When debt overwhelms a shrinking working population – the ever widening chasm of an economy serving a barely growing “We the People” versus an economy twisted/tortured to serve the needs of an infinitely “growing” financial system serving “the Few”.
The fuel for economic growth, particularly in a nation running gargantuan trade and budget deficits, is population growth. Not any population growth, but working age population growth. It is the growth of this cohort that drives potential employment growth, potential consumer growth, potential homeownership growth. Absent that growth, the means to continue “growing” is to substitute cheaper debt, more debt, more stimulus, etc. and claim those substitutes as real growth.
There is a natural level of “full employment” that has been established since the full inclusion of women in the labor force. This is to say there are only so many persons among the working age population willing, capable, and available to work. Once that cohort of available workers is employed…full employment is achieved and the fuel for further organic growth is spent. Absent further potential growth (because no more fuel exists, we call this a “recession”).
Absent that working age population growth, the only means to create more potential “fuel” are massive job loss events (given names such as “sub-prime crisis” and “Corona-Virus crisis”). Then, in the wake of these mass layoff events, large “job gains” can be claimed via ZIRP, federal debt / stimulus, Federal Reserve QE. But they are not job gains…they are simply re-employing the same cohort.
So, due to the decelerating growth, and now declining working age population versus ever more aggressive means to re-employ those same persons…the crisis are coming faster and hitting more intensely due to the demographic reality we now face. These “full employment” moments where stimulative policy led to an exhaustion of potential employees have taken place in ’89, ’00, ’07, ’19, and now again in 2022.
I’ll detail this impact first among the 25 to 54 year old population and then widen out the the broadest possible working age population of 15 to 74 year olds.
Below, 25 to 54 year old population, employees. Core population growth began decelerating end of the century and ceased as of 2007. Those employed among this age group have essentially stagnated since 2000…but the chart below shows an additional 2 million more employees than are currently employed which is likely to be achieved by early 2022.
Below, adding in federal funds rate (black dashed), marketable federal debt (red), and Federal Reserve balance sheet (QE, yellow line).
Below is the critical chart…with the addition of those 2 million more jobs (this cohort lost about 14 million jobs, has regained 12 million) against a total 25 to 54 year old population which has not grown…we are at full employment. Point is, by early to mid 2022, approximately 80.5%’ish employment/population ratio will be achieved…and that is typically the end of the line where the engine simply runs out of gas. Typically, “full employment” coincides with initiation of interest rate cutting cycles, federal deficit spending, and more recently large Federal Reserve balance sheet growth (yes, just as the Fed is initiating a QE tapering and discussing interest rate hikes and the federal government is reducing stimulus?!?). This combination of full employment versus tightening is almost sure to initiate deceleration and recession.
Below, looking at the largest possible working age population, 15 to 74 year olds and those employed among them. Note the large deviation from trend line in those employed versus population, This is the declining labor force participation of the only portion of this population that is growing…the 65+ aging population. The employed assumes 2 million more employees than are presently employed against little to no population growth.
Again, adding in federal funds rate, debt, and Federal Reserve balance sheet.
I save the most important for last. While the 25 to 54 year old population isn’t growing, the “full employment” ratio is generally flat at about 80.5%. Conversely, the still growing 15 to 74 year old population (thanks entirely to the elderly portion of this population) is seeing a continual decline in what constitutes “full employment”. Thanks to the participation levels among the 65+, full employment (and the end of economic “fuel”) will only continue to decline regardless continued ZIRP (NIRP?), QE, federal debt/stimulus, MMT/UBI, etc.
Demographics simply are and care not what the Federal Reserve or Wall Street or the White House need to bridge the ever widening chasm of an economy serving a barely growing “We the People” versus an economy twisted/tortured to serve the needs of an infinitely “growing” financial system serving “the Few”. This series of supposed financial crisis have been nothing of the sort…they are so obvious and predictable. 2022 is just the next demographic chapter where full employment is achieved. Regardless how it is cloaked via some ongoing or new version of “crisis”, be prepared because this will almost surely be the launch of unimaginable debt, NIRP, QE, UBI, MMT, and acronyms not even in existence yet. Whether it is called the “great reset” or hyper-inflation or whatever…this is the end of one historic period and the beginning of another.
Summarizing of our post from last night (which we urge everyone to read) for those who are just now waking up to the global chaos resulting from the B.1.1.529 variant, which today got the Greek letter designation Omicron, skipping the widely expected letter Nu (and certainly the one following it, Xi), here is what we know, courtesy of Newsquawk, Credit Suisse and Citi.
Regarded as the most heavily mutated variant of the Coronavirus, thus far, as it has 32 mutations in the spike protein and 50 overall. More specifically, scientists have highlighted that there are 10 mutations vs 2 in the Delta variant regarding the receptor binding domain, which is the portion of the virus that makes initial contact with cells.
The Nu variant was identified 5 days ago initially in Botswana with subsequent confirmation and sequencing in South Africa with about 100 confirmed cases. Cases have been detected in Israel and Hong Kong and as of this morning, in Belgium.
Sequencing data suggests 18.104.22.1689 has a different evolutionary pathway, but shares a few common mutations with the C.1.2, Beta and Delta variants.
That said, as we cautioned last night, a significant number of mutations may not necessarily be a ‘negative’ as it is dependent on how these mutations function, which scientists are yet to establish. Then again, since it is the job of science to fearmonger so that Pfizer can buy an even bigger yacht, assume it will be “very very horrifying” until proven innocuous.
Is it more deadly
It is currently too early to determine if the new variant has higher mortality than previous variants. Reported cases only started rising in South Africa on 19 November, so any impact on hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths will not have yet emerged.
Testing and Detectability
Tulio de Oliveria, the Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response & innovation (CERI), South Africa, has written that the variant can be detected by a normal PCR test and as such it will be “easy for the world to track it”. It wasn’t immediately clear if this is one of those “excess false positive PCR tests” but it’s safe to assume for now that it is.
According to Credit Suisse, “one silver lining may come in the ease of identifying this variant via qPCR tests. B.1.1.529 has a deletion within the s-gene which can be identified easily via widely-used PCR tests. More complex sequencing analysis is needed to differentiate the delta variant. This will help track the spread of B.1.1.529, both within Southern Africa and across the globe.”
How widespread is it
As of Thursday there were almost 100 cases detected in South Africa, where it’s become the dominant strain among new infections. Early PCR test results showed that 90% of 1,100 new cases reported Wednesday in the South African province that includes Johannesburg were caused by the new variant, according to de Oliveira.
In neighboring Botswana, officials recorded four cases on Monday in people who were fully vaccinated. In Hong Kong, a traveler from South Africa was found to have the variant, and another case was identified in a person quarantined in a hotel room across the hall. Israel has also identified one case in a man who recently traveled to Malawi. Belgium has also reported two new cases.
