Human frailties, we’ve learnt, don’t respect continents. North and south, east and west, people find their freedom to be a burden and their safety an abiding obsession. Accordingly those values are bartered. To feel safer humans are willing to let Big Brother lay down rules for getting through waking hours without too much risk of coming to harm. In the give-and-take primitives have the same instinct as professors. A rap artist and a rabbi may barter safety for freedom differently, yet agree on the exchangeability of those values.
Call it the “Alexander Hamilton principle’ after a Founding Father of the United States. Hamilton recognized that “safety from external danger is the most powerful director of conduct” and that the quest for safety will finally compel people “to destroy their civil and political rights.”
So the common people are willing to be less free in order to feel ‘more safe’ from a raging pandemic. From this perspective Covid-19 is a God-send for incubating despots. Heads of state adore the crisis to the extent of being loathe to letting go of their crisis powers, long after curves tailor-made by pseudo scientists are as flat as they can go. Pressed for stay-at-home orders to be lifted, rulers give the textbook response, ‘a second wave could be coning.’ And the scared people are mollified, and they go back indoors to lockdown for another safe period. And the commissars of lockdown laugh in their mansions that the scared people paid for in tax.
Lori Lightfoot is one mean exploiter. The mayor of Chicago was caught getting her hair done at a time when she made salons out of bounds to ordinary people. The hair stylist ratted on Lightfoot on Face Book. “I’m the public face of this city,” answered the mayor, affronted by the nerve of it. “I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.” Lori Lightfoot is not to be thought of as your run-of-the-mill person.
Her, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ mindset harbours hatreds few even know are there. Yet her disdain is common. The repugnance felt by elites for panicked and obedient commoners is a lockdown rule in its own right. The virus brought out the very worst in people, especially those who favour perpetuating lockdowns or the new euphemism, ‘quarantining’. The divide is more about naked politics than risk from virus.
Democrats don’t like reopening the economy one little bit. The higher the count of bankrupts and jobless, the better things look for their Democrat runner for President.
That’s correct – rulers and experts knowing what’s good for us better than we do boils down to a game of politics. Oppose the ‘right’ advice and you’re in favour of Death. If you want to get people working and earning and reopening businesses, you’re a killer. “Republicans literally want to work Americans to Death,” screams a title in The Week.
Lockdown is the new god. Back to normal is the new heresy. Lori Lightfoot encapsulates both when exploiting the common ‘sheeple.’ Those who get a monthly pay check come hell or high water get the right to tell those who need to work to make money, not to work – until that is no one dies anymore from the virus. They have a right to tell you to jump in the lake, and to forget them on dry land making sure that you do. ’
There are Lori Lightfoots in different guises and shades of extremism. None can be more extreme than the commissar of one draconian lockdown, a black doctor who cracks the whip on the people of South Africa. The name itself is indicative. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma models herself on the late Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro. Like her hero she cracks the whip with a hand caked in blood. As a former minister of health Zuma told millions of her HIV infected minions to go and eat beetroot. Denied drugs they died off like proverbial flies.
Today comrades on her Command Council enjoy carte blanche to manipulate poor and rich alike, depending on whims of the moment. Mostly textbook communists and serial larceners, the comrades dictate goods that people can or cannot buy, clothes that shops may sell for the winter, or how and when people can take a walk. Meanwhile they give maybe 20 million jobless, homeless and hungry the freedom to fare for themselves.
Yet in another way South Africa could be a light unto clueless nations as to the price they barter servitude for safety. Actuaries, using real science, have calculated that South Africa barters 29 deaths for every life saved from the virus.
Regrettably imams, clerics and rabbis, having had the fear of God put upon them, remain mute. If only they’d acted mutely when told by godless overlords to lock up their houses of prayer and gate their religious day schools. Allowing dread and panic to cloud judgement, shepherds of the faithful thought they were doing their solemn duty by getting flocks to buy into the narrative of Lords of the Lockdown.
The same naivety, in big business, is an epidemic of its own, proving my old argument that business acumen and worldly wisdom don’t often go together. After all is said and done fat cat tyrants pulled off a confidence trick on smart business by engineering mass unemployment and bankruptcy as the solution to a virus. Who’d have thought? The tricksters’ one achievement in two decades of power is their complete dismantlement of the former economic engine room of Africa.
Contrary to spin, the pandemic is not a health and economic crisis like that of post-World War I. It could, though, be the biggest self-inflicted wound in human annuls.
Steve Apfel is an economist and a cost accountant, but most of all a prolific author of non-fiction and fiction, published in many journals and sites. His books include: ‘The Paymaster’ (Fiction); Hadrian’s Echo (Non-fiction); ‘A bias thicker than faith’ (non-fiction, for publication during 2020), and ‘Balaam’s curse’ a WIP biblical novel. Steve has written out-of-the-box essays and op-eds for a number of publications and sites. He lives in South Africa.