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Samizdata quote of the day

Tony Fauci recently won a million dollar Israeli prize for “speaking truth to power” – doubly ironic as Tony Fauci was the person with the power, and he is not in the habit of speaking the truth.

Paul Marks

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Exasperated

    We are the butt of some cosmic joke.

  • bobby b

    So, it would seem, are the Israelis now.

  • Wintergreen

    When I ponder the societal response to COVID, the theme that leaps out at me is the fundamental hubris of modern humanity. Of course I’m speaking in sweeping generalities that don’t apply uniformly to all individuals, but modern man has convinced ourselves that we are the masters of the universe. We scoff at the benighted fools who went before us, we tear down their statues if they do not rigidly adhere to every tenet of certain strands of modern philosophy. We laugh at their belief in the old gods, or in old now-falsified scientific theories, but always lacking the self-awareness to see that our recent forebears who are now the target were doing the same and that we will soon be the butt of the joke.

    We have torn down the old gods, and I’m not here to tell you that they were true (or to agree that they were false), but it is audacious hubris to be certain that there was nothing at all to be taken from the millennia of distilled thinking on the human condition that they represented. They sometimes led to horrors – crusades, inquisitions, jihads, witch hunts, and those horrors confirm our rectitude. But in their place, men have been forced to find other animating reasons for being. Nationalism, Marxism, socialism, totalitarianism, environmentalism, and now scientism and Wokism have all attempted to fill this void, and they have produced their very own horrors, but no matter. Yesterday’s intellectual craze that lit the world on fire is discarded and replaced by a new one, and this time it will surely be utopia.

    So confident are we in our status as masters of the universe that when the utopia fails to materialize, it takes at least a generation to consider that perhaps the new ideology was not the answer. In the mean time, it must be that other humans have foiled the triumph, because humans have conquered all (confusingly, the high priests sometimes acknowledge that we are small, not particularly physically-gifted creatures trying to use our brains to carve out an existence for ourselves on a small rock circling a small star in a small galaxy in some far-flung corner of a largely empty and cold universe, but do so to buttress their own authority rather than admit their own fallibility). So some group must be otherized and the blame laid on them. Depending on the ideology that’s been foiled, it might be a religious or ethnic group, it might be the opponents of the ideology in question, or it might be polluters, capitalists, or the unvaccinated. In any event it must have a purely human source because to consider other possibilities would be to shake the foundations of the fundamental hubris. If people are hungry, it must be because some other human is hoarding resources. If people are not reaching their potential, it must be because some other human is oppressing them. If people are sick, it must be because some other human is failing to subjugate themselves enough to “stop the spread”.

    Even an ideology that rejects objective truth and grand narratives like post-modernism is used not as it might be to reject human hubris but rather simply as a cudgel with which to kill the old gods and the old ideologies. All ideologies have the potential to fall into hubris and otherizing, but the risk can be greatly reduced when an ideology embraces the notions of inalienable individual rights, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression — notions that if they were ever truly embraced have now been disregarded as the the cynical refuge of the scoundrels who are blocking utopia.

    The opiate of the masses being deployed in this moment is not promises of an afterlife but promises of a life after – a life after two weeks then months then years of being deprived of some of the most simple pleasures of human existence. Just as the priests of old could not actually deliver on their promises in a verifiable manner, neither can the priests of today. As many of their parishioners await their future reward, they may die of non-COVID diseases, suicide and drug abuse, their intellectual and social skills may atrophy, but surely they will emerge on the other side sicker and older and weaker because no amount of intellectual posturing can overcome the physical constraints of the human condition itself.

    Scientism is proving to be one of the most dangerous of the new ideologies because it mutates with the speed of a virus, and each mutation wipes out the memory of the previous iteration so as to not puncture the hubris of its adherents. It can credibly claim to do so by expropriating the mantle of science, which is a way of thinking that requires old beliefs to be jettisoned when evidence demands. Scientism, though, plays fast and loose with the evidentiary requirements, treating hypotheses as theories and requiring that the currently fashionable hypotheses be venerated as in a faith.

