"It’s not too late to stop being a tool of oppression"; (Professor Jem Bendell Strategist & educator on social change, focused on Deep Adaptation to societal breakdown); The first thing to recognise

by Paul Alexander

is the Covid vaccinations offered neither significant transmission reductions nor an opportunity to speed the reaching of ‘herd immunity’ and thus the eradication of the disease.




Excellent piece by Professor Jem Bendell.

It’s not too late to stop being a tool of oppression

Posted on November 21, 2022by jembendell

An audio version of this essay is available.

“Death rates are still above normal in many countries of the world. The medical experts don’t know why. It could be from the long-term complications from past Covid infections, or it could be from the impacts of novel vaccines, or it could be from the delayed treatments due to lockdowns. Or perhaps it is from a mixture of these causes, or even from some other factor altogether. Even writing those two sentences induced in me a feeling of trepidation. I find myself readying for the annoyance or even aggression from some people. Which is odd: people did not behave so stridently on public health issues before 2020. I think the decay in normal scientific dialogue and policy scrutiny is a significant lasting damage from the last few years. It is why I am not going to let it lie. Instead, I hope we can all learn more about why people became so badly informed and aggressive towards others who reached conclusions different to their own. Only then might we avoid making matters worse when future public health crises occur. And if the excess mortality does not return to normal, then we are already within an ongoing health crisis right now.

It is why in this essay I am returning to the scientific facts which prove the medical authoritarian orthodoxy on Covid has been scientifically wrong. Not just wrong in hindsight, but now more widely recognised as wrong by experts and scientists who ignored some of the earlier concerns. This recent science can’t be ignored unless someone is no longer interested in the science on public health.

The first thing to recognise is the Covid vaccinations offered neither significant transmission reductions nor an opportunity to speed the reaching of ‘herd immunity’ and thus the eradication of the disease. Therefore, the various means of persuasion and coercion of people to achieve mass vaccination were scientifically baseless. The science on that now seems irrefutable. On transmission, it was confirmed in the European Parliament that the manufacturers did not test for impact of vaccination on infection and/or transmission rates. Therefore, any public statements and policies on reduced infection and transmission were not informed by science. The public statements on the role of mass vaccination in helping eradicate the disease via achieving ‘herd immunity’ were also unscientific. Even one of the most senior medical bureaucrats in the world, Dr Anthony Fauci, concluded in a paper in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that herd immunity is not the aim with Covid vaccination, because: “the virus that causes COVID-19, is so different from polio and measles that classical herd immunity may not readily apply to it. Important differences include the phenotypic stability of polio and measles viruses, and their ability to elicit longterm protective immunity, compared to SARS-CoV-2. For these and other reasons, controlling COVID-19 by increasing herd immunity may be an elusive goal.” Due to the nature of coronaviruses, these limitations of Covid vaccinations were widely predicted by experts even in 2020, but they were ignored or vilified at the time.

The next key scientific issue to understand is that mass vaccination against Covid has likely caused a situation where those people who are more vulnerable to Covid are now less protected from their previous Covid vaccinations. That is because for some vaccinations and diseases, mass vaccinations can drive viral evolution so that the virus evades the existing vaccines. In the scientific literature this process is called “vaccination-induced evolutionary pressure” and leads to a phenomenon called “vaccine escape.” This has now been demonstrated to be occurring with Covid. Here is a quote from the paper in the Journal ACS Infectious Diseases“…prevailing variants can be quantitatively explained by infectivity-strengthening and vaccine-escape (co-)mutations on the spike protein RBD due to natural selection and/or vaccination-induced evolutionary pressure. We illustrate that infectivity strengthening mutations were the main mechanism for viral evolution, while vaccine-escape mutations become a dominating viral evolutionary mechanism among highly vaccinated populations.”

A more worrying finding in a paper in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters is that this process has now been identified as one of the main drivers of viral evolution: “vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations provide a new mechanism of viral evolution… By tracking the evolutionary trajectories of vaccine-resistant mutations in more than 2.2 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes, we reveal that the occurrence and frequency of vaccine-resistant mutations correlate strongly with the vaccination rates in Europe and America. We anticipate that as a complementary transmission pathway, vaccine-breakthrough or antibody-resistant mutations, like those in Omicron, will become a dominating mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 evolution when most of the world’s population is either vaccinated or infected.”

The unfortunate impact of this process is that the vaccines lose effectiveness and therefore do not protect the elderly and vulnerable who may choose to benefit from the protection they had offered. Unlike the public health messaging in countries during 2021, this scientific knowledge means that getting kids vaccinated for Covid might help to make Grandma more vulnerable, not less. I want to state here that the argument that variants caused by ‘evolutionary pressure’ from vaccination would be more virulent in general, rather than simply evade the vaccines, is not an argument I have ever made. I hope that theory doesn’t turn out to be true in reality, as it would mean humanity could enter a really bad situation. I should also note that there might be research papers that conclude differently to the ones I cited above. However, the existence of those papers is recent evidence of a phenomenon that is widely discussed in science and a cause for serious concern.

