One of the things that the plague chronicle aims to do is draw back the curtain on the institutional or cultural roots of particular malignancies, which seem at first to be contingent on specific bad actors. While I understand that some of you find this irritating, it’s not my purpose to let anybody off the hook. It’s rather to point out that the very real villains we’re all concerned about are mere expressions of much deeper forces, and that fixing things will involve a lot more than rounding up all the Anthony Faucis of the world and trying them for crimes against humanity.
One vein of Corona analysis sees the entire pandemic as the plot of globalist conspirators who are interested in reducing the world population. There are many variations on this theory, but the most basic would hold that lockdowns and the rest were a means of driving us to accept harmful vaccination, which will cause a massive die-off among the vaccinated in the coming years and prepare the way for whatever Net Zero sustainable future Klaus Schwab has planned for the survivors.
My readers often send me links to podcasts, videos and other media providing proofs of this Global Depopulation Agenda. Clip compilations like this one constitute an important genre in this area. They generally feature globalist goons – in this case, Bill Gates – saying ominous things about the overabundance of humans at different interviews and panel discussions.
I have a look at almost everything you send me, and by now I’ve seen enough to note that the internet case against Gates rests heavily on the same dozen or so video statements. Some of these items, for example the third one in that link (where Gates is talking about reducing childhood mortality), are deliberately deceptive, and it’s an important question, why this area is so awash in clearly manipulated media. The rest of the clips are more or less accurate representations of Gates’s arguments, the only problem being that they’re presented too narrowly.
The fourth at that link, for example, is from a TED talk, where Gates opines that:
The world today… is headed up to about nine billion [people]. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, healthcare, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15%.
The fifth is very similar. Here, Gates pleads:
The problem is that the population is growing the fastest where the people are the least able to deal with it, so it’s in the very poorest places that you’re going to have a tripling in population by 2050. And so their ability to feed, educate, provide jobs, stability, protect the environment, in those locations means they’re facing an almost impossible problem.
If you read these statements carefully, you’ll see they don’t actually support the idea that Gates wants to reduce the world population by vaccinating people to death. First, he could hardly be expected to air such plots in a public forum; and second, Gates almost always pairs his remarks about population with other concerns about healthcare, food and education. These are strange scruples for a homicidal maniac bent on killing billions.
These statements only begin to make sense, when you realise that they’re rooted in the sociological theory of demographic transition. This theory observes that, as societies advance technologically and economically, they shift from an order of high birth rates and high death rates to an order of low birth rates and low death rates. Gates, who like all globalist elites is worried about environmental impacts from there being too many humans, believes that he can reduce the total peak population in places like Africa by introducing medical interventions to lower mortality and thereby guide populations to a low-birth-rate, post-transition demographic pattern. Whether this theory is right, or whether this makes Gates’s interventions morally defensible, are separate questions. What is beyond dispute, is that this is what Gates is arguing and what everybody in his audience understands him to be arguing.
The banal truth is that Gates is an unoriginal flabby Western liberal. He’s worried about the environment, about population and about disadvantaged brown people, and he thinks he can solve all these problems by improving healthcare. This isn’t a defence of him. I happen to think he’s a malign influence and that if we can’t rein in the Gates’s of the world we’re finished, but that’s not because he’s bent on using mRNA vaccines to decimate humanity.
Those concerned about the Global Depopulation Agenda will not be appeased by these clarifications, of course. They’ll point to anti-natalist messaging and policy in Western nations, and also to organisations like the Club of Rome and establishment intellectuals like Paul Ehrlich, who have openly railed against the spectre of overpopulation. They’ll argue – rightly – that our entire political culture is in thrall to a green movement which opposes any technology that might further human flourishing via reliable energy, regardless of its carbon impact. They’ll say I myself have frequently complained that countries like Germany are doing permanent damage to their economies by pursuing an energy transition which will make no difference in the longer term, because future carbon emissions are almost entirely a function of increasing prosperity and population growth in the developing South and East.
