The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Shanghai Lockdown: a Memetic Analysis

Despite evidence that the rise in the number of cases is stalling, the Chinese lockdown in Shanghai and other cities continues, with hundreds of millions of people forced into their homes or in quarantine centers. What's happening? I argue that the Chinese government may have acted -- and still be acting -- on the basis of a meme that has its origin in a military perception of the pandemic.  

A "meme" is a small unit of information that can easily move from one human mind to another. It is the virtual equivalent of a virus in the sense that it "infects" people and influences their behavior. To explain the concept, maybe the best way is with an example: how my grandmother was absolutely convinced that nobody ever should drink a glass of milk without having boiled it first. She was infected with a meme that we could describe as "boil the damn milk." It was simple and direct, but, unfortunately, completely useless in the 1960s, when pasteurization had become common. 

My grandmother was not stupid: she was simply applying a tested method to deal with things she knew little about. The problem is that memes can be (or become) wrong or harmful, and yet they are very difficult to dislodge. In the photo, you see Colin Powell, in 2003, showing a vial of baby powder while claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed largely on the basis of a meme that turned out to be completely false. 

The Covid pandemic is another case of a complex story that most people are unprepared to understand. We should be trained in microbiology, medicine, epidemiology, and more -- no way! So, we rely on simplified snippets to guide our everyday activities. "Wear the damn mask," "stay home," "don't kill granny," "flatten the curve," and the like. That includes our leaders, and even many of the so-called "experts".

But how can we tell whether a meme is good or bad? One way to decide is to look at its origin. All memes have a story. Sometimes they begin as sensible precautions ("boil the milk before drinking it") but, in some cases ("lock everybody inside their homes"), they have a more complicated story. Where does the lockdown meme come from? Its origin can be found in the evolution of the concept of "biological warfare." But let's go in order. 

The Militarization of Biotechnologies

Biological weapons have been around for a long time in history. Ancient writers tell us of cadavers of infected people shot into besieged cities using catapults. It must have been spectacular, but it doesn't seem to have been common or especially effective. The problem with biological weapons is similar to that with chemical weapons. They are difficult to direct against specific targets and always carry the risk of backfiring. So, in modern times, bioweapons were never used on a large scale and, in 1972, a convention was enacted that outlawed biological warfare. That seemed to be the end of the story. But things were to change.  

You see in  Google Ngrams how the interest in biological weapons started to grow from the 1980s, onward.


The Ngrams results are confirmed by an examination of the scientific literature, as you may see by using Google Scholar or the Web of Science. The figure shows the number of papers dedicated to biological weapons (note that in the figure years go right to left in the graph and that the 2022 data are still incomplete.)

The origin of this renewed interest lies in the development of modern genetic manipulation technologies, supposed to be able to create new, and more deadly germs. But they can do much more than that: what if you could "tailor" a virus to the genetic code of specific ethnic groups, or even to the DNA of single persons? That remains (fortunately) for now in the realm of science fiction, but there is a simpler and more realistic approach. You can direct a virus to harm the enemy while sparing your population. You can do that if you have a vaccine, and they don't (like the old Maxim gun in colonial warfare). Considering that biological weapons are also cheap, you can see how the idea of biological warfare has become popular, with China often believed to be a leader in this field. You can read an in-depth discussion on this point on Chuck Pezeshky's site.

Before going on, stop for a moment to remember that these are just ideas: they have never been put into practice. And you are discussing lethal viruses that can kill millions (maybe hundreds of millions) of people. What could go wrong? Nevertheless, the idea of a weapon that only kills your enemies while sparing your forces is an irresistible meme for military-oriented minds. Then, once the meme is loose in the memesphere, it starts acting with a force of its own. The increasing interest in bioweapons indicates that during the past 3-4 decades, military planners started believing that "genetic warfare" was a real possibility. At this point, strategic planning for a biological war became a necessity, in particular about what should have been done to prepare a country to react when targeted with bioweapons.

