by Crow Qu’appelle
Love has been abolished
in the name of health
then health will be abolished.
Freedom has been abolished
in the name of medicine
then medicine will be abolished.
These words, written by Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, strike an ominous tone. He seems to be predicting that we are now in an age wherein a permanent “state of emergency” will be used to justify all manner of extreme restrictions and industrial-scale brainwashing.
If he is correct, and “emergency management” has become a mode of governance, then we would do well to consider the sociology of the emergency. And so I ask you, if you will, to join me in a thought experiment.
Imagine, if you will, that you and several of your friends are having a nice picnic in your favourite local park. You are enjoying the sunshine, basking in the summer’s warmth and the company of your friends. Nearby, some middle-aged men are playing a game of soccer. Suddenly, one of them clutches at his chest, and with a pained expression on his face, keels over, falling first onto his knees, and then, with a look of terror on his face, face-first to the ground. The signs of a heart attack are unmistakable. Your friends and you leap to your feet and rush over, hollering at his friends. One quickly arrives. Taking a quick at him, she announces that she is a doctor. As she begins to perform CPR on him, she asks you to please run to the closest building that has a defibrillator as fast as you can. She tells you where exactly to go. Do you comply?
I will assume that your answer was an immediate “yes”. Likely, you will obey without a second thought. Why wouldn’t you? It is the compassionate thing to do, and you are a good person. In fact, this is a good example of how unthinking obedience can be a good thing. It seems likely that this is an evolutionary trait, the very “factor in human evolution” that Kropotkin called Mutual Aid. Sometimes, there is just no time to consider all of the possible courses of action, especially when it would require communication with another party. Automatic deference to authority serves to increase the likelihood of someone’s survival. In this context, it is beneficial to all members of society.
Unfortunately, this instinct can be hacked by those who do not have our best interests at heart. It can cause us to defer to authorities that we ought not to defer to. The invocation of the emergency is an age-old excuse to justify the rule of tyrants. It would seem that the Devil long ago learned to use our basic human goodness against us.
It seems that evolution did not prepare us to be selective in regards to whose commands to obey. In an emergency situation, more often than not, the person who takes charge of a situation is simply the first person to take action. The first person who assumes authority in an emergency is the authority, and is unlikely to be challenged.
What I am saying is that it is the responsibility of all freedom-loving people to always question authority, and to disobey if its answers are unsatisfactory. We know that there is never a shortage of aspiring dictators who want to bend us to their will. We must ask ourselves when an authority is commanding us to do anything: Is this authority legitimate? Do I trust that this authority figure has my best interests at heart? Does this authority figure really know what they are doing? Do they have a proven track record of success? Does the course of action that they are proscribing make logical sense? Do they have any conflicts of interest, or are they acting in selfless service?
A strange thing has occurred in the age of the current obsession with public health. People who would normally question, critique, and resist the authority of the state are now quite willing to obey new limitations upon their freedom. It would seem that the Left has decided that dissent is unpatriotic, much in the way that Right did during the War on Terror. All of a sudden, Trudeau, Legault, and Ford are not to blame. They are merely “following public health recommendations”. Do we now live in a dictatorship whereby an unaccountable panel of “public health experts” governs by degree? How much do we really know about these “experts?” Why should we trust them? How have they proven their competence? Do they have any conflicts of interest? Who benefits from the decisions that are being made? Who stands to gain financially, and who stands to gain politically from the policies they are implementing?
Of course, it is not public health experts but government officials and political parties that are really in charge. They decide which experts they will put in front of the cameras, they still create the policies, they pass the laws, they sculpt the narrative of the mainstream media. They are concealing this fact by making it seem as if every decision were immutably demanded by some law of the universe. This is nonsense, propaganda designed to conceal the horrible nature of the decisions that are being made.
Here’s the deal: the “emergency” is a vital tool of statecraft. Its purpose is to narrow down the consciousness of the masses. In an emergency, there is no time for debate. The person most qualified to take charge of the situation immediately becomes the de facto dictator, who must be reflexively obeyed.
Let me splash some water on your face. This “emergency” has been going on for over a year, and there is no absolutely end in sight. How long does an “emergency” have to last before people realize that things aren’t going back to the way that they were?
Most of the world has been put on some degree of house arrest. People have been prevented from having funerals. Agamben claims that this is the first thing in history, “from Antigone to today”, that corpses have been burned without a funeral. He cites this in support of his conclusion that “the threshold that separates humanity from barbarism has been crossed”.
