“It’s not just the vaccine. It’s a little bit of cruelty, a little bit of inequality, a little bit of discrimination, a little bit of masking children so they can’t breathe, a little bit of accepting the sacrifices of people that we don’t sacrifice back for, a little bit of complete alienation of the classes from one another … just an injection, just another injection, just losing your job. … And now a CCP-style cruelty is something that we tolerate.”
I sit down with author and columnist Naomi Wolf, author of “The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and the War Against the Human.”
Vaccine passports are just one part of a broader new digital tyranny we are facing, argues Naomi Wolf. “These technocratic elites really do believe that they can order the world better than you and I and that they have the right to.”
Below is a rush transcript of this American Thought Leaders episode from Jun 11, 2022. This transcript may not be in its final form and may be updated.
Jan Jekielek: Naomi Wolf, it’s such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders again.
Naomi Wolf, Ph.D.: It’s lovely to be here with you. Thank you so much for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: I just finished reading your book and not moments before we’re sitting down here. Fascinating, fascinating read. And I couldn’t help but catch the reference in the title because it happens to refer to probably my favorite film of all time, actually, which is The Lives of Others, of course. I think people in free societies have a really difficult time in understanding what it’s like to live in an unfree society. And I think a major thesis in your book is that, we in free societies have started behaving now a lot more like people in unfree societies.
Ms. Wolf: Yeah. That’s it in a nutshell. And you can see the progression of that movement dramatically. The last time we spoke things weren’t as far as advanced as they are now. The last time we spoke about a year ago, we were in a freer America than we are now. Since we last spoke, President Biden has declared an extension of emergency law in April of 2022. And for the first time his declaration is open-ended, it doesn’t have a terminus date.
At least 22 states are under emergency law New York is… Governor Hochul where we’re sitting right now, she keeps extending emergency law every 30 days. So by definition, that’s what I’ve called in another book step 10, it’s the last stage of the closing down of a democratic civil society. It means we don’t have all the rights and freedoms that we did before 2020. The Bodies of Others, makes the case that the pandemic of the last two years really provided… it certainly was a real medical emergency, is in many ways a medical emergency.
But it provided cover and a pretext for a handful of bad actors ranging from the Chinese communist party, to the World Economic Forum, to tech companies, to exploit the crisis in such a way as to reengineer our free democratic open societies, especially in the West, especially in the United States into a post free society, a post humane society I actually say, which is more conducive to the goals of big tech and China and the World Economic Forum, than it is to the goals and aspirations and intentions of free citizens. And that especially the targeting is not just of our Western freedoms, it’s also of our culture and specifically of our families and our children.
Mr. Jekielek: And this is very, very difficult I think for many people to fathom because there’s an element of participation. What I said was one way to look at it is from the outside, what’s being done to society. But another thing is just to look at it like what are people doing? How are they behaving? How is that different from before? That’s what really struck me, your book is beautiful because it’s like your own journey through the last few years. I hadn’t really thought about it entirely that whole swaths of society voluntarily it might seem, are behaving in foundationally different ways than they did from two years ago, so tell me about that.
Ms. Wolf: Yeah. Well, I did consciously choose to alternate the analysis that I did of giant movements of big tech companies and government policy and economic pressures, that’s so vast. The argument of The Bodies of Others is that there is a war on humanity, and some of the worst of the worst driving it are big tech companies, and I’m a CEO of a tech company. And so I understand that there are things that human beings can still do better than any digital technology can do.
And so I understand that policies that don’t make sense medically. And now we know the data are in that lockdowns don’t produce better medical outcomes in terms of COVID than keeping states and countries open as in Florida or in Sweden. We know now that masks barely make a difference in slowing transmission of respiratory illnesses, but what they do effectively is lower children’s IQ by 21 points according to a Brown University study, due to the restriction of social stimulation and linguistic stimulation.
So absolutely, the evidence is in that these big tech companies exploited the pandemic to suppress the human advantage, but that’s too big an argument to make effectively if you’re a writer and it’s a scary argument and it’s kind of overwhelming. So I definitely deliberately chose to follow models like George Orwell’s in Homage to Catalonia. Or there’s an amazing book I’m sure you’re familiar with it by, I believe Victor Klemperer called I Will Bear Witness.
And so often when a democracy is dying or a regime is turning the screws on freedoms to create and establish new forms of tyranny, it happens intentionally in a very incremental way. And you really see this from 1930 to 1933 in Germany, which is what I go back to over and over and over for understanding this moment. And I wrote about those moments in history in my prior book, my 2008 book, The End of America, in which tyrants on the left or right suppress democracy.
And you can see them doing the exact same things, but just as it’s too overwhelming to look at the macro and not tell the human story, I just thought I should really follow Orwell, not that I more Orwell, follow Klemperer in telling the human story so that you see day by day, not just what’s happening to me. And the fact that as time goes on my husband and I are excluded from gatherings because we’re not vaccinated. Or a new two-tier society emerges, very suddenly in a free egalitarian country. And suddenly people here in New York City, friends of mine, colleagues who would never discriminate against someone on the basis of their gender or their sexual orientation or their race. Suddenly, they’re happily embracing a discrimination society in which some people are cast as clean and valuable members of society and included, and other people are ostracized and marginalized and othered, and described as dirty and causing infection to others unscientifically.
So absolutely I really wanted to tell the story not just of what happened in my own life as I was witnessing this kind of to my horror, but unfortunately recognizing exactly what it meant pretty early on because of my earlier work on tyrannies. When there’s emergency law by June of 2020, I realized we’re still under emergency law, they’re not letting us out, we’re not going to get our freedoms back without a fight, because that’s what happens historically.
