I live in Canada, a putative liberal democracy. But I cannot gather and demonstrate in public without the prospect of being arrested. I cannot worship in a church without fear of being fined and led off to jail. I cannot enter certain institutions and public places without wearing a mask. I cannot travel without finding myself levied and quarantined. And I will become a second-class citizen should the vaccine passport, which I understand the government is considering, ever become law, depriving me of the rights and freedoms I once took for granted. I am living in a police state in everything but name, likely to consolidate and become a “papers please!” regime should the government follow through.
Canada is by no means unique in this respect. The exclusionary device known as a vaxxport is being bruited in other countries as well, and it has already been introduced in Israel. Once we enter a “papers please!” world, the great, historically short-lived experiment in democratic governance, the gift of the Judeo-Christian West to mankind, will be over. We have already begun to lose our essential “Lockean” liberties—freedom of expression and worship, right of assembly, personal privacy, property rights—and now find ourselves facing the reality of existence in a Hobbesian world where life, to rephrase the adage slightly, is nasty, brutish, and tightly controlled.
The police state seems to be the natural political order, always ready to emerge from the shadows and insensibly replace the rare and fragile—and unnatural—cultural adventure we call “rule of law” and the concept of individual liberty. The inroads are already deep—the corruption of language (aka political correctness), mass surveillance, the tampering with the electoral process, pervasive censorship—preparing us to accept what was, and is, a COVID dictatorship on the pretext of public safety.
The vaxxport is only the latest installment in the march of insurrectionary politics, creating two classes of citizens, those with basic social privileges and those who have been stripped of them. Neither class is “free,” of course. The former class consists of compliant wards of the state and the latter, an ever-diminishing group, assumes the status of untouchables.
Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous aphorism, “Man is condemned to be free,” makes sense within the framework of Existentialist philosophy, “because,” to complete his phrase, “once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.” Sartre is recycling the Heideggerian notion of Geworfenheit, of “being thrown” into a world of arbitrary demands that need to be met and resolved on the level of the person. The fact is, however, that man is condemned to be bound to what Plato called “political necessity,” subject to “the laws against impiety,” as he put it in The Laws. The state, or polis, takes precedence over the individual, whose impulses cannot be trusted. Such is the real “condemnation,” to which the individual is perennially susceptible—and agreeable. Freedom is a burden difficult to bear and all-too-willingly surrendered, owing to natural lassitude, indifference, and forgetfulness.
This is what we see happening all across the West where the “great experiment” in individual liberties and personal autonomy was valiantly conducted against the grain, so to speak, and which, except for a few scattered enclaves, is now being phased out by a Hobbesian pandemic known as the “Great Reset”—in other words, a reversion to a natural state of affairs characterized by threat, coercion, and autocratic domination. “I suspect this is the most dangerous time in history,” writes my colleague and occasional columnist Diana Sitek, “because of the scale of the coming tyranny. There is no safe haven.” (Personal communication.) Freedom is unnatural, a battle against the principle of civilizational entropy, that can be maintained only by the perpetual struggle to make the unnatural natural—”A Republic, if you can keep it.” The alternative is “papers please!”, if we can stomach it.
Resistance is the only option.