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COVID-19: History’s Fast Forward Button

Author, poet, attorney and photographer. Former collegiate football player. Graduated summa cum laude, Phil Beta Kappa.

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A while ago, I got bored and decided to stream Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. I recall not being thrilled with it when I first saw the film in theaters. But after re-watching it, I came to the realization that it was actually worse than I remembered. However, one scene got me thinking. It’s when John Connor, now a vagrant adult, first meets Arnold. Shocked at encountering the machine, John asks him why is he here since, after the events of Terminator 2, “Judgement Day” should have been averted. Arnold responds by saying that Judgement Day had not been averted, only delayed. It was, as he put it, “inevitable.”

History is complicated. It’s an unforgiving and chaotic process—one that is affected and determined by a variety of variables, many of which are often unknown or completely outside the control of the actors that shape them. It’s the reason why it is so difficult to predict future events, as the trends and momentum of the moment can quickly and cataclysmically shift at a moment’s juncture. This is also convoluted by the fact that it’s difficult for one to take a step back and observe the current moment from an objective vantage point. We are all emotional creatures, affected by our surroundings, circumstances, and people around us. This makes shedding away one’s biases and preconceived notions about our reality a problematic feat, even for the most intelligent among us.

The start of 2020 was the beginning of what promised to be a very tumultuous decade. From the Pandemic, to economic and fiscal collapse, social unrest, and great power competition, I think it’s safe to say that many of our outlooks on the short term future are pessimistic. It’s easy to blame individuals for this unfortunate state of affairs, whether it be Obama, Trump, Putin, global elites, etc.. And sure, perhaps they deserve some blame. No doubt the Pandemic, along with its myriad of ancillary consequences, is viewed as one of, if not the most, essential component in bringing about these hardships. However, this is where my historical perspective comes into play.

I’m sure you, the reader, like I, have imagined an alternative reality in which COVID-19 never emerged. What would be different? How would I be different, etc.? It wouldn’t surprise me if we, at some point over the next few years, saw numerous works of alternative history being published depicting a world devoid of a viral outbreak. For me, I don’t know for sure how our reality would differ if COVID didn’t exist. Alternative history is, in many ways, is more challenging than prophesizing.

Nevertheless, I’ve developed a theory—one which I’ve given careful consideration. COVID did not create our current chaotic state of affairs. On the contrary, many of the events we’ve seen and circumstances we’re currently facing would have most likely occurred even without COVID. All the Pandemic did was merely speed things up. In other words, COVID functioned primarily as a fast forward button.

Please note that I’m not trying to argue that COVID did not have externalities. As I write this, millions the world over have perished because of the virus. Moreover, it has certainly had a negative psychological impact on many of us. What I’m contending is that much of what we’ve witnessed and are witnessing was probably, at least in some form or another, inevitable. I will argue this point by examining various aspects of our modern day society, political systems, and economics.

The Rise and Fall of the Technocracy

In February of 2020, just before the infamous March shutdown, George Friedman released his newest book, The Storm Before the Calm: America's Discord, the Coming Crisis of the 2020s, and the Triumph Beyond. In it, Friedman attempts to predict what he believes will be a turbulent decade to come. His thesis rests upon his theory that the United States transitions through two historical cycles: an “institutional cycle” occurring every eighty years and a socio-economic ones transpiring every fifty years. Friedman contends that for the first time in American history, the two cycles will converge, both occurring within the 2020 decade.

I read his work last summer and what fascinated me most was his discussion of the country’s institutional transformation. Since the Great Depression, there’s been a fundamental shift within the United States federal government. This is the rise of the administrative state. This arguably began during the Wilson Administration, as numerous departments sprang up overnight during America’s entry into WWI. However, it was FDR who entrenched it as a permanent aspect of U.S. governance. Since then, the administrative apparatus has only ballooned in size and scope, becoming more powerful with each successive administration, and having greater influence over individual American’s lives.

Friedman refers to the people within these agencies as being part of a “technocracy,” aka rule by experts. These are unelected officials who receive high compensation and long tenures and have acquired significant authority and influence. Moreover, they are rarely fired—immune from being voted out like elected politicians. Though they’re knowledgeable within their fields, they have little to no expertise outside of their purviews. This means that their broader view of what should be considered a broad and coherent policy are often stymied due to their one-dimensional focus. For instance, a public health expert’s focus is narrowly tailored towards health policy, and thus will recommend polices that are often not tailored to take economic, fiscal, and educational facets into consideration.

Congress’s perpetual delegation to many of these non-representative institutions and often subsequent failure to hold them accountable has only increased their authority. It’s almost certainly why the U.S. Supreme Court nominee process has become so vitriolic, since the composition of the Court is now often the sole means in which dictates of technocracy are either allowed or struck down. Yet, even the courts are sometimes reluctant to intervene. Under Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., which is still a good law, administrative agencies are granted deference to their own interpretation of a statute it administers. Thus, essentially, a fourth branch of government formed during the 20th Century—a massive bureaucratic apparatus which is legally under the executive, largely functions at the behest of its own whims, making law independent of federal legislature.

As Friedman mentioned, the coming institutional shift would occur because these agencies have become unworkable. Indeed, over the years, these bureaus have become politicized, which is worrying since they have almost no accountability to the public. Moreover, these agencies continue to swell, as more and more people from top rated universities take their place within these institutions, entrenching their worldviews within these departments and further swelling the federal budget.

Hence, we are witnessing several phenomena. First, is the politicization and overreach of unelected federal agencies over time into almost every aspect of American life. Second, there is the adoption of a certain ideology within these institutions that’s radical and in-conflict with American ideals. Third, is organizational incompetence. Fourth, and largely as a result of the first three, there now exists an institutional mistrust by large swathes of the populace. Furthermore, all of these aspects were perpetuated and intensified by the COVID outbreak.

Let us begin with our focus on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s not surprising that the CDC, along with the rest of the public health establishment, would become a prominent fixture during a pandemic. The problem is they did a sub-par job, thus completely delegitimizing themselves in the process.

Let’s start with the fact that the CDC ran roughshod over what was their original prerogative—to protect the public health. It’s thus unsurprising that the CDC would become of principle importance during a pandemic. However, during this health crisis, the CDC, as well as other local and state agencies, expanded its authority to almost every rubric of public life. For instance, the CDC issued a nationwide eviction moratorium in order to prevent persons who were possibly not working or earning income during last year’s health crisis from being evicted from their rental properties. Now, in principle, this may seem like the correct thing. After all, no one should want to see millions of Americans thrown out into the streets. Nevertheless, the CDC is a public health agency, not a federal housing department. Why a public health department would have this power is beyond me.

Moreover, is the fact that the CDC, along with many politicians and other health officials for that matter, later went as far as to add guns and racism to the list public health crises. One neither has to like guns nor racism to realize that both are not contagious diseases. In other words, not only are these issues outside the CDC’s parameters, but they are subjects that fall way beyond the expertise of even the most highly trained health specialists. In addition, it did not benefit the public trust when numerous health officials, who previously had demanded that Americans stay home to save lives, did a complete one-eighty days later by overtly or tacitly supporting millions of Americans protesting for racial justice (I will speak more about this in another section). One letter signed by over a 1,000 health professionals during the 2020 summer protests and riots summed up this paradoxical mode of thinking quite well—

“…as public health advocates, we do not condemn these [racial justice] gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators' ability to gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders.”

Furthermore, the CDC appears to have become increasingly politicized, a fact that has not done its public image any favors. For instance, earlier this year, the CDC had put together a school reopening plan. The idea to reopen schools was something that even Dr. Anthony Fauci at that time supported. Indeed, many European nations had kept their schools open, particularly at the elementary level, since these younger children were not the main vectors of transmission. Nonetheless, the CDC’s plan made it so that the vast majority of schools would not reopen. It was then revealed in May that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, along with her top advisors, were coordinating with the American Federation of Teachers (ATF). This was why the school-opening standards had been so stringent—not because of what the science said, but due to ATF lobbying.

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Moreover, in the midst of wringing this, it came out that the CDC’s recommendation that kids in school from the age of two up mask was based on a completely bogus study. The question of whether or not kids should mask in school has been a contentious one considering children have not been the primary spreaders of COVID and its effects are generally mild in young kids. There are issues of how mask affect socialization in children’s developing brains and breathing during activities, ect. In fact, the United States is one of the few developed nations in the world that masks kids. This was determined on the conclusions of a single study, one that David Zweig from The Atlantic recently exposed as being completely bogus. I won’t go into the study’s methodology here (you can just Google the article if you’re interested), but it had obvious flaws, which is rather disconcerting considering the its conclusions impacted the lives of millions of American school children.

Probably the biggest story that demonstrates the decline in public trust for health officials is the CDC original vaccine rollout plan. As has been the case for a while now, numerous federal governmental institutions have been bombarded with racial and social equity training—“educational” programs designed by such figures as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. I will delve deeper into ideology later. However, the important take away is the CDC originally planned to tranche out the vaccine based on considerations of racial equity.

The plan called for states to prioritize Black, Hispanic, and Ingenious residents in some way over white populations. Because of this ordering, the CDC recommended that “essential workers” receive the vaccine before the elderly, as the former population is significantly minority-based while the latter is predominantly white. The problem is, other than the fact that a federal agency was basing these standards primarily on race, which is illegal, is that even by the CDC’s own estimates, this would lead to more people dying. This is because older people are much more vulnerable to the adverse effects of COVID than younger, healthier, essential workers. Moreover, it would have ironically led to the deaths of more minorities, since if you used the CDC’s own figures, minority elders would have perished in higher degrees, as well. In other words, the CDC would have sacrificed our country’s most vulnerable all in the name of wokeness and social justice doctrine.

This led to an obvious public outcry, forcing the CDC to revise its standards. However, the damage to our nation’s premier health agency was already done. Yascha Mounk expressed this dissatisfaction in his article, Why I'm Losing Trust in the Institutions: The CDC came scarily close to adopting a plan that would, according to its own models, have killed thousands of Americans. He noted that the same agency that was demanding people follow the “science,” allowed social justice ideology to trump science, in regards to whom should be first in line to receive the jab.

The decline in the CDC’s reputation was not benefited by the incompetent health establishments’ other mainstays, particularly Dr. Fauci, who in many ways became the unofficial face of battling COVID. Not only did he lie, by his own admission, about mask usefulness and what was necessary for herd immunity, but frequently switched his position on a regular basis, despite there being no significant change in data. Fauci went so far as to say that questioning him was questioning the science, as if he were Emperor Palpatine screeching, “I am the Senate!”

Moreover, he almost certainly committed perjury (though not charged yet) by lying to Congress about his role in providing funds to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for gain-of-function research. In addition, his demand that fully vaccinated persons continue to wear masks did not make sense and thus had the unfortunate effect of downplaying the efficacy of vaccines. I want to make clear that I’m not trying to parrot an angry Fox News host here. However, Fauci’s performance during this pandemic has been less than stellar, further delegitimizing the U. S. public health establishment.

The administrative apparatus has grown significantly in size and strength during the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries. Nevertheless, as the technocracy has gained more influence, the American public has viewed them with increasing distrust. This is because the technocracy functions as an unelected, bureaucratic, elite that is increasingly out of touch with mainstream America. The current distrust of these imbedded technocrats was almost certainly going to occur at some point. However, the pandemic significantly sped up this process, as the health establishment continually shot itself in the foot.

Going forward, this mistrust will probably only gain steam. For instance, the IRS’s request that Congress double its size and give it power to essentially spy on Americans if their transactions or accounts are over $600. More significantly, President Biden’s plan to utilize OSHA to force Americans to be vaccinated through their companies has already received extreme backlash for various reasons, but most especially since it dramatically increases administrative authority over their private lives. Under its wording, the regulation will impose draconian fines, bankrupting businesses that refuse to supply. Despite this, the rollout is currently underway. George Friedman’s astute predictions mentioned earlier certainly appear to be underway, though likely at a quicker pace than even he suspected.

Thucydides Trap: The United States vs. China

In Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War, he proposes that war between Sparta and Athens occurred for one simple reason—Sparta, Greece’s most powerful city-state, feared the rise of Athens. Centuries after its penning, Thucydides thesis has consistently been tested. A emerging power, as it expands in influence, begins to butt heads with an established power, the latter dreading that the former may surpass it. These situations lead to increased tensions, which more often than not, cumulate into full-scale war. There is even a term for this, doubly called “Thucydides Trap”, the notion being that kingdoms, empires and nations are unable to escape this unfortunate reality.

