Coronavirus predicted by nationalist science writer 14 years ago

As we all struggle to comprehend the scale and nature of the coronavirus crisis, it is interesting to look back at an article published fourteen years ago by the nationalist journal Scorpion.

This was written by a well-known nationalist activist who had a regular column in Scorpion under the pen-name ‘Loki’, and who presently contributes regularly to H&D under a different name.

Aside from formatting, we reproduce this article here unchanged – with thanks and acknowledgments to Scorpion – as our contribution to continuing discussions about the social/political implications of the present crisis.

Click here to read Loki on Health.

Loki on Health

reproduced with acknowledgments to The Scorpion, where this prescient article appeared in 2006

One advantage of submitting one’s copy to the Scorpion at (or beyond!) the ragged edge of the Editor’s forbearance with deadlines is that it does enable a certain topicality. So that I can open my remarks on the threat to the health of humanity posed by our present socio-economic system with the Dead Swan of Fife.

This is not the title of a sombre tone poem by some Scottish Sibelius, nor a dolorous ballad from the repertoire of Anne Lorne Gillies or Andy Stewart, but a deceased, and indeed somewhat decomposed, specimen of Cygnus cygnus found on a beach in the former Scots Kingdom of Fife a few days ago as I write. Although actually a whooper, it ended up as a very mute swan nevertheless bearing tidings of doom and despondency to be trumpeted throughout the media even unto the very gates of DEFRA (the British bureaucrats responsible for those relicts of our countryside not yet built over by the myrmidons of the sinisterly-named Office of the Deputy Prime Minister).  

The Dead Swan owed its unhappy state to an avian influenza virus, H5N1, which, having despatched a few dozen hapless Vietnamese and Turks who had evidently become overt-intimately attached to its principal host, wildfowl and poultry,  had been borne on migrating wings ever closer to our sceptred isle. Amid mounting media hype, usually of the form – page 1: NO NEED TO PANIC AS DEADLY BIRD FLU GETS NEARER (see pages 2-9 for further sundry scare stories and panicky reportage of the issue). 

This is of course the latest of a steady series of similar pandemic scares in recent years, from SARS to AIDS. Your author still has a London Sunday Times magazine issued in 1986 purporting to contain reportage from the AIDS-ravaged Britain of the mid-1990’s: millions dead, not a family in the land untouched etc etc. Sadly for such Government-sponsored prognostications, AIDS stubbornly refused to behave in the predicted Politically-Correct equal opportunity manner. Retreating into a bigoted epidemiology characterised by racism, sexism and homophobia. Disproportionately afflicting Africans, male homosexuals and women, even sinking to prey on disadvantaged drug-injectors. Shocking! Still, what can one expect of a mere virus…?

All, thus far, have proved specious. After the headlines and the hype departed, humanity carried on much as usual. So, nothing to worry about then? 

Sadly, not quite. Indeed, not at all. Regardless of how often or how speciously the media little boy cries “wolf!” there really is a big, dangerous beast out there. One we are pretty certain, sooner or later, to unleash on ourselves with apocalyptic consequences retroactively justifying every lurid headline and purple passage. As with almost every pestilence and plague throughout history, it will be in a sense self-inflicted, the price of the way we live. But not, this time, the unavoidable price, if we are prepared to change the way we live just a little. If we don’t, we will collectively deserve all we shall, sooner or later, get. 

First, it’s time to get to know Pestilence, the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse. His colleague Death is several hundred million years old, introduced to our ancestors when they ended the arithmetically confusing practice of multiplying by division (binary cell-splitting or metazoan vegetative budding) and subcontracted reproducing to a minority of germ cells, leaving the rest to perish in an ageing body. Famine is probably an even more venerable fellow, manifesting himself to the first primitive mote of life to run out of primordial soup. War in the sense of battles between rather than within social groups of the same species introduced himself to our apish ancestors some millions of years ago. Ants and termites made his acquaintance much earlier. But, although he has been about since the first phage viruses began to afflict bacteria possibly billions of years ago, and pressed his unwelcome attentions doubtless upon our ancestors for much of the time since, Pestilence pretty much left our own personal ancestors alone for the past few million years, until relatively very recently.

The reason is that our ancestors, from perhaps 2 million to around ten thousand years ago, followed a lifestyle Pestilence found decidedly unconducive to his activities.  We were not herd animals, on and amongst whom pestilential pathogens could themselves graze, assured of finding another host when they used up the current one, either by rendering it deceased or immune. Our hominid, and Palaeolithic human, ancestors were thinly spread across the land. Living in bands of at most 200 individuals, each defending a tribal hunting and gathering territory and meeting in larger numbers only infrequently. A situation not conducive to plagues. If disease did break out in one band, it might well infect all its members quite quickly. But such an infection would have run its course, killing or rendering immune and pathogen-free those infected, before they were likely to have met anyone else to infect. In fact, extreme isolation is not necessary – if conditions were such that each person whilst infectious on average infected less than one other, any disease would, sooner or later, die out even if it managed to spread amongst more than one band. 

As was doubtless the sad (if one can spend sympathy on bacteria and viruses) fate of whatever disease organisms managed from time to time to jump the triple barrier that guards one species from the diseases of another. A barrier comprised firstly of the need to physically get from one host of one species to one of another. Not easy in the millions of years when humans generally only got close to other animals immediately before and during killing, cooking and eating them (which incidentally is why you won’t get bird flu from eating cooked chicken!). Secondly the disease has to actually survive and reproduce in the new host, without being simply swatted by the immune system that stops us being eaten, for example, by our own gut bacteria and the countless others that land on and in us constantly. This is especially difficult for viruses – bacteria basically just divide and multiply given a suitable food source, and we are quite suitable to many. But viruses, thousands of times smaller than bacteria, have to hijack a host cell, subverting it into making copies of the virus, before they can breed. Subversion which is highly selective in terms of whose cells can hear, and whose are deaf, to its genetic siren song. So the new disease has actually to succeed in making us ill. Thirdly – and this is the Third Barrier the H5N1 viral Bane of the Dead Swan of Fife has yet to cross – it has to be able to spread from one human to another before the first human is dead or all the germs invading him and her have been slain by the body’s very effective defences.  Having got that far, almost all diseases to afflict our pre-agricultural ancestors simply died out after a brief local epidemic when they ran out of new hosts having the dual desiderata of being both still alive and not already immune.  

