We Need to Talk about Truth

Our society relies on shared realities to properly function, and lately they have begun to fracture. People appear to be living in alternative worlds, which makes meaningful relationships almost impossible.

This is an attempt to repair that rift. To try and establish some common ground. It is written and offered in the spirit of peace. People on both sides have spent years yelling that the other are evil and/or idiots. I won’t. I am operating under the assumption that the “other” side are good people, who do genuinely want what’s best for the world. I hope the same benefit of the doubt will be extended in return.

The other assumption is that we are all prepared to think for ourselves, and question what we’ve been told. That is not always easy to do. The brain has powerful systems in place to protect its beliefs, and will dismiss information that doesn’t conform to our biases. We all do it. And there are paid professionals who have been working extremely hard to exploit that.

As deep as this is, it’s no match for the human spirit. I believe that if we approach this in good faith with good intentions, that is all surmountable. We just need to make sure we’re aware of it, and keep our minds open. If we promise each other that, then we have a chance.

So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about Truth.

The first thing we need to acknowledge, is that anyone can say anything. There is no Fundamental Law of the Universe that says people have to tell the truth, and even the Human Laws are notoriously difficult to define and even harder to enforce. This is especially true on the internet. Not only can people make individual posts, but they can create websites which look like news platforms, write anything they want, create a whole new narrative, make it look like a story, then use an army of bot networks to amplify it across multiple channels, and all of a sudden, it is a story.

It is a problem we have yet to find a solution to. 500 hours of video are uploaded to youtube every minute. It is effectively impossible to monitor that much content. And even if you could, we don’t even have a good answer for how to do it. Who do we want making these decisions? The platforms themselves? The users? The government? It’s an ongoing question at this point.

So this leads us to where we are today. A jungle of disinformation, navigating our way through webs of lies and deliberate deceit. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to plant the seed of doubt, which can sprout into full blown confusion, to exploit the chaos that follows. Some of the lies have been told so loudly, for so long, that they have almost become a part of the fabric of our lives. Figuring it out is going to take a lot of work. So let’s sharpen our machetes we can see how far we can get.

Let’s kick off with the pandemic:

COVID 19.

The Black Death killed 200 million people in the 1300s, or about half the population of Eurasia. The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected about 1/3 of the world’s population, and killed around 50 -100 million people. At a time when people weren’t flying all over the world everyday. These things are serious.

In 2020, another virus came along. It had a relatively low mortality rate, like the one in 1918. That might make it seem like it’s not a big deal, but it was airborne and highly transmissible. It’s killed more than 2.5 million people worldwide. Even if we call that 100% exaggerated, it’s still over a million people dead. And fatalities aren’t the only thing that matter.

It was unprecedented (in the modern world at least), but it was predictable, and history had prepared us somewhat. We had procedures in place to stop it from spreading. Stay inside if you can, wear a mask if you can’t. Pretty simple really. So that’s what most governments did. It still killed millions. Without the measures, who knows.

Now, there is obviously a lot of nuance to that, and we’ll come to that in a minute. We’re working our way in from the edges, and need to make sure we have the full context. Because the jungle of disinformation leaves room for confusion. And before long, the idea that it’s a conspiracy began to emerge.

So let’s sit with that for a minute, and explore it a bit. What do you think is the motivation of the scientists and doctors making these recommendations? Are they all “in on it”? Are there any that are good honest people? Because I think there is a world in which at least some (probably most) of them are trying to help people in they way they can, which in their case is Science. Viruses are dangerous, so they study them, and advise accordingly. It’s not a particularly glamorous life. They spend a lot of time in labs and offices, poring through tedious reams of data, studying molecular components. Or they’re out in the disease danger zones. Every now and then they may get to go to a conference, perhaps there’ll be a bar tab on one of the nights. I’d hope they’re financially secure, but they’re not out partying on super-yachts or anything.

The WHO and CDC are human institutions, and are as flawed as the rest of us. Of course they are vulnerable to errors and/or corruption. But when we look at their purpose, we see a fundamentally different mission to a private corporation. Corporations exist to make profit. They’ll do whatever it takes. Exploit people and the planet until the market begins to punish them, by which stage the damage has been done. The regulatory bodies are there to mitigate that damage. To make decisions not in the financial interest of a few CEOs and their shareholders, but in the total interest of the rest of the population.

Capitalists have done horrific things for the sake of money. Take the Sackler Family’s business, Purdue Pharmaceuticals. They manufactured Oxycontin to be just the right level of addictiveness, and marketed it so aggressively that they created the Opioid epidemic. They lobbied governments to legislate in their favour, which they did, until towns were literally ravaged by the crisis, and regulators were forced to act.

Now imagine a fossil-fuel company, that operates coal mines and oil wells. They’ve paid enough lobbyists to bribe enough politicians to keep their projects approved. Then all of a sudden, some government scientists come along and say “Hey that’s really messing with the environment, you gotta cut it out.” What are they going to do? Lie down and say “Oh, ok”? Of course not.

Fred Koch was a Texan oil baron, and a seemingly psychotic parent who deeply damaged his children. He made a fortune with his business Koch Industries, refining fuel for Hitler and Stalin. This wasn’t really unusual for the time. Companies like Ford Motors and the Harriman Brothers provided the Nazi war machine with cars and capital. Even George HW Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was in on the action. Fred was a founding member of a group called the John Birch Society, which we’ll come to in a minute. His sons, Charles and David, followed him into the family business, which included using “conspiracy theories” to fight any regulation of capitalism.

The Koch family cared about one thing: Making as much money as possible, which was billions and billions of dollars. They exploited people and the environment however they pleased. Then, in the latter part of the 20th century, scientists began to notice the effect of Green House Gasses.

