Category Archives: Religion

It isn’t What It is … and It always Never was

President Trump and his staff of Pro-life Christians walk into a bar.

The bartender says, “Every 24 hours, COVID-19 kills another thousand people.”

“Not on my watch,” says the president, and everyone laughs.

Get it; not on my watch? No wait, that’s not it. You see, they’re all Pro-life Christians; now do you get it? No, not really? Okay, maybe it’s not funny. Maybe it’s an absurd postulation. Why, for Christ’s sake, would Pro-life Christians be hanging out with Trump? Christians are merciful, respondent to the pain and suffering of others, right? Pro-life sentiment reveres the sanctity of life, right? With Trump you can look, but you can’t see any of that morality; it’s just not in his wheelhouse. While he might pay lip service to Pro-life and Christian declarations, he blatantly lives and governs otherwise. So, in what world would Pro-life Christians chum-about with and back-slap one who exemplifies the antithesis of their professed morality?

That would be this world. Trump is surrounded and abetted by Pro-life Christians. It doesn’t seem to make sense, but it’s true. Trump’s cabinet/staff includes Mike Pence, William Barr, Mike Pompeo, Kellyanne Conway, Mark Meadows, Kayleigh McEnany, Paula White and others who have displayed Christian grounding and Pro-life affirmation throughout their lives. Donald Trump is the unique outlier under the White House roof; he’s the only late-bloomer. He became Pro-life in 2012, neatly concurrent with his presidential ambitions. He went full Monty a short time later as a born-again Christian. He did what needed to be done; he put a check mark in the proper boxes and adroitly became one with a large block of voters and a supportive Christian team. So, there they now are; all united in avowals of Christian morality and Pro-life sentiment. And here we now are: an intolerant and fearful nation; backs turned to the huddled masses; offering up human sacrifice to escape the economic discomfort of COVID-19.

It’s a strange picture isn’t it; seeing them work together, seeing Pro-life Christian support for a president whose daily governance is grossly at odds with Christian idealism and concern for human life. His Pro-life pronouncements are heard and recorded, but the words don’t hide what the eyes can see. There’s the inhumane travesty taking place at the nation’s borders (and the administration’s continuous anti-immigrant, anti-DACA fervor). There’re the thousands upon thousands of COVID-19 deaths accepted as reasonable price to pay for supposed political/economic expediency (and for something as trite as anti-mask vanity). The visuals jump out at you; the inhumanity; the suffering; the dying. Alongside it is the support; Pro-life Christian support for a president who cultivates intolerance, misery, and death. It is strange fruit to nurture, isn’t it?

Why are they there? Why are Pro-life Christians giving credence to an amoral and merciless president, a president openly dismissive of human life? It’s not like it just now revealed itself; Trump’s disregard of truth, decency, and humanity was apparent long before it was amplified by COVID-19. It was on display prior to, and throughout his ongoing presidency: the lies, the veiled entreaties to violence, the overtures to racism; the cultural divisiveness; the ridicule of the disabled, the denigration of immigrants, minorities, and women; the callous imprisonment and separation of desperate families at our border. The devaluation of human life is not new, not subtle, and not ending; so why do Pro-life Christians stand with him? Why did they ever? Why do they still? It’s been four years now; four years of witnessing; four years of validating hypocrisy and disregard for human life. Somehow Trump’s Pro-life Christian supporters still talk the talk for him; still walk the walk with him. How can they be what they claim to be and still be there? What do they get from it? What’s the draw?

Is it just a matter of show-case hypocrisy; a pretense of values not truly held? Trump’s timely adoption of Pro-life Christian values can easily be seen in that light, but what of the rest? Are they all just faking it for appearance sake? Or is it something else? Does Pro-life avowal come with a nine-month expiration date? Does the high regard given prenatal life somehow allow for the disregard of postnatal life? Is it really possible that embryonic and fetal life is deemed of higher value than life outside the womb? Is that the fallback to grace? It seems a stretch, but who’s to say it can’t be made? Maybe some cognitive steps to that judgment can be imagined:

Life in the womb, particularly its latter stages, could be perceived and labeled as baby. Preventing its birth could be perceived and labeled as killing. What could possibly be worse than being labeled a baby killer? Conversely, what could possibly be better than being recognized for saving a baby – or just being for the saving of babies? Pro-life avowal grants it; the recognition and self-validation gained of being a baby savior. It has better graphics than regard for human life in general. So, with that kind of thought process, perhaps it’s possible to value embryonic life over its later stages. It might even provide a wild card of sorts; one that can trump or excuse pernicious behavior: “Yeah, but I’m still Pro-life, you can’t forget that.” Maybe Trump’s staff has arrived at such a station: “We’re Pro-life; we’re all about saving babies, future babies – the other stuff, the other lives; they don’t really matter all that much.”

So, maybe one can get there, but it still seems a stretch to struggle down that path; to actually suppose that a conscientious person can justify and facilitate the misery and death of the already born, because they’re supportive of the yet to be born.

If it’s not that; if it’s not shallow hypocrisy; if it’s not a convoluted mental process prioritizing the yet to be born over the already born, how else can it be explained? How can Pro-life Christians still abide with him? They have to be getting something from it. What’s the draw?

Christianity will have power,” Donald Trump promised as a candidate — perhaps that’s the real draw. The promise follows up on the “Christianity is under siege,” theme that he and his audience like to repeat. It’s a false and glorified claim. It’s false because in the United States there’s no one waging war against Christianity. While it may have lost some of its long-held popularity; some of its preeminence, Christianity is not under siege. “Under siege” is nothing more than glorified pretext for its slowly waning influence. And it’s only just a little. Despite some fading, Christianity continues to be the dominate religion and a dominant political power in our “secular” nation. Our leaders are still chosen accordingly (Jefferson and Lincoln were the only presidents not formally affiliated with a Christian church). There is no siege on Christianity, but there may be an assault on Washington: it’s a Christian quest for more power; more political and cultural control over the lives of all Americans.

“If I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power, you don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that,” Trump offered the Evangelicals. His offer, and its acceptance, gives credence to the notion: Christian empowerment is the real objective; “Pro-life” is simply the rebel-yell made towards getting it. Maybe that’s why they’re still there; still supportive of a president who talks “Pro-life,” while his actions trash Christian morality and the sanctity of life. Maybe that’s it, validation and power; a quid pro quo: verbal and ballot box support given in exchange for the promise of executive support. It might still be seen as hypocrisy … but at least it’s not the shallow sort. It’s deep and layered: Trump’s faithful supporters have to pretend they’re not seeing the president’s pretense as he exploits their pretension of upholding pretended Christian morality. Yeah, it gets complicated. Christianity’s dalliance with Trump exposes its Pro-life pretense. It isn’t what it is, or something like that … and it always never was.

If it were more than pretense, if Pro-life was really about the sanctity and full breadth of life, its totality would be recognized and championed – not just its presence inside a womb. It wouldn’t herald the embryonic and fetal beginnings of life, and somehow be silent (or complicit) when the lives of still breathing humans are dismissed or abused. If it were truly about the reverence of life, Trump’s Pro-life Christian staff and his Pro-life Christian supporters would not stand for the abuse of life taking place at the border; would not stand for lives needlessly given over to COVID-19.

All that groveling in a quest for power; and to think they already have it – at least as much as needed. They have the power to worship; to pray; to live a moral Christian life. They have unfettered access to what’s perceived as salvation’s path; freedom to spend their life’s journey upon it. They’re free to proselytize if the wish; to offer access to that path. Christians have the power and freedom to live their faith completely, even ostentatiously if they wish. Yet it’s not enough; it seems more than “freedom of religion” is desired. What’s still lacking; what’s being reached for appears to be this: a bit of authoritarian power to impose Christian values upon others. There’s an absurdity to it; the needless need to control more than themselves. In abiding with, and abetting an amoral president to satisfy that need, they make mockery of the morality they seek power to promote.

“I will never lie to you,” was a promise made by one of Trump’s Pro-life Christian staff members. “I will never lie to myself,” would have been a better utterance. Can it be made by a Pro-life Christian who supports this president? Can anyone with humanistic values support this president and not lie to themselves?

There’s still time to step away.

The post It isn't What It is ... and It always Never was first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Political Economy of Preternatural Parapsychology: From ESP to Extraterrestrial Civilizations

Man’s longing for the marvelous: the underground of the human psyche finds its counterpart in the meanderings of a mythical labyrinth, the subterranean meetings by candlelight, secret passages hidden within the double walls of castles, treasures concealed in gullies.

—  The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz by Johann Valentin Andreae, Joscelyn Godwin (Translator), and Adam McLean (Contributor)

Orientation

In my two-part article on neoliberal psychology, I named three orientations to the self. The first was realistic neoliberal psychology which is mainstream and results in the development of an “entrepreneurial self”. Then I discussed two types of rebellious romantic psychology that developed in the 1970s through the 1990s. The first type came out of the human potential movement and gave birth to what I called the “expressive self”. Then in the early 1980s, as part of a conservative reaction against the 1960s movement, an upper-middle and upper-class form of psychology coalesced around the work of Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell. This resulted in what I call a “mystical self”.

But what was also a big part of a romantic reaction against neoliberalism was an interest in the paranormal or parapsychology, which straddled the boundary between psychology and the occult. For example, where does reading other people’s minds (telepathy) fit within neoliberalism? What about those who claim to see into the future (clairvoyance)? What about psychics who claim to move external objects with the power of their minds (psychokinesis)? What about those who claim to have astral bodies which exist outside the physical body? How do we make sense of an increased interest in ghosts who inhabit haunted houses?

What about paranormal phenomena whose advocates claim that alien spaceships have landed on earth? Or authors who claim that extraterrestrial civilizations built the Egyptian pyramids? Or Hoagland’s “Face on Mars” claim? I call the interest in parapsychology or paranormal events the preoccupations of an “adventurous self”. The purpose of this article is neither to debunk parapsychological or paranormal claims nor to attack the individuals who believe in them. Rather it is to ask:

  1. Why do these beliefs continue to exist despite being dismissed by scientific methodology time and again?
  2. What political and economic conditions might have existed in the United States between 1970 and 1990 that might make these beliefs especially appealing?

Natural, supernatural and preternatural

In Western history, according to Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park in their book Wonders and the Order of Nature, St. Thomas distinguished between three kinds of physical occurrence. The first is events in nature which are predictable and subject to natural laws. These natural laws are formulated and studied by scientists. At the other extreme, there are physical events which are deemed “supernatural” or miraculous, divine events caused by God, without physical intermediaries. But in between these poles are “preternatural” events such as marvels or wonders which are anomalies within nature and science and might be subject to control through intermediary forms. The intermediaries are claimed to be either humans performing magic or demons thought to control nature through physical intermediaries such as the elements or vapors.

While natural events are predictable, supernatural or preternatural events are not, but for different reasons. Further, those events which are subject to natural law occur frequently and are part of everyday life. Both preternatural and supernatural events are rare and, in some way, they occur beyond the world of everyday life. Copernicus’ description of the relation between sun and planets is part of a natural law. The claim by Catholics of God’s intervention at the healing sites of Our Lady of Fatima are considered miracles. Claims for ESP or telepathy are considered to be natural wonders. Medical diagnoses based on astrology and the use of correspondences are examples of preternatural events.

Paranormal and parapsychology fall under the category of preternatural. While supernatural religion appeals to some kind of divine intervention that keeps us passive and awe-stricken, interest in the paranormal requires actively probing an unseen world using our supposedly unexpected powers which come out of a sense of wonder. This is why I call people who have an interest in the paranormal or parapsychological processes “adventurous selves.”

Who believes in paranormal phenomena and parapsychology?

In their book, How to Think About Weird Things, authors Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn give the following statistics about people in the United States:

  • 55% believe in psychic or spiritual healing.
  • 41% believe in ESP.
  • 32% believe that ghosts or spirits of dead people come back in certain places and situations.
  • 31% believe in telepathy or communication between minds without using the traditional five senses.
  • 24% believe that extraterrestrial beings have visited earth at some time in the past.
  • 26% believe in clairvoyance, or the power of the mind to know the past and predict the future.
  • 21% believe that people can hear from or communicate mentally with someone who has died.
  • 25% believe in astrology, or that the position of the stars and planets can affect people’s lives.
  • 21% believe in witches.
  • 20% believe in reincarnation, that is the rebirth of the soul in a new body after birth.

The right-wing political and economic setting mid 1970s to 1990s

When social life is relatively prosperous and the economy is expanding, people in the middle and upper-middle classes tend to gravitate to the moderate or liberal spectrum of their religion. However, in the hard economic times beginning in the 1970s and to the 1990s, when the economy is contracting and there is some kind of ecological and/or political crisis, the traditional religions are implicated, the center does not hold and people are scattered into the left or right wings of fundamentalist religion, cults or parapsychology.  There are at least four possible reactions:

  1. The working-class joined a more fundamentalist religion as happened in the Christian churches in late 1970s.
  2. The upper-class and the upper middle-class who were established professionals were drawn to the conservative psychology of Carl Jung, the esoteric religion of Eliade or the mythology of Joseph Campbell. The results of these involvements culminate in what I’ve called a “mystical” self.
  3. Those in the middle-class and upper middle-class who have not found a satisfactory professional position or have been by-passed in their professional life, those who have status anxiety, often strike out on their own and become interested in parapsychology and paranormal phenomenon. These folks maintain their individualism by not attaching themselves to traditional religious or scientific organizations. They may even start their own organization.
  4. Those middle-class and upper middle-class people who are hypercritical thinkers and who criticize all the world’s religions are drawn to social spiritual movements that want to create a revolutionary life on earth. These people have been burned by organized religion, think in terms of conspiracies but want to be part of a new spiritual community. They will likely be drawn to cults.

Adventurous vs the mystical self

Like the mystical self of the Jungians, the adventurous self has an anti-modern view of life. Those who believe in parapsychology often imagine that modern life has dulled their natural psychic abilities and they imagine that people in tribal or ancient civilizations were able to read minds or move objects without touching them. The Jungians are more straightforward about being anti-science. Jung never tried to make his concepts like the collective unconscious, or his archetypes scientifically verifiable. Followers of ESP and psychokinetics, however, do make attempts to test their participant’s ability by using scientific methods. As we shall see, parapsychologists do a very bad job of it, but they do try. Both Jungians and parapsychologists are opposed to organized religion. Jungians explicitly reject patriarchal religions for pre-Christian, pagan traditions. Those who investigate parapsychology are more individualistic and critical of all religions. Many see any kind of spirituality as attempts to repress the exploratory powers of human beings.

By why are Jungians and those who are interested in the paranormal not able to appeal to a more popular audience? Some smug Jungians claim that their knowledge is esoteric and is not fit for popular consumption. However, those interested in the paranormal are not just critical of organized religion. They tend to believe that political and scientific elites intentionally get in the way of cultivating paranormal skills. After all, if people could produce altered states of consciousness themselves the religious authorities would be out of work. In the case of UFO enthusiasts imagine that the US government is hiding secrets of UFO visitations. Both Jungians and parapsychologists are anti-intellectual and trust their intuition more than their reason, although parapsychologists make some attempts to use rationality in their attempts to set up experiments.

People interested in paranormal phenomenon will rely on groups, attend conferences and form clubs for emotional support. These groups will often support and even create collective experiences through UFO conferences as people in attendance may even report seeing UFOs if these conferences are held in the open air. The class origins of the two groups are different. The Jungians consist of upper middle-class and upper-class people who have established themselves professionally and are looking for a worldview that simply supports their achievements and gives them serenity. Those interested in parapsychology are usually young, and as Zusne and Jones say in their book Anomalistic Psychology, have either not established themselves in a profession or have been rejected professionally in a particular field. They are attempting to find a place for themselves in a new field with fewer professional demands. For example, Madame Blavatsky’s followers and the followers of the Society for Psychic Research were disproportionately upper-class women looking for activities to fill their time.

Jungians and their followers tend to be very well educated and have at least master’s degrees. Followers of parapsychology tend to be self-educated and get their reading lists from occult bookstores located in large cities. The leaders of parapsychology may or may not have their degrees in psychology and have found their way to parapsychology by doing their own reading. It is not possible to receive advanced degrees in parapsychology in the US. The major players in archetypal psychology are Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade and Joseph Campbell. In parapsychology the leaders have been Charles Tart, Stanley Krippner, and Uri Geller, and for alien abduction, the psychiatrist John Mack. Their historical influences have been Mesmer, Madame Blavatsky and William James. Please see Table C for a fuller contrast between the mystical and the adventurous self.Limitations of parapsychology in using the scientific method

There are many, many reasons why parapsychology does not measure up to scientific standards. First, we will examine why they don’t and then we’ll discuss why people continue to believe in parapsychology and paranormal phenomenon anyway. To begin, the evidence given for paranormal experience is not statistical nor have double-bind tests been undertaken. Instead, anecdotal evidence is offered such as case studies, testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Parapsychologists take advantage of the evolutionary biases for stories over statistics to sway people.

Secondly, the quality of sense data is usually nebulous. Imagining seeing a UFO or a face on Mars usually occurs when visual conditions are cloudy. In good science, the sense data is crystal clear and is verifiable.

Thirdly, in parapsychology, different types of data are thrown together eclectically without the recognition that some data might contradict others. Good science dialectically criticizes and eliminates contradictions within the data so all the evidence is logically connected. Another problem with parapsychology is that it violates the principle of conservatism. In providing a theory which explains one thing, parapsychological theory, it throws into question what is already known. This means that you solve one problem but you’ve created new problems. Science at its best has theories which explain new phenomenon while keeping in place all the knowledge about the past.

In good science, one of its major expectations is that you state the conditions under which you will admit that you are wrong. This is called falsifiability. A scientific theory that is proven wrong is better than a theory that is not provable because failures allow science the opportunity to eliminate one theory from the field. With parapsychology, what is being measured does not usually lend itself to quantification so that it cannot be proven right or wrong.

In order for a scientific theory to be testable, it has to be able to be replicated in order for other scientists to test the phenomenon and see for themselves. In parapsychology, phenomenon often happen spontaneously or under conditions not likely to be replicated. This means the theory cannot be solidified and stabilized by other scientists. Another vital characteristic of a scientific theory is that it keeps its assumptions realistic and close to the surface of the data. Too often in parapsychology, their theories are so complex that you would have to provide more empirical data to support all the assumptions in between the surface data. So, for example, if you believe that there really is a face on Mars instead of just weird topographic sand configurations, then you have to explain what kind of civilization did this, what tools they used and for what purpose. Weird sand configurations are far more down to earth.

In parapsychology it is very common for experts in one field to use their expertise in one field to claim authority over a field in which they have no special knowledge. For example, imagine a medical doctor using their position to speak authoritatively about the relationship between quantum physics and consciousness. In legitimate science an expert in one field sticks to their field and doesn’t claim expertise in another field.

Typically, before a scientist publishes a book, the manuscript goes through peer review. Because parapsychologists mix together many fields, a peer review of their work is not easy to come by. Unfortunately, cultivating scientific generalists is not supported by corporations or federal governments. In any event, those claiming unusual theories, instead of finding peers to evaluate their work, go directly to the media in the hopes of directly reaching the public. Because parapsychology theory is exotic and not too technical, it has mass media and public appeal. This is what happened with Velikovsky’s book Worlds in Collision, published in 1950. The problem then, is that skeptical scientists are left wasting their time doing control damage and refuting theories with no scientific foundations.

There are pros and cons to being affiliated with an organization. For one thing, a scientist’s real research interests might not have trouble being funded. But at the same time, working for an organization requires that people keep their feet on the ground because the reputation of the institution is on the line. Unconventionality is looked on with suspicion. Parapsychologists are most often not affiliated with a respectable, established organization. Some parapsychologists who are wealthy or know how to tap wealthy donors may start up their own institutions. If not, in classical romantic style they call themselves “independent researchers”. This is a sign they are free-floating. They also present themselves as “heroic mavericks” whom no institution could contain.

Another tendency of parapsychologists is to imagine established scientists as stodgy old people set in their ways who feel threatened by parapsychologists’ “revolutionary findings”. This is a very unfair characterization. Most working scientists have a mixture of creativity and prudence.  There is a field of psychology called “anomalous psychology” which explains extraordinary happenings by known psychological causes. In the best of all possible worlds, parapsychologists would be familiar with all the current anomalous psychological explanations before coming up with a new theory.

