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]

Samizdata quote of the day – awkward facts and evidence

But the Conspiracy Theory story is wearing pretty thin, as awkward facts and evidence pour in showing that many of the pandemic dissenters were largely right, all along. Their central claim – our central claim – was that powerful institutions with a massive influence over the public sphere were propping up the interests of a handful of large actors, at the expense of ordinary people’s health and life prospects.

The central claim was not that there was a single, centrally coordinated “conspiracy” against the common good, but that there was an unhappy convergence of elite interests around a particular narrative, that was extremely destructive to society at large. A series of ill-advised and reckless societal interventions were legitimated by a simplistic narrative that was plugged incessantly by Big Government, Big Media, and Big Pharma. And anyone who spoke out against that narrative was treated as a nut-case conspiracy theorists or a “fringe epidemiologist,” and frequently censored on trumped-up “misinformation” charges.

David Thunder

22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – awkward facts and evidence

  • Paul Marks

    “David Thunder” – yes indeed.

    But the pandemic, whilst it may indeed have been an accidental (rather than deliberate) release from the Wuhan Institute (thanks to the reckless encouragement of such research there by Tony Fauci and Peter Daszak) was very useful for the international public-private partnerships that are always looking for excuses to expand government (and pet corporate) power and control. There need be no formal conspiracy – as an entire international class of people (in government, the vast corporations, and “charitable bodies”) has been educated to think like this – every disaster must be used to further the agenda of the new society, “never let a crises go to waste”. Collectivism is both the perceived solution to every crises – it is also an end-in-itself to these people.

    As for censorship – arguments for it have been pushed since at least the 1960s (Freedom of Speech being, supposedly, “Repressive Tolerance”), but it really went into overdrive in the United States and the United Kingdom in recent years – under the Obama Administration in the United States (which pushed it in the education system) and due to such things as the Equality Act (2010) in the United Kingdom – although the U.K. has a whole string of such attacks going all the way back to 1965.

    Extending censorship to medical matters was a natural thing for such people (government and corporate) – if you are already censoring people on ABC – why not DEF as well.

    As for the internet companies – after the election of Donald John Trump in 2016 (ironically they, like the media, had pushed Mr Trump for the Republican nomination – thinking he would make Republicans unelectable) they seemed to go stark-staring-mad – the people (the voters) had done a terrible thing (in their “educated” eyes) and companies such as Google (but also Facebook and Twitter) decided that Freedom of Speech was a terrible, evil, thing – so people must be “guided” in their internet searches (the Google search engine has become a total farce – on all even vaguely political matters it is now so twisted it is a corkscrew), and what people watched and listened to on-line must be controlled.

    By the way – I am off Facebook again, can people (who are on Facebook) please report this – so that people on, for example, the World History group do not think I am neglecting them by choice.

  • Exasperated

    As Ed Dowd, who pulled together insurance industry excess death, disability, health stats, describes it: ” a convergence of interests”. The government/ media/corporate corruptacracy is riddled with opportunists; sociopaths and even predators poised to exploit and take advantage. Most of them manage to remain anonymous.
    A conspiracy requiring a cast of thousands never worked for me. .

  • Exasperated

    An alternative view: Edward T. Hall on Bureaucracy: “no soul, no memory, and no conscience….” Edward Hall was the pioneer who wrote “Beyond Culture”(1976).
    “By their very nature bureaucracies have no conscience, no memory and no mind. They are self-serving, amoral and live forever. What could be more irrational? Changing them is almost impossible, because they function according to their own rules and bow to no man, not even the President of the United States……. … Paradoxically, most bureaucracies are staffed largely with conscientious, committed people who are trying to do the right thing, but they are powerless (or feel powerless) to change things. None of which would be so serious if it weren’t that these are the very institutions on which we depend to solve all our major problems…….”

    “Bureaucracy on the life-destroying scale described by Edward T. Hall is an industrial era phenomenon. Only a bureaucracy can turn ordinary, decent people into participants in gigantic atrocities that go on and on, and absolve the people who operate the government machine from personal responsibility for the consequences.”

