Dr Frederick Attenborough

Reaping the Whirlwind

by Freddie Attenborough The cover of Thoughts on Antonio Gramsci by Michele Filippini “For they hath sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7) As of December 6th, reports Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Italy is rolling out its so-called ‘super green pass’, barring the unvaccinated from a variety of events and amenities, even in the presence of a negative Covid test. The untermensch – as the documentation just about manages to refrain from describing them – will thus no longer be able to eat indoors at restaurants, attend sporting events, concerts, theatres, and many other public events, regardless of whether or not they’ve tested negative for Covid. It goes without saying that this won’t end well for the people of Italy. I do wonder, though, how the Italian authorities could ever have convinced themselves that it was likely to end well for them either. It wasn’t so long ago that their celebrated countryman, the Marxist political philosopher Antonio Gramsci, sat in his tiny little fascist-era prison cell and pondered how it was that a tiny class of wealthy, capitalist rentiers could so effectively control, exploit and pacify the downtrodden, impoverished masses. To cut a long, and frankly rather boring story short, his answer was culture, or, as he put it, “hegemonic” culture. The problem with state-sponsored violence, he...

Feudalism’s Revenge: Freudian Phantasies of the Near-Future

by Frederick Attenborough The U.K. Government’s latest attempt to satiate Boris Johnson’s multiple, complex and apparently chronic penetrative insemination paraphilias will involve the private sector in bribing young people with discounted takeaway food and free taxi rides. Food delivery and taxi-hailing firms including Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims have all been enrolled in this latest psychiatric intervention and are now offering incentives for young people to arouse the Prime Minister’s husband by receiving what he’s taken to referring to during Cabinet meetings as “the pharmaceutical boys’ ejaculate". "How many disease vectors have the pharmaceutical boys ejaculated into this week?" he'll ask excitedly, often several times a minute, the words oozing up and out of that capricious little slit in his head like smarmy treacle, mellifluous and full of privilege. As you might imagine, the BBC got themselves pretty hot and horny about this, the policy’s underlying mix of messianic, full-throttle welfarism and Old Testament-style retributive psychopathy touching a sweet spot for the munificent totalitarians over at New Broadcasting House. Not that they were able to get off as many superlatives as they'd have liked. True, manipulation of the young is as essential to the BBC as it is to every other elite western institution currently waging war on that dangerous, socially harmful pathogen known as "cognitive diversity" – sorry, I mean "Covid misinformation". But unlike, say, the...

Vacci-Nation

by Frederick Attenborough “Hello, Liz speaking? Oh hello, Sandra. Yes, I’m well, thank you; and how are y… what?!? … when?! … Sandra! … oh, dear… oh, no… oh, Sandra… I don't know what to... mm-hmm… yes? … mm-hmm… no! … oh, Sandra… the police?! … mm-hmm… terrible shock; well of course, yes, it must’ve been… oh dear… and you say they’re sure it was… you’re calling from the morgue, are you? … oh dear, Sandra, I am sorry… your youngest, too… such a lovely boy… at least, until… well, no… no, it's just that... ahem, you know … wasn’t he… er, didn’t he... didn't he become one of those… what do the BBC call them now, “anti-vaxxers,” isn’t it? Well, no… no… no, no… no, Sandra, all I meant by it was… well alright, “libertarian” then, if you must insist on splitting hairs like that… Still, despite the shameful behaviour of that “libertarian” death cult he'd thrown his lot in with recently - and they’re not the sort of reprobates I’d have let my sons associate with, Sandra, though I don't want to cast aspersions on your parenting skills, certainly not at this difficult time - at least you’ll be able to remember him proudly as a lad who did the right thing by the NHS when it really...

The BBC vs Donald Trump

by Freddie Attenborough In March 2021, the BBC reported that one of their investigative teams had, “Been tracking the human toll of coronavirus misinformation”. During this investigation they claimed to have found links to “assaults, arsons and deaths”. Worryingly, experts also told them that, “The potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much worse”. Sounds like an interesting investigation, doesn’t it? Public service output at its finest, you might think. Just the kind of article we’d all like to read.  Alas. Not quite.  The problem with the BBC is that it simply can’t help itself. Having teed an ostensibly interesting story up in this open, investigatory journalistic type of way, its authors then proceed to devote a good-ish chunk of what follows to that most favourite of all BBC pastimes, namely, implicating Donald Trump in the act of mass murder. As with the butterfly so beloved of chaos theory (you know the one: that little blighter who’s always flapping his wings and causing  tsunamis to crash into the coast of Bangladesh) no sooner have the BBC shown us Trump tweeting about the FDA’s preliminary research into hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against Covid than the magic of non-deterministic linear physics kicks in and people all over Nigeria and Vietnam suddenly start mopping up the old bleach-based products like vacuum...

