Stupid and Evil in Equal Measure
Mass containment as conspiracy and as emergent phenomenon


From the Substack post on November 3, 2021, by eugyppius.

Part I

Very soon, millions of children will be vaccinated against a virus that is less dangerous to them than influenza. These useless vaccinations will kill some of them, and they will not save any lives. As outrages go, this one is very far up there. It is also the latest in a long line: Many countries have for months observed a sustained trend of elevated mortality in younger demographics, almost surely the result of vaccine-induced myocarditis. It is now plain that the press will downplay indefinitely widespread economic and supply chain chaos, following months of unprecedented and totally pointless closures. Suddenly millions of people cannot leave their supposedly open, democratic countries, or engage in economic activity, without submitting to medical treatments they don’t want. On top of all this comes months of media hysteria and repeated population-wide house arrests—all to box in a virus that, as pandemics go, clocks in at merely somewhat-bad.

A big problem, is how to understand this. As a rule, I am open to all plausible theories, and I find many conspiratorial approaches to the Corona phenomenon to be spiritually or metaphorically accurate, even if I disagree with their details. By and large, though, I’ve resisted interpretations that detect a specific, malevolent plan behind these events. I’ve preferred to see this cascade of unrelenting, self-imposed destruction as the fruit of bureaucratic incompetence and elite stupidity. Many disagree with me, including friends like Sandpiper, who are not content with leaving the whole stage to failure. At the link you’ll find an abstract formulation of this view, which is particularly attractive, because it does not require that we accept any particular theory, but merely a model of what is happening. Sandpiper posits an “inner conspiracy” and an “outer conspiracy.” The outer conspiracy is “the way the agenda is sold … what the True Believers actually think they are doing.” The “inner conspiracy,” meanwhile, “is the small circle of people … who created the vision for their own benefit, because they have political goals they want to achieve.”

Think of John le Carré’s cold-war spy novel, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. As it opens, we find the British intelligence services beset by rampant bureaucratic chaos. Events progress, and we discover that all of this apparent stupidity and failure is the doing, directly or otherwise, of a Russian mole, or double agent, who has worked his way up the ranks over many years, and succeeded in turning the agency inside-out. There is the outer conspiracy—all the lower bureaucrats destroying their institution in a blind eagerness to curry favour with and carry water for the guys at the top. There is the inner conspiracy, of the mole—working towards a very different purpose.

*

All containment policies, since March 2020, flow from two fundamental premises, that together form a Pandemic Doctrine: 1) All pandemic infections are regrettable and to be prevented. 2) It is possible to control pandemics via social or medical technology.

Before 2020, nobody anywhere believed either of these things—not despite, but because of long experience with semi-regular pandemic influenza outbreaks. Today, however, the Pandemic Doctrine has become one of the highest Western political orthodoxies. Asking whether the Corona response is at root a conspiracy or a failure is a less specific way of asking where the Pandemic Doctrine came from. This is a more crucial matter than even the laboratory origins of SARS-2, and so of course many details are hidden from us. We can only locate its approximate origins, somewhere in the unsettling three-act history of lockdowns and their origins:

Act I, The Mad Scientists: China admits to the Wuhan outbreak at the end of December 2019, and immediately thereafter — from the earliest days of January 2020 — Western scientists begin to act in subtle yet crucial ways. Christian Drosten develops a PCR test for SARS-2 on the basis of social media reports, before the virus has even been sequenced. Our Pfizer/BioNTech spike-based mRNA vaccines are invented just a few weeks later. Here, building blocks for what is to come are laid, but in a quiet way, out sight.

Act II, Chinese Quarantine Theatre. China quarantines Hubei, weird virus apocalypse videos flood the internet, and there is tense quiet as the World Health Organisation sponsors a joint mission to study the effectiveness of these novel containment measures. China claims success, and at the end of February a Sinophile faction within the WHO wins out; the agency recommends lockdowns to the world. Important things start to happen everywhere and all at once. Here in Germany, for example, Drosten gets his daily state media Corona-Update podcast, which guides a great part of press coverage to this day. More broadly, European media begins to report very heavily on Corona. It is on the news every night. Countries start to get WHO-adjacent Corona tsars, and a lot of narratives are seeded. The WHO begins ringing the alarm about ventilators.

Act III, Lockdowns for the West: Of all the initiatives blossoming at the end of Act II, it is mass testing in Lombardy that bears first fruit. These operations uncover community transmission of SARS-2, and Hubei-style lockdowns are announced for all of Italy by 10 March. There follows a massive pro-lockdown propaganda blitz across social media and the press. Crucial elements are directed from China. From here our national stories diverge. I will follow the German thread, which I know best: Around the time Neil Ferguson publishes his panic modelling study, on 16 March, Drosten and the head of the Robert Koch Institut (the German equivalent of the American CDC) pressure our interior minister to come up with reasons to deepen and extend containment in Germany. There ensue widespread efforts within the public health sectors of the German government to promote lockdowns to the media, to elected politicians, and to other bureaucrats. These efforts benefit from Chinese advice, laundered through low-level cut-outs. By the end of March, mass containment is firmly established, and it persists to this day, as a matter of broad consensus within the bureaucracy, the press, academia, and the private sector.