According to de Oliveira, this new variant, B.1.1.529 “seems to spread very quick! In less than 2 weeks now dominates all infections following a devastating Delta wave in South Africa (Blue new variant, now at 75% of last genomes and soon to reach 100%)”
Oliveria, explains that the new variant is spreading very quickly, in under two-weeks it is now dominating all infections in South Africa following the Delta waves domination – writing that it the variant is “now at 75% of last genomes and soon to reach 100%”.
Additionally, the virus contains mutations that have been seen in other variants and appear to make transmission easier.
Outside of Africa, two cases have been reported in Hong Kong, one from a traveller from the region and another who was quarantining in the adjacent hotel room. Most recently, a case has been reported in Israel.
In response to this, the UK has placed much of southern Africa on the red list, with Israel India, Japan and Singapore also taking similar measures. Additionally, EU Commission President von der Leyen is to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa.
It is too early to accurately determine the vaccine response to the new variant. However, the significant number of variants increase the likelihood that current vaccines, which were designed with the original COVID-19 strain in mind, may be less effective.
Known variants include those that make it more challenging for antibodies to recognise their presence.
Laboratory testing is already underway according to the South Africa National Institute for Communicable Diseases Initial thoughts from the institute are that partial immune escape is likely, a view that seems possible given the numerous mutations in comparison to the sequence that existing vaccines were designed against. The first view on this to be from in vitro immunogenicity test or perhaps from computer modelling of the sequence. Credit Suisse estimates initial lab data could take less than 1 week to generate given the sequence is already known and work is already ongoing.
New Vaccine Would be Available in 100 days
According to Pfizer, if a vaccine-escape variant emerges, the company expects to develop, produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in 100 days.
Impact of efficacy of existing drugs antibodies is unknown.
There have been significant advances in treatment of COVID since it emerged in the disease waves of 2020: the use of widely-available steroids, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Roche’s Actemra have significantly improved survival outcomes.
More recently, antibody therapies targeting COVID (LLY, REGN/Roche, AZN) have significantly improved outcomes against COVID variants to date. It will need to be seen if their efficacy is equal against the new B1.1.529 variant.
Lastly the recent positive data from oral anti-viral agents (PFE, MRK/Ridgeback) may also have the potential to slow the spread of any new waves of COVID. The effectiveness of these treatments against new variants of concern will need to be tested, but lab results should be expected relatively quickly. In-human studies should also yield results relatively quickly if they are run in areas where the prevalence of 22.214.171.1249 is high.
According to Citi, concern over Nu needs to be balanced against the failure of other concerning variants such as Beta (also first identified in Africa) to out-compete delta.
The next two weeks will be critical to: (i) determine whether Nu outcompetes delta in high delta prevalence countries (2-3 weeks), (ii) engineered pseudoviruses for Nu to determine neutralization by serum of vaccination and previously infected patients (2-4 weeks), and (iii) real world data to determine rates of hospitalisation and death (c. 6-8 weeks). The implementation of travel restrictions and public health measures may push back some of the above timeline estimates. Novel oral anti-virals should retain activity against Nu but resistance may emerge with time.
Some times saying less can say more. Given that, I’m going to offer four variables relating to housing and hopefully let them and their relationships do the talking.
1- US median home price versus total US employees. 1970 through 2021 (YE est.).
—Home prices +28%
—Total Employees -1.9%
2- Year over year changes in median house prices versus YoY changes in total US employees. Worth noting the accelerating divergences between home price appreciation and employees highlighted in the four boxes below.
3- Same chart below, but inclusive of periods of Federal Reserve rate cutting cycles. Hmmm.
4- Time to add in one last variable, year over year changes in Federal Reserve holdings of MBS (mortgage backed securities). Hmmmm.
As the Federal Reserve embarks on its tapering (decelerating purchases) of MBS, as the growth in employment has begun its natural deceleration as “full employment” of the working age population nears (detailed below), and as inflationary pressures suggest the Fed should consider rate hikes…remember these charts and the impact on home prices. Why US will reach full employment in 2022 and cease further employment growth…detailed below. 1- 15 to 64 year old US population versus those employed among that age group.
1.1- While many housing pundits discuss a housing shortage, I offer the same view of the working age versus total US housing units.
1.2- To ensure the “housing shortage” is shown in full, I show the full US population to total housing ratio…and rather than a shortage, the US is at an all time high of housing units per capita (back to the previous peak seen in 2008).
2- Year over year change in 15 to 64 year old population versus year over year changes in employment among them. Population growth is the natural governor to potential employment growth…regardless interest rate cuts, debt, QE.
3- Pulling together the variables, working age population / those employed among them versus the Federal Funds rate % (black), marketable US federal debt (red), and Federal Reserve balance sheet (yellow). As population growth has decelerated, federal government and Federal Reserve have substituted cheaper debt, more debt, and QE to maintain artificially high consumption / “growth”.
4- Lastly, the population to employment ratio is rapidly heading for “full employment” typically hit around 72% (that is, since women became fully integrated into the labor force). At that 72%’ish point, typically employment growth ends, economic growth ends, and the next round of interest rate cuts / federal debt / Fed balance sheet growth ensues.
So, just as the Federal Reserve is attempting to tame a housing bubble via undertaking tapering and discusses dot plot rate hikes in 2022, and inflation runs amok…the demographic / employment cycle is already nearly tapped out…typically the sign of impending Federal Reserve rate cuts / balance sheet expansion, and federal government debt fueled stimulus. Those concerned about impending hyper-monetization perhaps leading to hyper-inflation quickly followed by a hyper-deflationary depopulationary depression may not be as crazy as they seem?
One wouldn’t know it by scanning the front pages of say WaPo, NYT or Bloomberg where it wasn’t even mentioned, but late on Friday a bad week, month and year for the scrambling Biden administration – which in addition to the recent disaster in Virginia where a public referendum on “wokeness” saw the public overwhelmingly vote down the Democrats’ attempt to subvert social norms, is also facing the worst inflationary inferno since Nixon ended the gold standard – after a U.S. appeals court upheld its decision to put on hold Joe Biden’s unconstitutional order for companies with 100 workers or more to demand COVID-19 vaccines, rejecting a challenge by his administration.
A three-member panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed its ruling despite the Biden administration’s position that halting implementation of the vaccine mandate could lead to dozens or even hundreds of deaths. No Nov 6, the Fifth Circuit granted a temporary stay on enforcement of the federal mandate, one day after the rule was announced. In its reaffirmation Friday, the court said the mandate “exposes [petitioners] to severe financial risk” and “threatens to decimate their workforces (and business prospects).”
“The mandate is staggeringly overbroad,” the opinion said adding that the vaccine mandate “raises serious constitutional concerns” and “likely exceeds the federal government’s authority.”
“The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers),” Circuit Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt wrote for the panel.
