Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I recently put this post on facebook. It took me a bit of courage because I am diffident and not good at arguing. I expected to lose a lot of contacts over it. I can't screenshot it from here so I have just copied the text. It answers some of the issues about the future and how to handle all of this. I very nearly quote Webworm and in the comments I credit it. Here it is.

'I am aware that I am an outlier in several respects among people I know in the wellness/alt health/spiritual communities around me and I expect I am no longer welcome among some. I got vaccinated as early as I could and have wasted time in my head ever since trying to justify myself. So here is a bit of an essay about this.

For those who are resisting the vaccine, I just want to say please be careful about your fellow travellers. There are people alongside you who do not care about human rights and social justice, and I use those terms thoughtfully I hope. I have done as much reading and thinking as I reasonably can without being obsessed with the damn thing. So: if it looks a bit fashy it probably is. If it looks like it is glomming onto your cause it probably is. If it looks opportunistic or like plain old grift it probably is. We all know how to follow the money and there is some influencer culture that needs to be burned to the ground. If you think your cause is worth hanging out with bad actors, then, well, gosh.

As for some of the things I hear people say, I just don’t believe them. I don’t believe that there is a microchip in me or that the admittedly execrable Mr Gates wants to control our minds or that I will harm you spiritually by leaking vaccine. Yes, I will see myself out now, but before I do:

Here is why I took the vaccine:

I work with vulnerable people in a poorly regulated and poorly resourced part of the health system. The people I work with did not want to be vaccinated themselves. It seemed sensible to get vaccinated myself, so I did.

The drug companies are not our friends. Pfizer has a terrible history and its only redeeming feature is that it is not Purdue (the maker of Oxycontin). They have the governments of the world over a barrel and I imagine they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Nevertheless it made sense to get the vaccine for myself and others and so I did. I don’t have to like the drug companies to do what I think is right.

I don’t ‘trust the science’. There is no ‘the science’; that is a chimera. I respect science, the scientific method, and honest scientists doing their best under difficult circumstances. And so I took the vaccine.

Endless enquiry is a fruitless exercise. At some point with any decision we need to use our own sound judgment and act. If something is being subjected to endless enquiry, enquiry that has meaningless questions or sets a deliberately unobtainable level of proof, that enquiry is at worst naïve and at best disingenuous. Watch the arguments about climate change for an example of this. No argument will convince those with vested interests, or those who weaponize irony, or engage in moral outrage porn. These people are acting in bad faith. So I used my own sound judgment as best I could and took the vaccine.

The main context of taking the vaccine for me was


And no I am not shouting, this is a heading.

Collectivism is people using their freedom to act for and care about everyone. It is more than community. Community means any lobby group these days. Collectivism means you don’t have to be like minded or part of the ‘tribe’. What we have in common is oppression on multiple intersectional points in our lives, some of us more than others of course. That goes for all of us in this terminal stage of totalled capitalism. Acting for others is acting for all. An injury to one is an injury to all. Collectivism thus has no time for ideas of individual sovereignty or purity or cultural atavism. It takes all people as they are.

I don’t have much time for governments actually, tending anarchist, and to the left rather than towards libertarianism. I think if we had more collectivism, we would not have vaccine mandates. Our communities would be really commun-ist and they would take care of people in their own best way. I don’t blame this government any more than any other government, because I think problems are far more systemic. Many, many years of colonialism and abuse have passed and here we are being cajoled and bullied and bribed and patronised and monitored. Because under terminal stage capitalism….. etc etc etc.

