As someone who has been speaking out against the lockdowns since march 2020, there are some things I’ve noticed that we could have done better. Fundamentally I think, not enough emphasis has been placed on a very simple principle: That the notion of a government prohibiting social interaction among healthy people to avoid overburdening the healthcare system is unprecedented in Western history. In the atmosphere of collective mass hysteria of March 2020, this simple fact received little attention.
And yet, as I argued on Eugyppius’ blog recently, it is within the fundamental incompatibility of the concept of a lockdown with our Western values, where we are going to find the key to avoid ever again repeating the tragedy that befell us on March 2020. And the reason I call what happened a tragedy is not because people died, but because we responded to a psychological assault against our values with submission.
It’s clear that people like Ferguson exaggerated the threat we faced. This became obvious within weeks, as Sweden failed to suffer the mass death their models had prophesied. And yet, in rejecting the lockdowns, we often fell victim to the temptation of taking the failure of the doom prophesies they strategically deployed to convince politicians to embrace their policies to extreme conclusions.
I would summarize this as the “just the flu” narrative. When you argue that the lockdowns can be abandoned because SARS-COV-2 is “just another flu”, this inherently puts you at a disadvantage. To start with, you as an average man in the street, don’t decide how the death toll is recorded. This became quite glaringly obvious, once we started to see people with gunshot wounds recorded as COVID fatalities.
To this day, estimates for the death toll from the Chernobyl disaster range from around fifty people to around a million, depending on who you ask. Sometimes it’s just hard to say how many people died from a particular cause, especially when the deaths are drawn out over long periods of time and the responsible cause gradually affects multiple organ system in various manners.
But more importantly, you have to understand that this is unlikely to be the last pandemic you will face in your lifetime. As I’ve argued many times here on this blog, the 21st century is not exactly going to be as comfortable of a ride as the second half of the 20th century was for those of us in Western industrialized nations. Resource depletion, overpopulation, climate change and genetic experimentation are the sort of problems we face that will make our lives increasingly difficult.
The immunocompromised share of the population will only grow in the years ahead. More people will receive transplanted organs, more people will live with severe obesity, more people will be treated for cancer and more people will simply grow very old. The situation is in fact severe enough, that we could very well expect a future in which influenza again starts to cause the sort of problems with hospital capacity people feared from SARS-COV-2.
Additionally, we have every reason to believe that more viruses will jump into our species. Sub-Saharan Africa now has regular Ebola outbreaks, started by flare-ups in people who were infected in previous outbreaks years ago. Many animal populations will respond to our changing climate with mass migration, bringing them into contact with other animal populations and human settlements. We also have no real idea what sort of germs will wake up as the Siberian permafrost begins to melt. It has already caused the first anthrax outbreaks.
Worst of all, scientists seem utterly unwilling to abandon their gain of function experiments. In fact, new BSL-4 labs are being built around the world. How has humanity ever benefited from any of their discoveries of viruses that are able to jump from one species to another with some simple tweaks? Has it ever prevented a pandemic? It hasn’t, yet they continue with their work.
And yet, when faced with this prospect, we have to keep in mind that many of our ancestors lived through events far worse than what we are likely to face. In the 19th century, your ancestors would have faced infant mortality rates of around 25%. You were lucky, if you could live to see half your children reach the age of adulthood.
And similarly, life was not just cut short by infectious disease, it reduced our vitality as well. Your daughter could have her marriage prospects ruined by smallpox scars across her face, your son could be rendered sterile by mumps, or you could spend months laying in bed with tuberculosis. And yet, life went on. Faced with these circumstances, people had to be psychologically resilient. As evidenced by what happened in March 2020, we do not share their resilience.
You could argue that people simply did not have the tools available, to address their misery in the ways that we address it today. To some degree this is correct, as people long believed that infectious disease does not jump from person to person: They blamed foul air (miasma). And yet, even with this realization that infectious disease jumps from one person to another, we never before embarked on a lockdown type experiment, in which healthy people are prohibited from interacting with one another.
