When I warn that speed limits, for instance, are proof of a creeping totalitarianism in the West, a number of people reply that that sounds like an exaggeration.
But here is the place for quoting an American comedian. Before we do that, however, let us remember how, in his book The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek explains that it is rare that we lose any type of freedom in one single blow.
Let us now turn to George Carlin: when fascism, or communism, takes over in the USA and the rest of the West, the comedian explains, it won't be in the form of black uniforms and marching jackboots, but with a smiley face ("We're from the government and we're here to help").
When we think of oppressive regimes, we immediately think of the Stalinist model portrayed in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the heavy-handed thought control associated with Hitler’s Reich or Mao’s China
But where the old propaganda was loud, crude and often lethal, the contemporary style of thought control takes the form of a gentle nudging towards orthodoxy – a gentle push that gradually closes off one’s critical faculties and leads one to comply with gently given directives. Governments around the world, including in the UK, notes the Guardian, have been embracing this approach with growing enthusiasm.
… nudging also has an authoritarian edge, employing techniques and technologies that the Gestapo or NKVD could only dream about to promote the ‘right behaviour’.
… This situation is made worse because the people running our most powerful institutions, from the media to the government, increasingly share the same opinions and often have little tolerance for outliers. Their views on dissent and freedom of speech do not stem from Jefferson or Madison.
… The nudgers focus on three areas: identity (ie, race / gender), the pandemic, and, most critically, climate. In terms of race issues, they rule out scepticism towards Black Lives Matter, including criticism of last year’s ‘mostly peaceful’ BLM demonstrations, which featured looting, arson and general mayhem. Many media outlets will also characterise anyone who does not embrace the new ‘anti-racist’ orthodoxy as a ‘white nationalist’.
The pandemic has rained manna for nudgers. Across the high-income world, we now see a form of hygiene authoritarianism, promoted and enforced by nudgers in government and media. This goes beyond debunking clearly unhinged and unsupported claims. It also includes purging anyone opposed to particular government Covid policies, including recognised professionals. The most egregious example was the cancelling and marginalisation of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, written by leading epidemiologists from Harvard, Oxford and Stanford – all for the ‘thoughtcrime’ of opposing lockdowns.
… No wonder so many nudgers see China as an ideal, a place without a nasty First Amendment that protects dissenters.
Read the whole thing, as the article is one of the most important in the past 21 years…