How to Become a Member of the Secret Elite & Do Crazy Elite Shit

I don’t know how long this strange Vice News video will stay online, but you should enjoy it for a long as it’s available:

So, what’s it about? You have this overweight Vice reporter, the latest in a long string of enthusiastic youth looking to make an impact with one of the worst media organizations you can ever work for. He’s told that insane Internet celebrity Alex Jones taped a video in Bohemian Grove, a secretive place where important rich people and politicians meet to do crazy shit, and he sets out to crack jokes and debunk the whole stupid thing.

What happens next almost certainly wasn’t part of the reporter pitch: it turns out that Bohemian Grove exists, that Alex Jones did manage to tape a crazy ritual in which VIPs burn somebody in effigy, mimicking an ancient human sacrifice, and that Bohemian Grove is not interested in explaining itself to this dumb millennial. What the frustrated reporter does next is very Vice Newsy: he goes on to talk to some young rich people, who show off their cars and stuff so he can wrap up the report.

As journalism, this is terrible, and as propaganda is pretty useless (the takeaway is that insane Internet celebrity Alex Jones is sometimes right? Was that ever the plan, Vice News?) but it’s a fascinating window into strange things that happen in the world of the 21st century for which most serious, middle-of-the-road voting citizens have no real explanation.

In the US, the Jeffrey Epstein case was a great example of one such puzzling thing. This sick person spent three decades or more raping and abusing underage girls that he was provided for people anxious to get some of his money, but also convinced lots and lots of people to join him in his despicable, illegal escapades, including most remarkably former US president Bill Clinton and the UK filthiest prince, Andrew.

Any normal, sane people must be wondering: are there so many pedophiles among the Western elites, that this guys always got more than enough people to invite to his fuck-minors island. Of course not. The most terrifying thing is not that Western elites are crammed with pedophiles to the brim: the most terrifying thing is that lots of people, as they have themselves explained ad nauseam, were not all interested in the pedophilia, but wanted to hang out with powerful people doing pedophilia or at least spending time with Epstein, because they saw that as an opening to become elite, and stay elite.

The pedophilia was just a sort of nasty adornment, an initiation ritual that I’m sure that many conducted only for the sake of acceptance: to be part of a club of well-connected people who traded contacts and business tips and valuable investment advice; I wouldn’t be surprised if many people who actually traveled to Epstein’s sex island actually used every possible excuse to avoid contact with the girls, as they claim.

When you look into this kind of thing, there are examples all over the place. At the most basic, harmless level, golf used to be one of those: at certain social circles, it didn’t matter whether you enjoyed golf or not: you had the play golf if you wanted to hang out with the masters of the universe, or become a master of the universe yourself. Circa 1980, there was no way to be an important CEO and not enjoy, or suffer, a few rounds of golf every week with your pals/business partners. It was just how it went.

The problem with golf is that it’s an esay sacrifice to make, one that is not illegal or embarrasing, just — at worst — boring. Elites, by their nature, are closed to outsiders because they know any elite that becomes overwhelmed with new members rapidly stops being an elite. So you have to make it hard for people to join; and you wanna make sure that you don’t have freeloaders, you don’t want people to join and then mock your elite and its customs and tendencies publicly, because public mockery is the first step towards loss of power.

That’s why every society developed complex initiation rituals for its most important groups, like military or religious elites. That’s why business elites, as soon as they started to gain prominence in the West in the 17th century, became enamored of faux religious understones like those provided by Freemasonry: in order to become a Freemason, you must conduct a number of ridiculous rituals, so if you want to denounce the Freemasons later, you will stand to be mocked just as much as them later on.

Another problem appears at this point: what if people are willing to tolerate mockery for the sake of denunciation? That’s why kompromat was invented. Kompromat, in Soviet jargon, meant compromising evidence that was kept about people, to be used only when they misbehaved, or denounced a secretive elite with ridiculous rituals and accession rules: like the top of the Soviet Communist Party.

There are two ways to get Kompromat: you can spy people until you get evidence of things they’d rather keep concealed; or you can only accepted them in your elite if they are compromised already: if they slept with minors, or took part in disgusting rituals in Bohemian Grove. There are other ways, especially for us civilized Europeans: you may recall absurdly petty resignations in German politics, related to people copying and pasteing stuff in academic papers they wrote in college.