By August of 2020, I was looking at other times and places in which assembly was restricted and commerce was restricted. And I was recognizing that historically you only restrict assembly and commerce and education of populations, as a precursor to theft of a targeted group’s assets and land. And so I was realizing that the group that was being targeted was humanity.
But again, these are too big to just share with a reader. So I absolutely told the story not just of what we were going through, my husband and I in upstate New York, but also what our neighbors were going through. What a restaurateur called Paul [DeMoret 00:09:10] in Boston, struggling to keep 20 workers families fed when the board of health would not even let him open up, 20 people allowed, now 50, now 20 again, his struggle.
The waitress up the road at the Copake diner, a single mom her son having to come home from college through no fault of her own. The American dream was just closing on people and it was so not equal. The American dream was closing on small business owners, sole proprietors, small landlords, mom and pop shops, those people just working really hard.
As America’s always been the place to work really hard and do better. Suddenly, no matter what they did, they could not survive or compete or engage in even protecting their families and their livelihoods. And these big entities, the big corporations, the Amazons, the Targets, the Walmarts, they were allowed to stay open. But again, those are stories that to me were much more movingly and clearly told by following the lives of people affected.
The last thing I would say about that method is that human beings tend to acclimate, and that’s a blessing and a curse. It means that people can survive world wars and pandemics and earthquakes and fires and so on, but it also means when it comes to recognizing tyranny people normalize too much.
And I really felt that by showing the impact of these lockdowns, not just with numbers and data and statistics, but with showing just ordinary people overwhelmed with, “My child is locked in room all day. My 10 year old can’t speak as clearly. My family business has had to close.” And watching the coarsening and the totalitarianizing of our human interactions, the dehumanization, the cruelty, that I wanted to wake the reader up to just how far we’ve come from that free open, but also kind society that we had until January of 2020.
Mr. Jekielek: So one thing that was really fascinating to me in the book was your look in on the big tech involvement in all of this. And of course, as you mentioned the biggest of the big tech companies all did really well over the last two years. The thing that was interesting is you were able to offer the mentality of people in these businesses, and how they look at people, and how that is incredibly compatible with what happened for lack of a better term. Tell me about that.
Ms. Wolf: Yeah. It’s really at the heart of The Bodies of Others. So as I mentioned, I’m CEO now of a successful tech company and I’m in that space as they say, in that world. And one of the favorite terms, one of the buzzwords of the tech industry is disruptive. And that’s not a negative, it’s considered a high compliment to say that someone has created software or a digital process that’s disruptive of an industry, usually.
And so that’s the context in which you’ve got to understand one of the core arguments with The Bodies of Others, that tech companies had an active hand in shaping legislation, and certainly in presenting the drama of COVID and lockdowns to us, and then the vaccine rollout in such a way as to change human behavior and to change human society. And part of what I mean by that is that, well, there’s just evidence that they liaised.
There are emails from Mark Zuckerberg to Anthony Fauci that have been disclosed. But in addition to that, if you think about how you lived through the lockdowns and then the roll out of the vaccines and what you should do about the vaccines, how you should talk about the vaccines and the lockdowns, much of what we experienced as human beings was mediated through digital platforms and digital messaging.
And what I mean is we were restricted to our homes for a long time, and then there was a limit on how much assembly we could engage in. In New York State, I’ll just stick to that, churches and synagogues were closed. Town halls were closed, so we’re not having normal pre 2020 assembly. So what that means, especially for the first year when we were literally in New York State upstate, we were forbidden to have more than six people in our homes at one time, according to our governor.
And that led me to have an illegal potluck, but that’s another story I suppose in violation of our constitutional rights to assemble, and the right to take whatever risk you are going to take as an adult assembling with other humans. But the point is because we were restricted and children and college students were not allowed to go to in person class, they were sent home, they were tethered to their computers.
Human beings couldn’t learn from each other about what was really happening in their communities. And if they were gathering in bars, gathering in restaurants, gathering at their bowling league, they would’ve told quite a different story than the story that was told to them by digital platforms. And so what I trace in the book is that digital platforms invested in both sides of the lockdown and of the vaccine rollout, Microsoft and Salesforce built the first vaccine passports for instance.
IBM built a vaccine passport. Now T-Mobile is partnering to roll out a vaccine passport in Europe. At the same time these big tech companies also invested in the vaccines. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is invested in the mRNA vaccines. And so what you get is you got constant constant messaging that followed you from platform, to platform, to platform about how dangerous it was outside. And this to me very bizarre sentimentalizing in a very consistent way of distance.
You show your love to your grandmother by not hugging her, not visiting her at Christmas. Slogans like we stand together by staying apart and that just appeared out of nowhere. And so what I do trace in the book is how there was a vast profit that tech companies made by suppressing human assembly, by suppressing and helping to message that it was unsafe or unlawful to gather in person in a town hall, gather in person in a classroom, send your child to play with their peers in a playground, gather to worship, that was all messaged as being deadly.
And when you understand that big tech companies are competing with human beings gathering in human spaces, you understand why there was a vested interest in suppressing human assembly, because when you’re a tech company, you can’t compete. Human beings are encouraged to believe that everything they do is not as good as everything that digital technology does. But in fact, right now, there are things human beings do better than digital technology.
You just smiled and the best emoji is not going to make humans feel the way they feel when a human being smiles at them. When humans gather to worship, a digital platform can’t compete with that. When they gather in a town hall, they can coordinate and create outcomes and solutions much more efficiently than they can on even the best Zoom meeting, and even better than AI can right now, certainly for their own purposes, so it’s kind of genius.
