An Update on the Conflict with China

(this article was originally published on 3 June 2020; this is an updated version of the article, last updated on 11 June 2020)

On 17 April 2020, we wrote [1, 2] that China was waging fifth generation warfare against the West and was taking over the world while – with the honourable exceptions of the U.S. and Australia – our leaders either, unaware of what is happening, bumble incompetently, or willingly assist them. We predicted that although currently, the West could defeat China, perhaps even easily, we would squabble among ourselves instead and China had a very high chance of succeeding. This squabbling is facilitated and encouraged by China and their agents. This phenomenon is far from unprecedented: such internal squabbling played a major role in the Anglo-Saxons defeating the Welsh and the British Empire subjugating India, for example.

Elsewhere [3], we argued that the British government’s response has been inept and presented our recommendations of how the crisis could be handled better.

About 2 weeks after the publication of [1, 2], the U.S. government released a report which reached more or less the same conclusions we had reached earlier in [1, 2]. China has now also admitted that the virus did not originate in the Wuhan seafood market [28]. Sir Richard Dearlove has recently stated that the SARS-2 virus is man-made [31], on the basis of a report by Professor Gus Dalgleish which we have also seen since the publication of [1, 2] – in agreement with what we had said was the likelihood in [1, 2].

What has happened since then and what have we learned about the Chinese bioweapons lab virus (a.k.a. SARS-2) since?

1. China: What to Watch Out For

While it could be that China could not defeat the USA in a kinetic war at the moment, and waging kinetic war against a nuclear power would in any event be a risky proposition, the world appears not to have appreciated yet the strategic significance of Taiwan to the world economy and how vulnerable we are to China taking over Taiwan one way or another – be it through a sudden invasion, the subversion of their leadership, or otherwise.

In [1, 2] we pointed out that the timing of the virus outbreak was very convenient for China for many reasons, one of which was that the Hong Kong protests would have to stop. We also said that we would not want to be Taiwan at the moment. China has already effectively annexed Hong Kong. Are the Spratly Islands and Taiwan China’s Czechoslovakia and Poland?

Most semiconductor devices (e.g. silicon chips) are manufactured in Taiwan, specifically at the TSMC (the “Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company”).

Every computer requires a Central Processing Unit (“CPU”), today almost universally a microprocessor, to run.

Virtually all computers – servers, desktops, laptops – these days run on an Intel architecture CPU, and there are two vendors of such CPUs: Intel and AMD. By market share, Intel is leading, but AMD has recently taken a huge technological lead on Intel which Intel will struggle to catch up with.

Virtually all mobile devices – mobile phones, tablets – run on an ARM architecture CPU. There are many vendors of such CPUs. Apple make their own ARM-based CPUs (under licence from ARM). Samsung currently use the Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM-based CPUs (designed by Qualcomm using IP licensed from ARM).

Every computer with a display requires a Graphical Processing Unit (“GPU”), to run. There are 3 GPU vendors which between them have virtually 100% of the market: Intel, AMD and nVidia.

Modern High Performance Computing progresses – in order of increasing processing power and power consumption efficiency – from multi-core CPUs, through GPUs, through to Field Programmable Logic Arrays (FPGAs). For the most computationally intense computing tasks, you would use an FPGA. There are 2 FPGA vendors which between them have virtually 100% of the market: Xilinx and Altera (acquired by Intel in 2015).

TSMC currently manufactures, among many other things:

  • all recent AMD CPUs;
  • all Apple CPUs;
  • all the Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs used in the current generation of Samsung mobile devices;
  • all nVidia GPUs;
  • all AMD GPUs;
  • all Xilinx FPGAs.

Intel still fabricate most of their own CPUs, GPUs and Altera’s FPGAs at their own fabrication facilities, but Intel also outsources some of their fabrication to TSMC.

Were China to take control of Taiwan and therefore of TSMC (or even just of TSMC):

  • of the top 2 computer CPU vendors in the world (Intel, AMD) one would be completely at China’s mercy and could be wiped out by them at any time, and the other would be significantly impacted;
  • of the top 2 mobile device vendors in the world (Apple, Samsung), both would be completely at China’s mercy and could be wiped out by them at any time;
  • of the top 3 GPU vendors in the world (Intel, AMD, nVidia), two would be completely at China’s mercy and could be wiped out by them at any time, and the other would be significantly impacted;
  • of the top 2 FPGA vendors in the world (Xilinx, Altera) one would be completely at China’s mercy and could be wiped out by them at any time, and the other would be significantly impacted.

Every company which relies on computers, including e.g. all the cloud services on which most of the Internet relies, such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon and Google clouds, also crucially depends on semiconductors manufactured in Taiwan.

In 2009, AMD spun out its own silicon wafer manufacturing facility (GlobalFoundries), but in 2018, GlobalFoundries was no longer able to offer AMD wafers competitive with TSMC, and AMD transferred their fabrication to TSMC. It is very expensive these days to build a new silicon fabrication facility – on the order of USD 5bn – and it then becomes obsolete after only a few years. You need a tremendous amount of volume of orders in order to be able to recoup your investment. Western producers are simply no longer able to compete with, or match, TSMC. This is not an issue so long as Taiwan remains in friendly hands. One of the key reasons AMD has overtaken Intel is that AMD is using TSMC’s modern 7nm process (i.e. a process with 7 nanometre feature size), while Intel is still stuck at the 14nm node. Indeed, all the products listed above use TSMC’s 7nm process. Using the 7nm process has allowed AMD to push the limit of what they can do to a point they were simply unable to achieve in the 14nm process and could thus not be replaced if they lost access to the 7nm process.