To survive as a disease of human or humanlike hunter-gatherers, a pathogen had to gang exceeding warily. Being quite infectious, but not virulent, nor provoking a strong immune response. Subtly lurking in its hosts for decades, and killing, even debilitating most of them slowly or not at all. 

The result is that, as genetic evidence has revealed, only one major affliction of historic humanity ever managed to inflict itself on us lastingly before we started writing our first histories. Tuberculosis. Human TB, alone of all ills to which mankind is heir, is most closely related to its counterpart in our nearest nonhuman relatives, chimpanzees. And its genetic clock shows human and chimp TB diverged when humans and chimps themselves did. It was a disease of our common ancestors, several million years ago. Its practice of lurking, latent, in infected victims for years, even decades, before becoming active and infectious when their immune systems weakens for any reason means it can become endemic even amongst hunter-gatherers. The same genetic clock, the accumulation of random mutations in non-critical genetic material ticking away in lineages of life after they have divided, that shows TB is the one major indigenous human disease shows that pretty much every other human disease is little if at all older than recorded human history. Many are much younger. 

The reason is that both epidemic disease and recording history sprang from the same source. The “Neolithic Revolution”, the adoption of agriculture, the replacement of hunter/gatherers over wider and wider areas by farmers, leading in turn to towns, cities, civilizations, literacy and recording history. .  Pestilence likes farmers. 

There are a lot more of them to prey on, for a start. Even Neolithic-level farming can support tens of times, up to a hundred times, more people per square mile/kilometre than hunting and gathering.  People living cheek-by-jowl in villages, and soon towns and cities, in herds hundreds and even thousands strong. Amongst whom even the most virulent plague can spread quickly enough to be likely to find a fresh host before the current one has died or defeated it. Whilst an endless supply of interesting new diseases is assured by people living in close association and proximity, over long periods, with other species whose herding or flocking behaviour long enabled endemic diseases to evolve for them. Early farmers shared their homes with pigs and cattle (often housed at the other end of their houses or in a ground-floor byre under the living floor) with ducks and chickens underfoot (much as in those areas of SE Asia in the news lately for deaths from SARS and avian flu, by no coincidence whatsoever).

The result was that disease after disease crossed the species barrier from domestic livestock to man. Smallpox was originally the cowpox of cattle. The same species’ rinderpest mutated into human measles. Jumping the species barrier a second time to become canine distemper. Pigs contributed whooping cough – again passed on in turn to poor old Fido, who has got the short end of the stick medically speaking from being Man’s Best Friend.  Falciparum malaria was originally a disease of birds. The human form evolved from that found in ducks and chickens. Different strains of influenza have repeatedly crossed the species barrier to man from their original hosts in pigs and ducks. Southern China and Vietnam, where both pigs and ducks are kept in intimate proximity with impoverished peasants in unhygienic huts, has for this reason repeatedly contributed flu pandemics to the sum of human happiness. To help them make this contribution to mankind, said peasants have cultivated a taste for delicacies made from uncooked duck blood and similar suitably infectious tit-bits.

Agriculture, and the urbanisation it enabled, also allowed species we didn’t intend to share our space with to make themselves at home amongst us anyway and share their exciting diseases. Bubonic plague, for example, was in origin a disease of rats.     

Throughout the last few thousand years, disease after disease has crossed the species barrier and sparked pandemic after pandemic. In each case, the story is the same. Animal diseases were repeatedly exposed to potential human hosts living in intimate and insanitary conditions with their original hosts. Given the very short generation times of germs – some bacteria go through one generation every nine minutes – they evolve rapidly. Mutant strains arise all the time. In situations of frequent opportunities to infect humans, any mutant able to take advantage would prosper. At first, again and again, they would find themselves trapped in a human host, able to multiply and exploit him or her, but with no way of spreading out of the body they were in should it die on them or become able to kill them off. The only escape was a lucky mutation that could escape into another human. With populations in each infected hosts in the high millions and generation times in minutes, such mutations were generally not long in coming. And another new plague was unleashed on humanity…

With, in general, initially devastating effects on populations with little or no natural immunity or resistance. Mortality rates frequently of 25-75% in the first epidemic. Effects mitigated over time in the interests of the disease rather than humanity. Because the disease organism’s best long-term interests lie in farming rather than exterminating its food supply – us! Killing the host before he has time to infect anyone else is clearly a bad career move, which has spared us so far from the likes of the Ebola virus which do this. But even slaughtering the human host herd to the extent that the population drops below the minimum necessary to maintain the disease as endemic amongst it is also inefficient. Although it’s also inefficient to fail to harvest the maximum sustainable yield of germs from the bipedal food supply. On the other side of the evolutionary battle, a virulent disease is actually breeding, and socially selecting, its hosts for resistance to it – it is only the survivors of its attacks, or those who avoided infection, who survive to carry on their kind and/or their healthier way of life. 

The result is that, over time, evolution causes a gradual reduction in the virulence of each disease. And a progress away from devastating but intermittent plagues thereof to a permanent low-level endemic presence. Rinderpest, for example, is widely thought to have crossed the species barrier to become human measles in the 2nd Century AD, causing the devastating plague that caused over 25% mortality in the Roman Empire in the late 160’s AD, in the process ending the relatively idyllic Antonine apogee of Rome. After which it became endemic, with new mutations able to overcome immunity to earlier variants breaking out in a series of plagues of steadily decreasing virulence until, within a few centuries, it became what it was until the recent MMR vaccine came on the scene – a harmless (with the odd tragic exception) disease contracted by virtually every child in the host population, who thereafter became immune, and surviving at a stable level on that basis.  

