As we are forced to endure the Great UnReason of 2020—the Big Government/Big Media orchestrated mass hysteria over COVID-19—all of us who value reason and liberty, particularly self-identified conservatives, would be well served to revisit more sober voices from our past.
Edmund Burke, the “patron saint” of modern conservatism, is one good place to start.
While calling out the conflagration of the French Revolution from his seat in Parliament across The Channel, Burke delineated for the whole world to see the glaring contrasts between what would become known as “conservatism,” on the one hand, and, on the other, radicalism. The former, it would become impossible to deny by the time Burke had finished treating the subject, is the party of Reason, of tradition, order, and civilization. The latter, though, is the home of abstract ideals, chaos, and revolution.
The relevance of all of this for our time should be obvious. Under the pretext of protecting the 330 million or so people who reside in America from getting sick, from contracting a virus—a virus, to boot, whose mortality rate, recent studies are beginning to suggest, is comparable to that of the seasonal flu (one-tenth of one percent!)—the agents of Big Government, aided and abetted by their apologists in Big Media, have advanced by orders of magnitude their campaign to fundamentally transform the United States of America.
Over the span of just a handful of weeks (though it feels like an eternity), a quiet or cold revolution of sorts has been occurring. This verdict is neither speculative nor hyperbolic: There is no one whose life hasn’t been dramatically, abruptly, altered between just March and April.
There is no one whose life hasn’t been revolutionized.
Life hasn’t just changed. It’s been upended and transformed.
The Great UnReason of 2020 is so-called because the mass panic over this strain of coronavirus (yes, for those of you who wouldn’t know this if you were only attending to Big Media sources, 7%-15% of all viruses in illnesses, particularly respiratory illnesses, are coronaviruses and, thus, COVID-19 is just the latest strain) is wholly, entirely unwarranted. It is irrational.
It is the Great UnReason of 2020.
Well, it is irrational if we’re referring only to the fear generated on the part of millions of Americans in response to this virus (which, again, is nothing at all like the second iteration of the Black Plague that the fear mongers in Big Government and Big Media is making it out to be).
Yet it is all too rational for those who have always ached to revolutionize American life to stoke the flames of fear. To repeat my point above, this position is neither theoretical nor exaggerated. Never in our history as Americans has there been such a large-scale exercise in Social Engineering—“STAY AT HOME! FLATTEN THE CURVE! SAVE LIVES!”—that has been executed with such rapidity and success.
Never let a good crisis go to waste. And, we may want to add to Rahm Emmanuel’s maxim another that he and his fellow partisans know all too well: When there is no crisis, create one.
The “Pandemic” has been the Crisis par excellence for the left. It is has been an opportunity like no other for them to achieve objectives for which the left has ached for centuries to achieve.
Within one month, the Big Government that the left would try to dismiss as being but a bogeyman for the right has become an inescapable reality to all Americans. David Horowitz has famously remarked that within every leftist there lurks a totalitarian waiting to get out. His critics scoffed at him. Now, to all with eyes to see, it has become increasingly clear that, much to our chagrin, he was correct all along.
Businesses, particularly small businesses (the lifeblood of the nation’s economy), have been forced by government fiat to close. The American Dream of hundreds of thousands, if not more, human beings who sacrificed incalculable blood, sweat, and tears to realize their dreams has been transformed by Big Government actors into a nightmare.
Tens of millions of Americans who just last month were employed have been effectively forced to leave their jobs. They are now basically wards of the State, dependent upon the government.
So too have the “little platoons” without which no civilization is possible been indefinitely “furloughed” by Big Government. The little platoons are all of those associations—family, friendships, and the multitude of communities of which we are members—that serve as buffers between the naked individual and the State.
The little platoons are indispensable to civilization and the flourishing of its members. It is within these associations that we become the people that we are: Our very identities as individuals are indeed constituted by our relationships with the members of our communities. The little platoons enable us to discover the values that we will go on to affirm, they invest our lives with purpose and meaning. A person’s families, friendships, and all of his relationships inform and comprise his worldview, his conceptions of self, other, and the nature of the ultimate point (or not) of the cosmos.
Burke’s description is worth quoting:
“To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ, as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country and to mankind.”
“The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage….”
The United States Constitution and the constitutions of the states have been systematically, grossly violated. Indeed, they have been indefinitely revoked.
Once more, this characterization of current events is not hyperbolic. Democrat Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey and a self-avowed member of the “resistance” to President Trump, recently informed Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he was not thinking of the Bill of Rights when he unilaterally decided to prevent Americans from exercising their First Amendment right to assemble for religious (and other) purposes.
The Bill of Rights, Murphy said, “was above his paygrade.”
Such people as Murphy, Burke asserted, “see no merit or demerit in any man, or any action, or any political principle, any further than as they may forward or retard their design of change [.]”
For as successful as the left has been in visiting this cold revolution, for as successful as they have been in ushering in the era of The Great UnReason of 2020, and for as painfully as they ache to prolong “the New Normal,” I nevertheless remain hopeful that, by and large, this too shall pass.
Yet radicalism never rests. The Great UnReason of 2020, having emboldened the left in ways that few other events have, could be a dry run for something bigger in the future.
Those of us who value Reason over Radicalism must remain vigilant so that we will never forget.