We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Cotswold Bloke: ‘No one would ever believe that world leaders would behave like that …’

Cotswold Bloke writes, in a series of tweets which I have merged together into a piece of writing with paragraphs and added punctuation and whatnot instead of it being divided up into tweets, this:

Got a great idea for a thriller – the plot will knock your socks off.

So there’s a shadowy Global Elite, yes? Davos, yachts, private jets. They used to need the masses to work in factories, till the fields, and do all the menial stuff, and, now and then, for an army.

In my fictional world, big standing armies are a thing of the past. There’s no appetite for invasions any more. Rapid advances in AI, robotics and mechanisation also mean that The Global Elites will soon no longer need peasants toiling away in the factories and fields, causing deforestation, extinctifying species etc. Plus they’re mostly fat, stupid and ugly. (Sounds like the real world here.)

My novel is set when the world population is 7 billion, but heading for 10 billion. Worse, those extra three billion people are not going to be three billion poor people living a subsistence life – they’re aware, through smart phones and the internet, of a better life, and their demand for food, for environment-destroying power generation, and for bling and cars and general ‘stuff’, is going to be a lot higher than was their parents’, thirty years ago.

In my novel, the imaginary Global Elites – many of whom have openly talked about the urgent need to depopulate the earth – start thinking. ‘Hmmm,’ they think. ‘Ten billion of them is going to really destroy the environment and kill all the snow leopards and the blue whales – who’ve done nothing to deserve any of this, and are after all just as intrinsically valuable as any human, and much more valuable than certain humans of the lumpen proletariat variety. ‘Anyway,’ they think, even if we didn’t hate them for killing the blue whales and being fat and stupid, there’s no way the world can support an essentially middle-class lifestyle for seven billion people, much less ten billion. ‘And where does that lead?’ they say. ‘Old-fashioned resource wars! So actually, if we could help five or six billion people shuffle off this mortal coil in a relatively peaceful way – as opposed to via decades of small nasty wars, or even one or two really big ones – we’d be doing them a favour, really. Not to mention, the snow leopards, the blue whales, and ourselves, obviously.’

In my novel, they start off by releasing a virus.

Now, obviously, they have to be careful. A real killer virus is unpredictable and chaotic, and it might get you and yours, or wipe out a disproportionate number of, e.g., tech nerds politicians, and top chefs, whom my main characters will need in future, while sparing too many fat old checkout workers and labourers, whom they won’t need, and the panic and chaos as millions of people start dropping dead in the street is going to have unforeseeable second-order effects in which my Global Elites might find themselves entangled. That’s what unpredictable and chaotic means, see. No, they need something controllable.

So they decide to release a virus that is just bad enough to terrify people – helped along with a major dose of propaganda from the news outlets, governments, supranational bodies and social media organisations that are controlled (in my fictional world) by my imaginary Global Elites.

And then they announce a vaccine. (Plot twist: they announce loads of them, even though it’s untried technology, created by supposedly competing companies. Too implausible? Not sure.) Despite this novelty, my plot cleverly has them scaring/boring people enough that they’re queueing up for jabs ‘to get to the pub’. Obviously they can’t nail them all with the vaccine – too big and sudden, with all that scary chaos and unpredictability – so what my characters do is they say, ‘There are lots of variants, and you will need regular re-ups with slightly adapted vaccines!’

I haven’t yet decided whether they then slip something in there at a later date, or release a new virus which reacts with the vaccines, but the key thing is they take out 10%, 20% or maybe (if I can make it plausible) 40% of the ‘herd’ – and the right 40%, because they’re controlling the vaccine distribution.

Obviously, my survivors wonder what’s going on, but they’re terrified, grieving and demoralised – I might have them starving, too? – so they can’t do much. In fact, they’re so grateful to have been spared to work in the remaining factories that they sing the praises of the Global Elites.

To create the fear needed to drive vaccination, the baddies lock loads of countries down – bit implausible, it’s never been done before, and goes against all the previous the advice on the WHO’s own website, which (in my novel) said ‘don’t lock up healthy people’, though (in my novel) it turns out they removed that advice just before the pandemic began and changed it to ‘do lock up healthy people’ hoping no-one would notice. The baddies force people to wear masks, stress the death figures every day – after inflating them beyond all logic, and they absolutely never mention that far more people recover. If anyone mentions recovery, they shout about ‘long virus’.

They demoralise people by banning them from attending their parents’ funerals. They close the pubs – where people might swap ideas and foment revolution. They arrest people for sitting on park benches (though they wave through anyone spray painting rude words on statues). Lots more of that. It’s all good stuff. Very dramatic.

They have to be careful though because locking down economies, even in novels, creates that chaos and panic which might spill over into their gated compounds. (My protagonists are guarded by armed police 24/7, and they go everywhere in armoured cars, but they’re still vulnerable if the balloon ever goes up.)

