Human Action in the Context of Covid Totalitarianism
by Michael Rectenwald
Presented to the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus Human Action Tour, Fairfax, VA. October 2, 2021.
A specter is haunting the world: the increasing prospect of a new totalitarianism. Unlike the specter of communism, this specter originates from those in power and not from underground revolutionaries — although communism may always be an undertaking of elites. Rather than haunting only Europe, this specter casts its long shadow across the future of all humanity, such that one wonders how one might plan, if at all, for this future.
Consider Australia, once one of the world’s liberal democracies. This could be the future for America, and everywhere else for that matter.
Citizens and non-citizens alike are trapped on the land mass, forbidden to leave the country without a good reason. And nothing seems to be a good reason. Large swaths of the population have been prisoners in their homes and neighborhoods for months. The Australian military enforcers a curfew in New South Wales and the COVIDSafe app enforces one in South Australia. The state sends random texts to the homebound prisoners via the app. Those under house arrest have fifteen minutes to respond before the police are sent, or not. “We don’t tell them how often or when, on a random basis they have to reply within 15 minutes,” the Premiere explained. Just as in Bentham’s Panopticon, the prisoners are never sure if they are being watched, although they know they may be.
Those who dare to venture a block beyond the assigned perimeter are apprehended by the police and choked, handcuffed, slammed face-down on the street, sprayed in the face with noxious chemicals, and hauled off to who knows where — for their own good. Those rallying for their freedoms are hailed and struck with rubber bullets. Citizens are encouraged to report on other citizens for behavior that they have been told is akin to murder. A man sneezed in an elevator and then left his apartment building, triggering a nationwide manhunt in which the population was enlisted. Rescue dogs were shot dead under the false pretense of rescuing people.
Although only slightly less draconian, severe measures have been enforced in the other liberal democracies, including the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Canada, and New Zealand.
Worldwide, millions have already lost or will lose their jobs for vaccine non-compliance. This includes health care workers who just last month were hailed as heroes by those who now cheer on their removal. They are now to be dispensed with like so many used syringes.
To sink the knife in deeper, health care workers dismissed for vaccine disobedience are ineligible for unemployment in New York, while New York and Connecticut plan to replace them with the National Guard.
We should remember that the covid regime came on the heels of an already advanced illiberalism, as seen in the censorship, the onslaught of non-stop propaganda, the proliferation of doublespeak, the endless gaslighting, the political witch-hunts, and the cancellation rituals reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Stalinist purges.
The methods have been amplified under the covid regime, to a breath-taking effect.
Now, we not only have cultural and political but also scientific and medical cancellation. In fact, open scientific inquiry has been deemed verboten, deviationism from “The Science,” a new medical Lysenkoism promoted by covid cult leaders. “Deviant” academics, scientists, doctors, and the all the unvaccinated are falsely blamed, vilified, isolated, shamed, and punished. The purges are sustained by relentless propaganda.
It should come as no surprise that what I call Big Digital corporations — Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and others — are intimately connected to Big Pharma and the covid vaccine regime. Facebook’s fact checker, Factcheck.org, is funded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which owns 1.8 billion dollars in Johnson & Johnson stock. Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., owns the capital investment firm, GV, formerly Google Ventures. GV is one of the institutional investors in the UK firm Vaccitech, the biotech startup behind the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. As the pandemic rolled out in early 2020, Vaccitech was one of the most valuable companies in the portfolio of the university-affiliated Oxford Sciences Innovation, although it had yet to bring a single drug to market. Sequoia Capital, China also invested in Vaccitech during its IPO. Sequoia Capital, meanwhile, is invested in Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Oracle, PayPal, YouTube, and Zoom.
Is it any wonder then that Big Digital corporations censor covid-related content that runs counter to the official vaccine propaganda?
The full power of the state is behind the covid regime. But the state is not only the government. It is the entirety of the clique in power. The clique includes the officials in the American and Chinese Politburo, otherwise known as the Biden administration and the CCP. But it also includes powerful individuals, like Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, the notorious Doctor Wen, and many others, as well as nearly all major cultural and educational institutions, multi-national corporations, non-governmental organizations, non-profits, national and supranational agencies, churches, synagogues, and many members of the general population who are essentially enrolled as state agents. Of course, it includes Big Digital.
