Over the past week I’ve noticed signs that even mainstream opinion is starting to shift toward climbing down from the policy of strict confinement known, interestingly, by the prison slang “lockdown.” More people are starting to get nervous that the chosen cure might be worse than the disease, especially if it becomes a bureaucratic commitment that no politician knows how to unravel.
Some may breathe a sigh of relief that I have no time to write on this topic. Instead, I thought it would be just as well to bring together a few citations collected recently that illustrate this trend favoring deconfinement. Even The Atlantic dared to publish a piece that sympathizes with the views of “thoughtful shutdown skeptics.”
Conor Friedersdorf, “Take the Shutdown Skeptics Seriously,” The Atlantic, May 10, 2020.
The general point is that minimizing the number of COVID-19 deaths today or a month from now or six months from now may or may not minimize the human costs of the pandemic when the full spectrum of human consequences is considered… The downside risks and costs of every approach are real, frightening, and depressing, no matter how little one thinks of reopening now. These facts may not be evident from the least thoughtful proponents of reopening, many of whom advance arguments that are uninformed, dismissive of experts, or callous. But the warnings of thoughtful shutdown skeptics warrant careful study, not stigma rooted in the false pretense that they don’t have any plausible concerns or value human life.
Dr. John Lee, “Ten reasons to end the lockdown now,” The Spectator, May 2020.
Writing in this magazine a month ago, I applauded the government’s stated aim of trying to follow the science in dealing with Covid. Such promises are easier made than kept. Following science means understanding science. It means engaging with rival interpretations of the limited data in order to tease out what is most important in what we don’t know. Instead, the government in the UK (and many other places) seems uninterested in alternative viewpoints. The chosen narrative—that lockdown has saved countless lives—has been doggedly followed by all spokespeople. No doubt is allowed. We have been seeing the groupthink response to a perceived external threat that Jonathan Haidt describes so lucidly in his excellent book on human moral thinking, The Righteous Mind.
It has now become a matter of faith that lockdown is vital. Not only is it believed to be causally responsible for ‘flattening the curve’, but it is feared that releasing it too soon may cause a second spike in cases and ‘economic disaster’ (presumably due to further huge numbers of deaths). On what evidence is this made?
Even if one could understand why lockdown was imposed, it very rapidly became apparent that it had not been thought through. Not in terms of the wider effects on society (which have yet to be counted) and not even in terms of the ways that the virus itself might behave. But at the start, there was hardly any evidence. Everyone was guessing. Now we have a world of evidence, from around the globe, and the case for starting to reverse lockdown is compelling. Here are ten reasons why I believe that it is wrong to continue with lockdown and why we should start to reverse it immediately and rapidly.
The ten reasons below are explained in the full article at the link above:
- You cannot understand the significance of this virus simply by looking at the raw death figures
- The policy response to the virus has been driven by modelling of Covid—not other factors
- We don’t know if lockdown is working
- We should ease the lockdown to save lives
- Lockdown is not sustainable
- Lockdown directly harms those most likely to be affected by coronavirus
- Lockdown directly harms those who will be largely unaffected by coronavirus
- The health service has not been overwhelmed nor likely to be
- The virus is almost certainly not a constant threat
- People can be trusted to behave sensibly
Esther O’Reilly, “Economic Costs are Human Costs: The economy is not an abstraction. Exploring the tradeoffs to our coronavirus response is not inhuman.” Arc Digital Media, May 2020.
You can’t keep the hospital lights on without keeping on the lights of the economic sectors undergirding it. Yes, our doctors and nurses are running out of masks and gloves, which is a serious problem. It would also be a serious problem if we lost the means and the manpower to make more, or if the hospitals ran out of cash on hand to buy more beds, ventilators, etc. And there’s the rub. We are being told we can’t fight the virus without pausing the economy, yet we can’t fight the virus without the economy.