Soon after I stopped being a correspondent, in 2017-2018, an incredible case broke in my native Spain, when the governor of Madrid (equivalent to governor of New York in US politics), a young lady with aspirations in national politics, attacked by her own party when she turned against the party’s nomenklatura and her patron. Cristina Cifuentes was publicly humiliated with leaks about a master’s degree than she received from a party-friendly college, with no need to attend exams or classes; when she wouldn’t resign, there were leaks about some facial cream she once shop-lifted in a mall; and worse: when she still wouldn’t resign, her party leaked the videotape of the day in which she shop-lifted facial cream; and worse: when she was leaning towards resigning, but still hadn’t, they leaked stuff about crazy phone calls she made to her boyfriend, a (married) party stalwart.

This would be run-of-the-mill democratic politics if it had been the opposition that leaked stuff to get rid of an enemy: but it was her friends! Her people! They knew all about her deranged attachment to married men, about her shoplifting, about her fake degree, and they still lifted all the way to a governorship, to the very brink of top political power in Spain. My concern is not that they did it “despite of” since she clearly was no genius: my concern is that they did it “because of.” She was only allowed to rise to high because they had kompromat against her they could use if she wouldn’t behave.

In Chinese history, which is better and wiser than any other country’s, there’s an old story about a corrupt 3rd century BC general from the state of Qin, that illustrates this concept of elite initiation via kompromat.

At that point in history, Qin was the most powerful of the Chinese Warring States, about to complete the country’s reunification under the ruthless reign of King Zheng (later Qinshi Huangdi), but faced allied enemies in a desperate last stand. In Chinese, the story is called “Handing over your (sword’s) handle”[1], and refers to the noble gesture of surrender of holding a sword in reverse, offering the handle to the enemy.

It’s 225 BC, and there are only two other Warring States left: Chu in the south-center and Qi in the northeast. The decision is made to invade Chu first. When King Zheng calls his best generals, Wang Jian, who had already conquered Zhao in 236 BC, says that he needs 600,000 men to do the job, while Li Xin says that 200,000 will suffice. Li Xin gets the job but fails; so King Zheng talks Wang Jian back from retirement – he had left the court after the earlier rebuff – and gives him the troops. Wang Jian also asks for land, gold, mansions and concubines, and the king accepts his requests.

In fact, while on campaign Wang Jian sends a messenger to the court every single day, reminding the king that he wants lots of land, gold, mansions and concubines. This becomes a point of contention with his officers, so he explains his plan: King Zheng is a suspicious man, who doesn’t trust anyone, but has given him, Wang Jian, control of a huge army, enough to turn against his own king; the court is filled with envious rivals and eunuchs who have the king’s ears, whispering that Wang Jian may become too powerful and ambitious for his own good: so, the way to reassure the king is to openly pronounce, and repeat every day, that Wang Jiang is a vile, corrupt character who only cares about base rewards – that, in fact, is the only way to prove to the king that the general has no higher ambition.

Wang Jian’s Chu campaign was indeed a grueling one. Surviving letters sent home by soldiers in the Qin army depict a long series of marches, counter-marches and battles before the army of Chu gave way. But, in 223 BC, the Qin army captured the last king of Chu, and annexed the country into the soon-to-be Qin Empire. Wang Jian went back home and, in a denouement very unusual for a famous general, died a peaceful death years later, in his land filled with mansions, with his gold and his concubines, all kompromat that the king could use against him if he ever turned too ambitious.

Wang Jian’s son Wang Ben in fact was allowed to become a general in the Qin army as well. His story, as recounted ever since, turned the expression “having a handle” into a common idiom in China – only those who ceded their handles to their superiors were certain to survive, while good, uncorrupted people without dark secrets to protect were to be regarded as undesirable associates, at least in politics.

This may be contrasted with an older, favorite story of Mencius, “the four sprouts.” To show the innate goodness within people, Mencius used the example of a child falling down a well. Witnesses of this event immediately feel alarm and distress, not to gain friendship with the child’s parents, nor to seek the praise of their neighbors and friends, nor because they fear social consequences if they are not alarmed. But because, Mencius explained, there’s a common feeling of right and wrong that unites all mankind.

Wang Jian, who had to kill hundreds of thousands if not millions, while corrupting himself thoroughly in the process, just to stay alive, probably was amused by this anecdote. Warm feelings of humanity were indeed desirable in all-powerful rulers, instead of a desire to cut down those near and far depending on whim, and in the common people below. They were just an encumbrance for courtly politics; and they still are.

