“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
-George Orwell, 1984
Nothing in my lifetime or even the recent American past harkens to George Orwell’s warnings than our relationship to COVID. As a doctor tossed in the epicenter of the pandemic and still grappling with its repercussions, as a human being whose rights have been stripped from him and who is permanently injured from the forced medicalization done under the deceptive aggies of “necessity” and at the bequest of so many people who claim to be humanitarian and scientific and pro-choice, I have felt the sting of COVID’s duplicity, something that goes on even today. COVID has been one of the greatest threats to individual liberty, to our Constitution, to scientific integrity, and to the sanctity of our doctors and medical system in all of history, and the consequences are not only a diminution of us as a people and a democracy, but also the senseless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people and the harming of tens of millions all in the name of medical necessity.
Indeed, as Orwell so effectively preached, truth became misinformation, science became religious myth and ritual, and those who wore masks and white coats and promised us salvation if we succumbed mindlessly to their dictates became the instruments of our slaughter and captivity. We were willing sheep to pure deception, and we believed that if we did as they said, if we gave them our bodies and souls and faith, we would be safe. Instead we lost everything and incubated a medical system and democracy all the more fragile and dangerous.
The picture above is from the first scene of Charley Chaplin’s movie Modern Times, written before Orwell’s book, but relaying the same message. It starts with a bunch of sheep going through a tunnel and morphs into people being herded into work. While at work there are TV’s in every bathroom and nooks and crannies of the factory where the boss is watching everything you do, and factory workers are fed by feeding machines so as to not slow down production. Chaplin’s films, while slapstick, discuss the submersion of the individual to a self-serving society that extracts all humanity and decency from people as a path to their own benefit while claiming to be scientific and decent. The great philosopher Foucault said the same thing; he reminded us that liberal society sets up norms and rules designed not to promote individual happiness or freedom but rather to suppress individual deviation from a system that benefits the few, all colored with shades of deceptive beneficence that aims to trick people into believing that their own subservience to the whole, to the rules and norms, is for their own good and is necessary for society.
Indeed, the cry of necessity within a cloud of manufactured fear is how people take down democracies and transform society into mindless sheep-like theocracies, much as our medical system has skillfully executed during COVID and even before that.
And that is why today’s remembrance of the January 6th Capital raid is so illuminating, because it is as Orwellian as it gets. No doubt that the raid was an affront to our democracy and a frightening reminder of just how fragile our nation is. Had the raiders carried guns and weapons, had more people joined them, then who is to know what damage they would have wrought. Always hidden in the basest parts of every democracy, including ours, are people and institutions whose only goal is to disrupt any semblance of order, to create chaos, and to tear down the very foundations of our freedom.
But, too, without a compliant military, with the vast majority of this nation opposed to the crud who raided the Capital on January 6th, such an act will never transcend the symbolic. True, we must always be on the look out for such threats from below, but we also must put it into context, to understand that these things will not topple democracies unless we allow them to grow and flourish, that an over-reaction to such a thing will only invite more people into the ranks of those who despise our system and seek to take it down.
More significantly, as Orwell warned us, we must be on the lookout for duplicity, for doublespeak, for people who believe that This threat to democracy is dangerous while other treats are necessary. We saw that in spades during COVID. We had pro-choice liberals forcing experimental medicines into the blood of people against their wills despite not a shred of evidence that such shots were either necessary or effective against the virus’ spread; we saw them adapt rituals such as masking and force others to comply even though every shred of evidence and of common sense mitigated against the benefit of this approach; we saw them declare that for over two years it was right and proper for our leaders to strip from us our individual freedoms and Constitutional rights as they locked us in a hell and caused hundreds of thousands of people to die and millions to suffer, acts predicated on faulty logic and science that they refused to acknowledge. Indeed, anyone who dared to question the lethal idiocy of our COVID playbook—all of which lacked any basis of truth and all of which was both scientifically absurd and also medically dangerous—was called a misinfomrer, a conspiracy theorist, even dangerous and worthy of censorship. How perfectly Orwellian! Censorship became not only accepted but also endorsed by those who claim to be liberal and democratic. Our lives were shut off as people behaved more as religious fanatics than as scientifically motivated human beings; our own humanity and democracy fell prey to religious fundamentalism and fear.
