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Today is a FREE taste of an Insight Politics article by writer Nathan Smith.
COVID-19 from the Perspective of the Nobles
Most of Us Assume That Since We Live in 2021 and Everyone Wears Jeans, the Days of the Peasants and Nobles Are Over…wrongalongadingdong.
One of the worst mistakes people make is to not take the words of the nobles seriously. This error is common because, well, people don’t think a class of nobles exists anymore.
But if you don’t understand how to think like a noble, the response to Covid-19 will be utterly dumbfounding. Sure, you’ll be suspicious about the whole thing but you won’t be able to put your finger on why. Don’t worry, you’re not alone – you’re just not thinking like a noble.
Most of us assume that, since we live in 2021 and everyone wears jeans, the days of the peasants and nobles are over. We believe we have transcended history and the boundaries, traditions and limitations of the past have given way to a shining progressive future.
This belief in equality makes people feel like they can be a noble too. But, unless you are a noble, it is almost impossible to think like a noble. Nobles are trained to be rulers. The tools of governance change over time, but the books, ideas, tactics and strategies do not. And you likely don’t have access to any of these at all.
The nobles are focused on one problem: what should be done with all these people? Governing humans is not difficult. We are pattern-seeking creatures that respond to incentives. But ruling is a fine balance because there are always more peasants than nobles, and the fear of being stabbed in the night by a horde of pitchfork-waving, grubby Morlocks is terrifying for any noble.
On top of that, every society has multiple factions of nobles. One of those factions (or an alliance of factions) is always in control. Power cannot be destroyed, it can only change hands. Rule #1 for a noble is that the proximate enemy is other rival factions, while the distant enemy is the mass of peasants.
Popular movements are very useful for a rival noble faction to take power. While a protest movement may emerge organically, it can only succeed if there is an interested third-party.
If the many noble factions are aligned against a popular movement, that movement will be shut down. Consider the Yellow Vest movement in France. What happened with that? Don’t know? Exactly. But you know everything about the Gay and Feminist movements. Coincidence? I think not.
Why am I pointing all this out?
Because I know how to think like a noble, which means I know what they fear and how they talk to each other. I also know that a noble with the means, motive and opportunity to solve a problem will always act to do so. They may not be successful, but they will try anything to gain or keep power.
To understand Covid-19, we must start the clock in 2016.
As Donald Trump was gaining traction on his bid to be president of the US, I watched the ruling faction of American nobles get a little nervous. When Trump’s support base grew despite the incredible attempts to block, subvert and distract voters, I watched the nobles sweat.
Then, when nothing seemed to deter Trump from winning in 2016 – and then he did win – I watched the nobles panic. You probably don’t appreciate their fear. But, to them, Trump sounded serious about “draining the swamp”. He also, presumably, had access to a peasant army ready to storm the Bastille (sorry, the Capitol). This would be terrifying if you believed it.
And why wouldn’t they believe it? Trump wasn’t part of them. He was a noble, sure. But not part of the ruling faction. Actually, it wasn’t even clear which noble faction he belonged to. Yuck.
As it turned out, Trump didn’t command a peasant army and had no concrete plans to “drain the swamp” at all. In fact, Trump himself was surprised by his win. Yet that’s not what the nobles saw. They were terrified of a dangerous usurper who might get rid of them at any moment.
This raw feeling of fear dripped from every word uttered by the nobles between 2016-2020. In every newspaper, magazine, Twitter account, webzine and at every conference, meeting, mezzanine chat and dinner party, all of them – even the ideologically-aligned nobles in New Zealand – were discussing a single, overarching topic: how to remove Trump “by any means necessary”.
This is why it is such an enormous mistake not to take the words of nobles seriously. When nobles say they want to do something – as in this 1942 issue of Time – and then those things actually happen, you should learn that this world belongs to the nobles – you just live in it.
So let’s wrap this overlay onto the Covid-19 crisis.
In the late 1990s, the US government started playing with “gain-of-function” research on coronaviruses. Laws were passed that precluded companies from patenting organisms, but if the DNA of a virus could be changed artificially, then the law said it was fine to patent the “new” organism. Private interests soon got involved when they saw dollar signs.
These companies then created testing procedures for their patented viruses. The law promised to prosecute anyone who tried to use different tests to analyse their viruses. Over time, they learned quite a bit about how coronaviruses worked. Leaks also occurred regularly, even at the highest-security labs. Mistakes happen.
If one of these mistakes were to happen at about the time when Donald Trump was on track to be re-elected for another four years, that might present a great opportunity.
They would know that the second presidential term is when a president can get a lot done since he no longer worries about votes. Obviously, having a usurper in the White House with a blank cheque for political power represented a deep existential crisis for the ruling noble class.
Even worse, they lacked the ability to break the communications of Trump with his supporters. If you can’t break your enemy’s communications, you will lose the battle. After all, the first lesson of war is to never start a fight you might lose. Nobles are trained to think like this. They are highly motivated to remain as nobles. And they have access to plenty of resources to stay that way.
Facing all this, the ruling nobles might look for a solution that a) disrupts the voting process, b) wipes out the economic gains accrued by Trump over his first term, c) questions Trump’s control over the government and d) reveals his inability to protect Americans from threats (the first job of a leader).
A leaked coronavirus would be an ideal opportunity since the nobles could be certain the deaths would only be slightly above a normal flu season, and it wouldn’t mutate dangerously since mutations tend to make coronaviruses more transmissible and less lethal.
They could also dial the fear up or down by getting the media to highlight certain things, and downplay other things (deaths, then cases, then variants, etc). They could call an end to the problem the moment the danger of Trumpist populism passed, by saying coronaviruses are now a normal part of living in a globalised world (we still need to remove our belts at the airport 20 years after 9/11).
All the damage done to the economy can be underwritten by printing new money, hiring and firing people in strange new ways (“gig economy”) and fudging the books to make it appear the “New Normal” is generating wealth. Also, more people will now let themselves be monitored online and even act as snitches to “keep the coronavirus down for good”. This will create fresh forms of surveillance and data pools, very useful for supressing populist activity later on.
Any vaccines will be ineffective due to how fast a coronavirus adapts. But that doesn’t matter because, again, mutations tend to make a coronavirus less lethal so it will look like the vaccines are working. If countries like New Zealand take the outbreak super-seriously, well, that’s even better. Because if everyone’s doing it, it must be right (don’t talk about Sweden though).
On the personal level, the desire to be ‘cool’. will compel millions of people to take the useless vaccines so they can access social privileges and not be ‘uncool’. The vaccines will be like a crucifix necklace, signalling allegiance to the ruling noble faction, all while creating a new profit line for the pharmaceutical companies (a subscription model of vaccination).
In fact, Pfizer now gets to use the ultimate marketing campaign: using the government to ban people from society unless they consume their product. What CEO wouldn’t say yes to that!
Best of all, no one will notice any of this until Trump is gone and his popular movement has collapsed. By that time, the ruling noble faction can take all the credit for controlling Covid-19 as it dissipates naturally just like every coronavirus, influenza and rhinovirus in the history of the world.
Indeed, if I were a noble terrified of losing my social status at the hands of a peasant mob, I couldn’t think of a downside for this action – or, more precisely, this reaction to a run-of-the-mill lab leak that offered an opportunity for one faction to secure its power at exactly the right time.
Just don’t let the peasants see the nobles without masks at dinner parties. Then again, once Trump is gone, who cares!
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