The Coronapocalypse Part 28: The Archetypal Mask

I first began to get acquainted with Jungian archetypes as part of my fiction writing. There are a number of different versions of the archetypes that are useful for writers but the one I have mostly used is a list of twelve that includes such archetypes such as The Fool, The Lover and The Warrior. Almost all well-written characters in literature and film can be placed into one of these archetypes and the archetypes prove to be handy tools to guide the development of a character. Much like the classical 3-act plot structure helps keep the story on the rails, the Jungian archetypes help to ensure a character’s personal attributes ring true. They are not hard and fast rules, just guidelines that have stood the test of time.

This raises the question of why they have stood the test of time and the Jungian’s answer would be: because they tap into the collective unconscious. Back when Jung and his collaborators were first working through the emerging psychology of the unconscious, one of the data points they were using were fairy tales and myths. By definition, fairy tales and myths had been around for a long while and the ones that had survived were almost certainly touching on something fundamental. Such stories feature simplified characters and one of the effects of this simplification is to strip away the rationalisations of the conscious mind and get down into what is essential including what is essential at the subconscious levels.

The primary storytelling medium in modern times is film and the type of film which most corresponds to fairy tale and myth is the superhero film. In fact, it’s not uncommon for superheroes in film to be named after or based on characters from classical myth. Many superhero films are adapted from comic books and therefore incorporate strong visual elements with less attention given to complex characterisation and more to action. As the Marvel franchise can attest, such stories are as popular as were the myths and fairy tales of old and from this we can deduce that they resonate strongly with the unconscious. In the Jungian sense, they should be the perfect place to go looking for archetypes and, when we do so, it turns out that superhero films have something very interesting to tell us about a subject that has been at the centre of corona: masks.

I noted in my post on The Devouring Mother that there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to show that masks work to prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses. Numerous randomised control trials have found no effect of mask wearing. In the last year or so, we have conducted a mass experiment on the subject which has confirmed exactly what we already knew. Mandatory masking, wherever it has been implemented, had no noticeable affect case numbers at all. In fact, due to most governments deciding to make them mandatory during the northern hemisphere summer, masks appeared to cause case numbers to go up.

Most European and North American governments made masks mandatory around August which is the seasonal low point for respiratory viruses. No sooner were masks mandatory than case numbers started to rise and continued to rise in the march towards winter. Of course, this is just correlation and not causality but most of the “science” around corona has been correlation and not causality so why not let it cut both ways. The truth is, masks never had anything to do with the ‘science’. Within The Devouring Mother archetype, they are to do with dominance and submission. But, as we are about to find out, they are more than that. Superheroes love to wear masks. So do supervillains. But the masks they wear are very different and this difference reveals something about what masks symbolise in the unconscious.

As an exercise: picture in your mind a superhero; not any particular superhero, just a generic, run-of-the-mill, about to save the world kind of superhero. What is your superhero wearing? Chances are they are wearing a cape. The cape is the article of clothing most synonymous with superheroes, hence the facetious saying “not all heroes wear capes”. A pair of spandex tights probably comes in a close second. There is also a very good chance your superhero is wearing a mask but it won’t be the kind of mask people have been wearing in the last year. It will be a mask that wraps around the superhero’s eyes. Possibly one of the earliest examples of this kind of masked superhero was Zorro who appeared in 1919 but there have been countless others since then. We’ll see a few of them shortly.

One of the advantages of the eye-covering mask is that you can still show off your pearly whites.

This kind of mask is derived from the masquerade mask and the intent is to hide the character’s identity. The concept of the alter ego is another standard trope of superhero stories and the mask reinforces that trope. Just as the masquerade mask allows people to drop their normal personality and free themselves from social constrictions, so the superhero’s mask allows them to tap into their deeper strengths and, in doing so, perform amazing feats while not having to ruin their normal lives or risk being caught by the authorities.

The Green Lantern is one of innumerable comic book heroes to wear a mask over the eyes

Now let’s try the same exercise with a supervillain. Try to picture a stereotypical supervillain in your mind. Chances are this will not be such an easy exercise. Supervillains tend to come in different shapes and sizes and don’t fit an obvious pattern as much as superheroes. What most supervillains will have in common is an exaggeration of some part of their physical or non-physical characteristics. They might be way too big or way too small, they might have a huge head or a small head, huge eyes or small eyes. They might be super smart as in the evil genius or psychopathically lacking in empathy. Put simply, they are abnormal in some way.

In Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, George Miller creates a doppelvillain combining the very small with the very large. Note the mask/helmet on the latter.
The creators of teenage mutant ninja turtles would later use the same concept.

Supervillains can also wear masks but there is a crucial difference between the mask of the superhero and that of the supervillain. The supervillain’s mask is not meant to hide their identity, it is a crucial part of that identity. Supervillains are not acting as an alter ego, they are bad to the bone and the mask is a public demonstration of that fact. Sometimes, as in the case of Darth Vader and Immortan Joe, their mask is necessary for their very survival.

Let’s now have a look at some visual representations of the differences between the two kinds of mask. (To keep it symmetrical, I’ve included some heroes that don’t wear masks).

Superheroes

Supervillains

Max is masked when held prisoner…
…then symbolises his freedom by removing the mask
The Winter Soldier’s black mask would become the fashion accessory of the 2020 season. (Oh yeah, the character’s backstory is that he is brainwashed. Synchronicity much?)
Ok, not technically a superhero…
….but definitely a supervillain

It’s not the case that all supervillains wear masks over their mouths but it is the case that all characters in superhero stories who wear masks over their mouths are villains. I couldn’t find a single example where a hero character had their mouth covered. It can happen that a hero wears a full face mask, which technically does cover their mouth. Such characters fall into two main types.

What vexatious villainy visitates upon the avenger of the vanquished?

Firstly, there are the anti-heroes such as V in V for Vendetta. By definition, these are heroes who have something wrong with them. Though they act for good, they carry a fatal flaw within and the mask is a cover for that.

Secondly, there are shapeshifter characters such as Spiderman, The Hulk, Iron Man or The Mask. In these cases, the mask (whether alone or as part of a larger outfit) symbolises a complete transformation. The mask confers special powers on the character and they shapeshift out of their ordinary existence and into something else. Often it is part of the hero’s journey in such stories to learn to use their new powers wisely. These are just an extension of the alter ego trope and thus the full face mask is an extension of the eye mask and represents more strongly the fact that the hero has left their normal life and personality behind.

As one final bit of evidence, George Lucas designed Darth Vader’s helmet in Star Wars based on the masks and helmet traditionally worn by the samurai in Japan. Those masks were designed to protect the wearer while also instilling fear into an opponent in battle (just like we have had fear instilled into us in the last year by being surrounded by people wearing masks). Nevertheless, when Tom Cruise played a samurai (kind of) in the movie The Last Samurai, he went without the mask.

Note the traditional face mask of the samurai on the guy in the background.

