Will Coronavirus Kick off the 4th Turning?

There has been no shortage of complaints over China's slow response to coronavirus. At the most extreme, the Chinese system and CCP are blamed for censoring the initial reporting of the disease by doctors on the front-line in Wuhan. Beyond that, they did not initiate a major response until three weeks after the disease was clearly spreading.

In contrast, in the United States' response to the threat of the virus was to...call the Chinese response racist.

Politico: Coronavirus quarantine, travel ban could backfire, experts fear
The Trump administration’s quarantine and travel ban in response to the Wuhan coronavirus could undercut international efforts to fight the outbreak by antagonizing Chinese leaders, as well as stigmatizing people of Asian descent, according to a growing chorus of public health experts and lawmakers.
NYTimes: The Racism at the Heart of Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’
NewsOne: As Coronavirus Spreads In US, Trump Reportedly Wants More African Nations On Travel Ban.

The media and travel-ban critics aren't pushing for more travel bans to where coronavirus has appeared, such as Iran, South Korea and Italy now. They oppose all travel bans in principle. Why would anyone be thinking about this when the goal is stopping a deadly pandemic? Does it save any lives? While you could argue they have a point, it's a secondary or tertiary one to public safety. The first-order goals are saving lives, keeping the public healthy and the economy operating. Fail on any of those and you're going to look like a damn fool, if not be facing a lynch mob for failing to act.

This essay touches on a lot of the themes I've been thinking about, and inspired this post.: THE ONLY THING THEY (DON'T) FEAR
The public has been repeatedly warned about the dangers of overreaction in fearing COVID-19, the harms of stigmatizing victims or social groups associated with its point of origin, and the irrationality of fear itself. Scores of behavioral psychologists have come out of the woodwork to cite the same tired studies (it is worth asking how many of these studies have been impacted by the replication crisis) about the ways in which human psychology biases us towards poor risk assessment. Organizations have been mocked for adopting social distancing measures used outside of the US – and which may become common within the US in due time if and when the virus begins spreading domestically. In short, everything about COVID-19 except the virus was worth fearing. The virus itself somehow became oddly secondary to the entire equation. Bold move, Cotton…
America's dominant, ruling ideology is on display. When a problem arises, don't tackle the problem itself. Immediately ask, who are the politically useful victims? Who is the oppressor? Is there racism or sexism? Just as members of the CCP might (unlikely) think of the proper Maxist response or more likely, how this affects their position in the party, so do American elites think in ideological terms whenever they meet a problem. As the Chinese system is prone to corruption because officials cover themselves before attacking a problem, so the American system is prone to doing what is best for the ruling progressive ideology, and not what makes sense from an objective assessment.