The diffusion of this meme generated a revolution in the views on how to contain an epidemic. Earlier on, the generally accepted view favored a soft approach: letting the virus run in the population with the objective of reaching the natural "herd immunity". For instance, in a 2007 paper, the authors examined a possible new influence pandemic and rejected such ideas as confinement, travel bans, distancing, and others. On quarantines, they stated that "There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza." 

But when the military meme of biological warfare started emerging, things changed. A bioweapon attack is nothing like a seasonal flu: it is supposed to be extremely deadly, able to cripple the functioning of an entire state. Facing such a threat, waiting for herd immunity is not enough: the virus has to be stopped fast to allow the defenders to identify the virus and develop a vaccine. 

You can find several documents on the Web advocating an aggressive attitude toward epidemics. One was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security in 2006. Another comes from the Rockefeller Foundation in 2010, where you can read of a scenario called "Operation Lockstep" that described something very similar to what came to pass in 2020 in terms of restrictions. Possibly, the most interesting document in this series is the one written in 2007 for the CDC  by Rajeev Venkayya. The document didn't use the term "lockdown" but it proposed a drastic series of measures to counter a possible outbreak that leading nearly two million victims in the United States only. It proposed a series of restrictions on the movement of people and, for the first time, the concept of "flattening the curve." It had a remarkable influence on the events that took place in 2020. We'll go back to this graph later. 

Up to 2020, all these ideas remained purely theoretical, just memes that floated in the memesphere. Things were soon to change. 

The Wuhan Lockdown meme

In early 2020, the Chinese government reported the discovery of a new virus, that they labeled SARS-Cov-2, rapidly spreading in the city of Wuhan. The authorities reacted by enacting a strict lockdown of the city and a partial one in the province of Hubei. The lockdown lasted from Jan 23 to April 8, a total of about 2 months and a half. 

It was an extraordinary event that finds no equivalent in modern or ancient times. Of course, quarantines have been known for centuries, but the idea of a quarantine is to confine people who are infected or who have been in contact with infected people. A lockdown, instead, means locking down everybody in a large geographical region. It had been tried only once in modern history, when a three-day lockdown was implemented in Sierra Leone with the idea of containing an outbreak of Ebola. It had no measurable effect on the epidemic. 

Many people proposed elaborate hypotheses about how the Chinese government may have been planning the pandemic in advance for strategic or political reasons. I don't see this idea as believable. Citing W.J. Astore, "People who reach the highest levels of government do so by being risk-averse. Their goal is never to screw-up in a major way. This mentality breeds cautiousness, mediocrity, and buck-passing." I think the Chinese government is not different. Governments tend to react, rather than act. They also tend to be authoritarian, and a drastic lockdown is surely something that they favor since it enhances their power. 

Seen in this context, it doesn't matter if the SARS-Cov-2 virus was a natural mutation of an existing virus or, as some said, it had escaped from the biological research laboratory in Wuhan. What's important is that the Chinese authorities reacted "by the book." That is, they put into practice the recommendations that could be found, for instance, in Venkayya's CDC paper, although, of course, that doesn't mean that they actually read it. The Chinese surely had their own recommendations on preparedness that we may imagine were similar to those fashionable in the West. They may have believed that the virus was a serious threat, and they may even have suspected that it was a real biological attack. In any case, it was an occasion for the Chinese leaders to show their muscles and, perhaps, also to test their preparedness plans.

Here are the results of the first phase of the pandemic in China. We see how the number of cases moved along a typical epidemic curve that started in January 2020 and went to nearly zero after two months, and there remained for two years.