I started this discussion earlier by saying digital technology CEOs want to disrupt, well, one thing they want to disrupt is human assembly. Because every time your child is in a classroom with 30 other kids with a human teacher, no money is being made for tech companies. And every time you shop at your local butcher or baker, and you chat with your neighbors afterwards having a cup of coffee in a cafe, and you walk up and down Main Street, no money is being made by digital technology companies.
And when you’re worshiping in church, they’re not making money. But if you can disrupt all of that, lock people in their homes, drive them onto their screens for education, for communication, just to see the faces of their friends, then you’re harvesting money in multiple ways if you’re a tech company. Because there are really only three basic business models for most software companies and they’re eyeballs, meaning your attention. Subscriptions, meaning like a paywall.
And your data, what they’re harvesting as you’re surfing the web, or even your biometric data, your medical data if they can get it. There are marketplaces, vast marketplaces for selling your data. Well, when people are gathering with their friends, none of that is happening. So what you see with the lockdowns and the sudden appearance of educational technology, distance learning tech, which was a loser industry when people could actually be in classrooms, which they love.
No one would rather be home on a computer than being in a classroom with peers and a teacher or industries like meal kits, which again, tech investors invested in them, but they were going nowhere until the lockdown. Or even businesses like Amazon, those industries went up 20 to 25% in net revenue as did Google, as did Microsoft, as did Nintendo in the two years of 2020 to 2022, why would they ever let that go?
And I guess the last thing I want to say about disruption is that I mentioned that one of the key business models for tech investors and tech companies is subscriptions. And it’s very common for a digital platform, CEO and developers to create an experience in which you’re lured in, you’re having a wonderful time. You’re playing the game or you’re decorating your home virtually, or whatever it is that the experience represents you get invested.
And then your access is suspended and you have to swipe your credit card to stay in. And by then you’re already hooked on whatever it is they’re selling, that’s a classic, classic way to create a successful digital platform. Well, think about vaccine passports, what these companies want more than anything is to leave the parameters of your computer and to colonize other currently non colonized spaces, notably the human body.
Because that’s the gold rush, they’re bored and they’ve hit limits of growth being in your computer, creating things to make your digital life more convenient or more effective. But the human body is not yet colonized by digital technology fully. And the data, the medical data are protected by HIPAA. But if you can create laws to compel people to have vaccines, then be in a vaccine registry, then have access to commerce and schooling and public transportation, and basically human community via swiping a vaccine passport, then you’ve done away with HIPAA.
You’re harvesting all the data, but you also have created a subscription model in which you can turn people’s access off. And I saw this in March of 2021 and warned people about it, everything I warned them about came true. You can switch people’s access to human community and commerce off and on through their vaccine passport. So it’s really the ultimate hack of the world, the human IRL in real life world, to compel you to ask permission of technology to be human.
Mr. Jekielek: I can’t help but think of an example someone flagged for me fairly recently, where there were two lawyers for Chinese dissidents. Where of course in communist China, these vaccine passports are very much in full play, and they’re basically connected deeply into the social credit system. You talk about the connection between these two things in your book, quite extensive. In fact, they’re kind of the same thing, actually.
But these two lawyers basically had their green, that means you can travel, that means you can do whatever it was that you were planning to do, sign on their vaccine passport turn red because they had met with the wrong person. You see. Well, that’s communist China, that’s not here in Naomi.
Ms. Wolf: That is here. I just went to an ivy league commencement two weeks ago, where I had to upload my vaccination status to their database, with absolutely no assurances about what that university would do with this highly private fourth amendment protected, HIPAA protected, ADA protected data. So what people really have to understand about digital technology and about a vaccine passport, why does it have to be digital? You know they’re not trying to turn America and Western Europe into China, when they just give you a piece of paper that says, “Here, look, this is your vaccine record.”
But the whole point about a digital version is that can be switched off as I mentioned. But also it takes literally 20 minutes of coding to add onto an Excelsior Pass, the vaccine passport in New York State, or any version of a digital vaccine passport. A score based on what you see on social media, whether you’re more to the left or more to the right, to add all of your health records, to add your credit score.
And every time you sit at a restaurant table with a group of friends, say to talk about passing legislation to ban vaccine passports, you’re now expected to swipe these QR codes just to see the menu or just to get in. And the QR code uploads your data to a central database and there’s software and I’ve seen it, that maps the relationships of everyone sitting at that table and then builds databases and networks of relationships.
And it’s because it’s so easy to add these functionalities and these functionalities got added. In Israel people couldn’t get on public transportation without their vaccine passport. I’ve heard of other countries where people were not permitted to shop for groceries or get their children into school. You can add any prohibition onto the vaccine passport if it’s digital, but the point is what is China?
What is China? What is a Chinese social credit system, it’s simply the same thing with more functionalities loaded onto it. And how can a billion people be kept under tyrannical control, a billion people. Because these vaccine passports mean the CCP can identify and locate a dissident within five minutes, because you’re tracked everywhere you go.
And by the way adding to this point, which is that we’re literally a three on a 10 of the Chinese social credit system when we accept vaccine passports, and then we get to 10 within 20 minutes of coding. There’s a change that’s happened in American cities in the last two years and I do point this out in The Bodies of Others too. When I left New York in March of 2020, there were still taxis which are not hackable, you can take a taxi from here to there and not be tracked.
And there were still subways where you can get on a subway, get off a subway and not be tracked. There were human beings in the subways telling you where to go. There were maps in the subways that you could consult. When I came back in the middle of the pandemic, and I say that because the middle of the pandemic extended and extended and extended in time.
