CWT #4: Doughnuts and Circuses
A closer look into the incentives of the pandemic
For a long while, I have been wondering how it has all been possible: the mass hysteria and panic, the compliance with tyranny, the wilful acceptance of lockdowns and other restrictions, the sudden hatred towards freedom, the irrational fear from all other people, the abandonment of logic and common sense, and all the other things that have turned our world into this clown world we live in today. How come people have allowed things to go so far? This question seemed a bit puzzling at first, but on second thought, it may not be such a mystery after all. You don’t have to look for grand conspiracy theories or a mystic explanation. It all becomes clear once you consider the incentives of the pandemic.
The hysteria has been possible because it was aligned with the incentives of the government, the media, and even of the masses. Once we analyze what incentivizes each group, we will be able to see why they have all supported this madness.
As for the government - the biggest concern of every government is self-preservation. The way governments increase their chances of preservation is by attaining more and more control over their citizens. The more power they hold, the easier it is to preserve their rule over the people through welfare dependency, propaganda, public education, taxation, control over the law, sheer force, and so on. The more power the government can amass, the more it can guarantee its preservation, both in a democracy and a dictatorship. When the people are not free, they cannot take care of themselves - so they necessarily become dependent on the government. And when they are dependent on the government, they cannot resist it, defy it, or rebel against it in any form. This is what governments want. This is how they guarantee their survival (as far as internal affairs go).
Using the pandemic as an excuse, governments all over the world have been taking more control over their citizens than ever before. They started to limit movement and gatherings, lock people in their houses, close businesses, apply more censorship, and turn relatively free countries into dystopias where you have to get the government’s permission for every daily activity. Governments want control, and they saw the pandemic as their opportunity to take it. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” as the saying goes.
As for the media, their incentive is to get more attention. The more people consume their content, the more profitable and influential they become. Thus the pandemic hysteria was perfectly aligned with their incentives as well. The more fear they could spread among the public, the more necessary they became in the people’s eyes. Since the beginning of the hysteria, people have been glued to their screens following the latest updates: What are the new restrictions, how many cases, what variant they should fear from this week, and all other types of “breaking news” they could sell the public. Fear sells. The more they could scare the people, the more attention they received. The pandemic was, and still is, an unending source for them for fearmongering and “important” news, and there is no reason they’d want this to stop.
In short, both the media and the government had a clear incentive to generate hysteria. The pandemic gave a perfect excuse for the government to amass more power and for the media to become more relevant and even “necessary.” As for the masses, their incentive to accept this madness might not be so evident at first. One may wonder why would people willfully give up their freedom and submit to tyranny, but it all becomes clearer once you understand what the masses really want. The masses don’t want freedom. They don’t care about that a single bit. The incentive of the masses is bread and circuses, and they will support whoever could supply them with that. It is the same reason why socialism succeeds time and again to tempt nations into their doom. The government promises free stuff, like food, housing, and healthcare, and the masses buy into that promise without caring for the hidden cost they pay - “The mouse dies in the trap because it doesn’t understand why the cheese is free.”
The pandemic has provided the masses with an excuse to change the status quo and take the “cheese” they have been craving for so long. Staying home and binging on junk food, Netflix, and porn while demanding your rent canceled and crying for handouts from the government used to be considered lazy and selfish. Now, the pandemic has provided the masses with a perfect excuse to not only change this status but to completely reverse it and turn it into a virtuous “sacrifice.” Now they can demand their bread and circuses from the government with the pretense that “we simply have to do it, lest the virus will destroy society.”
What incentivizes the masses are not values like freedom or an aspiration for progress but simply bread and circuses. It is not at all surprising then that they have jumped on the opportunity and gladly accepted lockdowns, vaccine passports, and other control measures in exchange for such treats as the stimulus checks and eviction moratorium, or even just a free doughnut.
Clown world has been possible because it is aligned with the incentives of the government, the media, and the masses. When the government sees an opportunity to gain more power, why shouldn’t it take it? If the media sees an opportunity to become more relevant, do you think they won’t take it? When the docile masses get a chance to stay home, binge on Netflix, porn, and junk food while keeping their paychecks running, demand to have their rent canceled, and even have an excuse to feel virtuous about all of it, would they not take it? You do not have to be a “conspiracy theorist” to know the answer to those questions. All you have to do is understand what motivates each group - “Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome.”
This is not a “conspiracy theory.” Governments want control. The media wants attention. The masses want bread and circuses. And the “pandemic” has given all of them an excuse to take exactly what they want. The synergy between a decaying society and a bloated government is quite a spectacle. The government provides the masses with “free” stuff, like the “stimulus checks” and the eviction moratorium. In return, the masses become more submissive and obedient to their government and accept more invasive control over their private lives. But this, of course, is not a very long-sighted deal for the masses, as once the government gets its part - and achieves full control of the population - it no longer needs to continue fulfilling the promises it has made to the people. Once the government tempts the public into its mousetrap, the public no longer has the option to escape. This used to be well known in the Western world, which used to stand for freedom, but this lesson has been long forgotten even there. All that was needed to tip the scales was to find the right excuse, and covid has provided just that.
While all this is true for most people, there has always existed a minority that is just different. A minority that is not content with the bread and circuses, but that is looking, for the better or worse, to change the world. Throughout history, it has always been this “crazy” minority that has been moving society forward. Galileo Galilei going against “scientific consensus,” the Founding Fathers of the United States who revolted against their government, or even the innovators and entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. What unites this minority is not a shared history, language, skin color, or even intelligence level. It’s their state of mind, the belief in the power of the individual to change the world—the belief in the freedom to think different.
It is up to this minority to fight for humanity’s future, continue pushing us forward, and keep us from falling for tyranny and dystopia. It is for them to harness the power of the masses to build a better future for everyone. However, the masses cannot be persuaded by passionate pleas to the value and necessity of freedom. They can only be persuaded by the realization that the government is defrauding them with false promises to provide and care for them once they give up their freedom. Tyranny will never provide the people with a better standard of living than they can have in a free society. It only uses the people for the benefit of the political elite. If we can remind the masses of this long-forgotten truth, we have a chance to stop this clown world and, once again, build a society that protects Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
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