Our Season of Docile Compliance

Does anyone feel like me? More aggrieved and irritated at the behaviour and demeanour of politicians loosening restrictions than when they were imposing them. ‘We in our magnificence deign that you can now congregate in larger groups than two, five, or ten, provided you remain distant from each other, constantly wash your hands, sneeze into your elbows, and don’t stand up in pubs or restaurants or hang about too long. And none of that dangerous singing in church, if we ever allow you again to partake of those primitive rituals.’

Yes, m’lord and m’lady. No, m’lord and m’lady. Three bags full, m’lord, m’lady.

At the same time, I have to say that journalists who know what’s best for us run politicians a close second in the irritating-beyond-words stakes. Best not to speak about the unspeakable – public health officials. Is there any group of people more blinkered, less empathetic? Haven’t come across one.

Just opened my Weekend Australian at the op-ed page.  Gerard Henderson is there, hurrah. Then we have (to me) the insufferable PVO, Katrina Grace Kelly telling us that “home sweet work is the new normal” and Fiona Harari telling us that “keeping our distance is not natural but it’s for our own good.” Yuk!

Consolingly, perhaps, I have no doubt that it is worse in Britain, as it is with global warming alarmism. Below is Gal (Ray Winstone), living idyllically in Spain in the movie Sexy Beast, explaining why. Incidentally, Ben Kingsley playing the menacing Don Logan is yet to make his appearance.

People say, don’t you miss it, Gal? I say, what, England? Nah, f***ing place. It’s a dump. Don’t make me laugh. Gray, grimy, sooty. What a shithole. What a toilet. Every c*** with a long face shuffling about moaning, all worried. No, thanks. Not for me.

I am reminded of this monologue whenever I tune into the debate about whether and when the Premier League in England should resume. Never is it the case when someone can’t be found to issue a doom-laden warning or to express craven fear. The mayor of my old hometown, Liverpool, warned that games behind closed doors, stadiums empty, were dangerous because fans might gather outside without socially distancing. By the way, I love the place and Liverpool FC, but any mayor of Liverpool would, by definition, be bolshie.

If he had common-sense, he would realise that fans would be glued to their TVs not congregating aimlessly around stadiums. But then if you can moan, why not moan? Here is Danny Rose, on £60,000 a week, currently playing for Newcastle: “Government is saying ‘bring football back’ because it is going to boost the nation’s morale. I don’t give a f*** about the nation’s morale, bro, people’s lives are at risk.” Here is Sergio Aguero, on £230,000 a week (no, not a misprint), currently playing for Manchester City: “The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies.”

You have to wonder about those ordinary Joes and Jills working in supermarkets. Do any of them have families, children and babies? And what do they earn? About $720 per week here in Australia, about £445 in the UK. And there they are going to trenches each day, risking life and limb. What does it mean? I don’t know, but it must mean something.

To be fair, maybe death holds more threat if you have more material wealth to leave behind. A reading of Ecclesiastes and Marcus Aurelias would be beneficial. Death is on its way and quickly to us all, no matter how wealthy. And, no, each COVID-19 death isn’t tragic. Denial of mortality seems to be one of the offshoots of the self-imposed crisis. Much disappointment is in store.  

What do governments, health officials, journalists, naysayers and moaners feed off? Fear is the answer. Tell people often enough that a deadly and virulent contagious disease is about and you will frighten lots of people into compliance. Heck, the AIDS Grim Reaper ads in the latish 1980s convinced me that I had symptoms without having done anything to ‘deserve’ them.

This Wuhan disease is wielded by the powers that be like an AK-47. Only conservatives have the philosophical wherewithal to keep perspective. I like to think those risk-taking supermarket workers and others like them are all conservatives. Alas, probably not. They should be. Conservatives live in truth. And the truth is that there is no evidence, not a shred, that lockdowns work. While it is evident that lockdowns destroy lives.

Locking down healthy people is an untested revolutionary way to treat an epidemic.  Like lots of revolutions it has led to despotism. And to a despotism whose characteristics have not been seen before. On mere whims, political leaders enforced selective 24-hour curfews, prevented people from visiting their relatives, from gathering at churches, from gathering at all, from sitting in cafes, from sitting in parks and walking on beaches, from opening their businesses and their children from attending schools. Did Nero, Robespierre, Hitler, Stalin, Castro, Mao, Pol Pot or Pinochet ever dream of such power? Did they ever dream of having such meekly compliant populations without wielding the threat of torture and death?