A lot of retooling and retrofitting of New York City took place in such a way as to bring it closer to the goal of smart cities. And smart cities are where yellow cabs are gone, but Lyfts are everywhere. Well, Lyft they know exactly where you’re going, who you are, who you’re meeting, who your friends are, what foods you ordered along the way. And in the subways, the maps are gone in many subways.
You have to consult digital technology to just know where you’re going. The human beings are gone to tell you where to go. Every time you consult your QR code, or you scan the QR code to see where you are to look at the map, this is data being harvested off of you, and it’s also surveillance of you.
So I guess this is just one more piece of evidence that the pandemic and the lockdowns and the vaccines, we haven’t even talked about the censorship by big tech of people who were critical of the lockdowns and the vaccines and so on. It is all part of a big global effort to reengineer our world in such a way that it’s good for big tech, good for the World Economic Forum, good for China and not really good for us or the West.
Mr. Jekielek: This is what struck me. I keep thinking about incentive structures, I’ve interviewed a number of people we’ve been talking about this. And data is the gold of our, I don’t know, century I suppose, certainly this decade. Data is the gold. So there’s this massive incentivization to gather as much data as possible, to be able to identify the minutest details about individual people. Some sort of global conspiracy, notwithstanding let’s pretend that’s not even in the discussion at all. The fact that there’s this incredible push to harvest the maximum amount of data from anybody possible, tells me that what you’re saying it has to be true. Because this is the holy grail is everything being digital, absolutely everything. And then you can have your smart city, you can make sure everyone’s doing the right thing.
You can make sure that they didn’t eat too many burgers because that can raise their cholesterol. I don’t know. But there’s also this other element of the bureaucrat for lack of a better term. The types of folks, which certainly are ascendent in our society today that are very interested in running society very efficiently, and making sure people do all the right things the right way and so forth. So the combination of these things tells me, “Wow, this is very real just by virtue of the fact of the kind of society we become.”
Ms. Wolf: Right. Right. You’ve really described just now a Venn diagram of two of the biggest pressures on us right now, the push to indeed harvest data from every single thing that human beings do, and the rise of this global technocratic elite. And they are definitely in the argument I make in The Bodies of Others, aligning with each other for their outcomes and using each other for their outcomes. Let me add a dark note to what you just described about technology.
We’ve assumed that the worst it can be is data are harvested from us with everything that we choose to do using our free will as human beings. But what I’ve seen is that digital technology has its own logic, and it isn’t restricted by what human beings want to do. So once digital platforms and their oligarchical masters can figure out how to change people’s behavior to suit technology, there’s nothing moral or ethical that will keep them from changing people’s behavior to suit their technology and to suit their business plans, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing.
The human wish, didn’t bring this about. Human beings don’t want to distance. Human beings don’t want to scan their QR codes in order to go to the Museum of Natural History. Human beings, as I point out, were able to negotiate wave and wave and wave of infectious diseases in the past in the West, without ever locking down or tracking every move or surveilling every move.
But the dream of our digital overlords is for technology to tell humans what to do and that’s exactly where we’re at. If you can’t get on a bus without your proof of injection, if you can’t send your child to school without being okay in a digital database, our whole world got reconfigured. And that the evidence is in the massive transfer of assets that I mentioned earlier, where people did things they didn’t want to do.
They kept their businesses closed. They kept their kids home from school. They suffered. Elderly, people died alone. And in the process, there was a massive strengthening of the profits of digital technology companies. So that’s not going to stop, that’s an inexorable push. And so it’s up to us as human beings, and I hope and believe I succeeded in this to kind of ask ourselves what does it mean to be human?
And what do we want to save out of our human world, our human communities, our human relationships, our bonding, our touch, our culture. And to recognize that we’re going to have to push back against these massive technological overlords, in order to protect our humanity and our human community. But what I also want to say about technocracy is, as I mentioned, these things are now aligned. You mentioned the phrase vast conspiracy. I recognize I’ve been called a conspiracy theorist and I do want to speak to that.
I’ve got a chapter on this in The Bodies of Others. There aren’t that many people who’ve had a career, which just by happenstance I happened to have been a journalist for 35 years. I was a political consultant to a presidential campaign to a vice president and now a tech CEO.
So the reason I bring this up is the phrase conspiracy theorist is bandied around a lot, and often for good reason. But right now we are in a time and I’ve seen this because I’ve been in these rooms where these world historical decisions are made, in which a handful of very, very powerful people can choose historical outcomes, and usually they do it without a press release, and they often try to do it without fingerprints. And that’s what lawyers in Washington are for, to let events unfold without disclosing who benefits and so on.
And I bring this up because right now we have a new reality, a pretty recent reality in which there’s a global technocratic class of elites, and I used to be invited to their cocktail parties and they were my friends. I’ve only recently been ejected from that community by doing rigorous reporting on what’s questionable about lockdowns and other narratives of the last two years.
But it’s really true that the global technocratic elite have more in common with each other than they do with their fellow Germans or Americans or Russians or Chinese. And they now are able to align above the level of nation states and bring about outcomes above the level of nation states. And in fact, a goal of the World Economic Forum and of these technocratic elites is to make democratic decision making at the level of the nation state less and less important, really to dissolve it if possible.
And we see that with the policies like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but also with the World Economic Forum convening. The WHO convening at the end of may to try to push forward a treaty that would suspend essentially national sovereignty, if they declared a pandemic, it would be the WHO’s decision making and not country by country, by country.