Often times, for example, UFO buffs are not familiar with the various accounts by scientists as to why people see UFOs. In other words, UFO enthusiasts should exhaust all scientific explanations before introducing a parapsychological explanation. Most often these enthusiasts don’t know what the range of scientific explanations are.

In addition, parapsychologists imagine that the authorities are out to get them. They can only imagine it is because their discovery would threaten the “powers that be”. They don’t consider the reason their theory is not paid attention to is they haven’t played by the rules of the scientific method. Unconventionality is not always a virtue. More times than not, it be a sign of incompetence.

Parapsychologists often have a romantic notion that scientists are lonely geniuses who struggle in isolation apart from everyone. But working scientists participate in a community of scientists where peer review doesn’t hold them back, but rather it actually improves their work. Because parapsychologists often don’t have institutions to answer to, there is little at stake if their theory doesn’t hold up. For practicing scientists, they have invested a great deal of their careers developing or protecting a theory. It is natural that they would have more to lose if they were wrong. It makes sense why they would be slow to incorporate a new theory, especially if it played fast and loose with the scientific method.

Parapsychologists are often anti-modern. They like to refer to the “ancient wisdom” of tribal or agricultural civilizations as if something that’s old assumes something inherently good about it. In critical thinking, parapsychologists commit the fallacy of “appeal to tradition”.

Most working scientists are modernists and think that modern science has made advances based on what people in the ancient world developed.

If you notice the claims and tones of parapsychologists, they are usually dramatic, quick, simple and painless cures for our problems. Scientists, on the other hand, are very careful about making promises. They proceed by trial-and-error, working slowly and claiming no more than probability for their hypothesis. Parapsychologists usually do not use neutral language. Their language is loaded with virtue words like “holistic, balanced, right-brain and intuitive”. Vice words are “mechanistic, dualistic, left-brain, linear and intellectual”. The problem is this vocabulary does not make it easy to be objective and to weigh things in such a way that the language doesn’t give away which side you are on.  Lastly, parapsychologists see themselves as open while scientists are depicted as closed, smug and cynical. Scientists usually see themselves as Carl Sagan did, combining skepticism and wonder. They see parapsychologists as gullible and sensationalistic.

But all these criticisms of parapsychology don’t seem to stop people from flocking to the latest book party, movie or media event of a parapsychologist.  In the next section we turn to the political, social and psychological reasons why interest in paranormal events and parapsychology persists.

Decline of living standards in Yankeedom: parapsychology as a psychology of reactance

“Reactance theory” is a psychological response to a perceived loss of freedom to act and to think. The discoveries of modern science can appear to be either deterministic constraints on individuals or the individuals are thought to be subject to chance probabilities. Neither of these theories support a notion of individual freedom so dear to Yankees.  Becoming interested in preternatural phenomenon or using parapsychology to find out about it is seen as adventurous and restores the individual’s sense of freedom.

Economic, political and ecological life in the United States seems to be falling apart and it is difficult for people to understand why.

 As a socialist, I have an explanation for why things are falling apart but most people do not have the will and the patience to really study systems analytically in order to make sense of them. Yet people don’t want to give up. Believing in the existence of ESP or clairvoyance gives people hope and an escape from difficult material circumstances. The paranormal world restores a mystery to life that has been lost by the commercialization of ritual and myths. Paranormal psychology, with its foundation in a psycho-physical unity, gives people a structured explanation of why things are as they are. At its worst, parapsychology is running away to other worlds instead of facing and dealing with the real world and its problems.

Though most people interested in parapsychology are upper-middle and middle-class who are represented by both political parties, there is a sense that the political system has nothing to do with what they were taught about democracy. They believe that the world is run by people behind the scenes.

This leads to a sense that appearances can be deceiving. If the state can lie about what is going on in politics, it can also lie about what it knows about paranormal UFOs.  Generally, there is a consensus among parapsychologists that what’s on the surface can be deceiving and the official authorities cannot be trusted on any level. This leads to a paranoid, conspiratorial mindset. At its worst, everything the authorities do is a conspiracy and there is no room for coincidences or ruling class incompetence.

Science has not delivered on its promise to make a better life for all.

Because most people do not understand the capitalist nature of science, those interested in the paranormal see science as a separate field which they judge negatively. Instead of criticizing the capitalists’ use of science, paranormal proponents blame science as a field for the failure to make a “better living through GE.” This leads among those interested in the paranormal to an anti-science romanticism. According to this way of thinking, science is mechanistic, cold, mathematic and too hard to understand. A mystical occult framework is hopeful, emotional and has definite answers (rather than probability) to the big questions. They fail to notice that science in the 20th century from quantum physics to relativity theory, from General Systems theory to complexity theory is anything but mechanical and dead.

There is an increasing sense of our personal lives being out of control with an unpredictable work-life and growing debt.

This leads to a completely understandable sense of wanting to have control over our personal lives. Some paranormal philosophies suggest that we “create our own reality”. Our mind can heal our physical problems and we can travel to other times and places through past life experience or astral projection. These are compensations for a perception that our lives are not in our control.

Cross-cultural surveys of happiness show people in the United States are not very happy.

Especially since most people interested in the paranormal are economically comfortable, if not wealthy, there is a sense that resources and money are not the only things in life. This drives them into parapsychology. It is common to hear testimonials of people who are “born-again” CEOs renouncing their former materialism and seeking to find meaning in ghost-hunting, extraterrestrial conspiracies or talking to their dead relatives.

Lack of security and unity in personal life and with the family.

It is no secret that Yankee family life is in shambles. The demands of work scatter families all over the country and leave scant time for connecting. Even before children mature and move out, family life is characterized by lack of quality time together, overwork, school debts and drugs to cope with anxiety and depression. It is no accident that stories of people talking to the dead have the same scenario. Who doesn’t want to hear from a psychic that their dead family members are happy on the other side and waiting for them with open arms? Funny how no psychic reports that the other side is about the same as this one or, even worse, as they find out your family is still upset with them for marrying who they married. It’s very clear and sad that people have to imagine another world in order to have conversations with their family that they couldn’t have in this one.

Difficulty finding adventure and mystery in current work life.

People want adventure and mystery in everyday life and want to have fun. Because they don’t understand that the scientific process of discovery is full of wonder and adventure, they seek it in other worlds. ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance and ghosts give some sense of mystery and hope that is missing from work that is either meaningless or, if it is meaningful, is dulled by the difficulty of working in a corporate culture. It makes complete sense that the popularity of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter is partly due to the championing of  rebellion against the muggles and their deadening life.

People in the US seem so passive compared to people in other countries and are willing to put up with anything.

The box office blockbuster, The Hunger Games shows how rebellion is not far from people’s minds. Today of course, there is a current uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, so rebellion is on the table. But during the 80s and 90s rebellion was hard to imagine. Feeling they are part of a secret society, a UFO organization or a spiritual organization helps people to feel they are not passive automatons. They know what is going on and they are active in doing something about it, if not in the political economy, at least in their private lives.

Fear of death, clinging to life.

People interested in paranormal phenomenon or in developing parapsychological skills want answers to the big questions. If we believe in past lives and reincarnation the belief is that we will never have to face dying. Unsatisfied with the answers religion gives about life after death, those interested in parapsychology want to find out for themselves. Is there life on other planets? Not satisfied with science’s answer of “no, not yet”, they wonder if the state and the scientists would tell us if they had gotten an extraterrestrial signal? Maybe extraterrestrials have already come here?

Personal troubles don’t seem to have a single cause. Multiple causations and chance are unsatisfying answers.

All the movies referred to (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Hunger Games) have characters that are clearly malevolent and help to explain the main character’s difficulties. As strange as this may seem, having malevolent characters is better, imagining that chance might be operating. At least you can see the contending forces fighting and at the end you will know who won, who lost and why. Unlike personal life, where there are too many variables to track, imagining your life like these movies can be a relief. Scapegoating, believing in ghost possession, believing in sorcery for good or bad and conspiracy theories gives life drama, hope, and clarity.

Lack of universal health insurance makes hospital care brief and gives doctors scant time to visit with patients.

In the light of the pharmaceutical industrial complex, it is understandable that people are drawn to alternative medicine such as homeopathy or acupuncture.

Both these alternatives seem to bypass the hospital bureaucracy, the impersonal switching of doctors and medication where the side effects are often worse than the illness. Hospitals are divided into specialists, many of whom do not consult with other specialists so that the patient feels like no one is driving. The benefit of holistic medicine, apart from whether it works or not, is the fact that whoever you work with seems to have the big picture in mind and you can understand the general principles of what they are trying to achieve just from reading a book or two.

Conclusion

There are many psychopathological reasons why people might believe in parapsychology. My purpose is not to tear people apart, but rather to try to explain the logical reasons why people are drawn to parapsychology. Their motives are expressions of the deep unhappiness that people feel about life under declining capitalist societies during the 1980s and 1990s.

The bottom line is this. Good science develops slowly, accumulates information by trial-and-error, is very careful in its claims, its evidence and its method for proving hypothesis. It makes no promises for happy endings, continuous adventures and razzle-dazzle. Its best claims are matters of probabilities. Scientists will happily admit when they don’t know something, often being able to suspend judgements for the present. But for those living in economically unstable times, governed by decadent political parties, in debt, with insecure professional job prospects, a fractured family life, and a chaotic health care system, the promise of science is weak medicine. These people need something dramatic, hopeful, mysterious, quick, comforting and thrilling. Paranormal phenomenon and parapsychological claims fit the bill and are a stronger remedy in darkening times.

• First published at Planning Beyond Capitalism

The Marginalist Counter-Revolution, Science and Medical Social Management

By the time Alfred Marshall became prominent, the theory of capitalism formulated in Marx’s Capital had become a theoretical pillar of organised working class politics in Europe. Remarkably the so-called “marginalist revolution”, of which Marshall became a leading figure, coincides roughly with the abolition of slavery in Brazil (1886) and a major economic depression.1  Thus the shift from economics, for the allocation of surplus to that of managing scarcity is not a purely theoretical development. Following later scholars like Eric Williams, who argued that the “surplus” for industrialisation in Europe — that which had to be allocated through struggle or Adam Smith’s “invisible (whip) hand”– was derived from slavery and would now under the terms of marginalism become a “scarcity” of resources that theoretically had to be shared with liberated slaves and organising industrial labour.2

One of the objectives of political struggle in the 19th century was to appropriate the wealth held by the Church and the State and subject it to community/popular control. This meant also a struggle to find forms of governance adequate to this task. The opposition of marginalism, closely linked to progressivism and the emergence of “science” as religion (Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer), was a denial that the economic relationships between classes could be defined in any way, which would permit popular/communal control.3  Marginalism not only rejected the existence of a surplus to be allocated but also the idea that social benefit could be measured and therefore allocated through communal/popular governance. Since every economic relationship was reduced to implicit contracts between individuals there was no way to create scientifically reliable economic knowledge of classes, only tentatively for individuals, so-called methodological individualism.

What came to be social policy at the outbreak of WWI was, in fact, a denial that there was anything social at all. The entire history of the State’s promotion of adventurers, who in turn bought or leased the instruments of the State for the creation of monopoly wealth, was reduced to a footnote at best. Marginalism was conceived to explain — apologetics — what, in fact, had led to its creation as an ideology to counter democratic economic forces.

This is important in order to understand how the US religious doctrine of “free enterprise” was concocted and how the marketing strategy of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) became the dominant ideology of the end of the 20th century and the formal unquestioned dogma of the 21st. What is often alternatively called “neo-liberal” and “neo-conservative” is better understood if one looks at the history of the Roman Catholic Church. The 18th and 19th centuries were something like the Reformation, culminating in Marxism — itself a spectrum as broad as that between Lutheranism and Calvinism. The 20th century began the “Counter-Reformation”. Despite the successes of the October Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and the Cuban Revolution, the effect of this counter-revolution was to isolate these revolutions from the rest of the Church. In 1989, the Russian Revolution was no longer merely isolated but largely defeated — not surprisingly with a Polish pope in the van. The bullet in the neck was the NATO war against Yugoslavia.

The Counter-Reformation had two principal effects in Christendom. One was that it defeated the Reformation in the core Catholic dominions. In the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, for example, there was no Reformation. In the rest of the realms, the political content of the Reformation was purged. Luther and Calvin sided with the State and preserved their own versions of clericalism, inheriting, but not abandoning, the economic wealth and privilege established by centuries of Church theft.

The three great revolutions of the 20th century and to a far lesser extent the failed Mexican Revolution were the first to successfully transfer the socially generated wealth that had been appropriated by the Church and the corporate class (whether aristocratic or plutocratic) to a political structure based on popular/communal ownership and forced, for a brief period, the “Capitalist Church” to share at least symbolically some of its hoarded loot to provide facilities called “public” (as opposed to popular) and create a veneer of reform. The Church did the same thing in the Counter-Reformation — terrorising with the Inquisition and extending educational access through schools for the working class and poor and allowing local languages and some minor concessions to national preference in the clergy. From 1949 until 1989 the strategy was fierce repression and selective gradual openings:  social democracy in Western Europe (except Spain and Portugal, of course) on the “front” and death squads everywhere else.

1989 put an end to the biggest competitive alternative system and restored Russia to Orthodoxy if not to Catholicism. Since then the entire veneer of social democracy has been scraped away in the Western front-line states.  Seventy-odd years of pacification reduced the forces of class struggle — meaning those who supported popular/communal control of social wealth rather than corporate monopoly of the State — to less than a shadow of their former selves.

Nowhere, and at no time, has this become more evident than in 2020 when not a single political party of the “class struggle” tradition was able or willing to respond to the coup de grace against public space, social wealth and humanism that was administered in March past. The conspicuous silence at the massive theft that was orchestrated — untold trillions — while the bulk of the Western population was under house arrest — is beyond shameful.4 This was not an act to restrain a viral pandemic but an act culminating in the final expropriation, not only of the last scraps of social democracy but of the entire public space in which such struggles took place but also could take place. In Portugal, the quality might be called “Salazar light”, not the “new normal” but the “Estado Novissimo“.5

What we hear, for example, from the curia in Brussels, with its quasi-dual pontificate comprising the German Chancellor and her former rival now the president of the European Commission or the World Economic Forum, is something comparable — but, of course, on a global scale — a homily like that delivered by Martin Luther in support of the violent suppression of the Peasants’ Revolt. (Here I am only talking about those who are members of the “Left”.)

The Counter-Revolution/Counter-Reformation, whose spokespersons convene in the conclaves at Davos, has clear objectives. The euphemism is the great “reset”.6 What is described euphemistically as “growth” has always meant growth in power and control. By declaring an end to public space — anywhere — they are returning us to the closed world whose creation and maintenance was the objective of the Roman papacy. (I republished the bull Unaam Sanctam earlier this year for a reason!7  I do not want to repeat here everything I have tried to describe elsewhere. 8  At this writing the conclave in Brussels is deciding what to do with the residue of Christendom in the Western Empire.

Habemus Reset!

Somewhere I read in a history of China that at least the Confucians were amazed at the Roman Catholic Church’s organizational power and wondered that there was nothing equivalent to it in China. The Rockefeller Foundation was so concerned about China that it started very early (ca. 1914) to fund and train Chinese physicians in the Rockefeller model of industrial medicine and social engineering.9

The West compensates for its relatively small population with an extraordinary level of violence and organization. It was that “catholic” organisational capacity that shut down the West and its dependencies in March — and including the Shrine in Fatima, defies the strength of the Holy Virgin.

(What we have been told is the 18 months in the race to a “vaccine” should probably be seen as a planning parameter — adopted at least as early as 2015 — in the pacification program for which the vaccine is both a decoy and a weapon, by no means a toy.)

  1. For a discussion of the so-called “marginalist revolution” see, for example, Nuno Martins, “Interpreting the capitalist order before and after the marginalist revolution”, Cambridge Journal of Economics 2015, 39, 1109-1127.
  2. See Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery, and Gerald Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, reviewed by this author.
  3. What most people understand as “Darwinism” is actually “social Darwinism” as taught by Herbert Spencer et al. Charles Darwin did not consistently argue for the “survival of the fittest”. Rather he suggested that species’ variations could explain why some members of a species proliferated in an environment or survived changes in the environment. Unlike Spencer and vulgar Darwinists, Darwin claimed no teleology or interest in nature that could predict or promote any species or variation thereof. For a brief discussion of the difference between Darwin and vulgar Darwinism, see Morse Peckham, “Darwinism and Darwinisticism” in The Triumph of Romanticism (1970) pp. 176-201.
  4. While it is a matter of record that the US Federal Reserve gave away some USD 4 trillion on a single day at the beginning of the so-called pandemic, with no questions asked, both the US regime and its vassals in Brussels feel that any assistance to Europe’s SME sector must be endlessly debated and so structured that only the administering banks profit from it.
  5. For example, under Salazar’s Estado Novo that ended by revolution in 1974, three persons meeting in public spaces; e.g., on the street, constituted a “demonstration” requiring police authorisation. For those old enough to remember, the similarity to masks and social distancing is hard to overlook.
  6. World Economic Forum: The Great Reset; see also here:
  7. There is One God, One Faith, and One ChurchDissident Voice, May 2020.
  8. See my Dissident Voice articles this year if interested.  See, among others, “Re-Orientation”, 3 February 2020, and “The First Circle”, 24 April 2020.
  9. E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men, Medicine and Capitalism in America. It is just a coincidence that it was also a man named Gates, Frederick T, a Baptist preacher and not a physician, who initiated the tradition of plutocrats using medical institutions to design society in their particular interests. Rockefeller money turned the Peking Union Medical College from a missionary endeavour into a scientific medical school. Rockefeller money also seeded the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, now under the patronage of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, where it hosts such exciting séances like Event 201.

The Man in the Invisible Mask

Politics, in its most elemental form, is primarily a game of numbers. Let’s say I am running for office, and I manage to garner more votes than my opponent. Result? I win. Similarly, if I manage to prevent my opponent from getting as many voters to the polls as I do, I also win. These conclusions are (or should be) self-evident.

What might not be so self-evident, however, is why an atheistic democratic socialist such as myself would come out and boldly advocate for so many of President Trump’s strongly held positions regarding the Coronavirus pandemic.

Allow me to explain in detail why this is.

President Trump firmly believes, of course, that Fox News is the only television news source that can be trusted, while deeming all other broadcast or cable news networks “fake news.”

I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. Under no circumstances should Trump supporters view, listen to, or otherwise be exposed to “fake news.” It would only baffle, upset, and otherwise disorient them. And as we all know, there’s no point in wasted thinking.

Mr. Trump has also put forward many novel ideas as to how America should cope with COVID-19 and its many complications. As perhaps the nation’s foremost intuitive freelance physician, the president is uniquely positioned to not only “think outside the box,” but also, on occasion, “color inside the lines.” In short, every single day, President Trump proves to the world that he is truly blessed with both “a good brain” and “all the best words.”

My advice to the majority of Republican voters on this score? Do what President Trump would do, and lean in with your gut on this one (especially if your gut is strongly fortified with a shot of hydroxychloroquine, mixed with a splash of industrial strength disinfectant, and sprinkled with microscopic LED Christmas lights for intravenous illumination). As the president himself once famously declared, “What the hell do you have to lose?” My sentiments exactly!

And by the way, what’s with all the masks? Are they REALLY necessary?

Well, yes and no (your choice). But either way, no one ever said masks have to look unfashionably dull and unattractive. Designer Ivanka Trump has just introduced a newly patented, extra-lightweight, nearly transparent mask specially designed for the discerning power player who wants to look strong (and strongly) on every occasion. And if you look closely at the president during any of his recent factory visits and cabinet meetings, you must inevitably conclude that he is, in fact, wearing a mask.

(In that same vein [or should I say “vain”?], Ivanka has strongly hinted that an entire new line of men’s apparel made from the exotic fabric will soon be available in sizes ranging from “Porcine Svelte” to “Morbidly Husky.”) Now one might expect an atheist like me to call for the banning of all evangelical religious gatherings in crowded churches throughout the nation, at least until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available. Au contraire! In order to renew their faith (and not fall into wicked, godless heathenism), it is absolutely essential that Christians of every stripe find fellowship with one another, whether packed shoulder to shoulder into Vatican Square for a Papal Blessing, or sandwiched, cheek-by-jowl, into a behemoth mega-church so crowded the Holy Spirit can’t get in!

A lifelong observant Episcopalian, Donald Trump was a young man when he first encountered the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale. Almost overnight, Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” became Trump’s bible, which set him on a path apart from the rest of his fellow parishioners, for whom their bible was, well, the Bible. Always a “leap of faith” ahead of the rest of us is the Donald!

