Some of the more curious forms of human behaviour on display around the world over the last few months have been linked to the so-called “debate” about the wearing of masks. In SA, as in Covid-19 epicentres such as the US and the UK, we have our anti-mask lobbyists. Here, as there, they nail their individualist colours to the mast — simultaneously betraying an uglier ideological position, one that is closer to the ethnonationalist, elite-serving, right-wing populism of British Tories and US Republicans today than it is to a putative tradition of liberalism or libertarianism.

A generous view of non-mask wearers is that they confuse the intention of wearing a mask to protect oneself (the full efficacy of which may be contested) with that of wearing a mask to protect others from oneself. But this isn’t just stupidity; it is also the death drive writ large as a political world view. A sarcastic quip from a Facebook friend of mine is apposite: “I hadn’t previously realised that ‘I...

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