THE BLITZED SPIRIT

This Christmas, I think there should be a festive, Covid-themed ‘Desert Island Discs’ in which Matt Hancock, Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Neil Ferguson are cast away together – all brought to you by Zoom, naturally (stay safe) – and I suspect they’ll opt for ‘Tiers are Not Enough’ by ABC as the one they’d rescue from the waves given the choice. Of course, I’ve taken liberties with the spelling of ‘Tiers’, but it makes more sense given the context. Any scaremongering, wannabe Goebbels who has seen just how easy it is to ensure compliance via the propaganda of fear will never settle for the privations already imposed upon a weary populace such as those applied in 2020. Why stop there? There will be no end in sight, for an apparently obedient people whose response to every nonsensical and disproportionate demand on their civil liberties is to do as they’re told and put up with everything is the ultimate aphrodisiac to the powers-that-be we voted into office. They know lockdowns don’t achieve their intended aim, but like the WWI generals-in-denial that they are, they go on and on and on, constantly sending men over the top as a futile gesture in the absence of genuine solutions.

I seem to remember a recent mini-lockdown in Wales a month or so ago that was supposed to last a fortnight – a ‘wind-break’ or whatever it was called; it didn’t exactly cleanse the valleys of the coronavirus, but it gave the Welsh Protectorate an excuse to close the pubs and also exposed the Puritan mindset at the dark heart of a project intended to make everyone’s lives as joyless as those making up the rules and the lobby groups they’re in the pockets of. After nine months of this, it feels like they’ve succeeded. When people are too scared to do anything or go anywhere because they don’t know if they’re ‘allowed’ to, something has been achieved in terms of control that even Stalin couldn’t manage. This lot don’t need to send tanks up the high-street; they don’t even need to build Gulags to imprison opponents, for they’ve turned everyone’s home into a Gulag. Every address has a Siberian postcode now, and everyone is under permanent house arrest – confined to claustrophobic quarters indefinitely, and only permitted to leave if in possession of a pass signifying one has received the vaccine. It seems as though the world has rapidly morphed into one giant Communist State.

Some have hinted at masks being worn for at least another year. It matters not that the effectiveness of this horrible addition to the outdoor ensemble remains open to question, for it is such a powerful visual symbol of compliance that it will stick. Lest we forget, there are many nations around the world that worked this out a long time ago. Indeed, if only there was an article of clothing already in existence that could spare us having to don a mask, one that would minimise all risk of human contact and super-spreading by comprehensively covering the whole body apart from the eyes; I think there might be one, but I can’t remember what it’s called. Masks weren’t compulsory wear at the point when Covid-19 was killing the most people, yet the mandatory adoption of them since feels like the public are being punished for the failures of their leaders to deal with this back in the spring – back when we were told the war would be over by Christmas. But punishing the public is a tactic that has been employed for months now; every descent into Lockdown 2.0 onwards comes with the implicit threat that what doesn’t work will be our fault; this is pre-emptive buck-passing in action.

For all the talk of that awful phrase, ‘the New Normal’, none of this is normal, nor should it ever be regarded as such. That said, the longer it goes on the more normal it becomes and the easier it is for yet another fast-tracked restriction on democratic freedoms to be imposed without resistance; as the population is gradually institutionalised – not to say infantilised – to the point whereby the independent, informed decision of the autonomous adult has to defer to authority for permission to do anything, the greater the likelihood of a generation being raised with no idea life wasn’t always lived this way. The prospect of the police turning up mob-handed and kicking the door down to prevent a group of friends meeting and choosing to take their own health and wellbeing into their own hands – as is their wont – is a far more effective deterrent than vague threats of personal health concerns; if that bothered people, nobody would smoke or drink. We’re over-18! With so many avenues of pleasure – even the most private – closed down in the great isolation experiment, it almost feels like we’re witnessing the birth of a new form of divide and rule, one in which each individual is divided from the next and all forms of potential gatherings that social animals instinctively crave when threatened are outlawed; the mask – its most potent badge of voluntary oppression – completes the picture.

I reserve the right to disagree with a fair amount of what is being done, and whilst I have no axe to grind with the concept of a vaccine, I reserve the right to retain scepticism until its effectiveness (or lack of) has been proven. The fact that even those who have lined-up to receive it will still have to undergo the self-isolation ritual if they test positive for Covid afterwards seems to render it more placebo than panacea. I am not an anti-vaccer; by all means, give it to those who want it and/or need it, but don’t treat those who harbour reservations as though they’re lily-livered conscientious objectors. To question the propaganda machine is to be regarded as a conspiracy theory crank or unpatriotic, a ‘Covidiot’ who may as well wear a white feather. Highlight concerns on social media and you risk censorship, suspension or exile; protest in public and don’t expect a benign police escort ala BLM, for you belong to a dangerous fifth column that must be silenced. As with Identity Politics and the Brexit factions, opposing views are heresy.

