On a video podcast the other day, I made reference to the lockdown orders of March 2020. The host turned off the recording. He said it was fine to talk about this subject but from now on please refer to “the events of March 2020” with no specifics.
Otherwise, it will be taken down by YouTube and Facebook. He needs those platforms for reach, and reach is necessary for his business model.
I complied, but I was spooked. Are we really now in the position that talking about what happened to us is verboten on mainstream venues? Sadly, that seems to be where we headed. In big and small ways, and throughout the culture and the whole world, we are bit by bit being trained to forget and hence not learn and thus repeat the whole thing.
This makes no sense since nearly every public issue in play today traces to those fateful days and the fallout thereof, including censorship, the entrenchment of industry-government oligarchs, the corruption of media and tech, the educational upheaval, the abuse of courts and law, and the developing financial and banking crisis.
And yet hardly anyone wants to speak about the topic frankly. It is too upsetting. There is too much at stake. We cannot risk being canceled, the single greatest fear of every aspirational professional in today’s world. Plus too many powerful people were in on it and don’t want to admit it. It would appear that the whole subject is being memoryholed in ways of which they all approve.
For nearly two years, or longer, respectable intellectuals knew not to dissent from the prevailing norms and challenge the whole machinery. This was true of Washington think tanks, which went on their merry way from March 2020 either celebrating the “public health response” or just remaining quiet. The same was true of the leadership of major political parties and third parties.
Most religious leaders stayed quiet too, even as their doors were padlocked for as long as 2 holiday seasons. Civic organizations played along. If you thought that the job of the ACLU was to defend civil liberties, you were wrong: they one day decided that lockdowns, mandatory masks, and forced shots were essential to their mission.
So many were compromised over 3 years. These same people now just want the whole subject to go away. We find ourselves in an odd position, having experienced the biggest trauma in our lives and in many generations and yet there is precious little open talk about it. Brownstone was established to fill this void but we’ve become a target as a result.
The search engines have been gamed for the better part of 3 years to keep the science channeled in only one direction. If web platforms step out of line, it is easy enough for search engines and social-media companies to tag them as problematic and thus throttle their reach. But for Substackers – and they are being targeted now too – it would be hard to find out anything other than what the oligarchs want you to believe.
This silent treatment is filtering down to every aspect of our lives and becoming entrenched in the political culture too. Here is an example from this week.
When Donald Trump returned from his theatrical and ridiculous indictment on nothing in New York, he flew immediately back to Mar-a-Lago where he told his story to people gathered in a pastiche-baroque ballroom. He told of the fake news, the attempted impeachments for Russia and Ukraine, the plots and schemes, and onward to the fake ballots and the FBI raid on his home, and now this preposterous new thing.
It was a solid narrative overall. But his story left out a hugely important detail. He said not one word about Covid lockdowns and Operation Warp Speed that was supposed to be the great fix for the virus but flopped. This was a rather important detail to leave out since it wrecked the economy, the Bill of Rights, education, and led to a massive demographic upheaval in addition to the continuing fallout in terms of culture, economics, and everything else.
It also caused him to lose the presidency, whether because the shock resulted in mass demoralization (this was certainly not a path to making America great again) or because of the mail-in ballots made possible by Covid restrictions, or probably both. However you look at it, it was the most disastrous decision of his presidency or possibly any presidency in history.
How in the world are we just supposed to pretend that this did not happen? And yet he is playing along simply because he does not want to admit error. He thinks it makes him appear weak. Nor does he still slam the successor presidency for mask and shot mandates even though hundreds of millions were affected by them. He would rather not bring up the topic at all, lest doing so raises questions about his own judgment in those fateful days of March 2020.
Meanwhile, the DNC does not want to admit that it celebrated and built on Trump’s biggest disaster while the RNC does not want to discuss that the policies they decry from the DNC actually began under the RNC. And so you have a kind of “mutually assured destruction” pact between them that needs no plot or contract. In silencing all talk about this, each party is only doing what is in its interest.
We can fully expect that these issues will be locked out of the campaign narratives in 2024 just as they were in 2020 and 2022. Everyone seems to agree: the less said the better. And this is precisely why the announced candidacy of Robert Kennedy, Jr., has triggered the usual and expected gaslighting from the mainstream media. The plan is to flog him into marginalization. And if that doesn’t work, they will flog and flog again.
We are seeing a real-time example of how history is really written. The narrative is more self-serving than we knew. If all the power centers in society get something tremendously wrong, an informal conspiracy of silence develops around it, with the hope of just wiping it from the history books.
As Michael Senger has written, “Lockdowns met little resistance in part because they reinforced existing power structures. The rich got richer, the Zoom class got a vacation, workers got stimulus, while some business owners, their employees, and the most vulnerable had to sacrifice everything for this fantasy.”
And we can add to that: government gained vastly more power. In fact, Covid became the template for the biggest expansion of government power over the population in world history, more effective than ancient myths about god-like rulers, heresy trials and witch burnings of the Middle Ages, sedition purges of the 18th and 19th centuries, red scares of the 20th centuries, the Cold War, or even the wars on terror. Fear of infectious disease was more effective than all of them for ratcheting up despotism.
When something works this well for the most powerful people in society, why not just keep quiet about it?
The tellers of tales can write stories but they cannot invent their own realities. There will be no restoration of liberty, rights, and truth until we come to terms with what happened, why, and how to prevent it in the future. Playing along with this conspiracy of silence surrounding a policy that effectively blotted out every advance in human rights since the Magna Carta is a disastrous error that could lead to the entrenchment of a new dark age.