Archives For February 1, 2021

Connor Court Publishing’s Fundamental Rights in the Age of Covid-19, edited by Augusto Zimmermann and Joshua Forrester, is a formal Classical Liberal rebuke of totalitarian anti-COVID-19 prohibitions.

Its chief criticism is against the blatant absence of any steadfast verbal or visual confirmation (from most of our elected representatives) affirming a desire for the dogged preservation of civil liberties. Reassurances which should have gone hand-in-hand with most daily briefings about Government initiatives aimed at protecting citizens from the COVID-19 Wuhan Virus, but didn’t.

This lack of passion for the conservation of civil liberties (even from so-called Conservatives or Christians in government) justifies the kind of necessary criticisms found in Fundamental Rights in the Age of COVID-19. One such being the danger of despotic Government’s undermining constitutional law, and placing citizens at risk of Governmental abuses of power by politicians arbitrarily granting themselves the right to act outside the Constitution.

The protection of civil liberties is a debate worth having.

Zimmermann & Forrester’s readable compendium achieves this and more.

Beginning with Rex Adhar’s cost to benefit analysis of lockdowns balancing the economic argument with the medical. His charge that elected representatives have ‘abdicated political decision-making to scientists’ is evidenced by ‘rushed COVID-19 laws’ was pointed. The bottom line is that the disproportionate responses to COVID-19 are likely to create greater casualties than the virus itself.

James Allan rightly states that many of the people advocating for lockdowns weren’t affected by them; and that ‘one of the effects’ of following the Communist Chinese Party’s lockdown fanaticism, was the ‘turning of law enforcement in an arm of the nanny state’ (p.43).

Noting in contrast to many Western nations adopting the CCP’s dehumanising Communist meat-grinder, that Taiwan (p.43) and Sweden’s response worked, and they ‘didn’t drive a truck through civil liberties’ (p.46 & 47) in order to do so. All for a virus ‘nowhere near The Spanish Flu’ in terms of ‘lethality and seriousness.’ (p.44).

As Morgan Begg argues, the virus has been exploited by bureaucrats, with ‘many of the isolation and social distancing rules going beyond what should be required under the guidelines’ (p.69). The ‘disproportionate response’ exposes citizens to ‘structural flaws in [COVID] legislation’ (p. 74) that allows governments (particularly Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews) to rule via emergency powers without accountability.

David Flint’s essay in chapter 5 is on par with Adhar’s ‘abdication’ argument. Governments let [helpful, but also unreliable] computer modelling rule the day (p.83). [i]

Another highlight is Anthony Gray’s distinction between whether a law is ‘prohibitive’ of foundational rights (Constitution) or ‘protecting’ those foundational rights, applied when testing laws against the constitution. For Gray Western Australia’s border closure offends Section 92 of the Australian Constitution.

Expanding a little bit in this direction, Polish contributors, Kudla and Blicharz see the marginalisation of Christians, and Churches as “non-essential” being the result of bureaucrats exploiting COVID-19, as well as ‘the collision of two fundamental rights: the right to practice one’s religion and the right to protect one’s life’ (p.144).

While condemning the marginalising of Christians under COVID-19 “protections” the authors contrasted Poland’s Church and State cooperative approach with the dehumanising, “non-essential” quota applied to the Church by most Western nations (p.159).

In other words, while Pastors and Christians were told that 2,000 years of care and charitable service was “not essential”, Polish (and even Italian) authorities recognised that Pastoral Care is an essential service.

While there are some overlaps, Zimmermann and Forrester’s careful ordering of well referenced essays creates an interwoven text. It all flows in an engaging, consistent and logical direction.

Rocco Loiacono’s criticisms of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, and Government overreach, pivot on the principle of the ‘informed consent’ of the governed. For him 2020 saw the rise of ‘elected dictatorships…aided and abetted by a now all-powerful health bureaucracy’ that tends to ignore ‘frontline medical advice, preferring instead to hide behind [a] cadre of unelected bureaucrats, and state of emergency’ powers (pp.165 & 171).

The chapter is punchy, includes Big Tech’s ban on Doctors like Simone Gold, advocates for HCQ, and concludes with an appeal against rapid rollouts, when herd immunity still can’t be ruled out, with reference to the ‘horrible effects of thalidomide, a sedative given to pregnant women in the 1950’s and 1960’ precedent: ‘just because we are assured something is safe, or legal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is’ (p.180).

Closing out the book, Gabriel Moens, with whom Jacques Ellul would agree (see Technological Society & Propaganda), talks about Government’s manipulative use of behavioural science (Obama in particular p.192), remarking that Government ‘intervention should be a last resort, not a reflex instinct’ (p.193). [ii]

The well-read, and prolific, Bill Muehlenberg presents a theological ‘petition, flight, and as a last resort, fight’ push back against the surrender of religious freedoms to what is essentially leftist Gnosticism (and exceptionalism).

