Democracy and despotism in a digital age.
I spent yesterday crying at Whole Foods, my helpless tears filling my ski goggles (won’t be skiing any time soon) and rolling down the sides of my p100 mask. The country I grew up thinking was so majestic, so impervious to damage, has become an empty, post-apocalyptic husk of itself. Chinese bat AIDS may not be our final death blow, but it certainly reveals the ugly weaknesses we hid from ourselves for so long.
Thirty days of lockdown in the can, who knows how many more to go, and somewhere amid the frantic hunt for fresh eggs, the carb loading, and the daily panic, the big truth has finally crashed like a wave on my head:
You are alone.
I don’t mean alone in your home, unless you’re lucky enough to live alone. I am never alone anymore—not in a room, not with my thoughts, not in the backyard. No place is safe from my very short, very needy housemates.
What I mean is, you (and your family) are functionally alone as you’re relentlessly pummeled by the world and all of its works, and all of its absurdities, and finally by the big prank it just pulled off that upended your fragile house of cards.
No one is coming to save you!
Gubmint officials and their flimsy checks are not going to save you. They’re fools who told you not to buy masks until they were sold out.
The police are not going to save you. They’re busy arresting people who try to get homeless junkies from sleeping in their doorways.
Firemen are not going to save you. They’ve all got coronavirus and are resting at the vacation homes they bought with triple pension money.
Experts are not going to save you. They’re literally always wrong.
Your employer is not going to save you. Their business model just broke.
Your 401k is not going to save you. It’s wiped out.
Doctors are not going to save you. They don’t know if corona causes ARDS or HAPE or makes you trans!
Speaking of doctors, whom I generally love, don’t count on them to do more than grease the skids for you on the way down. The TikTokking docs down at the local ICU cannot yet treat the disease caused by the virus. The most they can do is give your body a little extra oxygen and hope for the best. “None of our treatments are therapeutic, they’re just supportive. All we can do is give the patient’s lungs a chance to heal.”
My God, you even have to save yourself from the virus.
Coincidentally, that’s the same strategy our beloved publicly traded corporations have been using for 40 years to keep us chugging along. They never actually had the cure for your sense of loss, despair, spiritual emptiness, weight gain, baldness, incontinence, erectile dysfunction, or loneliness. But: if you just watch the shows, see the movies, take the flights to the resort hotels, book the cruise, drink the drinks, eat the food, pop the pills, spend ALL your money—hey, you might not feel so bad for a few hours!
The lesson everyone learned in mid-March was that there is no cure, and there will never be a cure, for what really ails us. America has been on spiritual life support for years, prone and plugged in to the blinking machines keeping it alive. Cable T.V., WiFi, antidepressants, kids stuck at the daycares and the afterschool cares and the Christmas break camps, just to get them away, even on their days off from school, the powerful limb-ripping suction machines at the Planned Parenthood down the street, the constant stream of short videos and porn and quick bite videos (Quibi!). Comorbidities all!
The dystopia was already here; you just didn’t see it because you were watching stuff.
Your future COVID ventilator is simply the final machine in a long line of mechanized life support systems you’ve been dependent upon for survival.
So congratulations, America: you just got unplugged!
Empty Vie, Unplugged
Without the easy breezy access to steady streams of salty food, industrialized childcare, and corporate entertainment, Americans are adrift.
Without school, how will our children learn?
Without experts, how will I know what to think?
Without a one-hour commute, how will I earn?
Without restaurants, how will I eat?
Without shipping containers filled with cheap Chinese goods, how will I decorate my house for Halloween, buy toys, or dress my kids?
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon were right. We really did destroy our middle class when we exported all of those jobs to China. We really did transfer our wealth to China and watch as they built their own vibrant middle class. Then we stood around and watched as the Chinese middle class we built took our children’s spots at the local universities, and just to rub in, paid full price while we had to beg for loans. We wondered why our movies had gotten so bad, and when we found out Hollywood’s new business model depended on selling to the Chinese moviegoing audience and not to us, what did we do? We went to the movies anyway!
Whose idea was it to let China make 100% of our antibiotics? Give me his name!
Whose idea was it to build a Disneyland in China and then cave to CCP demands to change the name of “Main Street, U.S.A.” to the less offensive “Mickey Avenue”? Give me his name! (I know his name).
Forget the wet markets. Whose idea was it to look the other way at Muslim concentration camps, organ harvesting, political prisoner torturing, dog meat festivals, and forced abortions, in the name of a sub-$100 pair of Nikes with a really cool outsole?
American businesses made those decisions, along with feckless American leaders. We may be the bruised and beaten victim of China, but let’s face it—we were asking for it.
I, like you, do not want to be weak. I don’t want to raise a weak family in a weak, sickly empire staggering under its own obese imbecility.
Who agreed to grovel to a nation offended by the idea of “Main Street, U.S.A.”? Did a single American ever object to calling the local dim sum district “Chinatown”? Shame on us for accepting this anti-American hatred and bigotry for the sake of “line go up.” When it comes to China, “line go up” tends to lead quickly to “casket get lowered.”