These governmental and extra-governmental entities maintain and enforce the same hegemonic ideology. Their ideology is not only leftist and authoritarian, but also totalitarian. Yet the neo-Marxists and the silent liberals and conservatives do not recognize it as such. To them, it’s just the way things are, and the way things have always been. This could not be further from the truth.
Instead, after a long march, the woke (or socialist communist) infiltration of the American state is almost total. The covid response is an extension of the permanent revolution, which accelerated rapidly from 2016 on, if not before.
I’ve included religious bodies in the state because they have been largely co-opted. Their beliefs were already hijacked by the woke movement before most became complicit in the covid regime, which has since transmuted religious meaning and symbolism into the rituals of the covid cult. This represents not only the secularization of the religious sphere, but also its communization.
As Catholic Archbishop Vigano stated in May, “The rituality of the present pandemic is quite obvious, especially in the way they have wanted to give the vaccine a sacramental value.” On cue, the unelected Governor of New York recently proclaimed that the vaccine was divinely ordained. Vaccination is apparently a sacrament instituted by God to give grace. To reject the vaccine is to reject life and all that is good, including God Himself. Jesus, as it turns out, was a vaccine manufacturer, perhaps a stockholder in Pfizer or Moderna. We have learned that he preached that only those vaccinated, and vaccinated again, and again, may enter the kingdom of heaven. The Covidians are the apostles, sent into the world to spread the Good News of salvation by vaccination. And He said unto them, “whosoever shall not receive the vaccine and booster shots, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.”
Who are these unbelievers?
They are selfish people who claim individual autonomy and bodily integrity. They may include the vaccinated. It isn’t enough to be vaccinated; one must also confess and profess the almighty power of the vaccine.
These reprobates dare to decide whether they are injected with an experimental cocktail, ad infinitum. They have the temerity to think for themselves. They must be excluded from society. They must be condemned to die alone, after living and begging in the shadows.
They include heretics who refuse to recite, word for word, the catechism of The Science.
Some of them even refuse to leap forward, denying the inevitability and sanctity of the Great Reset. It has been declared that the covid lockdowns must be followed by climate change lockdowns, plus other restrictions. The Earth must be protected from the meat-eating, locomoting, and unfettered procreation of the masses.
Yes, there are those who dare to suggest that this progressive and incremental mass vaccine program is akin to the Progressive mass eugenics program of the last century.
Speaking of “conspiracy theories,” the mendacity of the covid regime essentially generates them, as if spontaneously. Once people realize that the Gospel of Covid is a tissue of lies, they begin to construct “sacrilegious” narrative alternatives, ones that make sense of the forbidden and mostly hidden data.
I won’t attempt to adjudicate that data here. I’ll leave that to a growing body of medical doctors and scientists. As of this writing, some 7,800 have signed “the Rome Declaration, a cri de coeur “to alert citizens about the deadly consequences of Covid-19 policy…such as denying patient access to lifesaving early treatments, disrupting the sacred, physician-patient relationship[,] and suppressing open scientific discussion for profits and power.” They assert that the covid treatment regimen “may actually constitute crimes against humanity.” So does a group of Nazi concentration camp survivors.
A day or two after the Rome Declaration was posted, “the Spartacus Letter” was published. This audacious rebel dared to engage The Science on scientific terms. The letter must have contained some forbidden truth because it was immediately scrubbed by Big Digital. Although republished in several venues, it remains virtually undiscoverable.
The esoteric language of the letter describes the effects of the virus and the vaccines in precise scientific terms that only a member of the cognoscenti could muster. It may be the most detailed scientific analysis of the virus and the vaccine that I have read to date.It then makes such declarations as the following:
The Elites are trying to pull up the ladder, erase upward mobility for large segments of the population, cull political opponents and other “undesirables”, and put the remainder of humanity on a tight leash, rationing our access to certain goods and services that they have deemed “high-impact”, such as automobile use, tourism, meat consumption, and so on. Naturally, they will continue to have their own luxuries, as part of a strict caste system akin to feudalism.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to resist such conclusions. I have described this as part of an effort to establish “corporate socialism” — or “actually existing socialism” on the ground, and corporate monopolists, tightly coupled with the government, on top. I have also called it “capitalism with Chinese characteristics.” This would explain why the elites propagate socialist ideology and rhetoric to the public, while engaging in economic fascism themselves.
