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]

BLM (Black Lives Murdered)

The “Black Lives Matter” movement took yet another black life on Saturday. Eight-year-old Secoriea Turner was murdered when ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists shot up the car she was in after its driver had the misfortune to exit the interstate near one of their barriers.

If they order you to take the knee, stand up. Stand up for Secoriea; don’t kneel to her murderers. Honour Secoriea Turner, who was 8 and did no harm; don’t honour George Floyd, who thrust his gun into the stomach of a pregnant black woman during a home invasion.

I could say a great deal more – but if you or I are ever in that position, the narrative’s finger will be poised over the ‘Cancel’ button. So I advise thinking about what brief words you will say, when they tell you to kneel to a bunch of murderers and you suspect the next words you utter might be the last they’ll let anyone hear in the public domain.

“Say BLM not ALM” is a performance bond

And why, you may be asking, do I think it is like a ‘performance bond’ (whatever that may be)? Here is a historical analogy:

The symbolic gesture of obeisance to Germany, made by Hungary [in winter 1938-9] but refused by Poland, was adherence to the Anti-Comintern Pact. … It was, of course, known in Berlin that the Hungarian, like the Polish, leaders of the time were vehemently, even violently, anti-communist; adherence to a German-sponsored Anti-Comintern Pact could not make them any more so. It could however be recognised as a sign of willingness to take orders from Berlin – and it was so regarded at the time. … this pact had become for the Germans a sort of performance bond to be exacted as a test of distance from the Western Powers and subordination to herself. (‘A World At Arms’, Gerhard L. Weinberg)

The Dean of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Dr Leslie Neal-Boylan, has been fired for this:

I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER,

If she’d stopped there, she’d still have her job – but she persisted:

but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS. No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe.

It is, of course, known in the University that the ex-Dean is vehemently (though not violently) anti-racist (when she was hired a few months ago, a now deleted University website page praised her ‘visonary’ advocacy of diversity and inclusivity, especially of the disabled in the nursing field). Making her say ‘black lives matter’ and not say ‘all lives matter’ could not make her any more so. On the contrary, just as signing the anti-comintern pact meant the signers would acquiese in Hitler’s alliance with Stalin a few months later (only the Japanese, ignorant of European mores, protested against Germany’s “outrageous violation of the pact” in August 1939), so demanding the Dean say “black lives matter” but not “all lives matter” was precisely to assure her acquiescence in theories that discriminate by race and in deeds that cost black (and other) lives.

Person of colour dares not sign name

It shouldn’t affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color. My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM, that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The well-written open letter from the professor with no (safe to add) name is on pastebin, having (of course) been removed from where it was first put. Other links to the text are here and here.

(I wrote this as a Samizdata Quote of the Day – h/t instapundit – but decided the title needed to tell you something not in the bit I quoted. Read the whole thing.)

An excited delirium of political correctness

Given the irrational and potentially violent, dangerous, and lethal behaviour of an Excited Delirium Syndrome subject, any law enforcement officer interaction with a person in this situation risks significant injury or death to either the officer or the subject who has a potentially lethal medical syndrome. This already challenging situation has the potential for intense public scrutiny coupled with the expectation of a perfect outcome. Anything less creates a situation of potential public outrage. Unfortunately, this dangerous medical situation makes perfect outcomes difficult in many circumstances.

White Paper Report on Excited Delirium Syndrome, issued by the American College of Emergency Physicians, September 10th 2009

Ya think?!

When we get to see the bodycam videos of the police officers, we’ll know whether George Floyd had Excited Delirium Syndrome. Had the officers switched off their cams beforehand, that absence (like Hillary Clinton’s missing emails) would speak volumes. If the cams show a calm Mr Floyd ready to be put in a police car, then the officers’ defence of excited delirium will be tossed with contempt. As we’ve heard nothing about the cams from the media, they may not support the narrative.

– in the video we have been allowed to see, a panicking Mr Floyd says he can’t breathe – showing that he can breathe but it’s not doing him much good. Despite his being able to breathe, and so speak, his organs are begging for oxygen they’re increasingly not getting. That fits final-stage Excited Delirium Syndrome.

– His autopsy showed fentanyl and methamphetamine. That drug cocktail is good for giving yourself Excited Delirium Syndrome, especially when it is far from your first time.

