Illumination and ExposurePosted: February 23, 2022 | Author: Fr. Irenaeus | Filed under: Etcetera | Tags: "Power of the Powerless" by Vaclav Havel, Johns Hopkins Studies in Applied Economics, Meta-analysis of Effects of Covid Lockdowns, Studies in Applied Economics January 2022 | Leave a comment
— In this posting I write only as one man. Though I am an archpriest in the Orthodox Church I do not speak for any parish, diocese, or jurisdiction. Though I am also a clinical pharmacist, I do not speak for any professional organization. This posting does not come from a pulpit and will not be published in any official publication. The position taken in this posting is held by many, but not by all, and people of good will are free to agree with it or to disagree with it. I offer it as one who is gravely concerned for our liberal democracy and its offered freedoms in this time of trouble—
Recently, I have written four postings that address the threat of a rising totalitarianism within the United States and other western countries (The Parallel Society The Parallel Society II: The Proposals of Vaclav Benda. The Sunday After Christmas’ Sobering Message “ Gimme Shelter” And Advice From Psalms) The emerging totalitarianism has, oddly, arisen upon the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic that began in January, 2020: the virus was simply its springboard. In the first months of 2020 it seemed reasonable, prudent, and even wise for governments to impose lockdowns, shelter in place orders (SIPO), and other Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI) in the attempt to control the contagion.
Then we moved into May, 2020 and I perceived a change, a disturbing change. The interventions that were to last a few weeks to ‘flatten the curve” were clearly going to be extended indefinitely and grow in reach and in purpose. As the weeks moved into months, and months have now moved into years, I and others of like mind — fellow clergy, friends, and even those met in passing conversation — are in agreement with my assessment. So, from this perspective, what happened to lead me to this conclusion?
First, the news media and health organizations gave nonstop coverage and attention to the pandemic, but with an unusual intensity. With this came not a healthy caution, but fear — even a paralyzing fear — among many. As the “narrative” progressed, it seemed that this fear was recognized as a tool to bring about a control over the citizens of states and nations. Second, a mania was added to the underlying fear when the “narrative” became “confused”. What was true one day, was not true the next day. What was effective one week, was suddenly not effective the next week. It all became an intentional nut-and-shell game as “experts” pontificated, and those of equal qualifications, but of differing perspectives were silenced, cancelled, and shamed. Debate was shut down, and thus the scientific method was eliminated from the picture. Only one medical pathway was allowed to proceed forward to the public.
With all of this, the “narrative” became both a weapon and a LIE.
The word lie has been introduced. With the word’s introduction I now turn to the work of the Czech dissident and author Vaclav Havel: The Power of the Powerless (hereafter referred to as PP). Havel’s PP was first published in 1978, eleven years before the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, and because of it he was imprisoned for four years. Journalist and author Timothy Snyder gives us this from his introduction to PP:
“The PP was a description of resistance to totalitarianism. Its author, Vaclav Havel, thought that it was also a critique of western democracies. Forty years after its publication, we see that he was right (vii)…In the self violation of society of normalized Czechoslovakia, Havel saw a crisis of contemporary technological society as a whole, a modern “unfreedom” in which individuals enslave themselves because they do not ask themselves who they are and what they are supposed to be (viii)…For Havel, then, the restoration of civic life began from truth (ix).
The communist states of the day were founded upon an ideology — a communist, Marxist-Leninist ideology. Havel comments,
The primary excusatory function of ideology, therefore, is to provide people, both as victims and pillars of the totalitarian system, with the illusion that the system is in harmony with the human order and the order of the universe (PP, 17)…The totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline (PP, 19)…The published ideology demanded that reality be conformed to the state’s ideology, the ideology could never be transformed by reality: It is a world of appearances trying to pass for reality (PP, 20).
He observes that adherence to the state’s ideology “in its elaborateness and completeness is almost a secularized religion” (PP, 9).
Regarding the lies of which he was aware, and the lies we hear in our day, Havel writes,
Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics (PP, 21).
Lies are sins. For a lie, a sin, to continue its twisted, corrupting existence it must have darkness and silence. The darkness and silence must be maintained at all cost. More lies are fabricated to encase and protect its shameful existence. Windows and doors must be nailed shut should any beam of light expose its ugly, perverse nakedness. I contend this has been our existence since May, 2020 with state insistence on lockdowns, SIPOs, and other NPIs. These continued throughout 2021 and this year, and in these years we were confronted with mandated reception of mRNA injections — all leading (especially the latter) to internal passports for social and economical existence. From this affront we face the potential creation of a two-tiered society where we will thus have, as Havel would describe them, the “subcitizen” who is expelled from the greater culture because he or she would not submit to the lie. From these constructs we have found ourselves existing within the lie. It is not about public health anymore (perhaps it never was about this at all). It is about the control of people — an initial control that will be used to further more political agendas in the future.
However, in spite of cancelings, censorship, and expulsions by mandates, a ray of light has broken through the gloom. This beam of light came from John Hopkins Institute for Applies Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise’s Studies in Applied Economics. The article, “A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on Covid-19 Mortality” appeared in the January 2022 issue. I quote from the article’s abstract:
Of those 34 eligible studies, 24 qualified for inclusion in the meta-analysis. They were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-place-order (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stridency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality.
While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy (3).
The study’s critique continues,
The use of lockdowns is a unique feature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns have not been used to such a large extent during any of the pandemics of the past century. However, lockdowns during the initial phase [the authors’ analysis only applies to 2020] of the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects. They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy…Such a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument (43).
I note again that the John Hopkins study only examines policies from 2020. But, can we extrapolate their conclusion to 2021, and now 2022? I think common sense observations require that the answer is yes. This study examines the effects of lockdowns, etc., only on mortality. Can we extrapolate their conclusion to morbidity (i.e. illness)? Yes, since morbidity always precedes mortality. Can we extrapolate their conclusion to other strategies? Yes. The mRNA injections have been woefully ineffective especially when we understand that the mRNA injections’ formulation was based upon the original corona variant, and no reformulation addressing the following mutations seems to have occurred — more boosters, same outcomes.
As PP continues, Havel notes that the totalitarian system under which he suffered was, in reality, a “…complex system of manipulation on which the…system is founded and on which it is also dependent…(PP, 54).
The motives of many of our political leaders are to be questioned, and are to be questioned again in the very near future. We have been played by many of them, even though some have taken a step back. Be assured we will be played by them again when it is politically expedient for them. We see that, as with leadership in Canada, those in power will “circle the wagons”, and call for “all hands on deck!” These will not readily let go of the intoxicating power they have grabbed and to which they cling. There will be, soon, another play for even more power by all those who have taken a calculated step backwards to a false “moderation” in their positions.
We who cherish freedom, liberty, and truth have been given a powerful flashlight by John Hopkins University. Now we can begin to show the emperor to be the naked imposter that he is. Let us go forward living in truth, and in the One who is Truth Incarnate!
In Christ who is truth,