LONDON — According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, an economy is “the system of trade and industry by which the wealth of a country is made and used.” For the last few centuries, this system has been dominated by the paradigm of capitalism, in which the private owners of capital, and not the state, control the trade of goods and services.
The slave trade and plantation economy of the early colonial period in America were among the original manifestations of this economic paradigm, as the European propertied classes asserted their newfound power over dwindling tributary systems and the interim feudal arrangements were replaced with John Locke’s quasi-religious notions of private property, which would come to conquer Western economic theory for the next three hundred years.
Today, that paradigm has exhausted the moral justifications its proponents have relied upon to maintain its supremacy and the naked truth of capitalism’s rapaciousness is laid bare, once again, as wealth inequality skyrockets while millions sink into poverty and resource wars continue to ravage entire nations across the world.
Having squeezed every last drop of “value” from the earth, and with no more land to settle or markets to discover, capital’s approaching apotheosis finds it looking for a lifeline by creating a virtual copy of itself, where intellectual property supplants physical property and human biological and behavioral processes are recast as a grotesque form of human labor.
Efforts are now underway to “translate” the real world into a digital counterfeit that can provide financial markets with the figures and statistics it needs to execute the contracts of the incipient human capital markets – an insidious new form of capital assembled from our genetic code and other kinds of data that will form the basis of a financialized wonderland, enforced by blockchain technology and constantly monitored and updated through the burgeoning biosecurity state.
Led by the world’s most powerful hedge funds and transnational corporations, the so-called Great Reset amounts to little more than a campaign to turn humanity into datasets, which they can use to create more profits for themselves and their clients.
For now, they don’t have enough to make it happen and we still have the power to make sure they can’t.
Step right up
A return “to anything like normal” will require a Covid vaccination certificate, according to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been among the many world leaders advocating for vaccine passports, which the European Union expects to roll out as soon as this summer across its member states. The need for “a digital vaccination certificate” has reached total consensus in Europe, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while countries outside of the EU might soon get standards and enforcement protocols for vaccine credentials designed by a team of researchers and academics from the UK, Australia, Canada and the Caribbean.
Andy Knight, the University of Alberta political scientist who is leading the latter endeavor, funded by the Worldwide Universities Network’s (WUN) Research Development Fund, stressed in a recent interview that vaccination should not be treated as “a nationalistic issue,” asserting that global “security is no longer about military threats — it’s about health threats,” and warned against “a splintering of international cooperation,” which he said should be met through “an intersection between the public and the private” sectors.
Indeed, Knight’s sponsors are committed to the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) – a set of 17 climate change-centered objectives, planned around public-private-philanthropic partnerships, which his research team will also knit into the six-month policy study. Backed by the Rockefeller Foundation and its associated philanthropic organizations, the UN’s SDG program stands out as one of the cornerstones of the Great Reset, which now features Covid-19 as the fulcrum of that project and underlies what pioneering independent researcher Alison McDowell, interviewed by MintPress for this article, calls “theological technofascism.”
Christened as the fourth sector, this merger of “the corporate state […] with nonprofits and religion,” as McDowell puts it, operates through so-called “benefit corporations,” a novel incorporation structure the rules of which were developed and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s B Lab. Based on the “environmental social governance” or ESG framework, Certified B Corporations allow company executives to be shielded to a considerable extent from their shareholders and, therefore, provided with an unprecedented measure of freedom as a result of the ostensibly socially and environmentally beneficial entity.
This new face of capitalism intends to function under the aegis of what is referred to as the “Impact Economy” — an idea that arose out of the ashes of the controlled demolition of the global financial system in 2008, which paved the way for hedge funds to replace banks as the dominant force in the world of global capital. That world is currently ruled by The Blackstone Group Inc., which controls a mind-boggling half trillion dollars under asset management, not to mention having the distinction of being the world’s biggest landlord and, ominously, the owner of the largest private DNA database on the planet.
The manufactured outrage of the richest banks and regulatory institutions in the aftermath of the 2008 subprime mortgage lending debacle elicited calls for a more “humane” capitalism. As the Great Recession was unfolding, the term “impact investment” was introduced to describe an economic model that delivers “social value through market-based practices” while birth was given to the buzzwords, like “sustainable development” or “carbon neutral,” coming out of organizations like the World Economic Forum (WEF) or the United Nations.