Such human-adapted diseases can still wreak havoc on populations that have co-evolved with them. When Europeans reached the Americas and then the Pacific Islands, they inflicted a string of new diseases on the natives. Some, like smallpox, were still pretty dangerous even to Europeans, with mortality rates approaching 50%. Among the urbanised Neolithic populations of Mesoamerica those rates hit 95%. The 5% survivors of course passed their higher (though not total) degree of resistance to their descendants. But their society had been destroyed, easy meat for the Conquistadores. Even diseases fairly harmless to Europeans, like measles, could cause significant mortality in populations that had never been exposed to them. Lower mortality, demonstrating that the relative harmlessness of the disease in long-exposed populations was due not only to the hosts evolving resistance but to the pathogen evolving to be less lethal. An example of coevolution in action fascinating unless you happen to be a 19th Century Hawaiian!         

So the Dead Swan of Fife is not mere media hype. The fear that a new disease – or in this case a new variant of an old disease – will cross the species barrier from its non-human host and become an initially very deadly disease of people is well-founded. It is, as we have seen, the way we got pretty much every other disease to which humanity is now heir. From smallpox – first recorded in scabs on an Egyptian mummy from the 17th Century BC – to polio – the first epidemic of which was as recent as 1840, although it’s not yet clear which animal species we got that one from – and including wave after wave of New Improved Flus. Sooner or later – and more likely sooner than later – it will certainly happen again.     

The trouble is that next time, or at least one of the times in the next decade or two, this happens it will be a disaster on an unprecedented scale. Because of the way we live now. 

Disastrous disease epidemics, as we have seen, are already a result of changed human socioeconomics. Before we invented agriculture, they just didn’t happen. Now we have invented globalisation, they are about to get worse. A lot worse. 

Why? The simple answer is that there are more people than ever before, they move around more and faster than ever before, and the short-sighted selfish greed that is the ruling ethos of globalisation has made it much more difficult in a number of ways for us to defend ourselves against new diseases (and indeed made them more likely to arise).     

The unprecedented swarming mass of humanity, which has more doubled in number in the last 50 years to over 6,000 million, provides a feast for new pathogens as never before. Every year there are 74 million more juicy humans to prey on, an entire large European nation full – although the additional arrivals are not Europeans, of course. This seething biomass bred by Western medical and agricultural technology the prevailing ideology of the West caused to be sold, and sometimes given, to the rest of the World without thought of the consequences, beyond short term profit.   

Now they seethe like maggots, eating up the rest of the living world. Living in swarming squalor in their sewer-free shanty towns and favelas, sitting ducks for the next major pandemic and an ideal breeding ground for such a new human pathogen. The epidemiological antithesis of their ancestral scattered bands of Palaeolithic hunters.

Their sheer numbers also mean people are pushing ever deeper into formerly thinly peopled wildernesses, some of which, such as African rainforests, are rich reservoirs of potential pathogens, currently preying on species such as chimps genetically very similar (98%) to us, making the species barrier the germs have to jump temptingly low. To help the germs even more, the African rainforests are now being raided on an ever growing scale for “bushmeat” to be sold and eaten in the vast squatter camps around the continent’s cities. Chimp meat is, apparently, a particular – if 98% cannibalistic! – delicacy, as is that of various monkey species. From one of whom has already come AIDS. So as to enhance our experience of potential disease diversity here in Britain, recent Court cases reveal that Africans have been smuggling chimp and other bushmeat into Britain, where it is apparently a prized delicacy at a number of African restaurants in London. 

However, were any such diners to go down with some exotic germ here, they could be assured of swift and professional medical care. Not so in the teeming slums back home where most such prime cuts are more usually consumed. There any alien pathogens will be given every chance to try again and again to cross the species barrier to infect humanity in a medicine- and hygiene-free germ-friendly environment. Swarming with potential prey, their immune systems weakened by poor nutrition and in many cases in Africa AIDS. Welcoming any initially diffident bacterium or virus anxious to seek asylum from a rainforest animal host being hunted to extinction as its habitat is destroyed in the welcoming and abundant pastures provided by Homo sapiens – overwhelmingly Africa’s commonest large mammal. Though it would be churlish to pass over the peasantry of East and South-East Asia, living cheek-by-jowl with their pigs and ducks, in their efforts to help Mr Pestilence mount his horse for another good gallop through humanity.   

In fact, he has got his foot in the stirrup a few times already of late. Lassa, Ebola and Marburg viruses have all managed to evolve strains capable of infecting humans and spreading from one human to another. However, so far every outbreak has aborted itself because the viruses turn their human hosts into a bag of goo too quickly to allow effective transmission to a wider public. Any mutation of these viruses that makes them just slightly less deadly and they will be in business.  They don’t have to be any less deadly – and so far few have survived infection with Ebola or Marburg. They just have to be deadly a little more slowly, to take a few hours more to kill. And once these delightful creatures do manage mutate to epidemiological effectiveness (or maybe it will be something else not yet heard of, but we can count on  ex Africa semper aliquod something rather nasty  in the coming years) our delightful global Free Market economy will be there to waft Pestilence wherever he wants to go.

For not only is the vast human population swarming through the last wild refuges of exotic viruses and bacteria unprecedented. So is the speed and volume of human movement around the world. Fleets of jumbo jets roaring hither and yon in the service of the free movement of labour in the global economy.  So that a germ that was caught in a village in Gabon or a shanty town around Lagos or a street in Shanghai in the morning can be coughed out into a crowded London Tube, Paris metro or New York subway carriage the same evening. 

When the last big killer hit Europe, the Black Death in 1347, it took some years, and many thousands of germ generations, to spread West from its origin in China, giving the germ and its new host some chance to adapt to each other. Even then, one European in three perished. Now a germ can be in the heart of Europe and North America only a few tens of cell divisions, or in the case of a virus copyings by host cells of its genetic code from its first deadly incursion into our species. 