In its ruling, the Fifth Circuit judges agreed with opponents of vaccine mandates, which have become a deeply controversial topic in the United States (as if the country needed any more of those) – supporters say they are a must to put an end to the nearly two-year coronavirus pandemic, while opponents argue they violate the Constitution and curb individual liberty.
“The public interest is also served by maintaining our constitutional structure and maintaining the liberty of individuals to make intensely personal decisions according to their own convictions – even, or perhaps particularly, when those decisions frustrate government officials,” Engelhardt wrote.
At Biden’s orders, the OSHA issued a rule earlier this month requiring U.S. employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergoing weekly tests for the virus by Jan 4. Businesses that don’t comply face thousands of dollars in fines.
The rule prompted a slate of legal challenges from at least 27 states as well as business and religious groups who argue the mandate is unconstitutional. Biden and other federal officials argue the mandate is necessary to end the COVID-19 pandemic and fully reopen the economy.
White House officials had no immediate comment on the ruling, which was hailed as a victory by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Texas joined other U.S. states, as well as private employers and religious organizations, in legal challenges to the order.
🚨Citing Texas’s “compelling argument[s],” 5th Circuit has stayed OSHA’s unconstitutional & illegal private-business vaccine mandate. WE WON! Litigation will continue, but this is a massive victory for Texas & FREEDOM from Biden’s tyranny & lawlessness.https://t.co/w7MKyXs73L— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) November 13, 2021
Biden imposed the requirement in September, telling Americans that “our patience is wearing thin” with those refusing to get inoculated.
But before libertarians rejoice, keep in mind that the admin will now escalate its appeal to the Supreme Court where surprises from so-called “conservative” Supremes are certainly not excluded.
Rittenhouse Witness Blows Case For Prosecution, Admits He Pointed Gun, Advanced First
A ‘star’ witness for the prosecution in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial just blew the entire case for the prosecution, after he admitted to pointing his own gun at Rittenhouse before the teen shot his bicep off.
“It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him, with your gun – now your hand’s down, pointed at him – that he fired, right?” the defense asked witness Gaige Grosskreutz. To which he replied:
And here’s the prosecutors right after Grosskreutz makes the admission:
Rittenhouse is charged with two counts of homicide and one count of attempted homicide, after the aspiring police officer shot two men and wounded a third on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, as BLM riots raged in the streets of Kenosha in response to a white-on-black police shooting.
As we noted last week, before the shooting began, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, had arrived in Kenosha in order to help keep order and protect businesses from looting and arson.
“People are getting injured, and our job is to protect this business, and part of my job is also to help people. If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle, because I need to protect myself obviously. But I also have my med kit,” Rittenhouse said in footage recorded before the incident.
During the course of the evening, protesters became increasingly violent against Rittenhouse and the group he was with – eventually chasing the teen down the street when protester Joseph Rosenbaum was shot dead in the parking lot of a used car dealership. Shortly thereafter, Rittenhouse could be seen defending himself on the ground from multiple attackers – when he fatally wounded another, and shot the bicep of protester Gaige Grosskreutz who had drawn a pistol and was in the process of aiming it at the teen.
Also last week, Human Events’ Jack Posobiec revealed that the FBI sat on potentially exonerating evidence in the Rittenhouse case, where threats against Kyle can clearly be heard before he opened fire, as well as what appear to be muzzle flashes from people shooting at the teen. We recommend playing full screen.
And now, according to Posobiec, the judge in the case is debating whether to allow Grosskreutz’ alleged comment that his only regret was not killing Rittenhouse.
One of today’s train wrecks is Zillow (symbol Z) which I only found out recently decided that no one knew more about real estate data than they did, so they would become the world’s biggest house-flippers. Well, that’s not working out so great. It would be like taking Slope and turning it into a hedge fund, based on its access to data.
I always like to look at where stocks like this peaked, to see if there was any clue. The top price was only nine months ago, back on February 16th, when it peaked at $208.11. Well, it has lost about TWO THIRDS of its market cap in that span of time, and this shooting star was the ringing bell marking the top:
As you can see, not only is the damage vast, but there is PLENTY more downside to go:
In Part 1 the question was discussed what was Aldous’ real intention in writing the Brave New World; was it meant as an exhortation, an inevitable prophecy or as an Open Conspiracy? An Open Conspiracy closely linked to not only H.G. Wells, who clearly laid out such a vision in his book by the same title, published in 1928, but a vision also in the vein of Aldous’ famous grandfather Thomas Huxley “Darwin’s bulldog” and mentor to Wells.
It is from here that we will continue to discuss what exactly were Aldous’ views on such matters, did he in fact believe in the need for a scientific dictatorship? A scientific caste system? Was he actually warning the people that such a dystopia would occur if we did not correct our course or was it all part of a mass psychological conditioning for what was regarded as inevitable, and that Aldous’ role was rather to “soften the transition” as much as possible towards a “dictatorship without tears”?
The War on Science
“ ‘A New Theory of Biology’ was the title of the paper which Mustapha Mond had just finished reading. He sat for some time, meditatively frowning, then picked up his pen and wrote across the title-page: ‘The author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published.’ … A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purpose – well, you didn’t know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes – make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being [as happiness and comfort], but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible.”
– Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”
This is the credo for all scientific dictatorships, to forbid any search for knowledge whose purpose is the discovery of a universal truth, something that “is beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere.” Something that is and will remain always true, and not just true so long as people are led to believe it is so.
Thus, a scientific dictatorship must deny purpose by all means and promote an artificial “cushy” conception of happiness and comfort, since the former makes for very bad servants/slaves and the latter for very good ones.
Purpose leads to unpredictability in the status quo, there are no sureties for an oligarchic system of governance in a world that is motivated by a purpose towards truth, beauty, and knowledge, as Mustapha Mond succinctly lays out.
It is also the case that whenever one discovers a universal truth, it unifies rather than divides, truth is thus the very enemy of tyranny, for it offers clarity. And one can no longer be ruled over when they can see a superior alternative to their oppression.
Therefore, under the rule of tyranny, truth must when possible be snuffed out, otherwise it is contorted until it is no longer recognizable, it is broken into fragments of itself in order to create factions, schools of opposing thought that are meant to confuse and lead its followers further astray.
To deny purpose is thus the necessary condition to rule within a scientific dictatorship. Whether its controllers believe in purpose or not is irrelevant, since it is simply not admissible.
The question thus is, where does Aldous fit into all of this? For starters let us take a look at Aldous’ family roots to see if indeed the apple did not fall too far from the tree…
Aldous’ grandfather T.H. Huxley (1825-1895) had made a name for himself by the age of twenty-five and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1950. Within a span of just a few years he would rise to become a leading member of Britain’s scientific establishment.