Not for the first time Dr Fauci, darling of Democrats, made the point at the US Senate hearings (May 12) that he was a public health expert and could not pontificate on economic matters. I find it irritating that I can find no instance of a follow up question, anywhere at any time, asking whether he has done any work on the effects on public health of the lockdown.  Ditto for all of the blinkered public health experts around the world. Mind you, in these strange times, what is just one more irritant.

PS: “We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including for health.” Fauci recants on CNBC on May 22. Whether, as Galileo, he was shown instruments of torture was not revealed. In any event, too little too late, methinks.

  • Peter OBrien

    Yes, it’s the ‘if you’re good we might increase your allowance’ tone of these easing of restriction announcements that really gets my goat. And what about the public service announcement by the photogenic Dr Nick Coatsworth. Don’t you just love the touch of verisimilitude of stethoscope draped casually around his neck? How’s that for adding a touch of credibility.

  • Rob Brighton

    I can’t help noticing that Anna has declared the Qld border shall remain shut until September. She also is trying to buy an air transport company.

  • DG

    I guess that now that the death toll of the CV19 virus has been kept down, we could apply the same to the road toll. It kills lots of people, but if we keep everyone at home…voila, no road toll.
    Then there are industrial deaths: zero them out same way,
    The torrent of deaths from shared communion cups (which I don’t like: don’t care about the vessel, just the contents: wine please). No more.
    Drunken street rage: gone: stay at home.
    We’ve found the magic formula!

  • Alice Thermopolis

    Frank Furedi, academic and off-piste skier agrees with Dr Fauci, at least on the unintended health consequences of covid lock-down.

    See: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cszcmw (BBC, The Real Story, audio, one hour, 20 May 2020)

    BBC: “Our fear of threats and the unknown is part of being human. But so too is our desire to hug our loved ones and meet new people. And yet these once ordinary social activities are now tainted by risk. Will we decide to abandon them?”

    Furedi feels that anti-social distancing, personal isolation, etc. could have some nasty lasting effects, especially for children, young adults and tribal elders like us.

    Furedi says many people feel as if they are “trapped in the middle of a zombie film”; or a remake of Sam Segal’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers; as they are forced by Big Brother paternalism into vortices of introspection from which there is no escape, at least not without help from a priest licensed to practice exorcism or someone skilled in Room 101 therapy.

    Furedi: “The government imperative of micro-managing every aspect of our lives has undermined our capacity for judgment.”

    For him, there’s a feeling of unease developing (in the UK) that “something else has died or is dying: social life and culture.”

  • Stephen Due

    Note the guns being ‘worn’ by police on the beach in the picture. They serve no useful purpose except bolstering the ego of the ‘wearers’ and intimidating the public. But they are a symbol of a much greater repressive hardware problem. We the people are now thoroughly enmeshed in an ever-growing web of mass surveillance equipment, managed by an arrogant ruling class, and backed up by truly stupendous arsenals of guns, truncheons, tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, body armor, and military vehicles. In the recent videos of protests in Hong Kong, these weapons can all be seen in action. This is what the use of overwhelming force against a defenceless population looks like. Here in Australia, it’s not only the lock-downs, but also the iron fist available to the ‘authorities’ that should worry us. Iron fists have a nasty habit of being used.

  • Stephen Due

    Re the PS by PS: Many of the health ‘experts’ are now ‘openly’ expressing concerns about the adverse health effects of the lock-downs, which include psychological trauma from loss of employment or social isolation, and additional mortality and morbidity in areas such as heart disease and cancers where diagnosis and treatment is delayed due to reduced accessibility of normal health services. Considering they are health ‘experts’, this seems to have taken them a long time. And, even now, none of these ‘experts’ will publicly acknowledge that the lock-downs they designed have had shocking economic consequences. That, they say, is not our area. So they demand lock-downs, but take no responsibility for overall result. That is how Fauci has behaved. That is how the Chief Health Officers of the Australian governments have behaved. This is an absolute disgrace. What could be more irresponsible – and what more sinister than the mind of the bureaucrat, who can think of himself as an ‘expert’ in his public role, and a fully responsible person in private life only? That is the totalitarian mindset, precisely.

