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Green or Gold? (Part 1)
The "Gold" Agenda
In challenging the official Covid-19 narrative, sceptics like me face a daunting obstacle. We may highlight anomalies, contradictions, and downright absurdities in the actions taken by government, its allies, and associates. But unless we also come up with an alternative explanation that fits the facts better than the official narrative, the latter will remain the default position of most people.
As I mentioned last time, there are many theories floating around as to what the real agenda behind the pandemic is. For me, two stand out from the rest and I discuss the first here.
I like them both because the proponents make their respective cases logically and fluently. I don’t know either person so my judgement is not based on the characters or motives of the individuals involved. For me, it is the arguments themselves that count.
That is not to suggest that I am personally convinced by either theory. I simply present what I hope are fair synopses of each case in the belief that they offer credible alternatives to the official narrative, and are worthy therefore of consideration by the fair-minded reader.
Simon Elmer lives in London and is an architect and a socialist. He and his colleagues practise under the name Architects for Social Housing (ASH). They are trying to develop what they call a “socialist architecture” that focuses on the needs of people and their communities, one that offers an alternative to the forces of what they see as the predominant capitalist market.
Over the last year, however, architecture has taken a back seat as their focus shifts to the pandemic and its consequences. During that time, Simon Elmer has become one of the most persistent and erudite critics in Britain of the official Covid-19 narrative.
On March 18 2020, Elmer published his first online piece on the subject. In it he condemned the fear-mongering and heavy-handedness of the British authorities, already evident to him in their response to the crisis. He could also see the hype behind the message.
By grossly exaggerating the threat of coronavirus and COVID-19 to the health of the population, the Government and its state apparatuses are laying the groundwork to pass on the financial burden of lost revenue to the same people who paid for the financial crisis of 2007-08.
Since then he has produced numerous online articles in which he analyses the implications of government actions for all of us. In total, Elmer’s writings on Covid-19 amount to over 200,000 words, or the equivalent of a hefty book. Naturally Elmer’s focus is on Britain. But I believe that his analyses and arguments are just as relevant to Ireland.
Elmer’s thesis can be summed up in an extract from his paper published in July 2020.
The world of parliamentary democracies, of civil liberties and human rights, including our rights of assembly, speech, thought, privacy and a fair trial, of the division of powers between an executive, legislature and judiciary, of media scrutiny of Government, of freedom from censorship, of political activity itself, is now over.
According to Elmer, the elements necessary to make such a top-down revolution work are now falling into place. These are: “the legislation necessary to administer it, the technology required to police it, and the manufacture of popular consent to its implementation.”Never before has it been possible to bring all three ingredients together in the service of state power over its citizenry.
As I have learnt from my study of history, would-be dictators like Louis XIV could dream about imposing his will on the state. But without modern communications or technology his dream remained just that.
But is the pandemic simply an excuse for government to fulfil the goal of dictators throughout history? Power for its own sake? Elmer’s most recent piece attempts to address the $64,000 question (or questions):
Why is this being done, and to what end? Of what benefit, and to whose benefit, is the impoverishment of the population of the UK and of most other Western liberal democracies around the world? Why would the governments of capitalist economies deliberately set out to bankrupt millions of small businesses and drive tens of millions of workers into unemployment and destitution?
Elmer rejects what he asserts is the only de facto alternative to the official narrative, i.e. that “the whole thing has been manufactured by a conspiracy of powerful individuals and organisations”. He takes this position because – in his view – the concept of a “conspiracy theory” automatically implies that a small group of powerful individuals can manipulate the people at will - and the people are helpless to resist. So, as Elmer sees it, anyone who accepts the conspiratorial view of history is admitting their own impotence in the face of elite tyranny.
My own stance on this issue is captured by the Michael Moore quip I quoted in my last post, The “appalling vista”. However Elmer’s position is more subtle and, dare I say it, more convoluted. He suggests that his model of “conspiracy theory”, i.e. the omniscient few imposing their will on a helpless populace, has become - for a lot of people - the acceptable alternative explanation of otherwise puzzling events and developments in today’s world.
In a choice between being told that we are flies to the wanton boys running the world and blank incomprehension at the vast and terrifying complexity of that world, it seems we overwhelmingly prefer the first story for our evening’s television.
There may be some truth in this analysis. But it overlooks the reality that, irrespective of popular perceptions or cultural preferences, conspiracies do occur. We know this because of those cases where a conspiracy and the conspirators involved have been exposed.
