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Multiple Studies Predicted Governments Become Authoritarian in Response to Pandemics

Over the last eight months we have seen many governments around the world enacting authoritarian practices in the name of preventing the spread of COVID-19. All the way back in January, the Chinese government began welding people in their homes to stop them from potentially contaminating others. As the panic spread around the world eager politicians now had the excuse they needed to push policies which restrict freedom of movement and speech.

The authoritarian measures have now grown to include the following:

checkpoints (asking about travel, checking temperatures)

temperature screenings at some airports

contact tracing apps cataloging all your movements and contacts

– emergency orders/executive orders supporting forced vaccinations, isolation, and quarantine

– involuntary quarantine centers/camps

thermal drones watching people from the sky

talk of mandatory vaccines (or making it difficult to live without vaccination)

face recognition tech to fight covid19 (by tracking people violating lockdowns)

– discussion of immunity passports/digital certificates to travel

censorship of alternative viewpoints

raiding of businesses for not closing

arrests of people violating lockdown (and this, and this)

ankle monitors for those violating quarantine orders

roving cops searching for people not in the “proper” places

While the rise of authoritarianism as the result of a declared global pandemic may seem an unusual response to such an event, there is actually decades worth of research describing why we are witnessing this growth of tyranny.  For example, the study Pathogens and Politics: Further Evidence That Parasite Prevalence Predicts Authoritarianism, provides a deeper understanding of how humans react to perceived threats and how that relates to the type of government the people will accept.

The study focuses on the “parasite stress” hypothesis which proposes that when a species faces parasites and diseases their values are shaped by the experience. In this context, “parasite” is used to refer to any pathogenic organism, including bacteria and viruses. The theory states that depending on how a disease stresses people’s development it can lead to differences in mating preferences and changes in culture. Proponents of the parasite stress theory also note that disease can alter the psychological and social norms of societies.

“According to a “parasite stress” hypothesis, authoritarian governments are more likely to emerge in regions characterized by a high prevalence of disease-causing pathogens,” the researchers write. They define authoritarian governance as “highly concentrated power structures that repress dissent and emphasize submission to authority, social conformity, and hostility towards outgroups.”

Due to the invisible nature of “disease-causing parasites,” attempts to control the spread of a disease “historically depended substantially on adherence to ritualized behavioral practices that reduced infection risk.” The researchers also found that society tends to promote a collectivist worldview, favoring obedience and conformity from the population, in response to parasites.

They examined two different studies, which themselves were analyses of previous works on the parasite stress theory and the implications for authoritarian tendencies in government and individuals.

The first study shows that “parasite prevalence” strongly predicted the likelihood for individuals to express authoritarian personalities. The second study focused on “small-scale societies” and found that parasite prevalence “predicted measures of authoritarian governance, and did so even when statistically controlling for other threats to human welfare.”

The researchers concluded that “these results further substantiate the parasite stress hypothesis of authoritarianism, and suggest that societal differences in authoritarian governance result, in part, from cultural differences in individuals’ authoritarian personalities.”

The research also indicates that individuals who dissent from or fail to comply with the aforementioned “ritualized behavior” are seen as a health threat to society.

“At a psychological level of analysis, empirical evidence reveals that the subjective perception of infection risk causes individuals to be more conformist, to prefer conformity and obedience in others, to respond more negatively toward others who fail to conform, and to endorse more conservative socio-political attitudes,” the study states.

Additionally, a “societal level of analysis” reveals that in countries and cultures with a historically higher prevalence of diseases, “people are less individualistic, exhibit lower levels of dispositional openness to new things, are more likely to conform to majority opinion.” These cultures strongly endorse moral values that emphasize group loyalty, obedience, and respect for authority. 

Simply put, where there is a high prevalence of parasitic diseases the resulting stress on human health is likely to result in the emergence of authoritarian forms of governance. The researchers note that this effect is consistent with previous research which also found “pathogen prevalence” was uniquely linked to conformist attitudes and personality traits. The researchers examined the effects of malnutrition, warfare, and famine, finding that only the threat of famine and pathogens correlate with authoritarian governance.