Graham Allison, although not the first person to discuss this phenomenon, was the first to use the phrase Thucydides Trap, which he utilized as the catch-phrase for his 2017 book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? In it, Allison details that in the last 500 years, a situation in which a rising power challenged a predominant state occurred sixteen times. War broke out during twelve of these occasions. Allison uses this model to analyze what he sees as a coming exacerbation of tensions between the United States and China.

Predictions that the United States would enter a new Cold War with China have existed since the Soviet Union’s abrupt collapse. Political scientist and author of the book The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John Mearsheimer, foresaw this in the early 90’s, as China possessed the population and economic wherewithal to challenge the world’s unipolar power. In a recent article for Foreign Affairs Magazine, The Inevitable Rivalry: America, China, and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics, Mearsheimer contends that, following the end of the Cold War, it should have been suspected that,

Since a mightier China would surely challenge the U.S. position in Asia and possibly beyond, the logical choice for the United States was clear: slow China’s rise…Instead, it encouraged it. Beguiled by misguided theories about liberalism’s inevitable triumph and the obsolescence of great-power conflict, both Democratic and Republican administrations pursued a policy of engagement, which sought to help China grow richer.

Such policies included China’s admission to the World Trade Organization and the United States increasing outsourcing to the Communist nation. The idea from some U.S. policy makers is that such an engagement would open China up, make is less repressive, and a stakeholder in the current, liberal, international order. The problem is that it made the CCP economically powerful, allowing it to invest more in its military operations. Moreover, China has grown more, not less, repressive. As Mearsheimer noted,

But once China grew wealthy, a U.S.-Chinese Cold War was inevitable. Engagement may have been the worst strategic blunder any country has made in recent history: there is no comparable example of a great power actively fostering the rise of a peer competitor.

President Obama did begin a slight pushback against Beijing, but it was not until the Trump Administration that engagement with the Asian power was discarded for a more aggressive posture. What’s interesting is with Trump out of office, one might suspect that the Biden Administration would move back to a more conciliatory position. However, Biden’s policy essentially mirrors Trump’s, as the current president is overtly building alliances in the Indo-Pacific region that are clearly aimed at containing a rising China.

Now, with the start of the new decade, China has begun to assert itself in East Asia like no other time since its regional primacy during the early part the 19th century. The CCP’s hostile rhetoric, along with increasingly aggressive actions towards its neighbors, prove that the Asian juggernaut has renewed itself as a great power and potential superpower. Similar to how the up-and-coming United States attempted (and eventually did) dominate the Western Hemisphere during the later 19th and early 20 centuries, China is attempting to establish hegemony in its region. And at this moment, Beijing’s only real obstacle is the current reigning, established power—the United States.

However, the question becomes, “How did the Pandemic intensify and accelerate what was almost certainly an inevitable conflict?” Perhaps the best place to start would be the election of Donald Trump. Trump differed from his predecessors as he took a much more aggressive tone with the CCP. This was particularly true with regards to trade, as he believed the Chinese were economically taking advantage of the United States. It should be noted that, prior to Trump, American politicians often did speak about the threat of a rising China. However, as Mearsheimer noted earlier, the top American political brass was often much more conciliatory. Trump, though not completely disinterested with the idea of engagement, certainly took a more belligerent posture.

What really set things into high gear, however, was the emergence of COVID. First, was the blame game that emerged between the two powers. It has not, as of yet, been confirmed that COVID emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Nonetheless, even if it didn’t, it’s clear that the CCP’s malfeasance allowed it to spread. The Chinese government’s censorship of doctors trying to come forward, along with their later claims to the World Health Organization that the virus was not passed via human-to-human transmission, are just a few examples of its failure to shut down the virus earlier and perhaps prevent the subsequent pandemic.

This increased obvious tension with the United States, especially after many of its officials began implying that the virus perhaps had only been made in the U.S., and was released purposefully by the Americans. A Chinese official named Zhao Lijian even tweeted, "It might be U.S. army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan…Be transparent! Make public your data! U.S. owes us an explanation!" This caused the Trump reaction of branding COVID with its now infamous nickname the “China Virus.”

As global pressure came down upon Beijing, the CCP responded with more aggressive behavior. With the docking of the U. S. S. Theodore Roosevelt, due to a ship-wide outbreak, the People’s Liberation Army Navy pushed its advantage in the South China Sea. The United States responded by conducting an “elephant walk” with its bombers on Guam—a relatively impotent response to Chinese maneuvers.

With Trump out of office, some may have suspected that relations would “normalize”. However, that hasn’t been the case. Though the Biden Administration is not as verbally hostile, most of Trump’s China policies have remained intact. From Beijing’s perspective, it now feels under siege—surrounded on all front by hostile nations, many of which it has border disputes with and either overtly or tacitly allied with the United States. From its war of words with Australia in the Pacific, to engaging in firefights with Indian troops, China hasn’t been this isolated in decades. This is of little surprise given this state of affairs that Asia’s potential hegemon would lash out against the CCP. Furthermore, it’s increased aggression both rhetorically and kinetically towards Taiwan is another cause for concern, since it’s the most likely flashpoint between itself and the U.S. The question is this—where will it all lead?

China is potentially considerably more dangerous than the Soviet Union. Not only does it possess a larger population and a more dynamic economy, but its “openness” to the rest of the world has meant it has been able to influence the politics, economies, and cultures of even its greatest rival. Just think of how often the NBA and Disney kowtow to the CPP. There are some China watchers, like Gordon Chang, who believe China is entering another period of isolation. In other words, Beijing could attempt to purge itself from Western cultural institutions and businesses. However, it’s too early to tell. What is clear is that whatever the future may hold for this Cold War 2.0, there is little doubt that it was accelerated by COVID’s emergence.

“Demographics Are Destiny”: The Economic and Cultural Stratification of the United States

Unless you had read any of his works, it’s unlikely you ever heard of anthropologist Peter Turchin before 2020. However, Turchin came to considerable prominence for a prediction he made during 2010. Turchin forecasted that 2020 would bring about major social and political upheaval within the United States and Europe. During the 2020 summer riots, this prophecy caught obvious attention, with Turchin now seeming like a modern day Nostradamus.

But as Turchin would himself admit, he possesses no psychic abilities. Rather, his forecast was based on a formula, one that take various factors into account and measures them on a graph. Through this blue print, Turchin was able to apply it to societies as diverse as the Roman Republic and Medieval France, predicting when social upheavals should have occurred. These forecasts align almost exactly to the dates that these civilizations experienced unrest in our timeline.

Turhcin applied his analysis to the United States in his work Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History. His thesis is complicated, but I’ll summarize here. Essentially, Turhcin contends that societies go through cycles. There is a cycle of stability, which leads to economic and population growth. The problem is that eventually the population reaches a point at which the value of labor goes down, since there is an overabundance of workers in the market. This leads this to stagnated wages for working people.

In the meantime, the upper classes grow in size because people with capital can invest more, which creates more inequality between labor and capital. This split between the two socio-economic factions leads to increased pressure to get into the elite class. And with this now large upper class, a factional split between this elite occurs, such as the divide between Optimates and Populares during the late Roman Republic. Usually, these situations rectify themselves due to some sort of demographic rebalancing, aka population decline due to war or disease. For instance, consider how after the Great Plague, the quality of peasants’ lives increased substantially since, because there were so few of them, it gave the lower classes substantially more bargaining against their lords—leverage they utilized to achieve more favorable working conditions.

The United States has been going through one of these cycles since the 1970’s, when incomes began to stagnate. From the 1950’s on, America experienced an extraordinary population boom, leading to an increased workforce around the late 60’s and 70’s. This was coupled with the addition of other groups to the market, such as women and immigrants, thus adding an even more significant influx to the labor force. I want to add that I’m not trying take an anti-immigration stand here or argue that women should “go back to the kitchen.” I’m just pointing out the reality of what happens when the workforce swells. It’s the reason why two-income households today often have lower standards of living than one-income households just a few decades ago.

Real wage stagnation was coupled with the issues posed by increased globalization. Globalization and free trade are not necessarily bad things. In fact, it’s the reason why so many of our consumer goods are so cheap today. However, jobs moving overseas meant less working opportunities for an already oversaturated working class. Simultaneously, the number of millionaires almost quadrupled during the decades following 1980s. As the working class living standards stagnated and opportunities for a growing upper echelon increased, there came an intense competition to get into the elite class. This is partially why college tuitions have surged by ridiculous degrees. For as more people struggled to enter this elite, universities could charge absorbent prices for that prospect. Furthermore, the increase of the percentage of the populace who attend college translates to a lower value in a university degree, since it’s no longer seen as that exclusive of a credential. The same is also true of post-graduate degrees.

However, the growing societal bifurcation was not just economic, but also cultural. This was particularly true within White America. Charles A. Murray writes about this in his work Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. In it, Murray discusses that beginning around the point of JFK’s presidency, there began to form a split between blue collar America and what he dubbed the “new ruling class.” This new elite harbored much more socially progressive views than their counterparts. Moreover, they grew to control almost all facets of creative output.

Though this new upper class views itself as liberal, they often don’t necessary practice what they preach. A good example is what is often described as the “limousine liberals”—the stereotypical, college educated, wealthy New York or San Francisco residents who drive Teslas and preach woke causes, almost as a means of gaining status with virtue to their friends, family, and neighbors.

Of course, these categorizations aren’t perfect, as not every rich person who resides in a progressive metropolis espouses socialist talking points or takes pictures with the Black Panthers like they’re Leonard Bernstein. Nevertheless, a cultural divergence has undoubtedly occurred. For instance, take entertainment. Many of the films that receive Oscars are ones that champion some sort of progressive message. Not all these movies are universally hated. However, one only need to compare the Rotten Tomatoes critic’s score to the viewer’s score to discover that many of the movies that the critics relish are not widely enjoyed by the public, and vice-versa.

Thus, this economic and cultural divide was already well under way before 2020. The question is, how did the Pandemic accelerate this process? Economically, the Pandemic hastened arguably the most significant wealth transfer in American history. This was the result primarily of lockdown policies, which were mostly governments’ initial responses to COVID-19. While millions of small businesses were forced to shut down, massive companies, often lucky enough to be labeled “essential industries,” were allowed to stay open. This meant that while small businesses were essentially gutted, the profits of large retailers like Amazon soared. This is what Carol Roth referred to in her article We're Living Through the Greatest Transfer of Wealth From the Middle Class to the Elites in History as the “ ’Great Consolidation’ —the acceleration of a historic wealth transfer and power concentration out of the hands of the middle class and into those with political power and connections.”

While state and local governments were releasing criminals without bail in order to prevent the COVID spread within prisons, every day people like Shelley Luther, a Dallas hair salon owner, was arrested by heavily armed sheriffs for nothing more than trying to keep her business afloat. When brought before a judge, Shelley pleaded she did not have the resources to keep her business closed. Incidents like these occurred throughout the Pandemic.

Angela Marsden, a restaurant owner, posted a tearful video in which she rightfully complained that while she was forced to close down her restaurant, a movie studio had set up dining tents in the parking lot next door in order to feed cast and crew. This was because the entertainment industry, regularly considered the epitome of elite culture, was allowed to work while Angela was not. LA mayor Eric Garcetti, in a tone-death response that didn’t even address this double-standard and hypocrisy, responded by saying, “heart goes out [to Marsden and her staff]….No one likes these restrictions, but I do support them as our hospital I.C.U. beds fill to capacity and cases have increased by 500%. We must stop this virus before it kills thousands of more Angelenos.”

While everyday working Americans suffered, the lucky ones who had the luxury of being able to work from home, particularly media members, jeered at their less fortunate brethren for complaining about the lockdowns. This prompted none other than Fareed Zakaria to publish an opinion piece titled Experts have jobs. They need to understand those who don’t. In it, Zakaria made an argument similar to that of Charles Murrey, that there has been an economic and cultural split between urban, college educated, credentialed professionals (an “overclass”) and the rest of society.

He argued that,

“For many non-college-educated people, especially those living in rural areas, there is a deep alienation from this new elite. They see the overclass as enacting policies that are presented as good for the whole country but really mostly benefit people from the ruling class, whose lives have gotten better over the past few decades while the rest are left behind.”

Zakaria continued by looking at it from the perspective of every-day Americans;

“Imagine you are an American who works with his hands — a truck driver, a construction worker, an oil rig mechanic — and you have just lost your job because of the lockdowns, as have more than 36 million people. You turn on the television and hear medical experts, academics, technocrats and journalists explain that we must keep the economy closed — in other words, keep you unemployed — because public health is important. All these people making the case have jobs, have maintained their standards of living and in fact are now in greater demand. They feel as though they are doing important work. You, on the other hand, have lost your job. You feel a sense of worthlessness, and you’re terrified about your family’s day-to-day survival. Is it so hard to understand why people like this might be skeptical of the experts?”