  • gareththomassport

    Having been a medical practitioner for 35 years, an “survived” the AIDS epidemic as well as regular bad influenza seasons, SARS, and a personal brush with Q Fever, I am saddened at the pervasive fear within the community.
    Despite the Grim Reaper ads, I don’t think the fear, nor community isolation, were comparable to today.
    I suspect the reach of media, both social and mainstream, is a major reason for this. Politicians are terrified of being accused of a single Covid death from easing lockdown, whereas suicide and cancer deaths are not easily attributable to a political decision, at least in a manner that may cost votes.

  • Pablo07

    May I ask the Author what is General Pinochet doing is the above mentioned horrible company?
    Who should take care of a country run down by a mob?
    Similarly to Generalissimus Franco – both saved their Motherlands/Fatherlands from a grave disaster, shedding much less blood than commies and saving souls of their Nations.

  • ianl

    > ” … anti-social distancing …” [Alice Thermopolis, above]

    Yes, I’ve privately used that term. It is accurate.

    Not only the exaggerated fearmongering, but also the glib marketing speak, are the tools of the MSM and what is misnamed as “social” media. Backed up by the guns of the enforcers as seen in the above photo, this is overwhelming for sufficient of the population to embed it in majority behaviour.

    No way out. I’m sure people won’t want to believe that, but no one has any useful, hard, practical suggestions to change things. Collectivism has won here.

  • Peter Smith

    Yes Pablo07, you are probably right. I gave it too little thought. After all, Pinochet was a pal of Margaret Thatcher and that is a recommendation not to be sneezed at.

  • johnhenry

    “Heck, the AIDS Grim Reaper ads in the latish 1980s convinced me that I had symptoms without having done anything to ‘deserve’ them.”

    Of course, it’s obvious, Psmith, you’ve not got a drop of African blood. So obvious, in fact, I wonder why you think we think otherwise.

  • Rob Brighton

    Having written to my local federal member in complaint about the unseemly catfight between Anna and Gladis and the continued closed borders keeping me from my children and grandchildren I wonder what else everyone here proposes to do about it?

    Personally I am paying not a single jot of attention now to the instructions issued. I pondered on what my actions might be if the constabulary chose to take me to task for the heinous crime of sitting on the beach. Do I refuse instruction and force them to arrest me to spend a weekend in the lockup only to present myself to court for a beak to increase the financial burden of the fine? Do I subsequently refuse to pay whatever the courts see fit to penalise me with and end up in gaol? How far do I go before I am not one of the ones so disparagingly referred to in this comments section?

    Or do I just go “yeah ok” and move on saving myself and my family the grief whilst falling into the category of the compliant mob?

    The ballot box is the answer I thought briefly, then imagined the choice between Shorten and Scotty from marketing and what differences there would be. One stood head and shoulders and that’s the 60 billion we do not have to borrow because the forms for jobkeeper were less than 100% clear. Only one of the two choices will see that as reduced levels of debt, the other will see it as money not being spent on the worthy.

  • pgang


    Please explain

  • pgang

    We still live with the idiotic ‘blood rule’ in sports which began during corporate AIDS hysteria (I don’t remember the public becoming hysterical – in fact it became a useful reminder to the young to ‘keep it in your pants’). The ‘blood rule’ was widely despised at the time but it is a prime example of how these little interferences in life are never turned off, even long after the supposed cause is gone.
    How many new interferences are going to become part of life as a result of this massive breach into our freedom?

  • Alice Thermopolis

    RB above: “….the 60 billion we do not have to borrow because the forms for jobkeeper were less than 100% clear. ”

    Putting our Humpty Dumpty economy back together may well require that $60 billion as the covid-caper plays out, despite the share market’s end-of-month optimism. Up another 2% today.

    According to AFR senior writer, John Kehoe, this week, the error is elsewhere:

    “Treasury was wrong because the epidemiological theoretical models were wrong in projecting a potential 50,000 to 150,000 virus deaths and that daily demand for intensive care beds could hit 5000, 17,000 or 35,000, depending on social distancing restrictions.”

    “The epidemiologists advising the government turned out to be too pessimistic.”

