The left's case against lockdowns

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Aristotleded24
The left's case against lockdowns

I thought this was worthwile reading:

Quote:
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.

...

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.

...

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.

kropotkin1951

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.

I go walking most days and see people on the trails all the time and they are friendly and smiling. I go grocery shopping a couple of times a week and all the people are taking Dr. Henry's advise to be kind to each other. His "reality" sounds like hyperbole to me, or maybe its just his experience because he scowls at everyone.

bekayne

Aristotleded24 wrote:

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).

At night? As for Sweden, wouldn't it be best to compare them with Norway and Finland?

kropotkin1951

bekayne wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

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).

At night? As for Sweden, wouldn't it be best to compare them with Norway and Finland?

I wonder about some of the "history" being alluded to. "Schools largely stayed open" is quite the spin on the mass evacuation and upheaval of urban children that occured in London.

https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/operation-pied-piper-the-eva...

NDPP

I have sympathies with some of the opening post's points. If Canada had properly conducted a lockdown to  massively and aggressively test, trace, quarantine and treat those infected until the virus was hunted down and largely destroyed, arguably we could now embark upon a genuine 'reopening' with some degree of confidence. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Especially in the cases of Ontario and Quebec we are 'flying blind', subject to continuing spikes, outbreaks,'second waves' and the very real dangerous social pathologies and collateral damages cited. An important point to make also is that the global economy was already on its deathbed before the final straw of coronavirus. We must now beware and prepare to defend against the inevitable predators who plan to 'reap the harvest' and strip the people's assets.

NorthReport

It's just amazin' how right-wingers love Sweden these days.

Sweden’s death toll unnerves its Nordic neighbours 

Denmark, Finland and Norway look at maintaining travel restrictions even as they prepare to open up to others

 

https://www.ft.com/content/46733256-5a84-4429-89e0-8cce9d4095e4

Aristotleded24

bekayne wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

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).

At night?

Curfews and orders to turn out the light aren't nearly as restrictive as blanket stay-at-home orders.

bekayne wrote:
As for Sweden, wouldn't it be best to compare them with Norway and Finland?

Even as the numbers are going down across the board, everyone is saying that this is the first of a long stretch of the pandemic. Lots can change in this time. Let's have this conversation one year from now and see how well Sweden does compared to its neighbours and all other countries then.

Ken Burch

I'd say lights-out orders and curfews would be more restrictive.  With "stay at home orders", you can at least go out in your yard and then stay up late reading.

Not meaning to belittle your over-all point, just thought that distinction was important.

 

Ken Burch

Clearly, a lot of mistakes were made in the way the lockdowns were handled, especially on the U.S. side of the border-in part because, in the States, many of the lockdowns were put in place by politicians who were ideologically opposed to lockdowns and thus put them in place in ways designed to create the most hardship and resentment.  A number of these same politicians also did all they could to minimize the size of, delay or even prevent the passage of the "stimulus" checks, probably in the name of causing as much popular antagonism about the lockdowns as possible.

I do think that, if the U.S. and Canadian West Coasts AND the U.S. "Eastern Seaboard" had been put on hard lockdowns immediately at the first sign of the virus, with the cruise ships containing infected passengers turned away, WITH PPE requirements and social distancing put in place everywhere else, the death rates in the States and Canada would have been massively reduced and the virus contained and stopped.

Any alternative to lockdowns is going to have to include mandatory social distancing and mask wear-with people put on home confinement for flouting those guidelines.

There would also have to be a massive increase in healthcare funding in both North American countries and a guarantee of job protection and unemployment compensation for those who stayed away from their workplaces out of fear.

And in the name of "keeping the economy going", if need be, the governments of both countries need to look strongly at things like subsidies for people to start "cottage industry"-type enterprises in their own homes.  Homes in the same area could be liked in cooperatives for the purpose.

kropotkin1951

I think that BC's non-hard lock down has been a great success. Canada's West Coast got it right, please don't lump us in with jurisdictions in the US just because we share an ocean.

BC's first cases came from Seattle and Iran not cruise ships or Asia. During the misnamed Spanish Flu pandemic BC's cases also came from Seattle. Closing the border to the US saved us from its chaos. Vancouver Island has had no new cases in days and never had a major outbreak. Prior to the borders being closed with the US, citizens in small communities, especially the ferry dependent islands, put up polite road blocks asking people not to travel unless it was essential. Despite having no authority to stop people from traveling the effect was that most people just went home.

BC is opening its extensive Park campground network for reservations this summer but restricting them to residents of BC.

Ken Burch

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I think that BC's non-hard lock down has been a great success. Canada's West Coast got it right, please don't lump us in with jurisdictions in the US just because we share an ocean.

