J. Edgar Hoover was the consummate bureaucratic power builder. He controlled presidents through an an unchallengeable combination of secrets, money, threats, and lies. He was a media hero leading a pristine expert agency whose sole mission was to protect the public and uphold the rule of law.
Trofim Lysenko was a Russian scientist who rose to control Soviet agriculture not because his theories improved farm outputs – quite the opposite, in fact – but because they best reflected communist ideology, impressing Stalin to the point he was awarded the Order of Lenin eight times and was the Director of the USSR’s Institute for Genetics for more than 20 years.
Hoover refused to acknowledge the existence of the mafia because it was fixing horse races for him. He persecuted anyone he believed thought differently from him. The moment he got his degree he went to work for the federal government.
Lysenko refused to acknowledge Mendelian genetics despite overwhelming evidence that it exists, ruthlessly unpersoned political and scientific opponents, ensured personal loyalty through a combination of fear and money, and was directly and/or indirectly responsible for multiple preventable famines worldwide that killed tens of millions of people.
Hoover was an unassailable DC institution, having spent decades honing his image, making sure he knew where the bodies were buried, and even burying a few himself. He was feared and loathed but ultimately irreplaceable because of his ability to mold the system to his own benefit.
Lysenko actively ignored the scientific method while proclaiming himself the leading scientist in the nation. He started with politically acceptable theories and worked backwards – when he even bothered – to make sure the facts fit, even if he had to make the facts up out of whole cloth. His symbiotic relationship with the Soviet power structure – Stalin – worked to benefit both parties while ignoring basic facts and principles.
Hoover knowingly and repeatedly lied to the public and presidents and Congress throughout his career.
Lysenko muzzled – to the point of murder – any potential rival concepts throughout his career.
Both Hoover and Lysenko protected and rewarded loyal acolytes no matter what they did as long as they remained loyal and both worked closely with their respective military-industrial complexes.
When you meld the salient points of these two people, what happens?
Dr. Anthony Fauci happens.
During his reign as the government’s health tsar (NIH, CDC, FDA, HHS be damned,) Fauci combined the power corridor mastery of Hoover with Lysenko’s contempt for the scientific method, leading directly to the man-made pandemic disaster that befell the nation and the world in 2020.
For background, Hoover was born into the civil service – both his parents were part of it – and into what was then a relatively small permanent DC government culture. His job during World War I was hunting down radicals; he played an integral part of the infamous Palmer Raids and he was put in charge of the Bureau of Investigation even before its name was changed to the FBI.
He was capricious, fastidious, hyper-organized, personally nasty, paranoid, methodical, racist, technologically savvy, image-obsessed (people with secrets usually are) and, as the FBI in the public’s mind was out there catching bad guys. he remained far more personally focused on what started his career and his meteoric rise through the Department of Justice bureaucracy: hunting people who thought differently.
Hoover was also personally financially corrupt – he tended not to have to pay for dinners out and vacations and the Mafia – this is why he claimed it didn’t exist – would tell him which horse races were fixed.
But – or because of all that – Hoover was untouchable and remained in charge of the FBI long after federal retirement age. President Johnson waived it for him.
During World War II, Hoover worked hand-in-glove with the military, in fact creating an FBI subdivision that was effectively one of the United States’ first dedicated foreign intelligence services. He tried to expand that role after the war, but was – for one of the few times in his career – denied.
Lysenko started his life quite differently. Son of a Ukrainian peasant, he reportedly could not read until the age of 13 but eventually made his way through agricultural college as the Russian Revolution swirled around him. His work focused in large part on “vernalization” – which involves shocking seeds with cold to make them more productive. While this can work with certain plants in certain fashions, Lysenko pushed the concept to absurd ends, saying that not only did genetics not matter but that it didn’t exist.
This is exactly what Stalin and the state wanted to hear – environment triumphs over anything else, the perfect metaphor for the creation of the new Soviet Man. The “Western” shackles of Enlightenment thinking – science, evidence, debate, rational thought – was no longer necessary if anything could be molded to the will of the state to produce what the state wanted.
Lysenko was put in charge of Soviet agriculture and millions of people starved to death because of it (not just in Russia, not just Ukraine’s Holodomor, but decades later in China Mao put Lysenkoism into practice and 30 to 50 million people died.)
Like Hoover, Lysenko had extraordinary staying power; his career, with all that entailed – disappearances, the destruction of biology as a science in Russia, the murders of opponents, the grip on power – lasted 40 years.
And both had the power of imposition – these were men who had the means to make their will manifest.
Like Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The direct parallels between the three are startling.
Each went straight from school into government service.
Hoover and his version of the FBI were darlings of the media to such an extent that, until recently, the agency was one of the most trusted in the country. Lysenko, for his part, came to the attention of Stalin through a laudatory article in Pravda. Fauci’s “America’s doctor” press was consistently positive and, during the pandemic, became exclusively hagiographic.
President Johnson waived the retirement age for Hoover, Lysenko held power until well after Stalin died, and Fauci benefited from the elimination of the federal retirement age and exactly zero political will to force him out.
Hoover controlled presidents through secrets and intimidation. Fauci used the convenience of the complicated nature of what he did to exert the same pressure, a tactic that was at the center of his running roughshod over President Trump, the CDC, FDA, and the HHS leadership. Combine that with his intimately close relationship to the military and Fauci did not need “dirt” on the powers that be to get his way – he was the power that be.
