There is a temptation, pronounced most acutely in frustration or fear, to compare the indoctrinated to the mole or the grub. This creature, accustomed to the tenebrous, subterranean environment in which it has been placed, may not be unlike the myopic bourgeoisie, those social specimens born into psychic and intellectual darkness, and preserved in darkness by pervasive propaganda. They are cautioned against venturing into the world above and outside, and for good reason, as the brutal brilliance of the natural light will blind them—temporarily, yes, but not so briefly as to deny them time to squint and squeal and scurry back furiously to the comfortable ignorance to which they’ve grown accustomed. Have we painted this portrait fairly? Are we right to reduce the bourgeoisie to this cruel and dehumanizing cliché? Perhaps, but let us not forget Nietzsche’s warning: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.” We the unplugged, the disillusioned and the disabused, spend so much time within our own shelter, within the echo chamber of reality, speaking only with those who have escaped the prison of the benighted, that we forget the benighted are real men and women, living beings whose words and behaviors, ventriloquized and puppetized though they may be, have a tangible and sometimes even fatal impact. We forget this only at our own peril, and we run an even greater risk if we forget that it is they, the programmed and the manipulated, who have forced us into our own chateau, and not the other way around.
For this reason, it is necessary to maintain some limited conversance with the popular culture, but this proves more trying with each passing day. The popular culture is alien, hostile, and frequently unintelligible, hence why we must commit ourselves to a mastery of it. An especially provocative and relevant example emerged just a couple of days ago, when Anderson Cooper of CNN invited Bill Gates to describe his vision of what the United States government must do in its ongoing battle against the coronavirus. It is a battle that is growing increasingly quixotic, as neither a relaxed and Darwinist approach, nor the enforcement of mass social isolation, has been proven to reliably halt the spread of infection—which is to say that there is no practical justification, to say nothing of a philosophical foundation, to suspend the people’s freedom of movement. We are aghast to hear of policemen detaining people without formal charge, yet our tolerance for the revocation of several other civil liberties under universal suspicion of infection is apparently everlasting. Unfortunately, the popular culture has little patience for this criticism, and will entertain it only rhetorically, so as to caricaturize and demonize the conscientious objector.
Bill Gates is more than willing to execute this task, one which he has pursued with salient passion in the days of the pandemic. This summer, he has made multiple appearances on CNN, delivering cheerful lectures on “the need” to proscribe freedom of movement and to enforce compliance with this prohibition through “contact tracing” and other forms of universal surveillance. When he isn’t speaking to the hosts of CNN directly, they are discussing him with an unreserved reverence, and in the absence of even gestural neutrality—a journalistic malignance that has become the norm in the Trumpish Age—a novice might think Gates is the network’s senior coronavirus correspondent. We have written of institutional incest before, but the problem remains mysterious, even unknown, to the bourgeoisie who depend on popular culture to remain “informed”. Alas, the corporate brass of Warner Media are more perceptive than that, and they recognize that their pageantry has become dangerously undignified. Perhaps they wanted to avert calamity when, on Thursday, July 23rd, they pumped the brakes of their propaganda machine and invited Gates to address some of the criticism he has received in the independent media.
Anderson Cooper conducted the interview, and while this dynastic heir to a Vanderbilt fortune has never been a serious foe to the elite, his obsequious deference to Gates was simply distasteful. He introduces the topical criticism as “lies”, “misinformation”, and “conspiracy theories”, which not only directs his audience to dismiss criticism of Gates before they even hear it, but also reveals the flippancy with which Cooper has treated the subject. Reinforcing this pre-emptive perspective is a viewer who asks the centi-billionaire: “What would you say to the fringe portions of the public, like conspiracy theorists, who seem to think that you are somehow responsible for the outbreak?” At once, it becomes clear that this is no earnest investigation of Gates’s corruption—a verifiable problem that encompasses decades, and which investigative journalists have been covering for the same length of time—but a televised feat of reductio ad absurdum, one which denigrates Gates’s critics as mentally unstable miscreants.
