corte sconta detta arcana

A non-blog by Luca Ammendola

Page 2 of 2


From the film “Everything you always wanted to know about sex* (*but were afraid to ask)”
by Woody Allen

DISCLAIMER: The following article is the result of the work of Mauro Scardovelli (university rector of Unialeph, an Italian university founded with the goal of teaching and implement the values of the Italian Constitution) and his team. All the information you will find was presented by some of the best medical minds Italy has to offer, most of them have been on the frontline of the Covid crisis since it’s beginning. I stand on the shoulders of giants. All I’ve tried to do is to summarise, organise and simplify (wherever possible) the information they provided in an attempt to make it understandable to all. Most statistics are based on the situation in Italy (which is the worst in Europe and therefore a good case study). The following is an exercise in reasoning (from the latin rationem: to understand the causes). This article does NOT constitute an official medical protocol. If you have any symptoms you MUST contact your doctor. The article is divided in two parts. PART 1 is an overview of the medical aspects of the crisis. PART 2 covers the political, social and economic consequences. 


Let’s begin with the basics: a new virus has made it’s way into nature; it’ called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), it belongs to the family of coronaviruses and causes the “Coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019 (although both the timing and the location are subject of debate). The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic on 11 March 2020.

The origins of this virus are as of today still unclear. It exist three main hypothesis. One: the virus is of animal origin (the famous wet market bat hypothesis) and then mutated to infect humans. Two: it is a man made virus (near Wuhan there is a laboratory that studies viruses, namely bat related viruses) that escaped from researcher’s control. Three: it is a biological weapon released on purpose on the population (we don’t know by whom or why). The three options are very much a possibility but, like I said, we don’t yet know for sure and any conclusion, as of now, would be purely speculative.

Whatever it’s origin the virus EXISTS and is moderately to highly contagious(depending on who you talk to). 

In the overwhelmingly majority of cases the virus provokes no reactions (asymptomatic) or very light reactions (paucisymptomatic) in the infected person. BUT in some cases it provokes a very serious pulmonary hyper-inflammation that can lead to a so called “cytokine storm” (more about this later). In some cases this can lead to death.  


(Pathogenesis: the mode of production or development of a disease.)

The Covid disease has three development phases.

PHASE 1: Viral response phase

An initial phase, purely virological, in which viral replication prevails. It is usually a phase characterised by a clinical symptomatology that isn’t particularly serious such as fever, bone-aches, headaches, nausea, diarrhea… This viral phase tends to diminish because the host’s inflammatory response is triggered. (For most patients this is useful because it helps control the infection. That’s why fever exists in the first place: it is a natural defence mechanism. High temperatures, over 38 degrees celsius, kill viruses.)

PHASE 2: Pulmonary phase

As the inflammatory response takes hold, the virological response yields. This is what happens in all Infectious diseases. Up to this point (halfway into the second phase) the disease is no worse than the common flu. In most cases (between 80% and 90% of the infected symptomatic patients) it is a mild disease which heals by itself in about ten days and without complications. BUT in a number of patients (the remaining 10%-20%) a dysregulated inflammatory response (an excessive inflammatory response) is triggered, leading to the third phase of the disease.

PHASE 3: Hyper-inflammation phase

In some patients an excessive and dysregulated inflammatory response is triggered. A real “cytokine storm” (Disseminated intravascular coagulation), which leads the patients to a haemophagocytic syndrome (disorder of immunoregulatory abilities), to respiratory failure, to intensive care and in some cases to their death.


If there is one thing all doctors seem to agree on this is the time factor. The fight against the Covid disease is a race against time, the medical intervention must be prompt. Medical intervention must be aimed at the first and second phase of the disease. When patients enter the hyper-inflammation phase it becomes much more difficult to help them. 

So, basically, the antiviral therapy should be concentrated at the beginning of the disease. When we move into the hyper-inflammatory phase of the disease, antiviral drugs are no longer of any use. At that point all therapy is based on the modulation of the excessive inflammatory response, on turning off this “cytokine storm” that generated in the patient’s lungs.

In between these two extremes, of course, there is an intermediate zone which, in the opinion of many doctors, is the zone in which the maximum therapeutic effort should be concentrated.

The goal of the therapies should be to intercept patients in the initial phase of the disease and immediately treat them with antiviral therapy.

If the patient evolves towards the hyper-inflammatory phase, the other goal is to intercept the onset of this excessive inflammatory response early to avoid being faced with patients in whom the containment of the excessive inflammatory response is very difficult. At that point the whole game is played on their resistance to ventilatory therapy. 

So being precocious with the therapy should ideally avoid the evolution towards the third phase of the disease, therefore save lives and reduce hospitals/intensive care admissions.


Most doctors are confused about treatment because, as of today, no one has provided an official therapeutic plan. The government and health institutions have been suggesting what treatments NOT to use but nobody took the responsibility to advise the use of a specific therapy. 

So doctors on the frontline had to invent/create one using the fruits of the experience and observation they acquired by the bed of the patients; outside the laboratories, outside mental ruminations. And this is what they found:

Drugs play different roles at different times. Different drugs are needed during the three phases of the disease.

PHASE 1: Antiviral therapy should be concentrated at the beginning of the disease. Doctors cannot remain idle and allow people to stay in bed without having a proper therapy or, even worse, with a therapy, for instance Paracetamol, which can be harmful (Paracetamol is dangerous in Covid patients because it creates a depletion of glutathione reserves, which is essential as an antioxidant and is very useful in anti-inflammatory reactions. Removing glutathione means opening the doors to the advancement of the inflammation.) Phase 1 must be addressed with anti-viral and anti-inflammatory remedies that block or reduce the inflammatory state (for instance vitamin C and D). There is one specific drug that has been shown (on the field) to be the most effective at this stage. But we will cover this (extensively) in the next chapter.