Interestingly, African nations pulled back on that, I think because they know what it means to not have sovereignty or to be colonized or to be enslaved, and so this is really happening. And these technocratic elites really do believe that they can order the world better than you and I, and that they have the right to, that’s really scary. So I think that’s also a big pressure on our historical moment.
Mr. Jekielek: And that is incredibly interesting. I want to take it a level of scale down. And there was this really wonderful article I read, this is when the Canadian trucker movement was in Ottawa. And I believe the article was Reality Honks Back by N.S. Lyons. And they develop in their argument this idea that there’s virtuals and physicals, that has become a more relevant division of society. And the virtuals of course are what some people would call the laptop class.
And the people who the food just arrives magically via delivery, and essentially are able to function very well with screens alone and in their home and so forth. And just aren’t necessarily in touch, much as you call the technocratic elites of the world might not be in touch with the realities of the common person. They’re not in touch with the realities of the people doing the physical work, like the truckers, like the people doing deliveries.
Actually, the people that were able to allow this whole policy of restrictions to function, because otherwise society would’ve ground to a halt. So I don’t know if you have you thought about that distinction, because it’s almost like it’s a very different… and other people have called it sort of a post modernization of society too. It’s possible to live very successfully in our society believing things which are dramatically opposed to reality in a way, because you’re not checked on that. You don’t have to face it.
Ms. Wolf: Right. Well, you’re really describing a profound thing that happened that the pandemic made possible, even in what are supposed to be inclusive egalitarian societies like the United States and Canada. In which the Zoom class really can spend as you say day, after day, after day in their homes or Zooming with other people of their same background socioeconomically, same belief system.
And again, digital platforms make it possible for you to associate all day long with people who agree with you, and never run into people who don’t agree with you. And meanwhile we’ve accepted and embraced in addition to a two-tier vaccinated unvaccinated society, which is crumbling as medical events unfold, but we’ve certainly embraced or accepted a two-tier economic society. I just think all the time about nurses and firefighters and police officers and our military. These are people who have been lionized, certainly nurses were sentimentalized and held up as ideal heroes and heroines during the pandemic.
And yet, so many of them have been forced to do something which is not legal, which is to have an mRNA ejection, they don’t want to have just to keep their jobs or else they’ve been fired. And that violates many laws, which we don’t have to go into right now.
But it’s also just not a nice way to treat people that we were cherishing in our society and putting a lot of pressure on and expecting a lot of risk from. And same with firefighters and police, we accept their sacrifice of their bodies. We accept that if there’s a fire, a firefighter will run into my home and help me save my child and my pet, and put his or her body at risk at the expense of even maybe their own families. We expect that of police officers, that they’ll rush into danger and save us and come help us.
And we expect that our military, I’m a wife of a veteran. We absolutely expect that our military men and women will run into harm’s way and protect us. And yet when they have asked me and other people who are activists for… I don’t even see myself as an activist for medical freedom, it’s just basic bodily autonomy, which is a basic human right of any actual democracy.
You get to decide what happens to your body, that’s just fundamental first amendment, fourth amendment, constitution, HIPAA, ADA and so on, Geneva Conventions and Nuremberg Code. They’re like, “Where are you? Who’s protecting us? Who’s standing up for us? Who has our back? We protect you. You expect us to protect you. No one’s protecting us. No one has our back.” And we are okay with that.
Those of us who are privileged to sit at our computers are fine with this. And we are people who literally two years ago said we were good people who believed in equality and an inclusive society, and that America was a land of equality. Well, the pandemic and the shearing off of the Zoom elites from the daily lives, people whose bodies we do depend on to keep us safe and healthy and so on, the elites have accepted that without any hesitation.
And I guess what you’re getting at Jan is that part of the essence of my book, it’s like stone soup. There’s that fable, that the village had no food and a magical traveler said, “Look, you can make soup with this stone.” And then someone added a little meat and someone added little vegetables, and by the end they had a nourishing soup. Well, flip that around with a very evil outcome. It’s not just the virus and it’s not just the vaccine, it’s a little bit of cruelty, a little bit of inequality, a little bit of discrimination, a little bit of masking children so they can’t breathe.
A little bit of accepting the sacrifices of people that we don’t sacrifice back for. A little bit of complete alienation of the classes from one another. And the escalation of the tolerance of intrusiveness around the body, just an injection, just another injection. Just losing your job. We don’t have America anymore, that’s the point. It’s a little, by little, by little, the war wasn’t just on a political entity, the war was on American culture and is on American culture.
And they’ve succeeded largely unless we wake up. Because we were a kind decent inclusive culture that respected other people’s boundaries and freedoms and so was Canada, and so was Britain, and so was Australia. And now a CCP-style cruelty is something that we tolerate, not at the level that they’ve achieved in China, but far beyond what free societies are supposed to tolerate.
Mr. Jekielek: We tolerate, and that’s sort of going back to the beginning of what we were talking about, tolerate, but also, there’s a significant number of people that are actively engaged. I smile when I say this, because I can hardly believe that in one sense. But in another sense, we also do know from history that this happens, it’s just hard to imagine it would happen here somehow. And then maybe that’s the disbelief. Maybe that’s why so many of us can’t see it. I don’t know another way to put it. Because if I was having this conversation with some other folks even that I know well, they might be like, “You’re crazy Jan, what are you talking about?”
Ms. Wolf: I know what you’re talking about. And I do feel this is one more kind of splintering. America in a way is now divided based on what news you consume. People I love and respect who are well educated, who watch, I’m just going to say it, who read the New York Times and watch CNN and MSNBC, are being lied to every single day about every aspect of this pandemic and these vaccines and the policies around them.
