Tag Archives: Edward Snowden

Covid-19, world morality and the culture of safety at any cost

Although I wasn’t a Waldorf pupil, my primary school was child-centred enough not to interfere with my unconscious assumption that “the whole world is moral”, to use Rudolf Steiner’s words.  For whatever reason, I was able to grow up as a child in the 1950s believing that those who had charge over our lives, such as parents, teachers, MPs and ministers, policemen, doctors and other public servants were, on the whole, good people working for the benefit and general welfare of others. Looking back to a time when I was younger and less disillusioned, I think I had a fairly positive view of the role of government and officialdom.

In the ninth lecture of Study of Man, Steiner says: “When human beings leave the world of spirit and soul and clothe themselves in a body, what do they actually want? They want to realise in the physical world the previous things they experienced in the spirit. Human beings before the change of teeth are, in a manner of speaking, still wholly focused on the past. Human beings are still filled with the devotion which they develop in the spiritual world. (…) This basic mood is actually a very lovely one. It is one which proceeds from the assumption, the unconscious assumption: the whole world is moral.”

Although we all know that this is not how the world actually is, it is vital for the future development of the child that in their early years their unconscious assumption that the world is beautiful, good and true should not be destroyed. I’ve been reflecting on all of this during the Covid-19 crisis, when the actions of government ministers have been causing me more and more disquiet. For one of my generation and political views, it has been a dispiriting experience to find myself tending to agree with Ronald Reagan that “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help’ “. 

I’m also disappointed to see the readiness with which most people have gone along with every new restriction, imposition and removal of an established civil liberty by the government. There are two sides to this, of course. During this crisis, we have seen some of the very best of human nature. I’m a care home manager and when I took our residents to get their jabs at a medical centre in Crowborough, there was a long but good-natured queue of people waiting patiently in line. There were friendly and helpful volunteers shepherding the queue, and the doctors and nurses inside the clinic were just lovely with our residents, who were understandably nervous beforehand, by reassuring them and administering the injection so that none of them felt a thing. All in all, this was the British at their best and it occurred to me that there must have been a simiIar national spirit in people during the Second World War. 

On the other side, I don’t think one has to be paranoid to start wondering whether there is another agenda behind all of this. By now it is clear that all the vaccinations, mask-wearing, social distancing and staying at home are not that effective in protecting us from Covid-19 and therefore most of the restrictions will have to stay in place. Scientists are saying that while vaccines are having a major impact by cutting illness and deaths, they are not effective enough to allow a return to normal social mixing without the risk of “a big epidemic”. Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, said on 5th April: “I don’t think there’s any surprise that it [Covid] is still with us now, nor is it going to magically disappear over the next few months. This virus will be with us for the foreseeable future. We will have significant problems with Covid for the foreseeable future, and I don’t think we should pretend otherwise.” 

And on Tuesday 13th April, Boris Johnson told Sky News: “The (Covid) numbers are down – of infections and hospitalisations and deaths. But it is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme (my emphasis). People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing”. 

So, why is Boris all of a sudden playing down the role of vaccination in dealing with Covid?  If it’s the case that, even though you have had your jabs, it will not make much difference – what are they for? You still have to wear a mask in public and practice ‘social distancing’ and for months to come, you may not be able to travel abroad, or even go very far within the UK. We don’t know whether the jabs will reduce transmissibility of the virus or whether they will protect you against new variants – but we do know that it is likely you will now have to have additional jabs at regular intervals.  Pfizer’s chief has just said that people will probably require a yearly Covid booster shot. Oxford Biomedica, which is manufacturing the Astra Zeneca jab in this country, is expecting to earn over £50 million pounds this year from the jab. 

Back in December 2020, I wrote a piece about Coercion and the Covid-19 Vaccines, in which I argued that we were about to see the beginnings of a campaign that would threaten to make life so difficult for anyone who didn’t agree to be vaccinated that it amounted to making it compulsory. Events since have not proved me wrong.

There was a time, before he became prime minister, when Boris Johnson presented himself as a believer in civil liberties. This is what he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column in 2004, when the then Labour government was thinking of introducing ID cards: 

“If I am ever asked, on the streets of London, or in any other venue, public or private, to produce my ID card as evidence that I am who I say I am, when I have done nothing wrong and when I am simply ambling along and breathing God’s fresh air like any other freeborn Englishman, then I will take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded that I produce it (…) and add, in the words of Barry Goldwater, that extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice, and that I really don’t know what I dislike most about these cards. There is the cost; (…) There is the loss of liberty, and the creepy reality that the state will use these cards – doubtless with the best possible intentions – to store all manner of detail about us, our habits, what benefits we may claim, and so on.”

What a difference political power and a pandemic can make to basic principles! But it’s been obvious for a long time to anyone who has observed Boris Johnson’s career and general behaviour that he has no basic principles, other than to do in all circumstances whatever will lead to his personal advantage. 

