The Treason of the Experts: Covid and the Credentialed Class
The Treason of the Experts: Covid and the Credentialed Class
By Thomas S. Harrington
This is one man’s chronicle, at times indignant and at others reflective, of an extraordinary moment in the history of the world, a moment of crisis whose eventual resolution will have far-reaching consequences for our children and their children.
The author is Professor Thomas Harrington. His primary field of study is Hispanic culture and history, with a focus on Catalonian language, history, and nationalism. With a deep knowledge of the life of a particular region and language group, he cultivated a keen insight into the difference between what is authentic and organic to a social order and what is exogenous and imposed by a ruling-class structure. He has a particular curiosity about the latter. His profound awareness of this power in operation in world events allowed him to see what so many others missed: namely, he knew something was very off about the Covid response from the beginning.
It’s to the eternal disgrace of so many elites in the political, economic, cultural, and academic world that so many participated in the “great reset” and, further, that so many who did not participate remained silent even as essential social, market, and cultural functioning was systematically dismantled by force with the full participation of the commanding heights of society.
Privileged people, whose educational background putatively provided them with greater critical thinking skills than most, and hence an enhanced ability to see through the barrage of propaganda, fell immediately and massively into line.
Not only did we see them overwhelmingly accept the government’s repressive, unproven, and often patently unscientific measures to contain the Covid virus, but watched many of them emerge online and in other public forums as semi-official enforcers of repressive Government policies and Big Pharma marketing pitches.
They mocked and ignored world-class doctors and scientists, and anyone else who expressed ideas that were at variance with official government policies. They told us, ridiculously, that science was not a continuous process of trial and error, but a fixed canon of immutable laws while promoting, on that same absurd basis, the establishment and enforcement of medical apartheid within families and communities.
In the name of keeping their children safe from a virus that could do them virtually no harm, they greatly impeded their long-term social, physical, and intellectual development through useless mask-wearing, social distancing, and screen-based learning. And in the name of protecting the elderly, they promulgated medically useless rules that forced many older people to suffer and die alone, deprived of the comfort of their loved ones.
Many of these people, who by dint of their educational backgrounds should have found it easier than most to go to the primary sources of scientific information on the virus and the measures taken to lessen its impact, chose in large numbers—with doctors being very prominent among them—to instead “educate” themselves on these important matters with curt summaries derived from the mainstream press, social media or Pharma-captured agencies like the CDC and the FDA.
This, paradoxically, while millions of intrepid and less credentialed people with a greater desire to know the truth, often became quite knowledgeable about the actual state of ’the science.”
This devastating case of class abdication—which essentially turned the old adage about “To whom much is given, much is expected” on its head—is a central focus of this book. It was the treason of experts.
Foreword by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Professor Thomas Harrington’s primary field of study is Hispanic culture and history, with a focus on Catalonian language, history and nationalism. One might suppose that such a person might not necessarily possess the perspicacity to see the treason of an entire class of experts from government, technology, business, medicine, and media. And yet he did: and from the very beginning of the Covid crisis. This book collects only part of his tremendously insightful observations from the beginning until recently.
Because I’ve come to know Tom as a friend, I have my own theory about what gave him such insight. With a deep knowledge of the life of a particular region and language group, he cultivated a keen insight into the difference between what is authentic and organic to a social order and what is exogenous and imposed by a ruling-class structure. He has a particular curiosity about the latter. His profound awareness of this power in operation in world events allowed him to see what so many others missed: namely he knew something was very off from the beginning.
He and I come from very different traditions of thought and yet we both came to the same conclusions at the same time though from different angles. My formation in economics trained me to marvel at the spontaneous orders of unplanned human interaction. His outlook trained him to sniff out and see the opposite: that which we take for granted does not result from unplanned order but is instead imposed and shaped by complex and interactively powerful forces that gain advantage from their invisibility. The combination of these two perspectives has made for a strong intellectual and personal bond, though I have to admit that his outlook has proven more fruitful for understanding the Covid crisis.
It’s to the eternal disgrace of so many elites in the political, economic, cultural, and academic world that so many participated in the “great reset” and, further, that so many who did not participate remained silent even as essentially social, market and cultural functioning was systematically dismantled by force with the full participation of the commanding heights of society.
