Corona is a cult, and we can demonstrate it.
If you prefer a softer term than Corona Cult, go with Corona Religion.
It worked like this (quoting from below in this post):
The converts were reacting to news of the Apocalypse, as foretold by the Holy Media, and were seeing signs of the prophecies coming true before their eyes (actually, on their screens).
This is the most compelling explanation for why the Corona Crisis has gone on as long as it has.
Corona-as-religious-Cult is an important enough insight within Corona-Panic Studies that a detailed investigation is needed. I am not aware of any other full treatment of this subject of Corona as a cult, under an anthropological approach to the matter, and therefore I have written one myself (this post).
Corona-as-Religion is a simple but powerful observation:
Viewing it in these terms at once explains a lot of puzzling things.
- It explains why the Corona-Narrative seems so willing, and is so able, to ignore evidence or simply declare its own evidence;
- It explains how Corona has proved, even after the peak period, so resistant to rational inquiry, with the narrative “batting away” the science surprisingly easily;
- It explains why Corona suppresses anti-Panic figures: They are heretics (as in the deletion of the Knut Wittkowski interviews, among others from Youtube);
- It explains the extreme measures, the religious-like reverence, the religious-like practices — around a flu virus. Something not before seen in any peak-flu period;
- It explains people’s willingness to make extreme material sacrifices to the cause.
Only in religious terms are many of the individual aspects of Corona really understandable.
To drive the point home, here is the original subtitle for this essay: “…’Covid’ as virus-centered apocalypse cult, its ascent to state religion, mass-conversion event to the cult, and a study of the cult.”
A “cult” in the literal sense, in the anthropologist’s sense
When I say Corona is a “cult,” or an “apocalypse cult,” I do not do so flippantly, ironically, or metaphorically. You might still think I mean this metaphorically. I do not.
I started off thinking about this idea in metaphorical terms, but I soon came to take it seriously, which is to say literally. In the literal sense of the word literally.
I have seen a few write of Corona having “religious overtones.” My argument is the “overtones” part can, should, be dropped for best understanding.
Drawing on expertise in the fields of anthropology and archaeology, a close investigation shows that Corona bears all the important hallmarks of a cult in the true sense, and therefore qualifies as a cult in the anthropologist’s and archaeologist’s sense.
A “cult” need not be an entirely new “religion.” In the anthropologist’s sense, it is more like a “religious current.” In a polytheistic system, maybe a series of events leads to the cult of one particular god becoming much more prominent at a specific time; new practices are introduced, and a new priestly class to minister to the new cult may arise, even as the nominal “religion” may not change. No one comes along and says, “New cult now. Here’s how it is…” It happens organically, and people might not realize it.
It is hard to shift one’s paradigm when a new religion arises and takes a society by storm. For instance, one can find stories such as “Doomsday cults using coronavirus pandemic as recruiting tool” (March 25): Little did the writer of that article realize at time of writing that he was getting it backwards, that Corona itself was the doomsday cult!
As for individuals, they do not usually realize that a new cult has arisen, nor that they are in a cult (see below).
To borrow and modify a phrase, “you may not be interested in cults, but cults are interested in you.”
This post is organized as follows:
- Introduction, the Corona Cult concept;
- Corona as a cult in the literal sense;
- Lessons for all times and places, a step into the world of anthropology;
- Why study the Corona Cult?;
- Corona as state religion, what it means;
- What is a cult? A look to anthropology and archaeology;
- Four generalized indicators of a cult: Attention-focusing (or -seeking) devices; boundary zone between this world and the next; the presence of a deity; evidence of participation and offering. How many apply to Corona?
- Ritual locations in cults and in Corona;
- Attention-focusing devices and redundancy: Our digital devices, saturation media-coverage, and the case of masks as religious garb;
- Prayer and special gestures: A look at the curious case of Corona Clapping;
- The new cult’s attack on the established religion;
- Corona as a moral question;
- The sacrifice of humans to appease the corona god;
- Heresy/heretics in (outside of) the Corona Cult;
- Forbidden knowledge to all but the cult leaders;
- The cult as Safe Haven
- Indoctrination, strict obedience, stress, fatigue, humiliation, isolation, peer pressure, fear, paranoia;
- Cult-embracers as normal people, not mentally unstable or otherwise deficient;
- The Corona mass-conversion event;
- Conclusion; reflections on the historical significance of the Corona Cult’s victory;
- How do cults end? How will the Corona Cult end?
Lessons for all times and places
This post steps into the anthropologist’s world and also into the archaeologist’s world.
Archaeology is the study of vanished civilizations. The basic questions of archaeology might be said to be: “Why did this/these/any past civilization rise/peak/decline/vanish?”
The emergence and rapid international diffusion of the Corona Apocalypse Cult, between about mid-January and mid-late March 2020, might give us insights into the mechanisms by which societies of the distant past may have (sometimes) had sudden declines or collapse episodes.
I am not an anti-religionist. I am a Christian. This post makes no arguments one way or another on the merits of the afterlife or on any specific religious beliefs. The point is analytical: In what ways does Corona qualify as a cult in the anthropological sense? (It turns out that it does very well; see below).
As in any field of endeavor, there can be self-destructive tendencies in religion. The rise of destructive religious cults, especially those achieving remarkable success and gaining state power, is worth studying. People can then engage in chicken-and-egg games, of course, with any such cult rise associated with social or political decline. Corona is no different in that sense. Even so, it’s worth first establishing what we were dealing with.
I will return to this. If you are “in for the long haul” on this post and read it through, I invite you to keep this idea in mind as you go, the archaeologist-of-the-future’s perspective on what we have seen with Corona.
Why study the Corona Cult?
I think this is an important post to write and have wanted to do this since early April. Approaching it has been a big project, which is why I haven’t gotten it out until now.
I have seen the anti-Panic side, including many of commenters at the Unz Review, at anti-Panic strongholds online like Off-Guardian, and at smaller scale here at Hail To You, say that “Corona” has real, definite, and obvious religious overtones. (If you are in need of Corona-Detox, the comment sections in this series may be helpful. Many good ideas are generated, in the best sense of what comment sections ought to do.) The point of this post is to say that we can drop the talk of “overtones.”
In a bigger sense, reconstructing what happened and how it happened is a big task but worth the effort. The Panic may have won a victory over us, but we retain the ability to document the madness and reconstruct what happened. By ‘we’ I mean we of the “thinking, anti-Panic side” (who either never “fell for it” at all, or who liberated ourselves from it, at some point, through some method or other, and became actively against the Panic, in effect becoming heretics and enemies-of-the-faith in the new Corona-Cult order). In a word, Truth-telling. Documentation.
