The Left’s Covid failure

Very interesting article. As usual, I don’t agree with the authors 100%, but that’s what makes ‘freedom of speech’ what it is. I appreciate Misters Green and Fazi laying out their thinking. The commentors also add significantly to the discussion. I ask grace from UnHerd for posting the entire piece here, assuming it is behind their paywall; it is simply too good. I’m am a paying subscriber. I happily recommend my readers to subscribe to UnHerd. mrossol

UnHerd  11/24/2021

Throughout the various phases of the global pandemic, people’s preferences in terms of epidemiological strategies have tended to overlap closely with their political orientation. Ever since Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro expressed doubts as to the wisdom of a lockdown strategy in March 2020, liberals and those on the Left of the Western political spectrum, including most socialists, have fallen over themselves to adhere in public to the lockdown strategy of pandemic mitigation — and lately to the logic of vaccine passports. Now as countries across Europe experiment with tighter restrictions of the unvaccinated, Left-wing commentators — usually so vocal in the defence of minorities suffering from discrimination — are notable for their silence.

As writers who have always positioned ourselves on the Left, we are disturbed at this turn of events. Is there really no progressive criticism to be made about the quarantining of healthy individuals, when the latest research suggests there is a vanishingly small difference in terms of transmission between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated? The Left’s response to Covid now appears as part of a broader crisis in Left-wing politics and thought — one which has been going on for three decades at least. So it’s important to identify the process through which this has taken shape.

 
 

In the first phase of the pandemic — the lockdowns phase — it was those leaning towards the cultural and economic right who were more likely to emphasise the social, economic and psychological damage resulting from lockdowns. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s initial lockdown scepticism made this position untenable for most of those leaning towards the cultural and economic Left. Social media algorithms then further fuelled this polarisation. Very quickly, therefore, Western leftists embraced lockdown, seen as a “pro-life” and “pro-collective” choice — a policy that, in theory, championed public health or the collective right to health. Meanwhile any criticism of the lockdowns was excoriated as a “right-wing”, “pro-economy” and “pro-individual” approach, accused of prioritising “profit” and “business as usual” over people’s lives.

In sum, decades of political polarisation instantly politicised a public health issue, without allowing any discussion as to what a coherent Left response would be. At the same time, the Left’s position distanced it from any kind of working-class base, since low-income workers were the most severely affected by the socio-economic impacts of continued lockdown policies, and were also those most likely to be out working while the laptop class benefitted from Zoom. These same political fault lines emerged during the vaccine roll-out, and now during the Covid passports phase. Resistance associates with the Right, while those on the mainstream Left are generally supportive of both measures. Opposition is demonised as a confused mixture of anti-science irrationalism and individualistic libertarianism.

But why has the mainstream Left ended up supporting practically all Covid measures? How did such a simplistic view of the relationship between health and the economy emerge, one which makes a mockery of decades of (Left-leaning) social science research showing just how closely wealth and health outcomes are connected? Why did the Left ignore the massive increase in inequalities, the attack on the poor, on poor countries, on women and children, the cruel treatment of the elderly, and the huge increase in wealth for the richest individuals and corporations resulting from these policies? How, in relation to the development and roll-out of vaccines, did the Left end up ridiculing the very notion that, given the money at stake, and when BioNTech, Moderna and Pfizer currently make between them over US$1,000 per second from the Covid vaccines, there might be motivations from the vaccine manufacturers other than “the public good” at play? And how is it possible that the Left, often on the receiving end of state repression, today seems oblivious to the worrying ethical and political implications of Covid passports?

 
More from this author
Inside the Austrian lockdown

By Freddie Sayers

While the Cold War coincided with the era of decolonisation and the rise of a global anti-racist politics, the end of the Cold War – alongside the symbolic triumph of decolonisation politics with the end of apartheid – ushered in an existential crisis for Left-wing politics. The rise of neoliberal economic hegemony, globalisation, and corporate trans-nationalism, have all undermined the Left’s historic view of the state as an engine of redistribution. Combined with this is the realisation that, as the Brazilian theorist Roberto Mangabeira Unger has argued, the Left has always prospered most at times of great crisis — the Russian Revolution benefited from the World War One, and welfare capitalism from the aftermath of the World War Two. This history may partly explain the Left’s positioning today: amplifying the crisis and prolonging it through never-ending restrictions may be seen by some as a way to rebuild Left politics after decades of existential crisis.

