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Some Interesting COVID Thoughts

Received from a contact of mine, currently using the handle, “Pyro”:

Knowledge is impossible without observing reality. That
is why mountebanks and power seekers, seeking to deceive, 
always and must find some excuse (eg. faith, suppression 
of heresy, blasphemy, "the science is settled," the 
cautionary principle, a nihilistic rejection of the 
legitimacy of cognition, your own good, nationalism, 
patriotism, for the poor, for the widows and orphans, 
for the sick, etc.) to dissuade or prevent people from 
doing so.

To the contemporary mind set it is plausible, even so
obvious as to be unquestionable, that it is possible
to achieve any end by the application of sufficient 
coercion and, indeed, that that is the only way to 
accomplish an end with certainty. This belief makes
the promotion of a crisis, real or imaginary, an
effective tactic (as famously advocated by Rahm 
Emanuel) for the development of totalitarian power.

Clearly this is what is taking place as a result of
the coronavirus pandemic, which has been used as an
excuse to impose on a large part of the human race,
with their substantial acquiescence, a previously 
unthinkable suicidal lockdown. Besides politicians' 
own propensities, prevalent popular beliefs place 
them under almost irresistible political pressure to 
take such totalitarian measures.

The Economist Magazine smugly expresses the conventional 
wisdom:
    Leaders section: "Everything´s under control"
    ...
    For believers in limited government and open markets, 
    covid-19 poses a problem. The state must act 
    decisively. But history suggests that after crises 
    the state does not give up all the ground it has 
    taken. Today that has implications not just for 
    the economy, but also for the surveillance of 
    individuals.

    It is no accident that the state grows during crises. 
    Governments might have stumbled in the pandemic, but 
    they alone can coerce and mobilise vast resources 
    rapidly. Today they are needed to enforce business 
    closures and isolation to stop the virus. Only they 
    can help offset the resulting economic collapse. ...
    ...
and suggests that the totalitarian changes are likely to 
be permanent.

Is this conventional wisdom about the necessity and 
efficacy of totalitarianism true? Is, as most people
believe, liberty only an impractical luxury that, for 
transcendent reasons, like survival, must be surrendered 
in emergencies? There are powerful reasons to think it 
is just the opposite. But aside from the logic of the 
theoretical arguments, the ultimate resolution of the
issue requires a scientific test of the matter; which 
would be to try both approaches and see what the real 
consequences are. To look at reality requires an
experimental control case.

Such an experiment would be difficult to deliberately 
conduct for obvious ethical reasons. Also, it would be 
rejected by the advocates of totalitarianism on the basis 
that it would subject free people to unnecessary death 
and disease that coercion could avoid; it would never 
occur to them to consider that their methods might be 
decreasing well being rather than reducing death and 
disease. And they would never be willing to allow the 
possibility of conducting a test that might show, in 
practice, that they are wrong.

However, in spite of the overwhelming pressure to conform,
the country of Sweden has so far resisted adopting the
worst and most destructive totalitarian measures. If they
persist, their experience may offer a bit of a control 
case to observe.
 
Also, surprisingly, Nicaragua, of all places, may provide 
another one. So far it appears that, aside from isolating 
themselves on a private island, the only measures that the 
government of the dictatorial couple has imposed in Nicaragua 
is organizing marches and large public meetings to chant 
slogans against the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the people 
of Nicaragua seem well informed and to be taking their own
private measures to protect themselves while going about 
their normal business. We will see what the results are.

If these two control cases turn out with favorable results 
we can be assured that the facts will be suppressed by the 
political classes in the rest of the world to avoid being 
held responsible for the unnecessary evil they have caused.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Peter April 11, 2020, 12:50 pm

    I suggest monitoring situation in my neighbouring country Belarus. Poor, former communist state in central Europe run by oligarchs took no measures.

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