And so let me begin by explaining my use of that term shamdemic, in case that got your attention, and lest my views here be misrepresented. I do not mean that the virus is somehow fake, or that there are not places that are severely affected. I do not mean to belittle the suffering of any who have been sick, or the grieving of the thousands of families who have lost loved ones. I know that many have died and, believe it or not, I don’t want people to die. I am not pretending that somehow many haven’t died. And I am also not in any way making light of the heroics that any number of health care workers and supply chain folks have undertaken on behalf of others during this whole ordeal. Four cheers for all of them.
So what do I mean then? In what way could it be appropriate to call this a shamdemic? What I mean is the vast discrepancy between what has actually happened and what we were assured would happen. That discrepancy is the sham. Draconian actions were taken on the basis of these representations, and that is why the discrepancy is a hot issue. What the computer modeling experts predicted has not come to pass in any way that even remotely resembled their predictions, and which were treated as hard predictions by the politicians and decision-makers. And it cannot even be said that the computer modeling scare made us undertake certain heroic mitigation efforts necessary that would avert the predicted disaster because the models included mitigation efforts.
So on the medical side for those affected, this whole thing has been awful, but it still has not been anything close what it was purported to be. Yes, there really has been a hard and objective problem in key locations with COVID-19. But the cure and response was misguided, misinformed, overblown, not necessary, and far more damaging to everyone than the virus would have been had we simply treated it for what it actually was — a really bad seasonal respiratory illness, and one that had all the cameras in the world pointed at it.
But if you have been coming here to Mablog in order to read stuff, you have heard all that before. In addition to such standard stuff, I am here to tell you that something else entirely is going on. And no, not some hidden conspiracy. It is more like a purloined letter conspiracy straight out of Poe. This thing is out there in front of us, in plain sight. I am simply urging you to look straight at it. Are you willing to look straight at it?
Orthodoxies Are Always Policed
So I am going to be kind enough to tell you right up at the front end what I am attempting to do here, in the hope that you will join me. In addition, I hope to show you the necessity of doing it.
As this great pandemic scare crests and winds down, it is my conviction that we are going to be involved in one of the most important debates of our generation. That debate is going to be all about the need even to have a pandemic post mortem. And in that debate over whether we can have a debate, we need to be insisting that we be shown the game film, and allowed to comment on it. We must be allowed to ask “what just happened?” and in the provision of answers there must be voices other than those parroting the Official Version of Events. In the array of answers offered, there must be an actual array.
Speaking of commenting on things, and the thin skin that the Official Version already has, this would be a good time to tell you that last Friday Google suspended the Christ Church app for Android because of things we had (apparently) said about COVID. Their notice is attached. In case you can’t make out the small print, it says: “We don’t allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, death, or other tragic event.” Note that this is not even talking about my blog here, itself a paragon of reasonable sensitivity and the place where most of my criticisms have been, but rather about the pastoral help we have been providing in sermons, COVID catechisms, and such.
Shut up, they explained.
So look at where we are. This virus is new enough that we don’t even have a vaccine for it yet. We don’t have a vaccine for this pest, but we already have an hardened orthodoxy concerning it. Apparently orthodoxies are easier to come up with than vaccines. The Truth is apparently well known enough that the establishment experts are already submitting a statement of faith on this virus to the college of cardinals, to which all public expressions must heretofore conform. And that’s how you win an argument with an irreverent heretic.
And they are actively policing it. A number of you no doubt know of other examples of censorship, but here is another representative something.
This is actually the voice of massive insecurity. You don’t suspend somebody’s app for maintaining that the sun rises in the north. But if you were the people who just threw trillions of dollars into the whistling wind because you had believed reports that the sun was going to rise in the west within a fortnight and “we must be prepared for all contingencies,” and then it turns out not to have happened, you might start taking a severe approach to certain recalcitrant west-deniers. Free speech is a wonderful ideal and all, but we cannot allow speech that endangers both the public and the hineys of our anointed politicians.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Once the rush began, virtually all of our political leaders cascaded over one another in shutting things down. Only a handful have resisted the pressure to be as virtuous as all the rest. But the dilemma for the cascaders now is that they cannot just glibly say “never mind.” They blasted their way out, and so it is now going to be very difficult to tiptoe back in. They now have to figure out how to unwind this thing without provoking a hailstorm of accusations. They have to declare a great victory over the virus, Democrats and Republicans alike, and they also have to declare that the costs associated with the lock downs were a reasonable price to pay for that victory. Some might even be tempted to extend their lock downs so as to prove how reasonable it all was. See? We’re still saving lives!
