Social and political responses to the fears of the Coronavirus pandemic are news headlines, but do they deserve headlines? Of course, they are news, but they are not really new news. We have been repeatedly warned about the destructive power of fear.
Making themselves virtually unassailable, at least initially, politicians embraced the pandemic and associated public health fears it has engendered and assumed near-dictatorial powers in the name of protecting the public health.
Unmasked and unhindered, some politicians’ actions have validated the descriptive term of “the ruling class.”
The 1972 cult film by the same name gave one view of the dysfunctional life-style of a fictional British nobleman whose aspirations were quite noble and infused with a sense of god-like powers, not unlike some of our governors and mayors.
A less fanciful, but more philosophically grounded observation of the 1930s was made by H.L. Menken:
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
No question that the Coronavirus is real, not imaginary, but Menken astutely recognizes the basic urge in politicians