But officer, I only sneezed!
We had no such thing as printed newspapers in those days to spread rumours and reports of things…
Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year, 1722
Stay in your homes.
Be off the streets by nightfall.
The Stranglers, Black and White
Found it! I knew it was knocking around somewhere in the basement of BI Manor. Just straightened it out a bit, and it still seems to fit. Yes, it is time to don, once again, the trusty old conspiracy-theory tinfoil hat.
One has every right, of course, to believe in conspiracy theories, to suspect governments of being as artful as Donald Trump’s hairdresser, and those institutions don’t exactly have an improving record of being straight-arrow, honest injun, stand-up guys and gals. But, as with all theories, first you must set up and define your terms, then you look at the facts and decide what would be happening differently if your theory were not true.
Let’s throw a few ingredients into the bubbling cauldron of conspiracy. Italy is under martial law by any other name. For a French person to leave their home they must be in possession of a valid government form. A large fine is levied for failure to comply. Same in Switzerland. (Good revenue stream, what? Wonder if it’s ring-fenced). On social media, a jogger notes on Twitter that while out running in the UK, as she puts it, ‘in the middle of nowhere’, she was told by police – where you been at, homeboys? - to return to her home. Our man in Central America, incidentally, tells us that the police in Costa Rica have told him the same thing, but that may be for the safety of the public in non-viral ways. In Europe, public gatherings are being gradually down-sized toward a de facto and non-transgressible limit of one, and weddings that have not been cancelled are not allowed to include guests.
So, authorities who seem blasé about preventing crime and anti-social behavior under normal circumstances are suddenly on their game when it comes to keeping the citizenry at home playing endless games of gin rummy. As young Naomi Seibt – the anti-Greta you may remember from Traffic Analysis passim - ponders on social media, while everyone is locked away inside, what is going on outside that we aren’t supposed to see?
Meanwhile, in the good ol’, psychotic U S of A, gun sales are going through the roof as people cotton on to the fact that there may be social breakdown quite soon. At the same time, in Baltimore – one of the world’s most dangerous cities – criminals are no longer being arrested for a wide range of offences – ‘restorative justice’, this is known as, and we can take an informed guess who it primarily applies to - and elsewhere prisoners are being released so as not to be put at risk of catching the virus. Can you see the dots beginning to join themselves?
At this point, it may pay us to recall the late Samuel T. Francis’s concept of anarcho-tyranny. This dystopian state is engineered by governments by way of deliberately increasing lawlessness in order to justify an exponential increase in repressive state power. After a while, it’s not the criminals you need to be afraid of, it’s the government. Perhaps the virus has been a handy way of eating away at yet more of your freedoms. You already run a risk if you Tweet that there are only two genders. What won’t you be able to write a year from now?
We are also being reminded by every from the WHO - not Townsend and Daltrey, the World Health Organisation – to pint-sized, Islamic 5th-columnist, glottally challenged London Mayor Sadiq Khan that the virus is not the problem, racism is, and in no circumstances should China be mentioned as the origin of the virus, even though China is the origin of the virus.
Those of the political right, of course, see these deep-state rumblings as ominous signs of future totalitarianism. Big government means small freedom in inverse ratio. The left, in bold contradistinction, welcome a big, repressive, Daddy-bear state to crush their enemies and reward those on what they constantly call ‘the right side of history’, a history they despise and of which they know nothing as it was produced almost exclusively by white men.
The left are sadly misguided. If they think that a new monolithic and Orwellian jackboot-state will reward millennials with high-ranking jobs, when those rubber-hatted mongs could fuck up coffee – instant coffee – then they are woofing up the wrong bush. It will be stocking supermarket shelves with the other epsilons for them.
So, then. Someone is conspiring, and someone is using this virus to make political gain. We must hope for the least-worst option. And wash our hands.
Photo credit: Raymond Yau