These exceptions prove the rule. Masks covering the mouth are exclusively the domain of bad guys. On this subject, our culture (reflecting the unconscious mind) is quite unanimous: wearing a mask over your mouth signals there is something wrong with you; something to be feared.

Way back in part 9 of this series I noted how masks became tied in with a kind faux-heroism at the start of corona. People who were trying to convince others to wear masks would reference some sportsperson or sports team who were wearing masks and say something like “if they can do it while playing sports, you can do it while going to the supermarket.” I noted at the time that the tone of these calls was derogatory in nature. They didn’t call for real heroism but rather simply to fall in line and do what you were told. Re-analysed through the lens of The Devouring Mother archetype, such calls make perfect sense as emotional manipulation and a way for the acquiescent children to put the rebellious ones in their place. “If you’re one of us (the good guys, the heroes), you’ll wear a mask.” Of course, caving in to the mob is the opposite of what a real hero does. That was the first problem.

The second problem was that the wearing of a mask over the mouth has deep roots in our collective unconscious and simply asserting that it is now heroic or good to wear a mask doesn’t function at the lower levels of the psyche. Rory Sutherland, who I otherwise usually enjoy, made a valiant attempt to try and re-symbolise mask wearing as a kind of adventure we could all go on for a little while as if the mask was a fashion statement symbolising that you were a bad mofo out looking for trouble. The way to do this was to wear a cool hat and perhaps a bandana over your mouth instead of a proper mask. That way, at least you could look like you were about to rob a 7-11 and you would retain some outward appearance that you weren’t just conforming with the crowd. But that idea was never going to work. Archetypally speaking, the mask covering the mouth is reserved exclusively for the really bad guys not the cool, witty, fun-to-be-around, just-looking-for-a-bit-of-trouble bad guys. Any successful marketer, just like any successful writer of superheroes and supervillains, knows that their work must resonate in the unconscious and, as we have seen above, the unconscious is quite clear on the subject of masks that cover the mouth.

What the archetypes tell us is that covering the mouth symbolises badness, illness and wrongness. But that is exactly in keeping with the topic of the last post. In cases of Munchausen by Proxy, the mother feigns illness in her otherwise healthy child. The mask is the symbolic expression of that. With corona, we ‘quarantined’ healthy people in their homes and made healthy people wear masks. We treated healthy people as if they were sick and we dressed them appropriately. There is a logic to it but it is a logic that requires The Devouring Mother archetype to understand. “We are now sick until proven healthy,” has been one of the objections during corona and this is absolutely correct. The Devouring Mother wants you to think you are sick and that those around you are sick. That is the very definition of Munchausen by Proxy and that was always the point of the masks.

This also fills in another piece of the psychology we have seen on display during corona. I have already noted that the acquiescent children of The Devouring Mother are almost wholly concerned with dividing the world into the “good people” and the “bad people” (much like superhero films have good guys and bad guys. Another synchronicity?). During corona, being a ‘good person’ meant wearing a mask over your mouth. The problem with that is that wearing a mask over the mouth is the domain of bad guys (in the collective unconscious). Why would the people trying to be ‘good people’ want to dress like bad guys? This apparent paradox is resolved once we incorporate the Munchausen by Proxy concept. Within the Munchausen by Proxy frame, being a ‘good child’ is synonymous with either being sick or feigning sickness. That is what the mother wants and what the child learns to want. When applied to corona, the desire to wear a mask is the desire to please the mother by feigning sickness. At the same time, the mask mandate is a way to punish the rebellious children and force them to conform by also symbolically feigning illness. This desire to please the mother by willingly playing the game of faking illness corresponds to real life. In real world cases of Munchausen by Proxy, psychiatrists have noted that the child can learn to desire the attention they get from The Devouring Mother when pretending to be sick. Hence the enthusiasm for masks on the part of the acquiescent True Believers during corona.

As one final side note on this, I have already mentioned in this series a fascinating conversation I once had with an Indian doctor who had emigrated to Australia. I asked her what was the main difference she noted and she said “in India, my patients were actually sick.” She estimated about half of her patients in Australia didn’t have anything physically wrong with them but that their problems were “in their head”. This is Munchausen by Proxy at the social level. The medical industry has metastasised in the last several decades largely on the back of exactly this psychology. The psychology of The Devouring Mother.

All posts in this series:-

The Coronapocalypse Part 0: Why you shouldn’t listen to a word I say (maybe)

The Coronapocalypse Part 1: The Madness of Crowds in the Age of the Internet

The Coronapocalypse Part 2: An Epidemic of Testing

The Coronapocalypse Part 3: The Panic Principle

The Coronapocalypse Part 4: The Denial of Death

The Coronapocalypse Part 5: Cargo Cult Science

The Coronapocalypse Part 6: The Economics of Pandemic

The Coronapocalypse Part 7: There’s Nothing Novel under the Sun

The Coronapocalypse Part 8: Germ Theory and Its Discontents

The Coronapocalypse Part 9: Heroism in the Time of Corona

The Coronapocalypse Part 10: The Story of Pandemic

The Coronapocalypse Part 11: Beyond Heroic Materialism

The Coronapocalypse Part 12: The End of the Story (or is it?)

The Coronapocalypse Part 13: The Book

The Coronapocalypse Part 14: Automation Ideology

The Coronapocalypse Part 15: The True Believers

The Coronapocalypse Part 16: Dude, where’s my economy?

The Coronapocalypse Part 17: Dropping the c-word (conspiracy)

The Coronapocalypse Part 18: Effects and Side Effects

The Coronapocalypse Part 19: Government and Mass Hysteria

The Coronapocalypse Part 20: The Neverending Story

The Coronapocalypse Part 21: Kafkaesque Much?

The Coronapocalypse Part 22: The Trauma of Bullshit Jobs

The Coronapocalypse Part 23: Acts of Nature

The Coronapocalypse Part 24: The Dangers of Prediction

The Coronapocalypse Part 25: It’s just semantics, mate

The Coronapocalypse Part 26: The Devouring Mother

The Coronapocalypse Part 27: Munchausen by Proxy

The Coronapocalypse Part 28: The Archetypal Mask

The Coronapocalypse Part 29: A Philosophical Interlude

The Coronapocalypse Part 30: The Rebellious Children

The Coronapocalypse Part 31: How Dare You!

The Coronapocalypse Part 32: Book Announcement

The Coronapocalypse Part 33: Everything free except freedom

The Coronapocalypse Part 34: Into the Twilight Zone

The Coronapocalypse Part 35: The Land of the Unfree and the Home of the Safe

The Coronapocalypse Part 36: The Devouring Mother Book Now Available

The Coronapocalypse Part 37: Finale

47 thoughts on “The Coronapocalypse Part 28: The Archetypal Mask”

  1. It’s occurred to me while reading the last few posts that the entire cult of expertise, which dates back decades, is a reflection of the Devouring Mother: don’t think for yourself, don’t manage your own life, but do what you’re told. If this is the case, then Covid is just the logical conclusion of that process taken to its most extreme form. Which raises an obvious question: why did the Devouring Mother archetype, after growing steadily for decades, suddenly metastasize so drastically in 2020?