Hoover arrested his opponents, Lysenko had them sent to the gulag or just plain shot. Fauci worked to destroy his critics’ reputation – see the Great Barrington Declaration signatories – and their ability to put food on the table by smearing their qualifications or by directly cutting them out of the billions of dollars in funding he controlled. His was a strategy of vilification that knew no bounds, including his targeted takedowns of his fellow bureaucrats and putative political masters.
One of the keys to Lysenkoism was that everything is equally moldable, which, as noted, made it very popular with the Soviet nomenklatura. Fauci – to the nation’s unending detriment – took the attitude ‘everyone is at equal risk’ at the beginning of the AIDS crisis and did the same thing during the entirety of the pandemic despite knowing it was patently false.
Whether or not these attitudes can be put down to gross incompetence or the standard bureaucrat-think that all problems have the same solutions for everyone is not known. Most likely, he purposefully declared that everyone was at equal risk from covid in order to expand his already massive power and funding base. As with Lysenko’s famines, it was this position that condemned so many millions to the soul-crushing pandemic response:
Massive educational degradation. Economic devastation, by both the lockdowns and now the continuing fiscal nightmare plaguing the nation caused by continuing federal overreaction. The critical damage to the development of children’s social skills through hyper-masking and fear-mongering. The obliteration of the public’s trust in institutions due to their incompetence and deceitfulness during the pandemic. The massive erosion of civil liberties. The direct hardships caused by vaccination mandates, etc. under the false claim of helping one’s neighbor. The explosion of the growth of Wall Street built on the destruction of Main Street. The clear separation of society into two camps – those who could easily prosper during the pandemic and those whose lives were completely upended. The demonization of anyone daring to ask even basic questions about the efficacy of the response, be it the vaccines themselves, the closure of public schools, the origin of the virus, or the absurdity of the useless public theater that made up much of the program. The fissures created throughout society and the harm caused by guillotined relationships amongst family and friends. The slanders and career chaos endured by prominent actual experts (see the Great Barrington Declaration) and just plain reasonable people like Jennifer Sey for daring to offer different approaches, approaches – such as focusing on the most vulnerable – that had been tested and succeeded before.
Fauci and Lysenko are also on the same wavelength in regard to the scientific method. Lysenko denied it existed – Fauci claimed to be the embodiment of it when he is in fact its antithesis. I am the science, follow the science, do not criticize the science, worship the science – these were Fauci’s pandemic mantras.
In truth, he willfully ignored and/or modified evidence, he worked backwards from a desired outcome – his pandemic plan – to find anything that could justify it, from absurd studies to historical precedents that simply did not exist. He threatened anyone who dared dissent, made a mockery of the concept of transparent debate, and rewarded those who toed his line no matter their personal misgivings – the Twitter files and the Missouri v Biden depositions make all of that abundantly clear.
No actual scientist – Fauci’s training was as a regular doctor, not as an epidemiologist or researcher – would ever even consider uttering the phrase “follow the science” because it is impossible. Science is a process that follows a method; while it may technically be a noun it is in fact a verb and following the science is as impossible as following a car you are driving…unless you have already determined where you will end up.
Lysenko and Fauci both supported absurdly dangerous concepts – Lysenko’s insistence at the point of a gun on the non-existence of genetics and Fauci with his point of a needle support of deadly gain-of-function research that has never worked, unless you are using it to create bioweapons:
“The risk/reward calculation under those circumstances is very clear – zero chance of reward for performing an infinitely risky act. Performing any activity – from crossing the street to breeding superbugs in a lab – with those odds is unconscionable….Admittedly, it may have “worked” if a different goal was in mind. First, if a more plausible reason for engaging in the practice – the creation of bioweapons – has resulted in a “success” it will obviously never be made known to the public.”
Hoover and Fauci repeatedly, brazenly, and with no consequence lied to the American people and Congress. Both knew they would not be seriously challenged and that if they were challenged, their defenders in the press would hound and denigrate that person. They were immune and they knew it and they took advantage of the fact.
It could be said Fauci went even further, twisting the facts and twisting the arms of other scientists and officials to make them, too, lie to the public or face the kind of consequences he could dole out.
And all three benefited personally and financially from their actions and they made sure their most loyal supporters – supporters and acolytes and partners in power like Peter Daszak of EcoHealth Alliance infamy – did as well.
History is written by the winners and – at this moment in time – Fauci is on the side of the winners and his public image is unblemished, as is his civil and criminal record. His halo of kindly omnipotence remains largely intact.
But as we move forward, the winners may change.
The winners – hopefully – will become those who understand the scientific method and the importance of ethical behavior, have a commitment to transparency and honesty, and believe in holding others and themselves accountable for their actions.
Will that occur? Hoover’s place in history went from G-man number one to cross-dressing corrupt oppressor in about 15 years. Lysenko was unpersoned by the Soviets relatively quickly – it’s how they did things there then – though there are Lysenkoist lurkers at the edges now.
As to Fauci, time will tell. It will be up to society to create the courage to demand the truth, to demand an end to the craven corruption of the culture.
It can only be hoped that this will happen and happen soon – preferably while Fauci is still alive so that he can hear someone call him: J. Edgar Lysenko.
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