Bottom line? President has strongly made his opinion known on the subject of opening and filling to capacity our nation’s houses of worship, regardless of phony fire marshal or deep state doctors’ “recommendations”. On this point I am, once again, squarely in his corner.

Which brings me, finally, to the subject of political rallies. Let’s face it, the president is the nonpareil reigning champion of soaring political rhetoric (not to mention hilariously irreverent impressions of skanks, fatsos, and cripples). And while I don’t always agree with what he has to say in this particular arena, I will defend to the death (not mine, of course) his right to say it. The fact is, no one can deny that Mr. Trump strongly has the powerful ability to strongly connect on a visceral level with even the most poorly educated of his adoring fans (everyone knows it; I know it, and YOU know it, too!) I, for one, can’t wait for restoration of wall-to-wall network coverage of his mesmerizing rallies, especially when they preempt the “fake news” my libtard friends are so addicted to watching on MSDNC!

So let’s recap, shall we?

President Trump and I both feel it is imperative that all televisions in MAGA households remain perpetually tuned to Fox News. That way, their owners will always know what the president is thinking. In fact, that’s where the president himself goes to find out the very same thing!

The president and I also agree that when confronted with a particularly knotty problem (no, not a naughty one; that’s HIS department, or should I say “his prerogative as an alpha male,” right guys?), one should always search out the simplest, most uni-dimensional solution possible. Whether it’s trying to decide whether or not to consume likely poisonous substances,  or insert an un-insulated screwdriver into a light socket in an attempt to electrocute the Coronavirus, stop long enough to ask yourself, “What would the Donald do?” Better yet, ask, “What in the world is this man doing?” Bottom line again? Just trust his judgment. Period. End of story.

And, of course, he and I both agree when the topic concerns the wearing of cheap cloth masks that make you look stupid. If you can’t afford the chic new all-but-invisible designer masks made by Ivanka (and you can’t), the solution is simple: DON’T WEAR ONE! If any deep stater has the gall to ask you why you’re not wearing a mask, simply laugh, look down your nose at him or her, and utter (with utter contempt), “What makes you think I’m NOT wearing one, you politically correct snowflake?!!” After all, how are THEY gonna know, right?

On the subject of religion, I assure you there is not a scintilla of daylight between our president and myself. Have you seen his recent proclamation that all churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques be opened forthwith, so they “mayeth be filled to overflowing with the teeming, swelling body of the faithful”?  To that, I say, “Hallelujah, Brother!”

Lastly, let us not forget the value of orgiastic, mind-numbing, tongue swallowing, eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head Trump rallies. Remember that strength (among other things) is contagious, so gather up your red MAGA, KAG, and “Transition to Greatness” (seriously?) hats, your virtual, virtually invisible masks, your daily dose of hydroxychloroquine, and, of course, your dog-eared copy of The Art of the Deal, and get going! You’ve got a lot of social non-distancing to catch up on! Go visit your grandparents! Throw a children’s birthday party! Turn your kitchen into a makeshift mosh pit! Serve everyone Lysol popsicles, just to be on the safe side… But most importantly, make sure all your iPhones and iPads have the updated version of the Fox News app. That way, you won’t miss a single detail about Obamagate, deep state plans to install George Soros as fed chair, and above all, the forthcoming blockbuster expose on Hillary Clinton’s diabolical plan to kidnap Christian children and grind them into filling for Shish Barak (translation: “Barack’s Delight”).

In short, do everything the president does, and, for good measure, do whatever he SAYS to do as well. If each and every one of you just sticks to that plan, I have a feeling everything is going to work out just fine.

Because remember how we agreed that there are two ways to win an election? In the event “I manage to garner more votes than my opponent, I win Similarly, if I manage to prevent my opponent from getting as many voters to the polls as I do…”

Well, you know the rest.

The Scourge of Islamophobia in Canada

Muslims in Canada deserve to feel what non-Muslims feel when they hear of a vicious crime or a foiled plot committed by someone who looks like them: abhorred by the crime but knowing the crime reflects the perpetrator alone. Any other thought process should never occur.

— Graeme Truelove, Un-Canadian: Islamophobia in the True North (Nightwood Editions, 2020): location 35%

The police murder of George Floyd set off the powder keg filled by centuries of oppression of Black peoples in the United States. The United States has been beset by countrywide protests, some marred by violence of protestors and police. Many would argue that violence of the protestors is fair reprisal to the initial violence of the police, and one must bear in mind the neverending violence of the system.

The protests have spread worldwide. They have also spread across Canada. In stark contradistinction to US president Donald Trump (while one might question the sincerity) Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau joined a protest in Ottawa and took to his knee.

Said Trudeau,

I think far too many Canadians feel fear and anxiety at the sight of law enforcement officers and authorities of various ways because we have, continue to have systemic racism in this country, systemic discrimination that means that Indigenous Canadians, racialized Canadians are, are vulnerable in these situations…. Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that the discrimination that is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens is something that needs to end.

The words sound fine, but sweet-sounding words have never been enough. Firm, demonstrative action is required to mitigate the systemic injustices and racism. There will be much skepticism to Trudeau because his past revealed appearances in Blackface (although I would not attribute this to racism) and sending the federal police (RCMP) into First Nation territory to push through corporate projects.

One particularly outstanding stain on whether Trudeau is racist or not is his de facto support of Zionism and apartheid in historical Palestine. Electronic Intifada is wary of Trudeau’s words as a recent headline shows: “Trudeau offers empty words on Israel’s annexation plans.”

Canada has always been a steadfast supporter of the state of Israel, but when Stephen Harper became prime minister, support for Israel became in-one’s face and boastful. It has continued under Trudeau. Concomitant with supporting the Jewish state, as Israel identifies itself, is denial of Palestinian aspirations for justice and statehood. While Palestinians include Christians in their ranks, they are mainly Muslim. Thus, given the demographic and stigmatizing of Palestinians, it is little wonder that Islamophobia has grown out of the imbroglio foisted by western colonialist/imperialist hegemony in the Middle East and implanted itself within Canadian politics and some segments of Canadian society.

In Un-Canadian: Islamophobia in the True North (Nightwood Editions, 2020), Graeme Truelove examines the discrimination and the racist attitudes held against Muslims, or people who appear to be Muslims. Canada, in line with the United States, has taken an unfriendly posture to Muslim majority countries such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Libya while being friendly with some Muslim majority countries like the human rights abusing regime in Saudi Arabia (which is on amicable terms with Israel but unfriendly toward the West’s bugaboo Iran). Because of this, Amnesty International stated that Canada was “complicit in the war on [another Muslim majority country] Yemen.” Then there is the nearly two decades long war in Afghanistan in which Canadian soldiers participated. Truelove writes how Canadian soldiers were criticized for having biblical inscriptions on their telescopic sights (location 7%). Canadian general Rick Hillier made clear Canada’s role in Afghanistan: “We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to kill people.” Defense in the Department of Defense was openly subordinated to war, although defense has always had been a pretense.

Islamophobia is given widespread impetus by the Canadian state and corporate media’s negative characterizations of Muslims, including the National Post, Toronto Star, and Maclean’s magazine. (loc 8%) Truelove gives as an example,

Consider the use of the term ‘Islamic terrorism.’ Terrorism is un-Islamic, and suggesting that the two terms could be complimentary, rather than contradictory, provokes questioning of all Muslims. (loc 9%)

Truelove proffers instead that the terrorists should be referred to as Daesh, a pejorative used by Muslims and informed westerners.

One reason given for the prominence of Islamophobia within politics is that politicians are reflecting voter preferences (loc 12%). Ergo, politicians are being led by voters (which is usually not bad as far as democratization goes) rather than leading. So egregious has been the political pandering to prejudices that some political parties have began to attack the wearing of Islamic garb by Muslim women, in particular the niqab. This, argued Truelove, reveals more about values held than any security concerns. (loc 16%)

Canada began screening immigrants and refugees and imposing security certificates against some based on a sole judge’s decision. The perversion of justice was stark. No evidence was required to be shown to the accused. In addition, the detainee and lawyers were not permitted to attend the hearing. (loc 23%)

Muslims were being pressured to speak out against jihadism and terrorism. It is a religiously biased demand directed at Muslims because terrorist acts by other actors, for instance, by Christians and Jews, do not come with demands that these religious organizations publicly denounce terrorism. Writes Truelove:

It is a frustration among Muslim communities that no matter how many vigils they hold and no matter how many times they denounce terrorism–that is abhorrent to their faith and which has killed Muslims worldwide–they are told that Canadians are waiting to hear where they stand. (loc 29%)

Muslims have been singled out, despite the absence or paucity of evidence of any wrongdoing, for onerous scrutiny by politicians, RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and border services — authorities who had unwittingly thrown in their lot with white supremacists and far-right hate groups. The media participates in the racist-tinged targeting of Muslims.

Media referred to the Canadian suspects with the phrases Canadian-born,’ ‘brown-skinned,’ and ‘home-grown threat.’ Referring to Canadians as ‘Canadian-born’ implies that they are not real Canadians, that their Canadianness deserves some sort of asterisk. (loc 33%)

Numerous Muslim men have suffered at the hands of Canadian authorities and their foreign co-conspirators enduring the indignities of incarceration and torture. Un-Canadian relates the injustices of many victims including Ahmad El-Maati, Abdullah Almaki, Maher Arar, Muayyed Nureddin, Abousfian Abdelrazik, and the child soldier Omar Khadr who was imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Adelrazik was crystal clear in pinning the blame for his suffering: “The Canadian government has a racist mind. It is because I am black and Muslim.” (loc 45%)

Meanwhile, protests precipitated by the spate of police murders of Blacks continue throughout the US. The protests are taking place around the world, including Canada. While the US may be a hotbed of the most prevalent and virulent racism, it is not the only country beset with racism. And it is not just prejudice limited against Blacks or Muslims. The Original Peoples of Turtle Island have long suffered. All prejudice is condemnatory, be it against Indigenous peoples, Blacks, Roma, Muslims, Jews, Chinese, homosexuals, transgender people, etc because it denies all humans of their humanity.

While Un-Canadian focuses on Islamophobia, Truelove knows that racism in all its perturbations is a scourge that needs to be obliterated. The author also knows that racism afflicts only a segment of humanity and that that segment needs to be cured of this horrible ailment. Un-Canadian drives home the moral necessity to embrace humanity in all the myriad forms of humans. To not do so is to be inhuman.

The Slow Exodus of Palestinian Christians

• To read this essay on the Americans for Middle East Understanding website, click here

• For a PDF version, click here

It was inevitable that when the coronavirus pandemic reached the occupied Palestinian territories, as it did in early March, it would find its first purchase in Bethlehem, a few miles south-east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

Staff at the Angel Hotel in Beit Jala, one of Bethlehem’s satellite towns, tested positive after they were exposed to a group of infected Greek tourists. Israel worked hurriedly with the Palestinian Authority – the Palestinians’ permanent government-in-waiting in the occupied territories – to lock down Bethlehem. Israel was fearful that the virus, unlike the city’s Palestinian inhabitants, would be difficult to contain. Contagion might spread quickly to nearby Palestinian communities in the West Bank, then to Jewish settlements built illegally by Israel on Bethlehem’s lands, and finally on into Israel itself.

The Palestinian territories were under a form of lockdown long before the arrival of the coronavirus; however. Israel, the occupying power, has made sure that the entire Palestinian population is as isolated from the world as possible – their voices silenced, their experiences of oppression and brutality at Israel’s hands near-invisible to most of the Israeli public and to outsiders.

But Bethlehem, the reputed site of Jesus’s birth 2,000 years ago, is the one Palestinian area – outside East Jerusalem, which has been illegally annexed by Israel – that has proved hardest for Israel to hermetically seal off. During visits to the Church of the Nativity, tourists can briefly glimpse the reality of Palestinian life under occupation.

Some 15 years ago Israel completed an 26 ft-high concrete wall around Bethlehem. On a typical day – at least, before coronavirus halted tourism to the region – a steady stream of coaches from Jerusalem, bearing thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world, came to a stop at a gap in the concrete that served as a checkpoint. There they would wait for the all-clear from surly Israeli teenage soldiers. Once approved, the coaches would drive to the Nativity Church, their passengers able to view the chaotic graffiti scrawled across the wall’s giant canvas, testifying to the city’s imprisonment and its defiance.

Like the plague-bearing Greeks, visitors to Bethlehem could not avoid mixing, even if perfunctorily, with a few locals, mostly Palestinian Christians. Guides showed them around the main attraction, the Church, while local officials and clergy shepherded them into queues to be led down to a crypt that long ago was supposedly the site of a stable where Jesus was born. But unlike the Greek visitors, most pilgrims did not hang around to see the rest of Bethlehem. They quickly boarded their Israeli coaches back to Jerusalem, where they were likely to sleep in Israeli-owned hotels and spend their money in Israeli-owned restaurants and shops.

For most visitors to the Holy Land, their sole meaningful exposure to the occupation and the region’s native Palestinian population was an hour or two spent in the goldfish-bowl of Bethlehem.

A taste of occupation

In recent years, however, that had started to change. Despite the wall, or at times because of it, more independent-minded groups of pilgrims and lone travelers had begun straying off grid, leaving the Israeli-controlled tourism trail. Rather than making a brief detour, they stayed a few nights in Bethlehem. A handful of small, mostly cheap hotels like the Angel catered to them, as did restaurants and souvenir stores around the church.

In tandem, a new kind of political tourism based in and around Bethlehem had begun offering tours of the wall and sections of the city, highlighting the theft of the city’s land by neighboring Jewish settlements and the violence of Israeli soldiers who can enter Bethlehem at will.

A few years ago, the famous anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy gave a major boost to this new kind of immersive tourism by allying with a Bethlehem tour guide, Wisam Salsa, to open the Walled-Off Hotel. They converted an old building boxed in by the wall, liberally sprinkling it with Banksy’s subversive artworks about the occupation, as well as installing a gallery exhibiting the work of Palestinian artists and a museum detailing the occupation’s history and Israel’s well-tested methods of control and repression.

Admittedly, few visitors managed to get a room in Banksy’s small hotel, but many more came to sit in the lobby and sip a beer, produced by one of a handful of newly emerging breweries run by Christian Palestinians, or add some graffiti to the wall just outside with the help of a neighboring art supplies shop.

Before coronavirus, the Walled-Off offered daily tours of Aida, a refugee camp attached to Bethlehem, whose inhabitants were expelled from some of the more than 500 Palestinian communities Israel erased in 1948 – in the Nakba, or Catastrophe – to create a Jewish state on their homeland. There, visitors not only learned about the mass dispossession of Palestinians, sponsored by the western powers that made Israel’s creation possible, but they heard the camp’s inhabitants tell of regular violent, night-time raids by Israeli soldiers and of the daily struggle for survival when Israel tightly controls and limits essentials like water.

Until the coronavirus did Israel’s work for it, Israeli authorities had noted with growing concern how more tourists and pilgrims were staying in Bethlehem. According to Israeli figures, there are about a million tourist overnights annually in Bethlehem. And that figure was growing as new hotels were built, even if the total was still a tiny fraction of the number of tourists staying in Israel and Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem.

An Achilles’ heel

The new trend disturbed the Israeli authorities. Bethlehem was proving an Achilles’ heel in Israel’s system of absolute control over the Palestinians for two reasons.

First, it brought money into Bethlehem, providing it with a source of income outside Israel’s control. The Israeli authorities have carefully engineered the Palestinian economy to be as dependent on Israel as possible, making it easy for Israel to punish Palestinians and the PA economically for any signs of disobedience or resistance. Aside from its tourism, Bethlehem has been largely stripped of economic autonomy. After waves of land thefts by Israel, the city now has access to only a tenth of its original territory, and has been slowly encircled by settlements. The city’s residents have been cut off from their farmland, water sources and historic landmarks. Jerusalem, once Bethlehem’s economic and cultural hinterland, has become all but unreachable for most residents, hidden on the other side of the wall. And those working outside the tourism sector need a difficult-to-obtain permit from Israel’s military authorities to enter and work in low-paying jobs in construction and agriculture inside Israel, the settlements or occupied Jerusalem.

Israel’s second ground for concern was that foreign visitors staying in Bethlehem were likely to learn first-hand something of the experiences of the local population – more so than those who simply made a brief detour to see the church. A self-serving narrative about Palestinians central to Israeli propaganda – that Israel stands with the west in a Judeo-Christian battle against a supposedly barbaric Muslim enemy – risked being subverted by exposure to the reality of Bethlehem. After all, anyone spending time in the city would soon realize that it includes Palestinian Christians only too ready to challenge Israel’s grand narrative of a clash of civilizations.

From Israel’s point of view, a stay in Bethlehem might also open tourists’ eyes in dangerous ways. They might come to understand that, if anyone was behaving in a barbaric way and provoking an unresolvable, religiously inspired clash, it was not Palestinians – Muslim or Christian – but Israel, which has been brutally ruling over Palestinians for decades.

For both reasons, Israel wished to prevent Bethlehem from becoming a separate, rival hub for tourism. It was impossible to stop pilgrims visiting the Church of the Nativity, but Israel could stop Bethlehem developing its own tourism industry, independent of Israel. The wall has been part of that strategy, but it failed to curb the development of new tourism ventures – and in some cases, as with the Banksy hotel, had actually inspired alternative forms of tourism.

In early 2017 the Israeli authorities finally acted. The daily Haaretz newspaper revealed that the interior ministry had issued a directive to local travel agencies warning them not to allow their pilgrimage groups to stay overnight in Bethlehem, with the implication that the firms risked losing their licenses if they did so. According to Haaretz, the government claimed that “potential terrorists were traveling with groups of tourists”.

Bethlehem is lucky that, unlike other Palestinian communities, it has allies Israel cannot easily ignore. Haaretz’s exposure of the new policy led to a rapid backlash. International churches, especially the Vatican, were worried that it was the thin end of a wedge that might soon leave the City of the Nativity off-limits to its pilgrims. And Israeli travel agencies feared their business would suffer. Pilgrim groups from poorer countries that could not afford Jerusalem’s high prices, especially for accommodation, might stop coming to the Holy Land.

As one agent told Haaretz: “The meaning of a letter like this is the end of incoming tourism from India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and eastern European countries like Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine. All the tourists who visit Israel and sleep in Bethlehem are doing that primarily to reduce costs.” The loss of such tourists not only threatened to deprive Bethlehem of the benefits of tourism but threatened Israel’s much larger tourism sector. Soon afterwards, the Israeli authorities backtracked, saying the directive had been a draft issued in error.

Shrinking population

Bethlehem’s plight – a microcosm of the more general difficulties faced by Palestinians under occupation – offers insights into why the region’s Palestinian Christian population has been shrinking so rapidly and relentlessly.

The demographics of Bethlehem offer stark evidence of a Christian exodus from the region. In 1947, the year before Israel’s creation, 85 percent of Bethlehem’s inhabitants were Christian. Today the figure stands at 15 percent. Christians now comprise less than 1.5 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank – some 40,000 of a population of nearly 3 million – down from 5 percent in the early 1970s, shortly after Israel occupied the territory in 1967.

In 1945 Bethlehem had nearly 8,000 Christian residents, slightly more than the 7,000 who live there today. Natural growth should mean Bethlehem’s Christian population is many times that size. There are, in fact, many times more Palestinian Christians overseas than there are in historic Palestine. The 7,000 Christians of Beit Jala, next to Bethlehem, are outnumbered by more than 100,000 family members who have moved to the Americas.

Israel ostensibly professes great concern about this decline, but actually it is only too happy to see native Christians depart the region. Their exodus has helped to make Israel’s clash of civilizations narrative sound more plausible, bolstering claims that Israel does indeed serve as a rampart against Muslim-Arab terror and barbarism. Israel has argued that it is helping Christian Palestinians as best it can, protecting them from their hostile Muslim neighbors. In this way, Israel has sought to mask its active role in encouraging the exodus.

The rapid decline in the numbers of these Christians reflects many factors that have been intentionally obscured by Israel. Historically, the most significant is that Palestinian Christians were nearly as badly impacted as Palestinian Muslims by the mass expulsions carried out by Zionist forces in 1948. In total, some 80 percent of all Palestinians living in what became the new state of Israel were expelled from their lands and became refugees – 750,000 from a population of 900,000. Those forced into exile included tens of thousands of Christians, amounting to two-thirds of the Palestinian Christian population of the time.