    So now a vast campaign of othering has commenced against those who refuse an experimental vaccine for a disease they are very unlikely to suffer serious harm from. That it is completely infeasible, even with an utter disregard for individual rights, to vaccinate 8.8 billion people in time to prevent new variants from emerging is no matter. The first major campaign demonized those who refused to accept indefinite house arrest, the wonton suspension of economic and civil liberties, and the complete disregard for all aspects of life other than virus avoidance. The second demonized those who questioned the efficacy of cloth talismans. Woven throughout was the dismissal of those who questioned how this disease emerged and whether it may in fact itself be a manifestation of human hubris, and of any possible remedies that didn’t line the pockets of DME manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. But this new campaign is the most vicious, because while the others were at least theoretically temporary in nature, there is no way to walk back an injection, and the campaign now seeks to physically rather than simply rhetorically otherize its opponents.

    The admirers of the experts (e.g. Fauci) will defend their flip-flops by saying “the science changed”. Well, actually, the science didn’t change. Perhaps our understanding changed, but the workings of the natural world that we are grasping to understand did not (of course, viruses evolve and conditions change etc., but that’s not how it’s being invoked). Maybe you should show a little humility as a result, and submit yourself to honest cross-examination while allowing people to dissent.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    When Alex Jones is consistently and substantially more open-minded, data-driven, and accurate than NYT on such small, minor news items as systemic and widespread 2020 election fraud, Hunter Biden laptop, Russia Collusion Hoax, onerous CDC restrictions, experimental vaccine passports, the origin of COVID-19, etc etc…. we have a serious fucking problem.

    Where the hell is George Carlin when you need him.

    The Fake Narratives (on systemic racism, immigration, Jan 6 “insurrection”, mental health, COVID-19 vaccines, police brutality, vaccine passports, critical race theory, green new deal, delta variant, college campus rape epidemic, and SO MUCH MORE) being successfully advanced in the public square by an unholy alliance of Big Tech, Fake News Media, Democrat Party, and Globalist Corporations should terrify all of us.

    The most important thing to remember about censorship is that it does, usually, work to achieve CERTAIN ENDS. It does not usually squash dissent or eliminate wrong-think – at least not at first – but it does OTHER-IZE dissenters, which is what they want. And it’s working. Eliminating wrong-think and squashing dissent come later.

  • Bruce

    Doing the rounds:

    “I am old enough to remember when experts were on tap, NOT on top”

    My take:

    Galloping credentialism and cancerous technocracy are NOT in the best interests of ANY but the credentialed technocrats.

    And a Happy Hiroshima Day to all and sundry.

  • Jame Hargrave

    I believe that Riechsminister Goebbels was well credentialled.

  • […] Some interesting analysis by commenter Wintergreen. […]

  • Paul Marks

    I have already replied to Wintergreen – there may well be a lot of truth in what he says, but I am unconvinced that it explains everything. Not that I can “explain everything” either.

    On Tony Facui – Tony Heller has great fun showing Fauci saying sensible things (things that he would now DENOUNCE anyone else for saying), Tony Facuci is indeed the ultimate flip-flop man, and it is not “the science” that has changed – it is him, he now clearly serves a POLIICAL agenda.

    To be fair to Tony Fauci – I once met (as Mr Ed can confirm) a nice lady in Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, who argued that Tony Fauci was a wonderful man and very truthful.

    But it turned out that the lady meant the Tony Fauci of the 1980s – it may be that he has just been in government too long, back in 1980s it still made sense to call him Dr Fauci – it really does not now. Tony Fauci is not concerned with curing individual patients any more – he takes a lot of Vitamin D every day, but he does not stress that OTHER PEOPLE do so, and if he got Covid 19 he would at-once go for the Early Treatment he sneers at in relation to OTHER PEOPLE.

    What Tony Fauci now cares about is the “Public Health” POLITICAL agenda – not curing individual patients.

    No matter how many times the “New Society” or the “Planned Society” fails – the establishment elite remain fanatically committed to it, it is a story that goes all the way back to Plato.

    Perhaps Evergreen is correct – it is “hubris”, but of a very grand kind.

  • Paul Marks

    If anyone believes that the CDC or Mr Joseph Biden are telling people they do not need to pay their rent, out of concern for people with Covid 19 – than I have nice bridge to sell you.