PHASE 2: anti-viral remedies must be continued for a while but they begin to lose effectiveness. Low-molecular-weight-heparin (an anticoagulant with a strong immunomodulatory activity) must be started as soon as the first signs of hyper-inflammation appear, together with antibiotics. The use of antibiotics is needed because it has an action on possible bacterial super-infections. Why? because an inflamed lung is predisposed to the colonisation of pathogenic bacteria. An inflamed, mucus producing, lung is a fantastic breeding ground for pathogens. We cannot stress enough that timing is essential. The dead patients in March and April were, in most cases, patients on which no intervention was made. They were patients left home alone.

PHASE 3: As we’ve already mentioned patients that reach phase three of the disease are strongly compromised. The medical goal here is to “turn off” the hyper inflammation. This is done with anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant remedies. But these take time to have effect and many patients that reach phase 3 are unable to breath normally. Therefore they most be intubated. Oral-tracheal intubation is a medical practice that can only be done by an intensive care doctor. It is an invasive medical procedure, extremely delicate, that no doctor uses with a light heart; it is literally the last thing they want to (and can) do. It is worth noting that intensive care is seen by most doctors as the failure of the therapeutic strategy and NOT, like it is promoted by governments and in the media, an intelligent and structural answer to the disease. In light of that, having more intensive care as the main response of the system to a viral infection is profoundly worrying.


As I mentioned earlier there is one specific drug that has been shown (on the field) to be the most effective as an antiviral during the first phase and the first half of the second phase of the disease. This drug is called Hydroxychloroquine and it is one of the most controversial drugs in the Covid affair (some call it the smoking gun, the irrefutable proof of the mismanagement of the crisis).

Hydroxychloroquine is a derivate of Chloroquine. It is drug that has been in use for a long time, the American FPA approved it in 1955 and it is the 128th most prescribed drug in the United States. It is a particularly tested drug, has a very low cost (a few euros per box) and is easy to supply (it’s a common medicine). It is most commonly used to prevent Malaria and anyone who has travelled in malaria risk areas has taken it (I know for certain I have, multiple times in my life).

The drug can have adverse/side effects (of course it does, all drugs do, even aspirin) but these are negligible. The most common adverse effects are nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Other common adverse effects include itching and headache. The most serious possible side effects affect the eye, with dose-related retinopathy (damage to the retina). 

Before prescribing the drug the doctor must always ask the patient a few questions (this is the case with ANY drug). The patient must not be affected, for example, by Long QT syndrome (a heart disease) or so-called Favism (an inborn error of metabolism that predisposes to red blood cell breakdown) or other conditions that interact with Hydroxychloroquine. But this it is the ABC of medicine.

The AIFA (the Italian Drug Association – a public authority) initially gave the green light to the use of Hydroxychloroquine but then withdrew it from the market. This was supported by a series of studies conducted in the USA claiming that it can lead to very harmful side effects. But these studies are highly problematic (so much so that The Lancet, the oldest scientific publication in the world, had to retract the one they recklessly and hastily published). Many doctors have no problems calling these studies bogus studies. This because these studies were made on hospitalised patients (patients that had reached the second half of phase two or even phase three of the disease) and with very very high dosages (overdose). In this case it is obvious patients will show harmful side effects. As we’ve seen earlier Hydroxychloroquine is most useful in the early stage of the disease and should be used with the correct dosage. It is worth pointing out the obvious: any drug, if used in very high dosage, can be harmful.

Worse yet (in the writer’s opinion) clinical evidence of thousands of people healed with Hydroxychloroquine has been ignored and/or obstructed by AIFA and the WHO.

Hydroxychloroquine has been used on thousands of patients in Italy at a reasonable dosage and for a reasonable period. The clinical observation of many, authoritative and above all experienced doctors, led to say that in their clinical experience Hydroxychloroquine has been able to positively change the progress of the disease in patients.

Honest doctors talk about the centrality of timing (we’ve covered this many times now). The drug is useful at the onset of the disease. And must not exceed the dosage of 800 mg per day for a maximum of 7 days.

Andrea Mangiagalli, just to give a practical example, one of the first family doctors to test “on the ground” the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine, treated 300 patients. He never saw any complications apart from a few patients who had a modest diarrhea (very modest grade 1 or 2). Out of these 300 patients 3 were hospitalised, 1 died and 297 were CURED (I don’t know about you but I’d take those odds any day of the week).

The evidence provided by doctors on the frontline of the crisis has not been small, it is strong positive evidence of the utility of Hydroxychloroquine in the fight against COVID. The kindest thing I can say about the failure to use Hydroxychloroquine is that it’s danger was overestimated by the authorities. Nevertheless it is the writer’s opinion that the failure (because of incompetence or connivance) to use a cure that could have potentially saved thousands and thousands of people is a crime against humanity and must be judged in a court of law.

(UPDATE: on December 11, 2020, after an arduous seven-month legal battle carried out by a group of general practitioners, the Italian Council of State approved the use of hydroxychloroquine as a therapy for Covid-19. The ordinance reads: “The continuing uncertainty about the therapeutic efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, admitted by the AIFA itself to justify the further evaluation in randomised clinical trials, is not sufficient legal reason to justify the unreasonable suspension of its use on the National territory”. Better late than never!)


The Italian population is approximately 60,360,000.

At the time of writing (December 5, 2020) according to the Ministry of Health, the total number of PCR tests carried out is equal to 22,767,130 that is 37.7% of the population.

The PCR test positives for Covid-19 are 754,169 or 1.24% of all Italians.

94% of the infected are asymptomatic (no symptoms) or paucisymptomatic (light symptoms).

Patients hospitalised with symptoms are 31,200 that is 4.1% of those tested positive or 0.05% of all Italians.