The Left’s flawed understanding of the nature of neoliberalism may also have affected its response to the crisis. Most people on the Left believe that neoliberalism has involved a “retreat” or “hollowing out” of the state in favour of the market. Thus, they interpreted government activism throughout the pandemic as a welcome “return of the state”, one potentially capable, in their view, of eventually reversing neoliberalism’s allegedly anti-statist project. The problem with this argument, even accepting its dubious logic, is that neoliberalism hasn’t entailed a withering away of the state. On the contrary, the size of the state as a percentage of GDP has continued to rise throughout the neoliberal era.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Neoliberalism relies on extensive state intervention just as much as “Keynesianism” did, except that the state now intervenes almost exclusively to further the interests of big capital – to police the working classes, bail out large banks and firms that would otherwise go bankrupt, etc. Indeed, in many ways, capital today is more dependent on the state than ever. As Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan note: “[A]s capitalism develops, governments and large corporations become increasingly intertwined. … The capitalist mode of power and the dominant-capital coalitions that rule it do not require small governments. In fact, in many respects, they need larger ones”. Neoliberalism today is more akin to a form of state-monopoly capitalism – or corporatocracy – than the kind of small-state free-market capitalism that it often claims to be. This helps explain why it has produced increasingly powerful, interventionist, and even authoritarian state apparatuses.

 
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By Ann Manov

This in itself makes the Left’s cheering at a non-existent “return of the state” embarrassingly naïve. And the worst part is that it has made this mistake before. Even in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, many on the Left hailed large government deficits as “the return of Keynes” – when, in fact, those measures had very little to do with Keynes, who counselled the use of government spending to reach full employment, and instead were aimed at bolstering the culprits of the crisis, the big banks. They were also followed by an unprecedented attack on welfare systems and workers’ rights across Europe.

Something similar is happening today, as state contracts for Covid tests, PPE, vaccines, and now vaccine passport technologies are parcelled out to transnational corporations (often through shady deals that reek of cronyism). Meanwhile, citizens are having their lives and livelihoods upended by “the new normal”. That the Left seems completely oblivious to this is particularly puzzling. After all, the idea that governments tend to exploit crises to further entrench the neoliberal agenda has been a staple of much recent Left-wing literature. Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, for example, have argued that under neoliberalism, crisis has become a “method of government”. More famously, in her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein explored the idea of “disaster capitalism”. Her central thesis is that in moments of public fear and disorientation it is easier to re-engineer societies: dramatic changes to the existing economic order, which would normally be politically impossible, are imposed in rapid-fire succession before the public has had time to understand what is happening.

There’s a similar dynamic at play today. Take, for example, the high-tech surveillance measures, digital IDs, crackdown on public demonstrations and fast-tracking of laws introduced by governments to combat the coronavirus outbreak. If recent history is anything to go by, governments will surely find a way to make many of the emergency rules permanent – just as they did with much post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation. As Edward Snowden noted: “When we see emergency measures passed, particularly today, they tend to be sticky. The emergency tends to be expanded”. This confirms, too, the ideas on the “state of exception” posited by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, who has nonetheless been vilified by the mainstream Left for his anti-lockdown position.

Ultimately, any form of government action should be judged for what it actually stands for. We support government intervention if it serves to further the rights of workers and minorities, to create full employment, to provide crucial public services, to rein in corporate power, to correct the dysfunctionalities of markets, to take control of crucial industries in the public interest. But in the past 18 months we have witnessed the exact opposite: an unparalleled strengthening of transnational corporate behemoths and their oligarchs at the expense of workers and local businesses. A report last month based on Forbes data showed that America’s billionaires alone have seen their wealth increase by US$2 trillion during the pandemic.

 
More from this author
How Covid despots humiliated America

By Jacob Howland

Another Left-wing fantasy that has been shuttered by reality is the notion that the pandemic would usher in a new sense of collective spirit, capable of overcoming decades of neoliberal individualism. On the contrary, the pandemic has fractured societies even more – between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, between those who can reap the benefits of smart working and those who can’t. Moreover, a demos made up of traumatised individuals, torn apart from their loved ones, made to fear one another as a potential vectors of disease, terrified of physical contact – is hardly a good breeding ground for collective solidarity.