I hope we get to find out at the trial, if not before. Till then, if anyone tries to make you swallow the media’s narrative whole, add a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, this grim subject at least raises a grimly amusing question: are the politically correct experiencing a kind of excited delirium syndrome? Some common symptoms are very much present, especially in the rioters:

remorse… and understanding of surroundings … are absent in such subjects. … subjects are known to be irrational, often violent … delirium and agitation … destructive or bizarre behavior generating calls to police … ongoing struggle despite futility … Subjects are incoherent and combative … delusional, paranoid

Not yet observed in the rioters (AFAIK) are

unusual physical strength and stamina

nor

Impervious to pain

(unless it’s the pain of others), and I don’t think we’ve yet had a chance to observe whether the rioters would show

Significant resistance to physical restraint

or an absence of “normal fear and … rational thoughts for safety”, as there has not been much physical restraint, let alone cause for the rioters to feel afraid. Since we are clearly in the early “sudden onset” stage of “violence and hyperactivity”, it is no surprise we have not yet seen any symptoms from the syndrome’s late stage:

“sudden cessation of struggle, respiratory arrest and death.” (The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010)

If we make the diagnosis, how should we treat excited delirium in the politically correct?

the specific physical control methods employed should optimally minimize the time spent struggling, while safely achieving physical control. The use of multiple personnel with training in safe physical control measures is encouraged. … research is needed to establish field protocols and techniques that allow police, emergency medical services and hospital personnel to interact with these agitated, aggressive patients in a manner safe both for the patients and the providers.

I share the writers’ desire for safety all round, but while this research on how to achieve it proceeds, I refer readers to the top-of-post quote: these perfect outcomes are ‘difficult’ – and these US physicians seem to have perfected the art of English understatement. (I assume this belief – that achieving swift safe control is essential, to end the subject’s wild agitated activity that is speeding his own death – is part of why the elected Minneapolis authorities teach their police to use knee-to-neck-hold as department policy.)

A less technical summary seems to be saying the same thing.

Deescalation does not have a high likelihood of changing outcomes significantly …

The subjects require physical restraint (this is because if they continue to struggle it accelerates the death) …

Once the decision to do this has been made, action needs to be swift and efficient …

I feel sure this is the treatment the rioters need. Whether it would have been (or indeed was) also the right (albeit, sadly, too late) treatment for Mr Floyd is something the bodycam videos will tell us.

—-
(In the above quotes, I have expanded ‘ExDS’ to ‘Excited Delirium Syndrome’, ‘LEO’ to ‘law enforcement officer’ or just ‘officer’, and ‘EMS’ to ’emergency medical services’, for ease of reading.)

Samizdata comedy quote of the day

Clever Churchgoers Avoid Arrest By Disguising Themselves As Rioters

LOS ANGELES, CA—Religious people in Southern California have found a bold, creative solution for in-person meetings in spite of the continuing lockdown. This past weekend, several area churches attended church services disguised as righteously indignant rioters.

“We already have the righteous indignation thing down,” said one church elder. “Now, we’ve simply added black balaclavas, hoodies, Guy Fawkes masks, and baseball bats! We found that when we do this, we can meet in large groups without much interference from the local authorities. It’s been a delightful experience.”

It’s satire 🙂 – I think? 🙁

I feel like commenting that comment is needless – but don’t let that restrain you.

The Plague

“Are you able to condemn absolutely?”

“No – but surely that is not necessary?”

“It is not – though the situation is very bad. But testimony without reservation is the only testimony I will give – so I will give no testimony in support of your testimony.”

Ostensibly, these two characters at the start of Albert Camus’ The Plague are talking about the health situation of Algerian natives under French colonial rule. But The Plague is not actually about an outbreak of the black death in Oran. It is about France under Nazi occupation, recast as a description of French behaviour in an epidemic. The plague represents the Nazis: deadly, relentless, reigning in terror for a time and then gone. The book’s interest is in how people act when a thing like that sweeps over them; about the scum it brings to the top; about who decides to resist and when and why; about Vichy and freedom and the human heart.

By setting the book in Oran, Camus gave himself an advantage: he could describe the city he grew up in very well (and the ostensible event – an outbreak of plague – was more likely). But he also gave himself a problem. France was under the Nazis but Oran was under the French colonial authorities. The French readers of Camus’ book are like the French readers of the newspaper whose journalist “cannot condemn absolutely”. So Camus explains – very exactly, in terms of his analogy – that he will say nothing, and from that point on, the book focusses only on how the ethnically-French inhabitants of Oran behave.