Of those hospitalised, 3,567 people are in intensive care, that is 11.4% of the hospitalised, or 0.47% of all positives, or 0.05% of all Italians.

The total deaths from/with (hard to say) Covid-19 are 60,078.

The virus therefore has a lethality rate (number of deaths divided by the total of positive PCR tests) of 7.9% and a mortality rate (number of people who died due to the disease divided by the total population) of 0.09% .

The lethality rate of the virus is difficult to interpret due to various problems with PCR testing (which we will cover in the next chapter).

But we can safely say that Covid-19 is a fatal disease but its mortality rate is, percentage-wise, very low. So it is a disease to be taken seriously but not to panic about.

Let’s be clear: Covid-19 is not the “Black death” nor the “Spanish flu” (that in 1918-20, in a time we had no penicillin, Hydroxychloroquine, heparin, antibiotics, cortisone or intensive care, killed between 50 and 100 million people in the space of two years). Covid’s lethality is also much much lower than two modern coronaviruses: Sars-Cov1 (10% lethality during the 2002-04 outbreak) or Mers (37% lethality during the 2002 outbreak). And is incomparable to the lethality of extremely dangerous viruses such as the Avian flu (60% lethality) or Ebola (65% lethality).

To put things further in perspective Covid has a lower annual lethality than road accidents, suicides and respiratory diseases (due to nano-dust/pollution).

It is also worth noting that today (fall 2020) only 0.5% of all positive cases end up in intensive care (this is 30 times less than in March).

The latest survival rate estimates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC-National public health institute in the United States) are:

  • Age 0-19 … 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 … 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 … 99.5%
  • Age 70+ … 94.6%

Finally please consider that 90% of the dead were over the age of eighty and/or had other preexisting diseases (respiratory, cardio vascular, metabolic diseases and/or obesity, diabetes… in short, everything that produces inflammation in our body). This is why healthy children and young people do not get sick or show very very mild symptoms: they have little to no preexisting inflammations in their bodies.

To conclude Covid is a serious disease but we will not all die from it (unlike most propaganda wants you to believe).With this in mind all further reasoning must impose a “risk and benefit” analysis.


The most common test (there are others) to test the positivity for Covid-19 is the Polymerase chain reaction test (PCR). It is a method used to rapidly make millions to billions of copies of a specific DNA sample, allowing scientists to take a very small sample of DNA and amplify it to a large enough amount to study in detail.

To begin I believe it is important to clarify what “being positive to PCR testing” means. Being positive means that the person has, in his body, some nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) of the virus. BUT a positive subject does not mean that the subject is sick. Nor does it necessarily mean that the subject is contagious.

This is because the nucleic acid found does not necessarily represent an infecting viral particle, it can be a residue, a dead virus. Furthermore the nucleic acid found does not necessarily represents a concentration of virus sufficient to infect (yourself and others).

In vitro studies have shown that for infection to occur there must be at least one million equivalent genomes in a clinical sample (the viral load). In other words it is the viral load (and not the presence of nucleic acid) that determines if you’re sick and how sick. BUT the PCR test is unable to measure viral load correctly. This is one of the core problems with PCR testing. 

The second problem has to do with the cycles of amplification and it’s a problem of misusage. In PCR testing the DNA sequences taken from the subject being tested are exponentially amplified in a series of cycles. Imagine (to simplify) a zoom lens: the more you amplify the zoom the closer and more detailed you see. Still simplifying, each degree of zoom amplification is equivalent to one amplification cycle. Now the problem is that when the test is run at 35 cycles or higher it is useless and misleading. I quote Anthony Fauci: “If you get a cycle threshold of 35 or more…the chances of it being replication-competent are minuscule…you almost never can culture virus from a 37 threshold cycle…even 36…it’s just dead nucleoids, period.” This is a generous estimation by the way. The more conservative scientists suggest a maximum of 20 to 30 cycles.

In other words, too many cycles and the test will turn up all sorts of irrelevant material that will be wrongly interpreted as relevant. That’s called a false positive. A PCR test that was run over 35 cycles of amplification will give anything between 50% and 91% of false positives (from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic possibility). 

On 11 November 2020, the Lisbon Court of Appeal in Portugal declared the quarantine of four Portuguese citizens illegal. They gave this reason: “Based on the scientific evidence currently available, this test [the RT-PCR test] is not in itself capable of establishing beyond doubt whether positivity is actually equivalent to infection with the SARS CoV-2 virus. And this for several reasons, two of which are of primary importance: the reliability of the test depends on the number of cycles used; the reliability of the test depends on the viral load present “

The problem of the cycles amplification also explains with we see disparate difference in numbers of contagions between different countries. Germany and Austria, for example, use 25 cycles of amplifications (and therefore have the lowest numbers of contagions in Europe) Italy and France use anything between 35 and 45 cycles (the exact number is difficult to say because the authorities are not clear on this).

I close this chapter leaving the floor to Kary Mullis, the inventor of the PCR test, for which he won the Nobel prize in 1993: “With PCR anyone can be tested positive for just about anything, if you do it long enough (enough cycles of amplification). For this reason, we must be very careful to use PCR as a diagnostic test”.


The topic of face masks is a minefield. This is because first, for many people, the masks have become a symbol, a totem of a semi-religious nature. Secondly, and this is more important, because the use of masks produces benefits in certain circumstances but serious damages in others.

The perception most people commonly have is that masks are something uncomfortable, a nuisance, but they must be worn because they are good for your health (since they protect from the virus). This is not correct: masks are a compromise. It is therefore a question of always calculating costs and benefits.