By the late 1700s, discoveries in geology began to contradict the accepted religious view of Creation. It was increasingly found that steady changes were the primary cause of most geological formations which developed over very long spans of time and that these changes had even led to the extinction of certain organisms/creatures. This was the first time that the biblical view of Creation was ever challenged as a mainstream argument within the sciences.
By the first part of the 1800s the scientific community was primarily in agreement that living processes and their environments did indeed “evolve.”
In the 1820s Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) and Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (1772-1844), once friends, had come into severe disagreement over the origins of anatomical forms which lead to a historic debate in 1830, raising issues that have yet to be resolved to this day.
In 1838, upon reading Thomas Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” (who is known for calling for the courting of the plague to address the crisis of overpopulation), Darwin formulated his theory for “evolution” based on the “natural selection” of the fittest, he coined the term as an analogy of what he termed the “artificial selection” of selective breeding, with reference in particular to the practice of horse breeding. Darwin saw a similarity between farmers picking the best stock in selective breeding, and a Malthusian “Nature” selecting from chance variants.
That is, Darwin’s ideas of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” implied no directionality to evolution but rather was based upon Nature’s selection of random variants. But how does one part of an organism evolve without affecting the other parts of said organism?
According to Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, there is an inherent “potential” in evolution; the potential for change is inherent within the organism, and the shaping of its many parts occurs in a harmonic, coherent way. That is, change moves in a purposeful manner, not a random manner.
The evolution of wings for flight, the eyes for sight, the nervous system for thought; Geoffroy was stating that these were not the result of countless minute mutations occurring and being selected upon separate from the other, but that the transformations were occurring with the very intention to create forms of flight, sight and thought.
By Darwin rejecting this thesis, he created a paradox within his own theory. Either the potential for change is inherent in the organism in which many parts are able to change in a harmonic/coherent way, or it is not. However, if it is the latter, as Darwin claims it to be, random change of any part by itself without acknowledgement of the whole would more often than not lead to the death of the organism, as seen in studies of embryo formation, or would create a Dr. Moreau’s Island of freaks (which by the bye is another novel by our anti-hero H.G. Wells).
The elegant creations we actually do see arise through evolutionary processes would be an extreme rarity in such a world of randomness.
With everything we know today of the incredibly intricate details of biochemistry, the coordination of metabolic processes which occur in their thousands of “parts” would all need to evolve as randomly separate processes and yet, would also need to occur simultaneously and in conjunction with the other functioning parts. This would make Darwin’s concept for the selection of random variants within a coordinated functioning whole fundamentally impossible.
Not only is the evolution of the eye one of the miracles of evolution, it has countless variations upon itself, such that there is no one standard model for what is an “eye.” Are we thus to believe that this has randomly occurred not only once but thousands of times in each species with its own distinct variation of what is an “eye”?
In the early 1850s, Huxley had been introduced to Darwin and by the middle of the 1850s they were in close collaboration. Though Huxley never fully took to Darwin’s theory, he did become an avid defender and promoter of it nonetheless.
At the time there was strong opposition to Darwin and Huxley within Europe and the United States. James Dwight Dana (1813-1895), a contemporary of T.H. Huxley, was among the American leadership that opposed this view, and argued that evolution did progress with a directionality, using examples such as the observation that biological organisms were proceeding towards greater “cephalization.” That is, that evolution was forming a general trend towards increasingly sophisticated nervous systems that could respond and interact with their environment. Thus, evolution was towards greater forms of complexity with more sophisticated forms of function.
However, Thomas Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog” was vehemently against this view of purposeful directionality in Nature. It did not matter that Darwin’s theory was just that, a theory, which still failed to explain much that was being observed in the evolutionary process.
Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss this in further detail (for more refer here), one cannot deny two major changes that occurred in “modern science” as a result of T.H. Huxley’s avid promotion of Darwin’s theory of evolution, that 1) Nature, and thus one could say the Universe, was not governed by purpose but rather by randomness, and that 2) man was but a beast, no longer to be among the children of God, no longer regarded as partaking in anything that was divine or sacred.
And if man is but a beast what does he care for higher truths? What more does a beast need than the simple forms of comfort and happiness?
Modern Science begets Modern Religion begets a Modern Utopia?
Before we go on to speak about Aldous’ brother Julian Huxley, I will say just a few words on his father Leonard.
Leonard Huxley published in 1926 his “Progress and the Unfit,” which was subsequently used to promote the Eugenics movement, to which H.G. Wells and Leonard’s son Julian were outspoken avid supporters of. Leonard also wrote favourably of his father T.H. Huxley’s views and that of Charles Darwin.
In his book, Leonard discusses how modern-day science is only to look at the interdependence of body and mind, that the existence of the soul has been discredited by modern science, and thus that conditions for improvement on the human condition must solely rely upon the social and biological.
He goes on to state that modern society has too long tolerated the proliferation of the feeble minded and so creates an ever-lasting burden for itself. He claims that mental defectiveness (which ranged from criminal behaviour, insanity, physical deformities and forms of mental retardation to addictions such as alcoholism and gambling, homelessness, owing massive debt etc. etc.) were all to be considered heritable qualities.
Thus, those in possession of such unwanted qualities should be segregated from society or sterilised. He acknowledges that such measures may appear immoral, but that it is only immoral when coercion is used against persons of “normal intelligence,” for those who are deemed abnormal, unable to use reason, such standards of morality do not apply. This also appertained to what were considered to be the “lower” races, to which, T.H. Huxley was outspoken in his view that the “white race” was indeed the most superior race of all and that the “black race” was amongst the most inferior.
With “modern science,” what stood in the way of the “mechanics of enforced good breeding” if humankind were to be regarded as no different from other beasts? And if we were judged to have no soul, the application of so-called “morality” was up for interpretation if not deemed entirely irrelevant.
Julian Huxley (1887-1975), the older brother of Aldous, after serving in WWI became a Fellow at New College Oxford, serving as Senior Demonstrator in the University Department of Zoology. In 1925 he moved to King’s College London to work as Professor of Zoology. However, after only two years he resigned his chair to work full-time for H.G. Wells and his son G.P. Wells on “The Science of Life.”
For those who are not too familiar with the views of H.G. Wells, I think it apt to share a quote, from part of his “new Bible” trilogy, “Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought” published in 1901:
“It has become apparent that whole masses of human population are, as a whole, inferior in their claim upon the future, to other masses, that they cannot be given opportunities or trusted with power as the superior peoples are trusted, that their characteristic weaknesses are contagious and detrimental to the civilizing fabric, and that their range of incapacity tempts and demoralizes the strong. To give them equality is to sink to their level, to protect and cherish them is to be swamped in their fecundity.”
I assure you, there is plenty more where that came from.
“The Science of Life,” which was also a part of Wells’ “new Bible” trilogy, was to give a popular account of all major aspects of biology as known in the 1920s. It is credited in introducing modern ecological concepts and emphasised the importance of behaviourism and Jungian psychology.
