When COVID-19 hit America it had a profound effect on the minds of political ideologues, with outcomes like:
- Self-styled anarchists *crying* about Biden saying he wasn't going to force businesses to close again
- Increased division and hostility between left- and right-inclined anarchists
The new mind virus, which I call covidianism, mostly affected the "anarchist" left, but there were some notable effects on right-wingers as well.
Early right-wing stance
Early in the pandemic I heard right-wingers being alarmist and glorifying state violence including:
- Ben Shapiro saying "Every major nation has shut its borders. If we didn't have closed borders we'd all be dead right now."
- Stefan Molyneux saying "Someone who breaks quarantine qualifies for the strongest possible criminal punishment. He is acting as a serial killer, endangering the lives of multiple others.", and Nullus Maximus retweeting this.
I was shocked by Stefan and Nullus's takes and expected that if this was how the right was taking it, surely the left would do the opposite. Remember, this was around the start of BLM riots and I was at this time something close to an ancap feeling increasingly allied with the far left. I was eager to take that feeling farther, to definitively decide that the left were my true allies.
But as soon as I started seeing the left's reaction, the right seemed to not only switch around, but to totally forget they ever thought this.
The leftist symptoms were even more shocking and far more painful for me. I had heard that China was enforcing draconian lockdowns as a response to COVID and was now hearing that the US was doing the same. I was disgusted but eager to see the left firmly denounce this and find a huge new common ground between the anarchist left and anarchist right. And I could've sworn I heard Rechelon (William Gillis, notable leftist market anarchist) say something like the lockdowns hurt the poor the most because they weren't allowed to work but were still expected to pay rent. Something obviously true and obviously a huge reason for any sort of anti-capitalist to hate the lockdowns.
Before I even get into the *actual* left's reaction, let's start with some similar cases. It's always a good idea to set a position based on less sensitive issues before you pollute your mind with bias.
- If someone happens to catch a cold from you in public, do you, um... owe them restitution? At all? Is it even qualitatively similar to if you gave them the cold by deliberately poisoning their food?
- Should it be illegal to be in public with a cold without a mask?
I don't think anyone I've ever met would say yes to these things. They're utterly insane, I would be shocked to even find a statist who would say so.
These examples in my view make it obvious that as long as you don't force your presence on others, you're not enforceably responsible for the consequences they incur by voluntarily being in your presence. No one really thinks that about any similar issue.
But we all know what leftists in fact said about the COVID lockdowns. A left-wing anarchist I greatly admired posted this tweet:
Death is a pretty big curtailment of freedom, and projects that seek to increase freedom should try hard to avoid mass death as much as possible.
But I dunno, maybe your personal entitlement to Baskin Robbins is worth killing millions.
I was desperate to think I misunderstood him somehow. I argued with him in the comments and he was adamant that he really thinks it's murder if someone else catches a disease from you in public and dies, even if it happens in a venue whose owner has stated the opposite.
I asked him about the thing I remembered him saying before - that lockdowns are cruel to the poor. He denied saying it and said something like "oh, poor people should just seize housing by force when they can't pay rent!"
Imagine if I said "Instead of arguing against government barriers to HRT, trans people should just take it by force!"
I was so upset this day, I felt a crisis of allegiance and I looked back at bigoted right-wing pseudo-libertarians like Dave Smith and Austin Petersen, who were firmly denouncing this classist violence, and thought "maybe these folks aren't so bad".
And just incase we're not on the same page, at this time I was *constantly* seeing stories like this:
(trigger warning: state violence)
People were *literally* being kidnapped for being outside. How could this issue be any less controversial among "anarchists"?!?
But whenever I brought this up to leftists they acted like they hadn't heard of any such thing. "People being kidnapped in the name of these lockdowns, what are you talking about? Where is that happening?" And I'd link a couple of these and they'd just stop responding. I mean come on, even if you hadn't read these stories, you're an anarchist, you're supposed to be well aware that *every* government edict is enforced like this.
In fact it was only right-anarchists who continued making the point that lockdowns are cruel to the poor. Jeffrey Tucker kept saying this on the AIER blog, that lockdowns were invariably argued for from a position of economic privilege, because it's only the rich who can just stay inside for months and be okay.
Even to this day, even some of my friends stumble over the principle here, thinking that rights work with regard to COVID-19 in some way they don't with regard to any other issue.
Another curious thing I witnessed from leftists is simply denying that the state was doing anything like this at all. I heard some of them saying things like "society is trying as hard as it can to close but the government is forcing us not to!"