Face masks must be worn in the UK on public transport (to begin with) by order of the State. We will explore the reasons why people might comply or resist this diktat. What reasons are there to wear a face mask, do they make sense and what does our compliance or resistance say about us?
THE STATE IS A STATE OF MIND
The State is a belief system. It is a faith, rather like a religion. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with faith. It doesn’t necessarily mean the belief itself is “wrong.” Faith can be a powerful force for good. It all depend upon what the belief is.
If your faith dictates that you treat all with love, compassion and respect then your belief is “right.” If you live in accordance with your faith then you are living in the truth, regardless of which deity you follow.
However, if your faith teaches you that you are better than “non believers,” that yours in the only true way and that those who don’t follow your beliefs, or your deity, deserve to be punished, you are “wrong.” You are not living in harmony with the truth.
People who believe in the State are called statists. Those who don’t, broadly come under the umbrella term anarchists. For statists, the anarchist is despised. Life without their State is unimaginable, therefore those who wish to live without it must be evil. The anarchist has long been reviled by statists as the dangerous subversive.
Despite the perpetual myth that “anarchy” is synonymous with “chaos,” that is not what anarchy means. Anarchy encompasses a broad range of political, economic and sociological perspectives with one commonality. The State is considered both harmful and unnecessary.
For statists an absence of the State must mean “chaos.” A free for all with no law, no social security, no healthcare, no infrastructure and mob rule. This is the opposite of anarchy. Anarchy is not society without rules. It is society without rulers.
All religions have their representatives. There are cardinals, bishops, imams and and rabbi’s etc. They are perhaps the leading voices, but they aren’t the only representatives. There are envoys, missionaries, TV evangelists, religious correspondents and so on.
The State is no different. We have politicians and governmental advisers, as the leading voices, but there are also NGO spokespersons, union officials, the academic & scientific orthodoxy, lords and ladies, multinational CEO’s, central bankers, business leaders and more. Of these, the most powerful, in terms of their ability to shape public opinion are the mainstream media (MSM.)
The core tenet of the statist’s faith is that a small group of people are best placed to tell all the other people what to do. This is a belief in absolute hierarchical authority.
There’s nothing wrong with hierarchical authority. It is difficult to see how we could ever organise anything more than a barbecue without it. It is over the issue of how we authorise it where the statists and the anarchists diverge.
When you need to see a doctor you temporarily cede your authority to them. You trust that they know more about medical science than you do, so you allow them to make decisions about your health and follow their advice.
However, outside of your healthcare, you don’t permanently give your authority away to your doctor. When you buy a car you don’t phone your GP to ask their permission.
Generally in life we cede our authority to others on a case by case basis. Our authority, in all other decisions, remains otherwise intact. We retain our individual sovereignty.
Most people understand this. We can become defensive, even aggressive, if we feel someone else is telling us what to do when we haven’t given them our specific authority to do so.
Yet for some reason, when it comes to the State, statists give this group of people absolute authority over every aspect of, not only their own, but everyone’s lives. Just as religion is often based upon a belief in supreme beings, who have power or influence over the devotee’s life, so statism accepts that special “selected” people have power and influence over the every aspect of the statist’s life.
In most religions you offer prayers to your deity, acknowledging your faith. Statists offer votes to cede their individual sovereignty and autonomy to the State. This isn’t a temporary arrangement. Whoever you vote for you get the permanent State.
The State’s authority comes entirely from the statist. Without their belief it would be nothing. Regardless of any other competing ideologies statists may follow, a trust in the legitimacy of absolute hierarchical authority is universal.
This trust is not shared by the anarchist. Power corrupts absolutely, in the anarchists view, and history demonstrates it. Much better to retain your own sovereignty and temporarily devolve authority, depending upon your needs at the time. Just as we do nearly every day.
Anarchy is already the way we order society in our day to day lives. We don’t need an overarching State to control who we meet, where we go, who we work for, trade with or take advice from. We can and do order our society despite interference from the State, not because of it.
The State takes money from us by force so that it can spend it on its priorities. If we need to build a road, the State uses our money to employ a private contractor to build it. Why do we need the middle men, ask the anarchists. So they can take their cut?
