‘We Don’t Have America Anymore’—Dr. Naomi Wolf on CCP-Style Technocratic Authoritarianism in the US
“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.”
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 just moments before sitting down with you here. It’s a fascinating read. The title actually reminds me of my favorite film of all time, which is, The Lives of Others. People in free societies have a really difficult time understanding what it’s like to live in an unfree society. A major thesis in your book is that we in free societies have now started behaving a lot more like people in unfree societies.
Ms. Wolf: Yes. That’s it in a nutshell. You can see the progression of that movement very dramatically. The last time we spoke things weren’t 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 in April of 2022 declared an extension of emergency law. And for the first time his declaration is open-ended, it doesn’t have an ending date.
At least 22 states are under emergency law. In New York, where we’re sitting right now, Governor Hochul keeps extending emergency law every 30 days. In another of my books that is what I’ve called step 10, it’s the last stage of the closing down of a democratic civil society. It means that we don’t have all the rights and freedoms that we had before 2020.
The Bodies of Others makes the case that the pandemic of the last two years really provided— and it certainly was a real medical emergency—but it provided cover and a pretext for a handful of bad actors ranging from the Chinese communist party, the World Economic Forum, and tech companies to exploit the crisis in such a way as to reengineer our free open democratic societies in the West, and especially in the United States into a post-free society, a post-humane society, 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. This is a targeting not just of our Western freedoms, but also of our culture and specifically of our families and our children.
Mr. Jekielek: This is very, very difficult for many people to fathom, because there’s an element of participation. One way to look at it is from the outside, and to look at what’s being done to society. But another thing is to look at what individual people are doing? How are they behaving? How is it different from before? Your book is beautiful because it is your own journey through the last few years, when whole swaths of society are voluntarily behaving in different ways than they did two years ago. Please tell me about that.
Ms. Wolf: Yes. I consciously chose to augment the analysis that I did of giant movements of Big Tech companies and government policy and economic pressures, which is 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 that are driving it are Big Tech companies. I’m the CEO of a tech company. So I understand that there are things that human beings can still do better than any digital technology can.
I understand there are policies that don’t make sense medically. Now, we know from recent data that lockdowns do not 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. However, they do effectively 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 there that these Big Tech companies exploited the pandemic to suppress the human advantage. But that’s too big of an argument to make effectively if you’re a writer. It’s a scary argument and it’s kind of overwhelming. So I deliberately chose to follow models like Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell.. There is also an amazing book I’m sure you’re familiar with by Victor Klemperer called, I Will Bear Witness.
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 very intentionally in a very incremental way. You really see this from 1930 to 1933 in Germany, which is what I go back to over and over and over for understanding of this moment. I wrote about those moments in history in my 2008 book, The End of America, in which tyrants on the Left or Right suppress democracy.
You can see them doing the exact same things, but it’s just too overwhelming to look at the macro and not tell the human story. I thought I should really follow Orwell, not that I’m Orwell, and follow Klemperer in telling the human story, so that you see what is happening day by day. The fact is, as time goes on, my husband and I are excluded from gatherings because we’re not vaccinated. Very suddenly, a new two-tier society emerges in a free egalitarian country. And suddenly, 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 are happily embracing a discrimination society in which some people are labeled as clean and valuable members of society and included, and other people are ostracized and marginalized and othered, and unscientifically described as dirty and causing infection to others.
As, to my horror, I was witnessing this, I absolutely wanted to tell the story of what happened in my own life. Unfortunately, I recognized exactly what it meant pretty early on, because of my earlier work on tyrannies. When there is emergency law by June of 2020, and we’re now still under emergency law, I realized they are not letting us out, and we are 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. I was recognizing that historically you only restrict assembly and commerce and education of populations as a precursor to the theft of a targeted group’s assets and land. I realized that the group that was being targeted was humanity.
But again, these ideas are just too big to share with a reader. So I told the story not just of what we were going through, my husband and I in upstate New York, but also the story of what our neighbors were going through—restaurateur Paul 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.
I tell the story of the waitress up the road at the Copake diner, a single mom, and her son having to come home from college through no fault of her own. The American dream was just closing down for people and it was so not equal. The American dream was closing for small business owners, sole proprietors, small landlords, mom and pop shops, and those people just working really hard.
