If you read my review of Leviathan, then you’ll get the basic argument in support of Big Government. I don’t think that they’re particularly convincing, but, unfortunately, many do. That’s a problem because it means that the government, and those within it that never want a crisis to go to waste, perpetually use fear to seize ever more power. In no recent situation, other than perhaps the aftermath of 9/11, has that been as apparent as now; Big Government and the Chinese flu go hand in hand, just as Big Government and corruption do.
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While I wish I was sophisticated enough of a writer to adequately address that problem on my own, I’m not. Not yet at least. So, to discuss the problem of Big Government and the Chinese Flu with the attention and eloquence it deserves, I will quote heavily from a recent American Conservative article, written by James Pinkerton, entitled “With Coronavirus Comes The Hobbesian Leviathan,” as I normally do when writing about articles I find interesting.
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Summary of the Big Government and the Chinese Flu Problem
Many thoughtful observers—including here at TAC—have warned that civil liberties, and perhaps freedom itself, could fall victim to the coronavirus. They have a point, but on the other hand, there’s a virus out there, and beating it by any means necessary seems to be the predominant concern right now.
Thus the mainstream media, which only a month ago was warning about the dangers of racism and xenophobia, is now substantially on board with strong public health measures.
For instance, on March 19, The Washington Post published a survey of actions taken by various Asian countries tagged with this remarkable sub-headline: “Big Brother looks after you.” As the Post explained, “Singapore used its FBI equivalent, the Criminal Investigation Department, to effectively interrogate every confirmed case with stunning granularity—even using patients’ digital wallets to trace their footsteps. Those caught lying face fines and jail time.”
It would appear that the Singapore Civil Liberties Union—if there even is one— doesn’t have much clout in that Confucian city-state.
Looking to another Asian country, the Post added, “Taiwan tracks infected people’s whereabouts via smartphones: Stray too far from home and you receive a message; ignore it and the police will pay a visit.”
As if on cue, a Taiwanese tweeter added independently on March 21, “My phone, which is satellite-tracked by the Taiwan gov to enforce quarantine, ran out of battery at 7:30 AM. By 8:15, four different units called me. By 8:20, the police were knocking at my door.” Now that’s some serious big government—and most people in Taiwan seem to support it.From: Big Government and the Chinese Flu
Next, he points out that even Western governments, and their Mainstream Media cronies, are pushing for attempts at tyranny:
“Experts agree…that Western governments must be prepared to limit their citizens’ movements, mandate isolation for positive cases and track contacts regardless of privacy concerns.”
In that same severe spirit, on March 22, The New York Times headlined, “Italy, Pandemic’s New Epicenter, Has Lessons for the World.” According to the Times, “The country’s experience shows that steps to isolate the coronavirus and limit people’s movement need to be put in place early, with absolute clarity, then strictly enforced.”
As we can see, it’s almost as if the Times is yearning for the make-the-trains-run-on-time days of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, in the ’20s, or at least the heavy hand of Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the ’90s.From: Big Government and the Chinese Flu
Then, after pointing out that the Democrats, not Trump, are the ones in America that have so far enacted tyrannical laws to contain the Chinese flu, Pinkerton explains how his reference to Thomas Hobbes’s book, Leviathan, relates to Coronavirus:
In his 1987 book Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, libertarian scholar Robert Higgs argued that crises explain why the state gets larger. It was the Depression, two world wars, and the Cold War that bulked up Uncle Sam—and once he got big, he never got small again.
The “Leviathan” in the title of Higgs’ book, of course, refers to Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 classic of political science, Leviathan or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civill. (That’s how they wrote in the 17th century; hereafter, we can modernize Hobbes’ language for clarity.)
As Hobbes famously put it, life in a state of nature—that is, outside of a state of government—is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In Hobbes’ telling, there was no such thing as a “noble savage,” only ignoble savagery. “During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe,” Hobbes added, “they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man.” In other words, to Hobbes’ reckoning, nothing was worse than no government and no order.
We can note that Hobbes was writing in the wake of the English Civil War of the 1640s. Having lived through the “horrible calamities that accompany a civil war,” Hobbes believed that just about any government had to be an improvement. And so people had to come together—not necessarily voluntarily—for mutual support, through a “common power to keep them all in awe.”
To Hobbes, this awe-inspiring creation, this Leviathan, was entirely man-made; it was the government itself. Hobbes thought of the state as an “artificial man,” composed of the very people for “whose protection and defense it was intended.” And it was through this new creation that “sedition, sickness, and civil war” could be checked.From: Big Government and the Chinese Flu
Finally, Pinkerton explains how fear is what the government uses to expand its control:
Not everyone supports such tough measures, of course. Nevertheless, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a health scholar and former FDA chief in the Trump administration, tweeted this blunt assessment of the alternative to Hobbesian public health on March 23: “So long as covid-19 spreads uncontrolled, older people will die in historic numbers, middle aged folks doomed to prolonged ICU stays to fight for their lives, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and most Americans terrified to leave homes, eat out, take the subway, or go to the park.”
Gottlieb’s harrowing description of the virus on the loose sounds a bit like Hobbes’ description of life in a state of nature. Which is to say, if they must choose between being at risk and being under control, most people will be happy with the latter.
So we can see: it’s the fear of chaos—including, but certainly not limited to, public health—that grew the state in the first place, and it’s continuing fear that keeps the state big.
As long as there’s fear, there will be…Leviathan.From: Big Government and the Chinese Flu
My Take on Big Government and the Chinese Flu
I think that Pinkerton is spot on in his article. The government does use fear to strip us of our liberty, which we have become too complacent about to jealously guard- which we should be doing.
Early Americans knew how important liberty is. Thomas Jefferson told us to “water the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants” who would strip us of it. Benjamin Franklin said that those who would give up liberty in the search of safety deserve neither. Abraham Lincoln told us just how we could lose our freedoms.
Yet we’ve thrown all those warnings by the wayside now that a worse version of the flu is making its way around the country. Yes, it’s bad and China is not only responsible, but also liable for the damage caused by it. But, frankly, the government’s seizure of power in this time of crisis is worse.
Now, ruled by fear, we’re allowing the government to tell where we can eat, where we can travel domestically, and even if we can leave our houses. Predictably, that’s led to an economic crash. Was it worth it, even economically? Probably not. Was it worth it when the lost liberty is taken into account? Absolutely not. Would George Washington wear a mask? Nope, definitely not. He would stand up to both Big Government and the Chinese Flu and be courageous, not fearful. Be like that, not like one of the sniveling cowards who hide behind their masks and lockdowns because of Big Government and the Chinese Flu.
We can’t let the government strip us of our precious liberty in this time of crisis. Even if that means a few more people getting sick, it’s far preferable for that to happen than for us to live as slaves at the pleasure of the state. Big Government and the Chinese Flu are both horrible, horrible plagues on society. But when combined, the sum of that evil is greater than its parts. Businesses close, schools shut down, riots happen, and the government gains ever more power. It’s time to fight both Big Government and the Chinese Flu. Load your gun and wash your hands, we need to start fighting back!
By: Gen Z Conservative
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