Plan of study.
I’m a little more than halfway through my second reading of Malachi Martin’s The Keys of This Blood, which I first read around 2003 and began reading again in mid-October this year.
I picked it up as part of my effort to understand the current Covidian moment in human history.
Reading Martin’s book, unsurprisingly, has led and will continue to lead me down many side roads into other authors’ books and essays. There’s a list of some of them below, which I’ll cross-post at Bailiwick News Archives and update from time to time as I keep working.
I anticipate writing analytical and reflective essays like this one, with a goal of one each month. The January 2022 essay will be about Josef Pieper’s essay Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.
As I’ve struggled to understand what’s happening in the human world these past few years, I started thinking about transcendent, soul-cognizant, moral frameworks of human meaning — Catholicism, in particular — as contrasted with the secular, “scientific,” “public health,” materialist, body-focused frameworks put forward by many political leaders and amplified to overwhelming conceptual dominance by public writers and speakers in the legacy media.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about theology, politics, and theo-politics, and other concepts related to the religious, spiritual dimension of human social systems such as governments, political organizations and civic institutions.
I began playing with the term “teleopolitics,” to describe the study of human politics as natural phenomena that reflect varied concepts of the meaning of human life, and varied views of the ultimate moral purposes to which humans and our political projects are aimed.
"Political teleology" is a subject that has interested thinkers from Aristotle to Immanuel Kant, but I haven't yet found other references to "teleopolitics."
“Politics” is a fairly common term. It's defined by online Merriam-Webster as “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping [human] power in a [human] government.”
“Teleology” is a subject which Aristotle explored in great detail, although the term itself apparently originated in the 18th century.
Online Merriam-Webster defines it as:
“the study of evidences of design in nature;
a doctrine (as in vitalism) that ends are immanent in nature;
a doctrine explaining phenomena by final causes;
the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose.”
For Aristotle, Kant and others who have written about political teleology, the topic seems to be understood as the purpose of politics itself. This is only an initial impression; I need to read more of their work to understand better.
I mean something a little different, though.
I'm interested in thinking about political systems with reference to the ultimate purpose of human beings, and, from the other side of the equation, thinking about the ultimate purpose of humans in terms of how any given governing power system helps or hinders us in our efforts to reach our ultimate goals.
Teleopolitics would be the study of concepts of human existence, meaning and ultimate purpose, and how those form the moral foundations of past, present and future political and governmental projects.
And it would also be the study and practice of politics as if the ultimate purpose and meaning of human existence matters to how governments influence how citizens live their lives as individuals and in society.
I propose to read and write examinations of recent and current human events and political developments, by expanding my historical knowledge and applying this conceptual framework.
For example, I'd like to think through relatively recent events, from the Maastricht Treaty forming the European Union in 1993, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 through the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States in 2016, to Covid-19’s ongoing predominance, and whatever events come along next.
Schwabian secular technocracy
Rarely, political leaders explain their views of human meaning and purpose clearly and honestly, and explain how their political agenda aligns with those views. Dennis Kucinich might be an example of a living politician with that kind of integrity.
Often, political leaders make statements in public, and take opposite action behind closed doors. That's known as hypocrisy and corruption. It’s common.
A good current example: Congressional conflicts of interest and profiteering from financial investments in vaccine manufacturers, PPE manufacturers, Covid treatment manufacturers and other pharmaceutical and medical businesses.
In public, lawmakers claim they want to control infections and end the pandemic.
Government leaders could acknowledge the truth: that the virus never posed the massive societal threat they claimed at the start; that it's mild in most cases, and treatable with medications that have long safety records in most other cases; that it's been endemic since Spring 2020; and that it’s an airborne aerosol that spreads the same with or without masking and social distancing practices.
Government leaders could leave people to get on with life without the major restrictions on freedom of speech, religion, assembly, association and movement that have been imposed under the alleged state of emergency.
Government leaders could also leave patients and doctors free to deal with illness using their own judgment about each unique case, without blocking access to older medications and revoking medical licenses, and without coercing people to take novel “vaccine” pre-treatments that are useless for their stated purpose (stopping infections and transmission), and carry non-negligible risks of harms for individual recipients (cardiovascular, neurological and other systemic damage) and for populations (vaccine-driven viral mutation).