    The political agenda (the desire that everything be controlled by the government, the banks, and a handful of vast “pet” corporations) is obvious now. They want their “Planned Society” of government and pet vast corporations controlling the lives of ordinary people – making ordinary people serfs in all but name. They want to destroy small business enterprises, and to bankrupt small (individual and family) property owners.

  • Wintergreen

    Paul, I’m certainly not going to try to persuade you that there isn’t a more cynical agenda at work behind the actions of the elites of governments, NGOs, major corporations, and the like. I didn’t mean to claim that the brand of “hubris” that I describe is an all-encompassing explanation for the COIVD response.

    However, I do think that the societal response that is influenced by said “hubris” runs much deeper and wider than any grand kind possibly could. I believe that ordinary people are conditioned to accept the diktats of the powers that be at least partially due to the hubristic mindset that I am positing. Such a mindset is a great friend to totalitarians because it makes possible the trust in a centrally-planned society, whereas people less steeped in such a mindset might well scoff at men who fancy themselves as gods.

  • Mr Ed

    I once met (as Mr Ed can confirm) a nice lady in Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, who argued that Tony Fauci was a wonderful man and very truthful.

    Yes, this was true. It was in Truro cathedral, in September 2020. However, the lady, Professor Stella Knight, was talking about Dr F in relation to the AIDS scandals of the 1980s, not the current scandal, which was still a work in progress.

    In the ‘eviction ban’, I see the shade of Keynes chuckling at the euthanasia of the rentier.

  • Paul Marks

    Quite correct Mr Ed – Professor Knight was specific that she was talking about the Dr Fauci of the 1980s, perhaps he has just been in power too long, in a senior position in government for some 40 years.

    As Lord Acton put it – “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

    Wintergreen – yes that is a grim possibility.

    The idea that most people go along with this – that is NOT just fear of punishment, that ordinary people actually believe in tyranny themselves.

    I remember that the people of Scotland re elected the SNP AFTER the “Hate Crimes” Bill was passed, under that legislation even opinions expressed privately in your own home are a “crime” in Scotland.

    One can not just blame politicians and officials for this – the people knew what the SNP had done (and all the other evil things they had done) and then went out and voted for them. At that point the people themselves are to blame – regardless of what country one is talking about.

    And, according to the poll in the Spectator magazine, some 40% of the people of the United Kingdom would support the government in Westminster having the power to censor books for “racism”, “sexism”, “transphobia”, “Islamophobia” and the rest of the Frankfurt School Marxist tapdance.

    40% – four people out of every ten. If (if) that is true – then blaming things on dark conspiracies of a few horribly power mad people is not correct, the general population themselves would be to blame for the murder of liberty.

    I do not think it is too far fetched to think that many (although most certainly not all) of the people one sees wearing the mask, are also supporters of the extermination of Freedom of Speech and all other basic liberties. Support for “medical” tyranny being a mask (no pun intended) for support for general tyranny.

    Remember there is no longer any punishment for not wearing the mask in England – people who wear the mask may be doing so out of sincere medical opinion or just habit (let us hope so), but there is an undercurrent of making a POLITICAL point as well, showing where they stand on general political matters.

    Contrary to David Hume and F.A. Hayek – freedom did not “evolve”, it was not a “product of human action , but not of human design”, freedom came into existence because people wanted it and were prepared to die to achieve it.

    As soon as people no longer understand and care about basic liberties – they start to die, for they have to be maintained constantly (by human design – human choice). That is why Ronald Reagan was correct to say that liberty is never more than one generation away from being destroyed. Understand and choice to defend – not “this is just how we do things round here” (which can not stand against attack).

    Political liberty, in the sense of freedom from politics (not political liberty defined as being “part of the political process”) can not be successfully safeguarded by people (such as Hume and Hayek) who do not even believe in philosophical liberty – who do not believe that individuals are capable of making real choices and doing other than they do.

    General liberty is rooted in the agency (the moral freedom) of each individual – their ability to discern good from evil, and make a CHOICE to make a stand against tyranny.

  • Paul Marks

    If people do not understand basic liberties and do not make a clear choice to defend them – then liberty dies, indeed liberty would never have been established in the first place.

    And “defend them” most include “if need be – to the death”.