BC's first cases came from Seattle and Iran not cruise ships or Asia. During the misnamed Spanish Flu pandemic BC's cases also came from Seattle. Closing the border to the US saved us from its chaos. Vancouver Island has had no new cases in days and never had a major outbreak. Prior to the borders being closed with the US, citizens in small communities, especially the ferry dependent islands, put up polite road blocks asking people not to travel unless it was essential. Despite having no authority to stop people from traveling the effect was that most people just went home.

BC is opening its extensive Park campground network for reservations this summer but restricting them to residents of BC.

I know your infections in B.C. came primarily from the States, and my post there was not meant as an attack on B.C.

Ken Burch

I wonder how the re-opening will play out with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival?  I've gone to that twice-both times it was a transcendent experience, and the second time I got to be on the "lantern dance crew" at the end of one of the evenings-and it normally brings people from throughout the world.

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
I wonder how the re-opening will play out with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival?

What Folk Festival?

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:
I think that BC's non-hard lock down has been a great success. Canada's West Coast got it right, please don't lump us in with jurisdictions in the US just because we share an ocean.

I agree. I'm tired of hearing about how "bad" the situation is in "Canada" because 2 provinces can't get their act together and are driving most of the spread.

Ken Burch

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:
I wonder how the re-opening will play out with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival?

What Folk Festival?

That would be my answer, then.  Thank you for linking to that.

kropotkin1951

Everything is cancelled for the summer. I find it interesting that the measures in place in BC were in  no way a lock down. The key was tried and true pandemic responses enacted immediately. There was a two week window to act and Dr. Henry knew all the right moves.

By far the thing that saved the most lives was all the care workers became employed by the public health office and they stopped going from home to home. Also BC quickly developed an anti-body test at its Center for Disease Control and the use of contact tracing and testing worked. Not mass testing but intensive contact testing radiating out from the first cases that appeared. Then Dr. Henry's slogan Be Kind Be Calm Be Safe took hold of the province and we all stayed inside and smoked pot and watched TV.  After all it is called BC Bud for a reason.

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:

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.

I go walking most days and see people on the trails all the time and they are friendly and smiling. I go grocery shopping a couple of times a week and all the people are taking Dr. Henry's advise to be kind to each other. His "reality" sounds like hyperbole to me, or maybe its just his experience because he scowls at everyone.

You are very fortunate to have a Chief Medical Officer who is compassionate and empathetic and has treated you guys like human beings. Everyone else is treating us like dots on a model that need to stay put, forget all the other human needs that have been sacrificed to flatten the curve, and finger waving that if you don't do as I say we're all going to die.

Aristotleded24

So in Prince Edward Island, authorities are saying things have to be different in school when it resumes in September. I totally get where that is coming from. PEI is a small jurisdiction, whose health care services would be overwhelmed in the event of a pandemic. And covid has ravaged PEI and shows no sign of slowing down, either now, or into the future, so these measures are necessary.

Oh. Less than 30 cases, no fatalities, and it's hard to remember when the last time they reported a new case? The virus has nearly been eradicated on the island. Why do people still need to be scared about the pandemic when the pandemic pathogen is not present.

This talk about having to impose a "new normal" even after the virus is gone from the community goes far beyond reasonable precautions to prevent infections. This is emotional blackmail, psychological warfare, and psychological terror being inflicted on the population. Please do not fall for this, and demand accountability from your leaders. Authoritarian governments always justify the restrictions they impose on the basis of keeping people safe.

With a few exceptions, the response to this pandemic has been botched all around, either through inaction and letting the virus spread where it didn't have to, or maintaining broad restrictions on people and organizations long after they are necessary. We should never allow unelected medical officials to have this much control over our lives for this long. It's one thing to rely on their expertise to make decisions, and along the way, some collective decisions may have to be made that involve individual sacrifices for a time. But we should make those decisions democratically, in a holistic matter that takes into account all aspects of human health, not just whatever scary thing is currently dominating the headlines.

Aristotleded24

I want to highight something else the author in the OP said:

Quote:
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 absoultely correct. The media and the government are sending this exact message, and it is being taken too far. Butterfly wings or ballons on school-age children to remind them to stay away from each other in schools? People being discouraged from visiting their families and friends or hugging or showing any sort of physical affection? We're basically restricting people from being affectionate with people they know in their close circles, and the left is, for the most part, amplifying that message. Do you think the general public is going to listen to or be sympathetic to the left when the left calls on people to support refugees, people from other countries they don't even know?

