A Dark and Authoritarian Path is Paved by Pathologizing Humanity

More than 150 medical experts, nurses, scientists, and teachers have signed a letter to political leaders urging them to shut down society and start over to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The letter was organized by PRIG, or the Public Interest Research Group, a network of non-profit organizations with the goal of politically change American in a progressive direction. Envisioned by that notorious scold Ralph Nader in 1971, PRIG recruits its activist army mostly from colleges and universities.

“Right now we are on a path to lose more than 200,000 American lives by November 1st,” the letter asserts, “Yet, in many states people can drink in bars, get a haircut, eat inside a restaurant, get a tattoo, get a massage, and do myriad other normal, pleasant, but non-essential activities.”

Of course, all the “normal” and “pleasant” activities people engage are essential for the survival of the bars, hair salons, restaurants, tattoo parlors, and all the other businesses that make our communities vibrant and prosperous and the dreams of entrepreneurs come true. The “normal” and the “pleasant” are also essential for health emotional and psychological states, access to which is rapidly dwindling for our children.

“Continuing on the path we’re on now will result in widespread suffering and death,” the letter warns on apocalyptic tones. “And for what?” For all those things that PRIG designates “nonessential.” And for more than that. To not sink the economy even deeper into depression and all the suffering that calamity entails. For the sake of the “normal” and the “pleasant.”

What the letter signers recommend is insanity. They demand enough daily testing to tag everyone with flu-like symptoms and an army of contact tracers to track all current cases. They demand the shuttering of all nonessential businesses. Restaurants should only provide take-out service. People should only leave their apartments and houses to obtain food and medicine or fresh air and exercise. Governments should mandate masks in all situations and ban interstate travel. 

In other words, society should not longer be free and open and citizens should be forced into strict rules of obedience to demands articulated in a letter by medical experts, nurses, scientists, and teachers with the correct opinion.

Opinion | His Face Is Unmistakable. It Is the Face of Protest ...
The Authoritarian Revolution

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Last night, I listened to a virtual debate about mandatory masks at the board of supervisors in the country where I live. It became obvious early on that the logic given to rationalize mandatory mask wearing to combat the coronavirus could be easily retooled to rationalize mandatory vaccination. “We do this not for our own protection, which is admittedly a personal choice,” the argument went, “but for the protection of others.” The same argument could also be marshaled for rationalizing the same mandates for combatting the spread of influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, and other coronaviruses, all of which are lethal and crippling.

But if we apply the logic of masks and vaccines and quarantine for SARS-CoV-2 to other things—and people should wonder why we don’t—then the good life will be increasingly difficult to come by. And that’s just fine in the opinion of an increasing number of our fellow countrymen.

What the scolds don’t tell you is that tens of thousands of people die every week from all sorts of causes. They die from heart attacks, strokes, chronic respiratory conditions, cancer, automobile accident, alcoholism, drug overdoses—it is a list too long to review here. Normal weekly deaths in the United States average around 60,000. That is a lot of death. And a lot of that death is preventable. If we shut down society, banned cars, forced people to eat only certain foods, banned a range of chemicals, strictly prohibited alcohol and drugs, etcetera, we could drastically reduce the rates of death and disease. Of course, we don’t do a lot that. We determined a long time ago that the good life comes with risks. But for how long?

We are on a dark path towards an authoritarian society. Our governments are normalizing germophobia—the pathological fear of microbes. Authorities and activists are pathologizing healthy people, teaching citizens that their fellow humans are by default diseased and dangerous. Creating fear and suspicious are important elements in establishing an authoritarian order. The panicked animal seeks the sheltering arms of the parens patriae. While this doctrine has its place—most obviously in the necessity of public safety—a new attitude seeks the totalitarian expansion of state power to curtail the “normal” and “pleasant” activities of healthy people.

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The pandemic is occurring at the same time pundits and politicians are telling us that white people are racist and that their racism infects Western culture and law. Indeed, racism is in the Western DNA. Paradoxically, the free people of the West are told they have no right to except to be safe from criminals in their homes and their communities. Public safety is a racial privilege, a luxury white people do not deserve (black and brown people are collateral damage). Of course, the police will enforce the mask mandate—and the vaccine mandate when it’s finally handed down. Civilians throwing avocados at fellow shoppers without masks won’t get the job done. The contradiction is understood in light of a new ethic: criminal deviancy is allowed, even encouraged, while liberty is criminalized.

What explains this contradiction? Western culture is the source of democracy, humanism, individualism, liberalism, republicanism, and secularism. The ethics of civil liberties and human rights began there and spread throughout the world—where they are met with resistance from authoritarian forces. Now the West must resist its diminishment at the hands of a new authoritarian force: corporate power.

By reducing the West to white supremacy and rejecting it on this basis, under the cover of mass hysteria and for the sake of personal and exclusive opulence, a global power elite is dismantling the foundations of freedom, progress, and justice. They are removing the obstacles to total control of human life. The People’s Republic of China and the Islamic sharia are not condemned for their totalitarianisms, but held up as solutions to the problems of the free and open society. Democratic systems, with their respect for personal sovereignty and choice, are in decline everywhere. Manufactured crisis is a gun to put a wounded Enlightenment out of its misery.

What lies at the end of this dark authoritarian path is global neofeudalism. Western values emancipated large segments of humanity from the old feudalism, elevating individuals from the lowly status of serf, servant, slave, and subject to that of citizen. Freed from the oppressions of the tribe and traditional social arrangements, autonomous persons constituted a sovereign people granted control over their destinies and expected to take responsibility for their actions. Western man now find himself being retribalized and returned to serfdom—a new serfdom with a new king: the transnational corporation.

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Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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