Prolonged use of the mask leads to a worsening of cardio-pulmonary performance and a reduction in respiratory function. This is harmless in healthy subjects who wear the mask for short periods but dangerous in subject with heart diseases. This is because the heart must make up for the fact that the lungs don’t work as well as they should. So the heart is under considerable stress while a subject wears a mask

Also the few studies available have shown that wearing a mask for prolonged period of time leads to worsening in respiratory virosis (respiratory diseases caused by a virus), which is exactly what should be reduced or avoided. In other words subjects wearing masks show more symptoms of respiratory infections. 

We must understand what happens in a person’s lungs when you wear the mask: the Italian Ministry of Health says that 95% of what a potentially infectious subject emits is shielded. So the crucial question is: where does that shielded 95% of emissions go? Well, it simply stays inside the mask, moistening it and creating a favourable environment for the development of germs, but above all it is partially re-inhaled. This creates the risk that a person wearing a mask for a long time, which screens and prevents a free exhalation, does amplification cycles of the virus all by himself. By continuing to re-inhale his own viruses, he can push them deep into the lungs and alveoli where viruses shouldn’t reach. In the upper respiratory tract there are the innate adaptive defences that “kill” most of the germs with which we enter into contact while breathing. But in the pulmonary alveoli, deep down in the lungs, these defences are lacking, precisely because the germs should not make their way there. If too many viruses arrive in the pulmonary alveoli and multiply without resistance, when the the antibodies finally arrive, after 10-14 days, instead of finding a little amount of virus, they find huge quantities. A formidable battle follows which creates a very high inflammation. This is exactly what is seen in many cases of subjects who, after a mild onset, after 10-14 days, have an inflammatory explosion and an aggravation.

We should therefore avoid worsening the situation of an asymptomatic by imposing a barrier to exhalation. Because the risk is to turn the subject into a symptomatic, or a paucisymptomatic, by continuing to breathe-in his viruses for a long time.

Wearing a mask is a compromise. Therefore, its use must be modulated and not imposed in circumstances in which it is more harmful than beneficial.

Of course in some cases wearing a mask is a very good idea (for as short a period of time as possible): inside hospitals, in environments with a high concentration of potentially infectious subjects, near COVID patients, in crowds, in public transport…

But outdoors, except in very special circumstances, wearing a mask is totally unreasonable. You cannot receive a sufficient viral load to get infected just walking by a person. The WHO says that you have to stay at close range of an infected person for at least 15 minutes (this even outdoors) to receive enough viral load to get infected. Occasional contact is of no particular importance, it constitutes a potential risk that is absolutely irrelevant compared to the risks of life. So outdoors, except in special circumstances (crowding etc.) masks are of no use at all. The only thing they can do is possibly harm people who have respiratory and heart problems and so on. The former Director of Microbiology in Bern said: “It would be wiser to wear a helmet because something is more likely to fall on your head than getting infected by walking around without a mask”. 

Wearing a mask is a compromise and like all compromises, it is right to push to the point where the harms are outweighed by the benefits and stop when the risks overcome the benefits.


Almost no one talks about prevention and this is very dangerous because one of the absolutely incontrovertible facts of the COVID affair is that so-called “healthy” patients generally do not get sick and if they do they have no complications. Healthy patients fight COVID with their immune system without much need of therapy. And this is a huge difference. Therefore one of the main goals should be to promote healthy life styles that naturally reduce inflammation inside our bodies. These are basic things like eating healthy, not smoking, drink little to no alcohol, eat little red meat, loose weight if overweight, do regular physical activity and so on. Vitamin C, D and B12 have also shown to be very useful in preventing COVID. In short, anything that can be done to reduce inflammation in the body and increase the effectiveness of the immune system should be done!

Another fundamental aspect that is rarely touched upon is that this disease must be fought on the territory and not in the hospital. It must be fought with and by local family doctors who get to the patients early and begin to apply therapies early. Local medicine must be implemented.

Because very often patients who get to the hospital they do so after having wasted time and show up in complicated conditions. Furthermore the hospitals are places where the disease spreads even more, it becomes a nosocomial infection (an infection that is acquired in a hospital). This makes doctors and nurses sick, reduces their numbers and their work becomes unmanageable.

The sick must be treated early and at home, freeing hospital beds to patients with much more serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, tumors, etc.


Hospitals today have stopped most activity that is not COVID related. Most screenings, check-ups, medical visits and so on have been reduced or postponed. This means thousands and thousands of people who didn’t have their heart checked, that didn’t screen for cancer and/or other pathologies. The prevention of highly lethal pathologies is in stand by and this is very very dangerous.

Furthermore sick people don’t go into surgery. This is obviously a huge problem. Imagine a patient with an operable cancer. If 15-20 days pass without surgery, nothing happens, but if 3-4 months pass, the problems are accentuated and this can lead to some very very serious problems down the line. Because the tumor will not stand still; it will progress (and likely become inoperable). The same can be said for patients with acute myocardial infarction, or cerebral stroke and so on and so on. All these other pathologies still exist and need to be treated. In the coming months thousands of people will die from lack of treatment

It is also worth considering that the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità) signed a report on motor activity in 2018 in Italy based on which during that year there were an estimate 88,200 deaths due to the fact that not enough physical activity was done in the average population. A little less than double the deaths that are today attributed to Covid19 (which are 36,000 and some). If we think about the limitation of motor activity that occurred with the lockdown, it is likely that the situation in 2020, in regard to deaths from insufficient physical activity, will increase.

Finally the consequences of the extreme measures taken by the authorities (lockdowns, freezing the economy…) will have profound consequences on the “social health” of the population. We’ve already seen spikes in the numbers of deaths by suicide, overdose and so on

If the economic crisis continues we will see more and more of these problems and things like malnutrition and possibly starvation will become serious health risks. 


In part 2 of this article we will cover the social, economical and political aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. 


