Credit: Steve Eason via Flickr Licence CC BY-NC 2.0

People are returning to ordinary life, whatever Nphet or the government says

Anti-lockdown protest at Trafalgar Square, London 26 September 2020. Photo Credit: Steve Eason on Flickr under CC licence

Establishment media coverage of the large protest against the lockdown in London last weekend provided a typically distorted view of what had actually taken place.

If you were dependent on most of the English speaking broadcasters, you would have gained the impression that there were maybe “several thousand” in attendance and that there were incidents of random violence. Our own esteemed state channel concentrated on disorderly behaviour by a tiny proportion of the crowd. In general, the message was – as usual – that most people who were there believe in shape changing lizards and are card carrying members of QAnon.

Nothing very new in any of that, even in the fact that what the media were attempting to suppress or downplay in London was a truly mass event. It actually takes quite a bit of self-censorship to pretend that something of that magnitude either did not happen at all, or that if it did it was of an entirely different nature to what it was.

Firstly, the sheer numbers who took part appear evident from independent footage posted on various social media.

There is even an entire 6 hour video of the protest which begins in Hyde Park. One of the interesting parts of the footage is that it shows lots of people being encouraged to join in as the march passes parks where people were enjoying the sun. A significant number of people appear to have done so for the rest or part of the march.

While there was obviously some degree of organisation involved, the anti-lockdown protest in London appears as close to having been as spontaneous an expression of public dissent as is possible. There were no protests here, but because of the good weather large numbers of people simply took to the open air, and while there was some “beach shaming” about Salthill – a location that has gained an almost Nuremburg Rally status among the bien pensants at this stage – the Gardaí did not intervene. There was after all a dangerous Mass underway at the same time in Athlone – something which, according to some Twitterati, made the news as far away as Thailand.

So, it would seem that whether here or in London and in many other places around the world, people are just negotiating their way back to normality and either ignoring the restrictions on low-risk activities, or as across the Irish Sea going to the trouble of letting those in authority know in a sort of organized way that they have had enough. Most people in Britain have been vaccinated by this stage so there is a degree of impatience.

On the side of the authoritarians in power – and those whose ideology is entirely based on a Foucauldian desire to wield that power themselves – there is almost an air of desperation. How do they manage to keep the flock corralled for another while yet? Perhaps even a slightly less restrictive and unspecified period, but one in which they are attempting to pre-empt through plans to keep a sort of “Lockdown Greatest Hits” for the future when people will be expected to obey new mandates. Those future restrictions might be in relation to climate change, cultural expression, the nature of work, housing or whatever else the aspirant Engineers of Man’s Soul believe is for our own good.

Is there even an echo of the original panic in the current coverage of what is happening in India? It will be recalled by some that the initial shock of the Lockdown in the west was justified by footage from where it all began. In China, with people apparently falling dead in the street from Covid.

These videos were played all over the world back in January, February and March last year. Now very few can be found if you go searching, and it is a fair bet that RTE will not be replaying their contribution in any future Reeling in the Years. One of the rare clips still available for those who did not save them at the time provides just a flavour of what we were shown on our screens.

Apparently now, the people who thought it was a good idea to scare the ever living organic matter out of the population of the world a year ago, now are of the opinion that their propaganda might be “offensive.”

Now, as vaccination roll out reaches what we were previously told was the threshold of herd immunity, if that is not already occurring naturally, the Lockdown party seem to have lighted upon the upsurge in “Covid related” deaths in India as a means to sustain the fear.

We are told that in the region of 2,000 people have died on at least one day in the past week, although I have seen this disputed by Indians on Twitter. That is neither here nor there, it is a lot of people, but not so dramatic when one considers that the average daily mortality in India is around 27,000, Covid or no Covid.

In fact, until recently, India had a very low rate of Covid fatalities per million – one of the lowest in the world. As of today, despite the surge, that remains the position with World Of Meters showing India as having recorded 145 deaths per million people – while Britain has recorded a far greater number of 1869 deaths per million. Ireland’s data suggests 980 per million people.

The agitated reporting around the rise in the number of Covid cases has meant that some people in India “are rushing unnecessarily to hospital” and “exacerbating” the crisis the WHO said – a particularly significant factor when a health service is already poorly resourced.

Nor are poor sanitation and dreadful urban poverty or indeed public cremations either something new in the country or the consequence of the virus. There also appears to be some question, as with the images which emanated from Wuhan in January 2020, with regard to the authenticity of some of what people are seeing in connection with the Covid deaths in India.

It has been shown, for example, that footage of the aftermath of a gas leak in May 2020 has been used by some media outlets as evidence of people dying of Covid in the past week.

Most of this will be forgotten shortly, as will India, once it has served its short term purpose of persuading people that it is far too early to be thinking about visiting Granny or the beach. In a few weeks, the thimble riggers will be spinning some other crock to frighten people from leaving their pen.


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