Understood as such through Thomas Sowell’s description of ‘the exaltation of the anointed above others’ (p.220) – and I’d add Eric Voegelin’s ‘Science, Politics and Gnosticism’. The (conservative) sinner saved by grace ridiculed by the Übermensch “victim” class: sinless (leftists) saved by special knowledge.        

As was witnessed in Michigan (Gov. Gretchen Esther Whitmer, U.S) and Victoria (Premier Daniel Andrews, Aust.) when these Leftist bureaucrats approved fiats granting Leftists the right of protest, while denying other community groups that same right; often through police intimidation, encouraging neighbour to denounce neighbour, arbitrary arrest, and cost prohibitive fines.

Recall how Black Lives Matter, and anti-Australia “Invasion Day” protests went unopposed, but anti-lockdown protesters and unity preaching patriots were dehumanised as “Grandmother killers”, banned, blocked or defamed by celebrities and the legacy media as selfish deplorables.

While good, Monika Nagel’s defence of civil liberties (Chpt.11) through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the good and bad of Globalisation, and the purpose of fundamental rights, was unanchored; too existential. It lacked transcendent; concrete, objective ground.

The only protection of fundamental rights comes from the commanded order as revealed by God through His self-revealing in time and space, through Covenant and Christ: God gives us those rights, good government recognises, and protects those rights. It doesn’t make themselves the source of them or the determiners of good and evil.

As has been said, man over-Lord is man overboard. Anything else displaces the Logos from His rightful place, positioning man-made power structures to rule, tyrannically, instead.

Further along, Johnny Sakr’s use of Luis de Molina’s theological argument in respect to the relationship between Divine Sovereignty and creaturely freedom, seems overly verbose.

Though, Sakr’s end point linking up Molina’s theory with a “where is God in all this” question is well worth the effort. From God’s freedom, comes our freedom, and all the responsibility it infers.

Navigating both fatalism and open theism, Molina’s description of God’s Providential activity in the life of humanity as ‘strong actualisation and weak actualisation’ can also be read as Calvin’s distinction between ‘God doing and God allowing”, Karl Barth’s ‘God’s free, Divine Lordship and the invitation for participation given to His Creature as Covenant partners.’

As I have come to express it:

Not all suffering comes from God, but God works through all suffering. Those in Christ are not free from suffering, but are free in their suffering.

Steven Samson’s appeal to history, predominately the act of ‘interposition’ as just protections applied by just protectors against despotism, whether it be a Monarchy, Democracy or Republic, joins up with Muehlenberg’s argument.

Samson’s chapter is a fine read. In it pushes towards the conclusion that COVID-19 counter-measures were blurring, if not being used to abolish a separation of powers by merging the judicial, executive and legislative tiers into one politically aligned body.

William Wagner later calls this: ‘Governance by Decree.’

For Wagner COVID-19 reveals an erosion of fundamental rights as granted by foundational laws. ‘Decades of judicial activism diabolically evolve constitutional law, enabling State Governments to justify their infringements, emboldening them to govern despotically.’ Consequently, we see ‘an activist judiciary enabling Executive tyranny’ (p.351)

Wagner amplifies Samson’s,

 ‘which will prevail: politics – the art of persuasion and consensus-building – or despotism – the coercion of surrender and acquiescence? ‘days of reckoning are upon us.’ (p.338)

In sum, Fundamental Rights in the Age of COVID-19 asks and seeks to answer two main questions from a Classical Liberal perspective:

  1. Where are the sunset clauses for Totalitarian anti-Covid-19 measures?
  2. Why are our politicians not standing up for the protection of civil liberties, with as much gusto as they are protecting people from a pandemic?

There are syntax errors and some spelling issues, making the exceptional body of work look rushed.

I also think the limited number of references engaging with leftist academics might work against the book; opening it up to asinine accusations of confirmation bias. The Spectator and The Australian are linked to frequently.

Overall, Zimmermann and Forrester’s book is a readable compendium, full of uncomfortable truths that we need to adjust our ears to hear.

The slack approach from politicians in protecting civil liberties; the ease at which people have been willing to hand over total control to Government, not just without question, but with thunderous applause, lets an unelected bureaucratic caste lead our us, and our elected representatives around by the nose. We shouldn’t be letting such apathy and compromise slide.

COVID-19 prohibitions on fundamental rights are an atrocious betrayal of constitutional protections.

This isn’t justice and liberty. It’s fascism proper – make-up on a muddy pig.

In the words of Anglican theologian John Stott,

‘…the one thing a totalitarian regime cannot endure is to be refused the total allegiance which it coverts.’ [iii]

*Fundamental Rights in the Age of COVID-19 is currently available via Connor Court Publishing or Amazon/AU.