It mortifies me as a libertarian that big business was such a willing executioner. Tom, as a decidedly left-leaning intellectual, was equally mortified to see the participation of academia and government in such destructive actions that were clearly designed to transfer wealth and power away from the social firmament to ruling-class overlords. It was a war of the ruling class against the people, and in nearly every country in the world, all in the guise of pathogenic control.
Being on the editorial end of Brownstone Institute’s operations, I can report my excitement when an essay by Tom arrives in my inbox. I know for certain that I will learn something new, be encouraged to turn the prism in a different direction and observe events and trends from a new perspective, and feel infused by the power of his mind and erudition that emanates from his spectacular writing talent. In so many ways, each essay is a gift. A full book of them is a windfall, and just what we need to understand what has happened to us and where to go from here.
I’m very proud to call Tom a colleague and thrilled that he chose Brownstone as his publisher. Prepare yourself for a real adventure, one that seems often more like fiction than reality. It is inconceivable that a book like this could have appeared only a few years ago. No one would have believed it if it had. But these are extraordinary times and they require extraordinary and brave minds to operate as tour guides, as with Dante and Virgil. The treason of experts has indeed landed us in very dark places but we can see our way out with the truths elucidated herein.
THE FRIGHTENED CLASS (Excerpt)
They’re all around us, especially those of us who live in relatively prosperous metropolitan neighborhoods in the US or Western Europe. Despite being—at least in material terms—among the most fortunate people who have ever walked the earth, they are very scared. And they want you to be very frightened too.
Indeed, many of them see your refusal to be as frightened as they are about life’s inevitable risks as a grave problem that entitles them and their often powerful and influential fellow travelers to recur to all manner of authoritarian practices to ensure that you adhere to their increasingly neurotic view of reality.
This tendency has been in full bloom lately as the people who have sat safely behind their laptops during the last 20 months have harangued and threatened those who have been out on job sites and in meatpacking plants mixing freely with others and the virus, to internalize their own obsessions.
Viewed in historical terms, it’s an odd phenomenon.
For most of recorded time prosperity and education have been the gateway to a life of relative freedom from worry. But now, the people who most enjoy these benefits are, it seems, wracked with anxiety and hellbent on sharing their misery with others.
The point here is not to belittle the very real costs of anxiety in the lives of many people, nor to dismiss it as a real public health concern. Rather, it is to ask how and why it is proliferating so rapidly among those who, at least on the surface, have less reason than the vast majority of their fellow human beings to suffer from it.
There are, I think, a number of possible explanations. One way of explaining the phenomenon is in the context of income inequality and its devastating effects on the shape and size of the upper middle class, and on those who still believe they have a realistic chance of joining its ranks.
Those who have made it into that sub-group are deeply cognizant of the unstable nature of their status in a world of corporate buyouts and rampant layoffs. And they worry that they may not be able to provide their children with the ability to retain what they see, rightly or wrongly, as the only real version of the good life.
Thus, when the people way up on top decided following September 11th to make fear the cornerstone of political mobilization in an increasingly post-political and post-communal society, they found a ready reserve of support in this anxious if also relatively prosperous cohort of the population.
And after two decades of having their already anxious inner selves massaged daily by a steady drumbeat of fear (and a diet of Trump as Hitler for dessert) both they and their children fell like ripe fruit into the hands of those that wanted to sell them on the “unprecedented” threat posed by a disease that leaves 99.75-99.85 percent off its victims wonderfully alive.
Adding another layer to this general phenomenon is the increasing isolation of our educated classes from “physicality” in both their work and their communal lives.
Until the 1990s it was virtually impossible for anyone other than the richest of the rich not to have any active or passive acquaintance with the world of physical work. Indeed, for the first three or four decades after World War II many of those who could financially afford to relieve their children of this acquaintance with physical work often did not do so, as they believed that knowing what it meant to sweat, ache, be crushingly bored and, not infrequently, humiliated during the course of the day was essential to gaining a more rounded and empathetic understanding of the human condition.
All that ended when the financialization of the economy and the rise of the internet made what Christopher Lasch presciently termed the “rebellion of the elites” a much more palpable possibility.