If you are thinking that this view is with the benefit of hindsight, then you would be wrong. Due to the nature of coronaviruses, the risk of counter-productiveness of mass vaccination for this particular virus was discussed by experts even in 2020, who were then ignored or vilified. The lessons from that is something we’ll come back to.

At least the mass vaccination helped reduce hospitalisation and death, didn’t they? Yes, it did for the elderly and vulnerable, to an extent of reducing the likelihood of death by about half in the first few months after vaccination. Good. So, isn’t that “well done pharmaceutical companies”? Unfortunately, not quite. The latest data from Australia suggests that vaccination might have no effect on either hospitalizations and death, or even a negative effect on it, after some months have passed. If that data continues over time, it suggests that certain kinds of Covid vaccinations may have been counterproductive in their impacts on human immune systems. That was a potential outcome known by expert vaccinologists, but suppressed by authorities, mass media and big tech firms during the global drive towards mass vaccination. I summarise the evidence for that within my last essay on the Covid topic

This questionable efficacy is before we even consider the potential outcomes from other methods that could have been prioritised if not for the obsessive focus on consuming pharmaceutical products. For instance, empowerment of workers so they could stay home at the first sign of any symptoms, without losing pay. Or temperature screening at all places of work. Or making available (and testing) repurposed safe medicines, herbal medicines, and nutritional supplements. The kinds of responses that myself and so many marginalised voices have been promoting for the last couple of years.

The abuses towards people who did not conform to the orthodoxy about Covid vaccines were significant. That included people being barred from participation in society, losing their jobs, being labelled Nazis by the elites and those who slavishly followed their agendas (even if claiming to be progressives). I often heard people blame the unvaccinated for someone getting sick or not getting treatment. That was misinformed hate speech. It was heart-breaking for me that such views were even platformed in one organisation I helped to set up.

Most of the arguments that the vaccine ‘hesitant’ were selfish and dangerous were actually corporate-profiteering memes implanted in the brains of people who didn’t think critically. The way this was done was through trusted media. Then some people repeated those memes with an added moral disdain and even anger directed at friends, family, colleagues, neighbours or fellow humans on social media. Others witnessed that and did nothing. Still others took up backchannels to try and persuade people with critical views that they were wrong, rather than argue with the people who were being aggressive against vaccine hesitancy. They were wrong on the science, wrong on the policies, and wrong in their attitudes towards others.

Am I describing people you know? Am I describing you?

If the latter, I realise you might be feeling a bit uncomfortable by now, and thinking about not reading any further. Please know that there is a point to my essay that is much more than ‘I told you so’. We will come to that. But first, I will summarise some hard truths. Because if you followed the orthodoxy, you were scientifically misinformed in a way that:

  • served profits and power

  • probably undermined health outcomes specifically and generally

  • harmed relationships of all kinds and other people’s emotional wellbeing

  • disrupted alliances and collaboration for meaningful social and political change

  • has sown the seeds of global authoritarianism

My own views on Covid were scientifically wrong until towards the end of 2020, when I began to realise the narratives kept changing and the scientific rationales sounded weak. It was at that point I began looking into what some of the top epidemiologists and vaccinologists were saying. But despite making the time to look into it, I was slow to be convinced that the orthodoxy was based on falsehoods. Luckily, I was well informed by the time the mass media tried to manipulate public attitudes towards the ‘vaccine hesitant’. In any case, all of us can all explore where we got our information from and why we reacted in the ways that we did:

  • First, let’s realise how fear can be used to manipulate us into a lack of critical thinking and a desire for conformity.

  • Second, let’s realise how moral framings in mass media can be used to get us to dislike or even hate ‘categories’ of people.

  • Third, let’s realise that the corporate and state media are both constantly trying to shape our attitudes whether the journalists are aware of that or not.

  • Fourth, let’s realise that our desire to be smart, correct and ethical is actually the way that we can be most manipulated by mass media and authorities.

This matters today as we still have health challenges to work together on. It also matters as the authoritarians are still working with corporates to impose restrictions on humanity based on false medical rationales (as an exhibit, see the communiques coming out of the G20 summit). If you went along with the orthodoxy, or didn’t seek to intervene in any way, then some introspection will help you avoid being dangerous to others in future. Yes, I say dangerous, because authoritarianism requires people to support its policies by being scared into becoming misinformed moral ‘police’ of their friends, family, neighbours and colleagues, or just scared into ‘sitting on the fence’. 

One way to start doing something about it is through meaningful apologies that can then begin a dialogue about how to engage better in future. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you were aggressive to someone about Covid, you have an opportunity to apologise for being both aggressive and scientifically wrong.

  • If you pressured someone who was not vulnerable to be vaccinated, you have an opportunity to apologise for being scientifically wrong.

  • If you argued with someone on the finer points of science but didn’t listen to the science that already cast doubt on your view, you have an opportunity to apologise for being scientifically wrong.