There is a lot at stake here. Let us approach this documentation of the unnecessary Corona-Crisis as a service to mankind.
It’s hard to guess what we write and say today will survive into the future, how long it will survive in any form, or how influential it will ever be. But the Truth deserves advocates, everywhere and always. This is my part. The many others of the anti-Panic side, doing the same on a much greater scale than I, are engaged in heroic work and I say hail to you, to all you of the anti-Panic side. We were right. Hope is not lost and need not be lost, and there is power in truth.
One regret in writing this post: To the extent the pro-Panic side will ever bother with the findings here at all, it will likely only antagonize them. Who wants to be “called a cult believer,” right? Obviously that phrasing is provocative (“In for a penny…”), but from an anthropological-study point of view, it is worth it.
Many are unreachable until the cult burns through itself and collapses of its own internal contradictions (which I will return to in the final section). We all know many people like this, both public and semi-public figures, and private figures in our own lives. Given that we live in a media-filtered reality and so on, few are unaffected. Good people are affected. As I have written elsewhere:
Many more people fell victim to the [Corona] hoax/delusion[/cult evangelism] than will be willing to admit it by summer or by next year. It’s not their fault as such. There are malicious guilty parties, but most just fell for the panic […]
“Summer” was optimistic.
Corona as State Religion: What it means
Many have casually noticed the similarities between the Corona “Narrative”/Response and a religious cult and have written to this effect but almost always in passing or with obvious metaphorical intent. I first saw something like the non-metaphorical argument of Corona having cult-like dynamics at work proposed in the great anti-Panic essay by Dr. Jeanmonod of Switzerland (April 7, OffGuardian; for the relevant section, search for the line: “a ritual performed by the kurdaitcha man, or shaman […],” which is an excellent discussion but too long to excerpt here).
Any religious tradition, regardless of how long it lasts, starts with a period of great excitement and ambiguous messaging. It has its prophets, its frenzied enthusiasts.
(The word “enthusiasm” itself has an interesting etymology connected with religious evangelism. It was often pejorative, used by those in established churches against dissidents/breakaways, with the meaning something more like our present-day understandings of the words “over-emotional” and “fanatical,” both in the religious context.)
No religion/cult starts with fully formed doctrines, and sometimes it is not possible to exactly “sort out” what a given cult’s doctrines fully are. In truth, it is probably not even necessary to either sort them out or for a “cult” to even have coherent doctrines. It certainly need not have a fully formed “cosmology.” It need only have one, powerful idea, or a small set of powerful ideas. Prophecy and apocalypse, for example.
The Corona Cult’s “doctrines” are various, but they can be said to basically center around a kind of perverse worship of a virus. The moral imperative of the religion is: Suppress the Virus; salvation comes to man, woman, and child from believing in the virus, believing the prophets of the virus, and performing deeds to suppress the virus. This is not fundamentally different from the moral imperatives of many religions or cults observed in pre-literate societies, that center around suppression of, or appeasement of, angry gods.
In Part IX, I wrote:
We are now approaching two months since the CoronaPanic succeeded in breaking through, assembling a coalition around itself, seizing the initiative and routing the anti-Panic forces (such as they were at the time), seizing control of the government, seizing control of the culture, and establishing a form of martial law and state religion around itself. Over a flu virus that may be slightly worse than 2017-18 flu strains.
Part IX, from that is drawn, was about a true-believer in the cult, the Panic-addled Congresswoman Haley Stevens, whose speech (as I wrote at the time) “took on apocalyptic, religious-cult-like overtones;” I return to her case in this post later.
In Part XI, I wrote this:
Not only did the pro-Panic side ignore the evidence and actively suppress the early evidence, they busily set up a religion around the Panic, entrenching it and giving it eternal privileges from criticism or skeptical inquiry, and immunity from logical consistency (flattening the curve turned into an extremist policy of total elimination of the virus, a fool’s errand). As core doctrines of the Corona religion were steadily refuted, they dug in. How this happened, reconstructing what went wrong with the Coronavirus Mass Delusion event of 2020, is the most interesting question of the hour.
This might all sound like a lot of assertion so far, but can we really call Corona a “cult”? For that we turn to the anthropologists.
What is a Cult?
Most reading this are no doubt aware of the distinction between the academic use (in archaeology, anthropology) of the term “cult” and the common way we use the same term in popular culture today (e.g., famously, that group “holed up” in the compound at Waco, Texas, in the 1990s who went down in a fiery end in their standoff with the FBI).
Archaeologists and others interested in the rise, peak, and decline processes of cultures of the past (“lost (or) vanished civilizations”) might be said to have the most expertise in this area, especially when teamed up with anthropology (a similar field, with the divide being the study of extinct vs. living cultures; in practice, there often tends to be overlap even if purists insist on a strict separation). These fields can help us understand the present crisis, both in the immediate term, the medium-term, and certainly in the long-term.
What is a “cult” in archaeology and anthropology?
The rest of this post will quote frequently from an entry called “Cults,” written by Isabelle Vella Gregory, appearing in the Encyclopedia of Anthropology (ed., H. James Birx), 2006. (p.623-24).
First, Gregory’s full entry. Reading through it first in full may be helpful. Much of the rest of the post will draw from it:
Gregory’s “cults” overview article starts with the following:
The term ‘cult’ stems from the Latin cultus, to worship. The term is difficult to define, as it is used to denote various actions and situations. […]
Colin Renfrew defines the archaeology of cult as the system of patterned actions in response to religious beliefs, noting that these actions are not always clearly separated from other actions of everyday life
Renfrew was a leading archaeologist in the late 20th century, with a hand in the Indo-European origins question. He is still active in our time, now in his eighties.
The quoted line above is enough to give you a reminder of the flavor of the difference, with the academic sense of “cult” meaning a “system of patterned actions in response to religious beliefs” not necessarily separated conceptually from “everyday life.”
This post will focus on the anthropological-academic sense of “cult,” in common terms a kind of religion (but really “religious current,” as I term it above), but will also return at the end to the popular sense at the end, as Gregory does as well.
Four generalized indicators of a cult: How many apply to Corona?
Isabelle Vella Gregory (henceforth here, Gregory) lists four general “indicators” of a cult in the study of past human societies:
Indicators that may point to cult and ritual archaeologically are attention-focusing devices, a boundary zone between this world and the next, the presence of a deity, and evidence of participation and offering.
(She uses the term “may point to” deliberately. Not all are needed in all cases, and cults could even have important drivers that fall outside this simple framework.)