Even George Bush, awful as he was for exploiting 9/11 for his own political gain, at least had the decency to encourage Americans to support their fellow Muslim-American citizens and show them love and compassion. That is the exact opposite message we are hearing about the coronavirus.

Pondering

Your points are all valid but they don't make lockdown the wrong move, just very poorly done.  Bubbles would have been fine from day 1 or been introduced shortly thereafter. Instead we heard ominous warnings that health experts didn't "understand" it yet. The biggest failure has been the failure to educate the public on viruses, bacteria, and mold and the ways they can and can't behave. From day 1 it was Reefer Madness to try to scare people into staying home and now they expect everyone to just stop being afraid on the government's  schedule. 

That the government has used or tried to use the pandemic to further the interests of the 1% doesn't make Covid-19 less contagious. Doctors and nurses are not in cahoots with the government. They are afraid of the virus. Medical systems around the world have been overwhelmed. We didn't and don't have enough PPEs or testing capacity.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

Of course, the science in favour of lockdowns is settled, and proves that they are necessary to save lives:

Quote:
Sunetra Gupta, a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University, believes – somewhat controversially – that the lockdown should be lifted faster. In the rush to drive infections down, she fears the poorest have been brushed aside.

“It’s becoming clear that a lot of people have been exposed to the virus and that the death rate in people under 65 is not something you would lock down the economy for,” she says. “We can’t just think about those who are vulnerable to the disease. We have to think about those who are vulnerable to lockdown too. The costs of lockdown are too high at this point.”

...

Lockdown inflicts damage in more insidious ways than the virus, but the result can be the same, Gupta believes. Those in comfortable jobs who can work from home are largely insulated against the financial and mental stress of life in a pandemic. “My primary concern is that the lockdown is affecting a lot of people very adversely and it is causing deaths and will cause more deaths,” she says.

...

With best- and worst-case scenarios, reality often lies somewhere in between. But regardless of whether the pandemic has run its course or not, Gupta argues that a blanket lockdown is a drastic response to any infectious disease outbreak. It should have been more targeted from the start, she believes, and should become more targeted now.

“One possibility could have been to protect the vulnerable people and monitor the epidemic for longer and if we’d started to see deaths creep up in the younger population, among those who don’t obviously have co-morbidities, then lock down at that point, or lock down for a couple of weeks, which the economy can endure, and try and analyse the data globally to see what’s going on,” she says.

“Should we be lifting the lockdown faster? Yes. I don’t think the halfway house situation is helpful. It’s already underscoring the inequalities that exist and those are going to get worse and worse.” She favours shielding the vulnerable but releasing the rest, while keeping physical distancing and hand hygiene measures in place.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University, who sits on the Sage modelling subgroup, says scientists have no doubt that releasing all population-wide physical distancing measures would spark a resurgence of infections and a second wave. But he agrees that a more nuanced approach is needed to control the epidemic.

In the UK, the over-75s are 10,000 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the under-15s, he points out. “That is a massive, massive difference. When you see something like that as a public health scientist, you don’t think of a blanket lockdown. This disease is massively concentrated in the older age group. We need to concentrate efforts where they are needed most and where we really need attention is in the care homes.”

He added: “It is not clear to me that population-wide measures were ever actually the right way to go with this. I actively supported the lockdown specifically on the understanding that it was a temporary, time-limited emergency measure. I was not thinking of something that would drag on for months. I was expecting that we would develop a more nuanced strategy once we realised some groups were 10,000 times more at risk than others, that we would adjust our strategy accordingly. And that is only just starting to happen now. It’s not what I signed up for.”

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

I was expecting that we would develop a more nuanced strategy once we realised some groups were 10,000 times more at risk than others, that we would adjust our strategy accordingly.

..there was never going to be a nuanced strategy because right from the get go plans were driven by politics. in some provinces the outbreak was less out of luck more than anything else. yes mb practised a lot of social distancing but there were huge gaps left open for covid to travel. not all workers were provide masks or were their workplaces set up for distancing. poverty and racism played a huge part as to who was not going to be able to get the resources to practice distancing here in wpg.

..and the politics continues nationally. economy is the primary concern. economy where the wealth continues to transferred upward as in oil and gas. and any money that common folk have received has started to and will be clawed back via cuts. 400 bus drivers have been laid off here in wpg. the cost to the environment is not a concern to economy. only the maintenance of profit. ability to pay rents is not a concern to economy only the welfare of the well off. 

..without a doubt the issue of covid is multi layered. it's not mainly about the science. it's mostly about the politics. imho.    

Aristotleded24

If scientists who advocated for lockdown don't even believe their own bullshit, why should anyone else?

Quote:

Prof Neil Ferguson has quit as a government adviser on coronavirus after admitting an "error of judgement".

