We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – parallel universes edition

To the majority of people who believe lockdowns were right and necessary, the Covid era was no doubt distressing, but it need not have been cause to re-order their perception of the world. Faced with a new and frightening disease, difficult decisions were taken by the people in charge but we came together and got through it; mistakes were made, but overall we did what we needed to do.

For the dissenting minority, the past three years have been very different. We have had to grapple with the possibility that, through panic and philosophical confusion, our governing class contrived to make a bad situation much worse. Imagine living with the sense that the manifold evils of the lockdowns that we all now know — ripping up centuries-old traditions of freedom, interrupting a generation’s education, hastening the decline into decrepitude for millions of older people, destroying businesses and our health service, dividing families, saddling our economies with debt, fostering fear and alienation, attacking all the best things in life — needn’t have happened for anything like so long, if at all?

Freddie Sayers

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – parallel universes edition

  • The lockdowns provided the left here with an opportunity to jigger the electoral system, providing the ethereally and metabolically challenged* with a chance to make their voices heard by delivering truckloads of absentee ballots to counting centers for about a week after the official closure of the polls.

    * The non-existent and the dead. An important constituency in some districts.

  • Paul Marks

    In which case I am in the minority.

    All the nations that did not lockdown (all of them – not just Sweden – ALL the nations that did not lockdown) had a lower (lower – not higher) Covid death rate than the United Kingdom.

    People who think the lockdowns “saved lives” are like people who think the NHS budget, which has exploded to some 149 Billion Pounds, has been the victim of “Tory Cuts” or “Austerity”. Such people refuse to examine the facts, they make a choice (yes a choice) to reject evidence and reason – in the end all one can do is walk away from such people.

  • Paul Marks

    The lockdowns did not save lives, the lockdowns will cost many lives – the economic mess they have helped cause will cost many lives. The dying (caused by the direct and indirect effects of the lockdowns) is already under way – and it will get vastly worse.

  • Paul Marks

    Billl is correct – the mass “mail-in ballots” in the United States can not really be checked (I write as someone who has been working in election campaigns in the United Kingdom since 1979 – even a vastly smaller number of what we call “postal ballots” can be a real pain to check – to really check hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots is just not practical).

    The 2020 Presidential election in the United States was rigged, as was the election in some States (such as Arizona) in 2022. The corporations and the “controlled opposition” (such as the Wall Street Journal) do not like the truth, indeed they hate the truth (and viciously mock those who tell the truth) – but that is their problem.

  • Stonyground

    “…our governing class contrived to make a bad situation much worse.”

    It’s what they do. I have a book somewhere called Scared To Death, it catalogues the government’s reaction to various crises, health scares etc. In every case the government spent huge amounts of taxpayers’money making a bad situation worse.

  • Kevin Jaeger

    “…our governing class contrived to make a bad situation much worse.”

    This is true from our perspective but I think it fails to see the issue from theirs. From their perspective they didn’t make things worse, it was the fastest rollup of power in western history. Centuries of traditions of liberty brushed aside in a few weeks and a trial run of mass propaganda, establishing a precedent that the public will accept the government issuing internal passports to control where they are allowed to go and what they are allowed to do. No one in the ruling class thinks they made things worse – they successfully expanded and tested out vast new powers.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    I’m pretty sure I think covid was worse than Perry thinks it was. Especially in the early days when it was more virulent and more people’s immune systems were naive to it. I think minimising social contact was a good idea for a while, while we learned more and while the hospitals were full of the most vulnerable people.

    But I don’t think the state was ever right to enforce the rules that it did. People need to be allowed to make their own judgements. Violence is only justifiable when there is a direct and immediate threat.

    Curious counterpoint: It has been said in these parts (many years ago) that, “defence against infectious plagues is a legitimate role of the state because it is a collective threat… a plague, like a fire or an invading army, does not respect property lines and so this is the whole reason to have a ‘nightwatchman state’.” ;p There might be things a state can legitimately use its force for, depending on the disease. I’m not sure what the threshold is or what measures might actually work and when, but these lockdowns weren’t it.