But perhaps the Left’s response can be better understood in individual rather than collective terms. Classic psychoanalytic theory has posited a clear connection between pleasure and authority: the experience of great pleasure (satiating the pleasure principle) can often be followed by a desire for renewed authority and control manifested by the ego or “reality principle”. This can indeed produce a subverted form of pleasure. The last two decades of globalisation have seen a huge expansion of the “pleasure of experience”, as shared by the increasingly transnational global liberal class – many of whom, somewhat curiously in historical terms, identified themselves as on the Left (and indeed increasingly usurped this position from the traditional working-class constituencies of the Left). This mass increase in pleasure and experience among the liberal class went with a growing secularism and lack of any recognised moral constraint or authority. From the perspective of psychoanalysis, the support from this class for “Covid measures” is quite readily explained in these terms: as the desired appearance of a coterie of restrictive and authoritarian measures which can be imposed to curtail pleasure, within the strictures of a moral code which steps in where one had previously been lacking.

Another factor explaining the Left’s embrace of “Covid measures” is its blind faith in “science”. This has its roots in the Left’s traditional faith in rationalism. However, one thing is believing in the undeniable virtues of the scientific method – another is being completely oblivious to the way those in power exploit “science” to further their agenda. Being able to appeal to “hard scientific data” to justify one’s policy choices is an incredibly powerful tool in the hands of governments – it is, in fact, the essence of technocracy. However, this means carefully selecting the “science” that is supportive of your agenda – and aggressively marginalising any alternative views, regardless of their scientific value.

This has been happening for years in the realm of economics. Is it really that hard to believe that such a corporate capture is happening today with regard to medical science? Not according to John P. Ioannidis, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Stanford University. Ioannidis made headlines in early 2021 when he published, with some colleagues of his, a paper claiming that there was no practical difference in epidemiological terms between countries that had locked down and those that hadn’t. The backlash against the paper – and against Ioannidis in particular – was fierce, especially among his fellow scientists.

This explains his recent scathing denunciation of his own profession. In an article entitled “How the Pandemic Is Changing the Norms of Science”, Ioannidis notes that most people – especially on the Left — seem to think that science operates based on “the Mertonian norms of communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism”. But, alas, that is not how the scientific community actually operates, Ioannidis explains. With the pandemic, conflicts of corporate interest exploded – and yet talking about them became anathema. He continues: “Consultants who made millions of dollars from corporate and government consultation were given prestigious positions, power, and public praise, while unconflicted scientists who worked pro bono but dared to question dominant narratives were smeared as being conflicted. Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health. There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science – and science lost”.

Ultimately, the Left’s blatant disregard and mockery of people’s legitimate concerns (over lockdowns, vaccines or Covid passports) is shameful. Not only are these concerns rooted in actual hardship but they also stem from an understandable distrust of governments and institutions that have been undeniably captured by corporate interests. Anyone who favours a truly progressive-interventionist state, as we do, needs to address these concerns – not dismiss them.

But where the Left’s response has been found most wanting is on the world stage, in terms of the relationship of Covid restrictions to deepening poverty in the Global South. Has it really nothing to say about the enormous increase in child marriage, the collapse in schooling, and the destruction of formal employment in Nigeria, where the State Statistics agency suggests 20% of people lost their jobs during the lockdowns? What about the reality that the country with the highest Covid mortality figures and excess death rate for 2020 was Peru – which had one of the world’s strictest lockdowns? On all this, it has been virtually silent. This position must be considered in relation to the pre-eminence of nationalist politics on the world stage: the electoral failure of Left internationalists such as Jeremy Corbyn meant that broader global issues had little traction when considering a broader Western Left response to Covid-19.

It is worth mentioning that there have been outliers on the Left – radical-left and socialist movements that have come out against the prevailing management of the pandemic. These include Black Lives Matter in New York, Left Lockdown Sceptics in the UK, the Chilean urban left, Wu Ming in Italy and not least the Social Democrat-Green alliance which currently governs Sweden. But the full spectrum of Left opinion was ignored, partly due to the small number of Left-wing media outlets, but also due to the marginalisation of dissenting opinions first and foremost by the mainstream Left.

Mainly, though, this has been a historic failure from the Left, which will have disastrous consequences. Any form of popular dissent is likely to be hegemonized once again by the (extreme) Right, poleaxing any chance the Left has of winning round the voters it needs to overturn Right-wing hegemony. Meanwhile, the Left holds on to a technocracy of experts severely undermined by what is proving to be a catastrophic handling of the pandemic in terms of social progressivism. As any kind of viable electable Left fades into the past, the discussion and dissent at the heart of any true democratic process is likely to fade with it.