This alienation and distrust of experts, media personalities, and government bureaucrats only grew during the summer of 2020, when, as mentioned earlier, public officials did a complete 180, cheering as millions flooded into the streets to protest or riot for social justice. I should also mention that the social unrest, which was primarily an urban phenomenon, absolutely devastated businesses within inner-cities. This was predominantly true in places such as Portland and Seattle, where entire blocks were taken over and ransacked.

For instance, Korboi Balla, an African American, Minneapolis fireman, who invested his life savings into a bar, was set to reopen it following the lockdown easements on June 1st. Unfortunately, his business was burned to the ground during the riots, causing him to tearfully tell reporters, “I don’t know what we’re going to do, It hurts, man. It’s not fair, it’s not right. We’ve been working so hard for this place. It’s not just for me, it’s for my family.”

Of particular disgust was when media elites, sheltered within their gated, residential houses and compounds, would cheer on this destruction. My personal favorite was former ESPN reporter Chris Palmer retweeted a photo of an inflamed Minneapolis police precinct, as he added the slogan, “Burn that shit down. Burn it all down.” Awhile later, Palmer tweeted, “They just attacked our sister community down the street. It’s a gated community and they tried to climb the gates. They had to beat them back. They destroyed a Starbucks and are now in front of my building. Get these animals TG out of my neighborhood. Go back to where you live.”

What also became apparent during the Pandemic was that this elite class, which readily told people to shut up and comply, did not follow their own guidelines. They, in effect, were the “specials.” It would take another couple of paragraphs to list these hypocritical behaviors, but I’ll mention a few here: California Governor Gavin Newsom dining maskless, indoors at one of the state’s most expensive restaurants with several people including a CA public health official; CA health officials taking an impromptu, expenses paid trip to Maui during the height of the Pandemic; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi getting her hair done in San Francisco despite local guidelines against it and then having the audacity to not even apologize because it was a political setup orchestrated by her lowly hair stylist.

Notwithstanding, there were the public spectacles that occurred while most of the country was forced to lockdown in their homes. For instance, the funerals of John Lewis and George Floyd, the latter who was placed in a gold casket at a memorial attended by future President Joe Biden, the former with an appearance by Barack Obama. I bring attention to these not because of who the deceased were per se, but because there were numerous Americans who lost loved ones who couldn’t even have services. Yet, the specials were able to perform their services of those they deemed worthy of such honors, COVID restrictions be damned.

Another incident worth mentioning occurred during December of 2020, when protests broke out in Staten Island demanding an end to lockdown restrictions. Many of these demonstrators were working class or small business owners, under strain from their inability to work. Pete Davidson, a comedian on Saturday Night Live, a wealthy celebrity who was allowed to keep working, ripped these people during the show’s weekly update report. It should also be mentioned that at that time, SNL was able to have a live audience as they paid attendees to watch as “employees”, essentially gaming or getting around the lockdown regime system.

This cultural and class divide became only more apparent in 2021. For instance, as the Delta variant surged, former President Obama put on a luxurious sixtieth birthday party at Martha’s Vineyard, which included scores of elites and celebrities. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except restrictions were being reinstated in many states, and the attendees were generally part of the pro-lockdown crowd. Public outrage did eventually forced Obama to cut back on the number of guests.

However, what was the most telling was the leaked video from Erykah Badu, showing her, the President, and other guests dancing maskless at the decadent celebration. Badu was quickly forced to delete the video, but not before it made its rounds around social media to widespread mockery. Media personalities jumped to the former president’s and party goers’ defense, like New York Times reporter Annie Karini, who commented that the party was probably okay since the guests were a “sophisticated, vaccinated crowd.” But such statements only increased the backlash.

The Meta Gala later in the year only visually reinforced this divide, as wealthy celebrities and politicians attend the event in elegant garb, while the servants in the background were made to wear masks as they catered to these elites. My personal favorite picture from the event was of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney sporting a dress that said “Equal Rights for Women” while over a dozen female staffers stood behind her, forcibly masked like muzzled dogs.

Therefore, for decades now, there has been a growing economic and cultural divide between the new upper classes and everyone else. This bifurcation was only accelerated with COVID. Unfortunately, the socio-economic and cultural rift is not the contentious division plaguing the United States. Hyperpolarization, which has also been transpiring for years now, was also hastened and intensified by the onset of COVID.

The New Wars of Religion—Hyperpolarization and the American Body Politic

We often take for granted how wise America’s Founding Fathers were. For all their faults, they were very astute when it came to structuring a Union that would check the most negative qualities of human nature. Much of this self-awareness came from their historical knowledge. Nowhere was this this understanding put to better use than the notion that the new nation should neither have nor espouse an official state religion, as the Founders were well aware of the destructive wars of religion that occurred a little over a century prior.

What the Founders probably never imagined was that a spiritual battle would eventually occur within the country’s borders, but it would be secular in nature. This of course is the struggle we see between the left and the right—one that has transcended the political sphere and has slithered its way into almost every aspect of American life, including arenas that were traditionally a-political, such as sports, entertainment, business, etc. .

In essence, this has become a religious conflict, and I don’t use that term lightly. What I mean is that there exists competing worldviews, adhered to by ideologically stringent segments who share conflicting views on morality and how society should be structured. They celebrate different ideals, including things that used to be held in common, such as country’s founding (1776 vs. 1619). They have competing ethics, holding different things sacred. They even engage in ceremony. For example, during the BLM protests, groups of demonstrators would raise their arms while chanting various social justice mantras, like Catholics reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Probably and most importantly, they possess an “us vs. them” mentality and will go to great lengths in order to achieve compliance from outsiders, even neutral ones—the so-called “silence is violence” mantra, for instance. They have their saints, usually politicians, commentators, and notable activists as well as their heretics, people who don’t toe exactly their doctrinal line and our thus cast out unceremoniously. Think of how feminists who are skeptical of transgender ideology are demeaned and labelled as trans exclusionary radical feminists (“TERFs”). And if you sin against the religion, you are expected to get on your knees and admit your guilt. They even speak different languages and display different symbols. For instance, if someone’s Instagram or Twitter bio displays their pronouns or a black raised fist, you can tell what side of the aisle they stand on. Likewise, if they exhibit an American flag and the word “patriot”.

In other words, politics has become religion. The cultural struggle for America’s heart and soul has escalated into an ethereal feud almost reminiscent of the French Wars of Religion, though far less bloody (at least for now). What’s interesting is that this is not necessarily a struggle between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, in many ways, the conflict seems beyond the control of either party’s elites. The Democrats are split between the traditional, old score wing of their party and a far left contingent that, though numerically much smaller, is much louder, more aggressive, and has significant cultural and institutional power (more on this later). Meanwhile, the GOP has morphed into a bizarre coalition of traditional conservatives (Reaganites), Evangelical Christians, Libertarians and the populist right.

We’ll start by going through how we ended up at this juncture. Undoubtedly, a considerable number will claim that it all began in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump. There is no question Trump will go down in history as one of the most polarizing figures in American politics. Moreover, he certainly divided the American public more than any president in recent history, possibly going all the way back to Lincoln, a man whose election precipitated state secessions. However, the notion that America’s hyperpolarization began with Trump just isn’t true, as the divide between left and right was occurring long before Trump became a candidate.

For instance, a 2014 Pew research study showed that, since 1994, Americans have become increasingly divided. This was true not just in terms of voting patterns, but where Americans choose to live and whom to befriend. This was well over a year before Trump entered the presidential arena. Moreover, even with the Trump’s departure, along with him being made essentially irrelevant due to his social media banishment, the nation remains more divided than ever. In other words, if you imagine the American body politic as a biological entity, Trump was not the cancer. He was the pain that resulted from the cancer. And while you can treat the pain, the cancer will still remain, eating away at the body as the malignant organism slowly kills it.

Graph depicts American political polarization from 1994, 2004 and 2014

Graph depicts American political polarization from 1994, 2004 and 2014

There are numerous theories suggesting how polarization got so out of control. I’ve read everything from it began with the election of Ronald Reagan and the right’s new epiphany that it should no longer accommodate the left, such as House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s policy of dissuading Republican Congressman from fraternizing with their liberal counterparts. The exit of the Greatest Generation from the political scene, and with them, the comradery men of both parties shared with one another via WWII service. The election of Barack Obama and his every increasing turn toward the so-called progressive left

The demise of civility due to social media and its effects, whether it’s the construction of echo chambers for users (i.e. allowing people of similar, often radical, mindsets to readily connect even from disparate regions) or downgrading political discourse, since people allow their more hostile inhibitions to emerge through a screen as opposed to in-person. Or just the fact that people are generally more unhappy and stressed than were previous generations, which not only breeds more unwavering and extreme views but leads individuals to find purpose and companionship by joining political causes, no matter how extreme.

I don’t know what the correct answer is here. If I had to guess, I would surmise that it’s probably a mix of all of the above to various degrees. Whatever the case, they have now reached a precarious juncture. For example, a 2019 Reuters/Ipsos poll found that half of Americans believed Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to get elected, despite this theory being thoroughly disproven. Meanwhile, a Newsweek article from December 21, 2021, reported that a third of Americans believe Joe Biden stole the election, even though no conclusive evidence has emerged to date that this was the case. Furthermore, if the 2020 election had gone in Trump’s favor, I’m almost certain large swathes of the public would have blamed voter suppression. This is all particularly concerning as it means presidents are now entering office with large portions of the public believing they’re illegitimate, just as major segments of the south viewed Lincoln following his 1860 electoral victory.

Moreover, large swatches of Americans on both sides of the aisle now want secession. A July, 2021, article from The Hill reported that 37% of Americans would favor this. Personalities on both the right and the left, whether it’s The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh or comedian and wannabe political commentator Sarah Silverman, have suggested they would favor a national divorce. Realistically, this could never happen as secession in today’s landscape would be exceedingly difficult for a multitude of reasons. Nevertheless, it’s bothersome that close to two in five Americans would, at the very least, flirt with the idea of secession.

The question now is how did COVID further this divide? There was the belief among many, including me, that the pandemic would reunite America. Generally speaking, even in times of great division, the United States is able to reunite quickly during times of national crisis. And during the pandemic’s first month, it seemed like this may indeed have been the case. Families and friends were reconnecting, calling each other constantly in order to mitigate isolation. In a moment when the national mood was driving a wedge between us, people were brought together by their mutual appreciation of each other and their love of Tiger King. Despite the obvious anxiety caused by the onset of this pandemic, it brought with it a strange heartwarming sentiment that we were all in this together.

However, around mid to late April, I noticed a shift began to occur. As the lockdowns continued, there were large segments of the population than began protesting them as a violation of their personal liberties. This was particularly true in more liberal areas, which for reasons I’ll get to later, locked down much harder. There were two things interesting about the protests. First, they were mostly engaged in by individuals on the right side of the aisle. Second, was the reaction to them. I saw this firsthand on social media platforms, in which more liberally minded people attacked them as stupid, science deniers. Some even went so far as to call them murderers, because their actions could “kill grandma”.

As mentioned above, a complete one-eighty occurred when the racial justice protests and riots broke out in late May. I’ll get into these in more depth later. However, their importance to our current discussion is that they activated people, particularly those more on the democratic side of the aisle, to embrace and espouse more radical, leftist theories (Again, I’ll dive more into this later.).

They also had the net effect of angering the right, as the folks who were telling them to stay home or you were a bad person were now out in numbers that far exceeded the anti-lockdown protests. They were also angered that, as referred to above, many health officials and politicians engaged in this total reversal, as well. Indeed, I vividly recount this dramatic shift in the narrative. It was almost as if I had lived through one of those movies in where I went to bed and woke up the next day to everything being different, because someone traveled to the past and altered the present. And, of course, I’m the only one who could remember the original timeline. But I digress.

What is certain is that the United States entered into what was undoubtedly its worse internal crisis since the Civil War. But whether it was the anti-lockdown protest, BLM riots, or the later January 6th storming of the Capital, there is little doubt that these events were, at least in large part, fueled by the stress and uncertainty that accompanied the pandemic. The COVID pandemic was as much a mental health crisis as physical one, igniting a powder keg of social and political instability that had been boiling for decades.

Although the 2020 summer riots would eventually subside, unless you lived in Portland, COVID only continued to exacerbate the hyperpolarization—for instance, the issue over masks, which quickly became a right-left dividing line. Even to this day, the mask continues to function as more than just a way to prevent the spread, but as symbol of where your political leanings lie—almost a crucifix asserting how much you care about the pandemic. This is especially true by region. Today, if you live in a “red” area, masks are almost non-existent. Meanwhile, if you live in a “blue” area, mask mandates are often the first tool Democratic mayors and governors unleash to prevent the spread.

