Government should not gamble with the lives and livelihoods of their people by taking extreme measures in the hope that they might work.
To today’s Americans, appearances are everything — we are afraid to be different, lest it make our friends uncomfortable (maybe we will lose one, whatever will we do?!) We have ceased caring about truth and authenticity entirely. We have tacitly agreed as a society that true things should be hidden whenever they conflict with what is “popular”; with what everyone “smart” and “cool” is doing. Anyone acting outside of these boundaries — the “eccentrics” of centuries past, considered by Mill to be geniuses — are today’s untouchables.
The epidemiologists asked to advise governments almost invariably admitted that what they were advocating was only based on their projections of Covid cases and Covid deaths, devoid of any analysis of the effects these actions would have on public health, the economy, education and other important aspects of life. They nonetheless had no problem advocating lockdowns and other draconian measures.
The case against lockdowns and state medical mandates is the obverse of the case for freedom itself. It seems unconscionable for any liberal mind to be wrong on this point. That so many have gone silent or even shown sympathy for medical despotism reveals just how tremendously confusing these times have been.
There will always be a new variant, there will always be a new mandate, and there will always be the new carrot dangling on the stick in front of your face (like the booster jab) only to be pulled away again. You can acquiesce to this conditioning and reorganize your entire life around the principle of avoiding this one pathogen while giving up all expectations of freedom. Or you can resist the propaganda, get informed, and join with those who are working to rebuild after the disaster of the last year and a half.
These principles can help risk assessments function as intended – as a tool to help individuals and communities evaluate risk and put in place targeted measures, to contain and ultimately reduce anxiety, and to move away from more performative measures that simply serve to entrench anxiety and cause harm, without any benefit.
The lockdowns are looking less like a gigantic error and more like the unfolding of a fanatical political ideology and policy experiment that attacks core postulates of civilization at their very root. It’s time we take it seriously and combat it with the same fervor with which a free people resisted all the other evil ideologies that sought to strip humanity of dignity and replace freedom with the terrifying dreams of intellectuals and their government sock puppets.
The great turn from ancient political and economic structures into more modern ones was not only about property rights, commercial freedoms, and the participation of ever greater waves of people in public life. There was also an implicit epidemiological deal to which we agreed, what Sunetra Gupta describes as an endogenous social contract.
Every age has generated some fashionable and overriding reason why people cannot be free. Public health is the reason of the moment. In this author’s telling, everything we think we know about the social and political order must conform to his number one priority of pathogen avoidance and suppression, while every other concern (such as freedom itself) should take a back seat.