This plays out on issues such as restricting visas from countries that export terrorism, controlling the borders to prevent drugs, crime and diseases from spreading. The technology industry worries that AI, which can greatly improve the lives of everyone, is racist. Why is it racist? Because it is an objective, automated system that ignores race. For the same reason that pulling out all the stops to prevent the spread of coronavirus is racist and xenophobic. If you think objectively and tackle problems in a reasonable way, focused on the problem itself, you are at risk of being labeled a racist, sexist, xenophobe (or worse) for ignoring the ideological demands of the ruling establishment. Elites have internalized this thinking, which is why they are reliably wrong and destructive. They do not look at a problem itself, but immediately think of which -ism is involved.
It was particularly bizarre to receive stern lectures on the psychology of bad risk assessment as it became increasingly obvious that China was not being fully transparent about the mechanics of transmission within its own borders. This, when coupled with the ambiguity of how much Chinese influence and other motivations may have compromised the reliability of information circulated by international health organizations, makes accurate risk assessment difficult and raises uncertainty. What is even more glaring, however, is the comparison between warnings over fearing COVID-19 and virtually everything else. Incessant warnings about the possibility of violence during screenings of The Joker certainly did not trigger that many lectures about the way in which human psychology compromises sensible evaluation of risk.
Instead of focusing on real threats, American society is instead focus on real or imagined ideological threats to the ruling regime. In some cases the threat (real or imagined) is a danger to the ideology, but in many cases it is an invented threat that serves as a "5 minutes of hate" to reinforce ideological thinking.
These warnings – which themselves contradicted decades of advice about how to minimize the risk of inspiring violence via intense media publicity – did not concern anything with even remotely the same credible threat as COVID-19. And unsurprisingly nothing came to pass. The Joker went on – as comic book movies do – to pull in big box office grosses. Despite the warnings – and in spite of the warnings given that they were themselves imprudent in their potential encouragement of violence – it was a non-event. The only violence that The Joker inflicted was the violence that was inflicted on human digestive systems by mass consumption of unhealthy snacks available at movie concession stands. It isn’t just Joker of course. Think about all of the other times in the last few years you have been told to fear something evidently ridiculous.
America is in need of a "regime change" to a more rational way of thinking. While China has dysfunction caused by its political structure, Chinese officials tend to be far more realistic. Corruption is a problem, but it is caused by substituting personal gain for public welfare. It is correctable with effort and China has been making that effort. I'm not here to defend China though. I find it useful as a foil because as a foreign system, people often think less ideologically about it. They can recognize the threat from social credit in China, while totally ignoring the same exact threat from Internet companies in the USA because In the USA, the flaw is more fundamental. Elites and institutions are retarded by ideological thinking. They are unable to process reality as reality.
And now realize that one of the few major times in which there has been concerted messaging that Thing X is not to be feared is when Thing X – COVID-19 – is actually quite worthy of fear. It is common to compare it to the flu, but this is inappropriate given the novelty of the virus, the uncertainty about its trajectory, and the ugly mathematics of pandemic risk. Absolute panic is not appropriate, but neither is the incessant downplaying of the virus. The entire thing would be comical, material for a wickedly funny satire, if it were not so real and serious. And I don’t see how it is sustainable for us to keep going on like this. I’m told a lot about the perils of things such as “truth decay,” “post-truth politics,” and the “post-fact” era. But a friend said that we actually live in a post-trust era. I’m still thinking about the implications of that.
Post-truth is ideology. American elites do not think rationally or scientifically. All Truth is bent into Narrative, to fit the Narrative. American elites start from ideological assumptions and warp their perception of reality to match "their truth." Children are taught to think this way as early as possible. Newer children's television programs teach it, children learn it in K-12, and they are indoctrinated into the theory in college. Political correctness was big on college campuses in the 1990s. It is not typical in all corporations. In other 20 years, the current generation will graduate into political and corporate leadership. If you agree with me that the U.S. response to coronavirus is bad, I have worse news. Today's government and corporations will look highly efficient next to the institutions of 20 years from now, barring a change. Luckily, a change is coming. How costly the process is unknowable.

Corona Shock

America could be in serious trouble. The CDC is not instructing doctors to look for coronavirus. They are using an initial screen of "have you been to China" and "have you been in contact with someone who was in China" and only then assessing the symptoms. I hope that I'm wrong and overreacting. The virus isn't in the USA or cases are limited. People are successfully self-quarantining. If I'm not, then America is going to pay a steep price for having a dysfunctional dominant ideology among its elites.

The comparison with China couldn't be starker. What can the harshest critics about China's response say about the United States if the disease spreads across the country, or even takes down one city? The USA has known about the threat for an entire month. Wuhan has been on lockdown for an entire month, the whole country on some form of lockdown for more than 3 weeks.

In America, there isn't a raging debate over what to do. You can find people asking why there's no travel bans on social media, but there's no big debate in the news or in Washington between pro-quarantine forces and "that's racist" forces. There is no debate because the dominant ideology runs deep throughout institutions, such that the information given to someone you'd expect to react in a shockingly discontinuous way (President Trump) leads him to believe there's no problem. Most of the people who surround him are also believers, or who rely on information from believers. They aren't thinking, "Maybe the CDC is subverted by ideology and isn't giving us the Truth."

Maybe the system will skate because coronavirus turns out to be far less a threat than it seems today. Or maybe, America is about to suffer a major blow to its institutions, public trust, and eventually its dominant ideology. Going back to my view that social mood is in decline and a stealth depression is being masked by the stock market (a broken mood indicator because of central banks), the public reaction will go far beyond what was seen after 9/11 or Katrina. This could be the event that triggers that 4th Turning many have been waiting for.

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