While it may make a lot of people feel good about themselves at the moment, it will only further corrode trust in the rule of law— a shift that always favors the powerful—and take valuable energy away from the urgent task of fighting massive and systematic government and corporate assaults on our dignity and freedom.
What passes today for ideological convictions, in our supposedly terminally divided country, are nothing of the sort, but rather labels to which many quickly and lightly affix themselves precisely because they haven’t really thought deeply about what they believe and why, but don’t want to be seen as being out of step, or of not having really done their homework.
Like people, paradigms get tired, mostly because the humans that work within them, as Kuhn suggested, increasingly lose touch with the problems that originally elicited in them the intense and sacrifice-laden drive to create urgently desired new things. But humans aren’t always very good at recognizing when they have begun going through the motions. This is especially so with those in the thrall of a purely linear vision of time in which the perennial reality of intellectual and spiritual regression is afforded no legitimate space.
Understanding all this makes it easier to think of those who provided the vociferous support for the government-imposed destruction of freedom of association, commercial freedom, bodily sovereignty, mass firings, record-shattering numbers of injuries and deaths and who knows how many future health complications with a greater degree of forgiveness and compassion. But I’m not there yet.
Everyone in these once-trusted professions, in short, must eschew the pressure to go along with the prevailing pressure, so that he or she won’t become, like so many of their colleagues, an absurd, kiss-up kick-down, fear-promoting cypher who brings daily discredit to one of the world’s oldest and most noble vocations.
As every great religious tradition reminds us, the proclivity to do ill to others is vividly present in everyone during the entire course of our lives on earth, and that the first and most effective step towards ensuring that this inner monster does not take control of our destinies is acknowledging its enduring presence within us. It is then, and only then, that we can shape effective and enduring strategies to keep it at bay.
These are classic “controlling practices” designed to gradually leach from each and every one of us—and most infuriatingly those not yet fully socialized—what is arguably our greatest instinctual drive: the desire to weave stories of our own in the company of others that remind us not of what they tell us we are and must be for them, but of the sense of dignity that we all want to feel and, to the best of our abilities, extend to others.
I am truly grateful for all that John Pilger and his companions in the leftist propaganda dissection cadres have taught me over the years. But as Ortega y Gasset said, a public intellectual is only as good as his ability to remain at the “height of his times.” Sadly, this group of otherwise talented individuals has failed this test, badly, over the last two-plus years.
Or I could ask, for example, how it is that the number of deaths per million in that terrible and irresponsible country called Sweden, where there were no generalized lockdowns and no mandatory masking, are less than in Spain with its rather strict confinement regime? Or about the fact that in the US many states without lockdowns and without the mandatory public masking (e.g. Florida, Georgia and now Texas) have the same or better results in cases and deaths than several states (California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts) with much stricter “mitigation” regimes?
We must begin to stubbornly hold our places when both the powerful old, and the insouciant young, spring the “agree-with-my-sound-bite-version-of-the-truth-or-be- banished” gambit on us. Yes, they will amp up the volume to try and get us to cower and fold. We need to be stubborn and conflictive with them in ways that many of us never wanted, or believed we could be.
Human beings hate to be proven wrong. And credentialed humans even more so than the rest. Consequently, they will go to mind-bending extremes to sustain that their clearly equivocal actions were, in fact, heartily justified. Moreover, misery truly does love company.
Keeping the peace at all costs has become a sacred and unquestionable goal among large parts of our society, especially among its more credentialed sectors. This implacably strict pose positions multitudes into a spirit of acquiescence to power, no matter how dangerous or devastating the results.