The Left-Wing Case Against Lockdowns

14 May 2020

by Mr Alexis FitzGerald

George Orwell: “In every one of those little stucco boxes there’s some poor bastard who’s never free except when he’s fast asleep and dreaming.”

I consider myself to be left-wing on virtually every political topic: I am a socially-liberal social democrat who believes in a strong social safety net, high-quality public healthcare for all, robust environmental protections (including shifting to renewable energy sources immediately and protecting half of the globe for nature), restorative justice, legal abortion and reducing inequality and corporate influence over politics. I despise Donald Trump and believe Brexit was a huge mistake. I am firstly presenting my political biases in order to dispel the caricature that has emerged of lockdown sceptics as being all right-wing, Trumpian Brexiteers. I think this labelling has been very unfortunate and misguided, as I too believe that the lockdown policy in response to Covid-19 has been an utter and complete disaster, and that most of the left have gotten this issue completely wrong. I will argue that the position of the lockdown sceptic really should be a more naturally left-wing cause to adopt, and those on the left should not be distracted by the reflexive partisan politics and virtue signalling that has taken over so much of the debate around lockdowns.

The left should be interested in protecting working class and marginalised people and shielding them from economic hardship and exploitation, first and foremost. However, by many reasonable projections, these lockdown policies are delivering us into the worst economic depression in world history, and this will certainly negatively affect working class and marginalised people more than anyone else. Small businesses are being swallowed up by the thousands by large multinational corporations like Amazon (very much like a novel virus, sweeping through our populations and killing off the weakest among us), and automation has now taken on a whole new impetus for these companies. There will be few jobs left to return to for those furloughed by this lockdown, and there will be no resources to invest in worthy left-wing causes such as better public healthcare and vaccines, renewable energy systems, public transport, universal basic income, upskilling of the workforce, etc. We have developed complete tunnel vision on one cause of death, and forgotten or relegated all of the other causes of human death and suffering. We are now casually discussing the possibility of new famines in Africa and India and of economic bailouts three times the size of the 2008 economic crash, after just one month of lockdown. These outcomes are by no means guaranteed by the appearance of Covid-19 itself. This is the shocking result of lockdown policy, and a stark reminder of how disastrous public policy can be in the wrong hands. The economy is not just some toy for the ultra-rich (although aspects of it can be, e.g. stock markets), it is also crucial to the continued prosperity and flourishing of average working families. Therefore, the flippant dismissal of economic concerns by some on the left is a massive mistake, the consequences of which will be suffered for generations, and the weight of which will fall particularly on the shoulders of young people like myself. This has never been about life versus money, it has always been about life versus life.

In our current media climate it is not often mentioned that national and international lockdowns in response to a virus outbreak are completely unprecedented in world history, and that this is for good reason. Not even in war time did Western governments impose such severe restrictions on citizens’ personal liberties (churches and schools largely stayed open in the United Kingdom during World War II). And it is not just our liberty that we are losing, but our livelihoods and our young people’s futures. It will be young people and struggling working-class families who will bear the burden of the economic aftermath of this policy and who will have to pay back these forced Covid-19 subsidy loans that are being thrust upon us after being forced out of work by government fiat, through economic depression and inevitable austerity over many years. Multi-billion dollar socialism for mismanaged corporations and banks will certainly continue unabated, and ordinary people will be made to foot the bill once again, just as we did in 2008. If we continue with varying levels of lockdown until the end of the summer (and perhaps beyond), we are guaranteed to have destroyed generations of human potential. We on the left should have seen this coming months ago, and we should actively be resisting the lockdowns which caused it.

Given that national lockdowns have never before been attempted and are so extreme in nature, the onus falls upon governments implementing them to provide overwhelming and inarguable evidence and data to justify this policy and to prove its efficacy beyond any reasonable doubt. However, it is clear that governments and public health officials have completely failed us in this regard. You just have to take a look at the Worldometers data for Covid-19 that anyone can access in order to make comparisons between different countries to see how our governments and public health officials have failed. However, there are other scientists and scholars presenting this with more sophisticated statistical analyses which I highly recommend reading, such as Wilfred Reilly’s recent articles on the topic. For example, Sweden had 2,763 infections per million, and 343 deaths per million as of 12th May 2020. These statistics are quite similar to my own country, the Republic of Ireland, with a much higher 4,739 infections per million and a similar 303 deaths per million, also as of 12th May; yet Ireland has been in full lockdown for some seven weeks at this point – a fellow European country with a similar population, similarly dense cities, similar age profiles in the population and similar sizes and densities of nursing homes. Sweden never introduced a national lockdown, but rather maintained strong recommended (rather than government-mandated) social distancing measures while attempting to shield the most vulnerable. Sweden kept its economy open and kept its populace as calm and rationally-informed as possible in the face of this crisis, and has recently been praised by the World Health Organisation for their efforts in tackling the crisis in a long-term sustainable fashion. Sweden also has a much lower death rate than Belgium, Spain, Italy, UK, etc. Those who like to point out that other Scandinavian countries have lower deaths per million seem to forget that Sweden is simply further along the infection curve than these neighbouring countries, and thus that they have not saved any lives but rather delayed the death sentences of those vulnerable people in their populations by a mere few weeks or months – a delaying strategy which could be considered to be socially destructive in itself. And all the while, detractors conveniently forget all those European countries that have fared the same or much worse than Sweden according to the numbers.