Palestinian Christians who remained in historic Palestine – either in what had now become Israel or in the territories that from 1967 would fall under Israeli occupation – have naturally shrunk over time in relation to the Muslim population because of the latter’s higher birth rates. Palestine’s Christians mostly lived in cities. Their urban lifestyles and generally higher incomes, as well as their greater exposure to western cultural norms, meant they tended to have smaller families and, as a result, their community’s population growth was lower.

But rather than acknowledge this historical context, Israeli lobbyists seek to exploit and misrepresent the inevitable tensions and resentments caused by the mass displacements of the Nakba, developments that had a significant impact on traditionally Christian communities like Bethlehem. During the events of 1948, as rural Palestinian villages were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces, the refugees sought shelter either in neighboring states like Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, or in West Bank cities.

Bethlehem found its demographics transformed: an 85 percent Christian majority before the Nakba has been reversed into an 85 percent Muslim majority today. These dramatic social and cultural upheavals – turning the city’s majority population into a minority – were not easy for all Bethlehem’s Christian families to accept. It would be wrong to ignore the way these changes caused friction. And the resentments have sometimes festered because they are incapable of resolution without addressing the source of the problem: Israel’s mass dispossession of Palestinians, and the continuing tacit support for these abuses by the international community.

Given this context, it has been easy for inter-family rivalries and conflicts that are inevitable in a ghettoized, overcrowded community like today’s Bethlehem to be interpreted by some members of the minority group as sectarian, even when they are not. The lack of proper law enforcement in Palestinian areas in which Israel rather than the PA is the ultimate arbiter of what is allowed has left smaller Christian families more vulnerable in conflicts with larger Muslim families. In the competition for diminishing resources, family size has mattered. And whereas globalization has tended to encourage increased identification among Palestinian Christians with the west and its more secular norms, the same processes have entrenched a religious identity among sections of the Muslim population who look to the wider Middle East for their ideas and salvation. Consequently, a cultural gap has widened.

These problems exist but it would be wrong to exaggerate them – as Israel’s loyalists wish to do – or to ignore who is ultimately responsible for these tensions. That is not a mistake most Palestinian Christians make. In a recent survey of Christians who have emigrated, very few pointed to “religious extremism” as the reason for leaving the region – just 3 percent. The overwhelming majority cited reasons relating in some way to Israel’s continuing malevolent role in controlling their lives. A third blamed a “lack of freedom”, a quarter “worsening economic conditions”, and 20 percent “political instability.”

Leaving Palestine

To make sense of the specific problems faced by the Christian community, other historical contexts need to be understood. Palestinian Christians break down into four broad communities. The first is the Eastern Orthodox Churches, dominated by the Greek Orthodox. The second is the Catholic Churches, led by the “Latin” community that looks towards Rome, although they are outnumbered among Palestinians by Greek and Syrian Catholics. The third category is the Oriental Orthodox churches, which include the Copts, Armenian and Syrian Orthodox. And. finally, there are various Protestant Churches, including the Anglicans, Lutherans and Baptists.

Long before Israel’s creation on most of the Palestinians’ homeland, Christians were concentrated in and around Palestine’s urban centers. In Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth, large numbers of Christians coalesced around sites associated with Jesus’s life. This tendency was reinforced as Palestine’s cities flourished and expanded from the 18th century onwards under Ottoman rule. The Ottomans encouraged the immigration of Christians to these centers of worship and cultivated a confessional system that made conditions attractive for the foreign Churches.

The result was a relatively privileged urban Christian population that consisted largely of merchants and traders, and benefited from the resources poured in by the international Churches as part of their missionary work, including schools and hospitals. Christians were typically wealthier, better educated and healthier than their Muslim counterparts often living nearby in isolated rural communities as peasant farmers. In addition, Christian families had good connections to the international Churches through local clergy, as well as the staff of Church-run schools and hospitals.

Those differences have proved significant as Palestinian Christians and Muslims alike have struggled under Israeli colonization, whether inside Israel’s internationally recognized borders or in the occupied territories.

Israel’s institutionalized racism towards Palestinians – systematic land thefts, uninhibited state and settler violence, as well as restrictions on movement and the denial of educational and employment opportunities – have put pressure on all Palestinians to leave. But Christians have enjoyed significant advantages in making their escape. They could tap their connections in the Churches to help them settle abroad, chiefly in the Americas and Europe. And that path was made easier for many given that relatives had already established lives overseas following the mass expulsions of 1948. As a result, the emigration of Palestinian Christians is generally reckoned to have been around twice that of Muslims.

Struggling under occupation

Israel’s oft-repeated claim that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are responsible for the exodus of Christians out of the Holy Land is given the lie simply by examining the situation of Palestinian Christians both inside Israel, where neither Hamas nor the PA operate, and in East Jerusalem, where the influence of both has long been negligible. In each of those areas, Israel has unchallenged control over Palestinians’ lives. Yet we can see the same pattern of Christians fleeing the region.

And the reasons for Gaza’s tiny Palestinian Christian population, today numbering maybe only 1,000, to leave their tiny, massively overcrowded enclave, which has been blockaded for 13 years by Israel, barely needs examining. True, it has been hard for these Christians – 0.0005 percent of Gaza’s population – to feel represented in a territory so dominated by the Islamic social and cultural values embodied by the Hamas government. But there is little evidence they are being persecuted.

On the other hand, there is overwhelming proof that Gaza’s Christians are suffering, along with their Muslim neighbors, from Israel’s continuing violations of their most fundamental rights to freedom, security and dignity.

The picture in the West Bank, meanwhile, needs closer study. As noted, Palestinian Christians have generally enjoyed historic privileges over their Muslim compatriots that derive from their historic connections to the Churches. They have been able to exploit tourism as guides, drivers and guesthouse owners. They enjoy greater access to church-run schools and, as a consequence, improved access to higher education and the professions. They possess more valuable urban land, and many own shops and businesses in the cities. There are both Muslim and Christian lawyers, shopkeepers and business owners, of course, but proportionately more Christians have belonged to the middle classes and professions because of these various advantages.

While Israel’s occupation policies have harshly impacted all Palestinians, some have been hit harder than others. And those who have tended to suffer most live not in the main cities, which are under very partial Palestinian rule, but in rural areas and in the refugee camps. Those in the camps, in places such as Aida, next to Bethlehem, lost their lands and property to Israel and have had to rebuild their lives from scratch since 1948. Those living in isolated farming communities designated by the Oslo accords as “Area C” (a temporary designation that has effectively become permanent) are fully exposed to Israel’s belligerent civil and military control.

The residents of these communities have few opportunities to earn a living and have been most vulnerable to Israeli state and settler violence, as well as land thefts and the severe water restrictions imposed by Israel. In practice, these precarious conditions are endured disproportionately by Muslim Palestinians rather than Christians.

Nonetheless, Israel’s policies have increasingly deprived urban Christian families of the opportunities they had come to expect – the kind of opportunities westerners take for granted. And significantly, unlike many Muslim Palestinians, Christians have continued to enjoy one privilege: an escape route out of the region to countries where they have a chance to live relatively normal lives.

The damage to Christian life has been felt particularly keenly in relation to movement restrictions – one of the ways Israel has established a system of near-absolute control over Palestinian life. Those involved in trade and business, as many Christians are, have struggled to succeed as those restrictions have intensified over the past quarter-century, since the introduction of measures under the Oslo accords. An elaborate system of checkpoints and permits was established to control Palestinians’ freedom to move around the occupied territories and to enter Israel in search of work. Over time the system was enforced by a lengthy steel and concrete “separation barrier” that Israel began building nearly two decades ago.

Taybeh’s beer challenge

Typifying the difficulties of trading under these circumstances is the Taybeh micro-brewery in a West Bank village of the same name, in a remote location north of Ramallah overlooking the Jordan Valley. Taybeh is exceptional: its 1,300 inhabitants comprise the last exclusively Christian community in the occupied territories. The village – its name means both “good” and“delicious” in Arabic – is reputedly on the Biblical site of Ephraim. A small church marks the spot where Jesus reputedly retired with his disciples shortly before heading to Jerusalem, where he would be crucified. Taybeh has its own Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox schools, and a Catholic nursing home.

Nonetheless, Taybeh has long been in demographic meltdown. Today, its population is dwarfed by those of its diaspora: some 12,000 former residents and their descendants live abroad, mostly in the United States, Chile and Guatemala. Daoud and Nadim Khoury, two brothers who were themselves raised in the US, established the Taybeh brewery shortly after their return to the West Bank village under the Oslo accords. The business depended on the experiences and connections they had gained abroad.

For them, developing a sustainable business like the brewery was a way to halt and reverse the gradual demise of their village and the loss of its Christian heritage. They feared that any further decline in numbers would leave Taybeh’s lands and its ancient olive groves vulnerable to takeover by the three Jewish settlements that surround the village. The business was seen as a way to save Taybeh.

Maria Khoury, Daoud’s Greek wife, whom he met at Harvard, says the conditions of village life have continued to deteriorate. Unemployment stands at 60 percent, and Israel shuts off the water four times a week to preserve supplies for the Jewish settlements. The drive to the nearest Palestinian city, Ramallah, takes five times longer than it did 20 years ago – when it took little more than 15 minutes. That was before checkpoints and roadblocks were established on local roads to protect the settlers.

The Khourys have succeeded in their ambition to develop a range of award-winning beers made to the highest purity standards. The family has expanded into making boutique wines, and has built a prestige hotel in the village center, belying Taybeh’s small size. An annual Oktoberfest, modeled on German beer-drinking celebrations, has helped to put the remote village on the map. And a few restaurants have opened as Taybeh has tried to reinvent itself, with limited success, as a weekend-break destination.

But despite all these achievements, their larger ambitions have been foiled. Movement restrictions imposed by Israel’s military authorities have stymied efforts at growing the business. With a domestic market limited by opposition to alcohol consumption among most of the Palestinian population, Taybeh brewery has depended chiefly on exports to Europe, Japan and the US. But the difficulties of navigating Israel’s hostile bureaucracy have sapped the business of money, time and energy, making it hard to compete with foreign breweries.

Daoud told me at one Oktoberfest that the brewery faced Israeli “harassment in the name of security.” He noted that even when the crossing points were open, Israel held up the company’s trucks for many hours while bottles were unloaded and individually inspected with sniffer dogs. Then the bottles had to be reloaded on to Israeli trucks on the other side of the checkpoint. Apart from local spring water, all the beer’s ingredients and the bottles have to be imported from Europe, adding further logistical problems at Israeli ports. The ever-creative Khourys have been forced to circumvent these problems by licensing a plant in Belgium to produce its beers for foreign export. But that has deprived the village of jobs that could have gone to local families.

And while the Khourys struggle to get their products into Israel, Israel has absolute freedom to flood the occupied territories with its own goods. “The policy is clearly meant to harm businesses like ours. Israel freely sells its Maccabee and Goldstar beers in the West Bank,” Daoud told me.

Such experiences are replicated for Palestinian businesses, big and small, across the West Bank.

Precarious lives in Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, the Christian population has been shrinking too, even though the city has been entirely under Israeli control since its eastern neighborhoods were occupied and illegally annexed by Israel in 1967. The Palestinian Authority was briefly allowed a minimal presence in East Jerusalem in the late 1990s, but was effectively banished when the second intifada erupted a few years later, in 2000. A similar fate soon befell Jerusalem’s politicians associated with Hamas. After they won the Jerusalem seats in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Israel expelled them to the West Bank.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Israel has not been keen to provide official figures for the exodus of Christians from Jerusalem. However, rather than growing, as one would have expected over the past five decades, the numbers have dropped significantly – from 12,000 in 1967 to some 9,000 today, according to Yousef Daher, of the Jerusalem Interchurch Center, located in Jerusalem’s Old City. Of those, he estimated that no more than 2,400 remained in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, where Israel has made life especially difficult.

Jerusalem is historically, symbolically, spiritually and economically important to the Palestinian people, and houses key Muslim and Christian holy sites. It has long been regarded by Palestinians as the only possible capital of their future state. But Israel views the city in much the same terms – as the religious and symbolic heart of its hybrid religious and ethnic national project. It has shown no interest in sharing the city as a capital, instead viewing it in zero-sum terms: whatever benefits Israel requires a loss to the Palestinians.

Gradually Israel’s stranglehold over Jerusalem has become complete. The wall it began building through the city more than 15 years ago has not only separated Palestinians in Jerusalem from Palestinians in the West Bank but has divided the city itself, placing more than 100,000 Palestinians on the wrong side, cutting them off from the city of their birth.

Two years ago, President Donald Trump added a US seal of approval by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there.

Those Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem still on the “Israeli” side of the wall have found themselves isolated and ever more vulnerable to the abuses inherent in Israel’s system of control. They have suffered planning restrictions that make it almost impossible to build homes legally. Israel demolishes dozens of Palestinian houses every year in the city, leading to ever greater overcrowding. Meanwhile, Israel has seized vast tracts of land in East Jerusalem for its illegal settlements and has helped Jewish settlers take over Palestinian homes.

The city’s security forces act as an occupying power in Palestinian neighborhoods, while city authorities pursue an official policy of “Judaization,” making Jerusalem more Jewish. Israel has accorded the city’s native Palestinian population a “residency” status that treats them as little more than immigrants. Many thousands who have left the city for extended periods to study or work abroad have returned to find their residency permits revoked.

The city’s Christian residents face similar problems to Muslims. But as a very small community, they have also faced specific pressures. Israel’s policy of cutting off Jerusalem from the West Bank, and especially from the nearby cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah, has left the city’s Christians particularly isolated. With many working as merchants and traders, the so-called “separation” policy has hit them hard economically.

Similarly, because the communal marriage pool is small for Christians in Jerusalem, many have been forced – at least, before the wall was erected – to search for a spouse among Christian populations nearby in the West Bank. That now leaves them disproportionately exposed to Israel’s increasingly draconian family unification policies. Typically Jerusalem’s Palestinians are denied the right to live with a West Bank spouse in the city, or to register the children of such marriages as Jerusalem residents. That has forced many to move into the West Bank or abroad as the only way to stay together.

As in Bethlehem, many of Jerusalem’s Christians work in tourism, either as tour guides or as owners of souvenir shops in the Old City’s Christian Quarter. That has proved a particularly precarious way to make a living in recent decades, with tourism collapsing on repeated occasions: during two lengthy intifadas, during Israel’s attacks on Gaza, and now from the coronavirus.

Israel will soon make it even harder for the Old City traders to make a living, when it completes a cable car into East Jerusalem. Currently many tourists enter via Jaffa Gate into the Christian Quarter, where shopkeepers have a chance to sell them goods and souvenirs. But the cable car will “fly in” tourists from a station in West Jerusalem directly to an illegal settlement complex at the City of David in Silwan, just outside the Old City walls. From there, either they will be guided straight into the Jewish Quarter through Dung Gate or they will pass through a network of underground passages lined with settler-owned shops that will take them to the foot of the Western Wall. The aim appears to be not only to make the Old City’s Palestinian population invisible but to deprive them of any chance to profit from tourism.

Land sales by Churches

But the problem runs deeper still for Palestinian Christians – and is felt especially acutely in Jerusalem. Local Christians have found themselves effectively pawns in a three-way international power-play between Israel, the established, land-owning Churches in the region, primarily the Vatican and Greek Orthodox Churches, and the evangelical movements. None of the parties represent their interests.

It is easy for pilgrims to ignore the fact, as they tour the Holy Land, that the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches are not local. They are vast foreign enterprises, based out of the Vatican and Greece, that are as concerned with their commercial viability and diplomatic influence on the global stage as they are with the spiritual needs of any specific flock, including Palestinian Christians. And in recent years that has become increasingly evident to local congregations.

The problems were symbolized two years ago when, for the first time in living memory, the main Churches shuttered the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the presumed site of Jesus’ crucifixion in Jerusalem. Church leaders said their actions were in response to Israel launching a “systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land.” In that way, they mobilized international sympathy, and Israel quickly backed down. But only in the most tangential sense were the Churches looking out for the interests of local Christians. Their show of force was actually motivated by concern for their business interests.

The then mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, had sought to impose back taxes on the Churches’ substantial land-holdings in Jerusalem, hoping to recoup $180 million. Despite the impression presented by Church leaders, the row was not really about holy sites. Over the centuries, the Churches have become major real-estate enterprises in the Holy Land, benefiting from donations of land and properties in Jerusalem and elsewhere that have been made by Palestinian Christians and overseas pilgrims. The Greek Orthodox Church, for example, is the largest land-owner in the region after the Israeli state.

Historically, the Churches enjoyed a tax exemption derived from the charitable status of their spiritual mission and outreach work with Palestinian communities, including the provision of schools and hospitals. But increasingly the Churches have downgraded their charitable works and diversified into other, more clearly commercial ventures, such as shops, offices and restaurants. Pilgrimage hostels have been redeveloped into well-appointed and profitable hotels. Part of the income has then been siphoned off to the Church authorities in the mother countries rather than reinvested in strengthening local Palestinian communities.

That was why Aleef Sabbagh, a Palestinian member of the Orthodox Central Council, described the Holy Sepulcher protest as a “charade.” The Church had not been closed to protest Israel’s savagery towards Palestinians during either of the two intifadas, or in protest at the exodus of local Christians from the region. The foreign Churches found their voice only when they needed to protect their profits from real-estate and investment deals.

That does not, however, mean that Palestinian Christians have no reason to be concerned about Israel’s efforts to bully the Churches’ into paying more taxes, or that they were indifferent to the brief stand-off at the Sepulcher Church. The Vatican and Orthodox Patriarchate have become increasingly cowed in relation to Israel in recent decades, both as Israel has become ever more assertive of its powers in the region and as western states have shown they will support Israel however badly it treats Palestinians.

Israel has many points of leverage over the international Churches. It can, and has, frozen clerical work visas needed by their thousands of staff in the Holy Land. Israel regularly obstructs planning permits for the Church needed to build or renovate properties. And far-right groups close to Israel’s governing coalition regularly menace clergy in the streets and vandalize Church property, including cemeteries, under cover of dark. Israeli police have rarely caught or punished the perpetrators of such attacks.

Most notable of these attacks was a fire set by arsonists in 2015 that gutted sections of the Church of the Multiplication, the site on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus is reputed to have fed a large crowd with loaves and fishes. Graffiti in Hebrew scrawled on a church wall read: “Idol-worshippers will have their heads cut off.”

This strategy of weakening and intimidating the international Churches has been particularly glaring in relation to Orthodoxy. Each new Patriarch, the highest Orthodox figure in the region, must be jointly approved by the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Israel. And in the case of the last two Patriarchs, Irineos I and Theophilos III, Israel, unlike the PA and Jordan, has dragged its heels before approving their appointment. Irineos had to wait nearly four years, and Theophilos two and a half. The reason why has gradually become clear to local Christians.

Shortly after each Patriarch has belatedly received approval, evidence has come to light that his advisers have overseen the sale of some of the Churches’ vast landholdings in Israel and the occupied territories. These shadowy deals, usually selling invaluable land for a comparative pittance, have been made to Israeli companies or overseas organizations that it has later emerged acted as a front for Jewish settler groups.

The most infamous case concerns the sale to settlers of two large properties, serving as Palestinian-run hotels, at a highly strategic location by Jaffa Gate, the entrance into the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. These sales appear to be part of the price paid for Irineos to win Israeli approval. Israel has long been keen to Judaize Jaffa Gate because it effectively serves as a bridge between West Jerusalem, in Israel, and the Jewish Quarter, the main settler colony in the occupied Old City. Reporting on the land sales at Jaffa Gate, the Haaretz newspaper revealed tape recordings of a Jerusalem settler leader boasting that his organization, Ateret Cohanim, had a veto over the appointment of each Patriarch. He said Ateret Cohanim would only give its blessing once the Patriarch had sold it land.

The pattern appears to have repeated with Theophilos, who is accused of selling numerous plots of land near Bethlehem, West Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth and Caesarea. The Church is reported to have pocketed more than $100 million from the deals. In 2017 some 300 Palestinian Christians filed a criminal complaint to the Palestinian attorney general in Ramallah, accusing the Patriarch of “treason.” The same year, 14 local Orthodox institutions – representing many of the half a million Greek Orthodox Christians in the occupied territories, Israel and Jordan – severed ties with Theophilos and his synod, and demanded his removal.