There is no doubt that the Chinese government saw this result as a success. Actually, as a huge success. Don't forget that the initial reports had described an extremely deadly virus, of the kind that could cause tens of millions of victims. In practice, the deaths attributed to the SARS-Cov-2 virus in China were about 5000. Over a population of a billion and a half, it is an infinitesimal number, and the probability for a Chinese citizen to die of (or with) Covid during 2020 was of the order of 2-3 in a million. Infinitesimal, indeed. But was it was a success of the containment policies? Or simply the result of the virus being much less deadly than it had been feared to be? Whatever the case, whoever took the decision of enacting the lockdown also took the merit for its perceived success. It was a personal triumph for China's president, Xi Jinping. 

The apparent success of the Wuhan lockdown generated a new, powerful meme about the effectiveness of the drastic NPI measures based on lockdowns, distancing, cleaning, disinfecting, masking, etcetera. They seemed effective not just in terms of "flattening the curve", but also as methods to control the epidemic and arrive at a condition of "zero covid." Memes such as "stay home" spread to the Western governments, just as the SARS-Cov2 virus spread to Western countries. The memes of "flattening the curve" and of "zero covid" were remarkably successful, as you can see in these data from Google Trends: 

Initially, it seemed that the Covid epidemic in Europe would disappear after the first wave, thanks to the NPIs. European leaders may have been genuinely convinced of this. For instance, in November 2020, the Italian Minister of Health, Mr. Roberto Speranza, published a book titled "Why we will be healed" taking credit for the successful eradication of the epidemic in Italy. But shortly afterward the number of Covid cases in Italy restarted to grow, and Mr. Speranza hastily retired his book from bookstores and from the Web. It was as if that book had never existed. In no country in the West, the number of cases could be lowered to zero, nor the epidemic could be limited to a single cycle as it had been done in China. The comparison of two years of data for China and the US is simply dramatic:

Many Chinese people seemed to take this result as a demonstration that the Chinese society is superior to the Western one because of the better discipline and self-control shown by Chinese citizens. It is an opinion (another meme) that could be maintained as long as the epidemic was at a truly zero level in China. 

Maybe, but a little more than two years later, things changed in China. The virus started spreading in the Southern areas of the country despite a new, drastic lockdown enacted by the authorities. Here are the most recent data available.


And you see that China went along the same path that several Western countries followed. After a lull in the spread of the virus, they concluded that the virus was eradicated. But then a new, stronger wave arrived. China didn't do so much better than the West, after all. 

The Memes that won

Up to March 2022, the China lockdown policy was seen as an exemplary case of successful containment of an epidemic. But the Shanghai lockdown changed everything. I argue that what we are seeing is a meme that got loose in the mind of politicians and led them to make several bad mistakes. 

The point, here, is to define success and failure in the containment of a pandemic. But what metric would you use? Let's go back to Venkayya's diagram in the 2007 CDC report, reproducing it here again. 

Do you notice what scam this diagram is? This figure is not based on data, has no experimental verification, no references in past studies. It is just something that the author, Mr. Venkayya, thought was a good idea. The problem is that the diagram cannot be quantified: it shows two nice and smooth theoretical curves. But, in the real world, you would never be able to observe both curves. Think of the epidemic in Wuhan: which of the two curves describes the real-world data? You cannot say: you would have needed two Wuhans, one where the restrictions were implemented, another where they weren't. Then, you could compare. 

Of course, in the real world, there are no two Wuhans, but there are 51 US states that applied different versions of the concept of "restrictions" during the pandemic. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economics Research went to examine how the different states performed and found essentially no effect of the restriction on the health of the citizens. There are other studies based that show how the effect of NPIs such as lockdowns, distancing, masks, etc., is weak, if existing at all. 

That leaves open the question of why the first lockdown in Wuhan was perceived to be so effective that it was replicated all over the world. The key, here, is the term "effective." If the virus had been as deadly as it was believed to be, maybe even a biological weapon, then, yes, you could claim that the Wuhan NPI had contained it. But later experience showed that the Covid virus was not much more lethal than that of normal influenza. Some data show that it may have been endemic before the outburst of 2020, so the immune system of the Chinese may have been already equipped to cope with it. That would also explain why the 2022 wave was so much stronger: the Chinese had not exposed their immune system to viruses for nearly two years, and they had become especially vulnerable to new variants.  

