An easy observation, it was, in late February and March 2022, to (ironically) say “the Ukraine-Russia war miraculously ended Covid!”
On further consideration, it may not be so simple.
I am interested in prying into this and finding a Venn diagram between the Corona-Panic we have known for two years and the new Ukraine-War-Panic, the similarities and differences of the two phenomena and how they happened, how they are enforced, and who stands behind them, who pushes them, who joined. In what way are the two phenomena related? Is there a common cause of both?
A brief investigation.
First, in the grand old tradition of a picture being “worth a thousand words” (near the length of this essay), let me offer this:
The masks! Everyone!
This is an anti-war and/or pro-Ukraine and/or anti-Russia protest in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate in the rear. Everyone has masks on, outdoors, conspicuous, perhaps proud of it given that none have even slipped below the nose. (I don’t know the exact date of this photo; it was either on the first day of the war or just before the war by a few days.) Other footage of protests shows the same, lots of masking. Immediately it suggests the two phenomena may exist in symbiosis…Or what?
The Ukraine-Russia war began on February 24 when Russia invaded.
By early March 2022, the observation that “Covid” had been miraculously (apparently) cured, or some variant to that effect, had become almost trite, if certainly correct.
To be more specific about it, we suddenly saw a “Ukraine-War-Panic” displace the remnants of the “Corona-Panic,” at least temporarily. On the other hand, this Ukraine-Panic displaced an already declining Corona-Panic, which is the first twist in the story.
Untangling exactly what was going on with this seeming clash of these two “panics” is not easy amid the surge of war-propaganda and near-hysteria in some quarters. The same, of course, was true in early 2020, with untangling what was going on with “Covid” in its first weeks and months. The Corona-Panic also brought us war-propaganda-like conditions in 2020.
A lot of the same actors were behind both.
The agenda-setting media institutions that pushed the Corona-Panic has dropped any mention of “Covid” starting February 24. This is definitely true of CNN.
Long gone are CNN’s rolling ‘case’ and ‘death’ counts. The virus is still circulating, but they ignore it. We are in “tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it” territory. (Critics of the Corona-Panic pointed out this was true all alone; basically few would’ve noticed a severe flu wave in 2020 without the Panic.)
The “dog that doesn’t bark” observation is that none of the CNN reporters embedded in different places and talking to people at close quarters, none of them have masks anymore.
There is a woman reporter who carries the title “chief international correspondent.” In 2020 and 2021 she pushed Corona-Panic tropes and loyally fanned the flames of the Panic. Now, in late February 2022, she was in Ukraine, inserting herself in a crowded underground Metro station, maskless, among hundreds of people. Looking at vaccination rates, said to be 30% in Ukraine, the majority of people the chief international correspondent was rubbing elbows with never got even one of the holy injections. Almost none had masks on.
The same reporter who in 2021 was so frightened of The Virus she wore large goggles and masks while reporting, was now freely and nonchalantly mingling with unvaxxed, unmasked Ukrainians by the hundred. In daily reporting, she mentioned the tragedy of swamped hospitals, but totally forgot (?) to mention one word about “Covid” victims in these hospitals; the “swamped hospitals” were treating war casualties, but miraculously now had no “Covid” patients. Amazing!
These are easy-enough points to make. Easy though they may be, they still deserve direct attention: The powerful energies of yesterday, related to the Corona-Panic movement, suddenly find all-but no airtime after February 24? A few weeks earlier the Corona Pro-Panic vs. Anti-Panic still seemed a main thing going on; now, nothing. It is almost eerie.
Instead, U.S. media has for two weeks given wall-to-wall coverage of the Ukraine war, as if the war were in North America involving a U.S. state (or perhaps a Canadian province), rather than what it is, a distant, quasi-client regime or a would-be geopolitical outpost. No other ongoing wars have ever gotten coverage like this in our time. in U.S. media.
A notable and obvious similarity between the Corona-Panic and the Ukraine-War-Panic is the wave of corporate “virtue-signaling.” Corporations and other institutions all fall in line behind the Ukraine-War-Panic, declare that they support the cause and are taking it seriously. These kinds of waves of actions from corporations never happened in the past.
We saw this cascade of corporate and institutions sliding into socio-political discourse in a way they seldom or never did before with the Corona-Panic (cheerleading the Panic, propagandizing for it, and announcing their full backing for the Panic and willingness to punish dissenters).
Then we saw the same with the Black Lives Matter moral-panic, when “woke” corporations and major institutions seemed to immediately and unanimously line up behind a radical political movement, following a strategy (?) of “declare support first, ask questions last.” Following the several days of riots, the International Finance Corporation unveiled enormous “End Racism!” banners on its buildings.
It’s much the same with the Ukraine-War-Panic. It’s also an easy observation to say no corporations announced boycotts against the foreign belligerents in the Yemen War, or any other war in recent years.