And I do trace in The Bodies of Others, how millions of dollars flowed and are flowing from entities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the BBC, and The Guardian, and NPR, and other formerly very credible objective news outlets. And so people who are absorbing all of that messaging, especially the messaging of, “Trust the science. Trust the science. You can only believe the CDC and the FDA and the NIH.” You can’t reason with them anymore.
And something very disturbing has happened, we talked about all the things we’ve lost, like decency and inclusiveness. We’ve also lost critical thinking. Because people in that bubble and others have spoken about mass formation psychosis and so on, they say things like, “Don’t show me that primary source documentation.” I’m not the only person who’s had this experience. But also there’s half of the country and I thank God that there is, and I come from the left so this is kind of embarrassing to me.
But that half of the country is conservative and libertarian, and they’re following a lot of independent media. Conservative media has been a lot better on these issues, and I have to say The Epoch Times. If it hadn’t been for The Epoch Times in children’s health defense, I don’t think I would’ve had primary source documentation that was credible of many, many of these stories.
But where I’m going with that is that that’s one more division in this country. And what’s so genius about the nature of the weaponization of the pandemic as a propaganda device, is that it played on not exclude and hate this other person because they’re the wrong color, the wrong race, or the wrong religion. What’s so brilliant, demonically brilliant about the messaging is that it was altruistic.
You’ve got to exclude those people for the good of the community, or you’ve got to mask yourself and your child to save your child. You’ve got to inject your child with an untried mRNA vaccine, that causes cardiac harms according to peer review research in minor children for the good of the child, to save the child. You’ve got to not, as I said, not visit your grandmother, not hold her hand when she’s dying or when she’s sick for her own good.
And then people who were questioning or assembling or gathering or worshiping or Republicans were cast as those ignorant infectious selfish people. And so this really brilliantly upended American culture, because it cast freedom as selfish and a kind of CCP-style group think or submissiveness to authorities, and submissiveness to the community, however, that was defined as altruistic and good, and that’s where we are.
To be an individual or even to engage in critical thinking is misinformation, or you’re infecting the community. A lot of lies about infectiousness and unvaccinated people being more infectious than vaccinated, which is just not true per the manufacturers of the vaccines and all of the peer reviewed research. But it allowed all these people who are discriminating and excluding and suspending critical thinking to feel good about themselves.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, it created a moral dimension. It basically made it, “You’re a good person if you do X. You’re a bad person if you do Y.”
Ms. Wolf: So true, and it did something else which is we’re only going to see the harms in the next generation, which is it cast safety and security as the ultimate goal of society, the ultimate good and liberty as a threat to society. And this is what our kids are growing up being taught and being taught by this experience, that safety is more important than anything, that’s not an American message.
The reason the book is called The Bodies of Others is that we used to have… it’s so fundamental to what is Western consciousness. The great, great innovation of the West, and I’m not saying other parts of the world don’t have extraordinary innovations, but there’s reason other parts of the world want to export and import this because it’s essential to the human condition, is the idea of the individual and the rights of the individual and the self-determination and free will of the individual.
And that these rights are God given, no one around the world who has heard that idea doesn’t want it if left to themselves. They want it, because it’s the essence of what it means to be a person and the goal of a person who’s not enslaved. So what this narrative about my body affects someone else’s body, someone else’s body affects my body, it’s up to the state to police the median between my body and your body.
Instead of my decision, my risk, your decision, your risk, as in every single pandemic and epidemic up until now in the West. That is so brilliant in a horrible way because it dissolves the Western ideal, it makes individualism into a crime and self-determination into a vice. And it makes the dissolution of the right to make my own decisions recast it as a benefit, and as a benefit and as a good that we have to invite the state to participate in and really to mediate and police, and that’s literally the fabric of communism.
Mr. Jekielek: So coming back to the lives of others now, the film. The thing that always struck me about that film, other than just being such a brilliant execution of the idea. But it’s very hard it struck me to explain to people that have grown up in the free society, and you can’t imagine it what a dictatorship or a totalitarian society really looks like.
And I think that’s what was the power of The Lives of Others is the power of it is it can give you an insight, “Wait a sec, what would it be like in a complete surveillance society?” And that was just with phones and audio, not this kind of panopticon, which is possible today with modern technology. Everything you’re talking about is incredibly disturbing. So the question that comes out at the end is what can we do about this, because it seems to be and you argue to some extent it’s fait accompli.
Ms. Wolf: I do say that the coup has already taken place, in that respect I am saying it’s a fait accompli in the United States, in the sense that we’re under emergency law and that’s the definition of the end of civil law.
Mr. Jekielek: I just want to touch on this very briefly because that’s fascinating. I don’t know how many of us really grasp that.
Ms. Wolf: It should be front page news everywhere that we’re under emergency law.
Mr. Jekielek: But just that prolonged emergency law means something historically and has profound meaning, it means well that we’re not the society we thought we were.
Ms. Wolf: Well, it also makes us extraordinarily vulnerable because we’re walking around pretty freely this summer, but emergency law means that if Governor Hochul wants to shut down businesses again, she can. She’s tried to do a quarantine camp and a board of health regulation, where people are held against their will, if they’ve been exposed to a bloodborne pathogen, she can. And the same is true of other states like Washington State, where they tried to pass a similar board of health regulation.
It means that if they want lockdowns again in the fall, here or in Europe, certainly in Canada, they can do it, that’s what emergency law means. And they can do whatever they want, basically, it’s a weaponization of boards of health, it’s a weaponization of the CDC and HHS. So we need to face that, but what can we do?