There are few examples of anarchist states historically, and in our times Rojava might be a worthy attempt, if it survives the next few months. We have lived in a shitty system for so long that we don’t know any different. We need to unlearn many superficial and pernicious ideas. The fact that collectivism is difficult and we have few models, does not mean we should not attempt it. The way this system has handled Covid augurs poorly for the next crisis, which will be bigger and more clearly climate related. Those who survive will not necessarily be with the ones they love, the ones who think like they do, their own clan or kin. Finding better ways to be together may be essential. '

And here is my comment on the sources: Thank you for the comments. I expected a dogpile. Here are some sources: Behrooz Boochani 'No Friend But The Mountains' on the feminist idea of kyriarchy, the multi pointed system of oppression. Behrooz, a refugee who wrote his book on Manus island on a smuggled cell phone, sat in a lecture hall here and told the chattering classes that we are all in prison. It was inspiring. Shane Burley 'Why We Fight' on Rojava. Conspirituality podcast. Tyson Yunkaporta 'Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking will Save the World'. Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita on the concept of sound judgment. Philosophers C Thi Nguyen and Bekka Williams on moral outrage porn. Also David Farrier's Webworm on influencer culture.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Justice isn't on its way - there is no justice in a world where billionaires get richer while billions are unable to access a vaccine that would save us from the evolution of variants of a virus that has the potential to be our Black Plague. There is no justice.

But perhaps there is hope. As we realise that there is no help, no justice, we who are being ruined by the billionaires and the politicians and the landlords and the myriad other wealthy leeches, perhaps we can transform from dreamers to doers, downtrodden to change-makers.

It's a faint hope, there are so many barriers and challenges and fights to get from where we are to where we need to be to make change, but we are hurtling toward a tipping point in history where we make change or we are extinguished as a species. That's not hyperbole any more - with climate change, with Covid, with inequality, with so many things, we're really really running out of time as a species to work out a way to survive, never mind thrive.

I don't know what change looks like, I don't know how we get there, but I know that we can't go on as we are, thrashing our planet and the people on it within an inch of their capacity. We can't keep ripping coal and other fossil fuels from the belly of the earth, burning it, and thinking it's going to be ok. We can't keep making people work three jobs with no pee breaks to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. We can't keep withholding essential medicine from people just because they're not able to pay, nor can we keep letting children sleep in garages and cars. Something, many things, everything has to change.

So there is hope. Hope that we see this need for change and put shoulder to plough and do it.

Or we do not. And then there is hope that the earth regenerates without us and the next dominant species does better.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Hayden's summed it up really. At the risk of being overly sharing with complete strangers, I've been dealing with suicidal ideations for about 3 years now. Originally, it was driven by a dislike of myself which my therapists and antidepressants are chipping away (I'm ok, honestly) at but in 2021, it's the realisation that not even a raging pandemic can put a dent in the capitalistic machine.

I read Noam Chomsky's Consequences of Capitalism which put a lot of things in perspective and cemented the link between environmental destruction and the dollar in my brain. Now I cant help but view everything through a cynical lense and the depressing thing is that the corruption is right in front of our eyes. US Dems, the supposed good guys, are getting paid off by lobbyists to remove vision and dental from Medicare expansions - apparently seeing and chewing are optional (source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/27/health-lobbies-democrats-medicare-506977).

In my own backyard of 'straya, the sitting Government is allocating funds to marginal seats, actively fighting *against* introduction of oversight for corruption and openly advocating for coal. The PM even tried to introduce a religious freedom bill that will quite obviously discriminate against gay teachers as some sort of blowback for the people of Australia wanting same sex marriage. The PM opined that "can do capitalism" will solve our environmental crises which, aside from being possibly the dumbest thing ever uttered by a sitting world leader, exposed that he and his coalition simply don't care about the future of their country, they care about maintaining the status quo.

All this happens while I sit here wondering whether I can ever own a house after banks say that my deposit of $10k that I worked hard to save is only 25% of what's needed and "can I borrow from someone" to meet their criteria despite the fact I earn 6 figures and have never missed a rent payment.

The world's quite literally on fire and the light at the end of the tunnel is disappearing with each news article that hits the inbox. I have removed myself from all major social media in an attempt to cull the noise but it's never ending and chips away at my soul and faith in humanity at every time. What are we becoming as a society when the disaffected grows each day?