No-one is going to stop the carrier if the next Black Death from walking through Passport Control at Heathrow if his papers are in order even if he is looking a little peaky. Any suggestion of thorough medical checks or even quarantine periods on people entering the West from Third World plague danger zones would be howled down. 

Ostensibly, but doubtless effectively, with the parrot squawk of “racism” – though such controls would, to work, have to be applied with the same indifference to race, nationality and ethnic origin that most (though as AIDS shows not all) plagues themselves show.  But actually because they would interfere with the vast profits to be made by the multinational combines who own the West from shipping people quickly and freely around the world. Third World labourers to the West to be exploited in dirty, dangerous and low-paid jobs that no Western worker would do – unless they were made cleaner, safer and better-paid, and where’s the profit in that? And Western managers to run “offshoring” operations in the Third World, milking the low-paid labour at source. But if they carry on, one day they will get something very different from profit from the Third World.

The BBC recently released on DVD its chilling 1975 series Survivors, showing exactly the sort of pandemic plague this article is talking about in action. Then it was portrayed as an escaped Chinese germ warfare agent. But very likely Nature can still show human folly a trick or two here. But the opening sequence, showing the Death spreading around the World in days in a mix of footage of jumbo jets overhead and passport stamps at airports, is even more apposite today, when air travel is vastly greater than it was thirty years ago. Nor is the sequel depicted, of the swift collapse of government and civilization as all but one in ten thousand perished in weeks, dated in the least either. That mortality rate would be unprecedented in the history of humanity. But so is our current social situation, in ways that make such a killer plague far likelier than it was in the past. 

In fact, before the present day, Survivors’ plague, The Death, was, ironically, too deadly to spread around a world in which travellers were slower, better controlled, and fewer in number. More than a few decades ago, and Western Governments would have the time and the will to close their borders effectively as the Death rolled closer, to slam the gates in the face of onrushing Pestilence. With peoples who, as the patient endurance of the privations of the last World War by the ordinary people on both sides showed, were capable of reserves of discipline, dedication to the common cause and courage in crisis one suspects would be sought in vain amongst the consumerist hordes of their descendents, brainwashed into the selfish short-sighted greed that is the underlying ethic of 21st Century Western “civilization”.

Indeed, a few decades ago, not only would the next great plague of mankind be less likely to get into Western nations, there is a much greater chance it could have been beaten back even if it had done so. For the ingenuity and technological brilliance that is one of the better aspects of our civilization had, by the early 1940’s, come up with antibiotic “magic bullets”,  stunningly effective against bacteria if sadly not viruses. But being able to beat bacteria alone secures us against the Black Death, and leprosy, and even the ancient human killer tuberculosis. Combined with widespread vaccination, which does work against viruses, this lead the US Surgeon-General in 1962 to proclaim that humanity had won its war against Pestilence. 

Sadly, he reckoned without Pestilence’s good pal, Greed. And a socioeconomic system built on the mobilization of greed, and Greed’s ally Selfishness. The antibiotics, as everyone knew from the start, would eventually lose their effectiveness if they were used carelessly and promiscuously. So long as they were only deployed to save lives actually under threat and in controlled circumstances where the patient could be compelled to take the full course so there were no bacterial survivors of the attack, they would keep their effectiveness. Let them be used indiscriminately in doses not high enough or continued long enough to stamp out all the attacking germs, and some more antibiotic resistant germs would survive to pass on their resistance. Evolution by natural selection works if the best adapted organisms to a new environmental challenge – even if not yet fully adapted – get a chance to survive and breed. And, each generation, even better adaptation to the challenge was rewarded with better breeding success. With generation times in minutes rather than years, microbes can evolve fast and far – if they are given the chance.    

Capitalist greed gave them that chance. The antibiotics were soon the preserve of giant multinational pharmaceutical companies. Who saw there was no profit in hoarding them and using them sparingly so as to preserve their effectiveness. The more widely they were used, the more they sold. Helped by the fact that it was discovered that putting antibiotics into animal feed in the burgeoning factory farms enhanced yields of eggs, milk and meat. To the point that today 70% of all antibiotics made are not used to treat disease but are used in agricultural food production – fed to battery hens and pigs and the like. Much of the rest is wasted in, for example, bactericidal washing-up liquid and tissues. This was combined with the deliberate fostering of selfishness in the interests of profit, under the guise of “human rights” serving “freedom”. So that compelling tubercular drug addicts and Haitian illegal immigrants in New York to complete their courses of antibiotics was deemed an “infringement of their human rights”. 

The upshot was that bacteria were allowed to accustom themselves to antibiotics, constantly and widely exposed to dosages enough to favour resistant strains but not enough to kill them before their resistance had evolved to be complete. Thus Capitalism created MRSA – a strain of the ubiquitous bacterium of boils and zits, and wound infection and septicaemia, Staphylococcus aureus immune not just to methicillin but, in time, to every known antibiotic. Whilst tubercular trash of society exercising their “human right” to stop bothering to take their medication any more once it had cured their symptoms but before it had killed off the last most antibiotic resistant holdouts of TB germs in their bodies has bred a TB which is now almost as resistant to treatment as it was a century ago.    

Compulsory universal vaccination exterminated viral scourges such as smallpox altogether by the late 1970’s (apart from inside sinister secret US and Soviet Government labs). But again the pervading social spirit of selfishness promoted to create profitable consumer populations insidiously undermined the eradication of other viral plagues. 

