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The Book We Need and Only Justin Hart Could Write


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This article originally published by the Brownstone Institute


Sometimes, even now, even after writing a book and probably a thousand or more articles on the topic, and following it every step of the way, it still feels like I dreamed the whole thing. Not a good dream but a nightmare of exceptionally dark attacks on freedom. It got so bad that online memes started deliberately misspelling the word: “freedumb.”

They really did cancel two years of public worship services, segregate the large cities, abolish in-person education, foist masks on all the kids, destroy millions of businesses, censor all media so that we could barely discover facts, forget everything that humanity only recently knew about immunity, end concerts, impose limits on house parties, scrap weddings and funerals, lock the elderly into their homes so that kids couldn’t visit, end dentistry, impose travel restrictions across state borders, and….

Yes, I could go on but there remains a sense of unreality about the whole thing. It all happened right here in the land of the free. The Prohibition years (1920-1932) were grim and ridiculous enough and proof that freedom is nowhere entirely and always safe. But the Covid epoch makes Prohibition seem very mild by comparison. The ostensible reason for the sudden imposition of totalitarian rule was to control a virus with an infection fatality rate of 0.035% for people under the age of 70.

None of these wildly destructive efforts stopped the virus. It went ahead patiently and infected the whole population that was made woefully unhealthy due to the egregiously coercive response to the virus, and then our immune systems adapted. It was all utter madness, so much so that masses of people just want to forget the whole thing, especially because so many people and both political parties participated.

We are all left with a kind of PTSD. I don’t know what the right cure for that condition is but surely coming to terms with the grim reality of what happened is essential. My worry all along is that the concerted efforts to pretend like none of this occurred, or that it was no big deal, or that it was necessary and needs to happen again, and that governments and experts did their best given the paucity of information, and so on, would actually succeed.

It would be a tragedy if we do not learn from our recent egregious experiences. Reports from the campaign trail of 2022 indicate that the Covid response is a huge issue among voters.

“Among deeply conservative and often Trump-backed congressional and gubernatorial candidates,” writes StatNews, “calls to investigate or even jail Anthony Fauci have become regular campaign rallying cries. Ads lambasting Democrats for school shutdowns, business closures and mask mandates are running in heated races including in Georgia and Florida, where Democratic candidates trail their opponents in the polls.”

My worry is that the Covid response would not become a campaign issue at all simply because both parties are so heavily implicated in the pandemic response. After all, it was Trump who was gaslighted into green-lighting the lockdowns in the first place. But even party silence has not been able to stop the waves of outrage. Everyone’s lives were shattered by it all, from the school closures to the deliberate destruction of businesses to the preposterous kabuki dance scripted by the CDC to forever avoid the virus that ended up infecting everyone.

In any case, I’ve waited for the book that could tell the story of all the horrors in a readable form and also back it all by the research we knew was there from the beginning. There are not that many people around who could write such a book simply because there weren’t many people who had a bead on this disaster from the beginning.

One of them is political consultant and businessman Justin Hart, who watched the unfolding of this mess from its first days. He founded the site Rational Ground to document it all, and provide a clearer perspective. He ended up becoming a major source for people who had an intuition that something was very wrong but needed data to back it all up. Like me, he has ended up dedicating nearly three years of his life countering the mania.

Fortunately for all of us – and fortunately for historians of the future who will be utterly perplexed by this period of history – he just has written a brilliant book. It is Gone Viral: How Covid Drove the World Insane. I highly recommend this to everyone who has been astonished by the unfolding of events and equally shocked at how little in the way of reckoning has really taken place. Hart is the perfect one for the job here: matching rigor with humor, argument with anecdote, and somehow managing to tell a nearly comprehensive story without ever getting bogged down. The voice is clear, confident, and compelling.

He covers it all: school, church, and business closures, travel restrictions, forced jabs, populist disease panic, media censorship and complicity in lies, and the massive corruption of science.

I especially appreciate his detailed work on masking. He proves their ineffectiveness but also utterly skewers the propaganda to push them anyway. I’m particularly bitter about this subject because it was obvious to me from the beginning how preposterous the whole thing was.

