This article was first published in New View magazine Issue 97 Oct-Dec 2020
IS it not obvious to everyone that COVID-19 is not just a temporary, unexceptional public health crisis, after which, once we have all taken the vaccine which is apparently due to be rolled out sometime next year (or this autumn in Russia), we can all go “back to normal”? Is it not obvious that “going back to normal” was never the intention of those who, around much of the world, have imposed upon populations such harsh authoritarian measures, such as quarantining a country’s entire population in their own homes? From almost the very beginning of the lockdown, were we not told repeatedly by the mainstream media that we would not be going back to normal, but rather, forward to a “new normal”? How did they know? First the media were awash with enthusiastic talk of the “new normal” that would come after the pandemic, but recently, they have been telling us there will be no “new normal”. There will be no normal at all, they say, because we shall have to get used to constant abnormality, constant change and new measures. Why did they decide that this pandemic was going to be very different from those that had occurred in recent years – A/H5N1 (avian flu, since 1997 in humans), SARS (2003), the H1N1 influenza pandemic (2009, “swine flu”), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012, Ebola (2014) – and that this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic should be the one that would change the world? Very soon, we were also told – by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which hosts the annual meetings of the world’s business elite and other alleged ‘luminaries’ in Davos, Switzerland – that the COVID crisis had made possible something called “the Great Reset”, which, the WEF assured us, would mean no less than the total transformation of our society and economy. As if acting in synch, the BBC promptly started an open-ended series of programmes called “Rethink” across its entire network, which assumed that indeed, this particular health crisis would be the spur to radical changes in society.
Isolation and quarantine have since ancient times been measures taken to tackle epidemics, but it was always the sick who were kept in isolation,