A devastating epidemic spreads across America

Summary: The responses to my posts about the COVID-19 epidemic and my discussions with people (neighbors, fellow workers) reveal that a horrifying epidemic has spread across America. It can destroy America unless each of us fights back.

US Epidemic-Dreamstime-171640971
Photo 171640971 © Anton Anton – Dreamstime.

Many factors helped America has become a great and powerful nation despite our many weaknesses. High among them has been our strong social cohesion, which has carried us though some difficult time. Most notably, the Civil War and its aftermath (many nations never fully recover from such a bloody internal rift). Also, the Great Depression – where we avoided a near-collapse (e.g., France) and fall into fascism. WWII, where we mobilized faster and more fully than the front-line states of Britain and Germany (Hitler declared war because his experts grossly underestimated this). Most recently, by working through the peaceful civil rights movement that led to the great civil rights laws of 1964 and 1965 (finally ending the civil war by integrating African Americans) and the violent race riots of the 1965 – 1975 (armed troops in our inner cities each summer).

The comments about COVID-19, like those about terrorism in the five years after 9/11, show a fearful and mistrustful people. People who believe rumors and fringe sources (often ones that frequently circulate lies), and reflexively disbelieve expert sources and institutional voices. People whose fears have mastered them.

This is awful for two reasons. First, it diminishes our ability to stand together in adversity and strongly respond to our leaders. This comes easily to communitarian societies, like those in East Asia (has China has demonstrated in the past two months). It is difficult for societies built on respect for individual rights. We have to choose to stand together, which requires trust in each other, in ourselves collectively, and in our elected leaders.

Without this, we are a rabble – no matter what wealth and power we command.

Second, this is an America ready for a revolution, eager to find leaders with big promises whom they can blindly follow. We are a rabble seeking to become a rabble in arms. This is how democracy ends.

Epidemics, depressions, and wars are natural aspects of life. If not today, then we will suffer them today. If we become weak, one of these ills will knock our society down. For our society to survive, each of us must stay rooted and stay connected to our communities and nation.

Fear and distrust are diseases. They can spread faster than any virus and destroy societies faster than an army of tanks

It’s easy to follow the coronavirus story

The World Health Organization provides daily information, from highly technical information to news for the general public.

Posts about the coronavirus epidemic.

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also, see these posts about epidemics…

  1. See the ugly cost of the next big flu pandemic. We can do more to prepare.
  2. Stratfor: The superbugs are coming. We have time to prepare.
  3. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2009 swine flu in America.
  4. Posts debunking the hysteria about the 2015 ebola epidemic in America.
  5. Important: A vaccine against the fears that make us weak.

Films about scientists responding to global threats

In these films, we see scientists behaving according to their and our highest ideals.

When Worlds Collide (1959) – The world will end. Scientists band together to warn the world and build an ark to carry humanity to another home. It is a great film! The 1933 book by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer is even better than film.

Contagion (2011). – This shows the progress of a pandemic from its start with Patient Zero, through the global devastation, to an eventual victory by the world’s scientists.

When Worlds Collide (1951)
Available at Amazon.
Contagion (2011)
Available at Amazon.

 

18 thoughts on “A devastating epidemic spreads across America”

  1. Arminius the Cheruscan

    My son asked this morning if we were building a bomb shelter; we’ve been refreshing our goods over the last few weeks. No, I said, we’re simply doing the same thing my grandparents and their grandparents did – preparing for times not quite as flush as today. Americans are all children of a bountiful harvest season. This is, with very rare exceptions, the most remarkable time in history. You’ve said so yourself in your essays. Winter will be harsh on a society who never got to see grandma’s cellar with rows of canned goods stored safely away for harder times.
    My meaning – perhaps a little healthy fear of tomorrow isn’t such a bad thing for a soft and quickly corrupting civilization. Maybe, just maybe, this will cause the Great Reset to become just a Reset. Let’s hope for that silver lining in this dreary moment.

    1. Arminian,

      I fully agree about the importance of each household being resilient. Your example of keeping supplies is spot on.

      We have supplies and camping gear, to deal with a period without utilities.

      But this post deals with something very different – the kind of fear and mistrust that allows a community and nation to stand together in tough times. Without that, supplies in the cellar mean nothing.

      Without that, we are weaker than a cohesive village in the dark ages, despite our power and wealth.

      1. Ron,

        Thanks for catching that – over 10 million hits. Impressive for a website like this, with somewhat esoteric and technical content – mostly outside the range of usual thinking.

      2. Larry,

        Impressive indeed. Most of your massive amount of work is way over my head, but I always come away with something to ponder.

  2. Here’s a little different angle:
    My wife recently started working for a biotech company concerned with developing more scientists. Drug companies lose out on the top students for a variety of reasons, but one that interested me is that the best science majors are recruited into business rather than science. These people are currently trading massively on the public’s fear rather than in place in the drug companies developing treatments and cures.
    I first got into alternative news through the gold angle and one thing I retained is that with the floating currency it was a lot easier to make money being a foreign exchange trader looking at flows of goods and currencies than to actually work on growing food, extracting resources or producing things.
    My guru Jude Wanniski insisted that decoupling our money from any tangible asset would inevitably lead to moral collapse and maybe this is another way he was proved right.

    1. Eric,

      I don’t understand the relevance of your comment to this post.