[1]     授人以柄, or “shou ren yi bing”

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Cómo tus impuestos sirven para financiar propaganda

Mediterráneo, una película coproducida por TVE y TV3, el principal componente del aparato de propaganda del separatismo más estúpido del universo, cuenta la historia de Oscar Camps, el fundador de la ONG Open Arms que le ha dado un toque moderno al tráfico de esclavos:

La producción narra el primer viaje de Camps a las aguas de Grecia, que le inspiró para fundar esa organización. La película recibió la subvención más alta de cuantas otorga el Ministerio de Cultura, de un millón de euros, pero pese a toda la campaña de promoción tan sólo ha recaudado 153.204 euros.

La producción, que protagonizan los actores Dani Rovira y Eduard Fernández (encarnando a Camps), tuvo un presupuesto de cerca de 5 millones de euros. De ellos, un millón de euros fueron otorgados -a fondo perdido- por el Gobierno de Pedro Sánchez en la convocatoria de subvenciones al cine español del año 2019.

En concreto, Arcadia Motion Pictures, la productora principal, recibió 700.000 euros, mientras los otros 300.000 euros se los repartieron otras empresas que participaron en la producción.

Las subvenciones de un millón de euros representan las de mayor cuantía de cuantas otorga el Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA), la agencia del Ministerio de Cultura que gestiona esas ayudas. No hay ayudas superiores. Ese año se otorgaron al cine español 35 millones de euros en total.

Según consta en la documentación de esa subvención, para darle el millón de euros a Mediterráneo se tuvo en cuenta el «carácter cultural del proyecto» (valorado con 3 puntos de un total de 3), la solvencia de la empresa productora que solicita la ayuda (15 puntos de 16), el «impacto socioeconómico» de esa inversión pública para España (32 puntos de 37), la trayectoria del director del proyecto (0 puntos de 3) y la «viabilidad económica y financiera del proyecto. En este último aspecto, que se valora hasta 41 puntos, la película obtuvo 40. Es decir, Cultura valoró muy positivamente la viabilidad económica de la película.

Pese a que el Gobierno confió plenamente en esa viabilidad económica, otorgándole prácticamente la máxima nota y abriéndole la puerta a esa jugosa subvención, la realidad es que la película se ha dado de bruces contra la taquilla.

Según figura en los registros del ICAA y del Ministerio de Cultura, la película ha obtenido hasta ahora 153.204 euros desde el 1 de octubre, fecha de su estreno. En total la han visto 21.962 personas. Cabe recordar que las películas se la juegan en ese primer fin de semana, que habitualmente es el que marca si se trata de un producto exitoso o deficitario económicamente. En el caso de Mediterráneo, en esos primeros días cruciales sólo ha recuperado un 15% de la subvención pública recibida. Y hay que tener en cuenta que de esos poco más de 150.000 euros, la mitad aproximadamente se lo quedan las salas de exhibición.

Fuentes del sector aseguran además que la industria ha tratado a Mediterráneo bajo la categoría de gran estreno, ya que fue exhibida en 275 salas. Un número de copias distribuidas, dicen, que es similar al que alcanzan las películas de Pedro Almodovar. Un dato que muestra el enorme esfuerzo de colocar la película en los cines españoles, que ha ido acompañada de una gran promoción mediática.

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Insanity Wins: Covid in 2022

This is Youtube’s policy regarding videos on Covid-19, as of early 2022. Pretty much anything that deviates even slightly from the WHO official lines, OR THOSE OF LOCAL HEALTH AUTHORITIES, whoever they are, will be ruthlessly suppressed as anti-regime propaganda:

This is Twitter’s official policy, which is even more comprehensive and detailed, an effectively amounts to “if we don’t like what you say about Covid, we will ban you right there and then, with no right to appeal.”

Now, have a look at this by Scott Alexander. As usual, it’s a pretty shrewd analysis of what’s going on, this time focused on mass media, the official gatekeepers of approved discourse, and what they mean (and don’t) by the frequent use of the, by now, tired cliché “there’s no evidence” for such and such:

In an extremely nitpicky sense, these headlines are accurate. The various officials were simply describing the then-current state of knowledge. In medicine, anecdotes or hunches aren’t considered “real” evidence. So if there hasn’t been a study showing something, then there’s “no evidence”. In early 2020, there hadn’t yet been a study proving that COVID could be airborne, so there was “no evidence” for it.

