One of the Bible’s most mysterious references concerns something called the “mark of the beast,” which a shadowy, satanic figure called the “Antichrist” would mandate.
This figure would demand “all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark…. (Revelation 13:16-17)”
Whatever those verses might mean, one thing is clear: Political events and technology are converging to make such a frightening device more than possible. Governments and financial institutions already are using digital technology to restrict the freedom of those who refuse to comply with autocratic directives or increasingly prevalent “woke” ideology.
Ask Nigel Farage, a former member of the European Parliament. Farage helped create the UK Independence Party, which led a successful campaign, nicknamed “Brexit,” in 2016 to get Great Britain out of the European Union despite intense opposition from the British political Establishment.
But in June, Farage’s bank locked him out of his accounts without his knowledge or consent.
“The establishment are trying to force me out of the UK by closing my bank accounts,” Farage tweeted June 29. “I have been given no explanation or recourse as to why this is happening to me. This is serious political persecution at the very highest level of our system.” (Emphases in original)
Despite the bank’s public denials to the contrary, bank documents Farage obtained stated otherwise.
In meetings held in November, officials chose not to renew his mortgage in July “given his publicly stated views that were at odds with our position as an inclusive organization,” documents said. “This was not a political decision but one centered around inclusivity and Purpose.”
Yet with “woke” ideology overtaking the West, any decision involving “inclusivity” is now fundamentally political.
Farage, now a television commentator, violated the bank’s position on “inclusivity” by, among other things, equating Black Lives Matter with the Taliban and Islamist extremists. Farage also opposes open borders and same-sex marriage, asserts that climate change is a hoax, publicly supports both President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and blames the European Union and NATO for the war in Ukraine.
Bank officials not only cited articles from various outlets. Those officials monitored his Twitter account.
Political opinions notwithstanding, the bank found Farage’s dealings with its officials “professional, polite and respectful,” which is “what we expect.” Moreover, Farage has no links to the Russian government, has “not received any legal or other censure that we can establish,” and engages in commentary that “remains within the law regarding hate speech and arguably on the right side of ‘glorifying or promoting harmful behavior,’ ” the documents stated.
Nevertheless, the bank decided Farage would damage its reputation because of “factors and behaviors” that “arguably do not align with values that serve the common good and that treat people with dignity and respect.”
In other words, loyalty to a political narrative becomes more important than professional courtesy or personal integrity.
While Farage’s bank was cancelling him, China used what Reuters called its “COVID surveillance infrastructure” to stop local bank runs and prevent protestors from organizing in June.
Between April and June, Chinese banks froze at least $178 million in deposits. TRT World, the foreign service of Turkey’s state-run broadcaster, showed hundreds of depositors fighting with police while besieging a branch of the People’s Bank of China to get their money.
To control the crowds, Chinese officials turned all the health codes on cell phones red. China used those codes during the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor behavior. Nobody with a red health code could travel or gather publicly with others.
“They are putting digital handcuffs on us,” a depositor with the last name of Chen told Reuters. He chose not to use his full name to avoid government retaliation.
Another told Reuters that if his health code stayed red, he feared his child would be unable to go to school.
“I can’t do anything; I can’t go anywhere. You’re treated as though you’re a criminal. It infringes on my human rights,” said Liu, who also declined to give his full name.
One woman found that her health code turned red after she registered to travel June 11 to a scheduled protest.
“The police had my identity details from the last time I went to protest in April,” Wang Qiong told Reuters. Wang said she lost access to 2.3 million yuan, or $341,550.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, FrontPage Magazine explored the likelihood of governments abusing digital vaccine passports for autocratic ends. Christine Anderson, a German member of the European Parliament, reached the same conclusion during China’s banking crisis.
“It is not about protecting the health of the population, but about protecting governments and politics from inconvenient citizens and their legitimate use of democratic freedoms and fundamental rights,” she posted on Telegram. “Democratic participation will then only be granted to those citizens who have previously been issued a ‘Digital Basic Rights Voucher’ by the government. Everyone else instead will be sent straight into a ‘Democracy Lockdown.’ ”
Anderson was describing China’s system of social credit, which awards benefits to citizens who comply with government directives and punishes citizens who refuse. The inevitable introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) — which would replace cash and be stored in a digital device — would turn every technologically sophisticated nation into China.
Two of the digital currency’s biggest advocates are Agustin Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, which manages central banks, and Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and an economics professor at Cornell. Note well their comments.
“There is a huge difference,” Carstens said. “For example, we don’t know who is using a $100 bill today. We don’t know who is using a 1,000 peso bill today. A key difference is that the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that central bank liability, and we also will have the technology to enforce that. Those two issues are extremely important.”
Prasad elaborated enthusiastically.
“If you think about the benefits of digital money, there are huge potential gains,” Prasad said. “You could potentially have a better — some people might say a darker — world, where the government decides that units of central bank money can be used to purchase some things, but not other things that it deems less desirable.”
CBDCs would allow the United Nations to achieve its goal of creating a digital ID linked to bank accounts and payment platforms. CBDCs also would allow governments and such financial institutions as BlackRock to force compliance with diversity, equity and inclusion mandates and their financial counterparts: environmental, social and corporate governance criteria.
“You have to force behaviors,” Larry Fink, one of BlackRock’s founders, said in 2017. “If you don’t force behaviors, whether it’s gender or race, or just any way you want to say the composition of your team, you’re going to be impacted. We’re going to have to force change.”
Though Fink was talking about his own firm, what would stop BlackRock from imposing those criteria at a government’s request on its own citizens, given BlackRock’s worldwide power?
Farage believes such a day is here, as his tweet’s emphatic ending revealed.
“If they can do it to me,” he posted, “they can do it to you too.”