The Importance of Wearing a Pinny

I’m in the middle of scribbling a couple more things about the bloody pandemic. Then I’m done. It’s weary keeping up with the information, misinformation and disinformation. An inner voice pleads, ‘just put up and shut up’. And then by chance, I trip up over this revealing photo and text, tears come to my ageing eyes, remembering my grandma and my mum. Simple, sentimental nostalgia of no significance. And yet………

Helen Ashton writes:

I don’t think most kids today know what an apron/pinny is. The main use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.


It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.


From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.


When visitors came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.


And when the weather was cold, she wrapped it around her arms.


Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood or coal stove.


Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.


From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.


In the autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.


When unexpected visitors called it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.


It will be a long time before someone invents something as useful as a good old pinny.


[And today] They would go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on that pinny.


I don’t think I ever caught anything from a pinny – but love.

PInched from The Wigan Nostalgia Facebook page and thanks again to Helen.

What about Children and Young People? Are they no more than collateral damage?

“We are engaged in a war against the virus”- Boris Johnson

” In this fake war children are set to be vaccine fodder” – A concerned parent

From the very beginning, March 2020, of the utterly undemocratic imposition of COVID-inspired sweeping restrictions on social existence I feared for children and young people. Perhaps this was a knee-jerk response. After all, I have spent the last 50 years conversing with and about them – as a teacher, youth worker, lecturer and, latterly, a commentator-cum-spectator on the sidelines. Indeed in late 2008, I penned an Open Letter, arguing that youth work should side with young people and not the State; that it should not assume it knows what’s best for young people; that it should be in a critical conversation with them about how together we see the world; and that it should aspire to be ‘volatile and voluntary, creative and collective – an association and conversation without guarantees’.In short it ought, first and foremost, to be a democratic practice. On the back of this missive, a campaign, In Defence of Youth Work [IDYW], emerged.

Against this history, given these commitments, I was perplexed from the outset at what has seemed to be the absence of debate and the utter lack of opposition to the demanded closures of children’s and young people’s provision – from playgrounds through schools and youth facilities to universities. I am being diplomatic. I was pissed off and angry. It was plain that such draconian, disproportionate action would be deeply damaging. The belated acknowledgement in the summer of 2021 that the lockdown was creating serious mental health issues for the younger generation, crocodile tears, merely confirmed my angst. Then, a humble breath taken, I recognised it was easy for me to be so moved. If I was still a practising youth worker. teacher or lecturer what would I have done during the last two years?

Thanks to medicalnewstoday.com

I find it difficult to imagine that, as a youth worker I would have caved in without protest as the youth centre was boarded up or that on the streets I would insist the young people be masked or else. I find it difficult, as a former primary school teacher, to believe I could cope with imposing upon children, I knew well with all their idiosyncrasies, the general requirement to don face coverings and keep their distance from each other and me. I find it difficult to accept that as a lecturer teaching upon a course committed to vibrant argument I would have meekly capitulated to the assault on critical thought, the depiction of the campus as a theatre of contagion and the arrival of on-line learning. As far back as Spring 2019, a modicum of independent research would have shown that masking was about obedience rather than transmission and that children/young people were in little danger from COVID and little danger to anyone else.

Of course, I’m probably deluding myself, thinking I would have swum against the conformist tide. The calculated campaign of fear disseminated without demur by the mainstream media has known no moral or ethical bounds. Management and trade unions in the public sector, along with the caring professions, armed with the ideology of ‘safetyism’, which in a trice provides both explanation and justification, have all embraced the dominant narrative with at times a nauseating pomposity. If you want to follow the unfolding of this smug self-righteousness delve into the archives of the Guardian.

Hence, where would I have found support in desiring to resist – certainly not in the trade union. little chance in the staff team and, to my chagrin, not through In Defence of Youth Work? In this context, speaking up might well have meant losing my job. However, deep in my decaying bones, I want to believe that there has been guerilla activity, which by its nature is underground. In my pretentiousness, I want to believe that with others I would have sought somehow to bring these guerillas together in some supportive form of solidarity – see the history of the Socialist Caucus and Critically Chatting Collective. You might well say, ‘dream on,Tony, dream on’.

Insofar as there has been debate in the world of youth work IDYW did organise a Zoom seminar on the theme of Resistance in November 2020, which spawned the following pieces.

Resistance, rebellion, revolution!Sue Atkins

Our fears and resistance to working collaborativelyRuth Richardson

Youth workers’ every day marvels… when does persistence become resistance?Janet Batsleer

In particular, Janet’s eloquent, positive portrayal of youth workers amidst the turmoil via the Citizen Enquiry in times of COVID is the counter to my perhaps ignorant negativity.

Certainly in the coming weeks, as the pandemic narrative unravels, it would be revealing to hear the thoughts of UK youth workers, teachers and lecturers about their sense of the impact upon children and young people, upon themselves of the two years lost.

As a stimulus to reflection, I’m reposting this moving and stimulating article by a Canadian teacher, which appeared on Common Sense, one of many alternative news sites that have sprung up during the pandemic. This outlet seeks to situate its politics as rejecting both the hard Left and the hard Right. Classically it seeks to find the middle ground with all the contradictions therein. To my mind, the very categories of Left, Centre and Right are in such a state of meltdown that the vital thing is to be aware of one’s own prejudices and history, to explore expansively, be open to critical dialogue and committed at every turn to the democratic process in the struggle against authoritarianism.

I’m a Public School Teacher. The Kids Aren’t Alright.

By Stacey Lance 

I am proud to be a teacher. I’ve worked in the Canadian public school system for the past 15 years, mostly at the high school level, teaching morals and ethics.

I don’t claim to be a doctor or an expert in virology. There is a lot I don’t know. But I spend my days with our youth and they tell me a lot about their lives. And I want to tell you what I’m hearing and what I’m seeing.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, when our school went fully remote, it was evident to me that the loss of human connection would be detrimental to our students’ development. It also became increasingly clear that the response to the pandemic would have immense consequences for students who were already on the path to long-term disengagement, potentially altering their lives permanently.

The data about learning loss and the mental health crisis is devastating. Overlooked has been the deep shame young people feel: Our students were taught to think of their schools as hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.

When we finally got back into the classroom in September 2020, I was optimistic, even as we would go remote for weeks, sometimes months, whenever case numbers would rise. But things never returned to normal.

When we were physically in school, it felt like there was no longer life in the building. Maybe it was the masks that made it so no one wanted to engage in lessons, or even talk about how they spent their weekend. But it felt cold and soulless. My students weren’t allowed to gather in the halls or chat between classes. They still aren’t. Sporting events, clubs and graduation were all cancelled. These may sound like small things, but these losses were a huge deal to the students. These are rites of passages that can’t be made up.

In my classroom, the learning loss is noticeable. My students can’t concentrate and they aren’t doing the work that I assign to them. They have way less motivation compared to before the pandemic began. Some of my students chose not to come back at all, either because of fear of the virus, or because they are debilitated by social anxiety. And now they have the option to do virtual schooling from home.