America has always been the place to work really hard and do even better. Suddenly, no matter what they did, they could not survive or compete or engage in even protecting their families and their livelihoods. These big entities, the big corporations, the Amazons, the Targets, and the Walmarts were allowed to stay open. Again, those are stories that to me were much more moving and could be told by following the lives of the people affected.
The last thing I would say about that method is that human beings tend to acclimate, which is a blessing and a curse. It means that people can survive world wars and pandemics and earthquakes and fires. But it also means that when it comes to recognizing tyranny, people normalize it too much.
I really wanted to show the impact of these lockdowns, not with just with numbers and data and statistics. I wanted to show ordinary people overwhelmed with, “My child is locked in a room all day. My 10 year old can’t speak as clearly. My family business has had to close.” By showing the coarsening and the totalitarianizing of our human interactions, the dehumanization, and the cruelty, I wanted to wake the reader up as to just how far we’ve come from that free, open, but also kind society that we had until January of 2020.
Mr. Jekielek: One thing that was really fascinating to me was your take on the Big Tech involvement in all of this. As you mentioned, the biggest of the Big Tech companies all did really well over the last two years. You were able to look at the mentality of people running these businesses, and how they look at people, and how that is incredibly compatible with all that happened. Please tell me about that.
Ms. Wolf: It really is at the heart of The Bodies of Others. As I mentioned, I am now CEO of a successful tech company, and I’m in that space, as they say, and in that world. 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 to an industry, usually.
That’s the context in which you’ve got to understand one of the core revelations in The Bodies of Others. Tech companies had an active hand in shaping legislation, and certainly in presenting the drama of COVID and lockdowns to us. They also presented the vaccine rollout in such a way as to change human behavior and to change human society. What I mean by that is that there is evidence that they liaised.
There are emails from Mark Zuckerberg to Anthony Fauci that have been disclosed. 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.
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, and I’ll just stick to here, churches and synagogues were closed. Town halls were closed, so we’re not having normal pre-2020 assembly. In upstate New York, especially in the first year, we were forbidden to have more than six people in our homes at one time, according to our governor.
That led me to have an illegal potluck, but that’s another story I suppose. There was a 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, we were restricted and children and college students were not allowed to go to class in-person. They were sent home, and they were tethered to their computers.
Human beings couldn’t learn from each other about what was really happening in their communities. If they had been gathering in bars, gathering in restaurants, gathering at their bowling league, they would have learned quite a different story than the story that was told to them by digital platforms. What I trace in the book is that digital platforms are invested in both the lockdown and the vaccine rollout. For instance, Microsoft and Salesforce built the first vaccine passport.
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 are also invested in vaccines. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is invested in the mRNA vaccines. You received constant messaging that followed you from platform, to platform, to platform about how dangerous it was outside, and a very consistent and very bizarre sentimentalizing about distancing.
You show your love to your grandmother by not hugging her, and by not visiting her at Christmas. Slogans like, “We stand together by staying apart,” just appeared out of nowhere. I trace in the book how tech companies made a vast profit by suppressing human assembly. They sent a message that it was unsafe or unlawful to gather in person in a town hall or classroom, send your child to play with their peers in a playground, or gather to worship. The message was that normal gathering could all be deadly.
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 really compete with humans. 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 much 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.
I started this discussion earlier by saying digital technology CEOs want to disrupt. One thing they want to disrupt is human assembly. Because every time your child is in a classroom with 30 other kids and a human teacher, no money is being made by tech companies. 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. 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 and communication and just to see the faces of their friends, if you’re a tech company, you’re harvesting money in multiple ways. There are really only three basic business models for most software companies; eyeballs, meaning your attention; subscriptions, meaning a paywall; and your data, what they are harvesting as you’re surfing the web, or even your biometric data and your medical data if they can get it. There are vast marketplaces for selling your data. When people are gathering with their friends, none of that is happening.
With the lockdowns there is 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 at home on a computer than being in a classroom with their peers and a teacher. There were industries like meal kits which tech investors invested in, but were going nowhere until the lockdown. Even businesses like Amazon went up 20 to 25 per cent in net revenue, as did Google, as did Microsoft, as did Nintendo in the two years from 2020 to 2022. Why would they ever let that go?