  • If you had influence in relation to the conversations in your organisation or networks but did nothing about the hostility directed against people for their views on Covid, you have an opportunity to apologise for, in this instance, being rubbish in an emergency.

  • If you have shifted your view on the relevant science and the appropriate policies, but feel annoyed at people like me for bringing attention to this, you have an opportunity to see beyond your bruised ego for the sake of humanity and actually apologise for something to someone.

In my own case, I have been vilified both in magazines and on social media for my scientifically informed views on Covid. Some of the denigration of me on social media for my stance on Covid, has to be seen to be believed. I have let such comments go, partly by deciding not to read feedback. But when magazines publish critiques, one can expect higher standards and so ask their editors for better treatment of the issue. Recently, one Australian magazine implied I was a paranoid anti-vaxxer, as a basis for arguing that people don’t need to take seriously my work on environmental issues. My letter of complaint, which the magazine editor responded to fully through their corrective actions, can be read in full here. The editor’s response gives me hope that if people are ready to learn and change, then we won’t be rushed into a medical tyranny. I also have hope that we might restore the kind of critical thinking and dialogue that will help societies address the future impacts of Covid, which could be really bad through the long-haul form or repeat infections (and which aren’t reduced significantly by current types of vaccination – something I discuss within my last essay on the topic).

If you are interested in what we can learn from this period in our history, then I recommend the essay on an amnesty over Covid by Charles Eisenstein. Like me, he experienced aggression online and in person due to his valid questioning of the orthodoxy. Fortunately, many of his existing readers agreed with his views. That was unlike my readers, nearly all of whom disliked me questioning the orthodoxy, or kept quiet about their support. That shook my assumptions about the substance beneath the rhetoric on kinder and wiser responses to societal collapse that I had been hearing for the previous 2 years. Unfortunately, a focus on everyone being ‘nice’ to each other means that I might be further disliked for directly confronting behaviours I consider so poor.

But there is another side to this. It’s also time to celebrate the people who retained their capacity for critical thought and solidarity. They will be key during the myriad disruptions and breakdowns that will occur in the months and years to come. They include people like my Mum, who was excluded from shops and social gatherings due to her resistance to medical tyranny. In her 70s, she was also highly active on twitter with thousands of followers before was kicked off it for sharing contrarian information on Covid. If my Mum can think critically and stand up for what she knows to be right and true, so can many other people. It’s never too late to stop being a tool of oppression.

My previous writings on Covid, in the context of how humanity doesn’t go along with the elites making matters worse as societies becoming more disrupted over time (the titles are hyperlinked):

They’ve gone too far with the children – where I explain the recent research that supports the view that the risks of Covid vaccination for children far outweigh any potential benefits, and detail the way that senior bureaucrats have failed child health and wellbeing during the pandemic.

It’s time for more of a citizen’s response to the pandemic – for a real #PlanB – where I explain how a different agenda to the current orthodoxy could be pursued that allies with our fellow citizens to remove barriers to us all making responsible decisions and how the Left has failed to articulate this agenda due to having lost close connection with the low paid workforce.

The Climate for Corona – our warming world is more vulnerable to pandemic – where I discuss how environmental degradation makes zoonotic disease more likely.

COVID and Climate Change – why XR must visit the WHO – where I discuss that even if the virus came from an experiment then the people who fund such dangerous experiments have tried to justify themselves due to anticipating an era of pandemics due to environmental change.

Has asymptomatic transmission been key to this pandemic and if not, so what? – where I summarise the scientific evidence for asymptomatic transmission to be insignificant to the pandemic (as WHO initially said) and therefore the basis for the orthodox policy agenda is flawed.

Lies Damn Lies and Hospitalisation Statistics – where I explain that medical corporations have been too involved in shaping our understanding of possible responses to the pandemic and that even concludes developing misleading statistical methods on vaccine effectiveness.

Decolonize the World Health Organisation – where I discuss how the WHO has enabled a narrow pharmaceutical agenda to dominate the understanding of how to respond to the pandemic with severe collateral damage to the poor and vulnerable people of the world. It systematically ignores evidence of benefits of non-Pharmaceutical supplements particular outside the West.

Benefits of Evading Western Panic – where I present a talk to an exhibition in Ghana and describe how people need to learn from the experience of Africa with Covid but don’t because of racist self-obsession of the powerful institutions in the West.

Uniting in Love and Rage against Corporate Power – where I explain that the corporate media demonise activists in ways that limit solidarity across different topics in the struggle against the abuse of corporate power so we need to come together rather than accept the negative stories about other kinds of activists.

Medical Aggression – where I describe the growth of othering and animosity from government, media and individuals on the basis of personal views and choices on Covid policies.

What if this is it? Responding consciously to societal disruption – where I explain that the loss of human rights and the rise of authoritarianism are forms of societal disruption and therefore something for us to resist as we seek to reduce harm from societal breakdown (aka Deep Adaptation).

Finding my voice through a fever – where I explain that getting Covid myself made me stop work, rethink my priorities and start writing, performing and recording music for the first time in my life.”