  • Exasperated

    Not sold on the mass formation psychosis but why and how did the COVID hive mind go international? I don’t understand why there wasn’t a lot more pushback and I’m dumbfounded that Israel didn’t develop their own vaccine. Taiwan did, Iran did, India did, Russia did…..

  • Paul Marks

    Exasperated – Israel has many political parties, but rather a “group mentality” formed by endless coalition making. Nigel Farage argues that Proportional Representation would give the United Kingdom real choice – but Israel and other nations with PR are evidence against that point of view.

    As for bureaucracies – they may be made up of people who “want to do the right thing” (as the philosopher Hegel claimed – and the German lands Cameralist tradition had before him – although such English thinkers as Thomas Cromwell had more than a trace of such ideas) – but what they think “the right thing” is, is influenced by their education and the institutional structure.

    It is possible that a top bureaucrat (official) will be an independent thinker – as, for example, the top health official in Sweden was. But it is more likely that the top bureaucrats will, well, think like bureaucrats.

    Contra Hegel, I believe that the rule of officials and “experts” is a bad thing.

  • Zack

    Contra Hegel, I believe that the rule of officials and “experts” is a bad thing.

    The idea that institutions should be run competent people who are experts in their fields looking out for the common interest sounds ideal, but like many things that sound great in theory it ends up creating a real life nightmare. Instead of promoting on meritorious and knowledgeable people looking out for the common good, we get corrupt mediocrities whose only talent is political maneuvering and blame shifting. I almost want to say go back to the spoils systems – it probably won’t produce better results than what we have now but at least we’ll know who to hold responsible.

  • Kirk

    The “rule of experts” or other officials wouldn’t be a bad thing… If they were competent. Which they manifestly are not.

    I keep having to point this out… The problem isn’t the system. It’s the people. We were getting the same sh*tty results back when it was the hereditary aristocracy that was in power. The problem isn’t which set of idiots is in charge, but the essential and inherent idiocy of the people.

    Let’s be brutally honest: A modern university education and/or a college degree is about as much use for determining who ought to be running things as the ancien regime’s reliance on ancestry and pedigree.

    The root of the problem is that we don’t hold the office holders accountable, whoever they are, and then assess their performance based on the real-world results they produce. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selecting the next head of the bureaucracy based on his educational attainments (which I think are a null concept, these days, as a proxy for virtue of any sort) or his family tree, so long as you watch what he’s doing, and pull his ass out of the office he’s in when his actual effects turn out to be sub-optimal.

    I hate to point this out, but the trends are before us, and brutally obvious: Education and credentials aren’t any better tools for determination of who’s best put in charge than any of the other mechanisms we used to use. Hell, we’d probably be better off going back to the root of all of it, when the proto-feudal types were determining who’d run things by brute force and swordsmanship. At least, with that technique, you actually got rid of the non-performers. Who, these days, just seem to get promoted ever onwards and upwards…

    I mean, look at Fauci: Under any sort of rational performance-based system, his ass would have been on the street sometime back during the 1990s, after he screwed multiple pooches with AIDS, Ebola, and other things. The man possesses a vast incompetence that we haven’t seemed to acknowledge in any effective manner, so whose fault is that, actually? His? Or, more accurately, ours?

    The greatest fallacy of the age is that an education and the credentials it produces are a proxy for virtue and competence. It’s like we’re awarding command of an army to the guy who was champion player at Call of Duty, Halo, or chess… The simulation is not the reality, and all schooling represents is a training simulation of questionable fidelity to reality.

  • mongoose

    Exasperated December 12, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    There is, and never has been, in the whole history of the universe, such a thing as an mRNA coronavirus vaccine. Such a thing is impossible – a contradiction in terms. That this is so still, and was so then, but then became not so so many countless times in the period of a little over a year is a testament to the scientific illiteracy that child-centred education has visited upon the world.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – they are “competent”, they accurately reflect what they have been taught and they often work hard.

    However, what they have have been taught is all wrong – so it would be better if they were incompetent and lazy, rather than competent and hard working. Then “lockdowns” and so on, would not be so “well” enforced.

