Today’s most vocal admonishers condone political-bureaucratic micromanaging and controls; they seem to love shaming innocent people into obeying draconian, life-stifling edicts. If millions must sacrifice and suffer, so what? Most religions (secular and otherwise) say that this signifies “virtue.” Covid-19 bullies use science language to shield themselves from criticism and cloak their nefarious designs; they seem to sense that most Americans still respect science (not despotism).
I suspect the ease with which we have lately accepted the authority of health experts to reshape the contours of our common life is due to the fact that safetyism has largely displaced other moral sensibilities that might offer some resistance. At the level of sentiment, there appears to be a feedback loop wherein the safer we become, the more intolerable any remaining risk appears. At the level of bureaucratic grasping, we can note that emergency powers are seldom relinquished once the emergency has passed. Together, these dynamics make up a kind of ratchet mechanism that moves in only one direction, tightening against the human spirit.
Acquiescence in this appears to be most prevalent among the meritocrats who staff the managerial layer of society. Deferring to expert authority is a habit inculcated in the “knowledge economy”, naturally enough; the basic currency of this economy is epistemic prestige.