I’ve always been heartened at what human beings can do when they figure things out. No, really, we’re such an amazing species. Right now many people are walking around knowing something’s wrong, but it’s so complex and disorienting that they don’t understand what’s wrong. And as I said in the book, one of the things that feels so wrong is we’re Americans in so many of these reflexes and coordinations and diktats. We are expected to behave more like people in a tyrannical society than like Americans, and that’s that kind of sense of unease I think that we’ve been feeling among other things for the last two years. But I am really heartened and I’ve seen it before with other books I’ve written or other books I’ve read, when you understand what’s coming at you and why, you can strategize a lot better.
And there are many things we can do, one of them is just practical. My company DailyClout watching this darkness descend on the country, we hired a lawyer and we drafted five pieces of legislation called the Five Freedoms Bills, Open Schools Now, now schools are open. No mask mandates, no vaccine passports, end emergency law, and restore freedom of assembly. And we passed them working with state legislators in 33 states. We passed variations of most of those bills.
And I’m not saying that we’re the only ones, but these legislators, there are a lot of state legislators, and again, embarrassingly mostly conservatives. God bless state legislators, whoever they are, but it wasn’t my team leading the way on this, I’m embarrassed to say. But America is more free than Canada and Australia and Britain and Europe right now, largely because of those actions, those state legislators passing bills like those and similar bills, they’re aware of the threat.
And so there’s a great deal of action we can take on a state level to protect ourselves and to ensure our freedoms, whatever the federal government does or the metanational organizations do. But the most important thing in addition to understanding what’s coming at us is to assemble.
There’s such a weakening of human capabilities and resources when people are kept apart, and I argue in the book that’s why the policies were to keep us apart. But when we gather in town halls, when we invite 30 friends over for a potluck or neighbors, then we can coordinate and you can see this incredible grassroots resistance to what I’m describing in The Bodies of Others in groups like Moms for Liberty, for example. Or doctors like the FLCCC and other dissident doctors, who are being critical of these kind of the weaponization of the medical establishment against people.
And what I’m seeing at a grassroots level in America and America really once again has to be a beacon for the rest of the world, and help fight for their freedoms after we secure our own is people are as realizing it’s not about left and right anymore, it’s about freedom versus tyranny. And it’s not going to solve the problem just to switch DNC with RNC or liberals with conservatives in other countries. This is the same script at a global level it’s Mâcon, France, it’s Trudeau in Canada.
It was Scott Morrison, a conservative in Australia. It happens to be a Biden administration in America, but this is a global script. And the World Economic Forum has boasted about placing their people in positions of power. So this is transnational and the answer is not partisan, but I am seeing at a grassroots level left and right coming together, conservatives, liberals, Green Party, PETA supporters coming together to say, “We have to save our constitution. We have to save our freedoms. We have to save our schools. We have to save our kids.”
And so people are really in a peaceful way learning about legislation, learning about running for school board, learning about we’ve given people templates for how to bring civil and criminal charges against corrupt officials, all the way up to the governor. This is what our founders intended for us to do. Our founders, really, they intended for us to empower ourselves with the law and with legislation, to empower ourselves peacefully with our neighbors when our government became tyrannical, so those are things that people must do.
Mr. Jekielek: So this is very interesting. We talked a little bit earlier about how siloed our societies have become, like social media siloed. There’s conservative social media, there’s progressive social media, liberal social media. There are some structures that cross this, but it seems to be very, very hard to transcend it. An example being, for example, Elon Musk just recently few weeks ago tweeted about he only understood that the Russiagate hoax was a hoax, a month prior to the tweet or something like that.
That is astounding given the incredible body of evidence that exists and him having the access to I’m sure the best intelligence, private intelligence that’s available in the world. But that talks to me about this kind of atomization or basically us being siloed ideologically. So how can we really create that or cross that barrier, that to some extent’s been created by the very technologies that we’ve been describing or at least augmented by it?
Ms. Wolf: Well, it’s a really hard question to answer. I guess what I want to confess is that I believed the Russian hoax story too until it was conclusively debunked, not very long ago. I believed things that friends of mine on the right think I’m crazy for having believed. And all I will say, yet again, is that if you watch CNN and read the New York Times you’re getting a world view that is… I don’t know how to say this we’ve entered a time and the Smith-Mundt Act is part of this, it’s now legal to propagandize Americans.
And I’m not saying those entities are intentionally propagandizing Americans, but the bad reporting the lies, the bad science that resulted just from millions from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation going to COVID education. Or vaccine confidence to all of our legacy media and to influencers on social media, that has created half the people in this country who identify on the left, getting very bad information.
Just one example is I talk about how the dashboards, the digital dashboards, which were featured on the front page of the New York Times every single day, you couldn’t see the raw data sets. You couldn’t check them. You couldn’t verify them. And the key dashboards that all these news outlets were citing, turned out to have bad data, unverifiable data. So we really can’t know how extensive the pandemic was based on the inability to just look at the data sets, you can’t look at them.
So that didn’t stop the New York Times from featuring a map of unverifiable data every single day on their homepage. Having lived in the left world and now hanging out in the libertarian and right world, even though I miss the left world, I will say that each side is being fed narratives and stereotypes about the other, that would persuade each side that the other is absolutely insane and dangerously insane.
So I get that conservatives think liberals don’t know what a woman is, that is not actually literally true. And liberals think conservatives all want to torch our democratic processes, storm the capital and are misogynist racist thugs who are trigger happy. So I guess what I would say to that is we’ve been kept apart from other human beings for two years. We’ve been asked to learn about the world through algorithms on Twitter and Facebook.