    Zack – I go further than “almost”. I think that Senator Conklin was correct and President Garfield was wrong – the Federal Civil Service should not have been created. And I do not think it would have been – had President Garfield not been murdered, that made him a martyr for “reform” and so it became impossible the creation of the bureaucracy.

    President Garfield also wanted a system of Federal government schools – because this would (supposedly) prevent black people becoming an “American peasantry” – he did not explain how this (unconstitutional) Federal education system would be paid for (as he was a free trader – so little tariff income for the Feds) perhaps the Federal Income Tax (abolished in 1872 – a few years after it has been introduced to help pay for the Civil War) would have “had to” return.

    In the divide in the Republican Party between Senator Conklin and President Garfield – I am a “Stalwart” all the way, although I am not (I hope) insane, and I do not go around shooting people.

  • Exasperated

    December 13, 2022 at 12:13 am

    Not exactly sure where you are going with this. The post was pointing out the lack of resistance ,by other countries, to the policies of the American alphabet agencies, as well as the Chinese protocols.
    As for the vaccines, last I looked there were 37 of them. I’m guessing by now, it must be over 40, varying between old and new vaccine technologies. Only 2 are mRNA. If your point is that any covid vaccine is likely to be at best an ineffective short term solution, due to the characteristics of the corona virus family, I’d agree.

  • tfourier

    There is a huge difference between academic credentials and actual subject matter expertise. They are usually mutually exclusive.

    The people in charge of public heath decisions during the 1968 and 1958 influenza pandemics would have put in many decades of work on the infectious disease wards. Rising up through the ranks. So they would have had an immense body of expertise on infectious diseases based on a long career of medical experience. Walking the wards.

    The people in charge of public heath decisions in 2020 right after they qualified as junior doctors immediately entered the public health bureaucracy / academia. Spending the next few decades collecting academic degrees and credentials, publishing large numbers of basically worthless papers, and climbing up the bureaucracy greasy-pole. With zero or near zero infectious disease wards experience. Actual real-world medical experience. And given the decay of skills over time probably have little better actual medical knowledge of the relevant subject matter than second or third year Med students. Not very much.

    So the senior public heath people who made such catastrophic incompetent decisions (and unsupported statements) had no actual substantive expertise in epidemic infectious diseases. Unlike previous generations.

    So they reacted like bureaucrats down the ages always react, do something, anything, then push the blame onto someone else when it all goes wrong. As it always does. Because despite their credentials they havent a clue what they are doing. Or what they are talking about. Little more than charlatans, one and all.

  • Exasperated

    In the USA, the power of the entrenched bureaucracy was, at least in part, a consequence of the legislature abdicating its responsibility and oversight. Some of this is inevitable since the people in congress don’t usually have the expertise required to analyze and legislate some complex issues and had to defer to people with hands on, in the trenches, experience. Of course, this was short lived and was replaced by the “connected”, book learned “expert”, vulnerable to capture by the very industries they are supposed to be overseeing. Supposedly, the public had input, but naturally the bureaucrats game the system, ie paying activists to demand the weirder solutions.
    The reach of the agencies is enhanced by the power of the purse string. Failure to embrace agency diktats can result in loss of funding, across the board.

  • Exasperated

    I forgot to mention that abdicating regulatory power to the bureaucracy relieved the legislature of making tough decisions and absolved them of blame.

  • Marc

    @ Exasperated December 12, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    RE: “Not sold on the mass formation psychosis but why and how did the COVID hive mind go international? I don’t understand why there wasn’t a lot more pushback ..”

    Here are coherent answers to your questions — the reality of the 2 pink elephants in the room

    It also supports your skepticism of “mass formation psychosis” because it exposes the notion as a reality distortion.

  • Kirk


    Kirk – they are “competent”, they accurately reflect what they have been taught and they often work hard.

    However, what they have have been taught is all wrong – so it would be better if they were incompetent and lazy, rather than competent and hard working. Then “lockdowns” and so on, would not be so “well” enforced.