Consider these words, coming from one of the world’s foremost living philosophers. By the standards of Medieval Europe, for example, where public executions were a form of popular entertainment, the modern world would be seen as morally depraved. Agamben laments that relationships of love and friendship had been suspended, as people came to regard their neighbours as a possible source of contagion. Think of how sad it would be if people came to avoid one another for this reason, each afraid of the other’s germs. Will the next generation enjoy kissing? Or will mouths be seen as reservoirs of bacteria and viruses? Do you see how insanely awful it is for human beings to see each other as biohazards?
We must refuse this obsession with hygiene theatre. Realize that hand-washing has become a religious act, similar to a Catholic crossing themselves. It serves the same purpose – to ward off evil. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, as the old saying goes, which of course means that the more privileged classes are more Godly. If we each understand ourselves as being potential carriers of viruses that could kill, and consider ourselves ethically responsible for the consequences of its transmission, we wind up in a similar situation, morally, to that of Original Sin.
That concept, for those of you unfamiliar with Abrahamic religions, is the notion that human beings are already guilty, from the time they are born, due to the inherited sin of Adam and Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. Since, by virtue of being born into a world where viruses are a part of nature, you are guilty, because due to the nature of your animal body, you might infect others. For this reason, you must always be both cautious and ashamed.
It seems to me like we are being programmed with the same tactics that have been used to control human societies in the past, and that is: make people ashamed of themselves, dependent on you, and afraid. If they are afraid of you, that is good. If they are afraid of an imaginary enemy, and think that they need you for protection, that is much, much better. And if you can make them afraid of one another also, then that is better still. Now, propaganda has evolved to the point where inventing invisible enemies is easier than ever before. With the never-ending spin of electronic media, most people will believe whatever they are told, provided it is repeated often enough.
So, if I am right, and this COVID crisis is manufactured to place us into a state of emergency, we must ask ourselves: will this emergency ever end? Or perhaps it would be better to ask – what if the emergency is continually extended? What if one emergency is proceeded by another emergency, and then another, and so on ad nauseum? Will the new normal consist of intermittent loosening and tightening of restrictions, combined with non-stop propaganda about various dangers to biological health?
To be sure, there is nothing new about the use of fear to generate complacency amongst the masses. We can think of the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the Satanic Panic, and so on, and ask what whether the current moment is simply the intensification of what has already been going on for decades. It would seem that the paradigm of national security is being superseded by a new paradigm, with a medical-industrial complex playing the part that the military-industrial complex did during the War on Terror. Some have called the new paradigm “Biosecurity”.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The problem with the emergency is that it causes a narrowing of cognition. Only what is essential in here and now is worthy of consideration. The only thing that matters is the present moment.
This narrowing-down of human cognition is clearly a very effective way to prevent people from asking too many questions, and from thinking too much about the future and the past. But it is critically important that we do both.
We must start thinking about the past. Indeed, we must think about the past. What lessons does history have for us? We might do well to remember previous times in history when governments suddenly forbade people from hanging out with each other, for instance. Or other times in history when governments have printed massive amounts of money. It is possible to make certain predictions by looking for patterns in the lessons of history. Given the madness of our day and age also would do well to consider the wisdom of the past. What advice do the great thinkers of the past have for us as to how to navigate this era of spiritual confusion?
It is even more important to think about the future. What future are we envisioning for ourselves and for future generations? How are we going to achieve our goal of creating autonomous, self-sufficient communities that are independent of the state? Where exactly are we going? Where do we want to end up?
We have just lived through an extremely long emergency. We are coming out of shock. But we’ve got this. Our ancestors lived through the horrors of many wars, and we are still here. When it comes to survival, we are a planet of champions. And if we realize that it’s time to start using our minds, we will quickly wake up to the fact that the hour is late, and the omens are dire.
Once we shake ourselves out of the haze of denial, we will realize that we are in a battle for the soul of humanity, a battle of life and death, and we will suddenly become able to access psychic resources that we previously didn’t know that we had. You can never how fast you can run until a predator is chasing you. You never know how strong you are until you need to fight for your life. And you never know how cunning you can be until everything depends on it.
So, now, all you who understand what the fuck is going on, you need to recognize that the survival of everything that you love and value is at stake. Right now, the masses are sleepwalking towards a cliff, and if we do not wake them up, they will fall to their deaths. Currently, however, they are not conscious of their condition, and indeed will not welcome efforts to make them aware of their own condition of psychic slavery, much in the same way that someone who is drug-addicted or mentally ill will refuse to admit that they have a problem. They may refuse to listen to reason and may get defensive when you point out that what they believe doesn’t make logical sense. So far as I can tell, the only hope is to remind them of their humanity in some way. One way to do that through acts of kindness and compassion, through showing people that you care about them. Another way that comes to mind is through art.