It’s clear enough that the Western media and most of the Western agenda-setting and political class dove into a heroin- or cocaine-like “feeding frenzy” mode in late February 2022. It has carried over into early March. Into panic or hysteria overdrive, with discourse reminiscent of the initial Corona-Panic of early-to-mid 2020.
This latest panic is about something non-virus-related, which seems to mean an attendant loss of interest in the formerly honored Corona-Panic. As we cautiously seek to declare an “end” to the Corona-Panic (as a primary, driving social phenomenon), its destructiveness a thing to speak of in the past tense, we may be seeing the ‘demand’ side for a Corona-Panic-like event still exists. Something about our culture or the version of reality we now inhabit may be creating these panics. (What that s and how to pin it down and deal with it, is the elusive answer to the question “Why did the Corona-Panic happen?”)
Amid the new “feeding frenzy,” the Corona-Moloch’s temples suddenly go neglected. They are still visited, but now only by ultra-loyal Believers.
Giant statues of the Corona-Moloch, long standing in public, no longer get offerings. Some may be on track to an ‘Ozymandias’ fate. Or are they? Let’s not rush ahead of ourselves (let’s wait for the Venn diagram.)
And leaders of the Corona-Cult, men and women long held in esteem by the loyally Pro-Panic side, have either gone missing or have seemed to recant or, if that is too strong a word, to claim they were never particularly loyal to the Corona-Moloch after all. Doctor Fauci, once dubbed the “Corona-Ayatollah,” has not had a major public appearance since February 17, 2022 (notably, one week before the Ukraine war).
It is tempting, very tempting, to simply say “they” shifted their focus to this new thing and gave up the old thing to make room for the new. UBut upon reflection, this idea that the Ukraine war suddenly ended the Corona-Panic as a social force is not good enough. There is definitely more to the story, as I see it, for at least two reasons:
(1) Pressure towards a managed “de-escalation” of the Corona-Panic clearly predates the Ukraine war.
It must have been, in part, because of domestic opposition to the flabby monster that was Corona-Panic-Power, that the de-escalation was underway. Timelines differ in different places but are often interrelated, but in general terms it feels like February 2022 was the key month in the decline of the Corona-Panic’s power.
The opposition was empowered, committed, and large by early 2022, growing on major gains in 2021. The ongoing mandates and digital-health-pass systems and rules and unpredictability of when things would shut down or etc., all had a disturbingly dystopian feel, and the only surprise is that broad-based opposition didn’t galvanize itself far earlier.
Uncompromising opposition had, by late 2021 and early 2022, reached a height which proved embarrassing to the elite. In other words, while the Corona-Panic still was in the halls of power, upheld by the remnants of the old Pro-Panic coalition of 2020-21, the Anti-Panickers had all the momentum. The Pro-Panickers were starting to look decidedly uncool in the eyes of the median observer. This is where things like the “Defeat the Mandates” rally in Washington (January 23, 2022), come in. Then there is the major success of the Freedom Convoy movement in Canada of late January and February.
The full story has not yet been told, but it seems the cascade of retreats in February 2022 by the Panic-pushers and Panic-regime enforcers is related to the clear strength of the Anti-Corona-Panic social movement. The main dates we could associate with the retreat all predate the February 24 start of the war.
(2) There are signs of symbiosis of the two Panics rather than displacement.
The Corona-Panic coalition still exists; the hypothesis that Corona had triggered a religious cult remains valid; there are still believers and persons attaching themselves to it. In other wor,ds the Corona-Moloch and its prestige still have plenty of loyalists.
Then, in late February, footage of some of the anti-Russia, pro-Ukraine protests in the West revealed rates of (outdoor) masking far higher among the demonstrators than among the general-population from which they come, as I mention at the top of this essay. This viscerally and immediately suggested some kind of symbiosis of the two phenomena in the West.
The two phenomena both show characteristics of a social panic, but it’s more than that: the two groups of backers (or True Believers, as it were), show major overlap. The two groups I refer to are those still today supportive of the Corona-Panic, on one hand, and those who would call themselves supportive of Ukraine or pro-intervention in some way, or anti-Russia, on the other hand. I would exclude from the latter actual Ukrainians, many of whom are naturally angry or distressed about the war in their country, but the majority of the pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia protestors are not Ukrainians.
How do we interpret the sea of Corona compliance masks at the protests, even at this (apparent) late date in the Corona-Panic’s life-cycle. In any mixed environment, masks are a status-signal that one is a loyalist to the social force that was, and is, the Corona-Panic. Such a status-signal immediately clashes with the seeming purpose of a war protest. Masks are unnecessary at least, and even inappropriate, if the point is solely message of support, strength, or perhaps even bellicosity against Russia. The inappropriateness: masking looks weak, inevitably looks weak. (Maybe that’s why no one involved in the wartime rounds f Russia-Ukraine talks has worn a mask.)