I have been a little surprised never to see mention of The Plague in my recent web browsing. (Only a little surprised – the amount that is on the web and not noticed by me is vast.) That an epidemic can be like an invasion, empowering Vichy-like petty tyrants and harming freedom, would seem topical at this time. I’m no great fan of Camus (though, like anyone honest, I greatly prefer him to Sartre and suchlike) and it is from old memory that I provide the quote heading the post. But some people think highly of him, and I’ll grant that, even in translation, a certain quality of the prose shines through. The left did not welcome his post-WWII advice that what they needed most was “pitiless criticism”, but they never managed to push him all the way down the memory hole.

In the UK and the US, I’ve seen criticism of the lockdown that I thought very fair – and other criticism I thought OTT, as if it were rational to think Boris and Trump really loved lockdowns and wanted them to last forever. The cruel absurdity I see in France seems to belong in the pages of The Plague.

L’absurdité cruelle

Not long ago, I posted that events in the UK distantly echoed

“the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes, unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence” (‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Edward Gibbon)

But events in France offer more than an echo.

France’s general population remains under extremely strict lockdown; the police have been ordered to enforce the rules ruthlessly. Permits to leave one’s home were limited to 60 minutes, once a day, and no farther than half a mile. … more than 915,000 citations have been handed out; 15.5 million persons have been stopped and checked …

People living in no-go zones [zones-urbaines-sensibles “sensitive urban zones”] are treated differently. Police officers have been told by the government not to stop them at all and to avoid as much as possible going near where they live.

(Excerpted from France’s No-Go Zones: The Riots Return.
Read the whole thing.)

The ‘zones sensibles’ of Gothic immigrants in the dying western Roman empire were not ‘urbaines’ but they enjoyed the same cruel absurdity of being exempt from the harsh laws Rome enforced on the areas it still effectively controlled. They showed the same pattern of growth too. In 2005 there were less than 100 zones urbaines sensibles; today, France has more than 750 zones where the absence of lockdown casts the growing reality into stark relief.

The evolution of ruling attitudes makes another parallel.

In 2005, the police tried to quell the riots, unsuccessfully. For three weeks, the country seemed on the verge of a civil war. Today, because members of the government seem to believe that if riots occur, a civil war really could happen, the police are asked not to intervene and to stand aside until the destruction stops.

In ancient times, a similar period takes us from the Battle of Adrianople (378 AD) when the empire tried and failed to quell ‘rioting’ Gothic immigrants, to that of Frigidius (394) where the emperor used a Gothic army to defeat his internal rivals. The Goths lost heavily in that battle, which probably did not bother the emperor – but also did not slow much the speed with which they rotted the empire. I doubt Macron will lose sleep if the ‘zones urbaines sensibles’ lose people to the virus through ignoring his lockdown – which they won’t much, certainly not enough to slow their rate of growth much.

A similar number of years then takes us from Frigidius to the fall of Rome in 410. One day soon, France may do something sensible about the ‘zones urbaines sensibles’. Or, one day, France may do something horrible because for too long political correctness forbade her doing something sensible. Or Paris may ‘fall’ – may become one big zone urbaine sensible.

Meanwhile, I find it a disturbing symptom that the French government seems so acclimatised to the cruel absurdity of enforcing laws that take liberty from natives who obey you, while allowing exemptions that give liberties to immigrants who don’t. I can dislike a law yet dislike its arbitrary enforcement more. I do not care for this ‘lockdown pour nous, mais non pour vous’. Between 2005 and 2020, a kind of degeneration has taken place.

The ‘elite’ should learn to code (better)

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” (Richard Feynman)

Over a decade ago, climategate confirmed that Jones, Mann and Briffa knew exactly what they were doing when they scaled the hockystick to hide the decline while having not a clue about what the decline meant. However it incidentally revealed the, uh, ‘quality’ of their code.

Neil Ferguson’s extra-lockdown/marital escapade says much about his elite opinion of us common people (and of the lockdown), but meanwhile someone has taken a look at the, uh, ‘quality’ of his code.

Conclusions. All papers based on this code should be retracted immediately. Imperial’s modelling efforts should be reset with a new team that isn’t under Professor Ferguson, and which has a commitment to replicable results with published code from day one.

On a personal level, I’d go further and suggest that all academic epidemiology be defunded. This sort of work is best done by the insurance sector.

Read the review to see what leads to these conclusions. You have to laugh (in order not to cry 🙂 ).