Some say capitalism is broken but it's working as intended - what you see right in front of your eyes is a feature, not a bug. At least I've got my cat snuggled up against me as I type this, the few sources of light that's left in the world.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

My cousin, who a few months ago was teetering on the edge of the rabbit hole, has fallen in. Driving past town yesterday, I saw my Dad at a 'voices for freedom' protest. I haven't spoken to him for a few years now, and am frankly glad I cut him off when I did, as it means I haven't had to listen to his poisonous ranting on this particular topic. I think he's vaccinated though. Just trying to convince others not to be, I guess? Utter selfishness.

COVID is the physical sickness, but there's a sickness of the mind plaguing the world at the moment too, and I think this one is going to stick around longer. Like many here, I'm just so exhausted with it all.

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I am susceptible to the Herman Cain schadenfreude and I hate myself for it. It is horribly satisfying and I can't believe I'm saying that out loud. I think I have compassion fatigue.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

How can young people feel anything but bleak? I feel bleak. Since I was about 13 years old, I've been aware of what we are doing to the world and trying, in my own feeble way, not to make things worse and, if possible, make things a little better. At the age of 66, I can only feel relief that I won't be around in another 50 years. (I have never owned a house and since the age of 20, have had a car for fewer than 10 years. I have taken long-haul flights 6 times and been vegetarian for 45 years.)

I love the Internet. I'm a Wikipedia addict, I adore the fact that I can borrow ebooks from the library and enjoy trying out different (vegan) recipes and catching up with the better news outlets. Perhaps 'enjoy' isn't the correct word for the latter. However, I was talking to a friend last night who is in her late seventies, and we both agreed that 20 years ago, the pandemic would have taken a very different path, and that most people in most countries would probably have been as compliant as the Kiwis have generally been. The Internet has changed all that. The blame must lie with social media. I don't use it (apart from one Facebook group which I read on a separate phone with an otherwise unused email account) and never come across all this mis-and dis-information except by reading such things as Webworm. Most of my friends have a similar approach to life, but I do overhear weird conversations from time to time, which make me wonder why nobody bothers to go to Wikipedia themselves, to check a few facts instead of simply assuming that their social media feed is Gospel. (I must confess that I'm not entirely sure what a social media feed is.)

As for the schadenfreude - this is human nature and I guess we should be glad that we don't actually have a word for it in English! There's a certain 'there but for the grace of God go I' behind it; there is also a bolstering of one's own decisions. There is, indeed, a very logical and rational relief that there will be one less person spreading malicious rumours. We don't tend to think of the person in this, more what they represent. For my part, I always find it a bit hard to feel sorry for someone who has hastened their own demise. Our wells of empathy are not bottomless and there are plenty of other people out there who need it: people who just struggling along in a naughty world, too busy trying to make ends meet to have the luxury of time to disappear down rabbit holes. Sadly, these people are very vulnerable to disinformation, because it shouts louder than facts, and they have no opportunity to examine it critically. You can't help believing that the death of someone who deliberately spreads all this nonsense is no real loss to society at large.

However, to me the worst thing about Covid is not the death of 5, or 10, or 15 million people, but the fact that it has distracted us so badly from the Climate Catastrophe, which is already claiming lives and, if nothing is done about it, with be wiping out 50, 100, or 150 million people in the not-too-distant future, if not most of humanity. More likely our sophisticated society will self-immolate before the end of the century. After the civil wars and chaos that will ensue, who knows what will be left of humanity - or even this beautiful, wonderful and unique planet. And we have no control because the 1% does so much damage themselves and are beyond our influence.

Try and live gently and enjoy the day. It's the most we can do. And, please, vote. It might make a difference.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

At this point, focusing on New Zealand only, I still have the capacity to feel sad about every single death from Covid, especially when they're of people who have been historically marginalised and generally treated terribly. I mean, I kinda understand why they wouldn't trust either the government or the medical establishment.