This is replicated virtually everywhere when you compare countries or US states in lockdown to those non-lockdown, social-distancing countries or US states such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Nebraska, Wyoming, etc. Therefore, social distancing appears to be doing almost all of the work for us in terms of controlling the spread of the virus. These are live experiments that we are witnessing before our eyes which show us that lockdown is not even working well in terms of our public health, and for some bizarre reason governments and their health advisors are completely ignoring them and not learning any lessons from them. Every week of lockdown that goes by is digging us further into a deep hole of economic turmoil which will take us years to get out of. The evidence for the efficacy of lockdowns is simply not forthcoming, and therefore the policy is utterly unjustified – however much we may imagine it to be. Lockdowns were first instituted when we had no hard evidence to hand, only models (which have since turned out to be wildly out of sync with reality), and the policy has not been re-evaluated in any serious scientific way since this time.

For some strange reason, many people (particularly on the left) appear to want the Swedish model to fail, and the bizarrely-negative media coverage they receive should simply be ignored. In normal times, Sweden is held up as a model country on the left for virtually everything from health care to prisons to immigration policies. Suddenly, they are now viewed as the pariah of the world, being run by semi-fascistic leaders who should be (as one Twitter user noted) “carted off to the Hague” – presumably for crimes against humanity. This level of irrational ire could only be caused by those who are frustrated that the Swedes have not panicked and have instead taken a smart, long-term, balanced, middle-ground approach and have thus succeeded by the numbers while respecting their citizens’ basic liberties and livelihoods, which are also essential to living a decent life. And I really think we should be doing the same.

Furthermore, the lockdowns are almost certainly bad for our public health. Covid-19 is not by any means the only thing that kills people. Many people are now too scared to go to hospitals to get important treatments, tests and surgeries that are certainly losing us lives to undiagnosed cancers, heart issues, etc. Where our healthcare systems cannot cope with Covid-19, we should immediately have funded and expanded our capacity (e.g. with temporary hospitals) rather than locking down society. Our mental health problems, stress, addiction and abuse levels are increasing. Furthermore, it is a well-known sociological phenomenon that suicides – particularly amongst men – increase when a recession puts them out of work for extended periods of time. And our immune systems are weakening. We are a social primate, and our immune systems evolved over millennia to be kept strong by continual exposure to microbes via social contact and being outdoors, thus developing in us an immunity from many different diseases. Therefore, being inside our homes for weeks or months, away from other people and dousing every surface with bleach and sanitiser is almost certainly detrimental in the long term for our immune systems. There are guaranteed to be many novel microbes and diseases other than Covid-19 to which we need to develop an immunity as a species through continued social contact. When lockdowns are finally released, we may see a surge of new infections of various kinds due to this weakening of our immune systems. Recently we have seen that 66% of new Covid-19 cases in New York are of people who have been locked down for weeks, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This indicates that either the virus is much more widespread in New York than was previously thought, and/or that the weeks of lockdown have significantly weakened locked-down New Yorkers’ immune systems, making them much more vulnerable to the virus – and other illnesses.

Furthermore, if the economic collapse continues, we may expect new famines in Africa and India that could threaten many tens to hundreds of thousands of lives, if not more. And this is not to mention the fact that we are losing vast sums of tax money and borrowing power every day by paying large proportions of our national populaces to stay home. This is money that we could be investing in our public health care systems in order to increase capacity, improve treatments and facilities, fund new government vaccines and antibiotic development programmes, etc. So it is very likely that with all these added “lockdown deaths” and the catastrophic loss of public money to spend on health care and vaccines, we are producing a significant net loss of life which will by far outweigh any lives that one might claim to have been saved by the lockdowns (which is a questionable claim at best, as we have seen). Surely it cannot now be the case that Covid-19 deaths are the only deaths that matter any more? Looking at all causes of death and suffering in this world together, an intelligent person should conclude that lockdowns are definitively a net-negative policy for our society and for the globe.