Is Political Correctness most fatal to those with co-morbidities?

My team and I knew the president’s comments could trigger a backlash against the idea of UV light as a treatment, which might hinder our ability to get the word out. We decided to create a YouTube account, upload a video animation we had created, and tweet it out. It received some 50,000 views in 24 hours.

Then YouTube took it down. So did Vimeo. Twitter suspended our account. The narrative changed from whether UV light can be used to treat Covid-19 to “Aytu is being censored”.

These days, politics seems to dictate that if one party says, “The sky is blue,” the other party is obligated to reply, “No, it’s not, and you’re a terrible human being for thinking that.” That leaves no room for science, in which the data speak for themselves, regardless of ideology, and only when they’re ready.

(Quoted from a Wall Street Journal article – paywalled, but relevant quotes are on instapundit.)

I read an article that mentioned Aytu yesterday.

In fact, the president’s reference was to Ultraviolet catheter technology. It was recently in the news and Dr Birx was unfamiliar with it. Here’s how it works.

The first link still works because it goes to Aytu’s own website. The second no longer does because it goes to Vimeo; today, it shows the VimeUhOh page.

One of the great questions of our time is whether the left is innately inferior to the right, innately more intolerant of all thought but its own, innately determined to live in its bubble and make others do the same, or else it is not and its current state is wholly an artefact of its current media power.

One view is that there is no such superiority in either approaches or statistics, that too dominating a control of the megaphone makes any group live in an ever-narrowing bubble. If Donald (in some alternative world that is so not this) could do more than just drain the swamp a bit, could actually transform its denizens into people as fervent for making America great again as they now are for cancel culture, then (according to this view) the right would take no more time than the left did to establish a mirror culture of censoring freedom-hatred, and would not generate significantly greater internal resistance than the left’s mavericks currently offer to those the left empower.

A rival view is that the innate vice of the left is lying but the innate vice of the right is violence. Hitler lied a lot and Stalin murdered (and tortured) a lot (arguably more than Hitler in his longer period of rule) but the most fundamental law of Hitler’s land was “Thou shalt kill” and the most fundamental law of Stalin’s land was “Thou shalt bear false witness”.

– Stalin killed like a gangland lawyer: if the inconvenient witness can’t be made to stutter out the prepared story in court then he’d better be fitted with concrete overshoes at the bottom of Lake Michigan, but the court case, not his death, is what matters. When the story is that socialist agriculture works, that means there are a lot of peasants to kill, but it doesn’t matter which individuals get shot, which die of starvation, which die of slave labour in the gulag, and which survive, so long as the useful idiots can go on thinking socialism is wonderful on the farm. It does not matter which of the “two traditions, as a dark age historian would say, about the death in modern times of the vice premier of the soviet state” are true – was he shot at once or left to die years later in a camp – because the story of his confession is what matters. The lie matters and to protect it communists replaced an encyclopaedia article on Beria with one on the Bering Sea, they scrubbed Beria’s image from a Metropole Hotel corridor’s photograph in the early hours of the morning after he died, they painted a smiling young man (or sometimes a woman in a large hat) over Beria’s image on giant posters of the ruling group in cities and towns across Russia. The lie is everything.

– Hitler lied like a general – pretend you won’t attack then do attack, pretend to attack on the right then actually attack on the left – but once the lie had achieved its practical effect, once the enemy were surprised and routed, he spent less time maintaining the lie. What mattered was maximising enemy casualties, tracking and killing every last one of the fleeing foe, treating “the flight of a few Jews from torture and slow death as a matter of the gravest concern”. (Although left-wing lying has much to do with it and also honest debaters may honestly debate, this difference in focus between the communist and nazi regimes is a part of why, although nazi is short for National Socialist, Hitler is perceived as right-wing.)

A third view is that the right is simply better than the left: more anchored in reality, applying principles more likely to produce good outcomes and better able to protect those who hold them from corruption. The right is to the left as capitalism is to communism. In a capitalist state, you will find some who are unworthily rich and some who are unworthily poor. In a communist state, you’ll find a lot more of both and a lot less wealth overall. Likewise with right and left (if your focus is the last century or two; most holders of this view would concede that, as you go further back in time, opportunities to make debating points that challenge it increase).