One of my favorite projects that I assign each year is to my 10th grade students, who do in-depth research on any culture of their choosing. It culminates in a day of presentations. I encourage them to bring in music, props, food—whatever they need to immerse their classmates in their specific culture. A lot of my students give presentations on their own heritage. A few years back, a student of mine, a Syrian refugee, told her story about how she ended up in Canada. She brought in traditional Syrian foods, delicacies that her dad had stayed up all night cooking. It was one of the best days that I can remember. She was proud to share her story—she had struggled with homesickness—and her classmates got a lesson in empathy. Now, my students simply prepare a slideshow and email it to me individually.

My older students (grades 11 and 12) aren’t even allowed a lunch break, and are expected to come to school, go to class for five and a half hours and then go home. Children in 9th and 10th grades have to face the front of the classroom while they eat lunch during their second period class. My students used to be able to eat in the halls or the cafeteria; now that’s forbidden. Younger children are expected to follow the “mask off, voices off” rule, and are made to wear their masks outside, where they can only play with other kids in their class. Of course, outside of school, kids are going to restaurants with their families and to each other’s houses, making the rules at school feel punitive and nonsensical.

They are anxious and depressed. Previously outgoing students are now terrified at the prospect of being singled out to stand in front of the class and speak. And many of my students seem to have found comfort behind their masks. They feel exposed when their peers can see their whole face.

Around this time of year, we start planning for the prom, which is held in June. Usually, my students would already be chatting constantly about who’s asking who, what they’re planning on wearing, and how excited they are. This year, they’ve barely discussed it at all. When they do, they tell me that they don’t want to get their hopes up, since they’re assuming it will get cancelled like it has for the past couple of years.

It’s the same deal with universities. My students say, “If university is going to be just like this then what’s the point?” I have my own children, a nine-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son, who have spent almost a third of their lives in lockdown. They’ve become so used to cancellations that they don’t even feel disappointed anymore.

I think all of my students are angry to some degree, but I hear it most from the kids who are athletes. They were told that if they got the vaccine, everything would go back to normal, and they could go back to the rink or the court. Some sports were back for a while but, as of Christmas, because of the recent wave of Covid-19 cases, club and varsity sports are all cancelled once again. A lot of the athletes are missing chances to get seen by coaches and get scholarships.

I try to take time at the beginning of class to ask my kids how they’re doing. Recently, one of my 11th grade students raised his hand and said that he wasn’t doing well, that he doesn’t want to keep living like this, but that he knows that no one is coming to save them. The other kids all nodded in agreement. They feel lied to—and I can’t blame them.

What’s most worrisome to me is that they feel deep worry and shame over the prospect of breaking the rules.

Teenage girls are notoriously empathetic. I see that many of my students, but especially the female ones, feel a heavy burden of responsibility. Right before Christmas, one of my brightest 12th graders confided in me that she was terrified of taking her mask off. She told me that she didn’t want to get anyone sick or kill anybody. She was worried she would be held responsible for someone dying.

What am I supposed to say? That 23 children have died from Covid in Canada during the whole of the pandemic and she is much more likely to kill someone driving a car? That kids in Scandinavia, Sweden, and the Netherlands largely haven’t had to wear masks at school and haven’t seen outbreaks because of it? That masks are not a magic shield against the virus, and that even if she were to pass it along to a classmate, the risk of them getting seriously sick is minuscule?

I want to tell her that she can remove her mask, and socialize with her friends without being worried.

But I am expected to enforce the rules.

At the beginning of the pandemic, adults shamed kids for wanting to play at the park or hang out with their friends. We kept hearing, “They’ll be fine. They’re resilient.” It’s true that humans, by nature, are very resilient. But they also break. And my students are breaking. Some have already broken.

When we look at the Covid-19 pandemic through the lens of history, I believe it will be clear that we betrayed our children. The risks of this pandemic were never to them, but they were forced to carry the burden of it. It’s enough. It’s time for a return to normal life and put an end to the bureaucratic policies that aren’t making society safer, but are sacrificing our children’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

Our children need life on the highest volume. And they need it now.

———————————————————————————————–

When will the Masquerade come to a close?

Thanks to evolve-entertainment.co.uk

Anyone who has followed my scribblings knows that I approach behavioural psychology with extreme caution. This concern predates COVID by decades – see Outcomes, outcomes, outcomes for something written in the last decade. In previous posts, I have voiced my concern at the explicit and conscious stoking of fear fuelled by the SAGE Behavioural Group in the UK. At the heart of its cynical propaganda has been the mask. A month or so ago I ended a section on masks as follows:

In essence, the mask seeks to muzzle us into obedience. It confirms that we are in dire danger. It demands that we police one another into compliance. It is the visible expression of the desire to divide us from one another, to undermine our humanity. It is about social and political control. It serves no other purpose.

The Mitsotakis government in Greece is determined to keep us in our place – at least until the tourist season starts. Thus, as I write, we are under mandatory manners to wear face coverings inside [preferably duplex] and in the great outdoors. There are heavy fines to pay if we are disobedient. Pragmatic contempt is to be seen. No masks in the villages, masks worn or in readiness in the big towns. And, as for out in the olive groves, foothills and mountains we are at one with nature and humanity, looking each other in the eye.

Thanks to etsy.

Nevertheless, I was thinking of rehearsing the arguments once more but I’ve been saved the trouble by a challenging piece, composed by Gary Sidley, a retired NHS consultant clinical psychologist and a founder member of the Smile Free campaign to remove all mask mandates. It poses disturbing questions for the trade unions, the bureaucrats and the members, together with educators on the ground, be they, lecturers, teachers or youth workers.

Let’s face it -Governments use masking to force compliance, not fight viruses

Professor Ehud Qimron: “Ministry of Health, it’s time to admit failure”

I’m in the middle of writing a post pursuing the clatter of contradictions sounding through the COVID consensus. In doing so I came across this brave and resounding rebuttal of both the Israeli and global responses to the perceived pandemic. It was published on the Swiss Policy Research website.

Professor Ehud Qimron, head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University and one of the leading Israeli immunologists, has written an open letter sharply criticizing the Israeli – and indeed global – management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Ehud Qimron (centre) at Tel Aviv University (Haaretz)

Original letter in HebrewN12 News (January 6, 2022); translated by Google/SPR. See also: Professor Qimron’s prediction from August 2020: “History will judge the hysteria” (INN).

Ministry of Health, it’s time to admit failure

In the end, the truth will always be revealed, and the truth about the coronavirus policy is beginning to be revealed. When the destructive concepts collapse one by one, there is nothing left but to tell the experts who led the management of the pandemic – we told you so.

Two years late, you finally realize that a respiratory virus cannot be defeated and that any such attempt is doomed to fail. You do not admit it, because you have admitted almost no mistake in the last two years, but in retrospect, it is clear that you have failed miserably in almost all of your actions, and even the media is already having a hard time covering your shame.

You refused to admit that the infection comes in waves that fade by themselves, despite years of observations and scientific knowledge. You insisted on attributing every decline of a wave solely to your actions, and so through false propaganda “you overcame the plague.” And again you defeated it, and again and again and again.

