SINCE the following information is classified, I’m not at liberty to reveal where I found this User’s Guide. What I can divulge is that it was stuck between well-thumbed pages of an old translation of Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Please be patient as I supply a little background.
Aristotle wrote a tract called Logic, which became a classic. It established the parameters of hard, logical argument and has been used for the last two thousand years.
He followed it up with Rhetoric. This was a sort of tongue-in-cheek manual to help lawyers confuse low-grade people who tried using logic, truths and facts to obstruct their rich and powerful clients. Armed with Rhetoric, a savvy lawyer could overleap true logic and win his case using ad-hominem one-liners. Now, I don’t know whether Mr Hancock, the Sage Committee and others who travel the Quantitative Easing gravy train are well versed in ancient Greek thought. However, the compiler of this User’s Guide seems to have taken Aristotle’s Rhetoric to heart and distributed it around the world
The recent conflict between Sir Van Morrison and Mr Robin Swann, Ireland’s incarnation of our own Mr Hancock, suggests the Guide has even found its way to the Isle of Dreams.
When Morrison let off steam after yet another set of shows had been cancelled for the Safety of the Public, he may not have used the more intelligent arguments that lockdown sceptics have at their disposal. He emitted a howl of rage. Perhaps on this one occasion Mr Swann justifiably responded in kind when he (and others-such) expressed their ‘disappointment’ that a public figure should obstruct the efforts of world leaders to control this very dangerous pandemic situation and encourage conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine rotters to have their say.
But the truth is that Messrs Swann and Hancock and all the spouters of public health platitudes respond to every kind of criticism in this same way. The User’s Guide explains why and how. To avoid tedium, I won’t print the entire thing; instead, I shall provide a few examples.
It makes no difference what arguments we choose, the User’s Guide has an answer.
If we point out that children have a much greater chance of injury or death through the experimental vaccines than through the infinitesimal chance of contracting serious Covid, the response is that we are anti-vaxxers. End of argument.
If we argue that Covid passports will create the sort of surveillance society that people have risked their lives to escape, we are told we are conspiracy theorists.
We might point out that Florida, South Dakota and several other states have imposed virtually no restraints and yet have preserved their economies and the sanity of their residents. And that meanwhile the locked-down remainder of the USA has experienced at least as many fatalities as these, accompanied by catastrophic social and economic desolation. We are told this is because states such as South Dakota voted for ex-President Trump, so the results are worthless.
If we point out that a huge proportion of the deaths reported to have been caused by Covid happened mainly to the very old and were actually due to cancer, heart failure, diabetes, nocosomial infections or despair, we are accused of heartlessness towards the most vulnerable.
Pull out a graph showing the recent seasonal rapid decline of Covid deaths with or without the blessings of a vaccine. We point out that the graph and the figures suggest we can end the restrictions that have crippled our social and financial lives. However, we are told that the latest variant is causing a ‘concerning’ rise in ‘cases’ and that the NHS will not be able to cope unless we lock down harder than ever before.
If we submit that many if not most of these cases are either false positives due to testing methods that have been proven by eminent bio-scientists to be unfit for purpose or by intelligent statisticians to be the inevitable outcome of constant testing, we are told we are not following ‘the science’.
If we point to the indisputable dangers of vaccines – the injuries, sometimes irreversible, and the fatalities they have caused – and suggest that these dangers should be as publicly advertised as the ‘urgent need to get the jab or else you’re failing in your public duty’, we are told we are anti-vaxxers who are standing in the way of making our world free of disease.
When we are assured that the majority of the British public support these drastic measures, we are never told – even assuming that the assurance is true – what proportion of these supporters have a guaranteed, lockdown-proof income. Those who are secure experience lockdown as a nice holiday while their savings mount. If we point out that the real losers from the lockdowns – apart from children, the sick and the elderly – are innumerable small and medium businesses, many of whom have lost their lives’ work, while the extreme winners are huge corporations who have never been so happy, we are told that ‘to make omelettes you have to break a few eggs’ and that ‘maybe a few feathers have been ruffled here or there’.
If we point out the number of genuine scientific studies which have proved that masking and social distancing are worthless and may jeopardise the mental stability of some and the sense of individual worth of everyone, a Sage member tells us that we’re already becoming acclimatised to the necessity. ‘Wearing a mask is becoming as natural as wearing a seat-belt or cleaning up the mess left by some politician’s dog.’ (Sorry, I can’t remember the exact quote).
So, the point is that whatever argument we use, whether it’s satire, hard scientific fact, high-level logic or humble common sense, the User’s Guide invariably provides an ad-hominem comeback:
‘You say this because you’re a Covid-denier, a fantasist, a troublemaker, a Trump supporter or a reader of unapproved, dangerous websites.’
This and a steady mix of fear-hypnosis techniques and propaganda have been the response of our leaders via the organised media since the panic began.
They systematically wear down our hopes of regaining normality.
Will GB News make any difference?
Since its spokesman has vehemently denied that it will resemble Fox News or be infected by conspiracy theories, and since there was a three-month hiatus during which some of us began to lose hope and to wonder whether the new channel was being got at, I retain a certain ambivalence. I fear that GB News, like the BBC, Sky News and so forth, has been supplied with the User’s Guide.
Perhaps our best hope lies with popular figures such as Van Morrison, who are sometimes able to burst through the state propaganda and counter with outrageous ad-hominem arguments of their own.
If only we could enlist an outspoken royal or two . . .
If only we could persuade Mr Boris Johnson to remember he was elected as a Conservative! Or Sir Keir Starmer to remember he represents a party that once stood up for England’s workers. But I fear that both carry a copy of the User’s Guide next to their heart.