Let’s take them one by one and see how Corona fits these four:
(1) Attention-focusing devices. Oh, my, how Corona has its “attention-focusing devices”! Gregory, writing in the mid-2000s, could not have guessed at how well this phrasing would fit. The smartphone and other “devices,” including but certainly now nowhere near limited to television, and the ubiquity of what the Internet has become in especially the past ten years, qualify here. In more general terms, what we call “the media” is behind these “attention-focusing devices.”
These “devices” soak up a majority of many people’s free time today. There are people who are almost never outside the influence-sphere of their always-connected devices during their waking hours.
Of course people don’t think they are engaged in religious activity when they are looking at their smartphones. When one is in a religious setting, one tends to either turn off, or otherwise not look at, one’s phone. People think religious activity is done in a place dedicated to the purpose, not something they can do anytime, in the palm of their hand. But people may sometimes be unaware they are engaged in a “religious activity” even as they are, which is how many cults recruit successfully.
(The irony is not lost that this post is being published on the Internet, and that you may be reading on some kind of device of the kind I mean. In fairness to me, this is long-form writing, long-enough-form that I know there will be many, many fewer eyeballs than a miniaturized version would get. It hearkens back to the days of pre-clickbait, pre-Twitterization of discourse. Sometimes complex points take time to make effectively. In this case, a one-hundred-word post saying “Corona-believers are a cult!” would just sound like weak ad-hominem, amounting to name-calling.)
Yes, this “attention-focusing devices” phrasing seems almost tailor-made for the smartphone era, given the partial re-purposing of the word “devices” in the 2010s to mean digital devices, mini-computers, things that hold screens that people spend much energy and time looking at and interacting with daily.
A lot has been and will be written within Corona commentary on the role of technology in the overreaction. I have elsewhere phrased this as “our technology being weaponized against us.”
Onto the second indicator of a cult:
(2) A boundary zone between this world and the next. It’s fair to say that Corona puts the concept of Death very much front and center, in a culture that otherwise does not talk much about death.
Corona bombards everyone with this, on all fronts, daily (except those who go to great lengths to avoid it). Daily discourse and daily life in Corona fade into this “boundary zone” between this life and death. The CoronaPanic-pushers have terrified millions of death. Even as it turned out to be a flu virus of the sort we have seen many in the past few decades, the truth didn’t matter: The boundary zone had been established, as a giant gash in our reality in which the worlds suddenly were brought close together.
More concretely, I would propose that in the religious imagery of Corona, it is hospitals — those foretold “swamped hospitals” that so many believed in (which never had the decency of exactly being real, but the belief persists) — that have served this role in Corona, in both profane and sacred terms. “Heroes Work Here” banners are put up with the kind of pride that pre-literate peoples might have had in their local shaman’s hut or temple. There are a few other such sacred sites worth mentioning. More on this shortly.
(3) The presence of a deity. This is the weakest of the four for Corona. No one talks of a literal, formalized Corona god (one might hear this from a sarcastic anti-Panic individual, but only meant metaphorically). Maybe that’s because the underlying culture shies away from talk of god(s). Cults will “play the hand they are dealt.”
I do think there is an implied deity here. I think the common understanding is of Corona as an evil spirit lurking around intending to harm people. This appears to be a Voodoo-like belief (as I have written elsewhere), even held by those who fully understand and accept the germ theory of disease.
This means the Wuhan Coronavirus, in the cult’s belief, is a supernatural, demonic entity not subject to the normal laws of our reality, such as the normal laws of flu viruses (recall the peak-Panic mantra, “This virus is something we’ve never seen before!”).
A god does not need to be good, after all, despite the similarity in spelling in English of the two words. This is all similar to how pre-literate peoples understood the influence of certain gods in their society. I think we see evidence in this in the propagation of the unscientific belief that people can be infected multiple times by the same virus.
While there is no fully formed cosmology or pantheon of gods within Corona, of course, cults need not have such things, and probably never do at first.
(4) Evidence of participation and offering. There are many signs of this cult indicator in Corona.
A recognizable feature of Corona is those ubiquitous banners declaring things like “We’re all in this together,” “Heroes work here,” and “Thank you to all essential personnel!” The messaging “we’re all in this together” is of course a very direct call to participation. A declaration of mass participation. “Heroes work here” is the imputation of sainthood to a select few. I will return to a major case of “mass Corona Cult participation” in another section shortly, on Corona Clapping.
“Offering” is seen in the form of willingness to disrupt one’s life and the lives of all one’s fellows. Some grumble, but many seem to be enthusiastic participants.
So much for the four broad indicators. I think all align with the cult concept, even if the average person will tend to dismiss the claim solely because Corona came at us without a named god (thought “it” does have a name, Coronavirus or COVID19), as if that is the only thing of relevance.
Back to Gregory’s article on “cults” in anthropology and archaeology:
Renfrew notes that ritual locations will be places with special and/or natural associations (for example, caves, groves, and mountaintops) or in special buildings set apart for sacred functions (temples).
As mentioned above, I see the ritual location of most relevance to Corona to be in digital space, the media (i.e., the messengers of the religion)’s channels of delivery of the cult’s directives.
By the media I do not mean the literal physical space of CNN (etc.) studios, but the digital space they occupy. I refer to the content they feed to our screens. Not the screens themselves, but the images projected onto them and the associated sounds.
Societies thousands of years ago needed a village temple for their sacred space or ritual location(s), and even our churches needed such facilities as recently as a few decades ago. By 2020, in the digital age, “sacred space” can plausibly be digital. Or, to use a now-largely-dated term, “over the airwaves” or “on the air.” I mean, technologically speaking it is possible. Many will find it unsatisfactory to hold church religious services online, as the Corona Cult has demanded competing religions do.
If concrete, physical ritual locations are demanded for the cult, hospitals are an obvious candidate. But there are others:
A subtler sacred space within Corona is anywhere “essential employees” work. As the cult made gains, visiting a store increasingly became a surreal experience akin to a religious ceremony with people wearing masks, with some avoiding eye contact and carrying on with a somber aura, and engaged in the ritual-esque hoarding of certain items.
Then there is the conceptual space of “home,” within the “Staying Home” Corona-mandate. Believers’ homes are therefore ritual locations within Corona, in a weak but important sense because home can be a participatory space within the cult (tuning into the media and connecting with other believers digitally), and is being emphasized as such. And in many religious traditions, home shrines have importance anyway.
These (digital space of the media, hospitals, stores, other places with so-called essential employees, and the homes of believers engaged in the monk-like practice of lockdown) are all candidates for these “special [places] set apart for sacred functions” in the anthropology of the cult.