You refused to admit that mass testing is ineffective, despite your own contingency plans explicitly stating so (“Pandemic Influenza Health System Preparedness Plan, 2007”, p. 26).

You refused to admit that recovery is more protective than a vaccine, despite previous knowledge and observations showing that non-recovered vaccinated people are more likely to be infected than recovered people. You refused to admit that the vaccinated are contagious despite the observations. Based on this, you hoped to achieve herd immunity by vaccination — and you failed in that as well.

You insisted on ignoring the fact that the disease is dozens of times more dangerous for risk groups and older adults than for young people who are not in risk groups, despite the knowledge that came from China as early as 2020.

You refused to adopt the “Barrington Declaration”, signed by more than 60,000 scientists and medical professionals, or other common-sense programs. You chose to ridicule, slander, distort and discredit them. Instead of the right programs and people, you have chosen professionals who lack relevant training for pandemic management (physicists as chief government advisers, veterinarians, security officers, media personnel, and so on).

You have not set up an effective system for reporting side effects from the vaccines, and reports on side effects have even been deleted from your Facebook page. Doctors avoid linking side effects to the vaccine, lest you persecute them as you did with some of their colleagues. You have ignored many reports of changes in menstrual intensity and menstrual cycle times. You hid data that allows for objective and proper research (for example, you removed the data on passengers at Ben Gurion Airport). Instead, you chose to publish non-objective articles together with senior Pfizer executives on the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.

Irreversible damage to trust

However, from the heights of your hubris, you have also ignored the fact that in the end the truth will be revealed. And it begins to be revealed. The truth is that you have brought the public’s trust in you to an unprecedented low, and you have eroded your status as a source of authority. The truth is that you have burned hundreds of billions of shekels to no avail – for publishing intimidation, for ineffective tests, for destructive lockdowns and for disrupting the routine of life in the last two years.

You have destroyed the education of our children and their future. You made children feel guilty, scared, smoke, drink, get addicted, drop out, and quarrel, as school principals around the country attest. You have harmed livelihoods, the economy, human rights, mental health and physical health.

You slandered colleagues who did not surrender to you, you turned the people against each other, divided society and polarized the discourse. You branded, without any scientific basis, people who chose not to get vaccinated as enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease. You promote, in an unprecedented way, a draconian policy of discrimination, denial of rights and selection of people, including children, for their medical choice. A selection that lacks any epidemiological justification.

When you compare the destructive policies you are pursuing with the sane policies of some other countries — you can clearly see that the destruction you have caused has only added victims beyond the vulnerable to the virus. The economy you ruined, the unemployed you caused, and the children whose education you destroyed — they are the surplus victims as a result of your own actions only.

There is currently no medical emergency, but you have been cultivating such a condition for two years now because of lust for power, budgets and control. The only emergency now is that you still set policies and hold huge budgets for propaganda and psychological engineering instead of directing them to strengthen the health care system.

This emergency must stop!

Professor Udi Qimron, Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University

∗∗∗

Fifty Years On – The ’72 Miners’ Strike Remembered

Thanks to Tribune and Emily Ingram for this important reminder of the strike that gave birth to ‘flying pickets’ and later to the acapella group, ‘The Flying Pickets’, steadfast supporters of the miners in the 1984/85 Great Strike.

Ta to libcom.org

The 1972 Miners’ Strike at 50

By Emily Ingram

Fifty years ago on January 9, 1972, miners across Britain walked out on strike in a landmark dispute that popularised the flying picket. We speak to striking workers about their memories on the frontline.

Read in full at https://tribunemag.co.uk/2022/01/1972-miners-strike-num-industrial-action-edward-heath

The Flying Pickets surprise 1983 Christmas Number One sung at all their NUM support gigs

As the New Year dawns – being bullied into COVID compliance

New Year’s Day 2022 – an azure and windless sky beckons, promises and resolutions hang not yet tested in the still air. New Year’s Days I’ve had too many to mention but this one is different. It’s surreal, sinister and disconcerting.

I’m now into my 75th year on this god-forsaken earth. For more than half a century I’ve spouted forth about the evils of capitalism, even advocated revolution but my stance has not cost me dear. A tapped phone here, a night on a police station floor there, a few bruises on the picket line. Nothing to write home about. Indeed, it might well be argued that I’ve made something of a career out of being the useful ‘token ‘radical, not ‘in and against’ rather ‘in and compromised’ by the State. I’m of a post-war generation, whose lives were improved to different degrees by the struggles of our forefathers and mothers. With all its warts, and I railed against its shortcomings, the social-democratic society was a step forward. Neoliberalism has been closing down its gains for over forty years. I’ve sought to criticise this assault, arguing against the insidious influence of behaviourist psychology and worrying about the danger of us sleepwalking into an authoritarian and intolerant society. Again I have not been taken to task by the powerful for this dissension. As far as being troubled goes, it’s been wrought by my own self-doubt and anxiety. As a dear friend whispered gently, ‘being a couch revolutionary isn’t exactly uncomfortable’.

Two years ago I would have shaken my bald pate in disbelief at the predicament I face this New Year’s Day. The Greek government has determined that all the citizens and residents of the country, who are over 60 years of age will be vaccinated with the ‘booster’. Refusing to comply will lead to the following State punishments.

  • Each person resisting will be fined 100 euros each successive month until they give in. Over 25% of Greek pensioners, around 700,00 persons, receive less tha 500 Euros a month and even the average pension amounts to only 869 euros before deductions. In my case it seems that if I resist the 100 Euros will be procured for the government by my accountant.
  • Each person resisting will not possess therefore a valid vaccine passport. This means they will only be allowed access to supermarkets, grocery stores and chemists, to food and medicine. They will be barred from all public indoor spaces – tavernas, kafeneion, the beating heart of Greek life, even, I’m not sure, the Church – and public events. If this is enforced they will be excluded from the majority of what we might call civil society.

I want you to be shocked and angry in the face of such a draconian scenario, imposed by a government without an ethical leg to stand on. I worry that the propaganda machine churning out numbers, numbers, numbers will continue to cloud the issue. Mass testing alongside the emergence of a milder but more infectious variant will inevitably mean an upsurge in infections, leave aside the fact that the USA Centre for Disease Control has just disowned the PCR test, admitting its unreliability. A touch late, methinks.

In essence, the Mitsotakis government’s authoritarianism, whilst running deep in its historical blood, is inseparable from the influence of the corporate and pharmaceutical giants of our era. It is about power and profit. It is about politics. It is not about health. At this point, some readers may sigh. Am I in Covid denial? For now, I will only say that I believe that the COVID threat to society as a whole has been exaggerated enormously; that from a health point of view things could have been managed so very differently.

