Flying Pigs?

As a hardened cynic I cannot in all honesty say that it was only the face masks that made me start to wonder, but they certainly piqued my curiosity.

Mexican governments are not famous for their compassionate concerns for their own people. If ordinary Mexicans were truly important to their government why do they have to leave their country in their tens of thousands every year in order to be treated like slaves and fugitives in a hostile land? Why would you need to leave the comfort of your home and family and friends for such misery and hardship if you had such a kind and caring government?

But what we see on our TV screens almost every day are images of ordinary Mexicans going about their business wearing pale blue face masks. We see images of uniformed face mask-wearing personnel strolling around the streets handing them out ‘free of charge’ to people not wearing them. It seems a strange thing to do for a government that is so unconcerned about its people that it’s quite happy to engineer its society in such a way that a life of slavery and fear in a racist xenophobic foreign land is preferable to life at home.

The face masks are supposed to be a response to an alleged outbreak of ‘swine-flu’, that supposedly originated in Mexico. At least half of our TV news bulletins are given over to the topic, and it features on the front pages of all the national papers. We see the various ‘experts’ lining up to talk about ‘pandemics’ and to remind us all of the great flu outbreak in 1918 that killed more people than World War One. To bring it closer to home we see a story of a young Scottish couple who recently had a holiday in Mexico and are now in quarantine in a Scottish hospital where they are being treated for ‘swine-flu’. We see reporters going around the couple’s hometown interviewing citizens who might have breathed in the same air. We see the panic-stricken faces of those same citizens as they share their very real concerns about their safety and that of their loved ones. We haven’t quite got people running around hysterically pulling out their hair screaming that it’s the end of civilization as we know it — but that doesn’t seem far off.

Yet if we have a little look at the facts, as far as we know them, you can only scratch your head and wonder what all the fuss is about.

At the time of writing the young Scottish couple who have shown ‘mild flu-like symptoms’ are the only confirmed cases in the UK, with a mere fifty other people being tested. According to The Independent today (29th April) the US has reported a total of 64 cases. In Mexico itself, where you would assume the disease must be completely out of control, about 2000 people are supposed to have it and 152 people are supposed to have died because of it — from a population of about 109,000,000. So this international panic reduces to the possibility of one in every 50,000 Mexicans having flu. Yet intriguingly the same report devotes just half a sentence to the rather conflicting information that ‘the World Health Organization said it had notification of 79 confirmed cases worldwide.’ The report did not tell us how many people had been struck by lightning worldwide since the outbreak of this ‘pandemic’, but the comparison might have been interesting.

In a different article in the Independent we learn that:

The World Health Organization have said the deadly swine flu virus could no longer be contained and raised its alert to just two steps lower than the maximum of six, signifying a “significant increase in risk of a pandemic.” Presumably this is the same WHO that reported “79 confirmed cases worldwide.”

Let’s get back to the face masks. Why is the Mexican government distributing them to all and sundry?

One of the many ‘experts’ gracing our TV screens yesterday, whose name escapes me, informed us that the face masks are all but useless for people hoping not to catch the infection, as contaminated air could pass around the sides of the mask. Furthermore, apparently the masks quickly become unserviceable because they become damp through the moisture in the breath of those using them. So why is the Mexican government distributing them so generously to all and sundry?

Perhaps its intentions are not to help people remain infection-free themselves, but to help stop them spreading the virus. If the outbreak had occurred in Sweden say, one of the few countries that does seem to care about the welfare of its people, I might have thought that a credible explanation. But this is Mexico, whose government really couldn’t care a tinker’s cuss about the overwhelming majority of its people, and doesn’t seem a likely candidate to waste too many pesos on dishing out freebies.

I’m sure there’s nothing suspicious about the fact that Emperor Obama apparently requested an extra $1.5 billion from the US congress yesterday to ‘build anti-virus stockpiles and to monitor the spread of the disease’ (presumably the WHO are not up to that particular job). Or the fact that whoever it is that’s in the business of making face masks is doing extraordinarily well at the moment (according to The Guardian: ‘The Department of Health is also in talks to “urgently increase” stockpiles of surgical face masks, to be used by doctors and nurses if infections spread more widely here.” – even though most ‘experts’ seem to agree the masks are all but useless); or printers (more from The Guardian: ‘The government is today preparing a mass information campaign that will see leaflets about swine flu delivered to every home in the UK as fears grow that the virus will become a pandemic.’) To say nothing of the assorted spooks and spin-doctors whose careers are entirely wrapped up with keeping the public in a permanent state of twitchy anxiety. I’m sure there’s no connections between any of these things.

I predict this curiously named swine-flu ‘pandemic’ will go exactly the same way as the equally curious bird-flu ‘pandemics’ of the last couple of years; that a few more billions of taxpayer pounds will find their way into some dubious bank accounts; that no more people will die from flu than in any normal year without millions of government leaflets and face masks; and that our governments will proclaim this long and loud as ‘major victory’ and a direct consequence of their ‘vigilance’ and ‘leadership’.

