I am used to being derided on the Internet for believing in God. I don’t much mind. This belief is, after all, a chosen opinion, which may be wrong. People are quite entitled to sneer at it if this gives them happiness. In fact I am warned in Holy Writ to expect and even relish this sort of thing. And unless some giant, volcanic upheaval in politics somehow places power in my hands, my religious opinions affect nobody but me. I can’t even persuade other members of my immediate family to adopt the enjoyably gloomy but poetic version of Anglicanism which I now embrace.
How then, in such a supposedly sceptical hard-nosed world, in which faith itself is widely considered to be comically absurd, do people have such trust in governments and political figures?
For weeks now I have been trying to point out that quite prominent figures in science and medicine do not agree with the policy of several major governments—that stifling personal liberty and crashing their economies will protect us from the Covid-19 virus. And almost nobody has seriously disagreed with me. It has been much, much worse than that.
There have been two responses to my attempts to argue. They are in a way a matching pair, interlocking though apparently different. The first is howling abuse, including suggestions that I desire the deaths of my fellow-creatures. It is often quite angry, outraged and personal. I sense that many of my attackers would be quite content if I were to be censored or arrested. I assume that these assailants are the sort of people who spend their lives in basements quietly converting sugary, fizzy drinks into human lard. So I am not especially troubled by their wrath just now, though I do fear that there will one day be quite strong popular support for some sort of thought policing to “deal with” unpopular dissent.
Far more worrying has been the response of the great mass of the chattering classes. They do not sneer. They just sit in their large back gardens, sipping at misted glasses of Waitrose Chablis, enjoying the seemingly endless holiday from ordinary life which has been granted to them.
Read more: So happy to be serfs