The Propaganda & the Damage Done

John Waters

‘Rockers’ Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have not merely defected from rock ‘n’ roll non-conformism to establishmentarianism, but betrayed their unawareness of the truth and also their duty to uphold it.

There are those who believe that the behaviour of Neil Young in threatening to withdraw his music from Spotify unless it cancelled Joe Rogan for ‘spreading misinformation,’ and Joni Mitchell who issued the same ultimatum ‘in solidarity,’ can only be explained by wickedness. By this reading, the two are knowing collaborators with the evil machinators seeking to enslave the world and possibly wipe out significant chunks of its population. In short, they have sold their souls to the New World Order. I doubt it.

My sense of Mitchell’s involvement in the controversy is that she did it out of genuine friendship for Young who had put himself out on a slippery limb. There is nothing in her past record that suggests she might have any truck with the would-be architects of world domination and human subjugation.

In the case of Young, there is some evidence of such an outlook in his recent assertions that he would be prepared to give up all his freedoms to save the planet for his grandchildren.

Just before Christmas 2021, he said in an interview with Apple Music 1 that he ‘wouldn’t hold on to anything’ if it would save his grandchildren and other younger people from the environmental problems allegedly facing the world. He also praised US President Joe Biden for ‘addressing the world's most pressing issues, such as the climate emergency.’

‘There's nothing more important,’ he claimed, ‘than making sure that the earth is as good as it can be for our grandchildren. That's got to be the first thing, that's got to be the most important thing for everybody, for the human race.’ People all over the world, he said, must accept we have ‘got to do things’ even if they ‘may be unpopular.’

Leaving aside his praising of the tragic and ridiculous Joe Biden, his effusions sound virtuous until you begin to think about them. Let us merely note in passing the signs that Young has not the faintest clue what he is talking about, as evidenced by the following quote from the same interview:

‘They [the necessary steps, as he sees it] may be unpopular in the short term, they may seem to be fiscally irresponsible, because how much debt can you handle? And then a thing like rising inflation comes along, which is just something to talk about. Yeah things are getting more expensive, but they would have gotten more expensive anyway. We just had a pandemic, we just had all this stuff, the shipping has stopped.’

You could turn that paragraph without alteration into a parody of a Neil Young song. I had never previously noted a songwriter, in speaking, adhering to the same disconnected patterns as his own lyrics — perhaps constructed using the William S. Burroughs ‘cut-up method.’

But, beyond the flippancy, some questions arise:

Rising inflation is ‘just something to talk about’?

And did we really have a ‘pandemic’? Where’s the evidence — I mean evidence in reality as opposed to on TV? Every item proffered has been debunked and deconstructed, albeit in the kind of media Neil Young wants to suppress.

But let us return to these aspects in a while.

Clearly, we should all be doing things that will make life better for those who come after us. The problem is deciding what these things might be, and how this is to be decided — and by whom. Neil Young obviously believes that he already knows all the answers, which involve other people giving up their freedoms, on the basis of his adjudications, so that his grandchildren get to have better lives — including, presumably, freer lives — than he is disposed to tolerate us having in the present. This is odd logic, if logic it may be called. For how are we to guarantee anything to our children unless we bequeath them, first of all, the freedom to make their own decisions about public and private matters without interference or coercion?

At the least, one might say, these pronouncements of Young’s smack of a political naïvete that is actually quite shocking in someone who has been writing intelligent songs for nearly six decades. But they smack of something else also: the currently escalating intolerance of a growing sector of the Western population for the outlooks, behaviours and even the very existence of people who deviate from ideological orthodoxies of the moment, while languishing unprotected by the tenets of political correctness. There is, in the quotes reproduced above, more than a hint of an attitude that appears to regard compulsion of people who dissent from Woke dogma as an acceptable, if not necessary, political response.

In some respects this syndrome can be subjected to a somewhat ameliorating analysis, being indicative of a condition that starts out in a form of virtue and, along the journey through darkness, mutates into something akin to fascism. Because the necessity for ‘saving the planet’ is deemed in some circles to be both urgent and beyond controversy, those who dispute it must be deemed either vexatious or intolerably ignorant. The trouble is that, as already noted, Neil Young’s own views betray signs of both vexatiousness and ignorance: He wants to withdraw freedoms from people he has never met, on the basis of opinions that are, at best, half-baked.

In 1969, Young released an album called Freedom, which relaunched his career after a decade of floundering. This is the album with two versions of Rockin’ in the Free World, possibly his best-known song, an ironic anthem to a world with freedom as its chief claim but not so much its actuality: There's colours on the street/Red, white and blue/People shufflin' their feet/People sleepin' in their shoes. The album’s central theme is the illusion of freedom, and the listener can be in no doubt about Young’s refusal to accept that this is how things must be.

Reflecting on that song much later, he said: ‘Freedom to me is more of a personal thing. The freedom that I'm writing about is really a personal thing. It's based on people. People on the street, homeless people, rich people with problems, all kinds of people. Freedom is an abstract offshoot. You can't describe freedom. How can you describe it? I tried and I failed.’

Joni Mitchell, in a recent interview with Far Out magazine, did better, giving a very interesting account of her definition of freedom:

‘Freedom to me is the luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart. I think that’s the only way that you maintain the magic in your life — that you keep your child alive. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create, and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive.’