TSMC is not the only semiconductor subcontract manufacturer in the world, but its largest (but smaller) competitor, UMC (“Universal Microelectronics Company”), to which you would most naturally transfer your business if you needed to, is also based in Taiwan.

Some other companies which also have their products manufactured at TSMC are Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm (which also uses Samsung) and Broadcom (which also uses UMC (Taiwan), SMIC (“Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation”) (China), GlobalFoundries (USA/Singapore/Germany/UAE) and Silterra (Malaysia – a much smaller supplier)).

Here is the capacity of some of the major silicon wafer manufacturers by the number of silicon wafers they can manufacture per month (using numbers from Wikipedia – obtaining more reliable data currently exceeds our resource capacity):

TSMC >1,382,600
UMC >550,000
SMIC 514,000
GlobalFoundries >430,000
Samsung >904,000

Switching to a new fabrication facility is neither an easy process nor one which can happen quickly. It is not simply a matter of transferring orders (subject to capacity, which isn’t there): the processes offered by the different manufacturers are very different, often completely different, and you need to re-design your product. This can take months or years. While this is ongoing, and you do not have access to your original supplier, you have no access to a supply for those months or years while this transfer takes place. Vendors will use several sources where possible to protect themselves against this problem, where possible, but some processes offered by TSMC are simply not available elsewhere. And in the event of a major vendor becoming unavailable, there would also not be the capacity to replace them (even if the technology itself was available).

And even this is merely a small fraction of the global, and American, semiconductor economy which depends on Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers.

The one country which does not vitally depend on Taiwan for their mass scale semiconductor manufacturing is China. They have their own fabs. Huawei’s fabless subsidiary HiSilicon, for example, has recently migrated the manufacturing of its Kirin processors from TSMC to SMIC, a Chinese company [23]. We do not know where the silicon used by Ericsson and Nokia in their 5G products is made, but it is very likely to be Taiwan. Nokia, at least, appears to use products from both Intel and Marvell. All Marvell’s processors are also made by TSMC. It’s all very well talking about excluding Huawei from one’s mobile telephony infrastructure, but what if they are the only company able to supply?

In the global smartphone semiconductor industry, TSMC and Samsung stand out as the only major players, with TSMC having the lion’s share of the smartphone chip manufacturing market [23].

This does not even begin to take into account all the other ways we depend criticially on Taiwan – for computer motherboard and computer manufacturing, for example.

The seriousness of this threat must not be underestimated. Without access to semicondutor manufacturing, we not only do not have computers and a post-information revolution world. Modern manufacturing is entirely computerized. So is all military equipment and the equipment used to manufacture it. Without computers, we do not have the manufacturing machinery necessary for a post-industrial revolution world. Modern agriculture depends on industrial machinery, drones for surveillance, crop spraying, etc. and often other IT infrastructure. Without machinery manufactured using computers, we do not have the agricultural machinery necessary for a post-agricultural revolution world.

China does not need to destroy Taiwan in order to cause us this kind of damage. And they would be foolish to go that far, as this would surely invite a severe response from the West just before it returns to the stone age. But China could take over Taiwan in a blitzkrieg attack, keep the TSMC and UMC (and all the rest of the high technology on which the West depends) going, continue selling us their services and not start a kinetic war with the West. What could we do then? Starting a kinetic war with a nuclear China ourselves would be a very unlikely, and a very dangerous, response. Even an aggressive conventional war would be out of the question – knowing that this is not a war we could win quickly, and that time was against us: our supply chains of semiconductors, IT equipment, industrial machinery, agricultural machinery, military equipment, not to mention the rare earths they already control, etc. would be completely under China’s control. Instead, we would effectively be confined to a state of vassalage to China, from which there would be no escape.

China recently sent two aircraft carriers into war games near the Pratas Islands, near Taiwan [17]. This is following on the heels of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressing Beijing’s desire to “reunify” with Taiwan, an apparent policy shift [17]. Subsequently, Li Zuocheng, China’s Chief of the Joint Staff Department and a member of the Central Military Commission, speaking at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Seccession Law, said that China would attack Taiwan if there was no other way of stopping Taiwan from becoming independent [18]. We ignore these warning signs at our peril. We should take these threats at their face value and prepare and respond accordingly.

2. China’s Activities Since Our April Articles

China has already been stepping up its fifth generation warfare against us. In addition to the anschluss of Hong Kong, China has also started a trade war with Australia by imposing 80% tariffs on Australian barley after Australia called for an investigation of where the SARS-2 virus came from [5].

In [1, 2], we asked, rhetorically, how many more bat viruses China had in the freezers of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Shi Zhengli has now warned [14] that “COVID-19 is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ of unknown deadly [bat] viruses” which could strike us, and “there will possibly be another outbreak”. Is this a warning or a threat?