To work, vaccination has to cover at least 95% of the host population, so the virus cannot find enough vulnerable hosts to sustain itself in the population. But it is not itself without a cost. Sadly, a very small proportion of those immunised are seriously harmed or even killed by the vaccine. Fewer than the disease used to maim and kill. But in today’s self-centred society the “rights” of the individual prevail against the good of the people as a whole. So, for example, a scare – later found to be unfounded anyway – alleging a link with autism caused British parents to opt their children out of the MMR vaccine. Which they were allowed, selfishly, to do. The result is that measles was not eradicated but broke out anew, and recently the first British child for decades died of the disease, whilst others were blinded or brain damaged because social selfishness backed by the courts allowed the eradication campaign to fail. In a different society – or our own a couple of generations ago – parents would have ensured their children’s vaccination out of social duty. Those few children who did die from the vaccine would be seen in the same light as soldiers who perished in battle or firemen who died on duty, as having given their lives nobly for the greater good of  the whole, by their sacrifice saving the lives of the far more children who would have perished had the populace not been protected by vaccination.      

One might think that, with antibiotics growing less and less effective and vaccination less and less universal, and with a general awareness, as the Dead Swan showed, of the danger of a new pandemic plague, those responsible for finding new drugs would be concentrating their efforts on better antibiotics to fight bacteria and cheaper antiviral drugs to fight viruses. But the big profits for the pharmaceutical companies to whom such research has largely, in the privatised market-run world of today, been abandoned do not lie in pills taken briefly to defeat a deadly germ. They lie in those taken lifelong to stave off a lesser chronic ill – a gyppy stomach or a creaky joint. Or mood-altering drugs to help people cope with their crazy world. Or perhaps really expensive and profitable pills to save a few from cancer rather than cheap and unprofitable ones to save many from germs.  So antibiotic research languishes and  resistant strains rampage through homes and hospitals. Necrotising fasciitis anyone?

So we are right to fear the message the Swan of Fife died to bring us. Modern, cosmopolitan, global market society is making the worst pandemic disaster in human history much more likely, and making it much harder to resist it when it comes. The global market is playing a game of Russian roulette with Pestilence. He pulls the trigger on the revolver’s chamber loaded with AIDS. Click! Spin the magazine. Pull the chamber loaded with SARS. Click! Ebola virus. Click! H5N1 flu. Who knows? The hammer is still falling on the chamber. But sooner or later- BANG!     

The last great pandemic, that caused by a new flu train in 1918, killed more people  in four months than perished in the four years of  the First World War. 80% of the United States soldiers who did not come back from serving in World War One died of this flu after the Armistice rather than in battle before it.   The next, spreading much faster amongst a much more closely connected world with lots more people in it, will doubtless kill many more people. Perhaps most people. Though almost certainly not all people. But quite possibly civilized society, which will collapse if enough of its productive people perish. We do not know how many individuals comprising a society need to die to bring down civilization with them. 50%? 75%? 90%? We may be about to find out…

Yet the predicament humanity has got itself into in the first decades of the 21st Century is so grim that such a pandemic is not the worst thing that could – and probably will – happen to us. Our teeming population eating the Earth like locusts has started a race to get us by all the Four Horsemen. Pestilence, as we have seen, is currently a few lengths in the lead. But, as we turn farmland into desert ever faster each year, partly from exhaustion of the soil in the Third World but increasingly in coming decades due to climate change brought on by our greed and filth, Famine is coming up strongly on the stand side. As rising sea levels force entire nations such as the Bangladeshis to pour inland seeking new land for their hundred millions and drought in a warming world displaces billions in Volkerwanderungen to dwarf those which flooded over and drowned the Roman West , War is beginning to spur on his steed strongly. Add the wider spectre of top tier biosphere collapse brought on by the mass extinction of other species at the hands of the spreading plague of excess humanity on a scale already surpassing that when the dinosaurs departed, and Death, currently hanging back and saving his mount’s wind in the certainty that he will get us all in the end individually anyway, must be the bookies’ favourite to sweep ahead in the final furlong and claim our entire species as his prize. 

Unless Pestilence rides a clever race and claims enough of us now to deny his fellow Horsemen their prey later. We are in such a plight by now, caused at root by far too many people, that a pandemic that killed enough people now might save us from worse to come. 

Not too many people, everywhere, though to collapse that Western technological civilization which, once it has sloughed off its Capitalist carapace, still offers the last best hope for the long term future of our species.  Indeed, resolute, determined and disciplined action in the face of pandemic might save one or a few Western nations more or less intact, whilst the rest of humanity perished. The survival of that part of human civilization which has stabilized its population already, freed from the certainty of being swept away in a tide of the desperate rest of humanity as it dragged us all down to disaster, might well be the last best hope of mankind. 

The tragedy of our current plight is that, for humanity as a species to survive the next thousand years, most humans must die as soon as possible in the next hundred. If he can do that for us, without reducing the survivors to savagery, perhaps Pestilence is our friend after all, and the Dead Swan’s message is one of hope in the hour of our coming desperation.       

Slovak national-socialists gain seats

Slovak national socialist leader Marian Kotleba, whose party L’SNS gained seats in yesterday’s general election

The Slovak national socialist party People’s Party – Our Slovakia (L’SNS) led by Marian Kotleba gained three extra MPs in yesterday’s general election and is now the joint-third largest party in the Slovak Parliament with 17 seats.

Meanwhile the more ‘moderate’ Slovak National Party, which at the previous election in 2016 was slightly larger than L’SNS, was wiped out yesterday, falling from 8.6% to 3.2% and losing all of its 15 seats.

L’SNS polled exactly the same vote as four years ago, 8.0%, but it seems likely that a large slice of the former Slovak National Party vote went to a populist conservative party called ‘Ordinary People’, who were the big winners yesterday on an anti-corruption platform.

‘Ordinary People’ seems to be somewhere between the populist nationalism of Victor Orban and the more amorphous protest vote party typified by Italy’s Five Star Movement. Its leader has already said he will be prepared to enter coalition talks with any party except for the defeated government party – the corrupt socialists – and the beyond-the-pale ‘nazis’ of L’SNS.

In practice this means some sort of deal with the anti-immigration party ‘We are Family’, who have 17 seats, and with a libertarian, eurosceptic party ‘Freedom and Solidarity’ with 13 seats. The pro-EU liberal alliance ‘For the People’ backed by Slovakia’s president Zuzana Čaputová (who won a resounding victory hailed by the world’s liberal media as recently as 2019) was in sixth place with 12 seats, so would not be able to reach a working majority in alliance with ‘Ordinary People’.

