The Reaction of the Left to Lockdown

Darren Allen

In April I wrote a postscript to my critique of the ‘unofficial left’ (David Graeber, Noam Chomsky, Media Lens, etc.) criticising their non-response to the already highly suspicious coronavirus narrative. Things have moved on — now into the past tense — so here is the same summary, now updated and revised.

Adeadly pandemic, we are told, swept across the planet, forcing governments to massively enhance state and police power, lock everyone up in their homes and bork the economy. National governments, transnational institutions and all media outlets were of one voice. Panic.

We just had to put millions and millions of people out of work then shut them up in a heavily policed panic room.

Anyone unable to perceive the foundations of the unofficial left might imagine that they would have interrogated this extraordinary situation, that they would have critically appraised official accounts of the severity of the ‘pandemic’, that they would have asked themselves what the likely effects might be of putting so many people out of work; or that it would have been the perfect time for ‘radicals’ to seriously question the functioning of the system, to explore wider questions about its stability and to critically investigate vested interests; perhaps also take a look at the universal denial of death and how easily people can be manipulated by playing on their fears, or even explore the possibilities for genuine revolt as the economy contracted. They would have been disappointed.

What was the response of the unofficial socialists mentioned in the original article?

Did they criticise the official story?

Did they ask if anything else might have been motivating their leaders than altruistic concern for human life? Did they question the extraordinarily repressive measures governments have taken to contain the problem?

Did they question official figures (or even looked at them — many were surprisingly frank)?

Did they take a second look at other epidemics and pandemics (such as the flu pandemics of 57 and 68: each of which were twice as deadly as C-19), or at deaths from influenza under normal conditions (around half a million a year — about the same as C-19), or at deaths from other similar illnesses, like pneumonia?

Did they sound any alarm bells about rather suspicious proposed solutions such as an express vaccine, contact-tracing and so forth?

Did any of these people ask any seriously critical, or even very interesting, questions?

The answer to all of these questions was an almost entirely predictable no. Every man jack of them fell straight into line.

Jonathan Cook peeped his head about the parapet for a split-second, spiritual astronaut Caitlin Johnstone asked one or two questions on peripheral matters before concluding that she finds ‘the whole thing ultimately irrelevant and boring’, XR started rubbing their hands, Afshin Rattansi vaguely gestured towards a few sceptical RT pieces and Paul Kingsnorth sat in a barley field and stared majestically into the sunset. But that was pretty much it.

I say ‘almost’ predictable because even I was surprised at how uniformly subservient all these people turned out to be. That, with a handful of noble exceptions — OffGuardian, Neil Clark, Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward — the entire left-wing, official and unofficial, were instantly, totally, unquestioningly behind the crime of the century was, I admit, something of a surprise.

So total and unanimous was it that — and I’m probably not alone here — I’ve more than once had to look at the entire matter again from the start to check, ‘yes Darren, you’re not mad. It really has happened this way.’

It is now clear — and was evident in April — that the coronavirus wasn’t anything like as bad as it has been presented (it was downgraded by the British government long ago from the most serious category of illness). That survival rates were around 99.99%, that the vast majority of deaths were the very old (over sixty five) and infirm (at least with pre-existing conditions). That it was and is almost completely harmless to people under 50 (it’s effectively impossible for a child to get it), that it didn’t have an unprecedented supertragic impact on ICUs around the world (Spanish hospitals are regularly overburdened in flu season). That masks don’t appear to be particularly effective[1] and neither does the two-meter rule (essentially made up), that official figures — particularly in those countries most desirous of becoming entirely autocratic — were inflated by including people dying with the virus rather than merely dying of it (along with, it seems likely, other statistical shenanigans[2] ).

That those countries which didn’t lockdown — such as Sweden and Japan — did absolutely fine (while New Zealand — a more isolated country on earth you cannot find — would have done fine, but chose instead to push 70,000 children into poverty). That the wealthiest people in the world become much, much richer, that we’ve taken a massive lurch towards a techno-dystopian world controlled by an ever shrinking cartel of IT companies and that lockdown has destroyed and will continue to destroy the lives of millions upon millions of poor people (the UN predicts a ‘biblical famine,’ possibly as many as 300,000 deaths a day), all for no good reason.

Not that I care about ‘the economy’, nor about some of the wonderful freedoms that have been lost (oh gosh, no football, no theatre[3] , no pubs[4], no protests, woe), nor do I think the world has, as so many are now lamenting, ‘become’ dystopian — it has actually just, as I have already predicted, ditched a Huxleyan dystopia for an Orwellian one.