  • pgang

    Alice another reason I have heard is that the tax office made it too onerous for businesses to qualify for the job-whatever money, therefore there was less take-up than expected. They required businesses to pay staff for 2 months apparently, before handing out any cash.

  • Peter Smith

    pgang: PVO = Peter van Onselen.

  • Rob Brighton

    You may well be right Alice the yarn I heard claimed that some filling out the forms entered the amount they were expecting payment for rather than the number of employees they were claiming for. So the entered number was 1500 when the actual staff being claimed was something less on the same scale as death projections are to reality. In any case, it is 60 billion we need not add to the debt for job keeper, whether we add debt for other things is up to the denizens of Canberra.

    Pgang. I have 7 of my people on job keeper while Anna and the foreign agent keep the shop shut. In our case, they will only qualify for 4 of the 6 months. It is being paid via the ATO against GST and PAYE account. There is nothing onerous about claiming, it is a simple form based on this year’s actuals against last year’s. Simple stuff but not particularly well designed in my view, hardly a criticism as it was all done to fast to get a working group to test.
    The delays in payment relate more to the GST cycle you are on from what I can see, monthly or quarterly. In my lots case, their job keeper will kick in from May (the first month we qualify) and credited to my ATO account on my BAS day 21st June as I am on monthly BAS, quarterly would cause more strain.
    Its been painful cash flowing 7 expensive men (they are all engineers) since they stopped us moving about but it will even out in the end I guess. We are fortunate that we are an established business having run for 33 years means we have a bit of fat to carry us through although that condition is rapidly disappearing.

  • Rob Brighton

    “As you direct your attention to the post-COVID response, we ask that your chief medical officer and chief scientific advisor are directly involved in the production of all economic stimulus packages… and give their stamp of approval.”
    The Guardian
    Letter link https://healthyrecovery.net/
    That’s the fundamental issue we face, that’s what needs to be stopped.

  • Michael

    Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare
    I’ve just been with over twenty of my girlfriends in a Sydney beach park enjoying some coffee and cakes, and taking a minute of silence to remember one of our group who has died recently, too young and not of this virus, but of cancer. I expect we broke many rules, and good on us, I say. We moved from one chatting group to the next group, constantly re-assorting by elemental drift into some vague approximation of conformance to the regulation maximum of two groups of ten. Some of us didn’t stay two arms lengths apart either. We also passed drinks and cakes to each other in a civilised manner, recognising hand sanitation as useful. We reconnected as a group after having been meeting separately in weeks past in smaller gatherings, taking exercise walks and meeting up with each other while doing so. Most of us think the app is crap.

    Many of us are university educated, over sixty years of age, and are in blooming general health; we are all sensible. We prefer to look Covid19 in the face taking our own version of due care rather than being told exactly what to do.

    Not everyone takes too much notice of plainly stupid regulations and I am sure that the observance to ‘rules’ is often made in the breach rather than in the fact. What we did today is taking place everywhere, all over Australia. Thankfully, Australians are mostly not like the Stasi Brits, who dob on each other with relentless panicking just to relieve their own tedium.

  • lloveday

    “We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including for health.”
    I measure my blood pressure daily. Before the world-wide lockdown it was typically 130-135/70-80 and is now 145-150/80-90.
    Maybe if I had a home gym, swimming pool, spacious back yard, chauffeured car, huge government salary……like so many of the effective dictators imposing the lockdowns it would not have risen so dramatically.

  • Simon

    I can’t imagine what state the world would be in if we went into headless panic mode every time a new flu virus emerged.

    The really disappointing thing is that this has all been led by supposedly conservative governments. I really can’t see a Labor government making anymore of a mess of it than Morrison or Johnson have.

  • Michael

    Elizabeth Beare, Michael’s Wife
    Simon, I agree with you re the mess that conservative governments have got us into with over-reactions to CoV2, but I can’t agree that Labor governments would be equally as bad: they would be worse by a very large factor. See what Andrews is doing in Victoria for a minor taste of it, and he has by no means been given his head on this; with a Federal Labor government imagine what a field day the left everywhere would be having, bringing us our bright green devolved deindustrialised socialist future. While it is true that Morrison and company have the potential to also do this to us, at least it would not be quite so intentional! And we might still have some export economy left in coal and gas as we shiver through the coming global cold spell.

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