Behind the Mask

The Point Was Never Public Health

Now, of course, democracy is a fool’s errand and it inevitably empowers precisely those types of men who should never be anywhere near the levers of power, and, yet, seldom are those of us who have misgivings about democracy — directed both toward those who rule and those who theoretically select the members of the former class — presented with confirmation of so much of what we believe in a form so perfect as the ‘mandatory mask’ ‘laws’ now being enacted across the country (and even enforced in some places). At the very best, masks of the sort now in widespread use will somewhat slow transmission of various viruses (but, notably, not stop transmission of them); if the true goal were, as originally advanced, to ‘flatten the curse’, then, perhaps, masks would be a reasonable measure, but the current purpose of the masks, whether enforced by informal methods (e.g., peer pressure and shame [more accurately: harassment]) or formal methods (e.g., laws and fines), is removed far afield from any considerations of preventing the medical system from becoming overwhelmed. The present purpose of the masks is simply control, and I could scarcely think of a more appropriate symbolism.

First, let us take note of the fact that a man’s face is very much a large part of his personality (taken in the expansive sense of the term) and masks deliberately cover the face. Certainly, the laughable masks presently being employed by so many paranoiacs and lickspittles are less (deliberately) destructive of personality than, say, that extreme version of the hijab know as the “niqab”, but the purpose remains the same: to depersonalize and control the wearer (though we should note the salient difference, here, between willing and unwilling submission). Second, what greater symbolism of silencing the population could there be than a mask — or is it a muzzle? — which primarily covers the mouth? One recalls to mind political cartoons in which Lady Justice is not only blindfolded — symbolizing her fairness and impartiality — but also gagged — symbolizing her being prevented from speaking, and therefore justice being suppressed or subverted. For those who advance both that democracy is not good and, more fundamentally, that democracy simply is not, the irony is almost too much. Not only have our supposed ‘citizen rulers’ tipped their hands and shown themselves to be (petty) totalitarian tyrants in ways few kings would have ever even merely contemplated, so, too, have so very many of our fellow citizens revealed themselves to be the pawns we have so long accused, or at least suspected, them of being. If the government can compel you to wear such an accoutrement — particularly one that is deliberately destructive of personality — to do such things as shop for groceries and go for a walk, then you have neither the freedom nor the liberty you believed yourself to have. You are not a citizen; you are a subject, who is permitted to retain the delusion of self-governance because your masters find you more pliable when you are thus deluded.

Now, it may seem passing strange for one who objects to democracy (as I admittedly do) to raise these issues, which is to say to draw the attention of my fellow citizens to them, but such is not cleanly or entirely the case. My objections to democracy do not rest primarily upon an objection to democracy’s claim that the common man is fit to rule himself and should be allowed to do so — a laughable claim, to be certain — but rather upon the nature of those who inevitably come to power in democratic systems. As I began: Democracy inevitably empowers precisely those types who should never be anywhere near the levers of power. More, those who are truly empowered are virtually never those who are ‘officially’ empowered, which is to say elected. This is to say that I offer neither moral nor philosophical objection to the types of measures being taken, at least not in and of themselves. However, I do object to those pushing these measures and I do find that the measures are not being pushed for the sake of the public good, whether health or safety.

Further still, if we are to play the game, then we must all play by the rules. The wholesale ignoring of any and all relevant law offends both by sentiments as an attorney and my convictions as a German — Ordnung muss sein. Surely, I would support an ordered and proper move away from democratic governance, but, just as certainly, I must staunchly oppose these naked — and illegal — power grabs, particularly when they are executed by such a confederacy of dunces, such a gaggle of buffoons. And all this is to say nothing of my various (relevant) philosophical convictions.

To some degree, I must confess that my purpose here is, more or less, merely to gloat. From a certain perspective, tinged, admittedly, with cynicism, much of this was rather easy to predict — the common man will always roll over, will never truly insist upon his supposed ‘rights’. However, much as the Gospel must be preached to men after they have been broken by the Law, so would I be remiss if I failed to mention that our current plight is unnecessary and our misery senseless. Do not mistake my meaning — I am not utopian (except, perhaps, in the original Greek) — I readily advance that all systems comprised of fallen men are necessarily flawed; however, that all options are imperfect does not thereby imply that all options are equally bad. But we have wandered somewhat far afield from the purpose of this article.

In returning to masks, let me close with a few assessments. First, the powers annexed to the government under the supposed warrant of a public health emergency will not be readily or willingly relinquished (they virtually never are). Second, a person who will obediently wear a mask in the absence of compelling warrant will acquiesce in a great deal more if commanded by a supposed ‘authority’. Third, the so-called “contact-tracing” apps and systems will begin pursuant to their present goal of tracing the spread of disease, but they can just as easily be used to track the spread of, say, ideas — and they will, only too soon, be directed to that end. Fourth, and finally, we would do well to remember what our fellow citizens have revealed, in the course of this crisis, about their nature. In the end analysis, then, a great many movements and forces (many more than mentioned here) are coming to a head, and the next three decades or so will prove both rather interesting and rather decisive. In many ways: Alea iact est.

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