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A deadly epidemic

The United States Surgeon-General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has issued an advisory on America’s epidemic of loneliness and isolation.

The report says that loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking.

I do not make this post only to say the obvious “Gotcha”. In fact Dr Murthy’s document is more honest than I expected in acknowledging that the Coronavirus lockdown increased social isolation among all age groups. By saying that isolation is more deadly than smoking (the big medical bête noire before and after that slot was taken by Covid-19), the document implicitly admits that the Covid “cure” may have been worse than the disease. I would cut the medical establishment a lot more slack about lockdowns if they had been this honest about the inevitable tradeoffs at the time.

Loneliness lies like a black cloud over modern Western societies. Of course this is, literally, a First World problem: people struggling to survive do not have time or energy to feel lonely. But the fact that others suffer from more desperate evils does not make this one minor. We do need to think about it. Unfortunately the Surgeon General’s document is written entirely within a statist paradigm.

Chapter 4 has the title “A National Strategy to Advance Social Connection”. It recommends “Six Pillars to Advance Social Connection.”

The six pillars are

1. Strengthen Social Infrastructure in Local Communities
2. Enact Pro-Connection Public Policies
3. Mobilize the Health Sector
4. Reform Digital Environments
5. Deepen Our Knowledge
6. Build a Culture of Connection

If you want to see what Dr Murthy thinks these goals should involve, look at the graphic on page 47. All of them are driven by the state, including the innocent-sounding “Deepen Our Knowledge”. He hopes to build a culture of voluntary connection between individuals by decree.

14 comments to A deadly epidemic

  • Yet another Chris

    You get married, have kids and eventually grandkids. You join in at school, church (yes really), village hall (lucky me always living in a village), work’s do’s, clubs (me – motor club), keep in touch with uni friends, keep in touch with relatives …… Then the wife says: “It’s too much, I want to be alone”. I, for one, don’t need the state to help me out. I’m definitely not lonely. Indeed my wife might have a point!

  • DiscoveredJoys

    Let me see… the State decides to run these initiatives but wishes to protect itself against blame for failures or criminals taking advantage. So it introduces a bureaucracy of people to ‘administer’ these ideas and manage the many jobsworths at the sharp end.

    All this administration sops up any spare money for the initiatives themselves and the form filling and paperwork for ordinary people to complete before they are ‘permitted’ to take part just kills the programmes stone dead. Although the Ghost Departments will probably continue.

  • bobby b

    Nothing a few Komsomol meetings wouldn’t help alleviate. Boost that spirit, build that community!

  • Phil B

    The government (of all descriptions and in all countries) has a reverse Midas touch … Everything it touches turns to shit. Do they fondly believe that people will sit around saying “WE need to build relationships and communities. If only the Government did THIS or THAT …”.

    The Covid inspired totalitarianism torpedoed society and left it sinking. This “initiative” will finish the job.

  • bobby b

    “Loneliness lies like a black cloud over modern Western societies.”

    Someone should probably try to determine whether:

    1. Human contact as a raw quantity is down everywhere;
    2. Human contact is simply less fulfilling than it used to be; or
    3. Liberals are lonely because they can no longer socialize with anyone outside of their own group, and their own group is no fun.

    I’d vote for #3.

  • Fred Z

    Lonely people are a sad combination of lazy and shy, and I write as both, who was taught to overcome that nonsense by my wife.

  • jgh

    See also William Hague’s mandatory voluntary service.

  • I’d rather be lazy and shy than co-opted into some government mandated service.

  • This story has been updated to show that the surgeon general said loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking up to 15 cigarettes daily, not 12.

    Well, I’m glad we got that sorted. I mean, if you are going to use bullshit measurements, you need to make sure they are accurate bullshit measurements.

  • Paul Marks

    The undermining of the family and of society generally was not an accident (not a result of “social evolution” or anything like that) – it was the deliberate, intended, result of policies pushed from at least the start of the 1960s (indeed, in some ways, long before). The husband and wife Marxist team “Cloward and Piven” were the tip of the iceberg – in reality there were a very large number of academics and other “experts” manipulating politicians who wanted to “help the poor” – Cloward and Piven (and all the rest – for they were and are Legion) did not want to make “capitalist” society better, they wanted to destroy it. The policies they pushed were designed (deliberately designed) to achieve intended result of isolated (“atomised”) people.

    And this is not just true of the United States. The biggest mistake conservatives and libertarians ever made was to assume that the left (the “intellectual” left) had the same objective as themselve, independent families and healthy voluntary institutions – churches, secular fraternal bodies, and so on. In reality the intellectual left (the academics and other “experts”) always wanted to destroy “capitalist” society.

