SLIPPERY SLOPES AND SILVER LININGS

Over the past few days, we’ve received two reminders of how societies bereft of basic civil liberties and intolerant of criticism or dissent operate. In Saudi Arabia, the women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced to five years and eight months for ‘spying with foreign parties’ and ‘conspiring against the kingdom’. One of the prominent campaigners to demand Saudi women be granted the considerable privilege of putting their feet on a pedal and steering a wheel, she had already been detained for over two years without charge; even though her sentence is to be backdated to her initial detainment in May 2018, her potential early release on parole will come with the caveat of a five-year travel ban and a three-year threat of a return to prison should she be deemed to be committing the same ‘crimes’. Loujain al-Hathloul claims she was tortured and sexually harassed during the period before her sentencing, and whilst her case is an undoubted abuse of human rights, it falls into a familiar middle-eastern tradition that could happen at any time.

A case more pertinent to the unique conditions of 2020 occurred in China when Zhang Zhan, a ‘citizen journalist’ who had posted online critiques of the Chinese Government’s response to the embryonic pandemic in Wuhan earlier this year, was sentenced to four years. Eight whistleblowers have already been punished for criticising how the CCP dealt with events in Wuhan, but Zhang Zhan received a wider audience via her videos and blogs reporting on the situation and challenging the party line. Found guilty of spreading ‘false remarks’ and ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’, Zhang has been on hunger strike since June and, following in a proud tradition established over a century ago to treat Suffragettes protesting the same way, she has been force-fed by her captors courtesy of the good old nasal tube. The manner of punishment dished out to both Loujain al-Hathloul and Zhang Zhan should serve as a potent lesson in how a West we are constantly being told is an utterly oppressive place to live has some serious competition for that accolade in other corners of the globe. But maybe our own democratically-elected overlords are the ones learning that lesson.

A government beholden to scientific and medical advisors whose sudden elevation to positions of power has given them carte-blanche to let their fantasy totalitarian blueprints for society run riot is not one any of us should invest our trust in. The general population is not so dim that it can’t calculate the positive effects of the measures introduced to prevent the rise in coronavirus infections that it has endured for the best part of ten months are, at best, minimal. In terms of achieving their overall aim, they just don’t bloody work. If incessant lockdowns, social distancing, the wearing of masks, the cancelling of ordinary social pursuits and the prevention of mingling with family and friends did work, the virus would have been severely downgraded by now – the magic vaccine not withstanding; instead, with the evidence of these policies’ failure all around us, the Government and its motley crew of megalomaniac cranks and quacks are ramping up the restrictions with a dangerous blend of desperation and self-righteousness. Tier 3 wasn’t enough, so Tier 4 came along; and now we’re informed Tier 4 is no good either. How many Tiers does it take to change a light-bulb?

When the public were gearing up to put the restrictions on temporary hold for a few days in order to enjoy Christmas, the ‘mutant strain’ (which had been held in reserve for just such a moment) was suddenly detonated to justify cancelling festivities. How convenient. And, if the latest Tiers produce the same results as all the ones before, who’s to blame for the rising infection rates? Well, not ‘the science’, obviously; no, it’s all the fault of those members of the public who aren’t doing as they’re told, of course. One doesn’t have to venture far into any shopping parade to realise the majority are observing the rules; the idea that the naughty minority disobeying the rules are a big enough section of the population to affect infection rates is laughable, but let’s not let that get in the way of passing the buck and absolving Government and the likes of SAGE from any blame, shall we? Yup, it’s our old default friend, divide and rule again. Point to dying grannies on trolleys in hospital corridors and then point to the nominated guilty parties to neutralise any deviation from the narrative. Question or criticise and you’ve got octogenarian blood on your hands. It’s your fault that new box of Werther’s Original will now never be opened, you sadistic, seditious traitor.