Freedom as a prerequisite for ‘keeping your child alive’ is an interesting counterpoint to Neil Young’s desire to take away our freedoms so his grandchildren will, by some arcane process he is not asked to elaborate upon, enjoy a renewed flowering of freedom in a world pulled back from the brink. Without freedom, Joni Mitchell would not ‘feel alive’ — a sentiment the vast majority of the human race might regard as supportable. How, then, is she prepared to stand alongside Neil Young while he is standing alongside interests and ideologies that do not value human freedom in the least?

Young’s onslaught on Joe Rogan has about it the feel of somebody who has been listening in silence for some time to people saying things he disagrees with suddenly erupting in a kind of rage. His position might have seemed worthy and valid, say, 22 months ago. And he didn’t take the outcome with much magnanimity. ‘I support free speech,’ he wrote on the Neil Young Archives site when it was all done and dusted. ‘I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.’

He has the right to be wrong, but those of us who, unlike him, have been watching and studying the Covid debacle for almost two years have the right also to say that he mostly doesn’t know what he is talking about. He is right about one thing, though: It’s not about ‘free speech’. What it’s about is the responsibility of people with influential voices to use their platforms prudently and wisely, and above all to inform themselves fully before they rush to pontificate ex cathedra. No one is arguing that he does not have the right to do what he pleases with his music (half of which no longer ‘belongs’ to him because he sold it); the point is that he was seeking to use his profile and economic muscle to effect an act of censorship against something which, being ill-informed on the subject, he disagreed with.

The odd thing is that there are traces in Young’s past of exactly the kind of thinking that might go down well on The Joe Rogan Experience.

In 2003, speaking of the atmosphere in the wake of 911 and the second Gulf War, Young told a Norwegian interviewer:

‘You know, there is this thing there, called Patriot Act, through which we abdicated a lot of our civil rights to defend the country against terrorism and all that. And that was primarily the promise. That's a big thing. A few people think this way about it, a few that way. Some people think it's a good thing, some count the days 'til . . . they think it's a four year story. It has to be renewed after four years. Basically I think it's a divisive and polarizing phase. The country is strongly divided.’

Now he is prepared to countenance something analogous but much more sweeping than the Patriot Act, because he happens to agree with the objectives allegedly being pursued. And, by inference, we may gather that he also agrees with the full extent of the coercive measures employed under the banner ‘Covid,’ again because he thinks ‘this way’ rather than ‘that way.’

Of course, it is a vain exercise to be dissecting the statements of rock stars in interviews they give mainly to boost their profiles and sell records. What comes out is not necessarily to be taken as definitive, nor is it right to hold them too rigidly to thoughts they may have uttered in a casual manner in an unusually convivial atmosphere several decades before. The true issue is whether Neil Young is any longer sufficiently aware of what is happening in the world to be taken seriously at all.

Of course, there is no reason to expect that the average ‘celebrity’ will be any more clued in or copped on than the average ‘non-celebrity’. People are frequently quite shocked to discover how ‘ordinary’ such individuals can be — not only in intelligence and thinking but also in everyday habits and behaviours. There is actually no basis whatsoever for any assumption that such people have any elevated degree of insight, knowledge or grasp of events, in general or in particular, happening in the public realm. They get their information from the same sources most other people do: from TV and radio and newspapers. They are therefore as likely to be trapped within the narrative bubble as most others and are accordingly prone to the almost universal condition of being ‘informed’ not by personalised perusal of the facts and data but by a form of osmotically acquired consensual understanding. This is to say that they ‘know’ things not because of deep study, investigation or reflection, but because they have co-opted the consensual view, weighing matters up on the basis that the truth is to be located where the generalised consensus lies.

This consensus is, in one respect, a little like a house of cards, in which pieces of uniformly shaped cardboard, incapable of standing upright on their own, can be constructed into a vertical ‘house’ by carefully arranging them so that they provide mutual foundation and support. A skilled card-house builder can construct elaborate edifices by simply repeating the same basic methodology, so that eventually the ‘house’ is capable of consuming all the available playing cards, growing higher and higher all the time. All that is required is a steady hand. The ‘builder’ can even, with meticulous care, pull particular cards out of the edifice without bringing down the whole thing.

Nowadays, probably more than ever, people ‘believe’ things because lots of other people believe them, because the ‘evidence’ for such ‘beliefs’ appears to be everywhere, and this ubiquity serves to support a certain harmony while relieving people of the responsibility to verify things for themselves. In reality, the ‘evidence’ may be simply the pervasiveness of people who believe the same things. Tom believes something because Dick and Harry believe it; Dick believes it because Tom and Harry believe it; Harry believes it because Dick and Tom believe it, and so on and so on.

In such a culture people are relieved of the responsibility of parsing everything they are told about a particular matter, judging it, assimilating it, checking it out and evaluating whether it accords with reality as they have experienced it otherwise. Here, people simply absorb things, in a process that resembles that in which a night watchman in a nuclear power plant will periodically conduct checks to ensure that the reactor is not overheating, though without having the faintest clue how the whole thing works. He shines his torch at some of the gauges, ticks boxes on his clipboard and goes back to his warm hut. He does not need to be a nuclear physicist to know if there is trouble brewing. Usually, this is an adequate level of surveillance, though very occasionally, with disastrous consequences, it isn’t.