Palestinian Christians have increasing grounds for concern that the Churches are not looking out for their interests when they make these deals. Historically, lands were donated to the Greek Orthodox Church as an endowment, and the income used for the collective good of the Orthodox community in the Holy Land. But local communities say the money is nowadays siphoned off to the foreign Church authorities.

Further, nearly a quarter of land in East Jerusalem is reported to be Church-owned, including the Mount of Olives, Sheikh Jarrah and large swaths of the Old City. Many Palestinian Christians live in these areas, which are being aggressively targeted by the settler movement. Local Christians have little faith that the Church will not sell these lands in the future, leaving them vulnerable to eviction by settlers.

Atallah Hanna, the only Palestinian serving as a Greek Orthodox archbishop, has been repeatedly punished for speaking out against the Patriarch’s policies. He issued a statement about the land sales at Jaffa Gate: “Those who sell and forfeit our real estate and Orthodox endowments do not represent our Arab Church, its heritage, identity and historical presence in this holy land.”

The effort to financially “squeeze” the Churches by the Jerusalem mayor in 2018 should be seen in this light. If the Churches face big new tax bills, the pressure will increase on them over the longer term either to be more submissive to Israel, for fear of attracting additional taxes, or to sell off yet more land to cover their debts. Either way, Palestinian Christians will suffer.

Obstacle to the end-times

A separate essay could be written about the role of overseas Christian evangelical movements in damaging the situation of Palestinian Christians. Suffice it to point out that most evangelical Christians are largely indifferent to the plight of the region’s local Christian population.

In fact, Zionism, Israel’s state ideology, draws heavily on a Christian Zionism that became popular among British Protestants more than 150 years ago. Today, the heartland of evangelical Zionism is the United States, where tens of millions of believers have adopted a theological worldview, bolstered by prophecies in the Book of Revelation, that wills a Jewish “return” to the Promised Land to bring about an apocalyptic end-times in which Christians — and some Jews who accept Jesus as their savior — will be saved from damnation and rise up to Heaven.

Inevitably, when weighed against a fast-track to salvation, the preservation of Palestinian Christians’ 2,000-year-old heritage matters little to most US Christian Zionists. Local Christians regularly express fears that their holy sites and way of life are under threat from a state that declares itself Jewish and whose central mission is a zero-sum policy of “Judaization”. But for Christian Zionists, Palestinian Christians are simply an obstacle to realizing a far more urgent, divinely ordained goal.

US evangelicals have, therefore, been pumping money into projects that encourage Jews to move to the “Land of Israel,” including in the settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Their leaders are close to the most hawkish politicians in Israel, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The political clout of the evangelical movements in the US, the world’s only superpower and Israel’s chief patron, has never been more evident. The vice-president, Mike Pence, is one of their number, while President Donald Trump depended on evangelical votes to win office. That was why Trump broke with previous administrations and agreed that the US would become the first country in modern times to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively killing any hope for the Palestinians of securing East Jerusalem as their capital.

Given this international atmosphere, the isolation of Palestinian Christians and their leaders is almost complete. They find themselves marginalized within their own Churches, entirely ignored by foreign evangelical movements, and an enemy of Israel. They have therefore tried to break out of that isolation both by forging greater unity among themselves and by setting out a clearer vision to strengthen ties to Christians outside the Holy Land.

One important milestone on that path was the publication of the Kairos Palestine document in December 2009, drawing on a similar document drafted by mainly black theologians in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Kairos Palestine, which describes itself as “the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine,” has been signed by more than 3,000 leading Palestinian Christian figures, including Atallah Hanna, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop for the Sebastiya diocese; Naim Ateek, a senior Anglican priest; Mitri Raheb, a senior Lutheran pastor; and Jamal Khader, a senior figure in the Latin Patriarchate.

The Kairos document calls unequivocally on “all the churches and Christians in the world … to stand against injustice and apartheid” and warns that “any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation, is far from Christian teachings”. It asks Christians abroad to “revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land”. And further, it supports the wider Palestinian BDS call to boycott, divest and sanction Israel and those who conspire with the oppression of Palestinians. It describes non-violent resistance as a “duty” incumbent on all Palestinians, arguing that such resistance should end only when Israeli abuses end, not before.

Faced with inevitable accusations of antisemitism from Israel partisans in the west, most of the overseas Churches – including importantly, the World Council of Churches – have failed to respond to this Palestinian Christian call. Only the Presbyterian Church in the US has endorsed the document, while the United Church of Christ has praised it. Predictably, Israel lobbyists have tried to undermine the document’s significance by correctly highlighting that the foreign Church leaderships in Palestine, such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, have refused to endorse it. But then, these kind of Church leaders have rarely had the interests of their Palestinian congregations foremost in their minds.

Nonetheless, Israel is deeply concerned by the document. Were it to be accepted, it would bring the international Churches onboard with the wider Palestinian BDS movement, which calls for an international boycott of Israel. Israeli leaders deeply fear the precedent set by the international community’s treatment of apartheid South Africa.

Of the three planks of the BDS campaign, the most troubling for Israel are not the boycott or sanctions components, but the threat of divestment – the withdrawal of investments from Israel by Churches, civil society organizations, trade unions and pension funds. Were the Churches to adopt BDS, such actions could quickly gain a moral legitimacy and spread. The Kairos document is therefore viewed as the thin end of a very dangerous wedge.

Atallah Hanna, as the most senior cleric to have signed the document, has found himself particularly in the crosshairs from Israel. In December last year he ended up in hospital in Jordan, treated for “poisoning by chemical substance,” after a tear gas canister was reportedly thrown into the grounds of his church in Jerusalem. In the circumstances, Hanna’s claim that Israel had tried to “assassinate,” or at the very least incapacitate, him resonated with many Palestinians.

Certainly Hanna has found himself repeatedly in trouble with the Israeli authorities for his Palestinian activism. In 2002, during the second intifada, for example, he was seized at his home in the Old City of Jerusalem and charged with “suspicion of relations with terrorist organizations,” a trumped-up allegation relating to the fact that he had spoken in favor of the popular uprising against Israeli occupation.

In a meeting with a foreign delegation last year, Hanna warned that Israel, with the support of the international community, was being allowed to gradually transform Jerusalem: “The Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments are targeted in order to change our city, hide its identity and marginalize our Arabic and Palestinian existence.”

Unwelcome Israeli citizens

The final community of Palestinian Christians to consider is the largest group, and the one most often overlooked: the 120,000 living in Israel with a degraded form of citizenship. These Palestinians have been exclusively under Israeli rule for more than 70 years. Israel falsely trumpets the claim that its Palestinian minority enjoys exactly the same rights as Jewish citizens. And yet the decline in the number of Palestinian Christians in Israel closely mirrors the situation of those in the occupied territories.

The Palestinian Christian population emerged from the events of 1948 in relatively better shape than their Muslim compatriots inside the territory that was now considered Israel. Aware of western states’ priorities, Israel was more cautious in its approach to the ethnic cleansing of communities with large numbers of Christians. As a result, the 40,000 Christians in Israel at the end of the Nakba comprised 22 per cent of the country’s new Palestinian minority. A few years later members of this minority would gain a very inferior form of Israeli citizenship.

Israel’s early caution in relation to Palestinian Christians was understandable. It feared antagonizing the western, largely Christian states whose backing it desperately needed. That policy was typified in the treatment of Nazareth, which was largely spared the wider policy of expulsions. However, as with Bethlehem, Nazareth’s Christian majority began to be overturned during 1948, as Muslims from neighboring villages that were under attack poured into the city, seeking sanctuary. Today, Nazareth has a 70 per cent Muslim majority.

The proportion of Christians among the Palestinian population in Israel has fallen more generally too – from nearly a quarter in the early 1950s to about 9 percent today. There is a similar number of Druze, a vulnerable religious sect that broke away from Islamic orthodoxy nearly 1,000 years ago. The rest of Israel’s Palestinian population – over 80 per cent – are Sunni Muslim.

The Christian exodus has been driven by similar factors to those cited by Palestinians in the West Bank. Within a self-declared Jewish state, Christians have faced diminished educational and employment opportunities; they must deal with rampant, institutional discrimination; and, after waves of land confiscations to Judaize the areas they live in, they can rarely find housing solutions for the next generation. Israel has encouraged a sense of hopelessness and despair equally among Christians and Muslims.

Problematic for Israel has been the fact that Palestinian Christians have played a pivotal role in developing secular Palestinian nationalism in both the occupied territories and in Israel. For obvious reasons, they have been concerned that Palestinian national identity should not deform into a divisive Islamic identity, mirroring Israel’s own hybrid ethnic and religious nationalism.

Given the difficulties of political activism for Palestinians inside Israel — for decades it could lead to jail or even deportation — many, especially Christians, joined the joint Jewish-Palestinian Communist party, on the assumption that its Jewish cadre would ensure protection. The most prized benefit of membership of the Communist party were scholarships to universities in the former Soviet bloc. Israel’s segregated school system, which included a near-dysfunctional state system for Palestinians, ensured higher education in Israel was mostly off-limits.

The scholarships were a boon to Christians because they enjoyed access to surviving, private Church-run schools in cities like Nazareth, Haifa and Jaffa that offered a better education. But Israel’s hope was that, once outside the region, many would never return — and indeed, this did become an additional factor in the decline of Israel’s Palestinian Christian population.

Onward Christian soldiers

But the advantages enjoyed by Palestinian Christians soon came to be seen by Israel as a liability. The Christians lived mostly in cities. Many had the advantages of access to good schools and higher education. Some had been exposed to the wider world through attending universities abroad. And Christians enjoyed connections to sympathetic communities overseas. Their continuing presence in the Holy Land, as well as their articulation of Palestinian nationalism to outsiders, served to undermine Israel’s claims of a simple Judeo-Christian clash of civilizations with Islam.

It was in this context that in late 2012 Israel secretly revived plans first raised in the aftermath of the Nakba to recruit Christian youth into the Israeli army. The programme focused on Nazareth and its environs, and targeted Christian Scout groups. Neither Muslims nor Christians in Israel are drafted into the army on leaving school, unlike Jewish and Druze youngsters. However, they can volunteer, though in practice only a tiny number do. Figures suggest there are a few dozen Christian families, typically poorer ones, whose sons join the army. But from 2012 onwards, the Netanyahu government worked hard to introduce a draft for Christians, hoping to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims in Israel.

Netanyahu schemed on several fronts. He aggressively promoted the small number of Christian families with children in the army to suggest that they were representative of the wider community. Meanwhile, he claimed that the overwhelming majority of Christians who publicly opposed his plan did so only because they had been intimidated by their Muslim neighbors.

The Israeli media trumpeted too the fact that Netanyahu had recruited a “religious leader” – Jibril Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox bishop in Nazareth – to support the draft of Christians. In fact, it was widely rumored in Nazareth at the time that Nadaf was being pressured by Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, to offer his support. Only much later did the Israeli media report that Nadaf had been investigated for sexual assaults on young men, and that the Shin Bet had hushed up his case.

At around the same time Israel introduced the option of registering a new nationality, “Aramaic”, on Israeli identity cards. Israel has always refused to recognise an “Israeli” nationality because it would risk conferring equal rights on all Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians alike. Instead many rights in Israel are accorded to citizens based on their assigned nationalities – with the main categories being “Jewish”, “Arab” and “Druze”. “Jewish” nationals receive extra rights unavailable to Palestinian citizens in immigration, land and housing, and language rights. The new “Aramaic” category was intended to confer on Christians a separate nationality mirroring the Druze one.

The obscure “Aramaic” identity was chosen for two reasons. First, it referred to a time 2,000 years ago when Jews like Jesus spoke Aramaic – now almost a dead language. Aramaic therefore fused Jewish and Christian identities, replicating the claim of “blood ties” Israel had fostered with the Druze community. And second, Aramaic had already been cultivated as an identity by the handful of Palestinian Christian families that volunteered to serve in the army. For them, Aramaic lay at the heart of a pure, proud, supposedly original Christian nationalist identity. They argued that their forefathers’ Aramaic heritage and language had been usurped and corrupted by the arrival of Arab and Islamic identities in the region during the Arab conquests in the seventh century.

For those who promoted it, including the Israeli government, “Aramaic” was not a neutral Christian identity but consciously intended as an anti-Arab, anti-Muslim identity. It was intimately tied to the government’s larger, fanciful agenda of turning the local Christian population into Palestinian Christian Zionists.

In tandem with these developments, Netanyahu’s government also began aggressively squeezing the resources available to Church schools operating in Nazareth and elsewhere. An arrangement that had historically provided partial state funds for private religious schools, primarily to help the Jewish ultra-Orthodox, began to be progressively withdrawn from Church schools. Pupils in the dozen such schools in Nazareth, which serve both Christians and Muslims, staged an unprecedented strike in 2014 as it became harder for the schools to cover costs. The government offered a way out: the schools, it proposed, should come under the umbrella of the state education system. So far the Church schools have managed to resist.

Although the policy has not been implemented yet, there are indications of what Israel ultimately hoped to achieve. The aim, it seems, was to reinvent the Church schools as “Aramaic” schools, limiting the intake to Christians and teaching a curriculum, as with the Druze, that emphasized the “blood ties” between Jews and Christians and prepared pupils for the army draft. The first such school, teaching in Aramaic, has opened in Jish, a village in the central Galilee that is home to some of the main families that volunteer to serve in the Israeli army.

In fact, Israel failed dismally in its efforts to persuade Christians to accept the draft, and appears to have largely abandoned the plan, even after dedicating several years to bringing it to fruition. Israel should have guessed that such a scheme was unlikely to succeed. In a city like Nazareth, too many Christians are professionals – doctors, lawyers, architects and engineers serving their community – and have no interest in gaining the sole advantage of military service the poorer Druze have depended on: lowly jobs after the draft in the security sectors, as prison wardens or security guards.

But that may not have been Israel’s only goal. In line with its long-standing ambitions, Israel also doubtless wanted to intensify sectarian tensions between Christians and Muslims in places where the two communities live in close proximity, especially Nazareth. And for a variety of reasons, sectarian divisions have started to emerge over the past few years. The causes are manifold, but Israel’s efforts to recruit Christians to the army – to divide them from Muslims – undoubtedly exacerbated the problem.

Another significant factor was the gradual demise of the Communist party, especially in Nazareth, after it came to be too closely identified with Christians and was seen as playing a role in maintaining their relative privileges. That led to a backlash in Nazareth that saw Ali Salam, a populist politician who revels in comparisons with Donald Trump, becoming mayor after subtly exploiting these sectarian tensions.

It also did not help that for nearly two decades nihilistic Islamic movements edged ever closer to Israel’s borders – first with al-Qaeda, and later with Islamic State. That has unnerved many Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Israel. In recent years it has provoked a political reaction from some who have begun to wonder whether a militarily strong, western-backed Israel was not the lesser regional evil.

Israel has every interest in reinforcing such developments, exploiting tensions that shore up its clash of civilizations narrative. Paradoxically, it is Israel’s long-term interference in the region and a more recent policy of direct military intervention by the US in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iran that has created the very conditions in which Islamic extremism has prospered. Between them, Israel and the US have sown despair and generated political voids across the Middle East that groups like Islamic State have filled with their own narrative of a clash of civilizations.

For Israel, recruiting Palestinian Christians to its side of this self-serving clash narrative – even if it is only a few of them – is helpful. If Israel can muddy the waters in the region by finding enough allies among local Christians, it knows it can further dissuade the international Churches from taking any substantive action in addressing the crimes it has perpetrated against Palestinians unhindered for more than seven decades.

Israel’s great fear is that one day the international Churches may assume moral leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending the traumas set in train by the Nakba.

Judging by the Churches’ record so far, however, Israel appears to have little reason to worry.

Fear and Loathing in Tucson

Since Hunter Thompson isn’t here to continue along the Gonzo journalistic path of fear and loathing, I’ll just have to do the job.  I’m quite certain he would do so if he hadn’t left us so abruptly.  And unless I’m crazy, there’s never before been a situation quite this frightening and loathsome.  My lady left me a couple days ago.  Turned away from the embrace of a man who refuses to wear a mask as protection from the dreaded Carumba Virus.  And now I’m alone.  Sheltering in place in the foothills of The Tucson Range.  Our relationship trashed by the good advice of her pastor, the sacred lips of Rachel Maddow, and by my refusal to cover my face with a mask while in public, due to a nearly absolute belief that the pig-fuckers (Hunter’s favorite phrase) at the top of the food chain have just led us into phase one of the Globalist agenda to reduce earth’s population by a number well into the billions.  I’d be proof that the plan is already working its birth control magic, if we weren’t both in our early 70’s.

And now, the darkness of night melts away into vivid dreams of the aforementioned pig-fuckers.  Goofy, stammering, eugenicist Gates with his vision of vaccinating the entire planet.  Fauci and Birx listening in horror as Pompeo announces loudly and clearly that we’re in a live exercise…meaning what?  Fauci’s eyes grow big as saucers while an uncontrollable shiver goes down Birx’s spine as she shudders and strokes her arm.  They use a live military exercise to launch this War on the Carnauba Virus, and Trump angrily complains that somebody should have told him.  This is indeed a war, for the first casualty has become the truth.  Biden, now seldom seen maskless, leading the aimless minions of low-expectation Democrats in a mass-death-leap off the cliffs of desperation.  WHO admitting to the development of sterility vaccines, amid accusations of live use in Kenya, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Mexico, and The Philippines.  Bug-eyed Schiff demanding censorship of any information outside the official WHO/CDC song and dance from the likes of Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, and EVERYWHERE!…effectively eliminating any chance of the truth leaking into the national conversation.  Nobody bothers censoring lies.  So if you have any complaints about the content of this little article, chill out.  You’re likely the only one reading it anyway.  What’s happening here, Mr. Jones, is so heinously convoluted that nearly the entire country is marching in masked, socially distanced lockstep.  Even many people who I thought would see through the information fog.  Fear and distrust so thick, I need a machete to cut through it.  And all for a virus so puny that the media can’t even conjure up decent footage of all this make believe death and suffering.

Christians learned two thousand years ago, thanks to the selfless sacrifice of the outlaw named Jesus, that to follow his brave example would quite likely not end well.  Then and there, a pact was made with the Devil.  Rome was to allow the followers of Jesus gather, pray, and ask their Heavenly Father to forgive the sin of not emulating Jesus.  In return, the fledgling churches would refrain from questioning or criticizing the policies of the Emperor.  The Church was to support the policies of State, and visa-versa.  Separation of church and state…Catch 22 for the next twenty centuries.  Christians in general have always seemed to be the personification of only talking the talk, for they’ve been forbidden by official policy and self-preservation to walk the walk.  Thus, all the groveling and praying for forgiveness.  And apparently Christian soldiers have always been exempt from The Golden Rule, The 10 Commandments, and all potential Biblical threats to existing power structures.  This U.S. of A., being a largely Christian nation, has masked-up, dutifully stands on the red signs in Lowe’s, and questions nothing.  To do otherwise:  Unthinkable.  Careless.  Criminal.

Morning coffee alone in my private enclave of fear and loathing.  There must be a bright side to this final episode of The Twilight Zone.  There is a likely phasing out of WAR, as a way of stealing resources.  Best guess is that, once the 5 or 6 billion superfluous bodies are buried and the Globalists are fully in charge, There’ll be no more reason for war.  Tucson skies are usually violated nearly hourly by screaming fighter jets from Davis-Monthan AFB, but for three months they’ve gone missing.  I can envision the U.S. Military shrinking away to nearly nothing.  Hooray!  Those Davo Globalists may not be so bad after all.  They have a vision of a better world for all…all except the excess poor folks.

Those of us who survive this live exercise will live the good life in a brave new world with a surplus of milk and honey.  Sure, I know it’s disturbing that Homeland Security now seems an occupying force inside all retail establishments.  Especially the giants.  Grocery chains, Home Depot & Lowe’s, Costco, Walmart…all blasting the orders of authority, as protection against the spread of the dreaded Crustacean Virus.  Floor signs, social distancing, and masks hide our emotion, our identity, our humanity.  But in the brave new world of a single, global society, there will be blue skies, clean water, no more climate change.  We’ll have UBI to keep us fed and housed.  No need for wallets or dirty money, for deposits will be made directly to our digitally enhanced bodies, with purchases done by way of facial recognition.  Social Credit Scores determine the extent of our vestigial freedoms, imprisoning rule-breakers while rewarding good behavior.  What rewards?  Who knows?  Maybe the right to reproduce, since our bloodstreams will be laced with birth control devices, likely with remote electronic on/off switches. Maybe the right to congregate, travel, shop, exist.

