A paradox of the times in which we are living is that while the masses have been complying with this unwarranted and unjustifiable – and, apart from openly totalitarian police-states like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, unprecedented – near total suspension of our basic rights and freedoms out of an attitude of irrational fear, a surprisingly large number of people who do not typically display herd-mentality and go along with the crowd have supported the same measures out of an equally irrational optimism. They have seen silver linings in the clouds of this lockdown that frankly are not there.
I can think of several individuals, for example, who have acclaimed the pandemic as the end of globalism. Some of these are the "small is beautiful" type. These people are all about localism – the family farm, the ma and pa shop, the small town, buying locally, and the like. The Christians, especially the Roman Catholics, among them place a lot of stress on the doctrine of subsidiarity. These are the kind of people who like to quote writers like E. F. Schumacher, Wendell Berry, and Kirkpatrick Sale. If they are particularly religious they also like to quote G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and if they are particularly politically incorrect, the Vanderbilt Agrarians, the Twelve Southerners. Others who hail the end of globalism are the nationalist types who don’t like open borders, mass immigration, the exportation of manufacturing jobs, foreign aid, and all of the ancillary evils attendant upon these major ones. These are the sort of people who if they live in the republic south of our border form the support base of Donald the Orange. I have a great deal of sympathy for both groups. I largely agree with the first group in what they stand for – small businesses and communities, etc., while dissenting from their tendency to imply that "small is beautiful" translates into "big is necessarily bad and ugly." I largely agree with the second group in what they are against, although I am not a nationalist in the proper sense of the term. I would distinguish between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is the natural love of home and family grown to embrace one’s country and its traditions, institutions and people. Nationalism is an ideology that first appeared in the American and French Revolutions based on Enlightenment notions of popular sovereignty and has been, in my opinion, a force for evil.
I have seen members of both groups speak of the global lockdown in response to the pandemic as the end of globalism, but there seems to be little in the way of fact to support this. Indeed, there is an abundance of evidence that would point to the opposite conclusion. The pandemic certainly illustrates several of the follies of globalism. The folly of depending too much on foreign producers for essential goods, and especially the medical supplies that we need the most in a pandemic that might interrupt their availability, is one obvious one, That of outsourcing manufacturing to such a degree that the domestic economy becomes largely dependent upon service-type industries of the sort that are most vulnerable to epidemics, pandemics, and the draconian overreach of public health authorities is another. This does not mean that we are likely to take these lessons to heart. The anti-pandemic measures are hardly anti-globalist. While international travel has been temporarily curtailed, international trade is still going on. It would be impossible to build a strong, domestic, production sector to replace international trade under the conditions of the lockdown. The corporations that have become giants through globalism have all jumped on the lockdown bandwagon. The tech corporations that sprung up in the most recent stage of globalism were the first to do so. Apart from the politicians, these companies are the single largest source of the inane, mindless, nauseating, propaganda about being "apart together" and similarly nonsensical drivel that we are bombarded with on an hourly basis.
It is the small businesses that are being hurt the most by the lockdown measures. Here in Manitoba, the provincial government began lifting some of the restrictions this week. Restaurants with outdoor patios, for example, are now allowed to seat patrons in them, albeit at what the health fascists deem to be a safe distance. Presumably, the next step will be to re-open dining rooms at a reduced seating capacity. Towards the end of the week, however, the provincial restaurant association announced that up to seventy percent of the province’s restaurants do not have sufficient funds to re-open without further government assistance. Obviously, this is not referring to the large chains, the franchises of which have mostly remained open for take-out, delivery and drive-thru. It refers to the restaurants that have had to close entirely, the bulk of which are the smaller, family-owned, local-flavour type.
While the Dominion government has promised assistance to small businesses, that assistance bears a resemblance to the wooden horse that Odysseus advised the Greeks to construct as a "gift" for Priam of Troy. Last month, for example, Captain Airhead announced a new program in which small businesses could apply for government backed interest-free loans of up to $40, 000, a quarter of which might be eligible for loan forgiveness, that is, it would not have to be repaid. To qualify, however, businesses have to pass a "values test" like the one that was imposed on employers seeking to hire students under the Summer Jobs program a few years back. Each business must attest that it:
does not promote violence, incite hatred or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, region, education, age or mental or physical disability
While it is reasonable that the government not offer funds to groups that "promote violence" or "incite hatred" in the way normal people understand these words to mean, "discriminate" is another matter. Any caterer who would prefer to opt out of catering a same-sex marriage on the basis of religious convictions, would be regarded by the Liberals as someone who "discriminates" on the basis of "sexual orientation" and disqualified. Furthermore, as the Liberals made obvious the last time they imposed this test, they consider opposition to the idea that a woman has the right to murder her unborn child to be discrimination on the basis of sex. That the test is internally incoherent and self-contradictory, being itself an example of religious discrimination against evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants, traditional Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, conservative Jews and Muslims, and other groups that dissent from liberalism in the same ways, is of no consequence to the Liberals who impose it.
