Remaking The World, Riding On The Coat-Tails Of An Unseen Agent

by V. Anantha Nageswaran - May 24, 2020 12:16 PM +05:30 IST
Remaking The World, Riding On The Coat-Tails Of An Unseen AgentUS Capitol Hill (Wikimedia Commons) 
  • Why is most of global media selling total lockdown as the only approach againt Covid-19? Why is the Swedish approach being denounced so much?

    The biggest danger to the world is not the virus but the possibility that this period will lead to the peaks of the administrative state being occupied by some kind of transnational elite.

While the outbreak Covid-19 may be found to just be an accident, the response to it has been anything but.

Global elites smarting from their failures to stop Brexit, to stop Donald Trump from becoming President and to stop Boris Johnson from becoming the Prime Minister have realised that this might be their last and best chance for many years to come. Some of us never thought that we would live to see the stuff we read in popular or science fictions play out in our lifetimes.

It is human nature to label anything that we do not wish to believe ‘conspiracy theory’ and those we would like to as a ‘plausible working hypothesis’ or ‘a good starting point’. I leave that up to you, dear reader.

‘First FT’ – a daily mail that drops into one’s mailbox – reported on 21 May (‘Sweden’s death toll unnerves its Nordic neighbours’, 20 May 2020) that Sweden’s Nordic neighbours were considering maintaining travel restrictions on the country because…

You guessed it. It did not fall in line with conventional wisdom. For its ‘failure’ to obey the diktats of unaccountable and unelected power, it has to be punished. In fact, the number of deaths that Sweden has suffered since the pandemic broke out per million population is no worse than several other European nations that locked down extensively. It is lower than that of Spain, France, UK and Belgium. It is comparable to that of the Netherlands and Ireland.

Based on work done by the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, Elaine He wrote in Bloomberg that there was little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities — a measure that looks at the overall number of deaths compared with normal trends.

The article goes on to note further that the relative strictness of a country’s containment measures had little bearing on its membership in any of the three groups of countries.

The three groups being countries that experienced extremely high excess mortality; countries that suffered more deaths than usual but significantly lower than the first group and the third group of countries where deaths remained within a normal range.

Yet, with incredible regularity, mainstream media outlets predict incalculable harm visiting Sweden for its audacity not to toe the line.

‘Financial Times’ came up with a feat of statistical acrobatics to project Sweden as a ‘rogue nation’ in tackling the virus: “Sweden has the highest mortality rate per capita at this stage of the epidemic, according to a Financial Times tracker that uses a seven-day rolling average of new deaths.”

Johan Giesecke, former Swedish Government epidemiologist, did not claim that Sweden would do better than other nations that imposed draconian lockdown. He simply said that in a year or two, Sweden will be seen to have done no worse than nations that imposed total lockdown.

The only difference is that countries that imposed lockdown would also be incurring economic, social and psychological costs and physical loss of lives too due to other causes.

Johan Giesecke is not alone in saying this.

Prof. Hendrik Streeck of the University of Bonn told Freddie Sayers at that a more feasible approach than attempting to suppress the virus completely until a vaccine (which he is not confident will arrive) was found was to allow the gradual spread of the disease with lower doses, through continued hygiene measures, leading to a widespread of partial immunity.

Karol Sikora, Britain’s leading oncologist, also told Sayers that Sweden’s end-result would be no different from theirs or that of others. “When the history books are written, the fear will have done much more damage than the virus, including large numbers of cancer and cardiological patients not being treated and dying unnecessarily.”

On 19 May, The Economist had a chart on the share of cancer surgeries cancelled around the world during the peak 12 weeks of disruption from covid-19.

The Singapore Police Force reported a 22 per cent increase in domestic violence since the country’s ‘circuit breaker’ began in April.

The World Population Fund anticipates more cases of domestic violence, inadequate access to modern contraceptives and increased female genital mutilation.

