The coronacrisis is a misleading word. It suggests a virus is to blame for a crisis. The word already connects with an irrevocable image of doom and destruction by an invisible enemy. The current general assumption is that we are at war and everything is permitted to prevent escalation. Tyranny as necessary evil. However, for those who could keep a cool head during this mass hysteria, has seen that the virus is a problem disproportional to the taken measures and that the real crisis has been nothing more than the reaction of the people. And one could see the escalation already has happened: an excess of totalitarian measures, the forced conversion to one specific narrative, and the witch hunt on dissenters are the evidence.
In the name of public health!
Throughout the last months, one of the things that astonished me the most has been the radical shift in cultural hegemony and the uncritical adjustment of the vast majority of the population. The cultural hegemony includes the dominant set of ideas, norms and values about social reality. You can see it like this: everything that has been normalized and feels natural, is part of the hegemony. Whereas quit a laid back attitude existed towards (seasonal) communicable viruses prior to the COVID19-hype, this quickly turned into a culture of fear where everything that could potentially bear the virus is looked upon with horror and needs to be avoided at all costs. I have seen this rapid development with people around me. Where those in former times would have a coffee with their neighbours or go to birthday parties despite having the flu, they suddenly changed to the biggest supporters of an overall lockdown, admonish others for not wearing face masks, and call the police without a doubt when they see a group of more than two persons.
The reason for this peculiar transformation is actually quite simple: human beings are naturally conformistic. And even with a swift and radical change in mental legacy, it seems to be pretty easy to adapt to it without much thinking. After all, it is the way of least resistance and most allies. However, this is by far the most dangerous thinking method too. By actively promoting 'the new normal' and even force it onto your fellow man, the step to a new kind of totalitarianism has been made. That's what happened the last months. Although the process is not new: it has been a well-trodden path in the history of mankind. The philosopher Alan Watts explained this important causal relation in 1969:
‘You will find that insecure societies are the most intolerant of non-joiners. They are so unsure of the validity of their game rules that they say that everyone must play. (…) Everybody is equally inferior, which becomes the parody of democracy. And that kind of society you have to watch out for, because it turns in a quick click into fascism.’ (Lecture: A Place for the Hermit)
What has become very clear since the arrival of the virus in Europe, is a widespread support for collectivism. And that is severely disturbing. It states that everything can be done as long as it is done for the public interest. Yet, when looking closer, this boils down to using abstract concepts as arguments to impose your world view on someone else. Egoism in disguise. The #stayhome movement is a good example. They are so convinced of their own belief that they totally bypass any alternative ways of thinking. And the government is their weapon. They won't force their neighbours themselves; they are more than happy to use the power of the state. The right to self-ownership has become meaningless: for collectivists the individual has become akin to a piece of product and, depending on their vision of public interest, can be tossed and turned whatever way. And if there's one big depressing conclusion to be made from this totalitarianistic situation: you are the property of someone else.
A good tyranny isn't that bad
The thesis of my previous article was that the panic has been the consequence of a continual hypnosis by media images. However, the most crucial thing to this daily ritual of reading news papers, searching the internet and watching television, is not the content, but the way it is framed. News is irrevocably a selection of reality. It's easy to forget that while watching or reading. What's even more difficult to see through: the suggestive way of presenting gives you the illusion that you are the one connecting the given dots. That you are the one that found causal relations and took it as irrefutable proof for adjustments in thoughts and behaviour. The narrative that developed concerning the virus has become an all-encompassing mania. It has seeped through to every aspect of life. Because all the news plunged onto this new, unknown virus, the illusion has been created that nothing else matters anymore. After all, it has been elevated to fact that this is the greatest threat to society.
The consequence of this culture of fear is the cultivation of a moral superiority-complex among a lot of people. These are the ones that simply cannot tolerate people who refuse to convert to the belief in the only right narrative. These are the people who wave with charts of doom. These are the people who demand one-size-fits-all solutions. These are the people who tell someone that disobedience to their supported measures will lead to a loss of innumerable lives. These are the people who convinced governments to use George Orwell's 1984 as an instruction guide. And these are the people who pat themselves on the back for creating this tyranny, because they truly believe they are doing something good.
'Yes, but Italy!..'
The arguments of the stayhome movement have changed during the course of the last months. The bigotry, however, has remained the same. First the video clips of Chinese people suddenly falling over and the chaos in Wuhan hospitals were being used as proof of a killer virus. Subsequently the cruise ship The Diamond Princess was followed with full conviction that every passenger who would be infected was doomed to die. The results of the only valid study that could make a rough estimation of the severity of the virus, showed that COVID-19 is only dangerous to a very tiny percentage. There wasn't much time to let this study sink in the collective mind, because it was Italy's turn. Images of overwhelmed hospitals were being shown, people seemingly dying at a rapid pace, and doctors who had to choose which patient had a right to the last ventilator. Although it is beyond dispute that this has been very shocking indeed, once again people have been mislead and ignored three things: it is not unusual for hospitals to be overwhelmed (and that people die in a hospital), the hospitals that were being overwhelmed is not representative for all hospitals in Italy (the vast majority remained empty), and the ability to see death in perspective .