The last thing I want to say about disruption is that one of the key business models for tech investors and tech companies is subscriptions. It is very common for a digital platform CEO and developers to create an experience to lure you in, where you’re having a wonderful time. You become invested in playing the game, or decorating your home virtually, or whatever the experience may be.
Then your access is suspended and you have to swipe your credit card to stay in. By then you are already hooked on whatever it is they’re selling. That is a very classic way to create a successful digital platform. Then 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, specifically the human body.
That’s the current gold rush. They’re bored and they have hit their limits of growth being in your computer, and creating things to make your digital life more convenient or more effective. But the human body is not yet fully colonized by digital technology. And your medical data is protected by HIPAA. But if you can create laws to compel people to have vaccines, be in a vaccine registry, and then require a vaccine passport to have access to commerce, schooling, public transportation, and basically, human community, then you’ve done away with HIPAA.
You’re harvesting all the data, but you have also created a subscription model in which you can turn people’s access off. I saw this in March of 2021, warned people about it, and everything I warned them about came true. You can switch people’s access to human community and commerce on and off through their vaccine passport. So it is really the ultimate hack of the world, the human IRL in the real life world, and it compels you to ask permission of technology to be human.
Mr. Jekielek: In communist China, these vaccine passports are very much in full play, and they are deeply connected with the social credit system. You talk about the connection between these two things in your book, quite extensively. In fact, they’re actually the same thing.
There you can have a green signal on your passport, which means you can travel and do whatever it was that you were planning to do. But your vaccine passport can turn red if you have been talking with the wrong person. But, that’s in communist China, that’s not here, 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. What people really have to ask about digital technology and about a vaccine passport is why does it have to be digital? You would know they’re not trying to turn America and Western Europe into China, if they just give you a piece of paper that says, “This is your vaccine record.”
But the whole point about a digital version is that it can be switched off. It literally takes 20 minutes of coding to add a score onto an Excelsior Pass, the vaccine passport in New York State, or any version of a digital vaccine passport. They can add a score based on what you look at on social media and whether you’re more to the Left or more to the Right, they can add all of your health records, and they can add your credit score.
Every time you sit at a restaurant table with a group of friends, maybe to talk about passing legislation to ban vaccine passports, you’re now expected to swipe these QR codes just to see the menu or even just to get in. The QR code uploads your data to a central database where there is software, and I’ve seen it, that maps the relationships of everyone sitting at that table and then builds a database on this network of relationships.
It is so easy to add these functionalities, and these functionalities do get 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.
That leads to the question; what is in China? What is the Chinese social credit system? It is simply the same thing with more functionalities loaded onto it. How can a billion people be kept under tyrannical control? With these vaccine passports the CCP can identify and locate a dissident within five minutes, because you are tracked everywhere you go.
Adding to this point, we’re literally a three out of 10 in the Chinese social credit system when we accept vaccine passports, and then we get to a 10 out of 10 with 20 minutes of coding. There’s a change that has happened in American cities in the last two years and I do point this out in The Bodies of Others. When I left New York in March of 2020, there were still taxis which were not hackable. You could take a taxi from here to there and not be tracked.
There were still subways where you could 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. I came back in the middle of the pandemic, and I say the middle because the pandemic had 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. Smart cities are where the yellow cabs are gone, but Lyfts are everywhere. Lyft knows exactly where you’re going, who you are, who you’re meeting, who your friends are, and what foods you ordered along the way. And in the subways, the maps are gone.
You have to consult digital technology just to know where you’re going. The human beings telling you where to go are gone. 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.
This is just one more piece of evidence that the pandemic, the lockdowns, the vaccines, and the censorship by Big Tech are all part of a big global effort to re-engineer our world in such a way that it’s good for Big Tech, good for the World Economic Forum, good for China, but not really good for us or for the West.
Mr. Jekielek: I’ve interviewed a number of people lately and we’ve been talking about incentive structures. And data is certainly the gold of our decade. There is a massive incentivization to gather as much data as possible, and to be able to identify the minutest details about people. Some sort of global conspiracy notwithstanding, let’s pretend that’s not even in the discussion at the moment. The fact that there is this incredible push to harvest the maximum amount of data from everyone tells me that what you’re saying has to be true. Because the holy grail is absolutely everything being digital. Then you can have your smart city, and you can make sure everyone’s doing the so-called right thing.