It did not help that 2020 also happened to fall in an election year—the most contentious and bitter election we’ve had in a long time. What I found fascinating about the election was that this time around, it was not just about the candidates themselves, but also about their respective supporters. I’m sure if you spent even five minutes on your social media timelines, you probably saw this quite a bit. The tribal lines were drawn.

And as the election drew nearer, the tension in the air felt thick enough to touch. Cities, particularly Washington D. C., boarded up in preparation for a new round of riots if Donald Trump was reelected. Of course, this never happened. However, the storming of the U. S. Capitol by several hundred Trump supporters definitely lent its fuel to the political firestorm. The fact that Biden’s inauguration occurred behind barbwire, patrolled by national guardsmen who were “politically screened” prior to the event, was quite the ominous image of to what depths the world’s most stable republic had descended to in the 21st century.

But even with the election behind us, COVID continues to further polarize the American body politic. The battles over vaccine passports and forced vaccination of school children, have grown particularly fierce. In fact, the way different localities continue to handle COVID policy makes it feel like the United States has a de facto split, not into just two separate countries, but divergent realities. Democrat run states and cities, which appear to value safety among all else, continue to implement evasive measures and mask mandates.

On the other hand, Republican areas, which appear much more freedom minded, valuing personal responsibility to stay safe rather than government enforcement, have remained open, even when surges occur. This led to none other than well-known liberal comedian Bill Maher in October, 2021, to comment, “I travel in every state now, back on the road, and the red states are a joy and the blue states are a pain in the ass. For no reason.” As someone who has traveled quite a bit in 2021, I can confirm that traveling from say Arizona to California is almost like stepping into a different universe.

The same is true with regards to vaccine passports and mandates, as Democratic run areas are much more likely to be in favor of vaccine requirements in order to enjoy or utilize public accommodations, including restaurants and grocery stores. Moreover, Democrats are much more in favor of the administrative state being able to utilize its authority to force vaccination requirements and testing among American business than Republicans. The battle over this has encouraged many Republican governors to flat out say they will not enforce the federal government’s mandates within their states. To put simply, this has essentially become a fight between perceived ideals of personal liberty vs communal safety.

Therefore, the COVID pandemic amplified the already substantial hyperpolarization plaguing the United States. I want to add before I continue that American disunion is nothing new to this nation and generally tends to come in waves. The bitterness between Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans and John Adam’s Federalists was immense and rather shocking considering they had just forged a new nation together. From the Civil War up until WWI, political division was substantial, as well. Moreover, the American government’s structure of checks and balances and division of powers was designed to create conflict in order to ensure liberty.

The point I’m trying to assert here is that it’s not all doom and gloom. The United States is a nation that suffers from bipolar disorder. It goes through cycles of division, malaise, and Puritan level shame and guilt. Yet, it’s also able to quickly reassemble, becoming optimistic, proud and patriotic. The question is how serious is this political, societal, and cultural rupture and how it will work itself out in the end? Personally, I believe it will all work out for the good of the Nation. However, I now want to draw attention to what I contend has been one of the most damaging aspects of the current political discourse, an ideology that has not only been gaining prominence the last few decades, but was augmented by the Pandemic. This is the dogma of the new, or what is sometimes called the “woke” left. I’ll explain more in the following section.

“Wokeness”: The Rise of a New and Destructive Secular Theology

In November of 2021, PBS interviewed Chinese dissident, artist, and activist Ai Weiwei. Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 and is old enough to have experienced firsthand Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. In fact, his childhood years were spent in forced labor camps, as his father was denounced and “purged” during the late-50s Anti-Rightist Movement. His family was later exiled to Xinjiang during the height of the Cultural Revolution. It was not until Mao’s death that Weiwei and his family were permitted to move back to Beijing.

During the interview, the subject moved to authoritarianism and naturally Donald Trump. The interviewer than asked WeiWei if he saw Trump as an authoritarian. His answer was rather interesting. "If you are authoritarian, you have to have a system supporting you. You cannot just be an authoritarian by yourself.”

He continued by stating that the United States, “. . . was in the authoritarian state, you [we] just don’t know it.”

He elaborated by expressing that the U.S. was currently undergoing something akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution—certain forces attempting to have Americans “unified in a certain political correctness, which he believes “very dangerous.”

Weiwei continued, “It’s very philosophical. With today’s technology, we know so much more than we really understand. The information [has] become jammed. But we don’t really — and really have the knowledge, because you don’t work. You don’t — You don’t have to act on anything. You just think you’re purified by certain ideas that you agree with it. That is posing dangers to society, to an extremely divided society.”

In other words, Weiwei contends that the true threat to democracy and classical liberalism was not coming from far-right populism, but rather from the left—utilizing doctrinal theories and tactics similar to those utilized by the Red Guard and other Maoist organizations during the Cultural Revolution.

I bring up this interview because I want to make it clear to the reader why I’ve decided to focus an entire section on this new far-left ideology rather than say far-right or white supremacist movements. It’s not because I don’t think the latter is dangerous, but because it doesn’t have nearly the same institutional and cultural power as this novel, persuasive, “Woke” ideology. As I will discuss later, almost every single American apparatus, from entertainment, education, sports, mainstream media and the halls of governmental power, has been usurped in one form or another, by this ideology.

For instance, American corporations have adopted Woke sloganeering and required “equity” training for its employees. Even the United States military, typically viewed as a safe bastion of conservatism, has adopted much of this ideology, whether it’s in its recruiting videos, “recommendation” of reading materials such as works by Ibram X. Kendi, or the country’s top general, Mike Miley, defending the teacher of unsubstantiated concepts like “white rage.”

By contrast, the alternative right and white supremacist do not, thankfully, enjoy the same societal legitimacy. There was a time when they unfortunately did. During the late part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, “progressives,” as they were generally referred to, pushed such racist notions as Social Darwinism and the white man’s burden. This led to the study of “scientific racism,” the idea that some races were scientifically superior due to their ingenuity, intelligence, etc.

For example, author and eugenicist advocate Madison Grant ranked the various races by intelligence, prowess and other features. Even amongst Caucasians, he crafted a hierarchy, with Mediterranean people, like the Italians, being on the spectrum’s lowest end. There was, of course, no real, hard, scientific evidence proving any of his theories. Nonetheless, his views caught a wide audience, especially with a particular German nationalist party following World War I.

Luckily, as the 20th century rolled on, this mode of thinking largely became discredited. This was especially true after the horrors of the Holocaust, which was primarily predicated on Social Darwinist beliefs, as they became known. This does not mean everything was, so to speak, hunky-dory. Jim Crow laws, for instance, existed in large portions of the country until the 1960’s. Nevertheless, as the century wore on, such beliefs became even more discredited.

This is not to say the alternative right or white supremacy group doesn’t still exist. It certainly does. And its disciples have caused damage, such as Dylan Roof, the young man who shot up a South Carolina black church. However, the ideology does not have mainstream backing, and its adherents are largely viewed as social pariahs, which most Americans agree is a good thing.

However, the intersectional left is not only mainstream, it’s being actively promulgated by a wide assortment of American public and private institutions. This is ironic because many of the key tenants of the Woke ideology mirror those of the alternative right, which I will elaborate on later in this essay. The important thing to note is that this leftist ideology is ascendant and has been for quite some time.

And this brings me to another key reason I want to focus on regarding this ideology. It’s not just because it has mainstream approval, but because it is authoritarian in its premises. Moreover, it poses a significant threat to the national mood and the country’s social and political stability, significantly more than any other radical philosophy. This includes traditional Communism, for which Woke dogma is structurally based on (I’ll expand more on this later on). This doesn’t mean I believe this new leftist philosophy will forever ascend. In fact, it will certainly collapse upon itself like a dying star. Nevertheless, it has already brought about significant damage and has the potential to do more during the coming decade.

I’ll start by giving a brief overview of the origins of this ideology. I can’t go into all of the philosophy’s nooks and crannies or else this essay would be book length. Furthermore, academics such as James Lindsay and Jonathan Haidt have done yeoman’s work explaining, in depth, this philosophy’s roots. So, if you’d like a more complete analysis, I’d check them out. However, I’ll do my best to present a succinct picture of this complex, doctrinal matrix.

Before I continue, I want to make clear that I’ll be using various terms interchangeably when referring to this ideology, such as “wokeness,” “new leftism,” and “social justice”. I do this not just for variety but because, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure exactly what the most meaningful way to refer to this is. This is partially due to the fact that, unlike other ideologies or secular religious dogmas, this doctrine’s origins are rather muddled. This is because it spawned from an amalgamation of various academic disciplines, some related to each other and others not (more on this later). And since I unfortunately don’t know how future historians will label this movement, I’ll just swap terms in order to keep a sense of variety.

From the research I’ve done and conversations I’ve had, I know there are many people who assume this movement began around 2010, give or take a few years, reaching its pinnacle as a reaction to the 2016 election of Donald Trump. In terms of the latter contention, I believe there is some truth to this. This Woke doctrine definitely went into hyper-drive following Trump’s ascent. However, like many issues revolving around Trump’s presidency, this tells only part of the story. In fact, I would argue that Trump’s victory should in many ways be viewed as the “overcorrection” to the social justice movement—the anti-political correctness, take-no-prisoners, bull-in-the-china shop who was elected as a means to push against absurdities of the Woke movement.

As mentioned earlier, the movement itself is difficult to define, since it encompasses a variety of leftist academic theories, many of which doctrinally contradict each other. At the expense of being overly simplistic, social justice is the concept of tearing down what are deemed to be oppressive structures. This could the “patriarchy,” “white privilege,” “heteronormative value systems” to name a few. It’s largely based upon the idea of “collective justice,” rather than individual, as groups such as women, Muslims, blacks, gays, transgenders are deemed to be part of certain cadres that have been subjugated by power apparatus.

The actual roots of the social justice phenomena are quite complicated. There’s no one origin story for it, since it is in many ways a consolidation of numerous radical theorems, such as gender theory, critical race theory, etc. This makes it unique among doctrines, the vast majority of which have a single root, like the Communist Manifesto for Marxism.

Nevertheless, the general consensus is it began sometime after the Second World War. This is when disillusioned, leftist, German intellectuals, often referred to as the Frankfurt School, came to the realization that modern Communism was failing. Not only were Communist states significantly poorer and more oppressive than capitalist nations, but were nowhere near to achieving the utopia that Marx had foreseen. Furthermore, leftist revolutions were not occurring in the industrialized West, which went against Marxism’s supposedly ‘scientific theory’ of class struggle, referred to as “dialectic materialism,” i.e. the Marxist contention that political are social events result from a conflict of social forces over material needs.

Instead of reexamining their beliefs, these academics argued that the reason the proletariat revolution hadn’t occurred was because the bourgeois had constructed culture to insure it didn’t occur. Hence, in order to bring about this leftist revolution, culture had to be “deconstructed.” This philosophy came to view of all Western society as an apparatus of oppressive power constructs, which needed to be broken down.

Academics such as Herbert Marcuse, Michael Foucault, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer manufactured a variety of think pieces dedicated to this proposition. As a side note, I read Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception for a college level political philosophy class. It was interesting, but read like something written by a jaded lover whining about how stupid their ex was for dumping them. Yet, in this case, it was grumbling about why it was that the masses didn’t support leftist revolution. But I digress.

This coincided with the French postmodernist movement of 1960’s, which, like the Frankfurt School, was mostly made up of disenchanted Communists who rejected the premise of objective fact for the notion that most things, such as race, gender, religion, age, were social constructs that needed to be deconstructed. Eventually, these theories found their way into American academia, which by the 1990’s had become predominantly more left-leaning. This led to academic institutions setting up a variety of new departments dedicated to topics like gender theory, queer theory, etc. All this eventually cumulated in a mixing and matching of ideas and theories, which produced the Hines 57 philosophy we know today.

Thus, what was created was an ideology that was structurally Marxist in the sense that it viewed the world in terms of a power struggle between repressive and oppressed forces. However, it differed in the fact that economic and social classes were not distinctive features of such a struggle. Rather, it was aspects like race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. This is where the idea of “intersectionality” came in to play, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw that essentially opined that someone could be part of multiple oppressed groups, which meant one could be higher or lower on the intersectional hierarchy of oppression based on how many immutable characteristics defined them. This isn’t necessarily incorrect. For instance, if you were a black woman living in the Jim Crow South, you were a second-class citizen, not only because of racial discrimination, but because you couldn’t vote due to your gender.

