#93 – New Herd Immunity ?

Democracy Unchained

Alexis de Tocqueville was a French aristocrat and the author of a book that every American should read. Democracy in America was the result of his work for the French government. In 1831 he was sent to the U.S. to inspect the prison systems, but he used his nine-month trip to study all aspects of American life. His study became the first volume in 1835 and the second volume five years later, in 1840.

Tocqueville’s genius was in his ability to recognize the inherent dangers of American democratic tendencies. He accepted American democracy but was skeptical of what this modern democratic nation-state may become. Tocqueville’s study in America’s social science examines the virtues of democracy and its vices.  

Tyranny of the Majority

Of particular concern is what Tocqueville calls the “tyranny of the majority.” In a democracy, the majority tends to suppress the interests and opinions of the minority. In effect, the tyranny of the majority tramples on the rights and interests of the minority. 

Tocqueville worried about the potential of such a sinister tyranny when exercised over thoughts and opinions. Tocqueville points at political correctness as an example of this danger. He warns that those that protest will be isolated and afraid to speak or think because of the influence of the majority. 

Today, social issues dominate the ether. Activists, usually university-educated with an unhealthy focus on equality, have seized control of the airwaves. With dreams of racial justice and agendas related to race, gender, sexuality, and a host of other issues, cancel criticism and levy personal attacks on the infidel.

This social outcasting has dismantled individual opinion and choice. Any divergence from groupthink becomes intolerable as all substance in dissent is lost. The result is that vetted politically acceptable thought becomes shallow, simplistic dogmas.  

Love of Equality

Tocqueville argues that in a democratic country, the love of equality becomes a passion that tends to override the love of liberty. The more equal and alike men become, the more they are bothered by inequalities the equality of opportunity becomes extinct.

The love of equality is so strong that men will readily sacrifice their freedom to achieve it. As Tocqueville puts it, democracy awakens “a depraved taste for equality in the human heart … that reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.” With this, Tocqueville predicted that the ardent love of equality leads to socialism and the rise of a new despotism.

A New Despotism

Tocqueville describes this new type of despotism as “an innumerable crowd of like and equal men procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. An immense tutelary power takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. An absolute paternal power motivated not to prepare men for manhood, but on the contrary in childhood.” 

This power seeks to keep the crowd fixed irrevocably. The power promoted its citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. So, this power willingly works for their happiness and wants to be the unique agent and sole judge. It will provide for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances. It medicates its constituents from the trouble of thinking and the pain of living.

Government expansion and dominance prevail to monitor and enforce equality and fairness within social society. This legislation creates a government leveling system. These laws and regulations bring about an equality of conditions that makes ideas and opinions more uniform. Tocqueville calls it tyranny because an expansive, irresistible government is not in the citizen’s best interest. 

The governmental bureaucrats understand the relationship between irresistible paternal government and the vulnerable public. When opportunities arise, they have to be ready and able to comfort the insecurities of the masses. All it takes is action and good marketing. John Madden described this reaction, “It does not matter if the horses are blind just load up the wagons.” Although cavalier, I find this procedure lacking critical thought. 

New Herd Immunity Conformity

When unknown or threatening occurrences appear, many of us submit to a primal natural human instinct, herding. Thus a shepherd is needed to influence the herd. The role of government, as a shepherd, is what Tocqueville calls tutelary power. When people feel insecure, they abdicate freedom for safety, a mass abdication of responsibility to authority occurs. 

Too little herding becomes anarchism, while excessive herding is totalitarianism. The gatekeepers of society must keep their flock within the submissive boundaries without applying excessive force. Covid impingements and the vaccine issue have become the barometer to measure where that boundary is. 

Erich Fromm described automaton conformity as changing one’s ideal self to conform to a perception of society’s preferred type of personality, losing one’s true self in the process. He goes on to describe this process. ‘Most people are not aware of their need to conform. They live under the illusion that they follow their ideas and inclinations, that they are individualists. That they have arrived at their opinions as to the result of their thinking – and that it just happens that their ideas are the same as those of the majority.’

Henry David Thoreau prescribed individualism as, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however, measured or far away.” Thoreau insists that mavericks need space to dance; they dance to a different tune. Reckless conformists hear only one note mavericks hear the whole range. 

#92 – Mandatory Vaccines – Science or Dogma?

Mandatory Vaccines – Science or Dogma?

Scientists investigate the structure and laws of natural phenomena and conduct research and advance knowledge. Science is ideally open-minded and uses an open-ended process to test theories continually and updated them based on evidence and logical thinking about empirical observations. 

