No country for skeptical women.
Or: The first rule of living in a third-world technocratic kleptocracy is 'Don’t fool yourself into thinking you live in a first-world constitutional republic.'
Unfinished essay draft…may be revised and finished later.
Once a woman knows, because she has seen, that the vast majority of her country’s leaders will tell big lies, and that the vast majority of her fellow countrymen will believe the big lies unquestioningly, and comply unresistingly with initial steps toward totalitarianism and every escalation thereafter, what then should she do?
How then should she live?
A couple of weeks ago, I sent a three-word email to the superintendent of the public school district in which my daughter is enrolled.
The first word rhymed with “duck,” the second word was “you,” and the third word was the superintendent’s last name. I also linked to an article about the devastating social and psychological effects lockdowns are having on children and teenagers, which was the emotional driver for the communication.
I live in a so-called “blue state,” with a Democratic governor who controls — unchecked by a nominally Republican legislature — a Democratic state government apparatus which continues to advise school districts and teachers to avoid daily, in-person, mask-free, full-capacity, non-Plexiglass public education at all the costs borne by the children, their families and their tax paying communities.
Our local government councils and school board have met exclusively online, not in person, since last spring; our municipal government buildings are closed to the public, as is our public library.
Prior to March 2020, I had no idea that by living in this state, I had chosen to live under tyranny. Now I know better, and am planning to escape as soon as feasible.
A three-word expletive-driven email was an unusual move. I generally stick to non-profane communication, even while angrily disagreeing, and I’m generally articulate: I know how to form sentences to express complex thoughts.
I have spoken in public meetings (when that was a thing that happened in my community, which it is no longer) and written many times over the years to the public officials, who — for reasons indiscernible to me — hold unilateral unreviewable power to make decisions that deeply affect me and the people I love in the most personal and private of ways.
When my first drafts are laced with profanity, I usually delete them. Or at least revise the profanity out before clicking “send,” out of concern for crossing a line that could not be recrossed the other direction.
I had written to this man, and to school board members, regularly in recent months, to express concern and dissent from their policies and advocacy for alternatives, on topics ranging from Covid-based, deeply harmful restrictions on students’ social and academic lives to the documented flaws in the RT-PCR testing method as a means of identifying infectious individuals for extra isolation, to free speech issues as they relate to new critical race theory, “No-Place-for-Hate” curricula and dissent-chilling, and other challenging and controversial topics.
I had offered to obtain clearances for substitute teaching, to be part of a constructive solution by helping create a magnet program at an unused school building open to children, teachers and parents interested in voluntarily assuming the risks of Covid in exchange for the benefits of unfettered social and academic interaction.
The school board and superintendent remained serenely uninterested in assessing their actions and policy choices against the counter-evidence presented.
And so a couple of weeks ago I took a sharp turn onto a different road with my three-word email, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to the road I had been on before.
There’s nothing to go back to.
I respect neither the man nor the administrative office he occupies at public expense. I have nothing but contempt for him, because I perceive him and the school board members as hating the children and teens entrusted to their care, enjoying the powerful feelings they derive from childrens’ suffering and dependency, prolonging that suffering to prolong that powerful feeling, and having nothing but contempt for me and the values I hold: individual liberty and personal responsibility for risk benefit calculations, free speech, and many other traditionally American principles.
It’s the reverse of the old parenting shibboleth: “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.”
I’m not just disappointed.
I’m very, very angry.
Good as words have been to me, I struggle to put my anguish at Covid-tyranny into words.
There are many reasons for this, and many thoughtful, courageous people enduring the same anguish and the same struggle.
My experience is this: every time I leave my home in a small metropolitan area of some 90,000 to 100,000 souls, I encounter masked people of all ages, walking outside in fresh winter air, often alone, sometimes in small groups, or furtively scuttling through the aisles of supermarkets and hardware stores.
I experience each person as a source of existential dread.
Each one demonstrates symptoms of undergoing an active psychotic episode, believing that shared air and every person are infectious disease threats; that the virus, if they catch it, will most likely kill them or an elderly relative of theirs; and that a distance of 72 inches and a fabric muzzle will protect them from becoming infected, dying and/or killing a loved one.
All of this is nonsense.
But the psychotics believe it utterly, they are acting out an elaborate ritualistic fantasy in accordance with their false beliefs, and they are backed by the implied police power of the state in demanding that everyone else act out the fantasy with them.
The other type of human individual I might be encountering is someone who knows it’s all nonsense, but is willingly playing along with the psychosis to appease the genuine psychotics.
Potentially, there is a third type of person out and about: those who understand it’s all nonsense, do not want to appease the psychotics, but are afraid the psychotics and the government, in the form of police officers, will violently attack them for failure to play along. That’s a group in which I would number myself, and group whose other members I would very much like to meet and support.
But we are hidden from each other, by mutually-assumed-toxicity, fabric masks and 72 inches of dead air.
I recently read a potent essay by Irish writer John Waters, in which he pitched his view of the psychological relationship between Covid-tyrants and Covid-serfs, and the means by which the mass delusions have been wrought:
“…These processes could not have been formulated without the assistance of highly practised psychologists and other experts in mind control, capable of exploiting both individual psychological pathologies and comprehending dysfunctional family dynamics to expose and manipulate weaknesses in human persons and relationships. The Covid operation harnessed the dynamics of archetypal relationships between narcissists/psychopaths (politicians) and co-dependent submissives (citizens), in effect weaponising on a grand scale the dynamics of a kind of platonic BDSM…”
“…Generated confusion, mixed messages, are central elements: you must be sure to take care of old people — just don’t go near lest you kill them; it is important to become infected to achieve immunity but at all costs avoid infecting other healthy people; wear a face mask, even though ‘experts’ say they are ineffective. Wear two face masks, just to prove you are not an anti-masker. The inconsistency and incoherence of the messages is not random or chaos-driven — it has a planned and precise purpose: to destabilise the sensibility of the subject, rendering him amenable to further manipulation. Since he cannot understand, he simply obeys.”