So to avoid that they introduce ‘furlough’ (in the US I have them mail big cheques to people, which might stretch the credulity of my readers a bit). Millions are starving in the third world but the journalists in my novel don’t notice or care (or ask questions about the thousands of cancer patients and others who will die because of the lockdowns in advanced economies), and – given that the whole plan is to eradicate unneeded people – they’re just a bonus anyway.

So my villains borrow (create) vast amounts of money – way too much to make any sense, like the kind of money you’d spend on a world war, not a virus that is taking my fictional UK back about a decade in the mortality stats – to spend on bullshit. ‘Doesn’t matter what’, they cry. (Temporary hospitals are one possibility I’m thinking of.)

‘All we need to do is keep the show on the road long enough! The money’s not going to be paid back, because the old days of an economy set up to keep a world of 7 to 10 billion people turning won’t be required when there aren’t 7 to 10 billion people any more.’

I must admit, I was struggling a bit with their motivation. Yes, they hate the people, and yes, they love the snow leopards. But why now? Well, turns out the tech isn’t all one way. The lumpen masses themselves are not far off being able to print their own plastic firearms and fly hordes of slaughter bots onto billionaires’ yachts in the harbour at Monaco, and livestream it, so my baddies have decided now is the time.

Was talking to my wife about this idea for a novel over lunch, and she thinks no-one would buy it.

‘There’s no hero,’ she said. ‘And no-one would ever believe that world leaders would behave like that. I mean, yes, a few have. But not ours. Who do you think you are? Tom Clancy?’

12 comments to Cotswold Bloke: ‘No one would ever believe that world leaders would behave like that …’

  • Roué le Jour

    There is no shadowy global conspiracy, it’s just the bureaucracy, and there is no cunning plan beyond keeping the right out of power so they can’t derail the gravy train.

  • The idea of villains who want to wipe out a large chunk of the population to save the environment sounds a bit like the plot of Kingsmen: the secret service.

  • I’m +1 with Roué le Jour (April 8, 2021 at 12:43 pm).

    I must admit, I was struggling a bit with their motivation.

    And, in an inverse sense, with the degree of long-range forethought the plot seems to ascribe to them. Stealing an election is within their planning capabilities – and even there, recall that making vote fraud easy, empowering and funding motivated mono-thinking groups of people in key locales and so on, was a sizeable part of it. The motivation is perhaps easier if you assume it is driven by much more short-term thinking – but the overall plot scheme needs work in that case.

    taking my fictional UK back about a decade in the mortality stats

    Assume short-term memory too.

    The lumpen masses themselves are not far off being able to print their own plastic firearms and fly hordes of slaughter bots onto billionaires’ yachts in the harbour at Monaco, and livestream it, so my baddies have decided now is the time.

    That sounds like a way to address your wife’s concern about the lack of heroes.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Excerpts from Robert Reed’s story, ‘Pallbearer’ (starts page 120 of the link), which deals with the aftermath of an artificial pandemic coupled with a deliberately botched global vaccination program, engineered for just such a scenario:

    “Twice in two years, the Chinese government barely contained the viral monster. And that’s why the world was terrified: what if the bug someday climbed onboard an airplane or bird, and what if it was carried across the helpless world?”


    “If that virus got loose, as many as ten million people would die, and a hundred million more would be left as invalids. That’s why the hard push for a vaccine. And that’s why there was celebration when a pharmaceutical company mass-produced an injection that would protect everybody who rolled up his sleeve, offering a willing arm.”


    “But charities and volunteer doctors didn’t stop fighting. Brave defenders of the public good, they tirelessly pushed needles into little brown arms, even as word began to find its way to them that the first people who had received the vaccine — the subjects in the hurry-up trials — were beginning to shake, growing weaker by the day and profoundly confused.”


    “An old man stood before the cameras, the seal of his doomed nation behind him. With a worn sorry voice, he admitted that mistakes had been made. Who was responsible wasn’t known and might never be, but the rush to market was a blunder, and a horrific tragedy had been unleashed, and every citizen who had tried to do something good was now infected.”


    “… one man was sitting in the middle of a long table, talking into a microphone. Several old men and old women were sitting behind another long table, listening carefully. Ignoring his own shaking hands, pushing past his sloppy voice and the drool, he was trying to explain his company’s role in the ongoing catastrophe. (…) “I have to assume… what the scant evidence shows… some group with skills and a quality laboratory produced the virus and infected a few people. Those were the original epidemics. But those events were just to get our attention. These plotters understood that we would… that someone had to… generate a quick cheap vaccine in response…”


    “This was a crash program,” he continued. “We hired consultants, experts from around the world… and it is possible that some of those people were part of a secret group… (…) Power is one possibility. The survivors of this nightmare will be left with the entire planet at their disposal. But my better guess… what seems more reasonable and even more awful to me… is that an environmental group might have taken these steps. If they felt that human overpopulation and pollution were putting the earth at severe risk. If they convinced themselves that this was for the best… (…) I insisted that my people were first to receive the vaccine, and that included our contractors. Most of us are already dead. That I’m alive is a small miracle. I can’t count all of the suicides… of friends and colleagues… yet in all good conscience, I can’t tell you that a few people haven’t managed to slip away in the chaos…”

    (Don’t have nightmares. It’s fiction. Honest!)