The more I think about it, the more likely it seems that we have no other choice than to get in lockstep, don masks, do what we’re told, and get ready for our new digital lives.  Zoom is so very much more satisfying than a sweaty, nasty, human hug and face to face conversation.  An added benefit being you can cut it off at any time, and claim you lost your internet connection.  At the rate humans have been reproducing, we’re doomed.  This dream of democracy has turned out to be quite a nightmare too.  The difference between the two parties can be measured in millimeters, and it’s long been recognized that voting is an act of futility, so let’s let the well intentioned billionaires who are staging this Corrosive Virus Plandemic run the show from now on.  They’ve been doing a fine job behind our backs for quite some time now, and let’s just hand over to them the keys to the kingdom.  All kingdoms.  Heaven included, I would guess.  Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, and it looks more and more like we’ll all be free, in one way or another, very soon.

Or resist.

Placing Palestine Back at the Center of Muslim Discourse in the West

It was nearly twenty years ago at a Muslim conference in Washington D.C. that I heard the distressing argument that Palestine should not be made a central topic in the American Muslim political agenda.

The point, which took many by surprise, was enunciated by a young American Pakistani Muslim academic, whose name is not important for my purpose here.

What I found reassuring then, however, was that almost everyone at the gathering shook their head in disagreement. The young academic was clearly an intellectual pariah. It was clear that Muslims, at least the attendees of that specific conference, will not be abandoning their advocacy for the freedom of the Palestinian people anytime soon.

A few months later, the September 11 attacks took place, unleashing a Pandora’s Box of violence, racism, orientalism, and Islamophobia, the outcome of which would continue to be felt for years to come.

A less discussed portion of the American war on Islam and Muslims in the last twenty years is the systematic and centralized attempt at breaking down the American Muslim society. The same can, of course, be said of the anti-Muslim sentiment that flourished in Europe during the West’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and other Muslim countries.

Since then and till today, American Muslims found themselves forced to make bleak choices to avoid media demonization and government persecution.

Some chose to toe the line, in fact, to become an advocate of the very colonial, savage powers that were unleashed against Muslims everywhere – killing, torturing, imprisoning and sanctioning with no regard whatsoever for the very international law that the West itself had fashioned following World War II.

The likes of Hamza Yusuf, formally known as Mark Hanson, was and, perhaps, remains the best example of the so-called ‘pet Muslim’, as he became known due to his collaboration with the George W. Bush regime during the genocidal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The likes of Yusuf became immensely crucial to the American-Western designs in Muslim countries, being the ideal amalgamation between the ‘native informer’ – as a supposedly learned Muslim, although a white person himself – and the typical orientalist – the Western scholar that can be trusted in deciphering and dissecting the Muslim ‘Orient’ to the colonialist West.

According to the Guardian newspaper, Yusuf once told Muslim political dissidents, “If you hate the west, emigrate to a Muslim country”, thus displaying the same racist sentiment often lobbed by far-right chauvinists to anyone who dares question government policies on war, immigration, or anything else.

This very sentiment was repeated by US President, Donald Trump, when he tweeted last July, “In America, if you hate our Country, you are free to leave.”

According to the infinite wisdom of Yusuf and Trump, one can only earn the right to be a fully bonified citizen if one fully abandons one’s right to display any disagreement with one’s government’s policies.

In Yusuf’s shameful thinking, it also follows that a Muslim can never truly be a permanent citizen in any western polity, a sentiment embraced by the very neo-fascist movements that are currently plaguing Europe.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when US Secretary of State and well-known anti-Muslim bigot, Mike Pompeo, announced the formation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights – another platform for political and religious prejudices targeting Trump’s enemies around the world – Yusuf was immediately handpicked to be a member of that commission.

The problem, however, is bigger than a single orientalist. It has become clear that the terrible consequences of September 11 – the bloody wars that followed, and the tragic but predictable backlash of anti-Western militancy in the US, Europe and elsewhere – have, sadly, emasculated mainstream Muslim discourse in Western countries, the US especially.

Once upon a time, every Friday, hundreds of Imams throughout American mosques would breach solidarity with Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and so on. Money would be raised for various organizations that provided aid for victims of wars throughout the Muslim world. In fact, unity around Palestine seemed to bring millions of Muslims together despite their vastly different cultures, classes, and even their very own interpretations of Islam itself.

The outcome of September 11, namely the so-called ‘war on terror’, has changed all of that, imposing a new paradigm and a stark choice on Muslim communities all across the country.

The shutting down of the Holy Land Foundation, because of its support of Palestinian and other victims of Israeli violence, was only the tip of the iceberg. The accounts of many Muslim charities and organizations were drained, while hundreds, if not thousands of well-educated and outspoken Muslim intellectuals were either detained, deported, fired from their jobs or forced into silence by other means.

Sadly, it was the dawn of a new and tragic era where the self-loathing, self-seeking and opportunistic Muslim intellectual peddlers reigned supreme.

It is through this compromising bunch, that Western governments managed to tailor their own version of the ‘good Muslim’, to be juxtaposed with the radical, God-forbid, free-thinking Muslim, unfairly but incessantly seen as a terrorist sympathizer.

I had the displeasure of knowing or learning about many of these ‘good Muslims’ in the last twenty years, who are so keen at claiming the spots at phony ‘interfaith dialogue’ conferences, giddily serving the role of the well-behaved Muslim whenever demanded of them.

For this odd breed of Muslims, Palestine is an obstacle and Kashmir is a forgotten, wasteland, for their mission is not to advocate on behalf of the oppressed. Instead, they are often used as middlemen who convey the official diktats of governments, states, and city councils to their fellow Muslims. In other words, they become the ‘official’ Muslims, whose agenda is not that of their own community – helping to mobilize, organize and advocate while building solidarity with other marginalized groups – but, as in the case of Yusuf, embracing the agenda of Trump himself.

The problem with these spiritual charlatans is that they feed the misguided view that Muslims can only be either quisling hacks or potential terrorists; that Muslims must be subdued or they become a danger to society; and that Muslims cannot be part of a larger collective of political dissidents who advocate justice and equality in their own society, and  the world over.

Currently, at many mosques across the US, Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, and other places of great and perpetual injustice are hardly mentioned. Many shy away even from political advocacy and intersectionality within their own communities. Perhaps, they fear that doing so would place them at the radar of the FBI or local enforcement agencies.

But, what is Islam without justice?

In one Quranic verse (5:8), God says, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for God, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness”.

The emphasis on justice, and the building of communities and nations that stand for what is right is at the core of Islamic values, and neither Mark Hansen nor any other self-proclaimed Muslims can possibly change that.

As for governments that are constantly caricaturing Muslims and Islam to fit their own agendas, they are not doing themselves any favors either, for a strong society is predicated on the freedom of individuals and groups to operate within a legal and democratic framework, with the overriding goal of advancing the interests of the entire nation.

Freedom for Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan, as well as the rights of minorities, social justice, gender and racial equality, all go hand–in-hand. No sincere justice advocate, self-respecting scholar, and needless to say, true Muslim, would disagree with the notion that justice is indivisible, a moral doctrine has defined Islam and Muslims for fifteen centuries.

There is One God, One Faith, and One Church

On 1 May, International Labour Day (except in the USA),1 I happened to see the current prime minister of Portugal proclaim on television the next stages of the policing that began with the proclamation that the world was in the midst of a “pandemic”. He explained that masks would be obligatory in schools after they are reopened, that restaurants would be permitted to reopen in a limited fashion starting 18 May and gave other details as to how public movement and economic activity would be ruled in the foreseeable future.

Of course, opening on 18 May only applies to those businesses that have survived that long, without going bankrupt. Portugal is remarkable in many respects, for example, that it is almost entirely “chain-free”. One reason is that multinational restaurant chains — like those that have replaced virtually all restaurants in the US — are simply too expensive for ordinary Portuguese citizens. The other reason is the loyalty of the population to its own fine food culture. Portugal is one of the few places in the West I know where the food eaten by the rich and the poor is essentially the same — and by that I do not mean the fast food monotony to which Andy Warhol very poignantly referred.2 A city like Porto is still full of family-owned restaurants where the chipped potatoes are peeled and sliced in the kitchen and not poured from a bulk package manufactured by some Nestlé subsidiary. McDonald’s has had to compete not only in price but even in the style of bread used, yet is still too expensive for people whose average monthly wages are less than EUR 1,000. One has to wonder which restaurants Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa has in mind when he says that they will be permitted to open again after more than two months closure. Do we see here the result of another act to subordinate the last elements of Portuguese entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in a country whose elite has always profited from Portugal’s quasi-protectorate status?

I do not have any new answers to that question. However, I have tried to surmise or by means of judicious investigation identify the rational criteria, which would compel those who have ordered this international quarantine to end it.3 Alas, in vain. At the end of four months there is still no evidence published anywhere that the progression of the so-called “pandemic” has in any way approached that of the seasonal influenza casualties of 2019 or any year prior to that. It stands to reason that if this were more deadly than the seasonal flu, then in the same period we would have to record far more deaths than in the previous year. Even with all the fraud and forgery, the death toll has not reached that level year-on-year. Nor have any truly new and impossible conditions arisen since then, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus can explain — unless one considers the obvious mental derangement and hysteria among the supposedly educated segments of the population.

The favoured argument among the “moderates” — those willing to listen to doubts expressed by ordinary citizens — is that all these steps are necessary to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing. In other words, the people who have been subjected to this covert state violence are themselves to blame for the inadequacy of the healthcare system. This was not the fault of parasitical corporations, bribery, privatisation, insufficient or no funding and resistance to any change of policy that would channel money away from investment banks to blood banks (unless, of course, those blood banks were also run for profit) — all abetted by elected and appointed public officials.

If responsibility is considered for any policy failure, however, it is only the lack of masks, HAZMAT suits and emergency equipment not the failure to maintain a solid general healthcare system including preventive, curative and palliative medicine. In other words, the “counter-terrorism” model is the only one available to government. Such emergency measures are just like the futile instructions to airline passengers about procedures that are virtually useless when an airplane crashes. I wonder seriously for whom is the emaciated healthcare system to be protected after more than thirty years of wanton destruction by those who claim their sudden concern. The defensive arguments and criticism can be compared to a group of arsonists advising the homeowner whose house they have set in flame that it really would have been a good idea to have more hoses and paid for more insurance coverage. What this really means is the State (actually those who manage it on behalf of its owners) wants us all to stay at home so that none of them has to accept responsibility for massive criminal negligence. Meanwhile we are burning with that very house they have torched.

In contrast the Chinese government built a hospital in two weeks to take up the slack in a city of some 11 million inhabitants, dismantling it once the mission was accomplished. While in Europe and the USA there are no public institutions left capable of delivering even the ordinary mails in under two weeks, let alone build a hospital and staff it.

There being no rational basis for the Western style of international quarantine, that leaves only two other mutually inclusive options: corruption and religion. For years I have argued that political science and many other academic disciplines practiced in Western universities are defective because of their failure to analyse the institutional foundation of the West: Roman Catholicism. Except in Catholic institutions, my assertion is usually dismissed. The basic sophistry used to ridicule my advice is that while the churches, and even the Church still exist today, they have an entirely subordinate role. Nobody believes that the pope in Rome has temporal authority, let alone universal power. Church attendance is just a private matter. The Reformation curtailed the power of the Roman hierarchy. These arguments even come from people who have read Michel Foucault or  Gramsci4 and therefore with a second thought or three ought to know better.

What many seem to forget is the Counter-Reformation or the Protestant witch burning, including the practices of Puritan New England. Moreover, the Christian churches together and in Europe the Roman Catholic Church in particular belong to the largest landowners in the West, usually tax-exempt, and often concealed through corporate shells.5  In any realistic appraisal of a political system ignoring major landowners like the Church is either a sign of incompetence or mendacity.

Elsewhere I have said 1984 has to be one of the worst books ever written.6  That is not so much a reflection of the author as it is of those who have read it over the past 70 years since it was published. Orwell created some modern terms to describe ancient phenomena that have been forgotten. Properly speaking they have not been forgotten but concealed. Given the explicit and insidious collaboration with the fascist aggression by the two Pius popes in the 20th century, including WWII, it is understandable that explicit references to the original totalitarianism of the West would be discouraged. In fact, much of the treachery and viciousness of Pius XII was only disclosed after his death and amidst the greatest of resistance both in the Church and beyond.7

It is helpful to recall that for most of Western history even possession of the mythology volume, known as the Holy Bible, was restricted entirely to clergy.8

Unauthorised possession or reading it among unauthorised laity could be treated as a capital offense. The Holy Office, also known as the Inquisition, had emerged not only as a central and secret police force for the Roman Catholic Church but a major economic player in every Christian dominion.9

To be accused of heresy or some other violation by the Inquisition was the same as being guilty. An accused forfeited all rights immediately — the right to own property, to conclude any kind of binding business or legal transaction — and was subject to confiscation of all property, real and personal. Those who spoke in favour of an accused could be punished as abetting heresy with the same penalties. The only appeal was to the pope in Rome — very difficult to lodge when one was chained to the wall of some dungeon and anyone who acted on one’s behalf could suffer the same fate. It would go too far to explain all that could and did happen under this regime. The curious are referred here to Henry Lea’s multi-volume works; e.g., The History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages.10

However, it is very important to distinguish between the popular and incorrect view of the Inquisition — that its primary job was enforcing doctrinal conformity. The Holy Office was established to control population and population movement and to assist those who owned the Holy See in their efforts to enrich themselves and the Church. The Inquisition was an espionage system that recorded every detail necessary to identify, observe, and pursue its targets throughout Christendom — that is most of Europe and the overseas possessions of Catholic princes. Heresy was punished — rather heresy was the pretext for punishment and control. Denying that one was a heretic was impossible. The only hope was that no one had motive to make a denunciation. To escape incarceration meant only that one became a legitimate target — like in the notorious “free fire zones” in Vietnam.11

My point is that Orwell did not discover or describe anything new or modern. In fact, as a propagandist in the service of His Britannic Majesty’s government, he was simply describing his working environment with the language of the day — albeit in a kind of roman à clef. Blair (Orwell) was for all intents and purposes Winston. He probably could not have written a story with the ancient foundations of Christendom at the centre.

Despite the heinous conduct of the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century, it actually recruited successfully. Both the famous and the infamous have joined or returned to Mother Church.12  And a son of the fanatically Presbyterian Dulles family was even raised to the cardinal’s dignity.13  One can only guess why.

The (previous) pontiff emeritus was head of the Holy Office before his coronation. There should be no surprise that an obedient member of the Hitler Youth would make a great career in a Roman Catholic province governed by pro-fascist prelates under a fascist pope. Joseph Ratzinger went on to lead the persecution of heretics in Latin America, collaborating deniably with the death squad regime that murdered Bishop Oscar Romero while disciplining every important member of the clergy who opposed military dictatorships installed and maintained by the US regime. The ubiquitous corporation, which Ratzinger would then head as Benedict XVI, is recognised for having the oldest espionage organisation in continuous operation.14 Orwell could not have described the way the Church exercises power without drawing attention to those who still held it and whose successors hold it today.

Now I am not saying that the present condition — the crusade that is being preached throughout the Western Empire — is a creation of the Vatican State or the Roman pontiff, also a Jesuit. (At the same time I would not rule out their active, if discrete, participation.) It is surely an accident that one of the most fanatical and greedy prelates preaching this crusade is also a product of Jesuit education.15

What I am saying is that if we want to understand the structures, the rhetoric and the discourse along with the kinds of measures and the force being applied, we should look very carefully at the most fundamental institution that defines the style and substance of Western beliefs and statecraft. That original multinational corporation contains the blueprint — or to use fashionable genetics jargon, the “DNA” of the corporate state in which we live today.

It does not matter that the word “infection” is used instead of “sin” or that the intelligent, fact-based suspicions of the official story about the “virus” are called “denial” and not “heresy”. Orwell would have called these doubts “thought crime”. The infection is just as invisible as sin. The definition of health risk lies solely at the discretion of the clergy, wearing white coats or HAZMAT suits instead of cassocks. Although neither Mr Tedros16 of the WHO nor a medical official can order an arrest, incarceration or torture, they can advise or instruct “the secular arm”17 to act “in the interest of health” (i.e., in the interest of the Faith). As argued elsewhere recently, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals has assured us that we just do not know if we can ever prevent sin, whether we will ever have a chance of salvation, even if the auto de fé of vaccination is performed.18.

Social distancing, then (Photo 1) and in the “modern” age (Photo 2).19

Many people, who would refuse to hear a priest or minister who advocates witch burning, lend all their attention to clerics dressed like physicians or hospital technicians — reading from inscrutable reports devoid of consistency, coherence or any other base in reality. For example, when the Portuguese prime minister declares that restaurants will be allowed to open on 18 May, one could just as easily ask — why not 17 May or 19 May? The answer is that there is no substantive reason — at least none to which the public is privy.

Now we are approaching —  if we have not already passed — the point where the secular arm can no longer retreat. The crusade has been declared for the health of Christendom. Whoever fails to make the sacrifice will be punished. For the secular arm to admit that it has erred is no longer possible without hastening its own demise. Hence like a thousand years ago, the secular arm — the princes of Christendom who owe their allegiance to the spirit of mammon, to that same god which ordained every pontiff and is the pinnacle of the great chain of being to which we are all subordinated — must continue to punish us or risk being punished or even destroyed by those whose lives it has ruined.

The inquisitors were well aware of this risk. That is why they were permitted anonymity, hired protection (paid from the profits of confiscation) and an absolute immunity from Rome. Our princes have their inquisitors and have equipped them with modern privileges, immunities and authority.

It seems therefore appropriate that a key dogmatic proclamation be revised to reflect the few minor but functionally significant changes in the 700-odd years since it was first promulgated.

Promulgated this time in Geneva,

Unam Sanctam

(Ecclesiam catholicam et ipsam apostolicam…)

Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church (read State) is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,’ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3] (Capital). In her then is one Lord, one faith, one test and vaccine [Eph 4:5]. There had been at the time of the deluge only one ark of Noah, prefiguring the one Church, which ark, having been finished to a single cubit, had only one pilot and guide; i.e., Noah, and we read that, outside of this ark, all that subsisted on the earth was destroyed.

We venerate this Church as one, the Lord having said by the mouth of the prophet: ‘Deliver, O God (Capital), my soul from the sword and my only one from the hand of the dog.’ [Ps 21:20] He has prayed for his soul, that is for himself, heart and body; and this body, that is to say, the Church (yes, the corporate state), He has called one because of the unity of the Spouse, of the faith, of the sacraments, and of the charity of the Church. This is the tunic of the Lord, the seamless tunic, which was not rent but which was cast by lot [Jn 19:23-24]. Therefore, of the one and only Church there is one body and one head, not two heads like a monster; that is, Christ and the Vicar of Christ, Peter and the successor of Peter, since the Lord speaking to Peter Himself said: ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:17], meaning, my sheep in general, not these, nor those in particular, whence we understand that He entrusted all to him [Peter]. Therefore, if the Italians, or others should say that they are not confided to Peter (e.g. the WHO or other high offices of the Lords of Capital) and to his successors, they must confess not being the sheep of Christ, since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’

We are informed by the texts of the gospels that in this Church and in its power are two swords; namely, the spiritual and the temporal. For when the Apostles say: ‘Behold, here are two swords’ [Lk 22:38] that is to say, in the Church (in the State), since the Apostles were speaking, the Lord did not reply that there were too many, but sufficient. Certainly the one who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter has not listened well to the word of the Lord commanding: ‘Put up thy sword into thy scabbard’ [Mt 26:52]. Both, therefore, are in the power of the Church, that is to say, the spiritual and the material sword, but the former is to be administered _for_ the Church but the latter by the Church; the former in the hands of the priest and doctor of medicine; the latter by the hands of kings and soldiers, but at the will and sufferance of the priest (banker and doctor of medicine).

