Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon River in 49 BC in defiance of Roman law placed him and his army on a direct collision course with Rome, leading to the Civil War which established him as Roman dictator. It is a well-established metaphor for a point at which there is no going back and at which things will never be the same.
I predicted a few weeks ago that the UK Government would in the near future try to force everyone to wear facemasks in public. Leave aside the plethora of information that makes it clear face masks are of practically zero benefit in everyday circumstances, and may, in fact, be dangerous, the forced wearing of facemasks is a transgression so fundamental and of such significance that it is difficult to adequately express.
It implicitly hands your body over to state control, and renders one of your most basic existential freedoms subject to state interference. For the first time, the right to exercise a choice of whether you should inhibit your respiratory faculties and hide your face in public is taken out of your hands. If you doubt the significance of this, try to remember the public outcry that followed a debate regarding banning the wearing of burkhas and hijabs in the face of Islamic terrorism, and the connotations this had for civil liberties at the time.
Facemask wearing is the visible hallmark of Asian states perceived in the West as repressive and authoritarian. It is a badge of serfdom, akin to the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany. There is no greater invasion of your person possible short of tattooing you with a number.
This astonishing about-turn in policy has not happened overnight or without preparation. It has been preceded by a cleverly-orchestrated media campaign which seeks to bizarrely turn established professional and scientific research on its head, making virologists, infection-control bodies and academics who have published papers for the medical profession into liars and charlatans.
This campaign has included editorials and blogs which talk in disapproving and accusatory tones of “mask-shirkers” and “mask-deniers” allegedly “refusing” to wear face masks. Leave aside the obvious fact that refusal cannot take place without a demand: in other words someone has to give you an instruction to which you reply, “No, thanks.”
Absent such a demand, you are not refusing anything, merely making a choice. And until now there has been no such demand. But those making this choice are now psychopaths and enemies of humanity without a shred of integrity, respect or regard for their fellow human beings. When I returned from Asia early this year the advice was clear: face masks do not protect you from infection and it is not advised that you wear them.
What is more, face mask wearing was actively discouraged because of limited supplies required for hospital environments, where infection control is king and every precaution makes sense. Above all the only situation in which it is appropriate to wear a facemask in public is if you are unwell and have a cough, in which case why not stay at home?
But this piece of simple logic has been covered by the mask-advocates whose logic runs like this: “You may have coronavirus without knowing it, and may infect others with your breath even at unlimited distances so you need to wear a mask.” This covers all bases despite the evidence for this being at best negligible and at worst manipulated and dishonest.
It is part of the greater logic that renders every societal value worthless unless it contributes to the impossible task of making sure that not one single individual anywhere, ever, is infected with Covid-19. None of this means I think we should do nothing about this pandemic. But there is now a growing awareness that the cure proposed is not indefinitely sustainable and may in fact be worse than the disease.
The virtue-signaling of face-mask advocates is easily refuted. Facemasks have been available for decades for use in industry and ideas generally considered good are taken up by the public. Nobody needed the government to tell them to go out and buy a car or a television set.
So if you’re so convinced face masks are a good idea why has it taken the State to tell you before you came to this Eureka moment?
And for how many years or decades have you been going around disrespectfully infecting your fellow human beings by going out without a mask when you had a cold or the flu?
However, apparently all the established research is now wrong and face mask wearing is essential. It is a vast game of “Simon Says,” in which we only do anything when Simon says. And it won’t stop there. Expect newspapers like the Guardian to run sanctimonious editorials demanding that face-mask wearing be extended to pubs and restaurants, and eventually to every departure from your home.
Following this such a move will become policy: indeed, the British public will do what they are already doing, gleefully embracing this perverse doctrine, boasting of buying colorful face masks for their children, and showering anyone who has a different point of view with disapproval.
I’m forced now to doubt that we, the British people value our freedom as much as we profess to. We take to the streets in droves to embrace new forms of repression, such as an anarchistic movement that seeks to rewrite history and dismantle our police forces, or an anti-human death cult that seeks to suppress all human activity by frightening us all into believing we are destroying the Earth by existing.
But in the face of mounting attacks on our liberty and our freedom, we are silent. We have had our liberty taken away from us. Our movements are monitored. Our discussions are censored via social media. We are no longer free even to make fundamental choices about our bodies. A public that will silently accept these things has learned nothing from history, will accept anything and deserves its fate if that is a dystopian world-state.
We are no longer entitled to lecture other nations about being repressive states. Their representatives, quite rightly in my view would laugh in our faces. There is a growing fear in the minds of many of us that Western lockdowns may be permanent. The specters of identity cards, martial law and forced vaccination now hover over us.
Dismissing this as “conspiracy theory” and accusing those who feel this way of an inhuman disregard for life is the rhetoric of fascism, a force that always thrives in the face of a perceived threat. I believe forced face-mask wearing in British streets is a brutal act that crosses the Rubicon, and finally signifies our descent into a de facto repressive state.
Mark Chapman is an artist and educator based in the UK. This article first appeared at off-guardian.org. You can read more of his work at his blog Humanism