Yes, the Earth produces 97% of GHGs. But it also absorbs the same amount. Humans do only add on that extra 3%, but because we don’t absorb any, the total has been steadily rising. Yes, the climate has always changed. That doesn’t mean that we can’t affect it as well. Yes, temperature change is complicated. But the overall trend is clear.

Scientists recommended that governments take action, which threatened to reduce the profits of the fossil fuel industry. So people like the Kochs set about undermining the legitimacy of these institutions. They funded think tanks that published papers casting doubt on the science, and created the idea that it’s all a hoax.

Climate Change is invisible, complicated, confusing, and catastrophic, all of which mean that humans will look for any excuse to dismiss it. The fossil fuel industry provided one. They didn’t need to prove anything, all they had to do was create a question, then use their networks to push it to the conservative media eco-system.

What is more likely — that millions of modestly paid scientists all around the world are secretly colluding to fudge data to scare people into being sustainable, or, fossil fuel companies are calling it fake because taking it seriously is a threat to their business.

It… seems pretty obvious. So how have they managed to get away with such a brazen lie? Well, the lie they’re telling is based on a particularly powerful story, called the “Conspiracy Narrative”, in which a secret cabal of evil people control the world. The irony, of course, is that there is a (not so) secret group of (pretty) evil people who do (try to) control the world, and one of the ways they do it is by spreading this very story. To understand how it works and why it’s so effective, we need to go back a few hundred years, to the wake of the Industrial Revolution, when society was wrestling with the question of how to organise itself.

Life had been transformed by inventions like the steam engine and the cotton gin, coupled with the extraction of energy from fossil fuels. All of a sudden, wealth could be created on a previously unimaginable scale. A few made a fortune, rivalling and in some cases even eclipsing the ancient royal dynasties. Because they could do whatever what they wanted. There were no child labour laws, no workplace safety regulations, no minimum wage, no overtime or pensions. No one to tell them they couldn’t just dump their waste in the river. Just raw, undiluted capitalism.

Naturally, society continued to evolve in response. It’s a wild world out there, but by working together, humans have been able to achieve incredible things. We have always been a social species, who help each other for the good of the tribe. Care for the community is our ultimate survival tool. Ultimately, we are strings of DNA in a body, trying to get enough energy to replicate the code before we die. That’s the “Game of Life” we’re playing.

So people started telling the Capitalists to clean up their act. To stop poisoning the rivers, and making people work to death in their factories. The Capitalists said “Well how are you going to make us?” Good question. The answer: Elect governments, who create laws, and have the power to enforce them. Which they did. Governments set about implementing regulations which, by definition, limited the power of these rich white men to do whatever they wanted. No one with absolute power ever likes losing it. And the Capitalists have been complaining ever since.

The Private Profit Motive is a vehicle which delivers a lot of wonderful innovation. But it does not provide for everything. So the government started working on large scale public infrastructure projects, to ensure that the country had everything it needed for a safe and secure population. FDR’s New Deal was hailed as a great success that pulled America out of the great depression (caused by a catastrophic failure of capitalism and the collapse of stock market).

This was a worry for the Capitalists. They actually tried to overthrow the government, but the retired general they approached blew the whistle. So they said “Alright, fine, elect your representatives, we’ll just use our money to lobby them to legislate the way we like.” And thus governments essentially became another tool of the corporations.

In the aftermath of WW2, some countries came together to form the United Nations, as a way to hopefully have less wars, and work together on things that affect the whole Earth. Who’s responsibility is it to look after refugees, for example? To try and establish some ground rules for war? To fund global things that no individual country felt like funding? The world needed an “international body”, in the same way that countries need a federal government.

And Capitalists resented it in the same way too. To them, the UN was another limit on their power. And unlike their local governments, they couldn’t easily control them with corporate donations. So they would have to be more creative.

This is where the “Conspiracy Narrative” comes in. The UN was framed as part of a sinister plot for world domination. Never mind that it was basically all voluntary — Countries could sign up to non-binding treaties if they liked, or ignore them if they chose. Like any other Progressive policies (such as environmental regulations, worker’s rights, anti-discrimination laws, public projects, etc), it was all painted with a big red brush of “Communism”.

In the early 20th century, the Russians had overthrown their Oligarchs in a relatively violent revolution, and transferred control of everything to the State. It was supposed to be a people’s uprising, but like many things, it was corrupted. Since then, it’s been a relatively simple matter for the Capitalists to connect anything which empowered workers, women, or minorities, back to the Soviets, and call it a communist conspiracy.

One the primary sources of all this was a group called The John Birch Society. It was formed by a retired candy salesman called Robert Welch, who got a bunch of his capitalist buddies (like Fred Koch) together, to fight back against progressive policies. But instead of just lobbying the politicians, they went to the source, and set to work turning the American Public itself against progressivism, by using the “Conspiracy Narrative” to convince them that it was of an evil communist plot.

They published pamphlets and aggressively distributed them. They held networking dinners. They told members to infiltrate their PTA groups. It was a scary story, and scaring people is effective. The narrative acted like a virus, that infected American politics. People like Phyllis Schlafly, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, and more were all able to draw upon elements of the story, and use it in their own political crusades.

America even went to war, famously invading multiple countries across Asia and South America, and funding coups to topple democratically elected leaders if they were too progressive. All of which gave them tremendous political capital, made loads of money in arms contracts, and killed hundreds of thousands of working Americans and innocent civilians.

Groups like the World Anti-Communist League, and the Council For National Policy provided a place for these people to formally organise their policies, and became enormously influential. Ironically, they found an affinity with many likeminded neo-cons in the newly-privatised Russia. Over the decades they grew their influence, and then spilled into the public consciousness in 2012, through movements like the Tea Party.

The Murdoch Empire has been a powerful influence. Rupert used the front pages of his papers to make the public hate the same people as him. He founded Fox News with Roger Ailes, platforming people like Glen Beck, Bill O’Riley, and Sean Hannity, who poisoned millions people with the Conspiracy Virus.

