In France, 91% of the adult population is fully vaccinated for Covid-19. And yet the French government has just passed an even stricter version of its “vaccine passport” law, barring the unvaccinated from all restaurants, cafes, sporting events, and essentially any other social outing of any kind, unless and until they comply. “They,” just to reinforce the point, are only 9% of the adult population. Those 9% are obviously not going to be the source of any massive new outbreak of the pandemic, nor of any great overload of France’s healthcare system. 

In short, the Macron government’s new law has only one purpose, the one Macron himself smugly, angrily promised a couple of weeks ago, namely to make life hell for the unvaccinated. To clarify this point, the aim of this law is not to end or curtail the pandemic, which ought not to be a problem in a 91% vaccinated population, assuming the vaccines are half as effective as they were initially alleged to be. The aim is entirely, exclusively, to hurt people. To hurt French citizens. To materially damage their lives on every possible level. To hate that minority as a matter of public policy. To marginalize and despise them simply for their unwillingness to follow orders, in spite of the fact that those orders have proved so ineffectual in achieving their supposed goal — or rather, to state the obvious openly, because those orders have proved so ineffectual. For this law has nothing to do with ending the pandemic or saving the healthcare system. It has everything to do with venting anger, projecting one’s humiliated outrage, the failure’s shame, onto someone, anyone, who can be isolated as a convenient “cause” of your humiliation and failure, even when the case for this alleged causation has fallen to pieces. 

Let us be honest: If the number of French citizens refusing to get vaccinated were not 9%, but simply nine people, would the French government still want to hold them responsible for the country’s continuing caseload and hospital system failures? Presumably, since that is the trajectory of the current blaming, in France and around the world, of this ever-decreasing minority, as leaders the world over stubbornly continue to call this a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” At what point does this bald-faced lust for victims, for easily outnumbered and smothered targets of hatred to mitigate one’s sense of impotence, cease to be a horrifying sign of these thuggishly collectivist times and become almost laughable. 

One of the most pathetic sideshows of all human civilization is the endlessly repeated spectacle of the failed society looking for scapegoats to blame, for easily identifiable and marginalized objects on which to project its humiliation, for a mask of violent hatred with which to conceal its collective emasculation. Failed tyrants (and all tyrants are eventually failures) need to turn the slaves against some of their own, lest the slaves find the courage to rise up against the real source of their pain. And yet the slaves themselves are so easily manipulated into distortions of anger and vindictiveness against their fellow slaves, especially against the weakest minority among them, for the simple reason that most slaves are weak and cowardly, and for the weak and cowardly, the only means to saving face is to find someone small enough to belittle — or even to invite the slaveowner himself to provide and identify a suitably vulnerable and defenseless victim for them. For the self-enslaved in particular, which is to say for those so intrinsically cowardly that they were slaves before they lost their freedom, this latter method is perhaps the safest and therefore preferable way: Pretend to be strong by volunteering to hold down the weakest among you in order that your master may flog them. 

We are all Frenchmen today — willing, frightened slaves trying to hide our humiliation by begging our masters to let us punish the disobedient minority on the masters’ behalf. Of course, like all our slavish predecessors, we will fail. Our shame will destroy us, precisely because we lack the courage to face the true sources of that shame, above all the one in the mirror.

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