The shift to a totalitarian response

My previous two articles have raised some questions about the way that the government’s response in the UK to coronavirus has been somewhat dictatorial. The capacity of civil society to solve this problem (to determine modes of behaviour etc.) has been evaporated and the government has resorted to a quite draconian system of surveillance and punishments.

Interestingly – many people seem happy with this strict regime. But, at the same time, levels of actual compliance with the restrictions are quite low.

This is a report of an ex senior judge who has commented on the totalitarian nature of the response. It is worth pointing out that he is not underestimating the seriousness of the pandemic. His point is about how the measures have been introduced – without debate and based on fear-mongering.

Protect the vulnerable

This is really a follow-on from my last post discussing the arguments for lockdown v. focus on protecting the vulnerable.

This is an article by Craig Murray arguing for a selective and focussed approach – the argument is pretty simple. Covid-19 is really (a small number of exceptions aside) only a mortal threat for people over 70. The harm done to everyone else by shutting down society and the economy is massive. But for the majority of adults Covid-19 will be a mild illness. It is a serious argument and demands being taken seriously.

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Is the lockdown worth it?

It is a troubling sign of the times that the real question of whether or not the lockdown(s) are worth it or whether it would be better to take other approaches (such as targeted protection of vulnerable groups) has become so acrimonious. These days people taking opposing sides in an argument often seem to find it necessary to denounce the people taking the opposite view as not just wrong but as terribly wrong – and bad people. It is a sign of the general hysterical climate which is gripping the UK. [Note; the UK as a political entity no longer exists, but that is a theme for another post]. Many questions are contentious and it is quite possible that there are eminently reasonable arguments on both sides. We seem to have forgotten this.

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How not to fix Coronavirus

The UK government’s response to Coronavirus seems to be an excellent model for both Illich’s and Foucault’s analysis of contemporary society.

What is the response? At the moment in the UK the response includes the following elements; a “top-down” Test and Trace system – which was built from scratch bypassing all local public health teams and which is run by a collection of private businesses and management consultants (with some limited participation in the laboratories by public bodies) [1]. A system of surveillance and penalties; increasingly draconian. (These new penalty systems have been characterised by widespread abuse by the police – who, in fairness, probably have not had time to train their constables). [2] A complex tiered series of lock-downs including heavy restrictions on businesses and individual movement and liberties. And, an enormous slush fund – paying people out of future wealth to do nothing. (Which fund has been subject to massive levels of fraud). [3]

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