As soon as I finished reading Jeffrey Tucker’s brilliant article (“The Economic Disaster of the Pandemic Response”), something clicked for me. I have always had the arguments against socialism, communism, collectivism, ad nauseam, put together and readily available for use in debates, lectures, etc. – the bankruptcy of countries, the arbitrary restrictions on free speech and movement, and the instituting of mediocrity as a cultural norm. But it always felt like something was missing.
Tucker closed the gap, and made the connection between Socialism, Choice, and Public Health. He allowed me to expand and bring to consciousness, the devastating connection between governmental control of choices and pathology on a societal and individual level. I have always felt that a centralized political regime was not only culturally damaging, economically empty, but more so, crushing to the human spirit. It is, in essence, a homicidal form of human organization, that rots people from the inside, out.
Examining the period of societal trauma we are slowly emerging from, it is shocking to catalogue what a brutal, arbitrary, and dictatorial response to COVID did to the economic and cultural fabric of our culture. Two and half years after shutting down the economy, this is what we were left with:
The longest period of declining real income since the end of World War II
A national health crisis involving wide-spread emotional and psychological problems
An educational crisis relegating student achievement to a mediocre level amongst first world countries
An exploding national debt
A 40 year high inflation rate
Continued and random shortages of almost everything
A breakdown of international trade
A collapse of consumer confidence
A dangerous level of political division
The closing of millions of small businesses
For over thirty-five years, Arleah and I have had the privilege of traveling widely throughout the world, as an added benefit of my work. The only areas we have not personally visited are China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. We have an acquaintance with those cultures through work with individuals who lived in the States, while they were representing companies in their native countries. We did a smattering of tourism, but our goal was to spend time getting to know the people and their cultures.
At a number of times during our travels, patterns emerged that were hard to ignore. In countries that had centralized, tightly controlling governments (e.g. Eastern Europe, Russia/Soviet Union), the architecture of public and multi-family housing was flat, grey, and oppressive. The feeling tone of the major cities was depressing – people walked with their heads down, averting their eyes so as to make any inadvertent contact impossible. In countries with “ caretaker” governments (Scandinavia and parts of Western Europe), the feeling tone was serious and somber.
In all these cultures, one behavioral theme stood out – the use (and abuse) of alcohol was bordering on epidemic. A few instances stood out: In Helsinki, we regularly saw groups of older children and adolescents rolling and careening down the streets (at all hours), thoroughly drunk. In Moscow, walking down the sidewalk, early in the morning, was like an exercise in avoiding an interpersonal collision. Young and middle-aged men were wobbling down the street, making no effort, whatsoever to avoid hitting you. The contact was not an “excuse me” bump. If you couldn’t avoid it, it was strong enough to almost knock you off your feet.
After reading Tucker’s article, it all came together. The connection between unforgiving, completely controlling government and the eradication of choice, is an emotional and psychological cocktail producing depression and meaninglessness that can only be assuaged by deadening all feelings. And the most effective method for doing this, is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant – like ALCOHOL. People don’t overuse alcohol to feel better; they overuse it to feel Nothing. And when they achieve the state of nothingness, they are essentially, the walking dead. (Contrary to the public understanding, a large portion of alcoholics suffocate to death, due to a shutdown of the CNS.)
So, from a political science perspective, where’s the lethality come from? Any system that eliminates Choice, is deadly to the human condition. When choice is obliterated, life as we know it is extinguished. Is it clear, now why bars were allowed to stay open, during the COVID lockdown? A group at the top of our government and public health service, was intuitive enough to realize that removing the choice to continue working for large numbers of citizens could easily spiral out of control, without a mechanism for allowing large numbers of people to self-anesthetize. And I don’t think that we’ve seen the end of this period of self-abuse. People are just beginning to absorb the damage done to their children. I wonder what will happen when they tap into the damage done to them.
N.B. If you want to read the full article by Jeffrey Tucker here’s the citation:
Jeffrey A. Tucker
“The Economic Disaster of the Pandemic Response”
IMPRIMIS, October 2022, Volume 51, Number 10