You can make sure that they don’t eat too many burgers because that can raise their cholesterol. I don’t know. But there’s also the element of the bureaucrat, for lack of a better term. The types of folks rising in our society today are very interested in running society very efficiently, and making sure people do all the so-called right things. So this combination tells me, “Wow, this is very real, just looking at the society we have become.”
Ms. Wolf: Right. You’ve really described a Venn diagram of two of the biggest pressures on us right now, the push to harvest data about every single thing that a human being does, and the rise of this global technocratic elite. They are definitely part of 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 that data is 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 are seeing.
The human impulse did not 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. In the past, human beings in the West were able to negotiate wave and wave and wave of infectious diseases 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, and if you can’t send your child to school without being okay in a digital database, then our whole world got reconfigured. The evidence is in the massive transfer of assets that I mentioned earlier, where people were forced to do things they didn’t want to.
They kept their businesses closed. They kept their kids home from school. They suffered. Elderly people died alone. In the process, there was a massive increase in the profits of digital technology companies. That is not going to stop, that is an inexorable push. It’s up to us as human beings, and I hope I have succeeded in this, to ask ourselves what does it mean to be human?
What do we want to save out of our human world, our human communities, our human relationships, our bonding, our touch, and our culture? We need to recognize that we have to push back against these digital technology overlords, in order to protect our humanity and our human community. What I also want to say about technocracy is that these things are now aligned. You mentioned the phrase vast conspiracy. I recognize that 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 have been a journalist for 35 years, a political consultant to a vice presidential campaign, and then a tech CEO.
The reason I bring that up is the phrase conspiracy theorist is bandied around a lot, and often for good reason. I’ve seen it, because I’ve been in these rooms where historical world decisions are made, in which a handful of very, very powerful people can choose historical outcomes, usually done without a press release, and often without fingerprints. That’s what lawyers in Washington are for, to let these events unfold without disclosing who benefits.
Right now we have a new reality in which there’s an elite global technocratic class. I used to be invited to their cocktail parties and they were my friends. It’s only recently that I have been ejected from that community for doing rigorous reporting on what’s questionable about lockdowns and other narratives of the last two years.
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. They now are able to align above the level of nation states and bring about outcomes above the level of nation states. 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, and to really dissolve it if possible.
We see this with policies like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but also with the World Economic Forum and the WHO convening at the end of May to push forward a treaty that would essentially suspend national sovereignty if they choose to declare a pandemic. It would be the WHO’s decision-making, and not country by country, by country.
Interestingly, African nations pulled back on that proposal, because they know what it means to not have sovereignty or to be colonized or to be enslaved. So this is really happening. 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 is really scary. It also puts a big pressure on our historical moment.
Mr. Jekielek: That is incredibly interesting. I want to scale it down a level. There was this really wonderful article about the Canadian trucker movement in Ottawa, Reality Honks Back, by N.S. Lyons. It develops this idea that there are virtuals and physicals, which has become a more relevant division of society. The virtuals are what some people would call the laptop class.
They are the class for whom the food just arrives magically via delivery. With screens, alone in their homes, they are able to function very well, and aren’t necessarily 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 and the people doing deliveries.
Actually, these are the people that were able to allow this whole policy of restrictions to function, because otherwise society would’ve ground to a halt. Have you thought about that distinction? Other people have called it a post-modernization of society. In a way, it’s possible to live very successfully in our society believing things which are dramatically opposed to reality, because you’re not checked in with reality, and you don’t have to face it.
Ms. Wolf: Right. You’re describing a profound thing that the pandemic made possible, even in inclusive egalitarian societies like the United States and Canada. The Zoom class really can spend day after day after day in their homes Zooming with other people of the same socioeconomic background and the same belief system.
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. We’ve accepted and embraced a two-tier economic society, in addition to the two-tier vaccinated-unvaccinated society, which is crumbling as medical events unfold. Nurses and firefighters and police officers 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 that they don’t want to have, just to keep their jobs or else they will be 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. It’s the same with firefighters and police, we accept the 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.