The men at the top are doing alright out of this catastrophe, like spivs flogging black-market goods at extortionate prices in post-war Berlin. No journalist ever asks these men how many lives have been lost as a consequence of lockdowns and all their related social depravations. No journalist asks them about those who have lost their jobs, who have seen their businesses wiped out, who can’t pay their rent, who can’t feed their families, who are locked-up with abusive partners, who carry cancers that will be detected too late because of a backlog that all attention being given to a far less deadly virus has caused, who are suicidal because everything has been taken away from them; no journalist is asking the men at the top these questions. And if anyone raises these important issues, they’re demonised as dissenters. Contradict the consensus at your peril.

The successful absorption of Covid Project Fear is all around us, dictating every decision as millions of diehard law-abiding people are faced with little choice but to become law-breakers. It is impossible to navigate the maze of complex and contradictory regulations without breaking at least one; the country has been transformed into a vast Circumlocution Office, as inept a bureaucratic behemoth as any that Little Dorrit could have confronted. The possibilities for satire and the comedy of the absurd would be a goldmine were it not so serious. The masked masses are a dispiriting enough sight as it is, but seeing toddlers in something which is even less necessary for them is as disturbing as it is tragic, transplanting the blood on the hands of this generation onto the next. The life we knew wasn’t great, but it was better than this excuse for one; and that old life is gone, probably for good. I could cite something someone once said, something about picturing the future as a boot stamping on a human face – forever. But I’ll probably settle for Merry Christmas, ’cause we’re all in it together – innit.

© The Editor

4 thoughts on “THE BLITZED SPIRIT

  1. It’s interesting to note that the original ‘Project Fear’, at the time of the Brexit referendum, patently failed to achieve its objective, but ‘Project Fear 2.0’ has proved to be a staggering success. The only difference is that with v2.0 the implied threat is very personal, very local and very immediate – with Brexit, the fear-vehicle was at a wider national level, about sovereignty, about the next few decades, not about your own granny next week.

    That may play into the gnat-length attention-span now so prevalent in so much of the population, if pleasures must be instant and transitory, then threats on that same scale will also register with the hard-of-thinking. The problem is that our rulers have now seen this proved repeatedly over the last nine months, so that tool of voluntary oppression is now firmly grasped and, like you, I reckon they won’t be inclined to loosen their grip anytime soon.

    Most of us may now be willingly walking blindfold into decades of oppressions, clinging desperately to the hand of our trusty nanny-state in the false belief that it has our interests at heart. To pervert the Blitz analogy, rarely have so many been so deeply deceived by so few.

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    1. It does feel now like the Brexit version of Project Fear was a dummy run for the Covid incarnation – though, as you say, the issues involved there seemed too remote for many, too detached from their day-to-day lives. But lessons were learned, and with a little tweaking here and there, they’ve made it personal this time round, bringing the Western Front to everyone’s doorstep; and it appears to have worked. It may sound melodramatic, but the other day I was thinking of people I’ve known who’ve passed away in recent years and was almost envying them for missing out on all this. I wish they were still around, but in a way I’m glad they’re not; I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

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  2. It’s appalling – a case of mass neurosis. The explanation, I believe, is not to be found in medicine but in psychology and economics (see the madness of crowds theory, for example). The worst part of isn’t even the meek compliance. It’s not even the tell-tale tattlers (oh, Mr Officer, my neighbour had visitors round last night, some of them were even SINGING, can you arrest him please?) who, let’s face it, have always been around. It’s that a section of the population seem to be subtly persuading the government to do even more. They are the same % that would have joined the Stasi in the former East Germany. Seeing grown, healthy-looking adults wearing their face nappies in the open air, is simply pathetic. You feel like going up to them, grabbing them by the lapels, and screaming “What’s WRONG with you?” right in their silly, barely visible, little faces. Have you noticed some have even to taken to wearing them while in their cars?I saw a youngish, healthy looking man in a four seater Porsche wearing one (as always seems to be the case with Porsches, whether of the four seater or more traditional two seater variety, it was empty apart from the driver). He looked, frankly, ridiculous…but it’s heresy to even think that now.

    My rehab friend Genevieve was admonished by a complete stranger for not covering her mouth while coughing while walking on a sea front near here she lives, and told the admonisher to fuck off, the result of which encounter her sister didn’t talk to her for a week or two.

    I think I’d have been less polite than that.

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    1. Unfortunately, the mass blind compliance seems to confirm a lot of what many of us long suspected but hoped would never be tested where our fellow man is concerned. I’ll be honest, if I need to go out and cannot avoid having to don a mask, nine times out of ten I decide to stay at home. It’s completely putting me off going anywhere that involves stepping inside a shop. Yes, the fanatics can brand me a granny-killer, but I detest them (masks, not grannies). There’s undoubtedly a religious fervour that has possessed some, but in a way that’s not surprising when the same symptoms have surfaced so many times in other areas over the last few years.

      Funny too how Yahoo News ceased allowing comments – which were usually the most entertaining element of the service and endlessly critical – as soon as this began. ‘In order to improve our community experience,’ it reads, ‘we are temporarily suspending article commenting’. I’ve a feeling the suspension is permanent – just like every government-imposed measure we are constantly being told is ‘temporary’. Defining the length of temporary now seems to be up there with defining the length of a piece of string.

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