The apocalyptic prophesises of a ‘Covid Catastrophe’ pale next to the grim reality of the ‘Lockdown Catastrophe’, a killer which will have far more catastrophic ramifications for decades if the disastrous approach applied so far isn’t abandoned soon. The Doomsday predictions which repeatedly emanate from that deluded, fantasist clown Neil Ferguson sound more and more like an administration and its crackpot advisors scraping the bottom of a propaganda barrel to legitimise the continuation and strengthening of newfound powers it doesn’t want to relinquish. No, we’re not Saudi Arabia or China – that goes without saying; but where are we going if we stay on this path? Hardly towards a freer democratic society. Look at what we’ve already surrendered without a fight over the last few months, based on the pretext that each sacrifice was for the greater good. This time last year, would any of us have believed the extent of what we’ve given away in 2020? And where the hell will we be this time next year if this situation carries on?

The media lapdogs’ abandonment of their duty to question the wisdom of Government policy in 2020 perhaps reflects the manner in which newspaper proprietors and TV broadcasters have dispensed with their most authoritative and independent voices over the past decade; you can’t move on Fleet Street for the chattering of chickens that have come home to roost in the derelict newsrooms of every once-great paper. If any public service is struggling to cope with the demands placed upon it in the current crisis, chances are it’s because budgets have been annually slashed in a relentless tide of underinvestment that never anticipated a time when it’d be needed again; similarly, don’t expect any media outlet to abruptly regain its long-lost mojo when all the journalists whose talented pens put those outlets on the map have been pensioned off or simply sacked over the last few years. It’s no wonder the MSM response to this situation has been so supine and spineless.

All the most measured, rational, intelligent and eloquent responses this year have been found online. Yes, Twitter has a lot to answer for, but highlighting the worst offenders on social media as evidence that cyberspace is as much a stew of deliberate misinformation, lies and biased bullshit as any medium of older vintage is like holding up ‘Love, Actually’ as evidence that all British cinema is shit. In fact, one cannot but admire the true voices of sanity and reason that have fought for the right to be heard in a climate that has seen big tech try to silence any dissenters that have dared to question the prevailing and suffocating orthodoxy. The mere fact those voices have dared to speak and have made so many isolated individuals genuinely feel they’re not alone in 2020 has been the sole crumb of comfort and sliver of hope for a future that this God-awful year has offered. And, as long as those voices can continue to be heard in 2021, there is hope that twelve months from now we won’t find ourselves living in an offshore suburb of Riyadh or Beijing, bereft of any proof of who we used to be or who we really are.

© The Editor

16 thoughts on “SLIPPERY SLOPES AND SILVER LININGS

  1. We must always be careful in judging the ‘liberties’ in less-developed societies by our own modern metrics, after all 200 years ago we happily transported ‘dissidents’ halfway across the globe merely for wanting the freedom to discuss improving their abysmal working conditions.

    It shouldn’t take those currently criticised states 200 years to catch up, but it can’t happen overnight, their local culture has to develop in parallel to accommodate the changes. I’m not defending any medieval practices, but I do recognise why they are where they are right now and I don’t expect them to be able fully to embrace all facets of modernity overnight (even if they wanted to, given their observation of some ‘modern’ states in action).

    Some of our own government’s indefensibly oppressive tactics over the last 9 months may even owe something to the legacy of the Brexit referendum. That one event demonstrated that the ‘establishment’ had finally lost control of the masses – all the decades of private chunterings in pubs, offices and homes, never echoed amongst the ruling elite, had finally gained an overt form of mass expression and, it would seem, that scared them shitless. There was an urgent need to regain control, to have a vehicle available of some enormous import to be used to apply hitherto unacceptable oppression – and by an apparently convenient quirk of fate, along comes Covid-19, just what the doctor, the statistician and the dictatorship ordered.

    Laws were enacted, freedoms removed, lifestyles and expectations curtailed, populations quelled into apparently willing subservience – the power had instantly moved back from the ballot-box to where it historically belonged, in the hands of the ruling classes under a fig-leaf of democracy. And we never even noticed. Hallelujah.