Please keep in mind that we have faced similarly deadly influenza pandemics before, especially if you adjust for the smaller share of elderly in the population back then. When the 1957–1958 Asian flu pandemic struck, hospitals were also overburdened with patients. We responded by instructing people how to treat each other at home.
Even in the age of the Internet, the lockdown concept was hardly taken seriously among Western policymakers. Every major Western government had a pandemic preparedness plan, where you would not find any of the sort of policies endorsed that Western governments implemented in March of 2020. In fact, you would often find the sort of arguments that lockdown opponents made after they were implemented: Harmful side-effects exceed the benefits, authoritarian measures violate humans rights, infections merely end up delayed, etc.
And these are all valid points that deserve to be made, but they don’t address the real problem with these lockdowns. They don’t address what leads regular working class people in the Netherlands to go out onto the local town square or field, carrying umbrellas in their hands, to hold up as their only way of defending themselves from a water canon deployed by the police.
Those people don’t go there because they are convinced the IFR is 0.17% instead of 0.8%. They don’t go there because they believe the herd immunity threshold lies at 25% instead of 90%. They don’t even go there because there is no significant correlation between lockdown stringency and excess mortality. And ultimately, they don’t even go there because they believe the WEF wants to implement a Great Reset.
No, those people go there, because what happened in March 2020, is incompatible with what we are. They reject it, the way your body would reject a pig’s heart implanted under your rib-cage. They reject it, because lockdowns are incompatible with Western values. Those values are interwoven with who we are as individuals, so many of you will have rejected it without even comprehending why.
As articulated by one man whose sign I saw at a protest: “Something is not right about this.” The concept of a lockdown originated in China, with the regime of Xi Jinping. It is inherently a product of a culture that is alien to ours, a culture with values some of which are paradoxical to ours. And because this concept is intrinsically paradoxical to our most deeply held values, it can never be “right” to you. We will never be able to make peace with it.
Most of the time, when you point out that non-Western cultures simply have different values than Western cultures, you’ll be accused of xenophobia. Western values are so self-evident to most Western people, that to suggest some cultures don’t share them will outrage them.
I once had a teacher who went to Africa to work for a company. He said you couldn’t pay the locals too much, because they’d simply stop showing up and hang out until they needed money again. If you’re a Western cultural supremacist, your gut reaction is: “HOW DARE YOU CALL THEM LAZY!”
If on the other hand, you attempt to dissociate your mind a little from our Western cultural framework, you would see that calling this mentality “lazy” is merely an outgrowth of your own culture. We all know the average office drone doesn’t work very hard, that you spend a lot of time engaged in busywork, TPS reports, pointless conference calls or browsing social media. We all know most of our jobs are bullshit. And additionally, we all know there is something a little undignified about salaried labor.
In Papua New Guinea, there were tribes where a man who was an expectant father was supposed to decapitate another man from a neighboring tribe in a ritualized fight, so that he could then name his own child after the man. Their way of life in the forest as hunter-gatherers required a low population density, it could not be sustained otherwise.
Separation of church and state, individual property ownership, bodily autonomy, economic growth, freedom of speech, these are some of our typical modern Western values. And any single one of these values can be compatible with other cultures, yet incompatible with still others. There are ways in which our culture is more compatible with Indian culture and there are ways in which our culture is more compatible with African culture.
Cultures are not static and it’s not intrinsically wrong to export our own values abroad, or even for us to learn from other cultures. But we need to accept that some societies simply have a value orientation that clashes in certain fundamental aspects with our own, that some of our most deeply held values are rare and in no means universal.
What we need to reject, is the intrinsic psychological bias we have, to assume that our own Western values are somehow universal, or some sort of intrinsic good, hard-coded into the laws of the universe. We need to avoid the progressive universalist temptation, to imagine that the only thing preventing other people from embracing our values is some authoritarian dictatorship, or a lack of education.