From the film “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” by Pier Paolo Pasolini

The following article doesn’t contain any spoilers. No need to have read the books to follow but if you haven’t I suggest, in a friendly manner, you do so. 

In the Twentieth Century, two English writers Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, set out to write the two most iconic science fiction novels about totalitarianism in modern times: “A brave new world” and “1984”. The two novels painted two types of totalitarian societies diametrically opposed. In “A brave new world” Huxley describes a totalitarian system that is, on the surface, benevolent; he paints the picture of a futile and hedonistic society where people are ruled through pleasure and controlled through technology and science. Inversely “1984” represents a world, divided in three blocks, in a perpetual state of war, where workers are oppressed through violence (in all of it’s forms) and are watched over by the all seeing eye of Big Brother, the incarnation of a bureaucratic repressive and omniscient power. 

The questions I invite you to explore today are: which of these two dystopias was more accurate in describing our present condition of turmoil and dysfunction? And which of these two typologies of totalitarianism is most likely to function in our modern world? 

Both books, at a fundamental level, share a common philosophical enquiry: what is the place of the individual in a world that, through scientific and technological progress, is more and more directed towards mass production and consumption. It is therefore not surprising that both dystopias have many details in common. 

Both writers saw a future shaped by weapons of mass destruction, they agreed about the danger of dividing humanity into categories, determined by biological engineering and psychological conditioning (Huxley) or traditional class combined with a sort of loyalty system (Orwell). Both men imagined sex as a key element to implement totalitarianism (on the subject I advise you to watch Pier Paolo Pasolini’s masterpiece “The 120 days of Salò”), though in diametrically opposite ways: state-enforced repression and celibacy in Orwell’s book; deliberate, narcotising promiscuity and hedonism in Huxley’s. Manipulation of language and falsification of history is common in both novels. Both novels imagined a future dominated by America. Both men thought that future governments would spend a lot of effort permanently trying to incite economic consumption.

The main difference between these two visions could be considered as a difference in length of vision. Orwell described 20th century totalitarianism following his experiences fighting Fascism in Spain. He saw totalitarian power for what is was during his lifetime. He gave an accurate and terrifying account of Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism. His work was the work of an historian of sort. Huxley on the other side was more interested with the speculative idea of what totalitarianism would look like in the future. He created a perfect dystopia using his knowledge of psychology, science and technology to create the “perfect” totalitarian state. His work was the work of a philosopher. 

Huxley had the genius intuition of understanding that in the future true totalitarianism could not be implemented through force. Ultimate control would be implemented through pleasure, not pain. Because this is harder to escape. If a dictator, wearing a uniform, oppresses the people through violence he creates a situation that is impossible to maintain on the long run. This is because of three main reasons: first of all the oppressed is aware of being oppressed, secondly he knows who’s oppressing him (the problem of the uniform) and finally (because he knows he’s being oppressed and he knows who’s doing it) it is only a matter of time before the oppressed picks up a weapon and fights back. What Huxley realised is that a truly effective dictatorship needs to make the oppressed believe he’s not oppressed at all but a free agent in a free society, secondly the dictator (power) needs to hide in plain sight and drop the uniform for a suit and a tie, which gives him an air or normality and respectability, and finally he needs to do everything in his power to make sure the people he’s oppressing are happy enough not to revolt. The key to this? In Huxley’s mind it was a mixture of sexual hedonism, medical drugs and consumerism. Again: control through pleasure. Because who’s going to rebel against pleasure?

He understood that a truly Machiavellian dictator would not try to eliminate freedom. All he is required to do is to define what freedom looks like. Or to quote Henry Ford: “You can have your car any colour you want… as long as it’s black”. In Huxley’s mind future totalitarianism will make us love our condition of slaves by giving us the impression of being in control when in reality we do exactly what power wants us to. We think we are free but aren’t. Humanity would be  tranquillised by pleasure and drugs and the voluntary distractions of “civilised infantilisation”.

In the man’s own words: “My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power (…) the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.”

By now you’ve probably gathered that it is the writer’s humble opinion that Aldous Huxley “wins the battle” hands down. I’ve reread “Brave new world” this summer (and its sequel “Return to brave new world”) and was astonished by the accuracy of it’s predictions. From biogenetic as a technological system to breed perfect children that will form the class system of the future (a practice still at it’s dawn but being implemented as I write. On the subject I suggest you read about Dr. Steinberg and the Fertility institute of California), to emotionless, neurotic, promiscuous, impersonal sex promoted as a sign of civilisation, to the wide spread use of legalised antidepressants, anti-anxiety and sedative drugs (even on children), to infantile mass entertainment (I’m looking at you Marvel), to the lullingly, deadeningly, numbly pleasant society promoted left right and center through advertising and television, to pleasure in all of it’s forms as the sacred Graal of capitalism, to sources of distractions as a mean to control the conversation, to science and technology as the new religion it is scary to see how much our society resembles a dystopian fantasy written some 80 years ago. 

He even foresaw Facebook (in the form of gigantic card-indexes, true, but he got the gist). Facebook’s mission statement “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” sounds a lot like the new world’s motto “Community, Identity, Stability” and the complete ban on the sight of breast feeding is common to the novel and to the website (being a symbol of our humanity and our relation to nature). Furthermore: the public nature of relationship status, the idea that everything should be shared, and the idea that “everyone belongs to everyone else” are also common themes of the novel and the company. And above all, the idea, perfectly put by Zuckerberg and perfectly exemplifying Huxley’s main theme, that “privacy is an outdated norm”.

