The Current Protests In China Are A Pivotal Moment in History
An Introduction to Economic Feudalism; the Force That Shapes Our Lives and The Practice of Medicine
I believe many of the largest failures of the U.S. empire have arisen as a consequence of our foreign policy. In many other empires such as the British Empire, subjects were required to live in a colony for years before they could assume an administrative role, whereas the U.S. has held a long-standing perspective that American diplomats should not immerse themselves within another culture as they might get corrupted by it, "go native,” and potentially chose the interests of the colony over that of the empire.
Because of this deliberate ignorance, the United States has often been profoundly ignorant of how things work in other countries and as a result, has had countless foreign policy debacles which have cost the nation dearly. China is one such country, and despite decades of close involvement, both our leaders and academics still understand very little about its culture. As a result, we have made numerous foreign policy blunders there that have adversely affected the United States' interests.
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It is thus quite rare for me to read accurate geopolitical commentary on China. Recently everyone’s favorite cat published a piece on the protests in China. I was struck by both the bravery of this piece and the accuracy of what was described. Before we go any further, I would ask that you read this (relatively brief) piece as it creates the context for the rest of this article.
For full disclosure, I have discussed the events described above with my friends in China, and while I know most of this is occurring, I do not know if they are happening at the scale currently being suggested in the Western media as these events are being censored in the Chinese media my friends are exposed to. However, even if the scale is smaller than what is being implied, the events are still unprecedented for China.
A Brief History of China
Note: China has one of my favorite cultures and people (although like many, I have not visited since COVID-19 started), so this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart.
One of the major challenges with growing up in any single culture is that it habituates you to assume that the norms you follow are universal. For example, as Westerners, we assume that personal liberties, basic human rights, and democratic governance are just the way things are. The reality is that for most of human history, and in much of the world now, this is not at all how things work (e.g. most societies have been slave states). Rather, you are expected to obey the government, and if you challenge it, that is grounds for severe punishment or death.
China’s history has been defined by having "good" and "bad" emperors, and violent transitions between dynasties. The general perspective in China has been that the greatest problems emerged during transitions of governance rather than from an incompetent or tyrannical leader, so there is a general cultural bias to support bad dynasties rather than risk the anarchy which follows their dissolution.
Note: Although I am ardently opposed to tyrannical governments, I must also acknowledge that the anarchy which follows the collapse of a government is in almost all cases much worse than the prior government (this is a very difficult concept to grasp unless you’ve witnessed it first-hand), and except for the American Revolution (due to the constitutional rights which followed it), I cannot name a revolution that resulted in a better government than that which preceded it. For these reasons, I somewhat sympathize with the Chinese perspective.
Because of this collectivist mindset which prioritizes the strength of the nation over individual well-being, large-scale human rights abuses frequently occur (the Cultural Revolution, an initiative that sought to purge China’s previous culture, I believe was the most horrific event in human history). Dissidents within China are thus viewed as unacceptable because the interests of the state must always be supported.
Likewise, China’s respect for the human rights of citizens outside its empire is even smaller. Like many other infamous empires throughout history, China has spent decades committing human rights abuses to exploit its colonial regions—the story of what happened in Tibet to access its mineral wealth is an immense but relatively unknown tragedy, while the motivation of the Chinese to subjugate the Uyghurs is is to obtain their desperately needed petroleum resources and has received some attention in the media.
The best way I can describe the attitudes on these subjects were conveyed at a university round table discussion a friend participated in with a highly regarded Chinese academic. The professor stated the entire issue with Tibet was that simply China’s propaganda was not good enough and as a result foreigners were complaining about China’s actions.
China’s history has been defined by China fragmenting into states which are in conflict with each other and then gradually coming together as a single nation unified by a strong national government. The CCP represents the most recent dynasty to unify China, and they largely accomplished this by making an implicit deal with China’s population: they would economically develop the country and free China’s population from poverty (famines for example have been a common theme in China’s history) in return for the Chinese people relinquishing their freedoms to the government.
Although this might seem like a bad deal, it does offer advantages over the model we have in the United States where many are homeless or live in absolute poverty and cannot take care of themselves. Given the collectivist ethos of China, this deal was accepted by its people and although many “subversive” democratic influences exist in China which argue for Western human rights, the economic prosperity the CCP brought the country made most of the country support its government.
This calculus has changed in recent years for China because, like many parts of the global economy, China’s economy has become fundamentally unstable. The Chinese government is thus losing the ability to maintain the agreement it previously made with its citizens, which is allowing democratic activists arguing for human rights to gain a foothold in the country.
Although our society does not emphasize the importance of the past (thus making this a challenging concept to fully appreciate), historical fears hold incredible sway over the governments of many parts of the world. In China’s case, there is an existential terror within the national government of China that it may again fragment into separate states, and addressing this fear is a priority that takes precedence over almost everything else. Similarly, China holds a great deal of resentment towards the European colonial powers because their militaries flooded China with opium (which was very damaging to the country) and effectively suppressed their resistance against the policies. The anger over these events and fear of this happening again inspired the Cultural Revolution (as the dictator who orchestrated this genocide believed China clinging to its culture made it weak enough to be a colonial vassal), and has been one of the motivating factors behind China’s present imperialistic posturing.