Now in 2021 the government, of which he is prime minister, is proposing not only vaccine passports (ID cards by another name) but also a “UK Health Security Agency”. The idea behind it is that to control the circulation of viruses, the government needs to control what people are allowed to do. Our rights to freedom of assembly, of protest, to send our children to school, to go abroad, to visit the pub etc are now seen by the government as privileges which they can remove or restore as they see fit. One idea apparently being seriously considered in Whitehall is that each of us will have to send in our temperature every day using the NHS app.

I have some skin in this game, as the Americans say. The government is planning to legislate to make it illegal to work in a care home if you have not had the vaccination – but I want to wait for further analysis about possible side effects from these experimental vaccines before deciding whether or not to have one. 

Critics will scoff at my use of the term ‘experimental’ and point to the NHS statement: “The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.” 

According to the scientific technical writer, Mark Pickles: “There are many things wrong with this NHS statement. It is misleading at best. The medicines are not licensed. The medicines are not approved (certainly not according to the FDA in America, who in granting ‘emergency authorisation’ for three vaccines tell us ‘There is no US Food and Drug Administration approved vaccine to prevent Covid-19’, and the clinical trials are still in progress. We are now in the long-term trials, or Phase 3 of four phases, following which the medicine is assessed and either licensed or revoked.” 

What’s more, “every letter of authorisation from the FDA to Janssen BioTech, to Moderna TX and to Pfizer Inc for the Covid-19 vaccines describes each product as: ‘an investigational vaccine not licensed for any indication.’ “ 

The medical term ‘investigational’ as used by the health authorities is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as follows: 

“Investigational [medical]: relating to or being a drug or medical procedure that is not approved for general use but is under investigation in clinical trials regarding its safety and efficacy.” 

To my mind, ‘investigational’ means that these vaccines are still experimental. This also means that everyone who has had one of these vaccines has been unwittingly taking part in the biggest trial ever known in the history of medicine – and it’s worth remembering that all of the companies making these vaccines have been granted blanket immunity by government from litigation arising from unforeseen side effects.

This creeping authoritarianism is to my mind quite sinister. Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London, whose inaccurate projections about the pandemic (forecasts of 250,000 deaths in the UK and 1.2 million in the US) have been relied on by several governments to shape their response, made some interesting comments during an interview with Tom Whipple of The Times: 

“I think people’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed quite dramatically between January and March (2020),” Professor Ferguson says. When SAGE (the UK government’s Scientific and Advisory Group) observed the ‘innovative intervention’ out of China, of locking entire communities down and not permitting them to leave their homes, they initially presumed it would not be an available option in a liberal Western democracy. ‘It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.’ ” 

It seems from Ferguson’s comments that the UK government is taking lessons in social control from the Chinese Communist Party and applying them to a so-far docile population at home, with success beyond their expectations. But is it just paranoia on my part to draw the conclusion that Boris Johnson and his bunch of political pygmies are simply the servants seeking to enforce a larger agenda emerging from those who regard themselves as our global masters?

Here it is instructive to listen to Edward Snowden. Wikipedia tells us that Snowden is the “former computer intelligence consultant who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments, and prompted a cultural discussion about national security and individual privacy.”

I have a great deal of respect for Snowden, his bravery and his sense of outrage at the immorality of many covert government operations. I think that Rudolf Steiner would also have applauded Snowden for revealing to us the brutal reality and lies behind so much government rhetoric. I urge you to listen to him in this short YouTube video, where he is speaking about coronavirus and the effect on our freedoms, and in which he suggests that the pandemic is being used to put in place controls on populations throughout the world – and that governments will find these controls very useful and want to make them permanent.

In the end, it comes down to a question of trust. We all know about Boris Johnson’s track record with truth, so I suspect that most of us will not be reassured when we hear him declare his confidence in the AstraZeneca or any other vaccine. These are fearfully complex questions that only an epidemiologist or virologist can pronounce on with any authority, so some of us will want to turn instead to scientists for reassurance. But can we trust the scientists and doctors, many of whom derive their funding from the giant pharmaceutical corporations? I don’t think so, which is why I want to see two or three years more data from the ongoing clinical trials before I decide whether to have the jab. In the meantime, I and my care home colleagues are having three tests a week to show that we are free from infection. It is fundamentally immoral for any government to seek to coerce me through the threat of unemployment, loss of the right to travel etc, into a premature decision on the matter of vaccination.

I am saddened to have lost my childhood assumption that the world is beautiful, good and true because, in my heart of hearts, I think that this is how the world is one day meant to be. At this time, however, as we become more and more aware of the impending incarnation of the being whom Christ called “the Ruler of this World”, it is clearly unrealistic to suppose that governments, leaders and the rest of us are not going to be unconsciously or otherwise influenced in myriad negative ways by what is coming towards us. Our only option is to become as aware, as far as possible, of the reality behind world phenomena; and in Rudolf Steiner’s words, “it is humanity’s task in this period to come to grips with evil as an impulse in the evolution of the world”. 

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Filed under Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic, Evil