 
 
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J Bryant
11 hours ago
 

This is a fantastic essay with the exception of the gratuitous swipe at everyone on the right of the political spectrum. Popular dissent regarding how the pandemic has been handled might very well come to be associated primarily with people and parties right of the political center. But why is there such an unhealthy compulsion among left-wing authors to needlessly inject the work ‘extreme’ into any discussion of the right? It reeks of the same pathology that drives some people to compulsively wash their hands or check that doors are locked.

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James Joyce
5 hours ago
 
Reply to  J Bryant

Why you ask? Why bother to ask? This is a requirement of left wing “journalism,” which is not journalism at all but advocacy.

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johnnypainter
5 hours ago
 
Reply to  J Bryant

It’s about policing people on the Right. After all, who wants to be known as ‘extreme’?

Other than that, yes, a great essay.

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AC Harper
2 hours ago
 
Reply to  J Bryant

This is a fantastic essay with the exception of the gratuitous swipe at everyone on the right of the political spectrum.

I agree that the essay is fantastic, and well worth thinking about… but it also exposes the weaknesses of viewing world events primarily through a Left/Right lens. Especially when the nature of the ‘lens’ flexes and changes according to factors outside simple politics.
Clearly lots of people (including me) try to squeeze ‘events’ into an understandable box, but life pays no attention to our desires to simplify matters and there are lots of bits left outside that abstract box. The left-overs are then addressed with much vigour to try and ensure that one size will fit all usually with distressing consequences.
There are two types of people in the world… perhaps another more useful divide is between those who believe life is simple and those who think it is complex?

Last edited 2 hours ago by AC Harper
 
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Colin Quinsey
11 hours ago
 

I think mainstream left politics and left media outlets are now mostly under the control/influence of the worlds real power elite, resulting in a pseudo left, that has persuaded people who identify with the left that it is kind and communal to surrender to the new normal. Clever manipulation at play.

Last edited 10 hours ago by Colin Quinsey
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James Joyce
5 hours ago
 

The inconceivable as become the inevitable.
Why is this a “left vs. right” debate? It wan’t always this way.  
Let’s go back to the age of AIDS. I was in law school in NYC at the time. Hard, hard left. And remember, Gentle Reader, that at the beginning of the epidemic, no one knew how AIDS was transmitted, and there was no distinction between being HIV + and having full-blown AIDS. Could you get AIDS from shaking hands? Being in the same room with an infected person? Toilet seats? Playing basketball? No one knew.
There was rare, general agreement across the board that “we” would not tolerate a two-tiered society that would include the concept of “health passports.” The idea that we would be required to present our health status to random people—the mall security guard, the restaurant hostess, the towel attendant at the gym—was rejected out of hand. We, as lawyers and future lawyers, were told we must be in the vanguard of protecting these rights, and fight like tigers to prevent a dystopian system to be imposed on society; individual rights must be protected.
Now, as referred to in my introductory quote, the situation has been completely flipped. The hard left is now on side with greater authoritarian measures, and the reason is clear: greater control over every aspect of everyday life. This is the goal of the left: take control of everything, increase reliance on the government, make people understand that they have no rights as individuals, they are cogs in the collective machine.
The Corona pandemic was a great crisis, but never let a crisis go waste. To the left, this crisis was an opportunity, and they had to act fast. Fascists like Andrew Cuomo in New York, Jacinda “Zero Covid” Ardern in New Zealand quickly seized even more power, touted the “crisis,” and told people what to do, with no real understanding of the science, as in the early days of AIDS.
Finally, a word about the polarization of the science. I am an occasional commentator on The BBC on Corona and other matters, likely cancelled now. The “medical experts” have habitually lied, distorting the science as the “global citizens” they are. “No one is safe until everyone is safe.” “Global vaccine equity,” and other lies. The BBC’s so-called experts have tried a two prong approach re guilt: first, people not getting vaccines were irresponsible, putting everyone else at risk. Second, people getting the third jab are also selfish and irresponsible, taking needed vaccines away from the Third World.  
As in many other areas of wokeness, people with real power are often calling the shots, i.e. Samantha Price in a different context, but the point is that these people are truly evil (yes, I stand by this word, cue the downvotes), and the people on BBC and elsewhere constantly banging on about vaccine equity and other positions that are political, not scientific.  They are happiest when telling people what to do, forcing them to do what “they” think is best.
When Neal Fergusson first fabricated his numbers, he and others looked longingly to Asia—seeing the army in the streets and the people imprisoned by armed minders. Wow, wish we could do that! Too bad it would never fly in the West! And then someone said…..well, maybe, if we make the people afraid, really afraid, maybe we can pull it off. Let’s give it a go.
The inconceivable has become the inevitable.  
I first heard that from Freddie on UnHerd.  