For example, very few of my students have ever worked during their summers in anything other than office jobs, often procured through
family connections. They thus have little understanding of, and empathy for, of just how brutal and demeaning daily work can be for so many people.
This alienation from the physical can also be seen in family life. The predominant and seldom challenged edict of “Go where the money is”—a virtual religion for those seeking upward advancement in US culture—has meant that large numbers of children now grow up far away from their extended families. However, we seldom talk about the built-in costs of subscribing to this ethos.
To talk with and listen to grandparents, uncles, and aunts on a regular basis and in person is very different from seeing these people in occasional choreographed holiday rituals, or from time to time on Zoom. In the first instance, the child is inserted into a milieu that, for better or worse, structures his understanding of how the world works and forces him to recognize his relationship to both the past and the stories of other individuals.
Might they decide later, for very good reasons, to break for this particular network of narratives? Of course. But when they do so they will at least carry within the idea of a stable and rooted identity as a life goal, something that my discussions with students over the last decade have led me to believe many of them no longer see as a possibility or even a need.
The increasing distance between those working within the antiseptic confines of the information economy and those still earning their keep with their bodies has, moreover, led many of the former group into a state of enormous confusion regarding the distinction between words and deeds.
To work in academia, as I have for the last three decades, is to be surrounded by people who truly believe that the words one exchanges with others are as existentially weighty and consequential as physical assaults upon the body. This not only shows how few of them have ever been in a real brawl, but how blind they are to the fundamental role that physical violence and/or the looming threat of its use has always played in the game of coercing the many to bend to the will of the few.
And this is probably why so many of them, parroting the moralizing, if factually tenuous, talking points supplied to them by a deeply corrupt media establishment, are so nonplussed about the real physical assaults upon people’s bodies now taking place in the name of “fighting Covid.”
It is also why a disturbing number of those whom they teach truly believe that hearing someone utter a critique against an ideological construct that another person has told them was good and correct is much more problematic than forcing someone to be injected with an experimental drug under the threat of losing their livelihood.
But perhaps the most significant reason for the rise of the Frightened Class is modern consumer culture’s assault upon the millenary practice of providing the young with what Joseph Campbell called “adequate mythic instruction.” For Campbell myths are, above all, a means of inoculating the young against the angst of knowing we are all destined for decrepitude and death, as well as much inflicted cruelty during that march toward oblivion.
These stories, he suggests, show the young how others have confronted their fears in the past and have learned to find meaning and coherence in the apparent absurdity of their situations. They drive home the message that there is nothing approaching vital plenitude and significant psycho-logical growth without the repeated assumption of risk and a constant engagement with fear. In short, they instill in the young the idea that they are by no means alone in their existential dilemmas.
From the point of view of consumer culture, however, a mythical ly-anchored person; that is, someone able to place their present struggles in a broad, coherent, and historically-informed perspective, is a very troubling thing.
Because such people are much less amenable to the mostly fear-based pitches that drive the production and consumption of the often nonessential goods upon which the system depends for its continued growth and expansion. If an adolescent has heard stories that underscore the ubiquity of awkward feelings among people of his age, and how so many before them passed through these difficulties and became stronger and wiser, then he is much less likely to pine for the purchase of the “solution” to the problem proffered to him by commercial entities.
It has been said that, over time, we tend to “become what we do.” It seems that after orchestrating campaign after campaign of fear on behalf of the truly powerful, the comfortable classes have come to believe their own schtick to the point where they have trouble understanding or even tolerating, those who have always consumed their mercenarily produced fear porn with a large helping of salt.
Worse yet, these self-frightened elites seem to think they can now remedy their lack of credibility with those living outside their grim prison of angst by simply amping up the volume on the scare machine. I suspect they soon might be in for a bigger and possibly much more “physical” set of responses than they ever imagined could come their way.
THE TREASON OF THE HEALERS
In 1927, the French intellectual Julien Benda published La Trahison
des Clercs which has been translated to English as The Betrayal (and sometimes the Treason) of the Intellectuals. The book is a searing indictment of the role played by intellectuals from both sides of the First World War in fanning the flames of that devastating conflict that raised the threshold of man’s capacity for murder and destruction to theretofore unimaginable levels.