So it is with televisual ‘democracy.’ A citizen sits in front of his television set and sleepily assesses what has been happening while he has been elsewhere. Has the storm passed? Is the threat of an election on the wane? Is that war escalating or not? Is the virus surging or abating? He may know a great deal or very little about any particular aspect of the instant story, but, whether he is aware of it or not, his core sense of what is happening is fashioned not by the sum of the information he has comprehended, but by the general tone of the coverage. Has it the same, less or more urgency than yesterday? Are there new dangers, new instructions, new mandates? Are the people he sees on his screen telling him to be more worried or less, or just to remain as worried as he already is?

When he goes out into the public realm, he applies the same ‘method.’ Are his neighbour still masked up? Do they make sceptical noises or behave with the same caution as yesterday, jumping slightly backwards if he comes too close?

He trusts ‘the science.’ This doesn’t mean that he knows what ‘the science’ says, comprehends it and thereby decides that the danger is realer, greater, lesser, or the same as before. What it means is that he trusts the scientists, the men with the airs of authority who exhale streams of technical jargon on TV. When he watches, he asks himself not, ‘I wonder if the “R rate” is going up or down?’ but (unconsciously), ‘Does your man sound more urgent or agitated than he did last week?’

It is in this fashion, not in the manner of what we think of as, say, an educational process, that the average citizen is ‘informed’ about what is happening, and this is especially true of a long-running story, in which developments ebb and flow but the ‘narrative’ remains more or less constant. It is especially true, too, of a story in which there is a lot of technical detail. The viewer gets to like and trust certain ‘experts,’ and defends them against criticism when he is outdoors, as though speaking of his brother.

The interest of the citizen in what is happening is not academic, nor that of the anoraked enthusiast, nor of the idle spectator, but of someone who is implicated but incapable of judging other than in a secondhand fashion. He knows this and accepts it. After all, he understands only a little about the game of football, but he has the pundits to explain things to him. The virus story he approaches in much the same way. What he is mostly interested in is whether ‘we’ are winning or losing in the ‘battle’ against the virus. He judges much as he judges when on an aeroplane flight in a bout of sudden turbulence and looks instantly to the stewards and stewardesses for signs of panic. If they are continuing to chat happily over their trolleys, he relaxes and goes back to his movie.

As with the average citizen, this is what we must deal with in the average celebrity, or indeed the average politician, journalist, doctor, nurse, judge, police officer or tweeter. The fact that the celebrity in question is speaking with confidence and apparent authority can but rarely be taken as a sign that this time things are different.

And there are further layers to this process of fragile consensus-making. Those who immerse themselves in the coverage of the ‘tourament’ accept at face value the bona fides of the media, which are assumed to be as honest, as scrupulous, as even-handed as they have always — generally speaking — seemed. Most people are utterly unaware that, in part as a result of their disintegrating business model, modern media are far more prone than hitherto to selling their mastheads, hard-won honour and integrity, even the consciences of their journalists, to survive for just a little longer in deteriorating market conditions.

In recent times, it had become noticeable that media had co-opted, as though motivated by enthusiasm, an ideological programme that is congenial to media owners because of its marketability in the online environment which nowadays decides the fate of all media. This agenda comprises a basket of products — from Green to Woke, from anti-Trump to pro-transgender, and so on down the road nameplated ‘Progressive Avenue’ — the road, as it rapidly becomes clearer, to Hell (though absent the paving in good intentions.) This new functional business model has come into its own in the Covid era, due to the ideological ‘tattooing’ of the Covid Project to make it fit with the rainbow patterns of the Woke agenda, thus serving the cynical needs of corrupt politicians seeking amenable platforms to peddle their lies.

This form of ‘media’ exhibits distinct differences from what pertained in the past. For one thing it presents just one side of the story, confining its treatment of the other side to warnings about the dangers of listening to it, begging the question (in the context of Covid) by justifying this approach on the basis of the ‘emergency’. Alternative viewpoints must be excluded so as to protect the public from ‘misinformation,’ which is defined as anything that does not fit the narrative.

The result is, in effect, the inversion of everything: What may once have seemed a diligent stab at truth-telling is now more likely to be a studied, calculated exercise in mendacity. What once would have been an honest opinion is likely to be a piece of regurgitated approved propaganda. Most of the commentary consists of hit-pieces. What this amounts to is the utter routing of the totality of the functions of news media — unleashing not merely ‘bad journalism’, but anti-journalism. It is not akin to the baker who delivers yesterday’s leftover slightly stale sourdough in the hope that none of his customers will notice; after all, it is still bread and toasted it tastes as good as it did yesterday. Anti-journalism possesses no such redemptive aspect, for it misleads while purporting to put straight, deceives while claiming to inform, and misdirects while feigning to protect. It would, of course, be infinitely better if such media simply closed down and disappeared, for then the lacunae might be filled by alternative, more reliable sources. (This is essentially what the Joe Rogan spat is about, though I suspect that neither Neil Young nor Joni Mitchell — nor, for that matter, Joe Rogan — has the faintest sense of this aspect, and would be flabbergasted if someone managed to explain it to them.)