Note: As somewhat of a parallel, the history of Europe is rife with war, and due to its geography, Ukraine has always been the traditional land route used to invade Russia. For this reason, many in Russia’s government view NATO’s encroachment in Ukraine as an existential threat that justifies an extremely costly war for the country and violating a pivotal 1994 agreement Russia had made to not invade Ukraine in return for Ukraine relinquishing its Soviet nuclear arsenal. Many such as Putin believes no NATO encroachment was promised to Russia, and as FOIA’d presidential correspondences show, the 1994 agreement was to a large extent predicated on American promises that NATO would not encroach upon Russia, all of which goes to show how immensely complex the politics behind bloodshed can be.
It is my belief that the fear of a national dissolution was a key motivating factor, if not the motivating factor for the lockdowns which first happened in Wuhan (e.g. welding people into their apartments) and gradually spread throughout the rest of the country (e.g. COVID-19 was used to end the protests against oppressive governmental policies in Hong Kong). Although the severity of COVID-19 has decreased since its early days and our ability to treat it has dramatically improved, the Chinese government has not stopped its lockdown policies; rather, they have been increased in tandem with increasing internal political instability.
For example, in the urban areas of China, you are now required to have a negative COVID-19 test every 1-3 days (depending on the current caseload; currently the testing is daily in the cities my friends live in). If you fail to do so, you are completely cut off from society (everything in China revolves around your phone so it is very easy to centrally control what someone can do), and China is actively building large numbers of concentration camps which—at least officially—are to quarantine (non-compliant) individuals deemed to be at risk of transmitting COVID-19. Many Chinese do not like this policy, but it has been embraced by the government, presumably so that political protest can be stifled as needed.
The current protests we are facing are a result of this system being used excessively. Things in China have now reached the point that many Chinese citizens are willing to risk relocation to a concentration camp (which is not a pretty subject to discuss) to protest what is happening (similarly many Iranians have recently been imprisoned or worse for protesting against the government). China’s government is predictably responding to this instability with even more heavy-handed tactics and initiating a downhill spiral of unsuccessful propaganda (which will be revisited later). As stated before, I believe this cycle is ultimately being initiated by China’s economic instability.
China’s present situation should make the absolute futility of our preferred method for managing COVID-19 apparent. Even with an elaborate system that tracks every (vaccinated) citizen, imposes draconian lockdowns at will, and tests on an almost daily basis, nothing can be done to contain the spread of COVID-19 and when the system is dialed up as high as it possibly can go, the existing government will break before the spread is stopped.
Conversely, if the model I and many others have advocated for (early treatment with repurposed off-patent medications) is used, a much better outcome is established for far lower costs with none of the severe societal strains the prevailing model creates. This suggests that the purpose of the Chinese model is not fighting COVID-19 but rather maintaining control since while in America corrupt interests can dictate government policy (which potentially implicate greed as the primary motivating factor), in China, the nationalist impulses of the government do not permit that.
Note: the immunity to corruption afforded to an unelected centralized government that prioritizes its self-interest rather than those of external profiteers (an issue I have discussed extensively with COVID-19) is an argument commonly used in non-democratic nations to argue against the long-term viability of our model of governance.
For most of human history, the lower class has lived in absolute poverty (and were often actual slaves), while the upper class greedily exploited them as much as possible. In most cases, the lower class was only provided with the bare minimum necessary for survival (because if they did not get this, they would ultimately produce less for the upper class), along with what was left over after the insatiable greed of the upper class was satisfied.
The common challenge that was encountered with this model was the amount of resources necessary to control the lower class (e.g., if you need 1 soldier to control 10 serfs, that is simply not sustainable). A variety of methods were explored by the political rulership to address this question (e.g., a popular approach has been to use a widespread religious ideology wherein its adherents become consumed with guilt so that they police themselves into compliance for you).
Over time, it was eventually concluded that the best option was to economically enslave the population because that way, people’s lust for money and the economy (which could be remotely adjusted) did the work for the rulership in place of an army and cost infinitely less on a per-capita basis to accomplish that goal. The story of the Civil War in turn provides an excellent way to illustrate this concept.
America was birthed at the transition point between an agrarian economic model (the original 1% were composed largely of plantation owners who owned many slaves) and an Industrial Revolution (which gave birth to the richest individuals in history whom I believe were largely responsible for shaping the current monopolistic structure of medicine today). The Civil War in turn was largely a conflict between these two economic models, overt slavery on plantations or de facto slavery from working all day long in factories.
Many progressives felt the solution to slavery was to automate the jobs slaves had previously performed so that there would no longer be an economic incentive to enslave people (similarly this is the vision many pushing for AI advocate to free workers from the long hours they are currently forced to work). One of the best examples was the cotton gin, whose inventor believed it would reduce the demand for slaves because it removed much of the work that slaves had previously had to do to produce cotton.