Sir Ronald Cohen, whom McDowell identifies as one of the key figures in its development, as recently as 2019 declared that the impact economy was “overthrowing the dictatorship of profit and putting impact firmly by its side to keep it in its place.” The sophistry in this statement may not be immediately apparent, but the cunning words spoken by the chairman of an impact investment firm called Global Steering Group (CSG) reveal the magic trick the owners of capital want to pull on the world.
Yet, despite Cohen’s brash confidence and that of his fellow evangelizers on the impact investment bandwagon, not everyone is convinced. Even the Rockefeller Foundation has found that bringing major players on board can be an uphill battle, admitting that it has yet to garner “support from funder collaboratives, despite trying for some of the well-known ones like MacArthur Foundation” and others. Nevertheless, perhaps no one understands that “upheaval can yield new understanding and opportunity” better than the Rockefeller Foundation.
The impact investment model is facing a challenge many startups do, which is a problem of scale. However, that’s a challenge it is well-positioned to meet and a problem that the model’s agents have been making sure they overcome by tapping into the largest horizontal market of all time: healthcare.
The God complex
In October 2020, MintPress covered an organization called The Commons Project, which at the time was carrying out the first official tests of its CommonPass health passport app in Newark, New Jersey in the presence of CDC officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. A cursory look at the founders’ backgrounds revealed their ties to the CDC and covert intelligence operations around the world. One of the project’s founders, in particular, bears closer examination as we stand on the eve of a worldwide biosecurity regime.
Dr. Bradley A. Perkins led the CDC’s investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks as its Meningitis and Special Pathogens chief, making him the agency’s top anthrax expert. He would later be appointed as the agency’s Deputy Director of the Office of Strategy and Innovation, eventually heading the division, placing him in charge of a $11.2 billion budget and over 50 branch offices around the world. Perkins had risen in the ranks from his 1989 stint supervising a team of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), a special unit originally formed to “catch the communists if they started spreading plague over the Korean peninsula.” Perkins was head of the CDC’s bioterrorism unit when he was tapped, along with five of his colleagues, to lead the anthrax investigation.
One could say that Perkins had reached the peak of his public service career during that time, working closely with then-CDC Director Julie Gerberding to create a “state-of-the-art” $2 billion emergency response capability for the Bush administration in the wake of the H5N1 Avian Flu epidemic. He would remain an influential voice at the nation’s top disease prevention outfit, where he seemed to be very intent on radically overhauling the country’s approach to public health – a desire he has carried over to his endeavors in the private sector, which include nearly four years as Chief Medical Officer of Human Longevity, Inc, a DNA sequencing firm founded by Dr. Craig Venter, the first man to sequence the human genome.
In 2017, just before Perkins would step down as Human Longevity’s CMO, he gave a rather enlightening presentation at the Aspen Institute’s Abu Dhabi Ideas conference. held at NYU that year, in which he went into considerable detail about what he and his colleagues in the DNA sequencing business really mean when they talk about changing public health. Sharing the panel session with other transhumanists pushing the genomic revolution on the world, like Aubrey de Grey, who currently serves as science advisor to Jeffrey Epstein’s transhumanist project, (now renamed Humanity +), Perkins expounds on the virtues of genomics as the next frontier in healthcare.
In a talk titled “Synthetic Life to Human Health,” Perkins explains how genomics is “going to be the next accelerant in extending high-performance human lifespan” and the four factors that have made this possible. First and foremost is the “radical decrease in the cost of whole genome sequencing,” which fell from approximately three billion dollars initially to roughly one thousand dollars or “about three thousand dollars if you include the analytic component” per DNA code map. The advent of cloud computing, which according to Perkins is “just barely adequate to begin to host this voluminous data, [which allows] us to manipulate and analyze it,” and the mainstream adoption of machine learning (AI) to “interpret” the data round out the next two factors.
Lastly, Perkins highlights the critically important shift from “volume-based health care to value-based health care.” Perkins is referring here to cold, hard cash as the rest of his seminar makes clear, given how genomics “will drive tremendous progress in life and health insurance [as well as] tremendous progress in healthcare delivery by powering a next generation of healthcare and healthcare models.”
