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I’ve got COVID again, and I feel lousy. I can’t concentrate, and I don’t feel like putting together a post. But Rufus posted a link to a fantastic article by Michael Esfeld, which got my propeller spinning. Well, it’s not spinning too fast right now, but it’s trying. Anyway, please read the whole article. It’s dense, but take your time — it’s worth the effort. For example, check out this passage from the middle of the article (emphasis mine):
This construction of a postfactual reality is furthermore postmodern in that it reverses the relationship between rights and the state: in the modern epoch, it was the task of the state to protect fundamental rights. In the postmodern regime, the state grants freedom as privilege for conformity. The mechanism that seduced many academics that have no sympathy with intellectual postmodernism is this one: it is suggested that by pursuing one’s normal, everyday course of life, one endangers the well-being of others. Every form of physical contact can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Every activity has an impact on the non-human environment that can contribute to life-threatening climate change.
Presenting habitual, everyday ways of life as endangering others is what the construction of a corona as well as of a climate crisis and the fear and hysteria fueled by these constructions serve to do. Science can be used for this in the same way as religion was in premodern times: with model calculations in which the parameters can be arbitrarily adjusted, and any version of disaster scenarios can be painted on the wall. The dominance of models over evidence fits perfectly with the postfactual construction of reality in actually existing postmodernism.
One then frees oneself from the general suspicion of harming others through one’s everyday course of life by acquiring a social pass – such as the vaccination pass or another form of a certificate – by which one shows one’s compliance with the regime. The licensed human being thereby replaces the responsible citizen. Rewards for conformity take the place of basic rights.
Again, he packs a lot of ideas into a relatively brief article, so it’s hard to summarize. But that’s a lot to consider in just three paragraphs. He points out that one way to get people to forfeit their personal freedom in favor of centralized power systems is to convince them that everything they do hurts someone else.
Modern free societies are based on the premise that you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt someone else. Well, what happens once we agree that everything we do hurts someone else? Well, that’s the end of the free society, obviously. At that point, we clearly need governmental oversight. Over absolutely everything. From energy policy, to infectious disease management, to income redistribution, and so on and so on.
There is no limiting principle to such thinking. Once we agree that everything we do hurts someone else, then there is nothing that the government cannot reasonably and ethically control. Obviously.
He then explains the importance of models – climate change models, COVID death prediction models, and so on. Use models to predict impending catastrophe. Then use more models to “predict” how much the government “intervention” is likely to “help” the “catastrophe.”
By emphasizing models over facts, our betters can do better than just responding to crises with ever more state control – they can create those crises themselves in the form of models. Thus they control the entire loop. Much easier to manage than trying to solve actual problems that tend to be unpredictable and difficult to control. Reality is unpredictable like that. So models are better.
And since at this point the government is creating the illusion of the problems they want to leverage, that same government can also create the illusion of virtue among the most compliant of its citizens, by granting them some limited degree of the freedom they just forfeited, in exchange for doing as they’re told:
Ok, our models say that COVID is going to kill tens of millions of Americans this year. Our models also say that if you get a vaccine, that number will be reduced to tens of thousands. If you agree to get your vaccine, we will allow you to have dinner out at Applebee’s. You’re welcome. Click the Facebook link to send your campaign contributions.
Some of these model-generated crises are created out of whole cloth, like global warming. Others are exaggerated or tweaked to get the desired impact, like COVID.
But regardless, this is a powerful tool:
Convince people that their every action hurts someone.
Create models to convince people of impending doom if they don’t do what the government says.
Take control of society bit by bit, always with the pretension of helping people, so people don’t notice the loss of their freedoms.
Run for office on the popularity of giving the people a bit of their freedom back in exchange for compliance.
If my brain was working, I’d write a long, complex post about Mr. Esfeld’s article. But lucky for you, dear reader, I’m going back to bed.
You’re better off reading the original, anyway. It really is brilliant. Very concerning. But brilliant.
I look forward to hearing your perspectives on his ideas.
P.S. Thanks for the link, Rufus. Awesome stuff.Published in