Indeed, our entire health care apparatus is built on fear and deception, its costs escalate as death and chronic disease also increase dramatically, the Medical Dogmatists (MD’s) perpetrate myths because they are both ignorant and self-serving and we as a people believe them, because our own allegiance to so-called experts and our need for religious certainly within a cloud of medical fearmongering is far more appealing than the messy reality of what health care and life really are.
That’s why January 6th is a telling tale of who we are as a people. Those of us who believe in liberty, science, human decency, and truth (as messy and frightening that truth may be) equally detest January 6th and the COVID-derived assault on democracy that occurred for two full years and is still in place and ready to rear its ugly head at any time without any pushback from those who claim to be liberals. In fact, the liberals endorsed all of it and normalized it, and that should scare all of us to death.
If January 6th was a symbolic if appalling act that must alert us to how vulnerable our Capital is, the COIVD shutdowns and draconian anti-democratic laws were far more insidious and frightening. Our governors, many of whom claim to be liberal and scientific, used this virus to place tremendous power in their own hands, to shut off the Constitution and deny people liberty, to justify absurd ritualistic acts like masking and shutdowns of society while forcing experimental medicines into our bodies. For two years they did this and the people of this nation simply let it occur! The damage wrought by our absurd COVID policies far exceeds that of January 6th because few people are willing to look at what transpired in the face and acknowledge just how horrific it was. We’re not going to lose our democracy from January 6th, but we almost did and we still may lose it from what we allowed and even encouraged during COVID.
My blogs, and my new book Rantings of a Front-Line Heretic, are cluttered with stories, historical and scientific explorations, and real-life facts that show beyond the shadow of a doubt that the COVID assault on our democratic values and institutions, on science and medical sanity, could well tear apart our nation and our democracy without having helped a single soul; in fact, it dropped our nation's longevity by 4 years. Not January 6th, but the actions of politicians and employers and school systems and so many other during COVID. We gave our bodies and our rights to the state and were and are willing to lose everything for the false promise of security within a cloud of exaggerated fear.
That is how democracies die, not by symbolic raids. They die from within, from our willingness to let false prophets expunge everything upon which a democracy is built. We should be most afraid of the people and institutions that focus only on January 6th but have been complicit during COVID of tearing our rights and democracy to shreds. The mask wearers. Those who insist on closures and forced medicalization. Those who believe that fabricated necessity built upon the bricks of lies and deception—never having to prove anything they say—and uttered by self-declared experts and Medical Dogmatists are reasons enough to dismantle our democracy. The self-serving and sweet-talking scoundrels who let this happen are the ones crying loudest about the outrage of January 6th, because perhaps if they point to something obvious like the Capital raid they can bury what they have done, and what they still believe, beneath our myopic glances.
So on this anniversary of the Capital Raid, we must be willing to acknowledge that any threat to democracy, even when executed by so-called liberals and experts and justified by a never-ending state of emergency, must be fought tooth and nail. It’s not enough to be appalled by January 6th and then walk around with a mask and believe that our democracy should and must be shut off when certain “experts” say it is so. That is classic doublespeak. That is what will end our democratic experiment, not the nut jobs who raided the Capitol.
In my new book Adventures in the Biostate I start with a quote from Steven Levitsky, and I will end this blog with it, because it is prescient and it speaks to why we must all be aware of how dangerous this frenzied COVID duplicity is:
“The drift into authoritarianism doesn’t always set off alarm bells. Citizens are often slow to realize that their democracy is being dismantled even as it happens before their eyes.”