And I would go a step further, by saying that we need to be honest to ourselves and accept that our values have certain fundamental downsides: Freedom of speech for example means accepting that certain falsehoods can spread. Society would probably function more efficiently, if we prohibited people from arguing that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer.
However, we didn’t choose our Western values because they somehow create the perfect society, or because they are truths intrinsic to existence itself. Rather, we embrace these values, because they are fundamentally interwoven with what we are. We exist to some degree in a symbiotic relationship with Western values.
Lockdown, the concept of promoting public health by rationing social interaction to prevent the spread of germs, began in China. That it didn’t work in the West may be down more to the fact that it clashes with the Western way of life than something intrinsic to the concept.
Consider for example, how the lockdowns in the Netherlands unfolded. It was a clear example of a culture clumsily adopting another culture’s trait and trying to assimilate it, in the same manner as we have copied the cuisine from our former colonies and made it something entirely different.
When the lockdowns were declared, there were long lines in every Dutch city, as people hurried to the coffeeshop to stack up on cannabis, as people believed they would be closed. There was some chaos, then the Hague declared that the Dutch model of lockdown would look as following: All non-essential shops have to close, but coffeeshops would be exempt.
The lockdown idea never truly caught on here and never seems to have accomplished what it did in China, because it is not compatible with how we experience life. The Dutch lockdown, could never be more than a joke. The police would have to visit the woods and abandoned construction sites at night, because hundreds of young people would gather there, after agreeing to meet up through Instagram. What were the police supposed to do, torture them as punishment for their failure to comply? The police would simply stick to chasing the youths off, because we are not an authoritarian society.
Western supporters of implementing the lockdown concept will often argue that “we never had a real lockdown” like China. And in a sense they’re right. We were never going to shoot dogs and separate parents from their children over a virus like this, or weld people’s doors shut. That’s not who we are. And because it’s not who we are, this Chinese invention never seems to have accomplished anything substantial in our society.
I would personally argue, that the concept of a lockdown, is to some degree interwoven with Chinese philosophy and history, particularly with the culture of its ruling class. Michael Senger has written about this a bit, arguing that it is an outgrowth of Xi Jinping’s concept of Fangkong. In his words, it is: “the same policy that inspired the reeducation and “quarantine” of over one million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities “infected with extremism” throughout Xinjiang and Tibet.”
Between the 6th century BC and 221 BC, Chinese society saw an explosion of various philosophical schools of thought, this is called the era of a hundred philosophies. Some of these naturally lend themselves to Western sympathy, like Taoism. Others like Confucianism are more alien to us, in their emphasis on deference to authority of the elderly and social harmony.
My goal here is not to depict Chinese culture as an authoritarian caricature of itself, but there are other philosophies that appeared at this time and became highly influential, that appear like a polar opposite to how we view society. Chinese legalism fits into this category. One of its primary proponents was Shang Yang, who played an instrumental role in ultimately unifying China under the Qin dynasty.
How Shang Yang accomplished his success, was by implementing the sort of policies that we would interpret as nightmarish totalitarianism. He declared for example, that anyone who knew of a crime but did not alert the authorities to it, would face a punishment identical to that of its perpetrator.
To ensure that people would fight his wars, he effectively abolished the notion of property rights. Aristocrats who refused to fight would be stripped of their land, which would be reassigned based on soldiers success in war. Farmers who failed to produce enough food would be enslaved and could be handed out as rewards to those who met the government’s expectations as their property.
Yang was not popular among the nobility, who lost their traditional rights. He was tied between horses and torn to pieces, along with his whole family. His influence nonetheless reverberates through Chinese society to this day, particularly in the culture of the Chinese Communist Party. When Mao took power, he wanted to move away from the conservative Neo-Confucianism that characterized the political culture of the Qing dynasty. He looked towards Chinese legalism for inspiration. Under Shang Yang hierarchies were not entrenched, but based on total devotion to the state.
