Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Is Right: There Is No Escape

Jason Garshfield, At a recent D.C. rally against vaccine mandates, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. made himself into the latest object of acceptable public opprobrium when he said, “Even in Hitler’s Germany, you could cross the Alps to Switzerland.

You could hide in an attic like Anne Frank did. Today the mechanisms are being put in place so none of us can run and none of us can hide.”

Because of the Anne Frank comparison, Kennedy was subject to a now-predictable public castigation ritual, pilloried by everyone up to and including his own wife, and bludgeoned into an abject apology. The mass denunciation was made all the more infuriating as it was spearheaded by a great many people and organizations who have stood silent for the best part of the last decade in the face of countless hyperbolic comparisons of Trump to Hitler and his supporter to Nazis.

But we would do well not to dismiss Kennedy’s comments offhand. Although they were undoubtedly clumsily worded, they do hint at a very important truth. The events of the last two years were the first ever global collective action, the first time that leaders across the whole planet teamed up to develop a transnational integrated matrix of control from which there was effectively no escape.

Throughout history, vast despotisms have risen and fallen, megalomaniacal tyrants have exerted their caprice on great masses of people under their dominion, and yet none have achieved the autocrat’s holy grail of world domination. Never did a tyranny manage to hold in its thrall the entire planet, or even half of it. The largest empire in history – the British – only achieved a quarter.

And for the last two hundred years, there has always been America, a nation and ideal which has risen like a colossus in the minds of downtrodden people everywhere. Those fleeing fascism, or communism, or any other variant of the totalitarian pathogen (the true deadliest pandemic of the last century), were driven by the knowledge that there was a place to which escape was possible. Anne Frank’s family may have been denied a visa to the United States, but at least they, and those like them, had some beacon of faint hope remaining: the fact that even in the darkest days of World War II, much of the world remained free.

That has not been the case since March 2020. Kennedy is right: there is no place where any of us can run or hide. The entire planet has adopted the same universal system of indefinite lockdowns devoid of any limiting principle, and all of their accouterments such as vaccine mandates. The system has been suffocating, all-encompassing, airtight. Even the purportedly “free” corners of the world, such as Sweden, were not wholly untouched.

Conservative commentator Dennis Prager received similar derision early in the pandemic for calling lockdowns “the greatest mistake in the history of humanity.” And yet Prager was also on to something. In terms of the depth of human misery caused by the lockdowns, his statement may not be true (although decades from now, when the final toll is counted, they may well be found to rival the other great atrocities of history – already they have cast nearly 100 million into poverty).

Yet in terms of the breadth of the error, there is truly no comparison. Never before has a single major public policy shift been exported worldwide within the space of a few days, a memetic “virus of the mind” that spread faster than the virus itself, but originating from the same cradle in Wuhan, China.

The modern global telecommunications network, which was intended to “connect the world” (in Mark Zuckerberg’s sinister terminology) has allowed for bad ideas that might have remained regional to turn quickly global. It is as though a stampede of cattle in one corner of China led to every herd in the world stampeding – except that in this case, the stampede was at the behest of the cowherds. There is simply not a single example to be found of an elite institution that did not fall enthusiastically on the wrong side of this issue, and that is all the more dispiriting as these institutions are supposedly made up of our best and brightest minds.

From a globally-minded perspective, there might even be said to be a certain beauty to the lockdowns. It was a great cooperative action unprecedented in history, the first time that human beings all over the planet united to pull together against a common threat which superseded all individual and local concerns… absent, of course, those pesky dissenters who couldn’t stop yammering on about stupid distractions like “freedom.” It was the moment of numinous humanistic transcendence that the same policymakers have never quite managed to extract from the climate change debate.

If nothing else, this should serve as a case for increased nationalism, for separating the elite policymakers in each country from rubbing shoulders too closely with their counterparts in foreign countries. Nationalism is no panacea, and comes with its own set of hazards. It may, however, be one safeguard against a situation like this, in which leaders across the planet decide to jump off the same cliff all at once without even a control group.

This pandemic, and its response, may in fact be a great blessing in disguise. It might even be called a vaccine of sorts – or, if you prefer, a form of natural immunity. If the travails of the past two years have sufficiently demonstrated to the people of the world the true ugliness, when put into practice, of the paradigm of global collective action, then those travails may be worth it. They will have inoculated us against the inclination to engage in a much vaster, and more destructive, collective action over the issue of climate change.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. poses a rather amusing lesson on the danger of dynastic politics. While other members of that spent family, including mediocrities such as Joseph Kennedy III., have coasted to political prominence on the glory of their illustrious forebears, Robert has shown that such vicarious credibility may not always be invoked for acceptable progressive purposes. All the same, we should heed his words. Clumsy formulation aside, they may yet prove one of the most prescient statements uttered by a member of the Kennedy family.

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