The intersectionality concept is bizarre for two reasons. First, it attempts to unite aggrieved societal groups that generally don’t have much in common around that idea that their victimhood statuses “intersect” at various points. This is why you can have transgender and gay rights activists stand up for the rights of Palestinians against what they see as the oppressive Israeli regime, despite the fact that many within these traditional Muslim communities are vocally opposed to this lifestyle.

Second, it sets up a not always clear victimhood hierarchy. For instance, a black man is high on the victim level, but not as high as say a gay black man, which isn’t as high as a transgender black woman, etc. What’s strange about this conceptualization is it doesn’t take into account an individual’s distinctiveness. Rather, it is immutable characteristics that define where someone lies on the spectrum. It doesn’t matter, for example, that a straight, white, cisgender man (the ones at the lowest end of the intersectional spectrum) may have grown up in a dirt poor family, within a rundown, rural area to drug addicted and abusive parents. He is still below the scale of say a black woman who grew up in wealthy suburban neighborhood because he has privilege. In other words, Martin Luther King Jr.’s notion of “judge one by the content of their character and not the color of their skin” goes completely out the window.

Thus, it’s ironically similar to the old notions of scientific racism promulgated by Madison Grant, in that it sets up a hierarchical ranking based on nothing more than innate features. In fact, the only other ideology as obsessed with race is white supremacy. This is the reason why you inexplicably find white supremacists and Woke on the same side of some issues. Side note: if you ever need a good laugh, look up comedian Ryan Long’s sketch “When Wokes and Racists Actually Agree on Everything.” It depicts a Woke person and a white racist as best friends since they are in agreement on pretty much everything except which way the hierarchy should go. But, I digress.

White supremacist and self-proclaimed founder of the alternative right, Richard Spencer, retweeting his agreement with Ibram X. Kendi. This is one of many examples of white supremacists and the Woke sharing almost identical beliefs.

White supremacist and self-proclaimed founder of the alternative right, Richard Spencer, retweeting his agreement with Ibram X. Kendi. This is one of many examples of white supremacists and the Woke sharing almost identical beliefs.

This leads into what makes this ideology truly bizarre, and thus its inherent contradictions. For example, it’s well accepted now within this doctrine that men can become men and women can become women. In other words, gender is a spectrum, which can differ from what one’s biological sex was*. However, this is not the same when it comes to race, as a white person cannot become a black person. This does not make logical sense as, for instance, a situation where you have two siblings, a white man and woman along with a black man. Despite being genetically related, the white man and black man will biologically, and even psychologically, have significantly more in common with each other than the white man and his sister. Nevertheless, because being black ihs higher on the intersectional scale than being a woman, Rachel Dolezal is treated like a pariah while Elliot Page, formerly Ellen Page, is celebrated as a hero.

Its illogical nature extends to other facets, as well. For example, radical or third wave feminism is committed to destroying the so-called and amorphous patriarchy. However, because radical feminism intersects with Muslims, who often also identified as oppressed “people of color,” they willfully ignore the abysmal treatment women suffer within the Islamic world. In other words, they try to tear down the society that is the most equitable in terms of gender relations while ignoring the planet’s most patriarchal and sexist societies.

This promulgation of racial essentialism and indemnity politics brings with it a revolutionary historical worldview, akin to that advocated by traditional Marxism. In this view, the classical liberal principles upon which the United States were founded are a lie. The American story is not about a free nation unshackling itself from a monarchy, but rather a country constructed by white men, for white men—a nation whose every institution was infused with racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

This narrative is a direct contradiction to traditional notions of American history—that the United States was founded upon righteous principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, the country did not fully live up to these principles, gradually expanding rights to others. The notion that, as Dr. King and Frederick and Douglas have stated, the liberal rights espoused within the Declaration of Independence were a promissory note that had yet to be fulfilled for African-Africans; that it was these principles that launched the abolitionist movement that eventually led to slavery’s long overdue extinction; that this led to the success of the American Civil Rights movement, and the true fulfillment of the concept that all men (and women) are created equal.

This is where the more militant and revolutionary aspects of the ideology creep up, as it asserts that all societal pillars need to be demolished, since they were created to maintain the oppressive white, heteronormative, patriarchy. This includes governmental, cultural, economic institutions that need to be torn down. Even generally neutral and/or stabilizing foundations such as science, capitalism, math, and free expression are seen as instruments of control by the white, patriarchal superstructure, and thus, need to be deconstructed. This is necessary in order to achieve not equality, but “equity,” a concept that states that certain people should have an advantage over others, depending upon whether or not they are privileged or under privileged based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, identity, etc. Again, socio-economic class, or one’s individual hardships, are ignored in favor of external characteristics.

This is where concepts such as “anti-racism” come into play. This is the notion that every structure of the United States have been infused with racism and white supremacy, and thus must be actively challenged. It includes the idea that every policy or prescription that leads to inequity or seemingly racially disproportional impact is racist, including things such as seemingly neutral as capitalism, meritocracy-based education, climate change, etc. This also includes the supposition that anti-racist discrimination (discrimination against those at the bottom of the intersectional hierarchy) is needed to combat racial discrimination of the past.

If that doesn’t appear to make logical sense, it’s because “racism” itself is defined not as treating someone differently based on their ethnicity, but racism plus power. Hence, you can’t be racist if you are of a race that is seen as not having agency. All this taken together naturally means that ethnicity must be taken into account for everything, whether economic, political or cultural, essentially racializing every single aspect of American life. To quote Ibram X. Kendi, “The most threatening racist movement is not the alt right’s unlikely drive for a White ethno-state, but the regular American’s drive for a ‘race-neutral one.”

Another feature of this that is important to understand is the belief within this new leftist movement that human beings are malleable. In other words, that human nature can be modified. This is why figures such as Kendi and Robin DiAngelo are paid millions by corporations and governmental organizations to put their employees through racial equity training, which focuses on such unproven and pseudo-scientific concepts like unconscious bias.

So why did this ideology take off within the United States, especially within the last decade? There are a multitude of factors. First, is the fact that the social justice movement plays to Americans’ good nature. I know this may surprise some readers, as it goes against what’s been the dominant media narrative, but the United States is one of world’s most accepting and tolerant nations. I’m not just saying this based on personal observation, but actual empirical studies like the World Values Survey. Moreover, interracial marriage has increased drastically within the USA. A 2021 Gallup poll showed that 94% of Americans now approve of the practice. Even during the Black Lives Matter protests/riots (which I’ll get into later), it was telling how many Americans of all backgrounds stood up in solidarity against racism, whether real and perceived.

From a historical perspective, this is quite remarkable considering that the country’s ethnically heterogeneous nature. It’s easy to create a well-functioning, tolerant and cohesive society when you’re a relatively homogeneous nation like Norway or Denmark. However, it’s often difficult for multi-ethic nation states to maintain stability, as they often either experience frequent social unrest or even outright collapse (think the Astro-Hungarian Empire, Yugoslavia, or the multitude of African nations). Despite what Americans may even believe about their own country, the nation is an outlier in terms of its compassion and acceptance of others, even if it has sometimes struggled with these issues in the past.

This American desire to assist the downtrodden is noble. It corresponds nicely to the Judeo-Christian principles of compassion and empathy, which have been longstanding features of American society. This is all well and good. However, the problem is that unlike most established religions, this dogma does not abide by a strict moral framework of which actions are permissible to achieve these seemingly noble aims. Like Marxism, this new leftism espouses a utopian vision. Thus, the ends always justify the means since the movement is on the right side of history (This was the same with Nazism too, which believed in the utopian vision of a Germanic ethno-state, thereby legitimizing their crime against humanity for the “greater good.”) This is the reason why so many of society’s cruelest, mean spirited, insecure and anti-social members join this movement, because the philosophy create a facade of righteousness for which they can lash out at others.

I’m not trying to argue that all social justice warriors are evil. In fact, many of those who are involved or pay lip service to the movement do so out of genuine compassion. However, as with all ideologies that advocate tearing down societal pillars in order to achieve self-prescribed noble ends, it tends to attract an extremely aggressive and nefarious element. As Aldous Huxley opined, “The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”

The second reason this doctrine gained so much prominence is because the United States has never seriously been plagued by economic class divides. Unlike, say, the United Kingdom, which maintained an established socio-economic hierarchy during feudalism, then transitioned to the birth of new classes that competed with the old order during its Industrial Revolution, America has not had an entrenched socio-economic pyramid. Yes, the United States has always maintained some semblance of an economic and financial elite. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, the social upward/downward mobility and fluidity between classes has always been rather comprehensive. This was something Alexis de Tocqueville noticed when he famously depicted his American travels.

This is one of the reasons why traditional Communism never really took off in the United States, since the theory is exclusively based upon ingrained class distinction and class warfare. However, where the United States has unfortunately struggled is with its multi-ethnic nature. There has undoubtedly been a history of racial tension, which has been handled to various degrees of success. Whether it was slavery or Jim Crow, dealing with Indigenous people, or managing the diverse array of immigrants flooding to its shores, America has had both numerous successes and failures. For instance, the United States is without question the premier nation when it comes to the assimilation of immigrants from a wide array of disparate cultures and background. Nevertheless, discrimination against immigrant groups upon their arrival such as Irish, Italians, Asians and Latin Americans has definitely occurred. But even if the modern nation has generally become a beacon of tolerance, this history still exists, which is why the Woke ideology has been significantly more successful than old school Marxism.

This plays into the third reason, which is the country’s Puritan origins. Very few societies are as self-reflecting or as guilt-ridden as the United States. This mostly has to do with its Puritan/Christian foundations. This hasn’t necessarily been a negative, as it has allowed the country to come to terms with actions that didn’t live up to its founding liberal ideals, such as slavery, Jim Crow, the internment of Japanese Americans, etc. However, it has also meant the country’s populace is frequently way too hard on itself, with Americans regularly absorbing the culpability for sins they did not commit (or even if their ancestors due to a large number of Americans descending from immigrants who arrived later in the 19th/early 20th centuries).

The final reason has to do with something I discussed earlier—the current demographic issues the United States is facing. Whenever societies face such conundrums, certain segments of the populace (predominantly the youth) naturally turn towards ideologies as ways to find meaning and alleviate their problems. This is particularly true in regard to the country’s current youth, Generation Z, which has, for a variety of reasons, been prone to adopting the Woke ideological dictums. I won’t go into this here, but if you would like to explore this dilemma further, I’d recommend Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s work The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.

The internet and social media have exacerbated this problem. Not only can radical ideas spread to a wider audience, but like-minded individuals can now discover each other, something which they were unable to do before. This is true for ideologies on the radical right, as well; but I would argue, as stated earlier, the new left has been given more mainstream prevalence on these social media platforms.

All this taken together has hence created the perfect storm for this Woke dogma to spread. This was particularly true on college campuses, where concepts such as trigger warnings, microaggressions, and cultural appropriation really started to pick up steam after 2012. Haidt and Lukianoff even penned a 2015 article about this in The Atlantic, a precursor to The Codling of the American Mind. However, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that caused these ideas to violently explode like a powder keg. And I don’t use the adjective “violently” as a euphemism. What transpired was quite without question the fiercest and most widespread political instability this nation has faced since the American Civil War. And no, that’s not an exaggeration.

It began with the Ahmaud Arbery incident, in which a former police officer as well as two other vigilantes chased down and killed a young black man, believing he was casing out a construction site. Arbery was killed back in February. However, in what appeared to some as a corrupt deal with the local D.A., the trio did not get punished. This caused the video to be released, depicting the disturbing ordeal of an unarmed Arbery being murdered.

Of course, what really set everything ablaze (pun intended) was the killing of George Floyd, which was depicted on a phone video by a local bystander. What followed was mass civil unrest, the likes of which haven’t been witnessed in the United States since the 1860’s. Protests and riots broke out in almost every major city in America. Businesses were ransacked and looted while police stations and other public buildings vandalized and ignited. In the span of just one month, billions of dollars of damage had been committed, while over 2,000 law enforcement officers and countless civilians were injured.

Portland was ransacked, with a federal courthouse there literally being put under siege. Residence of Beverly Hills were put under a 1:00 PM curfew, while rioters were allowed to run roughshod over Rodeo Drive. Meanwhile, a full-on insurrection occurred within Seattle as part of the area seceded from the United States to form CHOP or CHAZ. I know it’s funny to laugh about now, considering that CHOP completely collapsed, as its residents couldn’t even provide basic necessities for themselves. But the fact that an area, no matter how small, was allowed to effectively declare itself independent is outrageous. The entire ordeal also becomes much less humorous when one remembers that the CHOP’s security forces ended up murdering two teenagers, both of whom were African American.