Unfortunately, this backfired. By making cotton cheaper, the demand for slaves to harvest it dramatically increased, ultimately prolonging the institution of slavery, which retained its economic viability and persisted until it was ended by the Civil War. Since that time, economic slavery has remained the preferred model as it allows the same outputs to be achieved, but without either the costs of policing the slaves or being responsible for their health and well-being (which was a major expense for slave owners).
One of the primary lenses I see the world through is "economic feudalism." Briefly, the Western rulership decided that mass economic enslavement and economic warfare was the preferential model by which to govern the world after World War II (this was largely planned out by the organizations which preceded the WEF). This need arose because World War II was far too unpredictable and destructive to the basic infrastructure necessary for producing the upper class’s wealth (people can be easily replaced, infrastructure is much more costly) and because of the unprecedented boom in wealth that America experienced after the war enriched the lower class enough that they were no longer compliant to the upper class’s economic slavery.
In the original feudal model, each king commanded many lords who each maintained an army. In addition to fighting wars as needed, each lord utilized their army on behalf of their monarch to exploit and control the serfs within their fiefdom (who had abhorrent living conditions and a complete lack of human rights, e.g. Droit du seigneur) so that they could generate wealth for the nation.
The feudal system began to be disrupted when the early European colonists and missionaries attempted to convert the Native Americans to their worldview, but instead had the opposite happen. A common complaint from leaders of the time including Benjamin Franklin was that when settlers were captured by Native Americans, they would “go native” and opt to remain with the tribe and its way of life, once offered the choice to leave.
In these tribes, the hierarchies that existed were voluntary and earned out of merit, respect, and wit rather than forced by birthright or military force. The Native American communities prioritized connected communal relations and viewed the European obsession with money (and hoarding rather than sharing your wealth) as a social poison that made everyone miserable and created the inequalities of the feudal system—a system which conditions one to view others solely as a means to making money rather than as fellow human beings. This is immensely corrosive to everyone involved.
This philosophy gained popularity with the serfs and intellectuals in Europe, and a good case can be made it initiated the Age of Enlightenment (which is where many basic civil liberties came from). However, as the cultural influence of the Native Americans upon non-natives was much closer in the USA, they had a much larger effect on the colonists, and I believe were ultimately responsible for imparting the value of liberty, individual rights, and rebellion from monarchistic rule into our culture.
In the economic feudalism model (which likely arose through a yearning by the upper class to reclaim the feudal status they lost), corporations replaced the role of lords. Corporations thus are now used as the armies which advance our national interests (multinational corporations do a lot of pretty messed up colonialist practices overseas but regardless of the crimes they commit domestically or abroad, like brutal generals of the past, are always supported by the government as they are needed to advance our national agenda). More importantly however, like the previous feudal lords, these corporate lords function as the means to enslave the domestic population.
To support this model, there has been a systematic effort in government (this kicked into gear during the Carter administration) to greatly increase the powers afforded to the major corporations (i.e. the corruption that allows them to control the political process with impunity and the many laws that afford them more legal rights than actual citizens). Simultaneously, there has also been a drive to impoverish the working class by dismantling the family unit, removing critical thinking from education, closing small businesses and outsourcing American manufacturing so that they are forced to toil all day long in the fields of the corporate workforce.
One of the less appreciated facets of this model is that the corporate “lords” have also been able to function as third parties which obscures who actually owns everything. In a recent article, I illustrated how six media conglomerates own almost every media outlet (which is why the same message is always rapidly disseminated on every single news network). Similarly, that same structure of ownership exists in nearly every industry, which in turn are all owned by two large hedge funds (whose ultimate ownership is private…).
As a result of these feudal economic policies, Americans have become much poorer. For example, consider that in the 50’s, a black high school dropout could make enough money working reasonable hours at a factory to buy a house and support a stay-at-home wife and family, whereas now, married and college-educated white couples both working full-time often cannot buy a home or afford to have children.
This has been a depressing trend for me to watch unfold decade by decade as the economic decline and shunting of wealth to the upper class has continually worsened (e.g. consider the current socioeconomic status of your friends from high school). The only exception I know of was a small reversal that happened during Trump’s presidency and was quickly reversed by the COVID-19 lockdowns (which ended up being one of the largest transfers of wealth from the lower and middle class to the upper class in history).
By moving the labor overseas, it made it possible to effectively recreate the institution of slavery (as workers in third-world sweatshops are paid almost nothing to spend their whole lives producing the goods first-world countries indulge themselves with) without many of the costs previously associated with the practice. This is why I believe very strongly in buying fair trade products when the items cannot be sourced domestically or from a nation that protects the living conditions of its workers.