What is ‘misinformation’? There is such a thing, of course, but it is not necessarily self-evident. The charge needs to demonstrated, proven. In the cultural context in which we find ourselves, however, the label is almost invariably attached by media to something the official narrators abominate, probably because it is true. As Joe Rogan has recently pointed out, if — say, a year ago — you had postulated the lab theory of Covid on Twitter, you would have been banned. Six months ago, if you had predicted that the Covid ‘vaccines’ would not prevent infection, you would have been fact-checked by someone paid for by Bill Gates. Even a month ago, if you had said that cloth masks don’t work, you would have been accused of endangering people’s lives. Now, all these ideas are accepted facts — even by the ‘experts’ who rubbished them not so long ago.

Another key function of corrupt media is keeping the discussion one-sided while pretending that only ‘misinformation,’ and ‘bad science,’ are excluded. The notional ‘other side’ of all such putative ‘arguments’ — and it by definition remains notional — is cast under an ideological cloud. Viewers, listeners, readers are urged not to ‘go there,’ for that way lies perdition. This, again, is essentially what Neil Young is precisely — relaying. He is acting out Jacque Ellul’s definition of the propagandised subject as one who has become an evangelist for what he has swallowed. What is true of public opinion in general is true of each participant in the corrupted discussion, and these tendencies tend to escalate rather than the opposite in the time of social media filter bubbles, which feed off consensus — hive-mindedness — as their optimal business model.

I have written previously about the odd ideological ‘hue’ of Covid, which was in place more or less from the start. Had a ‘pandemic’ occurred when I was a feature writer and reporter with Irish newspapers about 20 years ago, I could not imagine attending editorial conferences in which the matter would be discussed as though implicitly a left-right question. Yet, almost from the outset, SARS-CoV-2 revealed itself as a ‘left-leaning’ pathogen, with lifelong ‘liberals’ leading the way in enthusiasm for lockdown, face masks, vaccines and all the other fixtures of the Covid circus. Simultaneously, it became an almost universal principle that ‘conservative’ and ‘right wing’ interests, groupings and individuals were opposed to lockdown. This meant in practice that Covid believers tended to be from the better-heeled, more ‘educated’ sectors, while sceptics almost exclusively emanated from the ‘deplorable’ classes. As I’ve said before, it seemed to reveal itself — impressionistically, if not scientifically — in a divide that might loosely be described as between people who have their showers in the morning and those who have them in the evening to cleanse themselves of the sweat and grime of the day.

This in retrospect reveals itself as a constructed dynamic, rather than an accidental one. It is hard not to believe so, for the divide has turned out to possess a quite astonishing capacity to press upon whole populations a division that has been spectacularly effective in setting citizens at each other’s throats. It has also helped to entrench in both sides the sense that this argument — whatever it may be about — is central to their entire belief systems: On the one hand are people who think the state should keep its nose out of their business, on the other those who have become convinced that the world is under threat from ‘far right’ populism and other sinister ‘isms’, especially — in this context — denialisms of various kinds.

A series of seemingly unconnected episodes along the way have served to entrench these perceptions: For example, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2020 — just a month into the ‘pandemic’ — which sparked worldwide BLM rioting (or ‘mostly peaceful protests’, depending on your position) which — again incongruously — seemed to jell as an intrinsic element of the Covid narrative. On its face, the idea made no sense, but the controversy concerning the differing attitudes of various authorities — in particular to BLM protests as against anti-lockdown demos — effected an underscoring of the ideological pattern. Police officers who had been enthusiastically truncheoning Covid sceptics just a week before were to be seen taking the knee in public in tribute to America’s latest and most dubious hero, and governors who had been coming down like hailstorms on Covid dissenters turned a blind eye to breaches by the masses of Woke warriors who took to the streets to lay waste to Western civilisation.

This, in a sense, ‘herded’ whole populations into their preferred pens, directing left-liberals towards the Covid stalls, and sceptics to the other side of the electric fence. Thus, rock stars, artists, fiction writers, poets and actors almost automatically came on message with the political and medical authorities, which in turn meant that traditional civil liberties bodies started to soft-pedal their arguments about freedom and rights (in the general as opposed to the Cultural Marxist context). It was left to the ‘right’ to take up the cudgels on behalf of fundamental freedoms, choice and human sovereignty. In many respects, this amounted, almost everywhere, to a total inversion of the prevailing patterns of ideological behaviour.

Covid has emerged, in one aspect of its operation, as an accelerant on all things the average Cultural Marxist holds dear: restrictions on practice of religion and public assembly, cycle lanes and other green stuff, compulsory face masks which make everyone as unattractive as the average blue-tinted Cultural Marxist, disincentives to voting in person, and so forth. It emphasises the ‘common good’, which somehow reveals itself (who knew?) as extending to the state the right to restrict citizens as though each one is self-evidently some kind of malefactor until otherwise proven, albeit in this instance cast under suspicion of harbouring some kind of killer disease. Thus, the ‘common good’ required a sweeping distrust of the individual. But, suddenly, too, it was as if concern for such matters — once the foundational ideas of constitutional democracies and republics — was a dead giveaway for neo-Nazi intentionality. This did something that has not been remarked upon: It leveraged the imputed life-saving objectives of the ‘pandemic’-response to exclude and accuse people who remained attached to ‘superfluous’, perhaps ‘self-indulgent’ notions of defending rights to free speech and movement, family life, religious practice, freedom of conscience, and so on. The left, having seemingly lost all regard for charter, proclamation or constitution, seemed impatient with anyone who continued to hold to such ideas., and this idea was immediately and comprehensively co-opted by the media.