  • David Clemo

    Larry Niven & Steven Barnes wrote ‘Saturn’s Race’ just over twenty years ago. In the book, the rich elite have rejuvenating surgery. (One character has to pretend he’s his own grandson). A rich big tech benefactor pays for the world’s poor children to be vaccinated for free. Fifteen years later they discover that all the girls are sterile.
    The book is set about twenty years in the future (ie- now).

  • Paul Marks

    Hardly “shadowy” – the establishment are open in their plans and have conferences and so on with videos and all the rest of it.

    There is nothing secret about Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030 “Sustainable Development” “Stakeholder Capitalism” (Corporate State) – they shout this stuff from the roof tops.

    As for Covid 19 – they were wargaming lockdowns and so on 2019.

    Did they release their Gain of Function virus on purpose? I DO NOT KNOW – it may have been a total ACCIDENT, but it was an accident they took advantage of.

    Instead of the first thought being “how can we cure the sick” (indeed Early Treatment was actively SMEARED by the Western establishment) – the first thought was “how can we use this to push our international political agenda”.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – the labourers and check out staff have not been scared by Covid 19 (not really).

    I talk to labourers most days – and have done over the period of Covid 19, no fear. Just resigned irritation with the powers that be – they remind me of the military veterans I knew as a boy.

    Check out staff at the supermarkets – again no fear. Just grim amusement at, for example, going for more than six months without masks, and then being told to wear them (or hide behind screens).

    We obey because we are punished if we do not obey – and (I suppose) it is also habit.

    Go to Corby and get this stuff shoved in your arm tomorrow – or you obviously do not want a job.

    Fair enough boss.

    We are not trusting and we are not really afraid – we are just obey because we have little else to do.

  • the other rob

    We are not trusting and we are not really afraid – we are just obey because we have little else to do.

    There’s always an alternative. On this side of the pond as I watch our Constitutional Republic, which I swore to protect and defend against enemies foreign and domestic, being murdered while ever more of my fellows turn a blind eye in fvour of suckling at the government teat, I have been contemplating the 500 Samurai and their ultimate fate.

    Which was not death – that was merely their immediate fate. Rather, it was a form of immortality and not just in the scholarly sense. Even the crassest chav, if asked, would proclaim the Samurai to be totally badass.

    Some of us have faith in a greater immortality, of course, but let us set that aside for a moment. It’s good to win but there are worse fates than fighting and losing. Not fighting and still losing is one of them. And we all have to die sooner or later.

  • bobby b

    “And we all have to die sooner or later.”

    But there’s still room for “he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” Problem with martyrdom is, most martyrs sell themselves too cheap, to their side’s ultimate detriment.

    Remember how the colonists warred against the regiments: run along in the ditches beside the road and snipe off the marching Brits and duck away quick and then do it again and again . . .

    “Marching off bravely to death” just means you’re dead.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines, except the Government keeps releasing plagues to kill off the old people, because it can’t afford to pay them what it promised. Most pension schemes seem like Ponzi schemes, and they need more people to contribute- unless the number of receivees lessens. There- fixed the plot device for you.

  • the other rob (April 10, 2021 at 5:39 am) and (bobby b
    April 10, 2021 at 6:10 am), you are both right.

    – Not only is it better to have fought and lost than not have fought at all, but if a movement has no-one who thinks that, it may not win – indeed may (in a certain sense) never start.

    – However I not long ago quoted Edmund Burke, warning French opponents of vicious revolutionary power that attempts sure to fail could discredit better prepared attempts. Bobby’s point is complementary to that.

    Burke also wrote (at the end of 1776, before news of Trenton and Princeton reached him) that

    The Americans have done wonders – but it is plain they cannot look regular armies in the face.

    In a more complex way, bobby’s point is complementary to that too. Overcoming fear is good. Fighting to win, not to lose gloriously, is also good.

    Burke ended his point about premature attempts by saying that of course argument could and should always be offered (when and where that alone was not fatal). Translating to the world of today, I wonder if some tell themselves they will argue against cancel culture later, when they are better-placed to oppose it, to excuse their avoiding argument today, when cancel culture might ‘kill’ them in the public domain. That relates to Burke’s argument in a more complex way still.

  • TDK

    If you want to kill off a large proportion of the population with a virus then Spanish Flu would be a better bet than COVID, due to the simple fact that Spanish Flu killed the young at peak childbearing age, COVID kills the old.

    Now, if your premise is: ‘release a virus to avert a pensions crisis’, then you have a plausible motive. However, killing off vast numbers, who have already had their children, in order to reduce the world’s population is just silly.