No jab: no life. That’s the latest from Austria. The unvaccinated can only leave home to buy essentials, to work, or to get the jab.
Millions in Europe are faced with a horrifying decision: Comply with the government’s covid vaccine requirement or lose the ability to feed their family. Several places in Europe have the toughest restrictions of any democracy.
France was one of the pioneers of vaccine passports in the free world. Beginning in August 2021, only adults who were fully vaccinated or had a negative test in the last 72 hours could enter “nonessential” places like restaurants, entertainment venues or airports. France recently extended its vaccine passport laws to the summer of 2022. Soon, it will require everyone over 65 to take a third vaccine injection before they can legally hold a vaccine passport.
In October, Italy became the first country in the world to require vaccine passports for its entire workforce. Refuse it, and you wouldn’t lose your job, but you would lose your pay. That way, the unvaccinated cannot claim unemployment benefits. Workers must show their “green pass” to come into work, go to a restaurant, see a movie, or be able to travel long distance. Only those who are vaccinated, have recovered from covid-19 in the prior six months, or have a negative test result can receive the pass. The tests are a significant handicap. Unvaccinated workers must take them every 48 hours, and pay for the privilege.
In November, Austria brought in the toughest restrictions yet, effectively putting 2 million unvaccinated under house arrest. Police now patrol the streets, demanding to see the individuals’ vaccination status.
Germany is quickly moving to where even a negative test is not an option. The German state of Hesse passed a law allowing all businesses, including supermarkets, to bar the unvaccinated from their premises. These shops can choose to allow in only those who have had the vaccine or who can prove that they have recovered from covid in the last six months. The government is actively enticing businesses to take this “opportunity.” Businesses that bar the unvaccinated will be able to forgo costly social-distancing measures. Could the unvaccinated soon be unable to buy basic necessities?
Why is Europe moving so quickly to such draconian measures?
Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste
The covid pandemic has exposed the radical authoritarian tendencies of leaders around the world. Those who want to grab more power have been helping themselves.
Wherever they are implemented, these passports represent a massive power grab and a fundamental shift in governing philosophy. You hold your job, earn an income, even buy food by the gracious permission of government elites. That permission could be removed if you do something that displeases them. Today, that includes refusing the jab. But tomorrow, it could be something else. If the same liberal elites who proclaimed my body, my choice can now say, Your body, my choice, then nothing will stop them from decreeing your rights, my choice in other areas of your life and the lives of your children.
Most vaccine pass systems run on smartphones. Even if governments are scrupulously honest about what data they track and how they use it (which would be a first), these passes are still needed to check in at many venues. Any time you go out to eat, go to work, or buy food, the government would know exactly where you are.
Some countries have even banned the unvaccinated from gathering in private homes. This raises the prospect of police entering your home to check your vaccine status and those of your guests.
The European Union is also using the vaccine passports to centralize the information it has on its citizens. It has set up a system allowing one country to verify the vaccine status of a citizen from elsewhere in the EU.
Not even the Soviet Union was able to track its citizens’ movements in real time. Such a system could be misused in many ways. Once a government builds it, it could use the same infrastructure to track, check and exclude people for any reason. A big red X could show up on the screen of the train conductor, job interviewer, café cashier, banker, school administrator, social worker, police officer or government agent if your name in the government database shows up as unvaccinated, unregistered in the next new government scheme, guilty of something the government has declared a crime, involved in a certain political party, possessing membership in a certain religious group, in contact with certain people, recorded as reading certain material, or having posted a certain opinion online.
The infrastructure for vaccine passports won’t do all these things, but it will do most of the heavy lifting. And crucially, it will break perhaps the first and biggest barrier of all: citizens’ resistance to surrendering their rights.
Not Just Passports
The covid crisis is pushing Europe to take major steps in other directions too. In the summer of 2020, EU leaders agreed to an $860 billion bailout fund. Crucially, European leaders have, for the first time, allowed the EU as a whole to borrow money. An opaque, unelected body, the European Commission, has its hands on the purse strings.