Captain Airhead does not have to impose such a test on large corporations. They have all been promoting this same radical agenda for years. It is only the small, especially family-owned, businesses that are disproportionately affected by the government lockdown measures, who are being told to go against their conscience to obtain assistance.
It is not only anti-globalists who have been displaying a counter-factual optimism. There are also those who have tried to find a spiritual silver lining in all of this. Their argument goes something like this: before the pandemic, we lived rushed, materialistic, lives, and now, thanks to the lock down, we have time to slow down, reflect, and meditate, and this is a good thing.
This is an argument which would have some merit if this were, in fact, how people were using their "at home" time, rather than binge-watching Netflix and checking for updates on the pandemic every ten minutes. Even if this were the case, however, this would be one small positive to weigh against a whole lot of big negatives when measuring the pandemic response on a spiritual scale.
The reality of the matter is that this lockdown has a strong spiritual component and it is entirely one of darkness rather than light. True spirituality is never private. Personal contemplation and meditation have their place, but it is supplementary to the communal faith and worship of the Church and not a substitute for it. The closing of the Churches for over two months, beginning in Lent and including Holy Week and Eastertide, could only have been thought up by the devil himself. While the sale of the dangerous, mind-altering, toxin marijuana has been deemed an "essential service", the Sacramental presence of the life-bringing body and blood of our Lord and Saviour has been denied to the faithful. Virtual Church is no substitute for the "assembling of ourselves together" that we are commanded not to forsake. Churches that have tried to offer more than this, while still complying with the physical distancing regulations, such as by holding "drive-in" services where everyone remains in their car in the parking lot, have been fined or threatened with fines, by power-tripping policemen, by-law enforcers, and health bureaucrats. Telling people that they must accept virtual substitutes not only for Church but for all other forms of community for a long and indefinite period of time is a form of spiritual murder. People were already spending too much time glued to their smartphones even before the pandemic.
Worse, there is definitely a spiritual aspect to the "we are all in this together" mantra that is almost universally being chanted to generate a false sense of community in support of totalitarian State measures that keep real communities apart. It is a dangerous counterfeit spirituality. True spirituality arises out of truth, not out of a manufactured consensus in which we all agree to shut off our brains and blindly follow the rules of the public health authorities, no matter how irrational they may be. A true spiritual revival in a time such as this would be marked by a call to repent of our sins and turn in faith to the True and Living God. The empty-headed, optimistic spirituality of the "we are all in this together" crowd is more of the "When the Moon is in the Seventh House/And Jupiter aligns with Mars/Then peace shall guide the planets/And love shall steer the stars" (1) kind.
The widespread acceptance of all of this brings to mind what the Lord predicted about the Great Deception in His Olivet Discourse in the twenty fourth chapter of the Gospel According to St. Matthew.. Similarly, all of the talk from the politicians, World Health Organization and Bill Gates about a mandatory vaccine, brings to mind a parallel passage. This is Revelation 13:16-18 territory. The Russian Orthodox hieromonk, Fr. Seraphim Rose, in his Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1975) examined this sort of counterfeit spirituality when it was first becoming popular, and saw in it what appeared to be the beginning stages of the deception of the Antichrist.
We may not be seeing the final fulfilment of these ancient prophecies, but yet another in the long line of precursors leading up to that final fulfillment. Nevertheless, take heed. On the day when the Lord returns to judge the quick and the dead, having surrendered all of your freedoms in panic and embraced the counterfeit spirituality of the mindless mob will bring no commendation. If all of this talk of a mandatory vaccine and implanted records becomes reality, then beware. It may very well come done to a choice – refuse the vaccine and lose your livelihood, take the vaccine and lose your soul. (Rev. 14:9-11).
(1) "Aquarius", from Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, 1967, lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, music by Galt MacDermot. I have always sort of assumed that Rado and Ragni were satirizing the extreme flakiness of hippie spirituality in this song. Others appear to take it seriously.