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June 15, 2024

PI Newsletter #96

1. Sovereignty rules

The viruses-don’t-respect-borders slogan is dead wrong

by Christopher Coldwell

The Spectator, May 2020 edition


A Georgetown University public health expert confidently tweeted that ‘germs don’t respect borders’. If this is true, it is true only in the sense that respecting borders is a human trait. Viruses don’t write novels or read Playboy or develop gambling addictions or say ‘for all intents and purposes’ until it gets on your nerves, either.

This viruses-don’t-respect-borders business is a perfect globalist slogan. It conveys absolutely nothing but aggressively enough so as to cow others into swallowing any inclination to stand up and disagree with you. It is what is called in zoology ‘display’.

But in fact, the scientist is wrong. This virus happens to travel on people. If people can be made to respect borders, viruses will ‘respect’ them too, in the sense that they will not cross them. If this is true of households, then it is true of nations.


The great Yale economist Irving Fisher, a towering figure of the early 20th century, has long suffered from an opinion he expressed on the eve of the 1929 stock market crash that stocks had reached ‘a permanently high plateau’. In a similar way, a lot of today’s intelligent and credentialed people came unprepared for what has befallen us. If there is a Fisher-type statement for our own era, it might be the column published in the Financial Times on the day of Trump’s coronavirus speech, in which Robert Armstrong opined that coronavirus ‘is not the result of a flaw in the organization of the world economy, in the way people, goods and money flow across the globe. It is a global crisis, not a crisis of globalization’.

That sentiment has become less and less tenable with each passing day. The evidence from Hong Kong seems to be that the single most effective measure against contagion is mask-wearing. Yet masks were insufficiently available in all western countries, and wholly unavailable in most, because those countries had surrendered their production to China (along with the jobs of those who used to make them) in order to save two or three cents. Now China refused to export them; doctors in Bergamo and Brescia and Codogno were having to share masks meant to be discarded after treating every patient. What is that if not a crisis of globalization?

Italy never did close its borders or think to investigate the thousands of Chinese garment workers in the regions where the coronavirus was spreading fastest. Nor, until its own citizens were dropping like flies, did Spain limit the dozens of flight from Italy entering Barcelona and Madrid. Why not? Were those governments not even curious about what was going on?

It is common to describe ‘learned helplessness’ as a problem for the welfare-dependent: people on the dole lose the ability to conceive that they might improve their situation by getting a job. In the same way, at the start of the coronavirus epidemic countries had lost the habit of thinking it was ever a legitimate thing to enforce a border. In retrospect, the European refugee crisis of 2015 revealed that the continent would be unable to fight a contagion, should one ever arise.

There is no telling yet whether Trump will emerge from the coronavirus as a hero, a screw-up or something in between. But part of the confusion roiling American discussions is that the virus is proving the central part of the message on which the president was elected to be, at the least, reasonable. Globalization once seemed like it was all upside – a no-brainer. You get sushi and cheap Chinese toys in exchange for sovereignty, and what can you do with sovereignty? We are in the process of discovering the value, including the ‘money value’, of the sovereignty we’ve surrendered.


2. “Deep thinking” from the academia for virus times

* Feminist says coronavirus shows “it’s time to abolish the family”.

Sophie Lewis, a scholar at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and a frequent speaker at American universities, wrote an article suggesting that the coronavirus pandemic should push Americans to abolish the family.

In an opinion editorial published by Open Democracy in late March, Lewis argues that “the private family qua mode of social reproduction still, frankly, sucks. It genders, nationalizes and races us. It norms us for productive work. It makes us believe we are ‘individuals’…”

“We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it.”

“We deserve better than the family. And the time of corona is an excellent time to practice abolishing it,” she adds.

“As feminists for decades have excavated, the nuclear family functions as a kind of technology for producing and reproducing human beings along the lines of binary sex, national identity, racial loyalty, and heterosexual subjecthood,” Lewis told Campus Reform.



* Harvard Professor Wants a “Presumptive Ban” On Homeschooling, Claims it Promotes White Supremacy

In a shocking essay for Harvard Magazine, a professor of law and director of Harvard Law School’s child advocacy legal clinic, claims homeschooling is a threat to children’s rights, a method of promoting white supremacy, and a drain on democratic society — and even goes so far as to suggest a national “presumptive ban” on the practice.


*Harvard prof wants government to ban ‘authoritarian’ practice of homeschooling

As the coronavirus crisis has suddenly made millions of parents across America de-facto home school teachers, one Harvard Law professor wants to make sure this does not become the new normal, by actively advocating to revoke parents’ rights to home school their own children.

A recent piece in Harvard Magazine titled “The Risks of Homeschooling” highlighted the arguments of Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who argues that the practice of homeschooling is an inherent violation of children’s rights, and should, therefore, be banned.


3. Did Xi Jinping Deliberately Sicken the World?

PRC moral turpitude forces us to consider the unthinkable.

The Diplomat, April 15,2020

We often ascribe a basic level of humanity to even the cruelest leaders, but People’s Republic of China leader Xi Jinping’s actions have forced us to rethink this assumption. Although the emergence of the novel coronavirus now known as SARS-CoV-2 was probably not due to China’s actions, the emphasis that its authoritarian system places on hiding bad news likely gave the disease a sizable head start infecting the world. But most ominously, China’s obsession with image and Machtpolitik raises serious questions about its lack of moral limits.

At some point the Chinese Communist Party learned of the epidemic and made a decision to hide its existence, hoping it went away. Exposés in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and the Chinese mainland’s Caixin show that the information that did flow out of China early in the crisis did so only because of the courage of individual Chinese people in the face of government repression. People in the Wuhan epicenter, however, began to get wise — and scared (here and here) — by the end of December 2019, forcing their government to say something. The authorities gave the impression of a nontransmissible disease already under containment. We know now this was entirely false, likely designed more to ease civil unrest than protect the people.

The mayor of Wuhan even suggested that the central government prevented him from revealing details about the epidemic until January 20. Considering the first public announcements came out of Wuhan on January 1, we can assume that Xi had a sense of the danger prior to that.


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