Blog Post 4 (31/05/20):
From lockdown to social breakdown…
Ultimately, do we get the government’s we deserve?
I have been critical of the lockdown from the beginning, for many reasons, not least because our social fabric is already weakened and freedoms balancing on a tightrope. But, how lovely, a single ‘grand’ idea to solve all of our problems, backed up with the threat of arrest or even violence.
As our sense-making mechanisms continue to fail us, it is easy to feel nihilistic.
A few months ago, I asked, will coronavirus change us? Many thought not, now many think it almost certainly will. I am not fatalistic, it could go multiple ways but the space to which we now reside in, reminds me of this wonderful word: liminality.
“In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes.”
The question must now be asked, will we move towards a technological dystopia, as the government now has new and far-reaching powers to intrude into the most intimate, most precious and personal aspects of our lives? As we surrender freedom of speech, is there now no realm of being, free from government intrusion?
As millions more are now dependent on the state to live, eat and survive, some might say, surely, you cannot bite the hand that feeds you?
Or will we move towards a new era of freedom, as the smothering stillness of the lockdown, brings forth a new appreciation of liberty? As the nastiness, weakness of the nanny state lay bare, exposed in all of its fraud and fragility, will a renewed political consciousness emerge?
Many will blame external factors, the media, the electoral system etc. for the outcome that lies ahead. But, as we saw with Brexit, ultimately, the people vastly outnumber the establishment. If, for only one day we ceased sending money, attention and praise to these false gods, the façade dissipates. But, where will we find meaning, truth and identity, you ask? By daring to be free…
It does not have to be the majority but a critical mass to awaken the slumbering spirit lying dormant in our collective psyche…
“the psychology of the individual is reflected in the psychology of the nation… only a change in the attitude of the individual can initiate a change in the psychology of the nation. The great problems of humanity were never yet solved by general laws, but only through regeneration of the attitudes of the individuals” – Carl Jung
“from all these indignities, such as the very beasts of the fields, you can deliver yourselves if you try, not by taking action but merely by willing to be free. Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I don’t ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him; like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.” – Ettiene de la Boetie, The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude
The government, the institutions can only take us so far. Look at the universities, look at the social media companies, the ‘expert’-class – all trapped in systems of incentivisation, all deficient in accountability, all unable to grapple with the scope and scale of transformation that awaits us…
There is a lot of truth in the conspiracy narrative, as the establishment world falls apart. But, ultimately, only when we, the people, view ourselves, not solely as recipients of reality, but also as the arbiters, as the meaning-makers, will higher meaning and truth become clearer…
Blog Post 3 (29/05/20):
The COVID-19 lockdown, Aldous Huxley and Brave New World
Would we recognise tyranny if it were right in front of us?
It is assumed that tyranny will come to us in overt ways, with charging men in uniform, wielding guns and batons, with cold, stone faces. But why not in subtle, sedating ways, in ways which make us love our servitude?
In 1962, Huxley gave a speech, The Ultimate Revolution, at the Berkley Language Center, he said:
“…we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. This is the, it seems to me, the ultimate in malevolent revolutions shall we say, and this is a problem which has interested me many years and about which I wrote thirty years ago, a fable, Brave New World, which is an account of society making use of all the devices available and some of the devices which I imagined to be possible making use of them in order to, first of all, to standardize the population, to iron out inconvenient human differences, to create, to say, mass produced models of human beings arranged in some sort of scientific caste system. Since then, I have continued to be extremely interested in this problem and I have noticed with increasing dismay a number of the predictions which were purely fantastic when I made them thirty years ago have come true or seem in process of coming true”
As the world descends into darkness, as the social fabric of the free world continues to rupture, as we approach the edge of an impending economic abyss, as the media abandon the pursuit of truth and journalistic integrity, as we surrender our freedoms… *sigh*
Blog Post 2 (26/05/20):
Dominic Cummings and the vengeful media establishment
I am one of the very few people (or at least that’s how it felt) that publicly opposed the lockdown from the beginning. There were several reasons why I opposed it, for which I will not go into now, but I outline some of the reasons in this article. In short, 1) the cure seemed worse than the disease, there was no clear evidence that the lockdown was effective and 2) I did not believe that the government should ever have that much power without debate or scrutiny, not least at the demands of a baying media and panicked public. It just all felt wrong.
In all of the months from when the lockdown started, I had consistently said to my friends that I could be wrong, and I am open to being wrong. I had asked them to send me evidence to disprove my beliefs, as, naturally, I wanted to believe that what we were doing was right. Why would I want to believe that a decision that had wide public support, and that was almost certainly going to destroy our economy and way of life, was the wrong one? I, like most people, wanted to do what was right to ‘save lives’, but viscerally and rationally, I couldn’t get behind the lockdown.
