Translated by F. Roger Devlin
On Saturday, Vienna witnessed the largest demonstration yet against Coronavirus regulations.
The number of demonstrators at a protest is hard to estimate. Usually the protesters themselves exaggerate and the media underestimate, so when the latter speak “officially” of 38,000 participants, one may presume that the true figure was significantly higher. Protests of the same magnitude occurred on the same day in Rome, London, Melbourne, Paris, and Zagreb.
But I do not have a great deal to say about the demonstrations. Since the government bombshell Friday, I feel like the paralyzed viewer of a grim, surreal movie. When I was standing on the Ring Road [around downtown Vienna] to take pictures, I perceived the human masses flowing by as if through a cloudy filter: “I see crowds of people, walking around in a ring.” [T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”]
On the way to the demo I passed the Christmas market by the town hall, where masked agents checked the vaccination passes of contented sheep. When I finally proceeded towards the opera house, I dove into another world, sharply separate from the dystopian pseudo-idyll of the Christmas market: walls of masked police, whistles, loud music, chanted slogans, a sea of Austrian flags.
The police were remaining noticeably inert and after a certain time could hardly be seen anymore. I did not observe any sort of obstacles, provocations, or harassment from their side. Paradoxically, this troubled me a little. Had Nehammer learned from his disaster in February? [Karl Nehammer is the Minister of Interior who in February tried to make the protests illegal and break them up using police force, but this failed because there were so many people.] This resulted in very bad optics for him and the State. Or do the powerful, nine months later, feel so certain of victory that they can afford to let such a large mass of people spin their wheels?
What struck me immediately was the large number of “normies” of all ages and income levels. The usual eccentrics appeared only here and there, submerged in the mass. Slogans on signs and banners were clear and clever and largely avoided apocalyptic rhetoric. I was not mistaken, for later on I saw that the editor of Falter [a local Left-liberal weekly] and supporter of mandatory vaccination Florian Klenk made the same observation. This obviously struck him with a considerable case of cognitive dissonance. He tweeted:
In the end, an enormous number of people showed up. And what bothered me the most: there were very many quite normal people: young, old, Left- and Right-wing, Greens, and conservative types. [Austrian Chancellor Alexander] Schallenberg had better not rile these people up anymore. We must act with greater political intelligence.
Characteristically, he does not doubt that all these people must be “directed,” only with rather more “intelligence” than previously. But it is too late for this. Trust cannot be forced. It has long since been forfeited. The state will now have to resort to compulsion and violence.
Besides, “politics” has done everything humanly possible in the last two weeks to sow hatred and dissension between “vaccinated” and “unvaccinated” (in itself an absurd way of dividing people) in order to soften up the population for the radical step of a vaccination mandate.
First it degraded the “unvaccinated” to second-class citizens, then it also ordered the “vaccinated,” who have so far obeyed obediently, to “lockdown,” and at the same time told them that the “unvaccinated” were to blame, because without them we would not have the current record number of infections which forced this lockdown upon us.
The government surely knew what it was doing in dropping the vaccination mandate bombshell on the day before the long since announced demonstration, no doubt in the hope of provoking ugly escalation by throwing gasoline on the fire. The demonstrators did not gratify them. Nevertheless, the next day the usual news reports appeared as if to create the impression that thousands of jackbooted “neo-Nazis” had marched through Vienna.
On Friday I called around my circle of friends and acquaintances to get an impression of the prevailing sense of mood. They reported unanimously that a certain type of vaccinated normie was long since in the mood for a pogrom. Within this bubble, by Friday, the fuses had long since burned all the way to the end. The government has taken care to stir up both bubbles at the same time: one with the lockdown, the other with the mandate.
If anyone who remembers the Green lady professor and mandate supporter “X” mentioned in my last column: On Friday she sent me a snotty text message as follows: “Are you happy now that we must all stay home, that some of us must now endure our lectures being canceled and not being able to get jobs?” I sent her a no less snotty reply, that her side could blame it on their own stupidity, blind obedience, and conformism.
I really felt no malicious glee. I had lost that since I figured out that the State would make use of reciprocal malice to achieve its goals. I don’t want to see anyone trapped in a lockdown, for in contrast to Prof. X, I have long since understood that they exclusively serve the purpose of political repression and have no effect on the process of infection.
At the beginning of the campaign, we were told that the vaccine would free us from lockdown; now a lockdown is being declared to force the vaccine upon us.
The true goal of the lockdown is seen clearly in the message from the pro-government papers, especially the Kronenzeitung tabloid, which makes Der Stürmer sound like the Reader’s Digest. “This must be absolutely the last time,” ran its headline Saturday, and that goal can only be reached through vaccinating everyone.