“What we are about to embark on,” Perkins boldly predicts, is nothing less than “hacking the software of life,” and “for the first time, trying to understand all the instructions that build, operate and reproduce us as humans.” He illustrates his point with a disturbing anecdote about how genomic pioneer Venter “sat down at a computer with the notion that he could actually design a genome, a sequence of DNA letters; produce that genome artificially; insert it into a membrane and boot up life from scratch.”
Perkins considers that Venter’s 2010 brainstorm might have been even “more important” than the sequencing of the human genome, itself. The eureka moment when a Western scientist developed a God-complex is what will change “medicine from a clinical science supported by data to a data science supported by clinicians,” according to Perkins, who goes on to warn of the “profound disruption in our current format for the practice of medicine,” that he confidently states will no longer “be possible in the place that we’re going very shortly.”
Stored in Amazon’s cloud servers, Human Longevity’s bioinformatics platform is only one of several next-generation sequencing technologies designed to perform the type of comparative genome sequencing work Perkins and his life science industry colleagues are counting on to carry out what he estimates is “probably the largest scale enterprise ever” of “translating the language of biology in the form of linear DNA code into the language of health and disease.”
Perkins admits that “the genome in isolation, it’s not very useful” and that what the business of genomics basically boils down to is the “building [of] integrated health records,” in order to be able to correlate “high-quality clinical data” with the whole genome sequence. “We’re in the business of building a large database,” Perkins reveals. Without that, the genomic revolution is dead in the primordial waters, so to speak.
But, with CommonPass, Perkins is continuing to do all he can to build that database. After all, a biometric passport required at all ports of entry would go a long way to procuring a goldmine of genomic data. An opportunity not lost on the majority shareholders of another company Perkins was involved with even before launching the nonprofit or joining Human Longevity.
Fresh out of his long career at the CDC — and just a year after exhorting his fellow federal employees to pay heed to the “serious game” the agency was rolling out to “examine the estimated health impacts and costs associated” with major policy and health system changes “over a five-decade period” — Perkins joined Vanguard Health System as its Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer.
The publicly-traded cross-national operator of hospitals and clinics was controlled by The Blackstone Group from 2004 until it was sold off to Tenet Healthcare in 2011, forming the third largest investor-held hospital network in the United States. Tenet, like many other private equity-owned healthcare operations, has been roiled by controversy and corruption. Perkins took a tidy $1.9 Million package and moved on from Vanguard just before the merger. Just last year, Blackstone acquired Ancestry.com Inc. for a cool $4.7 billion, making the world’s largest private landlord the owner of the largest private DNA database in the world as well, containing the genome of 18 million people across 30 countries.
The new wine of slavery
“Everything [needs to be] big and fast and scalable,” asserts Alison McDowell, who has been following the development of the burgeoning impact investment models being piloted across multiple verticals on her blog “Wrench in the Gears.” Named in honor of Mario Savio’s emotional speech to his fellow Berkeley students at the height of the anti-war movement in the United States, McDowell has managed to expose many of the “gears” that are moving this reinvention of capitalism based on the aggregation and manipulation of data in all its forms.
McDowell credits a talk she attended in 2017 at The Whitney Museum of American Art called “Race, Finance and the Afterlife of Slavery,” delivered by UC Davis professor Justin Leroy, for waking her up to the machinations behind the emerging models of financial exploitation and, in particular, the racialized nature of the novel financial instruments created for them, such as social impact bonds or SIBs.
Leroy presciently describes them as “racial capitalist instruments” and traces their lineage to maritime insurance and other financial innovations of the slave trade, positing that it was the slave trade itself that served as the “primary motivator leading to the development of robust insurance networks.” His citation of the Zong slave ship massacre – where hundreds of captive men were thrown overboard and later claimed as insured property by the ship’s captain – dovetails perfectly with the reality of how social impact bonds replicate capitalism’s penchant for commodifying human life.
In layman’s terms, a social impact bond secures funding for a given social program from private investors, who “risk” their money for a return based upon the “successful” completion of the program’s stated goals. As with any bond, these forms of securitized debt can be traded on the open market just like a repackaged subprime mortgage loan. More specifically, social impact bonds are investment vehicles that are tied to the value of a social service provided by a government entity, such as healthcare, or a function of the state, such as incarceration. It’s net effect, as Leroy points out, results in the transfer of public wealth into private hands.