But What Would a Sceptic Have Done?

by Freddie Attenborough Now that we’ve entered into another lockdown, and all we’ve got to look forward to is baking banana bread and crying, I thought it might help to keep the phone lines at The Samaritans free for those most in need if I forced myself to engage with the following question: What would we sceptics have done differently? As we’re all too grimly aware, of course, lockdown zealots have spent the past year detaching themselves from reality, and now ride ghost-trains nervously around funfairs that they’ve built in their own minds. Scrutinising what, for want of a better word, we must describe as the ‘logic’ of the plan they’ve devised for the rest of us, however, we find ourselves unimpressed. Angry, even. Enforced participation in a socially destructive, deeply dispiriting negative feedback loop consisting of brief stop-offs at eight endlessly recurring and all equally dismal staging posts is, after all, not everyone’s cup of tea. But there it is. That’s state power for you. The whip is cracked, the organ plays, and Lo! Our hamster wheels just keep on turning. Curtailment of civil liberties, anxiety, depression, white elephants masquerading as ‘Nightingales,’ insolvent businesses, undiagnosed tumours, rising unemployment… and so it goes, day after day. Sifting through the rubble of our national self-respect, cataloguing artefact after broken artefact, and...

Following the Séance

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come by Freddie Attenborough 10 Downing StreetLondon SW1A 2AA 24 December 2022 I am writing to you to update you on the steps we are taking to combat coronavirus. In just a few years, everyday life has changed dramatically. We all feel the profound impact of coronavirus not just on ourselves, but on our loved ones and our communities. I understand completely the difficulties that lockdown has caused to your lives, businesses and jobs.I also recognise that many of you will be concerned by the Tier 17 restrictions that my Government has today announced. Let me assure you that the actions we are taking are absolutely necessary, for one simple reason. If too many people think at one time, the resources of the state will be distracted from the war on coronavirus. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of information likely to generate cognition in order to save as many lives as possible. That is why we are giving one simple instruction – from today you must distance yourself from thoughts. You should not engage in intellectual discussion with either of the disease vectors you have been caged with since the Tier 14 mass urban evacuations. You may only think for very limited purposes such as articulating the words ‘Thank you...

Blessed are the Prophylactic Givers for They Shall Inherit the Earth

by Freddie Attenborough A still from the film Songbird, a dystopian satire set in the Covid future "What did you do during the Great Reset, Grandad?" she squealed excitedly, the words tripping off her tongue in fluent Mandarin. In the centre of the cage stood an ornate, candle-lit altar. Its upper panels had been cut in triptych form and each panel bore a letter from the old western alphabet: N, H and S. Behind it hung a gilded reredos depicting a coronavirus, its central protein spike outstretched, imparting the spark of life to the reclining Sage, whose fingers could be seen reaching out, but never quite touching, the spike. Running in European style, from left-to-right across the bottom of the image, was a slightly amended excerpt from the Sage’s translation of the New PCR-Testament. Embossed in a plain, puritanical font it read: "The Lord Coronavirus, He who delivered us from The Temptations, creating the Sage (Genesis 24:6.1)." At its foot knelt an old man, evidently in prayer. Though he faced the alter, his eyes had strayed towards the impenetrable darkness beyond their cage. Out there lay the wilderness. The crucible of The Temptations. Hazy, half-forgotten memories still lingered. They came bubbling up now from that most dangerous of personal traitors, his unconscious. The greasy, voluptuous joy of it all. Unadulterated,...

The 1957-58 Asian Flu Pandemic: Why Did the U.K. Respond So Differently?

by Freddie Attenborough 1. Culturing a Pandemic A useful place to start when trying to understand how societies respond to pandemics is Lowell Carr’s catchily-titled Disaster and the Sequence-pattern Concept of Social Change (1932). According to Carr, the way in which “a community reacts to disaster is… determined by its culture, its morale, its leadership, the speed, scope, complexity and violence of the catastrophe itself.” What’s so interesting about Carr’s list of determinants is that it focuses not just on the obvious natural aspects to a disaster (speed of occurrence, scale of destruction and so on) but also on some of the perhaps less obvious social aspects such as leadership structures within societies experiencing disaster, the cultural values that dominate within such societies and so on. It’s this dual aspect to his thinking that makes the book’s core message so relevant today. If we want to understand how a society responds to disaster, Carr’s suggestion is to treat it not just as a natural phenomenon but as a cultural event too. The UK’s response to COVID-19, for example, has focused on developing an understanding of the virus as a natural, biological object: What is its genetic structure? Is it airborne? Can we create a vaccine? How does it affect the human body? But as Carr suggests, that type of knowledge...

COVID-19 and the Infantilisation of Dissent

by Freddie Attenborough Emotion words. The role they were playing in the media/political response to the COVID-19 outbreak first became apparent to me on Monday, 27th April. That was the day Boris Johnson returned to work following a period of convalescence from his COVID-19-related illness. Speaking outside No. 10, he announced that he was (as his press team no doubt suggested he put it in order to resonate with the salaried classes) “back at his desk”. His statement contained all the usual Churchillian allusions. We were thanked for our “effort and sacrifice” and our “sheer grit and guts,” particularly in relation to “collectively shielding our NHS”. Ultimately, though, strip away the rhetoric and what were we being given? A pretty bleak message. Continue staying at home, obey the lockdown and wait for the government to tell you when you can pick up whatever pieces remain of your lives, jobs, careers and companies. No sense of a timeline (however “phased”) for ending the lockdown; no sense of an ending to this period of unprecedented economic national self-harm; no sense of the certainty that our economy – and the people and businesses who make that economy tick – need in order to get back to generating the wealth and prosperity that publicly-funded institutions like “our NHS” need in order to do their...

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