Only a citizen spoiled by freedom gets upset when a policy doesn’t make logical sense because a politician is stupid, stealing or grabbing power. The rest of us are not surprised.
Our cynicism may be correct and wise, but we are also part of the problem. We make it easier for them to keep bending reality in their favor.
I keep marveling how people get upset and explain (to each other) endlessly how any particular covid-measure doesn’t make any sense. It is not logical. It doesn’t make epidemiological sense.
These are typically first world people, or those from the second world who are torn between the ideal that the government is supposed to serve them and the reality that it does not.
Indeed, politicians all around the world have kept doing whatever they were doing before covid – only harder.
- If they were autocrats, they got a new excuse to oppress, to crack down on free speech and free press, on individual liberties and the right to assembly.
- If they were kleptocrats, they went on stealing but much faster with a covid excuse.
- If they were in the middle of building a surveillance state, it just got faster.
- If they were starving or imprisoning their opposition, they could do it with even more excuses.
- If they were playing entire economic sectors into their families’ hands – they used covid as an excuse to weaken those players for the takeover.
- If they had real estate, they used covid as an excuse to drive prices even higher.
- If they were trying to get elected, they used covid to accomplish that.
- If they were shady populists, they used covid as an excuse to target opposition and intimidate voters further.
- If they were still old-fashioned, first world politicians trying to appeal to their voters – they kept doing that even harder.
Covid just amplified whatever was going on before.
In Hungary, when we see the absolute avalanche of public money going into “rescuing” an industry, we don’t even bother to try and catch it, it is not for us. We know that it is earmarked for the usual fronts and family. The remaining press is full of such news, every day, getting worked up about something we are so helpless against feels like a waste of life at this point. And yes, our cynicism makes the theft of public money easier, that was the whole point of teaching us helplessness by occupying every position of power that could intervene legally.
We don’t get surprised that border controls also happen to be great at achieving political goals. We don’t get surprised that the opposition gets pushed down harder with a covid excuse. We don’t get surprised that covid measures just happen to impoverish the non-Orbánists and enrich the Orbánists. We don’t get surprised that ordinary economic players don’t get saved with all that money. Some do act surprised, but even they really aren’t. Just perhaps sad that the injustice hit them personally this time. And then they get back to trying to survive.
So whenever you are complaining that a policy is not logical, that it doesn’t do what it says it wants to do, when you hold your politicians accountable (in your head at least) by logic and reality – count your privileges. It means that you come from a place that at least used to know freedom. It means that the rot of cynicism hasn’t set in your mind yet. It indicates that you live in a country that used to be free at least, where people internalized the thinking that the state should be for them, not the other way around. It is a clear sign of first world privilege.