A Letter to Lockdown Sceptics | Ewell Gregoor
There is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafterErnest Hemingway 1936
I have been aware of the passage above for some time. I heard it first in a film when I was young, one of those American alien horror types, but I cannot remember which one. Perhaps before I was aware of the author, but again, I cannot be sure. I imagine most people are aware of the quote, know who said it, but have not the foggiest where it comes from. So, I shall tell you. The quote is from a short story called, On the Blue Water, written for a small magazine called the Esquire in 1936. The story is important, as it is where Hemingway first explores hunting at sea and is almost certainly the inspiration for his most famous work, The Old Man at Sea, which won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. It is, to my knowledge, the only satirical story of Hemingway’s collection, though I may be mistaken. The story is nothing more than a debate between two friends, Richard and Carlos, about which is the better, hunting fish or hunting elephants. However, it becomes obvious that the word hunting means war and hunting elephants is actually hunting man.
It is curious why this quote, from a little-known story in a little-known magazine, is Hemingway’s most famous. It occurs to me that it is because it is an inconvenient truth, one that we all seek to conceal. There is no hunting like the hunting of man.
The battleground looks a little different today than it did say, 100 years ago. The common place to observe hunting today is social media. Which in no sooner than the mere blinking of an eye has turned from the modern tool to reconnect with family and stay in touch with friends, to a full-blown heresy hunt. This is something that you all know to be true and has grown exponentially in the last decade. What was the last thing we did not war about? When was an issue non partisan? We have been tearing ourselves apart since the power of big tech was realised in the 2016 Brexit referendum. If Hemingway was around today, he might tell a story of two men debating about which is better, hunting Brexit voters or social justice warriors.
The hunt or war of today, now that the American Presidency has come to its conclusion, is the coronavirus restrictions. Each day we rise from our beds and take our positions on the battlefield, weapon ready, scrolling down trying to find some article or study that backs up our position.
It struck me this week that lockdown sceptics, for which I am a part of, have got our arguments entirely wrong. We waste so much time trying to combat the never-ending plethora of data, stats and figures that the government and media pump out on a daily basis. It is for nothing, and we must face up to the fact, we are losing! Each time a new lockdown is announced it is stated that, “this will be the last one, people won’t take another”. But sure enough, another lockdown is announced and rather than the uprising that was promised, it has a higher approval rating that the last.
Now of course, I am not suggesting for any minute that the case of the lockdown sceptic is any less valid today. However, we are merely preaching to the choir when we explain why the PCR test alone is not fit for purpose, how the economic recession and depression that will follow will cost more lives, how the NHS is surged every winter, etc etc etc. After nine long months of battle, we should accept that this is an ineffective weapon and simply cannot penetrate the defence of the pro-lockdowner.
And we are just the same, so should not be surprised; it would take a virus on a scale unimaginable for myself, Toby Young and so forth, to accept the stripping away of individual liberty. But then again, if ever such a virus comes along, I would probably exercise my liberty to stay inside and hide. The notion of commanding people hide from a deadly virus seems somewhat of a paradox. In World War Two, you did not need to order people to run to the bomb shelters when the air sirens rang aloud. Of course, you will see some people in the media change sides, the Dan Hodges kind, when it is expedient for them to do so. However, people such as Hodges are not to be taken seriously.
It is for this reason why I urge lockdown sceptics, from this point forward, to avoid getting into debates around stats and so forth. And stop making predictions and statements about waves and deaths. You only have to look at Hodges’ feed for a few hours and sure enough he will produce a quote from a sceptic, Julia Hartley-Brewer for example, where what she has claimed was going to happen has been proved otherwise. You see, it is important to remember that us lockdown sceptics are not in the driving seat. Whilst we see the issues in the testing and reporting, the orthodoxy is to use such methods as to inflate the figures. The World Health Organisation last month changed their guidance on reporting cases, confirming that PCR positive should not mean a case without additional symptoms. But still, the Government ignore it. If the WHO cannot get through to Government and change the orthodoxy, we have no chance.
