Two years ago today, when the coronavirus was emerging on the scene, I posted a commentary entitled Recrudescense. I sounded a lot of warnings and made some doom-and-gloom predictions in that post. Looking back, it seems some of those prophecies came true, and some (thank heavens) did not.
Lightness Traveling, at Luminous Aether, recently commented on this old post, after I’d forgotten all about it. Her comment inspired me to take the title literally, and repost it. I thought it might be fun to compare how things have turned out, to my predictions, so I hope you’ll enjoy the following flashback:
Today, guidelines from our government for countering the coronavirus are increasingly becoming mandates. And they are stripping us of more and more freedoms. And we Americans are rising to the occasion and surrendering our freedoms without a whimper or complaint. It’s no surprise. When faced with a common enemy, we are accustomed to standing in solidarity and making sacrifices to defeat our adversary.
The problem is, when the government takes our freedoms away, it has historically been reluctant to give them back.
Trump recently promised the current guidelines will only be for 15 days. But then he let the cat out of the bag and said that this could stretch until August. I sense we’re being strung along down a path of ever tighter control over our lives.
But it’s all for a good cause, right? Maybe, but I feel skeptical. And I feel skeptical because of recrudescence. In medical terms, recrudescence is the recurrence of a disease.
I feel doubtful that enforced social distancing is going to defeat the coronavirus in a short time. It seems to me that the more successful we are at social distancing, the more prolonged our agony will be. And the more likely our sacrifices will exceed the benefits gained.
Sure, we’ll flatten the curve and avoid spikes of serious cases that overwhelm our hospitals. And that’s great. But in the meantime the coronavirus will linger and resurge. That’s because not enough of our population will have acquired the immunity we would otherwise obtain from contracting this disease.
And so recrudescence will occur, over and over. And we will experience a cycle of relaxed restrictions, then renewed restrictions, over and over. Or more likely, the government will just decide to keep the restrictions permanent, and never bother with relaxing them.
We now stand a very real likelihood of going for months, years, or perhaps forever, without the following things:
- Classroom education.
- Airline travel, bus travel, and other forms of mass transit.
- Freedom to travel outside our communities or countries for “non-essential” reasons.
- The manufacture, sale, or purchase of many goods and services deemed “non-essential” by the government.
- Freedom of assembly.
- Government deliberations that are open to the public, such as city council meetings, court trials, and legislative debates.
Millions of jobs may also disappear under a prolonged policy of social distancing.
A black market may emerge, similar to that which arose in the Soviet Union, and other authoritarian states that have had highly regulated economies. And with this black market will come widespread corruption, murders of innocents, and an economic system where only the most violent can rise from poverty.
Have we Americans thought this through? Or are we too afraid to speak out against this abrogation of our freedoms, for fear of being labeled thoughtless or selfish? Or have I just read too much George Orwell?
Perhaps it’s the latter, and I hope so. Nonetheless, I suggest you buckle your seat belt. We may have a very long and bumpy ride ahead of us.
And that scary, tough guy who lives down the street? You know, the one with the guns, criminal history, and scofflaw attitude. You better start waving and smiling at that motherfucker, and treating him nice. One day you may depend on him for getting the goods and services our government is making impossible to acquire.
In fact, one day, perhaps long after the coronavirus has become a memory, he may be the new disease. Because guys like him may have the run of our neighborhoods.