But what of Orwell? Well it’s one of those cases of “when the new system doesn’t work revert to the old”. Repressive violence is still very much an option when benevolent totalitarianism fails (for a recent example of this I invite you to read my previous article BACK TO THE FUTURE? – or try to walk around without a mask). Orwell also foresaw the mass surveillance state of our modern day societies. From CCTV cameras with facial recognition, to the patriot act, to accessible (by the state) cameras on your computer, iphone, car, TV and so on we are indeed constantly watched over by Big Brother. Our world also has an increasing number of strongmen leaders (I’m looking at you Trump) who rewrite history and ignore the truth (I’m looking at you every American president probably since Kennedy), and a growing emphasis on crimes-by-thought. We don’t have an official “Two Minutes of Hate”, as Orwell’s state does, but our social media equivalents come pretty damn close. Finally the idea of permanent low-level war as a new norm looks a lot like the 19 year global “war on terror”. Finally the oppression of workers is very much a modus operandi of our economic systems (if you don’t believe me go talk with an Amazon worker).

It is therefore fair to say, and I say this with a heavy heart, that our modern “shining” democracies look more and more like a hybrid of the two novels. And that is not a pretty picture. 

Of course there is one country that is ahead of us in the race towards the perfect totalitarian state (but worry not we will soon follow) and that is China. If China proved one thing it’s that capitalism works much better under totalitarian rule than democracy (after all what could we expect from an economic system based on the Hobbesian motto “Homo homini lupus”?). China functions on a thin rope-walking act between “Brave new world” and “1984”, between hedonistic Capitalism and oppressive Communism (although China is communist in name only): total control of it’s citizens – to the point of having a social credit system (a carrot and a stick system that asks you to trade your freedom for small narcissistic or materialistic benefits) – but enough freedom and entertainment for people not to want to rebel. In my pessimism I believe that’s where we’re also heading, and the totalitarian turn our Western societies have taken during this year only confirms it. 

I leave the last words to Aldous Huxley for I share his thought: “Though I remain no less sadly certain than in the past that sanity is a rather rare phenomenon, I am convinced that it can be achieved and would like to see more of it”.


From the film “Back to the future” by Robert Zemeckis

On March 23, 1933, the German parliament passed “The Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich” (later known as the Enabling Act). This became the cornerstone of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship and allowed him to enact laws, including ones that violated the Weimar Constitution, without the approval of either parliament or the president of the Reich. German judges (namely the Supreme Court) did not challenge the law. They viewed Hitler’s government as legitimate and continued to regard themselves as state servants who owned him their allegiance. The Law “formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people.” This gave Hitler full decisional power on all political decisions in Germany. Ten years later this Law gave way to the Ghettos, the deportations of Jews and dissidents, the appropriation of private wealth, the night incursions in private residences from the SS, the war machine and ultimately the Holocaust. 

On November 18, 2020, the German parliament passed a law called “The Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German). The Law “formally grants the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health.” Up to now, the German government has mainly relied on decrees to tackle the coronavirus crisis — a practice that has been criticised by parliamentarians from all parties and deemed unconstitutional by some. Officially this new Law transfers some legislative power from the parliament to the executive, the government. The infection protection law will now create a legal basis for the government to restrict some fundamental rights enshrined in the German constitution in its attempt to fight the pandemic (?). The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding private homes and businesses, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been legitimised by the Bundestag and enshrined into law.

To be fair: as of today it would be mildly unjust to compare the two Laws. Mainly because, for now, all government decrees, passed under this new law, can only be temporary measures and expire after four weeks. But I do strongly advise us all to think how dangerously we are playing with our Constitutional rights (I’m using the example of Germany but most Western countries are using similar political tactics). 

Of course I can hear the most basic (I wanted to write primitive-oops I just did) retort to this: “this is an emergency and under an emergency extreme measures must be taken”. Let’s assume, for the sake of conversation, that such thinking is correct. When will the emergency end? With the  total disappearance of the virus (highly unlikely)? With mass mandatory vaccinations (no I’m not entering this conversation here and now)? When the great economic reset will be completed? When the media will decide it has ended? With the second coming of the Christ? When? I have no answer. But what I do know for certain is that once a law has made it’s way into the books it is very rare it gets deleted (delete limitless executive power just for the sake of democracy? You crazy?) A very recent example of this comes from our American friends. Do you remember the rhetoric after 9/11? It went something like this: “this is an emergency and under an emergency extreme measures must be taken” (sounds familiar). This gave birth to the patriot act and to the largest state surveillance program the world has ever seen. It was meant to be a temporary measure. Although slightly amended (mainly thanks to the American patriot Edward Snowden and one of the last true journalist on earth Julian Assange) it remained active until March 27, 2020, 19 years after the declaration of emergency.

It is worth remembering that totalitarianism never appears from one day to the next. You don’t go to sleep in a democracy and wake up the next morning in a totalitarian state. Totalitarianism is like a plant that needs watering and time to grow (I apologise to all plants for the unflattering metaphor). It grows little by little, step by step, accommodation by accommodation, rationalisation by rationalisation. It grows out of apathy and ignorance and fear and compliance with power. It grows out of conformism (on this topic I suggest you all to go watch, if you haven’t already, Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece “The conformist”). The turn from a democracy to totalitarianism takes months… years. And many concessions from the people to the power. But the result is always the same. Although the narratives and symbols change, totalitarianism always leads to less freedom, more control and violence as a form of governance. 

Last Wednesday as the Protection Act was being passed by the parliament, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets. Most were men, women and children protesting peacefully. They were met by thousands of riot Police who beat up and arrested hundreds of them and then hosed down the rest with cold water. (By the way isn’t it ironic that a government so worried about the health of it’s people would spray protesters with ice cold water in November in Germany? Pneumonia anyone? Do I need to remind you that the common flu is part of the Coronavirus family?).  Of course these protesters were described by the media as “Corona deniers”, “far-right extremists”, “anti-vaxxers”, “neo-Nazis” and so on. To be clear, like in all protests that gather thousands of people undoubtedly some of these elements were present. But for the most part the protest was a peaceful one (until police brutality took over) lead by honest citizens carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), worried about the dangerous game their government was playing. They were staging these protests to challenge the government’s right to suspend the German constitution indefinitely and rule society by decree and force. And they were met with violence. 