With Xi Jinping, we see a return of Chinese communism to the rigid authoritarianism of Mao. China is becoming more illiberal. Like Mao, Xi draws strong inspiration from Chinese legalism. It’s here, in this direction, where we can find the deepest roots of the atrocities that happen domestically today in Xinjiang, along with the authoritarian model of society that Xi Jinping successfully exported abroad in March of 2020.
The main motive for exporting authoritarianism abroad should be simple to understand: As the world’s last major communist dictatorship, the Chinese elite feels threatened by Western liberal democracy. But if Europe or the United States were to become a society, where people can be detained without having committed a crime, where people can be locked up in their homes, where social interaction can be rationed by our government, or where we can be tracked at any moment, in summary, if Western nations become more like China, then what would Xi have to fear? We can only appear as a threat to the Chinese regime, as long as we remain beacons of liberty.
I would argue that most of the Western supporters of the lockdown concept, mainly bourgeois types found in academia, simply don’t support Western values. Our Western values, are just not interwoven with the fabric of their spirits, the way they are for the people who faced the water canons with their small umbrellas held out in front of them.
And in a way, this makes perfect sense. In China, upward social mobility was historically only really achievable by passing the imperial examinations. In certain aspects, Chinese culture perhaps just seems to feel more at home for them: People are generally more ambitious and conscientious. You have to pay great respect to people in positions of authority, whereas here we prefer to think of power as a dirty word and pretend that your boss is just your friend.
This is a tragedy for these academics, who live in a society with values that clash with theirs. But for the rest of us, we unfortunately need to recognize them as a de facto fifth column: People who aim to subvert our society from within. And when I say this, it may sound too extreme to you, but please keep in mind that these academics are not going to show you the back of their tongues: They are intelligent people, whose value orientation fundamentally clashes with yours.
They’re not going to tell you whether they would want your dog shot dead if it tested positive. They won’t tell you whether they think we should have just locked you up in your home, or should have thrown those teenagers holding secret parties here in the Netherlands through Instagram in prison for a couple of months. China itself doesn’t publicly discuss the atrocities it commits in Xinjiang either. These people are not going to show the boot they want to stamp on your face with forever to the cameras.
But the important thing to understand is that these academics in our midst, are not compatible with Western civilization. They have souls built of a different fabric than you and me. A product of our Christian heritage is that we reject cruelty against individuals with a strict passion, even when it would benefit the societal good. This is what you and your ancestors have learned, what you had ingrained into your souls, for over a thousand years.
Yes, I am talking here about a notorious Jewish hippie, a young troublemaker who angered the pharisees. A man who went around violating Levitical law, by touching people with leprosy. What’s hard-coded into our brains, is empathy for individuals. It’s easy to forget that Christianity teaches that Jesus was both God and Man, a man who didn’t just bail you out of hell, but lived a life by example.
And whether you are today a Christian, a heathen, an atheist, a follower of the path of Dharma or something else entirely, the reality remains that you have grown up in a culture that is Christian in its essence, like the proverbial fish who fails to recognize water he has always lived in. And the great innovation that Christianity brought to the Roman empire, is the fundamental dignity of the individual.
Lockdowns are harsher on some people than on others: Their overall impact is limited on the academics and other members of the laptop class, compared to the impact on vulnerable demographics, like teenagers, opioid addicts and people with autism.
My hope is that these academics will figure out their wet dream is incompatible with our Western values, pack up their bags and leave. If they keep undermining our society from within, it is inevitably going to lead to a conflict. The Western mind will never put up with it.
When society goes to shit from one disaster or another, which happens more often than we would like, we are geared to look towards the individual, rather than making an abstract cost-benefit analysis for the benefit of societal harmony. And so what we can’t do is what China has done, which is to sacrifice the dignity of the individual for the benefit of society as a whole.
Because, I will emphasize it again, this is what we will never become:
Woman cries hysterically because she lost a family member due to extreme lock down policy. Her loved one was on hemodialysis. The government won’t allow them to leave home for hospital. #ZeroCovidDeath pic.twitter.com/8JWovk0C7i
— Whiskey Juliet (@whiskeyjuliet21) April 6, 2022