The Year Of One-Variable Thinking
Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to others; the Constitution of the Republic should make a Special privilege for medical freedoms as well as religious freedom.
― Benjamin Rush
Sovereignty is created through crisis; sovereignty requires crisis. Covid-19, simply, has been used to re-establish the sovereignty of the ‘experts’: the professional ruling class (found on both the left and right) whose monopolization of governmental power was threatened by the elections of 2016 both in America and Europe. Essentially, lockdowns are revenge-porn enacted by an expert class who aren’t over the events of 2016; lockdowns are chemo pumped into the veins of a population which dared to vote for populists.
What I hold fast to is not one proposition but a nest of propositions.
Rather than adopt a humble, open-ended, skeptical process of deliberation, leading Democratic politicians adopted an ideology, very early on, which left no room for new information, or evolution. Dependent on the one-variable thinking of ‘experts’, many state governors embraced strategies which led, and are leading, to longterm excess death totals much higher than the supposedly incompetent ‘red’ states whose medical data they can’t even condescend to read.
According to the ‘expert’ paradigm—the paradigm through which, and by which, states like New York and California (or nations like Ireland or Argentina) are governed—secondary (or unintended) effects do not exist. All that matters is a crude utilitarian calculus which allows leaders to assert that they have done something to reduce Covid deaths. Covid deaths, after all, are the basis of their emergency powers and nearly unlimited good press. So why would they recognize (and count) any other kind of death again?
Lockdowners are so many Robespierres: enacting their rationalistic, high-minded goals with the grim, deterministic logic of the hangman.
The sociopath-ization of almost everyone. There is a subtle (and lasting) consequence of (re)conceiving of the other as disease vectors—of all strangers as potential asymptomatic spreaders—you lose interest in them altogether.
The desacralization of the face. It disturbs me that liberal discourse has centered around the notion that people should just be willing to line up and sacrifice what makes life worth living (communal intimacy and closeness).
There is nothing moral about submitting to moral norms—only strategic. We don’t need more examples of submissiveness, compliance; we need examples of individuality, courage, iconoclasm. In order to earn the status of ‘individual’, you have to resist the inexorable logic of your particular time and place; an individual creates their own culture, they don’t just consumer what’s near-at-hand.
Tragically, Oedipus never suspects that he is the source of the plague he is determined to stop. Oedipus is not a tyrant because he is cruel, but because he is blind.
The behavior of most governments during the pandemic can best be described as an auto-immune attack: an attack, provoked by an intruder, by the system against itself.
Skepticism and plurality are affronts to the mystical certainty of the Expert Covid Cultists. As part of the new religion of safety, we wonder why infections continue to rise even in places which ‘did things right’ (instituted harsh lockdowns). The answer, of course, is that the lockdowns were not harsh enough! The priests and their flock did NOT faithfully adhere to the tenants of the faith! Non-believers have ruined things for us all! We’ve sinned against Science and Its priests, the epidemiologists. The punishment, logically, is more lockdowns.
In order to get yourself to a place where you believe that absolute isolation is safe, you really just simply have to have no knowledge of, or ignore everything you know about, anthropology, cognitive science, literature, history, or your own experience. In order to get to a place where you immediately and wholeheartedly embrace the isolation of the elderly and children as sound scientific public policy, you have to first invent a new framework for the human being in which the actual substance of the human being has been left out.
Immune-system blindness. In exchange for ‘controlling’ the pandemic in the present, we’ve tragically enfeebled the future.
What hardcore lockdowners like Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo have in common is a political mandate to increase and enhance rule by mandarin bureaucracy; the flurry of insane and clearly pointless Covid guidelines—most recently in response to the looming threat of… family Thanksgiving—is a kind of political therapy meant to console those actually have convinced themselves that none of this would have happened under Hillary.
Blue state guidelines, many of which are clearly examples of magical thinking (does Covid start to spread faster after 11pm?), make perfect sense to people who believe that democracy ‘died’ of 2016, that climate change would be arrested by the wide-spread adoption of veganism, or that kneecapping police budgets couldn’t possibly lead to a rise in violent crime.
‘Blue states’ governors can’t look at Florida—which is experiencing a decrease in hospitalizations, deaths, and ER visits since ending all state level Covid restrictions (just like Sweden)—and see anything other than a state which voted for Trump (and which needs to be flipped!!!!); they simply can’t learn anything new. Similarly, and not incidentally, many voters can’t look at Biden and see anything other than ~Trump (rather than the longtime neocon and corporate shill who delivered a killer eulogy at Strom Thurmond’s funeral).