Now, unfortunately, as we near the end of ‘lockdown’, the empirical evidence has only mounted that my instincts were right. But not only that, many of my worst fears about the consequences of the lockdown have been coming true. The lockdown appears to have unleashed all of our society’s psychological demons, particularly the ones to which our ancestors have spent hundreds of years working to tame and civilise.
We have permitted behaviour for which the consequences will stretch much beyond the end of the lockdown.
It would take me forever to unpick them all but here are some:
- Encouraging and partaking in the snitching of one another
- Trial by mob and public humiliation
- Paralysing fear and panic
- Compelling others to justify basic human actions
- Rule by decree / Laws superseded by ‘rules and regulations’
- Demonising and suppressing freedom of speech and contrarian views
- The dissolution of all checks on government power
- A media establishment that has taken on a life of its own, with its own agendas and priests
- The sanctification of safety
- Infantilisation of the public
- Further and deeper state intrusion into our bodies and movements
One only needs to look at the pitch-fork carrying, ‘burn him at the stake!’ mentality that has led to the Dominic Cummings saga. How embarrassing and disappointing for such a great country. The bitterness, power-drunk, vindictive, vengeful and nasty behaviour that it has emboldened. I don’t even like Dominic Cummings much, the way he treated Nigel Farage and the Brexit party was a disgrace and he supported the lockdown. So, in some ways, I wouldn’t mind if he goes, but definitely not like this. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if Cummings broke the rules, but, I also couldn’t give a flying cow. The government has to face up to the Frankenstein madness that it has created.
The government has stated that they did not expect the levels of compliance that occurred. But, as soon as the cracks began to show, the derangement spiralled.
What a disaster.
“Conservatism starts from a sentiment that all mature people can readily share: the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created. This is especially true of the good things that come to us as collective assets: peace, freedom, law, civility, public spirt, the security of property and family life, in all of which we depend on the cooperation of others while having no means singlehandedly to obtain it. In respect of such things, the work of destruction is quick, easy and exhilarating; the work of creation slow, laborious, and dull. That is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one reason conservatives suffer such a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true but boring, that of their opponents exciting but false”
– Roger Scruton, How to Be a Conservative
Written Blog Post 1 (23/05/20):
The lockdown must not be paid for on the backs of the poor and the young
As others and I have warned since the beginning of the lockdown, the lockdown is inevitably leading to significant and far-reaching economic consequences. The Guardian reports that a long lockdown could shrink the UK economy by a fifth in 2020.
Many of the same people that argued in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis that economic collapse leads to thousands of premature and avoidable deaths due to, in short, a much diminished quality of life, are deafeningly silent about the economic collapse that will result from the policy they are now advocating: lockdown.
From a young person starting out in the labour market, a single-parent on low income, to a person in precarious and low-paid employment, post-lockdown world looks bleak in the immediate term, unless something momentous is done to cushion the blow. That is the key, political vision and decisiveness will be essential in this new and uncertain future.
Stagnant and declining wages, low quality jobs, increased economic migration, spiralling rents and house prises, high taxes and a lower standard of public services – we’re all too familiar with the script. But, if only it was just a script, lines from a horror theatre production that will eventually come to an end.
Sadly, that’s not the case.
I sincerely hope that standard of living-boosting measures are announced to improve our opportunities and prospects post-COVID, but already measures are being announced that will hit the young and the poor the hardest:
- According to MoneySavingExpert, TFL is set to hike congestion charges, halt free travel for kids and increase fares.
- The Telegraph reports that graduate job adverts fell by ¾. This is coupled with many graduate job offer cancellations, uncertainty over the future of universities and a huge increase in youth unemployment.
- Yesterday, the government announced that all arrivals, UK residents or not, from abroad must quarantine for 14-days and this will be monitored through spot-checks. This policy is about three months too late. Whilst all the world is opening and welcoming visitors, we are doing the opposite. This policy is both illogical and hurts young people and poorer people who, if they cannot work from home, are least likely to be able to afford to self-isolate for an additional two weeks on top of their holiday.
As of the date of this blog post, we haven’t lifted the lockdown yet, and so this is only a tiny glimpse of what could come.
Faith in our economic and political system is, in part, dependent on if we can be confident that our lives will be better than those before us. As this promise begins to fracture, apathy, discontentment and disillusionment builds, threatening the integrity of society as a whole.
We need to be ambitious, think big and push for a much better and just world post-lockdown.
“Society is indeed a contract … it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.” – Edmund Burke, Reflections