“To have a world encumbered for a time with an excess of sterile jazz dancers and joy riders may be a pleasanter way to elimination than hardship and death. Pleasure may achieve what force and sword have failed to do. The world can afford it; it is not a thing to fret about. It is only a passing fashion on a grand scale this phase of sterilized “enjoyment.” The great thing is that it should be able and willing to sterilize itself…The types that have a care for their posterity and the outlook of the race will naturally be the types which will possess the future.”
This, believe it or not, is H.G. Wells at his best behaviour, amply toned down so to speak. To Wells this is a rather humane proposition, since those who are considered of defective biological stock are simply to be sterilised but are otherwise free to mingle within society, free to live out a comfortable life of pleasures in all their degeneracies with no threat that such contaminants will continue on in the future breeds of humankind.
Thus, the age of pleasure will be more effective than the age of the sword (such as WWI), at diminishing the lower castes into a more “manageable” number. Within a generation, the human stock will be purified and a “Modern Utopia,” another book of H.G. Wells, can finally begin. Earth will become a paradise full of plenty, largely made up of a higher caste of reasonable, intelligent, healthy and attractive individuals and we will finally obtain world peace and harmony, until perhaps the next purge….
Besides Julian Huxley acting as Vice-President from 1937-1944 and President from 1959-1962 of the British Eugenics Society, he was also the first director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1946, to which he wrote its mandate “UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy” that same year.
In it Julian lays out the need for a world government as the only means for avoiding war, and that the full sovereignty of separate nation states should be transferred over to this world government accordingly, under one political unity to which he expands upon, writing:
“At the moment, it is probable that the indirect effect of civilization is dysgenic instead of eugenic, and in any case it seems likely that the dead weight of genetic stupidity, physical weakness, mental instability and disease proneness, which already exist in the human species will prove too great a burden for real progress to be achieved. Thus even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that is now unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” (For more on this refer here.)
In 1928, H.G. Wells publishes his “The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution,” where he calls for the reform of religion into a “modern religion,” which was only fitting now that science had become a “modern science.” In his concept of modern religion, he states that it will be necessary to strip religion down to its raw elements of service and subordination. Wells also wrote “The New World Order” in 1940, and no doubt, was a guiding influence on Julian’s outlook when he wrote the manifesto for UNESCO.
The reader should also know that T.H. Huxley was the mentor of H.G. Wells and introduced him to the writings of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin.
[Refer to Part 1 of this series for an in-depth discussion on how H.G. Wells influenced the works of Aldous Huxley.]
The 20th Century Descent of Man
At the very start of the 20th century, the influential International Congress of Mathematicians organised a conference in Paris, France 1900. It was at this conference that David Hilbert, a leading mathematician at Göttingen University was invited to speak on the future of mathematics, where he stressed the need for the field of mathematics to “prove that all axioms of arithmetic are consistent” and to “axiomatize those physical sciences in which mathematics plays an important role.”
What Hilbert was calling for in his challenge for the future of mathematics was that all scientific knowledge be reduceable to the form of mathematical “logic” so to speak; that it be contained within a minimum of accepted truths and rules of derivation, which could be proven by consistent and complete formal mathematical proofs.
Thus, all scientific knowledge would in the future be deduced from such mathematical models, there was nothing left to “discover” in the typical sense of what defined scientific investigations during the 19th century and earlier, they only need refer to the appropriate mathematical model.
In 1900, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead set out to meet Hilbert’s challenge which resulted in the “Principia Mathematica,” published thirteen years later.
Although Kurt Gödel would disprove the entire premise for the “Principia Mathematica” with his “incompleteness theorems” which show the limits of provability in formal axiomatic theories, the “Principia Mathematica” is one of the most influential works of the 20th century, on not only shaping modern logic but also formed the basis for the latter development of cybernetics and systems analysis by Russell’s student Norbert Wiener during WWII.
Before you conclude that Russell himself didn’t personally believe that irrationality was a fundamental force in the Universe simply because he tried formalizing said Universe, it is worth reading a section of his bitterly misanthropic view of humanity presented in his 1903 “A Free Man’s Worship”:
“That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand… Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”
Whether deterministic or random in view, the goal was the same, to promote a concept of the Universe that had no governing purpose, no directionality and no morality, that it was essentially a mechanism, discoverable by a few simple laws. This was not something new, the Enlightenment had already done much to emphasize individualism, skepticism and “science” reduced to the confines of empiricism and agnosticism.
With such a view our connection to the Universe becomes inconsequential, with the Universe seen as something cold, unknowable and ultimately dead or dying. Such a concept only further enforces that there is no real meaning to anything, there is no purpose, at least, it is not a purpose that we have any place in.
During the First World War, Aldous Huxley spent much time at the Garsington Manor, home of Lady Ottoline Morrell, a lover of Bertrand Russell, who believed (as Aldous and Julian would also), in the concept of open marriage. Although T.H. Huxley knew Russell’s parents, Lord and Lady Amberley, it was at the Garsington Manor that Aldous first met Bertrand Russell and the Bloomsbury Group.
It is also where he met his first wife Maria Nys, a wartime Belgian refugee who had been invited to stay with Lady Ottoline Morrell. Maria, who was bisexual, had entered into a several year love affair with Lady Ottoline starting at the age of sixteen. Maria did finally accept Aldous’ proposal and they were married in 1919 keeping an open marriage.
The Bloomsbury Group or Set, which met regularly at Lady Ottoline’s was an association of English writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists which reflected in large part the influence of G.E Moore (who wrote the “Principia Ethica” in 1903) and Bertrand Russell who were amongst the founders of analytic philosophy. Alfred North Whitehead was also a member of the group.
As Dorothy Parker, American poet and writer, described them in a famous quote of hers, “they lived in squares, painted in circles and loved in triangles”.
Aldous Huxley would maintain a loose association with the Bloomsbury Group. It appears Aldous had a similar approach to Russell as he did with Wells, although he seems to have a serious dislike for both men, he nonetheless was greatly influenced by their works. In 1932, Russell exclaims in a letter to his publisher that the “Brave New World” was “merely an expansion of the two penultimate chapters of his ‘The Scientific Outlook,’ “ adding that “the parallelism applies in great detail, e.g., the prohibition of Shakespeare and the intoxicant producing no headache.” Russell went so far as to contemplate charging Aldous with plagiarism, to which his publisher dissuaded him from pursuing.
In Russell’s “The Scientific Outlook” published in 1930 he describes a caste system with the need for two separate modes of education, one for the elite ruling class and the other for the slave class. The ruling class is to be concerned with improving the scientific technique, while “the manual workers [are to be] contented by means of continual new amusements.”
Aldous echoes this sentiment in his “Brave New World Revisited,” where he writes:
“The older dictators fell because they could never supply their subjects with enough bread, enough circuses, enough miracles and mysteries.”
