The global pandemic of 2020-21 has given the public an unprecedented glimpse of the impressive machinery that forms the global health establishment. Some level of sensible co-operation between organisations working for the benefit of public health—including UN affiliates, NGOs, Big Pharma, academic research and publishing, national bureaucracies, Big Tech and Big Media, philanthropic organisations and think-tanks—has never been a secret. But the pandemic response has revealed a previously unsuspected level of orchestration that allows these entities to move in concert, even to the point that they appear to be reading from the same prepared script. It is something of a rude shock to find, as we now do, that a supra-national apparatus has been created and that this apparatus appears to be directing national governments, rather than the other way around.
Recently, the global health establishment has shifted its focus from controlling “the pandemic” to controlling “the infodemic”. As the World Health Organisation explains, “an infodemic is an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—occurring during an epidemic”. Because misinformation confuses the public with conflicting messages, the global health establishment now proposes to treat misinformation like a pathogen and to sanitise both “digital and physical information systems”. In July 2021, the WHO held its first “infodemiology” conference—a closed session—for the purpose of discussing “How infodemics affect the world and how they can be managed”.
This essay appears in the current Quadrant.
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The problem with suppressing information, of course, is that it is undemocratic. Who gets to decide what is “correct” information and on what basis? How are we to ensure such power is not misused for corrupt purposes? The usual mechanisms designed to ensure government remains accountable to the people are inadequate to constrain the powers of the global health oligarchs, even if we knew who they were. All kinds of democratic freedoms are being suspended to meet “the public health emergency” and every day brings some new example of the amazing power of the global health machine to direct our daily lives. Current efforts to suppress information should sound the alarm for anyone familiar with the early symptoms of dictatorship. Authoritarian regimes typically kill more people than any pandemic.
Authority derives from a monopoly on access to Truth
Given its transnational reach, the power exercised by the modern global health establishment in the name of saving lives is a striking parallel of the power exercised by the medieval Church in the name of saving souls. As the Church was the only authority trusted to pronounce on biblical truth in a religious age, so the influence of the global health establishment derives from its prerogative to interpret scientific truth in a secular age. Whoever has the authority to connect “scientific fact” to human health outcomes (a matter of public messaging for which the co-operation of the media is necessary) also has the quasi-ecclesiastical prerogative to set the direction of the collective moral compass by explaining that good/correct actions produce human flourishing and bad/wrong actions produce sickness, mental illness or death.
The pandemic response has revealed that, like the medieval Church, the global health establishment is now a highly organised, well-funded and immensely lucrative affair, monopolised by a small elite whose continued power and wealth depend on maintaining a monopoly on “scientific truth”. Scientists have become a sort of priesthood and, with something like to papal infallibility, Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), can claim that his pronouncements are beyond question because they are “fundamentally based on Science”:
What you’re seeing as attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on Science … So if you are trying to get at me as a public health official and scientist, you’re really attacking not only Dr Anthony Fauci, you are attacking Science.
Given enough imagination and the right media spin, almost anything within the purview of science might be framed as a health issue. The global health establishment has only to show that some actions are morally “good” (because they secure public health) and others are “bad” (because they reduce public health) to hold governments over a barrel. There is no shortage of examples to demonstrate that scientists are aware of the real-world power of science to direct politics and that they are willing to use it. Ten years ago, for example, Dr Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the esteemed British medical journal the Lancet, explained that:
when climate change is framed as a health issue, rather than purely as an environmental, economic, or technological challenge, it becomes clear that we are facing a predicament that strikes at the heart of humanity.
The only bulwark against “science” becoming an instrument of global tyranny was its pluralism and lack of centralised control. The pandemic response has now demonstrated that any impression we might have had about the independence of scientists is largely illusory. What we have instead is a vast network of alliances which allows hegemonic power over global public to be exercised by a small number of individuals and organisations.
The Inquisition and the Infodemic
Just at the time when accountability and open communication would provide the best remedy for the growing public mistrust of the arbitrary power of health officials, moves to suppress “the infodemic” only serve to exacerbate public disquiet. If the supra-national health establishment can be likened to the medieval Church, then their proposed program to manage the infodemic and suppress “misinformation” is a modern manifestation of the Inquisition—it functions to preserve the power of the incumbent elite by silencing dissenting opinion and punishing “heretics”.
The powers exercised by the Inquisition extended from the local persecution of particular individuals or families to large-scale military offensives. Itinerant Inquisitors, unrestrained by modern laws of fair trial, exercised arbitrary powers to investigate, arrest and torture suspect individuals and to confiscate their property. The Inquisition fostered a climate of dread and mistrust between neighbours; anyone might be an informant, and equally, anyone might be caught in the wide net thrown out by the Inquisition to ensure the preservation of Church-approved thought.
The new crusade of the global health establishment against the “infodemic” promises to deliver something equally ghastly. The oligarchs have identified the communication of non-approved information on social media as an issue of particular concern. In May, Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, advised the populace to trust only government information and to “dismiss anything else”, saying, “We will continue to be your single source of Truth.” In June, Bill Gates went further, explaining that “we are missing some good ideas” on how to manage social media so as to eliminate “this kind of scary phenomena that … may slow down how quickly we get lots of people to take the vaccine”.