But if they said those true things, they would also tank pharmaceutical and PPE sales, corporate profits, share values and their own investment portfolios.
So most will keep quiet and watch their financial wealth grow.
Sometimes political leaders say nothing about their overarching purposes. The goals must then be inferred from observable actions.
Take, for example, Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum’s “You will own nothing, and you will be happy” slogan for Agenda 2030.
Set aside for a moment the strong possibility Agenda 2030, much like Covid-19, may be partly a psychological manipulation exercise aimed at frightening, confusing, distracting and thereby quelling popular unrest over moral, social and economic conditions in countries around the world: unrest that would otherwise be directed at the same managerial elites who handle most governance these days.
“You will own nothing, and you will be happy” is explicit on the practical level. It says how the global government intends to allocate resources, how we-the-governed are to live our lives, and how we're supposed to feel about it.
It conveniently leaves out who will own the "everything" commodities the rest of us merely rent. It leaves out how, and by whom, "happiness" will be defined and measured, although it implies that "happiness" is correlated with "things."
It leaves out descriptions of recourse for putative renter-class members who think we might be happier, or live some set of non-"thing"-based values better, under a different way of organizing society with different methods of allocating ownership and use of land, time, housing and tools.
The slogan "You will own nothing, and you will be happy" — almost a hypnotic suggestion in its rhythm and simplicity — also leaves out why those who pitch and implement Agenda 2030 think the rest of us should see it as a good way to organize ourselves in our societies.
Human meaning within secular technocracy
Secular technocrats don’t say aloud what they think the ultimate moral purpose of human life is. They leave out how they conceptualize the meaning of human life; they make no effort to persuade those outside their own ruling class, that their political vision is good.
But the intentional invisibility and silence — ignore the man behind the curtain — should not be mistaken for no view at all.
The view can be inferred from the policies, particularly those that shift governing power away from elected legislators responsible to voting citizens, into the hands of unelected technical “experts” and managers beholden only to secular technocracy itself and the power and control over others technocracy confers on technicians.
This shift has been happening from the local to the international level for decades. It explains the growing power, obscured but visible on close examination, of local officials like municipal managers, through state and national officials like public health authorities, up to multinational and international officials at organizations like the European Union, International Monetary Fund, United Nations and Schwab's World Economic Forum: the haunt of Davos Man.
In grossly simplified terms, secular technocrats regard a human being as a perishable, de-moralized, soulless, meatsack that consumes raw materials and produces waste, in processes directed and managed by experts using technology, to increase the controlling power and resource wealth of the individuals controlling the managers.
A human being’s labor is useful as raw material for extraction, manufacturing, distribution and services.
A human being is useful as someone who can be charged purchase, rent and debt payments to feed, house, clothe and educate themselves and their children during their productive years.
And a human being is to be ejected from society like garbage when they become surplus to requirements: tired, injured, sick, old and disobedient.
Secular technocrats believe there are too many humans, and that the global managers are entitled to determine who lives and dies, and how.
Human meaning within Christianity
Human beings are a very different natural animal within Christianity: the teachings of Jesus to his disciples during his life, handed down through the generations across two millennia since his death.
Within the Christian moral framework, each human being is a unique, immortal soul, briefly wrapped in a physical body. Humans make free choices about our actions day-to-day, more or less aligned with the Ten Commandments and other teachings. We are on a road toward final judgment — date and time unknown — to be followed by eternal bliss in heaven, eternal pain in hell or Purgatory in between.
Within a Christian teleopolitics, all human relationships from the familial to the societal, including political relationships between governors and the governed, are temporal opportunities for human souls to exercise our inherent freedom of choice.
We are given daily opportunities to draw on scriptural and theological teachings; prayer; and guidance and support from priests and pastors, to help us choose good acts and avoid evil acts.
Good acts are those aligned with the virtues of grace, truth, faith, hope, charity, love, humility, wisdom, prudence, justice, reason, temperance, courage, diligence, patience and kindness.
Bad acts are those aligned with the vices of false witness, greed, despair, cruelty, pride, anger, envy, sloth and lust.