    I think that figuring that out would help explain exactly what happened, and hopefully, reveal what can be done to reduce the damage it causes, even if only on a personal level.

  2. Mollari – It’s not a coincidence (it’s a synchronicity) that it happened in the final year of the Trump presidency and following closely on from Brexit. That fits the pattern of the acquiescent children fighting back against the rebellious children.

    Anonymous – too funny. If ever I need to prove that politics has become a secular religion, that will be my exhibit A.

  3. Re: masks

    If you’re looking for a particularly fine example of mask absurdity, the Czech Philharmonic has generously provided one for you:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWmmWIkIzLI

    I’m not sure what to make of that archetypically. In any case, if you manage to properly listen (I couldn’t: I was too busy laughing at them), let me know if the music’s any good.

    In other news: YouTube just took down Bret Weinstein’s interview with Pierre Kory (the ivermectin doctor) and gave the channel a warning. Mommy cannot have the children get well, now can she?

  4. Irena – that gives me an idea for a post-apocalyptic story: the last group of musicians who know how to form an orchestra huddle around a fire on a cold, dark European winter’s night and play Mozart’s Requiem one last time before throwing their instruments into the fire.

    No surprises about Weinstein. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we slipped into full blown censorship and nobody seems to care?

  5. Hi Simon,

    I came across a link to your blog on Ecosophiq, I think you posted it yourself. Oh my god, this is so good!

    I devoured (haha) the whole series over the last few days and you brought a whole new (for me) perspective on the whole shebang – and I read a LOT about it in the last 16 months. I read some Jung as well but didn’t connect the dots.

    This series, especially the last few posts, really shine light on the fact that people were _screaming_ to be dominated. This is not mainly a matter of evil politicians/billionaires/doctors tyrannizing a civilization, it’s a whole civilization terrorizing _itself_.

    The funny thing looking back is how long this has been going on but affecting fewer people. For instance, you might want to look into the science about bike helmets – few people wonder why they don a flimsy plastic contraption for bicycling when nothing points to it being a particularly dangerous activity nor helmets helping particularly well when getting into one of the rare (compared to the number of trips made) accidents.

    The shaming and guilt-tripping about bike helmets, however, rivalled that about masks in many countries.

    As for those masks: I detest them and actually got a doctor’s note that I’m excused for not wearing one. However, I will still put one on on most occasions because I really do not want to paint a.target on myself when an archetype is in full force. That seems to be like a kamikaze mission.

    I’ll bide my time until winds change – they always do. What’s your strategy?

    Best from Germany,

    Bendith Fawr

  6. Hi Bendith,

    That’s an interesting point about the bike helmets. Are they mandatory in Germany now? When I was there (about 2004) they weren’t. In fact, I had one of my better bike accidents in Berlin riding home at 3am in the morning and getting tangled up in a tram line. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the jugs of hefeweizen I had been drinking 😉

    Yes, I distinctly remember our politicians saying in early Feb 2020 that we didn’t need to lockdown and that we knew how to handle this kind of thing. But the public, through the media, were demanding action. We have trained our politicians to be Devouring Mothers and, except in Texas, Florida, Sweden etc., they seem to be enjoying the job.

    In most of Australia, masks are not mandatory as we don’t have any cases here. Not sure if you know but we ‘beat the virus’ down under. Except that we have to lockdown our cities any time there’s a ‘case’. Here in Melbourne we are in lockdown number four over a handful of cases. That’s the price we have to pay for our ‘safety’. What’s the latest from Germany? I saw that at the French Open tennis they didn’t allow spectators at night time. Is the ‘science’ showing that the virus only spreads at night now? I might have missed that peer reviewed paper.

  7. Irena,

    Thank you for that. I haven’t laughed so hard in weeks; that was truly something!

    On the topic of helmets, I’ve always found it interesting that they are pushed so heavily, especially given that they have some serious drawbacks: the loss of peripheral vision for the standard bike helmets available in Canada is a safety issue, in my opinion.

    I’ve also taken to asking people something, which has revealed something quite interesting around bike safety: given that around 4 times as many people die in car crashes, and many, many more are injured that bike and motorcycle accidents combined, why does the law require helmets when people use bikes, motorcycles, but not cars?

    No one has given me a good answer: most people can’t even give coherent answers. Whenever a simple question gets incoherent spluttering that tells me that there’s something deep and non-rational going on; and in this case, I suspect that it’s the inconvenience associated with the helmets as a way to discourage people from not driving.

    If you drive, after all, you are dependent on the machines, on Mommy. If you bike everywhere, you’re using your own power to get around, have more options than drivers stuck on the roads, and keeping fit, and Mommy can’t have her children doing that.

  8. @Mollari

    You’re very welcome. 🙂 They were quite something, weren’t they?

    @Simon

    One thing that’s been on my mind for a while now is this: what kind of culture finds it sensible to deprive its children of normal developmental opportunities (for over a year now!) for the sake of reducing the odds of its elders contracting a virus that may possibly kill them? Surely, it’s a culture that does not believe in its own future. Actually, I agree with the culture: it does not have a future. Not in anything like its current form, anyway. (Though I wouldn’t dare guess how exactly it’ll explode or perhaps wither away.) Is there an archetype for that? Does that also go under the Devouring Mother?

  9. In NJ, where mask mandates have been lifted for everyone, but are still “recommended” for people who are not vaccinated, and businesses are allowed to require masks for everyone. I’ve been watching the direction of mask wearing with interest.

    Some people are still voluntarily wearing them outside (as well as inside), and I still occasionally see someone wearing a mask alone in a car. Some businesses have taken down all the mask signs, and it’s do as you will (with a resulting mix of masked and unmasked). Some are still mandating masks for everyone, and some people seem very happy; I recently overheard one masked person telling a masked employee how happy she was that the store in question was still mandating them for everyone. Other establishments are lying, with signs that say that masks are required for unvaccinated people, and that you must wear a mask if you are unvaccinated; this is simply untrue, as “recommended” does not equal “required” by any stretch of the imagination (but obviously, why start worrying about the truth now, right?).

    I also know quite a few people who are still wearing masks in some situations out of what they deem “politeness” – they wait and see what others do, and if the person they are interacting with is masked, then they don a mask, but if not, then the mask stays in their pocket or around their chin. So there is a “being polite” mirroring-others’-behavior thing going on as well.