Is there a symbiosis of the Ukraine-War-Panic and Corona-Panic social forces going on? What’s the meaning of it?
The Venn diagram
An idea took shape in my mind in late February, the first week of the Ukraine-Russia war, observing the initial burst of activity that I’ve called the Ukraine-War-Panic. The idea was this: it is not that loyalty to Corona-Panic orthodoxy causes one to suddenly love Ukraine and/or hate Russia. It is that there is (may be) some unidentified, unnamed, common cause to both phenomena.
This is where the Venn diagram comes in. We have two overlapping circles, one labeled Corona-Panic and one labeled Ukraine-War-Panic. We begin listing characteristics, placing those unique to one or the other in the proper place and with a special interest in what ends up in the middle of the Venn diagram. Not just a type of person, but a type of person interacting with cultural, political, technological conditions of our present-day, with reality as we know know it. The type of person in the middle of our Venn diagram is, assuredly, of interest. But the exact same type of person may not have embraced either phenomenon x years earlier but is doing so now.
On its face, the Ukraine-War-Panic looks more politicized than the Corona-Panic did at first. In some way, the Ukraine-War-Panic feels easier to identify as a kind of mass-hysteria event, and in any case wars are known to go that way. The Ukraine-Panic would seem to (also) resemble the Black Lives Matter Panic of mid-2020. This time incorporating their now-long-held bugbear of Russia (starting especially in the mid-2010s), all three seem to share something at their core.
I’ve been thinking lately in terms of “Corona-Panic-like events.” I don’t know if the Ukraine-War-Panic qualifies in full or not. So many of the same building blocks do seem to be there. It depends a lot on how the Ukraine-War-Panic started, and I don’t mean the casus belli or the diplomatic or geopolitical factors, but the social phenomenon of the Ukraine-War-Panic and its backers, pushers, enthusiasts, and orchestrators (if I may be so bold).
Somebody from Germany who writes under “Eddy Bernayz” commented as follows on the striking similarities between “lockdowners and warmongers,” or in the terms of this essay, embracers and supporters of the Corona-Panic and the recent enthusiastic embracers of the Ukraine-War-Panic.
Some realizations after Day 3 of the Ukraine-Russia War:
1. Lockdowners are also warmongers;
2. Men who had been terrified of COVID now want to rush to the frontlines and fight;
3. In social media profiles, it’s Covid virtue-signals ‘out’, Ukraine flags ‘in’;
4. Toxic Masculinity in war is cool, feminists silent;
5. Westerners much prefer defending other nations than their own;
6. As with Covid, there is only one acceptable opinion.
As the Ukraine-War-Panic has already lasted two weeks (as of this writing, it is the Day-13 mark since the first border-incursions, predawn February 24 Ukraine time), it will probably last weeks to come at least, in some form, even after hostilities end.
The similarities between this Ukraine-War-Panic (as social-political phenomenon, not as military or geopolitical phenomenon) and the monstrous Corona-Panic, with he Black Lives Matter moral-panic, and with other events of recent times, should be top interest.
Whatever the structural causes of the Corona-Panic of 2020-to-2022 were, the same weaknesses in our civilization if unfaced, un-“addressed” (as they like to say now), unmitigated, unsolved, might well create more mega-panics of the same kind. Until we develop some civilizational self-defense mechanisms, perhaps after significant damage, this seems to me possibly our number-one problem, and it’s one most are unaware of as they drift from panic to panic.
Maybe these “Corona-Panic-like events” will never come exactly the same way. (Maybe there will even be future rounds of Corona-Panic-like health panics. Remembers that they kept the Corona-Panic itself running for two years, most of it with the thinnest of justifications…) But unless we identify why the Corona-Panic itself happened, the same thing may keep happening using the same (largely hidden) mechanisms and structural weaknesses in our civilization as it now exists.
A postscript: If we do end up declaring the Russia-Ukraine war to be “the beginning of the end for the Corona-Panic,” let’s note that it came in right at the 25-month mark.
Pinning the start of the Corona phenomenon to late January 2020 and the bizarre lockdown decision out of China, it’s a clean 25-months. (The earliest possible start-point is late December 2019; later start-points are also possible, up to the end of February 2020, early March being a stretch–clearly the phenomenon existed already by then.)
But this dating of the beginning and (especially) end of the Corona-Panic as social phenomenon may be a rather academic exercise. Remnants of the Panic-proper will, I assume, linger on for a while in 2022. God forbid there be a Corona-Re-Panic next winter, if not earlier, citing “cases rising,” “new variant,” “Long Covid,” “new booster,” or something else. And the Corona-Panic’s follow-on and indirect effects, sadly, will be with us for many years to come…regardless of what kind of attention it’s getting.