The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote that the bailout “is an economic popgun—but a political howitzer.” He wrote that the deal marked “a profound change in the structure and character of the European project” (July 21, 2020).
Why is this? The European Commission is composed of unelected leaders who have power to make laws, raise funds from shared debt, and direct how those funds are spent. This means it has taken to itself the legislative and executive powers found in a national government, in addition to spending powers.
“Where else in the world does a single unelected body have the ‘right of initiative’ on legislation, and the executive powers of a proto-government, and the spending prerogatives of a parliament, all wrapped in one?” Evans-Pritchard wrote, warning that this power is “bordering on totalitarian in constitutional terms, mostly unchecked by meaningful parliamentary oversight” (ibid).
His most prescient description of the EU’s growing political power came in the form of one word: “caesaropapist.” This word carries connotations of imperial Rome and papal decrees. It is defined as a political system where there is one leader over both the imperial state and the church. Evans-Pritchard may also have been likening the European Commission’s power to create and enforce fiscal policy to the power held by the emperors of Europe’s past.
At the same time, the bailout didn’t finally solve Europe’s fundamental financial problem: a shared currency without a shared government. Italy and Spain can still spend like there’s no tomorrow, knowing that Germany will be forced to help them out or risk the destruction of its own economy. For this reason, Germany wants a say in how Italy and Spain spend their money and are governed.
The bailout let Spain and Italy use Germany’s credit card. The fight over whether this was a one-off or a new precedent will be a contentious issue for the next German government. All the same, the bailout money now flowing represents a significant step toward building a European superstate.
Another Road to Fascism
There is another way vaccine passports may instigate radical authoritarianism in Europe: the opposition.
Vaccine passport laws have understandably prompted a lot of protests. The far right has been taking advantage of the backlash. In Italy, at anti-vaccination mandate protests, some have shown up with swastika tattoos. Others carried Mussolini-era fascist slogans. Forza Nuova, a neo-fascist political party, is outspoken in its opposition to vaccine mandates. It is one of Italy’s most extreme parties and is linked to anti-Semitism. It wants to repeal anti-fascist laws and aims to resurrect the type of close relationship with the Catholic Church that Benito Mussolini established. Its leaders have attended the major anti-mandate protests. Some were arrested after demonstrations turned violent and protesters stormed a left-wing trade union headquarters and hospital.
Germany faces a similar dynamic. The only parties that oppose lockdowns and vaccine mandates are the Free Democratic Party and the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Some senior AfD leaders are outright neo-Nazis. Some have said that Germany should be proud of the “accomplishments” of its soldiers in World Wars i and ii and have called for Holocaust memorials to be torn down. The idea that Germany should be proud of its military heritage and must revive that tradition is intrinsic to the identity of this political party.
An even more extreme movement, the Reichsbürgers, has played a major role in the anti-mandate, anti-lockdown movement in Germany. It claims that Germany’s current federal republic is an illegitimate form of government, and that the true, rightful German state is still the German empire.
The far-right presence is undeniable. Of course, non-far-right protesters can hardly stop the neo-fascists from showing up. But once the extremists are there, the press is eager to focus abundant attention on them to discredit the protests altogether.
The situation is reminiscent of the 2015 migrant crisis, when mainstream politicians, media commentators and experts said mass migration was terrific and that if you opposed it, you were a dangerous racist. A tiny minority opposed to mass migration were genuinely dangerous racists. But most weren’t.
However, the government continued to lie and cover it up. As Trumpet contributing editor Brad Macdonald and I wrote at the time: “Think about the consequences of German officials’ deception. It is destroying the trust between Germany’s government and the public. What happens when the majority of Germans realize they have been deceived? What happens when the majority of Germans lose confidence and trust in mainstream leaders?” (Trumpet, March 2016).