 “This conclusion is consistent also with psychological evidence showing that, while other threats can also influence individuals’ conformist and ethnocentric attitudes, the perceived threat of infectious disease has effects that are empirically unique,” the researchers write.

Another study referenced by Pathogens and Politics delves further into the psychology behind perceived threats and conformity. The study, Threat(s) and conformity deconstructed: Perceived threat of infectious disease and its implications for conformist attitudes and behavior, found that the threat of disease “may trigger conformist attitudes” in the population at large.

For this study the researchers used two methodological strategies to examine the effects of disease threat on conformist attitudes and behavior. First, they examined the impact on individuals by focusing on chronic individual differences in Perceived Vulnerability to Disease (PVD). To do this they tested whether individuals who felt more chronically vulnerable to infectious disease also exhibited more strongly conformist attitudes and behavior.

“Importantly, we also tested whether these predicted correlations remained when statistically controlling for individual differences in concerns pertaining to other (disease-irrelevant) threats,” they write.

What they discovered was that when the threat of infectious disease was prominent the population expressed “greater liking for people with conformist traits and exhibited higher levels of behavioral conformity.” However, there was no comparable increase in conformist attitudes as a result of a temporary threats that were not related to disease.

“These results support the hypothesis that the perceived threat of infectious disease exerts an especially potent (and perhaps psychologically unique) influence on individuals’ conformist attitudes and behavior.”

Disturbingly, the study found that an individual’s perception of vulnerability to infection does not necessarily need to be rooted in reality to produce a profound psychological effect. If an individual perceives they are vulnerable to infection they tend to prefer conformity and accept authoritarian measures, even if they are not actually under threat. “Our experimental manipulation focused on perception, not reality,” the researchers note.

When it comes to society as a whole, the researchers found there may also be consequences that impact entire populations.

“A disease epidemic, or even the perceived threat of an epidemic (such as the H1N1 outbreak of 2009), may lead to temporarily higher levels of conformity within populations and may dispose individuals within those populations to respond more harshly to normative transgressions.”

This field of research clearly indicates the empirical evidence for authoritarian governance and conformist mindsets in response to a perceived threat of infection from a disease. If one takes a step back and examines the results of these studies and the events currently playing out around the world, it’s clear the hypothesis is being proven during the COVID19 panic.

In part 2 we will further examine the parasite stress theory, the authoritarian response from governments, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Lockstep scenario. 

Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.
Derrick Broze
Derrick Broze, a staff writer for The Last American Vagabond, is a journalist, author, public speaker, and activist. He is the co-host of Free Thinker Radio on 90.1 Houston, as well as the founder of The Conscious Resistance Network & The Houston Free Thinkers.
https://www.thelastamericanvagabond.com/category/derrick-broze/

7 Replies to “Multiple Studies Predicted Governments Become Authoritarian in Response to Pandemics

  1. Yeah, Authoritarians use Fear to get people to accept it. They are terrorists.
    Viruses, Famine/Homelessness, violent “terrorist “ attacks, threat of invasion by external enemies, economic depressions, etc are all useful tools

    The philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm first identified this in his 1941 book, Escape from Freedom. The gist of it is this: when people perceive an increase in disorder, they feel tremendous anxiety. Inevitably, this anxiety leads to a quest for security. To bring a sense of safety back into their lives, they latch on to authoritarianism and conformity. As Fromm noted, this often leads to “a readiness to accept any ideology and any leader if only he offers a political structure and symbols which allegedly give meaning and order to an individual’s life”. He had observed this in Germany, which he fled in 1933: “Modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds,” he wrote.

    So these “predictions” are really nothing but observations and “plans” that are then executed after simulations/exercises.

    The move to authoritarianism was not a knee jerk reaction to a virus. The virus was hyped with manufactured data and models to maximize fear so they could roll out their authoritarian programs on a global level. The lockdowns were designed to reinforce the fear and impose economic hardships, and excess deaths (esp among the elderly, sick and poor).