At this point, I can propose an interpretation for the reasons for the recent Shanghai lockdown as a good example of the power of memes. It is possible that the Chinese authorities were genuinely convinced that the Wuhan lockdown of 2020 demonstrated that restrictions work (in different terms, they remained infected with the relative meme). So, facing a new wave of the COVID virus, they reacted in the same way: with a new lockdown, convinced that they are doing their best to help Chinese citizens to overcome a real threat. 

If this is true, the Chinese authorities -- and the Chinese citizens, as well -- y must have been surprised when they saw that the new Covid wave refused to be flattened, as it had seemed to be during the Wuhan lockdown. The problem, at this point, lies with the stubbornness of memes, especially in the minds of politicians. A politician, in China as everywhere else, can never admit to having been wrong. When they find that some of their actions don't lead to the expected results, they tend to double down. Of course, a larger dose of a bad remedy does not usually help, but it is the way the human mind works. We may imagine that the leaders of the inhabitants of Easter Island did the same when they increased the effort in building large statues there. Incidentally, these statues were themselves another stubborn meme infecting a population.

Conclusion: a memetic cascade

Two years of the pandemic are summarized in a single graphic from "Worldometers." What you see is a series of seasonal peaks, one in the summer for the Southern Hemisphere, the other in winter for the Northern Hemisphere. There is no evidence that the various campaigns of non-pharmaceutical interventions had a significant effect. Every day in the world, some 150,000 persons die for all reasons. The graph tells us that, on the average, only about 7-8 thousand people died of (or perhaps just with) Covid every day. Even assuming that all those who died with Covid can be classified as dead from Covid (not obvious at all), more than 95% of the people who died during this period died for reasons other than the Covid. 

The question that we face, then, is how was it that the world reacted with such extreme measures to a threat that, seen today, was much exaggerated. It may be still too early to understand exactly what happened, but I think it is possible to propose that it was a typical "feedback cascade" in the world's memesphere. A convergence of parallel views from politicians, decision-makers, industrial lobbies, and even simple citizens, most of them truly convinced that they were doing the right thing. 

I don't mean here that there were no conspiracies in this story, in the sense of groups of people acting to exploit the pandemic for their personal economic or political interests. Lobbies and individuals do ride memes for their own advantage. So, when the pharmaceutical industry discovered that they could make money with vaccines against the Covid, they pushed hard for the meme to spread. The surveillance industry did the same. And governments, of course, pushed for more control over their citizens. They are naturally authoritarian and the Chinese government may not be especially more authoritarian than the Western ones. 

But, overall, memes can be a force that moves infected people even against their personal interests. My grandmother had no advantage, just a slightly higher cost, from her habit of boiling her milk before drinking it. It is much worse for the Covid story. A lot of ordinary people fully believed the memes that the government's propaganda machine was pushing and they did things that were positively harming them, physically, socially, and economically. They still do, memes are resilient. Daniel Dennett said that "a human being is an ape infested with memes." and the Covid story shows that it is true. 

Fortunately, the number of cases in China seems to have reached its peak and from now on, it can only go down. But the recent news from Shanghai is worrisome. If the Western media are to be trusted, the Chinese government is engaged in fencing apartment buildings to keep people locked inside. It may still be way too early to say that the time of the requiem for an old meme has come. 

See also the work by Jeffrey Tucker, and Chuck Pezeshky.

Note added after publication. Latest news from China (May 9th, 2022):

"Our prevention and control strategy is determined by the party's nature and mission, our policies can stand the test of history, our measures are scientific and effective," the seven-member committee said, according to government news agency Xinhua.

"We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, and we will certainly be able to win the battle to defend Shanghai," it said.