AgePeak Case Fatality Rate in winter 2020Case Fatality rate in June 2021
<204 in 100,0004 in 100,000
20-2914 in 100,00020 in 100,000
30-398 in 10,000 5 in 10,000 
40-492 in 1000 1 in 1000
50-598 in 10003 in 1000
60-693.3%1.4%
70-7914%3.8%
80 or above33%15%

Table 1: Proportion of people catching covid who die with it by age in England official gov.uk figures

The data presented above for June 2021 does not take into account booster vaccinations, early treatments and Omicron being less dangerous than earlier variants. These figures are calculated based on every ‘covid death’ including those where covid may well have been a bystander infection as often occurs with respiratory viruses. [Taken from ‘The Six Miracles of COVID’ Health Advice Recovery Team]

Thus, walking Glyka this morning, I felt my back was against the stone wall running down our lane, never mind that it was crumbling with the passing years. What to do? If I decline to be boosted I don’t think I am a health hazard. I don’t think I am being irresponsible. The growing evidence, given the vaccine has not lived up to the hype, is that the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are no more dangerous in terms of transmission to each other than each other. The mandatory vaccination of the over 60s here in Greece owes nothing to its democratic tradition, harking back much more to the dark days of the junta. As with all authoritarianism, it is industrial in its practice. The idea that treatment ought to be tailored to the particular history and circumstances of the individual is an anathema; that the principle of bodily autonomy, ‘our body, our choice’, is fundamental regarded as passe; that a healthy older person with no underlying comorbidities with legitimate concerns about the safety of an experimental drug has every right to demur is seen as utterly unacceptable; and as for the once cherished notion of informed consent that’s consigned to the historical bin.

Obviously, given my analysis of the situation, I should refuse the jab. Yet I prevaricate. I’m perplexed and angry. There’s nothing unique about the corner I’m in. Insofar as it’s special it’s to do with relationships, most intimately with my family. Becoming a ‘refusenik’ would curtail all sorts of simple social acts, just having a morning coffee down in the village. It would prevent me from travelling to see my children and grandchildren. Perhaps, if I was made of sterner stuff I would hold out. As things stand, in the absence of visible collective resistance, I suspect, I will shame-facedly comply. I have until the 16th of January to decide. Rather than be true to the active intent of the slogan, ‘educate, agitate, organise’ I’ll retreat passively into being agitated. I will persuade myself that I will live to fight another day. Will that be when the fourth jab is demanded? History will be the judge.

Divide, Conquer; Unite, Heal – Charles Eisenstein argues for the latter.

Across the duration of the ‘pandemic as I have broken out of my own ‘Leftie’ bubble I have discovered a rich range of alternative opinions and analyses. In doing so I don’t think I have abandoned a fundamental commitment to the political struggle for individual, social and political autonomy, the creation of a society, overseen by each of us in concert with one another. However, some of the most stimulating conversations I have entered into have been with liberals and indeed libertarians of a Right-wing hue. Inevitably we have disagreed, often deeply but with a degree of respect. Thankfully voices of left-libertarianism have also soothed my troubled mind but, in truth, not that many. As far as the authoritarian Left from the International Committee of the Fourth International via the Morning Star to the Labour Party is concerned, such a pluralist desire to listen and converse rather than preach in an elevated state of certitude and ‘true’ consciousness is nothing but a sign of dithering weakness and, of course, the curse of ‘false’ consciousness.

Thus, perhaps bloody-mindedly, I shall draw your eyes in the coming weeks to writers from across the political spectrum, who, I think, are worthy of your critical attention.

The first of these is a certain Charles Eisenstein, who I had never heard of a few months ago. Since back in the early 70s and my political awakening I’ve always hated the sloppy and vindictive caricature of those we disagree with as being ‘thick’ and stupid. It remains such a hopeless and arrogant perspective. Charles takes up the question in ‘Divide, Conquer; Unite, Heal’

He comments:

The media and social media are profuse with hateful sentiments about how the unvaccinated deserve to die, should be denied medical care, are immoral, ignorant, narcissistic, sociopathic, and so on.

I am sorry to observe hate on the other side of the vaccine divide too. Sometimes I see in health freedom communities half-hopeful, gloating posts about how the vaccinated will someday wail and gnash their teeth in abject regret when mass vaccine-induced death shows them the error of their ways. Monikers like “sheeple,” “normies,” and “vaxtards” play into the most dangerous controller agenda of all—to divide and conquer by fostering internecine hatred.

If we who oppose vaccine mandates wish to live in a world based on dignity, we should do everything we can to affirm the dignity of all human beings. By dehumanizing those with opposing views, we reinforce the same pattern that dehumanizes ourselves, the dissidents.

Basically, whether deliberately or not, a situation has been engineered to dispose the public toward division. It is an old formula: Enemies are among us! The unclean put us all at risk! The heretics will bring the wrath of God upon us all!

Let us recognize that ancient formula and how closely the dominant Covid narrative conforms to it. Is that conformity just a coincidence? Were past incitements mere propaganda and hysteria-mongering, but this time the heretics really do put us all at risk? At the very least, we should recognize with grave suspicion any incitement to hatred. We the human family have fallen for that trick so many many times before.

Well worth reading in full.

Searching for Understanding in the face of Power and Propaganda Part Five [i]: The Impossible Dream

Searching for Understanding in the face of Power and Propaganda: The Impossible Dream

Ta to greekcitytimes.com

I had a dream last night. Hardly newsworthy but personally troubling. In truth my sleep is often disturbed by nocturnal neurosis. I’m forever anxious in the scenarios summoned up by my unconscious, forever forgetting, forever failing to fulfil tasks or promises, forever letting myself down. Now and again the tales are so real I awake suffused with dread about my comeuppance, thankfully followed by a huge sigh of relief as reality sets in. This feeling of release is almost worth the worrying somnolent journey.

Last night’s dream was a warning. Indeed it was stuffed full of shots across my bow. Friends, comrades and acquaintances, old and new, offered their advice in a variety of styles from a concerned Rogerian whisper to an insistent authoritative instruction. Their recommendations were mouthed in a diversity of settings – a staff meeting, a conference, a trade union demo, the pub or indeed the living room. The message went along the lines of ‘keep your counsel’, ‘best to let all this go’, ‘would be wiser to keep a back seat’ and ‘just shut up about it’. ‘It’ was questioning the COVID narrative.

Unravelling why I was thus reprimanded hardly needed a psychoanalyst. Yesterday I was messing around with a couple of interrelated bits of writing focused on the benefits and deficits of pandemic-led social policy. In particular I was looking at the impact upon children and young people of the closure of schools and youth provision. All the more so as UNISON had underlined in its call for the return of face masks in secondary school classrooms and the reintroduction of “bubbles” the deeply problematic character of the regimes being imposed even when schools are open. As I scribbled, a long-standing trade union activist I was very conscious of treading on thin ice. The more I mused the more critical I became of the stance of both UNISON and the National Education Union [NEU], which seemed to be profoundly at odds with a commitment to pupils and students. I was feeling nervous about how I was going to explain my disagreement.

Then, despite my effort to ignore the news, my Chromebook threw up a notification of the latest SAGE doom-mongering modelling. Reluctantly I visited the Guardian web site to read.