The point is ‘the wrecked economy’  refers to the bottom 80% of economic activity — and if that is obliterated, what is going to take its place? Will the system just let everyone see to their own well-being, handing out no-strings-attached UBI to do so? Unlikely.

It’s the same with losing our freedom to assemble — if that is lost, what will we have instead? Greater freedom? Really? In fact, it’s the same with the other big issue of the day, defunding the police — great, but do you think that the system will just let anything go? Or will it replace the police with private security forces, automatic surveillance and punishment and state-approved ‘community policing‘ (i.e. woke militia)?

Lockdown enthusiasts and supporters, implicit or otherwise, of the coronavirus story are keen to dismiss scepticism as a form of ‘conspiracy theory’ citing as evidence the beliefs of those most vehemently anti-mask, anti-lockdown and anti-forced-vaccine, which range from reasonable doubts about the motives of Bill Gates, the WHO, the WEF and so on to climate-change denial, flat-earth theories and the cosmic dance of David Icke’s lizard-people.

This is of course one of the oldest tricks in the book; dismiss an idea by citing the unrelated attitudes and actions of its most extreme adherents.

‘Look how crazy/evil/stupid these people are — here is an example of one of them saying something completely crazy/evil/stupid!’ (Lockdown sceptics do the same thing; ‘Look how mad they are; they want us to have sex through glory holes!’)

Speaking for myself I don’t have much interest in theorising about, for example, this document, currently doing the rounds which is said to be a ‘blueprint’ for the new world order we are entering; a cashless society, lived almost entirely online, under constant bio-surveillance; an updated version of China’s horrifying social credit system, in which discipline and punishment are practically automatic. The reason being that such medial agents of social change are a) debatable and b) secondary.

It is the distal process that we are embedded in, the entire context, the entire system (see my account, here) and the proximal ego which created and maintains it which much be understood and dismantled, not this or that cartel or cabal, secret or otherwise.

It is the system as a whole which results in the new world order.

That those the system rewards, promotes, places and keeps in power are halfmen hell-bent on turning reality into an earth-munching pleasure machine is not a cause of our ills, but a consequence. What’s more, speculation about such details actually only ends up serving power, which is why power has always sought to incite such debate and limit access to deeper and more distant comprehension.

I’m not dismissing enquiry into the functioning of international elite planning, which interests me as much as it should anyone else, but the point is that the final and most appalling stages of the dystopian nightmare we’ve been living for millennia is no more the result of this or that Betelgeusian Reptoid than depression is the result of the boss, or impotence is the result of the wife, or boredom is the result of having nothing to do. Focusing on the boss, the wife or the broken playstation is to enter a debate which is as futile and pointless as ‘do masks work?’

For further information, here is my account at the time, here is a good overview by Dmitri Orlov, here is another good account and here another, here are OffGuardian’s resources, here is a thorough up to date summary by the ‘SPR’ (whoever they are), here and here are some decent assessments of mask-wearing, here is Charles Eisenstein’s typically fair (and typically sugary) assessment, here is a good assessment from back in March of what lockdown would lead to and here is an excellent and very thorough (socialist![5] ) critique of the left’s response to the coronavirus.

OffGuardian and the SPR seem to make a few unproven claims and cite some questionable sources, and they do somewhat tend towards the conspiracy-theory end of the speculative spectrum; but so what? The same criticism can be made of many critical voices. I’m always interested to hear about errors in such accounts, but what matters is what they are saying as a whole. Most of the figures they quote are official statistics; in many cases the facts are now in plain view.

According to the NHS and ONS in the UK, for example, a tiny number have died in the UK of the coronavirus, the vast majority of which were over 65.

Facts about Sweden[6]  and Japan are equally transparent, as are facts about how many people usually die of flu, which has been suspiciously quiet this year, or of similar diseases, such as TB, which nobody is power has ever given a toss about, certainly not now that an increase in TB deaths is due to lockdown.

But this is actually besides the point here. Even if it turns out that c-19 is uniquely dangerous, that it really has killed more people than any other flu since the second world war, that it really did require a world-wide poor-destroying lockdown, that a dangerous vaccine really is necessary, as is more invasive state-corporate surveillance and face-masks and all the rest of it, or that, most fancifully of all, that all the governments of the world really do suddenly care about our health.

