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Brownstone Institute at Year Three 


Brownstone Institute’s third annual conference and gala is upon us. It’s a good time to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going. 

Before we begin, this much is obvious: lots of very powerful people want this institution to stop publishing, stop researching, stop supporting displaced intellectuals, and to let go of the entire topic that gave rise to our founding. 

This is precisely why we cannot and will not stop. The weird case of amnesia that Anthony Fauci contracted during his court deposition last year seems to have served as a model for the entire ruling class. It worked for him (he is now on a lucrative speaking tour and enjoying a no-show job at Georgetown University), so why not for the rest of them?

Everyone pretends to have forgotten. They want you to forget too. Forget that the churches were closed, forget the learning losses, forget the despair and ill-health, forget the totalitarian powers unleashed on whole populations across the world, forget the effective nationalization of social media, forget the ready complicity of all national media, forget how politicians of both parties instantly became mouthpieces for the worst breakout of scientific malpractice in the modern age. Above all else, forget the potion that they forced you to inject even though you never wanted or needed it. 

When grilled, the pushers of lockdowns and jab mandates tell us now that they must be forgiven because they were operating with “imperfect information,” in the words of Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, who not only pushed extended school closures but also floated an idea of a “Corona Corps” youth program.

Writing in the Washington Post in 2020, he said that the government should recruit young people to be the shock troops to “track, trace, and isolate” anyone exposed to Covid. This would be “an army of super-soldiers standing ready to battle covid-19.”

“That is,” he said, “we need widespread testing followed by the swift identification and temporary isolation of everyone who has come in contact with infected people.” This would “cauterize the spread of the coronavirus” and “train a generation of young people in valuable skills and novel life experience.”

That would be a novel experience: a whole generation turned against parents, grandparents, and each other in the utterly impossible task of containing a respiratory virus with a zoonotic reservoir that spreads via breathing. That ambition is more impossible than Marx’s vision of communism, More’s Utopia, or stopping the ocean tides with an edict from King Canute. 

And yet, our top intellectuals, scientists, and political leaders were all in, with an agenda pushed daily and hourly by every respectable media source. 

Today, Professor Galloway admits that he “was wrong” but the reason is that he was operating off “imperfect information.”

Here’s the problem. Information is always and everywhere “imperfect” on all topics in all times and places. And yet we knew from myriad published reports from February onward that this virus was a mild problem for the vast majority of the population, that the focus of medically significant ailments was nearly exclusively on the elderly and infirm, and that there was no way to contain its spread throughout the whole population. We also knew for certain that no vaccine has ever been effective against such a fast-mutating pathogen. 

If we knew, why did so many go along? There was intellectual failure, to be sure, an addition to a strange loss of established knowledge concerning natural immunity and the collateral damage from population isolation. There was also a herd mentality at work here, what Mattias Desmet calls “mass formation.” 

Careerism played a massive role in excusing cowardice. And let’s face it: being a front-line Covidian was great for the bottom line of many. This is particularly true for the online-learning business as well as streaming services and online stores with well-established systems for delivery. 

A naive person – maybe this is most of us – might have expected a mass wave of apology following this disaster, and an urgent investigation into how it happened and how to prevent anything like this again. That is emphatically not happening. Covid commissions have been canceled in the US, simply because too many powerful people are afraid the truth might accidentally leak out. 

Not only that but the replacement personnel that run the whole Covid operation are largely cronies of the people who came before. All the powers they used to wreck society are still in place, and whole bureaucracies remain untouched. More are being built to repeat the experience such as by the World Health Organization. The censorship protocols are now built into all social media platforms and ready to be deployed under any excuse. 

This way our information flows can settle into an anodyne and pacifying experience, assuring us daily that the ruling class has everything under control and there is no reason not to trust them just as much as we did five years ago. Let’s all just pretend like nothing ever happened. And there’s no reason to be afraid of it all happening again. It certainly will but it will be better managed this time around. 

Yes, this whole situation is infuriating. March 2020 was a turning point in our lives, definitive proof that the rulers of the social order, even globally, have little or no respect for normal human rights or freedoms, and will happily shut them down for even the most implausible and impossible supposed political priority. The excuses will forever change: infectious disease was a highly effective ploy but so could climate change or war or the danger of another populist insurrection. It all feels like every dystopian novel or movie. 

Meanwhile, there is vast work to do. Brownstone has been very busy trying to piece together a clear picture of exactly what happened, tracing all the way back to the fall of 2019 when we know that the virus was already present and spreading and yet life felt normal. What precisely triggered this March 2020 move to lock everyone in their homes on the promise of eradicating what in fact will be with us always? We need to know. 

We are busy drawing maps of the censorship-industrial complex, and keeping a close watch on the World Health Organization and its many moving tentacles in the nonprofit and for-profit worlds. Meanwhile, the purge of dissidents is still an ongoing problem, even daily, and Brownstone has done its best to provide community and support to them.

Then there are the legal struggles at all levels in which rights and freedoms hinge on the decisions of powerful judges in a position to delete them forever depending on the mood of the day. All of this unfolds in the midst of a global crisis of inflation and stagnation that could get worse, all a consequence of the pandemic response.

Yes, many have moved on, bored of the fight and ready to accept the new normal as the way we do things these days. This is not acceptable. This period of our lives has shattered the hopes and dreams of millions and billions of people, and practically buried the ideal of freedom as an anachronism in a new age of corporatist totalitarianism. The neo-Hegelians in our midst condescend to us and say that this is just how things are and there is nothing to be done about it. 

This is not true. The narrative of history is always and everything controlled not only by elites but what people think and do in their private lives. There is no meta-narrative of history that is out of the control of the rest of us. We live in the world we construct for ourselves. Compliance is always an option. We have observed the consequences of going along without questions and acquiescing when we should be resisting. 

There is a very long way to go to restoring freedom. It is a task which will consume the rest of our lives. Brownstone is determined to remain your partner in this struggle, whether it concerns the last crisis, the present one, or the next one. Together we have made enormous progress in these three years but vast work lies ahead. This is why we are so grateful for your support. 

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