I written a few things about the pandemic over the past months, much bemoaning the division into tribes of the covid-compliant and the covid-defiant whereas we should be looking beyond this narrative to the meta-narrative of power that it is a part of. Here is my current position on all this.
First on masks. I believe that masks do provide some protection against the transmission of coronaviruses and the evidence and arguments I’ve seen supports that. The question for me is are they a proportionate response to the risks.
Given that the number of daily reported Covid-19 related deaths has fallen dramatically in the UK since the height of the pandemic (now about 1% of the numbers at the peak) and daily reported infections have fallen less dramatically (now about 20% of the numbers at the peak) it seems that
a) transmission of the infection has become less likely
b) the infection is less harmful to those who currently have it.
Figures for reported deaths are more meaningful that figures for reported infections since the latter will vary with the volume of testing and also the accuracy of testing.
I am not claiming the Covid-19 is not harmful and lethal to many, I am suggesting that since its lethality is arguably much less that it was we should be asking if particular prophylactic responses such as masks and particular elements of lockdown measures remain appropriate and proportionate. We should be asking what levels of Covid-19 morbidity/mortality require the use of what specific measures including masks. We must ask this because:
a) Covid-19 is likely to remain part of the human microbiome (the community of microbes coextensive with human communities) for the forseeable future notwithstanding any assault by vaccines. Should, therefore, masks and social distancing remain part of our social protocols for the forseeable future?
b) Current specific measures have had and continue to have disruptive and damaging consequences that I hardly need to outline.
c) Proposed specific measures such as mandatory or near mandatory vaccines are highly problematic. If people are unclear about why the proposed vaccines and vaccine regimes are problematic then they should ask more questions about safety and efficacy.
While we are considering these points we should also consider all the anomalies in mask protocols. For example it is curious that the government is encouraging people to go out to restaurants where they necessarily have to remove masks and where there is more danger of orally ingesting viruses while requiring people to wear masks in all shops where there is little danger of oral ingestion.
I am neither pro nor anti mask. I am pro critical thinking and I think that there have been serious deficits of critical thinking in our collective response to this virus. The ham handed suppression of voices on mainstream and social media that question the official narratives about Covid-19 suggest that our governments are not keen on critical thinking.
I am not going to expound on any speculations regarding global conspiracies but we should note as facts that.
a) There has been an enormous transfer of wealth from communities and small businesses to the billionaire owned corporations during this crisis.
b) An enhanced security and surveillance apparatus together with greater legislative powers is being set up.
c) There is an apparent and increasing convergence of state and corporate power in operating the new or enhanced security and surveillance structure.
I am not pro or anti government. I am pro democracy, in particular discursive or deliberative democracy. That is not what we have now. What we have now, arguably in the UK and demonstrably in the US, is more akin to oligarchy.
There is a tendency on the part of the political right to support government on actions sold as pertaining to national defense and a tendency on the part of the political left to support government on actions sold as pertaining to national welfare. It is surely pertinent in both cases to ask if the government is pursuing a national interest or the interests of the oligarchs, if it is pursuing the interests of the people or the interests of the established powers.