“Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups.”
~ Fredrich Nietzsche
We all seek to understand the root causes of the COVIDcrisis. We crave an answer, and hope is that we can find some sort of rationale for the harm that has been done, something that will help make sense out of one of the most profound policy fiascos in the history of the United States.
In tracing the various threads which seem to lead towards comprehension of the larger issues and processes, there has been a tendency to focus on external actors and forces. Examples include the Medical-Pharmaceutical Industrial complex, the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, the Chinese Central Communist Party, the central banking system/Federal Reserve, the large “hedge funds” (Blackrock, State Street, Vanguard), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Corporate/social media and Big Technology, the Trusted News Initiative, and the United Nations.
In terms of the inexplicable behavior of the general population in response to the information which bombards all of us, the denialism and seeming hypnosis of colleagues, friends and family, Mattias Desmet’s 21st century update of the work of Hannah Arendt, Joost Meerloo, and so many others is often cited as the most important text for comprehending the large scale psychological processes which have driven much of the COVIDcrisis madness. Dr. Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University (Belgium) and a practicing psychoanalytic psychotherapist, has provided the world with guide to the Mass Formation process (Mass formation Psychosis, Mass Hypnosis) which seems to have influenced so much of the madness that has gripped both the United States as well as much of the rest of the world.
But what about the internal psychological processes at play within the United States HHS policy making group? The group which has been directly responsible for the amazingly unscientific and counterproductive decisions concerning bypassing normal bioethical, regulatory and clinical development norms to expedite genetic vaccine products (“Operation Warp Speed”), suppressing early treatment with repurposed drugs, mask and vaccine mandates, lockdowns, school closures, social devision, defamation and intentional character assassination of critics, and a wide range of massively disruptive and devastating economic policies.
All have lived through these events, and have become aware of the many lies and misrepresentations (subsequently contradicted by data) which have been walked back or historically revised by Drs. Fauci, Collins, Birx, Walensky, Redfield, and even Mr. Biden. Is there a body of scholarship and academic literature which can help make sense of the group dynamics and clearly dysfunctional decision making which first characterized the “coronavirus taskforce” under Vice President Pence, and then continued in a slightly altered form through the Biden administration?
The Asch Conformity Test was a series of trials carried out at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, in the 1950s, aimed at discerning how susceptible people might be to peer pressure, and how far this was likely to influence them in the things they believed or claimed to believe. It has often been noted that human beings fear nothing — not even hunger or thirst — more than being cast outside their own tribe, and these tests, also called the Asch Paradigm, comprised a series of studies directed by Solomon Asch to examine whether individuals would yield to or defy a majority group, and study the impact their responses had on their opinions, beliefs and actions. The results show a strong propensity in a minority of humans to follow the herd regardless of facts or even personal understandings. Asch found a strong pattern of yielding towards an erring majority opinion in more than a third of his test subjects, with three-quarters being prepared to concur with the majority’s ‘blunders’ to some degree — in other words, consensus was more persuasive that truth. Doubt creeps in when we are outnumbered, pressing us to trust the majority.
Asch’s verdict: ‘That intelligent, well-meaning, young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern.’
Some subjects, though suspecting something was wrong, lacked the confidence to go against the crowd. Some knew the others were wrong but went along so as not to seem ‘out of step’. Further trials over subsequent years discovered that, if one or more of the actors concurred with the subject’s opinion, the number of instances where the subjects answered with the majority was reduced dramatically. The bigger the group, the more likelihood of conformity. The level of conformity was dramatically reduced in experiments in which the answers were written rather than spoken publicly.
This is why it has been so vital to the Covid deception that contrary views are excluded from public debates. Just one dissenting voice can liberate even a hesitant person to ignore the majority and speak the truth as he sees it. In a mass society, even a few dissenters can turn a general convocation around. That is why the authorities seek to blacken the reputations of dissenters, why journaliars demonise truth-tellers as ‘far right conspiracy theorists’, and so forth. It is also why PC ideas have proved so powerful in bullying the majority to remain silent on issues when certain perspective are defined as taboo. All goes to demonstrate Irving Janis’s third rule of groupthink: Its captives immediately move to marginalise ‘wrongthinkers’.
‘White privilege’, ‘black oppression’ – these are the kinds of grand generalisations with which we are all familiar by now. They are the sweeping concepts we are encouraged to use to interpret our world – a world in which we don’t realistically live as individuals, but as ‘black people’, ‘white people’, ‘Asians’, ‘people of colour’ et al. The only ideas that are deemed to matter are the ‘structures’ and ‘systems’ that underpin the Big Picture, while everything else is deemed pretty much irrelevant detail. In the world of these grand theories and totalising narratives on race, the individual is relegated to the background.
The important question, of course, is why this has happened, especially given that the desire to be treated as individuals, not nameless members of this or that group, is a pretty universal one. I find it difficult to imagine there are people of any ethnic or racial background who do not want to be viewed primarily as individuals, including those most responsible for popularising the sweeping groupist language of our times. I find it hard to believe many would disagree with the words of Czesław Miłosz, the Polish Nobel-winning writer, who, in reference to the soul-numbing language of the communist ideologues who ran Cold War Eastern Europe, said: ‘The true enemy of man is generalisation.’ Nothing quite diminishes us more. So why then has language obscuring our individuality taken such a strong hold in what is supposed to be an age of empathy? After all, to empathise requires, by definition, seeing a human individual, not a group or statistic.
I never thought I’d see the day when publicly wearing a muzzle would constitute a proof of virtue in the same country whose government, less than twenty years ago, rationalized the bloody invasion of Afghanistan as a way of saving women from veiling their faces.
But then, I never thought I’d hear American liberals proudly denounce supporters of the US Constitution as a “death cult,” nor that I’d actually start to find Donald Trump sounding almost reasonable.
But at least there’s one thing we can all be sure about: “mainstream” news media, busily cheerleading for the death of freedom, will continue to gush with absurdities, self-contradictions and victim-shaming memes in their propaganda war to Keep America Gagged. The Bill of Rights (in case you haven’t noticed) is history; today, we demonstrate our patriotism by creeping around hiding our faces. Dissenters need not apply.