    They said so, repeatedly, there was no “conspiracy” because it was all out in the open – but people refused to believe it.

    I am reminded of the late Mayor Daley, the Democrat Mayor of Chicago from the 1950s to the 1970s. Mayor Daley had many and severe faults (for example the Presidential election of 2020 was not the first election in American history to be rigged – that of 1960 was also rigged, and Mayor Daley thought it was O.K. to rig the election as President Kennedy would support government Food Stamps for the poor – which President Kennedy did), but Mayor Daley really did want Chicago, and the rest of America, to function – he did not want to destroy society, he wanted people to get on with their lives (as long as he, Mayor Daley, had a nice position for himself).

    Someone like Mayor Daley, a normal corrupt politician, could not grasp (could not understand) someone like Saul Alinsky (the “Community Organiser” who inspired Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) – the idea that Saul Alinsky wanted to DESTROY society was something that Mayor Daley could not grasp – no more than Pope Paul VI and Jacques Maritain could understand Saul Alinsky (they also thought he was a good man).

    “He loves Chicago” said Mayor Daley – so he did, in the same way that a cat loves mice.

    This level of human evil, the evil of people such as Saul Alinsky, Cloward and Piven, and the Legion of other Collectivists in the West – including in Britain, seems to be too hard for most people to understand.

    Perhaps a person needs a great deal of darkness in themselves to understand the level of evil in this Legion of “intellectuals” (and most certainly not just the Marxists – after all George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells were prepared to kill tens of millions of human beings to achieve the Collectivism they desired – they were clear about that, but ordinary people seem unable to grasp that these “intellectuals” were EVIL).

    I find it easy to understand this level of evil – I am not shocked into not understanding it at all. But that may indeed say something very bad about me – I have a great deal of darkness in myself, so I am not shocked to find it others.

    “But they can not want that” and “But they would not do that” – oh yes they can, and oh yes they have.

  • Paul Marks

    I repeat – the isolation of people (their “atomisation”) into brutal misery, is the deliberate (intended) result of policies pushed by academics and other “experts” via local, State and Federal government (and the major corporations and charitable foundations) for many decades – they wanted to destroy Civil Society (the family and other voluntary social institutions) and their policies were designed to achieve this result – in theory after “capitalist” society was destroyed a wonderful new society would (somehow) appear.

    The idea that the same government and other bureaucracy that has pushed these destructive policies for more than 60 years, can be used to used to reverse their effects is absurd – utterly absurd.

    A “national strategy” by lawyers of government and the major corporate bodies (such as the universities and charitable foundations) can only do even more harm.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    This shows how the Statist metacontext (to dust off an old De Havilland term) is so soaked into the mindsets of those who write this stuff that they cannot see it. And yet in the past, in the US and certain other Western nations, there was a time when a more bottom-up approach to these issues existed. There is this famous passage from Tocqueville’s Democracy In America. It must read like a different planet to the sort of folk who run government today:

    “In the United States, as soon as several inhabitants have taken an opinion or an idea they wish to promote in society, they seek each other out and unite together once they have made contact. From that moment, they are no longer isolated but have become a power seen from afar whose activities serve as an example and whose words are heeded” (Tocqueville 1840, 599).

  • Paul Marks

    Johnathan Pearce – and it is precisely that American of voluntary association (fraternal self financing association) of De Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” that the left have sought to destroy for a very long time.

    They have largely succeeded in destroying it – that is the terrible, the bitter, truth.

    And the same agenda is being pushed in all other Western nations.

    What do they want?

    They want the sort of society one sees on American (and Canadian) Indian (sorry “Native American” or “First Nation”) reservations – communal (not private) land ownership, little or no industry (the Green agenda) and “free” food and other goods and services.

    For example, the left look at South Dakota and the Pine Ridge Reservation – and they prefer the Pine Ridge Reservation, they want to make all of America (indeed all the Western World) like the Pine Ridge Reservation.

    And Canadian Reservations are just as Collectivist as American ones – this is an international agenda of Collectivism.

    “You will own nothing and you will be happy” is no future plan to people on the Reservations – on the Canadian Reservations people do not even own their own houses. The houses rot around the people in them – who are allowed to do nothing (and are unemployed).

    As for the “be happy” bit – this is to come from booze and drugs.

    The left (including the Woke Billionaires) have heard of Mr Huxley’s “Brave New World” but seem to think it is an instruction manual, not a warning.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Huxley made a terrible mistake – he presented “Brave New World” as a materially prosperous society, in reality such Collectivism leads to poverty (terrible grinding poverty).

    If you want to see the future the left have planned for the world – then look at the Reservations such as Pine Ridge.