They have clearly realized that they made a huge mistake, but they cannot admit that and they cannot back down. The usual disaster. And, by the way, they completely confirm my interpretation that they really believed that the lockdown in Wuhan had been a success in eradicating the virus. ("our measures are scientific" -- yeah, sure.....)


  1. Hi Ugo,

    Not sure if they did this in Italy, but some State governments in the US actually put infected people back in nursing homes...... struck me as dangerous and odd at the time. It also strikes me as dangerous and odd that nobody is investigating it or doing anything about it. Like all major "crisis" we've suffered in the last 20 years, nobody is held accountable for stupid decisions. Covid struck me as very political from the beginning, and it just so happened to be presidential election year, what are the odds? ;)

  2. Not to mention the way the media was hyping it up, i fully expected to see this:

    Happy Friday everyone!

  3. Hello Ugo,

    Huge fan of your work.

    I am in Shanghai. I have been living here since 2007.
    I can read/speak Chinese at a high level of fluency. I also travelled extensively in the country.

    There is something that most foreign analyst do not grasp: the Chinese Mind (the "collective subconscious" if you wish.)

    -The Chinese Mind likes to be seen in the Struggle doing things to fight in the Struggle (no matter what the Struggle is, whether those actions give tangible results or not, at least they make great photo ops for the media.)
    -The Chinese Mind is hive-like, it's blindly obedient, and it lashes out at the "Enemy" (whether real or imaginary)
    -The Chinese Mind is a bit childish, it is for sure stubborn, and non-rational/logical (non-Cartesian)
    -The Chinese Mind is constantly under ideological propaganda, everywhere, every time, from childhood til death, from home to the workspace...
    -The Chinese Mind is never guilty, it always blames the Other (and the object of the blame is constantly shifting)
    -The Chinese Mind hates losing face (what face, nobody knows) and hates being criticized (just shut up and put it under the carpet)

    Remember the famines? One day they wake up and decide to kill all the birds (that were eating bugs that were eating crops...)
    Same Mindset.

    Shanghai has always been seen as the most "civilized" city in China.
    Shanghai is often called Le Paris de l'Orient, it is an "international" first tier city... probably the top Chinese city in terms of openness, quality of life and access to medical care.

    Nobody expected to see such levels of insanity in Shanghai... in other areas of the country, yes, but not here.
    Looking at the conditions in the quarantine centers... Containers without doors in a field, tents set on a highway, toilets flooded with feces... open air zoo.

    They come take positive cases in big buses and ambulances almost daily.
    The police is patrolling streets at all times and we are unable to even set foot on the sidewalk.
    Every building that had a positive case is either: shut down with barriers OR has 1-2 men in a tent monitoring 24/7 (imagine all the manpower required.) Currently there are 3-4 of those tents in my compound.
    It's basically Martial Law.

    The psychological toll is quite high. The monetary one must be hard of lower classes.
    Some neighbors have mental breakdowns. Some people spray alcohol in the air while walking to get tested... You'd think the Plague is upon us.

    Some people were getting messages in group chat about "foreign spies" and "foreign media fueling anti-China conspiracies." Good ol' shift the blame tricks.

    I have been in lockdown since mid-March, got tested 35 times, and lost about 12 pounds.
    The local governmental commune gave us a little bit of food, but barely enough to survive.

    Luckily we had some preps and were able to order some food. Now most delivery guys are not allowed to deliver to our address. We can get a bit of food, but we need to get imaginative to create new recipes (boiled/sweet and sour/spicy/fermented cabbage.)

    My take is:
    it could be a test for something much bigger (ie., war, energy crisis) or they are truly afraid of the unrest if lots of old people were to die. Chinese people tend to get emotional and the last thing the authorities want to deal with is mobs lynching doctors in the streets.

    Is the frog slowly boiling in the pot?
    I think so.
    Except the whole planet is pot and we're all frogs.