*

China is the red thread running through all three acts. It is the source of the virus, and of the Pandemic Doctrine as well. The belief that every infection is regrettable and that suppression is possible was first modelled for the world in Hubei, and then taken up by all of our respective governments in turn, with Chinese advice and encouragement. They used their leverage with coordinating international organisations, particularly the WHO, and also their reach within Western academia, to seed this doctrine. It then became a great fire that consumed our bureaucracies. These are institutions which are optimised for uniting around consensus positions and propagating them internally. This is a great source of power for them.

And this is also important: The bureaucrats did not merely sign on to the Pandemic Doctrine. They were converted to it, from a prior set of nostrums, which held that respiratory viruses are inevitable, and the best thing you can do is not worry about them too much. Unconvincing people is very hard, but de-converting them is basically impossible. This is toothpaste that will never go back in the tube.

Everything since then, has been the autonomous force of the Pandemic Doctrine and its terrible demands. As containment policies have failed, one after the other, they have left a vortex of disconfirmed expectancy in their wake, turning early political and bureaucratic advocates of containment into truly deranged zealots. The policies themselves, though they are articles of faith, have little or no real-world effect, and this has had curious consequences. It became important for all countries to do as many useless things as possible, and more or less the same useless things as everyone else. Bureaucracies that rejected a specific measure risked being blamed for whatever happened next. And without controls, the failure of containment could be rewritten always and forever as success: “Imagine how many more deaths we would have had, if we never locked down.”

Because they are not fixed in place by any function, containment measures have in time decayed as concepts and acquired different purposes. Masks have devolved into accessories for political signalling, and also social and psychological crutches. The press have so overplayed the risk of Corona, as to make even supermarket shopping an unacceptable risk. Masks are how you can go to the hairdresser and send your kids to school, while also believing you are at any moment likely to contract a fatal disease and that by the very act of breathing your child may kill Oma. Many of our measures, powerless against the virus, have been repurposed in this way—as social and scientific fictions that allow the necessary routines of daily life to coexist with widespread virus hysteria.

The vaccines are just a further stage in this inevitable process. Lockdowns and the rest of it did not work. But the Pandemic Doctrine that demands lockdowns cannot be abandoned; there can only be new methods. From the erratic zeal with which our governments embraced vaccinations, you can take the measure of how desperately they hoped to escape the destructive cycle of periodic mass closures. But now the vaccines are also failing, and vaccine policies have begun to experience the very same decay in conception and drift in purpose that transformed the non-pharmaceutical interventions. Every day, the vaccines become less about reducing transmission or reducing hospitalisations, and more about a whole array of other things: About making a terrorised public feel comfortable going outside, about making the operation of schools socially and politically acceptable, about signalling that you are on the side of science and responsibility.

*

This is already too long, so there will have to be a second part.

To summarise the ground we have covered so far: It’s true that bureaucratic initiatives and policies tend to originate with a specific circle of people—the “inner conspiracy” of Sandpiper‘s conception. But there are at any given moment a million nascent inner conspiracies. Most of them die in the womb. A select few succeed in propagating themselves throughout the system, and throughout other systems too. Thereafter the inner conspiracy ceases to matter, and there is only the “outer conspiracy,” that is to say the autonomous undirected actions of a million nameless faceless bureaucrats, which nobody can any longer control. Any further inputs would require another successfully propagated inner conspiracy, and you can’t will those into being, anymore than you can will yourself into winning the lottery. They are lightning in a bottle.

None of this is to say that things are hopeless, only that mass containment is at root a social and political process, with properties of inertia. The policies themselves will continue to drift and decay, as the forces that drive them are expended. The Pandemic Doctrine was not a slow burn, like climate change or the campaign against carbohydrates. It was a massive explosion. The bureaucrats will never de-convert, but they will more and more turn their attention to other things, as success against Corona even on their own terms proves impossible.

Part II

Heavily bureaucratised Western governments are a recent development. They are a product of the Industrial Revolution and the mass society that it enabled. Before the modern bureaucratic apparatus arose, governments behaved more legibly, towards a much more confined set of purposes. Primarily, they collected taxes and waged wars. What the bureaucracy has brought us, is a wealth of ancillary government functions that nobody even 100 years ago could have imagined, together with a suite of bizarre and unpredictable behaviour that nobody can explain. Corona has been an object lesson in all of the truly crazy and destructive things a broadly distributed bureaucratic policy consensus founded upon false premises can achieve.