In essence as well as in function, the spectacle is a public relations venture for Gates, which raises an uncomfortable question about why this man, one of the wealthiest and most influential people on the planet, is still struggling to persuade the public of his supposedly unmistakable benevolence. Not even a series of affable interviews on CNN, arguably the most powerful news corporation in the world, seems to be enough to purchase the public’s favor. Cooper might have been channeling Gates’s understandable frustration on this score when he observed: “The top ten videos that spread lies about [Gates] had almost five million views.” He neglected to mention what these videos are, or whether the ten unknown videos received five million views combined or apiece. He declined, too, to boast that a clip from one of his previous interviews with Gates, broadcast in March of this year, has received more than twelve million views on YouTube alone.
Isn’t it time we exposed the churlish elites who possess omnipotent and omnipresent platforms for communication, yet moan so plaintively of misinformation peddled by the disenfranchised rabble? Even if we were to agree with every designation of “misinformation”, how can the self-proclaimed victim—be it Cooper, Gates, or the Department of Defense—complain of an unequal playing field or an unfair advantage? Cooper asks Gates: “Do you wish [Internet companies] would play a role in taking stuff down that is just demonstrably false? Because it does have a real-world impact on vaccines or a nut showing up at a pizza parlor … with a gun.” How deliciously ironic that Cooper would consider censorship to be a permissible weapon, for censorship can be enforced only by a person in a position of power. The inevitable contradiction and dishonesty at the heart of each of these calls for censorship betrays a profound insecurity, a telltale fear of being found out.
Gates, for the record, and completely unsurprisingly, endorses censorship. In response to Cooper’s query, he says: “Yeah, in some cases, they are taking things down. It’s a combination of pandemic and social media and people looking for very simple explanations.” Presumably, Gates has yet to consider his own search for very simple solutions, including the silencing of his critics. Of course, he reassures us of his upright principles when he later declares: “I’m a big believer in getting the truth out.” Such a startling logical disconnection reminds me of the day that Andrew Yang told me he was “generally pro-whistleblower and pro-people-that-try-to-call-out-bad-behavior”, but could not bring himself to defend Julian Assange. And Gates, as you could probably imagine, has never commented publicly on Assange’s plight, either.
The only legitimate victims, it would seem, are people and institutions of power. It is not Assange who is a victim of the American intelligence agencies, but the other way around. It is not an Iraqi child who is the victim of an imperialist soldier, but the other way around. And it is not the writers working with very little pay, and often without it, to expose the iniquity of Bill Gates who are the victim of his institutional power, but the other way around. It is an unfathomable power that allows Gates, whom Maria Farmer and Whitney Webb have identified as one of the leading financiers of Jeffrey Epstein’s criminal operation, to laugh heartily before an audience of millions while Cooper speaks sardonically of “global cabalistic sex traffickers”. The truth is irrelevant because Gates can buy his way out of it.
“It’s insane,” Cooper says. “What do you say to people who believe this stuff, because I’m sure you are inundated by … insane stuff?” Maybe the question answers itself.
Appendix: In the event that the question doesn’t answer itself, I have decided to include Gates’s response in full. The awkward phrasing and disoriented rambling reveal his insincerity, but for the sake of readability, I have omitted his myriad Uhs and Ums.
“The culmination of having social media spreading things that are very titillating, to have this pandemic where people are uncertain and they prefer to have a simple explanation, it’s meant that these things are really millions of messages a day and people like myself and Dr. Fauci have become the target. Often, the clever thing they do, our foundation has given more money to buy vaccines to save lives than any group. So, you just turn that around to say we’re making money and trying to kill people with vaccines by inventing something. And at least it’s true, we’re associated with vaccines, but you have actually sort-of flipped the connection that we have there. I hope it doesn’t create vaccine hesitancy. I hope this whole story of inundation that’s going on, that we do get the benefit of that.” Later: “These are well-meaning people. This is a time where people are doing great work, so I hope the conspiracy stuff dies down. It’s really, the numbers kind-of blow my mind, and it’s not just the fringe people that you would normally think of.”