Archives For Totalitarianism

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.

There’s a thin line between governments waging a war against a crisis, and governments waging a war against people caught up in that crisis.

It’s the crossing of this line; the potential, and perhaps eventual, overreaction through disproportionate measures, that have sparked an increasing number of centrist and conservative thinkers to question these heavy-handed measures, along with anything, and everything, labelled “the new normal”.

The more we learn about the coronavirus, the more important it is to question whether the heavy-handed measures being taken against the coronavirus are proportionate to the fight against it.

Peter Hitchens was the first to defiantly sink his feet into the ground. Hitchens agreed with the general reasoning behind an increased focus on hygiene, protecting the vulnerable, and social distancing, but drew the line at the surrender of civil liberties, telling talkRADIO that he ‘can’t see any logical connection between crashing the economy and restricting civil liberties in trying to prevent the spread of the disease.’ Adding that ‘crashing the economy is not necessary, you could easily rely on the civility and good sense of people to keep the necessary distance while continuing the run a functioning economy.’

There is a distinction between taking action because of fears about the coronavirus, and taking action because of the coronavirus. The former is reactionary, motivated by hysteria. The latter involves a carefully measured, compassionate, and rational response, drenched in hope. It’s the stark contrast between Samuel Barber’s melancholic despondency in Adagio for Strings, and Harry Gregson-Williams’ cautious, but defiant, ‘To Aslan’s Camp!

As of the 27th March, Australia had 3,166 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 13 tragic deaths attributed to it. While we do have information about the local source and epicentre of outbreaks, we still don’t appear to be getting all the specific facts. For example, there is no easily accessible data which separates people hospitalised because of the virus, and people with the virus who’ve been quarantined at home.

In the same interview for talkRADIO, Hitchens further illustrated this by pointing to the lack of any clear information that distinguishes between those who’ve died because of the virus, and those who had the virus, but died of other causes. Without everyone on the planet being tested, it’s even harder to pin down exact numbers.

As Mark Levin has pointed out, the facts we’re being sold about the coronavirus are all over the place. There’s confusion and uncertainty about the severity of it around every corner. Most mainstream media news reports are often repetitive, dubious and sensationalised. Some social media hasn’t helped either. Just as some Australian Universities, who actively undermined Scott Morrison’s January travel ban on China, some in the media, and on social media, are putting profit before people by capitalising on the crisis to sell a concocted tale of apocalyptic horror.

For instance, Michael Bay warned people to not take everything in the media or on social media as fact. The executive producer of the post-apocalyptic TV series, The Last Ship, and director of Transformers (among others), said in a brief Instagram video that he’d been receiving a ton of footage showing the movement of tanks, and armaments, but it’s all an act, made up by foreign powers who hate the U.S. Don’t believe it. His video caption read: “All the fake ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE that people are posting saying from a friend of a friend to instill fear. Stop sending out. It’s BS.”

Attacking the hype head-on, Levin cited a New York Times article from David Katz, president of True Health Initiative and the founding of the Yale-Griffin research Center, who credited South Korea with being the most reliable, when it comes to information about the coronavirus, because their widespread testing.  The New York Times article joins a co-written piece in the Wall Street Journal by Eran Bendavid and  Jay Bhattacharya, who claimed ‘there’s little evidence to confirm that [oppressive totalitarian measures] are justified.’

According to Katz, the ‘data indicates that at least 99% of active cases in the general population are mild, and do not require specific medical treatment. The small percentage of cases that do require such services are highly concentrated among those aged 60 and older – and further so the older people are.’

This leads to a justification of sorts for questioning whether oppressive totalitarian measures are necessary in order to fight the coronavirus. If we’re to use the problematic, “this is war” rhetoric, it’s fair to say that Governments waging “total war” against the virus, are making important strategic decisions based on sketchy intel. Their actions are initially based on the smoke and mirror diplomacy coming from the secretive Communist Chinese regime, who’s loose with the truth at the best of times, and it’s based on limited intel our governments have been able to gather on the ground or learn from other countries.

On one side we can agree that most Western Governments are wounding in order to heal. On the other hand, because the consequential impact of their actions is being felt around the world, and may do so for many years to come, we need to ask, as we would of any surgeon: how will this preserve freedom, and how will our healers be doing their very best to safeguard it?

Augusto Zimmermann, Professor of Law at Sheridan College in Western Australia, also addressed these concerns. In one of two fiery responses, (the first being an open letter to the Prime Minister), Zimmermann acknowledged the difficult circumstance facing world leaders, but argued for an alternative to the heavy-handed measures being copied by governments around the world. Zimmerman citing Dr John Lonnidis, (a professor of medicine, of epidemiology and population health, of biomedical data science, and of statistics at Stanford University in California), noted that

“reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation (“WHO”), cause horror and are meaningless. The real rate, adjusted from wide age range, could be as low as 0.05 per cent and as high as one per cent. The 3.4 per cent mortality rate reported by the WHO only tells us about how many who died had been confirmed to have contracted Covid-19.”