Conspiratorial analysis characterises dissident thought on both the left and the right. It represents an attempt to understand, in human terms, the baffling machinations of the bureaucrats. In general, we prefer to see institutional actions as the expression of specific people, namely our elites. These are the people who, for most of human history, really were responsible for government and institutional strategy. To the extent I don’t always agree with the conspiracy theorists, it is not that I think their ideas are crazy. Quite the opposite – theirs is a deeply traditional approach to understanding political power and institutional action; if anything, it is not nearly crazy enough.

Elites, universal to human societies, are that subset of humans who enjoy the greatest social and cultural status. They are both an expression of their societies, and a force that gives their societies shape and direction. The industrial processes that turned government into this sprawling bureaucratised mess, have also done something very strange to our elites. Mass society, human mobility and technology have untethered them from the local environments that used to give them meaning. We now have a class of globalising, extra-national super-elites, who identify primarily with each other, and who have lost contact with their native populations. These super-elites are the ultraglobalist clowns at the centre of many Corona conspiracies. They are people like Klaus Schwab and Bill Gates.

These elites have a lot of prestige within the bureaucratic ranks, and in the political world, and among many of us. They command vast resources. They have furthermore developed a peculiar agenda, one which reflects their own anxieties and aspirations. In implementing this agenda, they have the same problems as everyone else: They have to manipulate the bureaucratic monolith in all of its heavy, bewildering complexity.

In fact, elite withdrawal from specific national contexts and commitment to a bland, unpalatable universalising agenda means their task is even harder. To compensate, they have adopted highly coordinated messaging tactics. The World Economic Forum, which is at base a conference circuit organised by Klaus Schwab, is one of the more visible ways that they coordinate messaging. The media everywhere – even media they do not directly own or control – is very sensitive to these tactics. By now almost all of the press is wholly given over to elite messaging.

Philanthropy is another way that they aim to influence bureaucratic structures for their own ends. Most very wealthy elites are heavily involved in philanthropy anyway; it is an enterprise by which they hope to exchange money for status. Once you have the philanthropy machine up and running, you might as well use it to promote other goals too. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works in all kinds of ways upon university, governmental and corporate bureaucracies. They provide funding for crackpot projects, steer campaign donations to amenable politicians, encourage the elaboration of specific bureaucratic sectors devoted to the stuff they like, and fund dedicated media outlets to promote their causes. They love public-private partnerships, via which bureaucrats agree to do the the things that the philanthropy machine wants and that the philanthropy machine pays for.

All of these efforts are indirect, and they don’t always work as intended. Climate change is something the elites have been pushing very hard for a long time now – and with very mixed results, despite widespread consensus that the earth will melt down in a few years. There are various problems with climate change as an action item for the bureaucrats. A big one is that the agenda it presents does not call the bureaucracy as a whole to action, speaking instead primarily to specific bureaucratic subdivisions.

*

In the first post, I noted that most of the small inner conspiracies of the bureaucrats are never realised. “Aspirations” is too harmless a word for these small plots, but maybe “conspirations” will do. Western bureaucracies are littered with conspirations. They are plans, ideas and goals that for whatever reason are impossible right now, but that it is hoped may be realised in the future. Many of these will just wither on the vine, but here and there, one conspiration or the other will succeed. Moreover, many of the conspirations are networked to each other. When one conspiration is sprung, it will trigger others, and a whole cascade of conspirations will come to fruition – without anybody really understanding how or why.

All those years of the elite machinery leaning on the bureaucracy to speak English, open the borders, and ban fossil fuels – that has caused many conspirations to be realised, but even more than that, it has caused a million others to take shape.

These small moments of potential energy, scattered through countless offices, can be set off by any number of things. An earthquake, Donald Trump’s election, a scientific theory that meat causes heart attacks. The chaotic happenings of the world activate some of these conspirational traps, and they don’t activate others.

To bring this basic model nearer our area of concern: You must imagine that all kinds of planners and academics have spent decades anticipating a pandemic event. Entire careers devoted to this problem, out of sight. When a pandemic happens that meets the criteria, particular conspirations are propagated throughout the system and these mouldering plots are brought to your attention. What you do not see, is all of the conspirations surrounding nuclear warfare, killer bees, or meteor strikes, which never got anywhere. What you also don’t see, are the vast majority of world events towards which the bureaucracy is wholly indifferent and which trigger no conspirations at all. Events on which the bureaucracy acts will therefore very often seem to have been planned in advance. In a sense, they were. But the conspirational bureaucrats did not cause the mobilising event, and they did not foresee the future either. They were just primed to react to this specific event, and not others.

