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Power without counter-power?

 

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There is a lot going on in society at the moment. Worldwide, but also in the Netherlands. I am hearing an unabashedly lying 'outgoing' parliament that is nevertheless big decisions, disinformation from those who accuse others of disinformation, censorship on social platforms, one-sided media coverage and stifled critical (scientific) voices. And an increase in freedom-restricting measures which, for example, my son (13) wants to influence. This is a way of working and a balance of power that I cannot support at all. Our government not only polarizes, it does what it feels like doing without concern for values, ethics, polarization or pluralism. It is a total disregard for democratic principles and disrespect for the citizenry.

A brief, non-exhaustive list of some of the things that have struck me so recently:

Government proves unreliable by appointing members of parliament as state secretaries, who should control themselves. A childcare allowance affair in which, in addition to discrimination, no solution will be found, the disgraceful elimination of Omtzigt (and lying about it), financial mismanagement (think of the mouth caps), the youth being fed a sausage with 'dancing with Jansen', the urge to vaccinate that was never going to come but has now become a fact. And the 180 degree turn regarding the vaccination certificate; companies were never allowed to use it or ask for it because of violation of privacy and medical secrecy, now companies are allowed to ask for it and the outgoing (!) minister is looking at possible legislative changes.

A House of Representatives that merely looks on: there is no real opposition with critical questioning and position taking (and surprisingly: the left wanting to impose severe freedom restricting measures, the right standing up for individual freedom), formation plans securing important issues so that the House of Representatives has the upper hand, a back room government culture that just won't be rejected - even after leaks of minutes and photos. And even after motions of censure and distrust, the same path can continue. Lies are simply tolerated. There is no response to the real issue of too low ICU capacity (which was already problematic even before corona).

Justice being a part of a political playing fieldThe case of the curfew where the session was simply postponed at the request of politicians, an outgoing cabinet that can continue to extend a far-reaching temporary law with impunity and without a well-founded emergency, supporting disproportionate measures while violating privacy, medical secrecy, freedoms and equality principles. Social Media who are allowed to remove misinformation, where the label "misinformation" has long since been superseded by reality (think of the IFR actually being adjusted way down, or mouthguards that actually promote health negative influence). And even a bank that ownhand decides to freeze accounts and refuse customers because they have an opinion that is unwelcome to them. Does the right stand up for them? Is it heard? Is there outrage? No, it remains dead silent. And a police force that crack down on peaceful demonstrations? Apparently it is now considered proportional.

Media that are not independent: much news only makes it to alternative media, studies that are not discussed and others that are highlighted, deliberately continuing to speak of "infections" where it concerns positive PCR test results, one-sided exposure of events (and sometimes even actual framing), media that speak as if it were 1 voice, the lack of critical questions at press conferences for example, the lack of objective in-depth journalism.

Colored Science: the hounding away of people who substantiated that Corona escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan (when by now that seems the most likely scenario), critical scientists losing their jobs at the university, peer-reviewed articles being retracted after publication because it does not fit the social consensus, one-dimensional science practice on the square millimeter to guide political advice and action. Where is "the bigger picture" on corona policy?

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The consequence is a false opposition in society between vaccinated vs. infected. A government-constructed divide. This produces greater distrust towards the government, which recent polls also show. This ensures that nuanced thinking citizens must make a choice. People with a different opinion than generally accepted are excluded from YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and thus end up in their own bubbles without contradiction. With their own media channels for information. As a result, contradiction is just as absent from the 'mainstream'. They become navel-gazing communities pitted against each other.

But with growing distrust in government, the stain is also expanding; distrust arose because of (insufficiently substantiated) far-reaching measures, there were questions about the corona vaccine, now distrust of all vaccines is emerging. And distrust arises to all government policies, governance culture and political intentions. Where previously there was a sense among the 'excluded' group that the government had the right thing going for it, but ignorant is; now there is a growing sense that they are merely puppets carrying out a cunning master plan.

Predatory people, man-eaters, and similar monsters can be found everywhere, but a citizenry with sensible and wise institutions one does not find in any random place.

Thomas Moore (Utopia)

The annex of essential values and principles of freedom for a few percent more vaccinations that experts say are not going to have any effect. It's hard to see how that could be worth it - and what really utopian has proven - to give up returning to a tribal society.