On May 2, 2020, I tweeted that after lockdowns “the face mask will be rightly regarded as a symbol of obsequious obedience and grotesque compliance with arbitrary and ignorant authority.” I’ve never been so much attacked for a single thought in my life, including whole treatises in large-circulation publications, as if I had committed a thought crime. I was trolled for months, even by one-time friends.

That’s how crazy the world had become. Hart’s book chronicles it all, including the stickers on the floor, the one-way grocery aisles, the closing of hospitals and day cares, the insane rules on dining, the supply-chain breakages and so much more.

Everything here is written with a special confidence that is tremendously admirable, and this is because Hart is one of the few intellectuals who was correct about the whole hullabaloo from the very beginning. Therefore he doesn’t need to embark among some silly dance in which restrictions were fine in the beginning but later became too much. Nope: he kept his wits about him the whole time. Thus does he have the credibility to write without apologies.

He also writes extremely well. We’ve been stuffed to the gills in data, studies, and in scientific claims and counterclaims deploying language that had been unfamiliar to most people until 2020. What we’ve lacked is clear thinking, plain English, and blunt truth in an organized package, turning chaos to order. This is what Hart provides.

No book can cover it all so he is careful to stay away from the purely medical aspects of the controversies about early treatment, for example. However, Peter McCullough covers this ably in The Courage to Face Covid-19. Other aspects of this disaster have been covered in Naomi Wolf’s The Bodies of Others, Fritjers/Foster/Baker The Great Covid Panic, Scott Atlas’s A Plague Upon Our House, Alex Berenson’s Pandemia, and perhaps the forthcoming book by Paul Alexander entitled Presidential Takedown for the very weird early history of the pandemic response.

Still, for regular people who seek to come to terms with the madness that befell the world, I would rank Justin Hart’s book among those that should be considered a staple reading on the whole topic. It’s as much a medical and political history as it is a psychological study in mass hysteria. Reading it is a form of therapy in the old Freudian sense: unearthing that trauma we so desperately want to forget and bringing it to the surface so that we can be honest about the sufferings we’ve endured and move on.

A mischievous idea: send a copy to every journalist at every major venue that assisted in drumming up the panic that wrecked our rights, liberties, property, and families. They need to face the truth about what they have done. This book is a great tool of truth and, hopefully, justice.


  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey A. Tucker, Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute, is an economist and author. He has written 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

Censorship and the Corruption of Advertising

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From the Brownstone Institute

The most powerful companies in the world have united against free speech, and they’ve deployed your tax dollars to fund their mission.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee released a report on the little-known Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and its pernicious promotion of censorship. GARM is a branch of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), a global association representing over 150 of the world’s biggest brands, including Adidas, British Petroleum, Nike, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Walmart, and Visa.

The WFA represents 90% of global advertising spending, accounting for almost $1 trillion per year. But instead of helping its clients reach the broadest market share possible, the WFA has appointed itself a supranational force for censorship.

Rob Rakowitz and the Mission to Supplant the First Amendment

Rob Rakowitz, the leader of the WFA, holds a particular disdain for free speech. He has derided the First Amendment and the “extreme global interpretation of the US Constitution,” which he dismissed as “literal law from 230 years ago (made by white men exclusively).”

Rakowitz led GARM’s effort to boycott advertising on Twitter in response to Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company. GARM bragged that it was “taking on Elon Musk” and driving the company’s advertising income “80% below revenue forecasts.”

Rakowitz also championed the unsuccessful effort to have Spotify deplatform Joe Rogan after he expressed skepticism for young, healthy men taking the Covid vaccine. Rakowitz attempted to intimidate Spotify executives by demanding to hold a meeting with them and a team that he said represented “P&G [Proctor and Gamble], Unilever, Mars,” and five advertising conglomerates. When a Spotify employee said he would meet with Rakowitz but not his censorsial consortium, Rakowitz forwarded the message to his partner, writing “this man needs a smack” for denying his demands.

The WFA extended its efforts to direct manipulation of the news market. Through a partnership with the taxpayer-funded Global Disinformation Index, GARM launched “exclusion lists,” which created de facto boycotts from advertising on “risky” sites, which it described as those that showed the “greatest level of disinformation risk.” These lists included the New York Post, RealClearPolitics, the Daily Wire, TheBlaze, Reason Magazine, and The Federalist. Left-wing outlets, such as the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed News, were placed on the list of “Least risky sites,” which facilitated increased advertising revenue.

