How and why was the bulwark of 20th-century medical ethics abandoned so quickly, and with so little opposition from the medical and scientific establishment? What were the immediate effects? What will be the long-term, consequences of the shift back to a crass utilitarian ethic governing science, medicine, and public health during a pandemic?
It is not only about resistance but also rebuilding, not giving up on the dream of peace and prosperity, along with logic, science, and truth, even when so many have stopped believing. We welcome supporters of this vision. Indeed we need you and so does the future of civilization.
Government power is not necessary. It is not likely to be effective, either. And when it is not effective, the tendency is to overreact in the opposite direction, clamping down and abusing, exactly as we’ve seen with the war on terror and China’s response to this virus, which might be as serious as bad seasonal flu outbreaks. Still, people assume that government is doing its job, government fails, and then government gets more power and does awful things with it. It’s the same story again and again.
The pandemic response unleashed several seasons of policy recklessness, destruction, and nihilism, almost as if none of the lessons of the past applied, whether in public health or economics. If we ever emerge from this chaos, historians will surely look back in amazement that so many terrible decisions could have taken place in so many parts of the world and in such quick succession.
The Faroese authorities never fell prey to the irrational fear and scare tactics that unfortunately prevailed for the most part in the rest of the world. Instead, they showed the self-confidence, the respect for fact-based decision-making and consideration of the broader picture needed when confronted with an acute situation.
If there is one element that is found in virtually all of the fascist movements of the 20th century it is their leaders’ rhetorical pose of being above the frequently off-putting hurly-burly of politics. But, of course, no one operating in the public arena is ever above politics, or for that matter, ideology, both of which are just two more examples of the structure-engendering cultural practices alluded to above.
As the pile of unshared science grows, our scientific understanding of crises like pandemics suffers from the attrition of the science it doesn’t know. It should be in the interest of all scientists to facilitate the sharing of scientific ideas to ensure no science goes unshared from fear of ridicule or public execution.
Dr. Henderson died in 2016. Four years later, precisely what he warned against became policy the world over. And yet after two years of hell, and now that the fear has subsided and the political and bureaucratic class is acquiescing to the dramatic change in public opinion, the pandemic is becoming endemic in exactly the way it always has in the past, precisely as he said it would.
This was a turning point not only in the Trump administration. Pollsters agree that the Covid response not only cost him the Presidency but his party also lost the Senate and secured minority status in the House. It was a turning point for American liberty and the general stability of the world economy. It set in motion all that we currently endure, including emergency powers, egregious mandates, inflation, stagnation, demographic upheaval, ill-health, cultural disorientation, and arguably war too.
We truly did not know how good we had it. The world we are entering now is unlike anything we’ve previously experienced. Maybe two years ago, there was a chance to dig our way out of this pit of hell, but that seems ever less likely with each passing day.
Certain dates should live in infamy. One is March 7, 2020. That is the date that the Austin, Texas, Mayor, Steve Adler, acting on his own at least in public, canceled the in-person conference South By Southwest (possibly attracting as many as a quarter million people) that was set to begin in the city five days later.
Those who would shut down the restaurants are likely also intent on shutting down the revolutionary meaning of their birth and existence, throwing us back to a past in which only the elites enjoy the practice and fruits of freedom.