As wild as the Murdoch press was, there is a limit on what you can say in the mainstream media. So people like Alex Jones (inspired by people like Bill Cooper) launched their own “alternative-media” empires, peddling conspiracies and fear of progressives, to sell survival gear and dietary supplements to his audience.

Meanwhile, people like Mike Adams cultivated the conspiracy narrative virus among otherwise progressive people who like “Alternative Therapies”, using his “Natural News” network. This is an often overlooked and hugely important part of the story, because it’s how it was able to tap into the “spiritual, new-age community”.

Donald Trump was well infected with the Conspiracy Virus, and his election elevated them to a higher platform than ever before. For 4 years, the White House became a firehose of disinformation and “alternative facts”, as he waged war on whatever limited the power of rich white men to do what they want. But we’ll talk more about him later.

For now, we come to 2020. A world already on a knife edge. And in walks the perfect storm of COVID-19.

First, it was one of the most viscerally visual manifestations of the Conspiracy Story we’d ever seen. Governments were trying to control their citizens, based on the advice of an international body of scientists, because of something invisible, which didn’t even seem immediately dangerous, and which caused serious turmoil.

Second, in those times of turmoil, people find the chaos deeply unsettling. The idea of the world just hurtling through space with no one at the wheel is frankly terrifying. The conspiracy narrative provides a captain. Even the most evil of villains is preferable to the swirling complexity of a random universe. The “Illuminati” story itself first emerged from people looking for a way to explain the turmoil of the French Revolution.

Third, as we all well know, everyone was literally locked inside for months, with nothing but time to endlessly scroll social media. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all make money by keeping us glued to their screens, so they design algorithms to do just that. Extreme content is compelling, especially if it sounds like some kind of secret you don’t get on the mainstream news. And like most capitalists, they don’t seem to care about the social cost of recommending that type of material. So while the world outside was turned upside down, the world inside was as well.

Thanks to decades of tireless work by the JBS, Koch Brothers, Alex Jones, and Mike Adams, there was an entire universe of content waiting for people to dive into. It was a tinderbox waiting to explode, and a handful of people we’ll come to in a minute were quite happy to toss in a match. The pandemic presented an opportunity to sell the conspiracy story to more people than ever before, and turn them against progressivism, by painting the UN out to be an evil bogey man. And over the course of 2020, that’s exactly what happened.

One of the biggest sparks to hit that tinderbox was the film “Plandemic”, produced by a guy called Mikki Willis. He was an actor and a model from the “New Age” community. He’d spent time at the Standing Rock protest. He started a production company with his wife and made a few unremarkable videos. He briefly achieved minor notoriety in 2015 when he made a video about buying his son a little mermaid doll.

In 2015 he met a woman called Judy Mikovits, a prominent personality in the anti-vaccine movement. Like many in the New Age / “Natural News” circles, it was a world which Willis related to, as he believed that harmful medical treatments played a role in his brother dying of AIDS and his mother dying of Cancer. When the pandemic was escalating in early 2020, he reached out to her for an interview, which went on to become the basis for the film. He packaged it up with conspiratorial aesthetic to get as many views as possible, and catapulted himself to the forefront of international attention. The central story was a basic retelling of the Conspiracy Narrative, with Gates and Fauci as the central villains, who either created the virus or leveraged it for their own personal gain.

We’re still in the process of unpacking that here. So before we get to that, we should have a look at how it spread, and see if that can tell us anything:

By far the biggest promotor of “Plandemic was a website called Breitbart. It was founded in 2007, with a clear agenda: to fight the progressive movement with whatever radical content it could — conspiracies, disinformation, hateful language and deliberately divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.

It was funded by a hedge fund billionaire called Robert Mercer, and his daughter Rebekah. Like many Capitalists before them, they hated any government’s attempts to curtail their power. They poured hundreds of millions of dollars into think tanks and political campaigns to fight progressivism. Breitbart presented the perfect opportunity to pump out propaganda, and in 2012 they invested $10 million.

The mind behind it came from a guy called Steve Bannon. He was an ex-investment banker and Hollywood producer. He also served 7 years in the Navy, during which time he became deeply political and anti-progressive. In 2004 he met Andrew Breitbart, and they went on to launch the media organisation that bore his name. When Andrew died of a heart attack in 2012, Bannon took over.

In 2016 he became the Chief Executive of Trump’s presidential campaign, then created the role of “White House Chief Strategist” for himself. Under his eye, neo-nazis re-emerged from the shadows.

After leaving the White House in 2017, he formed a relationship with Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui (AKA Miles Kwok). Guo had fled China after being charged with corruption, and has since made it his mission to take down the CCCP from his self imposed exile in NYC. He and Bannon became fast friends and business partners in multiple ventures, like GTV Media Group, and the “New Federal State of China”, which aimed to overthrow the Chinese Government.

One of their ventures was a think tank called the “Rule of Law Institute.” And when we trace the origins of the story that COVID was made in a lab, that is where it came from. The personal and political crusades of Steve Bannon, and Guo Wengui.

In August 2020, Bannon’s greed finally caught up to him. He helped set up a group to raise money for the construction of the southern border wall, then defrauded it out of $25 million. He was arrested on Wengui’s super yacht. With Trump in charge of the Justice Department, Bannon was out of jail and back on the air calling for the beheading of health officials within a week.

He also has a hand in Cambridge Analytica, the “behaviour change agency”, which uses deeply (and criminally) detailed levels of data analysis to create campaigns and target them with laser precision at the exact places where they will have the most effect. They are experts in influence and manipulation.