One might think that – at the very least – this lockdown experience would have dramatically improved our sense of national societal solidarity, reflecting the tired and facile comparisons with war time conditions. But even this has been dealt a serious blow by the lockdowns. We are now being primed by our governments, media and public health officials to behave like misanthropic, obsessive-compulsive hypochondriacs who are to regard any other person as a potential viral infestation to be avoided at all costs. Just picture the viral force-field that surrounds people in public health infographics on social distancing. The most basic activities of a social primate like us are now considered to be forms of contagion-ridden, death-spreading evil. I must point out that no such moralising inanity around viruses is entertained when it comes to influenza, which spreads through social contact and kills many tens of thousands worldwide every year. This is because contagion is usually understood to be an inescapable part of life as a social primate and not something one can feasibly control beyond a reasonable degree, such as by staying at home (and/or wearing a mask) when one feels sick, and by maintaining basic hygiene. Things other than life itself are indeed valuable to us – including social contact – and we often take minor risks with our lives for this very reason. Living one’s life is simply inherently risky.

I wish I could say this were hyperbole, but unfortunately I cannot. Barriers that are usually lowered between citizens in times of collective crisis are in fact being raised higher, both physically and emotionally. The invented two-metre distance must be maintained at all times, and in my experience people don’t smile at, or talk to each other lest they are breached by the viral force-field around each human infestation. International solidarity is also waning. We are being told to consider anyone arriving from abroad as a potential disease vector who must lock themselves away for two weeks, despite the obvious logical interjection that you are just as likely to get Covid-19 from your local supermarket (in virtually every major country in the world now) as you are from someone arriving from Brazil or South Africa or Nigeria or India or Turkey – with the possible exceptions of those two global hotspots, New York and northern Italy. A recent protest occurred in late April 2020 at a port in Dingle, Co. Kerry, in the south-west of Ireland, by Irish fishermen who were outraged that a boat originating from Spain would arrive on our shores bringing us our seafood dinner, lest they also bring us their contagion. So to add insult to injury, the lockdown measures have been disconcertingly well designed to accentuate the worst misanthropic aspects of our character, undermining our national and international solidarity and exacerbating base xenophobia.

We have to start thinking much more reasonably, rationally and maturely about the death rate from Covid-19 and the kinds of risk levels that different people and age groups experience. The death rate for the virus is simply far lower than we originally believed it to be at the beginning of the crisis. Randomised serology testing studies carried out in multiple countries in Europe and in the US have shown that from c.4–15% (and even 30% in some cases, depending on the study) of our national populations in Europe and the US either have Covid-19 or have had it recently. And it is becoming increasingly apparent that the virus has been around for quite a bit longer than we previously believed: France recently reported a confirmed case of Covid-19 from December 2019. Any honest analysis of the statistics around this virus (rather than self-serving and scaremongering anecdotes about the tiny number of younger people who have died from this disease) will show that it is an exceptionally ageist one. If you are under 65 and without any major pre-existing conditions (such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.), your chances of dying from Covid-19 are extremely slim; and for people under 30, your chances are infinitesimally so. If nursing homes had been adequately protected from Covid-19 in Ireland, our death rate would be one third of its current rate. Therefore, keeping the entire work-force and all schoolchildren – children are almost entirely immune to this virus – locked up at home is a completely crazy strategy to adopt. As Lord Sumption has pointed out, we are all perfectly capable of assessing our own personal levels of risk based on our age, health, who we live with, etc. and of adjusting the way we live our life accordingly. Some may want to keep working from home or staying isolated or cocooned, while some vulnerable people may want to take a risk with their own lives by ending their isolation because they value things other than life itself, such as being able to spend time with their loved ones. We don’t need an incessantly-intrusive nanny state telling us which friends we can and cannot meet, when and where we can go outside, whether or not we are allowed to exchange goods and services between consenting parties, etc. This sense of fundamental personal liberty – which I had hoped would be strong on the left – appears to be depressingly absent, and in its place there exists a kind of docile supinity and subservience to state power and lab coats. All but forgotten is Benjamin Franklin’s stark warning to us from 260 years ago, that “[t]hose who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. This is more relevant than ever today. Some governments are using this lockdown as an excuse to undermine democratic institutions and norms, and in some countries even to seize full dictatorial-decree powers (such as Viktor Orban’s government in Hungary), while others are using it as an opportunity to loosen environmental protections (such as in Slovenia).

Ultimately, the decision as to whether or not we prolong the lockdown is not a scientific or public health decision. It is a political, public-policy and economic decision. Public health science can – and should – inform these decisions, but they are ultimately political ones, and politicians hiding with cowardice behind public health officials will eventually be seen for what they are. Now more than ever, we need politicians who are willing to show leadership and a steady, rational hand in a crisis – something that has been noticeably absent throughout this period.