Secular technocratic teleopolitics are incompatible with Christian teleopolitics.
Humans either have a transcendent meaning and purpose, or we don't.
I think we do. I think we're more than our biological functions and commercial transactions. There's more at stake than expanding access to consumer goods and extending lifespans. Our universal religious yearnings are more than random electrochemical signaling in our brains.
I also think picking a side matters a lot in this particular time and place, because the American experiment in self-government is based on Christian teleopolitics.
Christianity inspired and permeated Western European culture.
It therefore also infused America's founding by immigrants from Western Europe under Enlightenment influences, as a human political experiment in self-government and individual liberty under rule of law, as contrasted with the classical feudal monarchies and "divine right of kings" that preceded it.
Christian leavening helped America's political teleology rise in the late 1700s and then develop across two centuries until roughly the 1950s, when the post-war secular technocratic ideology took root, for lots of reasons, some of which I hope to explore in future essays.
Despite the human fallibility of our leaders and our obvious moral failings as a society — exploitative, dehumanizing slavery and imperialism among the most evil of the sins — our Constitutional framework was designed to maximize daily opportunities for American citizens to freely choose virtues and freely shun vices, because its foundation rests on individual freedom.
Secular technocrats have used Covid-19 to kneecap Christianity and along with it, the principles of individual freedom, moral autonomy and integrity that the American people embody in our homeland and represent for people around the world.
Christianity and secular technocracy differ most profoundly in how they each regard the human faculties of intellect, reason, conscience, free will and individual moral responsibility.
For Christian theologians and faithful believers, these human attributes are essential to God's plan. He could have created humans as purely obedient automatons incapable of choosing vice, but instead created us as potentially disobedient humans capable of choosing virtue.
To oversimplify: because there's no morally good way to hold someone accountable for actions over which they have no personal control, and because being honored, worshipped, loved and obeyed by someone who's forced to do those things is stupid and meaningless.
Being respected and honored by creatures who can think and choose freely whether to do those things or not do those things, is part of the inexpressible goodness of God, His Creation, including us humans, and His plan. (That's a short, very oversimplified synopsis of Aquinas' Summa Theologica, Question 83, "Of Free Choice," which is also a topic I hope to explore more in future essays).
Intellect, reason, conscience, free will and individual responsibility are useless to secular technocrats, whose primary admonitions to adherents and heretics alike are: “Do not think; obey.”
Secular technocratic teleopolitics are not only incompatible with Christianity; they're also incompatible with the American experiment in human liberty and democratic self-governance.
Covid-driven secular technocrats don’t experience the ensuing chaos of compliance from some, and resistance from others, as humiliating indictments of their untrustworthiness and the untruth of their messages.
They apparently don’t know or care that if the instructions made sense, most people would follow them voluntarily, with no need for terrorizing, shaming, shunning, punishing and fines.
Again, observers must infer that they don’t experience the chaos of mixed compliance and resistance as humiliating, because they keep doing and saying the same nonsensical things over and over again with no self-reflection, substantive responses to critics or course corrections.
Teleopolitics of the American Constitution; separation of church and state
Clearly, the connection between Christian teleopolitics and America’s Constitutional government implicates the “wall” separating Church and State in America.
I agree with those who argue that the framers of the American experiment intended the separation to be one-way.
As with so many other principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but deliberately pushed out of sight by secular technocrats, the "supreme law of the land" is all about limiting the power of the government to interfere with the people.
Secular technocrats prefer to think of legal systems as protecting governments against interference by the people.
American rule of law as designed, if not always as enforced, is emphatically not about limiting the power of the people: the individual human beings whose explicit, informed consent-of-the-governed is the original source of all government authority.
The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing a state religion and prohibits the government from interfering with individuals' religious beliefs and practices.
It doesn't block citizens from bringing our own religious values into public service as elected officials, when adopting public laws and spending public money. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
This means neither the President, nor Congress, nor the Supreme Court, nor state or local governmental agents, can sponsor a sole State religion. Nor can they block electoral access to the levers of power by anyone who holds spiritual or moral convictions that differ from those held by current public officials.
At least, they can't block that access and stay on the right side of Constitutional rule of law.
