The restrictions placed on us by authoritarian governments aren’t driven by logic, but the emotion of phrases like ‘Don’t kill Granny.’ I prefer Albert Einstein’s words: ‘A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth.’
Here we are again. After what was for many people a fraught and upsetting Christmas, and a revelry-free New Year, the UK is back in lockdown. It is slated to last until February, but without major dissent, the true end is not in sight.
Is Lockdown 3.0 ‘justified’? Is the NHS ‘about to be overwhelmed’? Will the big bad new strain come and get me? If you are still asking these questions at this point you may be beyond reach. Plenty of better minds than mine have for ten months tirelessly and repeatedly made watertight arguments that lockdowns do incalculable harm and just about zero good. The situation in the NHS is not markedly different to just about every previous winter going back as long as you like — just Google it. And the ‘new’ strain is transparent propaganda. Sadly though, there is a problem with my arguments: they are based on nothing except reason and rationality.
Logic is clearly overrated
I refuse to once again become bogged down in discussions of cases, infection rates, ICU beds and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of this debate. In constantly reacting to the government’s latest claims, we forge the weapons of our own defeat. In any case, there is really only one statistic that matters when you are assessing the impact of a pandemic: overall excess deaths. That is, the number of people dying of ALL CAUSES compared with previous years.
As this latest briefing from Dr Malcolm Kendrick shows, there have not been significant overall excess deaths this winter in the UK. Nor has there been in any other country he assesses. In fact, nowhere in the world have I seen evidence of excess deaths outside of the range of what’s happened before in bad influenza years, notwithstanding the first and much more serious Covid spike in spring.
Dr Kendrick has been one of the finest and sanest scientific voices of this debacle, and he has now devoted almost a year of his life to fighting the good fight through his brilliant research and writing. I do not know him personally, but I hope he will not take it the wrong way when I say that he has failed. All of his stellar work, although it has provided discursive ammunition and intellectual vindication to many of us, has not served to hold back the tide of authoritarianism sweeping the world.