For Benda, the great and unpardonable sin of the intellectuals in both Germany and France was to abandon the imperative to generate disinterested knowledge and to instead lend their talents and prestige to tasks of promoting home-borne chauvinism on one hand, and the systematic denigration of the enemy’s culture and citizens on the other.
The rise of the figure of the intellectual, as we understand it today, is intimately linked to two interlocking historical processes from the last third of the 19th century: the rapid secularization of society and the rise of the daily newspaper.
In effect, as citizens began to leave the church and its leaders behind, they redirected their desire for transcendence toward the daily press and its new secular “clerics.” These new spiritual leaders, in turn, had to decide, as had their predecessors in ancient Israel, Greece, and Rome before them, how to exercise their newfound power.
Was it their job to shore up the positive spirit of the collective in the age of the nation-state? Or was it to reveal to their parishioner-readers the stark truths of their time?
Given the enormous stakes in the matter, the second option was, for Benda, the only morally acceptable one.
As the 20th century advanced, the turn-of-the-century writer was gradually supplanted at the apex of the new social communion by the man of science, and especially, by the figure of the physician. Given the exigencies of the scientific method, an adherence to a disinterested search for knowledge should have, if anything, become even more important for such people than it had been for the lettered objects of Benda’s ire.
However, it did not take long to discover that the newly ascendant men of science were just as prone as Benda’s treasonous writers to abuse the institutional powers conferred on them by society and the state in order to pursue narrowly subscribed, and often deeply inhumane, campaigns of bullying and/or human experimentation.
There was, of course, the long campaign of intellectual terror waged by Lysenko and his acolytes in the Soviet Union and the large-scale buy-in—much bigger than is still generally acknowledged or admitted—by German physicians of the genocidal program of “Nazi medicine” during the 1930s and 1940s. And here at home, we have more than enough disgusting cases of medical abuse (forced lobotomies, the Tuskegee Study, MK Ultra, and OxyContin to name just a few) to keep a forensic journalist or historian of medical crime busy for a lifetime.
But when it comes to acknowledging this, things are much the way they are when it comes to acknowledging the serial crimes of the US Empire. It is—as Harold Pinter said in addressing this last matter in his Nobel speech—as if, “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
And because we have largely ignored these outrages against human dignity and the core ethos of healing—explaining them away the very few times when they are mentioned with the ever-useful “a few bad apples” meme—we find ourselves completely flat-footed before the dangers of a new expert-led imposition of highly questionable public health policies, as well as a medical cadre that is more arrogant and less capable of personal and collective insight than one could have ever believed to be possible.
Emblematic of this new reality was a dialogue about Covid containment I recently had with a doctor friend who insisted in the inimitably declamatory fashion of his caste that: “We know what we have to do to control Covid. Just use masks and social distancing.”
When I expressed skepticism about this and asked him whether he, like me, had read the available science on the effectiveness of those approaches to containment, he ignored me. And when I again asked if he had read the science he said: “You can cite all the trivia you want, but we know this is what works.”
Indeed, I am more and more convinced that most practicing physicians have read precious few studies on the clinical treatment of Covid or the effectiveness of the public health measures that were largely invented out of whole cloth in March of 2020 to combat the spread of the disease.
Rather, like the hierarchically-minded “good students” they were and are, they simply assume that someone somewhere up the chain of power has actually read things about these matters, subjected them to critique, and decided they all made perfect sense. Indeed, never has Thomas Kuhn’s portrayal of the stagnant, paradigm-enslaved thinking of most working scientists looked more true.
How else can we explain the fact that so many physicians have sat by silently while blatant anti-science and anti-logic nonsense is proffered to the public day after day by their media colleagues, and worse yet, have, in numerous cases, organized and led campaigns to silence the minority in their ranks who have the courage to challenge these absurd claims and the policies they make possible?
Each of the Emergency Use Authorizations for three Covid injections currently being distributed in the US said quite clearly that there was no evidence that the treatments could or would curb transmission, something that has been eloquently borne out in a boatload of studies on so-called breakthrough cases in the last 2-3 months.
Yours truly, that faithful peasant trafficker in “trivia,” read these EUAs immediately when they were issued in December 0f 2020 and January 2021 and wondered how this salient fact was compatible with a vaccine rollout clearly anchored in the idea that individual jab-taking was the best, indeed, the only way to “protect us all” through herd immunity.
