by Daniele Scalea

The creaking of the "saving Green Pass" narrative may seem like good news to those of us who oppose it. Unfortunately, it is not good news. First reason: because at the moment there is no rethink on the Green Pass, indeed launched in "Super" version and, predictably, extended tomorrow both in the action (for example by imposing the "Super" version to work) and in the users (applying it also to children as the vaccine becomes available). Second reason: because where faith in the "surgical" tool of the vaccine wanes, the rulers, the media and the majority of public opinion go back to thinking about the "club" of lockdown. We live in an era in which we oscillate between Green Pass and lockdown. A pendulum worthy of making people regret that between boredom and pain of Schopenhauer.

No to the Green Pass, super-no to the Super Green Pass

Let us quickly recall why we are hostile to the Green Pass and, of course, to the "Super Green Pass". Since the latter is an aggravation of the former, the same arguments apply. There are essentially two:

  • State interference in our most essential forms of life. The government claims to be sovereign over the bodies of citizens and, when they resist, it punishes them by violating their fundamental rights;
  • the possible, indeed probable, further degeneration of the system. The government has introduced an internal passport on which the enjoyment of the essential rights of citizens depends. This passport is granted only if the citizen complies with behaviors that, moreover, are not even legal obligations. The tool is there: it is only a matter of time before Italy develops a social credit system like the Chinese one, which will condition all our rights to complete obedience to the government.

Being against the "green certification" does not mean being against vaccinations. Leaving aside the application to young population groups, the vaccination of older classes would seem to have had positive effects, at least judging by the data on reduced mortality.

No to lockdown

We have also spoken on the subject of lockdown several times over the last two years. From the very beginning of the emergency in Italy, we warned against the mellifluous rhetoric of "only two weeks to lower the curve", we anticipated the reality of a lasting "new normal" and the physical-social-economic-psychological costs connected to it. We then denounced the discrimination inherent in "social distancing" and the way in which rulers and the media fueled an irrational "pest hunt" to cover up their own responsibilities. We have upheld the primacy of freedom when the government abolished every right and the opposition prodded it to abolish even more. We fought for the reopenings by attacking the motivations of the "closerists". We asked Draghi and his majority for a clear discontinuity on restrictions (and, today we can say, we have been disappointed).

The third option: freedom

There is, of course, an alternative to the agonizing pendulum between Green Pass and lockdown. There is, and it's called "freedom."

We're not dealing with a fourteenth-century plague, nor are we dealing with one of those disaster horror movies in which nine-tenths of the human population is killed and turned into zombies. We are dealing with covid-19, a pneumonia that is undoubtedly serious but that does not cause mass extermination, nor does it kill babies in the cradle or young people in their prime. In two years this disease has killed 0.2% of the Italian population, (in a year, as a rule, little more than 1% of the population dies), on average people of 80 years of age and with other diseases. Under 50 years has killed 1601 people, on a pool of about 32 million people. Under age 40 killed 399, in a pool of more than 23 million individuals. Victims under age 60 had in more than 90% of cases at least one other serious medical condition; in 40% of cases three medical conditions.

Painful losses, undoubtedly. None of us would ever want to part with a loved one, even if they were a hundred years old. I run the risk of appearing brutal, because in an age when much less is enough to be accused of "insensitivity" or "inhumanity" there is no sense in moderation. The death of a person who has reached the winter of his life is sad, but not tragic in the proper sense of the term, that is "catastrophic". After the age of 80 the death is, unfortunately, a frequent event, regardless of covid. It can be called a tragedy when someone leaves us prematurely. Unfortunately, covid also causes this: fortunately, it does so very rarely. But even this, as hateful and unpleasant as it is, is in the natural order of things: premature death has existed before covid and will exist after.

We can and must try to avoid them, all deaths (premature and not), with caution, medical research and even vaccines. We are already doing it and the reduced mortality proves it. But we must get out of the crazy pursuit of "zero risk", from the subjection of our whole life to a (impossible) cancellation of deaths. Man cannot do everything and, unfortunately, eradicating covid is one of the things we are precluded from doing. It is now clear to all that we must live with this disease, among other things relying on the evolutionary mechanisms that make a virus become less and less lethal (the infamous omicron variant already demonstrates this: more infectious, less harmful). Erasing death is not possible. Stop living and vegetate eternally, hoping to avoid death, is foolish: you lose your life and you will still find death (and even prematurely, I would dare to predict: a life locked up at home, without socializing, without fun, filtering oxygen from a mask, does not seem the healthiest lifestyle possible).

Death is inherent in life. If we choose to live, we also accept that, in everything we do, there is a small possibility that leads us to death. When we get into a car, we know very well that we could have an accident, either by ourselves or by some other driver, and die. Do we therefore give up driving? Some may do, and if they feel happier doing so, they should. But the vast majority of people take precautions - they don't get behind the wheel drunk, they moderate their speed, wear their seatbelt, etc. - but they don't give up driving.

How to convert to liberty

Perhaps, my reader, you share what I've written, if you've made it this far in reading. But I bet you're thinking, "This speech is too brutal. It will outrage, it will not convince people. And then there are the issues of intensive care units ... the clogged hospitals ...". Better to resort to data, to logical arguments, you'll tell me. You know what? You must have missed the last two years of debate around covid. The fanaticism of those who were on TV calling for more lockdowns, then went there to call for more vaccinal passports, and now are calling for more tests too. The violent attacks on anyone who tries to raise the slightest objection. Renowned doctors or philosophers, formerly held in the palm of their hands, suddenly reduced to "dumbasses". The same term "philosophy" that, from one day to another, becomes derogatory, just because some of its exponents dare to disturb the "great helmsmen" in white coats.