GARM, the WFA, and Rakowitz is the latest scandal demonstrating the destruction of our liberties at the hands of consolidated power. Like the Trusted News Initiative or the Biden White House’s censorship efforts, the aim is to remove all sources of dissent to pave the way for the further corporatization of the oligarchy that increasingly replaces our republic.

The WFA’s Attack on Democracy

Just as Rakowitz could not hide his contempt for the First Amendment, WFA CEO Stephan Loerke demanded that his conglomerate overtake the democratic process.

In preparation for the Cannes Lions Festival (a gathering of billionaires and multinational corporations in the South of France every June), Loerke released a statement demanding companies “stay the course on DEI and sustainability.” According to Loerke, these policies must include responses to “climate change” and the promotion of “net zero” policies,” which have already wreaked havoc on Europeans’ quality of life.

Loerke wrote: “If we step back, who will push for progress on these vital areas?” Though he suggests the answer must be nobody, traditionally self-governing countries would charter their own courses in those “vital areas.” And in that paradigm, the corporation would be subordinate to the state.

But instead, the WFA has inverted that system. Through its clients, the trillion-dollar behemoth extracts money from governments and then deploys those funds to demand that we accept their reshaping of our culture. The parasite becomes the arbiter of “progress,” eroding the society responsible for its very existence.

As the WFA sought to punish any groups that criticized the Covid response, its client Abbott Laboratories received billions of dollars in federal funding to promote Covid tests in the US Army. As Loerke demands “net zero” policies that will unravel the Western way of life, WFA patrons like DellGEIBM, and Microsoft receive billions in revenue  from the US Security State.

The organization is fundamentally detached from traditional advertising, which aims to connect businesses with consumers to sell products or services; instead, it is a force for geopolitical and cultural manipulation.

Perhaps no WFA client better represents this phenomenon than AB InBev, the parent company to Bud Light, which destroyed billions of dollars in market value last year after selecting Dylan Mulvaney as the icon for its advertising campaign.

On its surface, the selection of Mulvaney as a spokesman appeared to be the result of an executive class detached from their clientele. But Rakowitz and the WFA reveal a deeper truth; they don’t misunderstand the public, they loathe them.

The organization is a force designed to punish them for their unfavorable, unapproved belief systems. It is an attack on the freedoms written into our Constitution as “literal law from 230 years ago,” as Rakowitz scoffed. The mission is to eviscerate “the right to receive information and ideas,” as our Supreme Court recognized in Stanley v. Georgia, and to make our republic subservient to its corporate oligarchy.

The stakes here are very high. The economic revolution of the 15th century and following was about a dramatic shift in decision-making, away from elites and toward the common people. With that came a wider distribution of property and rising wealth over many centuries, culminating in the late 19th century. Along with that came a shift in the focus of marketing, away from elites and toward everyone else.

The consolidation of advertising and its control by states strikes at the very heart of what free economies are supposed to be about. And yet, states that desire maximum control over the public mind must go there. They must gain full hegemony and that includes advertising. It should be stopped before it is too late to restore freedom over corporatism.


Brownstone Institute is a nonprofit organization conceived of in May 2021 in support of a society that minimizes the role of violence in public life.

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Brownstone Institute

Imagine Life without Fossil Fuels

Published on

From the Brownstone Institute

By Thi Thuy Van Dinh

At 4 am on Tuesday 9th July in Seville (Spain), I woke up alerted by a text to my phone. “We had a bad night with Hurricane Beryl. Your house still stands and the critters are safe, two big trees down, no electricity, no Internet, and poor phone service.”

My children and I were visiting Andalusia, one of the oldest and most gorgeous European regions, blessed with the best food and the warmest people. This is one of my favorite places on earth, but for now, my family and I are calling South of Houston (Texas, US) home.

I panicked, being instantly seized by maternal instinct. Our entire house is run by electricity. On our return in a few days, there would be no warm food, no milk, no air conditioning, no TV, no running water, no toilet flushing. In town, neither kid activities nor story time at local libraries. These conditions are undoubtedly hard for young children who have only known comfort so far, although hundreds of millions of children are growing up in such circumstances daily.

