2020, in History

Note: Today is the last day of our end-of-year 2020 funding drive. Starting next week, we want to turn our hearts and minds to the birth of the Savior. I’m deeply grateful to the many of you who have shown such great generosity and commitment to this work. The world may not know what we do here just now. But the day is coming – when we return to sanity again – that it will. And the world will understand what it took for a few of us to pledge ourselves in these days to the reality of God and His Creation  I know this is a hard year for a lot of us, and not only because of COVID. But for those of you who want to give and have delayed: now’s the time. You know the kind of people who say, if not us who? If not now, when? Let’s surpass them at that game. Do what you can now. It will make all the difference, not far from now, on some better day. – Robert Royal

A fortnight hence, it will be New Year’s Day. That will make it 2021, by the grace of God. All our troubles will be over, according to a supermarket Christmas carol. The page will be turned on what, according to conventional opinion, was the worst year in living history.

But what if some problems persist? Let me indulge the controversial view that conventional opinion is usually wrong. It would follow that the 21st year of the 21st century will make the 20th year seem like candy and roses. We will be looking back fondly on our first Batflu year, when all we had to do was wear muzzles, and keep our distances.

If that’s all we still have to do a year from now, we will have got off easy. The more progressive public health authorities assure us that we will still be doing these things then, regardless whether we have taken the Batflu vaccine, or if we are “following the science” – a phrase already used mostly tongue-in-cheek.

And if that is all we face, as the second consecutive Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are canceled with the threat of police arrests, while the “lockdowns” become ever more severe, and small private businesses are systematically annihilated, then what have we to fear?

(Sarcasm alert; to say nothing of litotes.)

But by the iron law of paradox and its companion, the paradoxical law of irony, 2021 will be different; and that means it could be much worse.

How could it be worse, gentle reader is asking? Frankly, I don’t know, but I could think of a hundred things that would cancel all bets. Yellowstone might explode, and leave a crater across Idaho and Wyoming. Or coastal California might shelve into the Pacific, in a full subduction earthquake.

In our present intense phase of politicization, Democrats might applaud that first, and Republicans celebrate that second vast natural catastrophe, until they began to feel the rumbles in New York and Washington, D.C. And the challenge of thinking of a way to retroactively blame Trump might defeat their finest minds.

As I say, I can think of a hundred things, but none that I’m expecting. Even the Batflu was not widely anticipated, last January 1st. Only a tiny number in Wuhan could guess that it was spreading.

A friend with a degree in theology tells me that God does not let us know what comes next, or we might die of fright and despair. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” we read in the Sermon on the Mount. As ever, in the sayings of Our Lord, there is more than we will spot in a quick, glib perusal.

Whereas, epidemiologists, economists, and oncologists make a living off telling us what comes next, but need to be right, sometimes, to get paid. Whereas, tyrants just have to frighten us, to keep their funds flowing. They might tell the truth, if the truth were to their advantage, but lies are generally more efficient.


Take the year 2020. By now it is clear that “excess deaths” in the United States, as in most other countries, will be no higher than they were the year before. It has been an average year, and the number marked “COVID” on their death certificates are counterbalanced, by the number called dead from most other major causes.

This result could be explained by a variety of miracles, or by one massive fraud. Which it was we may learn over time. But if it was an exercise in “social engineering,” it worked exceedingly well. The great majority of the population are obeying their new masters, who happen to be the same as their old masters: the more cynical political manipulators.

My own hope that 2021 will be better depends upon my pessimistic expectation that it will be worse. For hardly anything expected ever comes fully true. And what I am expecting is the death of U.S. freedom, as the great majority become more and more accustomed to being arbitrarily pushed around – by little men, “dressed in a little authority.”

We will more and more accept the lawless dictatorship, based on “public health,” for the unanswerable reason that we are already accepting it. We have been gelded by our Batflu fears, to the point where we voluntarily close our churches, abandon our paying jobs, shutter colleges and schools, and forsake our daily lives, in the belief that if we don’t we will die.

Now we are being told that even if we take the vaccine, the lockdowns must continue. Several of our most influential politicians have casually set “zero deaths” as their official goal. This means we may not have any freedom back until we all become biologically immortal.

Alternatively, this cannot stand, and in 2021, or more likely the year after, a “second American revolution” sweeps all our Gauleiters away. That this won’t end well, either, is something that a pessimist should be expected to say.

Worse, in many manifestations, might happen in the future, but the current “pandemic” (the word is willfully misused) is a continuous thing, that does not end until it is ended.

I inserted the word “lawless” mischievously, above, as a way of reminding what everyone should know. The American Constitution makes no provision for public health “emergencies,” and insists that arbitrary acts by governors (or mayors) be confirmed by legislatures in a very short time. The same is true, or was, in other countries where the rule of law prevailed.

If I may sound quite American (when I am a Canadian national), the Jeffersonian conception of human rights is that they are not conferred by governments. Moreover, my “old Tory” notions agree: rights are what we have because we take them.

This is what I hope my fellow Catholics will do. Go to Mass and, if someone tries to stop us, make them physically prevent it. For cowardice is not a Catholic virtue.


*Image: America Guided by Wisdom by John James Barralett, c. 1815 [Library of Congress, Washington, DC]


David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: davidwarrenonline.com.