The State doesn’t just take our money to build roads and hospitals. Absolute hierarchical authority over everything leads to nothing but corruption, oppression and war. We know this, history teaches us this fact. Yet we still persist with the idea that if we just vote harder next time it won’t happen again.
It is beyond ironic that the statist will often chide the anarchist for, what they see as, their naive perception of human nature. Statists claim that it is inevitable that the corrupt, the violent and the unworthy will seek and exploit power. Precisely the point made by anarchists, who suggest that not freely giving away your authority to the power crazed might therefore be a good idea.
The British like to think their modern democratic society has evolved to produce some sort of egalitarian meritocracy. It hasn’t.
Relative inequality is as bad as it’s ever been while, at the same time, a tiny clique of carefully selected people rule us. We never escaped the rule of the aristocracy. It’s just that we now think we elect them. We don’t. We just elect their representatives.
WHY ARE YOU REALLY WEARING A FACE MASK
And so we come to the State’s decree that we should all wear face masks on public transport (initially.) Ostensibly, both to protect others from our own transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and to stop us catching the deadly virus. It is perhaps worth noting, according to official statistics, despite the UK Lockdown regime producing one of the worst infection and mortality rates in the world, we are talking about a disease that has supposedly affected 0.45% and led to the deaths of 0.06% of the UK population.
If there are health risks associated with wearing face masks, and there are, this notion of protection rapidly becomes a nonsense. However, people must have their reasons to wear a face mask. So what are they?
The first could be that you are a statist. You believe that the state representatives (government officials) know more about reality than you do. You trust them to tell you what to do. You accept their claim that they have special knowledge and have your best interests, and those of your fellow citizens, at heart.
You gave them your authority to control your life, and the lives of everyone else, when you participated in the ordination ritual. You did this by putting a cross on a piece of paper some time ago.
In all likelihood you didn’t actually vote for your nominal rulers. The 2019 UK general election turnout was 67.25% of the eligible vote. Boris Johnson’s Conservatives received 43.6% of that total. Just over 29.3% of the British electorate voted for their representative government. Nearly 71% didn’t.
Seventy percent of the British people do not want Boris Johnson or the Conservatives to force them to obey their rules. However, all conform because we think we live in a democracy. For statists this is how it should be.
It doesn’t matter that by using the supposed democratic system, less than a third of the population determine what more than two thirds can do and say. It’s the principle that matters. The principle appears to be mob rule.
The second reason, one shared by many statists and anarchists alike, is that you are forced to do as you are told. With a monopoly on the use of force, the State is the only body in society that can initiate force and get away with it.
While nearly everyone in the UK would say it is morally indefensible to use physical force to make someone do whatever you tell them, it is surprising how many think it’s OK for a tiny group of people in Westminster, Holyrood, The Senned and Stormont to use physical force, or the threat of it, to control millions. Cognitive dissonance exemplified.
Nonetheless, it is what it is. If you need to take the bus or the train to work you are now forced to wear a face mask. Not because you believe there’s any point to it, but because you won’t be able to get to work and feed your family otherwise.
So, if we are honest with ourselves, unless convinced by the science, we will wear a face mask on public transport for two reasons. We are either happy to accept that special people we’ve never met have sole authority to tell us what to do, as a slave owner would command a willing slave, or we are scared that they will use force to punish or harm us if we don’t comply. We call this a free and open democratic State.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND WEARING A FACE MASK
The final reason you might elect to wear a face mask is that you are convinced by the scientific evidence. You believe that donning a cheap or homemade face mask will protect you and others from a disease which you have a 0.45% chance of contracting and a 99.94% chance of surviving.
Why you would imagine that the science shows that wearing a crappy face mask will stave off the minuscule threat of infection is difficult to say. For many, perhaps it is because that is what the mainstream media (an organ of the State) told them. However, the State has said other things at other times.
On the 4th March the State’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said:
In terms of wearing a mask our advice is clear, that wearing a mask if you don’t have an infection really reduces the risk almost not at all.”