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Raymond Inauen
6 hours ago
 

The one thing this so called end of the world outbreak has done is divid everyone even more. The polarization runs deep splitting friends, family and generations into camps that run so deep it will be a very long process to bring everyone back together. It doesn’t seem to be getting better either only worse. We are almost two years into this and there is no end in sight, only the same repetitive measures that seem to have little effect.

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Alka Hughes-Hallett
6 hours ago
 

I don’t understand what the left are doing? They seem to be having a crisis of their own. They are depleted of charismatic leaders and deep thinkers. Why are they not attracting new powerful brains? It appears that they are seduced by the new titans of technology and pharma and are being lulled into thinking that with this new found alliance they have the upper hand in the political game. But that’s all they are doing!!!! Playing politics. Is that their goal?
Where is ideology, the logic, the passion to serve, the critical thinking? They have run out of ideas, the pandemic has defeated them. Perhaps they were already in decline but in my eyes this has hallmarks of failure of biblical proportions . If they were truly looking out for REAL global good, they would not have relied on scientists with one sided leaning so heavily. They have been LAZY. This was their opportunity to shine and show what alternatives they had to offer ( policies of the pandemic have hurt the most vulnerable globally anyway). They had none.

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Jonathan Ellman
7 hours ago
 

A fantastic essay and very informative. I can’t help thinking though, that if this had come sooner: “the increasingly transnational global liberal class – many of whom, somewhat curiously in historical terms, identified themselves as on the Left (and indeed increasingly usurped this position from the traditional working-class constituencies of the Left)”, the authors could have answered some of their own questions: identifying with the left and usurping the traditional working-class left’s power base, does not in fact make these corporatists left wing.
They are not. For all the condemnation of wokism as ‘left’, it is the private schools that most embrace gender ideology, the double-barrelled class that constitutes the foot soldiers of environmentalism, the corporations and big-tech that enforce cancel culture. None of them are left wing either culturally or economically.
This essay discusses the phenomenon: “The biggest problem of our age is the lack of a suitable political lexicon. But if socialism means anything, it is surely the support of labour over capital; of the working classes over the bourgeoisie. If the term ‘left-wing’ is synonymous with socialism, what then are progressivism, identity politics, wokeism and soft-totalitarianism? Are they the same? Are they left-wing?
The answer to the third question is no. However they are defined, they do not support labour over capital” https://www.physicaleconomics.org/soft-totalitarianism

Last edited 7 hours ago by Jonathan Ellman

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Lesley van Reenen
6 hours ago
 

The point of this is that left/right policies, divisions and support have become cloudy. Someone recently posted that left/right has been overtaken by authoritarianism vs libertarianism.

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Jonathan Ellman
6 hours ago
 

Yes, or maybe by collectivism versus individualism.

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Lesley van Reenen
6 hours ago
 

Maybe, but I think collectivism is too vanilla…

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Jonathan Ellman
6 hours ago
 

I’ve been trying to understand what the underlying causes for affiliation to either are. It’s a psychological conundrum that is touched on in by Green and Fazi. But I think it needs deeper understanding to create a new terminology to replace the anachronistic ‘left-right’ dichotomy.