My own opinion, FWIW, is that all three are true. I think the right compared to the left would resemble capitalism compared to socialism even if the MSM and the tech oligarchs were more balanced. I think that a degenerate-right culture will typically manifest more in a trend to violence than to lying, while a degenerate-left culture’s stereotypical indicators will be the reverse. And I support free speech because I think that while some political movements, like some people, have stronger characters than others, the power to silence criticism is a very dangerous temptation to any.

What’s the UK equivalent of ‘NeverTrumper’?

Did you know that Boris doesn’t know who won the battle of Stalingrad? If you did not know this, please continue not to know it, because it is not in fact true. Should you encounter a reader of The Economist, however (one of life’s occasional joys of which I am now deprived by the lockdown), you may be told that Boris’ biography of Sir Winston Churchill reveals this and other remarkable lacunae in our current PM’s historical knowledge – told in a tone of great certainty and with the firmest assurance that any milder speculations you offer (for what Boris might have said to appear to mean such things) are not possible, so established are the facts.

I have never once in my entire life given money to The Economist in exchange for the doubtful privilege of reading it (and see very much less than no reason whatever to begin now), so I encounter copies but rarely in airplane lounges and on other people’s coffee tables. I therefore cannot tell you whether Economist readers believe this because an Economist writer once told them that or implied it, or merely because reading The Economist renders one credulous of such urban legends (insofar as the habit of reading The Economist does not reveal that one already is).

So astonished was I to be assured of this claim (by the undoubtedly educated and well-read) as a matter both unsurprising and beyond all doubt, that I have now once in my entire life given money to Boris (not to some cause he also espouses) in exchange for a copy of his Churchill biography – something I deduce Economist-readers are more loath to do even than I am to buy their rag. It struck me as a more primary source for verification than tracking down whatever years-old copy of The Economist had reviewed it or made a passing reference to it, or tracing the origin of its readers’ urban legends about it.

I was not surprised to learn that Boris knows what the gardener, the hairdresser and even the teenager all know – that Stalingrad did not end well for Adolf. I was not surprised to find I was correct in my pre-purchase guess that some throwaway one-liner about how far Adolf got despite Churchill (to suggest how dangerously further he might have got without Churchill) would be the sole basis for the bizarre claim that Boris didn’t. But after reading right through the book I am very surprised to discover just how vicious and/or deranged a reviewer would have to be to pretend and/or imagine that the text even remotely suggests such a thing (and likewise for the other claims).

That, however, is secondary. In her study of anti-semitism, Hannah Arendt explains that establishing the history of how ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ was forged is secondary. The historian’s primary subject is that the forgery is being believed. That someone – maybe originally some writer for The Economist but maybe, for all I know, originally just some reader of it holding forth to other readers in an upscale SW1 pub – claimed that Boris did not know a historical fact so famous that even an update of ‘1066 and all that’ might call it ‘memorable’, is secondary. The greater strangeness is that this claim is being believed – not by Jeremy two-Es Corbyn and his Momentum followers but by at least a few highly educated people who, in the late 1980s, were voting for Thatcher’s and Reagan’s economic policies even as they virtue-signalled disdain for their populism. What goes on in otherwise-intelligent minds to let a person move from that to this? How can their sense of reality be so deficient that they can be told Boris does not even know who won Stalingrad and still hear no alarm bell, no, “Maybe I should just check whether even Boris could really not know even that”?

The Economist was founded in 1843, not so long before Mill explained that democracy works best when:

“the sovereign Many have let themselves be guided (which in their best times they have always done) by the counsels and influence of a more highly gifted and instructed One or Few.” (‘On Liberty’, John Stewart Mill, 1859)

By this definition, The Economist has always been just what it claims to be: ultra-liberal. It is said that a senior editor once gave a junior colleague terse advice on how to write his first Economist leader article:

“Pretend you are God.”

The Economist has sometimes changed its mind in fact – it was rather late to abandon its Keynsianism for monetarism in the 1980s but it did. What never changes is the unapologetic arrogant smugness of a pretence that one suspects senior editors do not always recall is pretence. The Economist’s latest editor, a woman named Beddoes, is a Keynsian who thought Obama was wonderful. She belongs irredeemably to those whom Dominic Cummings described as:

aways writing about how ‘shocking’ things are to them – things that never were as low probability events as they imagined

Brexit winning, Trump as president, Boris as PM – how shocking that the omniscience of pretend-God be challenged by such unforeseen events. Late last year, I was aware from my acquaintance how much Economist-readers loved Fintan O’Toole’s ‘explanation’ that Brexit arose from the idiocy of backward-looking British voters (Fintan O’Toole: ‘Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain’, published November 2019). Fintan laughed when Brexit-supporting reviewers warned him to worry instead about a real ugliness in his own Southern Irish electorate – until he was again shocked by an Éire election result that was (regrettably but foreseeably) never such a low-probability event as he and EU-negotiation-supporting taoiseach Varadkar imagined. (Corbyn’s success in 2017 is one on-balance-hopeful analogy to draw; there are others.)