Then I calmed down. The first thing to do should be thanking God for protecting human lives there, and for our wonderful friends and community.

I understood what happened immediately. Trees have fallen everywhere, taking down most of the grid and affecting more than a million people. It would take a few weeks to fix it. Houston would be first, of course, the crowded and business-minded urban areas will be rightly prioritized and rural areas follow after. After such largesse provided for the solar industry by successive American administrations, why has there been no money to put wires and cables underground in hurricane-prone regions?

We always have a month of canned meat and dry salami, drinking water, olive oil, lard, animal feed (we have some farm animals,) and 750 gallons of water in storage, candles, matches, and flashlights. For emergency situations like a war or a natural disaster. We have a pool conveniently built for Texan summer heat even though the filter won’t work. I can dig a hole in the garden if I want to give the kids some survival training, or I can use the pool water for toilet flushing. Our hens and ducks give us more than enough fresh eggs daily.

But I should have kept a few solar phone chargers and probably some solar panels for our well pump (solely activated by electricity). My husband should have had a better stock of gas to run our generator through the fridge and the two freezers. At least, I can still grill and the kids can help gather dry branches to make a fire and cook camping meals. After all, it is easier to survive without energy in a hot place than in a cold place.

My situation isn’t probably the worst, and I will be able to help some people around me with food and water. I will entertain the kids with games I used to play under the moonlight and the starry sky. However, with little or no gas (petrol) in town, and likely long lines at available stations, I will have to calculate our car trips well.

I told my 7-year-old what happened. He said he would fry eggs on the car and roast marshmallows on sticks. Young children are such marvelous beings. With only their imagination and innocence, they bring wonders to our world. Who knows, we might be lucky enough to catch some fireflies in a jar – I replied, nurturing his excitement. As his mother, I have the duty to minimize his suffering. Nevertheless, I would like to seize this opportunity to give him and his younger sister some duress training on life without fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil to power modern devices – a bit like how I grew up.

Have the international, national, and non-governmental Net Zero crusaders ever lived a day without using any technology powered or facilitated by fossil fuels and their byproducts?

I would like to invite them to live here with us. I will show them that had I had solar panels on my roof, I would likely be cleaning up all of their dangerous debris around the house. Right now, a Tesla would be of less use than an ox cart in my Texan town.

But life at my homestead after Hurricane Beryl seems rather poetic. Well-prepared, a week or two without electricity might equal an ecological or soul-searching retreat with meditation time, good books on a hammock, bird-watching, simple yet exotic farm-to-table meals, and constellation identification.

For a real experience of a life without fossil fuels, climate leaders and activists should consider signing up for the sustainability internship program offered by Mr Jusper Machogu, a Kenyan farmer who was recently attacked by the BBC for his campaign on X requesting “Fossils Fuels for Africa.” Participants will learn how to grow foods without technologies powered by fossil fuels and live with a minimal impact on nature in rural Kisii.

Ploughing the land with bare hands before planting isn’t fun at all. Watering the crops regularly might well bring people closer to God with spontaneous prayers. Weeding or harvesting by squatting under the sun is tough. Even without factoring in any risk of pests, diseases. and unfavorable weather, what are the chances they would have to get out of poverty and food insecurity without cheap, reliable, abundant, and scalable energy?

Billions of subsistence families are still going through this. Worse, they continue to put their health at risk by cooking with agricultural wastes, wood sticks, and cow dung, while the Western world and their investment funds shamelessly demand poor countries and their populations to adopt intermittent, expensive, and unreliable green energies, instead of supporting fossil fuels (as well as hydropower and nuclear) production and infrastructure.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who repeatedly called to “close the door on fossil fuel era” (on International Clean Energy Day – 26 January 2024), would you live entirely and produce your own foods without fossil fuels?

United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Chief Inger Andersen, who, at the closing of the 28th Climate COP (Dubai, UAE), claimed that “we know the solutions, we know what needs to be done,” would you be able to build a town for your staff without using oil, gas, and their byproducts?

How may we, as voters and taxpayers, demand that decision-makers lead by example, truly adhering to their green agenda first, before they insist that others implement it?


Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

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