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  2. ‘…all the decades of private chunterings in pubs, offices and homes’ – indeed. Cut to Lockdown UK: Pubs closed, offices emptied, and the SNP proposing any ‘hate speech’ in the privacy of one’s home should be considered a crime. Neutralise all venues where dissent breeds. One can almost admire the project as a work of evil genius.

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  3. Unfortunately on Twitter the Leave/Remain tribalism that has beset our country for more than four and a half years has to a certain degree influenced how some people think on this matter (something I have just elaborated on in my own blog). For the life of me I still don’t understand how anyone who claims to support ‘freedom of movement’ can support any lockdown, but that is what has happened.

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    1. I always find the SNP stance amusing, seeking to break away from a union Scotland has benefitted from for the best part of 300 years in the name of ‘independence’, only to sign it all away in an instant for a union that will subjugate its sovereignty far more than England ever has. No wonder wee Nicola is such a vociferous lockdown fanatic. Her people’s freedom clearly isn’t as vital to her as she makes out.

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  4. Our minister for anti-transport now wants to reduce the exercise limit from 5km to 2km, citing no evidence whatever that the 5k limit is causing more cases. What a scumbag.

    https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/5km-exercise-limit-could-be-reduced-to-2km-says-eamon-ryan-39926460.html

    Readers will probably be wondering why a Green politician is even in government. The Greens are really no more popular in Ireland than in the UK, but due to the vagaries of our proportional representation electoral system manage to get a reasonable number of TDs (MPs) elected to the Dail (Parliament), one of whom has managed to get himself appointed to the anti-transport ministry.

    Tosser.

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    1. I don’t think the British/Scottish/Irish governments will be totally satisfied until they’ve adopted the mega-lockdown policy the Italians imposed a few months back, whereby the populace are allowed out of their homes once-a-week max.

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      1. Governments have realised they can fund lockdown now with Quantitative Easing.

        Expect more lockdowns to follow as they (as they have now) become increasingly emboldened at how easy lockdowns are to implement and afford.

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    1. The opposition to the COVID panic seems to be coming almost entirely from the libertarian right – Perrins, Young, Delingpole, Hitchens. Not a single prominent left wing voice raised in protest, with the possible exception of Corbyn’s brother, but I’m not even sure if he ‘identifies’ as left.

      Some of them go a bit far for my liking but Perrins is spot on with this tweet:

      “It is no longer love thy neighbour: it is crush your neighbour, judge your neighbour, snitch on your neighbour. And we are told this is all for the neighbour’s own good. I don’t think so.”

      Indeed. As I’ve said before, it puts me in of mind The Wanderer lyrics, from U2’s 1993 Zooropa album, the one they drafted in Johnny Cash to sing:

      “I went drifting
      Through the capitals of tin
      Where men can’t walk or freely talk
      And sons turn their fathers in”

      (not that I’d expect anything in similar vein from Bono et al in 2020, having long since ‘outgrown’ the period when they were capable of questioning the mainstream.)

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      1. I saw a tweet yesterday from that renowned mentally-sound Grauniad scribe Carole Codswallop in which she expressed her outrage that the ‘Today’ programme had the gall to broadcast an anti-lockdown opinion by Prof. Sunetra Gupta of Great Barrington Declaration fame. One of Ms Codswallop’s followers compared Prof. Gupta to a Holocaust denier, which says everything you need to know. End all furlough schemes tomorrow and let’s see how long the middle-class ‘left’ keeps up this North Korean approach to lockdown.

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  5. https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/50819052-b299-4c6b-b135-036382b25b43

    Boris Johnson’s statement to the House of C.

    “…we are instructing people to stay at home…”

    “Instructing”….he used that exact wording…not advising, not strongly encouraging…..did people seriously believe this guy at one point was a libertarian? Lol.

    He has basically given permission and approval for every copper in the country on a power-trip (which most of them are anyway) to ride roughshod over the tiny amount of freedoms the citizenry have left.

    Take it from me, the Irish political establishment, btw, are as bad if not worse….and as for Scotland, lol. Irish police are culturally and institutionally slightly less officious than their English counterparts, that’s about the only difference.

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