Of course Bannon and the Mercers were not alone in their crusade. Progressivism was a threat to Capitalists all over the world. After decades of cold-war hostility, the Soviet Union had fallen apart, and handful of people became incredibly wealthy by swooping in to buy up some of the oil and gas infrastructure. They quickly became the notoriously ruthless “oligarchs”, and found natural allies in many of the American capitalists with the same anti-progressive agenda. A viable system of international governments was a threat to their power, so they had been planting seeds of disinformation for decades, to destabilise the idea of truth, let the west tear itself apart, and exploit the chaos that followed. So it’s no surprise that they pushed COVID conspiracies as well. They promoted the protests and amplified them across their networks, livestreaming them for hours on end, while providing a platform for other conspiracies at the same time .

And that just about brings us to where we are today. Millions of people all over the world genuinely believe that COVID is part of a conspiracy among scientists, doctors, and all levels of government, to strip our freedoms take over the world.

So again, let’s sit with this idea and explore it a little. Let’s assume that governments are trying to control everyone to implement their sinister plot for world domination. The thing is, they had control. In January 2020, governments had as much power as they could hope for. A militarised police force that could literally murder people and get away with it, surveillance everywhere, a well established and lucrative lobbying industry, a relatively complacent population happy to watch their TVs, etc. Things were cruising along. Throwing all of that into chaos by creating a virus doesn’t give them control, it’s the opposite. They were told that if they didn’t take action, many people would die. So they did.

This is not to say that the response was perfect. No one had done this before, certainly not in the modern world, and governments screw things up at the best of times. Were the lockdowns too much? Maybe. I’m neither a politician nor an epidemiologist, so I wouldn’t ask me. Has some of the police reaction been too strong? Sure. Policing has needed reform for a long time.

In this case, they are trying to save lives by stopping a virus from spreading. That involves some sacrifice. Masks and lockdowns suck. Overcoming adversity together is what Humans do. If the troops can put their lives on the line by going off to war, surely we can manage this. New Zealand took some of the strongest action, and less than a year later, they’re back dancing together.

It presents an interesting situation — pretty serious restrictions, for a pretty low death count. Which raises the question — when we take steps to avoid something, and then it doesn’t happen — does that mean the steps weren’t necessary, or that they worked? How can we know? If we look at places like America, where they didn’t take the steps, it killed half a million people. That seems to suggest the measures did do something. Again, even if we take 80% of those numbers out — that’s still 100,000 deaths. By taking the threat seriously, locking down, and implementing tracking systems, countries like Australia were able to keep the death toll pretty low. Was the disruption to the economy worth it? There is no clear answer to that question. This conversation is about the motives.

Maybe you think that loosing that many people is OK. And that’s fine, we can have a conversation about that. But that is a different conversation to whether the governments are making this up to control us. They are bureaucrats acting on the advice of the expert professionals.

Clearly a lot of things have been thrown for a loop. And that does give us a chance to take stock. Unless you’re suggesting that things were perfect before, our systems could use some redesigning. We can’t keep exploiting the planet and its resources indefinitely. The Capitalists will do their best to make sure it doesn’t happen of course, by making us think that any action is all part of a conspiracy, and sadly, there is good chance they’ll succeed.

On the left are the “Global Goals of Sustainable Development”. They’re probably not what the Bannons, Wenguis, Kochs or Mercers might want, but they seem like good ideas to me. Things we should absolutely work towards. On the right, however, is the way they are often portrayed.

So let’s think again. If the UN was planning to murder 7.3 billion people, would they really announce it as a goal? How would it work? And why? Who would it serve? It just doesn’t make sense.

Those are the extreme ends of the spectrum of course, most people don’t believe the UN is either that good or that bad. But the divide remains, between those who think the UN is there to destroy the world, and those that think it’s there to (at least try to) stop people from destroying the world.

Hopefully this has given us something to work with, to start a conversation. If you’ve read this far then it is deeply appreciated. There is still a lot to discuss, and in Part Two, we’ll dive in to some more details of the different stories going around, and see if the context we’ve just described makes any difference.

PART TWO

A conspiracy needs villains, and there’s a limit to how sinister you make a bunch of bureaucrats in the UN sound. Billionaires tend to be the best targets, because they do actually have the resources to meaningfully influence the world. Which is exactly what people like the Kochs and Mercers have done. Used their fortunes to fund think tanks and media empires which spread conspiracy theories to fight progressivism. So naturally, the “conspiracy theories” aren’t going to involve them. They’ll involve other billionaires, particularly the ones use their money for generally progressive causes, such as:

Bill Gates and George Soros.

So let’s have a look at these guys, starting with Gates.

He wrote software that made computers usable. He made enough money to do whatever he wanted. He decided to help the world as best he could. He and his wife established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to identify where and what the problems are, and how best to go about fixing them.

There is plenty of conversation to be had about the way the Foundation works. Is it a PR exercise? Arguably. It also receives significant tax breaks. They do invest in for-profit companies they think are going to do good. It does “make” money. It also gives billions of dollars away. Does it have too much power on the world stage? Probably. Has it made some questionable decisions in the companies they’ve worked with? Well I’m not enough of an expert in those fields to really comment, but it’s certainly possible. Questioning is good.

So what does it do? What are the problems it’s identified? Sanitation was a big one. Thousands of kids were dying from diarrhoea, caused by diseases spread from lack of basic sewage infrastructure. So he launched a program to develop a better toilet, that could be deployed as effectively as possible.

He is also, famously, a big advocate of vaccines. So I guess this might be where we have to have that talk. Because yes, if you see vaccines as bad, then seeing Bill Gates as evil is completely understandable. But the fact is they save lives. Like, a lot.

The word Vaccine comes from “vacca”, which is the Italian word for cow. Because when lots of people were dying of smallpox, one doctor noticed that the milkmaids weren’t. Because the cows had exposed them to the virus, and given their bodies a chance to develop a way to fight it.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of deliberately infecting people with a pathogen was met with virulent resistance from the very beginning.

