George Orwell on why masks and lockdowns don't work

Earlier this year Mark Steyn was serializing an audiobook of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four, noting how many of its themes are relevant today in an age where Big Tech can edit the dictionary if a conservative says something with too obviously plain a meaning.  I've similarly referenced the novel in a post title about the new "deadlier" Wuhan Flu variants that mysteriously arrived at about the time we were all assured a vaccine meant things could get back to the way they were in November of 2019.

But there's another Orwellian connection to the China Virus and the extra rules being forced upon us as governments en masse over-react to it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Nineteen Eighty Four. Instead, it's from Orwell's other masterpiece: Animal Farm.

I've read Nineteen Eighty Four more times than I've read Animal Farm, but while I have only read the more famous book once in the 21st century, and haven't read Animal Farm in this century at all, I have listened to it several times, as I've got the audiobook and have listened to it a couple-three times on road trips. So I'm actually more familiar with his story about animals who try to set up a collectivist society only to discover it utterly fails than his tale of Winston being stuck in Room 101 begging for Julia to be consumed by rats. (It helps that it's shorter)

While Steyn comments on how Emanuel Goldstein in Nineteen Eighty Four has some parallels to Trotsky, the bigger comparison to Trotsky is in fact Snowball, the pig from Animal Farm who was an intellectual rival to Napoleon (Lenin). As the first third of the novel comes to a close, Napoleon and Snowball argue over the construction of a mill: Napoleon makes a push for power, chases Snowball away, and then...adopts Snowball's own positions as if they were his own. Yet when the mill fails, it turns out to be Snowball's fault.

Contrast this to how O'Brien refers to Goldstein in Nineteen Eighty Four:
The face will always be there to be stamped upon. The heretic, the enemy of society, will always be there, so that he can be defeated and humiliated over again.
Snowball isn't defeated over and over again: as per Napoleon's propaganda he always seems to be capable of causing real measurable harm to Animal Farm. In reality, of course, Snowball long ago escaped in exile (like Trotsky) and never was seen or heard in the vicinity of the farm ever again. In fact his narrow escape from Napoleon's dogs are his final ever appearance in the novel. We never learn where Snowball went or what he did: it's heavily implied however that he never again was actually involved in Animal Farm. The problems that besiege the farm under Napoleon's reign are caused by his own mismanagement. It turns out the strong central authority isn't always right, and without a self-correcting mechanism (ie. market forces) things can go very wrong very badly.

Which brings us, of course, to the Wuhan Flu. Seeing how we're coming up on eleven months into a two-week temporary lockdown to "flatten the curve", the Nineteen Eighty Four DOUBLESPEAK references seem so especially apt. Yet as governments enact tighter and tighter controls without any discernable benefit, there are no shortage of idiots regurgitating nonsense about why the restrictions have so utterly failed in achieving their aims. Too many "anti-maskers" and "freedom-obsessed" folks aren't following the rules.
Suddenly, early in the spring, an alarming thing was discovered. Snowball was secretly frequenting the farm by night! The animals were so disturbed that they could hardly sleep in their stalls. Every night, it was said, he came creeping in under cover of darkness and performed all kinds of mischief. He stole the corn, he upset the milk-pails, he broke the eggs, he trampled the seedbeds, he gnawed the bark off the fruit trees. Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal. The cows declared unanimously that Snowball crept into their stalls and milked them in their sleep. The rats, which had been troublesome that winter, were also said to be in league with Snowball.

Napoleon decreed that there should be a full investigation into Snowball's activities. With his dogs in attendance he set out and made a careful tour of inspection of the farm buildings, the other animals following at a respectful distance. At every few steps Napoleon stopped and snuffed the ground for traces of Snowball's footsteps, which, he said, he could detect by the smell. He snuffed in every corner, in the barn, in the cow-shed, in the henhouses, in the vegetable garden, and found traces of Snowball almost everywhere. He would put his snout to the ground, give several deep sniffs, ad exclaim in a terrible voice, "Snowball! He has been here! I can smell him distinctly!" and at the word "Snowball" all the dogs let out blood-curdling growls and showed their side teeth.

The animals were thoroughly frightened. It seemed to them as though Snowball were some kind of invisible influence, pervading the air about them and menacing them with all kinds of dangers. In the evening Squealer called them together, and with an alarmed expression on his face told them that he had some serious news to report.

No matter how many grand schemes and plans are setup by the authorities, their aims are never achieved. But heaven forbid we assume those aims themselves are false or unsuitable!

While maskless people in stores and other facilities aren't non-existant, they are exceedingly rare. I perhaps see one to three in any particular week: considering the number of people I see in stores, that would probably correspond to a 0.25% number of people not following mask rules. Those meeting outside of "no indoor gathering" rules are likely a higher number, maybe even 5%  of the population (excepting Christmas). It seems strange that such a small proportion of the population can be "ruining it for the rest of us" ("we're all in this together" yadda yadda yadda), does it not?

Orwell would probably chuckle at those repeating this obvious and clumsy lie, and then probably sit quietly in the corner at The Wheatsheaf and fear for the future of the world.

I have personally drank in both The Wheatsheaf and The Compton Arms (the closest pub to Orwell's flat he lived in while writing both novels), and yes indeed both bars have a prolific presence of CCTV cameras

Like Snowball, no matter how few "anti-maskers" you see in day to day life, they are responsible for every public policy failure. What else could it be, bad public policy? Perish the thought! It must be the heretics, and again unlike O'Brien's depiction of them from Nineteen Eighty Four, these heretics are in fact gaining in power every single day. Big Brother isn't crushing them, they are humiliating him. That's a page right out of Napoleon's book about Snowball:

Out of spite, the human beings pretended not to believe that it was Snowball who had destroyed the windmill: they said that it had fallen down because the walls were too thin. The animals knew that this was not the case. Still, it had been decided to build the walls three feet thick this time instead of eighteen inches as before

While everybody keeps pointing out that masks don't seem to be working (Edmonton and Calgary have had mask bylaws since last August but still account for far more COVID cases then their populations should indicate), our leaders blame the dissenters who refuse to wear a mask...and then decide that the "walls" between our mouths and the outside world need to be thicker, and now two or three masks are the upcoming new requirements. [if the parallel wasn't strong enough already, the headline in that RT.com article is "If 2 masks are good, 3 masks are better" which immediately brings to mind the infamous "4 legs good, 2 legs better". -ed]. Out of spite, it seems, people pretend not to believe that we only need 3 masks because somewhere on this planet there's a person with no masks spewing deadly COVID clouds into the air.

As a general aside, can we set a fairly simple rule about a matter of public policy?

If your plan requires 100.000% compliance, it will fail and deserves to fail. Come up with a new plan.

With this simple rule in mind we can make the inevitable correlation with communism. Like they claim with the WuFlu restrictions, the Marxist concern is that communism doesn't work if pockets of non-communism are to be found in society. More importantly authorities can stop complaining about "non-compliance" like they do in Lethbridge or Waterloo. You want 100% compliance and we won't ever give it to you. The hens will withhold their eggs. "Anti-maskers" will ignore your mask laws and hold house parties with as many people as we want. We will continue attending our church services.

Stop scapegoating us for your policy failures. Your empty claims are getting tiresome.