Some like to claim that all of these negative outcomes would have happened naturally in any case because of the virus itself, but this could not be further from the truth. Lockdown policy, combined with panic-inducing, clickbait-oriented and scaremongering media coverage, has caused much of the damage we are experiencing. This is a government- and media-induced insult to add to the injury of the virus itself. My biggest fear is that governments and citizens will continue to defend the lockdown policy (operating on a kind of sunk costs fallacy) and will never realise or admit how much damage it has done (ascribing all the damage to the virus rather than to the lockdown policies), and will then repeat this policy ad infinitum every time a new outbreak of Covid-19 or some other contagion occurs. We simply cannot survive as a civilisation in this way. Governments should step forward and admit honestly that the lockdown policy was a mistake, and that they were simply acting as best they could without available evidence at the time – evidence which, increasingly, we have at our finger-tips. These governments should shift immediately to a Swedish or similar model – for instance with a policy of mandatory mask-wearing in public or crowded spaces – and those of us on the left (as well as those in the centre who are still supporting the lockdowns) need to realise this necessity. At the very least, even if we do not have the wisdom and rational forethought at this time to end these lockdowns as soon as is humanly possible, then I sincerely hope that we will regain enough of our collective rational minds in the coming months in order to realise how destructive these lockdown policies have been, and to make certain that we never again repeat this strategy. Three similarly-sized pandemics were experienced by humanity during the 20th century, and we will continue to face this challenge in the future. Lockdowns were never implemented then. They were wise to avoid it, and we would be wise to learn from them.

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Grant
Grant
18 days ago

I totally agree with this. The left have been mistakenly viewing this crisis through a narrow political lens. And there is an increasingly worrying tendency to see the censorship of non conforming views, ideas and even scientific data, as being perfectly acceptable. I don’t agree on the masks point though – just as the data on infection rates should encourage evidence-based, reasoned responses, the evidence for masks affirms they make no difference in the community and can actually serve to suppress our immune system through rebreathing our own carbon dioxide and limiting our oxygen levels.

Carmen
Carmen
13 days ago
Reply to  Grant

I also agree with everything and I think it is so wonderful someone on the left has raised to denounce the hypocrisy of the Left and its self-indulgence in a soap – opera of false solidarity. The only thing I don’t agree with is the proposal to wear face-masks. As a person with respiratory allergies, I know not from now, that face masks are not a good idea, they gather allergens, prevent fresh air to enter the lungs, and most of them can’t stop viruses in reality.

Ralph Clark
Ralph Clark
2 days ago
Reply to  Carmen

The face mask you are instructed to wear is not worn to protect you. It’s to protect others from any contagious particles you may spread when you get infected. Remember, most people become infectious before they develop symptoms.

Peter Snowdon
Peter Snowdon
18 days ago

I have been trying to assemble data and arguments against Lockdown for a few days. This article says everything I have been trying to assemble and from a refreshingly left wing point of view. All it needs to make it more readable are some sub headings. Please don’t overestimate our ability to take information in unless it is a little better presented. Otherwise fantastic. Thank you so much. I am going to put those headings in and then pass it on to as many people as possible.

Peter snowdon

Stella Shiel
Stella Shiel
18 days ago

Wonderful article but why discuss this in terms of right and left at all? Surely these terms mean next to nothing at a time when the so-called left have all but abandoned their interest in workers’ rights or freedom of speech and many on the so-called right have become their champions. I’m Irish too and the only people I see in Ireland at the moment who are willing even to discuss the issues of constitutional freedoms or freedom of speech are Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters. Anyone I know on the left almost spits blood at the very mention of their names and refuses even to think about the merits of their arguments. As I see it, continuing to put ourselves and each other into boxes marked ” left ” and ” right” is a nonsense leading absolutely nowhere. Why can’t we move past it?

Suekinder
Suekinder
17 days ago
Reply to  Stella Shiel

Excellent! I’m totally fed up seeing this left/right discourse attached to every major topic. It serves no purpose except to divide. Why not look more closely in terms of age, gender, financial status, region or even what newspaper if any they read. If you included all those then that would at least be more valid. Who actually knows where people are on some very ambiguous political spectrum. Many don’t know themselves!

Ian2
Ian2
18 days ago

This is a fantastic article covering just about every aspect of the issue. I am a liberal but apart from the defence of the welfare state, I can subscribe to nearly everything you say. The international dimension is often forgotten, but a life lost in a poor country because of lockdown in a rich one is worth the same as any life saved in the West. No surprise to me though that the Left, in recent years distracted by safe spaces and nanny stateism, supports the lockdowns. What has surprised me in Spain, where I live, is that many liberals are also in favour. But this is the defining issue of our age. At this time the dividing line between supporters and opponents of lockdown is more important than the left/right divide

ericcobrien
ericcobrien
18 days ago

Brilliant essay , expresses all my opinions and I am an 80 year old active old fart ! Alexis , may I suggest you submit it to The Irish Times as an op-Ed piece ? Fintan OToole has finally started to criticise the Irish Government / HSE handling of this pandemic . This might help Leo Varadkar realise that he has been led astray by Dr Tony Holohan!

Mimi
Mimi
18 days ago

Excellent piece, thank you.

I despair about the way this has turned into partisan squabbling. It’s a virus. It has no political affiliation.

