By Dr. Luboš Motl, Czech theoretical physicist, who was an assistant professor at Harvard University from 2004 to 2007. He writes a science and politics blog called The Reference Frame
Many think Covid-19 is some kind of alien invasion that spells the end of the world. But the real threat to us is a much deadlier virus: a hatred of all the values that have underpinned our civilisation for centuries.
For years, I was puzzled as to why the Roman Empire ceased to exist and was replaced by communities that were uncivilized by comparison. How and why could mankind's progress reverse in this way? Recent experience has eliminated the mystery. No special devastating event was needed; the cause of Rome's demise was simply the loss of its people's desire to support their 'empire' and its underlying values. And as it was 1,500 years or so ago, so I fear it is now.
The Covid-19 crisis – specifically, the reaction to it – demonstrates that people have grown bored, detached, and easily impressionable by things that have nothing to do with the roots of their society. We are all – or too many of us – fin de siècle Romans now.
A large number of Westerners are happy to accept the suicidal shutting down of their economies to try to halt a virus that predominantly causes old and sick people to die just a few weeks or months before they would have anyway. Just as they enthusiastically endorse proclamations such as that there are 46 sexes, not two; that the flatulence of a cow must be reduced to save a polar bear; that millions of migrants from the Third World must be invited to Europe and assumed to be neurosurgeons; and so on.