Josie Appleton on the pandemic restrictions

This is well worth a read, Josie Appleton’s essay on the pandemic restrictions.

She discusses how the state’s response to the pandemic (in the UK but also in other countries) has been to place restrictions on social life. It seems that a kind of shift in thinking has occurred. At one level the restrictions and pressurised whole population vaccination campaigns do have some scientific-medical basis. Vaccinations for example are a good idea, at least for the clinically vulnerable. But the state seems to have come to believe that the problem is social relations. Appleton gives some to-the-point examples; the well-publicised case (including by the police themselves) of Derbyshire police fining people for walking as a couple in the hills – probably the least likely way to spread the coronavirus one can imagine. Or again; the fact that restrictions focussed on parties in the home and clubs. Other venues such as hospitals, factories and supermarkets were not controlled even though transmission can be much greater in these places. And the mask; Appleton thinks the function of the mask is to restrict social interaction. She may be right though I have always thought its function is as a kind of sign like making everyone wear a lapel badge saying “we are in a pandemic”.

The essay is as Appleton acknowledges informed by Foucault’s work on how the modern state dealt with plague after the Middle Ages.

An excellent piece and well worth a read.

Cancelled for speaking the truth and other news and analysis on Ukraine

This is an absolutely amazing story in the Guardian. The chief of the German navy – a vice-Admiral, not some low ranking officer – has said (I am repeating the Guardian and Al-Jazeera reports [1]) that the idea that Russia wants to invade Ukraine is “nonsense” and that all Putin wants is “respect” which he “probably” deserves and giving someone respect is low-cost. (Al-Jazeera reports the vice-Admiral’s remarks at more length; apparently he said that even the idea that Russia wants to take Donbass is “nonsense”).

Not surprisingly the vice-Admiral has tendered his resignation. He is off-message, out of the psychotic group-think, and had to go. Not a good idea to tell these people the truth.

Of course Russia does not want to invade Ukraine. It is incredible that people can (if they are genuine) really delude themselves into believing this. Think it through; what would a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine look like? Firstly; there would be a lot of fighting and thousands of Russians and Ukrainians would die. Putin thinks of the Ukrainians as part of the Slav family – of course they don’t want to kill them! An invasion would cost not just thousands of Russian lives but also a lot of money. The Russian domestic population would be utterly bewildered. And then – once they had ‘won’ they would be faced with ruling a country where they are loathed by the majority, at least in the centre and West of Ukraine. They would face a partisan war and would only be able to rule like the Nazis – with constant terror. The Russian population would not stand for it. And what would they gain? Ukraine is a poor country (far poorer than Russia) with no noticeable resources to steal. (Ukraine gets a lot of income from transit of Russian gas; of course that income would end and indeed the pipelines would probably be shut down). Europe would almost certainly stop buying Russian gas transited through an occupied Ukraine, which would be a catastrophe for the Russian budget, even before any new sanctions. Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said it would be a “quagmire”. She hasn’t thought it through; it would be far worse. It would be a total disaster. If the supposed aim would be to defend Russia’s borders from NATO – all they would have done is shift the border further West, and extended it, making it harder to defend! Of course that would be an illogical military strategy. It might well result in the end of Putin’s government. Of course it is complete nonsense.

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Not learning the lessons of history

This is the absurdly out-of-her depth British Foreign Secretary lecturing Russia (quoted in the Guardian):

She urged Vladimir Putin to “desist and step back from Ukraine before he makes a massive strategic mistake”. The Kremlin, she said, “has not learned the lessons of history” and an “invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya.”

The same Liz Truss who recently saw fit to pose in a tank in Estonia and threaten Russia from there.

It is hard not to get angry with the sheer irresponsible stupidity of all this. Don’t they realise all this makes them deserve to be invaded?

She probably thinks “desist” is a big word and she is being clever. Of course; there is nothing for Russia to ‘desist’ from. They are positioning troops near Ukraine on their own territory. Almost certainly to be ready if the authoritarian and corrupt regime in Kiev, buoyed up by UK [1] and US weapons and training, decides to finally throw the Minsk peace process completely and finally out of the window and attack Donbass. They may also be there to augment their negotiating position in Geneva, to send a message: “if you don’t meet our demands to pull your forces away from our borders this is that your future is going to look like”.

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