Zimmerman advocated a surgical response which doesn’t involve throwing the baby out with the bath water. In his second response, Zimmerman echoed Hitchens, who is questioning the fall in, line up, salute, or else, approach, rightly stating:

“While emergency powers are sometimes needed, we are seeing examples of draconian measures that dramatically increase the arbitrary power of the state, thus allowing government to exercise mass surveillance powers over citizens and alarming restriction of civil liberties.”

Adding his voice to the growing number concerned about the direction Western governments are leading us, Cory Bernadi, in his recently rebooted ‘Weekly Dose of Common Sense’, condemned the heavy-handed measures, writing,

‘At this time, the alarmism and catastrophic predictions aren’t aligning with the facts but then again they rarely do. Yes, there are many people infected with the virus and people are dying but the headline figures don’t paint the full picture…To paraphrase US President Donald Trump, the supposed cure could be worse than the disease…This is the real contagion attached to this virus…I have said before, no government gets re-elected for avoiding a crisis. They only benefit from over-stating the danger, responding to it and claiming credit for the better than expected solution. So when you hear that 200k people or more could die from this virus in Australia, you can be pretty confident that the actual number will be a fraction of that. Then, the government can claim to have saved so many lives through their draconian response.’ (‘This is Killing Us!’ 25th March, 2020)

My own point about Morrison losing the home-front battle for national morale stands as a real and present danger for the P.M. He needs new speech writers. Either that or the current ones need a new approach.

Case in point, one of latest press conferences basically translates: “Thank you for being good little boys and girls this week, Australia. We know it’s hard, but mum and dad are real proud of you.” Plus there was zero mention or reassurance – yet again – about how freedoms are being safeguarded (or even if they are).

Instead we’re told that the military will be backing up civil authorities “with boots on the ground” to “enforce compliance” of inbound traveller quarantine.

To the Prime Ministers’ credit, Morrison did warn against wishing for a total lock-down, saying he hopes to avoid it because Australian life would change dramatically, and may never be the same again. Given the tone of Donald Trump’s daily briefings, and his desire to “re-open America”, it’d be right to say the U.S. President feels the same.

However, Hitchens, Levin, Augusto and Bernadi are right. We, the people, are not the virus. Question the new normal. There’s a very thin line between governments waging a war against the Wuhan COVID-19 coronavirus, and governments waging a war against their own people. Be vigilant about fighting the virus, but remain cautiously defiant.

In the words of the imperfect, formidable British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher:

‘Winston Churchill’s warning is just as true now as when he said it many, many years ago. “Once you take a position of not being able in any circumstances to defend your rights against aggression, there is no end to the demands that will be made nor to the humiliations that must be accepted.’ He knew, and we must heed his warning.” [i]

References (not otherwise linked):

[i] Thatcher, M. 1984. Speech to Conservatives (The day after the IRA’s assassination attempt in the Brighton Bombing).

* Heavy-handed measures include business closures, school closures, some military on the streets, as is being put into motion by Australia and Israel.

First published on Caldron Pool, 28th March, 2020

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

© Rod Lampard, 2020

The Trudeau era and its burgeoning “progressive” totalitarianism got an extension this week as Canadians voted. Consequently, Canadian Liberals were reinstated, winning 157 seats, against the Conservatives who secured 121. Conservatives scored a narrow loss, winning the popular vote at 34.4%, but not securing enough seats to win a majority. [i]

In an opinion piece for Crisis Magazine, Canadian Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, Donald, DeMarco, presented a grim analysis of Canada’s Trudeaun landscape.

DeMarco expressed concern about apathy, and a general lack of awareness at the slow erosion of hard-won, tried and true, classical liberal freedoms, stating that ‘many Canadian voters seemed indifferent to the fact that their culture is clearly shifting in a totalitarian direction.’

DeMarco’s concern isn’t unwarranted, as he points out,

‘The Trudeau government required students applying for government-funded summer jobs to sign an attestation professing their support of abortion, same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ coalition. He banned certain Christian summer camps serving underprivileged children from participating in the Canada Summer Jobs Program because of their religious beliefs. (This “is nothing short of anti-religious bigotry,” commented Justice Centre staff lawyer Marty Moore.) He has committed $7.1 billion over the next ten years to promote abortion at home and abroad. He will not allow Liberal MPs to vote their conscience on matters of abortion and LGBTQ matters, and he will not allow pro-life candidates to run as Liberals. He opposes conscience rights for health care workers.’