Rioting would continue periodically throughout the summer. Chicago was forced to lift the bridges of its downtown area in order to prevent further insurrection, like a scene from the film Batman Begins. Unrest also broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a riot which was caused almost exclusively by the media’s reporting malfeasance. (For the record, it was originally reported that Blake had stopped to break up a fight before he was harassed, then shot by police. A snippet of the video was then released to the public, showing just the immediate shooting. However, police were actually called because Blake allegedly digitally raped a woman. Moreover, a more complete version of the video show that Blake not only resisted arrested, but reached for a pocketknife, the latter to which Blake himself admitted in a later interview).

Since we’re on the topic of the media, it appears that they almost encouraged the riots. This was not just in their awful coverage of stories, whether it was the “Karen in Central Park” or the Bubba Watson incident, to name a few. This included giving misleading information, much of it later proven to be either dubious or flat-out untrue regarding other police-civilian interactions. For instance, the Chicago story of an unarmed black man shot in the back while running from the police, which sparked the Chicago riot, turned out to be fabricated. Many media members even went to significant lengths to excuse the riots. A great example of this is disgraced mainstream pundit Chris Cuomo, who went so far as to ask the question, “Where does it say in the First Amendment that protests need to be peaceful?”

This is not even taking into consideration the numerous people on social media who gave credence to the rioters, often going so far as to say white people had the right to criticize their actions even if a good portion of the communities ransacked were predominantly African American. I go into more detail on this phenomenon in an article I penned last year, “The Normalization of Political Violence: The Roman Republic and the United States.” If you want more information, check it out.

Furthermore, a string of “cancellations” began against people who committed “wrong think,” both against celebrities and ordinary people. For instance, there emerged a video of a twenty-two-year-old college student using the N-word (“a” not “er”) when she was sixteen, after earning her driver’s license. A large social media mob then took it upon themselves to destroy her, revealing who she was and contacting every educational institution and employment venue she was affiliated with. I said earlier that the social justice movement attracts some of society’s worst and most anti-social elements, insecure people who want nothing more than to release their inner frustrations and angst upon the world. The cancel culture mobocracy is a perfect example of this.

What made the riots more disturbing was that they were accompanied by something akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which I referenced at the start of this chapter. Similar to the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, they demanded the renaming of streets, schools, buildings, etc. They began vandalizing historical monuments and ripping down statues of prominent historical figures. And not just of Confederate generals, but figures such as General Grant and President Lincoln. This mode of thinking would eventually find its way into public policy, such as the city of San Francisco voting to retitle a school named after Lincoln because he didn’t care about black lives. And no, that’s not a joke. Although the city later reversed its decision following the backlash.

The point is that the movement was more much than just a riot/protest for racial justice and police reform. It took on the structural form of the radical militarism of the new left—an attempt to demolish all societal pillars and foundations, whether of government, culture or economics, in order to build a new civilization. But as with all utopian visions, whether left or right, it led to mass destruction, suffering, and death.

This cultural, economic and political reconstruction was sold to large swathes of the American public under the guise of eliminating what was dubbed “systemic racism.” The term systemic racism is a bit of a nebulous term, because it is still not entirely clear what activists mean when they say it. For instance, structures like race-based slavery, Apartheid, and Jim Crow Laws were unquestionably systemically racist apparatuses. However, the lines here were fairly unclear, as I’ll explain soon. What’s important is the label itself became used to further this revolutionary fervor for radical, structural dismantlement and reconstruction.

Take the case that ignited this movement, George Floyd’s death. There is still zero evidence to this day that Derek Chauvin, the officer who was accused of killing Floyd, ever harbored racist intent. In fact, during Chauvin’s later murder trial, racial animus was never even brought up by the prosecution. (Side note: there was evidence of racial hostility present in the Ahmaud Arbery incident). But in reality, Chauvin’s intent never mattered because he was seen as being a part of systemically racist police system that allowed this to happen in the first place.

For example, in modern America, a significant portion of the country’s metropolitan regions are largely minority run. Whether it’s Atlanta, Dallas, or Richmond, many of these cities have black mayors, black city council men and women, black police chiefs and police departments that are mostly comprised of minority personnel. The Los Angeles Police Department, for instance, is plurally Hispanic, while the Atlanta P.D. is 58% African American. Furthermore, federal police agencies like the United States Border Patrol are 51% Latino. However, the demographic makeup is irrelevant under new leftism, as they believe these systems of power were built to be racist and maintain the white, cis gendered, male hierarchy.

This is how you got the bizarre, and frankly, humorous incidents in which videos emerged of white women screaming at black cops over historic, American racism. This was because even though the cops were African American, they were part of the white supremacist system. It’s how a predominantly white Seattle city council could force out the city’s black female police chief without any Woke activist batting an eye, as she is involved in maintaining the white racial hierarchy.

All this led to calls from activists and even prominent politicians to “defund” police departments. Many cities did this, helping lead to the massive urban crime and murder spike we’re witnessing today, particularly in minority communities. This is because the killing of African Americans by police officers is actually very minute —nine in 2019 according to FBI data, which is low considering the millions of interactions police have with the public each year. However, 55.9% of American homicide offenders in 2019 were black with 91% of the victims being other African Americans. In other words, when police departments were defunded or cops pulled back from high crime areas, it actually led to more violence and suffering within these communities.

This isn’t to say there aren’t reforms that should be made to American policing. Nevertheless, the fanatical nature of the anti-police movement caused immense hardship, particularly to the most vulnerable. All this was done in the name of a radical movement based on a flawed assumption that American policing is systemically racist. For the record, I’m not arguing there isn’t racism within police departments or cops who don’t abuse their authority. More that, by in large, the evidence of widespread racial bias within modern police departments is not as clear-cut as many politicians and media pundits would have you believe. I recommend the article, “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism” by Heather MacDonald for an in-depth analysis).

The other aspect of this that is similar to the Chinese Cultural Revolution is the social justice crusade’s religious connotation. In the earlier chapter regarding the American political divide, the conflict between social and political forces was, for all intents and purposes, a religious struggle. In regard to the 2020 riots, the social movement became as devout as a secular creed, just as any other cult or theology before it.

Like an inquisition, social justice rioters would demand compliance, not just from their followers, but from corporations and even innocent bystanders. There are still videos online depicting protesters surrounding people at outdoor restaurants, demanding they raise their fists in solidarity with black lives matters. Just like any fundamentalist movement, any questioning of the faith was met with intense anger, sometimes even threats or violence.

They even conducted what I can only described as religious ceremonies. For example, when a multitude of white people were recorded on their knees, raising their hands to a group of African Americans, begging for forgiveness, essentially an attempt to absolve themselves of the original sin of being white. It sort of reminded me of the Middle Ages, when the Bishop of Toulouse would get to slap some random Jew every Easter because his ancestors crucified Christ.

Major institutions began to get into the fray. I mentioned earlier that numerous corporations released statements in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, donating billions to the organization. I should add that at the time I’m writing this section, Black Lives Matter is currently being investigated by multiple jurisdictions for the misappropriation of funds. But, I digress.

Even governmental organizations got involved. For instance, a chart made its way around segments of the United States military depicting “overt white supremacy” and cover white supremacy,” the latter denial of white privilege, meritocracy myth, colorblindness and weaponized whiteness (I still don’t know what that means). As I suggested above, because social justice is essentially a secular religious movement, most of its tenets are not based on any scientific or analytic research. To be fair, the chart was not officially released or promoted by the military, as it found its way into emails and at military bases for still murky reasons.

Pyramid depicting "overt white supremacy" and "covert white supremacy"

Pyramid depicting "overt white supremacy" and "covert white supremacy"

However, a diagram was officially released by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. It illustrated “aspects and assumptions of white culture in the United States.” Such things as the nuclear family, objective, rational linear thinking, quantitative analysis, hard work being the key to success, delayed gratification, among other things, are depicted as part of white culture, which has been normalized and internalized by people of color, since whites are America’s dominant political force.

This is insane for two reasons. First, non-European cultures and peoples value things such as hard work and delayed gratification. Second, it’s probably one of the single most racist things propagated by a government institution in modern times, and not against Caucasians. This is because this document reads as if it was written by Richard Spencer or KKK leader David Duke. For within the white supremacist mindset, is the belief that all positive facets of economics, culture, and politics were invented solely by Caucasians, which is why they believe them to be superior.

Chart displaying aspects and assumptions about whiteness and white culture released by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Chart displaying aspects and assumptions about whiteness and white culture released by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

This is where you get into some of the more inexplicable aspects of this already peculiar doctrine. As mentioned earlier, social justice sees any inequity as naturally being the result of discrimination, even if there is no evidence of it. It’s why some states and cities took steps to advanced school classes or why you get articles in USA Today questioning if math education is racist. What’s intriguing about this is that when it comes to high educational or economic achievements, whites don’t even dominate these arenas, as it’s disproportionately East Asians and Indians within these sectors. In fact, if you look at an American STEM field today, it’s often majority persons who are ancestrally from Asian regions.

In terms of household income, Asians and Indians are at the top of spectrum. Another interesting tidbit is that Nigerian Americans make over three thousand dollars more than the average white American. I bring this up because the other ugly aspect of this ideology is the belief that other races that get ahead in America do so because they internalize whiteness and use white supremacist thinking to advance. This is exactly what a San Francisco School Board member Alison Collins said in 2016.

Until relatively recently, Asians were often dubbed “white adjacent”. For instance, 1619 project architect Nikole Hannah Jones responded to a tweet saying, “These days, I am reminded quite often that you do not have to be white to support white supremacy”. She said, “Whiteness is not static and is expandable when necessary. A lot of folks we don’t think of as white think themselves white because the lines have never been entirely clear. That’s the beauty of white supremacy—it’s extremely adaptable.”

It was not until the 2021 shooting of a massage parlor, mostly consisting of Asian workers, that this narrative started to be curtailed, as Asians took their place among the victimized people of color category. This, despite the fact the motives of the shooters didn’t appear to be based on race (it was some bizarre belief in which he thought he couldn’t control his sexual urges unless the place was destroyed) and that, over the past several years, most anti-Asian hate crimes have unfortunately been perpetrated by African American men.

Yet, the question remains—considering how radical and irrational this ideology is, how is that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated its proliferation? As I noted previously, this doctrine has been on the rise for a while. Although I can’t present empirical evidence here, since it does not exist, it was undoubtedly the lockdowns. The stress caused by the pandemic, along with the all the other uncertainties that came with it, combined to create the perfect powder keg. All it needed was a spark to ignite it.

As I’ve suggested, times of angst and insecurity cause individuals to adopt radical, often ridiculous beliefs in order to feel secure and find meaning in this chaotic era. This has been true throughout history. The Catholic Church, for example, was traditionally the premier Medieval institution of science and learning. It even generally treated Jews well. But it was not until the Black Death that the Church, along with the greater European populace, lost its collective mind, adopting bizarre beliefs, killing Jews because they believed they were poisoning the water supply.

It’s sad when you consider that, for a brief moment during the early days of the pandemic, it seemed that this collective challenge would bring us together, akin to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Family and friends were reconnecting; and people who didn’t know each other were connecting over their shared fascination with Tiger King. And even the media and Trump seemed to put their differences aside. Unfortunately, the Pandemic only exacerbated these underlying issues, intensifying the already deep fissures plaguing American civilization. And it continues to this day.

For example, government institutions have adopted equity-training programs, teaching essentially a significant portion of what was explained above. Private companies have done the same. Coca-Cola’s diversity training was actually leaked—a program in which employees were urged to be less white, espousing that “In the U.S. and other Western nations, white people are socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white.” Or take the Denver elementary school that put on a “families of color playground night”, which reportedly done in the name of equity and seemly excluded children of certain racial backgrounds. Although the school later denied this was the case, most likely because of the intense backlash it received. The satirical newspaper, the Babylon Bee, published a brilliant article on the matter. But, I digress.

It's too funny not to share

It's too funny not to share

So, where do we go from here? If there is one prediction made within this article that I’m most certain of it’s that the social justice movement will eventually collapse. This is because of it’s confusing, irrational ideas which are replete with self-contradictions. Moreover, it pushes an authoritarian worldview, demanding compliance and obedience, which is something every-day Americans will not accept in the long run. This ideology also leads to insane and frankly, diabolical polices, such as CDC’s original plan for vaccine plan that was discussed in the first chapter. Finally, instead of promoting racial and social harmony, it actually exacerbates these problems, forcing people to focus on immutable characteristics, telling them they are oppressors or moral victims based on how they look or how they were born, and does nothing but cause mental angst, depression and anger for all parties involved. Now that these concepts are being pushed on to children. This, along with radical gender theory being pandered to children, has caused an extreme parental backlash, which was undoubtedly the reason why the deep Blue State of Virginia elected a Republican governor last year.