Candidates and elected government officials are free to articulate moral and spiritual values to the electorate when seeking public office and proposing public policy.
Lawmakers and judges can also base budgets, votes and court rulings on moral and spiritual values derived from their own religious beliefs, so long as those budgets, votes and rulings don't violate the Constitutional, human rights of citizens.
Prohibiting public servants from deriving divine inspiration for earthly work would have made no sense to the framers of the American experiment, because they drafted the Constitution based on moral traditions carried through 18 centuries of Western culture by the Roman Catholic Church and the multitude of Christian denominations that split from Catholicism.
The framers embedded those values in the Constitution, making it a formal system for protecting inherent individual human rights and dignity, as divinely bestowed by God on each person, to be protected by morally-good human governments.
Or violated by morally-evil human governments.
It's also possible for individual lawmakers, judges and executives to simultaneously believe two distinct things: first, that his or her Christian denomination is the one true faith and second, that that all human beings, regardless of their professed faith or complete lack of it, are entitled to Constitutional protection of their God-given human rights against government interference.
This is because in the Christian worldview, there are two kinds of people.
There are some who are already stumbling along on the Christian path, and need to be free to keep stumbling.
There are others who — with time, grace, and opportunities to exercise intellect and free will — might find their way onto that path at any moment in the future.
Both kinds of people need their human liberties to be protected.
It's not just possible for humans to hold onto faith in God's plan and honor the human rights of non-believers. It has a strong record of success already.
That dual-priority form of government was practiced for about 200 years, gradually expanding liberty, property and due process protections for the class of white landed men only, to white men of all social classes, to men of all social classes, including African-Americans, to men and women of all social classes and races in America, to men and women of all social classes and races in many other Constitutional, rule-of-law republics and democracies around the world who were inspired by the American example.
Conversely, without attributing the inherent liberty of human beings to our equal status as creatures created free by God, and holding our governments accountable for protecting even the liberty of those who don't believe in Him, human freedom will contract again, until it's only protected by and for wealthy white males.
For Davos Man.
Human freedom certainly can't be expanded further, to shape the lives of more of the world's people, without the moral foundation of Christianity.
There are good reasons for governments to serve the needs of people by protecting human rights like moral autonomy and bodily integrity, rather than for people to be treated as more or less servile, dispensable laborers and consumers existing at the pleasure of entitled government officials.
But those reasons are entirely based on Christian moral precepts about human purpose, dignity, and freedom.
The survival of human freedom within political systems therefore depends on the survival and strength of Christian cultural values, leavening those political systems with moral purpose.
Covid-19: secular technocracy undermines civil liberties
I confess, even though I've understood secular technocracy trends for a long time and implicitly endorsed them by working for the last 20 years on secular citizen campaigns to reform local governments, I thought American legislatures and courts retained enough moral backbone to protect human rights from the medicalized totalitarianism of Covid-19.
I've been intensely disappointed to find they don't have that strength.
Even if these Constitutionally co-equal branches reassert their authority and roll back executive and regulatory overreach, the fact remains that for two years already, the American people have been intimately controlled by managerial dictators.
We've lost years of social connections, communal worship, political gatherings, work, education and health care: non-Covid medical diagnoses and treatments. Millions of marriages, family bonds, friendships, and livelihoods have been ruined.
When it mattered, the elected men and women allegedly running our major civic institutions were impotent, or worse, complicit. So far, they still are.
Even though I was aware of secular technocracy and how it blinds and binds the citizenry to protect the entrenched managers from popular reform campaigns, its incompatibility with Christian-American teleopolitics came into much sharper focus through the coordinated, cross-border official responses to Covid-19.
With millions of other subjects, I watched as the same policies were put forward across governments, non-governmental organizations, political parties, schools and religious institutions, and print, radio, television and Internet media and entertainment.
Without public evidence presentation or judicial review.
Without public debate or legislative ratification.
Solely on the basis of a self-proclaimed emergency, Management suspended Constitutional protections for First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, association, commerce and movement.
They suspended Fourth Amendment freedom from government search and seizure of persons and property, without due process of law.