However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual (and medical) power. For since the Apostle said: ‘There is no power except from God (Capital) and the things that are, are ordained of God’ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

For, according to the Blessed Dionysius, it is a law of the divinity that the lowest things reach the highest place by intermediaries. Then, according to the order of the universe, all things are not led back to order equally and immediately, but the lowest by the intermediary, and the inferior by the superior. Hence we must recognize the more clearly that spiritual (and medical) power surpasses in dignity and in nobility any temporal power whatever, as spiritual things surpass the temporal. This we see very clearly also by the payment, benediction, and consecration of the tithes, but the acceptance of power itself and by the government even of things. For with truth as our witness, it belongs to spiritual power to establish the terrestrial power and to pass judgement if it has not been good. Thus is accomplished the prophecy of Jeremias concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power: ‘Behold to-day I have placed you over nations, and over kingdoms’ and the rest. Therefore, if the terrestrial power err, it will be judged by the spiritual (medical) power; but if a minor spiritual (medical) power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God (Capital, and not by man, according to the testimony of the Apostle: ‘The spiritual man judgeth of all things and he himself is judged by no man’ [1 Cor 2:15]. This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, ‘Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven’ etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [Rom 13:2], unless he invent like any sane person alternative explanations, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for health (salvation) that every human creature be subject to those who control the World Health Organisation.

This bull****, slightly updated, was promulgated originally 718 years ago in November 1302 by the reigning Roman pontiff, Boniface VIII (1294 – 1303), less than a year before his death. Could he have died of a coronavirus?

  1. It is always worth recalling in the context of American exceptionalism that Labour Day in the US is the first Monday in September. Everywhere else (apart from Canada) Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May, in commemoration of the Haymarket massacre in Chicago! During a labour demonstration on 4 May 1886, a police provocateur detonated a bomb. Eight labour activists were arrested and tried, four were executed by hanging; one committed suicide and the remaining three were pardoned after six years in prison.
  2. Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and back again), (1975).
  3. Quarantine, originally meant 40 days (from the Italian quarantana, OED) applied by the Venetian authorities to ships arriving from abroad. 40 days is also the span of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter or the traditional period allocated to mourning for the dead in which a widow could remain in the home of her deceased husband. In Portugal many thought the economy would just be closed until Easter. This is no longer a quarantine but a form of massive house arrest.
  4. For those who have not the relevant titles are Madness and Civilisation (1961), The Birth of the Clinic (1973) and Discipline and Punish (1975), Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) Prison Notebooks (posthumously 1947).  Gramsci, who was one of the founders of Italy’s Communist Party, devoted considerable thought to the problem of latent power (hegemony), particularly conspicuous because of the role played by the Roman Catholic Church in Italy — even after Italian unity. He especially analysed the function of intellectuals and culture in regime maintenance.
  5. I have read but unfortunately cannot find the citation that the Roman Catholic Church directly and indirectly still holds about a third of all land in Western Europe. In Germany it benefits from a church tax collected by the State. In some jurisdictions of Germany, the Church is still compensated with tax revenues for secularisation of property in the 19th century! Church property is generally exempt from taxation. There are schools, hospitals, and innumerable institutions operated ostensibly as charities and privileged financially or politically by the State; e.g., payment of staff salaries. This state support assures that the spiritual arm retains its capacity to share power with the secular arm.
  6. Looking for the Thought Police? Try looking in the mirror“, (1984 is probably the worst book of the 20th century) by T.P. Wilkinson/August 25th, 2017.
  7. Karlheinz Deschner, Die Politik der Päpste in 20. Jahrhundert (1991) also in God and the Fascists (2013).
  8. Canon 14 of the Council of Toulouse (1229): ‘We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.’

    ‘Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or possess them without such permission, may not receive absolution from their sins till they have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors may not read or purchase them.’ (Council of Trent: Rules on Prohibited Books, approved by Pope Pius IV, 1564).

  9. Originally known as the Congregation of the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, since 1542 it has been called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Previous to the establishment of the papal inquisition, the church police power was concentrated in the dioceses and exercised by the episcopacy (1184 – ). The papacy used the Roman inquisition (1230 – ) to suborn the episcopacy, especially in France, and as an instrument to establish papal supremacy. Popes deployed the so-called mendicant orders, principally the Dominicans and Franciscans, because their independence from episcopal authority or monastic discipline and their mobility made them ideal shock troops.
  10. Henry C. Lea, The History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages (1888) also The History of the Inquisition in Spain (1887).
  11. See “The First Circle” by T.P. Wilkinson,  April 24th, 2020; and A Fly’s Eye View of America’s War Against Vietnam, especially Part 3, 30 April 2015.
  12. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the first noxious example that comes to my mind.
  13. Avery R Dulles, SJ (1918- 2008), son of John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State and brother to Allen (CIA director), became a Jesuit priest, created a cardinal in 2001.
  14. The papal nuncios, Vatican ambassadors, prelates in various orders, especially the Society of Jesus, and what one writer identifies as the Santa Alleanza, the clandestine service to have been formed by Pope Pius V in 1566, all comprise an ancient espionage capabilities extending throughout Christendom and wherever the Roman Catholic Church has entry. The Holy Office itself managed an enormous network of spies and collaborators. This prolific espionage apparatus profits from cooperation with the secular espionage and clandestine services, too. The long-time head of counter-intelligence in the CIA, Catholic James Jesus Angleton, was reputed for his close relationship to Vatican offices.
  15. Anthony Fauci, the notorious promoter of the corona “pandemic” and profitable pharmaceutical products, is a graduate of the Regis High School in New York City and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; both are Jesuit institutions.
  16. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, the secretariat of the World Health Assembly, located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  17. The Inquisition was formally an investigating and policing institution with judicial but not enforcement powers. Condemnation by the Inquisition could incur penitential measures; e.g., compulsory pilgrimage, castigation, compulsory clothing marks (wearing a cross as a symbol of condemnation, lending another sense to the colloquialism: having “one’s cross to bear”) and incarceration. However, execution of the condemned was reserved to the State. Hence when the Church’s penitential measures were deemed inadequate, the “spiritual “ Inquisition could order the condemned remanded to the “secular arm”, a euphemism for the enforcement of the death penalty by the State.
  18. See “The First Circle” by T.P. Wilkinson,  April 24th, 2020.
  19. The dunce cap is very similar to the coroza those condemned for heresy were forced to wear in their auto de fé.

The First Circle

Probably everyone in the West at least has seen some version of a famous figure by the late 19th century French sculptor Auguste Rodin, called in English, The Thinker. It is a nude man seated in a position we have all learned to understand as contemplative, as thinking. Several years ago, although I actually hate visiting museums, I took a few hours while in Paris to visit the Rodin museum. I confess a very good friend who knows more about the plastic arts than I do gave me the hint. He said this figure is actually only a tiny part of a much bigger sculpture. You need to see it, he said, in its context.

When I was still an adolescent, having heard about the release of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, I asked my grandmother to buy me a copy. I was staying with her at the time. This was my first contact with Russian writers. Solzhenitsyn’s book so fascinated me that I asked for and got a box set of his novels. One of them which I found very curious and at first reading very difficult was called The First Circle. It was about scientists, if I recall correctly, in the Soviet Union during the Second World War. I could check and refresh my memory but that is not the point. There are some things in one’s life or education, which are more important for how one feels at a certain time than the actual content, which may be quite trivial. The significance of the content, his story, only occurred to me when some years later I became familiar with Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Although I still appreciate Solzhenitsyn’s work, what I most appreciate was his refusal to become a public instrument of US anti-Soviet foreign policy while in his Vermont exile. Although by all reasonable measures he was an archconservative and intense opponent of the Soviet Union, he was such a Russian patriot that he could not accept the “American way of life” and refused to promote it. However, that is not my main concern here.

Since events exploded in Wuhan, China in 2019, I have wavered between resignation and the compulsion to react to events in the way I always have since I learned to hold a pencil—by writing.

In 2016 I spent nine hours watching a dramatic presentation of Karl Kraus’ Die letzten Tagen der Menschheit,  an amazing piece of drama about the conditions of the Great War (1915-1918).1 Prior to that Kraus was only known to me by means of an epithet my university mentor was fond of citing: “Why does a man write? Because he does not have enough courage not to”.  I found the original quote in German later, which could be given a slightly different interpretation. However, the point is essentially the same: while writing is a rational act, the decision to write is not necessarily rational.

At the end of nearly 20 weeks since the first barrage of news from Wuhan, China, and the first month of the state of siege proclaimed through most of the European Union, I have addressed myself2 to the current condition some nine times in prose and verse to the so-called corona virus pandemic. As I follow the published and broadcast traces in the West, which describe and/or define the present very unsatisfactory conditions, I keep asking myself if there is really any point to saying more.

My focus has been on the character of the response, its proportionality, but also its legitimacy. From the beginning I have argued that the origin of the virus known as SARS-CoV-2 and the immediate mechanisms of the outbreak are positively deniable and therefore ought not to be the focus of too much debate. It is hard but not impossible to argue that this was a natural catastrophe, perhaps caused by “global warming”. However, I believed and still believe that the focus on the origin of the outbreak and even the details of the disease, known as covid-2019, while in a microcosmic way relevant, on the whole are minor issues. The reason is simple: what needs to be addressed is the global context in which the phenomenon of the “corona virus” has become the key public policy and health issue worldwide—apparently to the exclusion of all else—and the means by which this issue is handled and not least of which by whom?

I have also argued that there is a fundamental difference between the events in China and those in the EU and the US. Therefore simple comparisons between the action of the Chinese government and the reactions of the Western governments, singularly or collectively, do not add much to understanding the crisis. Finally I have argued that this is not a medical crisis but a political crisis.

There is no need to repeat those arguments and why I made them here.

However, in the context of the Easter holiday, a feast which for centuries was the core religious festival of Christendom, not only were the celebrations virtually prohibited, a campaign was apparently begun, or to use the corporate jargon for such an event “kicked-off”.

Prior to the near universal proclamation of the state of siege throughout the EU, there were intimations that the closures—especially of schools and universities—would probably only continue until the end of the Easter recess. In other words, one to two weeks after the Easter holiday. I say intimated because I know of no official pronouncements that the closures would end on any particular day. Since there was no public parliamentary debate and no other conventional public procedure for deciding the terms of the state of siege; e.g., according to what criteria it would lapse or be raised, the credibility of such conjecture was based wholly on a common sense approach. No later than the end of Easter recess people would have to return to work because there are simply no alternatives

The first week after Easter has come to an end and there is little sign of any end to the closures, although some EU members have announced limited and tentative returns to ordinary business and in Sweden, for example, the regime has already been superficially relaxed.

China, where this virus was first detected and the illnesses first reported, has begun to re-open its business and public institutions if in a guarded way.

Meanwhile if reports from the US are to be believed the pandemic has hit very hard in a country that has virtually no concept of public health worthy of the name.

This has given the permanent anti-Trump faction in the US another reason to continue their campaign after the attempt to ram an impeachment and removal through the US Congress failed last year. Now the man who is Vladimir Putin’s right hand in the W**** House is also the cause of a virtually hopeless corona crisis in the Land of Opportunity.

Throughout the great cataclysm, all sorts of questions are asked about the disease, the symptoms, the treatments, the risks, and the responses. Accusations and counter-accusations are fired among those who claim authority over the battlefield/battlespace and us. Those authorities claim the exclusive right to define what actions or omissions caused our current condition and what should be done to change it—presumably by ending the crisis.

Yet careful attention to those with the most access to the public, via mass media and its derivatives, shows that there is no policy for ending the crisis either.

Public debate is staged to focus on the following topics:

  1. Blame for the outbreak and its pandemic quality
  2. The putative risks, including lethality of the virus
  3. Measures to restrain or prevent spread of the virus
  4. Responsibility for formulating, promulgating and enforcing measures
  5. What will happen to the economy in the short-term and long-term?

Leaving aside the dispute between the Americans or the British about China’s liability for the pandemic, there are those who, having failed to impeach Donald Trump, now blame him either for the virus or for its apparent catastrophic spread in the USA. There has also been an on-going debate about the competency or the adequacy of the actions taken by government agencies, either to detect and warn or to communicate and organise and implement counter-measures.

Very slowly but hardly at a volume that would threaten the present regimes, some people are even discussing the failure to respond to previous warnings about the general state of the healthcare system. Yet much of this critique is only directed toward the emergency management capabilities. A fundamental challenge to thirty-plus years of anti-social privatisation and commercialisation of the public health sector for private profit is still largely suppressed, to the extent it has been made at all.

Beyond the conventional mass media; i.e., television, radio, print, which constitutes an amplifier for official government and corporate opinion, there are debates, which range from repetitions of the mass media gossip to name-calling and, of course, the dreaded field of “conspiracy” chatter.

Before going any further let us be clear about one thing.

Contrary to what is often preached in conventional mass media and taught half-heartedly in schools, virtually all serious decision-making is secretive; i.e., conducted out of public view. Naturally almost all business (corporate) decisions are taken secretly by management and announced once they have been taken. The same is generally true for all governmental operations, especially in a society that values business practices more than democratic ones. The government in a parliamentary system may occasionally lose a division or plenary vote. However, the plenary session is not where the bills are drafted or chosen for decision. All of these “democratic” preparations are taken in meetings from which the general public is excluded, but those with a special interest in the acts to be adopted are explicitly included.

This is no more clearly the case than now when most of the European Union is subject to siege regulations that were never debated in public and for which no democratic regulation is provided, especially to provide an end to it all.

Hence those who read further and feel their knee tensions rising, waiting to jerk at any moment with the expletive “conspiracy theory” should bear the foregoing in mind. The controversies found on all sorts of websites and in chat groups are not about whether there are conspiracies (those who do not use the word avoid it out of cowardice or ignorance) but what is the nature and content of the conspiracy or conspiracies that substitute for public health policy and democratic decision-making in the current crisis?

Civil affairs and civic action

We are given two excuses for tolerating an abrogation or suspension of what few democratic processes and civil privileges the citizenry enjoys. These are war and natural disaster. The reason for these exceptions is supposed to be that urgency requires speedy and concentrated action and democratic processes would be too slow or civil privileges would impede efficient action. A banal example but appropriate given the view our rulers have of us is that if a child is about to run into the street where an oncoming truck would hit and injure or kill the child, then it is unreasonable to expect that a discussion precede the command, stop! and the action to restrain the child. So our governments tell us that when an emergency is declared we revert to childhood and therefore forfeit our civil privileges and democratic processes until those governments have declared the emergency or the armed hostilities to be ended.

When the outbreak of the corona virus was announced in the Western mass media with suspicious immediacy in December last, the initial message was simply: yellow peril. China has generated another disease and the world must protect itself from the Chinese infection. Actions around the world were directed at the enemy virus from Asia and its known and secret (unknown) carriers. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) first announced a cautious warning, reiterated by mouthpieces of the European Union.

However, by mid-January cases began to appear that could not be obviously linked to the Wuhan outbreak, in Europe and then in North America.3 Once infections had been announced in Italy, Spain, Germany, and more or less throughout the EU—with Italy apparently most affected—one head of state or government after another proclaimed a state of emergency. The WHO changed its designation of the virus to a “pandemic”. From that point on the remaining trappings of democratic processes were aborted throughout the European Union and decrees were issued of various severity confining the population to barracks or house arrest, closing small and medium-sized enterprises, schools and universities, cultural and sports venues, in short any place larger than a toilet cubicle. The basis for these decrees was not any legislation adopted in plenary session. Instead it has been asserted that these measures are justified on the basis of public health or medical expertise.

In fact, the dominant narrative is that the entire state of siege/emergency is governed by the scientific imperatives prescribed by public health or medical experts.

Thus much of the debate in the secondary media—the web—has focused on the reliability, accuracy, and completeness of the medical/public health expertise.

More radical debate actually questions the integrity of the expertise and the decisions taken based on it. These debates are obstructed not only in the web but also in the conventional mass media by apparent facticity of the disease as the “frontline” physicians confront it. In other words, attempts to examine the public health and medical expertise upon which government decisions are ostensibly based are answered by the rigorous insistence that all the hospitals and all the doctors and all the deaths reported verify the fundamental seriousness of the situation. Hence any detailed examination of government policy and action is secondary to “stopping the enemy advance!”

However, the information from the “frontline” only appears more factual than the statements made by high officials. No doubt there is hard work being done in all sorts of hospitals and clinics confronting cases of illness. It would be a mistake, however, to take reports from the front at face value. The modern medical profession, despite traditional imagery, is largely an industrial process organised by personnel whose training is more akin to that of soldiers than healers. Beginning with the selection process and proceeding through every stage of medical education, the modern physician is drilled and exercised like an infantry recruit. The modern hospital is a factory and factory organisation and management prevail: more or less strict hierarchies from overworked, underpaid and abused nursing staff to slightly better paid junior physicians whose status as subalterns makes them sacrificial labour until they are promoted or escape to private practice, where they become distributors for the pharmaceutical or medical engineering industries. It can be no wonder then that anonymous reports circulate by hospital physicians that they have essentially forged death certificates to inflate the mortality statistics for corona virus. Moreover there can be no doubt that an employed physician, like the employee in every other factory, is constrained to see what his company teaches or tells him to see. Even without such reports, however, the details from the “front” are filtered through every level of command before they reach the public. Since the medical profession is also governed by a number of overlapping regulations, including patient privacy, disciplinary and departmental guidelines and catalogued diagnostic and therapeutic rules, the raw data is useless until analysed taking all those filters into account. Therein lies the capacity for deception—not necessarily by the practitioner, but by the medical organisation itself with its claims to exclusive jurisdiction over human healthcare.

Beyond that, however, the active agencies and their mouthpieces could be called paramedical or even paramilitary. These are the bureaucratic departments and agencies at local, national and international level where public health or medical policy is made and implemented. Once one leaves the frontline, where doctor, nurse, and patient are engaged, the route back to the population at large is through a huge command structure, each with its own peculiar interest and perspective of the war being fought. There are many but the most important ones in this global war on the virus or GWOV have become the WHO and the US CDC.

Both of these organisations are presented in the mass media, and by the government officials in charge of the war effort, as if they were healthcare or medical institutions. The WHO is a United Nations body. The World Health Assembly, a kind of General Assembly of world health ministers, representing individual countries—like the General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City—meets regularly to consider the health issues on a worldwide basis. The WHO is the equivalent of the Secretariat of the UN. Hence the head of the WHO secretariat is something like the Secretary-General of the UN—in other words, a member of the international civil service bureaucracy. Like the UN Secretary-General, the head of the WHO secretariat is a politician raised by those who have the most power in the World Health Assembly to this high office, often enough as a reward for (political) services rendered. The World Health Organisation is an ordinary bureaucracy that just happens to administer programs defined within the agenda of the World Health Assembly. But like the UN Secretariat it is dependent on the member contributions and donations for its budget. And like the UN Secretariat, especially since 1980, the WHO only implements the programs for which it receives funding.4 In line with contemporary economic orthodoxy this has meant that the UN organisations, including the WHO, are encouraged to accept private (corporate/foundation) funding in lieu of appropriations from member-states.

The US CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were originally founded as the Office of National Defence Malaria Control in 1946. The control of malaria was essentially an element of US imperial operations since malaria was not a major health problem in the continental US. Malaria infection became a chronic problem for the Panama Canal Zone, US invasions or occupations in Central America, the US Pacific protectorates, like the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the expansion of imperial operations in the Pacific basin, especially Asia.

Since the US devoted most of its World War II military effort to conquering the Pacific and suborning Japan, malaria became a serious problem exceeding the relatively small number of cases from Western hemisphere operations. In 1992 the activities and programs that had accumulated over the years were consolidated in the present organisation, located near Atlanta, Georgia.

The CDC is presented as a healthcare agency and is even assigned within the US Department of Health and Human Services. This maintains the general impression that it is a civilian public health service.5

As the drama of corona virus unfolded, the CDC, together with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), claimed the authority over the crisis, at least on the technical side. Soon controversy arose about whether the CDC recognised the crisis, reacted properly or rapidly enough; communicated to the responsible authorities; e.g., the POTUS, true and accurate information. As already mentioned Trump opponents try to exploit this controversy to show somehow that Trump is to blame for any failures. All of this controversy is really distraction. It presumes that the agencies involved actually are responding as public health services in the interest of public health; e.g., stopping the spread of the virus and/or remedying its consequences.

Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification

The CDC is still part of the military establishment, despite the fact that it is formally under the US Department of Health and Human Services. It is not unusual to place military organisations within civilian hierarchies for cover. Its military mission is to provide protection to the war fighters against communicable diseases and biological agents that could impair their fighting capacity. It is also charged with research into biological weapons, ostensibly for defensive purposes. However, given that the US regime has been the world’s leader in the offensive use of biological weapons, it is safe to say that the research is at best to protect the US from damage by its own weaponry.6  The same can be said for the National Institutes of Health. In fact, all of the so-called public health institutions created by the US regime originated in the military. The US Public Health Service is a part of the national defence establishment and one of the uniformed services (the technical term for the armed forces in the US).