When we’re actually volunteering in a volunteer firehouse or in a consignment shop, or having a play date with our children’s friends, and we meet someone who doesn’t vote the way we do, or doesn’t think the way we do about abortion or green energy, we used to have chats with them. When we were sitting next to people on buses and we weren’t masked, maybe they thought things we didn’t think, and we would be exposed to their ideas, that’s been suppressed and our culture has been reconfigured so that we won’t do that anymore.
And when we can’t do that anymore, then we can’t find out that either we have things in common with people that we think we didn’t have in common, or that the stereotypes not right, at least in the case of this nice Republican or this nice liberal whom I happen to know, but it’s very, very effective. And I go back to China all the time and I learned this from people like Michael Senger and General Spalding, and I’ve got to credit my husband Brian O’Shea.
People have thought deeply about China. The experts on China point out that the way the CCP influences a culture or wins is not through shooting bullets or dropping bombs, it’s called asymmetric warfare. I’m sure much more about this than I do, but it’s about splintering communities and also Russian methodologies are about subversion, about people confusing people, splintering communities, making it impossible for people to know what’s true, what’s not true.
Demoralization, making it impossible for people to organize and so that’s where we’re at. There are a lot of people who want the United States to fail as a project and to not be a superpower. And the smartest thing they can possibly do is keep us apart from each other, keep us from talking to each other, keep us from bonding the way we used to bond. And that’s all the more reason to put down your device, and go restart all the dead groups and volunteer organizations and community centers in your neighborhood and take back this country.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m just reminded of people who did crazy things. I remember reading a story about a black man who would go make friends with actual white supremacists and change them actually. It’s very interesting. That’s a very daunting thing to imagine.
Ms. Wolf: Well, I’m not asking that much.
Mr. Jekielek: No, but what I’m saying is I think that that’s how people imagine it almost, would be to be doing something like that. I guess we just have to be brave.
Ms. Wolf: Well, I don’t think we have to be that brave, it didn’t used to be that brave. We’ve been made to fear one another, especially over the last two years. I’ll just give you an example. Relatives I love, so I talk to you gladly, I talked to Tucker Carlson gladly. Doesn’t mean I agree with you all about all your policy ideas, and I love exchanging views with people who don’t agree with me, I always learn something.
But people I love think I’m doing something wrong in even talking to conservatives and libertarians, and that’s very dangerous. The left especially has decided that you’re morally complicit if you have a conversation across the aisle, that’s un-American, that censoriousness, that censorship, that cancel culture, that’s un-American. That is an importation from communism to cancel struggle sessions, eject wrong think.
I think what we’ll find is when we hang out with each other, again, the way we used to when we had universities and in person schools and play dates and hiking groups, we’ve been deacclimated from hanging out together with other people we don’t know, that has absolutely happened. But when we insist on reopening those paralyzed instincts of gathering, we’ll find that most people are not white supremacist. Most people are not a Antifa member.
Most people and I’m really quoting now this wonderful candidate for governor Reinette Senum, she’s refused to declare a party and she’s doing really well. She’s traveled up and down the state of California and she’s found that 80% of people agree on 80% of the things.
And that’s what we used to have, we used to be Americans. We used to feel like… and not that long ago in my lifetime, like five years ago. What happened to us that were even having this conversation Jan? Five years ago, people were like, “Well, I don’t necessarily agree with Jim about fossil fuels, but he’s a wonderful golfer,” or whatever it is that used to be… or we’re all Americans. We worship in different places, we worship different gods, but we’re all Americans, that has been stripped from us and intentionally.
Mr. Jekielek: So you’re calling for a kind of radical love.
Ms. Wolf: I don’t think it has to be a radical love. I think we just have to remember what are Western values and what are American values. And again, I don’t restrict those to the West or to America, because people all over the world rightly want them and are making them their own. We used to have a first amendment that said, you can say anything you want, Congress will make no law of bridging freedom of speech.
There is no established religion, we’re Americans across religious lines. We were a people that took pride in our diversity, and that’s not just diversity of race and class and gender, it’s diversity of opinion and points of view that… back to the founding fathers and mothers, that’s what they cherished. The robust exchange of ideas and the recognition that… that’s why we had a Civil War, so that we would not be divided.
We would not just say, “Okay, fine. We want to hold slaves, you don’t want to hold slaves, we’ll just separate.” We fought a war to not be separated. And then we kept fighting to pass law after law, and make decision after decision, and have Supreme Court decision after Supreme Court decision, to make our union more perfect and make our equality more real, and to protect more fully the exchanges of these different views.
This is the great experiment and it was a light to the nations and that’s what they’ve tried to kill off. And so when we just remember what is an American, an American is someone who talks to his or her neighbor and listens, and doesn’t expect that person to conform to their view or they’ll rat them out to the thought police, that’s American. I don’t think it takes much to remember that. I think it takes just knowing what’s come at us and refusing it, and laying claim once again to our country and our culture and our founding documents.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Naomi Wolf, it’s such a pleasure to have you back on.
Ms. Wolf: It’s so good to talk to you.
Mr. Jekielek: Thank you all for joining Naomi Wolf and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders, her book again is The Bodies of Others. I’m your host Jan Jekielek. The Epoch Times is growing quickly, and we’re currently hiring an associate producer to join the epoch TV team, to work on both American Thought Leaders and Kash’s Corner. It’s a time of rampant misinformation and propaganda and you’ll be part of the solution, as we bring back honest journalism. If you’re interested or you know someone who might be a good fit, head over to ept.ms/associateproducer. That’s ept.ms/associateproducer, all one word. We look forward to hearing from you.