Scientists are willing to revise their beliefs when confronted with evidence. Science is a rough-and-tumble process of hypothesizing, public testing, attempted replication, theory formation, dissent and rebuttal, refutation, revision, and confirmation. It’s an unending process, as it obviously must be. 

Today select scientists are exalted into a position of being an expert not just in their field of study but in other areas beyond their expertise. Often, these men and women achieved their positions not solely on merit but through a political process; appointments to a government agency, awarded prestigious grants, etc. Some scientists win the adoration of the progressive intelligentsia because their views align easily with a particular policy agenda.

When medical scientists advised a lockdown of economic activity because of the pandemic, they were not speaking as scientists but as moralists in scientists’ clothing. What are their special qualifications for that role? Did these scientists understand the consequences of a lockdown–psychological, domestic, social, economic, for the diverse individual human beings who would be subject to the policy?

Scientism

Giving our assent to claims based on mere authority or assertions of “settled science” leaves us vulnerable to the dangers of scientism. For many people, science has become associated with a particular worldview. It is often maintained and defended like religion. We are led to believe that the political agenda is science. Scientism has justified some of the worst horrors in human history. Skepticism is the hallmark of genuine science and should be our guide.

Scientism is undermining the credibility of science itself. Merriam-Webster defines scientism as “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities).” Scientism takes science to be the only means of answering questions concerning human behavior and motivation.

Humans are radically different from animals or other natural phenomena. They have minds, consciousness, self-awareness, and most importantly, free will, the ability to act spontaneously and unpredictably. None of these attributes have yet been explained solely through science, and their existence still keeps humans and their behaviors a mystery. While social scientists discover patterns of behavior to hold under certain circumstances, there will always be exceptions that defy the norm.

Disasters of Scientism

Scientism has been historically disastrous. For example, Marxism did not present itself as a philosophical theory but as the science of history, comprising predictable, objective laws of economic and political development equivalent to the laws of biology and physics. The truth is that Marxism is more of a pseudo-religion, which explains why many today still cling to some of its tenets in the face of the overwhelming evidence of its bloody failure evident in the 100 million people killed in vain in its name.

The eugenics movement of the early twentieth century created social and economic policies justified by “race science.” A division of humanity into superior and inferior races based on Darwinian theories about the natural selection of species based on their fitness for survival. Armed with the authority of Darwin, eugenicists categorized people based on superficial and often arbitrary qualities deemed “unfit” for survival. If allowed to reproduce or intermarry with superior races, the inferior races would swamp the more civilized and advanced white ones. The scientism crowd applied irrational bigotry to objective science.

For the first three decades of the twentieth century, eugenics was a “settled science,” and adherence to its theories was a sign of intellectual sophistication and superiority. Professors and esteemed scholars from the nation’s most prestigious universities published eugenics research and started academic programs teaching this new “science.” Mainstream media, newspapers, and magazines popularized this research. States passed forced sterilization laws, as New Jersey did under Governor Woodrow Wilson in 1911. The federal government passed two immigration restriction acts in response to fears of racial and ethnic pollution from Chinese, Slavs, Poles, and Southern Italians. 

With little genuine scientific evidence, eugenics and race science shaped decades of federal and state government policy. Resulting in a policy of illiberal and cruel policies. Programs of forced sterilization, racial and ethnic exclusion, and institutionalization of those deemed “unfit.” It took the horrors of the Holocaust, which followed these theories to their logical conclusion, to discredit eugenics and relegate it to the long catalog of other pseudo-sciences like phrenology, mesmerism, and alchemy.

Telescopic

There is an important parallel with the story of Galileo, who invited his contemporaries to look through his telescope. The Aristotelians and Church dignitaries refused to do so, as they had already decided that they knew the truth and didn’t want their worldview undermined. Dogmatic materialists refuse to consider and dismissed, out of hand, any evidence that contradicts their beliefs.

Most people are unqualified to judge most scientific conclusions. So we all need to rely on scientific and medical authorities, not in the sense of power but the sense of expertise and reputation. They are not qualified to live the lives of others. Medical experts saying, “Vaccine X is generally safe and effective” is different than saying “Vaccination should be mandatory.” Individual risks taken or avoided are not for science to determine. 

John Stuart Mill believed even dissenters with demonstrably wrong views could have information of relevance. To our peril, do we shut people up, cancel them or shout them down as heretics. That’s dogma, not science. We must have the courage to look through the telescope of others because that’s science.