The old English proverb ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is a phrase widely understood and thrown around when people dare to be more inquisitive than they ought to be. Most of us will have had this phrase positioned at us when digging too deeply into inconvenient facts or dissenting from allowable opinion. Well, in 2020, and carrying into 2021, I think the opposite can said to be true. A more accurate revision of this proverb, more befitting to the past year of covid authoritarianism, is: ‘complacency killed the cowards’.
The end of January marks the one -year anniversary of covid restrictions and the end of March will mark the one-year anniversary of lockdowns and ‘two weeks to flatten the curve’. Not only is there no sign of this assault on liberty easing, but there are instead signs of it somehow becoming more restrictive and more oppressive. The prospect of further restrictions comes as a shock to many. How could we lockdown for ten months to ‘flatten the curve’ or ‘control the spread’ and be in a worse position than where we started? However, for those of us who understand the state’s lust for power and its reluctance, or sheer unwillingness, to return power once granted, this comes as no surprise.
‘It is just two weeks’, ‘It is just to flatten the curve’, ‘it is just to save the NHS’, ‘it is just until the R number is below one’, ‘it is just a mask’. These year-old platitudes still echo today and have just as little meaning as they did this time last year. Yet people still buy into them. People still regurgitate them as if they really are ‘just’ what the government says they are, despite being proven time and time again that no matter how much sacrifice is made to these platitudes, there remains no end in sight.
So why on earth does the complacency remain? People simply sit back, accept oppression, and convince themselves the state will not abuse its power and will restore rights when it is ‘safe’ to do so.
In the past week alone there have been multiple instances of the police, the state’s henchmen, using powers granted to them under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to charge and arrest people participating in harmless activities that are now considered offences. In Aberdeen, Scotland a disturbing video circulated where police forced entry into a family home, against the will of the property owner and proceeded to tackle the owner and her teenage daughter to the ground. Other footage appeared from Bournemouth, England where two women were arrested by groups of officers for walking along the beach front. Additionally, another two women were charged in Derbyshire after driving to meet for a walk around a reservoir, five miles from their homes.
Basic acts of living have now become criminalised under the Coronavirus Act and instances of the police aggressing on innocent individuals are becoming more frequent. But where is the outrage? People are complacent enough to think this is appropriate in light of a ‘killer virus’ or are too cowardly to speak against the covid narrative in case they are accused of killing granny.
The cowardly silence in the face of true oppression, where the state has criminalised living and deemed every individual as sick until proven healthy, is in stark contrast with the Black Lives Matter activism that swept through the UK in the summer of 2020.
Although the epicentre of BLM outrage was in the USA, almost 4000 miles from the UK, the prevalent issues were quickly imported to the UK as thousands of millennials voiced their contempt for racial injustice and police brutality. Many took to the streets to protest the ‘systemic racism’ apparently prevalent in the UK and felt justified in defacing monuments, pulling down statues and bullying the police, and others, into taking the knee to repent for their complicity in racism. ‘Blackout Tuesday’ swept across Instagram where thousands of people, predominately millennials, shared a black square to represent their stance against racial injustice. Many then went on to bombard social media with posts imbued in critical race theory that implored people to ‘educate’ themselves against their ‘white guilt’ and complicity in racism for the grave crime of being white.
The prevalence of systemic racism in the UK can be debated but that is not what is important here. What is important is the speed and the volume at which millennials jumped on the issue of racist oppression to parade their contempt for injustice and display their moral worthiness on social media. Yet, when the almost every individual in Britain, regardless of ethnicity, skin tone, sex, or any other immutable characteristic has been oppressed at the hand of the state for nearly a year, there is not a word to be heard from these moral exemplars.
Oppression from covid authoritarianism is blatant and right before our eyes. You cannot visit your friends and family or your elderly relatives who have sat lonely for months. You cannot exercise for too long outside, or too far away from your home, without the risk of a criminal charges. You cannot open your shop or run your business. If you are allowed, you must adhere to stringer covid regulations. You cannot access the healthcare functions normally available to you, that you pay for via taxation. You cannot engage in anything that provides you social cohesion or joy. You cannot do anything that makes life living and that makes your life yours.
The misery and suffering from this vicious attack on liberties is widespread and indiscriminate. From your own account, to your family, your neighbour, the small business owner down the street; all are feeling the hurt as the noose tightens in the name of covid.
Despite the evident suffering all around, people are willing to sit idly by and watch as the true oppressor, the state, revokes more and more of our liberties. The individual is crushed by the everlasting, undefined notion of ‘the common good’. Individuals are sacrificed because that is what is necessary for ‘flattening the curve’, ‘saving the NHS’, getting the ‘R number below one’ or whatever other platitude is religiously recited.
What has become evident is that people are either too naive to understand why the state having the power to lockdown individuals is so dangerous or they only care about oppression when it allows them to self-aggrandise on social media to appear ‘moral’. Whatever the reason may be, the complacency towards the largest state power grab and attack on liberty that we will likely experience in our life needs to end.
The time for individuals to vehemently rally against this mass oppression is well overdue. Whether you refuse to do it because you think things will just get better on their own or because it is not a trendy talking point like other activism; you are acting like a coward. Your complacency in the face of the largest state power grab you will likely ever witness is walking you headfirst into authoritarianism from which your individual rights may never return. Every time you recite the covid narrative for fear of going against the grain, every time you reluctantly nod in agreement that we need lockdowns, every time you obediently put on that mask because the government fooled you into thinking it works, every time you capitulate to what you know to be wrong, you add another cog to the covid oppression machine.
The complacency is already killing you. Can you honestly say that you are living right now? That living is just ‘avoiding death’? That your life will be returned without a fight? Your complacency is a nod in agreement that the government has a claim on your life whenever there is a ‘crisis’. Your complacency is the admittance that your right to life is conditional on the prevalence of covid, hospitalisation rate or frequency of death. Your complacency is acceptance that your life is fodder to be sacrificed to the ‘common good’. Your complacency must end if you want your life back. Brutes who make claim on your life do not have the moral high ground. Your life if yours and you have every right to it. End the complacency and claim what you know is yours.
“There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromise is the transmitting rubber tube.” – Ayn Rand