Even if all this and more turns out to be true — and there is a faaaaar-distant chance that it might[7]  — that still doesn’t excuse complete acceptance of the official narrative by those people who are supposed to question it. Imagine if the government said ‘Quick! The Russians are attacking!’ The job of radicals, outsiders and so on is to investigate that claim, to check whether it is true, to doubt — even if the Russians actually are coming!

Media Lens, George Galloway, Jonathan Cook, Glenn Greenwald, Afshin Rattansi, The Canary, Moon of Alabama, Aaron Bastani, Ran Prieur, Noam Chomsky and many, many others — even John Pilger and John Zerzan, neither of whom I’d have guessed to fold[8]  — just let the lockdown happen, cheered for it, pushed for stricter controls.

The question I asked about Media Lens here — what were they prepared to allow in order to feel safe — certainly found an answer. No ‘hang-on a moment’, no ‘do we really need the state and the police and the tech companies of the world to be immensely more powerful, no ‘but what might all this lead to?’ no ‘buts’ at all!

They all entirely accepted the situation as it was officially presented and ignored all counter-evidence. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that they are all quite happy for us all to live in a far more authoritarian state to deal with a virus that may well have killed a microscopic percentage of the world’s population but will very likely kill millions of people as a result.

Again, hard to be 100 per cent certain, but even if there’s a tiny chance that C-19 is no worse than seasonal flu and that lock down will result in oceans of avoidable misery, it’s the radical left that should be spearheading the criticism.

But no. They have no interest in or any kind of lived experience of poor and working class realities, or they have a visceral fear of disorder, impurity and death which motivates their stunning insensitivity to such matters, or they are cynical opportunists ever-ready to leap on a moral-panic bandwagon, or they are members of the professional class worshipping at the altar of management (which you are now a murderer if you disobey), or they are more interested in identity politics and Eckhart Tolle, or they are too proud to admit they were wrong, or they are straight cowards.

A blend of all of them I think, but whatever the reason they support the civilised system at the most fundamental level. As William Morris observed, although the middle-class is comprised of lovely, lovely individuals, it is from left to right, ‘a most terrible and implacable force’.

I was asked on Twitter what should be done with the left. Surely they just need to be safely shown the facts of the situation and be gently led round to seeing things as they are, or at least to question how things appear to be, try to persuade them they’re wrong. I don’t agree. Argument isn’t ever totally useless, for reasons I’ve explained elsewhere, but debate hasn’t worked because it can’t work.

As with all matters of real importance, this goes much deeper than the facts — which is why they’re all of one voice.

The only appropriate response to the socialist left is the same as that to the capitalist right; ignore them, expose them and resist them.

As time goes on this will become clearer and clearer.

Read the original article — an anarchist critique of ‘unofficial socialists’ (such as Noam Chomsky, David Graeber and Mark Fisher) here.
See also the latter chapters of my free guide to the unworld, 33 MYTHS OF THE SYSTEM for more critique of the reformist left and its systemic priorities.


[1] Although note the hot topic of the day, endlessly ‘investigated’ by Media Lens and company — should we wear masks? — is the very essence of a loaded question, like ‘should we beat our children with slippers or canes?’ or ‘should we defend ourselves from devils with moral purity or charms?’

[2] Now admitted by the British government

[3] Meaning no anaemic middle-class theatre of course, as it almost entirely is.

[4] No fan of pubs, me; but I do recognise that their original function, as a public house, is occasionally served to men and women in need of same.

[5] What this corona-event has shown is that left and right have nothing to do with a certain kind of independent thought. When John Pilger is retweeting Piers Morgan and Peter Hitchens is retweeting me clearly another quality is revealing itself. Not sanity or intelligence (decent people can be fooled, for example, and ‘independent’ nutbags reflexively blame ‘them’) but still one of importance. Regardless of whether C-19 is a fraud or not, those who default to suspicion are eo ipso more independently minded than those who default to acceptance and these two qualities naturally cut across the fake left-right divide.

[6] Routinely compared, by lockdown supporters, to neighbouring scando-countries, rather than to other European countries, and without taking into account that Sweden were, apparently, a bit lax with their care-home policy. Care-homes like geriatric wards should, of course, have been taken care of during this crisis, as they should be during any flu season.

[7] I’d have egg on my face, but I’d be quite happy to admit I was wrong as I have been many times before.

[8] Pilger is fine with this happening in his native land. I emailed to question him about it, but he didn’t reply.