On the 23rd April the State’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance said:
The evidence on face masks has always been quite variable, quite weak. It’s quite difficult to know exactly, there’s no real trials on it.”
On the 24th April the State’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
The evidence around the use of masks by the general public, especially outdoors, is extremely weak.”
On the 28th April the State’s Ministry of Defence Chief Scientific Adviser, Dame Angela McLean, representing the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said:
The recommendation from SAGE is completely clear, which is there is weak evidence of a small effect in which a face mask can prevent a source of infection going from somebody who is infected to the people around them.”
An unusually clear and consistent message from the State. On the 4th of June the UK State’s Secretary of Transport, Grant Shapps, told us that we did have to wear face-masks on public transport? Shapps said:
That doesn’t mean surgical masks, which we must keep for clinical settings. It means the kind of face covering you can easily make at home….wearing a face covering offers some – albeit limited – protection against the spread of the virus.”
Wearing a clinical N95 face mask is frowned upon by the State. Better to wrap a scalf around your head, a bandanna, old handkerchief or one of those paper face masks you used to be able to buy from the market before the State put all the stall holders out of business.
Begging the question, what new scientific breakthrough emerged between the 29th April and 4th June to convince the State that wearing a torn T shirt on your face will save you and others from COVID 19? Albeit limited.
Obviously N95 standard face masks are better suited to the task than a bit of rag. So what is the scientific evidence that N95 masks could protect you, or someone else, from a viral respiratory infection.
Jacobs, J. L. et al. (2009) concluded:
N95-masked health-care workers (HCW) were significantly more likely to experience headaches. Face mask use in HCW was not demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.”
Cowling, B. et al. (2010) found:
None of the studies reviewed showed a benefit from wearing a mask, in either HCW or community members in households (H).”
bin-Reza et al. (2012) meta analysis discovered:
There were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask ⁄ respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”
Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) undertook further meta analysis of the available studies on face masks. They stated:
We identified 6 clinical studies … In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”
Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) undertook a study of healthcare workers to assess the relative effectiveness of face masks and respirators:
Among 2862 randomized participants, 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCW-seasons. … Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Long, Y. et al. (2020) looked at six randomised clinical trials (RCT’s) of face masks to ascertain if they protected either the wearer or others around them from any viral respiratory illness. They didn’t:
A total of six RCTs involving 9171 participants were included. There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks….The 4 use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Face masks work well for surgeons who want to avoid dribbling or sneezing into their patients, but are useless when it comes to stopping viral infections. In terms of preventing the spread of COVID 19 there is no evidence that they achieve anything at all.
As far as anyone knows viruses spread through tiny long residence time aerosol particles. The virions – the spiky ball we are all now familiar with – are much, much, smaller than the weave in the fabric, even of N95 clinical face masks.
If your hope is to protect yourself against a viral respiratory infection, covering your face with with a face mask you bought online is about as useful as concrete lifebuoy. So how do the State justify their silly policy? It seems analysis released by the Royal Society DELVE Initiative on 4th May, convinced SAGE to change their advice.
There are no RCT studies anywhere in the analysis which show any protective benefit of face masks for stopping viral respiratory infections. This is because there aren’t any.
However, it does cite some MSM articles, a number of studies about water droplets spread when you exhale, which are obviously stopped when you cover your face, and some statements from the U.S. Center for Disease Control. None of which is relevant to demonstrating that face masks protect against viral respiratory infections.
It also cites some studies which again found no benefit from face masks.
Brainard et al. (2020) stated:
The evidence is not sufficiently strong to support widespread use of face masks as a protective measure against COVID-19.”
The Royal DELVE also cite studies with no conclusions:
The lack of statistical power prevents us to draw formal conclusion regarding effectiveness of face masks in the context of a seasonal epidemic.”
Canini et al. (2010)
It is impossible to see how the Royal Society concluded from their analysis that face masks should be widely worn. Which is probably why they didn’t. Ultimately they offered no conclusion at all:
Face masks could offer an important tool for contributing to the management of community transmission of Covid19.”
They could, but they almost certainly don’t. Nor is there any reason to think they will.
Read more: Face Masks Have Put Us In A State