Alison McDowell’s great contribution has been to track down how and where these kinds of impact investment tools are being tested — drawing the vital link between smart contracts, which rely on blockchain technology, and these new forms of dynamic securitized debt. “The data analytics informs the value of the securitized debt,” she told MintPress, stressing that the data itself will necessarily “be based on ‘baseline’ predictive profiling,” using “very simple and narrow” metrics in order to satisfy the scale and speed required by institutions like Goldman Sachs, which will be handling these assets.
“These are not meaningful numbers in terms of the person who’s in the [social] program,” McDowell says; since the success metrics will not be based on “an individual [data] quarry, it would be [from] groups of people” instead. This crucial fact — reflecting the predatory, common-denominator nature of capitalism — is vital to grasping the inherent danger built into these forms of “social finance” and how the noble-sounding names they’re wrapped in do not mitigate the harm that will inevitably result.
Nowhere is this more relevant than in the healthcare space, where massive quarries of genomic data are being hoarded by Blackstone and others, like Richard Branson’s recent acquisition of 23andMe in January through a special-purpose vehicle, in order to take the consumer DNA company public.
“When it comes to genetics, you need extraordinarily large data sets,” says Federation Bio CEO Emily Drabant Conley in regard to questions about Blackstone’s DNA trove. The former 23andMe executive explains that since “the genome itself is so vast and complicated and there’s so many differences between people,” the “low end of the bar” for potential customers like Big Pharma hovers around datasets of 10 million people.
Blackstone’s ability to monetize our DNA is not limited by existing markets, however. Its significant stake in healthcare, insurance and retail companies gives the private equity firm the capacity to mix-and-match the collective data sets they own to spin off new segments, along the lines of Ancestry.com’s Spotify partnership to design “DNA-designed music playlists” and other less benign behavioral and genetic dataset combinations.
An “all-encompassing picture of consumer behavior,” as a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business finance professor describes Blackstone’s enviable position, is only one side of the dystopian coin. Merged with genomic data, these data can produce truly nightmarish scenarios of fascist control. Much of McDowell’s research has focused on the education side of impact investing, which relies heavily on behavioral data via facial recognition and AI to create the financial social investment instruments around schooling.
Initiatives like the World Bank’s Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition (BSIC) are promoting the creation of “Ethereum blockchain solutions and applications that address global social and environmental issues” through its IXO protocol, which “enables anyone to deliver, evaluate or invest in sustainable development impacts, with crypto-economic proof of Impact.” Outfits like Social Finance Israel, founded by Sir Ronald Cohen, are driving the implementation of such protocols through multiple pilot programs to assess metrics like real-time data analytics, last-mile impact verification, and the viability of impact tokens (bond-specific cryptocurrencies) in education and other areas.
The Hong Kong-based Impact Oxygen Foundation (iO2) operates a social impact service platform in China called ShanZhai City, which deploys blockchain-based impact projects in that country as well as in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Brazil. In 2018, the social impact startup’s CEO was invited to attend a two-day workshop created by banking giant UBS and the IXO Foundation “to create the next generation of impact financing mechanisms, using Web3 and blockchain technologies.” Earlier that year, ShanZhai City entered into a “strategic partnership” with IXO to “revolutionize social finance infrastructure.
This revolution entails the ability to “measure, evaluate, value, and tokenize verified impact data” obtained through our ubiquitous data-gathering, surveillance technologies, which will, in turn, hand it over to financial institutions to profit from the bets they make on poverty and misery around the world. In the meantime, the problem of scale persists and, as McDowell points out, all of their pilot programs put together do not add up to anything substantial. “My sense,” McDowell proposes, “is that the biometric health passport is what they’ll need” to achieve critical mass and finally kick off the fourth industrial revolution.
Interlocking Web of deceit
When Donald Trump cut funding to USAID’s PREDICT program in March 2020, there was some chatter about the irresponsibility of ending a program that for the last ten years had focused on collecting bat-borne coronaviruses in Asia just as a coronavirus pandemic was being declared. But, for all intents and purposes, the program had long been concluded.
The program’s creator Dr. Dennis Carroll; its global director Dr. Jonna Mazet; and Peter Daszak, the star scientist who had deposited thousands of coronavirus samples in the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s database, had already gone on to form a new nonprofit to develop “a strategic response to the growing need to better predict, prevent, and respond to future viral pandemic threats and to protect us all from their worst consequences.”