Now to those of you who are saying to themselves that I’m exaggerating, that I’m overly pessimistic, a Cassandra, a crazy conspiracist or a down right fool and that these kind of totalitarian states cannot and will not exist in our modern democracies I want to remind you that any alternative media outlet, who doesn’t marry the official narrative, is being censored (what happened to the good old democratic mantra “I don’t agree with what you are saying but am willing to die for you to say it”?) that a well known dissident lawyer who was filing lawsuit after lawsuit against the German government calling their management of the crisis unconstitutional was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward (just for couple of days rest assured. Just enough time for her to think about the consequences of her misbehaviour) that heavily armed police are arresting bloggers (although it isn’t clear exactly what for, as the authorities have released no details and the mainstream media is not reporting it) to name just a few fun examples.

One of these bloggers is Dr. Andreas Noack, who was accused of providing medical assistance (yes you read correctly: medical assistance) to hundreds of protestors during lockdown protests against the German government. Reports also indicate that Dr. Noack was under investigation by the authorities for being non-compliant with the COVID-19 lockdown laws. If you don’t believe me click the link below. No need for you to speak German. But I warn you: this is the scariest video you’ll watch all week. (Please note the clear Dr. No style lair this dangerous individual is in.)

Finally, as the proverbial cherry on the cake, we have this democratic gentleman: Aziz Bozkurt the Chairman of the migration and diversity group of the SPD (the Social Democratic Party of Germany – I feel like crying) calling on a tweet for people who refuse to conform to the “New normal” to be deported “No matter how. Does not matter where. Just get out of my country.” Presumably his no matter how and where has something to do with trains?

I want to be clear here. This is not me bashing against our German friends. The same is happening in Italy, in France, in England and so on and so on. It is not a German problem it is generalised. All over Europe the police is hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes. All over Europe our constitutional rights are being suspended in the name of an emergency that might have no end. All over Europe the crisis is being used fas a form of governance through fear and violence. All over Europe democratic debate is being silenced in favour of state propaganda (without debate there can only be propaganda). All over Europe the conformists, those who let their lives be run by fear, apathy and cowardice are giving the state more and more power because “they know best” and “they are doing it for our own good” (these, of course, are the same people than in a not too distant future will claim: “I was only following orders!”). All over Europe disagreement with and protest against the “New normal” is being met by violence.

I only ask, to you and to myself, “until when”? When will this dangerous, dangerous, dangerous game we are playing will stop? I’ll admit I’m a pessimist on this topic. Once this kind of thing gets started, in the best case scenario, it does not stop until democracy is nothing but a fairy tale to tell the children as they go to bed (the worst case scenario ends with millions of dead). It might take us some time to get there, but, make no mistake, the very clear and present danger is that’s where we’re headed. 


From the film “The great dictator” by Charlie Chaplin

Couple of days ago I posted a silly joke on Facebook. Here it is:

“Pfizer announced a vaccine for Covid! It’s 90% effective! Now I have a question: if you were about to jump out of a plane and the instructor told you that your parachute is 90% effective… would you jump?”

Granted it is not a great joke, and not even an original one at that – the original is from Bill Burr (an American comedian) and was based on the percentages of divorce in America – but it was enough for all hell to break loose. Two factions began arguing and fighting over vaccines, new world order and whether Bill Gates is a philanthropist or a criminal. This, to me, says a lot about the elementary level of dichotomy in the debate out there but that’s not the point of this rant. Needless to say I deleted the post given that I have no intention of being the involuntary vehicle for sterile dog fights. 

To me this silly episode also indicates a growing aggravation of the discourse and the inability to find humour within the problems we face. One of the comments I’ve received read something along the lines of “people are dying out there… there’s nothing to joke about”. I couldn’t disagree more. I believe humour to be the first and most effective way to challenge tragedy and hardship. But because I detest formulating my opinions on ideological beliefs I went and did some research about humour in tragic contexts. Here’s what I found (I don’t claim the following to be original research; it’s a sort of mash-up of four papers/studies I’ve read).

Auschwitz, during the second world war: a group of Jewish women are pushed into a room upon arrival at the infamous concentration camp. There a group of soldiers proceeds to shave off their hair. The women are scared, angry and desperately looking at their beautiful long hair falling on the floor. They cry and cry. One of these women, who just finished having her hair shaved, looks at the others and with a smile on her face says: “What are you all crying about? You know how much my hairdresser Misha was asking for a haircut? A hairdo for free? Never in my life!”. The cries stop and some laughter and smiles make their appearance. Cutting hair was a way to dehumanise prisoners. A silly joke was a quick and effective way to refuse such dehumanisation.

When faced with tragedy most are overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and compassion, which is obviously understandable. But sadness and/or seriousness, on the long run, is an ineffective way to cope with tragedy. Sadness leads to depression, depression leads to hopelessness, hopelessness leads to giving up, giving up leads to death. 

Humour and joy on the other side address the same tragic situation through a form of emotional release. Humour forces you to be optimistic about the future, it allows you to stay afloat amidst tragedy and despair. Laughter provides a momentary mental escape. Or, in the words of Conrad Hyers: “Comedy expresses the refusal to give tragedy the final say”.

Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, a prisoner in the concentration camps, and author of the masterpiece “Man’s Search for Meaning” (one of the greatest books of the past century, in my opinion) noted that humor was one of the things that helped people survive in the camps. He tells this story: a prisoner accidentally bumps into a Nazi guard. The guard turns and shouts, “Schwein!” (“pig” in German). The prisoner bows and says, “Cohen. Pleased to meet you.” The joke clearly demonstrates how humor helps reverse who’s in control. Furthermore the oppressor has no defence against humour. If he tries to fight back he only appears more ridiculous. Even in the terrible conditions of the camp, such jokes provided a means of momentarily overcoming extreme adversity.

Finding humor in the face of death was called “gallows humor” by Freud. His classic example was of a man who was about to be shot by a firing squad, and was asked if he wanted a last cigarette. “No thanks,” he said, “I’m trying to quit.” Again, the joke helped the doomed man turn the tables and take emotional control of the situation. 

It it also worth noting that Adolf Hitler had no sense of humour. He feared being laughed at and made any anti-Nazi jokes illegal. Such jokes were considered an act of treason. That’s because he understood that laughter is a defence mechanism, it helps internalise abnormality, it helps solidifying the fighting spirit, to overcome fear. Above all it undermines the power of the dictator for it is the proof of an autonomous self that makes choices outside of social/political authorities and thinks outside their ideological framework. In other words laughter is rebellious and humour sets you free. This is a lesson we should all keep in mind in these strange times of ours in which we are too dangerously toying with dictatorial ideas. 

Of course there is another side of the medal: a smart dictator will allow humour for he knows that it alleviates the frustration, pain and anger of the oppressed. It is rumoured that Stalin’s communist propaganda machine had an office specialised in creating jokes against the regime. A form of perverted control through release. I think this lesson has been learned all too well by people in power today. Real oppression today is not carried out through violence but through benevolence. But this is another topic which is best represented in the two antithetical types of dictatorships presented by Huxley and Orwell in their books “Brave new world” and “1984”.

So to answer my friend who claimed that “people are dying out there… there’s nothing to joke about” I leave you with the words of Rudolf Kalmar, an Austrian journalist who wrote a satyrical play on scraps of paper found around a concentration camp while being imprisoned there:

It is the old song 
that you see here in the play 
But always keep a word in mind 
Everything is hell 
soon it will get well
through this magic word: humour, humour!


From the film “The leopard” by Luchino Visconti

WARNING: this will probably anger both Biden and Trump supporters!

I keep on seeing celebrations and jubilation every time I open Facebook: the “monster” Donald Trump is defeated (maybe?) and Joe Biden will be the next president of the USA (maybe? and if yes for how long?). 

I understand the joy; I’ve always disliked Trump for he represents everything I despise in a man. But these celebrations seem frankly excessive to me. 

We should keep in mind who Joe Biden is and what his track record shows. So as not to be overwhelmed by our enthusiasm and forget that it is the duty of every citizen who believes in social justice, equality, love, compassion and creating a better and fairer world to keep the people in power in check. It is our duty to give Mr. Biden the same level of scrutiny and political pressure we gave Trump. 

Joe Biden, we must always keep this in mind, was the vice president of the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ Barack Obama. Another president celebrated as a hope for change in the USA. We all know how it went. The ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ (and his second in command), during his presidency dropped bombs on Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. He green lit the “drone wars”, the “kill lists” and kept Guantanamo up and running (despite promising to do the opposite). He has imposed criminal sanctions against Venezuela, defined as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to national security”, armed the coup leaders in Caracas as well as in Managua in a failed attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government led by Commander Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. Supported the lawfare operations in Latin America that led to the parliamentary coup against socialist president Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and the political killing of former Argentine president Cristina Kirchner (a center-left social democrat).

The Biden family has unclear links and deals with neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Hunter Biden – Joe’s son – joined the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company, in May 2014, with a salary of $ 50,000 a month. Biden’s son was chosen despite not speaking the language and having no particular experience in the energy field. But he was co-opted a few months after Obama’s decision to entrust his vice president with the task of following the political transition in Ukraine. Where by transition we mean the color revolution that brought neo-Nazis to power in Ukraine in place of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Then there is the infamous 1994 Crime bill which extended the death penalty to 60 new crimes, stiffened sentences, offered states strong financial incentives for building new prisons, and helped lead to the wave of mass incarceration (of mostly black men) that resulted in the United States accounting for 25% of the world’s prison population.

In short, sincere democrats and anti-imperialists have no reason to celebrate the election of Joe Biden other than he ain’t Trump. And please keep in mind the undying words of Gore Vidal: “American democracy is an eagle that has two wings: both right.”

So I invite you to listen to the wise words of the presidential candidate for the Green Party Howie Hawkins, when he states via his Twitter profile: “It doesn’t matter who sits in the White House, we will continue to fight for social justice, democracy and people(s)-centered human rights.” 

That is the duty of every sincere humanist and faithful believer in democracy with the knowledge that the world can and must be a paradise for all. 

So tone down the celebrations, and get ready to fight again because if Biden does step into the White house he will not not magically become a shining white knight. An indication of this is the fact that his campaign was largely financed, amongst others, by multiple Wall Street’s hedge funds and 44 billionaires (according to Forbes). According to he raised almost 1 billion dollars (an all time record amount). These donors will put pressure on his presidency and no, they don’t have the people’s best interests at heart. 

So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stay vigilant and don’t think that all that a healthy democracy requires is 15 minutes in a voting booth every four years and couple of celebratory memes on Facebook. It is a continuous struggle for knowledge and information and action against the powers that direct our political and social life, no matter who they are. 

This said, and I’m pretty sure this is wishful thinking (but you never know), if old Joe should choose the UN Charter path instead of the old and already trodden path of bombs, sanctions and international crimes, I am ready to make amends and to become his first supporter. My wish is to be able to tell with amazement about the discontinuity policies applied by the Biden’s administration. It seems (to me) very difficult this can happen given the premises. But I don’t want to put limits on providence.

Newer posts »