We expect that from our military. I’m the wife of a veteran. We absolutely expect that our military men and women will run into harm’s way to protect us. Yet, these public servants have asked me and other people who are activists, “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 somehow, we are all okay with that.
Actually, I don’t even see myself as an activist for medical freedom. I am really just an activist for basic bodily autonomy, which is a basic human right of any real democracy. You get to decide what happens to your body. That’s just a fundamental right from the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Constitution, HIPAA, ADA, Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Code.
Those of us who are privileged to sit at our computers are fine with all this. We are the people who two years ago said we were good people who believed in equality and an inclusive society, and that America was a land of equality. During the pandemic, with the shearing off of the Zoom elites from daily life and from the people we depend on to keep us safe and healthy, the elites have accepted this situation without any hesitation.
What you’re getting at, Jan, is part of the essence of my book which is similar to the stone soup fable. It is that fable where the village had no food and a magical traveler said, “Look, you can make soup with this stone.” Then someone added a little meat and someone added little vegetables, and by the end they had a nourishing soup. Flip that fable around to arrive at 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, and a little bit of complete alienation of the classes from one another.
It is tolerating a violation of the body with just an injection, and then just another injection. Or it’s just losing your job. We don’t have America anymore, that is the point. It happened little, by little, by little. The war wasn’t just on a political entity, the war was on American culture.
They have largely succeeded, unless we wake up. Because just recently we were a kind, decent, inclusive culture that respected other people’s boundaries and freedoms—so was Canada, so was Britain, and so was Australia. Now a CCP-style cruelty is something that we tolerate, not at the level that they have achieved in China, but far beyond what free societies are supposed to tolerate.
Mr. Jekielek: We tolerate, but also, there’s a significant number of people that are actively engaged in the cruelty. In one sense, I can hardly believe that. But in another sense, we also do know from history that this happens. It’s just hard to imagine it would happen here. Maybe that’s the disbelief. Maybe that’s why so many of us can’t see it. I don’t know any other way to put it. If I was having this conversation, even with some folks that I know well, they might say, “You’re crazy Jan, what are you talking about?”
Ms. Wolf: I know what you’re talking about. I do feel this is one more kind of splintering. In a way, America is now divided based on what news you consume. People I love and respect, who are well educated, and 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.
In The Bodies of Others, I do trace how millions of dollars flowed and are flowing from entities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the BBC, The Guardian, NPR, and other formerly very credible and objective news outlets. With 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.
Something very disturbing has happened. We talked about all the things we’ve lost, like decency and inclusiveness. We have also lost critical thinking. Some have spoken about mass formation psychosis. Because people in that bubble say things like, “Don’t show me that primary source documentation.” I’m not the only person who’s had this experience. But thank God that there is the other half of the country. I come from the Left, so this is kind of embarrassing to me.
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 also The Epoch Times. If it hadn’t been for The Epoch Times and Children’s Health Defense (childrenshealthdefense.org), I would not have any primary source documentation that was credible on many, many of these stories.
This is yet one more division in this country. What is so genius about the nature of the weaponization of the pandemic as a propaganda device, is that it did not play on excluding and hating this other person because they’re the wrong color, the wrong race, or the wrong religion. What is so demonically brilliant about the messaging is that it was altruistic.
You’ve got to exclude those people for the good of the community. 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 visit your grandmother, and not hold her hand when she’s dying or when she’s sick, for her own good.
Then people who were questioning or assembling or gathering or worshiping or just Republicans were cast as those ignorant, infectious, selfish people. This really brilliantly upended American culture, because it cast freedom as selfish. Whereas, a kind of CCP-style groupthink, submissiveness to authority, and submissiveness to the community was defined as altruistic and good. This is where we are.
To be an individual or even to engage in critical thinking is misinformation, or you’re infecting the community. There were 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: It created a moral dimension, “You’re a good person if you do X. You’re a bad person if you do Y.”
Ms. Wolf: That is so true. It did something else and we’ll only see the harm in the next generation. It makes safety and security the ultimate goal and the ultimate good of society, and makes liberty a threat to society. Our kids are growing up being taught by this experience, that safety is more important than anything. That is not an American message.
The reason the book is called The Bodies of Others is fundamental to 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, self-determination, the rights of the individual, and the free will of the individual.