The question inevitably arises: What should be done? I’m not going to make recommendations for what everyone should do. You may decide to live in a shack in the woods, and I may decide to stay in the city and do battle with the passport mandate police, with the unending booster requirements.
The point is to assert individual autonomy, not to corral people into silos. But no libertarian worthy of the name would ever suggest that a crisis justifies the incremental stripping of the natural rights of any human being. And no libertarian worthy of the name should ever be complicit in quarantining the healthy, whether in a camp, facility, institution, town, state, or in their own homes. I’m talking to you now, Cato Institute.
I will relay what others have done under somewhat similar conditions and speak to the possible advantages of such actions.
The measures I recommend are rooted in the need for pragmatic action under totalitarianism. We are not living under what Henry Hazlitt, in “The Road to Totalitarianism,” called “‘total’ totalitarianism”—not yet anyway. But Hazlitt continued by saying, “most Americans… may prove incapable of recognizing this evil until it has grown beyond the point of control.” It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.
I believe that we need to look to exemplary dissidents from the former Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc to respond to our contemporary conditions. What were the responses of such dissidents to totalitarianism?
As one of these dissidents, the Czech playwright and later President of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel wrote:
When those who have decided to live within the truth have been denied any direct influence on the existing social structures, not to mention the opportunity to participate in them, and when these people begin to create what I have called the independent life of society, this independent life begins, of itself, to become structured in a certain way. Sometimes there are only very embryonic indications of this process of structuring; at other times, the structures are already quite well developed. Their genesis and evolution are inseparable from the phenomenon of “dissent,” even though they reach far beyond the arbitrarily defined area of activity usually indicated by that term.
What these dissidents did was to build what another Czech political thinker and dissident, Vaclav Benda, called “parallel structures.”
What are parallel structures? The mere mention of the phrase will stir the imaginations of those who understand what this might mean. They are more or less organized communities, usually built by dissidents. They are sites where resistance to totalitarian bureaucracies allows for the expression of freedom and creativity. Their organic output has historically included samizdat books, private performances, seminars, exhibitions, periodicals, alternative educational forums (parallel universities), parallel information networks, and even embryonic parallel economies. Together they constitute a “second culture,” a culture otherwise repressed by and deleted from the state.
Eventually, these parallel structures may spawn a parallel polis and renewed political possibility.
In our context, parallel structures may be networks of people building communities of mutual support and communications but not ideological homogeneity. Many such groupings and parallel structures already exist.
They include media and communication networks, some even within the online spaces many of us already frequent. And they may be formed around podcasts and podcasters, websites and writers, peer-to-peer channels and programmers, and radio broadcasts and their listeners.
To create and sustain environments most conducive to liberty, these networks must aim to be as decentralized and as independent of Big Digital as possible. I nevertheless recommend that people retain the beachheads they have secured on mainline social media platforms and spread out from there.
Our parallel structures include parallel education organizations and institutions, like Tom Woods’s Liberty Classroom.
They include what are now called “freedom cells,” which are local and touring communities of support and exchange, both social and economic.
On the specifically economic front, they include those empowering themselves and others to attain financial literacy, independence, and responsiveness.
Bitcoin communities represent parallel structures of potential resistance and survivability — especially considering the frightening prospect of a global digital currency, which would mean total control over buying, selling, and saving.
Parallel structures include religious and spiritual groupings — not only some churches but also informal gatherings for mutual support and sustenance.
The Mises Caucus is currently a parallel political structure. It provides a political home and community for those disaffected with the legacy parties and an important niche within the Libertarian Party for those seeking principled economic and political policies and the unapologetic assertion of individual human rights under all circumstances.
I will end with plea that those inhabiting existing parallel structures, and those forming new ones, remain flexible and willing to translate, without compromising, their own and others’ political language and symbolics into a common language of resistance, survival, and human action. Otherwise, our parallel structures may become isolated from others by particularism. We are up against totalitarianism. That is why I suggest that we understand ourselves primarily as “dissidents” and secondarily as party and caucus supporters. As such, we may become the germ of a future social, economic, and political renaissance.
Thank you for listening.
First published Citizens for Legitimate Government.