Prof Ferguson, whose advice to the prime minister led to the UK lockdown, said he regretted "undermining" the messages on social distancing.

The Telegraph reported that a woman he was said to be in a relationship with visited his home in lockdown.

Pondering

He didn't say he didn't believe. He said he regretted breaking the rules.

Aristotleded24

Of course he said he regretted breaking the rules. That's the PR thing to say in a situation like this. Given his reason for breaking the lockdown, I doubt the sincerity of his expression of regret.

For him to break the lockdown rules he came up with shows 1) he doesn't actually believe lockdowns are necessary for public safety, or 2) the rules that apply to society don't apply to him. Either way, that makes him unfit to make rules for other people to decide what they can and cannot do.

Pondering

It doesn't make the lockdown rules wrong.

Nor do I see the pandemic through a left/right lens. It should not be politicized.

Aristotleded24
Aristotleded24

More reasons to oppose lockdowns from a left perspective:

Quote:

The ideological failings of the lockdown left

What the left has delivered re lockdown, however, are stunning volte-faces on fundamental questions of working class material living standards and on the issues of political and ideological power, such as:

  • The economic hit to the working class: The left has displayed either mute unconcern over the economic cost of lockdown to the working class, or passive acceptance of the ‘necessary evil’ of lockdown in a bizarre twist of the old Vietnam War saying that ‘to save the village [from communists/COVID] we had to destroy the village [the people/the economy]’.
  • The global poor: Finding the developed world’s (white) working class insufficiently reverential of the ‘Other’ (the West’s BAME people – Black and Minority Ethnic – are the sum total of the left’s attention nowadays), the left has increasingly switched its focus to the world’s poor (BAME writ large), who are now, however, to be thrown under the lockdown bus by the left as lockdown drastically ramps up global poverty.
  • Science: The left has rightly demanded that science should prevail over ideology (on climate change, for example) when determining public policy, yet ‘The [Selective] Science’ invoked by politicians, and uncritically embraced by the left, to justify lockdown is either bogus, not proven or still up-for-grabs, and now serves the role of self-justification for promoters of an (ineffective) lockdown.
  • Obedience to authority: ‘Question authority!’ used to be the operating principle of the old left. Now, however, on lockdown, the stance of the left appears to be ‘bow down and obey’ as it welcomes policy dictation from above, including the various placebo-like, theatrical ‘social distancing’ rituals (facemasks and tracing apps and social spacing) that dramatically hype the limited threat of the virus. For the lockdown left, the punchline to the old joke set-up of ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying?’ (answer – ‘When their lips move’) has stolen away in the pandemic panic night.
  • The media: ‘Always believe the opposite of what the media say’ was once the default setting of the left which was clear-eyed about the establishment media’s role as the propaganda arm of the wealthy ruling class. Now, however, the lockdown left has proven itself to be disappointingly susceptible to a media-confected atmosphere of dread and hysteria foregrounded against the omnipresent graphic of a scary virus, or a harried doctor in full PPE, or a nurse in scrubs, that forms the visual backdrop to every emotionally manipulative virus news item, all invoking a sense of Crisis! Crisis! Crisis! and demanding severe lockdown in response. The left’s political compliance with government lockdown guidance, rules, regulations and laws has been surprisingly cheaply acquired.
  • Hypocrisy: Cognitive dissonance is the order of the day for the lockdown left. The imperative to elevate woke pieties above class priorities has, for example, highlighted the woke left’s support for the #BLM protests-cum-riots which flouted the very ‘social distancing’ norms that the left had been, up to then, enthusiastically pushing. Of course, the same leftist priests of social-distancing pronounce anathema on anti-lockdown protests or a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. For the woke/lockdown left, we’re not ‘all in this together’ – hypocritical political exemptions apply.

The behavioural failings of the lockdown left

The ideological failings of the left on lockdown are accompanied by a pronounced tendency to behave in politically-revealing stylistic ways, including:

