Putin Strawmans Anti-Lockdowners and Misses the Mark
No collusion at all is required when you're subject to the same set of incentives
You know there are, there have always been people who believe that no inoculations at all are needed. There are many people in this category.
And not only anti-vax dissidents, there are enough of them both in this country and elsewhere.
We should take our cue from the specialists, not people who do not know much about this matter and listen to rumours. After all, this is happening all around the world.
You know, the things I heard: that there is nothing at all, that in reality there is no epidemic. Sometimes I listen to what some people are saying – they seem to be grown-up, educated people. I do not know where they are taking this from.
When you tell them that this is happening all over the world, they reply: “Right, country leaders have come into collusion.”
Do they have any idea of what is happening in the world, of the contradictions that are plaguing today’s world, where all leaders allegedly upped and conspired with each other? It is all absolute rubbish.
Putin explains that COVID-19 can’t possibly be made up because that would require all world leaders to be in on it and to have conspired together.
First of all, I do not know where Putin has met these “grown-up, educated people” who say that “there is nothing at all”.
The “grown-up, educated people” I meet tend to think that there is a respiratory virus of some kind afoot that represents an elevated mortality risk to the very frail on the order of the 1957 and 1968 flus, but that the lockdown response to it has been unhelpful because it is completely ineffectual while causing untold damage on top of this flu-like illness, and that performing novel medical interventions on people who are not in the risk groups goes against what everyone believed before March 2020.
But never mind that. Let’s focus on the second part of the statement. Putin is saying that given the level of “contradictions” (disagreements) between them, world leaders could not have possibly conspired together to conjure up a fake threat of COVID. Thus by implication if regimes as varied, and as unfriendly to each other as the ones in Iran, Israel, North Korea, Russia, and the West all independently reached for the formula of lockdowns and vaccines it must therefore be the reasonable, specialist-driven response, and dissent against it “absolute rubbish”.
However in reality Tehran, Tel Aviv, Pyongyang, Washington, Moscow, London, Beijing and Brussels are not independent data points. If you polled 200 people completely at random and they virtually all agreed that government clerks were ridiculously underpaid then you have an interesting finding. But if you polled 200 government clerks who said the same then you have nothing. Pyongyang and Washington may be incapable of conspiring together but they share the exact same incentives.
Faced with a natural disaster it is in the interest of any government to present itself as the solution whether it actually can affect the situation or not. Activism justifies the existence of government and its coercive and parasitic ways. The bigger the catastrophy the more the government can increase its grip on the host. Government mass house arrest and hurried mass vaccination programs are the apex of what Curtis Yarvin calls a “dominant idea”:
A dominant idea is an idea that validates the use of power. Such an idea will enjoy a selective tailwind in the Mutopian market.
And there is no market for recessive ideas. A recessive idea is an idea that invalidates power or its use.
Consider the problem of climate change. There are two responses to this problem: action or inaction. Action requires power—and a lot of it, because it has to redirect about, like, 10^14 dollars worth of economic activity. Ain’t no thing!
The idea of climate alarmism corresponds to action. The idea of climate denialism corresponds to inaction. Without knowing which side is right, we can observe that alarmism is a dominant idea, whereas denialism is a recessive idea.
It is not hard to see why, in the lecture halls and newsrooms, dominant ideas tend to outcompete recessive ideas. A dominant idea is an idea that tends to benefit you and your friends. A dominant idea will be especially popular with your friends and former students in the civil service, because it gives them more work and more power.
In reality that extremely varied governments all reached out for mass home incarceration and hurried injections proves nothing more, but that they all know exactly which side of their bread is buttered. And something that is beneficial to every single regime in the world out there, and that only very few (and very unlikely) leaders could reject (Bolsonaro, Noem, Lukashenko…) should frighten the bejeezus out of us.