If there isn’t a Global Depopulation Agenda, what’s going on, and how are all these ominous developments to be explained?
The answer is very important, and it lies in the peculiarities of postwar political ideology and the moral instincts which this ideology expresses.
There are many ways to illustrate this, but the most efficient is probably this classic Nature paper on ‘Ideological differences in the expanse of the moral circle‘.
Among other things, the authors asked study participants identifying as ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ (in the American sense) to indicate their spheres of primary moral concern. ‘Conservatives’ tended to emphasise those spheres nearest to themselves – their immediate family, their more extended relatives, their friends – as bearing the greatest moral weight. ‘Liberals’, meanwhile, expressed the greatest moral interest in those spheres furthest from themselves – ‘all people on all continents’, for example, or ‘all mammals’.
Plotted as heat-maps on 16 concentric circles, where the first circle is ‘immediate family’ and the 16th is ‘all things in existence’, the comparative results look like this:
Because the future survival of humanity is at stake here, we should drop the dumb ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ labels.
The heatmap on the left is not ‘conservative’. It reflects the ordinary, unremarkable moral orientation of almost all human beings who have ever lived, and almost all currently living humans across the entire world. Without a moral orientation that somehow prioritises your progeny and your relatives (however widely understood), your genes will get nowhere.
The heatmap on the right, meanwhile, represents the anomalous exogenous moral orientation (EMO) of political and cultural elites in the developed West, which ‘liberal’ cannot even begin to describe, and which applies primary moral emphasis to circles 13 and 14. These are ‘all animals in the universe, including alien lifeforms’ and ‘all living things in the universe including plants and trees’. Substantial moral value is also attached to things in the twelfth circle, ‘all animals on earth including paramecia and amoebae’, and in the fifteenth circle, ‘all natural things in the universe including inert entities such as rocks’. These are people who, strictly speaking, claim to feel morally bound to family, friends and relatives primarily to the extent that these fall within the ‘living things’ or ‘things in existence’ categories.
While we aren’t exactly governed by shape-shifting lizards, we are governed by completely insane ideologues who would do the bidding of shape-shifting lizards – if necessary at our dire expense – were these ever to be discovered.
Now, it’s not quite as bad as it seems. Remember above all that these are moral aspirations and ideals; they are how study respondents claim to feel. Revealed preferences show that most of these people, in their personal lives, still attach substantial moral weight to their immediate friends, family and community. They probably feel qualms about this, however, and when the context is not so immediate – when, for example, they’re making policy decisions for millions of citizens – they’ll compensate by caving to their idealised EMO wherever possible. Put another way: Bill Gates likes the convenience of his private jet, even as he hopes to discourage people from flying.
Remember also that it is the dose which makes the poison. Some degree of EMO isn’t bad. It’s one reason that we look down on littering, for example. An important expression of growing Western EMO would be the European interest in other peoples and cultures, including much-maligned colonialism and the less-maligned British campaign to abolish the slave trade after the later 18th century. Particularly since 1900, however, the EMO of Western governing elites has grown ever more extreme, to the point that it has begun to constitute an existential threat for human civilisation.
How this radical and historically unprecedented EMO came to be so ingrained is a complex question. Putting it down to the media or to propaganda is not fully satisfying, because we’d have to ask where the media and the propagandists got these ideas in the first place.
A prerequisite is technology and our growing alienation from nature. Anyone who has spent a rough week or two on the face of a mountain will come away from the experience personally enriched, but perhaps also doubtful that unmanaged, unmitigated nature is every bit as friendly, good and deserving of moral concern as his immediate family. Tropes which locate wisdom in distant indigenous peoples and on foreign continents likewise betray a naivete about the realities of hunter-gatherer existence and a lack of experience with life beyond the prosperous West.
