Pandemic Theatre and the Importance of Lauterbach
Yesterday, I left the gentle hills of Upper Bavaria for the Swiss Alps, and as I took my string of trains and buses ever deeper into the mountains, I found myself thinking once again about this plague on the land, this Lauterbach, and his proposed pandemic legislation.
What is the purpose of the law, anyway?
If it’s to keep people masking as much as possible, regardless of vaccination status, then why describe the mask rules as an “incentive for vaccination”?
If it’s to ensure maximum uptake of Omicron-flavoured Pfizer, then why threaten to withdraw the mask exemptions if too many people opt in?
No, it can’t be about vaccine uptake, and it can’t be about masking either. It’s about the prolongation of the pandemic theatre itself. This is a farce, where some metric is always going up or down, and if it’s going up that’s bad, and if it’s going down that’s good. If it gets too high, you’ll be punished with all manner of arbitrary restrictions. If it stays low, you can breathe a sigh of relief; you have been spared. But even should you avoid punishment in the moment, you’re still caught in the trap, thinking every moment about Corona, worrying about rules and infections, plotting what you can get away with, and how long you can stand this. Your whole perspective has been reoriented around this ridiculous pathogen.
The new law concedes everything except the bare structural elements necessary to maintain this pernicious system. It contemplates a lesser and a greater set of restrictions depending on the severity of the winter wave, and promises exemption from the indoor mask requirement for those who test negative, as well as for those who are recently vaccinated or recovered. As long as the possibility of harsher restrictions hangs like the Sword of Damocles over our heads, the disease statistics will be in the news and in our minds all winter long. The possibility of achieving a mask exemption will keep the citizenry lining up for tests, willingly giving Lauterbach the statistics he needs to score the game. On every other plane the rules are irrational; this is the only way to understand them.