On the other hand, here is a recent headline: No Evidence That 45,000 People Died Of Vaccine-Related Complications. Here’s another: No Evidence Vaccines Cause Miscarriage. I don’t think the scientists and journalists involved in these stories meant to shrug and say that no study has ever been done so we can’t be sure either way. I think they meant to express strong confidence this is false.

You can see the problem. Science communicators are using the same term – “no evidence” – to mean:

This thing is super plausible, and honestly very likely true, but we haven’t checked yet, so we can’t be sure.

We have hard-and-fast evidence that this is false, stop repeating this easily debunked lie.

This is utterly corrosive to anybody trusting science journalism. Imagine you are John Q. Public. You read “no evidence of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus”, and then a month later it turns out such transmission is common. You read “no evidence linking COVID to indoor dining”, and a month later your governor has to shut down indoor dining because of all the COVID it causes. You read “no hard evidence new COVID strain is more transmissible”, and a month later everything is in panic mode because it was more transmissible after all. And then you read “no evidence that 45,000 people died of vaccine-related complications”. Doesn’t sound very reassuring, does it?

Scott, who hasn’t spent two decades as a reporter like yours truly, thinks this is fundamentally a confusion. Sometimes I think that Americans’ most endearing virtue is their naivety. We Europeans are too fucking cynical, and cynicism is self-defeating and ultimately useless.

I’m serious here. Americans’ strong capacity to remain virginal after almost one century as a super-power that just murders people all over the place out of boredom is extraordinary; it’s also a helpful quality if one wants to focus on the task at hand, rather than just obsessing about the past. Christopher Hitchens already noted this: how Americans lost their virginity after JFK was killed, after Watergate, etc, and always end up recovering it, somehow.

The British are Europeans, though. The Telegraph reported in December that an eminent scientist told the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee that a lab leak is the most likely explanation of the virus’s origin, and there are strong indications that it was deliberately engineered, although we can’t really say it because we’ll be canceled and such:

A laboratory leak is now the more likely origin of Covid, MPs have heard, because after two years of searching an animal host has never been found.

Speaking to the Science and Technology Select Committee, Dr Alina Chan, a specialist in gene therapy and cell engineering at MIT and Harvard, said there was also a risk that Covid-19 was an engineered virus.

Dr Chan, said: “I think the lab origin is more likely than not. Right now it’s not safe for people who know about the origin of the pandemic to come forward. But we live in an era where there is so much information being stored that it will eventually come out.

“We have heard from many top virologists that a genetically engineered origin is reasonable and that includes virologists who made modifications to the first Sars virus.

It isn’t just a guess, there is strong evidence that the virus was engineered:

“We know this virus has a unique feature, called the furin cleavage site, and without this feature there is no way this would be causing this pandemic.

“A proposal was leaked showing that EcoHealth and the Wuhan Institute of Virology were developing a pipeline for inserting novel furin cleavage sites. So, you find these scientists who said in early 2018 ‘I’m going to put horns on horses’ and at the end of 2019 a unicorn turns up in Wuhan city.”

And more:

Lord Ridley [who co-authored a book on the origin of the virus] told MPs: “I also think it’s more likely than not because we have to face the fact after two months we knew the origins of Sars, and after a couple of months we knew Mers was though through camels, but after two years we still haven’t found a single infected animal that could be the progenitor, and that’s incredibly surprising.
“We know now that experiments were being done at biosecurity level 2 (similar to a dentist’s office) that resulted in 10,000 times increases in infectivity of viruses and three or four times their lethality. The important thing is to stop doing these experiments that are risky.”

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Reconocer a los asesinos

Tejiendo Historia

Pedro Marqués Barber, en el centro.

Se ha montado una enorme polémica con la publicación del borrador del censo de víctimas de la Guerra Civil y el Franquismo que está elaborando el Govern. Como ha publicado el diario Menorca, el listado incluye a Pedro MarquésBarber, comandante interino de la Menorca republicana y autor de numerosos asesinatos, que al terminar la guerra fue fusilado por Franco.

El historiador Juan José Negreira explica con precisión en su libro Menorca 1936 cómo el brigada Marqués se hizo con el poder en la isla y creó “un estado de terror” que degeneró en cerca de 250 asesinatos de militares, clérigos y derechistas. Uno de los más conocidos fue el del sacerdote Juan Huguet (tío del exdiputado del PP), al que asesinó él mismo por negarse a escupir en un crucifijo. Los desmanes de Marqués —robos, pillaje— fueron tales que el propio…

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A Really, Really Quick Summary of 2021

This is what 2021 felt like:

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