Instead, secularized governments in America and all over the world stripped the meaning of human life down to mere biological survival from infection with a single disease, imposed by unconstitutional color-of-law “mandates” by unelected, unaccountable executive branch technocrats and global corporate shareholders.
Elected legislators and judges were unable to stop the stripping; some tried, only to have their efforts thwarted by Management simply ignoring their rulings, or by higher-ups stalling or overturning the measures.
The so-far successful attack on freedom, and the so-far failed defense, both revealed that there is no compelling solely-secular, solely-materialist reason for governments to protect citizen human rights like moral autonomy and bodily integrity.
If there were, the violations would not be ongoing.
Covid-19: secular technocracy substitutes itself for religion
Covid-19 has another interesting teleopolitical dimension, in addition to stripping Constitutional protections for civil liberties from American citizens.
Secular technocrats created a hybrid politico-religion, by adding elements of transcendent religiosity to public health policy. They successfully positioned technocracy not just as a form of government empowered to manage physical access to goods and services during ordinary times and crises, but also as a religion empowered to fulfill citizens' spiritual needs.
They've established a State religion — turning the First Amendment upsidedown — and are now using it to deprive nonbelievers of equal protection under the law by systematically locking them out of civil society: jobs, housing, education, travel, public accommodations in restaurants, bars and theaters.
The secular religion of Covid has struck a chord, clearly, with millions of people, and I empathize.
They’d been looking for something transcendent, as human beings always do, and they found a simulacrum of it, in their sense of being part of the Covid-19 fight: something larger than themselves; something that requires sacrifice. Obedience. Subordination to the will of another. In this case, subordination to self-appointed human authorities and orthodox materialism.
On some level, practicing Covidians feel the existential void left when America moved away from the rich trove of our Christian heritage and — bereft of this key source of meaning — have filled it with the shabby materials made readily available by the 24/7 media churn: obedience to the Centers for Disease Control catechism of physical isolation from other humans, face-masking and vaccines.
Devout Covidians are those people for whom Anthony Fauci is infallible, regardless of his obvious self-contradictions and illogic. They're people in whose minds putting on a face-mask is construed as a potent faith-based expression of simultaneous self-preservation and selflessness. They're people to whom novel injections are a holy sacrament akin to the Eucharist, the acceptance of which separates the saints from the sinners and the saved from the damned.
Suppression of Christians; Christian resistance
The incompatibility of secular technocracy and Christianity was well-hidden for many decades, as rising this-world consumerism and standards of living in Western democracies since the end of World War 2 distracted many people from thoughts of the eternal next world.
Technocrats have also worked for a long time, with others, to break the links between daily concerns and concerns for eternity, and to discredit and suppress Christian voices from the public sphere.
At the same time, Christian institutions including the Roman Catholic Church have decayed from the inside, weakening their moral leadership worldwide. (As my study continues, I hope to explore the institutional decay events that occurred between 1990, when Keys of This Blood was published and 2020, particularly priest sex abuse and coverups, through the same teleopolitical framework.)
Christians are often quiet by choice.
But they're also rendered almost invisible involuntarily in many human social settings — particularly online — by changing word definitions, censorship, deplatforming, contemptuous dismissal, and other minimization, marginalization and erasure techniques used by secular authorities now, and used by despots throughout all of human history.
As the Covid-19 crisis has unfolded, these same technocratic power centers have intensified their efforts to suppress Christian morality, and in particular, Christian concepts of human freedom, the search for truth and the rejection of lies.
They've worked at that as hard or harder than they've worked to suppress the spread of infection.
Because people who think about our immortal human souls, our free human will, and our inherent human dignity as individuals, people who test assertions, search out truth and turn away from lies, no matter how enticing the lies or how powerful the liars — are really bad at being submissive subjects.
Secular technocrats need submissive subjects to manage and control. It's their entire reason for being and ultimate purpose.
Just by acting like free human beings, Christians and nonbelievers who still uphold the American principles of free speech and other civil liberties as inalienable human rights, not revocable privileges, inspire others to act that way too.
Like yeast in flour: leavening.
As with many other natural phenomena, suppression elicits resistance forces, which push in the opposite direction. I think that's happening for a lot of people.
