The Barbarism of the COVID Era
By Shane SmithPondering the COVID pandemic from a two-year vantage point, I constantly wonder: Why did so many people fall for it?” Why did they accept such an extreme and unprecedented loss of freedom? Why did they accept the destruction of small businesses in their communities? Why did they accept the closure of their children’s schools? Why did they wear the mask? Why did they take the vaccine?
I realize that a big part of the answer lies merely in not knowing any better. We have lives, jobs, and families, and it's difficult to uncover the truth without putting in a significant chunk of time. And the corporate press is just a click away, always on, always beaming a specific narrative at us 24/7. The 5G IV delivers the approved opinions straight into the cortex without our ever even realizing it. The Official Opinion seeps into our subconscious through what appears to be a form of psychic osmosis. It’s difficult to mount a defense against an enemy that you don’t even know is there.
And so we were collectively caught off guard, in the spring of 2020, when the corporate press, the federal government, and our public health establishment spoke in one voice, in the vein of Legion, proclaiming Doomsday’s arrival. They commanded us to obey. Most people obeyed because they didn’t know what else to do. Others, many others, obeyed because they were the true believers of what rapidly evolved into a pseudoreligion surrounding COVID-19. These were the ones who goosestepped gleefully to the sound of Anthony Fauci’s voice, deputizing themselves as the vigilante enforcers of the pandemic’s authoritarian strictures. They tattled on their neighbors, screamed at strangers over the pieces of god-awful useless cloth that were mandated to be worn over our nose and mouth, reported anyone suspected of being infected, and generally behaved like savages. I’m not alone when I say that I’ve never encountered such insensitive, rude, hostile, or dehumanizing behavior as I have over the past two years. And now, as society limps back towards pre-pandemic normalcy, so a semblance of sanity has returned to the pandemic’s most vicious enforcers. Do they feel a sense of remorse for their behavior? I have a feel that the answer is “no.”
What explains this descent into primitive behavior? Mass hysteria, or “mass formation psychosis,” as Belgian professor Matthias Desmet theorizes, is one very good answer. This appeared to be a textbook example of the “madness of crowds,” albeit the largest and most destructive instance in history. Technology has provided the infrastructure to transmit the madness instantaneously, something that couldn’t have occurred ten or twenty years ago. Everyone walks around glued to their phones, these tiny computers siphoning their attention away from people and events that truly matter, siphoning your attention away from reality itself.
Another side of the answer can be found in Hannah Arendt’s 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem. The absolute belief that one’s actions are in service to a greater good, somehow absolves the actor of their behavior, as was apparent to Arendt when she observed Eichmann during his trial. An inability, or a refusal, to think things through, or to think for oneself, is the path to atrocities. And during the pandemic, very few people appeared capable of independent thought, behaving more like uber-compliant zombies than the one being in the observable universe capable of reason and choice.
Another hypothesis looks at the class of people who have been most extreme in their advocacy for pandemic totalitarianism. They are mainly the highly-educated working professionals who are able to work from home indefinitely. I’ve had unsettling conversations with several of these types early on in the pandemic, and their outlooks all overlapped seamlessly. They all blindly believed that COVID-19 would kill millions, and demanded total, indefinite lockdowns of every “non-essential” sectors of society as the only viable solution. What did they think would happen to the economy if it were dealt these mortal wounds? “The government should pay people to stay home.” Oh, well who would make the money to be doled out if everyone stays at home? The conversations were dead ends. Their arguments were robotically regurgitated talking points that they had absorbed from the corporate press. They became angry and defensive at every hole poked into their world view.
Terrifying as it may seem, these are the people whose voices provided the facade of consent for the government’s response to the virus. The millions of voiceless middle and lower class Americans paid, and continue to pay, the grim price for the cinematic fantasy that the upper income-earners have indulged for two years.
Two years on, and we appear to be making our way out of this fugue state. More and more people are beginning to admit that lockdowns, masks, and mandates were at best unnecessary. Coolheadedness, something that should have taken top priority from the outset, is finally returning.
The real kick in the gut, however, is the shoulder-shrug attitude that everyone responsible appears to have about it all. We’ve lived through what amounts to the greatest public health disaster in history, a 100% man-made, civilizational crisis that could very well have reduced the West to intellectual and political rubble, and all we get is an “oh well, we’ll do better next time.” Excuse me, but that’s not good enough.
This is the attitude up and down the line: from county public health officials, local doctors, politicians, school administrators, company HR departments, et cetera. School nurses and teachers who bullied kids for not wearing their masks correctly for 8 hours every day are back to their work-a-day lives, apparently unburdened by the physical and emotional harm they’ve caused. Remember the painful, invasive, and now admittedly useless COVID tests that were jammed up our children’s noses every other day? Does anyone who demanded these tests as a condition for attending school appear to experience any guilt for it? Does Norman’s ex-mayor Breea Clark feel anything at all for the pain she caused the Norman community through her politically motivated pandemic policies? I get the sense that these people are sleeping the untroubled sleep of those who know that they will never suffer consequences for their actions.
But for punishment, where would we even start? The mayor’s office? But they would shift blame to the county health department. So, put them on trial? But they would kick the can to the CDC, who would pass the potato to the various academics who would blame faulty assumptions in their models. These nerds would then say that they aren’t to blame because they don’t wield political power. This would go round and round indefinitely. And so it becomes apparent that the pandemic’s chief enablers will get away scot free.
But the pandemic, and our government’s response to it, taught a priceless lesson: No crisis is so great that it requires the relinquishment of liberty, and once liberty is given up, it is almost never returned.
Shane Smith is a pro-liberty writer based in Norman, Oklahoma. He blogs at: RepublicReborn.com, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org