Is liberalism a lost cause? Many say so. Many today dream that it would stay gone, forever doomed to be regarded as a failed experiment in a world longing for authoritarian control whether by the right, the left, the technocratic elite, or something else. Demoralized and depressed by so much “shock and awe,” and living in times of ubiquitous surveillance and unrelenting diktat, many others are inclined to give up the dream of freedom completely.
The struggle against this darkness will surely take many years. Who and what will keep that struggle alive? What hurt will fuel the fight, keeping the fires of resentment burning, and what hurt – real as it may have been – will fade over time and hence be only a weak ally of the soldiers of the resistance?
The free world is stuck tallying the costs of its catastrophic foray into totalitarianism. Most of these costs were predicted well before the policies were ever implemented. Hundreds of millions have gone hungry. An entire generation of children has been abused and traumatized. Young people were robbed of some of their brightest years. Small businesses and those who depended on them lost their livelihoods. Trillions of dollars were transferred from the world’s poorest to its very richest.
To impose a centrally dictated objective, and a unidimensional one to boot, on complex societies comprised of billions of individuals with extremely diverse preferences and capabilities is to wage war on human nature, and humanity. Sustaining it necessarily requires the application of massive, and massively increasing, coercion. It requires people to “choose” what they would not choose of their own volition.
The experts are nothing if not certain about what (if anything) you should know and when (if ever) you should know it. And by all indications, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. In the profound words of the multi-talentless Kamala Harris, “It is time for us to do what we have been doing, and that time is every day.”
Sunetra Gupta, epidemiologist at Oxford University and a prolific historian and novelist, and a contributor at Brownstone Institute, speaks to Jeffrey Tucker of Brownstone about the brutal attack on democracy and equality that came with lockdowns, and how they unleashed a reactionary spirit in the world in which we were all invited to divide society by class, race, profession, and political compliance with mandates.
In these times of summarily rejecting people we disagree with or treating those with differing opinions as dangerous or diseased, I have felt led to remember what I would have missed if I had rejected certain people with whom I disagreed on significant issues but from whom I had also received wonderful gifts.
The moral problem here is that, regardless of intent, a participant in a declarative fad is knowingly and personally benefiting from an injustice without doing anything to put right the wrong from which that personal benefit is being extracted. To do so is to benefit slightly from the very injustice at issue without providing at least as much benefit to anyone else.
The theme of Tchaikovsky‘s 1812 Overture is a truly horrific event that took place when a despot lost his sense of reality. Precisely because of this, performing it is never more fitting than now, when yet another despot has gone too far. The failure to realize this signifies we have lost our relationship with the very values by which we define our culture.
Although individuals may be faring better, the profound damage to religious institutions is also quite remarkable. Charitable giving at many places of worship dropped precipitously during the pandemic. Many churches took government PPE funds to help weather the financial storm, but those funds only lasted for so long.
Our response to the pandemic not only elevated false authority, built on ideas disconnected from the realities of human existence, and not only did it create a system of idolatry, of symbols which were used to mediate this authority; but furthermore that system of idolatry was welcomed in and installed within the very hearts of Jewish communities, and therefore in many ways we directly relived that destruction ourselves, which is so powerfully described in the Book of Lamentations.