A book called Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert Hirschman sums up the choices we each face during this incredibly difficult time. We can speak up and attempt to resist the awful mistakes being inflicted on society by the authorities; we can remain “loyal” citizens and passively comply with the dystopia being foisted upon us; or we can exit and emigrate to somewhere better — such as Sweden.
I choose to stay and fight the madness.
I have noticed that many of those in management and leadership in large organisations — private and public sector — cling to the orthodoxy and do not question the official Covid-19 narrative. They meekly accept the restrictions of basic freedoms in return for a quiet life and apparent safety. They prefer to indulge in groupthink about the efficacy of lockdowns and to ignore the vast, growing collateral damage to livelihoods and welfare, in Britain and globally.
Perhaps the government’s propaganda has frightened them, and they don’t want to listen to any other perspective. They cling to the hope that a vaccine will soon arrive to save the day. Their jobs are safe and they can comfortably work from home; they ignore the fact that the poor are most likely to lose their jobs, homes and lives thanks to current policies.
Cynically, some are doing well out of lockdown and the pandemic — they supply personal protective or testing equipment, they make vaccines, they service staff working from home. So, of course, they support the government’s interventions — and can even virtue-signal at the same time.
Dissenting from the mainstream can be hard. I have noticed that plenty of entrepreneurs are willing to express their doubts about the effectiveness of the government’s oppressive and unproven interventions. By nature they find it easier to be in a minority, and are less risk-averse than most people. They tend towards a libertarian rather than authoritarian view of life. By contrast, corporate and state sector employees generally adhere to hierarchy and do not rebel against the consensus. Unfortunately, too many of the medical profession fall into this category. They work for the NHS, the largest bureaucracy of all, which stifles contrarians and prefers compliance rather than originality in its clinicians.
Tragically, no one in the cabinet has any medical or even life science qualifications, and they lack the confidence to debate with their scientific advisers. They have refused to admit to making mistakes since Covid began and so cannot alter their strategy — their behaviour increasingly resembles a damage limitation exercise. They are suffering from tunnel vision about a single disease. This monomania means that they are ignoring the awful impacts on mental health, cancer and heart disease treatments, jobs, the national finances, education and civil liberties.
Companies have been bought off with government handouts but, despite the hundreds of billions of pounds scattered like confetti, the final result will surely be unemployment running at a level of at least four million — the highest rate of worklessness in decades, with its own grim toll of ruined lives, depression, suicides and dashed hopes. Meanwhile, higher debt means a lower standard of living and less money for the NHS.
The concept of “focused protection” for the vulnerable — those over 65 and/or with serious diseases — has been proposed by Professor Sunetra Gupta and associates in their Great Barrington Declaration. It has gained a fair amount of international support, including from more than 34,000 doctors and scientists who have signed it. Yet it was summarily dismissed by No 10 and the grandees on the Sage group of experts, who have offered no substantial proof that lockdowns actually work and have no exit plan. The scientific establishment has mostly closed ranks because often those who speak out are ostracised. So the country remains stuck in a doom loop of lockdowns, fear, rising economic desolation and growing public anger.
For all of us, the stakes are high. This is not simply a matter of public health. It is not just about the economy. The government’s totalitarian restrictions are undermining our very way of life, and are sure to cause more deaths and harm in the long run than shielding the elderly and those with existing morbidities. It must be more rational to allow perhaps 65 million their freedom and protect the rest than to keep an entire population under house arrest, guaranteeing further impoverishment and misery. Please join the cause.