Thus, the question is not if new leftism will collapse, but when and how. The backlash is already here, and it will unquestionably grow. Yet, almost more important is how will it collapse? I say this because, if I had to guess, it will be thanks to a ballot box. However, I do worry that if this ideology, in a last gasp for survival, inspires more cataclysmic ordeals like it did during 2020, there could be consequences beyond what many Americans could imagine—particularly, the rise of the far right.

If Karl Marx were alive today, he would have been surprised to learn that not only did Communist revolutions almost always fail within the industrialized world, but that they only really succeeded in pre-industrial, agricultural-centric nations. Industrial and post-industrial nations rarely succumb to leftist revolutions. This is because there is a strong middle class that will not accept the system being overthrow by radicals who want a complete economic, political, and social overhaul. On the other hand, pre-industrial and developing states that contain massive peasantries, who are often mistreated, and hence have nothing to lose by toppling the state and implementing an entirely new system, may support this take over, even though that new system is usually identical to, and often times worse than, the one that came before it.

I note this because what usually occurs within developed nations is that a leftist uprising will occur. And if the government is unable to suppress such an insurrection, far right elements will take matters into their own hands. This is what happened in Italy during the 1920’s. Socialist riots and rebellions occurred throughout the country. With the national government being unable to respond, the Fascists took it upon themselves to crush the uprisings, thereby legitimizing themselves in the eyes of the Italian public.

I believe it’s very unlikely we will reach this juncture. America is a dynamic society. It’s populace, generally speaking, values its classically liberal traditions and institutions. Nonetheless, if insurrections sprout up again like they did in 2020 and the state is either unwilling or unable to act, this process could definitely occur. Stranger things have happened before. Political violence and instability often breeds outcomes that even the perpetrators of such actions can’t foresee. Hence, we should all hope this new leftist doctrine meets history’s dustbin soon and without major incident, lest something even worse emerges.

The Social Dilemma: The Crackdown on Dissent and Re-Establishment of the Narrative

I remember once being asked on a test from a university level, American history course, “Which invention was more significant: the nuclear bomb or the television? Explain why.” Solid arguments could be made for either contention. However, to this day, I still contend that it’s the television, as it changed the way we spread and consume information. The T.V. is probably the reason John F. Kennedy barely beat Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential election, as the younger Kennedy just looked better on screen than his opponent. Moreover, there’s a good argument to be made that it’s what allowed the Civil Rights Movement to succeed, as Americans, and the rest of world, were able to view firsthand the horrible treatment of black Americans within Jim Crow states.

The point is, whenever there comes into existence a novel way to spread and disseminate information, significant economic, political and societal transformation inevitably follow. The inventions of the printing press, telegram, radio and television all brought with them substantial ancillary effects—some good, some bad. The internet and, by extension, social media, have been no exception to this rule. In fact, social media’s impact has arguably been larger than its predecessors.

This is for two reasons. First, social media allows almost anyone to easily and efficiently add their voices or content to the conversation. Second, is just the mass scope of information that can spread through the social web. For instance, Google and Facebook (now Meta) by themselves contain more information than every single 1980’s intelligence agency combined, probably by degrees of one-hundredfold or more. Social media giants’ algorithms have constructed accurate and all-encompassing profiles of their users (such as their likes and dislikes, products and content that they’ll probably be interested in sometime in the future, etc.) to an extent that would have shocked and dismayed even the Soviet KGB. Thus, the sheer mass of data flowing through social media and controlled by its platforms far exceeds anything in human history.

This means that social media has had an enormous impact on not only how we consume and spread information, but how business and advertisements are done, how political campaigns are run, how social and grass roots movements are organized, etc.. What’s even wilder is that because this technology is still in its infancy, we really don’t know to what overall extent it will impact us.

Social media’s influence has far exceeded what many people thought possible back in the days of MySpace and Tumblr. Its effects on our relationships, mental health, and work life are just a few of the issues that have emerged from this Pandora’s Box. I’m sure some of you reading this have seen the documentary The Social Dilemma, which inspired the primary title of this section. However, I’m not going to go into all these matters. Not only would it make this essay way too long, but frankly, I don’t even understand most of it. In fact, I doubt most of us do. Yet, I do want to focus on one particular aspect that began prior to COVID and was greatly accelerated by its emergence. This is the proliferation of social media censorship in order to maintain particular narratives.

You’ve probably noticed this shift. In the early days of the internet, the general consensus was that it would be a bastion of free speech—where people from around the world can express their thoughts on ideas openly, without risk of punishment. Early forum sites such as Reddit promoted this notion. There was even the belief among many that the internet would eventually bring democracy to China. During the 2009 Iranian protests and Arab Spring, for example, social media was the primary means by which demonstrators organized.

Yet, over the years mainstream views on the internet and, in particular, on social media have seemed to shift considerably. Not only has the World Wide Web not democratized authoritarian states, but it’s arguably made them stronger. China, for instance, has utilized tech and algorisms to setup a mass surveillance apparatus along with its dystopian social credit system. Even liberal democracies like the United States, through institutions like the NSA, have set up surveillance frameworks, though still not to the tarrying extent of its Eastern rival.

Furthermore, cyberspace has become the latest front in warfare. Similar to how nations used to hire privateers to target rival countries’ ships, states now utilize private individuals to sabotage each other through increasingly disruptive cyber-attacks. The internet, particularly the so-called Dark Web, has also become a distribution network for illicit material such as drugs and child pornography. And, as mentioned earlier, there is increased concern over the mental and societal effects social media has on the populace, especially children and adolescents.

Perhaps the major catalyst for this shift in perception came after the 2016 election. This was after Donald Trump’s shocking victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. It was after this electoral upset that social media companies began to take a more proactive approach to monitoring what they deemed as misinformation based on the assumption that foreign, online propaganda propelled Trump to the White House. In reality, poorly worded posts by Russians with relatively small engagements most likely did very little to skew the election in Trump’s favor. You could perhaps argue that message boards like 4chan had some impact, but the notion that young men spamming memes of frogs was the decisive edge the Trump campaign needed is a bit farfetched. Nevertheless, there came increased pressure to crackdown on misinformation.

In response to this pressure, social media companies took various measures. Facebook, for example, decided to utilize third party fact checkers, such as Media Matters and PolitiFact, essentially outsourcing their monitoring process. The issue with many of these fact checkers is that they generally have a left-wing bias. I will get into this in more depth a little later, but often these fact checkers would flag articles that were true, but label them false because they were “missing context” or their “tone.” This incredibly broad standard meant that pretty much any political or somewhat controversial post could theoretically be flagged if phrased in slightly the wrong way.

Around late 2016 and early 2017, you began to see YouTube, which is Google owned, take a much harder line as well. YouTube’s process was slightly different from Facebook’s in the sense that their crackdowns weren’t just designed to censor what they deemed to be misleading information. It was also censoring content the video sharing service viewed as harassment or bullying. This caused many of the edgier YouTubers to have their videos deranked, demonized, or have their accounts outright removed.

By 2019, things escalated when Facebook decided to permanently bar certain controversial individuals, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer and Luis Farrakhan, all of whom are right-wing commentators minus Farrakhan. Although many of the people certainty have espoused some repugnant views, what was interesting about the bans is that it was done under the vague Facebook policy that was intended to stop “dangerous individuals and organizations.” Twitter did the same, banning Alex Jones and Gavin McInnis for reasons that still remain unclear.

The problem is that you can think the names listed above are awful individuals; but none, as far as I am aware, have ever directly called for violence. Moreover, there was the question of why other provocative voices, practically those on the left who have called for radical action, were not de-platformed as well. However, the more significant issue here is not who was banned. Indeed, I believe many people from all sides of the aisle would agree that those expelled have opinions that are rather objectionable. The greater concern is that a precedent had been set to banish those who were deemed unworthy of being heard.

The same is true of certain Facebook pages owned by particular groups. From 2016 on, Facebook had begun banning certain profiles from particular organizations. At first, these were mostly nationalist, far right, and white supremacist groups. However, this quickly expanded to other political societies as well. For instance, at the end of 2018, Facebook removed the pages of 800 accounts under the vague standard of “coordinated inauthentic behavior”. When the company was pressed on this, their claim was that much of it had to do with multiple accounts spreading spam. This didn’t make much sense, as all political groups on Facebook send out political ads. In fact, all companies and other non-partisan pages do as well. As with de-platforming individuals, a censorship model was now established.

Thus, the groundwork was laid for a social media censorship regime. However, it was not until the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic that it went into absolute overdrive. This was the point where the contention really took hold amongst the largest social media platforms that, due to the public health emergency, information needed to be heavily scrutinized and filtered. In other words, social media outlets would try to present what were the opinions of the consensus.

Before I get into specific examples, there are numerous issues with this line of thinking. First is the fact that there never was a “consensus.” Experts have disagreed on what the correct policies should be from the get-go. For instance, Dr. Marty Makary from Johns Hopkins and Dr. Scott Atlas, part of President Trump’s White House COVID advisory team, have consistently been at odds with the Fauci’s and many of CDC’s recommendations. Moreover, there has been disagreements among the authorities. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, for example, have been at odds over when a third booster is required or needed.

Speaking of the WHO, there is also the fact that the “science” has consistently changed during this pandemic. Take YouTube, which originally tailored its policy to only allow content that corresponded with the WHO. The problem is, early on, the WHO contended that COVID was not transmissible between humans. Now, perhaps this can be forgiven, as the Chinese government was the entity that initially spread this lie. However, as I discussed above, the public health establishment’s messaging on the pandemic has been all over the place and has not corresponded with changes in the science. In fact, as demonstrated earlier, politics undoubtedly played a role in public health apparatus’s dictates.

There is also the issue of what happens when you ban people with certain perspectives. First, it lends legitimacy to what the banned person was saying. With regards to COVID, if you de-platform someone for arguing that the vaccines are bad, it only lends credence to the beliefs held by many vaccine-hesitant individuals that there is an ulterior motive. “What is it they are hiding from us? What don’t they want us to know?” For if you look at it from the perspective of someone questioning the vaccine’s efficacy—why would an institution so confident in their position that the vaccine works, need to suppress the other side, rather than just present its argument?

Furthermore, you will often times have what is referred to as the ‘Barbara Streisand’, aptly named after the time a photographer captured aerial pictures of Streisand’s Malibu home. This caused an enraged Streisand to sue the photographer in order to prevent the photos’ distribution. The problem was that by suing, Streisand actually brought mass attention to these pictures, which otherwise would have been largely glossed over or ignored completely. This is what happened when Twitter and YouTube censored Dr. Robert Malone, a topic I’ll get to later.

The final concern is open expression and the unhindered dissemination of information. I realize that tech companies are private platforms. Hence, they are not bound by the First Amendment’s free speech requirements. Nonetheless, as discussed previously, these platforms have become not only society’s chief means for spreading and consuming information, but doing business, establishing and maintaining connections, both for personal and work-related reasons. This means that if a certain group or individual’s voice is suppressed, whether partially or completely, it puts the silenced at a major disadvantage. This is especially true if companies were to embrace a particular partisan or consensus viewpoint, as those who held beliefs outside the tech, ‘mainstream’ oligopoly could be inhibited.

There may be those that argue that this a good thing. However, consider how many times throughout history that the consensus has been wrong. It was once the consensus, for instance, that the Sun revolved around the Earth, that scientific racism and Social Darwinism were legitimate, and that the 1992, U. S. government’s Food Pyramid was the best way to achieve a healthy diet. As Christopher Hitchens used to say, “Don't take security in the false refuge of consensus.”

More importantly, because these tech giants influence so much of politics, society, and economics, their censorious behavior can affect the culture of free speech. This is crucial because cultural norms will eventually shape not only how we see ourselves in the world, but also the law. There was a point in this country in which there existed, particularly on the American left, a skepticism towards corporations and their ability to dictate the political, economic, and societal rules of the game to decide what you can and cannot see. Now, as social media has become the driving force in almost all spheres of American life, you now are a select and small cadre of people who are able to do just that.

So, how did the COVID pandemic accelerate and proliferate the social media censorship apparatus? It started with lockdowns. As mentioned above, around April, 2020, anti-lockdown protests began to spring up. It was around this time that Facebook announced a policy that it would ban users from organizing “events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing.” In other words, they would suppress the users’ ability to organize protests. However, as with our public health officials, Facebook moderators did not hold to this policy once the BLM protests and riots and broke out.