    I’m no psychiatrist, but I can’t help but wonder how individual psychology interacts with the archetypes. Are the people choosing masking embracing an idea that there is something wrong with them, some “illness” or some “badness” that needs to be “silenced” that makes them yearn for the mask, out of some deep-seated, unconscious need? (When asked, some people say they are just “more comfortable” in a mask, or that they’ve “gotten used to it” – what does that say?) Is it driven only by whipped-up fear, or is something else going on, some sort of self-punishment? Or is it pure virtue-signalling – look at me, I am one of the good and obedient children, I’m vaccinated but I wear my mask (muzzle myself) to protect others (including the naughty unvaxxed!), please see me and praise me for my responsibility towards others, my abnegation to science? See how good I am?! Or could it be the beginning of embracing being a villain without realizing it – I will muzzle myself (because I am good!), and we will know who is bad, for they will be unmasked, and maybe we can shun and punish them, for the greater good, of course! (What is that saying – that people find nothing more delicious than to be given permission to hate others out of virtue? Most villains don’t think their villains, after all!)

    For the polite do-as-others-do ones, it may be nothing more than a conscious desire to go along to get along – I will do as you do, mask or unmask, so that we can be the same, because I don’t like to rock the boat or offend people. That seems a bit less buried in the unconscious to me – most of the people I’ve spoken to who “mirror-mask” seem to be aware that’s what they’re doing. Although I can see how this might become a slippery slope.

  10. Simon,

    a, the classic Hefeweizen + Berlin tram tracks story! A friend broke his clavicle with that combination.

    Bike helmets aren’t mandatory but pushed heavily by the “good people”. If you want to get some good old-fashioned guilt-tripping going, let your kids ride without.

    As to masks: they’re mandatory for everybody six years and up pretty much anywhere in public, trains, buses, shops, schools, most offices, etc. It’s frankly bizarre since even believing the official justification (” incidence rates”), there’s no reason for them anymore. But since it’s a magical item – just like the bike helmets that reduce accidents by, I don’t know, magically keeping bicyclists upright – I don’t bother arguing. Faith and reason are different spheres, after all.

    Mollari,

    that’s a great point. Anywhere you encounter incoherent spluttering, there’s cognitive dissonance afoot. Riding a vehicle that kills and maims as a matter of course and within regular operation feels wrong but that’s something few of us can admit without mental gymnastics.

    Same thing with masks: they’re worse than useless so the good people have to scream at anyone questioning their efficacy. Anything not to hear the doubting voice in their own minds.

  11. Irena – The treatment of children was the one thing I found utterly inexplicable throughout all this but The Devouring Mother archetype explains it very concisely. There is no ‘future’ in the house of The Devouring Mother either. Instead, you are in a never-ending co-dependency relationship and that’s what the mother wants. The ‘save the old people’ line was just an emotional manipulation towards that end. Given the age of the people dying ‘from’ or ‘with’ covid is the average life expectancy, that line never made logical sense but it does make psychological sense within The Devouring Mother archetype.

    El – one of the things The Devouring Mother archetype implies is that confusion is desired because it makes control easier. There’s an awful lot of confusion going on in the US now because masks have become a proxy symbol of vaccination status but nobody knows how effective the vaccine is. So, now you have a symbol (the mask) which may or may not accurately symbolise vaccination status for a vaccine which may or may not work to prevent infection of an ‘illness’ (covid) where half the people who test positive don’t even have symptoms. Of course, it’s gone well beyond a health issue now. Sounds like people are deciding whether to mask or not based entirely on how the other person will feel about it. Are they a True Believer? If so, it’ll be easier to wear the mask to keep them happy. So, put your mask on and back away from the crazy person.

    Bendith – I just realised an interesting parallel with the bike helmets. In Germany, it was a pleasure to ride a bike around. There are good tracks to ride on, drivers keep a respectful distance and bike riders ride with a relaxed pace. I never felt in danger riding a bike there and not having to wear a helmet made riding more pleasurable. In Australia, helmets are mandatory (we are a Nanny State here after all). And in Australia, bike riders are crazy. They ride as fast as possible and take absurd risks. I used to ride home from work on a very heavily trafficked bike track and it was terrifying after dark as the track was not very well lit. Nowhere else in the world have I felt so at risk riding a bike as on that track. But everybody had a helmet on so it must have been safe!

  12. g’day mate,

    it has been blindingly obvious that masks are purely symbolical, but this is certainly a very original way of connecting the dots. Don’t think anybody else noticed that, but it makes sense in the context of the Devouring Mother. This series of essays is most impressive. By far the best explanation of the last 18 months that I have come across. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
    About cyclists in OZ, I wholeheartedly agree. Aussies seem to have a problem with taking it easy and it shows when they hop on a bike. Interestingly, Australians have a reputation of being relaxed and easygoing, but the product is different from the brand. And while the natural habitat of the mad cyclist may be Melbourne, we do get them up here as well. Fat middle aged blokes dressed like they are part of the Italian cycling team. Not a pretty sight, but has a certain entertainment value. Ebikes are not helping

    @Irena thanks for that link. As a piss take this would be first rate, but I am afraid these guys were serious.
    “Surely, it’s a culture that does not believe in its own future. ” This makes a lot of sense and might be at the core of the problem. Ties in with what Spengler had to say a 100 years ago. Civilisations have a lifecycle, they are born, they peak, then they age and die. Maybe a lot of people can feel that on some not quite conscious level.

  13. Roland – it might amuse you to know that there’s a political party in Australia called “The Scientists and Cyclists Party”. Or, as I like to call them, “The Frustrated Atheists Who Aren’t Getting Enough Sex Party”.

  14. Back at the height of hysteria last year, a friend shared a meme encouraging us to emulate Darth Vader, no less. You know, a name that became almost a metaphor for someone selling out and now relentlessly working for the man?

    The meme went something like, “Darth Vader never sees his kids and always wears a mask, be like Darth Vader!”. Well, other than the fact you mentioned in your post that people do not want to think of themselves as the villains, another problem with the Darth Vader metaphor is that despite his social distancing and mask wearing, he is constantly on a ventilator!

  15. Bakbook – That’s incredible. Not only does Darth Vader not see his children (why is that a good thing?), he spends a great deal of time and energy trying to kill them! And, what’s more synchronistic for The Devouring Mother Archetype, Vader’s children are the “rebels”.

  16. Simon, you’re right, this isn’t about saving the elderly. It’s about saving the institutions and maintaining legitimacy. They used to be more honest about it. Britain’s mantra was “save the NHS,” and it was similar in other countries. They don’t mention that anymore, or at least not very often. And no-one seems to care that dementia deaths are rising (now that the elderly have been deprived of socialization and physical activity): that doesn’t clog the hospitals, you see, and therefore doesn’t threaten the institutions. Maybe that’s the Devouring Mother, or maybe the Tyrannical Father. Or perhaps it’s a marriage between these two fine figures.

    BTW, have you seen this article (by Alex Kaschuta)?

    https://alexkaschuta.substack.com/p/lockdown-is-here-to-stay

    She argues/laments that we’ll be stuck with some version of lockdown for the years to come. The whole thing is very good, but here’s one relevant quote:

    “The issue is that once a policy has been enacted (after the moral fervor, the scrambling, and the first domino), it is almost impossible to dislodge, as it is probably doing some good. There is no single person in the system who is incentivized to roll back policies like this, especially if the result could be an increase, however slight, in the case rate or other visible measures.”