He’s not wrong. Lifesite news provided evidence on the 15th October, which proved that Trudeau was ‘personally involved’ in the creation of this echo of the Hitler oath requirement.

For DeMarco, these are part of a growing number of signs that totalitarianism is darkening the skies over Canada.

These signs include: ‘1) unanimity of thought, 2) suppression of criticism, 3) denial of conscience, 4) abdication of reason, 5) government coercion, 6) mass conditioning of thought and will, and 7) persecution of dissenters. All these signs are evident in Canadian society and they became crystal clear throughout the campaign.’ [ii]

These signs are across the Canadian political spectrum. According to DeMarco, even ‘the leaders of the New Democratic Party and the Green Party think the same way concerning abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ issues, doctor-assisted suicide, and the decriminalizing of marijuana and prostitution.’

The issue of totalitarianism isn’t just an issue for Canadians. All Westerners are looking down at this hypodermic needle, strategically poised to pierce the beating heart of the West’s foundations, most of which are grounded in the Biblical Christian witness of the Gospel; the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. There is no doubt therefore that the West is faced with a chiasm between a house of freedom under which we live out the liberation of the Gospel, and a house of slavery, under which we are enslaved by the destructive worship of idols and antichrists.

Without people (especially Bible believing Christians) who are willing to rise above the threat of isolation, above the noise of anxiety, and speak truth in love despite fear and timidity, history will repeat itself.Those on the Left, who’ve intravenously injected the Leftist kool-aid of modern liberalism, know this. Christianity is attacked beyond the boundaries of fair criticism because Bible believing Christians are a threat to totalitarian rule. They bring the Gospel witness to the state, which says, with respect for the role of the state, that the state is also subject to the sovereignty of the God who has spoken, and made Himself known in time and space, through Covenant with Israel, and in Jesus Christ.

Trudeau’s requirement is on par with that of Hans Kerrl. Kerrl was NAZI Minister for Church Affairs who acting on the National Socialist  decrees, famously demanded that,

“The Church’s proclamation [preaching/teaching; Gospel & service] must fall into the correct relationship with National Socialism [or else].” [iii]

Another grim example is United States, Democrat Presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke’s threat to remove tax-exemption from churches if they don’t pledge allegiance to LGBT ideology, specifically same-sex marriage.

Like O’Rourke’s cheap shot at Christian charities, most of whom carry their fair share of social responsibility, and then some, Trudeau seems drunk with power.

Governments should not be putting in place laws that will ultimately punish free citizens from refusing to align with Leftist, LGBT ideology, or punish people for apostatising from the LGBT religion.

It may seem like an odd prediction, but I’m almost convinced that the “no” of future generations to the widespread “yes, anything goes” Leftist moralism of our day, will be far harsher than the “no” we present to this new totalitarianism today.

Like the push back against the heinous, but much celebrated at the time, practice of lobotomization. One day the push back against this new totalitarianism will be a major rebuke to those, who, in the name of “progress” have sought to destroy the fabric of freedom and responsibility, found in healthy Western traditions. All by imposing new cultural laws on the body politic who a) had no idea about the dangers, but found themselves becoming its victims, and b) on those who critiqued it, but were silenced because they saw the danger and rigorously opposed it.

For the discerning citizen interested in seeing an end to the increasing war against Western civilisation by hostile Leftist forces, the election result in Canada wasn’t all that grim. To be sure, the election didn’t reflect a Trump or Scott Morrison win, but the election results show that Canada’s Conservative presence and voice is still strong.

All the indications suggest that this will only continue to build. The best those of us, who are seeking to protect the basic freedoms and responsibilities Westerners have inherited at great cost, can hope for, is that Canadians who share those same concerns, not wallow in defeat, but keep up the gains by using this new found momentum to obstruct destructive Trojan horse laws, and win in four years time.

In the meantime, Canada’s Trudeaun landscape will not be as it was. The election result significantly limits totalitarian Trudeau’s power, presenting the discerning citizen with a potential bulwark against the Left’s hatred for Biblical Christianity and Classical Liberalism, in their ever widening embrace of the abyss.


References:

[i] The Guardian, Canada Election 2019: Full Results sourced, 26th October 2019.

[ii] DeMarco, D. 2019 citing Michael O’Brien, 1993. The Family and the New Totalitarianism, Divine Providence Press.

[iii] Bethge, E. Bonhoeffer: A Biography. p.575

First published on Caldron Pool, 27th October 2019.

©Rod Lampard, 2019

‘Hatred obscures all distinctions.’

– (C.S Lewis, On Science Fiction, 1955)

Porthole1