This trend drove normal, tolerant people into the arms of extremists. They had reasonable concerns about mass migration, but no one else would address them. We see the same thing happening today to those who have reasonable concerns about government coercion and injecting themselves with a new type of vaccine.
Yet the effect of the vaccine mandates could be even worse.
Already it is clear that the vaccines are not as effective at stopping covid-19 as advertised. Nor are they as safe as the public was led to believe. This is now being acknowledged by some mainstream experts, while still being poignantly ignored by mainstream news decision-makers. The United Kingdom’s expert committee on vaccines refused to recommend them for 12-to-15-year-olds. The United States Food and Drug Administration refused to endorse booster shots for all adults. At public hearings, experts discussed the risks of the vaccines. There have been no studies of the long-term effects of these vaccines; mrna vaccines haven’t existed long enough.
What if the vaccines turn out to be a mistake—one too big to be hidden? What happens if people come to believe they’ve been forced by their government to inject a dangerous substance into themselves and their children? Then every mainstream, established, elite source will have been proved wrong. A public failure of the vaccine would discredit every major institution and all of mainstream politics. It would be the biggest political crisis since the end of the Cold War. It would mean a radical shakeup in the media and in government.
And in Italy and Germany in particular, it could well push people to the right. The most notable institutions proved correct in these countries will be the neo-fascists and neo-Nazis.
If that happens, it would shake the whole world. It would be another crisis—worse than covid-19. Many would be disillusioned with their current leaders. And a crafty and strong political leader would not let that crisis go to waste.
A Deadly Mark?
Europe, then, has two different roads to authoritarianism.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the July 2020 issue: “One of the most important effects of the global panic over covid-19 has been almost overlooked. Europe’s response to the pandemic is accelerating the fulfillment of one of the most crucial end-time prophecies of your Bible! The coronavirus is hastening the arrival of the prophesied Holy Roman Empire. …
“The Bible says 10 kings will rise in Europe in this end time, led by one overarching strongman. These kings will form the Holy Roman Empire. The coronavirus pandemic is helping usher in these 10 kings! We need to be thinking about these prophesied kings, who are rising now. As a result of the recent crisis, various European leaders have taken dictatorial measures.”
He warned that the covid crisis would be used as an opportunity to reshape Europe. He warned that civil liberties would be attacked. “Considering Europe’s long, painful history of strong leaders restricting freedoms to realize their ambitions, it is extremely dangerous!” he wrote. “European leaders are increasingly behaving like dictators and assuming dictatorial power. The people of Europe are being conditioned to accept more tyrannical leadership.” This is exactly what we see in vaccine passports, where governments decide who gets to work and even who gets to eat.
The book of Revelation describes the coming authoritarian European power as a “beast” power, an empire led by a church, rising out of the old Roman Empire. It tells us that this empire will enforce a mark, “that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17).
The vaccine is not that mark. But until this year, the idea of a government determining who can buy, sell or engage in commerce seemed absurd. Now it is reality. For the mark to come into force, the government mandate simply needs to change from an array of notional public health orders to an array of orders to submit to the state’s religious power. If this seems absurd, just wait a year.
The late Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this power and this mark beginning in the 1920s. For some, the idea of a democratic, human-rights-loving Europe transforming into this kind of authoritarian beast was impossible. Yet now, that transformation is happening in front of our eyes.
The Bible prophesies that this beast power will wreak destruction upon the whole world. But it also plays a major role in God’s plan for end-time events. Its advent is a sign of great danger. But prophecy also reveals that it is also a sign of great hope. The time allotted to the empires of men is nearly over. Soon, there will be no more tyrannical governments of men taking advantage of crises and using fear to increase their power to the detriment, endangerment and death of millions. The empire rising now in Europe will be the last before the governments of this world are overtaken by a new, truly benevolent government led by the only Being capable of governing human beings: their Creator.