Finally, China has ramped up their propaganda and disinformation campaign on both the social and the lamestream media. Here is some of the narrative being spun by China and their proxies:

  • SARS-2 was created by the USA and deliberately released in China [15]
  • the Tiananmen Square massacre never happened [15]
  • “China recognizes that it is vastly outmatched in any propaganda conflict, and as the far weaker party must necessarily try to stick to the truth, lest its lies be immediately exposed” [15]
  • this year’s collapse of the oil price was manipulated and a result of insider trading [24]

Since the start of this pandemic, even as videos of China welding their own people in their appartments, drones and lorries spraying entire cities with disinfectant, dragging people forcibly from their homes, their hospitals and morgues being overwhelmed, were reaching us in the West, China both downplayed the severity of the outbreak and influenced the WHO to do the same; for example:

  • China and the WHO claimed that there was no human-to-human transmission of the virus and the WHO refused to declare a pandemic; we now know [30] that this was the direct result of Xi Jinping personally asking Tedros Adhanom to do this on 21 January 2020, despite knowing that there was human-to-human transmission, thus delaying the global response to the virus by 4-6 weeks
  • China and the WHO claimed that no medical staff have been infected with the virus
  • on 4 February 2020, the WHO advised against trade and travel restrictions against China, saying such measures could cause “fear and stigma”
  • the WHO advised against the wearing of masks
  • the WHO advised that there was “no reason for panic and fear”

The narrative of disinformation continues:

  • “We have seen, then, in Wuhan and South Korea, if you do not do anything, the epidemic is over in three weeks.” [16] (did China really do nothing in Wuhan? Did South Korea really do nothing?)
  • “Very early on, we knew from China and we knew from South Korea that this is an epidemic that runs its course, and there was nothing special about it.” [16]
  • the WHO having declared a public health emergency on 30 January 2020 was unnecessary [24] (although throughout the article, the author sounds vaguely like a libertarian opponent of One World Government, but by the end of the article, she reveals her admiration for Lenin and her progressive credentials)
  • the USA cancelling flights from China on 31 January 2020 was unecessary, and racist (against the Chinese) [24]

Of course, as soon as the West responded with the requisite complacency and suffered the consequent economic damage and damage to human health and life, China reversed the narrative [19] and claimed that it had been warning the USA since the beginning that this virus was dangerous, mocking the U.S. response and insinuating that the Chinese totalitarian way of handling the pandemic has been better and that a democracy cannot respond appropriately.

There has been a massive escalation of eccentric conspiracy theories in recent times. For example:

  • COVID-19 is not really caused by a virus at all; it is caused by the 5G mobile infrastructure
  • the SARS-2 virus is just the flu
  • Bill Gates created the SARS-2 virus

Partly, this can be explained by many people being locked down at their homes and not having much to do; this makes the mind wonder. But we submit that it is at least in partly a result of China’s propaganda and disinformation campaign to make the conclusion that the virus originated at the Wuhan Institute Virology appear like just another strange conspiracy theory currently doing the rounds.

China’s deliberate propaganda and disinformation campaign is designed to create confusion, to divide us and to undermine Western citizens’ faith in their governments, making different sections of our populations adopt the different and conflicting positions being spun by different Chinese shills and trolls and make us argue vigorously amongst themselves, not respond to the crisis effectively, and be unable to defend ourselves, all the while creating a positive image of China.

We have noticed that whereas normally, we agree with like-minded people on most things and we can predict what our friends will be thinking politically, in recent times, people across the usual political divides have adopted very different positions; the political landscape has been fragmented. Left-wing mainstream media have been pumping out conflicting messages and often taking the opposite side on the same issue (e.g. “the virus is just the flu, no measures are necessary” / “we must have total lockdown”) and different parts of each political grouping have latched on on different combinations of these conflicting messages, creating chaos and dissent throughout our ranks. Have you noticed the same?

Although each of these small pieces of disinformation in isolation may not be hugely harmful, what they all add up to is an attempt by China to inflict on the West a death by a thousand cuts.

We may also find that China has a hand – and certainly their communist friends do – in the Antifa-led riots following the death of George Floyd. Although Floyd’s death at the hands of a clearly bent cop was horrific, it is by no means unprecedented. Why such extensive rioting now? And why not only in the USA but throughout the whole of the Western world? When has “Black Lives Matter” rioting ever spilled out of the USA before? This rioting is highly organized. Videos have emerged [25] of pre-arranged piles of bricks surrounded by barricades planted at the locations of Antifa protests so that they can pick up bricks from the industrial-size brick piles and throw them at things. Anyone who has ever tried to organize a political meeting of as few as a dozen people will know that organizing such large scale rioting requires meticulous planning and organization, and for a long time in advance.

3. The Geopolitical Equation: Who Will Take What Side?

In April, Kim Jong Un went missing for approximately three weeks and there was talk that he may be dead. It now seems he only went into hiding to appear dead in order to see who he could trust and whom in his inner circle he needed to purge [11]. During his absence, his possible successors were being named. A front-runner was his younger sister, Kim Yo-Jong. She is the de facto leader of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Just in case you bought the story that an agitprop officer was a junior person only responsible for buying threatre tickets.

In a China-USA conflict, who would be allied with whom? China’s allies presumably include North Korea, Pakistan and Iran. America’s include Australia, Israel, Taiwan.

What about the rest of the world?

