Can Politicians Quit the Power Habit?

It’s an amazing spectacle to watch Canadian Wokedom struggle against the Unseen, which finally became visible to the media. “The mayor of Ottawa declared a state of emergency Sunday over convoy protests blockading Canada’s capital city that he says are ‘completely out of control.’ The chair of the city’s police services board is warning the siege is part of a ‘nationwide insurrection.’”

Them’s fiery words.

It’s not like the authorities have been sitting idly by as the threat materialized. “Ottawa’s police force says it will now prevent people from supplying the protesters in the downtown with gas, food and other ‘material supports’.” GoFundMe embargoed the money donated to the protesters at the request of “law enforcement” and the army may be called in, though not yet. “Trudeau says using military to end Ottawa protest ‘not in the cards right now’”. All these measure to quell protesters, who even as they were mustering, were not even acknowledged by the media to exist.

And just who is this invading army? Canadian truckers, asking PM Justin Trudeau to rescind a vaccination requirement to re-enter from the US border.

To estimate the chances of the contenders, the strategic question to ask is: on whose side are time and trends on? Will there be more Denmarks (which just lifted Covid restrictions), more Joe Rogans, more unseen protesters — or fewer of them? A few posts back I predicted there will be more of them because the potential energy stored up in the last 2 years of restrictions and mandates had to unwind. And when it unwound there will be considerable political heat and energy.

It is a point that Danish government adviser Michael Bang Petersen independently makes in his New York Times opinion piece, “The End of the Pandemic May Tear Us Apart”. He writes, “in Denmark, a clear majority of Danes support rolling back restrictions [because] the proportion of Danes who feel Covid-19 is a societal threat is dropping sharply. … The key ingredients of an effective pandemic response — communication, trust and a shared sense of threat — are slowly dwindling.” But what might seem like good news to some will be bad news to all those to whom the restrictions represented an era of safety, certitude and beneficial social engineering. As Petersen notes, there will be losers when the pandemic ends.

People who remain worried about getting Covid-19 will see high cases during surges, which will justify their concerns and strengthen their own observance of mask-wearing and distancing. Calls for removing restrictions will seem dangerous. … For people who have been highly vigilant about Covid-19, the end of the pandemic could end up feeling like defeat.

However hurt the feelings of some, the pandemic has got to end some day. Already, Sweden has announced it will follow Denmark’s lead by lifting Covid controls next week. With restrictions increasingly being dismantled in Europe it’s hard to see how Justin Trudeau can resist the trucker’s demand to rescind the vaccine border mandate in the end. If Covid is really dying down, mandates must die with them. By declaring vaccine petitioners a “small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa, who are holding unacceptable views” Trudeau turned a public health issue into political dynamite. It’s a classic case study on how to escalate a problem into a crisis, turning an issue of lifting restrictions on a fading epidemic into a referendum on civil liberty and prime ministerial leadership. As Petersen says, it takes as much statesmanship to lead a nation out of lockdown as into it.

At some point, it will be time to lift restrictions and lower the guards. … It won’t be because this position was always correct, but because the circumstances have changed. That’s why strong leadership is so critical for ending the pandemic. As the need for restrictions lessens, it’s up to public health and political leaders to explain why restrictions are being lifted, just as they had to explain why they were being imposed in the first place. Authorities must tell the public why they are placing more responsibility on individuals and, ideally, address the concerns of those who may not be ready, as well as those who remain at higher risk, like the immune compromised.

But try telling that to political mediocrities who epidemic circumstances transformed, literally overnight, from mere presidents and prime ministers to potentates with real or imagined absolute powers over millions. For some an end to the pandemic signals the closing of a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake the world. As the Socialist Equality Party (Canada) writes: “The so-called Freedom Convoy is a far-right rabble … spearheaded by fascist activists who have assaulted homeless people and workers trying to enforce anti-COVID measures and brought guns and other weaponry into downtown Ottawa.”

These extraordinary events underscore the urgent necessity of the independent political mobilization of the working class. Armed with a socialist and internationalist program, the working class is the only social force capable of implementing a science-based Zero COVID policy to end the pandemic once and for all, stop the reckless drive to imperialist war, and halt the danger of authoritarianism and fascistic political violence.

In other words, only they can save the world. When the history of the Covid-19 pandemic is written, the names of many drugs — paxlovid, fluvoxamine, sotrovimab —  will be mentioned. But the account will be incomplete if the distorting effect of the most powerful and addictive drug of all, political power, is omitted. The public, out of fear, gave politicians enormous power. What we’re about to see, the world over, is whether they can take it back.

Books: You Will Be Assimilated: China’s Plan to Sino-form the World by David Goldman. China’s 5,000-year-old empire has become the world’s largest economy, with a plan to control the decisive technologies of the 21st century—and the United States is in danger of being left behind. America has finally recognized China’s bid for world dominance—but we’re still losing ground. Domination of the next generation of mobile broadband is just the tip of the spear. Like the Borg in Star Trek, China will assimilate you into a virtual empire controlled by Chinese technology. China is taking control of the Fourth Industrial Revolution—the economy of artificial intelligence and quantum computing—just as America dominated the Third Industrial Revolution driven by the computer.

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