For many left-minded people, free speech has always been an optional extra when it came to those who questioned their ideology. Most of the relevant actors do not realise this, but when they advance such logic they are operating under the writ of Herbert Marcuse's philosophy of ‘repressive tolerance’: the belief that they have an entitlement to use any method they wish against people they have decided are outside the Pale. Marcuse, a key member of the Frankfurt School, in 1965 published a seminal essay, Repressive Tolerance, in which he argued that, in order to achieve the desired goal of what he called ‘tolerance’, it was necessary to be intolerant towards certain opinions and attitudes. Tolerance, he wrote, was ‘a partisan goal’ — i.e. an ideological weapon to be used to silence and suppress all dissent concerning the desired objectives of those who deemed themselves progressive. As his argument develops, Marcuse constructs a quite horrifying farrago of illogic, equating ‘progress’ exclusively with the ‘civil rights’ of minorities, which he appears to regard as a fixed entity, beyond any possibility of dispute and immune from any process of power mutation. Because, as he claims, these minorities are ‘subjugated’ by ‘false consciousness’, it is necessary to withdraw rights of free speech from certain categories of citizen who might be disposed to perpetuate the discriminatory situation. This ‘clear and present danger’ he equates to the experience of Nazism. ‘The small and powerless minorities which struggle against the false consciousness and its beneficiaries’, he writes, ‘must be helped: their continued existence is more important than the preservation of abused rights and liberties which grant constitutional powers to those who oppress these minorities. It should be evident by now that the exercise of civil rights by those who don't have them presupposes the withdrawal of civil rights from those who prevent their exercise, and that liberation of the Damned of the Earth presupposes suppression not only of their old but also of their new masters.’

Although, altogether, they amount to a fantastic, fatuous and quite breath-taking argument, these ideas may be detected in the output of virtually every mainstream media outlet these days, as well as the totality of Western academic platforms, and are the rationale for cancel culture, ‘hate speech’ laws, mandatory vaccination of ‘anti-vaxxers’, and concentration camps for those suspected of being carriers of the flu. After all, anyone who disputes a right-thinking person’s definition of a ‘pandemic’ is clearly the Nazi in the room. The stamp of Marcuse’s thinking is to be seen all over the Covid landscape, in the suspension of rights for all except the named categories of exception (BLM), the deletion of long-cherished concepts of constitutional checks-and-balances, the utter evaporation of irony in respect of the introduction of systems of segregation and, in effect, medical internment, the toleration of unprecedented levels of vaccine deaths and injuries in the ‘common good’, and so on.

Covid is manifestly, then, in some sense, a leftist phenomenon, albeit a leftism that is deeply, madly intolerant of any other perspective. This undoubtedly also has something to do with a certain view of authority, indeed seems to be born of the authoritarian tic that seems to afflict many leftists. It is not unreasonable to observe that, in general, when you scratch a progressive you uncover a true fascist underneath, and this discovery is in no way undermined by the fact that said progressive will at that precise moment most likely be calling you a fascist for daring to speak of freedom when ‘there are people dying.’

And Covid, as has been seen everywhere, is an intensely authoritarian phenomenon. The first measures introduced by governments practically everywhere were directed not at protecting public health but devolving powers to politicians to restrict and coerce their citizens and impose draconian penalties for breaches or dissent. It is hard to see how this aspect could have been missed by so many people, other than through the action of imposed terror, and this suited leftists just fine and dandy. Not only did they enjoy seeing the boots of the Regime on the faces of fellow citizens, but they themselves seemed to enjoy, like masochists under the whip of the master, the lick of leather on their own hides.

These proclivities have the capacity to open the gate for all manner of restriction and curtailment ‘in the common good,’ and are increasingly to be detected in the declarations of many left-liberal voices in respect of both Covid and indeed other, ostensibly unrelated, matters in the Time of Covid — for example the recent statement by an Irish ‘scientist,’ in the wake of the horrific murder of a young woman, that men should be required to do some kind of test to demonstrate that they can be trusted with ‘permission’ to leave their homes. There was, indeed, more than a hint of this tendency in the recent comments of Neil Young to Apple Music 1.

At a basic human level, the kinds of people who gravitate to left or right tend to divide also, generally speaking, in terms of physique, occupation, and mentality. Leftists, shall we say, tend less towards muscularity, work generally in offices, lecture halls or cubicles, and think the world owes them a living, an expectation the world — generally speaking —strives to fulfil. They also consider themselves better educated than their ideological opposite numbers, but in reality this means that they have spent more time being schooled — i.e. indoctrinated with the virus of unthinking that nowadays increasingly afflicts people’s capacity to see through the ruses used to indoctrinate them. (I find it interesting that many working class/blue collar people seem to see through Covid in a flash, whereas the average college graduate goes around in what appears a terrified trance thinking to meet his death around every corner.)