Having said all that I might actually try and get myself a freeby face mask if I can — it might screen the overwhelming aroma of pig shit.

John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. His latest booklet is entitled EnMo Economics. Other Non-Fiction books by John are: The People's Constitution (2018 Edition); and The School of Kindness (2018 Edition); and his historical novel The Road to Emily Bay Read other articles by John.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rg the lg said on April 29th, 2009 at 12:15pm #

    Well, somebody is at least awake.

    I like the notion of the Emperor … O’Bama, in this case. It seems fitting that an empire should have an emperor … and we are an empire. An emperor also fits in well with the imperial presidency. That seems fitting as well. I can almost keep from puking up my last meal when I read Emperor O’Bama, so I am somewhat comforted that I didn’t have to read Emperor Bush … just the mere thought of him as a measly ‘president’ was bad enough. Though to be honest I am still waiting to see what the f-word the difference is, really, between the two? Maybe, for consistency sake we ought to call O’Bama, H? It seems only fair … doncha think? (Oh, I forgot … thinking isn’t allowed. Too bad really, as it was kinda fun.)

    RG the LG

  2. Don Hawkins said on April 29th, 2009 at 12:23pm #

    Reality is still with us it hasn’t gone anywhere. In today’s World and with the problems we face the illusion of knowledge has been taken to new heights. It has gone so far that you have to be careful telling people the truth you know they think you are not all there. A lie is the truth in many way’s and about to come to an end. I am very sure they who ever they are know this. I don’t think the suit and tie and gift of gab and that gab nothing more than well thought out illusion is going to work to many more years, months.

  3. Don Hawkins said on April 29th, 2009 at 2:18pm #

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised its pandemic flu alert level to five, signalling that a global swine flu pandemic is imminent.

    CNN is the only network so far reporting this. It looks like not only have we been lied to but the people doing the lying have lied to themselves for so long this flu is now a lie, amazing. Obama’s press conference should be interesting to say the least. A pandemic is imminent and about a hundred years ago it happened and get ready people this is not an illusion and I am sure some will try to make it seem that way. We could get lucky and rice is still in the stores. Make that weeks, months.

  4. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 29th, 2009 at 7:58pm #




  5. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 29th, 2009 at 8:07pm #

    the real cause of poverty in third world nations is USA and not their own local governments. USA bombs nations that don’t apply corporate neoliberal capitalist trade agreements with USA (Does Iran, Venezuela and Cuba as “enemies” of USA ring a bell to him?

    So don’t compare the Mexican government which is not an evil government like USA, UK, Nato, Israel etc. The real cause of all world problems !!

    And leave Mexico alone. What we have to do is to attack the head of the snake: US, Israel, Zionism, Europe, NATO (The real evil doers against the people of this world!!


  6. john andrews said on April 29th, 2009 at 10:23pm #

    The wonderful Martha Gelhorn, speaking with the authority of a sixty-odd year career in foreign correspondence said:

    “Never believe governments, not any of them, not a word they say: keep an untrusting eye on all they do.”

    I freely admit I have no first hand experience of the Mexican government, but I would be very surprised if they were an exception to the Gelhorn Rule; especially when you think about who their nearest neighbour is.

  7. Hue Longer said on April 30th, 2009 at 12:00am #

    Hello john,

    I enjoyed the article and share some sentiments

    I don’t agree with Tennessee’s way of addressing you and you handled your response calmly…but Sweden’s government gets off the hook from the Gelhorn Rule? hegemony is real and others should have a chance of being Sweden before we decide for them that they will still suck after we leave them alone

  8. john andrews said on April 30th, 2009 at 2:25am #


    Thanks. Mr Chavizta is quite right – I haven’t read much about poverty in Latin America – but it would seem that Mr Chavizta hasn’t read much about Mexican history.

    All things are relative. Relatively speaking, from the little I hear about it, Swedish government seems to care about ordinary people a whole lot more than most – not that that’s very difficult; so no, I wouldn’t claim that Sweden totally escapes the Gelhorn Rule – just that it’s probaly a little less culpable than others we could think of.

  9. Hue Longer said on April 30th, 2009 at 3:40am #

    John (ok that I say John instead of john?),

    I wouldn’t focus primarily on Mexico. There are reasons why white Europe got away with varying amounts of populism where Latin America (or Greece) couldn’t— but it certainly had nothing to do with benevolence of a gifted, ordained class of rulers.

    Racism and identity are a big part but not the only part…I would just suggest that the history of social struggle be viewed without forgetting the elephant in the room

    I am very happy that someone is discussing the bunk fear and distraction that is occurring and applaud you for bringing it up…I think some unrelated things said in your piece sidetracked your message and I’m no fan of ad hominem; so I hope you keep contributing.


