This is part 1 of a three-part article we’ll be publishing over the course of the next week about the Covid regime and the choice presented by vaccine passports: collaboration or resistance. In the first instalment, Connor Kelly explains how people avoid the truth that we are witnessing a ‘fascism with 21st century characteristics’, along with the two psychological tricks used by the government to confuse the population and enlist those who believe they represent an ‘opposition’ as, in fact, supporters.
On 12 July the British Government announced that it will be strongly encouraging vaccine passports for venues and events to exclude the unvaccinated from public life. Although they say this is a voluntary act of discrimination, they have explicitly stated that they retain the option to make this mandatory in the future, as they also retain the option to resume police state measures as and when they please. The French government co-incidentally announced the same measure on the same day, only going much further, barring the unvaccinated from cafes, metro etc, and mandating vaccination of health workers – which is to say, putting the unvaccinated out of work. They follow the Irish and Greek governments which have brought in similar measures, along with other countries and states worldwide.
The long-term effects of these measures will be disastrous. It will normalise the discrimination, exclusion and persecution of a section of the population. It will unleash all of the resentment and rage that has built up over the crisis of the last 18 months onto the unvaccinated. If successfully implemented it may increase support for the new bio-surveillance state and create a permanent ‘buy in’ for the population. It is not enough to permit a return to normality. Others must be forbidden. It will be a disaster for the working class, and if supported by the left (or supported by the left by omission) then it will signal the total abandonment of socialism by self-declared socialists.
The short term intended effect of these measures is to increase vaccine uptake. This is clearly and openly coercion – an act of violence – and completely in breach of all established medical ethics, human rights and likely in breach of the law in many of the countries implementing it.
But we are past all such petty concerns like human rights, bodily autonomy and the rule of law. Who needs such old fashioned ‘muh freedom’ platitudes when you’ve got sexy hypermodern 21st century fascism replete with all the moral brownie points any conformist could want?
Fascism with 21st century characteristics
Yes, fascism. While most of the mainstream left have been obsessing over fringe neo-nazis and denouncing much of postwar culture as white supremacy, they have been cheering on, aligning themselves with, and justifying the new fascism. The main point of contention as we can see so clearly this week with the cries of ‘We demand stricter orders!’ – is that the new fascism isn’t fascist enough for them. But it is understandable. They cannot recognise what is occurring as fascism because they imagine that were fascism to return it would be goose-stepping, Sieg Heiling and murderously racist, or perhaps under the guise of Catholic values and militarism (which ought to be a demonstration of the many fasces of fascism).
But why should a fascist formation in the year 2021 closely resemble the Third Reich or Falangist Spain? Why under 21st century economic and social conditions shouldn’t it be modern, sophisticated, even (officially at least) anti-racist? Would fascism not function just as well on the basis of newly created identities, newly created grievances and newly created victims? But as governments state their intention to openly persecute a minority of the population through a population labelling system on the basis of ‘public health’, the RACIAL HYGIENE klaxon seems still to be silent in the mind of many a left-winger.
The main reason people refuse to see what is happening as the imposition of a new fascism is because they themselves are supporting it and participating in it. And if they have been or are supporting it then it couldn’t possibly be fascism. They are a good and moral person and could never support fascism, or more to the point could never be fooled into supporting it. Never underestimate how powerful the motive to retain one’s self image is. The longer this goes on and the more brutal the measures enforced the more powerful this motivation becomes. The difficulty of admitting you have been fooled is directly proportional to how much and for how long you have been fooled. Perhaps my labelling of the new regime as fascist will make it even more difficult for people to break from it, as the immediate instinct is self defence – ‘I’m not a fascist. This guy’s a lunatic, he’s calling me a fascist!’ But it is important to name what is occurring. It is important to draw out the historical parallels to stir whatever moral intellect has been swamped under a mountain of propaganda.
Our brand new shiny fascist state
The state has declared a (permanent) state of emergency, imposed a police state through the use of mass psychological terror that is totalitarian in traditional sense. There is nothing outside the Covid State. They reserve the right to impose or lift restrictions on everyday life at their whim. They can and do impose massive, bankrupting fines on anyone who transgresses their ever-shifting rules. They have used police violence to break up countless legal demonstrations. Ministers can write laws with a swish of their pen.