Which side will the former East German agitprop officer and the EU empire she heads take? That of the Western free world or that of her communist friends? In the raging cold war between the USA and China, the EU’s silence has been deafening. It is worth noting that the EU has no qualms about having Huawei right at the heart of its 5G infrastructure. This may also explain Boris Johnson’s initial acceptance of Huawai into British 5G infrastructure and him still hedging his bets during his recent announcement [12] that he would phase Huawei out of Britain’s 5G infrastructure “by 2023″. Why wait until 2023? Three years is a long time, especially at a time like the present, when the conflict with China is likely to escalate. During this 3 year period, either the Five Eyes will have to lock Britain out of their intelligence sharing (which, if they do, will be difficult to reverse), or, the Five Eyes themselves will have to compromise their intelligence to the very party which is currently most hostile to them.

But it goes further than that. When President Trump complimented the UK for its handling of the SARS-2 crisis and closed incoming flights from the EU but not the UK, the UK responded by announcing it was pursuing the “herd immunity” policy the very next day, forcing Trump to flinch and backtrack. When Trump banned Huawei from America’s 5G infrastructure, the UK responded by saying it would allow it. When Trump announced he would defund the WHO, the UK immediately responded by paying their contribution. Such passive aggressive messaging and constant poking of Trump in the eye is clear enough and surely does not go unnoticed in Washington. It also does not bode well for the free world’s conflict with China.

What will the rest of the Islamic world do? Saudi Arabia and Iran are bitter enemies. Saudi Arabia is very much our potential ally. We should not, at this point, alienate such alies and those who continue to look for trouble with “Muslims” in the current climate are doing us a disservice. We need to recognize that the Islamic world is not a monolithic blob, but rather a collection of people with very different interests, friends and enemies.

A more interesting question is: what will Russia do?

4. What can we do?

The importance of protecting Taiwan from a Chinese takeover cannot be overstated. But this is insufficient. We must also look for areas of China’s weakness and ways in which we can retaliate with 5th generation warfare. At least for now, China will not be bold enough to start a kinetic war against us. They would currently not be likely to win such a war, and waging war with a nuclear adversary is too risky. At any rate, they are being very successful with their fifth generation warfare against us and just by continuing in this fashion, they can take over the world, so there is no point in doing anything more risky. Our current fifth generation warfare response has been weak to non-existent and it seems likely to us that a conflict at this level is one China is likely to win. Just because China cannot risk a full-out war with us, and that they might not, currently, be able to win a kinetic war against the West is insufficient for us to remain defended.

The key is to identify ways in which China depends on us and exploit them.

One obvious way of weakening China, while also doing the moral thing, would be to help the citizens of Hong Kong. Many of them are holders of British National (Overseas) Passports. With China annexing Hong Kong and breaking its treaty with the United Kingdom, some of them will be looking to emigrate. These are overwhelmingly well educated, entrepreneurial, intelligent people who love liberty, understand business and are often quite wealthy. Britain should offer to allow them to immigrate, or to support Taiwan to allow them to emigrate there. Not only would these high value migrants enhance the economy of their host nation, they would also strip Hong Kong bare of its intellectual capital (“brain drain”), intellectual property and financial and business assets. With manufacturing mostly based in next door Shenzhen, most of Hong Kong’s value is internationally mobile. By taking this value away from Hong Kong and safeguarding it in the West, we could strike a very damaging blow to China. We can either let these people rot or be imprisoned or killed in a communist dictatorship, or welcome them and earn their gratitude, their skills, their assets and their goodwill.

5. SARS-2

We currently know of seven coronaviruses which infect humans (SARS, SARS-2, MERS, OC43, HKU1, 229E and NL63). The first three cause severe illness, the last four cause mild cold-like symptoms. A recent Columbia University Study [4] of samples collected from patients during the 2016-2018 period tried to measure how long immunity to each of the four mild coronaviruses lasts if one is infected with a particular strain and recovers from it. They found that, unlike, for example, in the cases of measles or chickenpox, where a one-time infection with the virus confers life-long immunity, patients could get infected with the same coronavirus strain three times in an 18-month period, with the period between recovery from one infection with a coronavirus and a subsequent reinfection with the same coronavirus sometimes being as short as four weeks.

This puts paid to the theory that we can just all get infected with SARS-2 and develop “herd immunity”, since there is no reason to believe that any long term immunity can be acquired at all by being infected with SARS-2, and the Columbia study gives some grounds to believe that it probably can’t.

In what comes as no surprise to us, the “herd immunity” strategy appears not to be working in Sweden [13]. Sweden’s own experts have described it as a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach and have said that Sweden has done “too little, too late” with results that have been “catastrophic” [13]. Even Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist who was the architect of this strategy, has now admitted he had got it wrong [26]:

“Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, has admitted he made the wrong call on the country’s coronavirus lockdown … says he would have imposed tougher restrictions ‘if we knew what we know now’ … Tegnell admits too many people have died after he shunned mandatory rules. He now believes Sweden should have taken harsher measures to stop the spread … Anders Tegnell, who was behind the decision to shun full lockdown in favour of voluntary social distancing measures, now admits that too many people have died under his strategy.”

