What Happens Next?

Meditation for a better world.

Language is important. It’s how we frame our world. The words we choose to describe something affect the way we feel. The current word we’ve chosen for our enforced isolation in the face of the pandemic is “lockdown.” This has unfortunate connotations.

A lockdown is what happens in prison. It’s a way of enforcing prison security in the event of a riot. It suggests that we’re inmates in a prison system rather than free agents in a civil world.

I have a number of anarchist friends who’d agree with this. Yes this is exactly how it is, they say. It may appear as if we have free choice, but the agents of violence are always there, lurking in the background, to ensure we obey the rules, even when we disagree.

But there are other, more subtle, ways by which the rules are being enforced: through social conditioning and public shaming for example. We’ve really seen the latter come into its own during the current crisis. People are staying indoors, not because the police are roaming the streets forcing people to self-isolate at gunpoint—not yet anyway—but because their neighbors are keeping an eye on them, ensuring that everyone adheres to the consensus view.

I agree with them. After an initial period of doubt, I’ve come to accept that we must stay indoors, even if we’re well, in order to avoid spreading the virus to those who are more vulnerable, and to free up capacity in our chronically underfunded health service.

Read more here.

Published by christopherjamesstone

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written six books: Fierce Dancing: Adventures in the Underground (Faber & Faber 1996); The Last of the Hippies (Faber & Faber 1999); Housing Benefit Hill & Other Places (AK Press 2001); The Trials of Arthur (with Arthur Pendragon: Thorsons/Element 2003); The Trials of Arthur Revised Edition (with Arthur Pendragon: The Big Hand 2010); & The Empire of Things (Gonzo multimedia 2013). He is currently working on his seventh. From 1993 till 1998 he was a regular columnist with the Guardian Weekend in the UK. His column Housing Benefit Hill was a runaway hit, observing life on a run down housing estate in a small town in England, while his travel column CJ Stone's Britain took a wry look at the state of Britain in the 90s. From 2003-2008, he ran a column for Prediction magazine. Other columns include a fortnightly column for The Whitstable Times and columns for Mixmag & the Big Issue. Currently he writes a fortnightly column for The Whitstable Gazette and makes regular contributions to the Guardian on-line, the London Review of Books and Kindred Spirit magazine.

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