From the “Who Was Dumb Enough to Believe This Was Ever About Public Health?” File

During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, those of us naturally inclined to resist propagandistic media hyperbole and distrust tyrannical models of government “efficiency” spent a good deal of our time, and inordinate amounts of our nerves, arguing with some of the dumbest or most fear-driven humans we had ever encountered, over the strange new question of whether allowing the governments of the world to arbitrarily assign themselves unprecedented totalitarian-level powers, to be applied on a random and open-ended basis, might somehow prove to be a good thing for the future of mankind, at least in the limited context of promoting public health. (After all, who hadn’t lain awake at night at various times over the years wondering, “Why can’t we all enjoy the stellar public health measures typically enjoyed by slaves and political prisoners throughout history?”)

We provided for our real or prospective interlocutors all our best arguments about the statistical realities of this new coronavirus, in particular its extremely low risk to the otherwise healthy and non-elderly — to no avail. We tried to place this pandemic in the historical context of far more crushing pandemics the world has faced, both in remote times and even within the modern era, without ever having been reduced to ceding all freedom of association, movement, and speech to government controllers. Not a dent. We reasoned, repeatedly and ever-more self-evidently, about the practical foolishness and absolute ineffectiveness of draconian social controls, the elimination of privacy, and the denial of human interaction from a public health point of view — but got nothing in response but more irrational fear, and more cries that “the authorities” just had to do something, where “something” meant literally whatever the hell they wanted, regardless of whether it made any sense or showed any effect on lessening the spread or severity of the outbreak. 

No single policy insanity of the past two years has more clearly typified the sheepish cowardice and susceptibility to authoritarian propaganda of the majority of the world’s “civilized” population than the repeated, arbitrary, indefinite imposition of “lockdowns” — a peculiar word none of us had ever imagined could be used in any reasonable context to describe the actions of a democratic government toward the people it supposedly represents, but which has quickly become as commonplace, even as ho-hum, to most of us as “income tax” or “compulsory schooling.” It is tyranny plain and simple, so clearly so that most of us on the minority side of the debate — the losing side — concluded from a very early stage that since it defied common sense as a health measure, its imposition must have had other, non-health-related motives. In short, it was obvious from the get-go that lockdowns, in the sense of these universal police-state restrictions on private behavior, disrupting the ability to work, personal associations, and even family interactions, were intended as an assertion of power for its own sake, which is to say as a means of establishing new powers, and of inuring the general public to their ubiquitous and permanent establishment.

At various moments throughout these past two years, as we have watched the last threads of modern civilization snipped by despots, demagogues, and “experts” fomenting and exploiting the fears of the ignorant, I have commented, in my writing and in private conversation, that some years hence, assuming some form of civilized society rises from our ashes, there will be studies detailing just how utterly and deliberately devastating to mankind the global response to this pandemic has been, and nowhere more fundamentally than in the entrenchment of this “lockdown” authority — both in coercive government action and in the decimation of public discourse — in almost every nation that had previously dared to maintain even a pretense of freedom. The first half of my prediction, regarding the acknowledgment of utter devastation, seems in fact to have already begun its slow climb into the mainstream. The second half, regarding the deliberateness (i.e., the tyrannical intentions) of the devastation, will follow much later.

I see that researchers at Johns Hopkins University have published a new study showing that lockdowns have been completely ineffective at curtailing the spread of the pandemic, and furthermore that in their ultimate social effects these assertions of coercive power have been an absolute negative for civilization.

From the study:

“[Shutdowns] have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy,” the authors wrote. “These costs to society must be compared to the benefits of lockdowns, which our meta-analysis has shown are marginal at best.”

In other words, the researchers are openly declaring not only — as even some milquetoasts have claimed before — that the political and economic damage of lockdowns might “outweigh” their health benefits, but rather, much more strongly, that lockdowns have had no discernible health benefits at all, leaving only the harmful social effects as their legacy. Bravo for common sense finally seeping all the way up to the ivory tower!

The next step, which certainly will not be taken by the authors of this study or any other mainstream academic research that has any chance of getting published in the current climate, is to determine whether anyone with real decision-making authority ever thought sacrificing all semblance of freedom, and annihilating all traces of the rule of law for all time, could have been a good strategy for responding to a pandemic, unless the primary goals of the response transcended mere concerns about public health from the start.

I will not bore those of you old enough to understand by detailing the all-too-obvious answer to that follow-up study’s question. As for the younger among you, perhaps you will live long enough to read that study, so I would not want to spoil the ending for you.

Meanwhile, as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and a pile of other ancient fake rebels continue their crusade against freedom of speech and the open discourse among opinions that might conflict with “the authorities,” I shall replay, in celebration of this tiny victory of reason from a few academics at Johns Hopkins, the first and best pandemic protest song, from one rare ancient rebel who proved himself a non-fake.

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