If you think about it, the "herd immunity" do-nothing approach is the one - and the only one - which was available to the common ancestor of us and the other primates before the advent of modern science and medicine, and even before the concept of quarantine was understood. This was a time when infectious disease caused untold death and suffering, even wiped out entire species, without anyone knowing how to do anything about it. Does it make any sense that this would be the best approach available to us?

This may also be bad news for the potential to develop a vaccine - if an infection does not confer immunity, why would a vaccine?

We stress that the Columbia study studied the 4 mild coronaviruses and not SARS-2 and we simply don't know yet whether a SARS-2 infection does confer long lived post-recovery immunity.

The mechanism by which the SARS-2 virus causes damage to the body is now also a little better understood. Apart from the fever caused by the immune response, common to all viruses, and the initial respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs, etc.) symptoms common to all respiratory viruses, whether mild or dangerous (in addition to colds, flus and SARS-2, these are also the initial symptoms of measles, infectionus mononucleosis, etc.), the similarities between SARS-2 and colds and flus end. Unless our immune response defeats the virus before it enters the lungs, SARS-2 enters the alveoli, crosses the alveloar-capillary boundary and enters the bloodstream. Once there, it attaches to the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptors of the cells comprising the inner lining of blood vessels (the endothelium). ACE2, normally responsible for converting the angiotensin II (AT-II) hormone into angiotensin 1-7 (AT-1,7), is thereby disabled, resulting in an excess of AT-II and a shortage of AT-1,7. As AT-II increases oxidative stress in cells and AT-1,7 decreases it, this leads to an increase in oxidative stress in endothelial cells, which we now believe causes a widespread inflammation of the endothelium (systemic vasculitis). As a result, the endothelium releases a blood-clot-causing blood glycoprotein called the von Willebrand factor into the bloodstream, causing the blood to clot (systemic thrombosis). These micro-thrombi first accumulate in the alveolar arteries, thus thickening the barrier oxygen needs to cross to pass from the alveoli into the arteries, and thus preventing oxygen from crossing from the alveoli into the bloodstream. This then causes breathing difficulties and pneumonia and ARDS via a completely different mechanism than one seen in e.g. influenza. We therefore see the so-called "happy hypoxics", people who are able to breathe normally and think they are fine, but whose blood is severely lacking in oxygen. A more severe thrombosis can also lead to pulmonary edema, heart attacks, strokes, or multiple organ failure, which can lead to death. Autopsies of many patients who died from SARS-2 have found many micro-thrombi peppered throughout their organs - lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, brains. However, the thrombosis does not have to be so extensive as to be instantly lethal. It is therefore likely that many of the patients who develop at least a serious form of the disease where the virus reaches the lungs (about 20% of all patients) but survive have thrombotic complications and long term organ damage, possibly hidden. Children are now also known not to be immune to such damage, as there have been a growing number of cases of Kawasaki-like syndrome (a form of systemic vasculitis) in children arising long after they have supposedly recovered from what was thought to be a mild or asymptomatic form of SARS-2.

Such damage will likely cause long term disablement of a significant portion of the population and also comprise a "pre-existing condition" when the affected person gets infected with SARS-2 a second, or subsequent, times.

What is the current state of progress on treatment of SARS-2? I recommend reading [7], but here are some highlights. DNA viruses mutate more slowly than RNA viruses. RNA viruses whose RNA consists of a single segment mutate more slowly than RNA viruses whose RNA consists of multiple segments. Single-segment RNA viruses mutate only through mutations at individual nucleotide sites (genetic drift). Multi-segment RNA viruses can additionally also mutate when two different viruses infect a single cell and the multiple segments from the two different viruses re-assemble in a jumbled up way. Such mutation (genetic shift) is potentially much greater. The SARS-2 virus is a single-segment RNA virus. The influenza viruses are multi-segment RNA viruses (8 segments in the case of influenza A & B, 7 segments in the case if influenza C & D). Influenza viruses therefore mutate much more rapidly than the SARS-2 virus does and a vaccine to eradicate influenza is therefore much more difficult to develop than one for the SARS-2 virus as we play constant catch-up; indeed, we may well never be able to eradicate influenza altogether. The so-called "common cold" is only a set of symptoms common to all mild respiratory viruses, more than 200 completely different viruses. A vaccine to combat so many mild viruses is therefore either impossible or not cost-effective to develop, considering the limited benefit it would deliver. But a vaccine for the SARS-2 virus is possible - provided we develop one before the virus splits into too many strains and becomes impossible to keep up with. The more people the virus infects, the more different strains it will split into and the less likely we are to be able to develop a vaccine successfully. To-date, the SARS-2 has now mutated into 30 different strains. We now know [8] that 4% of the UK population has been infected to-date, 10% of London. For Slovenia, the corresponding number is 3%. Quite clearly, if the virus were to spread widely, it would mutate into many more than 30 strains, making vaccine development probably impossible. Incidentally, with 45,000 people now having died of SARS-2, and up-scaling this number from 4% to 100%, which gives 1.125 million, suggests that Neil Ferguson's estimate of 250,000-500,000 dead if nothing was done to combat the epidemic, was likely correct. If you want an alternative view, you may wish to read [9] and watch the video interview with Professor Sunetra Gupta, which we did not, however, find convincing. You may also note her very clearly expressed disdain for the fact that some libertarians are allied with her. The lesson to be learned, however, is that unless we want to risk permanently closing the door on the possibility of successful vaccine development, we should not allow the virus to spread widely. As per above, whether a vaccine will be able to offer long-term immunity, remains uncertain. More than 100 vaccines are currenty in development, and an Oxford vaccine is said to be ineffective in preventing infection but appears to be effective in preventing pneumonia.