The scale of the threat posed by the Omicron variant was laid bare by government scientists last night as they warned that there are now hundreds of thousands of infections every day. That daily number could reach between 600,000 and 2 million by the end of the month if new restrictions are not brought in immediately. broad

The government’s SPI-M-O group of scientists, which reports to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), also warned that, based on their modelling, hospitalisations could peak between 3,000 and 10,000 a day and deaths at between 600 and 6,000 a day.

I bridled at their stupefying arrogance in claiming that a speculation of ‘between 600 and 6,000 deaths a day’ was somehow scientific. A soothsayer could hardly do worse. I felt anxious and hopeless. The spectre of authoritarianism was returning to haunt both the present and the future.

The advisers suggested reintroducing measures “equivalent to those in place after step 2 or step 1 of the roadmap in England”. Rules at that time included the “rule of six” and just two households meeting; they also barred holidays abroad, while care-home residents were allowed only one regular visitor.

Reviving its role as the Ministry of Fear SAGE marketed a return to a Stage 1 clampdown by suggesting that ‘infections could be limited to between 200,000 and a million a day. Hospitalisations could run at between 1,500 and 5,000 admissions a day and daily deaths would be 200 to 2,000′.

The size and scope of this propaganda stopped me in my tracks. As ever the tame media obeyed the whip, trotting out the cliches – tidal waves and avalanches of cases. Is it any wonder there are a lot? This last week 9,390,590 tests were carried out. Of these 513,574 tested positive, which as we know doesn’t tell us a great deal in terms of the severity of the symptoms. An alternative headline could be ‘almost 9 million people didn’t have COVID’ but that’s hardly the issue. More to the point is that on the back of very limited early data on the OMICRON variant we rush to impose restrictions that have still not been tested for their effectiveness.

Now and again I wake from a dream gasping for breath, believing I am being smothered. I felt something similar, a tightening chest, as I took in the long queues for the all but mandatory booster, reflecting that they were less than likely to be consulted before being jabbed. Wondering too, on what basis have so many embraced apparently the oft confused and inconsistent hegemonic narrative? Matthias Desmet, the Belgian Professor of Psychology at Ghent University advances the notion that those supportive of the dominant version of events are in a state of collective hypnosis. My intuition is to resist such a sweeping generalisation about why people think and act in the ways they do. I am more sympathetic to his view that in an individualistic society bereft of a vision for the future even the imposition from above of a sense of solidarity has furnished a collective purpose, a reason for existence. As of now this an important discussion for another day.

Back to last night I found myself in the wake of the media storm, embarrassed to be thinking, “perhaps I’ll leave posting these thoughts till after Xmas, to when things die down a little.” ‘Why,” I asked myself guiltily? “What on earth are you bothered about?” Weary I retreated to my bed, to be beset therein by the troubling dreams.

This morning, having walked our Glyka and, for her, made the porridge, glistening with honey, I discerned the wood for the trees. The questions asked of me by my ghostly friends were but my own to myself. One in particular leapt out, voiced in the dream by a close comrade of many years. The interlocutor began by pointing out that across fifty years in the youth work world as worker, manager, lecturer and activist I had achieved a decent reputation. Yes, I was seen as something of a radical maverick but a likeable one at that. My friend’s tone altered. Didn’t I realise that challenging the lockdowns, the vaccines will be regarded as siding with the Right, worst of all as abandoning all you have stood for? They warned, if you go any further down this path, you will be cancelled.

Knowing this was in fact what I was thinking myself when I sought sleep last night felt sobering and liberating. Reputations, intact or tattered, are the province of the beholders. Across the last 20 months men and women, high and low, have risked their careers and livelihoods to speak out against tyranny. Proof of the tyrannical nature of society today is the suppression of the ideas and the assassination of the characters of those in opposition to what’s going on. In this context my overnight self-centred anxiety is pathetic. However in its ordinariness it does reveal the obstacles we face in mounting resistance to the creeping toralitarianism, which threatens to be the new norm. There will be so many, who disagree with the present state of affairs but who fear for their jobs and families, scared to speak out.

For what it’s worth, settling my debts, at least for now with my debilitating dream means I will risk getting on the wrong side, being on the wrong side.

More than ever I think we are at a pivotal moment in history.

As I finish this quasi-confessional, Austria has rendered ‘vaccinations’ mandatory with Germany about to follow in its neighbour’s footsteps. The new German Chancellor is quoted as saying, “for my government there are no more red lines as far as doing what needs to be done.” ‘Covid passes’ have been approved in France and the UK. Here in Greece ‘unvaccinated’ pensioners will be fined directly by reducing the amount of their state-pension payments. Whilst in the Victoria State of Australia ‘unvaccinated’ teachers will not be paid during the summer holidays and will be sacked in April if they do not comply with compulsory inoculation. Perhaps I should compile a more extensive account of the heavy-handed measures being taken across the globe. The list goes on….

Democracy faces Dictatorship

Humane, emotional, spiritual and intellectual freedom faces Inhumane, cold, mechanical and behavioural slavery.

For what it’s worth I’ll keep going on about ‘IT’ – in spite of the voices in my dreams.

Searching for Understanding in the face of Power and Propaganda Part Four: Who is misinforming Whom?

Searching for Understanding in the face of Power and Propaganda Part Four: Who is misinforming Whom?

From the dramatic announcement of COVID’s deathly appearance at the beginning of 2020 trying to understand what’s been going on has been haunted by the dilemma of who to believe? The dominant narrative is said to be following the Science, absurd but monotonically repeated, its ridiculous simplicity hardly questioned by a compliant mainstream media. More or less any criticism of this narrative has been derided and defamed. Perfectly legitimate, informed and plausible alternatives proposed by scientists thinking differently censored.

None of the following is original and for some readers may seem tedious, even obvious.  Yet, in my attempted conversations with others, particularly perhaps members of the better educated as they might put it, I’ve been struck by an unquestioning allegiance to the official line. Indeed implicit is their scarcely veiled view that considering and researching dissent is to sup with the Devil or even David Icke. Or perhaps more mundanely they indicate that such moidering about the nature of the pandemic is unnecessary and discomforting. As best I can, I’ve attempted to follow the dominant explanations of the threat posed by the virus, together with the rebuttals to this controlled consensus offered by a passionate and prestigious array of health professionals and others from across the globe. As it is I cannot possibly cover the range of medical and ethical dilemmas raised by this opposition.  Thus I’m going to address the principal areas of contention that seem to come up in the everyday, often frustrating exchanges of the last 18 months. As I often excused myself to my dear late friend, Malcolm Ball, “it’s my best thinking thus far’ and it is in this provisional spirit that the following is offered.

THE CONTEXT

The virus did not appear out of thin air. You and I might have been taken aback, having other stuff on our minds. On the contrary, the ruling class, fronted by its management team of arrogant CEOs, servile politicians and a motley crew of entrepreneurs, behavioural and medical experts, was in quite another place. Given the ongoing economic crisis, the ever-present risk of hyperinflation, the elite was sanguine re the prospect of emergencies, of pandemics. At the very least these occurrences offered both breathing space and a living laboratory within which to test out measures that might be in its interest.