    Those societies/nations which are culturally or politically prone to accept authoritarianism needed less fear, so they came out unscathed. Those in the US and Western Europe needed more fear as they were less likely to accept authoritarianism. So psyops forces concentrated their efforts there.

    The virus wasn’t going to be enough since people weren’t really directly experiencing a bad virus. So this needed to be reinforced with economic deprivation. Fear of hunger and being homeless is a powerful driver. Associate that with the idea it all goes away if you conform to fight the virus and people will conform, and this conformance leads to surrender of all freedoms.

  2. Fantastic article Derrick!
    You are connecting critical dots. To wit, our response to our external environment so massively dictates the result. The pathogen:politics article you cite was talked about on a health forum I follow in 2017. With regards to 3 days of no food will turn a city into a war zone. The member who posted the article quoted (maybe the Bible). Basically, that Jesus spoke about someone fasting on the third day, Satan rages with hunger in that person. Jesus pours milk on the sand nearby. Satan leaves the body for the milk on the sand. I guess basically saying to not feed these predators. Don’t fall for their incitements and they will seek to feed elsewhere. Like the mass non-compliance you have suggested. Also on that health forum, we talk about that ‘structure and function are interdependent.’ When you stress an organism, it’s structure shifts and thus does its function. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-grasshoppers-go-bibl/
    The peaceful solitudinous grasshopper morphs into a locust under stress. The human morph equivalent would be learned helplessness and/or aggression. IF we all knew what was happening, THEN we would not have to morph into rapacious attrition and hunger games. We could with calm strength all refuse to comply and thus maintain our coherence AND structure that does not fall easily to pathogens. Of course, they want to destroy our inner moral guidance systems and insert external authority.

  3. I can tell by the ongoing psychosis towards people who choose not to comply with the mask mandate that this article points that very thing out. When they push those vaccinations forward and make them mandatory the ones who comply will be the first in line to rat out the ones who didn’t and make a big issue out of it. I don’t know which is greater their fear or the fact that they realize they complied because of that fear. How to deal with those types not in position of power is difficult because they don’t realize that they have been propagandized to the point where logic is no longer acceptable.

  4. I understand the caution you convey, and will be the first to demand that all Our Rights are upheld, always. However, I am also the first to say we must take whatever precautions we can to rid us of this viral horror. People seem to take this more seriously when they, or someone they know, becomes ill. In my opinion, we would be better off had a lock-down like 9/11 happened initially, when China silenced their own and refused other countries access. China probably would have then let us in quickly (to assess the virulence). But Trump was more interested in playing “nice” and in the stock market. (I guess — who has been advising him through all of these serial, catastrophic decisions including fighting over PPE, saying this would “disappear”, no protection initially when face shields and certain masks were easy to make, not telling us about KNOWN asymptomatic spread AND imminent spread here early-on, etc.?) See these links at my site ourconstitution.info and book (no cost) “Humanity’s Abyss…” page 75.

    So, things have escalated, as will happen when highly transmissible viruses are allowed to spread. Florida “opened-up” well before meeting CDC recommended guidelines. The further disgraceful shame of that is that we saw what New York went through… Many people died – that mattered to me, and should have mattered to us all.

    No, I don’t think these responses unusual, especially since this has not been controlled. Our laws, and Constitution, have not gone anywhere.

    “We the People … in Order to form a more perfect Union … promote the general Welfare …”

  5. It’s making sense now, where supposedly independent Liberty minded people have become submissive and passive this is a complete 180 in their personality, also explains the physical rituals of mask-wearing and the social distancing…
    Standing up straight smiling being polite, demonstrating what nonconformity looks like.. that’s what I’m doing.

    thanks for this article it really helps

  6. Now more than ever I’m trying to be a positive person and demonstrating what nonconformity looks like.

    thanks for this article it really helps explain people’s behavior.

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