Authoritarians are Not Humanitarians

The official global COVID-19 death toll currently stands at just over 1 million (although the true figure is certainly lower given the highly misleading way at least some governments classify COVID deaths). But even the official figure is absolutely dwarfed by the likely death toll of the global lockdown. The UN estimates something like 130 million people are now at risk of starvation and UNICEF predicts the death of 1.2 million children due to global lockdowns. Even if, let’s pray, only half of these people die, that will still be around sixty times as many as died from COVID-19. Add to this the respective lockdown death tolls from western nations, which for the UK alone is at least tens of thousands of cancer patients and other people with long-term illnesses who were denied treatments by government policy, and you start to get a sense of how truly disastrous for humanity the global lockdown has been. 

2020 will go down in history as the year the world became convinced that police states could be a means to achieving great humanitarian ends. The resulting tidal wave of tyranny battered humanity, killing far more people than a respiratory disease ever could. May we never again be persuaded that authoritarians can be humanitarians. 

If you believe our politicians are humanitarians, then ask yourself this: Where is the compassion in denying life-saving medical treatment to tens of thousands of cancer patients and other people with long-term illnesses? Where is the mercy in preventing people from attending the funerals of their loved ones? What is humane about imprisoning depression sufferers and those in abusive relationships in their own homes for three months? Where is the kindness in isolating children from each other for six months? Where is the humanity in sending Coronavirus patients to care homes? Where is the civility in destroying The Arts? Where is the public good in hastily passing unscrutinised illiberal legislation into law, enabling a police state to come into existence overnight and brutalise society for a year? 

A world of police states was never going to achieve great humanitarian outcomes. Like war, police states are good for absolutely nothing. Authoritarians are not humanitarians. They can’t be. And that’s true of scientists who advocate totalitarian government as well as the politicians who enact it.

Am I unfairly beating politicians with the stick of hindsight? No. Were our political leaders faced with an impossible situation? No. It wasn’t impossible to predict the disastrous economic and social consequences of lockdowns. It wasn’t impossible to refrain from pursuing a drastic, unorthodox and extreme course of government action based on nothing but the wildly wrong predictions of black-box COVID modelling lacking disclosed methodology.

As Sweden and the US states that didn’t impose lockdowns showed, it was possible to minimise COVID deaths without dismantling society, wrecking people’s lives and violating everyone’s basic human rights, but very few nations even attempted it. And that’s why the global lockdown disaster of 2020 will be remembered as an even greater tragedy than the pandemic itself.

Unintended the deaths from lockdowns may be, but the sheer number seems certain to surpass the deliberate evil of the holocaust and, at worst, even outstrip the horrors of 20th century communism. The road to social hell is paved with government action with good intentions.

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