Hindus rising to top of British Government

Priti Patel (above left) at a secret meeting with Israeli politician Yair Lapid in 2017

The highest level of Britain’s Government was rocked by an unprecedented resignation this weekend, after the top civil servant at the Home Office resigned, making extraordinary allegations against Home Secretary Priti Patel.

It had already been alleged a few days earlier that the Security Service MI5 “did not trust” Ms Patel with secret information, despite her being the senior minister responsible for MI5, as well as for counter-terrorism, policing, immigration and many other sensitive issues.

This is the second time in just over a year that Ms Patel has faced unwelcome headlines. In November 2017 she was forced to resign from then Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet after admitting a series of secret meetings with Israeli officials and politicians including Benjamin Netanyahu.

Then and now, Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard was and is one of Ms Patel’s principal defenders.

The Hindu-Zionist axis at the top of UK politics: Priti Patel (above centre) with (left to right) Stuart Polak of Conservative Friends of Israel; Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev; and Lord Pickles, former Conservative Party chairman, now in charge of promoting plans for a vast Holocaust Memorial in Westminster.

Yet according to her Permanent Secretary at the Home Office Sir Philip Rutnam – one of the elite ‘mandarins’ of the British Civil Service usually legendary for their discretion – Ms Patel simply could not be believed and was impossible to work with.

Sir Philip is now beginning a legal action against the Government for ‘constructive dismissal’, ensuring that this damaging saga will continue for many months, just after Prime Minister Boris Johnson had already lost his most senior minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid. This might have led Ms Patel to believe she is unsackable.

While many H&D readers no doubt share the widespread delusion that Muslims are the ethnic minority that wields political influence in Britain, the Patel saga is part of a wider story in which the ruling Conservative Party is seen to have effectively declared war on Muslims in Britain, while promoting a surprising number of Hindus to top positions and developing disturbing ties to the Hindu extremist government in India.

Ms Patel (the daughter of ethnic Indian immigrants who came to the UK from Uganda in the 1970s) is one of three Hindus in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, all in very senior positions. Rishi Sunak is now Chancellor of the Exchequer: his grandparents were originally from the Punjab region of India and immigrated to the UK from Kenya in the 1960s. Mr Sunak (a former hedge fund manager who spent three years with Goldman Sachs) is married to the daughter of an Indian billionaire. He took his parliamentary oath on the Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita, as did his newly promoted colleague Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

N.R. Narayana Murthy (above left with former PM David Cameron), Indian billionaire and father-in-law of new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Mr Sharma was born in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and immigrated to Britain aged 5. His wife is Swedish, but unlike his two Hindu colleagues in the Johnson Cabinet Mr Sharma represents an ethnically diverse constituency (Reading West) in contrast to the very White constituencies in North Yorkshire and Essex represented by Mr Sunak and Ms Patel.

There are no Muslim ministers serving at any level of Johnson’s government, let alone in the cabinet. Johnson’s only Muslim colleague – Nusrat Ghani, a junior transport minister, was sacked in this month’s reshuffle. She is one of only four Muslim Tory MPs, one of whom – the newly elected MP for Wakefield, Imran Ahmad-Khan, is a very atypical Muslim, having been described as “openly gay” in several press releases which have since been corrected!

This is a remarkable over-representation of Hindus, who amount to 1.3% of the UK population yet hold two of the top three ministerial posts in the Johnson Cabinet, the other being Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, whose father was a Czech Jewish immigrant. Muslims are 4.4% of the UK population, yet have no ministers in either the cabinet or more junior roles.

Three Hindus at the top of the British Government: (above left to right) Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak, and Alok Sharma.

British diplomats raised concerns during last year’s general election about explicit links between India’s extremist Hindu government and the Conservative Party campaign.

Another ethnic minority Tory who gained promotion is Buddhist Suella Braverman, now Attorney General, who took her oath of allegiance on the Dhammapada. Ms Braverman (whose family origins are on the formerly Portuguese-controlled Indian island of Goa) has also faced recent media controversy after it was revealed that she belongs to a Buddhist sect whose founder was an alleged sexual predator.

TERMINATED: Lowles leaves Hope not Hate

The CIA’s favourite anti-fascist, Ruth Smeeth lost her seat at the General Election in December. Could she fill Nick Lowles’ editorial chair at Hope not Hate?

Earlier today one of Britain’s most infamous ‘anti-fascists’ mysteriously quit as a director of the organisation he founded. According to documents filed at Companies House a few hours ago, Nick Lowles is no longer a director of Hope not Hate.

This adds to the mystery of Matthew Collins’ disappearance. Collins, once proudly described as HnH’s ‘head of intelligence’ but whose greatest exploit was to have poisoned the fish in a school fish tank some years ago, has not been heard of since before Christmas.

Is this a Griffin-style fallout over money; is at about jobs for the boys – or bearing in mind the recent election result in Stoke North, is it about jobs for the girls?

Watch this space for further news from the ferrets-in-a-sack world of ‘anti-fascism’.

Sinn Féin wins Irish election and seeks far-left coalition

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (above centre), the big winner of last week’s Irish general election, with IRA godfathers Gerry Adams and the late Martin McGuinness

Sinn Féin – political wing of the terrorist IRA – has emerged as largest single-party from the Irish general election, and is now trying to forge a coalition with two leftwing partners – the Greens and the ultra-left party People Before Profit (whose origins in the Socialist Workers Party). It’s not yet clear whether PBP will bring along the other far left parties with whom it formed a joint slate in last week’s elections.