But if they are going to do this, it is going to require a great deal of control over the post-game analysis, isn’t it? Shut up, they continued to explain.
However, if the sorcerer’s apprentice had so much difficulty with his master’s spells, how much control do you think he might exercise over the conversation with his master in the aftermath? That is, of course, if the master is allowed to talk. In this analogy, the master is the people, and the sorcerer’s apprentice is the certified expert, well-versed in all the jargon of the technocrat. And that brings us to the next thing. There always is a next thing, isn’t there? In this case, it is the anointed technocrat.
Pride, Predestination, Planning, and Plagues
We cannot let all of this pass by without addressing the root problem, which is the hubris of the modern technocratic planner.
Modern technocratic man does not object to predestination at all. He objects to predestination by God. He wants to remove God from His divine position in such a way as to create a job opening. His issue is not predestination as such, or predestination in the abstract. No, for him it is far more personal, and has to do with the identity of the one who predestines. He would rather it be expressed in the first person singular.
“The essential goal of modern science is knowledge in order to have prediction, planning, and control.”Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science, p. 6
And, speaking of the sorcerer’s apprentice, it turns out that this self-appointed tyranny of experts has gotten themselves in way over their heads. Usually what they do is wreck the economies of west African countries, and then come back home to submit binders full of reports that reveal to various World Bank committees how smart they were to leave when they did.
One of the best books I have ever read on this perennial problem was The Vision of the Anointed by Thomas Sowell, and when I saw an on-point relevant quote from that book from a Facebook friend, I had to pass on the goodness to you. HT: Dennis Bratcher
The great ideological crusades of twentieth-century intellectuals have ranged across the most disparate fields—from the eugenics movement of the early decades of the century to the environmentalism of the later decades, not to mention the welfare state, socialism, communism, Keynesian economics, and medical, nuclear, and automotive safety. What all these highly disparate crusades have in common is their moral exaltation of the anointed above others, who are to have their very different views nullified and superseded by the views of the anointed, imposed via the power of government. Despite the great variety of issues in a series of crusading moments among the intelligentsia during the twentieth century, several key elements have been common to most of them:
1. Assertions of a great danger to the whole of society, a danger to which the masses of people are oblivious.
2. An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe.
3. A need for government to drastically curtail the dangerous behavior of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few.
4. A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either uninformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes.
When their agendas fail to deliver on promises, they always respond “where would we be if we didn’t have these programs in place? How much worse would it have been?”
In short, no matter what happens, the vision of the anointed always succeeds, if not by the original criteria, then by criteria extemporized later—and if not by empirical criteria, then by criteria sufficiently subjective to escape even the possibility of refutation. Evidence becomes irrelevant.Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed
This is the play they run every time. And why? Because it works. Read over Sowell’s words carefully, and ask yourself whether this is not the exact play that is being run on us through all the climate change foolishness. Why, yes, it is, you say to yourself in mock surprise. And in what respect did the COVID scare differ, other than in the “two-minute offense” respect? Why, it did not differ in any material respect at all. Imagine the astonishment among all respected observers.
The one tactical difference was this. As I have argued before, the civil authority does have a genuine authority from God to quarantine, and this meant that a number of individuals (like myself) who are prepared to resist an immoral and unconstitutional overreach on the part of the state had to satisfy themselves first that it was in fact an overreach that merited such resistance. Put another way, if we were experiencing the equivalent of the Black Death of the 14th century, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
In any given situation, before we ascertained what is happening, we are to obey the authorities that God has placed over us. After we know they are wrong-headed or misguided, we should continue to obey. But once we know the whole thing is a grotesque and illegal power grab, we are to draw a firm biblical and constitutional line and begin the necessary task of civil resistance and disobedience.