  • Belligerence: Converse with most lockdown leftists and you will be struck by their hostility to sceptical views and their lack of respect for the holders of those views. Calm discussion of evidentiary and political differences on lockdown has been replaced by the left’s need to beat down lockdown apostates in heated argument, not with better ideas but with belligerence. In politics, as in fashion, ‘the style is the man’ and the lockdown/woke left’s antagonistic and intimidating behaviour reflects poorly on a political grouping that claims to value liberalism, tolerance and ‘diversity’.
  • Straw Men: Say that lockdown doesn’t work and is worse than the disease and the sceptic will swiftly be accused of being a callous granny-killer, a moral monster who places ‘money’ ahead of ‘lives’, and profit over people (cf. the facile “No life is worth losing to add one more point to the Dow” of Joe Biden, or the rhetorical doing whatever it takes to “save just one life” homily of New York governor, Andrew Cuomo). Setting up straw men (lockdown sceptic = murderer) to knock down is so much easier than respectfully contesting an exchange of ideas or exploring strategies such as demographically-targeting the vulnerable for protection from the virus.
  • Smear by association: Oppose the lockdown? Why, says the lockdown leftist, you must be one of those kooky 5G conspiracists or whatever. Case dismissed. Yes, it is true that some strange political life-forms attach themselves to the fringes of lockdown scepticism. But neither is the left free from a history of its own unwanted and unattractive political relatives, particularly the wild and fundamentally anti-democratic anarchists, up to and including the Antifa goons and Extinction Rebellion loons. Guilt-by-association is a tawdry debating gambit whether used by left or right. Neither the left nor the right can enforce an ideological purity test to control who marches under their banner. There is not much either can do about the loose threads in the great tapestry of political life.
  • Virtue-signalling: Left lockdown lovers portray themselves, overtly or by implication, as a better class of person who is superior to the lockdown sceptic – intellectually superior to those they misrepresent as ‘Deniers’ of ‘The Science’ and morally superior to those whom they caricature as being more concerned with ‘the economy’ over health. We, say the left, may have lost a democratic national referendum or an election but we are still better than the nativists, the xenophobes, the gap-toothed, knuckle-dragging deplorables and, now, the heartless lockdown sceptics who are prepared to cruelly cull society of its old geezers.

Aristotleded24

But think about grandma!

Quote:
With regard to the elderly and vulnerable – of course they should be protected, as well as they reasonably can be. But I know my 86-year-old mother, with her many underlying health conditions, would be appalled if any of her children’s medical care or jobs, or her grandchildren’s mental health or education were thrown under a bus on her behalf. Still, nobody asked her. In fact, I’m over 50 myself, and nobody asked me.

Aristotleded24

I'm actually going to add my own list of ideological failings:

Bodily Autonomy: The left is very clear on the idea that what consenting adults do to their own bodies is their business. Very often the choices people make do have negative impacts on other people. The biggest example that the author mentions is the hand-wringing about all these Trump rallies. All the things Trump and the Republicans have done over the years, and this is all you can come up with? You have to be living under a rock to not know by now that social distancing and mask wearing reduces the spread of the virus. It's also quite clear that neither masks or social distancing are likely to be a feature of any Trump rally. If someone still wants to go to one and take that risk, that is their business. These people may be in close contact with others who are more vulnerable to a bad outcome, but I'm sure they're already having those conversations, and are capable of working that out themselves.

Shaming of young people: "Young people are so reckless!" That's a trope we've been hearing as long as there have been young people and old people. It goes to all kinds of behaviour. "Young people have wild crazy sex!" "Young people drink and drive!" "Young people do drugs!" They have always made choices that may compromise their health down the road. We always used to speak out against that kind of paternalism before. Why is it suddenly acceptable in our circles now? It's true that some young people are in close contact with people who are vulnerable to a bad outcome, but as above, I'm sure they are already having those conversations with their loved ones.

Speaking of young people, the left always prides itself on wanting to specifically protect their economic interests. Guess which generation is going to be hit hardest with the economic fall-out from the covid response? Young people. Education is already being disrupted, and that includes practicums. Many of the service industries that  young people work at are also under threat. For example, Restaurants Canada states that half of independent restaurants could close within 3 months. That is just one industry. I am sure there are more. This disruption to education, along with this many business going under and people being thrown out of work, will have knock-down effects on young people's economic futures. You don't just bursh off your resume and expect to find work right away. These knock-down effects may very well persist beyond the life expectancies of the elders we claim to care about even in the absence of corona. Most elders I know want their descendent's lives to be better than what they had. Given all that, are blanket restrictions necessary, or are there more targeted approaches we can take to protect people who are at greater risk?

Aristotleded24

How does left-right opinion on the lockdown really play out (emphasis mine)?

Quote:

Yes, the discussion of COVID-19 policy has become polarized into two camps, with most liberals advocating some form of lockdown and people on the Right arguing to open up. It is difficult to insert a reasoned argument into the debate without being categorized as taking one of these unnuanced positions and then being dismissed or actively vilified by “the other side.”

It is unfortunate that the Right has so easily been able to appropriate the anti-lockdown position as their own, which conceivably has gained them supporters in the fraught political arena. Their motivation, for the most part, has been to protect the economy, not public health. But their stance appeals to a wide range of people who have been hurt by the lockdown.