    In this passage, I detect a touching faith in the “system” and the people that make it up… If only the right lessons were taught, then they’d do the right thing!!!

    D’ya see how well that maps onto the equally touching faith of the Russian Muzhik, who believed that “…if only the Little Father (the Tsar…) knew, he’d put things right…”? Similarly, the typical proletariat Soviet believed that “…if only Stalin knew…”, he’d similarly set things straight.

    The problem isn’t the system, or the people; it’s the utter lack of accountability and feedback. You could make the Soviet system work, as Byzantine and ill-thought as it was, if only the assholes in it had been held accountable and the proper attention was paid to actual effect, not intent.

    What we have is a problem not with people, not with systems, but with the fact that we’re paying attention only to the nice things people intend to have happen, their desires. Nobody is paying attention to the actual effects all these things accomplish, and holding the “good intentions” people responsible for their actual effects out here in the real world with the rest of us.

    Raw fact is, none of what we’ve been doing with the supposed “meritocracy” or all this vaunted education we’ve spent all these trillions on has had the results we were promised. What we’ve wound up with is a bunch of narcissistic clowns who pay no attention to what is actually happening under their plans; they pay attention only to the things that they create in the magical make-believe world of their imaginings, never looking out the window onto the city streets to see the way the things they’ve come up with are actually playing out when those brilliant plans and best intentions encounter reality.

    It really doesn’t matter whether any of this crap works; what matters is that we keep right on doing it when it manifestly doesn’t work, because “ideology”. We keep doubling-down on the stupid, even when the earliest preliminary results show massive failure in all respects, because nobody can bear to be the truth-teller and point out the Emperor’s essential and intractable nudity.

    What society lacks, more than anything else, is enough people with the courage to point out that the Emperor is not only buck-ass naked, but deliberately waving his willy in our collective faces.

    Something doesn’t work? Quit doing it. We’ve failed to acknowledge that things ain’t working, nor have we taken the steps necessary to remove the idjits that came up with the policies in the first place.

    I mean, for the love of God, look at most of the major Democrat-dominated cities here in the US: Where is the quality of life? The good governance? The space for law-abiding citizens to live their lives, and do so in peace and security? Why the hell do people keep voting for the assholes who inflicted all this misery on the citizenry based on their fine aspirational intents that they constantly virtue-signal to everyone? Why don’t people look past the flimflam, and see the actual effect of these policies?

    That’s the real problem, not the set of people put in charge. It’s the lack of accountability, and the clarity of vision in the body politic to recognize and acknowledge failure in governance. If we were picking these idiots at random out of the phone book, we’d probably get better results. Hell, we had better results when it was the “bad old days”, and the old aristocracy was running things. I mean, let’s acknowledge this much: We managed to come out of the Dickensian days of the Industrial Revolution on the backs of those old bigoted bastards, and everyone was better off. Today? Does anyone see the populace in Minneapolis ever coming out of the cesspool that the current lot of idjits have turned the place into? Is there any hope for renewal, or is that urban region doomed to wind up like Detroit, but further north?

    One really ought to look at the pictures of Detroit in 1945 and now, then compare them to the similarly dated pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’m not seeing Detroit ever coming back to what it was, and that’s primarily the fault of the idjit class which has governed that urban area since forever. Detroit became what it is today due to the governance inflicted by all these morons, who’ve never once been held accountable or whose failures were ever even acknowledged in any way.

    Raw fact is, we get the governance we deserve, and because we’re so easily conned by these creatures, we get precisely what we have coming.

  • Steven R

    Who and how are they held accountable? Individual bureaucrats are shielded by just “doing their jobs”. At best the bureaucracy can be sued, if the government allows it, but even then it’s an uphill battle that most people simply cannot afford financially when the government has an unlimited warchest. Calling one’s Congresscritter only works when one can write a big enough campaign contribution check. I suspect it’s not much different on the other side of the Pond.

    The entire system which ostensibly exists by, for, and of us is built to avoid accountability. I don’t know it was done by design or simply works that way it works in the real world, but that’s where we’re at and I don’t know how to fix it.

