Authoritarian Response to Fear
Sometimes, being immune to diseases truly sucks, but that doesn't give us license to ignore the advice of experts or to potentially harm others. People will perform any number of irrational acts to assuage what they fear. The government is no different.
Let me start this article by defining two terms (both of which I found on Google - look them up for yourself if you think that they are incorrect):
- authoritarian (adj.): favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that if the government, at the expense of personal freedom.
- libertarian (adj.): advocating or supporting personal liberty, specifically minimal state intervention in the free market and the private lives of citizens.
One thing of which I am fully cognizant is that I have a very robust immune system, so much so that I haven't really been sick since grade school, so it's pretty unlikely that I will be infected with this disease. I guess I'm lucky in that respect, but being immune to diseases sometimes truly sucks. Also, one of the aspects of my particular flavor of autism is that I dislike when someone else changes my routines. The combination of these two conditions makes me personally chafe at the restrictions that are keeping us in place rather than allowing us to continue on with our lives as the were before all of this started. Unfortunately, while I know that this disease will not affect me, I also realize that I may carry it, and that it may affect those with whom I may potentially interact, so I have chosen to bite the bullet and work from home during this crisis.
"And the things that we fear are a weapon to be held against us."
If we have learned one thing from this crisis, it's that people will perform any number of irrational acts to assuage what they fear. Media outlets have reported that there are many people who have decided to defy any self-quarantine order during this crisis. Depending on your perspective, the reasoning behind their decision can be understood as being anything from (1) people wanting to assert some form of autonomy in the face of seeming overwhelming uncertainty, to (2) thinking that this disease will not affect them, or if it does that they will survive it, so why bother? And that's the dichotomy; the philosophical underpinnings of "how do we balance personal liberties with 'doing the right thing'?" If we continue along the authoritarian path, we begin to foment rebellion. If we instead start down an unrestrained path, we devolve into anarchy. It's really difficult to balance the two, but what's really diabolical is the continued illusion that there are only two choices.
(You knew I was going to make this political, right?) What seems rather obvious to me is the idea that current government administrators on almost every level, from local to national, and regardless of political affiliation seem to believe that what the people want when they are afraid is someone to tell them what to do, to give them direction in their uncertainty. They call it "leadership", but it really isn't; it's more of a "directorship". More and more as this crisis continues, that 'direction' seems to be a government based on the absolute authority of the state than on the will of the people. A popular science fiction movie series released around the turn of the century posited the people will accept authoritarian programming as long as they are given the illusion of choice", even if that choice is only subconscious. From my perspective, the government seems to be the same way, with the Old Parties continuing to promote their individual flavor of authoritarianism. Sure, you do have a choice, but the government takes steps to insure that your choice is limited to opposing sides of a similar coin, and they actively promote the illusion that there really aren't -- or shouldn't be -- any other choices, mostly out of their own fears. They know that once you realize that you are being used to keep them in power, you may change how you see things and for whom you vote. And that is the one thing that they cannot allow, because that's what they fear.
"And the knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them."