Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Libertarian Debate Club: Virus Edition

From two editions of Rob Tracinski's always excellent Letters:
If you want to get into Libertarian Debate Club with me, I will acknowledge that the government does have a proper role in a pandemic. Just as your right to swing your arms ends where your fist hits my nose, your right to liberty does not include the right to knowingly or negligently transmit a deadly disease to others. Above, I mentioned Typhoid Mary, who was involuntarily confined for 26 years because she refused to stop seeking work as a cook after being identified as an asymptomatic carrier of salmonella typhi. So government has its role in ensuring the humane quarantine of the infected.
    But that alone is not what’s going to get us through [to normal conditions], especially not at this point. What will get us through is innovation, which will be led by a dynamic private economy....
    The key word here is “normal.” As I explained, “normal” in this context is a metaphysical term. I cited what Ayn Rand had to say on this in writing about the “ethics of emergencies.”
By “normal” conditions I mean metaphysically normal, normal in the nature of things, and appropriate to human existence. Men can live on land, but not in water [i.e., a flood] or in a raging fire. Since men are not omnipotent, it is metaphysically possible for unforeseeable disasters to strike them, in which case their only task is to return to those conditions under which their lives can continue.
That is why it was so inappropriate for people to try to apply all the formulas and assumptions of our normal politics to the pandemic.
    But note the necessity of getting back to normal life as soon as possible. With vaccines now approved and being distributed ... we [can possibly] return to the metaphysics of normal life, and the only question is how soon ... it will happen. It will definitely take longer than we would like, and it will probably take longer than it has to.
    When it happens, and we finally get the all-clear on the pandemic, one consequence we will have to deal with is that the pandemic has made it more acceptable for us all to stick our noses into how other people live their lives, and some people will not want to give that up. In my overview of the political philosophy of the pandemic, I quoted British politician [Steve Baker] explaining his vote for lockdown measures but warning that it created a “dystopian society” that should not “endure one moment longer than is absolutely necessary.” I followed that with my own observation.
In the previous edition, I quoted someone who compared our response to the pandemic to Germany in the 1940s. I think that’s the wrong comparison. It’s more like America in the 1940s. Then, too, we saw a vast expansion of government power—both legitimate wartime powers and many illegitimate ones. There were those who loved the mass regimentation, the central planning, the idea of everyone drafted by the state and taking orders, and who wondered why we couldn’t keep all of that in place and apply it to other favorite causes that were “the moral equivalent of war.”

What actually happened is that the moment the war was over, the American people were incredibly eager to get back to normal life and sweep away all vestiges of wartime regimentation.

I hope and expect the same thing to happen again.

The goal of stopping this pandemic is to return to normal life: to what is metaphysically normal, to the normal activities and goals of human life, and to the normal scope and powers of government in a free society.
That is one of the things we will be looking for in the next year: not just the end of the pandemic, but the unwinding of the social and political measures conjured up to deal with it.


  1. It should be noted that those articles were written in March and December 2020. At least here in New Zealand we are most definitely living The Two Years of Plague despite having followed the recommendations of government experts on masks, lockdowns and now (slowly) vaccines.

    Moreover, it is the people themselves who have shown no great desire to get back to normal, so frightened of this respiratory virus have they been made thanks to unending government and MSM propaganda.

    Tracinski refers to experts often, including Trump's tunnel vision created by his own authoritarian nature, but does not refer to the likes of Anthony Fauci who advised him on many issues. As far as I can see Fauci and others in government health expert positions, have also locked themselves into such bubbles where other information does not penetrate.

    So epidemiological experts such as those in Sweden were dismissed, as well as others, as I document here in Lockdowns: a nightmare of imagination. That also documents the politics that saw people with hundreds of published research papers to their credit and acknowledgement as experts in the field, suddenly sidelined with their papers on masks and lockdowns unpublished and ignored.

    On that one point, the mention of Typhoid Mary is exactly what the arguments were about regarding lockdowns. In a time when there was no vaccine for typhoid and where a person had that highly infectious disease without getting sick or dying, and refusing to stop working in a job perfect for spreading it, locking her away, even for 26 years, would be an acceptable, if regrettable act.

    But that was what epidemiologists had always recommended: quarantine on the infected, either self-imposed or imposed, not a quarantine on the rest of the healthy population.

    And now with talk of vaccine passports, plus the still poorly reported decline in vaccine efficacy requiring constant booster shots, what chance of us returning to a "normal" life?

  2. What evidence do you have that these vaccines are going to end the pandemic? They don't stop transmission, that's been openly admitted by authorities, and New Zealanders only need to look overseas at countries with high vaccination rates (Singapore, Iceland, Israel, Seychelles, Gibraltar, etc.) to see the failures.

    The Smiling Assassin is creating medical apartheid in your country (and all of the leaders want to do it but she's among the worst). This isn't working out too well in Israel, where "freedoms" expire after 6 months unless they submit to regular injections by a criminal pharmaceutical company that paid the largest fine in history for medical fraud ($2.3B in 2009, to be exact). Even worse in Lithuania where it's needed to buy food.

    This is not about health and safety. It's about control and compliance to a new type of totalitarianis worse than we've ever seen before. I'm a bit stunned that you don't see this, Peter.

    I am, however, going to document where we are at the moment, and how we got here, so that the people who will tell you later that they “had no clue where the trains were going” will understand why we lost our respect for them and no longer trust them.


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