Thus power has no countervailing power. I cannot see it otherwise than as a erosion and capitulation of important values such as freedom, equality, privacy, free speech - if I put it in nuanced terms. A growing injustice with totalitarian features when I express myself more firmly. I am concerned about this. And reinforced when I learn that a non-democratically elected Europe is preparing plans for a digital passport, a European crypto-currency and a European army. Will there then be even greater pressure on dissenters, dissenters? On people who do not want to go along with the prevailing consensus on important issues such as life, travel, health, religious freedom?

When the countervailing power fails, the only countervailing power left is the power of the people. The people rising up against injustice, inequality and discord. That starts small: speak sincerely and speak out. But also listen to and try to understand the other person.

The duty of civil disobedience

I reread the essay in the back of Thoreau's Walden titled "The Duty of Civil Disobedience" once again. In it, Thoreau pleads not to be obedient to an unjust government. He himself refuses to pay taxes to a government that thereby maintains slavery and war. An appealing essay. He writes: 'If the injustice is such that it requires you to participate in the injustice against another, break the law, I say. Make your life cause a friction that stops the machine. In any case, I must take care not to lend myself to the evil I condemn.

With the latter, I can totally relate. In this way I can unaccounted for participate in the exclusion of a specific group of people and the social divide that comes with it by instituting access restrictions and health cards. Excluded because of a medical status. Or forced to undergo medical treatment that they themselves do not support. Creating a society driven by fear of another.

Without sending a clear signal (to politicians) you cannot say afterwards that you were not heard. Demonstrating is at least a good right and seems appropriate here. So enough thinking, talking and blogging - time for action. Up the barricade! To raise my dissenting voice against the "health passport", associated access restrictions and social divide.

Cast your whole vote, not just a strip of paper, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless if it conforms to the majority; then it is not even a minority anymore (...).

Henry David Thoreau

So that's how I suddenly found myself a few weeks ago, for the first time in my life, together with my brother-in-law to Demonstrate in Amsterdam. Although not a civil disobedience; after all, it is a democratic right to be able to demonstrate, it was nevertheless an act against the current policy. It turned out to be a special but also unusual experience. Surrounded by people with viewpoints and forms of expression that I do not all share, yet united in the common goal of sending a message to the government: Stop throwing away hard-won freedoms by crossing borders so easily and headlong. Perhaps worded differently, but still collectively a vote.

By the way, this is not civil disobedience; demonstrating is a democratic right. The disobedience is currently in the pull out to the testing policy and keep your company's door open without access restrictions based on medical preference.

Power to the people

But the power of the people is greater than protesting or keep the door open. We can also close doors. I believe that I cannot support all companies that threaten freedom of speech, curtail freedom, and absorb state propaganda uncritically (I cannot name the Rutte & Young's output otherwise). I can no longer use their services. In addition, privacy issues come into play with the tech companies. Therefore, I can no longer use:

  • Google - alternative is for example Duckduckgo as a search engine and Firefox as a browser.
  • YouTube - perhaps Vimeo?
  • Gmail - alternative is Protonmail
  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram - let's give each other a little more bubbles and in the true life speaking. Maybe party again a little more often?
  • WhatsappSignal or Telegram.
  • Rabobank - Any other bank with less discriminatory policies. And perhaps partially switch to crypto?
  • News - general news sites/newspapers should, in my opinion, be read in conjunction with 'alternative' and/or foreign news sources to get properly informed. My experience is that only both sides give a full(er) picture and all cover newsworthy items. I myself use RSS reader Feedly To bundle channels.

And these are civic initiatives that make me happy:

Hear here The arguments against the QR code system by legal scholar and philosopher Raisa Blommestijn: it is a discriminatory measure, it infringes on bodily integrity (by forcing vaccinations), it takes away freedom of choice, it interferes with a personal choice for a medical procedure, it is stigmatizing and creates division, it is a slippery slope with no concrete end time and with the possibility of expansion.

Rioting Christians?

Each is called to peacefully & nonviolently, but moral act. To act in line with one's beliefs, to act according to one's honor & conscience. But can, may or should you as a Christian also be civilly disobedient or activist? Is demonstrating something Jesus did? For that, read on here. Want to know more about how I view vaccination and measures? Then click here.

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Erwin de Ruiter

"One man tries to express himself in books, another in boots; both are likely to fail." - G.K. Chesterton

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