    And here’s a fine piece of unintentional comedy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCaSZP1siSQ

    A (presumably retired) doctor argues that lockdowns should continue indefinitely. Don’t laugh at him too much: I think the poor chap is senile. The problem is that plenty of seemingly non-senile people in leadership positions seem to agree with him.

  17. Re: helmets

    There’s actually a perfectly coherent rationale for mandating helmets. While it may be true that many more people suffer head trauma in cars (as drivers or passengers) than on bikes, it’s also true that many more people travel in cars than ride bikes. So, the probability of winding up with head trauma subject to riding a bike is higher than the probability of the same thing happening subject to travelling by car. (For a somewhat extreme analogy, consider this: many more people drown in swimming pools than drown while trying to swim across the English Channel, but if you try to swim across the English Channel, your odds of drowning will be much higher than if you just splashed around in a swimming pool.)

    Coherent and correct are different things, though, because of (drum roll please) the law of unintended consequences. As I understand it, as soon as you start mandating helmets for cyclists, the number of cyclists goes down. And as the number of cyclists goes down, drivers stop looking out for them, which makes cycling more dangerous. (Also, all those people who would have been cycling are now traveling by car, which means less exercise, which means hello diabetes for a number of them.) I actually experienced something like this myself. I don’t cycle, but I do walk a lot. As it happens, about a decade ago, I spent a year or so in a certain American Midwestern city that was very obviously built for cars. Very few pedestrians. I was very careful about crossing the street: only on crosswalks, and I always waited for the lights. Even so, I nearly got run over on quite a few occasions. You should have seen the expression on the drivers’ faces. They saw a pedestrian, and they looked like they’d just seen the Yeti. It’s dangerous to be a pedestrian in a city that has few pedestrians, and I can only imagine it’s the same with cyclists.

  18. Irena – I saw that video a couple of days ago. Had to turn it off when he said “viruses are such clever organisms…”. Viruses are not clever and they are not organisms, so he clearly has no idea what he’s on about. I’m not sure the comedy there was unintentional. Pretty sure he was brought on the program to be ridiculed much like the MSM would bring on somebody to talk about 5G so their viewers could ridicule the person.

    My guess is that Europe, Australia and Canada will be in and out of lockdown for years. I’m not so sure about the US. That will be an interesting one to watch in the coming northern winter.

    I have the exact opposite pedestrian story to yours but which proves the same point. When I was in India on holiday I was terrified to cross the road because there was an endless stream of traffic, no traffic lights and seemingly no road rules. I started to despair thinking I would be stuck there all day until I learned that the way to do it is just to cross. You don’t even look at the cars. You just walk. They will see you and go around you or slow down for you. I never did get comfortable with the idea and always kept a look out of the corner of my eye but that’s the way to do it. Ironically, I was safer crossing into an endless stream of traffic with essentially no road rules than you were at the traffic lights with all the rules on your side.

  19. Very interesting. Can you recommend a good source for reading about the archetypes? The face mask as a symbol of a villain makes sense. I remember when masks first started to be required, I started making one with embroidered skulls and crossbones, and I remember a friend of mine wearing a hooded cloak with his mask that gave him a spooky look too. It seemed like a way to have fun with things, cosplaying a villain. We both dropped that pretty quickly though. Everyone was so scared anyway that I decided it wasn’t a good idea do anything that might scare them further.

    In news from Vermont, USA, all state-level covid restrictions were dropped yesterday as we crossed the 80% vaccination threshold. The state of emergency ends today, in spite of the protests of many organizations worried that it means an end to all the money that has been flowing. Local news sites are removing their “COVID trackers” and it seems like the whole thing has become slightly taboo to talk about…like there is a bit of a wince whenever someone mentions the pandemic in a group conversation. Maybe its my imagination.

    It seems like this story is ending, but is the Devouring Mother gone? Or is this just a pause before the next hysteria?

  20. Irena,

    That’s a valid point about frequency of trips. The fascinating thing about it is that out of the dozen or so people I’ve asked, not one has mentioned it yet. That’s what’s telling me something weird is going on: it’s not that there isn’t a coherent argument, but that people are not making it.

    As for your experiences as a pedestrian in a Midwestern city, I’ve had similar: there are certain cities I’ve been in that are just not designed for pedestrians at all, and it’s amazing how much worse it is because people there simply are not used to pedestrians at all. Which of course makes pedestrian traffic less common, and thus even more dangerous…..

  21. Alex – Thanks for the update. Seems to me watching from a distance that the US could be out of this soon. Meanwhile Australia, Canada and Europe seem set to keep it going indefinitely. Next winter will be the test. The virus is now endemic so ‘cases’ are always going to spike in winter. Once we get through a winter where nobody cares anymore, it will be over.

    As for the archetypes, I think there’s a book with Jung’s collected essays on the subject. I recently began reading Jung’s Red Book which has really made things click for me. He doesn’t explicitly talk about archetypes, but he goes through a seems of dreams/active imagination where he encounters them and then interprets their meaning.

  22. Hey mate,

    Irena’s link is actually well worth listening to.
    The guy really seems to embody the madness of the last 18 months. No clue, no arguments, a lot of assumptions, very narrow view, just emotions, still obviously aware at some level that there is something not quite right. He is infuriating, but you still cannot help feeling sorry for him.
    A lot of non sequiturs but the occasional brief contact with reality, in particular this one around 9:40
    “I don’t know how to get myself out of the position I’ve talked myself into now”
    Seems to me this line is, in a nutshell, the position of a lot of people at the moment.

    He is obviously somewhat senile, but I wonder if this guy is also under the influence of another archetype. Is there one for having painted yourself into a corner in the dumbest possible way, and trying very hard to save face?
    Saul Bellow: ““A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”
    If there is no such archetype, can we have one? Can we call it “The total fuckwit”?

  23. Roland – maybe. But I tend to follow the old saying: “Argue with a fool and soon nobody can tell the difference.”

  24. Of course it is pointless to argue with him. He would not be able to understand your position, but the interview is an interesting insight into the mind of one of the Covidian Witnesses.
    From a safe distance.

  25. @Roland

    Thanks. 🙂 When the world goes mad, a senile person may just be the one to most clearly articulate the dominant mood.

    This archetype stuff is interesting, but I still find myself going back to the WWI analogy. It’s easy enough to get yourself into a completely pointless war. Extricating yourself from it is another matter entirely.

  26. Mollari: “That’s a valid point about frequency of trips. The fascinating thing about it is that out of the dozen or so people I’ve asked, not one has mentioned it yet. That’s what’s telling me something weird is going on: it’s not that there isn’t a coherent argument, but that people are not making it.”