Enough, I say! Welcome to your independence, America! This time I know our side will win.
The American Dream
The Chinese virus really is the final insult to the American middle class, and worst of all, it was totally preventable. It’s true: the blame must be squarely laid at the feet of our own despicable and compromised elites and the Chinese overlords who shook their hands in tense photo ops as they broke ground on new Amoxicillin factories.
My favorite scene in Time Bandits is when the merry gang meets Robin Hood, who decides to seize the priceless treasures they’ve stolen and hand them out to the desperate people who empower him as king of Sherwood Forest. John Cleese does his best British upper-crust twit shtick.
“The poor are going to be absolutely thrilled. Have you met them at all?”
As the wretched poor stagger forward one at a time to receive their Hood handout, they are punched hard in the face.
An interesting question: which generation gets most rekt by the Chinese virus? The Boomers, who remain infuriatingly sanguine at the prospect of their imminent demise, seem to be comforted by the knowledge that they had an epic run, the best in human history, and so who cares if a few bad years get shaved off at the end.
The kids and teens won’t know any different, and they still have plenty of runway left to get their futures off the ground. The Millennials are already comfortable with learned helplessness—they enjoy sinecures in cheap rentals without the crushing burden of mortgages and property taxes and more than one or two children.
The real victims are the established, mature families whose woods are deep and have miles to go. The people in their 40s and 50s. Me, in other words. The bitterest pill is how much of a romp our childhoods were, compared to the slog now in front of us. Eighties nostalgia is real for a reason, and not just for Gen X. My 11-year-old daughter’s favorite entertainment is a role-playing Roblox game set in 1984 New Jersey, complete with the music, the hair, and the clothes. Can you blame her?
I cried in Whole Foods because my jokey, ironic longing to go back in time is now a poignant fairytale. There is no going back. The door to the halcyon days is now sealed airtight, welded shut by mask-wearing CCP cops, the key incinerated along with the dead zipped into body bags.
Build the Great Wall
So when will it all end? I laughed when President Trump said he wanted everything back to normal by Easter Sunday. But his instinct to “brand” the opening day as a holiday is a good one. That’s why I propose we look to July 4th, 2020. Not for a full return; there will be no packing of ball parks or parades or invites to neighborhood cookouts. We’ll still be in masks, still shrinking in terror from people we pass on the sidewalk.
But I propose that Independence Day 2020 be the date for those with functioning brains and hearty spirits to collectively decide to reclaim our independence from not just our deep state overlords and Chicom elites but from our multi-decade lotus-binging senescence: our dependence on other people to provide 100% of our food, 100% of our children’s education, 100% our entertainment, 100% of our crap.
The real virus is not corona or humans. It’s the highly infectious weakness encouraged—groomed!—at every level of society. Mental strength is called for now. A clear-eyed view of friends and enemies. And look, just now the fog of war is lifting! Even journalists have started calling for investigations into the shoddy practices at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Sunlight has started to leak through the cracks in our cave.
So what does our independence look like? Here’s a starter set of ideas:
First, a top-to-bottom BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement against China, starting with announcing an immediate boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Ban American companies from manufacturing products in China. Pull it all back, as fast and as hard as we can.
Then: defund the WHO. Use the dough to fund fleets of tanned, muscular maritime privateers in the South China Sea to harass and stymie the aspirations of the ramshackle Chinese navy (especially while our Navy is in dry dock with a dry cough). Recognize Taiwan. Support Hong Kong. Publicly shame China-owned stooges like NBA star Lebron James. Break ground—tomorrow, if possible—on 50 new factories that make nothing but the highest quality medicines, antibiotics, toys, tools, and everything else in your Amazon cart right now. Lean in to educating your own damn kids and growing a few of your own damn cucumbers. You can do it!
Despite his shaky approval ratings and recent blunders, Trump and his core America First agenda have never looked more appealing. Pathetic failures and comical fumblings have happened at the highest levels since January, yes. They’re inexcusable, but totally predictable. (Both my parents, of Trump’s cohort, a doctor and a teacher, were totally flootarded until practically last week.) Do we really want to replace a president highly antagonistic to China with Biden, a lifetime grifter fully owned and operated by handlers in Beijing?
While “America First” remains an excellent instinct, I suggest a small edit for 2020: “America Independent.” This July 4th, I propose launching the first shot in the Cold Covid War against the Chinese government.
Good news: it’s already begun! Victory Mindset housewives are raking in the dough selling masks by the tens of thousands on Etsy. Families are building victory gardens, planting seeds, rediscovering the pleasure of eating food grown by your own hand. Your children, while occasionally annoying and loud, are also home, safe and sound, and not being forced into state-mandated sex ed that affirms nothing but the sexual perversions of their teachers.
New heroes will emerge soon. More good things will emerge. So embrace your newfound independence!
You have no choice. It’s all you’ve got now.
Oh, and China delenda est, obv.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.
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