For example, large numbers of people are forcefully enslaved to produce much of the shrimp that is consumed in first-world markets (the Guardian did a wonderful exposé on this immensely cruel industry). Although many stories exist of the abysmal conditions within Chinese factories, the most surreal examples that I ever came across were the “gold farms.” There, sweatshop workers and actual prisoners (after doing forced labor during the day) were forced to play World of Warcraft (an online game) for long hours to earn virtual currency in the game that could be sold on eBay and were beaten for failing to fulfill their quotas. Additionally, human trafficking (often for forced sexual exploitation) is a horrific problem globally (including within the United States), but is often invisible unless you directly work with its victims. For those wishing to learn more about these topics, this is an excellent compilation of the human costs these practices in many different parts of the world (including China):
I share each of these stories to illustrate just how common it is that humans will enslave and exploit other human beings if a benefit can be gained from doing so, and as far as I can gather, this tendency has been with our species since the dawn of recorded history. In this Substack, I have attempted to illustrate this point by repeatedly highlighting the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, but it is by no means the only industry where it occurs.
Note: Although I am opposed to the exploitative practices of globalism, I must also acknowledge that these low paying jobs are often immensely beneficial and transformative for the countries they are outsourced too. This point was best made by one of the world’s leading activists against poverty who eventually realized his approach was not the best way to help the poor.
China and the Global Economy
A significant portion of the manufacturing base we outsourced went to China. This resulted in the global economy restructuring itself so that the wealth of our working class went both to China and to the multinational corporations which profited handsomely by cutting out the American working class from production (as protecting the basic health, safety, and dignity of workers significantly increases the cost of production).
(A summary of what work is like for Apple’s subcontractor can be found here. Since money is always the primary concern of Silicon Valley Apple has also worked with the Chinese government to suppress the current and previous protests).
This shift allowed China to fulfill its promise to its people to lift them out of poverty. However, it also created a dependency within the American government towards supporting the Chinese government, as a large degree of the wealth being generated from Chinese outsourcing was used to buy out American business interests, and that money was conditional upon supporting China’s government. Hollywood, for example, is well known for censoring any material the Chinese government may object to, since it cannot afford to lose the Chinese theater market (I still remember Marvel choosing to remove the iconic Tibetan monk from Doctor Strange).
All of these issues came to a head during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing when the Tibetans, at great risk to their safety, staged protests against China's cultural genocide of their people. Many hoped this would be a turning point for Chinese human rights, but the international community ultimately chose to ignore the protests as these humanitarian concerns took a backseat to the ruling class’s need to continue making money from China.
A similar situation exists now with the current protests, but due to the significant supply chain disruptions that are starting to emerge (China is not producing many of the goods it is expected to produce due to locking the country down, e.g. Apple can’t fulfill its holiday iPhone orders) a bit of attention is now being directed towards these unprecedented events in the Western media (which normally do not cover these events at all, as doing so immediately elicits business consequences from China). I saw this heading today on CNN and had to blink twice because normally something like this would never be covered which suggests that this longstanding position may be starting to change (e.g. some of the Western business community no longer wants to work with China).
In many ways, economies behave like living organisms, and like the blood circulation, when their influx of money or the movement of goods shuts down, they quickly wither and die. One of the major problems with both COVID-19 and the War in Ukraine is that these events have threatened the global supply chain (especially for the poorest citizens of the world, many of whom are now at risk of starving to death).
Each economy has a certain degree of stress it can tolerate (e.g. when global supply chains shut down, historically they lead to economic depressions, which then often lead to wars, as the populace needs someone to blame for their impoverishment). The supply chain disruptions that China has experienced since COVID-19 (along with the West understandably looking for other suppliers) has placed a stress on their economy. China is now having a great deal of difficulty tolerating this, which is being reflected by the political instability we are observing.
Much more could be said on the subject of economic feudalism, but at a core level, it represents a solution to a common dilemma faced by political rulerships throughout history. How can a small number of people effectively control a large number of people in a cost-effective matter?
Economic Feudalism in Medicine
Using financial incentives to enforce compliance has proven itself to be far more effective (and easier to implement) than any army ever could be, and as I have tried to illustrate here, our society has been structured so that the corrupting influence of money can take control of each authority figure in each important position of influence (e.g. see Who Owns the CDC). I believe medicine is one of the most important areas to examine the feudalistic model due to the enormous cost medicine brings to our economy (health care accounts for approximately one-fifth of all spending within the United States) and because unlike many other predatory industries, many people can’t “opt-out” of it as their lives often depend on receiving medical care.
In medicine, most of the bad practices conducted by everyone in the field (e.g. many of the unnecessary or harmful medical procedures, prescriptions, and tests such as those which direct hospital care) caught on solely because of how much money they made. In case after case, precise economic levers are implemented so that the desired behaviors by the medical profession can be guaranteed. For example, Medicare and insurance companies reimburse providers if certain thresholds are met for providing mandated medications to their patients (e.g. consider how much pediatricians lose if they do not push vaccines onto most of their patients).
The recent COVID-19 scandal where hospitals chose to withhold effective treatments from COVID-19 patients and only treat them with the incredibly lucrative remdesivir and ventilator protocol has, fortunately, brought some attention to this long-standing issue. For those interested, this book concisely documents many examples of how perverse financial incentives have distorted the practice of medicine both within and outside of hospitals for decades.