    Interesting. Perhaps the people you talked to perceive cyclists as weirdos to be tolerated out of necessity, and so if helmet mandates reduce the number of cyclists, then so much the better. It’s possible they’re not consciously aware of the sentiment.

  27. “…I still find myself going back to the WWI analogy. It’s easy enough to get yourself into a completely pointless war. Extricating yourself from it is another matter entirely.”

    For what it’s worth, I recently got a message urging vaccination that said, quote, “we are in a world war against covid”, before going on to say that it was imperative to take the vaccine for the sake of “mankind”.

    I suspect that part of what’s going on (among many other things) is that some people are enjoying play acting a “World War” drama. Similar to the way children will play games where they pretend to be soldiers fighting in a war (or at least, like they used to do when I was a kid), only now it’s adults playing a “let’s pretend we’re soldiers at war!” game, telling themselves that they’re “doing their part” for “mankind” in this “world war” against a virus. For whatever reason, the participation in this little drama game seems to appeal to certain people – I suspect mainly the privileged and bored, who have never suffered any real hardship in their lives. It’s like they yearn for something – a sense of excitement or importance, perhaps, like they see in the movies and tv – but of course they don’t actually want to face any real danger or hardship. But those ideas, and the sanitized cultural memory of the two 20th century world wars, are still out there, waiting to be re-activated. By staying home, wearing a mask, getting their jabs, and admonishing others to do the same, all while talking about being at “war” and using the war language, they get some play-acted sense of excitement and importance without any real inconvenience to themselves (they don’t bother to think about others, of course). Talking to these people can feel like talking to small children, who still struggle with the distinction between fantasy and reality. And unlike children, they don’t grow up. They’ve decided to go with the World War fantasy game, so that’s the game we’re all stuck in.

  28. Is there a way I can subscribe to your posts so I don’t miss them? Your analysis of corona hysteria is spot on!

  29. El – excellent point. Of course, the general public also wanted WW1 to happen. Young men eagerly signed up to go to the war and the people would come into the street to cheer them on. The soldiers were also given free food and drink as they marched to the front. All of that was spontaneous, although egged on by the media and politicians. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The media can only ‘manipulate’ the masses where the masses want to be manipulated.

    Denis – thanks! If you use RSS, you should be able to add the site to whatever reader you are using. Otherwise, I aim for a new post about once a week so if you check back with that frequency you should find the new posts.

  30. I had to share this synchronicity I just saw in the media here in Israel. I also thought you may appreciate this as it ties nicely with your “propaganda school” series. As you may know, in Israel we are currently experiencing the replacement of Netanyahu, the exiting prime minister, with Bennet, after many years in power (I believe this is analogous with Thatcher in the UK).

    Have a look at this picture, published by Haaretz, the top left-leaning newspaper here (Netanyahu is associated with the political right). Look at who’s the only one with a mask. I think this speaks for itself. What I find curious is that the mask mandate in Israel was officially lifted on Tuesday, and the other PMs in the picture clearly don’t care about putting on a mask.

    https://img.haarets.co.il/img/1.9912915/2777037442.jpg?precrop=1495,869,x404,y353&height=351&width=604

  31. Bakbook – Nice pickup. The masks only work when everybody’s wearing them. Not a good look to be the only one.

    What ended up happening with the vaccine passport thing in Israel? I recall hearing they had been removed a few weeks ago? Is that true? Everybody can now go wherever they want vaccinated or unvaccinated?

  32. Simon – Yes, to my knowledge the vaccine passport is officially abolished – even for international travel.

    But even before the official government announcement there were many places willing to look the other way – many restaurants and bars did not bother to ask me about vaccination status for example. I remember one comical incident when I was sitting inside a coffee shop with no mask on, as were all other patrons, when a masked woman entered. She walked up to the waitress, and without being asked just shoved her smartphone with the passport up to her face. The waitress made a “good for you” face and gave her a table. I guess she wanted to show us she’s a good girl. That was before the official cancellation. Now I get to “officially” sit inside coffee shops and go into the university campus and stuff.

  33. And thinking more about it, I also suspect there is some sort of deep-seated desire to re-enact past glories, at least here in the US.

    In the US national myths include touch-points in the country’s big wars – the Revolution, Civil War (that’s a complicated one, with two competing myths), and the two World Wars. There are subconscious ideas buried in people’s minds that seem to get “activated” under certain circumstances. When Trump was in office, different factions of the country seemed to be role-playing different parts of the national mythology: Trump supporters seemed to think of themselves as re-enacting the American Revolution by “throwing off” a corrupt old guard and seeking increased “freedom” and sense of (re)new(ed) place-based national identity, while the anti-Trumpists seemed to imagine they were re-fighting the war against Nazisim, and play-acting “resisting” a German “occupation” (where Trump was “literally Hitler” and Clinton was a “president in exile”), etc. Now with the virus, they seem to be trying to act out a World War scenario in which “we are all in this together”. Normal people are the new “homefront”, making “sacrifices” and getting jabbed for the “greater good” of the “war effort” (with some of the privileged even taking up gardening and home baking for the first time, aping the “victory gardens” and rationed food stretching during a real war), while medical personnel and other “front line workers” (even the language of “front line”) were the “soldiers” in the “trenches” fighting the “invisible enemy”. Etc.

    I suspect this has to do with a culture in decline. Aging stars love to re-enact past glories, so likely a country that feels like things are in decline will want to re-play it’s past glories, whether it be its founding revolution myth, or the great myths of the 20th centuries world wars. (The Civil War mythology is also active in America, but I think right now you’re seeing that more in the competing factions of internal cultural politics.)

    Anyway, I find myself thinking about how we got out of the World War Story the last time, and obviously, that story, like the plague story, must, as you have observed, end properly. Given that you can’t really “defeat” a virus, that poses a problem, so….how do we know when we’ve “won”? How do we get the official surrender or the armistice signed and know the war is over? By vaccinating X percent of the population? But that’s not very dramatic. I feel like these live-action war-play gamers are going to demand something more exciting, some sort of 11th-hour-of-the-11th-day-of-the-11th-month touch point, followed by proper victory celebrations. But I cannot fathom what might fit that bill.

    Although they are already talking about memorials for the war dead, you know – I’ve been hearing talk of commemorations and memorial services for “the people who died of covid”!

  34. Bakbook – that’s good to hear. Any theory as to why Israel went down that path in the first place? I’m not sure there’s anywhere else in the world that has gone the internal vaccine passport route although I did see some footage from New York City where they were only allowing the vaccinated for certain events.

    El – in the US you have a few recent stories that didn’t end properly: the Vietnam War, Afghan war and second Iraq War. I expect that will be the pattern for corona too. They’ll just stop talking about it. The only question is how long will it take. The Australian response also mirrors history but in a different way to the US. Back at the end of WW1, the then Prime Minister returned and declared that Australia was now ‘safe’. Then, in WW2, Australia’s existence really was threatened by the Japanese and we got ‘saved’ by the US. So, our history, both in wartime and out of wartime has been a kind of existential problem of how to ensure the civilisation that was being built here could survive. In that sense, having leaders keep us ‘safe’ during corona has a strong historical precedence.

