Coronavirus doesn’t belong to the left or the right, this crisis is anti ideology

The coronavirus crisis is a purely anti ideological moment. It doesn’t belong to the Anarcho-Capitalists or the Bernie Bros because it’s a genuine crisis based in something real, something that came from outside the political maelstrom. Yes the chinese communist party can and should be blamed for some of this, as Chad Felix Greene argued, but plagues have been with us for a long time. They are not respecters of persons or national boundaries, and it’s clear that no country has handled this perfectly.

Almost every major crisis of the last hundred years has been directly linked to ideology, in other words they came from inside some political system. Sovietism, Nazism, Islamofascism, NeoConservativism, Keynesianism, Globalism, etc. If you look at any major happening from the 2008 meltdown to the oil crisis in 73 there’s almost always an ideology lurking behind it somewhere, pushing and nudging the world off a cliff. The great Conservative writer James Burnham defined ideology as a closed system of thought that already knew the answer before any questions had been asked. The last hundred years have consistently been dominated by that kind of thinking, by ideological thinking.

And that makes the last century a particularly strange time in human history specifically because it was dominated by thinking. Instead of poor agrarians, simple nomads, or slaves just trying to make ends meet, the modern world has been built upon different and various plans for how we should live. These almost always look like top down proposals for how to structure and restructure society. And more often than not these plans have failed, sometimes with murderous results. The Vietcong didn’t really beat the United States, we failed for a bunch of reasons but bad ideology was certainly at play. Ronald Reagan didn’t really beat the Soviets, they beat themselves because socialism stinks. These sorts of massive failures are almost always driven by ideology.

But there is no ideological solution to a virus. That doesn’t mean good ideas can’t help us, because they can. Increased knowledge of how best to prevent the spread of the virus will help us. But there’s a big difference between ideology and a good idea. Good ideas can be co-opted and utilized in all sorts of ways. Truth and facts are almost always useful. No, ideology isn’t just about ideas, it’s about presumptive commitment to certain ideas regardless of what happens. Ideology is about being a true believer.

And Coronavirus is simultaneously revealing just how deep seated our ideologies are and how useless they are against existential threats. One of the most bizarre, yet entirely predictable, examples of this is the insistence of American Socialists that medicare for all would’ve solved Coronavirus. To be clear to those who live in countries with public health care systems, Medicare for all isn’t about adding a public option to the US medical system. A proposal like that would be relatively uncontroversial. Medicare for all is actually medicare forced on all, as in the abolishment of private medical care. It’s a purely ideological solution that has nothing to do with so-called European norms, contrary to how Sanders and his minions constantly try to sell it.

Along with being a blatant and disgusting attempt to utilize a crisis for political ends, this is a completely absurd argument, because their belief in Medicare for all has nothing to do with this crisis. They think it’s the solution to everything anyway. This tweet perfectly demonstrates the absurdity of ideology in this moment:

The graphic advertises it as Covid-19 survival measures. But it has nothing to do with survival, these people would be advocating for this exact same platform regardless. Those things might help us right now or they might not. The results don’t actually matter to an ideologue, the ideology is ultimately more important than anything else. Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner put it best commenting on Sanders vs Biden:

“While the Vermont senator is lobbying for “Medicare for all” as an answer to the coronavirus crisis, Biden is pushing a far more modest plan: a bill tailored to address the coronavirus crisis. Sanders argues that if we had socialized health insurance right now, nobody would have to pay for testing or treatment for the coronavirus. That’s true, and if the only alternative were a total laissez-faire healthcare system, most of the population might side with Sanders. But Biden, and no conservative or libertarian, has a real good response: He’d pass a bill to make sure that all the coronavirus testing and treatment is covered. That disarms Sander’s argument that we need fully socialized health insurance.”

In other words ideology really has no place in a crisis. Government is generally pretty ineffective and ruins most things that it becomes embroiled with, but this is an actual existential crisis. Which is pretty much why we have governments, to coerce the masses during a crisis. Many Conservatives like myself are worried about the erosion of liberties that is already coming from the response to the virus but ultimately we will have to worry about all that later. Right now people are sick and dying. The response can’t be ideological from either right or left, it needs to be based in truth and facts. We need to lay our ideologies down until this is all over.

Educator, podcaster, & writer

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