We will never get out of this now. It will go on for ever. We will not be free people again.
Even when we seem to be free we will be like prisoners on parole, who can be snatched back to their cells at a moment’s notice.
I think I now understand why this period has come to be known by the repulsive word ‘lockdown’, an American term which describes the punishment of rioting convicts in a penitentiary, by confining them in their cells for long periods.
I hate this word, because it does not seem to me to be fitting to describe free people in a free country.
But we are no longer such people, or such a country. We have become muzzled, mouthless, voiceless, humiliated, regimented prisoners, shuffling about at the command of others, stopping when told to stop, moving when told to move, shouted at by jacks-in-office against whom we have no appeal.
We are learning, during this induction period, to do what we are told and to become obedient, servile citizens of a new authoritarian State. We are unlearning the old rules of freedom.
All the things we used to take for granted now belong to the State, which can hand them back to us if we are good, and yank them away from us again if we are bad, or if it can think of an excuse.
And there will always be an excuse, a rise in the fictional ‘R’ rate, an ‘emergency’ that can be exaggerated into fear, whether it be a virus, a terror threat or even the new Middle Eastern war that I have long feared is coming.
But who would have thought it would be Covid-19, of all things, that would be the pretext for the snuffing out of centuries of liberty?
I have long sensed a desire in our new elite to be more powerful. It goes with their belief that they are so wonderful that nobody ought to disagree with them.
You could tell that they longed for curfews, to go on the TV with grim faces and tell us all to go quietly to our homes, to ban gatherings of more than three people, for our own good. But it never quite worked.
People actually laughed in 2003 when Anthony Blair madly sent tanks to Heathrow Airport to deal with an alleged terror threat, which never materialised.
Al Qaeda was a good bogeyman for a bit, but all the stuffing came out of it, especially when we ended up supporting it in Syria. Islamic State had the same basic problem.
Its supposed supporters here almost invariably turned out (like Al Qaeda’s before them) to be fantasists or drugged-up maniacs with no coherent aim or plan. There was never an excuse to fire up the shiny new Civil Contingencies Act, with its enormous dictatorial powers,
But now the new Strong State, growing in our midst for decades, has finally become powerful enough to emerge in all its naked nastiness. Or rather, all the proper institutions of a civil society have grown so weak that the Strong State can now get its way.