In short, the corruptive force of money within healthcare has resulted in the sad situation we observe today where often the only unifying principle that can be found within medical ethics is that whatever choice makes the most money then becomes the agreed upon ethical standard (a longer discussion on this topic can be found here).
However, despite all these factors, there are still many highly ethical physicians in the profession who prioritize the wellness of their patients over financial incentives. Unfortunately, those same ethical standards are rarely held by corporate executives (or even clinic managers) who will instead ignore the advice of their physicians to maximize revenue (a key reason why economic feudalism requires widespread impoverishment is that as people are more financially squeezed, they will become more compliant towards small economic “incentives” for the desired behavior).
Sadly, even well-intentioned physicians are often forced to comply as the regulatory burdens in healthcare make it immensely difficult for physicians to practice outside of the corporate model now. Sadder still, many who previously did have been forced to retire as they cannot compete in the current healthcare marketplace (although I am hopeful the widespread mistrust of protocol-based medicine created by the catastrophic mishandling of COVID-19 will create an influx of patients that economically supports this independent model).
When I observe this entire medical system, I can only marvel at how remarkably effective precisely targeted economic levers have been for controlling large swathes of the economy. Similarly, it is for this reason that one of the rules I live my life by is “don’t sell your soul to the eye on the back of the dollar bill.”
However, I also recognize that I am extraordinarily lucky to be in a field where I found a way by which I can support myself by doing something I believe is ethical and fulfilling (to the point I can charge a sliding scale for my work). Opportunities like my own have become rarer and rarer as time has moved forward, and I would argue that this has been the result of many deliberate decisions aimed at forcing the populace to become serfs within the corporate workforce (best exemplified by many being placed in a situation where they had to make the appalling choice to choose between a dangerous experimental vaccination or poverty).
Even those who profited off of controlling the serfs (e.g. overpaid employees in big tech who were not producing anything of value except censorship to promote compliance of the general population), now that an economic downturn has arrived and layoffs are hitting the tech sector, are also being forced to confront the realities of economic feudalism. This is reflective of the reality seen during the feudal era, where those appointed by lords to oversee the serfs weren’t actually that much better off than the serfs, and often ended up having miserable lives as well once they were no longer deemed necessary by the lordship.
This also highlights why it may not have been in these employees’ best interest to have encouraged the lockdowns, which created our current recession, but when people are separate from the serfs they often have difficulty empathizing with their plight. Similarly (I had many arguments over this with lockdown proponents), I noticed almost everyone who supported the lockdowns, at least at the time, economically benefitted from them (e.g. with a remote job), whereas those who opposed them were predominantly the blue collar workers who directly suffered from them.
China in Context
One way to characterize the era we currently live in, is that immensely unprecedented changes are happening at a dizzying pace and it amazes me day by day to see how many previously fringe viewpoints (e.g. criticisms of vaccines) have become mainstream political viewpoints.
A key focus here has been upon the propaganda which sustains the medical-industrial complex, as I believe that unless it is brought out into the open, most of the issues we continue to run into can never be resolved because the propaganda apparatus makes it cheaper for bad actors to pay a PR firm to conceal bad conduct than to correct it. Recently, I completed the most detailed summary I have put together on this subject, as I believe it cuts to the core of much of what we dealt with over the last three years. If you can read it, the final sections of the article will make much more sense.
The above piece was largely inspired by this excellent article I stumbled across a year ago. It argues that our society is structured upon having an uninformed citizenry that is controlled through propaganda and that a decision was made to embark on this path after World War I rather than have an educated and informed society that could effectively direct society in a self-determined fashion. Choosing between these two options was necessitated by the belief that society had become too complicated for the average citizen to be able to make the correct decisions to guide its direction.
This propagandist model "worked" until the internet came along. By providing an open and anonymous means for individuals to rapidly share information, it is no longer feasible to maintain the monolithic top-down form of propaganda that our society was built around, as any narrative, regardless of how widely it is promoted or how much money is spent on it, can quickly be outmaneuvered by the citizenry if it is false (e.g. for no cost except the time, I can spend a day creating a counter-narrative which is seen by thousands, and there are many, many, many more who are doing the same).
I cannot even begin to describe what a game changer this new reality has been for alternative medicine and how different things were in the decades that preceded the internet where every amazing medical innovation could be easily buried. To that point, I am presently working on a series on the early pioneers in vaccine safety, whose work paved the way for what we are doing now and truthfully was far, far more arduous than anything the current movement has encountered
The Future of Propaganda
As far as I and the authors of the article know, there are only three ways the new reality can be addressed:
The first is to double down on our current approach. This is what we are seeing in many areas as more and more audacious propaganda is being promoted in the mass media, but that approach is backfiring and more and more making people distrust rather than trust the central authorities. This means propaganda is defeating its central purpose, and in effect, creating a downward spiral like that which appears to be emerging in China.
The second approach is to switch to the educated citizenry model that was originally proposed, but ultimately lost to the propagandists' form of governance. Based on his words and actions, I believe Elon Musk endorses this model and it was one of his motivations for acquiring and transforming Twitter.
