Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by oneCharles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
It is not a waste of time to try to pull people out of the Covidian cult. We can pick them off the herd individually. It will take time. Some methods are more efficient than others.
There’s no point bickering over what has already come to pass. Rather, our goal should be to start from today and work towards returning to sanity as soon as possible. That might not be a full-scale soul searching about all that went wrong. More likely, we will have to satisfy ourselves with a return to normality and an embarrassed, historical deep-filing of the whole episode, like the interning of Germans during WWI.
Covid will end when the headlines end.
Don’t bother debating those still in the full flight of panic. Wait for the right moment: someone wavering in their support for the latest tyrannical policy, someone who assured you last month that it would all be over once 80% are double-jabbed, the frustrated person who’s finally had it.
If you’re arguing all the time, you’re arguing too much and with too many people.
Battleground 1: vaccine mandates
Choose the right battleground even if that means ceding ground. We’re trying to change minds, not prove to ourselves we’re cleverer than someone else.
Fighting over the safety and efficacy of vaccines is to fight with a cliff face at your back. If better vaccines are developed, or (more likely) if your interlocutor thinks that any level of efficacy for any period of time is worthwhile, where do you fall back to? Plus, they will be highly motivated to believe in their efficacy due to having been vaccinated themselves.
In any case, the issue is not high ground because it doesn’t matter if someone else chooses to get vaccinated. That’s their decision.
Quibbling over whether or not the shots should be called vaccines is to get bogged down in a strategically unimportant position.
Every battle consumes resources. To fight a meaningless battle in one place necessarily detracts from fighting a more important one elsewhere. That is what the term ‘choose your battles’ means. The more you argue, the less people will listen to you, so hold your peace and wait for the moment you have someone’s attention, then make it count.
The most advantageous battlefield is vaccine mandates. Here you have the momentum of liberal precedent while your interlocutor has behind him the steep, muddy slope of other potential mandatory treatments like universal flu shots, circumcision, or compulsory antiretrovirals for AIDS patients.
Do not hesitate to use the divisive wedge of ethnic politics or to make hasty alliances with former rivals when beneficial. In a multicultural society, all politics is ethnic politics and those who learn to play the game, win.
Here it is worth ceding ground even if you don’t want to, i.e.: ‘I’m all in favour of vaccines, I’d get one myself if I hadn’t already had Covid, I just think people should give informed consent. And anyway, people will dig their heels in if you try to force them. Give them a choice and most will come around.’
If you can’t change minds, instead ask how many shots are reasonable to demand. Two? Three? Four? Remind them of this when the inevitable comes. As the mandated boosters start to pile up, more and more will see the light and peel off the pack. Time is on our side with this one.
Battleground 2: lockdowns
This makes a good field of battle because here one can avoid the long grass of vaccine efficacy or how dangerous Covid really is.
However, arguing about previous lockdowns is fighting uphill. The enemy has already seized that high ground and we can’t travel back in time to fix it. Further, those who supported and suffered for previous lockdowns will have an ego-involvement in defending them.
A downward slope of advance is to say, ‘We’ve locked down for long enough. If we keep going with them now, they’ll go on forever. We’ve got the vaccine, hospitals have had plenty of time to prepare. We need to get on with our lives or people are going to start dying from stress, missed treatments and that sort of thing. We threw everything and the kitchen sink at it, more than we’ve ever tried for any other disease in history, but now we have to accept it’s here to stay no matter what we do and move on.’
Note again that this argument deliberately cedes a lot of ground. You have to do this if you want to make inroads. Belligerence never works.
Be prepared for a big push for new lockdowns once vaccines start losing efficacy some months down the track. Hold people to their word: ‘You said we should only lock down until 80% are vaccinated. Now we’re up to 85%. This was always going to happen and here it is.’
If they still insist upon the necessity of further lockdowns, try to pin them down on what criteria would mean they could end. If they say something vague like, ‘When it is safe to do so,’ remind them that Covid will probably be around for decades or longer. Try to get them to say the word ‘forever’. Even if they support it, saying the word ‘forever’ out loud may make them think about it a little more deeply.
I’ve never heard someone whose position logically leads to eternal lockdowns actually use the ‘f’ word. Make them.
There really are people who support regular lockdowns and mask mandates six months of the year from now until the end of time. At least you can figure out who they are and warn waverers of what they’re up against.
Battleground 3: Covid danger
This is a treacherous battlefield because most wear the mental armour of 18 months of media beat-ups. Choose your target wisely – only bother with a person who is already starting to have doubts.
The argument is best carried out as a feint. Send a link on IFR studies and say, ‘Is this right? Seems kind of low. Do you have any links showing higher figures?’ These they will not have.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the logical strength of this argument will win every time. You’re coming up against thick, thick armour. You will most often get a vague answer like, ‘Yeah nah, sounds like a conspiracy theory, there are other figures that say it’s way higher,’ but no actual links.
Don’t expect much with this line of attack unless they’re already halfway there.
A partial victory is a victory
It is unlikely that someone who is triple-vaccinated and double-masked despite being young and healthy will suddenly decide that the virus is so minor in the grand scheme of things that it was all a crock of shit from the start. That is not how people act.
Our thinking changes in increments. My own ideas on various issues have followed this pattern, as long-time readers may have noticed.
However, you might talk someone down from ‘lockdowns forever!’ to ‘lockdowns until everyone who wants a vaccine has had a chance to get one’. That’s reasonable, though keep in mind that they’ll start to panic and backtrack on this when cases and deaths rise again, as they must.
Someone might go from supporting mandatory vaccines for everyone to just aged-care workers, or from mandatory masks everywhere to just in crowded, indoor spaces. Either is a good start.
As for the danger of Covid, a reasonable person might go from thinking it is extremely dangerous to moderately dangerous. If you can convince them that it’s about the same as the 1957-58 Asian flu, chalk one up for our side.
You might talk someone into merely agreeing that dissenting views should be heard even while they themselves remain steadfast in supporting all other restrictions and mandates. This may be a minority opinion in Australia at the moment so getting someone to support free speech they do not agree with would be quite a blow.
In fact, that may be the most difficult and important battle of all.
Claiming that the clot-shots are a secret Gates program to wipe out 95% of the world population or that teeeechically Covid has not been proven to exist, is a lone and naked berserker charge. If you can’t even convince me of those things, what chance of convincing a Covidian? Although I guess they’ve already shown a disposition towards strong belief so you might have a chance.
Don’t expend too much energy banging your head against the Covid brick wall. I’ve wasted too much of my own time on it on this blog.
Disregard opinion polls. Almost everybody once supported slavery, witch burning and WWI. This is a long, incremental struggle.
Wait until there’s an opening, which won’t be often. Be moderate and concede far more ground than you think fair in order to retreat to the most favourable position, then present counterarguments gently as though you are not sure yourself, just thinking aloud. Spend a lot of time agreeing – ‘Yes, it’s a terrible virus. My friend’s barber’s grandma died of it’ – before slipping in any resistance.
It’s like music. A new style needs to be similar to existing styles so that the audience has a ‘hook’ to hang on to. You can go from punk to grunge but not from Gregorian chants to grunge. Find a ‘hook’ that fits with their existing ideas and only changes them a bit. A gateway concept, if you will.
I don’t know how long this will take – perhaps a few years – but eventually people will tire of restrictions and mandates. I’ve seen cracks already in the commentariat of Melbourne’s leftie newspaper, thus far diehard fans of any and every restriction imagined by our zealous rulers.
Until there’s an opportunity, the best strategy is Fabian. Save your energy, let time and frustration to do their work, and get on with your life.