Will the invasion do the job Covid failed to do?
For two years, now, Harrumpf has devoted itself almost exclusively to condemning, and poking fun at, the absurd, but catastrophically costly response to the moderately nasty Covid virus, a contagion which, even in its earliest and most virulent form posed a lethal threat only to the very old, the very fat or the very unlucky. Instead of simply protecting the obviously vulnerable, and letting everyone else get on with their lives unmolested, our governments took it into their heads that they had the capacity, and, moreover, the duty, to defeat the virus, and set about doing so by an unprecedented set of coercive social control measures.
The absurdity of this notion, and the damage it has caused, have been Harrumpf’s meat and potatoes for the last two years. A recurrent theme has been the extent to which Covid panic has been a social artifact. The relish with which the usual suspects (you know who they are – the Prius-driving Gaia-botherers, the dedicated followers of every dietary fad that comes along) embraced the restrictions that were arbitrarily placed upon their lives was potent evidence that these people were not genuinely in fear of their lives, but were really engaging in the sort of mutual grooming that chimps practice to give and receive reassurance of their continued membership of, and value to the tribe.
The bien pensants would bridle at that assessment, but what’s that I’ve been hearing for the last week? It’s the sound of people not talking about Covid.
Of course, the bien pensants might retort that with a full-blown war taking place in Ukraine, (and with much of southern Queensland and northern NSW under water), and there being only so much air time available to ‘your’ ABC with which to bend our ears with its tales of impending apocalypse, it’s not surprising that everything else has been shoved aside. But don’t you worry, as soon as Ukraine has folded, the West has reached some shabby, face-saving accommodation with Putin, and the Ukrainian people have been duly thrown under the bus, we’ll be back to our usual diet of daily Covid stats and soppy stories about how the virus has been especially hard on this, that or the other cherished minority – although still not a word of reproach for the Trudeau/Andrews/Ardern tyrannies, and their monstrous infringements of what used to be considered their constituents’ rights.
And they might well be right. After all, when Covid came along, many hoped that at least it might deal a death blow to the more vapid preoccupations of the chattering classes – the identity politics, the earnest insistence that someone with a willy can be a girl, the endless fretting about ‘carbon’. These confected threats could surely not survive, now that a real threat had come along to fill the threat-shaped hole in the bien pensants’ psyche that drives them to embrace these absurdities. They were wrong – if anything the SJWs have doubled down on their folly during the epidemic. On the face of it, then the Ukraine war should be no more effective as a corrective to the infantile obsessions that beset the Western world.
I’m not so sure. You see, the reason the institutionalised hypochondria that Covid brought has just become an annexe to the mansion of fashionable concerns instead of dismantling it is that, like ‘climate change’, and all the rest of it, Covid is not a ‘real’ threat to the people who fret about it. They experience it as threatening only by wilfully suspending their disbelief, as they would at a scary movie.
Ukraine is different. In a matter of days, the entire psychological framework of the West has been turned on its head. Power, which for half a century has been deprecated as a shameful irrelevance, is suddenly, and urgently relevant again. Respectable, even. The unspoken assumption that, pace Lionel Richie, ‘we are the World’, that, au fond, everyone in the world really just wanted to be like ‘us’, and that given the opportunity they would joyfully sign up to the liberal, democratic ideal, has been exploded. Suddenly, the idea that nothing could be more important than saving the planet from an unseen threat that will materialise, if ever, decades in the future seems absurd. Suddenly, it seems more important that our armed forces pose a credible deterrent to an unpredictable dictator than that their transgender soldiers should feel loved and valued, and that their tanks should emit less CO2. Overnight, it has become urgently necessary to find an alternative to Russian gas for heating German homes.
Hello fracking; goodbye renewables. We can but hope. In the meantime, let’s hope Putin really has miscalculated, and that Ukraine can hold out on the ground long enough for the destruction of the Russian economy to become so eye-watering that someone finds a way of getting rid of him.