You are absolutely right that the left SHOULD by all rights be the ones defending the common man and civil liberties. It has been with some astonishment that I’ve found common ground with Fox News, after two decades of viewing them with unmitigated horror. But if conservative outlets are the only ones willing to question the insane one-sided story coming out of the mainstream media, and conservative politicians the only ones questioning the wisdom of global lockdowns, I am willing to listen to what they have to say and support them in their efforts to spring us all from prison.

eastberks44
eastberks44
18 days ago

I opposed Brexit because the EU granted British citizens the liberty to travel, live and work in other European countries, and shielded citizens of those countries from the UK’s illiberal immigration control regime. Brexit diminishes individual freedom, and says that everyone must do what the majority says. So in that sense the lockdown is an extreme form of Brexit.

Tony
Tony
18 days ago
Reply to  eastberks44

Speaking of Brexit, is it not the case that the benefits of Brexit (and any potential concomitant economic shocks owing to Brussels’ political intransigence) no longer apply here in the UK, given that (Sweden apart) all EU countries (the 26) and the UK (the 1) have locked down simultaneously, thereby crippling their GDPs simultaneously, thus managing to achieve (Mr Barnier will be pleased with this) a ‘levelling of the playing field’. It looks like Remain got its way in the end. How curious. What a thoroughly convenient virus this is…

Andrew Clapton
Andrew Clapton
18 days ago

I see myself as left wing. Not the middle class elite left however. I’m astonished by the Guardian and so called left wing journalsists who have abrogated their basic responsibilities in speaking truth to power. Even in asking basic fundamental quetions – as has the media in general, the BBC being a disgraceful example. Unfortunately the Guardian has so absorbed its self in identity stupidity and victimhood it should have been no surprise to me that it would hand over freedoms to the government (indeed a Tory government!) for the “safe space” of lockdown.

Do the advocates on the so called left – ie bourgeois hacks who can afford to lock down unlike the real working class who are coming close to, or are in, penury – think this economic catastrophe will be a holiday for the next four years under a Tory government? The last ten years would suggest otherwise. A man made catastrophe we could have avoided will of course hit the working class the hardest. And where will the so called left be when even more populists spring up around Europe as happened after the last financial crisis? Whether we like it or not, we live in a global capitalist world and will suffer the concomitant capitalist consequences of a black hole in productivity in the UK for years to come.

John P. Teschke
John P. Teschke
17 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Clapton

I fully concur. The faux left is more interested in identity politics and political correctness than social justice. The reaction to the lockdown is also a symptom of this, since I don’t see a legitimate legal basis for it and the modelling and even the chief modeller have been exposed as bogus. I also concur that the depression resulting from this will be unprecedented, since even if it doesn’t equal prior depressions such as the ’30s earlier, the speed with which it has set in is without precedent. Actually, populism isn’t a bad thing as long as social justice and liberty are part of the mix. What it boils down to is systemic and anti-systemic. I used to read the Grauniad and trust it in the 1900s up to about 2005. Now it is simply part of the multi-party power structure which is the 21st century update of fascism.

Smedley Butler
Smedley Butler
17 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Clapton

From UK Column News article article – COVID Coercion: Boris Johnson’s Psychological Attack on the UK Public:
It was announced on 17 April this year that the Government and the newspaper industry have formed a three-month advertising partnership called All in, all together to help “keep the public safe and the nation united” throughout the Covid-19 ‘pandemic’.

So news media have a commercial interest in providing a propaganda service to the UK government. Indeed, it has been noticed that the government is becoming the UK media’s most important client.

Dan Vesty
Dan Vesty
17 days ago

Brilliantly written article, agreed with every word after the first paragraph. As a right-leaning Libertarian I do have to admit that I’m sceptical that you are actually left-wing – it’s been so long since I’ve heard any sense from anyone who identifies as a leftist, but in a funny way I really hope you are exactly what you claim to be, as this would give me some optimism for the possibility of the restoration of reasoned debate between left and right.

Dan Sam Factor
Dan Sam Factor
16 days ago
Reply to  Dan Vesty

I am left-wing, and also a libertarian and I am also 56. I share all the author’s viewpoints about the lockdowns. I am stunned by the knee jerk reaction by the left and see it as a catastrophic blow left’s reputation and viability long term. The left should be guided by science, facts, and caring for our fellow citizens. I think there was good reason for the lockdown in the beginning and Sweden’s policy was risky. But with the benefit of time and experience, it is incredibly clear that we are not facing a 1918 level pandemic and the economic costs come nowhere close to the loss of life. It’s sad to admit that the left is just as rigid as the right in their knee jerk impulses to value any harm to anyone above the common good and freedoms of everyone.