    1. Indeed, it is difficult for us, Westerners, to understand exactly what's going on in China. Your comment makes me think that, as I propose in my post, it was mainly a huge mistake that by now nobody knows how to stop because if someone were to call it a mistake, they would lose face. Actually everybody would lose face. Not much different from what happened in Italy. It was all a huge mistake, but nobody wanted to admit it. And so, it doesn't matter whether we are Chinese or Italians, we keep going pushed around by the memes that infect us.

    2. BTW, can I reproduce your post on my social accounts?

    3. Yes, you may reproduce, copy and modify all parts of the comment wherever and whenever you want to.

    4. Ugo
      When I heard of what was happening in China two years ago, I immediately thought of the Cultural Revolution, the Covid craze being a Scientistic version of that earlier mass formation event, then our government decided to ape the Chinese...

      I no longer regard the Chinese model as viable in the long term, its inability to control mass formation events being a massive internal weakness, since the 1850s Chinese society has been torn apart by one mass formation event after another, for a generation these were controlled by economic growth but in the past decade with that running into rapidly diminishing returns, the mass formation events have returned.

    5. If one crosses the zebra lines on the streets of Shanghai during rush hours, he is likely returning to home country with undeniable cluster-phobia - for life - strong.

      The climax of the Opium War has not happened some 100+ years ago, but rather when our Western Civilisation forced the regime in China to extract billions of tonnes of Coal per annum - assisted by 17+ million barrel of crude oil supplies a day - being almost looted from ME and others - disregarding the stuff is finite.

      Putting fossil fuels in the hands of primitive humans - has been a big mistake by Nature.


    6. Anonymous, you wrote a most interesting post. Being myself in Russia, where many signs point to oil production having peaked, and where a second lockdown was unexpectedly enacted last fall, I automatically associate lockdowns to attempts by authorities to reduce consumption. China's energy problems are here to stay, so this Shanghai scene will be replicated many times. Russia is in a different boat. It used to export about 77% of fossil fuel production. Now it will export a smaller percentage, leaving less for others, including favorite customers like China.

    7. You are reading my mind: I was thinking about Russia when I left the comment. The reason being: the Russian Mind is also a mystery to most "Westerners." I foresaw everything that is currently happening, except I (wrongfully) thought that China had another 5-10 years until the 2030 agenda kicks in... I discovered Peter Zeihan about 2 weeks ago (imagine the shock I'm going through now.) Not sure if you know Peter Zeihan's theories, but in a nutshell, just like you said: Russia=peak oil, current infrastructure cannot be operated at 100% capacity, and China will have difficulty getting any oil from Russia. Russia is done. China is done. It's all about demographics, geography, food independence and access to energy. Just before the lockdown I was walking around and while looking at all those big infrastructure projects in front of my eyes, I asked myself: how is this even possible? How many different resources are needed to transport and build all this... and for how long can we go like this? Not in a lefty-emotional manner, but rather is a perfect logical, calculating/deductive way. The answer I came up with: we are not trying to save resources, but we are in total ACCELERATION. This bring us to the Accelerationist philosophy, but that one will be for another time.

    8. @ MonSeulDesir

      RE "mass formation"

      The official framing of this "phenomenon" is misleading and wrong. The false hope-addicted psychologists and their acolytes want you to believe this is "just some temporary occasional" madness by the masses that has been going on since only about the 20th century when it is but a spike of a CHRONIC madness going on for aeons with "civilized" people ---

      One of these mainstream psychologists who have been spreading this whitewashed reality, Dr. Desmet, also fails to see that the Covid Psyop is a TOTALLY deliberate ploy because he doesn't think it's ALL intentionally sinister. This makes him witting or unwitting controlled opposition.

      Worst of all, perhaps, the mass formation/mass psychosis notion frames the problem as the public being a mere unaccountable non-culpable victim in this phenomenon. Nothing could be further from the truth (see referenced source above)...