Attention-focusing Devices and Redundancy: Our digital devices, saturation media-coverage, and masks
Back to Gregory, who continues on the subject of “cults” in anthropology as follows:
The structure and equipment used [in cults] will have attention-focusing devices (altars, special benches, hearths, lamps, gongs, vessels, and the like), and the sacred zone is likely to contain many repeated symbols (i.e., redundancy)
Attention-focusing devices I deal with above. What devices do people focus more attention on than ever as of 2020? Enough said.
Redundancy might be a way to express, in general terms, what I’ve called “saturation coverage.” It’s note, “one brief update, once a day.” It’s “All Corona, All the Time.” It needn’t have been this way. It wasn’t inevitable in the pre-cult-takeover period. But once the cult’s mass-conversion event took place, it was inevitable, absent some kind of counter-revolution.
By late March, I noticed friends and acquaintances who leaned anti-Panic complaining that there was “no (other) news at all,” only Corona. The person who wanted to gloss past Corona news to read (any) other news could no longer do so. They would go to their normal news sources, but the top ten, fifteen stories would all be Corona, and they’d give up. Week after week. It’s still like this now as of this writing (May 17). Indications are it will be for some time to come. And the long shadow of the disastrous shutdown decisions will be with us for years.
The media’s pro-Panic drumbeat therefore fits “the sacred zone…likely to contain many repeated symbols” description. Even when nothing much new happens, new “developments” were and are daily manufactured, or cherry-picked/inflated beyond proportion, to keep up the pressure and the inertia of Corona. Much of the coverage was of course less substantive than symbolic and characterized by a firm narrative, on which see again Gregory’s “many repeated symbols.”
A tangible form of the “attention-focusing device” is also the “Corona Mask,” either the unnecessary surgical masks of various makes and models, or the absurd makeshift masks people began wearing at various stages in April. Some began wearing the masks in March, but by April they were instructed to do so by the leaders of the pro-Panic juntas and cult-overseers.
I would propose the wearing of Corona Masks is understandable as religious ritual, as religious garb. Often these are handkerchiefs or scarves. By about mid-April, only Corona-Heretics were publicly daring to say (cite the research to the effect that) these kinds of masks are either generally useless or are possibly counter productive towards the stated aim for most people in most general situations, and the entire premise of the attempt to fully suppress a respiratory virus was absurd and pig-headed to begin with: Now that is Corona-Heresy.
Swiss Policy Research has held the rational, calm, anti-Panic flag all along, and includes this as one of its top points at its Swiss Doctor on COVID19 series:
There is also no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of face masks in healthy or asymptomatic individuals. On the contrary, experts warn that such masks interfere with normal breathing and may become “germ carriers”. Leading doctors called them a “media hype” and “ridiculous”.
One of the high-priestesses of the US branch of the Corona Cult, active and visible in the pro-Panic media as of the critical month of March, Dr. Deborah Birx, is for some reason always seen with a scarf. This long before the media began promoting the idea of a face covering, a little foreshadowing of the trend in the Corona Cult practices? (I assume no relation between the pro-Panic junta figure Dr. Birx [b.1956, Pennsylvania] and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Anthropology from which I am quoting, Dr. H. James Birx [b.1941, New York].)
On masks as symbolic, Swiss Policy Research also says:
Critics speak of [masks as] a symbol of “forced, publicly visible obedience”.
There are plenty of examples of religious garb(s) that serve roles broadly comparable to the likely role masks fill within Corona. Many would see the the hijab or especially the burka in Islam as serving a comparable role.
In any case, any cult would love to have a “publicly visible obedience”-enforcement mechanism. If the way is clear to impose conformity, the ascendant cult will tend to exploit that opportunity.
Prayer and special gestures: The curious case of Corona Clapping
Back to Gregory’s article on “cults” in anthropology:
Rituals generally involve prayer and special gestures
During the height of the Panic, there were people organizing and engaging in mass “coronavirus clapping” campaigns, with apparently some success in getting people to do this clapping, both at local, regional, national levels, and efforts at international coordination were also seen. The idea was people would clap for doctors, nurses, and “essential employees” at the same time, on the same day, synchronized by time zones across the world.
This is obviously a special gesture in the anthropology cult sense, and also obviously has distinct religious overtones. Though I am sure it was organized by secular people, even agnostics and atheists.
Here is a poster for one of the ongoing campaigns out of the UK:
Someone replied to one of these announcements with these words:
We are ready, and tower speaker at the ready, we go all the way #somewhereovertherainbow
Here is a typical one from the USA:
These clapping campaigns were endorsed, amplified, and pushed by the media, which led and largely organized the cult in the first place, of course, and therefore had the ability to influence the direction of the cult and its practices.
The practice of clapping was said to have begun in Italy (along with singing in praise of doctors, from people’s homes during their “lockdown”), spreading soon to Spain and France. The media immediately began praising the practice and it spread further.
I have witnessed several clapping episodes near hospitals. True-believers, intent on “honoring the heroes,” assemble ahead of the end of nurses’ and other staff’s shifts at a certain time of day. When the heroes begin exiting the building, the assembled true-believers (none too near each other, in line with cult doctrines) begin cheering/hooting/sloganeering and clapping (by standees), or honking (by those in cars), in unison. The medical staff exiting the building is able to hear them, as can people for some blocks around.
We have to assume these hospital clappers took their instructions, effectively, from the media on this, and did not spontaneously come up with it on their own, did not somehow get neighbors to go along with it without media encouragement.
If you’ve watched any television during the long Corona Crisis, you’ve also seen commercials promoting the same. Not just general Corona-propaganda, but also the clapping campaigns specifically, showing them in action. Maybe you have seen these but haven’t even noticed them. Cult rituals are often going to be missed and may blend in with the background activities of society. There are not going to be bright neon lights around something declaring “Attention! Religious ritual in progress!”
Listen. If a future archaeologist finds evidence of this sudden turn towards a hitherto-unseen ritual, as in this “synchronized clapping,” where such never existed before, that is a clear alarm-bell sign that something was “going on” in the culture, something of interest for the study of the culture/society/polity and its traejctory.
For the archaeologist, a sudden discontinuity in observed tradition is something to take seriously.
This kind of reaction (synchronized clapping) had never been seen in any flu season before, ever (as far as I know), even though it is demonstrable that many flu waves in the past x years were at least as bad as the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic. This is therefore can be called an extreme discontinuity. Something happened, and it must be explained.
Archaeologists make ‘calls’ based on evidence of discontinuities like this all the time. Cults as evidence of a juncture within a culture, either associated with the rise, fall, or some other movement within a culture.