The paper never tires of emphasizing how terribly unwillingly our fine political leaders have taken this momentous and avoidable step, “but there is no alternative.” Those guys over there, the vaccine refuseniks — it’s their fault for not wanting to listen to us. All of us must suffer because of them. People must die because of them. Christmas is ruined because of them. They are our misfortune. Our patience is gradually wearing thin.
A couple of hours after our first testy text exchange, X suddenly dropped a half-dozen random links clearly intended to “enlighten” me. One dealt with the question: “How SARS-Covid-2 damages the brain.” What was going on in her own brain? It was childish and simply bonkers. Did she think I would click on these links, read them, and cry out: “Oh Lord, I hadn’t known this until now! From now on I believe that the mRNA vaccine is safe and effective, my own vaccination protects other people, lockdowns are effective, and my government always speaks the pure, scientific truth about Covid!”
She revealed not only limitless naïveté but also reproduced the government’s behavior: the provocation of fear to trigger obedience and pliability which overrides one’s own critical thinking. If we think back to the infamous German “panic paper” [a leaked paper of the German government from March 2020 which suggested spreading fear to scare people into accepting the lockdown], we see that this strategy has from the very beginning been seen as a legitimate epidemiological method. There was a twofold message of intimidation: anyone who does not obey the experts must die himself, and is responsible for the death of others.
Fundamentally, our government, in cooperation with the news media, have from the very beginning of this scare done nothing but produce fear, rage, and stress uninterruptedly, as if on an assembly line, sweetened occasionally with false promises. They have been conducting an abusive relationship with the population, producing what psychologists call “trauma bonding.”
When Chancellor Schallenberg complains there is “a group of people” who have insolently shown themselves “relatively immune to the government’s and the media’s information and vaccination campaigns for almost a year,” and thereby justified selective measures against themselves, he has let the cat out of the bag: No one is to have the right to a free individual choice concerning his own body. If he claims this, he is to be considered a criminal and a danger to society who must be rejected. The State shall from now on take the power of decision from him, for his own good as well as that of others. The “adult citizen” is told to remain within his bounds, if not abolished outright.
The information given by the “information campaign” was not meant to encourage critical debate and individual decision-making, but is in reality a directive to obey so that punishment and blackmail do not have to be brought to bear. Deviant perceptions and opinions are answered with gaslighting and appeals to authority. Like a mafia godfather, the state is making an “offer you can’t refuse.”
Dispassionately considered — and according to the information the government and newspapers have put forward — the Covid vaccine can only be justified as a means of self-protection. It does not protect one from infection, but at best from “severe cases.” Since the risk of Covid is heavily stratified (even now it is mainly the elderly who die), vaccination can be justified at a collective level at most for the high-risk groups (and even these should not occur against the patients’ will). The protection declines sharply (as revealed only long after the campaign began), is not especially effective, and involves a few serious health risks.
What the vaccine cannot provide is “herd immunity,” a lowering in the number of cases, or the “extermination” of the virus. But the authorities are clinging stubbornly to this lie, and it is the basis of the argument for universal compulsory vaccination.
It reminds me of Ernst Jünger’s famous example from The Forest Passage of elections under a totalitarian regime which have a purely ritual character, and the difficulties of the bold individual who goes to the polls anyway in order to hand in a risky and useless “no” vote — which can then be used by the regime to lend itself respectability:
The election, the voters, the posters are labels for quite different things and procedures. They are puzzles. In his rise, the dictator capitalizes on the impossibility of deciphering them. Then they find their Champollion. He does not bring back the previous freedom, but he does teach you what answers to give.
Similarly, the Arsenal of the Corona brand — mainly masks, tests, and vaccinations — refer to quite different things which must be deciphered. For example, whoever thinks that more traditional vaccines would be more acceptable than the new gene-based vaccines on offer fails to perceive that the act of vaccination is more important to those in power than the vaccine itself.
Their goal is to involve as many as possible in a kind of vaccination subscription system which cannot be canceled. This is henceforward to make the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms dependent on one’s current vaccination status, and make deprivation of them automatic for the non-cooperative.
Extraordinary dangers lie in such a system, for there is no guarantee that the “pandemic” can ever be declared over. Real or virtual “successors” to the virus and expansions (e.g., “climate passes”) are perfectly possible. Then the totalitarian trap will have been sprung in a way that cannot be undone. Getting the needle along with a certificate of compliance would then be like voting “yes” in Jünger’s election example: an act of submission and acceptance.
Jünger also maintains that a dictatorship tries to give its secret opponent the impression “that he is very much alone. And the majority does not only wish to prevail numerically but arms itself with signs of moral superiority.”