  • Kirk

    @Steven R,

    That’s precisely the problem I’m getting at, with all this. If you go back and look, no matter what system, no matter where, the bureaucracy always winds up turning into this vast, self-referential, self-reinforcing, and self-centered monstrosity.

    The Chinese Imperial system chose to use Confucian scholarship as a criteria for selection and advancement. By the time of the Opium Wars, that created something that was as dysfunctional and self-destructive as anything in history. Now, compare/contrast that with our current system, which has done much the same thing with that which passes for modern “scholarship”.

    The real problem here is not the criteria or the “system” chosen; it’s the people inside of it. Or, more accurately, all of us who put up with the idjit class infiltrating the system and then turning it to their own purposes, insulating themselves and the edifice they’ve taken over from consequence.

    That syndrome, right there, is the problem. It doesn’t matter how you select your bureaucratic class, who you select them from, their culture, education, basic intelligence, or much of anything else. The end state where they all wind up is this vast reef structure of incompetency and sloth, and that itself stems from the membership making up the majority of that bureaucratic organization tolerating the elevation of incompetency over themselves, and with the populace enabling and tolerating it as well. If everyone demanded competency and honesty from their membership and their superiors, this kind of crap wouldn’t happen. But, since we’re all fallible humans, it does.

    Anecdote from the Seattle PD. I’ve known they had issues, which were (I hope…) mostly actual “isolated incidents”. To my knowledge, they were, but… Those cases of racial bias and prejudicial conduct became massively damaging to the SPD reputation and public image.

    Now, the thing is that none of the bad actors who made those things happen were exactly “unknown” to their peers. Nor were they entirely surprising to the civil and department leadership; Seattle has been a Democratic Party fiefdom since forever, and there’s no way the political class didn’t know what was going on. Yet, the rank and file tolerated their peers doing what they were doing, and the civil leadership did the same. When it finally blew up in their faces, everyone suffered the blowback.

    Solution to all of this? Grow the f*ck up. But, until we do that, another alternative would be fairly simple: Quit building these vast reef structures of incompetency and sloth. If we quit investing all this power and money into these things, then we wouldn’t have to worry about their inevitable abuse. There hasn’t been a single, solitary “virtuous organization” that’s managed to retain that virtue for much more than a single generation or two past its founding. It’s far past time we recognized this fact and built it into our assumptions about how to run our societies.

    Doesn’t matter what system you’re talking about, whether it’s the old Russian Empire, a Greek city state, or a modern nation. The problem is that there’s no mechanism for feeding real-world performance back into the system and holding the members/leaders accountable. If the Russian Empire had had a working process in place for honestly assessing leader/manager performance and then booting the incompetents, then they’d still be around today. Our problem is similar, and if you look at the situation we have, you’d note similar issues with organizational and bureaucratic dysfunction.

    Dealing with that is the real issue, not how we produce these creatures of the bureaucracy. Although, that does play into it a contributory factor.

  • bobby b

    “Solution to all of this? Grow the f*ck up.”

    Problem is, no matter how quickly (or not) people grow up, there’s always another class of kiddies turning 18 and becoming voters, and the bulk of the kids coming through the education system now are emerging from twelve years of “socialism and equity will save us” dogma which they have embraced.

    And so they vote that way, and they become activists for that philosophy, and (since that 18-25 group are the prime market for the world of consumerism) they become the leaders of trends and the gods of the marketing and media worlds.

    If we don’t take back education from the purple-haired two-spirit feminine teachers’ unions, this situation will not improve.

  • Kirk

    When I say “grow up”, I’m talking about humanity in general. We create these messes through our own stupidity; we can put an end to them fairly simply: Quit the stupid behavior.

    There was nothing mandating the essential suicide of China during the late Imperial era; they could have turned it around at any point right up to the end. Yet, they did not. Why?

    Same with the current decline of the West, or the simultaneous self-destruction of the Chinese and Russian states. Ukraine was a “war of choice” if there ever was one; if Putin had had the patience, NATO would have been self-dissolving in the face of zero actual demonstrated Russian threat.