Take the perspective of archaeologist working (say) in 4000 or 5000 AD. Assume a much bigger civilizational discontinuity occurs between now and then, and that there are not many surviving records. The archaeologist of two or three thousand years in the future sets out to reconstruct what happened in our era. What kind of an archaeologist would he be if he found some form of surviving evidence of this practice of Corona Clapping suddenly appearing, but ignored it? Ignoring a major discontinuity of tradition like that, even if it doesn’t last, is just not a good idea.
The new cult’s attack on the established religion
“Corona Clapping” (see previous section) was not the only “special gesture” within the cult. There were also attempts by the “old” religions to also organize synchronized prayers, in our familiar Christian sense of prayer.
Given the artificial nature of the crisis and its negative effects on the churches at many levels (on which more momentarily), I would argue that getting churches to organize Corona prayers amounted to a form of a cuckoo’s egg laid in the nest of the established Christian churches, a kind of mega-scale cult infiltration of the churches.
There are definite signs of the Corona Cult making moves to attack the established religion. The pro-Panic side’s coup d’etat and the empowerment of the Corona Cult which demanded shutdowns disrupted the social life of Christian congregations, including banning them indefinitely from meeting, potentially causing many churches to fail just as small businesses will fail. The longer the lockdown/shutdowns and corona-prolefeed scare-stories dominate the media, the worse off many churches will be.
In the critical period of March 2020, the pro-Panic side and evangelists of the Corona Cult seemed especially interested in pushing the idea that churches were now dangerous places. They singled out churches, implying that Christian churches were uniquely targeted by the new apocalyptic god of destruction, the Wuhan Coronavirus. (I dealt a little with the topic of churches within Corona in a final section of Part VIII).
A characteristic story from near the peak period was: “Churches Could be the Deadliest Places in the COVID-19 Pandemic” (April 3).
Cherry-picked stories were pushed hard:
- Church choir members were being infected and dying, we were told, in shocking numbers. This was a story of choir members in Washington state who died; the same exact story was still circulating in mid-May, more than seven weeks after first appearing, in the national media of a country with 338 million residents;
- Corona-positive pastors were (potentially, and/or probably, and/or actually, we were confusingly assured) were spreading the apocalypse virus to congregants at an alarming rate;
- Much hay was made of a Christian pastor who had slammed the pro-Panic side as engaged in “mass hysteria,” as of mid-March, allegedly dying of COVID19 in late March. A heretic getting his just punishment! In this case, too, while the death occurred March 25 and was reported March 26, the story was actively making the rounds in the pro-Panic international media April 6 and 7 (e.g., BBC and NY Post), and as of May 15 is still circulating in national-level media coverage (NPR);
- A handful of other “pastors who got COVID19” stories got disproportionate coverage;
- A number of anti-Panic congregations deep in Middle America were refusing shutdown orders and were being monitored by police, who were taking photos of these small-time heretics’ license plates for potential future prosecution; when a state religion is in place, usually no violation of it is allowed, after all
Commenter JR Ewing recently wrote, quoting a common refrain from the pro-Panic side:
“Oh yeah? Have you heard the story about the guy who disagreed with the panic and then HE CAUGHT IT AND DIED!”
Like, they actually thought they were making a logical argument in favor of panicking
To which I replied:
If the argument is deconstructed, […] it’s actually a religious argument. He was a Corona-Heretic, and our new god smote him, smote him good. How dare you doubt!
The future archaeologist, if he found evidence of these things, would (not unfairly) interpret them as a suppression attempt by the ascendant cult/religion against the “old”/established religion, by using its energy to attack the old religion exactly where it is strongest, the esteemed position of its clergy and institutions.
Corona as a Moral Question
Another indicator that one is dealing with a religious thinking, this one not mentioned explicitly by Gregory, is the suspension of cost-benefit thinking.
A new, ascendant religious cult will not look favorably upon dissent, either from the old religion or from anywhere else. The new religion does not want people to ask, “Is this new cult, and the embracing of it, good for our society on the whole?”
In the comment section in Part IX, Federalist wrote about this feature of the cult, worth quoting at length:
It seems that the lockdown/shutdown measures quickly accelerated in severity until basically every restriction that they could think of was put into place. Now that they’ve mostly run out of new ideas, it is all about extending the measures further and further into the future. But why? It’s not just that mistakes were made because the anti-corona measures did more harm than good. The strange thing is that there was very little effort to actually try to figure out what were the right measures to take. It’s sort of like prayer for a religious person. It’s a good thing to do in and of itself. There is no cost benefit analysis. One doesn’t try to determine how much prayer is beneficial and how much is a waste of resources. In this way, fighting coronavirus became a moral issue. I really don’t understand why this happened.
This is a great point. But there is a simple and graceful way to understand why it happened. What we saw was the birth of a new cult. Things happen this way with cults.
These things do tend to happen, occasionally, when circumstances align. Maybe we don’t have a good understanding of exactly how in all cases, but we know that they do happen. We know from archaeological evidence that sudden religious discontinuities do occur, and we can assume they occur with some regularity, and that they still occur in our time in forms large and small, ephemeral and lasting, conspicuous and subtle.
The Corona experience of 2020 may show one way cults can arise organically or quasi-organically in a society. So many of the pieces fit.
The sacrifice of humans to appease the evil corona god
Back to Gregory’s description of “cults” in anthropology:
Other [cult] rituals may involve the sacrifice of animals and humans, the consumption of food and drinks, and votive offerings. All of these have been attested to both archaeologically and anthropologically. The equipment and offerings may reflect a great investment of wealth and resources […]
The “sacrifice of…humans” applies to Corona.
The people being sacrificed are the young. They are being sacrificed towards unclear goals but which we are assured, with “religious overtones” is a holy mission, in a system which fits the major indicators of cults as understood in anthropology.
Anyone who is not well-established, who has not already “made his fortune” in life, is still in the process of either forming a life or is still in adolescence, was sacrificed to the Corona-Cult and its mandates of shutdowns and long periods of disruption(s). Even many of those who do have established lives are going to be hit hard due to job losses. Those who would otherwise have been forming relationships, marriages, or friendships, or professional partnerships, will probably not be now. Opportunities delayed at least, and in many cases lost never to return. None of this mattered to the Cult.
That “great investment of wealth and resources” offered for the cult’s rituals Gregory mentions. No need for elaboration. No cost is too high to appease the Corona god.
Archaeologists often find evidence of immense wealth being “wasted” by burying it with a high-prestige figure in some ancient burial or other, with the treasures surviving buried to the time of their discovery, centuries or millennia later.
