Authoritarianism is an Epidemic

For a couple of centuries, there have always been enough members of parliament who were sufficiently economically and historically literate to prevent state power from expanding so much that it paralysed the economy and consumed people’s lives. But 2020 has shown this is no longer the case in the UK (and most other democratic nations). 

A parliament of men and women who understood why a basic level of individual liberty is essential, even during national emergencies, and thus why civil liberties must be deemed non-negotiable would have blocked the Coronavirus Act and stopped tyranny from being unleashed upon the British public. But that didn’t happen. The most draconian and destructive act of legislation in modern history was passed overnight with barely a murmur of concern in parliament. And then, in only three months, the economy was wrecked, society was dismantled and millions of people’s lives were left in ruins. 

This authoritarian mindset has been growing among the political class and the intellectual class for decades. This year it went viral. The great majority of today’s members of parliament are authoritarians by intellectual instinct and those who aren’t, if any, are too few to make any difference.

It’s a revolving door of authoritarians. One lot leaves, another lot arrives. These aren’t inherently evil people who intend to harm others, they’re average people with good intentions whose minds are enthralled by bad ideas and and whose thinking is transfixed along collectivist lines. The only thing exceptional about them is their zeal for making the world a better place through law-making (i.e. legalised coercion), which is so strong they turn their back on society and seek to make a career out of it by entering government.

This new strain of an ancient intellectual virus is the greatest threat to freedom, prosperity and human life the UK as a liberal democracy has ever faced. Greater even than Hitler’s Nazism once was. Globally, this new authoritarianism is the greatest threat to human welfare and progress the modern world has ever faced. Why? Because our society’s immune system, the public mind, doesn’t (yet) recognise it as a virus. Right now, authoritarianism is spreading completely unchecked, causing human suffering and death on mass. 

We need to recognise the threat of epidemic authoritarianism before it’s too late. It may be a long time before it is as obvious as it is right now in 2020, so we need to start perceiving the problem. 

As Sherlock Holmes remarked to Watson, “you see but you do not observe”. Plenty of people now see a Conservative government doing terrible things, but far too few observe parliament is swarming with authoritarians who gave their blessing for unlimited government to be unleashed upon society, or understand that any leftist government would have done the same terrible things.

With authoritarians Left and Right, democracy is no longer a defence against tyranny in the UK. The UK needs a miracle. It needs a political shift of a magnitude never seen before in the history of British democracy. But then, even if that happened, some might say it would only reset the clock on the slow and steady drift towards tyranny that democracies seem doomed to make.

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