Through suggestive TV images and an incapability of relativizing, a whole way of thinking drastically changed: if we don't do anything, we will end up like Italy! This was around the time that the #flattenthecurve was being introduced. A chart that shows the capacity Intensive Care Units will be overrun when no measures are taken. Very convincing and nothing to object, right? The only details, though, are a lack of scientific proof for the effectiveness of interventions and that the big mistake has been made to equal predictions with facts. On the other hand, there is evidence that suggests lockdowns and social distancing are not significantly effective: the exponential curve was already getting flatter before the measures were put in place! However, for most people this simplistic image of #flattenthecurve was reason enough to literally silence critics and regulate human behaviour to the extreme.
The 'expert' argument
Then the 'expert-argument' was put forward. Whereas classic definitions of science always include investigative questions, in times of corona this has become pretty much impossible. Because experts. There is a 100% consensus between experts about the severity of the virus. Because experts. Only experts who support the official narrative, are worth mentioning. Because experts. On the basis of flawed mathematical models it is justified to give every person some jail time. Because experts. The part of the brain where critical and analytical thinking is done, has flown right out of the window for the #stayhome movement. Because experts.
When it's getting clearer now that the predictions of the praised experts were really far off and that the percentage asymptomatic people much higher is than previously assumed, something curious happened. Instead of admitting they were wrong, the reasoning now goes as follow: exactly because of the totalitarian measures relatively few people died of COVID19! Here again, the total lack of empirical evidence that upholds the effectivity of these measures are completely ignored! And the majority of the people simply adopts this kind of reasoning and approves the greatest violation of freedom since 80 years. This has seemingly become the new common sense.
Corona takes humanity out of people
If you look at the current situation, it becomes clear that the mind of the #stayhome movement is set for a dark and puritan future. A world where human contact has to be avoided and where one treats another with constant distrust. Where meeting new people will never be done spontaneously anymore. Where every act will be done overly self-conscious because every object could contain the feared virus. Where people can be labeled as non-essential. Where it becomes civil disobedient to visit grandma or grandpa who, for their own safety, are locked up in an old people's home, yet are dying of loneliness. Social distancing as virtue. These folks would like to put you in a 100% desinfected bubble, whatever works, right? These are the same people who didn't practice social distancing nor were wearing face masks before the corona hype. For them, influenza was something you carried with you to the queue at the checkout and conscientiously exhaled onto the wrinkled lady in front of you. The hypocrisy of the stay-at-home audience is poignant. If you don't join the walz of these guardian angels of civilization, ironically enough you will be condemned as a potential murderer of all the innocent people that will die of COVID19 in the near and distant future.
The pro-lockdowners think they can plug the hole in the dike, but forget that it will flood with great force at a later time. They stare at the daily death numbers in the COVID19-newspaper, yet ignore the much bigger consequences. Or they don't care. They don't care that tens of millions of people have lost their job or company due to an absurdly tight regime of governments. They don't mind the rise of depression and the increase of people who commit suicide out of despair. They brush off the people who die because they couldn't get treatment at the hospital while COVID19 has become the only priority. It isn't a problem for them to see genocide is being committed in developing countries around the world due to their praised lockdown measures and tens of thousands of people are forced to die of hunger. If the capacity IC-units doesn't get exceeded, right? Then it will all be worth it.
George Orwell's 1984 as instruction guide for governments
One thing that is far more dangerous that COVID-19 itself: someone from the government passionately telling you that he is here to help. A police state has been created that is unparalleled. Drones are being used to keep absolute control. An abundance of fines have been given to people who violated the two-meter rule. The numerous Gestapo-like arrests: from capturing a lonely surfer in California to the use of heavy artillery for someone who decided to sunbathe on a completely empty beach. Not to mention the innumerable phone calls to the police. In Spain it is known that at least one out of three calls (of 200.000 in one month) to the emergency number were done by balcony people who spotted someone walking their dog or for some kids playing on the street. And the most astonishing of it all has been the fact that people cheer for these kind of actions. Not by some activists, but by the average citizen. ‘Stay at home, idiots!’, they yell. You would almost think that people who are obsessively clinging on to this 'new normal' are consciously enjoying the psychological merits of subjugating other human beings.
Although it could come across as being careless: this rant doesn't mean I believe nothing is going on, that COVID19 is a hoax, or that those who have been affected by the virus shouldn't worry. There is definitely a new virus going around that is dangerous to some people. However, the dystopian reality we are facing is the direct consequence of a total overreaction. When the cameras wouldn't constantly have been focused on China or Italy, or when all this could have been seen in perspective, we wouldn't be in the same situation right now. We wouldn't have let ourselves be lead by fear, but instead would analyse the statistics objectively. We would inform those with compromised immune systems about the potential danger of this (lung)virus so that they themselves could take measures. We would go on with our daily life like with every yearly pandemic and let our neighbours be free to take their own decisions. We would never ever have used the power of the state to lock up every individual for a false sense of security.
The rise of this medical tyranny has been made possible, and is even pushed by the moral superiors, by the #stayhome fanatics, by the #weareinthistogether crusaders, by the #social distance warriors, and by the #flattenthecurve collectivists. The ideas they propose are so good that they have to be mandatory. It seems to be that the way to hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions.