The Oxford English Dictionary decided to choose as its word that characterised 2016 as ‘post truth’, which the dictionary defines as ‘circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,’ or, as it used to be called, ‘lies’ – Rabbi Lord Sacks on Post-Truth and the Erosion of Trust
ANNOUNCEMENTS from the Government, NHS, Sage, MHRA and the BBC have been so highly contradictory this past year that they seem designed to sow confusion and anxiety.
Indeed the Government have admitted to engendering a state of fear in the population in order to manufacture consent. ‘Fear’ is a big concept, and to use it to achieve political goals is antithetical to the values of Judeo-Christian civilisation. I like to think that the late Rabbi Lord Sacks – who in my view was England’s best theological philosopher – would have approved of my Christian attempt in April 2021 to criticise HM Government’s misappropriation of our God-given fear.
We’ve come to expect this Government’s anxiety-inducing and confusion-inducing tactics, like those of an abusive partner, to change overnight. The tergiversations of Boris Johnson include his flip-flop from vaccine is essential to prevent lockdowns in March 2021 to, in April 2021, lockdowns are essential, and ‘it is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme’.
A mere three months since his admission that vaccines are not responsible for the reductions in hospitalisations and deaths, Johnson has flip-flopped again. Following a modest increase in hospitalisations and deaths (although deaths ‘involving Covid-19’ are now about a mere 2 per cent of all UK deaths recorded by ONS) the unvaccinated are now to blame.
In other words, despite the vaccination programme’s not achieving reductions in deaths or infections, those who are vaccinated are to be fearful and contemptuous of what the Government are now classifying as the ‘selfish’ unvaccinated.
Why would anyone trust this Government’s ideas of the common good when it is so confused about the science, so opportunistic in its policy adjurations and so unmindful of medical ethics?
They forget that the ethics of modern medicineare centred on self-interest. These ethics tell us not to accept personal medical intervention (especially not of ‘investigational medicine not licensed for any indication’) for the supposed common good. They protect us from exploitation and harm. We accept medical intervention for our own good, not the common good. In any case, population immunity, achieved through high vaccine take-up, is a by-product rather than the primary reason for immunising an individual.
This ethical problem is particularly pertinent to the arguments given for rolling the programme out to children, but is also relevant to the majority of healthy working-age adults. The mortality risk from Covid-19 in this cohort is lower than that for seasonal influenza. People are being persuaded to have these vaccines ‘to protect society at large’. Why is nobody in Government paying attention to the significant morbidity and mortality being reported via the Yellow Card system in relation to the administration of the vaccines? Young healthy people are being exposed to risks, both known and unknown, in taking these vaccines, yet have little if anything to gain in terms of personal benefit, as the evidence of breakthrough infections mounts.
Boris Johnson’s latest diktat is that ‘proof of a negative test will no longer be enough’, and that proof of vaccination will be required to enter crowded spaces and events. He has threatened to mandate Covid-19 vaccine ‘passports’ for all of us who want to participate fully in British society. They are already mandated for care workers.
When you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. Just days after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told the unvaccinated they were selfish, the Government has announced that it is forming partnerships with Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims to bribe the young with taxi and food discounts. So within the space of a week, the Government has described the young as selfish for not being vaccinated with an experimental gene therapy, only to appeal to the most superficially selfish of whims with free junk food.
There is no honesty. There is no truth, which leads to there being no trust. And with a generalised loss of trust, there is no civilisation, there is rather social engineering, coercion, and divide-and-rule bullying by those in power. As Rabbi Lord Sacks warned on the ‘erosion of trust’: ‘In the absence of truth, no society can stand . . . unless and until we re-establish the moral basis of Western civilisation (which is a combination of the Judeo-Christian heritage and the enlightenment values), until we recover the ideals of honour and honesty in public life, then post-truth will lead us inexorably to post freedom, which is a place none of us should want to be.’