Indeed the powerful had been disappointed by the failure of the 2009 Swine Flu to get off the ground. Vaccines aplenty gone to waste as the frightening forecasts of thousands dead did not materialise. Undeterred, in October 2019 the World Economic Forum and Johns Hopkins University organised Event 201. This was a training exercise based on a zoonotic coronavirus starting a worldwide pandemic. The experience was sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI the vaccine alliance. The organising executive published its findings and recommendations in November 2019 as a Public-Private Cooperation for Pandemic Preparedness and Response: A Call to Action. One month later, China recorded its first case of “Covid”.

The idea of vaccine passports didn’t come out of the blue either. In the autumn of 2019 the European Union published its ‘Vaccination Roadmap’ a long-term policy plan to spread vaccine “awareness and understanding” whilst counteracting “vaccine myths” and combatting “vaccine hesitancy”. It mooted the feasibility of developing a common vaccination card/passport for EU citizens. On September 12, 2019 at the joint EU-WHO ‘Global Vaccination Summit’, they announced the ‘10 Actions Towards Vaccination for All’, which confirmed their shared sense of purpose. Without a doubt, they were ahead of the game.

CASES, CASES, CASES

 “It’s just a process that is used to make a whole lot of something out of something. It doesn’t tell you that you are sick and it doesn’t tell you that the thing you ended up with was going to hurt you or anything like that.” [Dr Karry Mullis, Nobel Prize winner for his invention of the PCR test]

The inventor’s caveat has been wilfully ignored by the medical profession. His caution is unbeknown to most of us.  The former hail the test as the ‘gold standard’. As for ourselves, bound to trust in the Science, we apparently believe that the test speaks the truth. The number of cases produced by the test, forever spiking and surging, rarely ebbing, represents the existential threat from which all compliance follows.  In the mainstream media, for example, the Guardian has carried on its front page throughout a banner citing the number of cases found each and every day. It exudes anxiety. Elsewhere, on the internet’s COVID forums, the members seem to gather in a collective virtual breakfast to peruse the latest figures in their locality. Even a small increase is seemingly welcomed, proof that the followers of the masquerade are blessed to be the righteous and that the ill-disciplined maskless are the Devil’s work.

‘Detection of viral RNA may not indicate the presence of an infectious virus or that 2019-nCoV is the causative agent for clinical symptoms …this test cannot rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens.’ [USA Centre for Disease Control and Prevention]

Those convinced of COVID’s murderous intention shy away from the following concerns regarding its actual presence in our lives.

  • The PCR test is flawed, unreliable and never intended to be a diagnostic tool.
  • Insofar as it discovers something, a shred of material, it does not know if this is alive or dead, whether it is the common cold, flu, another respiratory virus or COVID.
  • Even discovering something depends on the amplification of the material in question, the number of cycles used – less than 30x is likely to produce a negative result, more than 35x likely to be positive. The NHS cycle threshold [Ct] is 40x. The World Health Organisation itself admits that ‘when specimens return a high Ct value, it means that many cycles were required to detect virus. In some circumstances, the distinction between background noise and actual presence of the target virus is difficult to ascertain.

Mass testing flies in the face of the normal relationship between a medical practitioner and someone seeking help, advice and diagnosis. Put crudely healthy people with no symptoms do not go to the doctor. The mass testing of the population for a virus with a survival rate of well over 99% is a remarkable step to take. Inevitably the more the testing, the more the cases. Significantly the daily record of cases, seized upon by the media, is never broken down. What symptoms are being found and to what degree are these being displayed by those tested positive?

ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION

In fact, the majority of covid cases/infections seem to be asymptomatic with over 75% experiencing little or no symptoms. It is unsurprising that this awkward statistic has been buried and replaced by the outrageous deceit of ‘asymptomatic transmission’. Key to the spread of fear has been the notion that anyone, friend, neighbour or passer-by could be without anyone knowing dangerously infectious. This misanthropic myth continues to inform the belief that children are a threat to their elders, particularly the eldest, their beloved grandparents.

From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.” [Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit}

The WHO confirmed that asymptomatic spread was not a consideration when it stated in a media briefing in June 2020: ‘Based on our data, it seems unlikely that an asymptomatic carrier will transmit the infection to someone else. We have a number of reports from other countries. They monitor asymptomatic carriers, their contacts, and do not detect further transmission.’

The detection rate of asymptomatic positive cases in the post-lockdown Wuhan was very low (0.303/10,000), and there was no evidence that the identified asymptomatic positive cases were infectious’. [Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China, November 2020]

HOSPITALISATIONS

Certainly, the issue of the number of people entering hospital as a result of COVID is acute. Yet even here all is not straightforward. According to Public Health England, a ‘Covid hospitalisation’ is anyone admitted to hospital for any reason within 28 days of a positive Covid test. This includes patients, who are admitted for other medical reasons and given the regularity of testing within a notoriously infectious institution have every chance of becoming a positive case.

DEATHS

Almost from the beginning of the ‘pandemic’ to demur from the official line has been met with the emotive cry, ‘there are people dying!’ The inference is plain and passionately declaimed. To be dissident is to display one’s callous indifference to loss of life. It is a charge that sticks in the craw, coming as it often does from people, who have turned their backs across the decades against the catastrophic consequences of capitalist exploitation and imperialist adventures – millions dead, the brutal legacy of its barbarism. It is a smear, all the more offensive, coming from people, who have voted without a moment’s doubt for the privatised dismembering of the NHS, prior to now ostentatiously clapping in orchestrated coordination for the poorly paid carers, to whom previously they’ve never given a fleeting thought of concern.  Critically this wilful, deluded ignorance pays no attention whatsoever to the damage wrought by the one-sided policy, the lives lost and ruined by default. As I write no rigorous audit has been undertaken to weigh up the human costs on either side of the COVID balance sheet. Twenty months on, why hasn’t there been a serious cost-benefit anaysis?

Like it or not the number of heart-rending deaths from COVID is grossly inflated. Countries around the globe have been defining a ‘Covid death’ as a ‘death by any cause within 28/30/60 days of a positive test’. Removing any distinction between dying of COVID itself, and dying with COVID from something else distorts utterly the situation we are facing. 

The vast majority of COVID deaths have serious underlying comorbidities. In March 2020, the Italian government published statistics showing 99.2% of their COVID death had at least one serious comorbidity. These included cancer, heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, kidney failure and diabetes, among others. Over 50% of the deceased had three or more serious pre-existing health problems. This pattern seems to hold up across the globe. In the UK an October 2020 Freedom of Information request to to the Office of National Statistics revealed less than 10% of the official “COVID death” count at the time identified COVID as the sole cause of death.

Is it covidiotic to question whether COVID is the 21st-century version of the Great Plague of 1665, an explicit and implicit analogy utilised cynically by the army of doom-mongers in the service of the powerful? 

LOCKDOWNS

‘Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted’.[ Donald Henderson 2006 – architect of the victory over smallpox]

In Spring 2020, here on Crete, the first round of the general lockdown was surreal. By chance, I was in Chania, a big city by our standards, on the first day of restrictions. The atmosphere was light-hearted as the sophisticated Xaniots laughed and elbowed rather than hugged and kissed one another. Back in my rural village, a gentle philosophy prevailed. The almost deserted streets reminded the older residents of life in the 1960s – only the donkeys were missing. Quickly, though, the good humour evaporated as the impact of all but closing down people’s lives hit home. Family and community ties threatened. Children and young people’s education undermined. Small businesses devastated. Society’s good health on all sorts of levels, mental and physical visibly worsened.