Between them Sinn Féin, the Greens and the far left have 54 members in the new Irish Parliament. While 80 seats are needed for an overall majority, Sinn Féin hope that the remaining parties and independents would be so divided among themselves that this block of 54 could be the core of a new governing coalition. Yet a stable government would surely depend on an agreement with Fianna Fáil, the party that grew out of the anti-treaty IRA in the 1922-23 Irish Civil War, but which has usually distanced itself from the Provisional IRA and its political front in recent years.

Fianna Fáil’s 37 MPs (excluding the Speaker) would give a Sinn Féin domnated coalition with the Greens and far left a total of 91 seats – a comfortable working majority – but reaching agreement ought to be tricky, given that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had pledged during the election campaign not to work with Sinn Féin.

The two old establishment parties – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – have 72 seats between them, but an ‘old gang’ coalition of this sort might seem like a kick in the teeth for voters who clearly opted for change.

Many non-Irish readers might be mystified by the failure of Fine Gael leader and outgoing prime minister Leo Varadkar, whose apparent triumph in last year’s Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson seemed to bring the destruction of the Union, and Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’ closer than ever.

Outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (above right) seemed to have triumphed in Brexit negotiations with Boris Johnson, but has been decisively rejected by Irish voters.

Yet back home Varadkar was facing some of the same troubles that beset the former UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Ireland is no longer seen by the Irish as having benefited from an ‘economic miracle’. As in London, there is a housing crisis for young people, but again as in London most young voters have in response opted for the far left, choosing to ignore the parallel crises caused by mass immigration that has made Dublin unrecognisable in recent years.

Sinn Féin, which once played an ambiguous role, posing to European leftists as a socialist revolutionary movement, while presenting itself to the Irish diaspora in the USA as a traditional nationalist party sharing their social conservatism, has now reinvented itself inambiguously as a socially liberal party, ticking all the correct trendy boxes, though still unapologetic – indeed proud – of the IRA’s bloody record of murder and mayhem.

As with many such populist insurgencies, government might prove a trickier business than rhetorical opposition, and we have yet to see precisely how the new coalition will stack up a governing majority.

Meanwhile the rival populists of the conservative/eurosceptic right almost all failed: click here for details.

Eurosceptics and ‘far right’ fail in Irish election

Last week’s general election in the Republic of Ireland produced a historic victory for Sinn Féin, political wing of the terrorist IRA, and H&D readers would have to examine the small print of the election results closely to discover the fate of Eurosceptic, socially conservative, let alone ‘far right’ candidates and parties. (The Irish elections are under the STV system, where voters rank candidates in order of preference in multi-member constituencies.)

Hermann Kelly, a well-known journalist and close ally of Nigel Farage, once employed by Farage’s European parliamentary group, set up the Irish Freedom Party in the autumn of 2018. Its main policy is ‘Irexit’, but it sees this as part of a broader strategy towards securing a united Ireland – a Republican agenda that would alienate most H&D readers.

Kelly’s IFP messed up its official registration last year, so its European parliamentary candidates had to be listed as independents. This year its registration was in order, but the eleven IFP candidates obtained negligible votes. Their best first-preference vote was 2.1% in Cork NW, local schoolteacher Tara Nic Domhnaill finishing 8th of 9 candidates.

Ben Gilroy, Irish yellow vest leader and IFP candidate

High profile IFP candidate for Dublin Bay North, Ben Gilroy – an anti-eviction activist who had tried to establish himself as leader of an Irish ‘yellow vest’ movement – polled only 1.1%. In Tipperary the party’s chairperson Prof. Dolores Cahill polled only 0.6%; while in Dublin Bay South IFP’s half-Jamaican candidate Ben Scallan also managed just 0.6%.

These results suggest that ‘Irexit’ has for the moment very limited appeal to Irish voters – which is understandable given that the Brexit process, for as long as the Irish Republic remains in the EU, offers the best hope of undermining the Union and moving closer to Dublin’s dream of a ‘United Ireland’. What the IRA failed to achieve by force of arms, might begin to be conceded as part of Whitehall’s Brexit negotiations.

But what of the insidious threats to Irish identity itself – in particular mass immigration and social liberalism? While the IFP certainly addressed these issues, so did several other parties sometimes described as ‘far right’.

Renua has declined sharply since 2016, when it was led by former MP Lucinda Creighton

Renua was founded by former Fine Gael MP Lucinda Creighton in 2015 after she quit Ireland’s ruling party in opposition to liberalising abortion laws. Mrs Creighton resigned the leadership in 2016 and Renua has since become more radical on race/immigration issues. However this year’s snap election came at a bad time for the party, whose leadership is vacant, and its nationwide vote slipped from 2.2% in 2016 to 0.3% this year, fielding 11 candidates. This collapse has serious implications, since parties that score above a 2% threshold qualify for state funding of about €250,000, rising in proportion to the party’s first preference vote share. In common with the other ‘far-right’ parties, Renua will now miss out on these funds. Only the highest of Renua’s constituency votes passed this threshold – 2.0% in Kildare North.

Justin Barrett of the National Party and independent canddiate for Dublin Fingal, Gemma O’Doherty, are two prominent anti-immigration activists

Perhaps the most ‘notorious’ right-wing party in Ireland is the National Party, founded in November 2016 by anti-abortion activist Justin Barrett who has spoken at European racial nationalist events for parties such as Germany’s NPD and Italy’s Forza Nuova. The NP had ten candidates nationwide. Mr Barrett’s second wife Rebecca polled 0.7% as National Party candidate for Limerick City; while deputy leader James Reynolds achieved their highest vote, 1.7% in Longford/Westmeath.

In contrast to the NP, Aontú – founded in January 2019 – sees itself as a mainstream socially conservative party rather than part of a ‘far-right’ fringe. Unlike most other parties (with the exception of Sinn Fein, the Greens, and far-left outfit ‘People Before Profit’) it operates on both sides of the border and has sought recruits from traditional republicans who cannot stomach the mainstream parties’ (and Sinn Fein’s) swing to extreme liberalism on social questions.

