Lionel Shriver’s column in the Spectator this week is a searing critique of the West’s pandemic response and the mockery it made of our supposedly ‘inalienable’ rights. Here’s an excerpt.
We are forever changed. The British people, along with the populations of many American states such as New York and California, have henceforth to live with the fact that civil liberties we Yanks call ‘inalienable’ can be cancelled at a moment’s notice for years on end. Our ‘rights’ are alienable as can be. We’re often warned that democracy is fragile. Lo, that turns out to be horribly true.
Which is why indulging our aversion to all things Covid with a wilful amnesia – blanking out two years of our lives as if redacting the calendar with black marker – is a mistake. The pols, media shills and limelight-basking scientists-for-hire complicit in grievously wounding our lives and countries have good reason to hope that we forget all about that little unpleasantness. But I need to remember, if only to understand myself – why post-pandemic I’m so much more cynical, misanthropic and pessimistic about the future.
Given the perfect absence of any correlation whatsoever between the severity of restrictions and Covid mortality rates, even when comparing like regions with like, it’s probable that this plethora of ‘interventions’ that made our lives hell while making a mockery of representative government – all those ludicrous ‘tiers’, the Harry Potter-ish ‘rule of six’ – made not the slightest difference to the death toll. Waves of variants came and went, oblivious of state diktats. Nature prevailed, as nature is wont to. We’d have been far better off if governments had done absolutely nothing.
This perspective has gained in currency. Some longstanding lockdown critics are resentful that many former establishment cheerleaders are now pretending they also opposed these failed and disastrous policies at the time. I’m not resentful. If you’re late to the party, welcome to the party. For the threat far greater than a handful of recent converts lying to themselves about their previous bovine compliance is the state’s self-interested company line surviving intact.
Most ordinary people still believe that lockdowns, and the accompanying bramble of insensible, ever-changing and medically illiterate Covid restrictions, saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK, millions in the US, and tens if not hundreds of millions worldwide. The ‘narrative’ may have bent ever so slightly, but it’s holding up. To my utter astonishment, when a new YouGov poll asked Britons how they assess their government’s handling of Covid-19 in hindsight, 34% said ‘About right’ and 37% said ‘Not strict enough’ (incredulous italics added). A mere 19% said ‘Too strict’. A full 54% of Labour voters still think the ‘measures’ (a word I’ve come to hate) should have been even more brutal.
Read More: Lockdown Has Shown Us That Our ‘Rights’ Are as Alienable as Can Be