Did any of the tens of thousands of doctors out there relentlessly pushing the injections in the name of collective responsibility ever read those summaries of clinical efficacy on the transmission?
If they did not, they are professionally negligent and thus undeserving of any further deference or respect.
If they did and continued to state or imply that the injections would halt infection and transmission, then they should be held responsible for the deaths and injuries caused by those taking the injections under this misleading premise.
And if and when the apartheid vaccine passport system ever comes, as it should, under prosecutorial scrutiny, these same doctors should be right there in the dock with the politicians as accessories to the crime for providing a completely bogus intellectual underpinning for the free
Where were all these brilliant minds as the wholly captured CDC and FDA, throwing one of the most elemental premises of immunology casually out the window, repeatedly cast doubt upon the reality and potency of natural immunity, and serially suggested that a not fully-tested vaccine that only produces antibodies for a part of the virus provides better protection than the body’s own millenary defenses?
Did they protest it? Or at least have the temerity to mock the outright idiocy of such statements and suggestions? Did they stop and ask whether that made any sense? Outside of a brave minority, very few did, or indeed, do so now.
Most of them acted like a physician I know who, after receiving a stack of studies from a patient regarding the potency and durability of natural immunity (none of which he had read or even heard of) along with a request for a statement attesting to the patient’s recovery from Covid, literally ran out of the room for 15 minutes, only to return with a mealy-mouthed and gaslighting statement that in no way confirmed his patient’s recovery, nor the now scientifically undeniable fact of his ample protection from the worst effects of the virus.
Where are the protests from these people who until a few years ago could be heard pontificating about the “sacred nature” of the doctor-patient relationship and the “doctrine of medical necessity” now that those seminal concepts of medical ethics are being torn to shreds by vaccine mandates that make no distinctions between individual patient susceptibilities to the disease?
Have these bathetic citers of Hippocrates begun to think about what this could mean down the road for the practice of medicine? After having cheered government efforts to foist experimental injections on tens, and more probably, hundreds of millions of people for whom these injections can do no statistically significant good, and thus only harm, they are in no position to stop further pharmaceutical demands from the combined forces of big business and government.
On what basis, for example, could a doctor now object on behalf of his patient to an employer who, waving a statistical model produced at some Pharma-financed institute, has decided to mandate the universal prescription of, say, statins, or more ominously, antidepressants among the workforce in the name of reducing mortality, absenteeism or simply bringing down insurance costs?
In such a case, a large percentage of that workforce would be taking drugs they do not need. But after having folded in the face of efforts to do the same with medications of much less proven efficacy and completely unknown side effects, why would corporate backers even consult the doctors in the future?
The sad truth is that they won’t.
Finally, we must reassert what is arguably one of the greatest–if most assiduously ignored–responsibilities of a healer: the obligation to calm and reassure the patient.
Where were the doctors when it came to telling their patients that statistically proven chances of dying from Covid were minimal, about the same as dying from the flu? Where were those who repeatedly pointed out the steep age and comorbidity gradient among the disease’s mortal victims?
Again, with honorable exceptions, these mostly very well-paid practitioners have been completely AWOL; that is when they have not been eagerly using their state medical boards to harass and sanction those of their colleagues with the temerity to point out these inconvenient truths.
Worse yet, many of them chose to further lie and insult us with blatantly false bromides about how Covid is a “threat to all” that “doesn’t discriminate among its victims.”
Certain Jesuits of my acquaintance often used to say, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” During the middle years of the 20th century, the social privilege, deference, and power previously granted to clerics, and then to writers, was bequeathed to science-based healers.
While they have done much to improve our lives with the money and authority we have given them, they have—even though they seem largely unaware of it—now fallen into a grave state of moral decadence.
If more had, like their early 20th-century predecessors, been forced to study and acknowledge the always-present threat of hubris in human affairs, they might have been able to head off this historical denouement.
Sadly, however, most today are unreflective technocrats unable to recognize, never mind critique, and distance themselves from, the ever more limiting epistemologies within which they carry out their daily tasks. And because of this Oedipal blindness, they will soon, much sooner than most of them think, lose much of the social capital they had assumed was theirs to wield in perpetuity.
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