That said, I do identify with Hayden's despair as well.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

A bit of resignation I guess? My family member posted that information about Rex and my cousin insinuated that Rex would have died from the flu ecause he was 80 so he was a lost cause anyway. I was flabbergasted. Then my family member shared an article this weekend about the way a children's cricket game (the first time they have played since 207 days of lockdown) was interrupted by 'Freedom' protests and words like 'Selfish pricks' were used. My cousin decided it was the time to finally start insulting us all - as he was at that protest. We got called selfish and got told to get fucked. I mean, I'm having to cap a hugely important event in my life at 25 people so some of my unvaccinated family can be there, and I'm the selfish one? It's just bonkers.

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Dec 6, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I’ve always been incredibly susceptible to doom and gloom, so I’ll have spells of being indifferent towards other humans I have no connection to. I like to think my indifference is a defence mechanism, though, to cope with my own despair. Similar to dark humour in that I’d never be like that in real life to a real person - only the general concept of “other humans”.

I work in a bookshop, and while it has all the suffocating qualities of front facing retail - it somehow still restores my hope in the world occasionally. One of my favourite customers is this little girl named Katie (6 or 7?) who reads so many books. She’ll read Matilda and then give us a full review the next time her family comes in, plus she’ll scold us if we haven’t read something. There’s still a glimmer of hope in the world, but it’s small.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I remember discussing with friends last year, when BoJo and Trump were in hospital with covid, would we feel excited if they died? I often wonder how the pandemic response would have been different if they hadn’t survived, and that they only did survive because of the medical treatment and scientific advances they have chosen to disbelieve and actively deprive their country peoples… The misinformation plague genuinely sickens me, and to be honest, I have zero fucks to give for people that are dying through their own choices at this stage - after almost two years of deaths, research and overwhelming evidence to the contrary of what they are blindly accepting. Make me remember the Darwin awards - do they still exist?

I have so many fears for the climate, my vulnerable friends and I, our futures, that I just don’t have the mental capacity to care for these destructive forces anymore. I posted a few weeks ago, about a sibling that’s down the rabbit hole, who I then spent a week (again lol) trying to reason with on FB, and he just kept doubling down again and again. I’m used to debating topics where people can acknowledge your points and then make a case for the opposite, but these very brainwashed, rabbit hole people have been reduced to mindless, repetitive bots.

It’s like we’re being ideologically DDOS’d….

For my own sanity I need to disengage and focus on those around me and what we can do to create a safe and climate friendly future. Not saying the door isn’t open to people like my sibling if they change their views, the door is shut, not locked…

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

Gosh this article really resonated with me. I had to seriously check myself last week as I found myself rubbing my hands together with glee almost wanting covid to take hold in our community so I could see a Sue Grey, Claire Deeks, NZDSOS, Peter Mortlock loving unvaccinated extended family member go down. I felt an awful mix of rightousness and guilt and had to keep off social media and have long discussions with my dad and husband about how to make sense of it.

I do see the world morphing more and more into the excellent movie 'Idiocracy'.

Thanks for the great read, good to have some of my feelings validated as is so often NOT the case on the internet!

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The more nuanced view we have of humanity and compassion we can hold onto the better. I'm very sad to see the comments on Rex Warwood's Facebook page.

I find it generally easy to be compassionate and remember people's humanity. I've spent most of my adult life having a close family member who was an IV drug user. It took a lot of of energy and was very difficult finding the balance between compassion and appropriate boundaries. It's a skill that needs working at constantly and I'll admit my ability to do this varied over the years.

This person was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died last year. A pharmacist took it upon herself to publicly and gleefully refuse their prescription for morphine. They thought an agonising death was an entirely appropriate punishment for the moral crime of being a drug user on the methadone program. Fortunately my family member's GP intervened and they didn't have to be in pain in their final months. The pain in my family member's face as they told me what had happened and the dehumanisation and humiliation they faced, however, will always stay with me.

The entire point of covid restrictions is to preserve human health and life and to prevent overburdening our health system. I find it incredibly upsetting knowing that so many people are happy to sacrifice people they deem inferior and subject medical professionals to traumatic working conditions for their own discretionary comforts. We must maintain our compassion and sense of shared humanity. It's THE most important thing and the entire point of all this.