And so, I issue a call to you who will read these words and understand their truth, and what is at stake: put out your antennae to the universe. Receive your inspiration. Channel your creativity. This can be done directly, through political language, or indirectly, through means which speak more directly to the spirit. Straight prose might disappear in a totalitarian society, but poetry can still sneak through. Anything that celebrates life or beauty or freedom or human connection is inherently subversive. Anything that activates the feeling one experiences in the appreciation of beauty serves to remind people of their humanity. Speak to the spirits of the bewildered herd. Call them back to themselves.
The time is now. The time has come to answer the call of the ages. If you’ve been holding back, waiting for something within you to activate your latent heroism, wait no longer, but resolve immediately to do what you know you need to do. The task is to be a voice of reason in the midst of this mass psychosis.. The task is to awaken the masses from the trance they are in, dispel the fear that is governing them, and remind them of what gives their lives meaning.
The task is also to weave everything that is going on into a story that gives them something to believe in. People are, for the most part, good. Believe me when I say this; I’ve seen dark sides of humanity, and I can tell you: People are basically good. They may be selfish, or apathetic, when they haven’t been given the love that they need to flourish, but I repeat: Most people are essentially good. They have to be tricked, goaded, and manipulated into doing evil. The unfortunate thing is that there are always the few who are obsessed with power, and, for millennia, those few have been developing techniques to trick people into doing evil. It is true that all humans have the capacity to do evil within them, and still I insist: People are basically good. When they realize that their survival depends upon it, you will see people come together in beautiful ways. When the occasion demands, people will commit heroic acts in defence of their loved ones, their community or even on behalf of an ideal they believe in.
For you see, human beings are forever in search of meaning and will not be at peace until they understand themselves within a story that gives their existence meaning. If the story that people believe in requires heroism of them, they will become heroes, for what one believes will surely manifest not only in one’s perceptions, but also in one’s actions. We are all living out our beliefs, day after day. If we are not the ones who are the authors of own life-stories, it means that we are living inside someone else’s stories.
The task of the revolutionary in this age of universal deceit is to awaken the heroism that dwells within us all. How, you ask? Through cognitive reframing, that is, recasting the stories that we tell ourselves and one another about what is happening on planet Earth currently. Why? Because human beings create meaning through story-telling. To know your place within the world, you must have some sense of who you are, where you come from, and where you are going. Without that, you are adrift in the world, a plastic bag tossed this way and that by the whims of the wind.
In the age of the mass media, the stories most readily available are that of the propaganda that our rulers want us to believe. Those who place their faith in such things, betray themselves, allowing themselves and their loved ones, to be led like lambs to the slaughter. For no empire is either created nor maintained without ceaseless sacrifices upon the altar of Power.
PRISE DE LA BASTILLE
Make no mistake – in the eyes of the State, we are all non-essential, and thus expendable. This has been true since the Industrial Revolution began, but now, due to automation, it is truer than ever.
So, upon my word I tell you that the situation is dire. What does it mean if, “the threshold that separates barbarism has been crossed”. As if history didn’t provide enough proof, psychology has clearly shown that ordinary people will commit atrocities when tyrannical governments take control. I am haunted by Orwell’s words that “those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities”.
I call upon the reader to undertake, now, and the coming days and weeks, a process of soul-searching. Think about what you would be willing to do, and what you wouldn’t. If someone put a gun to your head and ordered you to murder an innocent person, would you do it?
Understand, and feel the truth of these words resonate within you, for some version of this awful choice may well be in your future. In all likelihood, it will not be so dramatic, but the principle will be the same. You are required to do something that contradicts your morals, that your very soul cries out against, but your choice is to either comply or face consequences.
I urge the reader to search within themselves for the courage to avow that they will refuse to obey whatever commands offend their spirit. This is the task: to stay true to your humanity as the world descends into barbarity. This alone is more important than living or dying or accomplishing any political goals. To act only in accordance with your conscience: this should be the primary goal of a free spirit in an unfree world.
THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE FREE
I will leave you with a warning from history. The following are the ominous words of a German reflecting back why he thought that his countrymen didn’t take a stand against the rise of the Nazi government.
“One doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse… You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow…
But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked … But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between comes all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next…
And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident. . . collapses it all at once, and you see that everything – everything – has changed…Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed…”