When officers of the CDC or NIH pose as disease prevention agents one has to engage in mental imaging and picture a guy like Fauci in the uniform of USA Special Forces at Fort Bragg, talking to the Press about “civic action”, surrounded by people who by night command death squads. Then one can get an approximate emotional reaction to what CDC’s true function is and always has been.

Recruiting health experts for overseas

The CDC especially is a civil affairs activity engaged in what the military calls “civic action”. “Civil affairs” means in US Army doctrine the means by which the army competes to win the population. Civil affairs personnel are trained in special operations because civil affairs and civic action involve psychological warfare as well as the implementation of programs with ostensibly civilian benefits. As a civil affairs activity, the CDC conducts civic action programs that look like disease prevention or other public health work but are based on military objectives—control over the population. Civil affairs operations are intimately linked to counter-insurgency—the military conduct of unconventional warfare (aka terror) against potential threats or enemies among the civilian population.

Another important aspect of the CDC mission is vaccination. Vaccination is the industrial process for immunization. If one thinks of vaccination as a civilian activity it seems quite a conventional act. Most of us can recall getting our shots at school as children. However, in a military context vaccination is also ideological. In Vietnam the US deployed vaccination as a means to immunize the population against communism. There were two kinds of vaccination. One was the injection given to the arm by a medical officer or an enlisted man from the medical corps. The other was the vaccination administered at night by death squads who went into villages to capture or kill the communists infecting the villages.

Civil affairs campaigns comprise the organisation and conduct of civic action operations intended to immunize the population from the enemy and thus win it for the friendly forces. This process is also known as pacification.

In Southeast Asia, quarantine was also applied for pacification. The quarantine program was called the strategic hamlet system. The military deployed to an area with several villages and relocated the villagers in compounds which they helped build and equip. Villagers were trained and equipped to defend them from the enemy; i.e., the communists. The villages were concentrated—but one did not want to call them concentration camps—so that surveillance would be easier and to facilitate the use of free fire zones. All healthy villagers were located in a strategic hamlet; therefore, anyone else must be a communist pathogen to be neutralised. Since the villagers were deprived of their normal means of income and support, the civil affairs authorities had to provide benefits for the hamlet inhabitants.

If careful consideration is given to the policies recommended through the CDC and WHO the similarities to the underlying strategy of pacification will become apparent. It should not surprise anyone that people whose primary activity is the support of civil-military operations should direct governments to implement policies and programs based on those doctrines.

This is a major source of deception by the governments of the EU and the US. Medical or public health cover is given to what is essentially a global pacification campaign. The so-called “lockdown”, despite the penitentiary origin of the term, is much better understood as a huge, modified strategic hamlet program. Even the recent decision to give immediate subsidies to Europe’s “displaced peasantry” is part of the pacification strategy.

This, of course, raises the most emotional question: what is the strategic objective of the accelerated pacification against the corona virus?

In the mainstream, that is to say conventional mass media, official pronouncements and the vast majority of commentary detectable, the strategy is just to stop the virus spreading and prevent deaths due to the virus. On its face that would seem like a plausible and attainable if as yet unscheduled objective. To reach this objective the accelerated pacification campaign is supposed to isolate the population from the virus, leaving the field clear for counter-virus operations. At some point the public health services will only have some mopping up operations to perform and then we will be able to return to our villages with no corona around.

In fact, that is a ridiculous plan on its face as more critical and more sinister people have already observed.

It is ridiculous because there is simply no way to assure that another virus will not come along and cause a similar outbreak. Or just as bad, the virus could be defeated and purged from one part of the world but re-enter from some part of the world not sufficiently pacified.

Of course, there has been speculation about this problem. Slowly people are being told—if they did not notice—that pacification creates a new environment in which vigilance will enjoy higher priority than in the past.

The conventional mass media and all the mouthpieces for our governments have as if in chorus begun to advise us all: “the world has changed since corona”. Where have we heard that before? Wasn’t that in September many years ago?

Again we appear to be standing before the entry to a new era, the era after corona. Will we be able to discuss this within our old democratic processes and using our traditional civil privileges? Will the siege or emergency be lifted before we enter this new era?

Easter is traditionally a festival of renewal. It is the feast of the resurrection in Christian mythology. Many people in Europe wished that Easter also had brought an end to the state of siege. Some countries like Sweden and Austria have indeed announced a relaxation of the hamlet rules, to allow the peasantry back in their fields so to speak (if only because subsidising them under arrest is prohibitively expensive).

Instead Easter was the kick-off of a campaign by the founder of the Microsoft monopoly and co-founder with his spouse of one of the world’s richest corporate tax shelters, also called a foundation. The principal shareholder and one of the richest individuals on the planet appeared in Germany and in Britain in televised interviews conducted by the state broadcasters, ARD in Germany and BBC in the Great Britain. The interviewers provided a platform for the funder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to discuss his plans for the world after corona.

In the BBC Breakfast interview Mr Gates made some interesting points:

1) He called himself a health expert.

2) He described the process by which the vaccines will have to be approved faster than normal and distributed to everyone.

3) He also assumes that there will be insufficient quantities of whatever vaccine is developed.

4) He explained that he believes that there is really no end to the risk. Although developed countries may succeed in controlling and eliminating the virus with their superior infrastructure, the developing countries, which lack all that capacity, could remain sources from which the virus could re-enter the virus-free countries.

What is one to make of these assertions?

  1. a) By any conventional understanding of the term he is not a health expert—although he may employ people who are.
  2. b) Now that is a fairly common observation by those who have heard him speak. However, what he explained in the interview was, for example, that factories producing the vaccine will be in one place and the science will be in another place. What this reveals is the extent to which the corporate structure and intellectual property rights are already established for this vaccine monopoly. Such a structure would make no sense in a public service or genuinely public health-oriented approach. It only makes sense in terms of maximising corporate income streams — which after all is Mr Gates primary interest in life.

What is rather difficult to grasp from the public statements is just how some of this fits together. Robert Kennedy Jr. has gone very far toward showing that the Gates foundation has been conducting illegal and unethical testing in poor parts of the world where the authorities can be bought or where testing can be performed under cover of various activities that appear legitimate or legal.

  1. c) Scarcity, of course, is another factor in monopoly pricing.
  2. d) Therefore it will be necessary to maintain pacification measures in the core and intervene in poor countries to help them defeat the enemy or prevent the enemy from spreading from their countries to other parts of the world.

However, if Mr Gates is not really a health expert and actually has no capacity to produce vaccinations why is he speaking as if he were going to guide us all to the resurrection?

Mr Gates proposes that the way into the future beyond corona is vaccination. In other words he follows and promotes the strategy for which the CDC and the other elements of civil-military operations were created.

Robert Kennedy Jr., a vocal critic of vaccination policies and a critic of the Gates Foundation, has given some hints as to why. Namely, the CDC — a military organisation exempt from most FDA regulation — has become the main agency for vaccination and the vaccination business. The CDC does not have to perform as much testing for safety as is normally required by law. Its exemptions for military expediency make it a wonderful conduit for experimental substances; vaccines are not considered medicine within the scope of US law. Many of CDC’s high officers are directly tied to the vaccination industry. Mr Kennedy is not alone is producing evidence that the Gates Foundation actively promoted and participated in vaccination testing schemes in India and throughout Africa which were condemned as war crimes when performed by German authorities during WWII.7 The revolving door at the Pentagon, where high-ranking military officers become agents and directors for the major arms manufacturers while civilian offices are given to people who worked in those companies that make the weapons the regime buys, is infamous. If the weapons manufacturers own the conventional military, then the chemical and drug companies own the biological warfare divisions. Past directors of CDC sat or sit on the boards of major vaccination manufacturers.8

We sell problems, not solutions

That is one reason why there is a pandemic– this gives the CDC a role it would not otherwise have to obtain vaccinations and order their use.

Now permit a slight diversion: When automobile production in the US started to become a mass market, Standard Oil began to search for ways to strengthen its control over the automobile fuel market. The gasoline engine was promoted over the diesel engine also because gasoline could be sold at a higher price than diesel fuel. However, DuPont and Standard came up with an idea, which for many years gave Standard an edge in the gasoline market. Gasoline could not be patented which would have increased Rockefeller’s monopoly income. So DuPont developed tetraethyl lead as a fuel additive. This lead compound was sold as a so-called “anti-knocking” compound that would make fuel burn more evenly in gasoline engines. DuPont and Standard Oil had already combined to buy most of the small car and truck manufacturers and create General Motors (mergers underwritten by Morgan, like US Steel or General Electric etc.) GM became the single-biggest maker of automobile engines and it prescribed ethyl gasoline for its cars and trucks. DuPont made profits on the poisonous lead compound — prohibited some 60 years later in the US — Standard had an exclusive license to the lead compound and advertised heavily (with the help of GM) — to convince the public that gasoline without lead was inferior. The fact that the lead actually damaged the motors was ignored because damaged motors meant buying new cars. So GM profited from the deal too.

Now let us look at the vaccination business. For decades vaccinations were produced using an ethyl mercury compound patented by Ely Lilly.9  This compound was eventually prohibited in most medicinal uses because the ethyl mercury was found to be a very poisonous neurotoxin. However, it continued to be used in vaccines because the responsible agency for vaccines was none other than the CDC. Allegedly this ethyl mercury compound is a valuable preservative enhancing the shelf life of the vaccine. One can assume, however, that due to the patent and the expense of producing the additive, it makes vaccines more expensive but also more exclusive since competitors have to produce a vaccine with this patented additive (either paying license fees for the right or buying the technology to produce something like it for their own vaccine preparations).

In short a key element in making a chemical or biological product suitable for monopoly is to introduce something, which need not be relevant at all to the active agent, but in combination makes the product subject to patent or cost-intensive protection for the manufacturer.

Mr Gates will participate in a couple or triangle with a pharmaceutical producer, a biotech or even distribution oligopolist and himself as the interface. Years later it was revealed that in more than a few cases GM bribed officials and bought public transport infrastructure to demolish it in favour of roads for cars and trucks. Today there is lots of money to buy officials worldwide and destroy alternatives to the vaccination industry.

Much of the groundwork has already been done. The Gates road show after Easter advocates continuation of the siege until his business model is positioned for launch.

The “corona virus” did not appear with a China incident in Wuhan. This kind of special operation was certainly at least 24 months in the planning — very likely already under Obama in his “Pivot to Asia” programme. In fact, Mr Gates is proud to admit that he gave a speech in 2015 warning that there is risk of a global pandemic. In his BBC interview he alluded to a series of exercises leading up to what could be called the rollout in October last.10

Body count and anti-c and counter-insurgency doctrine

To understand the subtext of the Easter road show, I believe it is helpful to remember some immortal truths held by the US elite to be self-evident. One of these is white supremacy. That is the legal and social construction of a racial myth, which combines what is actually a very diverse population into a fictive unity usually called “white” but often only detectable by minimal yet socially and politically enforced caste distinctions. The origins of this white supremacy —as opposed to vulgar racism have been elaborated elsewhere.11

The other self-evident truth is better called anti-communism than capitalism. American anti-communism is an empty category into which all organised challenges to the ruling oligarchy are put. That is why it has always been senseless to deny being a communist in the US; e.g., a member of a communist party. To be accused of communism is sufficient proof that one is a communist.12 The only choice one has is to recant and be vaccinated. Anti-communism also means a constant campaign of vigilance and vaccination. People who come to the US to live have to declare that they “are not, nor ever have been” infected by communism.

In the war against communism, whether in the Philippines, Vietnam, or Central America, the supreme objective was to eradicate communism, kill the virus. When the patrols returned they had to prove they were doing their job.

During the US war against Vietnam one of the “key performance indicators” was the “body count”: how many communists had been killed. One must understand that the overall US strategy for establishing an independent Republic of Vietnam (RVN) was Vietnamese minus communists — number of South Vietnamese. The concept of Vietnamese in terms of the Geneva accords was not recognised by the US. So the CIA — capitalism’s invisible army — created a number of programs for “making RVN by purging it of anyone not RVN; i.e., communist.

Anti-C: Taking care of “Charlie”

I think we can better understand Mr Gates if we think of anti-corona and anti-communism as the same kind of business. Let’s call it anti-c. It does not matter that communism is not a biological agent. The concept for fighting both is the same. In fact, when he tells the BBC interviewer of the risk that the underdeveloped countries could re-infect the rich countries he is using the same template as all those counter-insurgency warriors before him: the poor have to be defended from contamination by communism. Only now they have to be protected from corona. But is corona really just a virus?

Why are the people who are running the anti-c operations all paramilitary or military bureaucrats? (Mr Trump’s behaviour seems incoherent because he is not a soldier or a career bureaucrat like every other POTUS before him).13 Is this because as a small segment of the vocal and literate public has been saying for years: that the most profitable medical product line is vaccination (just as heroin is the most profitable sister business)? There are already indications that the anti- c campaign has led to “strings of ears” being delivered to the high command as evidence of the numbers of c-targets neutralised. Just as in Vietnam, numbers count. The company and field grade officers are expected to show progress and joint chiefs want to hear “that there is light at the end of the tunnel”.

Keeping people healthy, by means of pure food and drinks, safe working conditions, clean air and water, time for rest and recreation and—when needed affordable health care—are even by Mr Gates admission, not profitable activities for business. Profits lie in producing cheaply (with tax subsidies or inferior inputs) and selling at the highest possible price. This has always been the philosophy of Mr Gates as it was for his idol John D. Rockefeller. That means selling problems, not solutions.

Until recently several counter-insurgency programs had been in place; e.g., GWOT was the main one. At the same time there were continued programs against Cuba, Venezuela, rest of South America, operation in Africa against China, Ukraine (where Germany took the point using US money). The 2008 crash tightened control over financial markets. The war against Syria and the much earlier war to destroy Yugoslavia are all cut from the same anti-c cloth.

However, for a variety of reasons mainly focused in the exhaustion of the NATO internal reserves (both financial and military), there was finally the need for reintroducing a systems approach to coordinate and optimize the massive number of programs.

Aside from the personal and corporate profit streams that are the aim of any aggressive war (whether against states or peoples), there is the organisational problem for a small elite to impose power on numerically superior forces.

What led to the lockdown in the West? After several attacks on the Chinese economy, particularly targeting health and food supplies, failed (Just as they have failed in Cuba!! where there is no doubt that attacks took place), it was necessary not only to cover US tracks but also to systematise the management of all anti-c programs. At the same time these are not just anti-c but anti-p, anti-population, that is. The portion of the population that is not needed for the 1% is surplus. The economic consequences for the vast majority of people in Europe and North America cannot be a surprise. It is impossible that the decisions were prepared and implemented without knowing the short-term and long-term results. This is all the more reason for a counter-insurgency strategy of the sort described here. Population control will be essential for those who own most of the wealth in the West. Of course, there have to be systems to guard that 1% from internal and external threats.

For many readers this may seem quite extreme but there is a precedent. In 1945, Dwight Eisenhower, the liberal-left’s favourite US general, organised the mass incarceration of thousands of Germans, POWs and civilians in camps within the US zone of occupation. Thousands died of starvation, disease and exposure in US prison camps. One explanation offered was Ike’s supposed hatred of Germans. However, there is a far more damning and systematic reason for his actions. After the massive defeat of Germany by the Red Army, there was real fear among the leaders of the US regime and its military that a revolution of the left could occur like in 1918 at the end of the Great War. Then it had been possible for elements of the German army (with Allied financing) to suppress the 1918 revolution. However, in 1945 the Red Army was in Berlin. The US had every reason to fear that a communist-led revolution would have Red Army support and succeed. Taking no chances, Eisenhower fenced in as many Germans as he could, declared them “disarmed enemy” and thus removed them from PoW protection under international law, and let them die. This was very successfully concealed until a Canadian journalist exposed the administrative mass murder.14

The lockdown is really the outward condition for purging the West of any obstacles to its war against Russia and China. In Vietnam this was called “accelerated pacification”. The so-called Phoenix program was a plan to integrate all the anti-c measures into a single program—which was then computerised to become what Jeff Stein called “computerised assassination”.15 The technology was not as developed as it is now nor was the concept fully ripe. In fact, it has taken several mutations before the anti-c virus was ripe for deployment. In 2015 the concept mutated from GWOT to GWOV. If we are to believe him, the global vaccination is the culmination of Mr Gates thought, the jewel in the crown of his philanthropy. Mr Gates got his big business break cooperating with IBM, whose German subsidiary supplied data processing machines for concentration camps. Wearing this crown he and his kind will guide us all into the future. As we are surrounded by the panic in the last days of humanity, we can trust this man who appears quite thoughtful (yet seems to have difficulty holding a coffee mug) to lead us.

The Thinker is usually seen in isolation. Alone his meditative posture suggests something positive. It elicits our sympathy for calm reflection, if not intellect. But the naked man seated in contemplation must be seen in the context of Auguste Rodin’s entire work, a massive set of doors. Rodin was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s monumental poem. The Divine Comedy is composed of three parts, Paradiso, Purgatorio and, of course, Inferno; i.e., Hell. The massive work into which Rodin put his Thinker was just over the entrance to the first circle. He called his sculpture The Gates of Hell.

  1. Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Humanity  (1926).
  2. Part 1: “I am not a Journalist: Against journalistic privilege and for Mr Julian Assange“,  March 12, 2020; Part 2: “Viruses, Real and Virtual“, March 15th, 2020; and  Part 3: “I am not a war correspondent either“, April 11, 2020.
  3. See Larry Romanoff, for example.
  4. Although the USA, as the primary contributor to the United Nations since its founding, has always pressed the organisation to act in accordance with US regime policy. When Ronald Reagan was made POTUS in 1980, the US government announced a strict, public policy of only funding the UN activities that conform to US policies and actively refusing or eliminating funding for programs that did not conform to US policies. This principle has been maintained by the US regime for all its United Nations contributions since then. That principle has also been applied to the WHO.
  5. J. Edgar Hoover liked to portray the FBI as a crime-fighting organisation and was very successful at constructing this myth. The fact, however, is that Hoover was a US “Gestapo” chief and the FBI was founded as a political warfare force under Justice Department cover. People who do not know the history of the NSDAP regime may be surprised to know that the German Geheime Staatspolizei also had a criminal investigation division that pursued undercover what would normally be called “crime”; e.g., theft, murder, embezzlement, fraud, assault etc. However, its main job– like that of the FBI– was to pursue the regime’s opponents or dissidents and enforce the covert policies of the regime.
  6. Names are also forms of deception. The official name for the Harbin, China laboratories and prison compound used by Imperial Japanese Army Detachment 731 for its biological and chemical warfare experiments was the “Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department”.
  7. However, in the Pacific, the Japanese military who conducted biological and chemical tests on prisoners (e.g. Detachment 731) were given immunity and secretly employed by the US regime to help create its post-war biological weapons capabilities.
  8. CDC Website, past directors. A biography check going back at least 40 years shows that nearly all the CDC directors worked for or sat on the boards of major pharmaceutical manufacturers. The connection between CDC and Emory University is particularly pernicious. The university’s Rollins School of Public Health was endowed by the Rollins family—who made their fortune in pest control. One could be forgiven for thinking of Zykon B. Emory University runs one of the largest healthcare/hospital systems in Georgia, offering lots of research potential as well as throughput for CDC work product.
  9. Ely Lilly was an active producer of agents used by the CIA during the course of its MKUltra program. There is at least circumstantial evidence that this cooperation was at high level in the agency since GHW Bush became a member of the company’s board when he left his post as head of the CIA. Ely Lilly also launched one of the first commercial anti-depressant medications, PROZAC, developed about the same time that Bush was CIA director. The CIA and DEA have both been intricately involved in support of corporate pharmaceutical interests worldwide. See Douglas Valentine, The Strength of the Pack (2010) and The Strength of the Wolf (2004).
  10. Event 201 held at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  11. Gerald Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  12. This is a principle common with the Roman Catholic Inquisition. The only guideline the Holy Inquisition had to follow was anything was permitted “in the interest of the Faith”, anti-communism follows a similar rule but “in the interest of national security”.
  13. In fact, most people react negatively to Trump because they are already subconsciously trained to accept fascist bureaucrats as legitimate managers. They also have “herd immunity” to democracy in any form. This is regardless of whether one agrees with Trump’s actions or not. His personal behaviour in office is actually trivial.
  14. James Bacque, Other Losses (1989).
  15. In Michael McClear, Spooks and Cowboys, Gooks and Grunts (1975).