  • I’m pretty sure I think covid was worse than Perry thinks it was. Especially in the early days when it was more virulent and more people’s immune systems were naive to it.

    I got Covid in March 2020, laid me out for two weeks. Was unpleasant much like flu.

  • Jim

    “I’m pretty sure I think covid was worse than Perry thinks it was. Especially in the early days when it was more virulent and more people’s immune systems were naive to it. I think minimising social contact was a good idea for a while, while we learned more and while the hospitals were full of the most vulnerable people.”

    The evidence from Sweden would suggest otherwise. The only Western country that didn’t lockdown at all has the lowest overall death rate since the beginning of covid (and whose economy rapidly reversed the losses during 2020). Ergo regardless of how virulent (or not) covid was in 2020 the most sensible thing to do appears to be (if you follow actual science, ie looking at data) what they did – no lockdowns at all.

  • druid144

    I suspect I had Covid twice. Already over 70 + diabetes, I was in the high risk group. Both times week or so bad flu and lingering cough; not remotely near hospitalisation etc.
    I put this down to long term daily dose of high strength Vit D2 (4000 iu) plus the second time I had Ivermectin from India.
    The real villans, richly deserving the death penalty, are those who contrived to keep these, and other, simple medications from the populations worldwide, condemning millions to a horrible pointless death and probably millions more to damage from unnecessary vaccines. This is before we add up the social and financial harms.
    Unfortunately, history is written by the victors and we are definitely the loosers here.

  • bobby b

    “I’m pretty sure I think covid was worse than Perry thinks it was.”

    Have a sib who runs some nursing homes. I was helping design some visitor policies and flows during the first part of it all. They carried out six dead bodies while I was there. People’s grandma’s and grandpa’s and parents.

    It wasn’t a bad cold. The panic was reasonable, until there had been enough time to figure things out. They botched that up, but the danger was real to already-compromised people.

  • Sam Duncan

    I have a book somewhere called Scared To Death

    One of Christopher Booker and Richard North’s. (The Lanarkshire cheese case, related in the book, is what originally brought them together. Booker was covering it for the Telegraph, and North was an expert witness.) I re-read it during the lockdowns to maintain my sanity.

  • Fifteen days of lockdown while the Powers figured out what they were up against was perfectly reasonable. Unfortunately, the Powers were not reasonable and/or were trying to grow their power. Which is, of course, why they had the power to start with.

  • Rob Fisher

    “The evidence from Sweden would suggest otherwise. The only Western country that didn’t lockdown at all has the lowest overall death rate”

    Sweden did not lock down, but people *voluntarily* took precautions.

    I had covid twice and it was a moderately bad cold that lasted a couple of days. This was all later on, though. Post-omicron. In general, good advice would probably have been along the lines of: reduce social contact, especially involving vulnerable people (I think it was clear fairly early who was vulnerable); especially if you’re ill (there was a lot of talk of asymptomatic transmission but I don’t know what it all eventually amounted to).

    That’s the other thing: states getting involved and making rules made it all more political, which makes getting to the truth harder.

  • Fred Z

    Have any of you ever worked with or for politicians? I have, lots of volunteer hours for 5 of them over 30 years.

    Not one of them, not one, could either understand or formulate an even slightly difficult or complicated argument or analysis based on mathematics or logic. They usually did not even have their facts right.

    I know there are some clever ones out there, but not nearly enough.

    We human beings nearly always mistake glib and handsome / beautiful for clever.

  • Paul Marks

    Sweden was NOT the only Western country to lockdown – the last time I checked Uruguay (for example) is in the West, one might not believe medical statistics from Nicaragua, but I do not believe that anyone says that Uruguay is covering up Covid deaths. Argentina locked down, so did Brazil (apart from two States of Brazil in the middle of nowhere) – they both had higher (not lower – higher) Covid death rates than Uruguay (and so did the United Kingdom). Peru had a savage lockdown – and had the highest Covid death rate on the planet (the idiot General Secretary of the United Nations, the one who goes on about the “knowledge of indigenous peoples”, they supposedly know that CO2 is evil, is a Peruvian socialist).