Liberal elites, including the Democratic Party establishment, have actively ceded this terrain, instead emphasizing the importance of lowering infection rates (across the board) until a vaccine becomes generally available. I think the liberal elites’ adoption of this approach stems from the easy appeal of keeping “everyone” safe together with a class position for which the lockdown strategy is in fact safer as well as quite easy to ride out. Liberal elites simply can’t see or can’t feel how this strategy continues to fail the working class and also small business owners.

I am aligned with the Left when I defend the COVID-19 strategy in my native Sweden. But here in the United States, when I defend very similar strategies implemented by the Republican governors of South Dakota and Florida, I am perceived as being aligned with the Right. It is a little weird. Among my infectious disease colleagues that favor an age-targeted strategy rather than lockdowns, most are left-wing progressives, while most of my Twitter followers are on the Right.

Pondering

We don't have lockdowns in Canada.  Wuhan did a lockdown. We did targeted closures which we are still doing. 

In practice we are very similar to Sweden. 

We can ignore some measures without consequences.  For example, as a person living alone I am allowed to have one visitor. My building has also posted that rule. So today, I had my sister and her husband over. Nobody bothered me. If I had five people over and we made a lot of noise someone might notify the building but even then all that would happen is a warning. The police would not come for a few people talking loudly in an apartment. 

All they can control is really big parties not a few people over for dinner. Some of those really big parties are blind pigs not parties. 

Schools and universities and dress shops etc. are all open. 

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
We don't have lockdowns in Canada.  Wuhan did a lockdown. We did targeted closures which we are still doing. 

In practice we are very similar to Sweden. 

We can ignore some measures without consequences.  For example, as a person living alone I am allowed to have one visitor. My building has also posted that rule. So today, I had my sister and her husband over. Nobody bothered me. If I had five people over and we made a lot of noise someone might notify the building but even then all that would happen is a warning. The police would not come for a few people talking loudly in an apartment. 

All they can control is really big parties not a few people over for dinner. Some of those really big parties are blind pigs not parties. 

Schools and universities and dress shops etc. are all open.

Try telling churches that can't meet inside because of covid restrictions or the number of urban poor people who have to wait in line for lunch packages at community drop-ins that are no longer allowed to have these people come inside (especially now as the weather turns cold) that we are not in lockdown.

Aristotleded24
Pondering

He isn't. He is presenting a far right argument that Covid measures are too expensive. We have to borrow thereby saddling future generations with debt and having to cut social services because we can't afford them. 

That is not a left wing argument. 

The left wing argument is that the Earth has plenty of resources, human, plant and mineral, to provide for everyone. It is capitalism and the pooling of wealth in too few hands that is the threat. 

It is trade deals that favor corporations over citizens. It is wars that destroy infrastructure and send refugees into endangering their lives in a desperate attempt to escape whatever calamity the West has chosen to inflict on them. 

That right wing argument only makes sense if you buy into the lies that the free market economic system is inevidable and the natural moral way of things. That the wealthy accumulated their wealth because they deserve it and worked for it. That their time is worth a thousand dollars an hour while they sail around on the ocean blue. 

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:

He isn't. He is presenting a far right argument that Covid measures are too expensive. We have to borrow thereby saddling future generations with debt and having to cut social services because we can't afford them. 

That is not a left wing argument.

With the debt levels that are currently piling up, there is no better excuse for governments like the Conservative government in the UK to bring in austerity measures that will crush the poor and working class.

Aristotleded24
Pondering

With the debt levels that are currently piling up, there is no better excuse for governments like the Conservative government in the UK to bring in austerity measures that will crush the poor and working class.

Since when did they need an excuse? The UK has been in austerity mode for decades. 

 

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:

With the debt levels that are currently piling up, there is no better excuse for governments like the Conservative government in the UK to bring in austerity measures that will crush the poor and working class.

Since when did they need an excuse? The UK has been in austerity mode for decades.

And that's not going to change any time soon.

Pondering

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Pondering wrote:

With the debt levels that are currently piling up, there is no better excuse for governments like the Conservative government in the UK to bring in austerity measures that will crush the poor and working class.

Since when did they need an excuse? The UK has been in austerity mode for decades.

And that's not going to change any time soon.

Exactly. Covid restrictions have no impact on future austerity because they don't need a reason. It is therefore a false argument. 