Here it is necessary to interject a brief mention of the extraordinary happenstance of the Trump phenomenon. By insinuating from the outset that Trump was dubious about Covid (he actually wasn’t especially so, just a little cautious to begin with), the orchestrators of the — yes — conspiracy were able to marshal all the anti-Trump sentiment that had been gestating for five years, in a fashion that more or less guaranteed a minimum of questioning for their narrative among people who despised the President. Indeed, the ease with which this antecedent antagonism was leveraged to the convenience of the narrative could plausibly justify the diagnosis that it was deliberately pre-programmed for such a purpose.

In these conditions of mass indoctrination and mass formation, manipulation of total populations becomes exponentially easier. In the Covid period, upwards of 50 per cent of each or any population — sometimes as much as 90 per cent — demonstrated that it could more or less be relied upon to respond supportively of the Covid narrative, almost regardless of what was proposed under that rubric. Especially to be counted on were the aforementioned artists, musicians, poets, actors and so on, who, being mostly instinctively left-leaning, responded as though to a dog-whistle each time the narrative came under threat.

The media continued to be the chief source of the dog-whistles. Direct communication from politicians, even from scientist or health tsars, would not have achieved the same result. The routine rubber-stamping of Covid policy by tame journalists provided the necessary buffering of the potentially crude political messaging. It was in the crucible that had once hosted real journalism that the unprecedented became ‘necessary’ and the unthinkable was rendered palatable. The Covid ‘pandemic’ is without doubt the first time in the world when journalists, almost to the single scribe, adopted an utterly unquestioning demeanour in the face of a political initiative. This was justified, of course, on the basis of the alleged health risks, but as the methodology morphed and mutated into more and more extreme forms of intrusion and restriction, the balance of both value and virtue became more and more dubious, and yet remained unquestioned by those calling themselves watchdogs. Even as the ‘vaccines’ were self-evidently resulting in unprecedented loss of life — in the young as well as the old — journalists looked the other way, refusing to report even the unadorned details of this emerging calamity. Politicians and journalists who, 18 months earlier, had been telling the world of their determination to rid the world of coughs and sneezes were now, confronted by attempts to draw their attention to the calamity, responding that strokes and heart attacks were quite common among teenagers.

The problem with Neil Young’s intervention — in effect in the ‘vaccine’ saga — is not that he expressed an implicitly pro-vaccine opinion. He is entitled to do that. The problem is that he sought to silence others who have arrived at different opinions based on infinitely greater knowledge than he appears to possess.

As a ‘rocker’, you would expect Young to be left-leaning, but the signs had been there for some time that he was becoming increasingly Woke (a different matter) and accordingly decrementally sensible in his advancing years. Back in 2020, he was already showing signs of max-indoctrination in the dominant narrative when he demanded that Donald Trump cease and desist from using his song Rockin’ In The Free World at his campaign rallies.

Late last month (January, 2022), Young wrote an open letter to his record company demanding that it act to compel Spotify to make a choice between retaining himself or Joe Rogan on its platform, because Rogan has been spreading ‘misinformation’ about Covid ‘vaccines.’ The pretext was an interview on Rogan’s platform with the inventor of the mRNA technology being used in the ‘vaccines,’ Dr Robert Malone. In the letter — posted to his website and later taken down — Young wrote: ‘I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines — potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.

‘I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform . . . They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.’

There are several questionable and unsavoury things about this.

Firstly, Young offered no substantiation of his allegation of ‘misinformation.’ He did not begin: ‘I listened to Joe Rogan interviewing Dr Robert Malone and was appalled by the following statements, of which I am in a position to demonstrate the untruth.’ He simply relied on media-generated prejudice about ‘fringe’ doctors and ‘alt-right’ commentators. That, it seemed, is sufficient to pass muster in the circles in which Young moves these days.

Secondly, there is the question of tone: the imperious, overweening demeanour: ‘They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.’

Worst of all was the cheap unsubstantiated accusation that Rogan is placing lives at risk — Young, all too predictably, striking the dominant recurring note of the Covid scam from the beginning: If you disagree with what we say you are no better than a mass murderer.

Then, in defeat, there was the self-righteous quasi-valedictory statement that he was ‘happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.’ Hit me now, with the front line health care workers in me arms!

Had he succeeded, let us not forget, Young would have been triumphant. In defeat (momentarily, at least), he seeks to be a martyr on behalf of those at risk from Covid — again without producing any evidence of his concerns.

It’s probably a complete coincidence that Young has a somewhat convoluted connection to the vaccine manufacturer Pfizer via Hipgnosis, a UK investment company specialising in musical intellectual property rights, which recently acquired a chunk of his songs. In January 2021, he sold 50 per cent of his back-catalogue to Hipgnosis. In October 2021, Hipgnosis announced that it had entered into a $1 billion business arrangement with Blackstone, one of the world’s leading investment firms, to make investments in recorded music and song royalties. A year earlier — and six months before Hipgnosis acquired half of Neil Young’s back-catalogue, Blackstone had taken on as a ‘senior adviser’ one Jeffrey B. Kindler, former CEO and Chairman of Pfizer.’ Kindler had joined Pfizer in January 2002 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel and, prior to his appointment as CEO in July 2006, served as a Vice Chairman of the company. He remained with Pfizer until 2010.

Probably an unconnected coincidence, but one can’t help wondering whether Joni Mitchell was apprised of it.