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 is not enslaved. This current state narrative is that my body affects someone else’s body, someone else’s body affects my body, and it’s up to the state to police the median between my body and your body.
Instead of—it’s my decision, my risk, your decision, your risk, as in every single pandemic and epidemic up until now in the West. This state narrative 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. It takes the suspension of my right to make my own decisions and recasts that as a benefit. It’s a benefit and it’s really good that we invite the state to participate, and mediate, and police our behavior. That is literally the fabric of communism.
Mr. Jekielek: I am reminded again of the film The Lives of Others, which brilliantly shows the reality of a police state. But it’s very hard to explain to people that have grown up in a free society what a dictatorship or a totalitarian society really looks like.
That was the power of The Lives of Others, it can give you an insight. Then you might ask, “What would it be like in a complete surveillance society?” And that was just with phones and audio, not this kind of panopticon that is possible 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? It seems to be, and you argue to some extent that it is 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. That is the definition of the end of civil law.
Mr. Jekielek: I want to touch on this very briefly. I don’t know how many of us really grasp that.
Ms. Wolf: It should be front page news everywhere that we are now under emergency law.
Mr. Jekielek: Historically, prolonged emergency law really means something. It has profound meaning. It means that we’re not the society we thought we were.
Ms. Wolf: 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 has 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. The same is true of other states like Washington, 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, and certainly in Canada, they can do it. That is what emergency law means. They can do whatever they want, basically. It’s a weaponization of the 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. 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 is wrong. As I said in the book, one of the things that feels so wrong is that we are Americans enduring these reflexes and coordinations and diktats. We are expected to behave more like people in a tyrannical society than like Americans. That’s the unease that we’ve been feeling, among other things, for the last two years. But I am really heartened, because I’ve seen it before with other books I’ve written, or other books that I’ve read. When you understand what’s coming at you and why, you can strategize a lot better.
There are many things we can do, and one of them is just practical. My company DailyClout. watching this darkness descend on the country, hired a lawyer and we drafted five pieces of legislation called the Five Freedoms Bill, Open Schools Now. Now, by the way, schools are open again. In addition, the bill states; no mask mandates, no vaccine passports, end emergency law, and restore freedom of assembly. We passed them by working with state legislators in 33 states. We passed variations of most of those bills.
I’m not saying that we’re the only ones. 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. State legislators are passing bills like those and similar bills, and they’re aware of the threat.
So there’s a great deal of action we can take on a state level to protect ourselves and to ensure our freedoms, despite whatever the federal government does or the meta-national 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. 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 or neighbors over for a potluck, then we can coordinate. Then you can see this incredible grassroots resistance that I am describing in The Bodies of Others. There are groups like Moms for Liberty, for example. There are doctors like the FLCCC (Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance) and other dissident doctors, who are being critical of the weaponization of the medical establishment against people.
This is what I’m seeing at a grassroots level in America. America once again really has to be a beacon for the rest of the world, and help fight for everyone’s freedom, after we secure our own. People are realizing it’s not about Left and Right anymore, it’s about freedom versus tyranny. 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 Macron in France, and it’s Trudeau in Canada.
It was Scott Morrison, a conservative, in Australia. It happens to be the Biden administration in America, but this is really a global script. The World Economic Forum has boasted about placing their people in positions of power. This is transnational and the answer is not partisan. But I am seeing Left and Right coming together at a grassroots level; conservatives, liberals, Green Party, and 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.”
In a peaceful way, people are really learning about legislation, and learning about running for school board. We have 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 intended for us to empower ourselves with the law and with legislation, and to peacefully empower ourselves with our neighbors, when the government becomes tyrannical. So those are things that people must do.
Mr. Jekielek: We talked earlier about how siloed our societies have become, like social media-siloed. There’s conservative social media, there’s progressive social media, and there’s liberal social media. There are some structures that cross these lines, but it seems to be very, very hard to transcend them. For example, Elon Musk just recently tweeted that he only understood that Russiagate was a hoax a month prior to the tweet.
That is astounding given the incredible body of evidence that exists, and his having access to the best private intelligence in the world. But that shows this kind of atomization or basically being siloed, ideologically. How can we cross that barrier that has been created by the very technologies that we have been describing?