Why would the ancients do this? It is really not understandable except in terms of religious belief. The enormous cost borne by the foolish Corona-Response can also not be understood except in those terms.
There is also potentially a darker element. As I wrote on April 11:
Governor Northam [of Virginia] has converted to the Corona-Religion; its angry god demands its sacrifices in blood. Easter, which is tomorrow, is our greatest religious holiday and is about life, resurrection; but Gov. Northam and the rest of the clown-car governors have reverted to a more-primitive, blood sacrifice religion to appease their new god.
The idea is that young people of the West are being sacrificed to appease the evil corona god, a god not much like our familiar Christian God. As I wrote April 13:
The[re has been an] unsung birth of a CoronaReligion, or the Corona Cult, an evil religion that demands the blood-sacrifice of the young, the ritual humiliation of the majority to appease its evil god. There are key telltale signs […] that a mass-conversion event occurred. Some will shy from the ‘religion’ label and will much prefer to call it a mass-delusion and mass-hysteria event promoted by a bloodthirsty media and the most poisonous sort of social media effect. […]
Another form of blood sacrifice is the sacrifice of infants by making sure they are never born, lowering of the fertility rate by a Panic crisis and major recession:
[The] long-term shutdown orders […] with their economic dislocation and ruination/disruption of many-a prime-age, young, working-age man and woman’s lives, will end up sapping the fertility rate […] Gov. Northam, the full-blown CoronaPanic-pusher, is the same governor who came out in favor of post-birth abortions.
Another commenter, LoutishAngloQuebecker, replied in part:
I actually think they are satanic or something […] that they actually want to make us suffer. […] I’m pro choice in the first trimester but post birth abortion is Satanic.
We modern and post-modern people are known to look down on human sacrifice of certain ancient societies. I have no dispute that human sacrifice is a bad thing. Certainly it is terrible, a savage practice. I only point out, with the anthropologist’s cap on, that sacrifice was not irrational within the religion of the time.
The religion of the time for human-sacrifice cultures demanded that a portion of one group had to be sacrificed for the sake of the whole, with authorities designating the group to be sacrificed and organizing an apparatus to do the deed. Now, I ask, how is this different from what the Corona-Response has done?
Heretics in (outside of) the Corona Cult
Those who are actively and vigorously anti-CoronaPanic became, unbeknownst to them, heretics in the new regime. Embarrassingly for those who have taken up the trendy mantra “Believe Science” in recent years and found themselves on the pro-Panic side, the Corona-Heretic ranks include top credentialed authorities, scientists, epidemiologists, and experts. To the extent those with top credentials are ever asked, which they seldom are, we find the heresy rate up there to the Corona Cult is very high.
Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, Dr. John Ioannidis, Dr. Knut Wittkowski, and so many others are servants of the Devil in the world of the Corona Cult. (And, conversely, all people whom the Corona Cult deems ESSENTIAL, as well as assorted political opportunists, are Corona-Saints. All members of the Holy Media are the new religion’s chief evangelists and therefore also deserve a place of honor.)
You might wonder about cases of suppression against heretics. While I could point to individual suppression efforts (e.g., the lawsuit filed by Panic-pushers in the German media against Knut Wittkowski for spreading false information), there is a bigger case that ought to be remembered:
The hospitalization of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
I would suggest that the April 6 decision to hospitalize British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and put him in an intensive-care unit was a “political,” or in the terms of this post, a “religious” decision.
A hearty few were brave enough to call a typical-Boris publicity stunt even at the time.
The decision to hospitalize Boris Johnson may have been a calculated one to undermine Corona Skeptics and the deflate the energies of the anti-Panic side in the UK. A move to suppress Corona-Heretics.
As I wrote on April 9:
[Being “hospitalized for Covid-19!” is] Boris Johnson’s latest publicity stunt . […]
Although we are not necessarily going to ever know for sure, the strong possibility that Boris’ sudden “turn for the worse” (“Only to heroically pull through!” curtain; Act III) raises several possibilities. Whose choice was the hospitalization? His own, a classic Boris move to gain sympathy? Or was it other members of the “Corona Coup d’Etat” faction, who want UK’ers to show more damned respect for the Corona Panic, our substitute God now that Easter has been cancelled?
And what better example of a one-time heretic to the Holy CoronaReligion to make than Boris, who led a rearguard action until late in the game against the Corona Panic, resisting the mass shutdowns longer than many other cavers-in?
Boris’ “sudden turn for the worse, only to heroically pull through” was correct, of course; he was released from the hospital a few days after admission and remains fine.
Other of the heretics are really persuasive. I see the case of Sweden as particularly persuasive. Sweden is the standout case in the West (See, e.g., Part XI), a heretic regime at the heart of the West within the Corona Dispensation.
Here is Swedish commentator and author Johan Norberg (b.1973; a transatlantic figure often active in the US since 2007) speaking in early May on the “Swedish Experiment”:
“I get so many questions from people who say, ‘Sweden, you’re doing this crazy experiment!’ My response is, You’re doing a crazy experiment. The world has never shut down to this extent this rapidly before. Shutting down societies, workplaces, schools, and borders: That’s an experiment!”
He’s not wrong. He’s right. Objectively viewed, it is the Lockdown-pushers who were (are) doing something unprecedented, rolling the dice on extreme measures with an obviously destructive impact, not to mention engaged in constant goalpost-shifting and evidence-suppression and evidence-ignoring. Yet it is the common view is that the Swedish response is the extreme one. How does one reconcile this?
If the string is tugged at, religion is not far off:
“What do you mean the other village down the river is not sacrificing virgins to the jungle god after the new prophets foretold doom if we don’t? What a reckless experiment those guys down the river are doing! Can you imagine?”
Forbidden knowledge to all but the cult leaders
Back to Gregory on “cults” in anthropology:
The sacred is set apart from the normal world and may entail knowledge that is forbidden to everyone but the cult leaders.
I would place the Neil Ferguson and his hocus-pocus models, and a handful of others, in this category. The priestly class wing of those who seized power in March (the Corona Cult and Corona Coup d’Etat concepts are overlapping). Dr. Fauci, the same.
We all see the same data, but only they know the hidden truth, they have secret knowledge on why we need to embrace the Panic and hold fast to the cult’s teachings, or risk apocalyptic results. Trust them!
In the right conditions, this dynamic works smoothly. Accumulating evidence is just no match; it has no chance.
As I wrote elsewhere on Ferguson:
[T]he epidemic[‘s] clear decline in Stay-Open Sweden [leaves] only belief, only an ugly apocalypse cult under Saint Ferguson and pro-Panic juntas in governments near and far.