References:

[i] This ‘abdication’ is also evidenced by how the ‘Australian government ignore[d] world’s best practice, that of Taiwan, which was available at the time when relevant decisions were being taken’ (p.79). Reasons for this might include the fact that the CCP has ‘long made it clear that Taiwan is to be treated like a pariah’ (p.80).

[ii] In sum, “never waste a crisis” can be translated: disaster porn is a drug and they know how to use it.

[iii] Stott, J. 1992, Contemporary Christian, Christ & His Cross (p.67)


First published on Caldron Pool, 31st January, 2021.

©Rod Lampard, 2021.

Last November the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison (LNP-Cook) gave a ‘UK Policy Exchange Virtual Address.’

As out of place as it sounds in a virtual setting, the virtual audience was treated to a traditional owners’ acknowledgement, followed by thanks to any members from the Australian Defence Force who might have been watching.

Morrison commended Boris Johnson on his ‘global ambitions for Britain’ which include economic development, and newly opened post-Brexit trade avenues. The P.M talked up his connections with his British counter-part, and made special note of Australia’s longstanding relationship with the United Kingdom.

Among the list of acknowledgements and praise, Morrison also mentioned values both he, and Johnson share.

Paradoxically placing ‘Liberal-Conservative traditions’ alongside restrictive policies that conform to Australia’s ‘emissions reductions’ and the ‘global climate change agenda.’

After citing the Treaty of Westphalia, and Hugo Grotius’ prison work ‘The Rights of War and Peace’, Morrison, in quarantine after a state visit to Japan, inadvertently compared quarantine with imprisonment.

The P.M stating, ‘Grotius wrote most of the book while imprisoned in the Loevestein Castle…Given that I join you today from quarantine isolation… I hope my own isolation will be nearly as productive.’ 

From there Scott Morrison gave a defence of nation-states, as ‘building blocks of an international order’; a ‘community of nations built around common understanding of international law.’

That ‘nation-states mattered [at the time of the Westphalia Treaty] and they matter now.’

The ‘key point’ being that ‘the collective efforts of like-minded nation-states can make a difference.’

This ‘society of sovereign states’ hold international institutions accountable; ‘especially true for liberal democratic states, where no authority can ever rise higher than the people who elect their own governments.’ 

The Prime Minister moved to applaud the soft-capitalist policies of China’s ruling Communist Party. Stating that ‘no country has pulled more people out of poverty than China. And [that] Australia is pleased to have played our role in the economic emancipation of millions of Chinese through the development of the Chinese economy.’

Extending an undeserved, but gracious olive branch to the CCP, Morrison declared

‘Australia desires an open, transparent and mutually beneficial relationship with China as our largest trading partner, where there are strong people-to-people ties, complementary economies and a shared interest especially in regional development and wellbeing, particularly in the emerging economies of Southeast Asia.

Equally we are absolutely committed to our enduring alliance with the United States, anchored in our shared worldview, liberal democratic values and market-based economic model.’

Qualifying the above olive branch with a subtle rebuttal of the CCP’s year-long one-sided, punitive trade-war with Australia, Morrison pointed to Australia’s national interest, saying, Australia will not be pushed by polarisation into making a choice between two powers, who seem to forget that Australia is a sovereign state in its own right – ‘at all times, we must be true to our values and the protection of our own sovereignty.’

Closing with a rejection of those using COVID-19 as a trojan horse to impose ‘The Great Reset’ (as proposed by the WEC, and promoted by Time Magazine among others) Morrison stated that ‘the pandemic recession [wasn’t] the product of the failure of world capitalism or liberal, free market-based values.’

He denied the need for a ‘reset’ of values, or a ‘reset’ of the economic agenda among like-minded liberal democracies, concluding that

‘it is actually these values that have provided the platform for the greatest period of peace and prosperity the world has ever known, and has underpinned the very global institutions that has helped sustain it.’

Get past the “safe space” buzzwords, like emissions reductions, climate change, inclusion, empowerment, and the use of terms like extremism, terrorism ‘in all its forms’ without qualification, the speech is impressive.

Noticeable for its defence of Australia’s sovereignty, multi-ethnic nationalism, economy and social values built on classical liberalism.

Notable for its gracious, but firm rejection of the Chinese Communist Party’s manipulative political manoeuvring.

Noteworthy for its (carefully worded) rejection of global communism, otherwise known as ‘The Great Reset.’

[FULL transcript]

WATCH:


First published on Caldron Pool, 12th January, 2021.

©Rod Lampard, 2021.

The lessons provided this week by the unjustified social media ban of Donald Trump, along with the industry wide cancellation of Parler are dangerous precedents.