  • Fraser Orr

    It is curious to me how religious this whole thing is. I guess there is some inbuilt tendency in humans to seek out a religion, and even those who have rejected traditional religions seem to seek out the forms and thinking. And it really is curious to me how old these ideas are. The origins of religion seem to me to be people seeking answers to the seemingly random events in their lives. Why doesn’t it rain on my crops? Why did my child die? Why does the earth shake? Why do the evil prosper? To quote Christopher Hitchens, religion is humanity’s first attempt at science, philosophy and morality… even if it isn’t a very good attempt.

    And I think it is interesting that religious fervor often comes out in times of crisis, after all, its purpose is to answer the questions of “why”. And, as with traditional religion, it seems that its most ardent adherents are very quick to throw out all notion of morality, decency, freedom, and even honesty, in the name of religious fervor.

    I was thinking about this recently when a friend of mine posted something on his FB feed. This guy is a very smart dude, runs a team of computer programmers for a medium sized company. He used to work for me, he is a sensible, balanced and reasonable person, whose company I have often enjoyed. But he posts “When the time comes I 100% support mandatory vaccinations for everyone. If anyone refuses, they should be FORCED.” When I read this I was totally taken aback. Ironically this guy has had Covid and recovered, so he certainly doesn’t need to be vaccinated. But the casual use of the word “FORCED” is what shocks me. Are we to arrest them, tie them down to a table and inject them, keep them in custody for two weeks so that they can get their second dose? And I was going to point this out to him but I realized that there is no point. It is not a rational position it is a religious one, and I would no more expect to convince him to change his mind than I would be able to convert that Jehovah’s Witness knocking at my door that the whole magic spectacles and golden tablet thing is silly.

    I am also shocked at the utter incredulity of many of the adherents, desperate to show their utter loyalty to the cause. I have noticed that both Moderna and Pfizer have published studies saying that everyone needs a third booster shot. It apparently does not occur to anyone how utterly self serving these studies are. But who would dare challenge them lest they get labeled as unorthodox. It reminds me so much of religious fervor. Go to a Baptist church and find some of the smartest people there and ask them if they really believe the whole seven days of creation. They will tell you yes, because their enjoyment of the benefits of their religion vastly outweigh the benefits of knowing how the earth is created. And many religious dogmas will not allow even the tiniest deviation from orthodoxy.

    But I, and I am sure many of you, know people who have taken the shot even though they know that it is pointless for them to do so since their risk profile is negligible, but who do so almost as a rite of passage into the orthodoxy. I feel like we are in a world of 13th century European religion where people are going to suggest burning the witches at the stake at any moment.

  • even those who have rejected traditional religions seem to seek out the forms and thinking (Fraser Orr, August 7, 2021 at 4:48 pm)

    ‘Even’ ??? 🙂

    As the vaccine is not 100% effective against the virus, so having a traditional religion certainly does not inoculate you 100% against catching the worship of Fauci or SAGE, any more than against the worship of Gaia, socialism and other fashionable ideologies. But as Orwell remarked in 1940:

    It can be argued – it is even probably true – that traditional religion offers some protection against an ideology, a monarch against a dictator, …

    [Quoted from memory, probably not word-perfect]

    “If anyone refuses [the jab], they should be FORCED.”

    I was going to point this out to him but I realized that there is no point. It is not a rational position it is a religious one,

    That doesn’t mean there is no point (of course, you, who know him, may know other reasons why there is no point). Your own questions about how brutal he would be as one of the (many, required by his policy) enforcers are well worth asking him. Remind your friend of the wise saying: “Never impose any law if you are not prepared to see its enforcement cost lives.” Ask him what number of dead he is willing to accept as a side-effect of doctors forcing vaccination on everyone – the reluctant and confused, the determined and principled, the extremists, the implacably hostile. Would he, for example, accept more deaths than his stats predict for the final hold-out group if left alone?

    He may accept and enjoy such thoughts – or he may be far from the first who are made a little less bigoted not, at first, from principle but from understanding the cost of his power fantasies if he tried to realise them.

    C.S.Lewis advised not arguing for victory but always stating your case (fairly) because

    Sometimes the very man who shouted you down will prove, ten years later, to have been influenced by what you said.

    Your former colleague, like the virus, may have the power to evolve.