A Response to Eugyppius’ Review of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World
Including the lockdown skeptic’s case against the lab leak and wet market theories of the origin of COVID-19
Eugyppius has been one of the most clear-eyed and articulate thinkers of the Covid era. If you’re not already subscribed to his Substack, I highly recommend it. His portrayals of bureaucratic ineptitude and academic inanity over the past two years are without match, and they go a long way toward understanding how the aberration of the global biosecurity state unfolded. His 2020 essay Covid is a Social Construct remains one of the best of the Covid saga, especially this particular paragraph about disinformation campaigns.
I believe this to be a precise description of the template used by the Chinese Communist Party to launch its global lockdown operation in early 2020, and it sharpened my own thinking on the subject.
So I was delighted to see that Eugyppius had taken the time to write a full-length review of my book, Snake Oil. And I was not disappointed. It’s a flattering review overall, and in some places Eugyppius is able to articulate points that I myself could not.
This is an outstanding summary of the strategy with which I’ve approached anti-lockdown activism over the past two years, a strategy that I believe would lead to the swiftest possible delivery of justice and collapse of the biosecurity state if it were widely employed. And this point, the purpose of focusing on the Chinese origin of mass containment and lockdown advocates’ praise for China’s “success” against the virus—and sometimes their praise for China’s totalitarian system more generally—is a good lead-in to addressing some of Eugyppius’ comments and other common questions about my work, particularly surrounding the origin of Covid and the CCP’s motivations in exporting China’s containment policy.
Currently, there are two politically-popular theories as to how SARS-CoV-2 came about: The Wuhan lab theory and the pangolin, or wet market, theory. Use of the word “theory” is generous in this context, because both theories are worth about as much as single-ply toilet tissue and dissolve just as easily under the slightest bit of scrutiny. As outlined below, “propaganda” or “narrative disinformation” would be a far more accurate way to describe both these “theories.”
Eugyppius notes SARS-CoV-2’s genetic similarity to the original SARS, which he believes might have contributed to early Covid hysteria. Studies have shown “complete genome sequence similarities between SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are 79.4 ± 0.17 %.”
Is that a lot? Not really. By comparison, humans share over 99% of our genome with chimpanzees; that 1% difference accounts for all civilization, art, language, and technology. Given a 1% genome difference can account for all that, a 21% difference can go a very long way—as it did in the case of SARS, which had a fatality rate about 50 times higher among those with recorded infections than the infection fatality rate ultimately proven for SARS-CoV-2.
So where did SARS-CoV-2 get the scary name? Well, given the mass deaths initially reported by the Chinese, the fact that they were reporting severe respiratory infections, the 79% “similarity” with SARS, and the fact that Chinese media was doing everything in its power to invite comparisons with SARS, the ICTV obliged in February 2020 by calling it “SARS-CoV-2.”
This scary taxonomy was the first of many propaganda victories for the CCP in early 2020. The second was in convincing panicky officials that SARS-CoV-2 might be a supervirus from the Wuhan lab.
Leading health officials across the western world have now disclosed that they were, unbeknownst to the public, fretting about the possibility of a lab leak in January 2020 and saying so to intelligence officials. Meanwhile, the CCP’s lockdown policy was being laundered through the World Health Organization for global dissemination, promoted by legions of propaganda bots, and even advertised by the CCP’s own media outlets. This led to the total convergence of narrative among the world’s major power brokers that caused the world to shut down in March 2020.
As for whether Covid actually came from a lab, the theory’s popularity tends to belie the threadbare evidence in support of it. This isn’t a knock against those who’ve diligently researched the theory, for whom I have the utmost respect. But several coronaviruses have been found which are far more genetically similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any that were held at the Wuhan lab; the primary suspect at the lab, RaTG13, was nowhere near similar enough for SARS-CoV-2 to have been derived therefrom. The additional nuggets of “suspicious activity” at the lab, such as three workers falling ill with flu-like symptoms in November 2019, are weak and make no chronological sense.
Part of the problem is that much of the evidence refuting the lab leak theory comes from scientists on the political left, who’ve so thoroughly debased themselves on this subject. It’s testament to the CCP’s dark sense of humor—riddled throughout the response to Covid—that they were able to convince the left that it was woke to support the even-more-ridiculous theory that Covid came from some poor Chinese shopkeepers in Wuhan’s Huanan market selling pangolins.
Exponents of the pangolin or wet market “theory” base their belief on the fact that Chinese scientists found a lot of positive Covid cases around the Huanan market in early 2020. Does this mean that they found a lot of negative results elsewhere? No, there’s no denominator in their study; the scientists merely conducted a bunch of tests around the Huanan market, found a bunch of cases, and therefore concluded that the virus came from there. For the New York Times and western scientists to sign their names to this farce is a shocking disgrace even by the abysmal standards they’ve set for themselves during Covid.
The overtures that the CCP made to the pangolin theory through its scientists and media outlets gave right-wing hawks the false impression that the CCP was covering up a lab leak. But given the entire western national security community has been chasing the lab leak narrative for two years, you’d think they’d have a bit more to show for it than a few chronologically-challenged fronds of circumstantial evidence. Maybe if we give them another 20 years, they’ll tell us a lab worker’s dog got Covid in 2019, too.
The paucity of evidence in support of both these theories shouldn’t come as a surprise, however, because both implicitly assume that a supervirus really did emerge in Wuhan at the end of 2019. They base this assumption on the following “facts”:
Wuhan residents suddenly began falling to their deaths and convulsing in the streets in early 2020, as shown by all those scary videos that went viral on social media at the time.