They have operated the biggest propaganda campaign in history, which is complemented by censorship – both covert and overt – across the board. Propaganda is literally everywhere. Almost every organisation in the country has voluntarily become propaganda instruments of the state. Supermarket tannoys announce state propaganda. Every billboard includes state propaganda. You pass people in the street and their conversations consist of state propaganda. Landlords send letters to their tenants telling them to get vaccinated, usually with official state propaganda flyers attached. The public receives regular text messages containing state propaganda. They have (it is documented) employed military intelligence (psyops) divisions to wage psychological warfare on their own populations spreading state propaganda across the digital space. They have the mainstream media by the balls through the massive amounts of public money going to media organisations from the state to fund the propaganda campaign. The entire economic and social activity of the state and all its citizens – as in a state of total war – is directed towards the war effort, in this case the obviously unwinnable and therefore permanent war on death.
Anyone opposing the police state is ostracised socially and denounced by the same politicians, the press and thereafter society at large. The concept of ‘misinformation’ has been normalised and there are calls – from the Labour Party – for harsher penalties on those spreading what is now described as ‘misinformation’ online. These dissidents are considered dangerous and a threat to the health of the nation. This has created an environment of ‘total policing’ where people police themselves and others to stay in line with the diktats of the Covid state. In short, it is an atmosphere of terror. Questions, inquiry and debate are called conspiracy theory – a term that has been rebranded to vastly increase its scope, potency and the ‘threat level’ associated with it. ‘Conspiracy theorists’ must be rooted out, and silenced. Why? Because they might increase doubt in the official state ideology. Any doubt in the state ideology is a threat to the health of the nation.
The state means to make permanent this hygiene obsessed regime with digital health passports that are designed for no other reason than to exclude those who are not fully on board. This has the double effect of wedding the in-group majority ever more to the new state ideology and making dissidents and troublemakers easily identifiable for persecution. It also provides an easy target to direct public anger towards (that isn’t the state) in the absence of other more socially unpalatable scapegoats, geopolitical rivalry and the usual putrid nationalism – though this will likely be revived. Through health passports, the nation (and its ‘health’) is fully under control. The definition of good health – defined by the state alone – can be expanded or contracted as is necessary. You think this health policy goes too far, you dare to question the official state ideology? You are exiled from social life.
Human beings, persons have been reduced to vectors of disease, lumps of meat. Leper until proven clean (and the means of proof reside only with the state). The health of the nation is paramount. Dignity, rights, autonomy, organisation, a free press, parliament, democratic life in general – all these can be and are sacrificed for the health of the nation. Class struggle (from our side) is halted for the health of the nation – the largest upward transfer of wealth in human history, the financial, social and psychological immiseration of the working class passes off with a ‘but you do not go far enough!’ from the loyal opposition (which includes almost every left-right political party, major institution and NGO in the new total Covid state). The new regime has created and functions through a massive public-private bureaucratic machine that is obsessed with the testing and categorisation of human beings and takes as its official and only justifying mission: the health of the nation.
Aside from the obvious, unprecedented narrative weaving and social engineering that have been unleashed on an atomised public, opposition is neutralised and consent manufactured by two base, transparent political tricks that have worked countless times throughout the crisis.
1. Leading up to a (ritualised) date that announces a review of restrictions, the government generates terror on a mass scale – through its new gargantuan propaganda machine. Imaginary variants, case numbers, double mutants (the possibilities are endless). For a short time in the lead up, the government poses as being opposed to its own restrictions that it alone is imposing (‘But Boris is a libertarian, look! He’s opposed to the very thing that he is doing!’). The liberals and the left, wanting only to say the opposite of whatever the government says shout, ‘but we must have more restrictions! He means to kill us all!’ Then the government comes out, having manufactured total political consent for more / different restrictions and says that ‘due to worrying data blah blah, alas, we must continue the fascist project’. I have seen people who oppose policies of the Tory government being accused of ‘lining up with the Tories / Boris’ by those on the left. This particular play has happened so many times now that I am perplexed that the marks have not yet seen the con.
2. Leading up to a (ritualised) date that announces a review of restrictions, the government releases a barrage of mixed messages. One minister will go on TV and say one thing, another on the radio and say the opposite. This tactic is reserved for controversial policies like vaccine passports. The hail of mixed messages makes it impossible to know what the government’s actual position is. This immunises it against real opposition because ¼ of the public thinks the government is in principle against vaccine passports and only considering them as a last resort, ¼ thinks they are shelved, definitely not happening. ¼ thinks they are definitely happening (hello), and ¼ has given up trying to make heads or tails of it. Who can organise an effective campaign against a policy that no one is sure really exists? Then all of a sudden, in the confusion, the policy is suddenly enacted.
