By Adam Garrie
The person who determines the terminology of the debate will ultimately win the debate. Consider a sports team with well-known strengths and weaknesses. If this team is able to set the rules of the game (to which their opponents must abide), there is little chance that they will ever lose. Therefore, competitive sports have mutually agreed upon sets of rules that are as close as possible to neutral, insofar as the rules do not automatically favour one style of play over another.
In political debate, the same applies. Why is it that for over a year, debates over the coronavirus have been framed as an argument between wanting people to be healthy versus not caring (or caring minimally) about the health of others? The reason is simple. If those who favour an all-encompassing bio-security state are to win the argument, they must disguise their unapologetic authoritarianism behind a mask of compassion. By deceptively defining busy-body authoritarianism as kindness, one must define liberty as callous and cruel in the context of such terminology.
The reality could not be further from the truth, but too often, liberty minded people have fallen into the traps purposefully set for them by the authoritarians. Arguments in favour of liberty have nothing to do with proportionality and risk management in the pursuit of watering down highly immoral authoritarian ideologies. Liberty is a state of mankind which by definition, not only prohibits violence among ordinary people, but much more importantly, it prohibits the state from exercising its naturally violent tendencies against ordinary men, women and children.
Unlike microscopic viruses which have never been contained in human history and are not being contained now, the power of government can be contained and has been contained throughout human history. The profoundest moments in the history of the English speaking world have been those where government power is restrained. Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, Habeas Corpus, the English Bill of Rights and the American Bill of Rights are all shining examples of state power being restrained and held to account in the name of free people.
The story of authoritarianism is much more grim. History shows that authoritarianism either fails instantly or it fails in the long term. Central banks which were designed to artificially stabilise money supply (a task as impossible as trying to catch a virus with a fishing net) have created inflation beyond the wildest nightmares of those living in a time when central banks were either non-existent or less powerful than they became in the 20th and 21st centuries. In Britain, the state run National Health Service has done little to keep the population healthy in spite of the money spent on it. What advances there have been in general health, have largely been the result of medicines and technologies that were initially invented in the private sector (often before being regulated to death by the public sector).
Lockdowns have not made a statistically significant difference in mortality statistics as is easily observed when one compares countries like Japan and Sweden against countries including Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom. In the United States, one look at comparatively low-tax/low-lockdown Florida and high tax/mega-lockdown California, and this point is also readily observed.
Although lockdowns failed to achieve their alleged goal in terms of “public health”, many businesses in heavily locked-down jurisdictions will never re-open. With these businesses gone, so too will jobs be gone, so too will safe streets be gone and so too will human freedom be gone. Instead, there will be homeless people relying on collectively expensive but individually disappointing government handouts for the foreseeable future. Then there will be a temporarily “luckier” class of people whose rents and mortgages will be subsidised by the state…that is until the state either loses interest in the matter or simply runs out of money to print due to hyper-inflation that can no longer be swept under the carpet. If this sounds like science fiction, it is in fact already happening in parts of Europe and many of America’s biggest cities – California’s cities being some of the worst examples.
The authoritarianism of lockdown fails in both the short and the long term.
Liberty minded people must therefore have the confidence to accurately define the lockdown debate as one of freedom versus state control. Virus deaths are roughly the same under each system, although deaths from literally every other disease are far worse under the authoritarian model. Moving beyond issues of health, economic performance, employment, general prosperity, social peace, personal happiness and human autonomy are all the big winners if freedom is chosen.
This is true even if we compare the “new normal” to a pre-2020 “old normal” which itself was still too shackled by government regulation, high taxation, central bank created inflation, market manipulation and the alliance between big corporations and big government that has gone from worryingly big to hellishly big over the last year.
Liberty simply means live and let live. So long as one does not harm another person or their property, defraud another person or group of people or cheat in order to achieve one’s goals, there is little else off limits. When live and let live is contrasted with the “enslave and let die through a mass campaign of deception” liberty will always win the argument and liberty minded people will always have the benefit of truth on their side.
Adam Garrie is a broadcaster, writer and UKIP Culture Spokesman.