Coronavirus Apocalypse Now
Mark Twain, on hearing an American newspaper had prematurely published his obituary, clarified matters by saying, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Some things do not change.
False reports abound in a time of national and international panic. As Dr. Deborah Birx pointed out in her recent report on the coronavirus, it turns out that British scientist Dr. Neil Ferguson’s initial model for the death rate from coronavirus was severely exaggerated. He has since walked back his dire predictions. His retraction comes after many governments adopted draconian measures to protect the public from his scenarios of death and destruction.
Although the good news was disappointing for true believers actively desiring a Malthusian apocalypse, the rest of those who have been in lockdown now see a ray of sunshine through their metaphorically boarded windows.
History will judge whether or not Dr. Ferguson did the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a global theater, but his mistake does call into question the use of similar “scientific” models as the basis of public policy. It may be legitimate to question the usefulness of predictive models based on the way Dr. Ferguson and others do science.
After all, we have seen similar “scientific” models and methods used to justify policies that proved worse than the conditions that created them.
China’s disastrous “One Child” policy was based on a Malthusian scientific model that predicted the entire society would starve if China’s population was not culled by abortion and even infanticide. The results of that policy are apparent today, as China faces a shortage of women, a surplus of single men and an aging population.
Historians will also recall devastation caused by Lysenkoism. Lysenkoism was actually an ideological political campaign buttressed by Lamarckism, an evolutionary philosophy better matched to communist propaganda than Mendelian science. Trofim Lysenko forced a system of agriculture on the Russian people that was completely anti-scientific. Lysenko’s kooky theory of "vernalization" was supposed to produce record crops. The model failed completely. But for sixteen long years, Russian agriculture was blasted by pseudo-scientific policies enforced by Stalin’s draconian measures.
All the above examples are to say nothing of ruinous pseudo-scientific models concerning diseases, races, ethnicities, criminality, and intelligence.
All pseudo-science models have one thing in common: They are essentially deeply religious, accompanied as they are by apocalyptic end times scenarios that goad the public into actions fomented by panic and despair. The use of mathematics and charts adds an air of legitimacy to apocalyptic predictions that are almost the exact duplicate of end time scenarios prophesied by cult leaders. Such prophets have used biblical verses, gnostic numerology, guilt and fear to panic their followers into selling all their possessions, buying white robes and heading to the mountains or digging shelters underground in hopes of surviving as the chosen remnant.
In a similar panicked manner, there are those whose disruptive plans are now being put into play while they appeal to “science” and to their higher moral discernment; wisdom that is hidden from the rest of us mortals.
Nothing is more tempting to potential tyrants than utilization of a panic stoked to white heat in order to reinforce and extend state control. The use of partial truth -- yes, the virus is real -- can be inflated and massaged in order to achieve nefarious ends. Alas, the fact is that the final writhing of a diseased system built on lies can still create havoc. Some ideologues just like to see things burn. Some see ways to profit from societal collapse. Some see the possibility that society can be fundamentally transformed.
While the coronavirus is real, and sensible measures should be taken to prevent its spread, perhaps it is well to listen to a voice from Italy, now an epicenter of the viral plague. Italy, which has long had an off again; on again flirtation with communism, has a few voices of caution as the measures to contain the virus look more and more like a state takeover worthy of Bolsheviks.
An author of a prescient column who goes by the nom de plume “Mundabor” writes:
“…it seems to me that, in Italy at least, the emergency is now morphing into madness. I have little doubt that other Countries like Spain and France will very soon follow, then they tend to react in the same way. I can only hope that the United Kingdom and the United States will keep a cooler head, following a tradition of “stiff upper lip” in times of crisis.
“Listen, people: factories do not close even in war times, with the enemy bombers flying over them. The decision of the Italian Prime Minister, Conte, to shut down the country’s factories starting tomorrow is exactly an example of what should not, never (not if we had enemy bombers on our heads!) be done.”
“Social distancing is all fine. Work from home whenever possible is all fine. The enforcement of the end of mass gathering is something which has always been done for public order reasons. But when you begin to shut down factories and condemn to closure every shop that is not “essential”, you are playing with the very fabric of the country and making of Italy the next Venezuela.
“The Left will rise, as it is always the case when misery and poverty do. This may result in an entirely home-made World War I, with the citizen shooting themselves out of sheer panic rather than being shot at by the enemy. “
Mundabor’s words should give us Americans pause. We need to consider what will happen if our entire nation is shut down. We need to consider that what is happening in our own country goes far beyond an attempt to take down Donald Trump and is rapidly morphing into hysteria that if unchecked, could change our entire nation beyond recognition.
As Mundabor writes: “As the hysteria grows (which I am afraid it will), Conte and the other politicians will not have any interest in trying to plant their feet, draw a line in the sand and say that there must be a limit to the measures taken to prevent the diffusion of the China Virus. On the contrary, the temptation will be big to put themselves ‘at the head of the movement’ and look ‘caring’, even as they carelessly destroy the lives of millions and cause untold suffering for years to come.”
The coronavirus madness puts before Americans a choice: Revive the progressive/leftist Frankenstein monster or immolate it at last.
Let’s hope America chooses the latter and doesn’t accede to embracing an ideological vision that has long relied on deathly visions of apocalypse now, visions bound to destroy the flawed but redeemable peoples and institutions of the West.
All the while, hope and pray that the panic engendered by an ideological paradigm bolstered by pseudo-science and errant philosophical underpinnings at last collapses; and that true reform and restoration can begin.
Meanwhile, those addicted to the rush engendered by the apocalypse now scenarios might do well to think about the words of wisdom from a prophet who spoke about the real thing thousands of years ago.
We won’t know when it will happen; and when it does, we won’t miss it.
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including the Christian Post, National Review, RealClearReligion, Russia Insider and American Thinker. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org