Bacchus

We are the reason for austerity. Every time full stop. We applaud austerity in governments because we think it is the same as our lives. If I make 10k and my expenses are 13k then I either have to get more revenue (get another job, sell stuff etc) or make cuts to the expenses to make my revenuw (no dining out, no movies, cheaper clothes etc).  We then think well if thats what life is like ( and it is) then it should be the same for a government (it isn't)

Aristotleded24

Authoritarianism is autoritarianism, even if it's towards an end with which you agree:

Quote:

The problem with authoritarian governments, even ones you like, is that they don’t restrict their exercise of power to ends of which you approve. A government that forces you to stay inside your home, deprives you of your living, and forbids you to visit your loved ones—all in the name of “saving lives”—can make use of the same rationale to restrict a woman’s right to choose. 

Imagine the following scenario in a post-COVID world. One of the red states brings a challenge to Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court and argues as follows: The ruling in that case unlawfully restricts the exercise of the state’s legitimate power to infringe upon civil liberties to save lives—a power we have now ceded without objection. The defendant brings experts to “prove” that a fetus is not truly alive; experts for plaintiffs bring “evidence” to support the opposite point of view. If the preponderance of the evidence shows the fetus to be alive and viable, how likely would the Court be to uphold a woman’s right to choose, given the state’s newfound right to abrogate it?

We justify our deference to the current lockdown in the name of listening to experts, but that does not relieve us of the obligation to think for ourselves. Anthony Fauci is an undoubted expert on how a virus may spread exponentially through a population but is unqualified to gauge the costs of an economic shutdown upon our country or to judge the risks involved in granting the government the power to curtail civil liberties in order to save lives.

Pondering

We live in a democracy. Our leaders need the consent of the governed because they can't just shoot a bunch of us. The majority of the Canadian public supports restrictions. They admit there aren't enough police officers to enforce the restrictions. Most Canadians are complying because we aren't stupid. We are aware there is a pandemic therefore we accept the limitations the same way we do speed limits and stop signs. 

There are businesses with valid objections and the restrictions don't always make sense in terms of timing but imperfection does not mean doing nothing would be better. 

Your position is so extreme it is Q Anon worthy. 

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Wow you're getting close to using an analogy that allows the state the power to restrict a Black or Indigenous person's right to vote. Anyway, the woman's right to choose should have been declared a universal human right decades ago and as it is, women continue to fight to entrench that right (in the US) and protect that hard fought right (in Canada) to this day. It's a very strange analogy given how many women are still fighting for access to free and clear abortions in many states and in some provinces in Canada.

Pondering

 The defendant brings experts to “prove” that a fetus is not truly alive; experts for plaintiffs bring “evidence” to support the opposite point of view. 

When life begins has been a huge focus of anti-abortionists for decades in both the US and Canada. In terms of Canadian law a person is only recognized as such, therefore gaining rights, at birth. Prior to birth the fetus/baby is considered one with the mother so does not have rights separate from hers although attacking a pregnant woman and killing the fetus is considered an aggravating factor so is taken into account during sentencing. Also, if the baby is born alive then dies from it's injuries that is then considered murder.

You are making up "what ifs" that have no basis. I remember the War Measures Act beling applied in Quebec. Although there are still objections to how it was applied it did not lead to continued use. The limits on our civic freedoms are directly linked to Covid-19. It they try to apply the same limitations post Covid threat then we could go to court. There are legal limits to the government's power to enact restrictions. 

 

Aristotleded24

Pondering wrote:
The majority of the Canadian public supports restrictions. They admit there aren't enough police officers to enforce the restrictions.

That's not particularly impressive because people generally support a government when they are scared. Canadians supported Bill C-51 when it was first enacted, and there was also support for the Patriot Act in the United States. Furthermore, had the police gone in and forcibly removed protesters during the rail blockades, the public would have overwhelmingly supported such a move. If you're going to appeal to public opinion to support your argument, then you need to concede the argument the second your opinion does not line up with the broader population.

This has all the makings of a media-manufactured phenomenon. You have daily updates, press conferences, stories, government experts making dire predictions, and the villification and marginalization of any dissenting opinions. What kind of country have we become that we would even begrudge our fellow citizens basic joys like meeting with friends and family and singing? Essentially, the health advice boils down to "give up or severely curtail everything that makes your life worth living to stop coronavirus." Then why live if life is going to be like that?

Aristotleded24

A doctor's view on lockdowns:

Quote:

If lockdowns were a prescription drug for Covid-19 treatment, the FDA would never have approved it. The seminal Imperial College London paper and other mathematical models like it were used to justify their use, but clinicians would never prescribe a drug or propose a surgery based on such modelling. The now well-publicised failure of these models to accurately predict Covid-19 outcomes proves the rule.