*

Elite villains, by exerting steady pressure over many years, can expand the potential for the bureaucratic apparatus to react in certain ways. What programs actually get taken up, and how they are implemented, nobody can predict. It seems that stimuli which act upon many different facets of the bureaucracy at the same time will be favoured. An event which promotes conspirations in Public Health and Education and Defence will be more likely to set the whole bureaucracy ablaze, than an event that interests primarily the National Park Service.

The scope for successful conspiracies is therefore very limited. Western governments cannot act, except through their massive unwieldy bureaucratic apparatus, and this can only be mobilised by broad consensus within the bureaucratic ranks. Conspirators must activate the bureaucracy, but once they have succeeded in this, how the bureaucracy acts will be an unpredictable matter.

The conspirationists inside the bureaucracy merely want to propagate their agenda. They don’t care precisely what happens. Outside conspirators with concrete goals are in a much worse position. Their aims must be very short-term, preferably accomplished by the initial reaction. Aims of this nature are almost all subversive or destructive. Conspirators might have some reasonable hope of starting a war, diverting attention, wasting resources, or discrediting the bureaucracy itself. These are the kinds of things that intelligence services get up to.

Public health has been a particularly volatile aspect of our bureaucracy, for a lot of reasons: It is well networked with other bureaucratic offices, and it addresses matters of immediate relevance to many ordinary people. Here, there are many dangerous and interrelated conspirations on the verge of realisation. You can tell because sometimes, they are so over-determined by bureaucratic interest, they actually start trying to happen. Twenty years ago, a lot of pandemic planning surrounded matters of bio-warfare and bio-defence, and we had the anthrax attacks and the war in Iraq to take Saddam Hussein’s bio-weapons away from him.

Since then, the philanthropy machines have worked steadily to redirect the attention of the disease bureaucrats to naturally-occurring pathogens. This is very much the legacy of the SARS outbreak from 2003, but also of third-world Ebola outbreaks and the like. Thus the Open Philanthropy Project, in the years leading up to the pandemic, poured massive funding into the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, in the hopes that they would start thinking less about bio-weapons and more about things like SARS-related coronaviruses. In part to announce this new focus, the Centre for Health Security held Event 201 in the October 2019 – the most astounding of all the astounding planning prophecies. That curiosity aside, a global pandemic has been trying to happen for a while now, as the entirely false panic around the 2009 Swine Flu indicates.

I am an anonymous internet poster, and if I can make these observations, other people can too. Sophisticated foreign actors, once they observe that many western bureaucracies are primed to react to a global pandemic – are indeed pining for one to happen – well, that opens certain paths of action to them. I am not saying this is what happened, merely that it strikes me as the most plausible avenue for inquiry.

*

If there was a conspiracy to goad our bureaucracies into this overreaction, its goals were realised, or not, right away. Study the events of January, February and March 2020 for clues. This ongoing cascade of miserable insanity is the fruit of very complex processes that nobody could have planned or foreseen. And while the clown globalist super-elite have certainly done a great deal to create the potential for many of these absurdities, they were not the first movers as events unfolded. In the earliest days, it is first China, then a small western scientific clique, and finally China-friendly factions within the World Health Organisation, who did all of the implementation. Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab came later, with buffoonish books like the Great Reset, which are nothing more than attempts to make the pandemic all about the soul-destroying empty worthless stuff that they already wanted everything to be about: Sustainability, climate change, bugs instead of meat.

In the meantime, a million conspirations have matured, and the bureaucracy has ascended to new heights of power. Bureaucrats have totally sidelined elected politicians in many of our countries. The people enforcing masks in schools, daily antigen testing, vaccine mandates, social distancing, contact tracing, air filtration, ventilation, and hand sanitiser are not Bill Gates or Klaus Schwab. They are hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats implementing a hundred thousand different plans. Whatever happened at the beginning, it is clear enough that it has developed into an ongoing, global bureaucratic coup d’état. Nobody knows how to stop it.

UPDATE: A critique recurring here and there in the replies, is that bureaucracy predates the Industrial Revolution. Indeed, from ancient Rome to medieval England, there were bureaucracies also in the pre-modern world. With industrialisation and the emergence of mass society, however, the bureaucratic apparatus has expanded to the point that a quantitative difference has become a qualitative one. In their scale, complexity, and their power, modern bureaucracies are like nothing the world has ever seen before, and they cause states to behave in new and incomprehensible ways. Above all, power has been steadily diffused downwards, through the ranks of countless even mid-level functionaries, and government policies are subject to enormous inertia. Those who doubt this, should look at the military. This is one sector of the bureaucracy, which for operational reasons has tried to avoid the unmanageable diffusion of powers and prerogatives. They have gone to extreme lengths to establish clear lines of command, ensure obedience to orders, and avoid excessive consensus-based decision making. Without this overt command discipline, it is impossible for any single person to direct bureaucratic structures, or for the bureaucrats themselves to shift strategies, absorb new information, or take up fresh initiatives quickly.