It certainly happened for me. If the legislatures and courts had upheld Americans' civil liberties against the lies and controlling predation of state and federal public health experts and pharmaceutical executives in 2020, I would not have been open to grace leading me back to faith and the Roman Catholic Church of my childhood in 2021.
Despite the efforts of secular technocrats, millions of Americans still firmly embrace Christian moral values and daily practices, and American principles of individual liberty.
Many are resisting, and choosing to continue or begin worshipping and aligning their own values and actions with non-human, transcendent, divine entities and moral precepts explicated in sacred texts.
Many people are thinking about issues similar to the ones explored here.
Some — such as Andrew Torba, founder of the social media site Gab — propose a political and economic program of separation. They say Christians should respond to the dissolution of Christian moral principles in American public life by setting up alternate, somewhat underground networks of economic and social support for each other, and withdrawing from the mainstream.
Some advocate secession: the physical separation of secular populations from religious populations, each to live under separate secular and religious governments, on separate land.
Others advocate that more Christians openly profess their faith and run for public office with the explicit intention of reinvigorating the existing American Constitutional government with the Christian moral and intellectual heritage applied by the founders when they broke away from monarchy in 1776.
That’s another aspect of teleopolitics I hope to explore: how individuals and families and networks of likeminded people decide what actions each should take, in specific times and places, to most effectively embody their beliefs about the ultimate purpose of human existence.
To sum up
I think we're at a crossroads as a nation-state, and also as individual political animals.
Secular technocrats, through Covid-19, have captured the public imagination. For now. They may not be able to hold onto it forever, because they’ve come a bit further into the open; we can see them better.
They may not hold public support and power forever because human intellect and free will are ineradicable forces: they can be suppressed, but they eventually bubble back up.
And they may not hold public support and power forever, because despite its institutional weaknesses, Christianity arguably makes for better teleopolitics.
Some people are working to nourish and deepen the roots of secular technocracy in America, relying on the propagation of falsehoods, chilling and censorship of independent thought and expression, and coercive force.
Others are working to nourish and deepen the roots of Christianity, relying on the propagation of truth, participation in independent thought and expression, and exercise of free will.
I'm on Team Christianity, for at least two reasons. I'd like to spend eternity in heaven, not in hell. And I think that government through manipulation and violence creates a hell-on-earth for human beings.
I simply don't want to live under secular technocracy, so I must work to strengthen what I see as the best alternative.
I think it's important understand better the ways in which the human political, government responses to Covid reflect human-centered, secular, temporal, materialist value systems.
I think it's important to understand the ways in which many people across history and presently have prepared for and warned about this profoundly demoralizing secularization of human life.
I think it's important to understand the ways in which many people around the world are working on re-moralization work — to embody God-centered, soul-protective, transcendent, eternity-focused value systems in response.
Teleopolitics Reading List
Holy Bible, New Testament, 1941 translation from the Latin Vulgate
1265-1273 - Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
1566 - The Catechism of the Council of Trent
1776 - Thomas Paine, Common Sense
1929-1935 - Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks
1959 - Alfred Biderman, Communist attempts to elicit false confessions from Air Force prisoners of war
1974 - Josef Pieper, Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power
1974 - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Live Not By Lies
1978 - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A World Split Apart
1978 - Vaclav Havel, Power of the Powerless
1986 - Marcel Lefebvre, Letter to Confused Catholics
1990 - Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: Pope John Paul II versus Russia and the West for Control of the New World Order
2008 - L. Song Richardson, When Human Experimentation is Criminal
2008 - Sheldon Wolin, Democracy, Inc.: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
2010 - Tony Judt, Ill Fares the Land
2012 - Alessandra Colaianni - A long shadow: Nazi doctors, moral vulnerability and contemporary medical culture
2014 - Gilens & Page, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens
2017 - Edwin Vieira Jr., interviewed by Catherine Austin Fitts - American Suicide: Proposals for Constitutional Amendments & Convention
2020 - James Lindsay, Psychopathology and the Origins of Totalitarianism
2021 - James Lindsay, Rise of the Woke Cultural Revolution
2021 - Michael Rechtenwald, Living in the Age of Covid: The Power of the Powerless