  10. Don Hawkins said on April 30th, 2009 at 6:13am #

    Read this and this is long term and what is long term 97 months. Still time with total focus and hard choices and a new way of thinking. To me the biggest part of a new way of thinking is working together for all of humanity. Easy to say but we don’t know until we try. Oh the stock market today the futures are looking good according to CNBC amazing.

  11. john andrews said on April 30th, 2009 at 7:06am #



    I’m sure Mexico is not much better or worse than any other country would be with an elephant in their front room, and a very nasty, rampant elephant at that. I only cited Mexico because it is supposedly at the heart of the latest distraction ‘pandemic’.

  12. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 30th, 2009 at 7:09am #

    Only an international-socialism wave around the world would decrease poverty levels. Socialism has to become a mainstream ideology, and yet people all over the world are still too capitalists, even after they are watching how capitalism is creating all the economic problems we see today.

  13. Tennessee-Chavizta said on April 30th, 2009 at 7:34am #

    The Declaration of Cumaná
    April 23rd 2009, by ALBA Member Countries
    Cumaná, Venezuela

    We, the Heads of State and Government of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela, member countries of ALBA, consider that the Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons . . . (full article)

  14. bozhidar or bozh said on April 30th, 2009 at 8:48am #

    when one wld compare, let’s say, mexico with, let’s say, sweden even a glance reveals very important difference: sweden is by far more homogeneous.
    because of that, people are more united in the struggle to reachieve the life we once had when every member of the clan was equably valuable.
    an eon ago, our ancestors had enough to be able to survive. What they had was equally shared.
    a deer or fishes wld be caught and all ate; all were happy; felt secure, wanted, needed, etc.
    and then, fascist structure of society arose; leading inevitably to a fascist structure of governance.
    even slavery was instituted.
    mexico is by far more fascist; sweden by far mor socialist.

    i do not think that the word “capitalism” is adequate/accurate term to explain what is happening to biota and people; i think fascism is more accurate.
    only in fascist social structures can a sybaritic class of life thrive and lord it over us. I don’t think that cld happen in a socialist structrue of governance and society.
    now, i am not talking about utter equality or that it is possible to achieve. tnx

  15. john andrews said on April 30th, 2009 at 10:00am #

    It’s quite understandable that so many discussions eventually reduce to the socialism vs capitalism debate with, these days, environmental concerns thrown in for good measure. It is equally understandable that both sides become quite heated about it all, ensuring that polarisation continues unchecked – a situation that suits the neocons very nicely.

    But the fact is this: both socialism and capitalism are workable economic principles, and there is no need for one to exterminate the other; they can exist side by side in perfect harmony. Proof? Look at Israel.

    That rightly hated pariah nation has nothing whatsoever to teach the world, but one feature of its economic system is worth looking at: the fact that dozens of kibbutzim (which are purely socialist) exist side by side, and sometimes surrounded by, capitalist towns and cities; proving beyond doubt that the two systems can exist together. The key to the success of the model is the fact that the people who live in those kibbutzim, towns or cities CHOOSE which system suits them.

    There is no need to have an economic system that eliminates socialism or capitalism. Both are possible. More important by far is a having political system that provides real economic security and real social justice for all citizens. The neocons have poisoned the word ‘capitalism’ exactly as they have poisoned the word ‘democracy’; and exactly as Stalin poisoned the word ‘socialism’. It cannot be acceptable to force any particular system onto the people – they simply need to be allowed the information, freedom and security to find their own way.

    As for saving the planet…

    Nothing can usefully be discussed until human beings, all human beings, accept that their numbers are reduced. Once again, this should not be imposed, merely taught. It’s quite easy to show the proof.

    Just imagine a planet with a total human population of say a hundred million. Once that image is in one’s mind it’s pretty difficult to imagine any serious ecological problem at all.

    Getting down from our current 6.7 billion to a hundred million should not be imposed, but it is something that people should be taught to think about and take personal responsibility for. Our numbers must be reduced.

  16. bozhidar or bozh said on April 30th, 2009 at 11:22am #

    marx’s Das Kapital cannot be compared to modern capitalism; i.e., economy.
    modern capiatalism, to me, is extraction of maximum profit, brutal competion, meritocracy, and power to rule over lower classes.

    socialism means more caring for one another; more egalitarian society; people being more interdependent.
    hey, there is no such thing as a country but there are people in bounded area.
    it may be better to describe what is going on in a country; oops, among a people we calll americans than to call it a name. As calling names dosen’t explain anything.
    and then compare them with a more caring, egalitarian people. We can even eschew the word socialism.
    This wld stop all arguments. People argue on and on about isms because they don’t realize that they are defending their definitions of an ism.
    and even individual definitions may change. tnx
    and an ism is defined/understood differently by each individivual.