This abuse of power from Big Tech is solid proof that political favouritism exists within Silicon Valley.

Arbitrary cancellations, double standards, and selective censorship, tells their customers (and investors) that Big Tech cannot be trusted to apply their own EULA standards to their favoured side of politics; nor live out their civic responsibility in preserving the basic tenets of liberty and justice for all.

First, we have a sitting, duly elected president, booted from communication platforms without due process or factual evidence, under the extremely weak premise that he “incited violence.”

This premise IS weak because it rests on confirmation bias. An abstract quote, ripped out of context, to fit the false idea embedded in four years of manipulative propaganda from the Left, in the false belief that Donald Trump is a “Fascist, Nazi, Racist” and worse.

This was best expressed today by ACL director, Martyn Isles’ in his apt conclusion

‘[Trump] said the three words, “fight like hell” in one Tweet about opposing electoral fraud, they say he directly incited an insurrection. That is deliberately one-eyed and unfair, and clearly not his intent. He was certainly unpresidential, but you can’t ban a bloke for that.’

Second, we witnessed the public execution of a private business, when a monopoly of business competitors entertaining industrial espionage denied Parler’s right to trade, exist, create, and compete.

All seemingly for the sole purpose of squeezing more political leverage from the 2020 election, for the lifeless Democrat campaign which was only kept alive because Big Tech, and Big Media ran interference for the Democrat Left, behind the justification that they were stopping misinformation.

Then there’s the Left’s dissonance and double speak.

Those defending Twitter’s right as a private business to operate as a private business, by permanently banning the President, justify the execution of Parler, also a private business, but apparently denied the same rights and responsibilities, for refusing to comply with the well-financed, and powerful Leftist hegemony.

Further to this is the standard being communicated, which I think both sides would agree on, if the reasoning here is properly understood.

If Twitter and Facebook can decline service to customers based on private convictions or conscientious objections, Christian businesses and professionals should be LEFT ALONE TO do the same.

If the argument in defence of Twitter extends to Christian florists, bakeries, school, Churches, and NGO’s, we should now expect permission for those entities to have the full ability to politely decline to bake or service an LGBTQAAI+ wedding, or employ anyone who is not in agreement with the ethos, and values of those entities.

If Jack Dorsey’s Twitter can deny service to a customer on the grounds of “it’s a private business”, “he’s acting on” conscience and convictions, Christian businesses who offer a respectful and reasoned disagreement with SSM, the practice of homosexuality, and the rising authoritarian ideology associated with it, should by rights, also be able to do the same.

The big difference being that most of these Christian businesses aren’t power drunk entities, crushing competition by way of bearing false witness, or cancelling those they disagree with.

From the growing list of court cases against Christian businesses from LGBTQAAI+ lawfare groups, more often it’s the other way around.

Proof that for most people aligned with the Radical Left, force and duress, are now not just a way of life, but inform the implementation of fundamentalist, Cultural Marxist policies.

If worse is to come from a society divided into oppressed and oppressor by a Radical Leftist horde, it won’t be because of Donald Trump.

If worse is to come, it will because discerning voters are fed up with the Left’s “you are what we say you are”, now “fall in, line up, goose step in unison, salute or else!”

Blatant double standards, dehumanising pejoratives, self-centred politics, and hypocrisy are not conducive to “unity and healing.”

Gagging freedom of speech, hijacking private businesses, policing thought, bearing false witness, and enforcing new cultural laws; all of it is yet another reminder that for the past four years at least, the real oppressors have been masquerading as the oppressed.

It’s a zero-sum game. They know it, and the only winners are those who submit, are willing to revise history, denounce their neighbour, and renounce their faith in the One who reveals Himself in Covenant and in Christ.

If civil unrest, or God forbid, a Civil War erupts in the West, let the record show that it was the Radical Left who fired the first shot.

To quote British Theologian, John Stott:

‘Freedom is much misunderstood. Even those who talk loudest and longest about freedom have not always paused first to define what they are talking about.

A notable example is the Marxist orator who was waxing eloquent on the street corner about the freedom we would enjoy after the revolution.

“When we get freedom,” he cried, “you’ll be able to smoke cigars like that,” pointing at an opulent gentleman walking by. “I prefer my cigarettes,” shouted a heckler.

“When we get freedom,” the Marxist continued, ignoring the interruption and warning to his theme, “you’ll all be able to drive in cars like that,” pointing to a sumptuous Mercedes which was driving by.

“I prefer my bike,” shouted the heckler. And so the dialogue continued until the Marxist could bear his tormentor no longer. Turning on him, he said: “When we get freedom, you’ll do what you’re told!”


First published on Caldron Pool, 12th January, 2021.

©Rod Lampard, 2021.