A commenter here similarly suggested that Fauci bears real similarities to Rasputin, the cult-leader-like figure out of early-20th-century Russia.
Gregory further writes:
One of the most debated topics in both archaeology and anthropology remains studies of shamanism. Briefly, a shaman is a type of religious expert who mediates between the human and spirit world.
Who fits the profile and role of the shaman role here?
On one hand I believe Ferguson does, but there may be others of note, including small-time, street-corner ranter types.
An isolated foreteller of doom (a “Doomer”) can be ignored, but when an entire religious apparatus and cultural norms are erected around him, he is suddenly powerful, no longer some nut but now a kind of shamanic figure:
The Cult as Safe Haven
Which brings us to “cult” as used in common parlance, an often controversial term. By defining cults as unorthodox, they are immediately placed into the category of “the other.” To noncult members, cults are groups that generally practice mind control, demand total submission, and, most often, take a member’s money. To cult members, a particular cult is generally seen as either the “one true way” and/or a safe haven.
One of the key features of the Coronavirus Panic of 2020 was always how self-reinforcing it was, and self-reinforcing systems do carry with them a feeling of safety, I suppose.
The data being against the pro-Panic side’s case was waved away in the early weeks by saying, “We don’t know for sure; better to be safe.” Opportunists large and small rushed the breach, riding the coattails of the new religious dispensation. Those rallying ’round the anti-Panic flag were routed, scattered, and risked being deemed public enemies or heretics (see above). In Corona World, data is blasphemy. (As it no doubt says in the Corona-Bible, “Do not put Corona, the lord your god, to the test.”)
While “Better to be Safe” was never a good argument (we never deal with uncertainty by jumping to the ultra-worst-case-scenario and battening down the hatches; rational societies do not make public policy decisions like this), it is a convincing one to many kinds of personalities, especially if allowed free reign and given seeming endorsement by important people. Why so many places/leaders “caved in” this time, I have proposed will be studied for years, in all kinds of disciplines, and this effort ought is one of those. Commenter Marshall Lentini presents the case for why it won’t be studied. I am confident that it will in time, but I don’t know how long it will take.
Indoctrination, strict obedience, stress, fatigue, humiliation, isolation, peer pressure, fear, paranoia
Gregory gets into cults in the common understanding of the term, listing several “main features of any given cult,” including:
Cults generally demand that members alienate themselves from the outside world. Finally, cults are strictly hierarchical, and leaders employ varying degrees of indoctrination and demands of strict obedience.
Needless to say, almost every word there (“members must alienate/isolate themselves;” “leaders employ indoctrination;” “demands of strict obedience”) applies to the Corona-Response in “Lockdown” places. Only “hierarchical” arguably doesn’t apply.
Gregory then adds:
Many cults are known to be dangerous and subject members to stress, fatigue, and humiliation. Isolation, peer pressure, and the causing of fear and paranoia are used to control and manipulate subjects.
I can hardly imagine a better description of the mechanisms that were/are at work in Corona. Isolation, peer pressure (or “groupthink”), fear, paranoia, control. Every one of those fits Corona.
These things weren’t introduced all at once, but were part of a build-up. A classic apocalypse cult, such as the kind we know and readily associate with the term in popular usage, also doesn’t start its pitch demanding a person whom they are targeting for recruitment immediately move to their compound in the desert.
As for indoctrination, this can in many cases be a synonym or propaganda.
As Swiss Policy Research has written:
A lot of people are shocked by the dubious and often fear-mongering Covid19 reporting of many media outlets. Obviously, this is not “ordinary reporting”, but classical and massive propaganda, as it is typically employed in connection with wars of aggression or alleged terrorism.
In Corona, people are barraged with contextless numbers and scare-stories on a near-constant basis, unless they make efforts to avoid the media entirely. These numbers and stories seem convincing. And, for another thing, “everyone’s talking about it.” Fear reigns; many willingly go along with the isolation except committed anti-Panic (an ti-cult; heretic) individuals.
On those contextless numbers, briefly:
Given that there are several million natural deaths a year in the US, if a flu virus is passing through the population, and if the pro-Panic side is able, through its control of the media, to count all the bodies positive for the virus at death for its virus-worship-based religious rituals, needless to say that’s good fodder for the CoronaPanic-evangelists and indoctrinators.
This post is meant not to focus at all on the technical side of the Corona dispute, which other posts have done in depth. I believe Corona is now settled science; the virus is in the range of a moderate to severe influenza strain, of the sort seen fairly regularly. The point of this post is that to true-believers it does not matter.
Cult-embracers as normal people, not mentally unstable or otherwise deficient
Back to Gregory’s article on “cults” for one final passage:
Common misconceptions on cults include that followers must be mentally instable and/or mad. However, while a leader may exhibit signs of mental instability, there is no prerequisite for followers to do likewise. Indeed, followers find a sense of belonging and protection in a particular cult. Very often, a member may feel this is the only way to salvation.
The case of US Congresswoman Haley Stevens is the best way to show what this means in practice. I believe Stevens is of fully sound mind. Even during her screaming, corona-paranoia, apocalypse rant at the US Capitol, she was never really going through a psychotic episode. (Despite appearances.)
I would interpret her display, rather than near-psychosis, as the sign of a true-believer in the emergent cult. Stevens was one of those who believed that a full embrace of the cult was the “only way to salvation,” to refer back to Gregory’s phrasing.
Stevens did not recognize that she had fallen into the clutches of a cult. Few cult recruits do realize as it is happening. If they did realize, it wouldn’t happen.
When someone joins an apocalypse cult, it turns his or her thinking to mush for a while (or sometimes for life; there are still a handful of David Koresh believers out there), which leads to a period of suspension of rational thinking and a groupthink-dynamic by which the concepts of Tradeoffs and Cost-Benefit are discarded or even angrily rejected.
The most serious cases are beyond being True Believers. The most serious cases are Corona Fanatics. This refers to that hardened, core element that actively does not want to “hear good news” (things that contradict the apocalypse message). Corona Fanatics seek out heresy to confront and destroy it.
How does one interpret the active and aggressive rejection, by some, of good news? I’ve written in the comments to an article by anti-CoronaPanic writer Mike Whitney on t this: It’s that “there are true-believers with any cult.”
The true believers, and even the cult’s fanatics, are not bad people, or at least no worse than the average cross-section of any population. The process can occur differently at different times and places and to different temperaments and is always worth more study. It certainly happened here.