It is worth remarking en passant that neither Young nor Mitchell has demanded that Spotify remove Gary Glitter’s music from its platform, despite Glitter having long been exposed as a serial child-abuser. But this is by the by. The truly shocking thing is that Young has chosen to take the side of Big Pharma in an argument that it would be losing but for the fact that it is not permitted to take place in the mainstream of what continues to be termed ‘media’. Instead, the debate has been happening on the margins, at the periphery of democratic aspiration, between some of the most qualified doctors and scientists in the world — practitioners who, unlike their mainstream-embraced equivalents — are not in the pockets of anyone. The consensus among them — a consensus that is hidden from the purview of the general public — is that the Covid ‘vaccines’ are deeply dangerous poisons which have already claimed many lives and condemned hundreds of thousands of people to existing with infirmity and incapacity for no good reason. Dr. Robert Malone is the inventor of the MRNA technology and for months now has consistently warned about the dangers of using it in vaccines, with a particular vehement emphasis on not administering any such substances to children.

It really is astonishing that great artists and highly intelligent human beings could be so ignorant of the facts and truth of what is happening as to either make such an intervention as Neil Young has made, or support it as Joni Mitchell has done. It is comprehensible only in the context that I have outlined above.

In the event, Spotify chose Rogan. Young had ‘cancelled’ himself. That it didn’t go well for Young is not necessarily a cause for immediate celebration, however.

The decision was made on pragmatic, commercial grounds. Young had slightly more than six million listeners per month on Spotify, while Rogan has 11 million listeners per episode. Spotify took down most of Young’s music. These facts are indicative of a tentative shift in the nature of media: The days of the legacy newspapers and broadcasters are coming to an end; more and more, the role and functions of the Fourth Estate are being taken up by people who started out, not long ago, as enthusiastic amateurs, who in their novel manner have supplanted many of the functions of existing media and created a new audience on the peripheries of what used to be our democracies.

Still, Spotify’s response is one of the most promising formal signs we have seen for some time. It’s an indicator not only that the proprietors of some of the newer online platforms are prepared to stand up to the bully-culture of Woke, but also that the audience being garnered by alternative voices on these platforms — on the basis of sheer numbers — is already seen to be mounting a viable and escalating challenge to the mainstream. This shift is a relatively recrnt one, and could yet be reversed, which is precisely the context in which the Young/Mitchell intervention arises.

It may seem that the would-be cancel-culture assassins are more and more cancelling nobody but themselves, but it may not be over yet. There remains the danger that the Woke constituency will yet invoke its considerable clout among the powerful LGBT lobby and its heavily indoctrinated zealots to land a fatal blow on Joe Rogan. In this respect, we are certainly getting nearer to the final stand, but there may be a few skirmishes to happen before that moment.

My guess is that Young hasn’t a clue what’s just happened. The outcome was probably not what he expected. Things have changed, and the energy of democratic, freedom-seeking activism has shifted from the tired old leftism that Young still salutes for — to a different, ideologically unaligned outlook that sees in what is happening as a grave and escalating threat to Western civilisation.

I also suspect that what Neil Young was working off — astonishingly — was not facts, as he imagined, but his casual familiarity with media lies. He had swallowed the narrative in the entirety of its mendacity, and imagined that, if all the media were promulgating it at the same time, it must be true. He has therefore failed his own credibility and his fans by refusing to investigate what was true and what was not true, and instead repeating the easiest line the culture offered him. Is it possible that he was so spooked by the idea of being smeared by idiots as ‘Far Right,’ or associated with Donald Trump, that he was prepared to countenance as an alternative the murder of millions of human beings? It seems incredible, and so he must be given the benefit of any doubt. ‘For how much longer?’ is a good question, especially given that the position he adopted is all but ubiquitous among what the tabloids call ‘rockers’, as well as actors, artists, poets, and fiction writers.

Neil Young has a record of social activism that is to his credit — via Farm Aid and various ecological crusades that demonstrated a social conscience that was in tune with the wider mission of rock ‘n’ roll from the 1960s onwards. But he seems not to have noticed the manner in which the environmental agenda has since been weaponised by the very forces whose names should be at the top of the environmentalist’s charge sheet, in particular the corporations and globalists who seek to manipulate the young into believing that the interests of the World’s Richest Men (WoRMs) are in harmony with those of the planet and/or human race. Like a lot of ‘rockers’, Young started his run a long time ago, and kept running even though the play around him was changing radically. Head down in earnest pursuit of his passionately held goals, he did not notice that he had crossed the invisible line into an offside trap.

Fundamentally, the cause Young and Mitchell have put their shoulders to here is that of preventing a new, honest alternative media from moving in to supplant the corrupted legacy media, which have sold their souls for financial gain, this sell-out coming wrapped in a tissue of virtuous-sounding but actually profoundly sinister ideology that has been skilfully weaponised by some of the darkest and most powerful interests on the planet. In short, Young and Mitchell have rushed to the aid of The Man. They have also sought — unwittingly, we might charitably decide — to invert the reality of the risks arising in the context of Covid ‘vaccination’: The risk resides not in the danger that people might be put off taking the vaccine, but that they might be swayed to take this toxic potion by one of the most colossal convocations of power the world has ever seen.