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Laura Creighton
5 hours ago
 

Over here in Sweden, the left press here is forever calling Swedes for being the most individualist people in Europe. Mostly they are critical of this.
https://www.thelocal.se/20160719/sweden-is-the-most-extreme-country-in-the-world/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/10/swedish-model-big-society-david-cameron (not Swedish, and not particularly critical, either, but has the virtue of being in English).
Poking around in the data collected by the World Values Survey — which can keep you busy for months — leads me to conclude that dividing things into 2 factions, as we did with left vs right is a big part of the problems.
see: https://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/WVSContents.jsp
There are authoritarians on the left, and on the right, and even those who call themselves libertarians (but want to lock up the trade union organisers).
In the United States where there really only are 2 parties, you end up with the situation where most people can’t find anybody they want to vote for, only a party they hate less than the other party. Trusting in elected officials does not seem to be the American way, and when you look at how they behave, you conclude ‘no wonder’.
I think what we ought to be doing, each in our own way, is to promote a high-trust society, which is the part of Sweden which used to work a lot better than it is now, but still works better here than most places. But you need to be able to see people on more than one axis of values in order to be able to understand why the World Values Survey calls me an extreme in ‘rational/individualism’ — while at the same time I am a vocal opponent of multiculturalism. The individualism I profess doesn’t admit ‘we all get to choose our own moral values’.
Unless you can put me (and countless others who share my values) on your political map, it is likely your political division is an oversimplification which in these times is part of the problem we are all having.

Last edited 5 hours ago by Laura Creighton

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Lesley van Reenen
2 hours ago
 

It is not ‘my’ political division, as I commented that I ‘read it here’. It certainly covers your point that for example there are authoritarians on the left and on the right. That is THE point.
Whatever the correct depiction will end up being, the old notions of what Left and Right mean are obsolete.

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V Solar
4 hours ago
 

o

Last edited 2 hours ago by V Solar

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Laura Creighton
6 hours ago
 

Thank you for the link to the essay by Ivan Starrymist, Jonathan, which was a new read for me.

Last edited 6 hours ago by Laura Creighton

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Jonathan Ellman
5 hours ago
 

You’re welcome

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Martin Bollis
3 hours ago
 

Thanks for the link – terrific essay.

Having a couple of family members in the youthful woke, my take on their affiliations is that are driven by intellectual and emotional shallowness.

Despite oxbridge educations, their primary drivers seem to be ‘in-group’ performative virtue signalling, allied with fairly ruthless material ambition. Truly a ‘me’ generation.

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Peter LR
5 hours ago
 

I conclude that socialism is motivated by power-play. It loves bossing people about, forcing ideas on them determining how people should think. Supporting the working-class as a means to political power because they could cripple industry via striking has now become redundant as people are generally richer. The growth of the middle-class means it is less easy to bribe the working-class via handouts. So it turns to the elite class and its tech power to try and gain control as that is where social power seems to be. Of course Brexit was two fingers from ordinary people who now want to think for themselves. I’m not surprised at socialism behaving in a authoritarian way – that’s its nature.

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Andrea Re
5 hours ago
 

I am reading this essay, by not one, but two illustrious authors, and get to this point:
“Is there really no progressive criticism to be made about the quarantining of healthy individuals, when the latest research suggests there is a vanishingly small difference in terms of transmission between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated? ”
I think this is quite a claim, so I click on “latest research” to know more. The links takes me to a paywalled Times article on John Sweeney and vaccine passports in Scotland (which I happened to have already read)
If you pardon my saying so, WTF! What am I supposed to do with an article that makes strong claims to make a point, but then fails to back then up? This is lazy writing to the max by a “history professor” and a “writer and translator’ both of whom should know way better.
Given this premise, is there any point in continuing reading?

Last edited 4 hours ago by Andrea Re

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Thomas Fazi
4 hours ago
 
Reply to  Andrea Re

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1 hour ago
 
Reply to  Thomas Fazi

A Guardian article is not much better (and as far as I can tell ALL your references within the article are to newspapers).
I still need to click there, read it and then click on the study, if available. If this was a school essay it would be marked down because of that.
What is wrong with citing the study/ies straight away?

Besides, of the 5 references you are giving me, the first two are preprints, the last 2 look rather minor and only the third looks worth reading.
My point is that shouldn’t you make your own case and present me the evidence, rather than expect your reader to do all the leg work? At the moment one might then conclude that are basing your article on preconceived conclusions and, in the end, you are just talking to your echo chamber.

Last edited 57 minutes ago by Andrea Re

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Martin Bollis
3 hours ago
 
Reply to  Andrea Re

I picked that up as well and it is common in Unherd articles.

If reference is being made to a serious data point, a link to a newspaper as corroboration is just fatuous.

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Andrea Re
3 hours ago
 
Reply to  Martin Bollis

I know. Last time I noticed the reference was a tweeter feed.
This time it is an article referring to the Scottish government dodgy dossier on vaccine passports.
Is this the level of scholarship we should expect from Unherd?