Daniel
Daniel
13 days ago
Reply to  Dan Sam Factor

This is not exactly left against right. The vast majority of hard right governments, such as Orban, Duterte, even Boris Johnson itself have imposed strict lockdowns. In the no lockdown camp there are hard left governments (Belarus, Nicaragua) and a moderate centrist one (Sweden). It is often forgotten as well that countries considered to be successful such as Germany and Taiwan never had a lockdown as well (Germany limited sizes of groups and closed shops, but people could still leave their house whenever they want)

Jo Baetke
Jo Baetke
15 days ago
Reply to  Dan Vesty

I’m left wing too and totally agree with article

Daniel
Daniel
13 days ago
Reply to  Dan Vesty

I am not even a “libertarian”. I am a full blown tankie that believes the collective comes before the individual and in strong state intervention. I agree with every word of this article. To have socialism you need a society, not bubbles of isolated, selfish people who see everyone else as a source of disease. We are essentially sacrificing the majority for a minority and creating a world that isn’t worth to live in.

Charlotte
Charlotte
17 days ago

This is an excellent article which sums up my thoughts exactly… I’ve never been particularly left wing but over the years my views have certainly started to shift that way… recent events have however almost made me question what it is to have “left wing” views anymore as I wondered why it was not those on the left who sought to save our freedoms, sanity and many “other” lives with it?!
Anyone who thinks this is a good article, like I do, has a duty to forward it on / circulate it to as many sensible people as they can to try to undo the brainwashing that our government, media and stasi-like public has inflicted upon the nation, and before it is too late.

A Meshiea
A Meshiea
17 days ago

It was all going so well until “ for instance with a policy of mandatory mask-wearing in public or crowded spaces – ”.
But still quite good. I’ll be forwarding it to some of my lefty family.

Sophie
Sophie
17 days ago

Thanks for your article Alexis. I’m cheered to have discovered this site (I could only find Peter Hitchins being the voice of the UK ‘Lockdown Deniers’ prior to this).

I myself used to identify to the left when I was younger for the very reasons you mentioned. Since Tony Blair and the ensuring couple of decades I would now describe myself as not a Statist at all.
Anyway, I have found it incredibly ironic throughout this that Peter Hitchins of The Daily Mail has been the lone voice. No Guardian up in arms.

Perhaps it’s because the Left has drifted into the idolisation of Socialism and Communism (witness Justin Trudeau gushing about China a while back). Unfortunately, when it comes to the economy, we are all in this together and it may prove to be the tipping point that the Left have to reconsider what they value as important.

No more Intersectionality and Cultural Marxism; Gad Saad was interviewed recently and stated that ideologies – like animals – fight the hardest just before they die. A simplfied image, of course, but one that I wonder if it applies to the Left at this juncture.

So caught up in theory that they’ve forgotten about the real world, real time implications and consequences for actions. I get the impression a lot of people really believe we just pick up where we left off.

When they turn out to be siding on the wrong side of history, what then?

Will they graciously admit their mistake or fight tooth and nail to not be proved wrong?

Who do the Left represent now? The NHS?

The Golden Cow that will have to be unironically sacrificed when the money runs out.

Mick.oak
Mick.oak
17 days ago

Absolutely brilliant article, I agree with every word. My only extra, major, comment is that the additional effect upon ‘non vital’ but life affirming past times is also colossal. To name but a few, live music, live sport, theatre and cinema will be wrecked as a result of Covid19 lunacy. I cannot believe that the media have just blithely accepted that these are a reasonable loss on the mast of risk avoidance. Needless to say, as well as bringing great pleasure, all these activities also employ huge numbers and generate enormous amounts of revenue. As a lesser point, but still important, almost every ‘adapted’ pleasure experience will be diminished. A major point of a busy restaurant or pub is the buzz of numbers. Who wants to sit in a tomb segregated by plastic guards. It has been been a societal issue for a while now but the difference between living and existing has never been more stark.

Very well done.

Mick Oak

keith
keith
17 days ago

“If you are under 65 and without any major pre-existing conditions (such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.), your chances of dying from Covid-19 are extremely slim.”

We should avoid being too blase with statements such as this, considering that a good many people under the age of 65, particularly in countries like the UK and the US, do indeed have such pre-existing conditions. Apparently, around 70% of Americans are obese, for example. By and large, due to a variety of factors, these are not particularly healthy societies.

That said, I do agree with the thrust of this article. As someone who considered myself politically on the left for a long time, I have been shocked at the zeal with which this lockdown has been embraced and lack of reason and rationality often on display when defending it. You’re absolutely right to point out the undisguised longing for the approach taken by Sweden to fail, the seeming lack of any concern for the erosion of civil liberties and simple-minded virtue-signalling of counter-posing ‘lives’ and ‘the economy.’ Whilst confirmation bias is something everyone needs to be on guard against, it’s bizarre how more optimistic or even cautious conclusions about what the evidence is telling us about this virus is dismissed out of hand, always in favour of the most alarmist projections. It’s becoming clear that some of the left don’t appear to want this shutdown of society to ever end. The one honorable exception to all of this sanctimonious irrationality has been John Pilger. Your point about the further atomisation of society as a result of these lockdowns is also interesting. All in all, quite depressing.

