The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


It's been quite a while since I've posted ... the press of other (important) matters. But as we close 2021, it seems more than appropriate to add an EoY post.

Even though I haven't been posting, I've been observing life as it goes by—the massive and destructive political incompetence we see in Washington, DC, the multi-pronged problems that "unexpectedly" beset our country throughout 2021, the division sown by those who benefit from division, and of course, the continuing Covidiocy, encouraged by far too many Democrat governors and mayors and their trained hamsters in the media. Hysteria seems to have gripped more than a few blue states and cities. As a result, there is a slow but steady outward migration among those who have decided to vote with their feet. I live in a free state, and we're seeing the inflow of blue state refugees here.

It's to this reality that I provide an excerpt of a commentary by Matthew Crawford, written way back in October, before the "scourge" of Omicron. It summarizes the feelings of the millions of us who have argued that hysteria is never a good precursor to policy, that much of the current federal bureaucracy is both dishonest and untrustworthy, that far too many national politicians have neither the character to admit when they are wrong, nor intellectual capacity and the courage to do what is right, and that we are gliding along the edge of authoritarianism often encouraged by those who continually tell us they really, really care about others when in fact, they only care about virtue signaling and their next election.

Here's Crawford's commentary:

    I live in the Bay Area, in a county where the vaccination rate is in the mid-80s. In late July, I was dropping my younger daughter off for a soccer day camp each morning. It was 10 kids running around an open field. They wore masks for six hours each day, and it was about 85° that week. Telling my fully vaccinated daughter to put that thing on, I felt compromised for participating in the charade. The old Scots Irish belligerence started welling up.

    Rules are meant to codify some bit of rational truth and make it effective. These days, we find ourselves in situations where to do the genuinely rational thing might require breaking the rules of some institution. But to do so is to invite confrontation. You may go through an internal struggle, deciding how much resistance to put up. To insist on reasons is to be ornery, and you want to be sociable. You tell yourself, there is no point in being confrontational with staff at the YMCA who are themselves simply carrying out orders. There is nobody visible to whom you can address your reasons, nobody of whom you can demand an account.

    After a year and a half of this, going along with it starts to become habitual. If you defy the mask order, and are challenged by somebody doing their job as instructed, chances are you’re going to back down and comply, which is worse than if you had complied to begin with. Even if you strongly suspect fear of the virus has been stoked out of proportion to serve bureaucratic and political interests, or as an artefact of the scaremongering business model of media, you may subtly adjust your view of the reality of Covid to bring it more into line with your actual behaviour. You can reduce the dissonance­ that way. The alternative is to be confronted every day with fresh examples of your own slavishness.

    In the Hobbesian formula, the Leviathan relies upon fear to suppress pride. It is pride that makes men difficult to govern. It may be illuminating to view our Covid moment through this lens and consider how small moments of humiliation may be put in the service of a long-standing political project, or find their meaning and normative force in it.

    Specifically, to play one’s part in Covid theatre, as in security theatre at the airport, is to suffer the unique humiliation of a rational being who submits to moments of social control that he knows to be founded upon untruths. That these are expressed in the language of science is especially grating.

    We need to consider the good faith intellectual positions that greased the skids for our slide into an illiberal form of governance. For, in addition to the political opportunism surrounding Covid, there were also well-meaning efforts to control the pandemic by altering people’s behaviour. The question is: what were the means employed for doing this, and what was the view of human beings that made such means attractive? What we got, in the end, without anyone really intending it, may fairly be called a propaganda state that seeks to manipulate without persuading.

    Here, “science” may be plainly anti-scientific, according to the circumstances. The word does not name a mode of inquiry, rather it is invoked to legitimise the transfer of sovereignty from democratic to technocratic bodies, and as a device for insulating such transfers from the realm of political contest. Can this be squared with the idea of representative government?

So ... a proposed New Year's resolution: It's long past time to stop accepting "science" that is "plainly anti-scientific," to stop accepting the notion that we must coddle the remaining catastrophics/hysterics and bend to their will. We must begin to do the rational thing and, as Crawford suggests, break ineffective and ridiculous rules proposed by leaders who at best are clueless, and at worst, are petty tyrants who get off on emergency measures that give them far too much power to control our lives. Push back!