So if we are neither “facing a civilisation-threatening virus” nor being played by a “conspiracy of powerful individuals and organisations”, what is Simon Elmer’s hypothesis?
Frankly, it’s another conspiracy – although Elmer has a different word for it.
We all know its name, and despite all the renewed predictions of its death it hasn’t gone away. On the contrary, it’s just going through a revolution — perhaps one worthy of a new prefix — but its name is still the same. Capitalism.
For Simon Elmer, capitalism is not the result of a conspiracy by the super-rich and their associates. It is an “abstract force” now tightening its control over our economic system.
There is no single author of change, not in the world of international markets. There are only the effects of millions of actions and transactions of vastly different sizes and influence which, when they converge with sufficient focus and force on a moment in time and place, bring about a revolution.
Elmer then goes on to itemise the myriad ways in which capitalists, in conjunction with government, are exploiting the opportunities opened up by the “new normal” and finding new ways to make money out of it. One of the many examples he cites are the “newly launched pharmacies run by banks to deliver repeat prescriptions to our door safely together with ‘a reminder of when to take our medicine’”.
But Elmer cannot completely avoid the “elephant in the room”. He muses on the links between Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum on the one hand and a plethora of commercial behemoths such as Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and Pfizer on the other. He explains the evident global co-ordination throughout the Covid-19 crisis as a result of “collaboration” between governments - just that. He alludes to a speech back in 2017 by Matt Hancock, then Minister for Digital and Culture, now the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in which this politician seemed to predict the very changes in society now coming about as a result of the crisis.
Yet Simon Elmer insists that what is unfolding in Britain, Ireland and many other countries, is not a conspiracy of vested interests creating an environment in which they can more easily line their pockets. He sees it rather as an evolution or mutation of capitalism into a new form that will produce:
an even wealthier and even more powerful ruling class, freed of the shackles of scrutiny and accountability.
And yes, it’s true. If we include in that class the likes of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, and Albert Bourla, head of Pfizer, then Covid-19 is the gift that keeps on giving.
In the first four months of 2020, Bezos’ fortune grew by $24bn.Given that many retail stores have been closed for the last year, his personal income can only have mushroomed as people are forced to shop at online providers like Amazon.
In 2021 alone, Pfizer’s new vaccine is expected to generate revenues of €12.5bn for the company. But it won’t stop there. Dr. Bourla expects that, because of the need for boosters and new formulations to deal with virus variants, the vaccine will provide a “durable” revenue stream into the future.
Undoubtedly Simon Elmer is correct in his argument that the Covid-19 crisis has provided a golden opportunity for big business. But that opportunity could not have arisen without the actions of government and the support of the media. As one newspaper reported recently, the British government has indemnified Pfizer against any legal action arising after its vaccine is administered.
Ministers have also changed the law in recent weeks to give new protections to companies such as Pfizer, giving them immunity from being sued by patients in the event of any complications.
Perhaps Elmer realises that his focus on capitalism as the culprit does not quite explain such an alignment of politics, business, and media interests. At the end of his most recent article he softens his opposition to a conspiratorial dimension concluding that “whether [it] is a conspiracy or opportunism ultimately doesn’t matter to the ends to which it is being directed”.
And, if Elmer is reading the signs accurately, those ends are nothing less than “a technological totalitarianism which…will make those of the Twentieth Century look like crude prototypes in comparison”.
He may be blinkered by his adherence to an artificial left/right dichotomy, but Simon Elmer has surely identified one of the key drivers of the Covid-19 crisis: the lure of gold.
“Covid-19 and Capitalism”, 18 Mar. 2020, Architects for Social Housing [https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2020/03/18/covid-19-and-capitalism/], 27 Mar. 2021.
“The New Normal: What is the UK Biosecurity State? (Part 1. Programmes and Regulations)”, 31 Jul. 2020, Architects for Social Housing [https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2020/07/31/the-new-normal-what-is-the-uk-biosecurity-state-part-1-programmes-and-regulations/], 29 Mar. 2021.
“Cui Bono? The COVID-19 ‘Conspiracy’”, 19 Feb. 2021, Architects for Social Housing [https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2021/02/19/cui-bono-the-covid-19-conspiracy/], 29 Mar. 2021.
The Guardian, 15 Apr. 2020.
Irish Times, 2 Feb. 2021.
Independent, 2 Dec. 2020.
“Cui Bono? The COVID-19 ‘Conspiracy’”.