The young hero doctor Li Wenliang gave his life to warn us that a supervirus was coming to get us, and Chinese state media even helpfully shared a picture of him holding his identification card to prove it.
The data from Wuhan in early 2020 showed a death rate of 4% and an exponential rise in cases until Xi welded everyone in.
Xi Jinping—the man who’s punished over a million officials for “corruption,” removed term limits from China’s constitution, cut a sixth of the world’s population off from the global internet, and holds millions of religious minorities “infected with extremism” in concentration camps—was just doing his best to save some lives by shutting down Wuhan.
The truth is, we have more than enough evidence that Covid began spreading in countries all over the world far earlier than the end of 2019 to know that both of these theories are ludicrous. It’s highly unlikely that Covid even began anywhere near Wuhan. The Wuhan origin narrative has all the makings of a false flag.
This is all we know for sure about the origin of SARS-CoV-2: It began spreading, somewhere in the world, by mid-2019 at the latest. Hopefully one day we’ll learn more, but for the time being scientists on both the left and right are busy toeing the CCP’s own propaganda: Agreeing that a supervirus emerged in Wuhan in early 2020, and disagreeing only as to whether it came from a lab or a pangolin.
As Eugyppius notes, “For a long time, I tried not to talk about the lab leak hypothesis, because I thought it fueled pro-lockdown rhetoric.” No need to speculate. Poll respondents on Twitter were over 10 times as likely to support lockdowns for a lab-made virus vs a natural virus. People are simply more afraid of a virus that they think might have come from a lab—even if they have to pretend it came from a pangolin if they want to be seen as “woke.”
But the extra fear was just an added bonus. The real benefit of the lab leak theory to the CCP is that it distracted China hawks from the far-worse fact that the CCP was aggressively pushing global adoption of its totalitarian measures while killing scores of people all over the world by refusing to share information about the virus, regardless of its actual origin.
After Tiananmen Square, politicians across the west accepted that the CCP could kill as many Chinese people as they want, anytime they want, and we’d just have to live with that. With the response to Covid, politicians across the west accepted that the CCP could kill as many people as they want, anywhere they want, and we’d just have to live with that.
When fake hawks in the west fixate on the lab leak narrative, the implication is that their hands are tied and there’s simply no grounds to get justice unless we can prove the virus came from the Wuhan lab. They don’t have to tell you that the CCP did nothing wrong, nor do they have to tell you that the CCP did wrong but that they have no intention of doing anything about it. Instead, they harp relentlessly on an unprovable “theory” so that they can keep your trust—and your vote—without holding the CCP, its enablers, or themselves accountable for anything. Meanwhile, all the CCP’s real crimes are right in front of your eyes.
We see these complex psychological games surrounding every aspect of the response to Covid, and they all inure to the CCP’s benefit. The endorsement of China’s farcically-forged data by China-friendly elites, the shock of strict lockdowns in March 2020 to seed the idea of a supervirus, the gradual progression of mandates targeting one human right after another; all of these ploys point to a level of premeditation by the CCP and belie the notion that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s a perennial mistake of political watchers not to take dictators at their own word. And in this case, we know Xi Jinping’s intentions because he’s told us as much in his own documents. In Xi’s leaked Document No. 9, he very clearly spells out his goal of undermining the western values that he sees as threatening to the CCP: “independent judiciaries,” “human rights,” “western freedom,” “civil society,” “freedom of the press,” and the “free flow of information on the internet.”
Likewise, we don’t have to settle for thinking that we may never know what the CCP’s intentions were in supporting lockdowns, because they’ve told us exactly that through their own media outlets.
Do these officials believe lockdowns were “good” or “bad,” or would “work” or not? This is beside the point for those who work for totalitarian regimes. Working for such a regime means toeing a specific line and playing a specific role; the better they play the role, the more they advance. They need not understand their leaders’ purpose in giving them such a role. But Xi has made his goal abundantly clear.
As Eugyppius notes:
There are several fascinating perspectives that advanced students of World War II might explore: The failure of early attempts at international law. Totalitarian regimes’ use of early 20th century technologies to exercise unprecedented control. Western monopolists’ belief that they could use such regimes as a source of extralegal wealth and power. The decline of western European empires from the world stage. The near-total collapse of the rule of law across Europe and Asia.
In fact, at the subatomic level, World War II was nothing more than protons and electrons firing and colliding as they have for ages. Only three atoms were destroyed over the course of the war. Their fate is tragic—we can’t put a price on atoms—but it was overall a very dull affair from a subatomic perspective.
Ultimately, however, World War II is most widely remembered as a timeless story of good and evil, about a small clique of extraordinarily wicked people who got their way, the countless cowards who let it happen, and the brave men and women who finally put a stop to them. With every generation, the bad guys get a little more evil and the good guys get a little more heroic, and more of us claim some ancestry to those who were there alongside them.
Likewise, there are several aspects of the Covid story worthy of scrutiny. Information monopolies, greedy companies, social media propaganda, mass formation, digital atomization, unaccountable foundations—lockdowns would not have been possible without these things. But the purpose of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World is to tell this story in the way that our children will find most compelling: A timeless story of good and evil, about a small clique of extraordinarily wicked people who got their way, the countless cowards who let it happen, and the brave men and women who finally put a stop to them.