The final option is to either cut off the internet entirely (which is for all practical purposes no longer possible) or follow the Chinese model and neutralize the threat posed by the internet through having an extremely aggressive form of internet censorship. China for example, through the “great firewall of China,” has done a remarkable job of removing unapproved content from the internet, which in many ways is a Herculean task. In conjunction with this broad internet censorship, an equally sophistical form of Orwellian social control must be created by having a justification to monitor every aspect of each citizen's life and countless mechanisms for ensuring compliance at all times.
The COVID-19 passports, daily testing requirements, and frequent lockdowns (zealously endorsed by Silicon Valley) are the most visible manifestations of this policy. In China’s case, all of this control was predicated upon Chinese citizens being required to utilize their phones to access every aspect of the country, social credit algorithms existing that punished or rewarded citizens for compliance with the state, and an extremely robust AI system which could track and administrate all of this.
As you might guess, the political rulership strongly endorses the last option as it represents the only way they can maintain their degree of control over the population, even though I and many others view it as an exercise in futility. Similarly, Silicon Valley has been working for years in partnership with China to develop the algorithms and tools necessary to ensure widespread social compliance with the United States.
Many of the most concerning initiatives promoted by Silicon Valley all reflect different approaches being explored to achieve this algorithmic (and thus affordable) form of mass control. More importantly, they illustrate why I believe it is so important to boycott these institutions whenever possible (e.g. by using an open-source cell phone operating system and not utilizing apps that track you, like those which were used to entrap the January 6th protesters) so that the grid necessary to implement the Chinese model cannot be established.
Note: One of the most concerning trends in this regard is the push for a federal cryptocurrency (which some believe FTX was set up to fail and create the “need” for), as this will allow every transaction to be tracked and non-compliant members of society to be exiled from the economic system we depend upon for our survival.
One of the most telling things about China's response to COVID-19 (which as I have shown here has not only failed but been disastrous for both their economy and domestic stability) is how strongly the Western leadership (e.g. Fauci) endorsed and continues to endorse China’s failed model that has abjectly failed to control COVID-19. For example, consider this 11/26/22 article:
The World Economic Forum’s leader, Klaus Schwab, let the mask slip last week when he stated in an interview which nation he believes is a “role model” for the rest of the world.
According to Fox News, in an interview with Chinese state-affiliated media during last week’s APEC CEO Summit in Bangkok, Schwab says he sees the Chinese system as a “role model” for other nations.
“I think it’s a role model for many countries,” he said. While clarifying that each country needs to make its own decisions, Schwab did say that “the Chinese model is certainly a very attractive model for quite a number of countries.”
I hold the belief that most of the "bad” things that happened in the United States are tested out somewhere else first, and once they are condoned in those far away places (or on a marginalized group of people), they are then allowed to occur here. Much of this is encapsulated by the famous poem I try to live my life by:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Two immediately relevant examples of this were what happened to the gay community during the early days of HIV and the military’s experimental anthrax vaccination campaign. In both cases, not enough people stood up for them, and this paved the way for the atrocities that happened during these campaigns to then be copied for COVID-19 (many of the same players were responsible for both incidents).
If China’s model fails, and a democratic revolution can overturn or at least reform the current government, it will prove that no form of social control, regardless of how sophisticated the technology behind it is, can compete with the internet. If this happens, the political leadership will be forced to move towards adopting a form of government that does not rely upon propaganda.
However, if the bio-security state in China proves successful, this will be taken to mean that a model like that can also work here, and we will have to deal with an escalation of the existing bio-security state we have already lived with for the last two and a half years. In short, exactly what happens in China will likely ripple out to affect the rest of the world.
The Future of Workers
In parallel to the trends described above, another concerning trend has dovetailed with the above. In the 1950s, my uncle attended a talk given by a Nobel laureate at an elitist institution who argued that population control would be adopted once increasing the population no longer increased the wealth or power of the upper class (as prior to this point, they are incentivized to continue increasing the population).
In our current society, the primary awareness of this trend relates to the immense costs facing the social safety net for the elderly (e.g. social security, nursing homes, medical care), and it has often been theorized there is no solution available to the government besides having the number of eligible individuals steeply decline. I agree that the model of care we have for the elderly is completely unsustainable, but I do not believe the solution is to find additional ways to fund it and ration care; rather I believe we need to adopt a different societal approach to aging which allows the elderly to retain their health and functionality into old age.
While approaches for this model do exist (e.g. I detailed some in my discussion on how to treat Alzheimer’s disease), none of them have been implemented because so much is made from providing cash cow “medical services” to the elderly that it keeps all competing approaches out of the market place. Since the marketplace does not incentivize these approaches, they can only be performed by self-directed patients, and while these individuals are rare, I know many who have aged remarkably from following them (e.g. I have a patient who is a highly functional fully-employed 87-year-old who appears to be in their 50’s or 60’s and has incredible mental stamina).
Recently, the dimensions of the problem have radically changed as artificial intelligence and automation have removed much of the value workers were previously able to provide, and thereby incentivizes the ruling class to keep them around. This trend is likely to accelerate in the coming years, as many industries in which one could previously maintain an acceptable standard of living working in, are now being displaced by AI.