Lockdowns do not prevent the spread of disease. There is scant evidence that this draconian intervention decreases the number of COVID deaths. Comparisons between regions that locked down and those that didn’t has revealed no discernible pattern.

In October 2020 Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid-19 described lockdowns as a ‘global catastrophe[.

We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of the virus[…] it seems we may have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition […] This is a terrible, ghastly global catastrophe.

Unemployment, poverty, suicide, alcoholism, drug use and other social/mental health crises are, to borrow a term, surging all over the world. Meanwhile, missed, delayed surgeries and screenings are inevitably going to see increased mortality from such as heart disease and cancer in the immediate future….and inexorably increase the pressure on health services world-wide. Meanwhile in the UK as winter beckons, what’s new?

The NHS Winter Narrative – Thanks to Latimer Alder

Yet we are constantly told that lockdowns will protect the NHS. Yet as part of its COVID policy, the NHS announced in Spring of 2020 that it would be “re-organizing hospital capacity in new ways to treat Covid and non-Covid patients separately” and that “as result hospitals will experience capacity pressures at lower overall occupancy rates than would previously have been the case.” Thus the NHS reduced the possible occupancy of beds in the face of a supposedly deadly pandemic.  In addition, millions were spent on emergency ‘Nightingale’ hospitals, which never saw action in the war on COVID. Contradiction and inconsistency abound. Hypocrisy and opportunism ever present. Dedication and concern exhausted.

Lockdowns kill people. There is growing evidence that lockdowns – through worsening people’s social and economic circumstances – are deadlier than COVID with all its inevitable variants.

MASKS

For those wedded to the official narrative wearing a mask has become the emblem of being responsible, of illustrating a philanthropic concern for the common good. For those of us at odds the donning of a face covering signals abject obedience to the State, a misanthropic mistrust of fellow human beings. Of course, life is more complicated and contradictory than this dualism. None of which prevents governments wheeling on stage the mask mandate whenever convenient.

On the ground, as ever, the ordinary reality defies the exhortations from the corridors of privilege. The ridiculous idea that people, as they go about their business, are split between the diligently covered and the negligently naked is forever exposed. On the streets of Chania, my nearest urban setting, the inhabitants wear masks or none, wear them below the nose, chin, hanging around their necks or wrists, wear them clean or mucky as they prefer. Some kilometres away, only the other day on a moon-lit evening in my village square we gathered together to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas Tree. With little sense of eccentricity or irresponsibility, almost none of us felt the need to hide our faces. I suspect that this mishmash of responses to the masking mandate is quite typical. Instinctively we mistrust this imposed relational barrier. At best we are half-hearted in our compliance. Most of the time we neither do it properly nor consistently. Against this messy backcloth, the idea that politicians and advisers can make positive claims about the efficacy of masking is absurd.

Three weeks before the UK’s first lockdown, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer advised that “In terms of wearing a mask, our advice is clear: that wearing a mask if you don’t have an infection reduces the risk almost not at all. So we do not advise that.” Then, with absolutely no new hard evidence to change that assessment, politics trumped science when masks were legally mandated on public transport in England on 15 June last year and then on 24 July in shops.

Masks don’t work. At least a dozen scientific studies have shown that masks do nothing to stop the spread of respiratory viruses. To add insult to injury masks aren’t that good for us.  Wearing one for long periods, wearing the same one more than once is not so smart. I’ll leave till another day the obscenity of insisting that children are masked. 

Masks aren’t great news for the planet. Millions upon millions of disposable masks have been used per month for over a year. A report from the UN found the COVID pandemic will likely result in plastic waste, notably in the form of face masks. more than doubling in the next few years.

In essence the mask seeks to muzzle us into obedience. It confirms that we are in dire danger. It demands that we police one another into compliance. It is the visible expression of the desire to divide us from one another, to undermine our humanity. It is about social and political control. It serves no other purpose.

VACCINES

I’m a post-Second World War child, never thought much about vaccinations. They seemed, as best I remember, a very good thing, giving long-lasting protection against threats such as measles and polio, the latter especially.  Insofar as I thought about it, medical advance was to be welcomed. Later on, my naivete was briefly disturbed by the thalidomide tragedy, all the more so as I fell in love with the voice of Thomas Quasthoff.

I was moved by his fortitude and his amazing talent before shrugging my shoulders and hiding my head in the sands. Yet, somehow and from somewhere, when the ‘pandemic’ kicked off I was wary about the leading role being assumed by Big Pharma and the promise of vaccine salvation. In particular, I was struck by the lack of interest in finding immediate ways of ameliorating the symptoms of COVID infection.

The COVID ‘vaccines’ are unprecedented. Before 2020 no successful vaccine against a human coronavirus had been developed. While traditional vaccines work by exposing the body to a weakened strain of the microorganism responsible for causing the disease, these new COVID ‘vaccines’ are the product of a laboratory breakthrough in genomic sequencing. So far, so good and clearly there is much promise. However the inventor of the technology himself, Dr Robert Malone has expressed serious concern about its use in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

The mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccines theoretically work by injecting viral mRNA into the body, where it replicates inside your cells and encourages your body to recognise and make antigens in response to the “spike proteins” of the virus. They have been the subject of research since the 1990s, but before 2020 no mRNA vaccine was ever approved for use.

Despite claims by corporate-funded fact-checking sites that everything about the ‘vaccines’, despite the rapidity of their evolution is above board, there is no getting away from the fact that the drugs are on trial. They are only in use because of enabling emergency authorisation provided by the United States Food and Drug Agency [FDA]. Confidence in the process is not enhanced when, for example, Pfizer admits:

‘The long-term effects and efficacy of the Vaccine are not currently known and that there may be adverse effects of the Vaccine that are not currently known’.

Such an admission troubles not our governments, granting vaccine manufacturers legal indemnity if unfortunately, their products inflict harm. The USA’s Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP) grants immunity until at least 2024. A similar EU licensing law offers the same protection, whilst the UK not to be outdone has agreed on permanent indemnity for any harm done when a patient is being treated for COVID.

At the centre of an utterly legitimate caution or refusal to be inoculated has been the complete ditching of the principle of informed consent. To take the obvious how many of those vaccinated were anything but the next in the queue? How many were involved in a serious conversation ahead of the jab about the ups and downs of being inoculated, about the possible immediate and longer-term consequences?

The public at large was encouraged to believe that it would be fully vaccinated after two jabs, the implication being that full protection would be forthcoming. In fact, the vaccine manufacturers themselves knew full well that the efficacy of their gene-based creations was based on ’reducing the severity of symptoms’. Indeed at a later moment conducive to its interests, they have granted that the ‘vaccines’ do not confer immunity or prevent transmission. From which sobering time we have entered the period of the much-needed 6 months, nay 3-month booster. Evidently, the protection from the vaccine wanes quickly after 90 days. Perchance the vaccine is not the triumph trumpeted. Perhaps we can imagine the setting up of a national vaccination subscription scheme.  All of these developments are intimately related to the contrived anxiety about what are the inevitable appearance of variants.