A more promising approach to treating SARS-2 currently seems to be the development of prophylactic drug cocktails: ones you can take and reduce your risk of contracting the virus. Currently, a low risk supplement you can take which may have prophylactic effect is Vitamin D (and sunshine).

6. How to Deal with the Virus and Why “Herd Immunity” is not a Libertarian Approach

A worrying trend recently has been the swallowing by a lot of libertarians of China’s initial narrative (since reversed [19]) that the SARS-2 virus is not dangerous, that it is just the flu, that the best thing is to just let it infect everyone so we can develop a so-called “herd immunity”. Toby Young’s web site [20] and Lord Sumption’s speech about “freedom” [21] are examples of how this narrative is propagated and targeted at libertarians. Although Young is a prominent free speech advocate [22], neither his nor Lord Sumption’s libertarian credentials are self-evident to us. Sumption, for example, is a Remainer, spoke strongly against Brexit, has been very disparaging about referenda except that he was in favour of a second Brexit referendum [32]. Another actor which has been very visible in promoting the “herd immunity” approach is the web site I can’t find anything about them suggesting that they are in any way libertarian; those of their articles I have read suggest that they are anything but; and, perhaps most intriguingly, they seem to be very vague about what they stand for. Within the United Kingdom Independence Party in the UK, the same, almost lone, person who was agitating most vociferously – and unsuccessfully – for UKIP to support the adoption of the “herd immunity” approach appears also to have been behind a rogue tweet endorsing Antifa rioting in the wake of the George Floyd killing. We would suggest that many of the people posing as libertarians and agitating for the “herd immunity” approach on the grounds of “freedom” are actually anything but libertarian. Yet, many libertarians buy their story.

Perhaps more worryingly still, this story also appears to have been bought by Boris Johnson and his government, which appears to have flip flopped again and to be pursuing the “herd immunity” strategy surreptitiously yet again despite their own Chief Medical Officer not being prepared to countenance it and this approach not having public support [29].

It is worth pointing out that this position was initially advocated by the left, and in many countries, it still is. We are familiar with Slovenia where this is definitively the case: the left are organizing protests against the right-wing government in order to “end the oppression” of public health measures. In January, when President Trump banned incoming flights from China, Nancy Pelosi went to Chinatown and accused him of racism. In Florence, it was the left wing mayor who started the “embrace a Chinese” campaign. In the UK, this position has been primarily advocated by Theresa May and Philip Hammond, while it is not followed by many of the more libertarian politicians on the conservative and generally non-left-wing side. Sweden itself is one of the highest taxed and most politically correct countries in the Western World – hardly a paragon of libertarianism. Young’s and Sumption’s position appears primarily to advance China’s interests by advocating us continuing to do nothing, which would result in ever more illness and death and therefore long term economic damage.

If you have any doubt that it was the slow response of some nations to the pandemic which has resulted in them now having the most cases and deaths, the strictest of lockdowns and the most economic damage, you need only compare the response of Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand to the EU countries like the UK, Sweden, Belgium etc. The former imposed a mandatory quarantine on all immigration right from the outset and contained the outbreak through test, track, trace, isolate, contain strategies, without ever requiring draconian measures, without incurring significant health effects or deaths and without suffering significant economic damage. The latter, slow to respond and some either overtly or covertly pursuing the “herd immunity” policy have suffered the most damage to health, life, economy and have had to implement the most draconian measures to deal with the virus. A continuation of the policy advocated by Lord Sumption, Toby Young et al. would simply result in matters getting much worse and in much more damage of all kinds.

We can reassure the reader that we wish the lockdown to end, and normality to return, as soon as possible, as much as he does. We have nothing to gain from a lockdown. At best, the way Western governments are handling it, and will surely continue to handle it, puts us at risk of them printing a lot of money and destroying us financially.

The question is how to go about it, what the shortest route is, and where do we want to end up. The shortest route is not always a straight line. If you are a dog separated from a bone by a fence, sometimes a quicker route to the bone is to walk to the gap in the fence through which you get to the other side, than trying to grab the bone through the fence, which is made of a mesh through which the bone cannot pass.

As some have correctly pointed out to us, nature is bigger than us. This does not mean, however, that man cannot tame nature to some degree to improve his life. In a sense, taming nature is the story of human progress. Nature is dangerous and it is brutal. We no longer live like we would live in nature. If we did, we would be living like chimpanzees: always at risk of being eaten by a lion, of parasites, diseases, starvation, the weather. We would have no houses to live in, no electricity, no computers. We did successfully defeat the plague – eventually, with antibiotics. Had we not done so, people would still occasionally be dying off in massive numbers, the economy would continue to be disrupted. Every once in a while, a quarter of the population would die off and we would be put back 50 years economically. We have also defeated tuberculosis, also with antibiotics – which, in many places last century was killing off many people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with few people living beyond their 40s. Life expectancy was way shorter than it is today. We have similarly defeated the smallpox virus which was endemic for thousands of years. And many others which we contained before they became endemic – SARS, ebola, etc. Can you imagine if the plague, smallpox, ebola and SARS were endemic today? The damage inflicted on us regularly would not only be in terms of the number of people who would be sick and dead, the economy would be much smaller too. You just wouldn’t have people living into their 50s, let alone into their 60s, 70s and beyond. All the most experienced and knowledgeable people we rely on today to provide savvy leadership simply would not exist.