In this way, the government tricks those who believe they are opposed to it into supporting its policies, into becoming the militant mouthpieces for those policies. The regime has tricked the opposition into being its most vociferous enforcers. But in reality, from established political organisations there is no opposition to the regime. Their quarrels (which are easily neutralised by the above tricks) are with the flavour of restrictions, not restrictions themselves – ‘Oh, but nobody is questioning the need for restrictions, we simply must have restrictions’. Thus you have phoney debates about tier systems, half-lockdowns, more or less freedom. But you never see someone say ‘lockdowns are immoral and don’t work anyway’ even though this is the most solid, grounded position which can be defended by asking people to take a cursory glance at reality. Thousands of mini-Quislings out-Pétaining one another in performative submission. For the good out the country of course. Because it’s the right thing to do.
The psychological tricks
I sent letters around last Autumn encouraging people, particularly those on the left, to break with the new order and stand against it. In them, I predicted the passport regime that is now unfolding. In the second I wrote how I went from supporting lockdown to opposing it, precisely because I wanted to show people that it was OK to change their minds. I wrote out how I was convinced that lockdown doesn’t work. The evidence mainly consisted of Sweden, Florida and other places that actually exist in the real world, and also the fact that the lockdowns haven’t worked. The evidence for lockdown failure is 100 times clearer now than it was then. No one in this country can show how lockdowns have worked, no one – they have failed miserably, disastrously and repeatedly on their own terms – and yet a majority supports them and are convinced that they work.
What we are dealing with here is not reason – at least not as it is usually understood – but an inversion of reason, the intellect put to work to defend the statement: ‘The sky is green’. What we are dealing with is a psychological defence mechanism, both personal and social, operating on a massive scale, and being expertly weaponised by the state. Again, it is ridiculously difficult to recognise this in oneself (it’s a self defence mechanism!). It becomes even more difficult when it is socially widespread. No one wants to think of themselves as being caught up in a mass hysteria. No one wants to think of themselves as having been fooled. No one wants to deviate so dramatically from approved opinion and be branded as a lunatic. No one wants to think of themselves as being devoted to their self image (which is itself devotion to one’s self image).
(On the last point about self image – it is not a coincidence that all this occurred in a historically new (social) media environment where everyone and their granny is perpetually curating a self image that is open to attack from orders of magnitude more threats than in pre-social media life. The automatic, ‘normal’ response to a crisis entering this new (head) space is imitation, and a herd-mentality. The primary drive becomes ‘being seen to be’ one thing or another by society at large, or its opposite – not being seen at all. This is particularly acute as the threat of total social humiliation is open for anyone who transgresses – something that was once reserved only for the famous.
The quest to stand out from the ever-enlarging crowd results, paradoxically, in mass flattening, mass imitation, maximum conformism within a proliferation of ideological tribes. The same process then plays out between the tribes and they come to resemble one another more and more. (It becomes increasingly difficult, for instance to distinguish liberals from socialists.) Moreover, since real world social life was abolished for much of the crisis the digital became more real than the real, and so bled through into the real world in a much greater way than has ever happened before – this increases the sense of mass delusion and detachment from ‘reality’ as people become unable to distinguish between what is real and what is not. It is questionable whether ‘bled through’ is even an adequate term here as occurrences in the digital sphere and the ‘real world’ are merging fully. It is another interesting parallel that 20th century fascism flourished in a new, disruptive media environment that enlarged people’s sense of the world and their place within it and shattered the epistemologies of previous eras.)
No one in this country even bothers to assert any reasons for why lockdown worked. It is taken as an article of faith. It is a moral argument. Saying they don’t work is immoral. The only argument anyone has in favour of lockdowns is ‘lockdowns work because we are doing it / did it’. That is the long and short of it. The psychological (and consequently social and political) consequences of them not working are too much to bear. It would mean that governments lied, continually, knowingly and maliciously. It would mean that people’s lives were wrecked for nothing. It would mean that people were fooled, on a massive scale. It would mean all the social media preening and ‘look at me, I’m a super lockdown hero’ would be revealed for the farce that it was. People would lose confidence in almost every large institution. The mainstream media would be kaput. The reputation of the NHS, academy, state bodies would be in tatters. No one would ever listen to a lockdown zealot, or Zero Covidian’s opinion on anything ever again. Psychologically, we cannot afford for lockdowns to not work thus ensuring that they will definitely happen again. It is a mass ‘noble lie’ with the most ignoble of origins and the most destructive of consequences – a deal with the devil.