My wife and I recently came back from Prague, where we celebrated our wedding anniversary (our 32nd, as you ask). As well as soaking in the sights, we got to thinking about the country’s recent history and the end of communism there.
In 1968, the country attempted to usher in a more liberal and democratic form of communism in what became known as the Prague Spring. This tentative step toward freedom was brutally stamped on by the USSR, which sent in troops and tanks to remind the Czechs of the true path of communism, or “normalization,” as they euphemistically called it.
But ultimately the world is controlled by ideas and not tanks, and the Czech people found heroes who would help bury a bad idea. Leading the charge was Vaclav Havel, who became the newly democratic Czechoslovakia’s first prime minister in 1993.
Havel had been imprisoned by the Soviets in the 1970s for an essay he wrote about the machinations of the Soviet state. In it, he outlines the playbook of all totalitarian states, and there are clear parallels with the world we live in today, and especially that which has emerged with the Covid pandemic.
First up, any control group needs to have the media singing from the same hymn sheet—one that has been written by the rulers, of course. Putin realized this when he came to power in Russia: he said that once he had the media, he had the people. And so it was in the Soviet era, too.
Not only is it the primary instrument of propaganda, the lens through which people see and interpret the world (or have the world interpreted for them), but the media—encompassing TV and the web—is also the new opiate of the people, replacing religion. People who have their TV are happy people, and happy people don’t revolt.
We have seen the same in recent times. All the media—including social media—has got behind the official narrative of Covid vaccinations. In the UK, Ofcom, TV’s regulator, was given powers to punish any broadcaster who overly questioned government policy.
The second step is dealing with dissenters. Yes, they can be locked away in the gulag, but far better to discredit them publicly and broadcast that they are an enemy of the people. Milan Kundera, the Czech writer, described how the private lives of dissenters were broadcast on the national radio network.
Turn to the Covid era, and you see something similar unfolding. Everyone who questions the narrative is dismissed as an “anti-vaxxer,” while the unvaccinated have had basic rights removed, and to this day the unvaccinated cannot enter the US. They are banned, “de-platformed” and vilified.
Most people are happy to go along with the standard narrative; they may even benefit from it, such as those “good party members” who were promoted at the local factory—but it’s a perversion of the human drive to be communal.
Although every totalitarian regime is started by a small cabal, ultimately it is the system itself that takes over, as Havel correctly identified. Everyone becomes a willing participant in what is paraded as the “public good” and the best of all possible worlds. They report neighbors to the authorities or demonstrate their self-serving love of the regime.
But if the controlling idea is a bad one, the whole edifice eventually collapses, and it is often the smallest of things that does it. In Czechoslovakia, it was the banning of a pop group, Plastic People, that accelerated the decline of communism there. We’re seeing similar movements today in Iran, such as a revolt that started with the death of a young girl who hadn’t been wearing her hijab correctly.
In both instances, the clampdown was seen as unreasonable—and in our Covid era, the extreme measures to curb the virus and control its transmission will be seen to be flawed.
Every day a new report is released that points out the dangers of the Covid vaccines, and especially the mRNA ones. A senior Pfizer executive recently admitted its vaccine doesn’t even stop transmission, nor was it ever tested to see if it could.
It is hard to see why governments put such faith in untested vaccines, but of course, vaccinations are something everyone understands, and they’re a shibboleth for the faithful. You don’t have to lose weight, eat better, bolster your immune system or exercise—you just roll up your sleeve.
But the narrative is unravelling, and eventually the tidal wave will lap against the shores of mainstream media. When that happens, it could be Covid’s Plastic People moment.