Exactly what can be done to address this is hard to say. On an individual level, I believe there is a critical need to develop skills you can offer with intrinsic value (which sadly many of our educational institutions do not provide). I also believe my profession has been incredibly short-sighted by allowing themselves to become factory workers that perform the same algorithm on each patient and then train electronic medical records to replace them by entering in all of the data from doing so. On that point, Silicon Valley “visionaries” are already clamoring for AI doctors to take over much of the practice of medicine, and I believe much of the protocolled form of medicine my colleagues practice now could be automated.
On a broader level, the most likely outcome is the working class being forced into low-paying serfdom for their corporate feudal lords or performing service work for the upper class, neither of which is a particularly dignified existence. For example, one recent survey of young adults found 42% have a diagnosed mental health condition (of which 57% are taking a psychiatric medication for), and 31% would rate their mental health as “bad.” Much of this appears to reflect the current economic climate:
Nearly 90% of Gen Z does not feel like their generation has been set up for success, and 75% feel they have a disadvantage compared to other generations.
Some of the biggest concerns have to do with finances and work. More than three in five (66%) do not feel financially stable, and 50% do not feel ready to join the workforce. Overall, 89% of Gen Z are worried about their personal finances, and 70% are concerned about the economy. Other concerns at top of mind for Gen Z are their personal health/mental illness, the environment, and politics.
One of the members of the WEF is to my knowledge the public figure who is speaking the most straightforwardly on this issue. Much of the value the lower classes used to provide to the upper class, they simply no longer offer to them. For many, he argues the most valuable resource they have to offer instead is the data that can be mined from them that is necessary for assembling the AI grid his colleagues dream of, but in the future, this too will likely become unneeded.
One of the more disturbing trends I have seen recently is the media beginning to promote the logical conclusion of economic feudalism (e.g. in this popular song) for those who can no longer provide value to the system (MAiD is Canada’s medically assisted suicide):
I feel these videos are important because they illustrate what happens when we allow our culture to value empty idols like money above real things that matter, like life and our humanity (this is the same mindset, which if not spoken out against, eventually allows immense atrocities to occur like those seen in totalitarian regimes).
I think all of this is an immense shame because technology has finally advanced to the point that our world is now producing enough to offer almost everyone a decent life (provided everyone practices environmentally sustainable consumption). Unfortunately, making that life available to everyone would take away the key incentive (the need to work to survive) that maintains a feudal economic system.
Postscript: After publishing this article, I found out Igor had also written on this topic and the situation in Canada is much darker than I had imagined (to the point I still have a bit of trouble believing this is real).
Ivan Illich (1926-2002) was a gifted polymath who recognized a variety of ills within society and accurately extrapolated what they would lead to throughout his lifetime and well after his death. One of Illich’s central beliefs was that the complexity necessary to maintain the smooth functioning of an increasingly technologically advanced society would result in governments of the world seeking to use every technological means available to micromanage each aspect of society. Illich argued these (now laughably primitive) technocratic dictatorships were attempting to fulfill a fundamentally impossible task, and because they failed to recognize this, would instead respond to their failures by seeking more and more control over society.
Illich staunchly opposed our countless manipulative institutions and the elaborate mechanisms of control they utilized to force human beings into compliance. He viewed the reality they sought to create as being in direct opposition to human nature. Instead, Illich believed the ideal form of government followed a more decentralized model that supported or encouraged the natural capacities of each member of society and provided the tools each member needed to succeed (which like many idealists I believe the internet was meant to be a platform for). This thesis was based upon Illich’s observations of how well members of radically different societies around the world were able to work together and become highly successful once they were allowed to do so.
Many others, such as the authors arguing for discarding our existing propaganda-based form of governance, have shared similar viewpoints to Illich. The oldest example I know of can be found in oddly of all places the Chinese classic, the Dao De Jing.
This book was written during an incredibly stressful period of Chinese history where many aspects of each citizen's life were highly micromanaged (with those who failed to comply being immediately executed), and the citizenry were subject to prolonged periods of immense physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress. The Dao De Jing’s author argued that using force to control society was an exercise in futility that would require greater and greater strain to maintain, and that the correct way to live life and run society was to work in harmony with nature instead of attempting to dominate it.
Many of the approaches we have taken with modern technology have attempted to dominate a natural process to “improve it,” yet over time have resulted in diminishing returns requiring greater inputs to be maintained alongside a variety of disastrous secondary consequences.
This principle also holds throughout medicine, and I believe many problems within our unnatural medical system are a result of modern medicine attempting to temporarily dominate illness rather than working in harmony with the natural healing mechanisms of the body. The modern biomedical approach to medicine thus frequently leads to progressively increasing strain within the human body. This strain then requires greater and greater external inputs to be maintained (e.g. more drugs or higher pharmaceutical doses) and thing after thing needing to subsequently be added to address each of the complications that inevitably arise from this gestalt of unnatural medical interventions.