Failing to eradicate SARS-2 could have a similar effect on us, for many years to come. There is strong evidence that the virus can be eradicated. Many countries have already eliminated it, even without a vaccine, and several others are well on the way to doing so. There is some hope that a vaccine can be developed due to the single-segmented RNA nature of the virus – although we are skeptical given that there may be no long term immunity even recovering from an infection. We may just have to beat the virus with R

If you think the current economic suffering is bad, you haven’t seen anything yet compared to what it would be if the virus became endemic. We have no real death-inducing poverty in the First World. Yet. But we would if we were afflicted with an endemic disease which maimed and killed off many people every year.

Clearly, all the bailout and furlough schemes governments have been engaging in are not sustainable. A total lockdown is also not sustainable – we need another way of eradicating the virus. But we must eradicate the virus. Which is why we have proposed measures to do so, to maintain R below 1, without having measures which are unsustainable. But this is not the same as taking the view that nature is bigger than us, therefore we must simply surrender and let the virus overwhelm us. This is the worst possible approach – even a total lockdown is a better approach. In the UK, the government adopted this approach January-March, which is why the UK is suffering so badly, and must swallow such a bitter pill, now. If the UK continues with that approach, it will simply fail again and will have to swallow an even bigger, more bitter pill, after suffering many more deaths, more illness, and more economic meltdown, later.

There are many countries with debilitating endemic diseases. They suffer poverty that kills. Because they just cannot develop. One reason the West has avoided this fate is because we have been lucky enough to avoid such diseases (after having eliminated those that we used to have and that used to plague us in the same way). It is not a coincidence that the wealth of the West has increased so much after those diseases were eradicated. We should not sacrifice this advantage.

With respect to Lord Sumption, however, his Lordship’s proposal that we should simply end all restrictions and let the infected people roam freely while those who don’t want to become infected can “choose” to stay locked up at home forever (and, it is worth saying, remain permanently unable to visit the hospital, the dentist, call a plumber in the case of a leak, etc. without taking a significant risk of death), is also not, in our opinion, a libertarian one. It is, in fact just making sure that people will continue to support the police state solution (87% of the UK population supported the lockdown and 7% did not, when a poll was taken in April 2020).

What would a truly free world look like and what would happen in it? First, roads would be privately owned. Transport infrastructure would be privately owned. All healthcare institutions would be privately owned. People would be held accountable for forcing negative externalities on others. If you accidentally drop a brick on someone else’s head, you are held responsible. In a truly libertarian world, you would be held responsible if you infected him too – even if accidentally, more so if deliberately. All the road and transport infrastructure would be mostly owned by rich people, and since older people tend to be richer (they have had more time to accumulate more wealth), most of the roads, parks, etc. would be owned by the over 70′s, i.e. the “vulnerable” group. What would these people – the owners – do? Would they say “let the young people roam around freely and spread disease while I am confined to a permanent house arrest for the rest of my life”? What would the owners of transport infrastructure – who would be potentially liable for spreading disease to their customers – do? We certainly would close any roads we owned near our own properties and take the view: we’ll keep them to myself, thank you very much, so we can traverse them safely, everyone else, stay off. Other owners might, of course, take a different view. But we would not have a free-for-all where the infected and the reckless have all the freedom and no responsibility while the careful are confined to a permanent house arrest, forever (rather than just for a few months).

We can all see that the police state measures that have been imposed are a bad approximation to a “free world” solution. But Lord Sumption’s proposed solution is also a bad approximation to a “free world” solution – and indeed, it may even be a worse approximation.

We have given up our liberties a long time ago – when the government acquired the ownership of roads, hospitals, transport infrastructure. Under libertarian law, as the owner of those things, the government is entirely within their rights to impose any restrictions they want to on their own property, just as a private owner would be. If the owner of a road which is the only access point to your property closes that road, you are unable to leave your house – this is no different from the lockdown.

Most people are simply not buying Lord Sumption’s solution. If forced into a false dichotomy of “total lockdown” versus “do nothing”, the vast majority of people will choose – and are already choosing – “total lockdown”. If we wish to break this impasse, we need to find an alternative solution which is neither a total lockdown nor the do nothing of “herd immunity”, and whose objective is still to eradicate the virus. Even people who may be stupid in other ways have an innate survival instinct. They can tell that this virus is dangerous. This is not because the government has brainwashed them. We made our call to self-isolate in late January, while Western governments were still either saying that the risk from the virus was “very low” or paid no attention to the virus at all. The people want this virus gone. They won’t buy a strategy telling them to get infected and not to worry. Trying to push this onto them will simply lead to the lockdown remaining the preferred solution for longer. Even if governments lift it, many people will stay at home and won’t send their children to school. We believe the people’s instinct is right. The consequences of this virus becoming endemic are much more serious than being locked down in your house for a few months. If we want the lockdown to end, we need to offer a solution other than “do nothing”: a border quarantine, wearing masks, keeping institutions where mask wearing and hygiene standards cannot be ensured (e.g., schools) closed.