What we should and must do is revert to a new tactic and push a new narrative, one that has always been our trump card. And whilst Young and others might claim that they oppose the restrictions on the grounds of bad science. The truth is, they care about two things above all things: Liberty and Democracy.
We seem to have forgotten the value of liberty. It is hard to believe that just a century ago, we thought of liberty as that essential and worthy, that the allied forces, rightly, asked men and women to die for it. As they voluntarily did.
The truth is things are not going back to normal when this is over. This is again something that we all know to be true. Since 2016, big tech has been creeping, bit by bit, increase their power and reducing ours, by limiting what we can say and express. It is no coincidence that big tech has taken huge strides this past year with restrictions of speech. In the name of compassion and justice, they declared themselves the arbiters of truth. With this new power, society will never be the same. Liberty is about a lot more than government restrictions. It is the right to say 2+2=4, as a great man once said. Which is why I also propose we stop calling ourselves lockdown sceptics and instead stress the point of liberty.
It was refreshing to see in one of the instalments of the Lockdown Sceptics a section about a court case in Germany, in which a man was acquitted after being charged for celebrating his birthday with friends. The court said the decision to arrest and fine the individual was, “catastrophically wrong political decision with dramatic consequences for almost all areas of people’s lives”.
Whilst I was pleased that it was included in the report. It was towards the bottom of the report underneath a plethora of data countering and debunking the latest Government brief. It should have been front of centre of the report. The whole anti lockdown movement needs to be restructured to focus on liberty, irrespective of whatever is thrown at us.
That brings me to the next point which is democracy. I came across an interview with a human rights lawyer last month on the UnHerd online publication, where it was explained that the law has been changed over 300 times in the past year. However, on only a handful of occasions have they done so with full parliamentary process. This is not frivolous to point out. Parliamentary democracy is the contract that we British all agree to be ruled under. If our liberty must be taken, at least do so democratically under the full scrutiny of Parliament. The orthodoxy at the moment is that the Prime Minister announces a new measure that will start on X day (which is often in the next few days) and comes into law before the law is voted on in Parliament, and in some cases the law passes without any need for a vote.
Opponents of liberty may claim that under certain situations you should be able to bypass parliamentary process. I disagree. In a time of crisis, it should be all the more necessary to scrutinise and debate decisions. What’s more, opponents of liberty are in most cases the people who before the Coronavirus situation often suggested the now Prime Minister to be a fascist, or at least has sympathies to fascism. It is therefore peculiar that so many are happy him to rule by decree. I don’t think the Prime Minister is a fascist or a racist. Still, best not let him rule by decree or increase state powers. Just incase.
The lack of parliamentary procedure represents the most damning indictment on the leader of the opposition, Starmer. His role is to hold the Government to account and check their worst impulses, ensuring oversight on decisions. How could any self-respecting leader of opposition surrender that responsibility? Starmer behaves like he is involved in some kind of coalition Government; however, he is not. He is merely the mouthpiece that frequents the anti-liberty media calling for ever more restrictions only to vacate any responsibility on the implementation of those restrictions when the time comes. I am yet to work out whether this comes from a place of extreme cowardice or incompetence? I suspect a mix of both. The only opposition at the moment are a handful of Conservative backbenchers, and whilst their attempts at opposition are welcome, they have not been anywhere near strong enough. Testament to this, Conservative backbenchers demanded parliamentary oversight during the winter restrictions last year, to which they prevailed. However, the most recent lockdown and school closures went via the new method , consisting of a one-off vote on the measures, without oversight, the day after the law came into place.
The only thing left to say is that each passing day the number of people who oppose restriction on liberty and the subversion of our parliamentary democracy becomes fewer and fewer. And that is because we continue to fight with data and not with principles and history. The only rebuttal necessary when challenged about our libertarian position is that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and a quick glance at history shows that power is much harder to give back than it is to take.