    9. I am a Licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Part of my training was in Harbin, China, when China was just opening up to the West. I know and understand the Chinese perspective as well as any Gweilo can. Xi, knows exactly what he is doing and it has nothing to do with zero Covid policy. He understands that the West has declared war on Russian and then they are coming to destroy China. These are the only two countries who stand in the way of Klaus Schwab's great reset, and as such they must be crushed and bend the knee to the NWO. Xi, is locking down to destroy the supply chain. He knows that this will make the West collapse, because China makes everything now, and the West makes nothing. Yes, he will sacrifice some Chinese with this lockdowns, but in his mind it is a price worth paying. He walks a fine line: lockdown just enough to destroy the supply chain, without causing a widespread rebellion.

  4. Hello,

    You write: "Every day in the world, some 150,000 persons die for all reasons. The graph tells us that, on the average, only about 7-8 thousand people died of (or perhaps just with) Covid every day. Even assuming that all those who died with Covid can be classified as dead of Covid (not obvious at all), your probability to die of the virus during the past two years was just 0.5% of all the other possible causes of death."
    I would like to say it's more like 5%, what do you think?

  5. If the world-wide response to covid19 was just an honest mistake, why did India and Japan use ivermectin successfully while North America ignored their success?

    Dr. David Martin found patents dating back 20+ years for elements of the pandemic - which many people refer to as the PLANdemic because there is so much evidence of coordinated action.

    It would be comforting to believe that risk-averse politicians acted in an excess of caution, but the facts paint a picture of coordinated action to push a hastily manufactured "vaccine" which provides no protection and has caused tremendous harm. Was it an honest mistake when the CDC changed their definition of the word "vaccine" to accommodate the mRNA gene therapy shots?

  6. If the virus escaped a lab, then it being man made may induce greater fear of it being a biological wrecking ball with unknown and unknowable "super natural" capacities.

    But after two years of so far limited lethality, lockdowns of such vast magnitude do seem strange coming from a country that has shown such commitment to increasing its national wealth and power status without much western like regards to human well-being.
    From another point of view, one could very well find that China has become much aware of being a central pillar in the global engine and that the port freezings and megalopolis lockdowns could plausibly be a deliberate hampering of that engine, knowing full well that China can afford it, and that the world would in a sense benefit from being clocked a little slower, just as computer CPU chips have instructions to throttle when heat dissipation no longer support the compute frequency. (All the better if some companies and countries are strategically, temporarily hobbled by the drastic measures affecting the supply chain I presume...)

    I don't have evidence to support this hypothesis, which I'm not the first to voice; I've read allusions to it before, without much investigation on my part I admit ...
    ...but you know, the timing is ... ... a little hard to dismiss to put it mildly.

    1. I think that there’s far too many attempts to rationalize the conduct and policies of the powerful as being part of some astonishingly clever plan, myself I use Occam’s razor, if the powerful are doing something that looks incredibly stupid, self destructive and utterly insane then it is because whatever they’re doing IS actually incredibly stupid, self destructive and utterly insane. I don’t buy the myth that those in power are unusually clever, informed or are far seeing. Here in Canada I’ve been witnessing the follies of our child-rulers for the past few years and the bungling of senile Brandon south of the border and this is governance on the level of Honorius and Arcadius and their corrupt intrigue filled courts. As for China, I saw a report on Xi’s appearance before the Congress of Peoples Deputies and I wondered. How many of the deputies applauding him are actually plotting against him?

    2. Can I reproduce your comment in a post on "The Seneca Effect"?

    3. Of course!

  7. The mostly successful attempts by the Biden regime to suppress highly effective treatments for Covid--hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, and now monoclonal antibodies--account for a high percentage of the deaths from Covid...while most of the other deaths were "with" covid, with an average of 4 co-morbidities...Deaths from the mRNA vaccines will far surpass deaths from actual covid...

  8. Thanks Ugo for putting your take out there. Quite brillant as always. Only thing missing is your take on the vaccines. Looking forward to that.

    1. Thanks, Gracchus. I wrote something about vaccines here, last year. Still preliminary. I should write something more. When I can......

