The writing’s on the wall: COVID is a totalist cult with righteous followers who are impervious to evidence
In his Master’s thesis “Hope Wanted: Wall Writing Protests in Times of Economic Crisis in Athens“, Georgios Stampoulidis presents a photo of a graffiti on Athens’ Sina Street reading “Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear”. This play on the words of the standard holiday greeting became a symbol for the street protests in conjunction with the 2008 economic crisis and its political fallout, as it primarily affected southern Europe. In the context of the 2020 corona crisis, this aphorism is so spot on that I can’t skip writing about it.
The idea of looking at this crisis as “The Covidian Cult” was introduced to me in playwright C.J. Hopkins’ essay on the Consent Factory blog, via German philosopher and author Gunnar Kaiser’s video “It’s a Cult“. Hopkins describes fear (based on dramatic but fake news media images and erroneous predictive models) as the initiation to the Covidian Cult, which has perpetuated itself as a “global totalitarian movement” with an ideology unaffected by new scientific findings of pre-existing human immunity, milder impact, and well-known prevention and treatment options for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
Kaiser further explains the concept of totalism, proposed by psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton, as the characteristic of ideologies that aim for total control of human thought, speech, and behaviour. The tool used to exert this control is fear, which includes the denial of death and the rejection of any external changes to the system’s world view. This fear often translates into violent oppression of dissenting views. If you have observed, or perhaps even experienced, the reactions of Covidians to dissenting views on social media or among your family and friends, you can relate.
“Merry Crisis and a Happy New Fear” then can be read as the wish of a Covidian who is deeply invested in the crisis and dwells in fears. New fears emerge constantly and are being amplified by uncritical journalists, with reports of #LongCovid, overloaded hospitals and crematories, and, most recently, a mutant strain of SARS-CoV-2. Meanwhile long-term health impacts from respiratory diseases are well known, hospitals and crematories in some localities reach their capacity limits regularly during flu season, and virus mutations … well, they happen and should be monitored I guess.
However, the righteous followers of “The Cult of COVID” are, as Michael Tennant put it in The New American, “impervious to evidence” and unwilling to consider the good old “keep calm and carry on” — a motivational slogan created to boost British morale in times of actual crisis. For an even more scathing verdict, have a look at psychoanalyst Bruce Scott’s “Brave New Normal: Turning The World Into A Covid-Cult“.
Speaking of christmas wishes, I have been designing holiday greeting cards for a number of years. This year’s instance is based on data from Ontario’s provincial digital elevation model. I had previously identified an area to the west of Lake Superior in Minnesota near the Canadian border to create the greyscale “The Black Forest” design for the Blue Crow Gallery summer group show 2020 here in Toronto. For the card, I turned the “trees” green and the “sky” red. An ominous blood-red background seemed an appropriate metaphor for the lapsing year 2020. Let’s hope that humanity will soon find its grounding again, and the green can subdue the red. With that, I wish my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!