A more important, immediate causal factor, is the upset in established social orders since the Industrial Revolution, which has coincided with the rise of liberal democracy, and the replacement of the traditional aristocracy with new managerial elites. The latter have frequently pursued tactical alliances with outsiders or the lower classes to displace prior establishments – including, as the quiet revolution continues, prior managerial establishments. This is the primary function of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity initiatives in America today, and it obviously encourages and depends upon both orchestraters and beneficiaries to engage in radical EMO rituals.
As the problem seems to be growing worse over time, self-reinforcing selection effects probably also play an important part. The more pronounced EMO is favoured by the governing elite, the more all politicians and persons of prominence in the West are specifically selected for this trait, or at least for their willingness to pantomime it. While people with these moral tendencies have always existed, they’ve never been so heavily concentrated in positions of influence before, and the more concentrated they become, the more aggressively they filter for like-minded radicals like themselves, even in the absence (and in excess) of any specific objective.
Once you have seen this simple dynamic at work, you cannot unsee it.
It explains the increasing prominence of animal (and even alien) protagonists in entertainment media, the overt preference for fringe sexual minorities, the predilection for supranational global political bodies and non-governmental organisations which transcend borders and national institutions.
It explains, in particular, why governing elites are so open to insane unprecedented policies like mass immigration. They no longer have particular national moral categories at all, and so they reluctantly embrace all of humanity, and preferentially all living things everywhere. Similarly, it explains why mainstream liberal policies happily enlarge the carbon footprints of millions of third-world immigrants by welcoming them into the industrialised West, while simultaneously waging war on all aspects industrial society for their supposed negative impacts on nature.
Less obviously, the radical EMO of our leaders and their supporters explains the increasing willingness of elites to tolerate suboptimal and actively harmful policies at home. The moral world of the people who run our countries has grown enormously in size, leaving the spheres of their direct jurisdiction almost microscopic in comparison. Why not shut down all of society in an effort to kill a (likely man-made) virus? Why not inject poorly tested mRNA novelty vaccines in billions and suppress all evidence of negative effects? That elites increasingly treat their populations like cattle is a direct expression of their expanded moral universe. They have so many other things to care about.
It took a while for these moral sentiments to find their proper ideological articulation. In the early 1970s, people with radical EMO signalled, for a brief time, about the dangers of human overpopulation, and there ensued a moment of moral hysteria in which people like Paul Ehrlich wrote books like The Population Bomb. The years since have seen the emergence of a more differentiated ideological system, which extends lesser but still privileged consideration to Third World populations. Thus anti-natalist systems are confined mostly to the West, where the most zealous environmental policies are also implemented. That Europe could disappear tomorrow with minimal effects on long-term global population projections or the future composition of the atmosphere is irrelevant. It is the fact that this is the circle of least moral concern which is determinative.
In the nineteenth century, somebody like Bill Gates would be far more likely to run domestic charities, but in our present hyper-EMO world, he spends every waking moment thinking about Africa, and how he can help Africans, and in the process also save nature by hastening the African transition towards lower birthrates and bringing the Net Zero ideal closer to reality. All the policy documents and aspirational statements produced by the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and other bodies are animated by a similar spirit.
A globalist cabal plotting the depopulation of the world would be a grave problem, but one with a clear enough solution. We’re facing, instead, an entire moral and ideological system, with very deep roots in prosperous Western culture. This isn’t a universe where everybody wakes up tomorrow, elects to put Bill Gates on trial for his crimes against humanity, and returns thereafter to sensible public health policy. It’s a world where millions of people share the ideological anxieties of eccentric children like Greta Thunberg, manifest escalating indifference to adverse policy outcomes in their own countries, and dream of a future earth devoid of humans like themselves. Because the driving forces operate at the level of moral instinct and emotion, no amount of evidence or appeals to reason that can stop this. Probably the best hope lies in its naïveté and idealism. Worsening conditions will ultimately deprive these ideologies of their cultural appeal; how bad things have to get before this happens, is the terrifying question.