[1] Tomaž Slivnik, “Our leaders fiddle while China wages war on us and takes over the world”, Unity News Network, 17 April 2020
[2] “Our leaders fiddle while China wages war on us and takes over the world”, The Sarkee Times, 17 April 2020 (updated from time to time)
[3] Tomaž Slivnik, “How did we get into this mess and how do we get out of it?”, The Freedom Association, 21 April 2020
[4] Marta Galanti and Jeffrey Shaman, “Direct observation of repeated infections with endemic coronaviruses”
[5] Daniel Hurst, “Why has China slapped tariffs on Australian barley and what can Australia do about it?”, The Guardian, 19 May 2020
[6] Lily Kuo, Verna Yu and Helen Davidson, “‘This is the end of Hong Kong’: China pushes controversial security laws”, The Guardian, 21 May 2020
[7] Peter Kolchinsky, “Ending Covid: It will take some time, but rest assured: a coronavirus vaccine is coming, and it will work”, City Journal, 31 March 2020
[8] Vanessa Chalmers and Stephen Matthews, “Infectious disease expert warns up to 560,000 Brits could die from COVID-19 if just half the population gets infected and the death rate is really 1.7% – which is what the government’s antibody surveillance scheme suggests”, 11 May 2020
[9] Freddie Sayers, “Sunetra Gupta: Covid-19 is on the way out”, UnHerd, 21 May 2020
[10] Luke Andrews, “‘It can prevent pneumonia’: Oxford professor running coronavirus vaccine trial comes out in its defence after all of the monkeys given the treatment catch the disease”, The Daily Mail, 22 May 2020
[11] Oli Smith, “Real reason Kim Jong-un went missing EXPOSED – and it will terrify North Korean enemies”, The Daily Express, 4 May 2020
[12] Jack Wright and Helena Kelly, “MPs welcome Boris Johnson U-turn on Huawei as he plans to scale down tech giant’s involvement in Britain’s 5G network ‘to zero by 2023′ in wake of China’s coronavirus ‘cover-up’”, The Daily Mail, 22 May 2020
[13] Joe Davies, “Herd-immunity is NOT working in Sweden, claims study: Just 7% of people in Stockholm had developed Covid antibodies by end of April despite government shunning strict lockdown measures”, The Daily Mail, 20 May 2020
[14] Chris Jewers, “China’s bat woman warns that COVID-19 is ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ of unknown deadly viruses as she defends work of Wuhan virus lab amid claims of cover-up”, 25 May 2020
[15] Ron Unz, American Pravda: Our Coronavirus Catastrophe as Biowarfare Blowback?, 21 April 2020
[16] Knut Wittkowski, “‘We could open up again and forget the whole thing’”, Spiked, 15 May 2020
[17] Ralph R. Ortega, “China plans to deploy two aircraft carriers off Taiwan for war games to stoke tensions with Washington as Beijing warns of a ‘new Cold War’ amid virus blame game”, Daily Mail, 26 May 2020
[18] Yew Lun Tian, “Attack on Taiwan an option to stop independence, top China general says”, Reuters, 29 May 2020
[19] New China TV, “Once upon a virus…”, 30 April 2020
[20] Toby Young, Lockdown Sceptics
[21] “Lord Sumption discusses Coronavirus lockdown on BBCR4 PM with Evan Davis”, 12 May 2020
[22] Toby Young, Free Speech Union
[23] “Huawei HiSilicon’s new 14nm Kirin 710A chip was manufactured by Shanghai-based SMIC”, 13 May 2020
[24] Pam Barker, “Global Capitalism, “World Government” and the Corona Crisis”, 29 May 2020
[25] “New Video Evidence EXPOSES Planned Riots! Proof of ANTIFA Staged Riots!!”, 2 June 2020
[26] Chris Pleasance, “Sweden admits it DID get it wrong on coronavirus: Expert behind country’s refusal to enter lockdown says he would have imposed tougher restrictions ‘if we knew what we know now’”, The Daily Mail, 3 June 2020
[27] “An Update on the War with China”, The Sarkee Times, 3 June 2020
[28] Ian Birrell, “Beijing now admits that coronavirus DIDN’T start in Wuhan’s market… so where DID it come from, asks IAN BIRRELL”, The Daily Mail, 30 May 2020
[29] Danyal Hussain, “Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty thwarted Boris Johnson’s wish to downgrade UK’s coronavirus threat level from four to three amid fears the science does NOT support easing of the lockdown”, The Daily Mail, 2 June 2020
[30] Andrew Court and Jack Elsom, “China’s president Xi Jinping ‘personally asked WHO to hold back information about human-to-human transmission and delayed the global response by four to six WEEKS’ at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, bombshell report claims”, The Daily Mail, 10 May 2020
[31] Sophie Tanno, “Ex-head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove says coronavirus ‘is man-made’ and was ‘released by accident’ – after seeing ‘important’ scientific report”, The Daily Mail, 4 June 2020
[32] Ex-Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption lays out the Tory Brexit scam. The EU referendum was specifically designed to rule out compromise, to aggravate & sideline the political process. "I disapprove of all referenda but a 2nd maybe the only way out"

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