Citing data and facts is never bad, of course! Yet, however much we may talk about Sweden or make comparative reasoning about the numbers of deaths from country to country, from year to year, the effort will probably be in vain. The interlocutor will find counter-examples or, with captious or fallacious arguments, will try to invalidate ours. There are in fact two problems related to the effectiveness of a well argued and well documented reasoning:

  • unless you are a physician arguing with other physicians, one or both of you will lack the knowledge or method to sustain a dialogue about public health. That means not only not knowing how to argue in turn, but also being unable to fully appreciate the arguments of others;
  • as has been amply demonstrated, most of our beliefs are based not on judgments but on pre-judgments. We do not start from data to form an opinion, but generally we have an "instinctive" opinion that we try to support with data that corroborate it. We will be naive and credulous towards everything that confirms what we think, but wary and skeptical in evaluating what could refute it.

The opinion of people is formed primarily on the basis of prejudices, which in turn are generated by the system of values and beliefs sedimented in the past and made to emerge from symbolic stimuli to which they are subjected. Paradoxically, it is easier to persuade a person by changing their view of the world than by trying to get them to change their mind about a single aspect of it. Not by offering him additional data or notions, but by convincing him to look at what he already knows from a different perspective.

Why is covidism so popular?

Let's try to understand, first of all, from what perspective he observes things today.

To begin with, we should not be surprised if, today, people who have grown up in a vacuum of values and moral relativism, indoctrinated with anti-heroism, are ready to accept anything in order to feel safe. Safety, against real or perceived evils, is the only request that they can make, along with that of feeling superior than "second class citizens". Hence the popularity of the "Green Pass."

A theory (called "from zero to hero") developed to describe the mechanisms of radicalization of extremists helps us understand why so many today are rabid fans of closures and restrictions. It has been noted that jihadism is an idea that allows many people on the margins of society - outcasts, failed, criminals, the poor, etc. - to find "strong" meaning in their lives. It makes them part of nothing less than a divine plan. Suddenly, nonentities can feel like heroes and be acclaimed as such by those who support the same ideas. Something similar happens with lockdown. Certain attitudes and behaviors that until January 2020 were execrated and mocked as "anti-social" have become meritorious and "normal": not going out of the house, not hanging out with friends, shunning physical contact and social interaction. The "loser" of January 2020 two months later had become a "hero": and all without even having to make an effort. A "war" - according to the rhetoric of the media - that is not fought by going out to face the enemy, risking one's life, but on the contrary by "ambushing" oneself, closed in one's house to wait for the storm to pass. What a cakewalk!

Basically, in these two years the dominant narrative has explained to people that all they needed was a few simple renunciations or sacrifices - locking themselves in their homes, distancing themselves from others, getting vaccinated, getting an internal passport and showing it in order to exercise their fundamental rights. A few "simple" gestures to be part of a great philanthropic ("save many lives") and patriotic movement (how can we forget the chauvinistic peana about the "Italian model" during the second Conte government? Stuff that in the 1930s would sometimes have seemed excessive). Lockdowns, closures, restrictions, outdoor masks, vaccination of children, Green Pass, Super Green Pass: all are part of a cult in which the fight against the virus is a pretext and no longer an end. Some of these measures may be truly effective (others certainly are not: outdoor masks are superstition), but this is secondary: their symbolic value counts more than their material value. It is no coincidence that the rituals and devotion of the followers of the covidist cult are guided by television talk shows: the realm of the unreal and of fiction.

Escaping the pendulum is possible

This argument may seem daunting to most. It is more comforting to believe that, on the strength of data on the ineffectiveness of lockdown or demonstrations of the inconsistency of TV-virologists, we will be able to convince everyone that we are going down the wrong road. In front of us, instead, we will find a rubber wall that no data or objective argumentation can pierce.

The way forward is to attack on the level of values, symbols and ideals. Propose the alternative, intangible but true, of individual freedom and individual responsibility as a beacon of collective life. Are we to believe that generations that have grown up with the myth of freedom are now inevitably led to believe that a father-master state can forbid them anything in the name of an emergency? Of course, there will be some more problems regarding the sense of responsibility: that is not only to be rediscovered, but to be inculcated from scratch. Not to mention the courage and stoicism of taking risks in order to keep the nation going and not jeopardize the future of posterity. It is also true that the previous "cult of freedom" has been interpreted with flaccidity by many as mere dissolution and egotism. And yet the basis is there, to push many to rebel against this idea, which now seems common sense, that all our freedom is conditioned to the consent of the rulers who dispense it at their pleasure.

Is it possible that the beacon of the ideal of freedom, which has illuminated the West for millennia, could have been extinguished so quickly? The flame is still lit. Diminished, but ready to burn again. There are still men among our nations. Even in this Italy that is going through one of its darkest moments.

Daniele Scalea

Founder and President of Centro Studi Machiavelli. Graduated in Historical Sciences (University of Milan) and PhD in Political Studies (Sapienza University), he is professor of "History and doctrine of jihadism" and "Geopolitics of the Middle East" at Cusano University. From 2018 to 2019 he was Special Advisor on Immigration and Terrorism to the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi. His latest book (written with Stefano Graziosi) is Trump contro tutti. L'America (e l'Occidente) al bivio.

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