Are we not allowed a wry smile at the calculated coincidence of circumstances? An Omicron variant of mild disposition triggers a global panic, lends fuel to renewed restrictions on social existence. Thankfully Big Pharma rides to the rescue, not only in the shape of today’s boosters but also tomorrow’s. BioNtech’s CEO steps up to the plate, announcing that his company will have an Omicron-targeted 3 dose [!] vaccine on the market by March! Surely, surely we smell a rat. Enough for now.

I’ve scribbled a number of versions of this post and binned them,  All in danger of saying far too much and saying far too little. This effort could go the same way but it is what is, replete with weaknesses and silences. It will have to do for now. It is merely food for thought.

If I’m to recommend just one alternative source of information, analysis and opinion about COVID it is Swiss Policy Research

Amongst lacunae I hope to fill in a Part Five made up of shorter pieces are:

Masking and Vaccinating Children and Young People

The suppression of alternative  treatments for COVID

The demise of the individual patient and her replacement by people as generalised infection risks

Focused Protection and Immunity

Big Pharma and Profit

Vaccination Passports and the pandemic of the vaccinated

Hopefully, the latter discussion will return me to my overwhelming concern – the character of the present profound social, political and economic crisis, the totalitarian intentions of the ruling class and the possibilities of collective resistance.

A final necessary confession. Back in June I succumbed to pressures largely of my own making and had the second of my Astra-Zeneca jabs.  As a fit 74 year old I didn’t feel vulnerable but I wanted to travel to see family and dear friends. My rationalisation didn’t prevent me from shedding a few pathetic tears. Time does not stand still. I am not off the leash of principle. If I am to remain an approved member of society the Greek government demands that I have a booster in the next few months. We will see what transpires.

Remembrance Day: Young People in the Firing Line?

Wigan Cenotaph, Lancashire

As a child and a young person, Remembrance Sunday was always a moment of great importance in my family. My father unfurled the Union Jack on the flag pole in our council house garden. Moustache waxed, smartly turned out, a sailor, he was the proud bearer of the White Ensign standard as we marched to the Cenotaph. Only half grasping the common bond uniting the men and women, who had in differing ways experienced the ravages of war, the ceremony touched my youthful soul. The impeccable, almost endless silence broken by the mournful, moving bugle sounding the Last Post. The profound sense of loss expressed in Laurence Binyon’s ‘For the Fallen’.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

As I grew older I rebelled against my father’s patriotism. For quite a time I adopted the view that Remembrance Sunday had lapsed ironically into a celebration of war, into a justification for the excessive spending on Defence. I kept a somewhat pompous distance from the proceedings. I didn’t don a red poppy. My pomposity was paralleled by the ritualistic and ostentatious self-righteousness displayed by those poppy-wearers in the public eye.

German War Cemetery, Maleme, Crete

My own pretence was pricked a quarter of a century ago. The occasion was a visit to the Second World War German cemetery in Maleme on the island of Crete. Row upon eternal row of simple headstones stretched into the distance remembering hundreds of dead German soldiers aged 16 to 18 years. Hardly a stone’s throw away, I stood moist-eyed once more in front of a village memorial commemorating the execution of the young and old men of the Cretan Resistance. In whose interests was this tragic, bloody loss of life?

The experience led me back to reading afresh descriptions and analyses of the World Wars. To an extent, I could get my head around the Second being the defence of Democracy against Fascism. However, no such positive rationale surfaced to soften my anger and tears at the meaningless slaughter of a generation from aristocrat to proletarian in the First. In whose possible interests could this frightening futility be imagined? For what it’s worth I understand the First as an inexorable consequence of the political and economic crisis of the day and the ruling class imperative to establish a new order of power and influence. In its malevolent eyes, youth could and would pay the price,

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen

As a few people know I’ve been trying in recent weeks to pull together my thoughts about the manufactured COVID pandemic, described by the British Prime Minister as a war within which we’re all in it together. Given my history within youth work, I’ve been struck from the outset of this campaign and the imposition of the lockdown by the thrusting of young people into the frontline of this supposed battle, starved of resources. Their mentors, be they youth workers or teachers, have not been the collective of conscientious objectors demanded by these times as youth centres were abandoned and schools closed. And, of course, as it has suited, young people have been accused without a shred of evidence of being traitors to the cause, irresponsible ‘super-spreaders’, failing in the responsibility to protect their elders.

However, my growing anxiety about what is being done to young people as part of the elite’s need to create a renewed capitalist order was deepened with the news a few days ago coming out of the USA. In key cities such as New York and Chicago, children, five years upwards are being offered a $100 bribe to get the experimental drug. On the basis of what medical evidence and what sort of ethics does a society agree to ‘vaccinate’ children, who are neither at risk themselves nor a risk to others? And in seeking to do so, hasn’t the slightest idea of what might be the medium and long-term consequences? This flagrant disregard of a fundamental principle of medicine that its practitioners do no harm is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing the harm being done to today’s younger generation. Breasts are belatedly beaten as the inevitable impact on their mental health and their prospects for the future is revealed.

I fear that a Third World War of a contemporary character is unfolding. As in 1914 and 1939 capitalism is in crisis and seeks to establish a new order, a new normal that maintains, even increases its power over humanity. In this conflict, the younger generation is to the fore. Of course, my sweeping speculations, my problematic generalisations, my homogenisation of young people may be wide of the mark. However, in an immediate sense. whatever the failings of my broader analysis, young people and ourselves are facing an assault on taken-for-granted rights, unimaginable but two years ago.

To take perhaps an extreme example of the demands being made upon both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated from Australia, the first are obliged to carry proof to be ‘free’, the second excluded from New Normal existence. “If you want your freedoms, get the jab” cries the State Premier. **

Since October in France, the country’s health pass – or pass sanitaire – has been extended to under-18s, meaning all teenagers will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to access places like cinemas, museums, restaurants and indoor shopping centres. Here on Crete, as of last Saturday, the everyday simple act of sipping a greek coffee in the village kafeneio requires showing QR codes and identity cards. Even on their own terms, these restrictions are riddled with contradictions, which I will speak to in Part Four of ‘Searching for an Understanding in the Face of Power and Propaganda.’

The generation, in whom we place our hopes for a more just and democratic society, is being trained to accept that freedom is the possession of the State. Obedience makes free.

To return to my father and his comrades statuesque and dignified as the Last Post pierced the cold November air, they believed they had fought for a better future. I remember to this day my dad’s explanation of why it was right to fight. ” We did it so my country would be a place where you would never have to show your papers to live”.

**

To put the Queensland draconian restrictions into context the official State COVID figures from March 1 to November 13, 2021, are:

CASES 2,106

ACTIVE CASES 19

TOTAL RECOVERED 2,078

DEATHS 7