Steve Pesce
Steve Pesce
15 days ago
Reply to  keith

False. 70% of Americans are not obese. You made that up.

Mark Flannery
Mark Flannery
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Pesce

42% still high because the USA is number one or closer to it in everything bad about society: obesity, child poverty, Heart disease, diabetes, press freedom, lack of internet penetration, most expensive broadband, healthcare quality, most expensive health care system, most people uninsured for health

Lynn
Lynn
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve Pesce

Over 70 million adults in U.S. are obese (35 million men and 35 million women). 99 million are overweight (45 million women and 54 million men). NHANES 2016 statistics showed that about 39.6% of American adults were obese

keith
keith
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve Pesce

I didn’t ‘make it up’, I remember seeing that figure somewhere but can’t recall exactly where. It does seem quite excessive, but whether that’s a precise figure or not doesn’t detract from the point, Let’s say an awful lot of Americans are obese. Rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are serious problems in the general population.

KJQFord
KJQFord
17 days ago

Excellent stuff – thank you.

Largely summarised my views and position on lockdown.

In conversation with my ICU anaesthetist brother we discussed the gradual shift of public perception from death (and risk of death) as a natural part of life to the current insanity where death is seen as a consequence of the failure of medicine and health services. And on to the purpose of Lockdown – to save our NHS. With the unfortunate side effect that by saving the NHS apparently just for C19 victims, we are denying other sick people access to free healthcare as is supposed to be their right. The impact of lockdown on deaths from other causes (likely massive rise) may emerge as a national disgrace.

We seem to be gripped by a mass panic over the fact that old people die – every year, relentlessly.

As my 91 year old Irish mother in law commented when she heard that her recently deceased eighty five year old neighbour was to be subject of a post mortem “Ridiculous. Waste of money and time. He died because he was old.”

Anna Coote
Anna Coote
17 days ago

Thank you for this. It’s what I have been thinking and arguing for many weeks now. Lockdown politics teaches us to be be fearful of others and keep them at bay. It focuses public policy on ONE RISK (death from Covid-19) at the expense of dealing with the multiple risks to health and well being inherent in (a) lockdown and (b) the economic aftermath – the burden of these fall much more heavily on the poor. In the UK it acts as a decoy while the government pursues its ludicrous Brexit policy. What is also astonishing is the numbers who happily submit to instructions that are poorly evidence based – apparently yearning to be told what to do.

Sara Carter
Sara Carter
16 days ago
Reply to  Anna Coote

Yes, I notice also that apparent yearning to be told what to do, to have freedom of choice and discernment ~removed~. In my more reactive moments, I have been ashamed at how terrified my fellow humans are about this virus, which, yes, will kill some of us. But as Mr. FitzGerald points out, there are many things that are deadly, even much more deadly. The governmental responses to this thing have been outrageous, not reflecting the nature of the situation; and all along I have been looking around for “who benefits?” and “how did this happen” and how do we walk away from the propaganda fed to the television watchers among us . . . are they willing to give it up? It is addictive: the “evening news.” I am so grateful for the sanity in this essay. I feel like “morning has broken.”

Alexis FitzGerald
Alexis FitzGerald
7 days ago
Reply to  Sara Carter

Thank you Sara, it’s a devastating time, but all we can do is stay clear-headed and try to change as many minds as we possibly can.

Alexis FitzGerald
Alexis FitzGerald
7 days ago
Reply to  Anna Coote

Very well put Anna, totally agree. Keep hammering everyone you know with your arguments and slowly but surely the Overton window (and public opinion) will shift.

John Church
John Church
17 days ago

Superb article. Hits just a bout every spot with my highlight being the fact that, with all the data we now have, it is very easy to see what we should be doing. And everything you state we should be doing is exactly right.

Laura
Laura
17 days ago

Clapping, cheering, crying. I am you. All of this is so true. Also, lockdown never would have happened pre-social media. I despair for my children. What if a REAL pandemic happens? I hate how sceptics are seen as fringe-y. I can barely read my dear friends’ posts anymore. Thank you!!!

Izzy
Izzy
16 days ago
Reply to  Laura

This is a real pandemic!

Mick.oak
Mick.oak
16 days ago
Reply to  Izzy

I think Laura means one that kills more than 1% of those that get infected

Isky
Isky
16 days ago

I have two comments. The data from Kerala India shows that a society needs along term strategy based on ‘benefits for the people’. The infrastructure in Kerala included both health clinics and schools in every village plus a minister of health who foresaw the pandemic and up-scaled the infrastructure so that the policy of test, trace, isolate and then crucially support has seen wonderful curtailment of the pandemic.
Secondly, a national approach may be following the principle of you are either for me or against me. It is not a black or white issue. The UK found itself after 10 years of austerity very, very poorly prepared for a national emergency. Lock down in Wales, smaller cities and towns was probably an inappropriate action but only IF a combination of social distancing and test, trace, isolate and then adequately support the isolation. London on the other hand is almost impossible to keep functioning al la Stockholm because of the larger population and critical dependence in the mass transport system, so social distancing is not feasible. So I cannot put forward an alternative to lockdown for London even if the policy for the elderly and vulnerable were ‘stay at home’ and care homes were recognised to be particularly vulnerable so that special carers were employed who did not circulate freely.