They are guilty also of unquestioningly going along with a constructed, protected but ultimately mendacious narrative, and of ignoring or remaining blissfully unaware of the existence of thousands of doctors and scientists who have been screaming about the bogus aspect of the ‘pandemic’ and the manifest damage being imposed by the vaccines for months on end, but who have been excluded from the mainstream ‘debate’ because their positions were by definition unhelpful to the narrative. When Neil Young spoke, he spoke to further this process of exclusion and censorship.

Young is entitled to demand whatever he likes from Spotify or anyone else, but he is not entitled to pretend that his objective was not to use his residual power as a global superstar to silence someone whose views he disagrees with on the basis not of knowledge but of the weight of the public consensus. This alone is what allows him to use terms like ‘misinformation’ without making clear that, seen objectively, he is expressing a contestable opinion that has been relieved of the onus of demonstrability by media corruption.

None of this is gainsaid by the fact that Joe Rogan has wussed out and pledged to create ‘balance’ by inviting on ‘people with differing opinions’ after he’s had ‘people with controversial opinions,’ as if being controversial was some kind of judgment on what someone says. Journalism is not, first and foremost, about balance, but about truth and fact. A journalist’s job is not to present an argument between people who say it is raining and those who say it is not raining, but to look out the window and say whether or not it is raining.

Rogan graciously says he’s’not mad at Neil Young’ — he loves Young’s music and also Joni Mitchell’s, which is fine — so do I. And there are factors that might be cited in defence of both Young and Mitchell. Both suffered from polio as children, and may as a result have an justifiably heightened fear of infectious disease, and an understandably uncritical view of vaccines as a matter of principle. Fair enough, up to a point.

In the recent Far Out article about Mitchell, the author, Mick McStarkey, relates:

‘Struck down at the age of eight with polio, Mitchell was bedridden for weeks on end. Locked away in her room, and haunted by the thought that she might never walk again, art was her only escape. Indeed, it was in the hospital a hundred miles from her home that she first decided she wanted to be a singer. Here lies one of the fascinating paradoxes about freedom: that its very existence as a concept is founded upon its absence.’

All the more reasons to treat freedom with delicacy once you’ve got it.

Neil Young, to his great credit, has been generous over the years with his time and his talent, having been a founder and longtime partner in the Farm Aid project, which provides financial assistance to struggling American farmers. He’s also prone to being more thoughtful than he has shown himself on this occasion. More than three decades ago, he told an interviewer: ‘I have so many opinions about everything it just comes out during my music. It's a battle for me. I try not to be preachy about what I'm saying. That's a real danger. As soon as you start preaching nobody wants to hear you because then you're a jerk. It's a battle for me and you can get there. I've slipped into that position many times. It's a danger of what I do. I don't want to do that. I just want to be a reflection of what's going on and let people draw their own conclusions.’

Yet, here, both Young and Mitchell — and all those other celebrities who support the narrative — ­ are (perhaps obliviously) tailgating in the corrupted slipstream of the fraudulent media, availing when it suits of the established dishonesty that certain statements about Covid are ipso facto ‘misinformation’ (largely depending on where they emanate from) and certain others beyond question.

Ultimately, of course, all this means that we have received yet another reminder that we must begin to re-examine the entire basis and nature of rock culture, asking ourselves what it is really about and if it really ever was what it appeared to be — and, ultimately, whether we want to have any further truck with any of it. Neil Young was once an artist of some integrity and is not to be denigrated for standing up for his principles and beliefs per se. It is the principles and beliefs that are suspect. It is sad to see an artist who stood up to Monsanto coming out as, in effect, a spokesman for Big Pharma.

Above all, it is deeply dismaying that, at a time when people are dying in their tens of thousands from the effects of a toxic substance being mandated by governments all over the world — a ‘project’ that voluminous evidence suggests has as its core purpose the enslavement of humanity — most of the venerable figures of the music that started in the throats of slaves have either nothing at all to say or come out with the same guff and lies as the shiny-suited creeps who call themselves our political leaders.

But then, it’s ‘only’ rock ‘n’ roll. Isn’t that so?

John Waters is an Irish Thinker, Talker, and Writer. From the life of the spirit of society to the infinite reach of rock ‘n’ roll; from the puzzle of the human ‘I’ to the true nature of money; from the attempted murder of fatherhood to the slow death of the novel, he speaks and writes about the meaning of life in the modern world.

He began part-time work as a journalist in 1981, with Hot Press, Ireland’s leading rock ‘n’ roll magazine and went full-time in 1984, when he moved from the Wild West to the capital, Dublin. As a journalist, magazine editor and columnist, he specialised from the start in raising unpopular issues of public importance, including the psychic cost of colonialism and the denial of rights to fathers under what is called family 'law'. He was a columnist with The Irish Times for 24 years when being Ireland's premier newspaper still meant something. He left in 2014 when this had come to mean diddly-squat, and drew the blinds fully on Irish journalism a year later.

Since then, his articles have appeared in publications such as First Things,, The Spectator, and The Spectator USA. He has published ten books, the latest, Give Us Back the Bad Roads (2018), being a reflection on the cultural disintegration of Ireland since 1990, in the form of a letter to his late father.

He is to boot a sometime playwright and songwriter, husband of Rita, father of Róisín, brother of three sisters, step-granddad of angels, nationist, civilizationalist and lapsed agnostic. He was born in County Roscommon, belongs to Sligo and lives in Dublin.


Source: John Waters (Substack). AWIP:


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