I understand it's frustrating. I'm really struggling with this myself. About half of the people I know are unvaccinated and reckless about covid. I think it's valid to need to voice this. I would be very careful about the forum people choose to do this in and the language they use. I occasionally had conversations with friends or people I trusted about my frustrations with my family member. It would not have been appropriate for me to have aired this in public and increase the shame, stigma and vitriol they and other people who use drugs face. It's well proven that these techniques don't help drug users and they increase negative outcomes. Treat people with compassion and keep them connected to their community and people who love them and their lives are improved and the path back from addiction is much easier.

The current pro-pandemic groups are very effectively cutting people off from their real communities and loved ones. They are super toxic and I believe a lot of people are uncomfortable with the worst of the rhetoric. Worse, there are people who have influence who are deliberately and maliciously preying on people's psychology to create these divisions for their own financial, ideological, and political means.

People caught up in this being able to walk back from the decisions they've made will be a lot easier if the alternative is a positive and welcoming sense of normality and community. Having deep polarisation and examples of awful behaviour from people who are in favour of covid response measures presents a sense that both sides are as bad as each other. I don't think this is the case but not fuelling this perception in public forums is important.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I feel like there there is an increasing otherness to those who don't choose the vaccine. No one close to me has not chosen the vaccine, and the old friend from highschool on Facebook who has gone off the deep end is so illogical they're no longer recognizable to me. I feel like that contributes to the lack of compassion. Anti vaxxers complain that this is segregation, and that we're being divided into two groups- and I suppose they're right ( though I think it's justified) but I do worry the division and otherness is resulting in them being dehumanized

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I couldn't bear to read that subreddit, but I think I understand why it exists. There are SO MANY big problems right now, and it feels like maybe those people are removing their own problematic existences. It's terribly grim, but maybe it seems like a net positive (it's actually not, because they have families and friends and coworkers and positive aspects to their personalities too). It's just so sad. Hang in there, friends - for every fundamentalist anti-vaxxer, there are at least 9 of us trying to stop the spread and hoping for a better future.

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Dec 6, 2021Liked by David Farrier

I had to read this once, then let it settle, then read it again, hence the delayed comment. This is heavy, in the Marty McFly-esque way.

I'm glad my comment struck a note with you and hope it does the same with other readers. Hopefully people will read it and think, "thank the gods I'm not the only one feeling this way."

Just a brief personal story that I thought of upon reading about these hospital staff begging for the vaccine just before being intubated: Last year, before the vaccine obviously, the chief physician of the ICU in the hospital where I used to work died of covid. In his own ICU. Where he worked tirelessly to save these patients every day. His own staff had to care for him and watch him die. I think about him a lot. He was well loved. And yet there are still people who would defiantly look death in the face, scream at the staff, all while causing further trauma to everyone involved.

On to the next: I had never heard of this bizarre Herman Cain thing. How horribly bleak. I'm tempted to go check it out, but not so sure I'm THAT curious.

From Hayden's piece: "But Loofbourrow said she couldn’t find a satisfying explanation for that fury; for how “pro-social impulses could get coarsened” to the point where people are “literally celebrating deaths”"

I just want to make the distinction between the callous, blank-stare reaction of "should've gotten the vaccine, brought it on themselves" vs. actually feeling some kind of perverse glee over an antivaxxer's death. For me, it's almost always the former, except for in the cases of the deaths those pastors and other figures of influence who actively use their platforms and get people killed. I think there's a difference there, at least for me.

Thanks, Hayden, this has been good brain food.

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Dec 5, 2021Liked by David Farrier

OK, so the majority are "poor shmucks" who are dying of covid, but also dying because they have caught an information disease that seems to be very hard to vaccinate against or to cure.

If I pause I can muster up a bit of sympathy for them and their families.

It is those who are deliberately spreading and profiting from this disease about whom I have no problem enjoying a bit of schadenfreude when thinking about their real or imagined deaths.

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