It is said of communists that they think their party is God – a God sadly lacking the attributes of forgiveness and absolution. People who have the sense to know communism is stupid can still be very wilfully deluded about how much they themselves understand and how unshocking it should be to be proved not merely wrong but clueless.

So what is the UK equivalent of ‘NeverTrumper’? We all know what ‘Guardian-reader’ means. Is it time to be aware what ‘Economist-reader’ can mean?

Our astonishing controls

Who would have thought that Sweden would end up being the last place in Europe where you could go for a beer?

writes an understandably surprised Swede (No lockdown please, we’re Swedish). In Sweden, the state tells people

how many slices of bread to eat per day … We still close liquor stores at 3 p.m. on a Saturday. The general idea is that if people were given the freedom and responsibility to figure out these things on their own, anarchy might follow.

And I can’t work out whether to call it ‘hardly less surprising’ or ‘barely more surprising’ that, at the other end of Europe, Portugal is (for now) following the same path. Instapunditer Sarah Hoyt was born and raised in Portugal but left because it lacked things like the first amendment, the second amendment and a lively SF culture.

The cynic in me is happy to suggest some less-than-libertarian explanations.

– Sarah Hoyt quotes the Portuguese Prime Minister explaining they avoided lockdown because the Portuguese are “more organized than other Europeans” – then adds

I have no idea what he’s smoking, or where he found it, but that’s potent stuff.

– Sweden has an unusually docile native population, an unusually different immigrant population and a political class that calls it bigotry for visible police actions to betray statistical differences between the two. Trying to enforce a lockdown is sure to offend many politically-correct regulations. Further, a society whose police seem already unable to control immigrant predilection for grenades and automatic weapons lacks the reserve of unused power needed to enforce a lockdown.

However the same attitudes that give me those thoughts also tell me that Swedish politicians will not only not speak them, even behind closed doors, they will have a hard time thinking them – which challenges my cynical explanation. Ordering the police and media not to mention the colour of suspects they seek lest the public see trends, yet thinking that

in a liberal democracy you have to convince and not command people

not to go to the pub, may seem absurd to logical libertarian and logical statist alike – but freedom owes much to the fact that humans are not logical. That Portugal may be too ill-organised to enforce statist solutions is another common way in which liberty survives its enemies, but at the moment it is not that they are trying and failing – they are actually not trying.

Thus we have our experimental controls – our null-hypothesis case studies. We’re doing a huge experiment to see how well locking down a nation can address a pandemic – an experiment whose costs’ ability to rise exponentially over time matches that of any disease graph. I don’t know how good or bad it will be for the Swedes and Portuguese, but it will be very good for the after-action report on this if a couple of moderately comparable nations stick with seeing what happens when you don’t lock everyone up.

What will you yield?

Duke Gorlois of Cornwall: “Lord Uther, if I yield to the sword of power – what will you yield?”

Uther Pendragon: “ME YIELD !!!??”    (from the film Excalibur*)

We are yielding quite a few liberties to the dread virus – to the need to flatten the curve of disease to what the NHS can handle. Steve Baker’s speech says it well.

As regards mere money, the government will provide tide-you-over assistance to those whose cash flow cannot outlast these measures. Their loss will still be a net loss (and since all the government’s money is ultimately provided by us, the tide-you-over sum will one day be repaid with interest) but there is help for those facing outgoings with no incomings.

How about the liberty account? As we yield many liberties, could the state perhaps yield back a few others they have taken? Might the police who will now ask, “Is your journey really necessary under our latest emergency regulations?”, include all who were previously asking, “Is your remark really permissible under our modern hate speech laws?” Any chance the power of the state, when not enforcing the new rules, could be wholly focussed on fighting things the public consider criminal, not things the politically correct consider offensive?

It is a fair question (to the state, but even more to the ‘elite’ apocalypticists): if we yield to the danger of the virus – what will you yield?


* (Quoted from my old memory of the film. If I’ve remembered it right, I think Uther’s grammar is wrong here – it should be “I YIELD”.)