Named the Global Virome Project (GVP), it quickly partnered with The Trinity Challenge, a global coalition “of partners united by the common aim of developing insights and actions to contribute to a world better protected from global health emergencies.” Its “founding members” include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook, Google, The London School of Economics, Glaxo-Smith Klein, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Tencent and many others.
Perhaps more interesting is its list of ostensibly regular members, among whom we find
Pierre Omidyar’s Palantir, which has a controversial data management deal with the UK’s NHS; the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), whose board member and former chief medical advisor to the UK, Dame Sally Davies, leads the Trinity Challenge itself; and the ever-present Tsinghua University, to name just a few.
The web of interlocking memberships and associations between virtually all of these groups is an interminable and recursive rabbit hole, that eventually leads to the conclusion that it is all one big club striving to reach the same goal. In one particularly salient case, one of the most notorious names associated with the drive for global vaccination regimes, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is linked to a “boutique” social impact investment firm that backs a Trinity Challenge member.
Global Impact Advisors is a consulting firm out of San Mateo, California, which is headed by CEO Amy Adelberger, a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alum who had the unique distinction of launching a $33 million tuberculosis mitigation partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology during her time there. Focusing “on the application of market-based solutions to global health and development challenges,” Adelberger’s firm seems to draw most of its clients from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and — given her role as the program manager of the TB program in China, her company’s continued focus on TB-related issues, and a nuanced reading of the section on public-private partnerships on the company website — it seems more than likely that Adleberger is simply fulfilling Gates Foundation’s own “hope” to effectuate the “national scale-up of [the] innovations across China” for which this and other multi-million-dollar partnerships with the same Chinese government entity were intended.
The Commons Project, as well, shares many of the same intertwining relationships with Big Pharma, Big Tech, academia and federal organizations on its board, leaving us with the inescapable feeling that a very well-organized, but relatively small collection of power brokers are hell bent on fashioning a data-driven economy in a desperate attempt to breathe new life into a system that nobody can buy into any more.
The missionaries of “free-market economics” are pulling out all the stops to convince us that they really do have the people’s best interest at heart this time, after centuries of ceaseless war, ruthless corruption and environmental devastation. Suddenly, a public health emergency has managed to peer into their soulless chasm and not only sparked a long-dead sense of compassion, but coincidentally provided them with all the solutions. The only catch is that we have to give up our humanity and live behind screens and speak to each other via encrypted messaging apps only.
Other than that, they assure us, everything is as it always should have been. They’ve seen the error of their ways and are ready to usher in a more humane, a more “sustainable” economic paradigm, in which the wealthy finally invest in the poor, the sick and the homeless as part of a new “moral” economy. But, the obvious question is, if misery becomes profitable, what incentive is there for its eradication?
A human economy
Capitalism has invested in misery as long as it has existed and always found it immensely profitable. Creating a “digital twin” of the world affords immeasurably greater opportunities for profit, but also takes real human life offline and replaces it with “dots and dashes and electrical signals” that McDowell understands are of any use only to the financial markets.
A long, protracted, manufactured Cold War with China and revamped Eastern bloc has the potential to produce more refugees, more poverty, more trauma and more prisoners. In other words, more assets for the human capital markets. But, before that happens, they need our DNA to scale the pilot project and feed the starving leviathan as it thrashes about in a finite planet.
In his moving presentation about race, slavery and finance, Justin Leroy quoted America’s first African American doctor, James McCune Smith, to elucidate how the true nature of capitalism is never lost on its most exploited classes. The relevance of Smith’s exposition demands that this, the third and final part of “Dragon’s Blood Harvest at the Dawn of Human Capital Markets,” end with the physician’s seminal words published just before the end of the Civil War in 1864.
Smith’s clarity of vision allowed him to appreciate the treacherous heart of the system he knew was a slaver’s system, no matter what it chooses to label itself:
There is no political, religious or philanthropic agency at work that can encompass the entire abolition of slavery. In slave society, labor lies prostrate and capital dictates its own terms, which are perpetual subjugation. In other words, perpetual slavery. Far from this war diminishing the wish or power for capital to own labor, it will increase both. Colossal monopolies are parceling out even the free states for their ownership. The slave in the South will have namesakes in fact, if not in title, north of the Mason/Dixon line.”
Feature photo | Graphic by Antonio Cabrera
Raul Diego is a MintPress News Staff Writer, independent photojournalist, researcher, writer and documentary filmmaker.