Luckily, we no longer have to talk about mathematical models. We now have seven months of real-world data to look at. Some pundits compare Sweden to Norway to argue for lockdown. Others compare Sweden to the UK, or Florida to New York to argue against. Either sort is vulnerable to accusations of cherry-picking the data. In medical science, we rely on epidemiologists to take all the available data from all the countries and perform statistical analyses to correct for as many different variables as possible. 

This has now been done for lockdowns. In August, the Lancet published an analysis of data from 50 countries. The researchers found that full lockdowns were 'not associated' with decreased mortality from Covid-19. These are hard outcome data; reality cannot be waved away with theories or projections. 

So much for the purported benefits. What about the risks? We cannot answer this question fully because a worldwide lockdown experiment has never been run before. However, evidence for the harms of lockdown is now piling up. In the US, homicides are up 50 per cent compared to last summer. In France, domestic violence calls are up 30 per cent. In Canada, almost three times more people are contemplating suicide compared to last year; and in British Columbia, overdose deaths have tripled from pre-pandemic levels. When you deprive children of their education, adults of their livelihood, and elderly people of their social connections, desperation and despair quickly set in. While a thoughtful person might have predicted this, the mathematical models did not. 

...

So if a physician were to prescribe a lockdown to a savvy patient who asked about the risks, the physician would have to disclose that depression, suicide, homicide, overdose, wife-beating, and starvation are potential side effects. Rare is the patient who would agree to take such a pill, which brings me to the other pillar of medical ethics: autonomy. Physicians do not force treatment on competent, non-consenting patients. When we discuss treatments with patients, we strive to ground those discussions in the patient’s values and not our own.

Unionist

Aristotleded24 wrote:

What kind of country have we become that we would even begrudge our fellow citizens basic joys like meeting with friends and family and singing? Essentially, the health advice boils down to "give up or severely curtail everything that makes your life worth living to stop coronavirus." Then why live if life is going to be like that?

I have always appreciated your thoughtful and progressive-minded offerings, A24. That's why it's hard for me to understand why you seem to have taken a "denialist" approach to the pandemic, and are looking for evidence to support your position. I also have a great deal of difficulty imagining restrictions and lockdowns as being a trial run for states around the world to further disempower their citizens. Maybe it's just my powers of imagination that are lacking here. But if our Canadian government(s) were taking the same approach as Trump took, I'd be in the streets, masked and physically distant, chanting "Lockdown, or lockup!"

Pondering

Canadians were 85% against Bill 51. The Liberals supported Harper on it anyway promising to "fix it" if they won the next election. 

Aristotleded24

Unionist wrote:
I have always appreciated your thoughtful and progressive-minded offerings, A24. That's why it's hard for me to understand why you seem to have taken a "denialist" approach to the pandemic, and are looking for evidence to support your position.

My default assumption when I hear anything on the media, espeically when it goes into something it wants to treat as a crisis, is that they are lying to me. Furthermore, basic public health principles say that you can't ever look at any one aspect of public health, you have to look at the bigger picture. We know that lockdowns cause economic damage, even without the CERB. That also costs lives. If the whole point is to save lives, then how can the collageral damage done by lockdowns be justified?

Unionist wrote:
I also have a great deal of difficulty imagining restrictions and lockdowns as being a trial run for states around the world to further disempower their citizens. Maybe it's just my powers of imagination that are lacking here.

Why is it so hard to imagne that any temporary expansion of government power eventually becomes permanent? Last spring we were told we needed 3 weeks to "flatten the curve." We are still experiencing restrictions, and now the idea is that we have to wait until a vaccine comes before life can go "back to normal." We are now being told that we "might" have a vaccine in the New Year. Notice a pattern there? Notice that the goalposts keep shifting? That is a basic emotional blackmail techinque known as tantalizing. None of us want to do these social distancing measures, so to get someone to do something you don't want, you offer them a vague promise of a reward for compliance. As the reward gets closer,  you yank the reward and then kick it down the road. Do you really expect a vaccine to be ready in January? I certainly don't.

Basically, take any real or perceived crisis, make people afraid of it, the government presents its solution to manage it, and people will obey. I don't know why people can't see that this is exaclty what is happening with covid.

Unionist wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:
But if our Canadian government(s) were taking the same approach as Trump took, I'd be in the streets, masked and physically distant, chanting "Lockdown, or lockup!"

Who cares what Trump is doing? The United States is such a global outlier in having mismanaged the pandemic that any deflection to that in response to criticism of how it has been handled in Canada is a red herring. Even Germany is considered to have handled the economic fallout from the pandemic well and people are still protesting. Sure, there is some billionaire cash bankrolling the denialist movement because they want things back and don't care about the fall-out. They would not be so successful if average, every-day people (espeically whose incomes and family networks were disrupted by lockdowns) weren't hurting.

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