Theory-Eyed

In a number of countries, prisoners are being considered for an early corona release, which is slightly bonkers when you consider that prisons are arguably best suited – indeed uniquely placed – to support isolation.

Not exactly the best timing either, to be pouring criminals back out onto the streets, what with police resources being stretched as they are. But at least with the self-isolation, they’ll have to confine themselves to pilfering their own possessions and defecating onto their own living room floors. It’s all about keeping your hand in during the downtime, I suppose.

Some police forces – Cambridgeshire is one – (they prefer the term ‘police service’, but this corona cock-up has in its unique, sweet catalytic way all but done away with that facade) are tweeting out the deets on their new online informant services for members of the public to blab on COVID-19 restriction breaches.

At a time when solidarity and mutual support has never been more essential, it shifts the debate from unlawful enforcement to one that may be lawful but strikes at the heart of legitimacy. It’s all going to dogpile onto the corona hangover. We’re not only going to be waking up to a wasteland, but any collegiate drive to propel us to recovery will swiftly evaporate. That’s if society hasn’t already devoured itself by then.

Don’t be surprised if some of those online reports are dobbing in non-participants for the Thursday NHS clap.

All things considered though, the legitimacy of the wholesale assassination of the economy was never a done deal in the first instance.

They just cannot make head nor tail of the facts, let alone work it up into a rationale. And I don’t think they’re really trying that hard. In a post-fact world, analysis is for retrospective arse-covering, not for setting policy. That way, they can chop and change to whatever version suits them and the facts (that they select) best. For the present, they just make sure there’s enough trees to obscure the wood, and they muddle through, hoping for that deus ex machina or any fortuitous game-changer that hauls their butts out of the mire.

They can then ramp up the doom and gloom that was averted, and people will be so relieved, they won’t ask too many probing questions.

But pending the emergence of such a wondrous escape hatch, our current best projection brings us to when the dust settles, and people have to face up to the commercial Hiroshima. That’s when reality will bite, and the finger-pointing fest will be up at more than just a gentle canter. The theorising will crank right up when the charlatans have the benefit of hindsight. Much harder to work out tactical piloting when the plane is up in the air.

So, until it’s all over, it’ll be data snippets, half-baked lines, and soundbites. The pithy maxims do sometimes resonate, but a scratch beneath the surface will often reveal a paucity of substance.

The one that tickles my fancy (as an observer) is the apparently impressive argument that the ‘economy can be brought back to life, but dead people can’t’. It is powerful.

Yet, it does however rather presuppose that the carnage caused by the bug was always necessarily going to nudge the apocalyptic boundaries. Well, is it really?

And it does presuppose that risk analysis on the consequential harm of a disembowelled economy was incorporated into its reckoning? On that score, I’m going to crawl out onto a limb and tentatively suggest that due diligence never extended to such preparatory scrutiny.

It really was the blond leading the bland.

But will we ever uncover what the most advantageous course of action could have been, or indeed what actually did happen? Fat chance of that. At the point in the future when we’re sifting through the ashes of 2020, nothing will have the remotest possibility of stacking up.

Any analysis will always be bedevilled by the inclination of the authorities to oscillate between downplaying and over-dramatising the impact, depending on the context and whatever slots most neatly into their political agendas.

Just look how it’s rolled out so far. When we’re crying out for fact, they can’t even remain consistent on the fundamentals.

We’ve seen varied definitions of Covid-19 deaths, determined by whether consent of relatives was provided. There is also the question of how many will die with Covid-19, as opposed to those who will die of Covid-19. And we’ll never arrive at a definitive distinction owing to an absence of post-mortem examinations. Don’t forget, the Coronavirus Act mad sweeping changes to allow unprecedented shortcuts on the reporting and registration of death. In themselves, colossal safeguards whose removal our parliament simply nodded through.

There will doubtless be endless debates though because the bill will need to be footed for generations to come, and we’ll all be simultaneously theory-eyed and teary-eyed as the reality hits home that so much carnage never had to happen.

The (unofficial) analysis that we do manage to scrape up will not so much uncover the facts of COVID-19 but all the other poor pseudo-analysis (or lack thereof) that led to the self-inflicted buffoonery that determined our downfall.

The ruin itself won’t be in question, though. That’s something that we’ll be able to quantify only too easily. It will be our lived experience.

Never has so much been fouled up by so few.

unsplash-logoAliyah Jamous

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