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Dan Croitoru
1 hour ago
 
Reply to  Andrea Re

No, don’t think just ‘click’ and react!

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Saul D
5 hours ago
 

‘The Left’ has become the party of administrators, not workers…

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Geoffrey Wilson
3 hours ago
 

Interesting article, and comments – thanks. The underlying problem as I see it is that the authors assume that being Left is morally good, and that the part of the Left which they feel comfortable in is morally best. Evidence is twisted to fit this basic assumption. For example the odd statement that there are only a “small number of Left wing media outlets!!!! I am afraid I thought instantly WTF even though I dislike that sort of expression. Describing Cuomo and Ardern as fascists says a lot more about the authors than about those two national leaders. I do support the general thrust of the article that the mainstream direction of state surveillance, promotion of fear, globalist profiteering, and politicisation of science is seriously harmful to human happiness and enlightenment. But please can the authors think about whether they are actually rather right-wing, and also think about how that isn’t actually so bad!

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Linda Hutchinson
43 minutes ago
 

authors assume that being Left is morally good

Those on the right also consider themselves morally right. This is a problem, when we were talking about economic systems it was easier not to think of your opponent as inherently evil, now each plants its flag on the moral high ground – the problem is that they are two entirely different hills.

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Bashar Mardini
9 minutes ago
 

The Left didn’t “fail” at Covid
The Left just fails at everything

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Rasmus Fogh
3 hours ago
 

If attitudes to COVID and countermeasures follow political lines, surely the obvious conclusion is that people do not form their attitudes by looking at the facts. People select their facts to fit the attitudes they had already. And the difference is obvious – so that all the psychoanalysis and great historical theories in the essay seem rather unnecessary.

Progressives favour collective solutions, central coordination, action based on scientific evidence – and generally doing something together to solve problems when they come up. (Disclosure: on this, though not in other things, I am in their camp). Right-wingers, apparently, favour purely individual solutions, personal intuition over scientific advice, the economy over health, and refuse on principle anything that interferes with their individual freedom of action. It is not their responsibility to help protect others – it is up to the others to protect themselves.

So, for progressives (and me) face masks, vaccination, social distancing and closing entertainment venues are pretty much no-brainers. We may not know how much those measures will help, exactly, but they surely will not hurt, they push in the right direction, the cost is not excessive, and (even if it turns out it made little difference) doing your best to deal with the problem is simply the right thing to do. As you see, the attitude has its shortcomings.
On the other flank, I suspect that people are not going for ivermectin and vitamins because they are convinced by the evidence that they work better. Rather, they looked for a solution that is contrary to official advice, that is purely individual, and that gives them the feeling of being personally in control.

Last edited 3 hours ago by Rasmus Fogh
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Saul D
1 hour ago
 
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I know where you’re coming from, but it’s interesting how much this has flipped.
Traditionally, Conservatives came from engineering, management and the harder sciences, phalanxed by land and business owners – all about pragmatic solving of problems based on rational thought. Collective actions, but under private control, but also communities – village, church and tradition and international trade.
The left had a reputation for support from the arts, based on the importance of personal feelings and emotional content, in particular the need to avoid risk and a desire for safety. The left was into alternative medicine, homeopathy, and new age teachings and grand theories of elites in control (eg patriachy) and CIA & MI6 plots and infiltrators to undermine the workers or take out the Prime Minister (Harold Wilson plot).
The issue seems to be that in the past the establishment was broadly conservative, and now it is broadly progressive. As the establishment switched sides, so did the anti-establishmentarians…

Rasmus Fogh
56 minutes ago
 
Reply to  Saul D

Very interesting point.

BTW, a recent article in the Economist made the point that (in the UK, anyway), there are now basically two establishments – and both feel they are rebels and the others are in charge. On one side you have business, the government, monarchy, army etc. the Tory party, the media companies, with support in the countryside. On the other side you have the universities, the arts, the journalists, the civil service, with support in the the big cities. The problem is that in the past the establishment, stuffy as they may have been, had a feeling of being in charge and so felt responsible for running the country in a sensible manner. Now with two competing sets of self-declared rebels, both sides feel entitled to be irresponsible since it is anyway the other lot that is really in charge.

Last edited 54 minutes ago by Rasmus Fogh

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