Note: I mention the above point because it is the most concise way I have found to articulate the difference between “natural medicine” (an elusive to define term) and other schools of healing.
Many activists have concluded that the best way to oppose totalitarianism and the technological dictatorship we are falling into is not to violently resist it, but rather oppose it through nonviolent resistance such as boycotting the system by creating parallel economic systems not subject to the feudal model the transnational oligarchs are pushing upon the world.
Each of those decentralized systems (the internet offers extraordinary potential here) is built upon the innate human ingenuity and the natural cooperation between human beings that emerge, when, as Illich envisioned, they are allowed to. I believe Illich’s model will win in the end, and when it does, there is an immense degree of value each of us will be able to contribute to the world. Unfortunately, since it is so difficult for human beings to let go of power, we will likely see many rocky transition periods like those which have been witnessed over the last few years in both in the Western world and China.
It is important to remember that on many levels, although these systems seem all powerful, they are often much more fragile than they seem and if the citizens who are present when they disperse are of good hearts, minds and faith, extraordinary things can take their place.
Please let me know what you thought of this article. I do not want this substack to focus on geopolitics (as much of that field is ultimately idle speculation as very few things are cut and dried one way or another), but I also felt compelled to speak out on this issue.
I have also been working on a draft of my thoughts on the Ukraine conflict which builds on the ideas expressed here (essentially I believe both sides are at fault, that this conflict is largely being fought to make money blood money through selling armaments, and that it could be argued that all of that has relevance to medicine as there are many parallels between the military-industrial-complex and medical-industrial-complex). If there is interest in this topic I will send that out in a few days (I value your time so I do not want to waste it), and either way, afterwards I will be returning to the Forgotten Side of Medicine.
Postscript: After publication of this article, I learned that certain American news outlets have begun discussing the situation in China and that the current academic terminology for the ideas I forwards here is “neo-feudalism.”
I also realized I neglected to discuss the critical events which happened three decades ago.
A major challenge any tyrannical government faces is that “freedom” is infectious, and the more people experience, the more they will demand (democracies largely sidestep this issue by having the public believe the government is essentially fair). Because of this challenge, oppressive governments are often very hesitant to grant freedoms to their subjects, as that can unleash a wave of activism that can quickly grow too large for the government to maintain.
In China’s case, because of how dark the cultural revolution was (it’s difficult to even begin to describe its horror), once its leaders lost power, the new leaders in the government decided to initiate political, humanitarian and economic reforms for the people of China. Once this began, popular discontent grew against the short comings of the new system (which while imperfect, was infinitely better than what had proceeded it), which eventually gave rise to protests.
Typically when protests occurred in China, the government would immediately disperse them, identify each participant and later discretely arrest them. When the 1989 student led Tiananmen Square protests began, due to instability within the Chinese leadership, the government did not act decisively to suppress the protest. This allowed it to grow to the point it could not be easily suppressed, and before long it reached the point that there was the real threat of a revolution breaking out. Although the political leadership was heavily split on what to do, a small majority eventually made the decision they needed to violently suppress the protest to protect China’s national interest.
These events are best encapsulated by this iconic image, but the reality is that they were much more violent (the picture was taken after the violence ended):
During the crackdown, a minor degree of urban warfare occurred as both Beijing’s citizens and the protestors tried to resist the national army’s encroachment, and a few thousand civilians died (estimates heavily vary). In addition to the publicly available summaries, I also know numerous people who were in China at the time, some of whom were friends with peaceful protesters at Tiananmen that nearly died and who told me the Chinese public was enraged at the government and commentary emerged in China’s media about the incident that in all other instances would have been censored.
One of the most interesting less known aspects of the events that provides a key insight in unravelling Totalitarian states was that the Beijing army was not willing to shoot their city’s protesters. The national government addressed this issue by mobilizing the armies from other regions of China and telling the soldiers the square was full of disease which necessitated emergency injections (that per my understanding were described as vaccines) to protect the soldiers prior to deployment. After the incident was over, blood tests of soldiers who had been there confirmed they had instead received amphetamines (I was told this by people who were there and researched it but there were also a few reports in the Western media that this happened).
I find these events interesting as it was also well known both the Japanese and the Nazis relied upon amphetamines to produce dramatically more efficient and violent soldiers. As you can imagine someone high on meth has less restraint in shooting others, which addresses a classic dilemma every military of the world has faced (although the extent to which soldiers hesitate to kill others is a hotly debated topic). This is also a key reason why I believe stimulant antidepressants (SSRIs) have a strong link to mass shootings. Additionally, this adds to a small list of periodic instances where vaccination is conducted under false pretenses (e.g. to harvest DNA which was was used to identify Osama Bin-Laden’s location).
Because of the protests that emerged following the reforms, the Chinese government chose to roll them back, and has quietly suppressed every protest movement which emerged in China (nothing comparable to what we are seeing now has occurred since Tiananmen). Given that the Chinese government is fully aware of how close China came to fragmenting last time this occurred, it is likely they also believe a heavy handed approach is necessary now to protect the country.
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