John Steppling, May 9, 2020, Facebook
Most of the affluent white bourgeoisie want the lockdown. They are both terrified of illness (there is a psychoanalytic aspect to do this which needs elucidating ) and they hate trump, and if Trump doesn’t want the lockdown, they DO want it. There is a psychoanalytic aspect to this also. Trump fills a very deep need in many as a target for hatred (which likely means there is a sort of surplus aggression and repressed or denied rage in the white bourgeoisie). In any event…the illness itself has been wildly overhyped and used as a justification for absolute police state diktats from on high. Whether its Cuomo or Newsome or BoJo….it has been gleefully leapt on by racist police departments who now have cover of public health concerns to even more sadistically and lethally occupy poor neighborhoods. But this is global. Robots (made at MIT in association with Gates) roam the parks in Singapore issuing social distancing orders to people, already in masks, sitting on benches. Cops harass people walking together (even if they are married), and tickets are given to people out walking their dogs.
Many, many doctors and specialists in infectious diseases are writing now that both masks and lockdown are counter-productive. The fact that this enraged Trump-hating white bourgeoisie don’t care and STILL want to stay locked down is testimony to the fact this isn’t really about the virus. Or rather, it is about the virus even if the virus isn’t exactly very lethal. It’s really more about an allegory of virus—and about a need to be told what to do. It’s why so many lifers in the military stay on and on and on. Why some LIKE prison …they don’t have to think for themselves. They are told when to eat, what to eat, where to go, when to sleep, etc. We are now in a virtual prison that used to be our own homes.
Now anyone who objects (as I am doing) to the master narrative on this is going to be trolled and attacked and called a conspiracy theorist etc. So, first off to be clear: the virus is real and people have died. Just like they die from flu and cholera and heart disease and hypertension. But it IS real. Just not very lethal. Second….anyone who starts with anecdotal (and invariably bathetic ) personal stories about… “my uncle, my great aunt, my uncle’s partner, my neighbor’s personal trainer, my yoga teacher’s sister’s second cousin have all gotten Covid19 and suffered/died/ been on a ventilator, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc…” If you relate such stories I want names and locations. I want some evidence. Same if you say, “The hospitals are overworked and crowded, etc.” I want to know WHICH hospital, because from what I hear, most are empty and many are closing.
Another invariable complaint from the pro-lockdown people are…. “Oh, do you think those photos in Italy are fake?” Some are fake, in fact, yes. But many are real and the Italian situation is something of an outlier in all this. See Iain Davis’ piece at Off-Guardian this week [“COVID 19 is a Statistical Nonsense,” May 5, 2020]. But the point is that, as I say, people have gotten sick and died. Not very many when you look at other pandemics—and this is certainly not flesh-eating bacteria, or ebola or bubonic plague.
And finally, Bill Gates. This man is a monster, a sociopath and maybe a psychopath. Perhaps it’s having that much money. But do you want your child microchipped with technology that runs as well as Windows?
YOU DO NOT WANT GATES VACCINES. You do not want anything to do with anything Gates is involved with. See Cory Morningstar and Allison Macdowells’ work. Read Jake Levich on Gates in India. That is all you need to know, really. The man has bought visibility. He bought the WHO…..lock stock and barrell (see Robert Kennedy Jr, who verifies this). He is not a doctor or a genius or anything much more than RICH.
The lockdown has cost 26 million jobs in five weeks. Half of the restaurants in San Francisco are closed and will not re-open. There is no industry in America, or the world, that is not going into operation on skeleton crews. Tens of millions will be out of work by the end of this month. How do they pay their mortgage or rent? How do they feed their families? They are going to be desperate. Meanwhile …you who support this authoritarian nightmare can watch Ellen Degeneres broadcast from her mansion. If the government gave a fuck about people there are acres of empty hotels in Vegas. There are acres of empty office buildings in Houston, Denver, LA, and every other major city in the US. There are empty cruise ships. There are empty military barracks and there are millions of homes with absentee landlords (very rich ones) who could be asked…nicely…to donate those houses. And instead of burning their crops, farmers could donate the food to the millions who are food-insecure now….One in five children goes hungry at night in America. The lockdown is part of a larger plan for a future of techno-mediated domination and mass total surveillance—and of a further entrenched ruling elite where most everyone else is a serf or slave. But hey….at least you get to wear that cool designer mask from New Balance.
*bathos: insincere or overdone pathos, sentimentalism