Governments will use any excuse to seize emergency power, and they will always try to hold on to it even when the justification for seizing it has passed.
I learned the following ten lessons about democratic society from the pandemic. Some of these things I already knew in an abstract way from historical study and reflection on experience, but their truth has been vividly demonstrated by the events of the pandemic year—or what now looks like becoming the pandemic years, plural.
1) Science is the default god of a civilization without religion or shared standards of right and wrong. The pseudo-religion of diversity and multiculturalism, which undermines shared moral standards, in effect enthrones Science as god, since Science is the only authority widely believed to be value-neutral. The great god Scientia (to be distinguished from the actual sciences) is not in fact value-neutral, but in public she plays the part of a lady who loves the truth but is flexible when it comes to other moral principles. Hence public science cannot give us “values,” that is, the practical wisdom to make morally sound decisions. “Follow the Science” is morally vacuous advice. It’s like asking a computer program whether you should get married (though no doubt some genius has created an app for that, too).
2) Whoever controls what Scientia says controls the country—just as in theocratic times, control of doctrine and religious law meant control of the state. Hence a power-hungry state will try to control what Scientia says.
3) Most scientists—and the universities that employ them—are more than willing to be controlled by the state in return for money, power, and influence.
4) Governments that claim their rule is based on Scientia’s pronouncements will always prefer the quantitative to the qualitative. Bureaucrats and politicians find it easier to aim for goals like “reduce the number of cases/hospitalizations/deaths (to zero!)” rather than qualitative goals such as “educate our children in humane ways” or “allow dying parents to see their children in person” or “prevent the atrophy of human relationships” or “promote freedom of religion.”