Apparently, the preservation of public health now depends on preventing the spread of “misinformation” just as much as it does on preventing the spread of the virus. To this end, the WHO has established “an early AI-supported response and social listening tool” (EARS) to “help health authorities quickly identify rising narratives and ‘information voids’ that interfere with people getting the information they need to make good health choices”. The organisation Reset Australia—which describes itself as “an independent research and advocacy organisation driving awareness of and solutions to address the digital threats to democracy”—declared a similar commitment to these goals. In September 2020, Reset released a document, Data Access Mandate for a Better COVID-19 Response in Australia, calling on the Australian government to mandate that digital platform providers allow “relevant stakeholders” (presumably, organisations like Reset) to access the private communications of their users. They explain the problem this way:
At a global level, there is a growing body of evidence for how misinformation and disinformation has negatively impacted the [COVID-19] response … narratives around face masks, plandemics hydroxychloroquine, 5g, vaccination, Asian people and other conspiracy theories have regularly surfaced … As this crisis continues, the gargantuan level of false information must be assessed and where appropriate, addressed … This Mandate seeks to provide a pathway to achieving the necessary data access, while balancing Australia’s public health interest, user privacy rights and intellectual property issues. (p. 6)
As an agent of the global Inquisition, Reset argues that the centralised collection of data regarding particular types of private communication along with “accompanying demographic data (age, gender, location and language)” of the users would be highly valuable in allowing “responders” (that is, the new inquisitors) “to understand who is being impacted by harmful content [and] to enable a tailored response … location data would be most useful at a granular level, such as a local government area, to allow for a targeted public health response”. (p. 9) The government is required to assist the work of the Inquisition in hunting out heretics.
In the same vein, on July 15, the US Surgeon General, Dr Vivek Murthy, introduced his new Advisory on the dangers of health misinformation to the White House Briefing Room. He explained that these Advisories are reserved for “urgent health threats”:
Today we live in a world where misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health. Health misinformation is false, inaccurate or misleading information about health, according to the best evidence at the time. And while it often appears innocuous on social media apps and retail sites or search engines, the truth is that misinformation takes away our freedom to make informed decisions about our health and the health of our loved ones.
The double-speak is simply incredible to anyone paying attention. How can access to different opinions “take away freedom”? How is “an informed decision” even possible when information has been carefully curated to exclude anything that might challenge the establishment narrative? What Murthy actually means to say is that “given the full range of information, people might not make the choice that we want them to make; contrary information interferes with our control over people’s decisions”.
In a democracy, consent is achieved by persuasion—by presenting information and allowing individuals to judge for themselves. Censorship of information, propaganda, mass psychosocial manipulation and brainwashing are hallmarks of totalitarianism because they allow dictators to control behaviour. What Murthy advocates under the false label of “freedom” is, in fact, the freedom for the global health machine to control what people believe and how they act.
Murthy is a medic, tasked with getting a needle in every arm, so perhaps we should forgive him his astonishing ignorance of lessons from history which show that being prepared to suppress information you don’t like is often only the prelude to killing the people who disagree with you. Do we detect the early warnings of pending genocide in the dehumanising language which semantically conflates the “super spreaders of misinformation” with the virus itself? Murthy tells us such people have “poisoned our information environment” and that “health misinformation has cost us lives”. The clear implication is that “super spreaders of misinformation” are killers and, like the virus, must be eliminated in the interests of public health.
At the same time, Murthy’s instruction to blindly trust the directives of bureaucrats is clearly unreasonable. Even well-intentioned governments have been known to get things wrong. “The best evidence at the time” may turn out to be completely false with the benefit of historical hindsight. While the journalists gathered to listen to Murthy were mostly intent on pinning culpability for “misinformation” on their political adversaries, only one journalist in the White House Briefing Room that day seemed to think it important to point the dangers of blindly trusting in any authority:
The reality is that a lot of the health misinformation that you were citing came from this lectern last year. What do you think the best approach is to counter or deal with misinformation that comes from public officials; people in a position of authority?
Murthy, the would-be arbiter of truth, had no better answer than to repeat that we must trust the “credible health authorities” who have been appointed to promulgate the officially approved version of “truth”:
When it comes to determining what is accurate, in terms of health information Science has to guide us and the good news is that we have credible science individuals in our country … These should be our sources of credibility when it comes to evaluating whether information is true or not.
In other words, Murthy agrees with Fauci that whatever Fauci says must true because it is Science. If time shows it to be false, then a “credible science individual” can supply a new truth in its place. Meanwhile, any information that challenges the official orthodoxy espoused at any given time by the invisible, unelected, unaccountable oligarchy that controls global health is not Science and therefore not true. We are not permitted to question or ask to examine the primary evidence for scientific “truth” for ourselves; we are simply to believe and obey.
Mark Latham, Member of the Legislative Council in New South Wales, is correct to note the replacement of parliamentary democracy with “a health dictatorship” from the beginning of the pandemic, eighteen months ago. Since the power of the health establishment to direct the affairs of humanity will never be more fully realised than in the midst of a global health crisis such as the current “pandemic”, we cannot rationally trust those empowered under the new medical martial law to willingly relinquish their power.
It is becoming apparent that if we are ever to emerge from a state of perpetual pandemic and return to the “old normal”, it will be necessary to break up the monopoly currently exercised by the global health establishment on public policy. The first important steps involve preserving the prerogative of private citizens to communicate freely, to examine available information for themselves and insisting on their freedom to make their own decisions about what is best for their health.
 Joe De Paolo, “Dr. Fauci Absolutely Unleashes on His Critics: When You Attack ‘Dr. Anthony Fauci, You Are Attacking Science”, MSNBC, 9th June 2021. (https://www.mediaite.com/news/dr-fauci-absolutely-unleashes-on-his-critics-when-you-attack-dr-anthony-fauci-you-are-attacking-science/).
 Data Access Mandate for a Better COVID-19 Response in Australia. reset-australia-policy-memo-data-access-mandate-for-a-better-covid-19-response-in-australia_fa-2.pdf
 “‘We haven’t had parliamentary democracy for 18 months’: Mark Latham”, Sky News Australia, 12th July 2021. https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/other/we-haven-t-had-parliamentary-democracy-for-18-months-mark-latham/ar-AAM3BUm