Kate
Kate
15 days ago

So much here makes sense. But there is one point I would query. You suggest that vulnerable people can make their own decisions about the level of their exposure to the virus, and in some cases that’s true. But there are many vulnerable people in the mainstream workforce who don’t have the economic choice to self-isolate, and even in lockdown we are seeing a prevalence of deaths in certain sections of the population. People of all ages have underlying health conditions, and there still hasn’t been a satisfactory explanation for the number of deaths in the BAME population, so the risk to people in that group is currently unmeasurable. Is it possible to devise a social security system based upon self-assessment of risk?

gnissly
gnissly
15 days ago

Joe, thanks for sending this. I like his arguments against the lockdowns and have Beene steadily heading that way myself.

If it weren’t so prevalent and so dangerous, I’d find his naïveté about the left to be almost cute. But the fact is, he has more in common policy wise with Donald Trump, or me, for that matter, than he does with Nancy Pelosi.

The left does not care about people. They care only about power and control.

The lockdowns are about stealing the next election.

Steve Pesce
Steve Pesce
15 days ago

This is helpful. One statistic to add. In California, we see the stars by county. Notably, the number of Confirmed cases correlates directly to the number of tests administered. Either we do far more testing in counties with many cases, or the more we test the higher number of confirmed cases we find.

This could suggest that the anti-body tests which suggest far more people are already infected are roughly accurate.

Shalyn Fisher
Shalyn Fisher
15 days ago

Well and impressively said and from a young one at that. This alone is hope for my children and grandchildren! Thank you!!!

meme_meme
meme_meme
15 days ago

Finally someone on the left is making sense. We have been saying this for several weeks now. Good for you, but you are too late. As far as I see, the only media who’s saying this is Fox and sometimes WSJ. MSM is so blindsided by Trump impeachment, that they don’t even understand they are the one who failed. I blamed also local NY reporters, who have no common sense that once outbreak occurs in China, it can come to NY the next day. They are completely worthless and I now do not watch CBS NY any more. Right now, the left is in completely losing position as Trump is the one who’s fighting for small business.

Liz Wheeler
Liz Wheeler
14 days ago

Hi Alex, my name is Liz Wheeler. I host the show “Tipping Point” on One America News Network. I’d love to have you as a guest on my show to discuss this piece your wrote – it’s fabulous! Send me an email at the address provided. Thank you!

Mike
Mike
14 days ago

Thank you

Emily
Emily
14 days ago

I agree with all but two points. Humans are the carriers si the virus dies rather quickly on surfaces. Therefore, an infected human coming into your country is more dangerous than store inventory which sits usually long enough in transit to have any virus die off. Also, I disagree with the new cases in New York statement, ones immune system would not fall apart that quickly making one more susceptible to covid-19. Is the virus more wide spread than originally thought, probably, if you are asymptotic why would you get tested? I agree with Sweden. Save the old and immune compromised by keeping them isolated. Do not allow positive cases near them. Eventually it will pass through the population and we will become immune.

Kate
Kate
14 days ago
Reply to  Emily

I’m inclined to agree with your view of the immune system, but today there is new research published which suggests that vitamin D is a major player in preventing people from catching Covid-19. It could explain the prevalence in BAME communities, and also the findings in New York, where people who have been staying at home are now making up more than 60% of new cases.

JSychrava
JSychrava
9 days ago

There is a view that the libertarian/authoritarian axis is more important than left/right -see here
comment image
It’s hard to understand when the Guardian et al became authoritarian – and how this associates with the identification with (certain types of) victims..

Sandie Richens
Sandie Richens
6 days ago

A brilliant essay, I am also a confirmed lefty if of the older variety. Unfortunately your last paragraph though spoiled it – there is absolutely no evidence that wearing masks prevents the spread of viruses

Barney McGrew
Barney McGrew
3 days ago

The author does something very strange, though. At the start he characterises Brexit as a naturally ‘right wing’ phenomenon. In doing so, he makes exactly the same mistake as those who assume that lockdown is ‘left wing’.

In fact, Brexit only became assumed to be ‘right wing’ in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, and this was primarily to do with people choosing who they were prepared to ‘share a platform’ with. Most left wingers couldn’t imagine sharing a platform with Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees Mogg etc., so the issue polarised into ‘left’ and ‘right’ at that point.

In fact, we can see left-winger Peter Shore in 1975 opposing Britain’s entry into the EEC:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoO6146qM5g

And as late as 2015, left wingers such as Owen Jones and George Monbiot were making the case for Brexit:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/14/left-reject-eu-greece-eurosceptic

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