    American States settle the matter – adjusted for the various variables (in so far as is possible) there is no evidence that States that locked down had lower death rates than States that did not lockdown.

    It is a virus that moves with the air (and all the talk that it only moves a couple of feet was nonsense) – it is not rabies where you have to be bitten to get the disease.

    People who support lockdowns have watched too many Zombie movies and television shows.

    There is also a weird racism at work with a lot of this – when one tells people about Early Treatment in the Dominican Republic, or in some states of India, or some African countries, they roll their eyes – and say the names of these countries or states as if the very name was a badge of shame.

    The same people who will tell you about the “knowledge of indigenous people” about C02 (they have none – the whole whole idea that various tribes somehow inherently know that C02 is evil, is MADE UP – yes, “shock”, the United Nations is lying) will not take notice of any doctor of medicine if that doctor happens to have black or brown skin – and, somehow, that is not racist.

    To be fair, they also ignore white doctors if the doctors are arguing in support of Early Treatment for Covid.

    Although I suspect that many (although certainly not all) of the medical doctors arguing for Early Treatment in the United States being Jewish did not exactly help the case – being Jewish is out of fashion.

  • Paul Marks

    Fred Z.

    You were unlucky with the five politicians you worked for. As many politicians do understand logical argument – and the role of evidence.

    Or perhaps you were lucky.

    Lucky because politicians who do understand how logical argument and evidence work, have to pretend that we do not understand – we have to lie, or stay silent.

    The five politicians you worked for could be honest – in their stupidity and ignorance, the rest of us are not so fortunate. The best we can hope for is being allowed to stay silent – to not be forced to say things we know are not true.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland (London)
    I got Covid in March 2020, laid me out for two weeks. Was unpleasant much like flu.

    I don’t imagine you are extrapolating your experience to everyone, but Covid was a nasty disease at the time (though not really now as far as I can see.) Just because medical authorities massively overcounted deaths doesn’t mean that the real number wasn’t quite large. Every doctor I talked to has said it was a nasty bug, especially for the old and infirm.

    But to acknowledge that doesn’t mean that the governments’ reactions were correct. On the contrary almost everything they did was wrong. At the start it may well have been wise to overreact a bit (I remember the story of that Italian village that was totally wiped out with it.) Plagues are real and they can kill a lot of people. But once the evidence started to come in their continued commitment to it was unconscionable. It was clear early on that lockdowns don’t work, after a couple of months you could compare the lockdown states with the non lockdown ones, and the lockdown countries with the non lockdown countries with data you could pull off the web and it was patently obvious that that was true. I did it myself at the end of April 2020.

    It also very quickly became clear that masks didn’t work, children didn’t get it or transmit it, that all that cleaning was pointless since it was aerosolized, and that many existing treatments were quite effective. Anyone looking at the data would have said “isolate the old and infirm” and leave everyone else to do their thing. And when the vaccines came out? They quickly proved to be pretty ineffective and have quite serious side effects, especially in people who didn’t need them in the first place. The biggest failure of all? Certainly here in the USA was the utter failure of the press to challenge it all either due to credulity or, more likely, a deep machiavelian dishonesty where politics was far more important than the destroyed lives of people. And they had the audacity to couch it in a claim that their evil behavior was compassionate.

    But how could we possibly expect the government to back off? How could we possibly “temporarily” give draconian powers to the government and expect them to just meekly give them back? And for those of us here in the USA — with Trump cruising to re-election how could the power brokers not use this tool as a way to get him?

    Covid happened the way it did largely because, for the first time in history, this whole lockdown thing was possible because of the prevalence of high speed internet and video chat. If it had happened ten years earlier most of what happened simply would not have happened. And the death toll while high, would have been about the same.