In some cases, vaccines can have side effects. But Polio, Measles, Rumps, and Rubella, are all orders of magnitude more horrible. It’s easy for us to forget the horrors these diseases inflicted upon the world, because vaccines effectively eradicated them. By the 1980s, the controversy had mostly died away, along with the diseases.

Until a gastroenterologist called Andrew Wakefield comes along in the 90s. His work in the bowels led to investigating a link between the Measles virus and Chron’s disease, and then to a link between the Measles vaccine and Chron’s disease. The issue got some attention, and he saw a financial opportunity. In March 1995, he filed for a patent for a test that would detect Chron’s disease by finding measles virus in the bowel. Two years later, he drew up a business scheme to present to investors, which suggested using his patented test to create a company with anticipated annual income of $72 million.

In 1999, he held a video news conference highlighting what he claimed were the risks of the Measles, Rumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, based on a study of 12 children. What he didn’t disclose, and what we didn’t learn until a FOI request in 2011, was that he had been paid over $450,000 to attack the MMR vaccine, by a lawyer representing families who believed their kids had gotten sick from the vaccine.

He also failed to disclose that two years earlier, he filed a patent for a Measles virus vaccine of his own. So his claims that the MMR vaccine was dangerous carried a direct conflict of interest. Shortly after the conference, Wakefield became a director of two businesses, secured $800,000 in public funding, and applied for $2.1 million more. In a prospectus for potential investors, he stated that he believed that within 3 years of launching, the business would be worth $28 million.

Still, it’s possible for all this to have been coming from an honest place, and for the work to have been legitimate. If the risk was real, then this stuff was the right thing to do. Again, I’m assuming that people are operating in good faith. And the hospitals he worked at gave him the same benefit of the doubt. They offered to fund another study, with a bigger sample size, to see if the results of the first one would be replicated. When he declined, it became clear that he was a fraud. Later, journalists tracked down the parents of the 12 children in the original study, and found that they had been grossly misrepresented. Hundreds of millions of vaccines have been given out all over the world without incident.

Despite these revelations, he has still managed to make a career out of playing the rogue crusader.

Sadly, the damage of a lie like that is not easily undone, and his greed continues to endanger children. His dishonesty has directly led to fatal outbreaks of otherwise preventable illnesses.

Gates is doing the opposite. He is giving away vaccines to as many people as possible. He famously called it “the best investment I’ve ever made”, and people often interpret this to mean that he’s personally profited from it. But what he’s talking about is the social benefit of healthy communities. Vaccinating children for free isn’t a money maker, it’s a life saver. Reports of him “killing Indian villagers” are lies.

Whether or not we think that it’s the right thing to do, he is acting on the advice of the world’s doctors and scientists, and believes he is helping. And yet, in some worlds, he is a literal demon.

The point about population in the image above seems to be the source of a lot of the problem. It’s a real quote, and it’s easy to see how it could be interpreted to mean he wants to kill a billion people. What he’s actually talking about, is slowing population growth. At the moment, high infant mortality rates means a lot of people have more children than they would otherwise want. So although it seems counter intuitive, lowering infant mortality by giving people access to vaccines and healthcare, actually leads to less people. It puts them in control of their reproductive choices.

Population is an extremely complicated issue. Its not an easy conversation, it’s not comfortable, it’s incredibly nuanced, and unless you think population can continue its exponential growth indefinitely, it is something we do need to talk about.

Another thing that gets held up as an example of his supposedly nefarious intent, is that in 2019, Gates and the CDC ran a simulation on a pandemic. This has been used to suggest that the whole COVID thing was planned and staged. So, imagine we live next to a river. And I look at the rainfall data, and the upstream topography, and the size of the banks, and I stand up to warn everyone and say “Guys, there is a good chance there’s going to be a flood sometime soon, we need to make sure we have sandbags ready and everything else, and practice evacuating”. When a flood does come, would you say that I caused it? It hardly seems fair. And anyway, if he was going to stage it, would he really give it away with a dress rehearsal to give countries time to prepare?

So, speaking of staging things, let’s move on to George.

He made his fortune through currency trading, but like with Bill, the controversy seems to centre on what he’s done with it since. And, like with Bill, it seems to be taking place in completely alternative realities. He is painted as the ultimate puppet master, apparently because he has donated to progressive causes. Here is a list of organisations he does support, but perhaps it would be more revealing to look at the list of organisation he’s said to support. Like the American Library Association, who have raised concerns about privacy breaches of the Patriot Act. This, apparently, makes him a malevolent monster:

It’s a strange story, but we know exactly how it happened, because the guys who did it told us. In 2014, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was running for re-election, and employed two guys called George Birnbaum and Arthur Finkelstein to help with the campaign. Their strategy was to create an enemy, and they chose Soros.

“It started with an article in the newspaper, attacking NGOs that were said to be controlled by Soros. Next, they went after the environmental organization Ökotárs, which Soros had donated to. Police stormed their offices and confiscated computers, coming up empty, but successfully spreading the image of a shadowy network of foreign NGOs run by Soros. In 2015, the European refugee crisis had emboldened nationalists across the continent. So when Soros argued that the EU needed to develop a “common plan” for the treatment of refugees, Orbán claimed Soros wanted to weaken the country and flood it with refugees. Any organization that had ever received money from the Open Society Foundations was painted as “Soros controlled.” The whole country was plastered with ads showing Soros’s face and the slogan “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh!” Orbán won in 2014 and 2018, both times with an overwhelming majority.

The product was so good, it went global. In 2017, Italians started talking about Soros-financed immigrant boats arriving on the shores. In the US, some said Soros was behind the migrant caravan coming from Central America. A Polish MP called Soros the “most dangerous man in the world.” Putin referred dismissively to Soros during a press conference with Trump in Helsinki. Trump even claimed that the demonstrations against Brett Kavanaugh were sponsored by Soros.”