Facebook also clamped down on discussions of the virus’s origin, specifically dialog concerning the lab leak theory. From very early on in this Pandemic, there were questions arising over the virus’s source. Although there was no hard evidence this was the case, there was quite a bit circumstantial to support this contention. For instance, the fact that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was experimenting with these same coronaviruses, that there had been concern in U.S. intelligence cables about the lab’s safety procedures, the bizarre nature of the virus, and the Chinese government’s odd behavior when others looked into the matter, etc.. However, Facebook did not allow such deliberations on its platform—that is until May of 2021.

There is then the issue on masks. As mentioned previously, Dr. Fauci’s early position on masks was that they were not needed. They soon became not only encouraged, but debates about their efficacy soon morphed into a partisan issue. Social media took the pro-mask line and enforced its biddings. For instance, in October of 2020, Twitter removed a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas, who was part of Trump’s COVID task force, questioning the usefulness of masks.

However, most disturbing would be what occurred in April of 2021. This is when Google removed a YouTube video containing a roundtable discussion between Dr. Atlas and other public health experts, along with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. This was because many of these group members believed children should not be forced to wear face masks. As referred to above, the study which was relied upon to support masking in schools was extremely problematic. Moreover, because the COVID mortality rate for children, particularly those with no preexisting conditions is so low, and the role that seeing faces plays in a child’s development, created serious questions over whether masking children may cause more harm than good (Dr. Marty Makary wrote an interesting article on this).

Nevertheless, YouTube deleted the video because it “contradicted the consensus of local and global health authorities.” Google’s actions here were troubling for another reason, though. They had censored a government official, a high ranking one at that. This dystopian trend would continue when Senator Rand Paul’s YouTube channel was suspended for a week for questioning the effectiveness of cloth masks to stop the delta variant due to the mutation’s much heavier viral load. What’s interesting here is that a few days after this, Zeke Emanuel, who is on President Biden’s COVID team, said almost exactly the same thing.

Facebook employed the same tactics through its independent fact checkers. When John Tierney wrote an article on children masking citing a German study that passed peer review by Monthly Pediatrics, Facebook swiftly flagged his post as “partially false information.” The fact checker in this regard was a group called Health Feedback, which oddly enough, once labelled a claim by President Trump as ‘inaccurate’, when he claimed that the development of a COVID vaccine was imminent, since one would likely not be available until mid-2021.

This brings us to the vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines have become quite the hot-button issue. As discussed previously, the topic of vaccines has become politically contentious, especially with regards to mandates, vaccine passports, etc. Even debates regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines have not been immune (pun intended) from political posturing. For instance, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Andrew Cuomo, all now major proponents of the vaccine, previously suggested that they would be hesitant to trust a vaccine developed under the Trump Administration. These statements were of course made prior to Biden and Harris taking office. There is even leaked video of Matt Zuckerberg from 2020 expressing skepticism over the mRNA vaccines and the possible, harmful effects they can have on human DNA and RNA.

However, whatever was the previous conventional wisdom on vaccines, quickly shifted during late 2020/early 2021. The conventional wisdom became that the only way out of this pandemic was vaccination. I’m not here to argue the wisdom of such a contention. What’s important to this discussion is how social media mirrored this notion, censoring any information it perceived as contradictory or undermining what they believed was the consensus.

For example, during the later part of 2021, Facebook and Instagram blocked any posts with the hashtag #NaturalImmunity. This was an effort by individuals on social media to spread awareness that those who had previously been infected with COVID-19, did not need the vaccine—a proposition which flew in the face of CDC recommendations. What’s interesting about this incident is that the “natural immunity” community was not completely without merit. Not only has natural immunity been a well-established phenomenon, but an Israeli study published during the later part of 2021, actually showed that natural immunity was probably more durable and long-lasting than vaccine immunity. In fact, as I write this article, the CDC now admits that natural immunity was six times stronger during the Delta wave than vaccination.

I’m not trying to make a recommendation of whether or not someone should get vaccinated based on a prior COVID infection. What I am saying is that Facebook censorship policy did not, dare I say, follow the science. This is also true in regards to their fact checkers. I can actually cite two examples of this that I personally witnessed. The first time was January 1, 2021,, when someone reposted a Clay Travis tweet, commenting on the 95% or higher vaccination rates for NFL, NBA and NFL players, but noted that COVID cases were still skyrocketing. This was accompanied by the fact check, “Missing Context, the ‘shot is not failing—it prevents most infections and reduces symptoms of breakthrough infections’.” In terms of the latter comment, it is probably true that the vaccines reduced symptoms. However, even the CDC now admits that the vaccines were not preventing infections, particularly with the Omicron variant.

My second example was when someone posted a quote from Dr. Robert Malone, which read, “First time in history that the ineffectiveness of a medicine is being blamed on those who haven’t taken it.” The fact check here was rather intriguing, as it read “Fact Check: A vaccinated person is not wrong to think an unvaccinated person is a threat to their health.” In regards to COVID-19, this is absolutely false. First, even by CDC standards, a vaccinated person who is exposed to someone infected does not need to isolate (although the recommendation was recently added that the exposed wear a mask for a few days). Second, the CDC now admits that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated can spread the disease. Thus, if you’re vaccinated, an unvaccinated person is not a threat to you.

Speaking of Dr. Malone, a man who played a key role in the development of mRNA, his appearance on the “Joe Rogan Experience” caused serious consternation, along with Dr. Peter McCullough. Even before the outrage mob descended upon Rogan, YouTube removed excerpts from the interviews with these two doctors. It should be noted that both Malone and McCullough are vaccinated, but had their videos removed due to questioning COVID orthodoxy. Twitter would later ban Dr. Malone as well. This is not to say everything they said on Rogan’s podcast wasn’t datable. However, as mentioned multiple time earlier, even experts who are viewed as being part of the consensus have been wrong in their assessments.

What’s most troubling is this suppression that is being utilized against elected officials. Recently, Representative Marjorie Taylor Green was permanently banned by Twitter for misinformation. Representative Green has made some rather peculiar comments in the past. Nevertheless, this ban was strange as it was based on “misleading” information, something which is common practice on Twitter (and mainstream media outlets in general). One specific tweet she was banned for was her posting of a chart from the government’s Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS) and claiming there were “extremely high amounts of COVID vaccine deaths.” Now, it is true that her words probably misinterpreted the data. However, if that’s so, every politician should be banned from Twitter, as that’s been a common practice, since statistics became part of politics.

Another post where she earned a strike was when she claimed COVID was not dangerous unless one was obese or over the age of 65. What’s interesting about this assertion is that it’s not entirely off-base. According to the study Unusually High Risks of COVID-19 Mortality with Age-Related Comorbidities…, 92.8% of COVID-19 deaths were associated with a pre-existing comorbidity. Indeed, we’ve known for awhile that age and weight are major factors in regards to determining risk. This is not to say that Representative Green was 100% correct in her statement, as she was clearly engaging in hyperbole. The issue is that pretty much every single American politician engages in this behavior.

And this brings me to the more significant point, and that is how social media censorship of COVID misinformation quickly evolved into wider ranging suppression, which was not only more disconcerting, but had more, far-reaching effects. This is particularly true in regards to the last election. Facebook third party fact checkers began to flag and remove political advertisements. Unfortunately, this mostly targeted ads that were more right of center.

For instance, an ad from the America First Pac, a super pac for former President Donald Trump, claimed that Joe Biden would raise taxes. PolitiFact flagged it with a “mostly false” rating, despite it directly quoting Joe Biden during the campaign. Facebook then removed the ad, based on PolitiFact’s claim that the advertisement did not give enough “context” to what Biden said.

But removing political ads pales in comparison to Twitter’s and Facebook’s direct interference in the 2020 Presidential Election. This occurred when Twitter and Facebook didn’t allow the sharing or distribution of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story—a news report that was completely true. Whether or not this ultimately affected the actual outcome of the election is unknown. However, considering how many people get their information from social media, such actions were quite perturbing. To put it into perspective, private, mega-corporations who control a significant portion of the information flow interfered in the 2020 elections substantially more than the Russians did back in 2016. You don’t have to like Donald Trump to understand the disturbing nature of these unprecedented measures.

This was in a strange way almost a precursor to what would occur next when, following the January 6, 2021 riots, Trump was banned from essentially all social media platforms. This was followed by a quick purge of numerous individual accounts that seemingly pushed Trump’s narrative that the election was stolen. Again, regardless of what you think about Trump or his behavior following the election, a sitting president being banned from all social media outlets, the primary purveyors of information, would be akin to FDR being banned from the Radio or Reagan from the television. This was why world leaders, from Germany’s Angela Merkel to Mexico’s Obrador, neither huge fans of the former U. S. President, came out so strongly against the platforms’ decision.

The purges even found their way to conservative platforms. Parler, which branded itself as the “free speech” rival to Twitter, was expelled from Amazon’s servers and taken down. The stated reason for this was that Parler was the primary instrument for organizing the storming of the U. S. Capitol building. This actually turned out to be false, as, interestingly enough, this stampede was almost exclusively coordinated on Facebook.

This brings me the principle point I want to emphasize. As I alluded to earlier, much of the social media apparatus is managed and maintained by individuals with leftwing world views far outside lockstep with the average American. However, this is only part of the story. One of the more alarming trends regarding social media censorship is how the government is utilizing its regulatory powers to further the censorship regime. This the reason why Facebook has been in the news relatively recently, along with its representatives, having to testify in front of Congress on what seems like multiple occasions.

Democrats are essentially threatening tech companies to censor information they don’t like, lest the corporations get investigated for say anti-trust violation (Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent piece on this). You’ve seen government officials, for instance, blame Facebook and other outlets for COVID policy failures, such as Jen Psaki calling on Facebook to censor disinformation or Spotify to do the same with Rogan, or Joe Biden’s eloquent phrasing, when he commented that Facebook was “killing people.” It doesn’t help that these politicians’ media allies have been all too eager to lend their support to certain measures. This is because legacy media outlets wish to reestablish their informational monopoly, which was significantly curtailed due to the proliferation of competing outlets that gained prominence online.

This is disquieting, as the federal government is essentially trying to find a backdoor to limit and control speech on the largest information purveyors in human history, where a massive amount of discourse is conducted. Moreover, though these companies may share many views with certain Democratic politicians, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Republicans will do this right back to Democrats. If the Republicans were to take back both Congressional Houses this year, which seems likely by current polling, and the presidency in 2024, it’s not unreasonable to think the GOP could threaten social media companies like their rivals. Hence, a terrible precedent would be established in which the party in power can use its authority to monitor and control the conservations and content on these platforms.

I’ll finish by saying that the way social media has impacted our era will probably not be fully understood for decades, perhaps even centuries to come. It has shifted our society and politics in many fundamental ways that even most “experts” have trouble articulating where it’s all going. It has certainly played a role in polarizing us, as people with extreme or insane views can put their messages out there, find likeminded individuals, and attempt to shift the so-called Overton window. They can hide behind screens, attacking people anonymously like they old style mobs carrying out vigilante justice (“Cancel Culture”).

However, these are just some of many issues arising from social media. What is of little doubt is that the COVID-19 pandemic certainly expanded and hasted these matters. How will all this end? If I’m being honest, it’s way beyond my intellectual capacities. What I will say is I don’t believe this status quo is sustainable. For one thing, it goes against American fundamental ideology regarding openness and free expression. But possibly even more importantly, backlash social media’s effects is already underway.

Due to the mass isolation during lockdown, many people, especially the youth, tried to maintain social connection through their phones. The problem is relationships through a screen cannot replace face-to-face interpersonal interactions. Loneliness can’t be fully alleviated by Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, TikTok or online video games. This is why it will be interesting to see how children in this upcoming generation (Gen Alpha), who were forced to attend Zoom classes and were unable to see their peers, interact when they reach adolescence. Perhaps they will be used so used to cyber interface that they will become more even enmeshed in it. Alternatively, their longing for real, personal relationships may mean that they largely discard technological devices, thereby becoming one of the most, dare I say, “social” generations since prior to the World Wide Web establishment. But whatever happens, it will certainly be fascinating to watch it all unfold.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 Pandemic will undoubtedly go down as one of the twenty-first century’s most consequential events. This is not only because of the millions it left dead, but its multitude of ancillary impacts. What was discussed above are only a few of the ways this virus accelerated already present trends. Other includes the hastening of work-from-home life, which was already underway thanks to the expansion and growth of high-speed internet. The debt crisis, which has been occurring for decades and used as a means to maintain the standard of living since 2008 financial, has proliferated to unimaginable levels. The United States by itself has spent more revenue than at any point in the history of mankind.

The increase in distrust for the media that was already occurring hit overdrive, largely due to the press’s own malfeasanc