Although it is said that Aldous wrote the “Brave New World” as a satire of the works of H.G. Wells, and what appears to be the works of Russell as well, as already shown in Part 1 this is not true. Aldous is incorporating the ideas of Wells and Russell into his works, and though he may find these men dislikeable, he nonetheless never actually contradicts their views in any of his writings or lectures. The entire premise for his “Brave New World Revisited,” published in 1958, instead reinforces those very views.
Aldous makes it crystal clear that he considers the world to be overpopulated, that this is a crisis that must be checked, and that science and progress cannot be free to advance without limits. He restresses these very themes again in his last novel “The Island” as well.
In “Brave New World Revisited” he writes:
“The annual increase of numbers should be reduced. But how? We are given two choices – famine or pestilence and war on the one hand, birth control on the other…how can those who ought to take the pill, but don’t want to, be persuaded to change their minds?…In reducing the birth rate of those industrially backward societies where such a reduction is most urgently needed?…Or consider the backward societies that are now trying to industrialise. If they succeed, who is to prevent them, in their desperate efforts to catch up and keep up, from squandering the planet’s irreplaceable resources as stupidly and wantonly as was done, and is still being done, by their forerunners in the race?”
Here we need only replace the word “pill” with “sterilisation” and not much has changed.
In fact, as published in The Guardian, “Huxley was in favour of genetic breeding programmes to arrest the multiplication of the unfit. In a particularly unsavoury article, published in 1930 in the Evening Standard, he confessed anxiety about the proliferation of mental defectives and called for their compulsory sterilisation.”
Brave New World was written one year later in 1931.
It looks like the apple did not fall too far from the tree after all…
No wonder that the Tavistock Institute and the CIA became involved in looking at the effects of LSD and how to influence and control the mind.
“ ‘Science?’….’Yes,’ Mustapha Mond was saying, ‘that’s another item in the cost of stability. It isn’t only art that’s incompatible with happiness; it’s also science. Science is dangerous; we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled…I’m interested in truth, I like science. But truth’s a menace, science is a public danger. As dangerous as it’s been beneficent. It has given us the stablest equilibrium in history…But we can’t allow science to undo its own good work. That’s why we so carefully limit the scope of its researchers…We don’t allow it to deal with any but the most immediate problems of the moment. All other enquiries are most sedulously discouraged…Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness…[but] People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled – after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr. Watson – paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.’ “
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
Where does one start in discussing the famed fiction novel of Huxley? Although most agree that there is a definite brilliance to the piece, most are also confused as to what was Huxley’s intention in writing the extremely influential dystopic vision. Was it meant to be taken as an exhortation? An inevitable prophecy? Or rather…was it meant as an Open Conspiracy?
What do I mean by an Open Conspiracy?
If we are going to talk about such things our story starts with H.G. Wells, whom Aldous acknowledged he was most certainly influenced by, particularly by Wells’ novels “A Modern Utopia,” “The Sleeper Awakes,” and “Men Like Gods,” when writing his “Brave New World.”
Although Aldous is quoted as referring to Wells as a “horrid, vulgar little man,” (Wells was indeed not a very likeable individual) it was not for reasons one might first assume. Aldous did share a Wellsian perspective in that society should be organised based on a caste system. Perhaps this was one of the reasons Aldous was so fascinated with learning about India’s Hindu religious beliefs and practices, which had coexisted for centuries with a deeply ingrained caste system to which India is still struggling to remove itself from to this day. This is not to say that one caused the other, or that Hinduism has not offered a plethora of great works and insights, but that it had become corrupted and thoroughly intertwined with upholding India’s caste system at some point one cannot deny; that it was used to justify a system of hierarchy from slave to the god-like state of a Brahmin and that British imperialists had always been greatly fascinated by this form of social organization one cannot deny.
Aldous was always interested in the subject of religion, but more so for its uses in behaviourism and mental conditioning achieved through such techniques as entering states of trance where an individual’s suggestibility could be manipulated. Hypnopædia was not just some quirky sci-fi concoction. It is also why Aldous was so interested in the work of Dr. William Sargant, whom Aldous repeatedly refers to in his writings and lectures and who was involved with the Tavistock Institute and MKUltra. More on this in Part two.
These spiritual/religious studies are what shaped the core thesis of Aldous’ book “Doors of Perception” which is considered the instruction manual for what started the counterculture movement. The title is influenced by the poet William Blake who wrote in 1790 in his book “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,”:
“if the doors of perception were cleansed then everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern“
Another major influence for “Doors of Perception” was again H.G. Wells, from his book “The Door in the Wall,” which examines the contrast between aesthetics and science and the difficulty in choosing between them. The protagonist Lionel Wallace is unable to bridge the gap between his imagination and his rational, scientific side which leads to his death.
Aldous writes in his “Doors of Perception,”:
“That humanity at large will ever be able to dispense with Artificial Paradises seems very unlikely…Art and religion, carnivals and saturnalia [ancient Roman pagan festival], dancing and listening to oratory – all these have served, in H.G. Wells’s phrase, as Doors in the Wall…Under a more realistic, a less exclusively verbal system of education than ours, every Angel (in Blake’s sense of that word) would be permitted as a sabbatical treat, would be urged and even, if necessary, compelled to take an occasional trip through some chemical Door in the Wall into the world of transcendental experience. If it terrified him, it would be unfortunate but probably salutary. If it brought him a brief but timeless illumination, so much the better. In either case the Angel might lose a little of the confident insolence sprouting from systematic reasoning and the consciousness of having read all the books…But the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out…”
Aldous was always chasing the perfect drug that would be minimal in its physically destructive effects but would allow an individual to tap into an almost consumer state of a religious/spiritual out-of-body experience, a transcendence that promised a connection with the Infinite, inner peace and enlightenment.
Enlightenment and inner peace in a pill, ready for whenever one needed a short holiday from the “illusion” of reality.
The name Soma, which Aldous used to name his fantasy ideal drug in “Brave New World,” was based off a plant whose juices were used to create the spiritual drink which was described in both the ancient religious practices of the Vedic tradition and Zoroastrianism, which called the plant and spiritual drink by the same name, Soma. Today, it is a mystery as to what plant they were referring to in these texts. Huxley no doubt chased after this dragon the entire latter half of his life, and indeed, psilocybin mushrooms are theorised as one of the potential candidates for what could have been named Soma centuries ago.
It is perhaps here that people are the most confused about the character of Huxley. After all, he was obviously walking the walk so to speak, thus didn’t he truly believe that psychedelics were the path to freedom through enlightenment?
