1: Braggadocio

Let’s talk about rightwing liassez faire coronavirus denialism, or, in other words, “Let’s take it on the chin, folks!”

It all began with an ‘It’s just like flu’ shrug, a sprinkling of ‘I’ll shake hands with anyone’ braggadocio and a Nudge Unit hint of mask aversion


2: Karma

We should be pleased, I suppose, that karma eventually kicked in



Though was it really truly, madly, deeply karmic enough?

3: Business

Then we had to listen to the ‘guardians of business’ spiel.


This? From failed business men and tax evaders?

Our ‘guardians of business’ – the Trumps, Johnsons and Bolsonaros – promptly delivered the world’s worst recessions to the countries they claimed to govern….


Well done, folks!

It seems being ‘guardians AGAINST Covid’ was a better way to protect business after all.

4: The herd

Almost from the start we had Herd Immunity – the ‘Smoking doesn’t give you cancer’ and ‘CO2 doesn’t cause climate change’ of our times….

What will they deny next? The holocaust?


5: Immunity

I’ve never taken kindly to being part of a herd. I’d rather be part of the human race, or part of all life on Earth.

Is herd membership something you’re ok with?

Herd immunity – championed by the same commentators, think tanks and lobby groups who don’t like public healthcare, free education, the NHS or paying taxes….

Nice bedfellows, are they?


They’re certainly not the friends I’d choose.

6: Long Covid

So what sort of panacea is herd immunity?

If applied as public policy (as Trump has almost achieved), it’ll leave many thousands dead, many millions with Long Covid or fatigue syndrome and, after all that, it almost certainly won’t work….


Did I hear you say herd immunity wiped out the common cold?

7: Mass death

You need vaccines or mass death to wipe out fatal diseases, and if you haven’t got the first and don’t want the second then you need to Test, Trace and Isolate – with lockdown as a last resort.

T, T & I….

So how are the authoritarian populists doing on that front?

8: Lockdown

And now we come to the confected lockdown controversy, which has an immediate and pleasing bonus.

Lockdown denialism lets our failing leaders off the hook. They didn’t manage lockdown properly…. but why worry? Lockdowns don’t actually make a difference, do they?

9: Jail

Lockdown denialism: a Get Out Of Jail Free card for the Bolsonaros, Johnsons and Trumps of this world.

10: Sweden

But what about Sweden?

Ah, Sweden! – the siren call of the laissez faire Covid responder!

Yet with a recession equal to its neighbours and a Covid death rate many times higher, is it really such a beacon of success?


11: Lockdown as murder

And let’s not forget that ‘lockdown is murder’. All those hospital postponements! The resultant, inadvertent deaths.

But that’s another confected argument.

No one claims lockdown is an unadulterated good. It’s just the least worst option for countries failing to develop decent track and trace.

12: Death postponement

As we grind into the second wave of coronavirus (or, in some cases, just continue with the first), our authoritarian populists get truly cynical. “Lockdown is just a postponement of deaths,” they tell us.

Which would be valid if….

postponement wasn’t good in itself (who wouldn’t want their death postponed?)

postponement didn’t allow treatments to improve & hospitals prepare

So let’s just call the ‘lockdown postpones deaths’ argument what it is. It’s the ‘rejection of empathy’ argument. It’s the ‘Who gives a damn about the vulnerable and the old?’ argument.

Why not just let the old f***ers die?

13: The principle

So what’s behind the cynicism, the denialism, the fake science? Perhaps this: Authoritarian populists don’t like looking after other people. Utter selfishness is at the heart of their beliefs.

That’s why this type of leader has failed so badly at handling the pandemic. Tackling coronavirus meant they had to look after other people.

That’s not what they like doing.

These ‘strong leaders’ care very little about other people’s risks. They strongly dislike investing in precautions like ICU beds, PPE, ventilators, lockdowns, masks.

They strongly dislike helping others.

They DO like giving huge contracts to their friends – but that’s just a backdoor means of arranging future benefits for themselves.

COVID reveals capitalism’s beating heart.

If you want selfishness to be the guiding principle of everyone’s lives, why do anything at all to protect others?

On principle, the only person you care about is yourself.

 Luke Andreski

Luke Andreski is co-founder of the @EthicalRenewal and EthicalIntelligence.Org cooperatives and author of Short Conversations: During the Plague (2020), Intelligent Ethics (2019), Ethical Intelligence (2019), the novel To The Bridge (2018) and How To Be Happy (2017).


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