Another case that might be helpful, a possible case of how an honest man can fall into a cult against his will:
I have now lost the link, but in April I remember reading someone report how, after having lost his job to the Corona-Panic, he was suffering from daily nervous attacks. Imminently facing the inability to make payments, the situation was bad by any objective standard.
My recollection is that he wrote of, one day, a light-switch going off in his mind, that he stopped caring. The panic attacks stopped. Realizing that millions of others were with him, it made it all alright. He was at peace. I am glad the individual no longer has panic attacks (if I am remembering his recounting of his story correctly), but this story could well be seen as a case of a man effectively being absorbed by the cult. The cult(‘s doctrine/policy of Shutdownism/Lockdownism) broke down his defenses, partially stripped him of his identity, then gave him meaning through the new religion which had been set up around him against his wishes.
As for a “mentally unstable” element in the earl pro-Panic coalition. They were never its leaders. They were never directing it. They were nothing like a majority of it. But they were around and they did have a role. Helping the breakthrough of the pro-Panic coalition was among the most significant political acts of our time ever achieved by this group (the mentally unstable, if one can call it a “group”).
I plan a future post on what elements formed the anti-Panic and pro-Panic coalitions as they emerged in March. I’ve been pointing to this novel split since late March. I think it has largely remained, though pre-Corona divisions are trying to reassert themselves (with limited success).
I believe a a key component of the pro-Panic coalition, from its earliest formative phase in January, was the “Doomers,” some of whom do show signs of mental instability, others of whom show some degree or another of frustrated-misanthropy, and still others show neither of the two but something else. That is a topic for another time.
The Corona Mass Conversion Event
Winding this investigation down, I believe I have shown that “Corona” is a cult in the academic sense of the term, which is to say a religion or religious current, and that this is the key to its staying power.
How it broke through is the topic for another time, but needless to say in March (a series of) “super-spreading events” occurred for the cult itself. This is better stated as a mass-conversion event.
The damage could still have been limited. Unfortunately we also saw demagoguing by politicians and the swirl of certain other conditions that led to the radical empowerment of the the cult. It gave us disaster on the scale of the loss of a war. The demagoguing by politicians was being done often by cult converts in high places; the two processes fed off of each other. No Corona Coup d’Etat without the Corona Cult. If you want a chicken-and-egg game, I believe the Cult came first.
Here is what one conservative commentator says about the Corona Coup d’Etat:
The fact that “15 days to slow the spread” [in mid-March] actually meant “lockdown forever” should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with how the government works. Nothing that gives power and money to the State is ever temporary.
The full story here cannot be fully told or appreciated without knowledge of pre-existing political and cultural trends in the preceding period of the last few years, and to some extent even last few decades. I hope to return to these other topics later, and others have done good work on this and will continue to do so.
As I have written elsewhere (April 11):
[Brás Cubas wrote:] “[H]ow can a Christian justify all this destructive fear of dying when one of the basic principles of that religion is the belief in a happy life after death for those who place Ethics before Survival?”
[I responded:] The answer is this: Many have abandoned Christianity and converted, en masse, to the CoronaReligion, an evil cult […]
This conceptualization of “abandonment of Christianity and embrace of the Corona Cult” raises the question of whether a key reason for the breakthrough might have been the decline of the churches in the recent era. Pick the start date you want, the point is churches have been in decline. The Corona Cult’s attack on the churches can be seen as going at a wounded animal. For those of us fond of the Christian church, this is unfortunate. Certainly many self-described Christians have also been enthusiastic Corona-pushers.
By mid-April, I became more and more convinced that a better descriptor than “the Mass-Hysteria Pandemic,” or something like that, is the Corona Cult (with such alternative alliterations as: CoronaCult; Coronavirus Cult; Cult of Corona; the Cult of Coronavirus; the COVID Cult, or the Cult of COVID).
I added this (April 17):
Shutdownism was embraced uncritically, a series of moves which I have described as a “mass conversion event.” The converts were, after all, reacting to news of the Apocalypse, as foretold by the Holy Media, and were seeing signs of the prophecies coming true before their eyes (actually, on their screens).
Conclusion; reflections on the historical significance of the Corona Cult’s victory
How do you think religious movements, or “cults,” are born, anyway? Most probably have never much thought about it. Maybe it’s worth a thought here.
In archaeology, it’s never exactly clear what happened. When one cult rises to replace or augment the other(s) may be clear if dateable relics are available. Why is harder.
Maybe there is always a confluence of interests at play (being served) when a new cult emerges, as I imply in this summary of the effects of Corona (from Part XI):
the political Corona Coup d’Etat, the serious blows to personal liberty, the rapid advance of the surveillance state, the disarming of opposition of all kinds and the silencing of dissent, and the setting up of a bizarre state religion, the Corona-Cult […]
What are the lessons here?
A general lesson may be that People take religion seriously, even (especially) when not “marketed” as a religion. Say what you will about people being more secular in 2020 than ever before, but that “synchronized Corona Clapping,” and much else about Corona, are religious acts.
How do cults end?
The kind of destructive cult that we can recognize in Corona will often tend to burn through itself rapidly. As I wrote April 11 elsewhere:
[L]ike all destructive religious cults, [Corona] will be its own undoing before long. How much damage this evil cult can do before slithering away and before its members “snap out of it” is still, sadly, an open question.
It is possible that substantially more damage will yet be done by the cult’s religious imperative to appease its god. Will the cult leaders, in collusion with beneficiaries of the political coup d’etat, pull the lockdown trigger again in the fall, if the virus begins circulating again?
Throughout April, I remained convinced that the solution to Corona was the finding of the facts and presenting them, that truth would prevail. As I wrote in the comments here to Part VIII (May 2):
[T]he Pro-Panic side staged a coup d’etat, dictated terms, set up a new religion and got most to buy into it. But on point after point, they are wrong. Others have described the Corona-Panic as a “mind virus.” The cure is the light of day. Open inquiry on neutral terrain causes the Corona mind-virus to wither and die.
Almost any angle of investigation reveals serious narrative weakenesses, even where it seems strongest, as I think applies to the case of Social Distancing and the main point(s) of this post.
While I would still like to think this is true — it is the world I’d like to inhabit — I have to admit it was wrong. A successful religion or cult breakthrough is not so easily “cured” as I suggested there. It’s not the way human psychology works. It’s not how religious breakthrough events work.
But there is an end in sight. To end on an optimistic note:
Prediction: The CoronaCult will soon begin to hollow out, going into the kind of decline such apocalypse cults always enter into. Everyone will claim that THEY knew there were no WMD all along, that THEY were always against the war, that their vote for the war was a clerical error, that the ballot was confusing…