  35. Yeah, I was thinking about how the WWI-WWII mythologies contrasts with the recent wars.

    When you think about it, it is sort of amazing how the great, color-coded threat-level terrorism narrative that justified Iraq just somehow just went away, and most everyone seems to have just forgotten what all the fuss was about, and now nobody really talks about Iraq. Vietnam of course is now ancient history, and everyone stopped talking about that one a long time ago. Technically, Afghanistan is still ongoing, albeit with very low troop numbers, but nobody pays any attention to that anymore either.

    I do think that the propaganda playbooks for both the invasions and the lockdowns have all looked very similar, and from my perspective the response has been similar as well: in both cases (recent wars and virus) you had one side of the political fence (the right for the wars, the left for the virus) swallow the propaganda hook, line, and sinker, and seek to silence all dissenters. In both cases, you had some dissenters on the opposite side, who were mocked, bullied, and called names for questioning the narrative. But the wars and the virus just seem to have flipped the factions, with the same sort of drama playing out. And yes, it’s clear that people are eager to buy the narratives that the media and politicians provide, because they embrace the stories so zealously.

    I was on the anti-war side the last time, and I’m on the anti-lockdown side this time, and that is a combination of positions that in my experience is very, very rare. Almost everyone on the left who questioned the war narrative two decades ago has swallowed the covid narrative without question. The people who are now skeptical of the covid narrative are almost all people on the right, who supported the wars without question. I am not sure if I personally know a single person who has been against both the wars and the lockdowns – there may be a few in my most peripheral circle (e.g., I suspect that a woman I know just slightly through work might be one), but I have not one person close to me who questioned both narratives. The only thing that seems to change over the decades is which group of people (left or right) thinks I’m a crazy conspiracy theorist for suggesting that the official narrative is full of holes.

    But yes – how long will it take for covid to fade away is the question. Unless maybe some other big thing happens, which will re-direct attention. (The crash of 2008 seemed to re-direct people away from thinking about Iraq, even though US troops weren’t actually withdrawn until 2011, for example.)

  36. Simon – That is a great question, many Israelis were themselves surprised, we expected our (excellent) health system to quickly provide us with the option for vaccination, but without coercion. I will try answering your question.

    First, I believe the analysis you provided in this series of posts is spot on, and in Israel some of the factors you outlined are much more extreme. I could give you a rundown if you like, but I think in the spirit of your current series of posts I will try to give a psychological explanation, which will have a lot to do with themes you have already discussed, but also something I believe may be more specific to Israel’s collective unconscious, which may be the key to understand the Israelis’ uncharacteristic embrace of vaccination passports.

    I think a logical way to introduce this factor is to quote you in your post about the denial of death (part 4 in this series):

    “I also think we deny death because to ruminate on death is to question what
    you stand for in life and we no longer know what we stand for.”

    I’d like to continue off that thought if that’s ok. I believe Israeli society has, long before covid-19 appeared on the PCR screens, been undergoing a society – scale perversion. By perversion I mean the state one finds himself in when there is a misalignment between what one thinks he is, or ought to be, and what one does in practice.

    To make a long, and some would argue complicated, story short, Israel was established by Jewish idealists, the generation of my grandparents. Said idealism can be understood as a secularization of some biblical ideas, and was fairly well – intentioned.

    According to said idealism, Israel was not supposed to just be the national home of the Jewish people. Israelis were part of a bigger project, to build a country that will serve as a spiritual example to other nations. The idea is a lot like how many Americans see themselves as the example of how a free society ought to be like. Namely, Israel should be a society at peace with itself and its neighbors, with solidarity among each other, and Israelis should strive to solve problems such as illness and hunger and poverty.

    Anyone following current events know the peace thing did not pan out. While many nations were built through an independence war, said war is usually over, and the new nation is then accepted into the family of nations, even by the “parent” nation. The US fought a war of independence against the British, and yet today the US-UK relations are so good they have even fought side by side more than once, and Americans and Britons are clearly not at odds with one another. Israel’s independence war has in the other end lead to a seemingly endless chain of conflicts with multiple countries in the middle east.

    I believe Israelis are desiring a finite, neatly resolved war, which is why the desire here to end the story with the vaccine is that much stronger. I think you are right on point in your point that covid is being framed as a war – One of the common questions the “corona experts” are being asked over media interviews here is, “So, did we win the fight against covid?”. Our exiting prime minister, Netanyahu, even before the corona, tried to “finish a story”. He brokered a series of questionable treaties with various Arab countries, which he tried to frame as peace treaties. His rhetoric around them was that Israel is finally being accepted as a part of the greater middle east. I understand at least some of his enthusiasm around the vaccine as seeing an opportunity to be remembered as a leader who managed to resolve something to a satisfying conclusion. In order for the vaccine story to be effective, obviously you need to get many people to vaccinate, as such a thing was crucial to declaring victory though the vaccine.

    Now there is solidarity. Modern Israeli society has become hyper individualistic. Much of my generation is very secular, and unlike my grandparents’ and parents’ generation, is no longer knowledgeable of Jewish tradition, so importing ideas about individuality, consumerism and self-actualization from the US and the rest of the globalized world was the alternative.

    When covid broke out, it was almost like everyone finally found a way to show each other that yes, they mostly keep to their nice apartment in Tel Aviv and use the excess money from their confutable job in one of the many international tech corporations to fly to the third world to live like royalty for a week, but at the same time, isn’t it nice how everyone is wearing a mask to protect each other from the deadly virus? We as a society still care about each other! And we get to do it from our comfy apartments.

    Elsewhere in the west this is known as virtue signaling. In Israel, I believe this is more than that: It’s a desperate attempt to go back to our grandparents’ idealism of Israel. Shoving a vaccine to everyone, and having the entire world look at us as an example, is just a way to role – play what we were supposed to strive to be. Many people have taken it upon themselves to take an interest in my vaccination status, and let me know that the vaccine is provided to me totally free, and it’s super easy to get one, everyone can. What a utopia. But it was all done in a “we care about you” way.

    And now we get to perhaps the most convincing argument for society – wide perversion, and that is our treatment of the elderly, which is bad by itself, but there is a specific portion of the elderly which you’d think a Jewish state should have been making it its top priority to take care of – the Holocaust survivors.

    While Germany has paid a lot of money as a compensation for the holocaust, the Israeli government, rather than directly give the money to the survivors, has set up a bureaucracy to take care of said survivors. With a bureaucracy involved, I probably don’t have to tell you where most of the money actually went. As a result, many holocaust survivors today live in poverty. Taking the vaccination is seen by many as a way to protect the elderly, and in my opinion, in Israel it’s also taken as a way to remove some of the guilt.

