Comforts of Authoritarianism Over Freedom Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

The world is coming to an end! At least that is what the mainstream media, the government, and the toilet-paper hoarders will tell you. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 (a strain of the coronavirus presumably originating in Wuhan, China), the world has been in a state of panic, and countries, subnational entities, and cities have implemented strict rules to attempt to contain the disease. Elements of martial law are slowly being executed in the United States as the fear causes people to expect the monopoly of government to save them, and we will begin to see more government control over our lives in the upcoming days as our freedoms diminish.

With the continuing trend of government expansion, our society will not be able to restrain the power of government. We saw the growth of government significantly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and even after the Edward Snowden revelations, we as a society still accept that the government must have powerful surveillance tools (ones that do very little to curb terrorist attacks but violate many civil liberties and the Bill of Rights). When the coronavirus is finally contained, the federal and state governments will ask for more power, and the people and politicians will applaud this as necessary for future crises. Government power and control only expands. It never retracts (except with a revolution).

Although martial law is just beginning in the United States, we have already seen extreme measures taken in China, Italy, and Spain as a result of the virus. In my home state of New York, the state legislature has given the governor emergency dictatorial powers to combat the disease, and Governor Cuomo has deployed the national guard to New Rochelle to assist in a containment zone (potentially exposing the guardsmen to the disease), as well as used executive orders to ban gatherings over 50 people (down from the previous directive of 500) and shut down movie theaters, bars, casinos, in-house dining at restaurants, and schools statewide for an indefinite period of time. Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, and Massachusetts have also set similar laws.

There are many more examples of this throughout other states, but it is interesting how Americans are so willing to give up their civil liberties when there is an event such as this. If you oppose this type of government overreach, you will often be met with an argument along the lines of, “this is the only way to contain the disease, and we just need to trust our officials to get the job done.” This is a fascist and police state type of mentality that will only cause more theft of liberties. If we allow government to do this during a disease with a less than 4% death rate, what will happen when there is something much more significant. Will we be forced to get permission slips from the government to leave our houses, or will we allow the government to put us into internment camps where they may never let us leave?

Government monopoly over our lives is not the only solution. It is just the only solution that we are willing to accept because we do not want to take the effort of coming up with others. We can either live in a free society, or we can live in a police state. We cannot have both. As far as those who would argue that these measures are temporary, we must consider the historical norm that once government power is gained, it will not be retracted. Some of the measures may be lifted when the crisis is averted, but the laws and precedents from the event will remain on the books and be used again.

It is understandable and natural for people to be afraid and act in an irrational manner in a time of crisis, but the mass hysteria that we are seeing across the United States is unprecedented. Supermarket shelves have been empty, and people have been fighting over toilet paper and other products that have been picked over. Instead of fighting over supplies that will be restocked (there is not a shortage in supplies, but just an inability to deliver and restock quickly enough to counter the mass emotional purchasing), we should be helping each other and reaching out to the vulnerable among us (in this case, the elderly or those with underlying health issues). This should not be a time of hoarding and looking out for ourselves. We need to take care of each other, and we should not be relying on the government to come and save us. This is our time to step up and lend a helping hand and to work together as local communities.

It has now become apparent that we are not the civilized and mature nation that we thought we were, and we can no longer look down upon other nations that are going through their own crises from our high horse. Many people around the world are just trying to make it through war, genocide, extreme poverty, and natural disasters, and we are here fighting over toilet paper when a disease hits that has a 96% survivability rate. Perhaps our enemies around the world do not need to challenge us militarily. They simply need to introduce a virus into the country and let us destroy ourselves. Our irrational behavior and blind acceptance of any restrictive government measures show how weak and vulnerable we can be in times of uncertainty, and if we do not step up and change this, it could be our downfall. We as Americans have now accepted the comforts of authoritarianism over living in a free society.

Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
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Published on March 17, 2020 03:03
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