And just like that, in a few short years, he became the perfect bogey-man for people fighting progressivism to put at the center of their conspiracies.

Which brings us to the next issue:

Staging things.

Police violence is a problem. 6,557 people have been killed by American Police since 2014. Of course plenty of people have been killed by civilians too. The difference is, civilians tend to be prosecuted, while the police tend to get away with it. Which invalidates the social contact our civilisation is built upon. So what are we meant to do? Peaceful protests seem to fall on deaf ears. And so people are left with no option but to riot to make their voices heard.

The murder of George Floyd set off the greatest period of civil unrest in living memory. The chaotic lawlessness of a riot is deeply unsettling, and as we know, in times of turmoil people look for a graspable explanation.

Crucially, a lot of Western Civilisation was built on the idea that Black Lives don’t Matter. That’s how we were able to go and take Native Lands and force the people into slavery, by telling ourselves that lie. It became deeply woven into the fabric of society. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is a direct threat to that foundational power of rich white men to be able to do what they want. So they will fight it however they can, by trying to undermine the legitimacy of the cause.

The combination of those two things means we see the emergence of a story where the whole thing was set up:

So again, let’s sit with that for a minute. If this “group” was so powerful and malevolent, and wanted to set off civil unrest, would it not be within their means just to kill a dude? Surely it’s far harder to fake it.

There are lots of examples of big, traumatic events being called “fake”, from mass shootings to the sinking of the Titanic. Of course it’s complicated by the fact that many things in history almost certainly have been staged. From the fire at the Reichstag, to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, both of which had massive geo-political consequences. “Conspiracies” are not inherently false. Which is precisely why we need to evaluate them critically.

And so we come to arguably the biggest “conspiracy” of our time:

Human Trafficking.

It is absolutely a very real and dangerous problem. It comes in many forms. It can involve sex, it can involve children, it can involve powerful people, and they can often be difficult to prosecute. It’s something everyone hates, and is the perfect thing to accuse your enemies of.

Which has been happening for a long time. “Blood Libel” is a story about people murdering babies in the woods for their blood, which has historically been used to justify persecution of Jewish people.

In modern times, it has been weaponised into an attack on Progressives. Hillary Clinton specifically, Democrats more broadly. It simmered away on the fringes for a few years, but after the release of films like “Out of Shadows” and “Fall of Cabal” during the 2020 lockdown, it’s exploded into the mainstream. So we need to look at how and why it happened, and who’s responsible. It’s mostly down to an especially unsavoury character called Roger Stone, who was on a mission to put Trump in the White House.

It’s a long story so we’ll be as quick as we can. In 2016, Russian hackers had accessed the DNC servers, as well as the emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. They got the material, told the Trump campaign, and gave it to Wikileaks to release. As much as I dislike going through people’s personal emails, given their role in this saga, I guess that now is the time we have to do it.

That is someone making arrangements for a weekend away. If I’m bringing my kids somewhere, it’s polite to give the hosts a heads up, and discuss transport arrangements and activities. That’s her family. Check the last names. It is literally a mum saying her kids (or maybe nieces and nephews) will be swimming in a heated pool, and who’s driving them there. And hey, it’ll be entertaining. Enormous gratitude. Walnut sauce is a common condiment for foodies. The handkerchief thing? A pizza related handkerchief. Look, here are some examples:

Among the tens of thousands of other emails, there is also an invitation from acclaimed performance artist, Maria Abramovic. A lot of her work is pretty intense. No one except for her is ever harmed.

I ask anyone who believes in the Pizzagate story to present a single email they think describes it. There is zero reference to anything remotely related to anything to do with child sex trafficking, unless you completely change the words to literally invent a whole different story. And, thanks to the internet, that’s exactly what they did.

In July 2016, a character called FBIanon appeared on the anonymous message board 4Chan, claiming to have “intimate knowledge of the Clinton case”. They told people to “Focus on the Foundation” (which, interestingly, is exactly what Steve Bannon was doing in the book “Clinton Cash”). They also hinted at a “nightmarish truth” — that the Clintons were engaged in human trafficking.

For six months leading up to the election, they steadily stoked the narrative from behind the anonymous account, free from any editorial accountability whatsoever. In November, the stories began to appear on “alternative news” sites as well:

Wikileaks were not wild about the prospect of a Clinton presidency, and were happy to help the story come to life however they could. They co-ordinated with the Trump campaign, and deliberately timed the release of the hacked emails for maximum political effect (the day the Access Hollywood “pussy grabbing” tape dropped):

A handful of accounts then took the story from 4Chan to the more mainstream social media platforms:

From there, it was amplified by senior Trump surrogates like Roger Stone, the Flynn family, and Erik Prince (via Steve Bannon’s Breitbart of course):

The loudest voice, as is often the case, was Alex Jones, and his platform appropriately titled “InfoWars”. He’d built a large and loyal audience by spreading these kinds of conspiracies for decades. Roger Stone recognised the value of this in 2015, and began regularly appearing on the show, spreading his scary stories about the Clintons to millions of hungry viewers, who in turn went on to come up with their own stories. They created “an army of citizen journalists” and “digital soldiers”. As Mike Flynn said, “This was an insurgency folks. This was irregular warfare at it’s finest.” It all came together, and Trump went on to win the White House.

So, that’s how this “alternative reality” was created. But we still live in this one. And in December 2016, the two worlds collided. A young man named Edgar Welch heard the stories about children being trafficked in the basement of a Washington pizzeria, and decided to go and do something about it. He took an assault rifle, drove 30 hours to the restaurant, walked in, poked around, fired a few shots, realised it doesn’t even have a basement, and surrendered himself to police.