In a co-authored brief, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States wrote that rising numbers of sick people, growing unemployment, increased anxiety and financial stress, and a scarcity of community resources have set the stage for an exacerbated domestic violence crisis.

So, the big questions are why such avoidable tragedies are being let loose on the world’s most vulnerable? Why are exaggerated fears of millions of death being generated, fuelled and sustained? Who gains from it?

Elites – who dream of remaking the world to their design - have decided that the massive economic dislocation, loss of lives and livelihoods and adverse physical and psychological health effects caused by the systematic spread of panic and enforcement of lockdowns were a ‘small price’ to pay for their grand, lofty and noble aim of saving the world from political leaders that they don’t like.

Even as some commentators criticise the extensive and pervasive intrusion into our lives that contact tracing implies, they know that there is an ‘upside’ to such an assault on individual freedom. They are betting on the build-up of anger and resentment of the population against incumbent governments in democracies so that regime change could be effected.

The longer the governments are successfully persuaded to keep their countries in lockdown and the longer they are required to subject their population to severely abridged freedoms, the greater are the chances of the public voting governments out whenever elections are called.

That partly explains criticisms of countries that do not enforce lockdowns and dire warnings of disasters that would rain upon nations that dare to lift the lockdowns or do not impose one or impose them only partially.

The idea is to cower the rulers and the ruled back into confinement with adverse economic, social and health consequences to follow.

That is why it makes no sense to resort to any medicine that is already available and that may be effective. Locking down the country is the prescribed course of action unless and until an expensive vaccine is found.

In this world view, whether the country has 5 deaths per million (Indonesia) or 89 deaths per million (Brazil) or 380 deaths per million (Sweden) or less than one per million (African nations), they are irresponsible if they dare to think differently.

Honest do-gooders and experts would offer governments multiple and diverse pieces of evidence rather than prescribing a homogeneous approach that comes with a very high cost, especially when assembling policies to respond to an extraordinary event like a pandemic. However, if the objective is to exercise unelected power eventually, then keeping out and discouraging other approaches that would restore normalcy to the world begins to make sense.

Where do we go from here?

The world has to wait for the Godot (sorry, vaccine) that philanthropists and their foundations are pushing. The vaccine will arrive, preferably, after the November Presidential elections and, until then, keep the people locked up and the economy in lockdown.

It might not be the case that the pandemic itself was let loose deliberately. But, it appears that elites have seized the pandemic as an opportunity to re-order and re-arrange the world.

If one takes a look at the remarkable polarisation of state and non-state actors on the issue of dealing with the pandemic, it will become clear that responding to the virus is no longer about health, lives and livelihoods but about political outcomes.

If it was about handling the epidemic, the World Health Organisation would not have excluded Taiwan that had successfully dealt with the outbreak on its soil from the deliberations of the World Health Assembly. It is the same organisation that received a clean chit from Bill Gates.

Paul Tucker wrote, in his book, Unelected power, “technocracy, ….claims to have uncovered some kind of scientific method for figuring out what is in the public or common interest—provided, that is, that they, the unelected experts, are left to get on with it, checked only by another group of unelected power holders, the judges.”

In other words, the globally orchestrated response to the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the front and centre concerns about government by an unaccountable elite under undemocratic liberalism, as Paul Tucker wrote in a different context.

The political order that is masterminded by elite machinations will turn out to be Orwellian in nature. The biggest danger to the world is not the virus but that the peaks of the administrative state may be occupied by some kind of transnational elite immune from domestic constraint and scrutiny.

It will be no utopia but totalitarian and incompetent. In the pandemic, unelected power is sensing an opportunity to bring to us the world that George Orwell feared.

V. Anantha Nageswaran has jointly authored, ‘Can India grow?’ and ‘The Rise of Finance:Causes, Consequences and Cures’

Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

An Appeal...

Dear Reader,

As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.

Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.

We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.

Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.

Become A Patron
Become A Subscriber
Comments ↓
Get Swarajya in your inbox everyday. Subscribe here.

Latest Articles

    Artboard 4Created with Sketch.