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The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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3 minutes reading time (604 words)

How COVID-19 has Brought out the Worst in Some People

COVID-Boris

The internet is full of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and blame aimed at shadowy elites, bankers, secret societies, national leaders and so on, all based on the political prejudices of those formulating or sharing the theories as if fact. These are a not very amusing distraction from lockdown, pictures of kittens, today's lunch, or even political arguments, being preferable.


The current position is just that: shifting sands from which we are trying to make some sense and arrange our days to best adapt our lifestyles and protect our families. As circumstances unfold and information becomes useful in developing private and public strategies, hopefully we will be able to see more clearly, but not if we make presumptions based on prejudice. The mainstream news and other news sources are full of nothing else but are just received 'wisdom' and hearsay, however informed by the expertise of individuals, because there is no context. That there is no other news is suspicious itself, but not so much that conspiracy theories become alluring. It is information about this unprecedented and chaotic crisis that the public crave, not a continuous loop of non-news and uninformed commentary. "We just don't know what to do because our expert advisors have no idea about what is really going on either, or what to do about it," could be the ubiquitous private assessment by politicians and professionals alike. Context is everything and is loudly absent.


The real danger comes afterwards when people start to mistake international cooperation for something else. Supranational organisations like the EU, IPCC, World Bank, WEF, WHO, IMF and multinational corporations will try to make political capital and promote themselves as our saviours from infection and ourselves. Worse, would be any moves towards a suprastate comprised of such entities or world government which, while idealistic or utopian in concept, would be dystopian in practice. World government is inconsistent with democracy and the supranational institution is generally only accountable to itself and its public image. Then there is the political capital that will be made by the parties as they bicker over what was and should have been done, hindsight being a weapon of choice for those who believe the public has no memory. Conspiracies after the fact being far more likely - as consequences rather than cause.


Another danger is the corralling of us into actions against our better judgement or, worse still, the explicit denial of free choice. For example, I will likely vaccinate as a social responsibility to prevent the spread of disease for the sake of others, but it will be my choice. Compulsion is totalitarianism whatever the Machiavellian argument. One's actions may be restricted, but one's body is one's own and cannot be enslaved by a state or, worse still, super/supra state, claiming to represent its citizens. We are either represented or owned. Which is it to be? Here again looms the supranational and the separation of government and governed. Rule in the abstract over the particular.


Understandably, we are concentrating on the preservation of life right now and content to suspend our freedom of movement for a season under 'for the duration' war time-like conditions, if normality is resumed when victory is attained and the shutters go up again. However, we must be vigilant in the knowledge that liberty is not an adjunct to life, but central to its meaning and dignity. We are either wild animals requiring management and domestication like cattle, or free reasoning empathetic human beings capable of civilisation. Which is it? We may be wary of false conspiracies, but remain ever cautious of the dangerous inclinations of any over-mighty state.

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