that modern society has only exacerbated, where we see our relationship to nature as one of fear and the need to control in ever more extreme ways – like spraying sanitizer on everything, or like they did in Spain recently by spraying Clorox on beaches and on the streets, or wearing masks on the beach when the chances of contagion are basically non-existent. Is this simply a symptom of a state of collective insanity where modern technology has really led us to a state of disconnect with normal biological life and which the powers that be are manipulating our behaviour to create social isolation as the new norm? Will this disconnect lead to a state of isolation or, as Eisenstein explores, will this experience with Covid19 show us a way to become more human again, to reconnect in another way to who we truly are as human beings sharing the planet and all that it offers? Which turn in the road shall we make as we come yet again to the crossroads in evolution? Who knows but don’t look at the liberal/progressive (mainstream) media for answers?