You might say, and I guess some of you have said, that individuals and lesser magistrates don’t have the privilege of second-guessing those who are responsible to make such decisions. To which I reply, ever? Suppose the magistrates told everybody to turn in their guns so that they could be “sanitized by trained professionals, and then they will be returned to you promptly.” Research has apparently shown that this new and deadly virus clings in a most dangerous way to metallic gun surfaces, especially in red states with their drier climates. I dare say that resistance to that transparent move would be a whole lot more robust than our current resistance now is.
And that is because American Christians understand the importance of guns better than they understand the importance of worship.
Problems and Solutions
In the days to come, look for some articles to start posting about the “bright side” of all of this. You might think, you naive goof, that the bright side would have been the lives we saved by flattening that curve. The cost of saving those lives was flattening the economy, but because you are kind of old school in your thinking, you thought that the price to the economy was a regrettable but necessary expense in order to save the people. But that is not the thinking of our would-be predestinating maestros.
Out there in climate change world — run by the elites who also run the rest of the world — these flattened economies are NOT a regrettable price to pay. They are a good thing in their own right. For the Greens, the ideal population of the world is somewhere around 500 million people, and the flatter our carbon-spewing economies get, the better they like it. You know, all those extra people running around, numbering in the billions, are actually breathing CO2 out of their noses.
Well-fed people in billions of cars driving to hopping restaurants is their worst nightmare. That is not the solution they are thinking of; that is their problem. Did you see Ezekiel Emmanuel saying that we were going to have to stay in lock down for 12 to 18 months? Did you get a load of them apples? And that must mean that the resultant blue ruination is for him a feature and not a bug. Either that, or he is stupid, and he is not stupid.
When the president says that he wants the economy to be up and roaring again, he is treating explosive economic growth as though it were self-evidently a good thing. He is thinking like one of the old school guys. Joe Six-Pack also thinks that way, because he has a welding shop to run. But not everybody believes that. Not everybody thinks that way. The expert lordlings who are waiting in the wings to rule over our going out and our coming in do not believe that.
And what they could not get Joe Six Pack to do by scaring him with dying polar bears — lay off 20 employees — they have done by scaring him with a virus. Despite decades of lies, the polar bear thing just didn’t work. It was too far away, too irrelevant, and too measurable. Polar bears are big, and viruses are not. So with an invisible and deadly virus, some computer modeling hoojoo, the natural self-interest of people who don’t want to get sick and die, a sufficient smoke screen cover for politicians who wanted to flex on us, and the necessary pressure on the politicians who would have been inclined to resist, they hit on a really great formula. At least for them.
Hats off to them. They won the first half. And you are now getting a very stern half-time talk from me, your disappointed coach, because we need to figure out a way to get 62 touchdowns, and 10 field goals.
Ragbag of Relevant Info
Insist on a debate. Insist on a fiery debate. Insist on a review of what was done, and by whom. Insist on accountability for all decisions, and have that be an accountability with sharp teeth. Ask politicians running for office a very simple question. If a second wave of COVID comes back around in the fall, will you do the same thing over again? And if they say yes, then you must bring out your very best baleful stare.
As we try to insist on the debate that I believe we must have, here are some links to follow. The first is on Alex Berenson, who has done some first-rate reporting on all of this. And second, but still in the must read category, is this piece concerning Knut Wittkowski, an epidemiologist who is willing to say some things that some other people really need to listen to. The actions we took were not only unnecessary, they were also counterproductive. And in Chicago it turns out that a large number of the people who were tested for the COVID-19 virus actually had antibodies for the virus in their system already. If that pattern continues, it means that the ratios that were used to calculate this thing were of necessity way off. Tucker Carlson asks some preeminently reasonable questions here. Peter Hitchens has repeatedly raised the question about the difference between dying with the coronavirus in your system, and dying of the coronavirus. Why is the COVID death count being inflated the way it is?