    All of this crap is a choice; one we make collectively. Which implies that it can be undone, if we simply cease to behave like immature children.

  • Steven R

    How could bureaucracy be reined in? Government wants things, bureaucrats are the agents that make those things a reality. Even if we were to magically burn the current bureaucracy to the ground and start over fresh, how could we keep it from just growing into the monster it already is? And no matter how much we might say we’re setting up blocks to bureaucracy, it had historically shown that it finds ways around those blocks and expands through mission creep and new mandates from on high. It’s just how it goes and has been with every government and every bureaucracy.

  • Kirk

    @ Steven R,

    So, we’re helpless in the face of this Leviathan? Is that the way you see it?

    I do not. Creation of these floating free-form incompetencies is a conscious choice: You express it every time you say “There ought to be a law…” or “Someone should do something…”, or you essentially acquiesce to it when you allow your neighbor to say something like that and go unchallenged. Every little bit of the power these things have over the rest of us comes from one thing, and one thing only: Our participation in them, our validation of them. Cease to give them that power, they evaporate.

    The whole sorry edifice starts out from all these little things we give these bastards, in the hope that by ceding responsibility and autonomy, we’ll get a little bit of warmth and security in return. Instead, they take the little driblets of legitimacy and authority we grant them, and turn them into vast mills of horror.

    The fact is, precisely none of this BS is at all a “requirement of civilization”, simply because you cannot force civilization into existence through raw punitive power. You can, for a little bit, do that, but it will inevitably collapse. You’re witnessing the end-state of that attempt across much of urban North America as we speak. The raw fact is, civilization is not something you can impose upon the unwilling; you can’t take those vast urban populations of the uncivilized and somehow force them to “see the light”. That ain’t happening, plainly, and we can see the failure of that idea all around us. The simple fact is this: The artifacts of civilization that we think are externally forced are, instead, things that rise up from within each individual. The common belief is that you can impose these things from without is fallacy. It simply does not happen; you have to work it from the other end, such that the things we consider civilization are actually the product of the participants, not enforced on them from external fonts of power and authority.

    The reality was spoken by the founding fathers of the US, and the philosophers of the age that they arose from: Order and the benefits of civilization do not just happen; they are things that have to come from the souls of the participants. If they do not believe in the things that they need to, in order to maintain civilization, then they will not. You can observe the decivilizing effect of the academic indoctrination our society has undergone these last many years, with all the rise in intolerance for other ideas, and the conformity the high priests of conformity demand. They don’t know that they’re uncivilized, just as the primitive doesn’t know he is, either.

    Civilization isn’t an externality you can force on others; it has to come out of the willing and thinking participation of those who are its members. If they only mouth the words and ape the forms, then that is not truly civilization, in any way, shape, or form.

    There’s a simple test one can perform: Examine what happens when you withdraw the powers and authorities of what we daftly imagine to be the organs of civilization. What happens, then? Do the people abandoned by the men and women in power self-organize a working substitute, or do they devolve into Lord of the Flies, like Somalia?

    It’s interesting to contrast things… There was an actual “Lord of the Flies” situation a few years back, with a shipload of teenage boys in Oceania. They didn’t turn things into a hellscape nightmare, either: When found and rescued, they had a functional little community with rules and a state of civilization entirely in keeping with the true meaning of that word. There was nothing other than what came out of their minds and souls there, to make “civilization” happen, but it came about nonetheless.

    Compare that incident to the devolution of Somalia, and consider the reason why that happened. Civilization is an internal thing, not the result of some externality enforced by the powerful. And, we’re in the process of losing ours, because we remain blind to the reality, and trust all too much in the good will of those we’ve allowed power over us.

    The lesson of Timisoara is this: The regimes we allow power over us only have that power so long as we grant it to them. Withdraw it, and they fall, taking their power-mad little moral dwarfs with all the rest of it.

  • Doug Jones

    As with most things with sh*tty outcomes, you don’t need an organized conspiracy to screw things up, just a convergence of vested interests. As the philosopher George Carlin explains here.