We have to get out of this spiral of authoritarianism

We have to get out of this spiral of authoritarianism. By Brendan O’Neill.

We voted to take back control, and yet it’s hard to remember a time when people were less in control of their lives than they are right now. This is the tragedy, and the failure, of the Boris Johnson government.

It was swept to power on a wave of democratic yearning, on a people’s tiredness of life under the diktats and decrees of bureaucrats and self-styled experts. And where have we ended up? In a situation where every facet of our existences — from where we’re allowed to go to which loved ones we may hug — is governed in minute detail by long, dry decrees drawn up by the powerful and well-educated. Take back control? I’ve never felt more controlled in my life. …

Oh woe, someone else has power over aspects of Brendan’s life:

For me, the worst thing about yesterday’s unveiling of the three-tier lockdown approach was not the announcement itself, not the actual traffic-light system drawn up by officials to dictate to the populace whether they’re allowed to travel, visit family, work, live. No, it was the waiting for the announcement. It was that utterly disempowering sense of trepidation as I and millions of others — mere citizens, after all — waited to hear what our fate would be. Whether you would still have a job, whether your business will survive, whether you may get married, whether you may visit your dying grandmother, whether you’re allowed to leave your hometown: we waited, impotently, like serfs rather than voters, to discover what the powers-that-be had in store for us. …

Some folks are doing much better than others during the pandemic, because people like them are in charge:

It’s a sacrifice we must all make, say government officials and the lockdown zealots in the broadsheet press and the knowledge economy. That’s easy for them to say. Their jobs are mostly secure. As of yesterday, that is not the case for many in Liverpool and elsewhere in the north. Their lives will become more precarious, poorer, more full of despair.

It is time officials and other influential people who have been so blasé in calling for lockdowns and laws to stem the spread of Covid-19 considered the impact of what they are doing. …

This disparity of concern captures one of the core problems with the cult of lockdown: the moral, political and economic gap between the people making the decisions and the people who must live with the consequences of those decisions. When SAGE scientists call for another national lockdown (an idea Boris Johnson rejected), you get the impression that the job security and economic comfort enjoyed by these experts makes them blind, at least partially, to the devastation lockdown has wreaked on other people’s livelihoods and their mental and spiritual health.

When middle-class commentators and academics bark at Boris for failing to lock down sooner and harder, what I hear are the entitled voices of people who are largely bubble-wrapped from the worst consequences of the manmade recession of the Covid era. Still working at home, Zooming their colleagues, having meals delivered by underpaid Deliveroo workers, making their sourdough bread — there is a whiff of Marie Antoinette to the lack of concern for other people’s lives implied in their lockdown fanaticism. …

It’s the same old authoritarian recipe from the ruling class:

As long as this issue remains the property of experts (usually experts of a pretty samey outlook), and of politicians who have disavowed their responsibility to govern in the broadest interests of society in favour of ‘following the evidence’, and of talking heads and academic voices who are relatively immune to the devastations of lockdown, we will remain in this authoritarian spiral. …

Anyone who doubts the reluctance of the lockdown lobby to democratise the discussion only needs to look at what has happened to the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). This initiative, set up and supported by medical and scientific experts opposed to lockdowns as a means of dealing with Covid, has been subjected to the most extraordinary smear campaign. Google has ‘shadow-banned’ the GBD, pushing it down its list of search results. The Guardian and Observer have gone into typical dissent-crushing mode, even contacting one of the founders of the GBD — Martin Kulldorff — to ask him why he agreed to be interviewed on a podcast that has previously interviewed anti-Semites. Smear by association.

“Most extraordinary smear campaign”? Hardly. This rigorous suppression of criticism and smearing of critics by our ruling class is de rigueur nowadays. You been asleep Brendan? Or has it only struck home now that it’s been done to you?

The same groups have been doing this in support of the carbon dioxide theory of global warming for more than a decade. Despite the climate models getting the critical upper tropospheric trends backwards (suppressed, hardly anyone knows), overestimating warming in every verifiable prediction (vigorously and wrongly contested), having a mistake in every climate model that means the climate scientists applied the basic physics wrongly (what will happen if I mention it?), and despite climate scientists being caught behaving badly many times over journal access and in measuring temperature (widely known, but ignored), the world’s ruling class is convinced of the theory. Or at least that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it. The repetition of falsehood from all organs of the media drowns out the facts.

It worked in the climate “debate”, and now the same formula is being used by the ruling class on topic after topic.