While millions were locked down, forbidden from going to events or even church, and the schools and arts were shut down, people kept asking a fundamental question: why is this happening, what is government doing, and what is the exit strategy? There were a number of possibilities.
Maybe it was to preserve hospital capacity and yet at that very time hospitals were furloughing nurses and parking lots were empty because they locked their doors to elective surgeries and routine checkups.
Maybe it was to buy time so that personal protective equipment and ventilators could be stockpiled and yet we later found that the ventilators killed many unnecessarily while stockpiles later sold for pennies on the dollar.
Or maybe it was to wait for a vaccine. That was the word on the street. Certainly vaccines had been in development since January 2020 if not earlier. One was coming. And the companies themselves clearly had huge influence on the regulatory agencies that later approved them and mandated their products through unusual means.
But the story is not entirely clear.
Consider the March 2, 2020, email from Anthony Fauci to Michael Gerson, a reporter for the Washington Post. This exchange took place two weeks before the Trump administration decreed the shutdowns and four days after the New York Times had called for a medieval response. It was only a week after Fauci had changed his mind both on severity and lockdowns.
The turning point had been February 27, when Fauci, who had previously said the virus was not severe and merited no lockdowns, sent an email to the actress Morgan Fairchild which instructed her to warn her followers of the coming lockdowns. “The American public should not be frightened,” he wrote, “but should be prepared to mitigate an outbreak in this country by measures that include social distancing, teleworking, temporary closure of schools, etc.”
On March 2, Gerson asked the question that we all would ask a few weeks later. “Is the overall strategy of social distancing just to keep the percentage of Americans who get the disease low until a vaccine is available? This seems much harder to do in a free society. Does this mean closing schools? Public transport? Do states and localities make such decisions?”
Fauci’s response is rather startling.
“Social distancing is not really geared to wait for a vaccine,” wrote Fauci. “The major point is to prevent easy spread of infections in schools (closing them), crowded events such as theaters, stadiums (cancel events), work places (do teleworking where possible)…. The goal of social distancing is to prevent a single person who is infected to readily spread to several others, which is facilitated by close contact in crowds. Close proximity of people will keep the R0 higher than 1 and even as high as 2 to 3. If we can get the R0 to less than 1, the epidemic will gradually decline and stop on its own without a vaccine.”
Michael Gerson then repeated that nearly word for word in his own column the same day, thus providing a window into the real way these columns get constructed.
Gerson, however, adds: “A vaccine, however, would be tremendously helpful.”
Those who resent the vaccine mandates, or suffer from adverse effects, might take some solace in the seeming position of Fauci here that a vaccine was not necessary and that the epidemic will end on its own. However, a close read provides no such comfort. He is actually imagining something even worse than a vaccine mandate. He was mapping out a plan for lockdowns forever.
No common respiratory virus has ever gone away simply by reducing the rate of infection spread through artificial means of universal human separation. As soon as people start interacting again, the virus will be on the move again until it reaches endemicity through herd immunity, which is exactly what eventually happened in this case, just as has happened through the whole of history. We got over the pandemic not due to lockdowns or vaccines but through exposure. It was always thus and always will be. That’s why no civilized society has ever attempted universal lockdowns much less on a global scale.
Fauci here is actually advocating something very far-reaching to the point that it verges on insanity. He is calling for a full reconstruction of the social order to keep people apart forever so that we don’t infect each other with anything. This seems to be his theory, because the notion that driving down the measure of infection would itself cause the virus to become extinct makes no scientific sense at all. It’s like saying you can end the rain by lowering your umbrella.
Under his plan, we would have had lockdowns forever. In that sense, the vaccine at least represented a possible emancipation from the permanent prison-like conditions that Fauci was imagining at the time. And this is truly how the narrative turned out: lockdowns to end the pandemic, masks to stop the lockdowns, and vaccines to stop the masks. Of course nothing worked but each stage provided a test of compliance.
But how serious was Fauci about this point? Maybe it was just an email, not a big theory of life itself. Maybe. But the lockdowns did not end anytime soon. They went on through the summer – except when protesting racism – and on to the fall.
In August of 2020, Fauci co-authored a major article for Cell that received very little attention. The article offers up the general theory that the underlying cause of all infectious disease is human contact, which is another way of saying society itself. “In a human-dominated world, in which our human activities represent aggressive, damaging, and unbalanced interactions with nature, we will increasingly provoke new disease emergencies.”
The answer then is obvious: dismantle society itself. Or as Fauci puts it:
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that overcrowding in dwellings and places of human congregation (sports venues, bars, restaurants, beaches, airports), as well as human geographic movement, catalyzes disease spread…. Living in greater harmony with nature will require changes in human behavior as well as other radical changes that may take decades to achieve: rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence, from cities to homes to workplaces, to water and sewer systems, to recreational and gatherings venues.
Maybe the beef with current society traces from postwar fossil fuel use on a mass scale? Maybe his objection is to the Industrial Revolution? No, you need to think much bigger. The problem is as follows:
Newly emerging (and re-emerging) infectious diseases have been threatening humans since the neolithic revolution, 12,000 years ago, when human hunter-gatherers settled into villages to domesticate animals and cultivate crops. These beginnings of domestication were the earliest steps in man’s systematic, widespread manipulation of nature.
One might suppose it would be top headlines that the man who crafted the Covid response for the world was merely using this as the lever to reverse 12,000 years of human history. Indeed in that sense, “going medieval” is a mere step in a long road back. Forget the Constitution. Forget the Enlightenment. Forget even the golden age of the Roman Empire. Fauci wants to take us back long before there are any actual historical records: a conjectural Rousseauian state of nature where we lived by foraging for food around us and nothing more.
And yet the authors assure us that they doubt that going that far back is truly possible, as wonderful as it might be. “Since we cannot return to ancient times,” they ask, “can we at least use lessons from those times to bend modernity in a safer direction?”
As the lockdowns went on and on, many people started to suspect that Fauci and his cohorts had decided that the underlying problem was not the pathogen in particular but people in general and their penchant for wanting the freedom to move, associate, and do things together. Fauci in his own writings sees all of this as nothing but a chance for disease creation and disease spread. Indeed, during his deposition in a free speech case, he put this attitude on display when he snapped at a court reporter for sneezing. “I don’t want Covid,” he protested.
Who knew that when we were told of 15 Days to Flatten Curve we were really signing up for a complete reconstruction of life on earth as we’ve known it for 12,000 years? That appears to be the underlying agenda. If that sounds hyperbolic, see the writings above, all signed by Fauci the great. And by the way, during the pandemic period, the net worth of the Faucis doubled. The radical reconstruction of human society that is being proposed here turns out to be personally lucrative for its proponents.
How to fight this gibberish? The champions of genuine freedom and a functioning society need a robust theory and understanding of the relationship between civilization and infectious disease. To my mind, Sunetra Gupta and Steve Templeton have come closer than anyone to providing just that. (Brownstone is preparing to publish Templeton’s mighty treatise on the topic.)
Probably before Covid, we did not entirely understand that we need such a thing but lacking it, Fauci filled the void with his Joker-like longings to disrupt the whole of society as we’ve known it for 12,000 years. That was the hidden meaning behind Fauci’s email to the Washington Post.
To top it off, Fauci has routinely denied promoting lockdowns.