Their singular obsession, emotional intensity, and size lead to crowds sometimes attaining great power and dictating directions that can change the course of history for a whole country, or even for the world. The inherent danger is that their obsession blinds them to everything else that matters in normal times.
In a 6-3 decision, the highest court has called out the out-of-control agency that has been imposing itself on all aspects of American life for this past year. The majority opinion makes for fascinating reading, if only because the author or authors (the opinion is unsigned) expresses genuine alarm at the same reality that has wrecked the lives of billions of people all over the world. Our basic rights and liberties have been trampled on by states presuming no limits on their powers, and there has heretofore been very little in the way of judicial resistance.
The answer is not fear, not segregation, not lockdowns, not the imposition of medieval rules and castes. The answer is freedom and human rights. Somehow those institutions served us well over many hundreds of years, during which time the human population has mixed ever more, and has grown ever healthier with longer lives.
We need desperately to rethink the panicked ideology that consumed the nation last year and still consumes the world today. Liberty and health go together. These plans to eradicate the next germ to come along eradicate instead everything we love about life, namely its liberty and our rights to choose.
A system that would severely damage human psychological health and thus, morality would be one that dramatically uproots every freedom that people had previously taken for granted. The phrase “unleash hell” comes to mind; that is literally what lockdowns did to this country. We see it in surveys of mental health and it manifests itself in crime and the general collapse of public morals.
In England in the 14th century, when the marauding Flagellants came to town, good members of the community found these people amusing and rather ridiculous, and otherwise they went about their lives, having fun and building a better and more prosperous society.
If it is possible to mash together hard science, poetry, epidemiology, and sociology, it is this book. It is not a huge treatise but closer to an extended essay. Every sentence is pregnant with meaning. Reading it not only made my heart race but also caused my imagination to run wild. It’s both bracing and beautiful.