Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Social distancing

What is social distancing? A handy political construct. What do you do when you rule over a country, nay, over a number of countries, grouped in political blocs, and you are notified by your services that resistance is growing? that opposition is gaining in popularity? that social order is threatened? that the racial minorities that you and the likes of you have imported rather than assimilating are going to be at the throats of their hosts? What do you do when you are informed that people are boldly taking to the streets and demanding change? that there are players who are ready to topple you and your comrades, to wrench power from your hands and – what’s worst – are going to bring you to book?

You are not going to impose martial law because it somehow does not look civil in a world that has been inebriated on the infinite, never-ending, always expanding range of human rights; in a world where people have been taught to associate such measures with regimes – i.e. those governments run by tyrants in far-off lands – but not with developed democracies that are paragons of civil virtue? Besides, imposing such drastic measures draws a clear line of us against them and as a rule adds fuel to the fire of resistance. Under such circumstances, if obedience can be counted on, then merely negative obedience.

To save the day you need to come up with a solution that is going to be innocuous and that will compel people to identify with it. What do people in affluent societies care most about? About their well-being. What is their well-being conditioned by? By good health, of course, because without it you cannot enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. Hence, if an individual’s good health can be put at risk, his whole world is threatened.

Once you strike fear into the hearts of the citizens – and the most potent kind of it is the fear of losing health and (comfortable) life – you need not bother about any other problems. The benefits are numerous and very useful. You make a show: you hold TV and radio talks about the threat, complete with professors and experts adopting dramatic poses, you strike fear, scientifically-based fear, and fear is contagious. People are held in check. Out of fear they start controlling each other and tipping the police off about their compatriots.

Political opposition groupings? Their activities are palsied. No one is allowed to hold gatherings and you cannot even conspire while standing in a shop line because of social distancing that is allegedly one of the most effective means of combating the virus.

Social distancing! A political and social masterpiece. A Nobel Prize for the inventor. Really. What do occupational forces or “regimes” do if they fear a popular uprising? They go to great lengths to disrupt social cohesion. To this end they play one social class off against anther, one professional group off against another; they import people of other nationalities, creeds and races. What do you do next if the aforementioned measures seem to be insufficient? You atomize the society that you perceive as a breeding ground for opposition, for popular uprising, for upheaval and riots even further.

Now telling people to avoid each other and expecting them to willingly follow all the bizarre orders is only possible if you convince them that it is for their own good. Social distancing runs counter to the root instincts of humans as they are herd beings. Correspondingly, the amount of fear produced must be huge. Hence the footage with truckloads of coffins, hence the horror stories about Dantean scenes playing out in intensive care units and the like images. The aim justifies the means.

We have not forgotten yet, have we? After 9/11 all measure of restrictions were imposed on the citizens worldwide and accepted without the least sign of resistance. It was at that time that shameless frisking at the airports and forcing passengers to walk barefoot through the control gantries became a new normal. What practices will become normal in the aftermath of the virus crisis?

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