“Probably it is simply part of any plague that everything is full of rats,” writes Lisa Eckhart [a brilliant un-PC stand-up comedian, and this is a line she dropped in a recent set]. But we cannot say that they came crawling out of every hole, for they had been gaily dancing on tables long before the pandemic, quite unembarrassed about being rats. But now they truly seem to have fulfilled the law according to which they first appeared. The German and Austrian journalist is now fully blossoming. All the masks have been discarded, the velvet gloves cast aside. His inclinations and passions have long since been familiar to us, but never before — not even in the “struggle against the far Right” — could they play themselves out as uninhibitedly as they are now doing.
All the Left-liberal, Green Party-voting tender souls and high priests of public opinion have now found their “Jew,” “Negro,” or “kulak” whom they can vociferously hate with full permission from above. There were times when they accused the AfD of wanting to “divide” society — always a projection of their own activities, in any case. But now there is no holding back: Now they can delightedly demand the persecution and extermination of the pesky Untermenschen with full confidence in having all governmental and moral power behind them.
Unanimity of opinion is complete across all German-language newspapers and television programs. They sound as if they were literally possessed, and one is tempted to call in the exorcist.
Care for a sample?
Our sincere thanks to all the unvaccinated. Because of you, we are threatened with a lockdown — in many places with no Christmas markets, perhaps without any holidays with the family . . . All vaccination refuseniks must live with the accusation of being partly responsible for the current situation. They bore partial responsibility for putting society as a whole under pressure.
Forget about “solidarity”! Vaccination opponents send death threats, intensive care wards are overflowing, but politicians are still calling for “solidarity” and warning against the dangers of “social division.” We must put an end to this.
Is there any threat of social division when one deprives the unvaccinated of their childish right not to get the shot? Nonsense. These people are robbing rational men of their freedom — and governments are still coddling them.
Society must be divided! Jobs reserved for the unvaccinated, schools for dissidents, Covid worm cures — if every form of nonsense were listened to, the hesitant would never make up their minds. It is high time to drive a wedge through society. When you say this, people imagine the country would split into two equally large parts. But that is not so. If the wedge is driven properly and deeply, it divides the dangerous from the endangered part of society.
The chairman of the CDU youth group, Tilman Kuban, is demanding a de facto vaccination requirement, writing that the unvaccinated are bringing Germany “to the edge of despair.” We cannot lock down the entire population every winter. “Our lives shall not be dictated by 13 million unvaccinated people.”
The famous concern of the genuine German, dressed up sometimes as disgust with foreigners and sometimes as hatred of vaccination, is constantly being valued more highly than science and research. And once again, this country has been paralyzed for nearly two years by an extreme minority. And there is always at least one Prime Minister who does not merely half-heartedly, but with no heart at all what he was elected to do: Make decisions for the benefit and security of the population and carry them through despite an impudent and completely shameless radical movement.
You who want to swim against the current and never bow to the opinion of the majority, or who are even fighting a “vaccination dictatorship” — welcome to the whiney wellness-resistance where you may heroically rise up against an imaginary “unnecessary oppression.”
This journalistic caste is surely doing what it has always done: spewing venom at dissidents without any platform in the mainstream media, and calling for their greater marginalization and suppression.
Do not be deceived about where this monster is headed. In conclusion, let me cite one more article which the [Austrian tabloid] Kronenzeitung published and has since taken down. Probably it was too plain-spoken, but the internet never forgets. In the article, a new concept is introduced into our vernacular: “protective duty,” reminiscent of Karl Kraus’ “protective custody.”
In the article, two “experts” — the word induces physical pain in me by now — both of whom are constitutional scholars, sketch out what the implementation of mandatory vaccination might concretely look like:
The Chancellor is considering fines. But what if someone “buys himself out” of the requirement? [Bernd-Christian] Funk says: “This would create further problems. Can we carry out the measures with physical force?” His colleague [Heinz] Mayer says: “The SWAT team stands at the door as the doctor delivers the vaccination; this is unimaginable and also unfeasible.” Rather, say the experts, the unwilling could be forcibly isolated. Mayer: “Vaccinate everyone who represents a danger; anything else is pointless. Children get vaccinated for smallpox, after all.” That has been true since 1948. Before that, there were mandatory vaccinations under National Socialism. Funk says: “This doesn’t look good, but that does not mean it is impermissible per se.” The President of the World Medical Association isn’t mincing words, either: “Carrots do not work, now the unvaccinated need to get the stick.”
Vaccinate everyone who represents a danger. Even children. Anything else is pointless. If necessary, forcibly isolate the unwilling. It doesn’t look good, but it’s not impermissible.
The tone is unmistakable. Our descent into the maelstrom has begun. The highly contagious virus of totalitarianism is gathering strength with all its classic symptoms and much innovative devilry, just waiting to be implemented. Prognosis: grim.
Walpurgis night is in full swing: “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”
This article originally appeared in German at Sezession.
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