Ms. Wolf: That is a really hard question to answer. I confess 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. If you watch CNN and read the New York Times, you’re getting a worldview—I don’t know how to say this, we’ve entered this time and the Smith-Mundt Act is part of this—where it is now legal to propagandize Americans.
I’m not saying those entities are intentionally propagandizing Americans. The bad reporting, the lies, and the bad science resulted from the millions from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation going to COVID education or vaccine confidence. That affected all of our legacy media and influencers on social media, and has caused half the people in this country who identify as the Left to get very bad information.
Just one example I talk about is how with 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. The key dashboards that all these news outlets were citing turned out to have bad, unverifiable data. So we can’t really know how extensive the pandemic was, based on the inability to look at the data sets. You can’t look at them.
That did not stop the New York Times from featuring a map of unverifiable data on their homepage every single day. Having lived in the Left world, and now hanging out in the libertarian and Right world, even though I miss the Left world, I would say that each side is being fed narratives and stereotypes about the other that would persuade each side that the other is absolutely and dangerously insane.
So I get it that conservatives think liberals don’t know what a woman is, but that is not actually literally true. And liberals think conservatives all want to torch our democratic process, storm the Capitol, and are misogynist, racist, thugs who are trigger-happy. 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 were 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 has all been suppressed and our culture has been reconfigured so that we won’t do that anymore.
And when we won’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 stereotype is not right, at least in the case of this nice Republican or this nice liberal who I happen to know. But it’s very, very effective, and I go back to China all the time. 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 by what is called asymmetric warfare. I’m sure you know much more about this than I do, but it’s about splintering communities. Russian methodologies are about subversion, about people confusing people, about splintering communities, and making it impossible for people to know what is true and what is not true. It is about demoralization, and making it impossible for people to organize.
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. The smartest thing they can possibly do is keep us apart from each other, keep us from talking to each other, and keep us from bonding the way we used to bond. That is all the more reason to put down your digital 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 reminded of people who did crazy things. I read a story about a black man who would go make friends with actual white supremacists and actually change them. It’s very interesting. That’s a very daunting thing to imagine.
Ms. Wolf: I’m not asking that much.
Mr. Jekielek: No, but that’s how people imagine it. It would almost be like doing that. I guess we just have to be brave.
Ms. Wolf: I don’t think we have to be that brave. It didn’t used to be that brave. We have been made to fear one another, especially over the last two years. I’ll just give you one example. So I talk to you gladly, and I talk to Tucker Carlson gladly. It 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 it’s very dangerous. The Left especially has decided that you’re morally complicit if you have a conversation across the aisle.
Well, that’s un-American. That censoriousness, that censorship, and that cancel-culture is un-American. That is an import from communism; to cancel, struggle sessions, ejection, and wrongthink. We’ll find that when we hang out with each other again in the way we used to when we had universities and in person schools and play dates and hiking groups, that we have been de-acclimated from hanging out together with other people we don’t know. That has happened, absolutely.
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 Antifa members.
I’ll quote this wonderful candidate for governor, Reinette Senum, who has refused to declare a party and she’s doing really well. She has traveled up and down the state of California and she’s found that 80 per cent of the people agree on 80 per cent of the issues.
And that’s what we used to have. We used to be Americans not that long ago in my lifetime, like five years ago. What happened to us that we are even having this conversation, Jan? Five years ago, people said, “Well, I don’t necessarily agree with Jim about fossil fuels, but he’s a wonderful golfer.” Or whatever it was, we were all Americans. We worship in different places, we worship different gods, but we’re all Americans. That has been intentionally stripped from us.
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. We just have to remember what are Western values and what are American values. 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, and Congress will make no law of bridging freedom of speech.There is no established religion.”
We were all 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, but it’s diversity of opinion and points of view. Going back to the founding fathers and mothers, that is what they cherished, the robust exchange of ideas. That is why we had a Civil War, so that we would not be divided.
We did not say, “Okay, fine. We want to hold slaves, and you don’t want to hold slaves. We’ll just separate.” We fought a war to not be separated. 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. It was a beacon light to all nations and that’s what they have tried to kill off. Let’s just remember what an American is. 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 is an American. It doesn’t take much to remember that. It takes just knowing what has come at us and refusing it, and laying claim once again to our country and our culture and our founding documents.
Mr. Jekielek: 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 I 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.
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