Well, the argument has been made that Huxley’s approach to LSD [and other psychedelics] was essentially oligarchic, that it was to be regarded as a dangerous substance to be sampled only by such fine and visionary minds as his own. That is, those who had the mental strength, the mental stamina to reach enlightenment; those who were too weak to sustain such mental rigours would become the very opposite, and risked falling into the dark pit of complete madness, although this in of itself was perceived by many to be a form of clairvoyance. After all, what is it to be mad in a world that is sickeningly and inhumanely “normal”? This is most certainly how Ken Kesey thought when writing his “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” that madness itself was a form of liberation from the shackles of capitalist societal constraints.
Perhaps madness was the goal, it was after all, much more attainable that the promised enlightenment…
As William Sargant noted in his book “Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing” J.F.C. Hecker was studying the dancing mania phenomenon that occurred during the Black Death, which was a social phenomenon that arose in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people who would begin to dance erratically during the Plague, sometimes thousands at a time until they would fall from exhaustion or from injuries. It was thought to have arisen in Aachen, Germany in 1374 and quickly spread throughout Europe with one of the last observations of it occurring in 1518 in Alsace, France.
Hecker observed in his research on the dancing mania that heightened suggestibility had the capability to cause a person to “embrace with equal force, reason and folly, good and evil, diminish the praise of virtue as well as the criminality of vice.”
Such a state of mind was likened to the first efforts of the infant mind, Sargant writes “this instinct of imitation when it exists in its highest degree, is also united a loss of all power over the will, which occurs as soon as the impression on the senses has become firmly established, producing a condition like that of small animals when they are fascinated by the look of a serpent.”
I wonder if Sargant imagined himself the serpent…
It is no wonder that the Tavistock Institute and the CIA became involved in looking at the effects of LSD and how to influence and control the mind. And perhaps it is no coincidence that Aldous Huxley was in close correspondence with William Sargant to which Sargant even refers to Aldous’ “insights” multiple times in his book “Battle for the Mind.”
Aldous is also quoted in a lecture he delivered to the Tavistock Group, California Medical School in 1961:
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”
Aldous goes on to state a year later in a lecture titled “The Ultimate Revolution” at UC Berkeley Language Center 1962:
“Today we are faced, I think, with the approach of what may be called the ultimate revolution, the final revolution, where man can act directly on the mind-body of his fellows…we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which willenable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. This is the, it seems to me, the ultimate in malevolent revolutions shall we say, and this is a problem which has interested me many years and about which I wrote thirty years ago, a fable, Brave New World, which is an account of society making use of all the devices available and some of the devices which I imagined to be possible making use of them in order to, first of all, to standardize the population, to iron out inconvenient human differences, to create, to say, mass produced models of human beings arranged in some sort of scientific caste system.”
Yes, yes we get it. This is all to be taken as “warnings” to the public, a terrible necessity that will come about if over-population is not addressed (as he makes clear in his Brave New World Revisited). With over-population comes over-organization which in turn leads to the scientific advances in technology which we are told by Aldous can only lead to totalitarianism. Thus, population growth and advances in the sciences are the greatest threat to humankind. Wait, that sounds oddly very much like the reasonings of Mustapha Mond, have we come around full circle, what exactly does Aldous agree and disagree with here? Are we to have a scientific dictatorship in order to avoid a totalitarian system in the form of a scientific dictatorship?
In H.G. Wells’ “Open Conspiracy: Blueprints for a World Revolution,” he describes his vision for a Modern Religion:
‘…if religion is to develop unifying and directive power in the present confusion of human affairs it must adapt itself to this forward-looking, individuality-analyzing turn of mind; it must divest itself of its sacred histories…The desire for service, for subordination, for permanent effect, for an escape from the distressful pettiness and mortality of the individual life, is the undying element in every religious system.
The time has come to strip religion right down to that [service and subordination is all Wells wants to keep of the old relic of religion]…The explanation of why things are is an unnecessary effort…The essential fact…is the desire for religion and not how it came about…The first sentence in the modern creed must be, not “I believe,” but “I give myself.” ‘
Hmm, is this the same Revolution as Aldous is speaking about? After all, there is a lot of similarity between H.G. Wells’ description of his “Modern Religion” and what Aldous is preaching in his “Doors of Perception,” to which Wells is undoubtedly a large influence. The desire to escape from the distressful pettiness and mortality of the individual life, that the explanation for why one does something is not important, only to be motivated by the desire for release, for a complete catharsis that only the fervour of a “religious,” a “spiritual” experience can bring about.
It is the desire for, not the care for why. To believe is not even acceptable, because to believe pertains to thought, it is merely a matter of surrender, that you give yourself. It is not to act with reason but to be possessed by its very opposite; to be in a state of existence where there are no words, and thus there are no thoughts, just direct sensory feeling.
The ultimate achievement is to completely surrender oneself to the external world, perhaps to a dictatorship without tears…
The reader should be aware that Wells wrote a book titled “The New World Order” in 1940, and is the first that I am aware of to pioneer this now-infamous term. The reader should also be aware that Julian Huxley (Aldous Huxley’s brother) was a co-author of “The Science of Life,” a part of Wells’ trilogy “The Outline of History” (1919), “The Science of Life” (1929), and “The Work, Wealth, and Happiness of Mankind” (1932) to which Wells made no qualms should be regarded as the new Bible. Julian was also a prominent member of the British Eugenics Society, serving as its Vice-President from 1937-1944 and its President from 1959-1962. Interesting life choices from the authors of the “new Bible.”
In addition, Aldous’ grandfather Thomas Huxley (“Charles Darwin’s bulldog”) was the biology teacher of H.G. Wells and was one of the largest influences in Wells’ life, promoting the works of Charles Darwin and Thomas Malthus, for more on this refer to my paper. Although Thomas Huxley lived before the time of the “science” of Eugenics, he was a stout Malthusian and thus one can rather safely say would have been a eugenicist if offered the chance.
Thus, we should regard Aldous’ mention of the stylish ‘Malthusian belt’ in his “Brave New World,” under a more somber light perhaps…
And now we are ready to walk through the doors of perception on Aldous himself, the true Huxley behind the projected illusion. We may not find Infinity at the end of this excursion, but we will most certainly be better equipped to tell the difference between Huxley’s self and non-self, between what is real and what is false.
Subramanian, S. V. and Kumar, Akhil. Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States, European Journal of Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10654-021-00808-7
From the findings:
“At the country-level, there appears to be no discernable relationship between percentage of population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days (Fig. 1). In fact, the trend line suggests a marginally positive association such that countries with higher percentage of population fully vaccinated have higher COVID-19 cases per 1 million people. Notably, Israel with over 60% of their population fully vaccinated had the highest COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in the last 7 days. The lack of a meaningful association between percentage population fully vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases is further exemplified, for instance, by comparison of Iceland and Portugal. Both countries have over 75% of their population fully vaccinated and have more COVID-19 cases per 1 million people than countries such as Vietnam and South Africa that have around 10% of their population fully vaccinated.
