Viktor Orban has just grabbed power from Hungary’s parliament and can run the country by decree — indefinitely. Protests against this ring hollow, because Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have suspended core freedoms and rights in their own countries. Yes, I know they are different from Orban, but he’ll ask: how different? Doesn’t Derbyshire now have police drones chasing those who go for a walk?
It’s the first time in my adult life when it is possible to imagine totalitarianism in the West. Equally frightening is the strength of the panic-ridden ‘totalitarian outlook’. There is growing intolerance of dissent; and — as Orwell wrote in ‘The Prevention of Literature’ — people censure themselves because of ‘the dangerous proposition… that intellectual honesty is a form of anti-social selfishness’.
There are many experts in epidemiology and virology who are highly critical of the lockdown strategy. Few are willing to talk on record. There are public health experts arguing that suppression methods will kill more people than the virus. But they struggle to speak plainly, mostly out of fear of the social media mob. Many economists think it is mad to close down entire national production. But they tiptoe around their message because such opinions are threatening the mood of national cohesion.
hat-tip Stephen Neil