Aontú did succeed in winning one seat: party leader Peadar Tóibín was re-elected in Meath West to the seat that he had held for Sinn Fein since 2011, having quit Sinn Fein in November 2018 and set up Aontú two months later. He took 17.6% of first preferences this year, second only to the Sinn Fein candidate who topped the poll. (The big loser in Meath West was Fianna Fáil, whose candidate had topped the poll in 2016 but slipped to fourth this year and lost his seat.) Other strong Aontú votes included 8.4% in Cork NW, but the party’s nationwide vote was only 1.9%.

Peter Casey has fought several high-profile anti-immigration campaigns but failed badly this year

Ireland’s highest profile ‘mainstream’ anti-immigration politician Peter Casey, a businessman best known as a panellist on the television show Dragon’s Den, and runner-up in the 2018 Irish presidential election, was perhaps the biggest disappointment of this year’s election. Standing as an independent, Casey finished 11th of 13 candidates in Donegal with only 1.5%, and made even less impact in Dublin West, where he sought publicity by standing against incumbent Prime Minister Leo Varadkar but polled only 1.1%.

A rival independent ani-immigration candidate, Niall McConnell, fared even worse in Donegal with 0.8%.

A more successful maverick candidate was journalist Gemma O’Doherty, banned from YouTube last year for ‘hate speech’, who took 2.0% in Dublin Fingal, while her associate John Waters (a 64-year-old veteran music journalist) polled 1.5% in Dún Laoghaire on a similar anti-immigration platform.

Perhaps the best news of the election was the success of Verona Murphy, who was disowned by her former party Fine Gael after she made comments about migrants and terrorism while standing as Fine Gael candidate in a Wexford by-election. This year she easily won a seat in Wexford standing as an independent, polling 7.8% of first preferences but elected in third place after transfers from another independent, but more surprisingly also from Fianna Fáil and Labour.

A politically-correct row last autumn over anti-immigration comments by Independent MP Noel Grealish didn’t do any harm to either Mr Grealish, re-elected in Galway West, or his fellow independent Michael Collins, who defended Mr Grealish’s remarks in a radio interview and was himself re-elected top of the poll in Cork SW.

Noel Grealish – re-elected in Galway

So the overall outcome of the Irish election is that there will be at least four members of the new Parliament who, while from very different political traditions, each has a record of speaking out on immigration, in defence of Ireland’s racial and cultural traditions: Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín and three independents – Mrs Murphy and Messrs Grealish and Collins.

Sadly however these will be heavily outnumbered and overshadowed by the success of Sinn Féin, which combines unapologetic adherence to the terrorist traditions of the IRA with an ever trendier ultra-liberalism on race, immigration and the whole gamut of 21st century PC craziness on social questions.

Sir Roger Scruton: 1944-2020

The term ‘conservative’ is now so much abused it has become almost meaningless, but Sir Roger Scruton – who died today aged 75, having suffered from cancer for the last six months – was a true giant of English conservatism.

Just over a month ago in London, Europe’s greatest conservative leader Viktor Orban presented Sir Roger with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, saying rightly that he had “foreseen the threats of illegal migration and defended Hungary from unjust criticism.”

Many H&D readers will best remember Roger Scruton for his eighteen years as chief editor and publisher of The Salisbury Review. Within two years of its launch, Scruton’s Review made headlines for publishing a controversial article by Bradford headmaster Ray Honeyford, ‘Education and Race – an alternative view’.

The March-April issue of H&D will include an obituary of Sir Roger Scruton: may he rest in peace and may his example inspire new generations of Englishmen to redefine and reinvigorate conservatism for our times.

Gangster president declares war on Iran

Donald Trump with IRA terrorist godfather Gerry Adams. Trump now seeks to emulate his old friend’s record of brutal and shameless murder.

Gangster president Donald Trump has this morning effectively declared war on Iran by ordering the murder of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the most significant state-sponsored assassination since Czech SOE agents killed Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 – and the most significant such assassination ever to take place outside wartime.

It is immaterial whether Trump’s action was dictated by his slavish devotion to the State of Israel, or was partly inspired by the need to distract attention from his own impeachment for criminal misdeeds.

During his election campaign four years ago, Trump gave American voters the impression that he would end the era of US entanglement in foreign conflicts. Instead he has today embroiled the US in what will be a far more serious conflict than the Iraq and Afghan wars combined.

The US now stands alone, without its NATO allies, as even the British Foreign Office rushes to distance itself from the White House Godfather.  The only cheers have come from Trump’s fellow crook Benjamin Netanyahu and the neocon cabal whose influence Trump once promised to end, but who now enjoy more control over US foreign policy than under Reagan, Clinton, or Bush.

Donald Trump’s political tutor was mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, seen here with (left to right) Donald Trump, nightclub owner and crook Steve Rubell, and Trump’s first wife Ivana.

The day Thatcher got it right!

Fr Patrick Ryan with fellow IRA godfather Gerry Adams

One highlight of Irish National Archives releases publicised this morning involves Mrs Thatcher’s fury at Belgian PM Wilfried Martens, after the Belgians had refused to extradite the notorious IRA priest Fr Patrick Ryan.

The documents relate to events following Ryan’s arrest in 1988 by Belgian police who found a large quantity of cash and bomb-making equipment in his home.

In a repeat of events more than forty years earlier, when French and Belgian authorities took a similarly soft line with Jewish terrorists involved in anti-British atrocities, the Belgians refused to extradite the terrorist priest to London.

Mrs Thatcher was understandably furious, and the official documents released today record her reaction. Martens went on to be the elder statesman of European conservatism, and the whole affair sheds a cynical light on claims that cooperation with Europe is important on ‘security’ grounds.

It’s a sign of our times that today’s report of this in the Daily Mail omits to mention Fr Ryan’s recent gleeful confession to the BBC that Thatcher was “100%” correct to see him as a key player in atrocities such as the Brighton bomb, the IRA’s Libya connection, etc. He boasted of having been personally responsible for devising a foolproof bomb timer, based on a commercially available mini-alarm.

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