“Across the US counties too, the median new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last 7 days is largely similar across the categories of percent population fully vaccinated (Fig. 2). Notably there is also substantial county variation in new COVID-19 cases within categories of percentage population fully vaccinated. There also appears to be no significant signaling of COVID-19 cases decreasing with higher percentages of population fully vaccinated (Fig. 3).
“Of the top 5 counties that have the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated (99.9–84.3%), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies 4 of them as “High” Transmission counties. Chattahoochee (Georgia), McKinley (New Mexico), and Arecibo (Puerto Rico) counties have above 90% of their population fully vaccinated with all three being classified as “High” transmission. Conversely, of the 57 counties that have been classified as “low” transmission counties by the CDC, 26.3% (15) have percentage of population fully vaccinated below 20%.
“Since full immunity from the vaccine is believed to take about 2 weeks after the second dose, we conducted sensitivity analyses by using a 1-month lag on the percentage population fully vaccinated for countries and US counties. The above findings of no discernable association between COVID-19 cases and levels of fully vaccinated was also observed when we considered a 1-month lag on the levels of fully vaccinated (Supplementary Figure 1, Supplementary Figure 2).
“We should note that the COVID-19 case data is of confirmed cases, which is a function of both supply (e.g., variation in testing capacities or reporting practices) and demand-side (e.g., variation in people’s decision on when to get tested) factors.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, continues to rage in many countries, straining health systems and economies. Vaccines protect against severe disease and death and are considered central to ending the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines (and SARS-CoV-2 infection) elicit antibodies that are directed against the viral spike (S) protein and neutralize the virus. However, the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with S protein mutations that confer resistance to neutralization might compromise vaccine efficacy . Furthermore, emerging viral variants with enhanced transmissibility, likely due to altered virus-host cell interactions, might rapidly spread globally. Therefore, it is important to investigate whether emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants exhibit altered host cell interactions and resistance against antibody-mediated neutralization.
We investigated host cell entry and antibody-mediated neutralization of the variant A.30 (also termed A.VOI.V2), which was detected in several patients in Angola and Sweden in spring 2021 and likely originated in Tanzania . For comparison, we analyzed the Beta (B.1.351) and Eta (B.1.525) variants. These two variants were first detected in Africa, and the Beta variant, which is considered a variant of concern (VOC), shows the highest level of neutralization resistance among SARS-CoV-2 VOCs [3, 4]. Compared to the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 B.1, which circulated in the early phase of the pandemic, the S protein of the A.30 variant contains 10 amino acid substitutions and five deletions (Fig. 1a and Supplementary information, Fig. S1a). All deletions along with four substitutions are found in the N-terminal domain of the surface unit S1, which harbors an antigenic supersite that is targeted by most neutralizing antibodies not directed against the receptor-binding domain (RBD) . In addition, three mutations are located inside the RBD, which binds to the cellular receptor ACE2 and constitutes the main target of neutralizing antibodies (Fig. 1a). Two of these mutations, T478R and E484K, are located close to the ACE2 binding site (Supplementary information, Fig. S1a), and E484K is known to reduce susceptibility to antibody-mediated neutralization. Finally, two mutations are located close to the S1/S2 cleavage site, and one mutation is found in the transmembrane unit S2, which facilitates fusion of the viral envelope with cellular membranes (Fig. 1a).
For the analysis of viral entry into cells and its inhibition by antibodies, we employed rhabdoviral pseudotypes bearing the SARS-CoV-2 S protein, an adequate model for studying SARS-CoV-2 entry and neutralization . As targets, we used the Vero and 293T (both kidney-derived), Huh-7 (liver), A549 (lung), Calu-3 (lung), and Caco-2 (colon) cell lines. B.1 entered all cell lines efficiently, and the entry efficiency of B.1.525 was comparable (Fig. 1b and Supplementary information, Fig. S1b). The entry of B.1.351 into several cell lines was slightly but significantly increased, and this phenotype was particularly robust for Calu-3 lung cells, in keeping with published results . Finally, A.30 showed markedly increased efficiency regarding entry into Vero, 293 T, Huh-7, and A549 cells compared to B.1, though entry into Calu-3 and Caco-2 cells was not augmented (Fig. 1b). Testing of monoclonal antibodies directed against the S protein and used for COVID-19 therapy revealed that B.1.351 was resistant to both bamlanivimab and etesevimab, as expected  and that B.1.525 was resistant to bamlanivimab (Fig. 1c). A.30 was also bamlanivimab resistant but susceptible to inhibition by a cocktail of bamlanivimab and etesevimab (Fig. 1c). Furthermore, B.1.351 showed markedly reduced neutralization by antibodies induced upon infection, as expected;  neutralization evasion by A.30 and B.1.525 was slightly (A.30) to moderately (B.1.525) less efficient (Fig. 1d and Supplementary information, Fig. S2). Conversely, A.30 was more resistant to neutralization by antibodies induced upon homologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (Vaxzevria) or BNT162b2 (Comirnaty) vaccination compared to B.1.351, but the neutralization sensitivity of B.1.525 was approximately in the same range as that of B.1.351 (Fig. 1e and Supplementary information, Fig. S2 and Table S1). Finally, all variants tested exhibited reduced and comparable evasion of antibodies induced by heterologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/BNT162b2 vaccination, in keeping with findings published for the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant .
In summary, A.30 exhibits a cell line preference not observed for other viral variants and efficiently evades neutralization by antibodies elicited by ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 vaccination. SARS-CoV-2 entry into cell lines depends on S protein activation by the cellular proteases cathepsin L or TMPRSS2 , and activation by the latter is thought to support viral spread in the lung. Therefore, it is noteworthy that enhanced A.30 entry was observed for cell lines with cathepsin L (Vero, 293 T, Huh-7, A549 cells)—but not TMPRSS2 (Calu-3, Caco-2)-dependent entry . Thus, one could speculate that A.30 might use cathepsin L with increased efficiency and slight (but not statistically significant) resistance of A.30 against the cathepsin L inhibitor MDL 28170 supports this possibility (Supplemental information, Fig. S1c). Notably, robust entry into cell lines was combined with high resistance against antibodies induced upon ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 vaccination. Neutralization resistance exceeded that of the Beta (B.1.351) variant, which is markedly neutralization resistant in cell culture and, in comparison with the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, is less well inhibited by the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine . Nevertheless, heterologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/BNT162b2 vaccination, which was previously shown to augment neutralizing antibody responses against VOCs compared to corresponding homologous vaccinations [7, 10], might offer robust protection against the A.30 variant. Collectively, our results suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 variant A.30 can evade control by vaccine-induced antibodies and might show an increased capacity to enter cells in a cathepsin L-dependent manner, which might particularly aid in the extrapulmonary spread. As a consequence, the potential spread of the A.30 variant warrants close monitoring and rapid installment of countermeasures.
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