  9. I've been thinking about this post and doubt the thesis. First, much water has gone under the bridge since the first shock lock downs (which yes, the WEF has been preparing for at least as far back as Dark Winter in well as a military response if enough of the US public went nutcase and would support a nuclear first strike..and Biden mentioned Dark Winter twice in his last debate with Trump). It's pretty clear that much of what is happening is part of a long term plan for US domination of the globe...the New American World Order, using the Great Reset as a tool.. See Michael Hudson's intelligent analysis The sanctions are clearly against the global south, the European allies and the people of the US. We may have, and China may have, thought the sanctions were against Russia. China now is allied with Russia and understands the sanctions. And, with the new lock downs blocking much shipping, trade and etc with the West, China has counter sanctioned the US, which they understand has designs on China after the supposed US/Nato takeover of Russia. This is hardly secret. It's said aloud in the US govt. To say the Chinese are unaware of what they are doing suggests that they aren't as intelligent as the US Empire. Further, they are putting away their oligarchs, and with these new lockdowns are destroying a lot of their own small businesses. One wonders if they felt class division and capitalism and consumption has gone too far and they are moving back to a different level of control.

    Although you say that the genetic targeting with viruses is science fiction, I don't know that this is true. You might be right, but Malone says otherwise, and the Russians believe otherwise from what I've read in Russian pieces on the saker. I think your commenter who mentions the Chinese are preparing for worse has possible reason...and it doesn't have to be genetic targeting. Xi himself mentioned the bioweapon labs surrounding China.

    I can think of many reasons why the Chinese leadership may be doing this, using the guise of covid...which the US used so successfully before switching to the war/sanctions guise. I can see many events even in the last year (Russia securing the US/Ukrainian biolabs and what the US was doing being one) which may have changed the writing on the wall for them. Maybe they are following a meme because it is a good cover for the effects they want to achieve, without announcing them outright.

  10. >It was an extraordinary event that finds no equivalent in modern or ancient times. Of course, quarantines have been known for centuries, but the idea of a quarantine is to confine people who are infected or who have been in contact with infected people. A lockdown, instead, means locking down everybody in a large geographical region. It had been tried only once in modern history, when a three-day lockdown was implemented in Sierra Leone with the idea of containing an outbreak of Ebola. It had no measurable effect on the epidemic.

    That is an outright lie and you should be ashamed of yourself for writing this.

    First, you were alive in 1972 during the Yugoslavian smallpox containment effort, and it wasn't that far away from Italy

    Second, the last total lockdown -- schools closed, people confined to homes, cars banned from roads, etc. -- was A MONTH BEFORE WUHAN, in Samoa, over measles.

    >The Memes that won

    We have endemic COVID now. The "meme that won" is the one in which the ruling elite mass murdered 20M people worldwide and will continue to mass murder countless more by endlessly forcibly reinfecting them through herding them into unsafe schools and workplaces because it refused to pay people not to work for the duration of the crisis as that would have constituted downwards redistribution of wealth, and that is forbidden under neoliberal hypercapitalism.

    It took them two years of incessant brutal propaganda, but they succeeded in the end -- people are right now genuinely convinced it is in their best interest to shorten their life expectancy by a couple decades (though they don't actually understand it in these terms yet).

    >There is no evidence that the various campaigns of non-pharmaceutical interventions had a significant effect.

    Once again, there were hardly ever any actual such campaigns.

    In the very few occasions when governments went for actual elimination, then it was achieved.

    The Chinese have fully contained hundreds of outbreaks so far. And they don't have 5M dead as India does (which at equivalent levels of infection would have been more like 15M in China given their demographic structure).

    Nobody else really tried -- it was lock down a little bit while infections subside so that we don't have dead bodies on the street (which still did happen in a few places) as this would be very bad PR and then people might demand actually serious measures to be taken, then reopen as soon as possible and ensure the cycle resumes.

    I am absolutely disgusted with you.