Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

By Richard Martin

I’m developing a new concept I call “encroachment syndrome.” I call it a syndrome as an analogy to a medical syndrome, where signs and symptoms appear together in individuals, without necessarily implying an understanding or acceptance of common etiology. I don’t mean to imply any form of medical disturbance or illness, either physical or mental. I use it merely as a metaphor.

Encroachment syndrome describes overlapping belief networks, to the effect that national and/or global elites (or other nefarious actors, usually hidden) are trying (and in some cases, succeeding) to encroach on individual rights and liberties, especially the right to earn a livelihood and to control one’s own body. Many of these beliefs appear to form networks of mutually supporting concepts, phrases, memes, narratives, stories, and explanations. They tend to overlap or appear in combination in individuals, who then tend to share these beliefs, mainly through online interactions and social media, which reinforces them and creates a community of belief.

Here is my initial take.

1. Resistance to Covid vaccine mandates. Notice I didn’t say “anti-vaxxers,” which refers to people who are against vaccines in general. Many people were inconvenienced, offended, skeptical, and/or fearful of the Covid vaccine and vaccine mandates. Many weren’t/aren’t against the vaccines if they are not obligatory and don’t threaten their livelihood. Some Covid-vaccine resisters even took the vaccines and boosters themselves as well as vaccines for other conditions. They just viewed it as a major encroachment on personal liberty and contrary to the Hippocratic Oath. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong, but that seems to be the motivating belief.

2. Against support and material/financial/military assistance of Ukraine. Individuals who promote this belief network mostly adhere to Russian talking points about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is supposedly NATO’s fault. I won’t elaborate further, but you can read more in these articles: On Tankies and No, NATO Isn’t Responsible for Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine. This appears to stem from a fear of the war in Ukraine expanding into a world war because of US- and NATO-led support for Ukraine. I don’t think it is an irrational fear, but it appears to stem from disinformation and uninformed sharing of social media snippets and poor knowledge of history and strategy. It should be addressed by providing valid background knowledge supported by sound arguments that also address probabilities. See the following article on How to Argue Properly.

3. Supported and/or participated in the Truckers’ Convoy last winter in protest at government vaccination mandates and cross-border travel restrictions, especially as applied to Canadian truckers whose work involves driving to and from the USA. The basic issue wasn’t that people were against Covid vaccination per se, but rather the negative impacts on the truckers who chose to not get vaccinated. It was compounded by general dissatisfaction with pandemic shutdowns and the economic disruption and impoverishment this caused for many Canadians. This was all leveraged and amplified by what appeared to be Russian agitprop to exploit the situation. I wrote about this in February 2022: The Current Situation and What Is the Link Between the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and What Is Happening in Canada.

4. Anti-wokeness. Many people believe that there is an attack against traditional Western institutions and culture underway, fed by Marxist ideologues and activists. I won’t go into this more at this point, but suffice it say that I personally agree with many criticisms of wokeness. And please don’t ask me to define wokeness. Look it up for yourself.

5. Anti-globalist/anti-WEF beliefs. This is too complex to go into here, but it is also part of the syndrome. My current thinking is that it appears to stem from a deep-felt fear of losing one’s autonomy, of being infected by mind viruses, memes, and other “contaminants,” including of the physical body and the body politic. I am in the process of developing these ideas and will write more about them when ready.

6. Global financial system. The final phenomenon that is part of the encroachment syndrome I’m proposing is the belief that political and social elites control the global financial system to exploit ordinary people. Many bitcoiners fall into that category, though not all. Moreover, this appears to be a minority position. I personally hold Bitcoin as part of my portfolio and believe it has a lot of utility that will continue to develop and evolve. Here are some links about Bitcoin: Riot Platforms Brief on Bitcoin to White HouseThe Bitcoin Revolution and What It Means for Africa; and Bitcoin and “Crypto” in General: The Crux of the Issue.

I don’t mean to belittle any of these belief networks. I’m simply observing a concurrence of phenomena, many of which appear to have some grounding in fact and evidence. I don’t agree with the victory lap some of the vaccine resisters are taking right now because of conflicting scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of the Covid vaccines. It’s still too early to tell and the weight of evidence remains in favour of the vaccination campaigns. Whether the lockdowns and compulsory vaccine mandates in some institutions and organizations, public and private, were warranted, should be a matter for scientific debate and further research. This can’t be settled by social media sharing and one-upmanship.

Most of the belief networks do not yet appear to have spawned any social or political movements, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t. Also, I don’t think using a label like “alt-right,” “far right,” or “conspiracy theorists” is helpful. Such tactics result in conflict rather than understanding.

I will write more about this and related matters as my thinking develops.


Diversity is important, but not necessarily for the reasons that are commonly put forward. Yes, it’s important to have a variety of inputs and perspectives so we can maximize our performance and creativity. It’s also critical that organizations be representative of their respective clienteles or constituencies.

More fundamental, however, is the fact that there are a multitude of personalities, preferences, talents, interests, and attitudes. There is simply no “one size fits all” solution to any needs or wants. This has organizational implications but it also has societal ones as well.

If you try to impose a single or limited number of ways of doing things or of fulfilling needs, you will quickly run into the fact that most people don’t think in the same way or necessarily want the same things. The simple example of musical tastes illustrates this observation. Some people like classical music, others, jazz, rock, blues, folk, country, or any other number of styles and idioms. There’s no accounting for taste. One person’s melody is another’s cacophony. We can’t say “this is real music,” while what young people listen to is “just noise.”

We can go even further when we look at other more impactful activities and preferences. I find mixed martial arts in a cage to be quite barbaric. The image of a brute pounding someone underneath him (or her) comes readily to mind. But then, no one has forced any of the competitors into the ring, at least as far as I know. The same goes for someone who willingly gets into boxing, wrestling or other fighting sports. And what about someone who takes up mountain climbing or sky-diving, or who wants to practice a dangerous occupation or who enjoys work that is normally considered unpleasant. I couldn’t imagine myself being a health care professional, for instance.

This is where freedom comes into play. We need freedom—which I define as a “live and let live” attitude—because there are simply too many diverse preferences, talents, and proclivities. What happens between consenting adults is their business, so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, no matter what bystanders and other non-interested parties say or think.

If we’re all going to get along and continue to build and develop some kind of community and society, then we simply have to have outlets and possibilities for ALL people. This is why personal freedom and preference should trump everything else. And also why diversity isn’t just about performance and representiveness.

© 2016 Richard Martin. Reproduction, forwarding and quotes permitted with proper attribution.