That would seem to be a sensible place for the story to end, and indeed it did lay largely dormant for a while. Until another election year rolled around in 2020. And with the riots, pandemics, and lockdowns, the world was absolutely primed for conspiracies. And in walks the “#savethechildren” campaign, claiming that an astonishing 800,000 kids are being trafficked every year. Sometimes they even add on an extra zero, to make it 8 million.

The more shocking the story, the more effective it is as a manipulator. And whereas most campaigns are tied to the official candidate, so have to be at least a little bit careful about the size of the lies they tell, this one is happening independently and untraceably, on anonymous platforms and message-boards. So it gets very dark, very quickly. Children are not just going missing and being trafficked for sex, they are being bred in tunnels and tortured for their “adrenochrome.

There is no evidence for any of it, because it’s not real. When pressed for actual proof, people often say it’s “too shocking” to be revealed, which is a shameful cop-out, and arguably makes them complicit.

People going missing is a problem, especially in indigenous communities and other minority groups. And we need to make sure that the fight to find them is grounded in reality, otherwise they’re going to be at further risk. So once again, let’s think about it.

When one kid goes missing in my city, I get a call out from my local emergency volunteer agency, and we go out to look for them. 800,000 per year is over 2,000 kids a day. But we don’t hear anything about it. So, is that because it’s being completely covered up by these evil progressives, or, is it because… it’s not really true, and is part of a lie that Roger Stone made up to elect Donald Trump.

The reality is, 800,000 is the number of reports they got. Most were found almost immediately. Some weren’t, and we need to do everything we can to rescue them, which means figuring out fact from fiction.

Which is why we’re here having this conversation. Trying to find a way to build a bridge between these separate worlds, so we can forge a way forward together. I think if there’s one thing that can unite people on both sides, it’s that they do care about children.

To take us towards the finish, we should consider the man at the centre of most of this mess. People have always told lies of course, and conspiracies have been around for a long time. But things noticeably changed around 2016, when a real estate developer turned reality tv host came on to the political scene:

Donald Trump.

As you’d expect, there are different worlds with wildly different views of the man. So, let’s have a look at his life.

His father gave him millions of dollars and the keys to a property empire, and he still managed to bankrupt a casino. His business model was mostly based on projecting an image of wealth, buying distressed properties, developing them with a luxurious facade, stiffing the contractors, then refusing to pay tax. He had a string of failed ventures. He defrauded people with a fake university, and he campaigned for the execution of 5 innocent black kids. His single act of community service appears to be delivering the beleaguered boondoggle of the ice skating rink in Central Park. If you’ve heard a story about how he rolled down his window and paid someones mortgage, well, we’ll see how true we think that is at the end. On 9/11, he called up a radio station to brag that now he had the tallest building in Manhattan (which wasn’t even true). He partied with Epstein, and bragged about knowing that he liked girls on the younger side.

After numerous nefarious deals went bad, Russia bailed him out. His properties essentially functioned a lot like a money laundering operation. By the end of the 90’s, he had largely faded into irrelevancy, aside from the occasional cameo in a commercial. Then a man named Mark Burnett came along with a show called The Apprentice, and meticulously crafted Trump in the image of a mogul. It was fake — the board room was a TV set, and he was playing a character as much as anything else. But TV is powerful, and it convinced a lot of people that he was in fact a titan of industry.

He essentially embodied the idea that rich white men should be able to do what they want. To women, to the environment, to the economy. And since the 60s, that absolute control had been slipping. Civil Rights, Women’s Liberation, and Environmental Responsibility had made significant progress. Society gradually became kinder and more inclusive. All of which presented threats to the traditional power structures. Conservatives felt forced to mask their bigotry, which was a concession they deeply resented. Then Trump came along, and showed you could tear the mask right off, to the kind of rapturous applause not seen since Goldwater’s speech at the 1964 RNC. While most considered that kind of rhetoric toxic to civil society, Roger Stone saw an opportunity.

For 40 years, Stone has been polluting the world of politics with his partner Paul Manafort. Together, they basically invented the “industrial lobbying complex”. They would use a big bag of dirty tricks to get candidates elected, and then shamelessly charge a long list of clients for access to the politician afterwards. Paul represented the interest of foreign warlords and dictators, like Jonas Savimbi, Ferdinand Marcos, Oleg Deripaska, and Viktor Yanukovych. He would take their money, and literally lobby congress to legislate in favour of his despotic clients, rather than the American people.

Trump had been a client of Paul and Roger since the 1980s. He was in trouble for discriminating against African American tenants in his properties, and facing competition in his Atlantic city casino from Native Americans. Roy Cohn advised him to meet with Manafort and Stone, who advised him to basically be an arsehole, which, sadly, worked.

Stone loved the idea of Trump being president, and had been trying to make it happen for a long time. In 2015, it looked like the stars were finally aligned. So, he ran. It was an interesting prospect. He had no political experience of course. What he did have, was a way of breaking the norms by tearing off that mask.

Manafort was the Campaign Chairman, Stone was Special Advisor, Mike Flynn was National Security Advisor, and Steve Bannon was the Chief Executive. (They have all since been convicted of corruption, and subsequently pardoned by Trump). Between them, they had all the tricks to get the job done. Manafort and Stone had decades of experience manipulating elections all over the world, Flynn was a decorated general and special operations / information warfare specialist, and Bannon brought Cambridge Analytica, fresh from the battlefield of Brexit.

They figured out which counties were persuadable, and flooded them with exactly the right content to influence the result. It wasn’t a new strategy of course, but they brought an unprecedented level of accuracy. They famously used “memetic warfare”, to mobilize that army of digital soldiers. FBIanon was almost certainly working for them as part of the strategy.