This analysis struck rather close to the bone for me, because I have some familiarity with psychological manipulation tools and techniques derived from an unfortunate upbringing and a lengthy process of reflection and recovery during early adulthood.
My mother was born just outside London in April 1940.
Yes, in the middle of an active war zone.
She and her parents, and her elder sister, survived the war and the immediate postwar years, but then her mother (my maternal grandmother and middle-namesake) died when my mother was nine years old, most likely of some form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma or other cancer.
The adults in my mother’s life apparently told her that her mother had gone away to visit some other place, leaving her to piece together over the following year that her mother had actually died and was not coming back. A messy second marriage for her father followed, and later a second family and a messy divorce.
This particular collection of formative years left my mother with some psychological and emotional deficits, let’s say. No fault of her own, certainly. But she was left both desperate to create an intact family, and not especially well-equipped to parent another generation of children in healthy ways. My father - born and raised in western Pennsylvania during the World War II years - was not especially well-equipped to protect their offspring from the harms presented by our mother.
Among other techniques, she was and remains highly skilled at gaslighting, triangulating, and expressing extremely clear, definitive opinions and orders on any number of topics, which she can rapidly reverse without notice or explanation and express the opposite opinions and orders, with no apparent recollection of her self-contradiction or concern for the effects of her inconsistency on those around her. She was the “wire mother” of Harlow’s monkey experiments, with the added twist of giving off the psychosocial version of non-lethal electrical shocks at random intervals: capable of providing food, but not capable of providing comfort or safety, and in fact, representing a threat herself.
This is a difficult environment for a child to make sense of, and understandably left me with some psychological and emotional deficits of my own, which my children cope with as the generations turn.
One of the useful coping mechanisms I adopted was simply to accept that whatever my mother’s latest “whim of iron” (as my father put it) happened to be, was the “truth” which I should accept and attempt to accommodate myself to, and that any difficulties I encountered reconciling subsequent positions with prior positions could be resolved by the simple expedient of ignoring the contradictions and going with the current standard.
This was the most effective coping mechanism at the time, because she had almost complete control over my life when I was a child, and she worked to lengthen and expand that control, ensuring that I trusted her and her alone by casting outsiders as dangerous; fostering dependency; isolating me and teaching me to regard other adults with preemptive mistrust and skepticism.
My father did, however, manage to ensure that my older siblings and I left the family home to attend college, and thereby created opportunities for us to test our childhood perceptions of reality and coping mechanisms against non-mother-decreed standards.
Those opportunities — along with some fortuitous substitute mother-figures we connected with while still in the parental home — were enough to help some of us understand and eventually break through our crazy-making childhood experiences of arbitrary, self-contradictory maternal claims about reality and demands about behavior, underlain by the foundational command: obey authority without question.
We learned to somewhat trust our own perceptions, and to question and test the claims of others before accepting them.
So when Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Neil Ferguson and the phalanx of academia-locked global data modelers surrounding them began their own executive rounds of arbitrary, self-contradictory and terrorizing proclamations and behavioral dictates, and thwarted every effort to put their orders under evidentiary scrutiny by independent media, peer-reviewed scientific studies, co-equal legislatures and co-equal courts, I recognized the play as one that I had sat through before.
But this time, the abusers’ domain is almost every place in America; the sense of being utterly and hopelessly trapped is orders of magnitude larger.
Those who haven’t endured that particular baptism by psychological fire, or a related one, simply can’t do the same pattern-recognizing.
Nor can those who have endured the same twisted, abusive relationships — with parents, or partners, or bosses — but haven’t yet had the time, relative safety and opportunity to work through their experiences and put the pieces of themselves back together.
Nor can those who feel safest and most comfortable in the role of subservient to an all-powerful authority figure, because that’s what they’re used to.
My husband, who does not agree with many of my views on political Covid, makes a great effort to emphasize that we do not know what will happen next, that we cannot be 100% certain that the authoritarianism will continue and worsen forever.
There are infinite variables, millions of people around the world watching and thinking and acting, and history has taken strange and unexpected turns many times before.
I agree with him. Maybe the house arrest orders will be lifted by the authorities. Maybe citizen resistance will grow and overtake the authorities plans to maintain the repression. Maybe the authorities will even someday be held accountable.
But we do know for sure some things that will not happen.
Some historical moments irreversibly close out some doors, and after those moments, paths which might have been taken are no longer options.
Mass hysteria can’t just be cleared away once you’ve instilled the whole world with it.
The rest of all our lives — whether we’re next in each other’s company a week from now or five years from now — will be defined by the Covid story.
Conversations may start with “Where were you when?” A free state in the South or Mountain west? Or a lockdown state in the Mid Atlantic, New England or West Coast?
More profoundly and painfully, even friendships and family relationships that survive the forced isolation, the universal mutual shunning, will be marked by it, permanently inoculated with an overlay of suspicion and contempt for the Covid-times Other.
Were you credulous and cooperative?
Or were you skeptical and resistant?
Tribal in-group? Or tribal out-group?