    So, this is the theory I offer – the vaccine represents a way to Israelis to feel like we finally managed to resolve a war and bring peace, even if it is against the virus, show each other we still care about each other and provide a spiritual example for the world, even if in a very superficial way, and if I am right, perhaps relieve some of our collective guilt over the mistreatment of holocaust survivors. This may be what pushed us as a society go so far into the vaccine passport lunacy as we did, and I am very happy this nightmare is seemingly over.

    I am sorry this comment ended up being so long, and I hope you gained some insight. I’d like to say that I did not choose the quote from your post as a stepping stone to my long rant for no reason. I would like to take the opportunity to say I hope you will one day continue this line of thought as I think you have a lot to say about that yourself.

  37. El – Interesting. One of the differences I see between Australia and the US is that it seems to be very common in America to be explicitly a democrat or republican to the extent that you can’t possibly acknowledge that the other party might have a good idea now and again. Is that an accurate description? Things are a lot more fluid in Australia. There are the people who take party politics seriously but they are a minority. Most people would be happy to vote for either party if that party happened to offer them something worthwhile. This has led to a situation now where there is essentially no difference whatsoever between the two parties on fundamental issues and most elections are won and lost on the details. I used to think that was a good thing but with corona we have had seemingly unanimous support for the craziness. At least in the US the republican states have offered a genuine alternative.

    Bakbook – thanks for that fascinating perspective. Seems that the government in Israel was trying to finish The Plague Story ‘properly’ and maybe the dropping of all vaccination requirements now symbolises that. Even though I have strong concerns about the ‘vaccine’, I think that is still the best way out of this. Allow whoever wants it to take it and then declare that it’s over. DeSantis in Florida has played the same game and so have some other republican governors. Meanwhile, in Australia, our government has repeatedly refused to say what the end game is and our health minister even stated that if everybody was vaccinated it wouldn’t necessarily be over! So, we are stuck in limbo here.

    I am pondering a post on the question of meaning. Seems to me that we are still stuck in the rut that Nietzsche described where we have a choice between nihilism and statism. That is, our hyper individualism and extremist materialism leads to nihilism and people turn to politics to find meaning. In that sense, your description of the decline of religion in Israel would fit the pattern quite nicely. Was there a difference of opinion about corona in Israel between the strongly religious and the irreligious?

  38. “….it seems to be very common in America to be explicitly a democrat or republican to the extent that you can’t possibly acknowledge that the other party might have a good idea now and again. Is that an accurate description?”

    Yes and no.

    It’s not inaccurate, in so far that no, it’s not uncommon, and yes, a lot of people are very tribal in their political identity, can’t acknowledge that the other party has any ideas of any merit at all, that is absolutely true. But not everyone “belongs” to a tribe, and there are certainly no small number of people who just hate both parties and all politics. And then there are also at least some people self-identify as “independents” and “moderates” and switch their votes up – they’re the elusive “swing voters” to whome politicians are always trying to appeal – but they’re not as numerous or as vocal as the more partisan types.

    The “swing voter” demographic aside, it seems like the majority of people who take an active interest in politics generally are very tribal in their political identity, and people who don’t, aren’t. But sometimes I wonder which way it works – do people who are interested in politics become rabidly partisan because of the way the two-party system works, or do people who are looking to belong to a “tribe” of some sort gravitate towards rabid identification with a political tribe? I don’t have the answer, it’s just something I wonder about.

  39. @Bakbook
    Interesting. Reading your post something clicked. In most of the western world, the babyboomers and following generations had no great task or vision and if they ever had any ideals, they sold out quicker than you can say neoliberalism. This would have left a dark stain on our collective unconscious.
    Covid brings their chance to be heroes the way they do it best. From the comfort of their lounge room by looking at a screen at no risk whatsoever.
    The whole thing is certainly multi factorial, but this might contribute to the unwillingness to let go.
    And yes, i remember the idealism in Israel from the time i was working as a volunteer in a kibbutz in the 80s.
    I was only in my late teens and far more interested in Israeli girls then in society and history, but even i noticed that.

  40. El – my guess is that rabid partisanship is an escape from nihilism. That’s why modern politics has become a quasi-religion for some people. I think if you analysed the way people talk about the ‘other’ party and compared it to the way people used to talk about the ‘other’ denomination (eg. catholic vs protestant), you’d find the language almost identical.

  41. Simon – I agree, the vaccine allows the immunocompromised and the over worried crowd to feel comfortable to get out of the house, which is great. In Israel people are currently feeling like there is justification to end the rules, and as we all know, the psychological aspect is important here.

    I hope things will sort themselves in Australia as well. If it is any comfort, in Israel there were also a lot of voices saying vaccination was not enough, but from what I am seeing, as soon as people got back to seeing the sun and get their lives back, those worries take a back seat to more pressing matters. I hope the same pattern will repeat in Australia.

    Roland – I think this certainly plays a part. Did you notice how little in the way of actual activity most of us engage with the public sphere? For most, it comes down to voting once every around 4 years. Some even skip that. Perhaps the opportunity to feel like one is doing something, even when that thing is literally doing nothing, was alluring to some? Maybe this calls for a greater conversation in the west which will rethink the “citizen – consumer” model.

    I am also curious if you remember the name of the Kibbutz you volunteered at? Or maybe where was it located in Israel? I hope you found the experience valuable, even if it was for the girls (-:

  42. Simon, Re: Religion and Corona in Israel.

    That is a great question. I am afraid as a secular Jew with very few religious contacts I lack a lot of perspective, but I will try to give you the picture I pieced together.

    The religious population that acted the most significantly different are the Haredim, who in a few words resemble the Amish in the US. They seemed to try to do things like they have always done. I think they are an excellent evidence to the theory that the existence of the internet and abundant digital entertainment essentially enabled the lockdown – in the past we all lived in tight knit communities where the entertainment largely came from our relationships with our neighbors, making a lockdown impractical.

    The more mainstream religious Jews, who practice religion not unlike the Christians in most of the west, I think acted more or less identically to the seculars, but the main difference is that many in my town have taken to have services in the street as the Synagogue was shut down. This willingness to take the perceived risk, either of the virus or a policeman, for a greater purpose was not something I have seen in many secular Jews.

  43. @Bakbook
    The kibbutz was Rosh Hanikra just on the northern border. And it was a great experience. One of the best times of my life.
    I heard that the Kibbutzim have changed a lot in the last decades, but back then the original ideal was still quite strong.
    And i think you are spot on again about the citzen – consumer concept. Of course we are consumers, but it is not all we are. Not even the most important part.

  44. Hi Simon,

    The mask actually creep me out and I appreciate your analysis and insights. On the other hand, if I don’t want to become a non-person I wear them and put on a happy facade. Hmm. We went into the city the other night. Hmm. That devouring mother might yet consume everything is she’s none to circumspect.

    Did you hear about the special rules applied to the skiers?

    Cheers

    Chris

  45. Chris – It’s a good thing we don’t care about the economy any more, isn’t it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.