We find ourselves 20 months into flatten the curve, the latest excuse for state expansion and abuse, in the 20th year of you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide. It should be surprising to see Americans, who claim such a rich history of rugged individualism and a codified protection of universal human rights and liberties, so eagerly trade personal responsibilities and freedoms for authoritative centralized control, tyranny disguised as a false sense of security. It should be, but fear can be leveraged by petty despots, inspiring enough doubt among the masses to convince even those generally considered secure and steadfast to relinquish not only their own sovereignty, but also that of their fellow countrymen. This could be no more apparent given only a brief overview of the repeated failures of the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and our current bout against an abstract enemy where the overwhelming majority of Americans beg for a savior even when the most well intentioned intervention consistently delivers not only dangerous and destructive, but generally opposite results of the stated goal.
None should be faulted for their panic clouded judgment, perhaps unaware of the costs of their decisions or possibly a misguided faith in the state to act in a way best benefitting society as a whole, but they should be encouraged to withdraw their consent or at the least disavow the misplaced authority being claimed by those self declared leaders and experts. Unfortunately the societal trauma experienced over the last two decades of propaganda and outright lies, where the narrative is canon and dissemination of any non approved messaging is a heretical crime worthy of censorship or exile, has discouraged any expression or defense of individual rights either by the dismissal classical liberal American culture and philosophy, or worse, by the demonization or mischaracterization of anyone holding the ideals espoused in the Declaration of Independence.
It is a daunting task, however, to ignore their complacency and complicity, especially while many have been trained to view those speaking out against government action as enemies of the people endangering the common good. We view government action, especially when couched with rhetoric surrounding the common good or national security, as detrimental to a free people and to the advancement of society in our examination of the lies, propaganda, and obscene transfers of wealth we have experienced in modern times. External threats, imagined or exaggerated, are the tool of choice for those bent on attaining or maintaining power and control, and the programming promoting the lies merely pivots from alleged crisis to crisis to maintain its relevance. Slogans and threat assessments get upcycled, “weapons of mass destruction” becomes “misinformation” and “terror alert level red” becomes “county covid tier purple.” In every case, the solution takes our society further away from actually solving the crisis. At no point will a less free and prosperous society offer actual outcomes worth the sacrifice.
The towers fell; the virus has spread. How we behave following a disaster is an important part of our surviving it, especially if we expect to keep our humanity intact. We have spent twenty years erasing the foundation of the freedom, liberty, and individual rights promised to us, and now we have spent twenty months knocking down the remaining pillars. Some lessons can only be learned after it’s already too late.