      Whatever is happening in US colleges, the rest of the world is working at max speed on cures. Other than in fiction, no cure is discovered after a few months – and effective treatments for viruses are rare.

      This has absolutely nothing to do with the gold obsession.

  3. Larry- as a corollary of this post i would recommend taking a look at a post today from one of my other favorite people to read and discuss, Ben Hunt. He writes a series called Epsilon Theory, which has evolved into an ongoing discussion of “the narrative.” His post today regards the failure of leadership, which has become so corrupted, and fails us because we let them. a link is here:
    https://www.epsilontheory.com/the-fall-of-wuhan/
    It may be behind a paywall, and if so let me know i can forward to you a copy as a printed pdf. But it overlaps with your commentary here.
    By the way, the concept of resilience and preparedness is key. I sadly recognized this a few years ago, and have spent time and money trying to get neighbors and my community better prepared, but it is a Sisyphean task, mostly spent uphill, and with only occasional people taking actionable effort and mindset. As an aside, if people in New Orleans had all kept three days of food and water, the outcome there might have been substantially different than it was. Oregon, due to the risk of major cascadia subduction zone earthquakes now tells people to keep 2 weeks of food and water officially, and unofficially suggests more like a month. Imagine what this is going to look like when it happens, and only one in 100 households is actually prepared. All hazard preparation is a given if you understand the problem, and an epidemic is potentially one of those hazards. To all readers here, i would strongly suggest being prepared. And no i dont wear a tin foil hat, or some such. Being prepared and having a plan should be a basic part of living. Even if you were never molested as a boy scout.

    1. Barry,

      I agree on all points.

      “And no i dont wear a tin foil hat, or some such. Being prepared and having a plan should be a basic part of living. “

      Totally true! After US disasters, too many people wait for “first responders” to save them, while complaining loudly. Katrina is a good example.

      We are all the first responders. Little can be done in the first 24 hours. Local agencies are on their own for the first 3 days. Then State and National agencies car help.

      I have a great Katrina story about this, which I’ll post later.

  4. “The response to my posts about the COVID-19 epidemic and my discussion with people (neighbors and fellow workers) reveal that a horrifying epidemic has spread across America”–the diseases of fear and mistrust.

    To what extent is the “disease” of mistrust an appropriate response to our institutional environment?

    To what extent is the “disease” of fear a consequence of an increasing mistrust of our major institutions?

    To what extent are these subjective experiences legitimate rather than a disease?

    To what extent can successful collective political mobilization and organizing break through the barriers of such fear and mistrust?

    The bad news is that fear and mistrust are rampant–the good news is that sometimes successful political organizing takes place despite such emotions.

    My assumption is that collective acts of political self-assertion can break the barrier of individual fear and create a new sense of self.

    1. James,

      We are approaching this from two perspectives. You appear to be looking for excuses. Nobody cares about our excuses. All that matters is getting the job done, carrying out our responsibilities to our families and as citizens of a community and a nation.

      1. I am not looking for excuses but for a discussion about the affecttive roots of the mind and the linkages/feedback loops between our affective minds and our culture as well as our institutional structure.

        More specifically the relevance of different types of feeling (fear/anger/awe etc.) to perception, thinking, and decision-making.

        .

  5. I am reading ‘How Democracies Die’ by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt and finding it a very interesting and insightful analysis of exactly this topic. Not sure where I got the reference to it – was it from this site?

    The interesting thing is its dual focus. One is the mechanics, of how authoritarian regimes take control of a previously functioning democracy with lots of thought provoking detail on the specifics in various countries recently. And what prevents this happening in some cases.

    The second is its analysis of informal norms and their enforcement as what keeps democracies on the rails.

    Its an excellent complement to Paxton’s book on Fascism, which I have previously recommended. That is less analysis and more an historical account of what happened and why in the 1920s and 1930s in Europe. Why Fascism succeeded in some countries and not others, and the lessons of an understanding of that period.

    The great problem of our time is the loss of belief. As Chesterton remarked, the problem with the loss of faith is not that people believe nothing. Its that they start believing anything at all.

  6. Second, this is an America ready for a revolution, eager to find leaders with big promises whom they can blindly follow. We are a rabble seeking to become a rabble in arms. This is how democracy ends.

    I would like to hear more about this.

    1. Sven,

      Recently I’ve written a few posts about this. Scroll down on the home page to find the most recent one. Then see the For More Info pages for previous posts,

      I plan to write more about this. It’s a big change in my beliefs.

    2. I really recommend ‘How Democracies Die’ by Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt – which Larry may have pointed me to, don’t recall where I got the reference.

      It has quite a few blind spots which become apparent the more of it you read, but its also full of surprising insights. Observations whose significance you hadn’t been aware of, but which seem obvious once they have made the point.

      The big blind spot, two thirds of the way through now, it is their conception of the political spectrum. They try hard to write objectively but its clearly an effort, and at some points their observations seem to be through a decidedly liberal filter, so its sometimes a bit like those New Yorker cartoons of the view of America. Its inevitable and its consistent with their diagnosis, things are so polarized that people are going to be in one or the other camp.

      Still and all its a real contribution and will change the way you see what is happening to America. Its a real attempt at a diagnosis. Whether it leads to a viable prescription? Maybe we will see in the last part!

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