A Viral Year

Published 2021-01-17 on Yaroslav's weblog

The year 2020 has come and gone. I can't say that it was a really bad year for me in particular, but I am pretty sure that many, if not most people, are glad it is over. I have never really "reviewed" a year, but the things that happened during this year got me thinking about many things, and so I've decided to write some of my thoughts on what twenty-twenty has brought upon us.

Even though overall last year was pretty good for me in many regards, the things that happened, and most importantly, how most of the world reacted to the situation at hand did unsettle me a little.

Everybody at this point knows the story. A mysterious virus that was discovered first in China back in October 2019 starts spreading itself at an incredible rate, and by March 2020 it's spread all around the world. And so, as it spread, the world started to lock down. I am completely convinced of the threat that this virus poses. I am, however, not convinced that the measures that were taken to "combat" this virus actually correlate to the real danger that it poses, nor am I convinced that the blatant denial of people rights and liberties is justified by it.

I actually caught the virus back in November (thanks to my roommate), and I can tell you with complete confidence that if you are a healthy and young person, you don't have anything to worry about. Basically my symptoms were the following:

  1. Two days of 38C (about 100F(reedumbs units)) fever.
  2. About four days of slight body pain and fatigue.
  3. Slight decrease in taste/smell perception while the symptoms lasted.

My treatment consisted of the following: plenty of rest. And that's it. Just 4 days of discomfort and then I was back to normal.

I wouldn't actually have known that it was the 'rona, had it not been that the circumstances I was in forced me to I take the test. And because of the fact that I took the test and I got a positive, and the regulations in place where I currently live, I couldn't leave my dormitory room de jure, until three weeks after my first symptoms when I took the second test that fortunately turned out negative.

Everybody's body reacts differently to the virus. For example, I didn't lose my sense of smell/taste completely, but my roommate and another friend that got it did. For me the symptoms lasted about 4 days, for my friend they lasted a little over a week. However, the people that I know that had it bad, were people who either were 60+ years old, or that already had some medical conditions, or a combination of the two.

This virus is in general deadlier than the common flu, and most importantly and what makes it more dangerous, is the fact that it spreads so fast. The problem is that the "cure" that we're being fed up, is worse than the illness.

The government should give the people the tools to be prepared, and inform the people the best it can. The people, that is, individuals, should then make use of their freedom to make their own informed risk assessments, and take the necessary precautions that they see fit given their own individual situation. Instead of that, we have governments all around the world instituting draconian measures that erode the basic rights of individuals, for the supposed safety and security of the "community". In reality in turns out the majority of people, who aren't really greatly affected by this virus, are giving up their liberties, in order to "protect" the minority of people to whom this virus actually poses a danger.

Do we ban "extreme sports" like snowboarding, because some people might, and do die while practicing it? Of course not. We inform people of the dangers and risks that it poses to them, and each person then decides if they risk their health and probably lives, based on several factors, such as physical condition, whether it is worth it risking their health for some fun, etc.

All these measures that have been imposed on us — at least in the countries with the most draconian measures, i.e. most of the world — have been at the very least dubious in their effectiveness, and I think the best example we have for how dubious they are has been Sweden.

Sweden has taken a very lax and liberal approach to combat this epidemic, opting to impose light-handed measures including restricting mass gatherings, but it never implemented any real "lock-downs" on the level we have seen most countries. And for this, they have unleashed upon themselves the wrath of the "wokes" all around the world, with predictions that the lack of tougher measures will mean a catastrophe for Sweden in the near to mid future. Not surprisingly, the heaviest criticism has come from non other than one of the least free countries of the world — China1.

I, however, fail to see how this lenient approach on relying on the good judgment of the citizens has been worse than that of countries with strict lock-downs in place. The situation in Sweden does not look grimmer than in countries with some of the toughest lock-down and restricting policies in place, e.g. The UK, Spain, France, etc. The cases per million are pretty similar, and the number of dead relative to the number of cases is basically the same as any other developed country (around 2%)2.

It's not surprise that the most oppressive measures have been put in place in big cities. After all, as has been for many years since the appearance of the first polises, living in a city has meant trading in some liberties and independence, in exchange for living in an orderly society, and of course, to gain access to increased wealth, security and opportunities. It's just a matter of balance, and how much this possible "increase in wealth" is worth to you. However, the recent events, have made me consider that lately the balance of the liberties you are giving up has been increasing, outweighing the purposed benefits of living in the city. This global crisis has just bluntly demonstrated it by accelerating what was already happening in most parts of the world, and providing us with a stark contrast. Especially considering that this crisis has just accelerated the "virtualization" of a lot of our society. If you are forced to make use of the benefits of the city by going online, and you can make use of them wherever you have an internet connection, then what's the benefit of living in the city anymore?

That's not to say that I am moving ASAP, or moving into a cabin in the woods. There are still some things left for me in the city, and some wealth I can extract from it to secure myself with the means for a better future. I just don't see a very bright future for myself in the city, at least not one aligned with my ideals.

Finally, of course, I don't think most people will leave the "comforts" and "security" of the cities in exchange for more freedom. Most people in the cities are so domesticated, that they not only seem unmoved by the trampling of their liberties, they actually welcome such tyrannical measures.

“La salvación social se aproxima cuando cada cual confiesa que sólo puede salvarse a sí mismo. La sociedad se salva cuando sus presuntos salvadores desesperan.”

“Reformar la sociedad por medio de leyes es el sueño del ciudadano incauto y el preámbulo discreto de toda tiranía. La ley es forma jurídica de toda costumbre o atropello a la libertad.”

Nicolás Gómez Dávila.


"China criticizes Sweden's corona handling". (in Swedish) — https://www.expressen.se/nyheter/donald-trump-utlyser-nodlage-i-usa/

© 2018—2023 Yaroslav de la Peña Smirnov.