Russia also wanted Trump to win, for many reasons, most of which boiled down to being rich white guys who liked having the power to do what they wanted. They hated Hillary (who had threatened sanctions), and knew that Trump hated the idea of international treaties and organisations like UN. He’d also been trying to win Putin’s favour for decades, which made him vulnerable to exploitation, and his lack of political experience would almost certainly weaken America. So they were happy to help however they could: Hacking the DNC, offering them dirt on Hillary, buying facebook ads, and even making fake pages and events to stir up division.

Whether or not there was actually “collusion”, which has not been ruled out, Russia absolutely interfered. The campaign team was stacked with people like Carter Page and George Papadopolous, who had been lobbying for Russian Industries for most of their careers. The FBI did “spy” on the campaign, yes, because they were monitoring communications with Russian agents as a matter of national security, and the Russian agents kept communicating with people in the campaign.

Sure enough, despite losing the popular vote by 3 million points, Trump won enough electoral college votes to take the presidency.

The White House quickly descended into chaos. His staff turnover was unprecedented. Everything was framed in terms of how good people “said” he was. He made over 300 trips to golf clubs. During a natural disaster, he altered weather maps rather than admitting a mistake. It’s a long, long list.

He compromised America’s interest by withholding tactical aid from Ukraine until they agreed to announce an investigation into his political rival. (And yes, Biden did make Ukraine fire a prosecutor general, not because he was investigating corruption, but because he wasn’t).

One thing that often comes up, is that he “sacrificed his salary”. Here we need to understand that there is far more at stake than that 400 grand. Trump loves the power and attention of people talking about him, and being saluted. That’s why so many of his stories and speeches are about big strong generals calling him “sir. At this level, that kind of money hardly matters. And he doesn’t need to take the salary, because he can do things like make the airforce stay in his hotel in Scotland, and charge them for it. He can brag about his brand from the presidential podium. He can give tax cuts to billionaires, and charge them for access to his golf clubs.

He hasn’t organised any mass arrests of pedophiles. He had the chance to shine a light on this issue, when Ghislane Maxwell was arrested. He could have taken that opportunity to do anything. He had the House, the Senate, the Military, and the Supreme Court. All the power in the world. “Clearing out the tunnels and eradicating the adrenchrome industry” would have been a world changing event, and made everyone love him. But he didn’t. Because they’re not real. The fight against real human trafficking was happening before him, and it will continue happening after him.

What he has done, is pull out of international treaties. This isn’t because he’s taking down an evil cabal of globalists. It’s because he’s a rich white man, who wants rich white men to be able to do what they want, and international treaties are a threat to that.

The most visceral manifestation of the failures of his presidency has been his handling of the pandemic. From telling the world “it’s 15 cases, and it’ll soon be down to close to zero”, to now 500,000 people dead.

If we’re going to do this properly, we probably have to talk about Q. This article is long enough already, so if you want that story it’s all explained here, and in even more detail here. The short version is, it’s a propaganda campaign, which used the conspiracy narrative to build support for Trump. If people insist that some of the drops prove that Q really was an insider, well, they may be right. Whoever was making the posts was almost certainly connected to the campaign somehow, and probably did have a background in Military Intelligence. It most likely came from Flynn himself. He openly bragged about leading the insurgency that won the first election, and came shockingly close to doing it a second time.

And so we come to the final piece of all this:

The 2020 Election.

America has held thousands of elections, largely without incident. There was a bit of a mess in 2000 when the Republicans arguably used the muscle of the Supreme Court to take Florida, but even then, the loser accepted the results of the process. If someone who just lost starts shouting that the whole thing was rigged, we would be wise to approach it with suspicion. Especially if that person is the incumbent, who had just lied about almost everything for 4 years straight.

We’re told that there is mountains of evidence, so, since we’re here, let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look. We saw videos of poll workers moving boxes and USBs. Boxes and USBs are not supposed to stay in the one place, that’s the whole point of having them. They did board up some windows, yes, because there were hundreds of angry people screaming at them.

Postal votes get counted after the in-person ballots, and Trump told his supporters not to vote by mail. So of course the numbers are going to change as time goes on. They counted and recounted. They went to court, dozens of times, to present their cases to Trump appointed judges. Nothing held up.

So we are left with two options: either the Democrats suddenly figured out how to steal an election, and flawlessly pulled off an unprecedented operation on an unimaginable scale, all while Trump controlled the House, the Senate, the DOJ, the Military, and the Supreme Court, without a single leak… Or, the disinformation machine we’ve been talking about for the past hour tried their last hail Mary.

People lose elections. Happens all the time. Happens every time in fact. This result was not unexpected. Plenty of people had plenty of reasons to be plenty unhappy with Trump’s performance, and came out to vote for the other guy, regardless of who it was.

Let’s finish by trying to find common ground. I think we can agree that there is indeed a Cabal of shadowy Billionaires who try to control the world. They use their vast resources to manipulate narratives to suit their agenda. The most powerful force in the universe is the hearts and minds of good people. The ones who care about children, and have the courage to fight for what’s right. It’s hard for those people to imagine that someone could be so dishonest as to tell lies like these. So that’s what they target. They want us divided, fighting amongst ourselves, and they exploit our better nature to make a mess.

Governments are there to serve the people, to curb those worst impulses of brutish power. And it’s vitally important to hold them to account. Because sometimes they don’t. They get corrupted by capitalists, and we end up drowning in disinformation. The news lies to us. So does the “alternative media”. We need a way of navigating through the lies, to find a working idea of what’s True. A light, kindness.

The best way to do that is by having the strength to stand up and question what we’ve been told, and having open and honest conversations about it. I hope and believe we can continue that.

Progressives aren’t baby eating demons. They’re human. They’re as boring and annoying and as good and as bad as you. At the end of the day, they want people to look after each other. Because when we work together, we can accomplish amazing things.

If you’re still reading then my heart is full of thanks. I hope it is received in the same spirit it’s offered. My door is open and my hands are outstretched to anyone who wants to work this out.

Just trying to figure it out

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