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Ten years ago, Brian Mickelthwait predicted the response to Covid-19

Ten years and ten days ago, the sadly missed Brian Micklethwait wrote this: “What if there is a real collective disaster?”

Brian quoted this article by Paul Murphy which said that the response of governments and the scientific establishment to what they saw as the global warming crisis had “destroyed the credibility of all involved” and “greatly weakened the world’s ability to recognize and respond to a real threat should one now materialize.”

Brian added,

An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision? (Think Stalin when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.) And what if it then imposes a wrong decision about what needs to be done? A collectivity that is hastily assembled by freer and more independent persons is just as likely to act in a timely manner, and is far more likely to have a proper argument about what must be done, and hence to arrive at a better decision about that.

Besides which, what is often needed in a crisis is not so much collective action, but rather individual action for the benefit of the collective. That is a very different thing, and clearly a society which cultivates individuality will prepare individuals far better for such heroism than will societies where everyone is in the habit only of doing as they are told.

“An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision?” There could scarcely be a better description of the response of the UK and the Western world as a whole to Covid-19. Masks are useless! Cancel that, masks are compulsory! Herd immunity! Cancel that, vaccines are compulsory! Lockdown! Cancel that, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, er, cancel that, back to lockdown!

5 comments to Ten years ago, Brian Mickelthwait predicted the response to Covid-19

  • Kirk

    If anything, the “legacy of COVID” ought to be the total and utter discrediting of the “elite” running the show everywhere in the world. Maybe a few of the smaller nations would escape that, and perhaps Sweden, but… Most need entirely new leadership classes.

    The Swedes did well, behaving rationally with regards to the COVID thing. Everything else those idiots have done, particularly with regards to welcoming all the “migrants”? Oi. Just… Oi.

    It’s like watching a live-action version of those cartoons they run in Australia about “Dumb Ways to Die”. Can nobody see the folly, except us common-sense types?

    Yet, again and again, the “elite” go back to the kitchen and put their hands on the red-hot burner. I did that one time, when I was little… I can kinda-sorta remember thinking that if my parents didn’t want me to do it, it must be kinda cool, ya know…?

    One time I got past their guard at the stove. That’s all it took for a reformation in my cognitive process, and I suddenly saw the light as to the value of learning from what other people told me.

    Possibly, our great mistake in all this is not holding the “elite” sufficiently accountable. Maybe, just maybe, if we held being “mistaken” on a COVID-response scale as being a capital crime, and then publicly executed these control-freak types in some particularly visual and graphically ugly manner, the rest of them might get a clue.

    And, as a side-benefit? Maybe being “in charge” would lose a lot of this crazed attraction for them…

    “Yo, Mr. Senile… Turns out, you were wrong about COVID lock-down and giving free money to Iran… Let’s have a quick trial, due process and all, and you pay the penalty for being wrong by being lowered into a vat of boiling sewage effluent on national television…?”

    Think that might be dissuasive?

    I have come to the conclusion that a system wherein you have to actively hunt down and force into office the “elect” might be best… Ensure that people don’t want the job, and that ‘effing it up by the numbers had actual consequences, unpleasant ones? That’s the way to go. They should all be heaving sighs of relief at having survived their terms, not counting the money they made while in office.

  • jgh

    Kirk, you’ve put your finger on it. The people who make the decisions don’t feel the pain from the results, so there’s no feedback, and so no learning the connectedness of cause and effect.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    That’s an excellent case of using the wonders of the internet to highlight the prescience of a comment.

    Brian regarded the conduct of the AGW alarmists as abominable and told me that he thought that by pandering to it, it would hurt the Conservatives.

  • Paul Marks

    Brian M. as correct – as every major wrong decision of the Covid crises shows.

    The decision to lie about the origins of the disease – to deny it came from the Chinese lab (which was part funded by American government agencies and by the EcoHealth alliance of the World Health Organisation’s Peter Daszak).

    The decision to smear effective Early Treatments.

    The nonsense about cloth masks.

    The utterly insane, and incredibly harmful, “lockdowns”.

    The pushing of the not very effective, and very dangerous, Covid “vaccines”.

    Were all these international decisions motivated by power lust, or were the intentions good?

    Does it matter? As Brian Mickelthwait pointed out – it is the mindset of Collectivism of seeing force as the way of doing things, that is the problem.

    Even if they had the most noble intensions leaders using the threat of violence, the state, would make a mess of everything.

  • Paul Marks

    “Eat out to help out” – government subsidising people to go to places that had been banned, and were soon banned again – I had almost forgotten about that.

    What happened to the Chancellor who paid vast numbers of people, the majority of the working age population, NOT to go work, and invented absurdities such as “eat out to help out”?

    It is an old problem – people responsible for terrible policies suffering no bad consequences for their terrible policies – indeed being promoted.

    For example, Sir Charles Trevelyan followed a policy of tax-and-spend in Ireland in the late 1840s – vastly increasing Property Taxes (as if all taxes are not passed on – thus wreaking economic life) to pay for poverty relief programs.

    The Irish economy collapsed, including areas of the country that were not dependent on the potato, and the Irish population fell by a third – 1 in 3 people either dying or fleeing the country.

    The response to all this was to promote Trevelyan, he went on to created the British Civil Service, and had honours heaped upon him.