The Licensed Human Being Replaces the Responsible Citizen

 

I’ve got COVID again, and I feel lousy.  I can’t concentrate, and I don’t feel like putting together a post.  But Rufus posted a link to a fantastic article by Michael Esfeld, which got my propeller spinning.  Well, it’s not spinning too fast right now, but it’s trying.  Anyway, please read the whole article.  It’s dense, but take your time — it’s worth the effort.  For example, check out this passage from the middle of the article (emphasis mine):

This construction of a postfactual reality is furthermore postmodern in that it reverses the relationship between rights and the state: in the modern epoch, it was the task of the state to protect fundamental rights. In the postmodern regime, the state grants freedom as privilege for conformity. The mechanism that seduced many academics that have no sympathy with intellectual postmodernism is this one: it is suggested that by pursuing one’s normal, everyday course of life, one endangers the well-being of others. Every form of physical contact can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Every activity has an impact on the non-human environment that can contribute to life-threatening climate change.

Presenting habitual, everyday ways of life as endangering others is what the construction of a corona as well as of a climate crisis and the fear and hysteria fueled by these constructions serve to do. Science can be used for this in the same way as religion was in premodern times: with model calculations in which the parameters can be arbitrarily adjusted, and any version of disaster scenarios can be painted on the wall. The dominance of models over evidence fits perfectly with the postfactual construction of reality in actually existing postmodernism.

One then frees oneself from the general suspicion of harming others through one’s everyday course of life by acquiring a social pass – such as the vaccination pass or another form of a certificate – by which one shows one’s compliance with the regime. The licensed human being thereby replaces the responsible citizen. Rewards for conformity take the place of basic rights.

Again, he packs a lot of ideas into a relatively brief article, so it’s hard to summarize.  But that’s a lot to consider in just three paragraphs.  He points out that one way to get people to forfeit their personal freedom in favor of centralized power systems is to convince them that everything they do hurts someone else.

Modern free societies are based on the premise that you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt someone else.  Well, what happens once we agree that everything we do hurts someone else?  Well, that’s the end of the free society, obviously.  At that point, we clearly need governmental oversight.  Over absolutely everything.  From energy policy, to infectious disease management, to income redistribution, and so on and so on.

There is no limiting principle to such thinking.  Once we agree that everything we do hurts someone else, then there is nothing that the government cannot reasonably and ethically control.  Obviously.

He then explains the importance of models – climate change models, COVID death prediction models, and so on.  Use models to predict impending catastrophe.  Then use more models to “predict” how much the government “intervention” is likely to “help” the “catastrophe.”

By emphasizing models over facts, our betters can do better than just responding to crises with ever more state control – they can create those crises themselves in the form of models.  Thus they control the entire loop.  Much easier to manage than trying to solve actual problems that tend to be unpredictable and difficult to control.  Reality is unpredictable like that.  So models are better.

And since at this point the government is creating the illusion of the problems they want to leverage, that same government can also create the illusion of virtue among the most compliant of its citizens, by granting them some limited degree of the freedom they just forfeited, in exchange for doing as they’re told:

Ok, our models say that COVID is going to kill tens of millions of Americans this year.  Our models also say that if you get a vaccine, that number will be reduced to tens of thousands.  If you agree to get your vaccine, we will allow you to have dinner out at Applebee’s.  You’re welcome.  Click the Facebook link to send your campaign contributions.  

Some of these model-generated crises are created out of whole cloth, like global warming.  Others are exaggerated or tweaked to get the desired impact, like COVID.

But regardless, this is a powerful tool:

Convince people that their every action hurts someone.
Create models to convince people of impending doom if they don’t do what the government says.
Take control of society bit by bit, always with the pretension of helping people, so people don’t notice the loss of their freedoms.
Run for office on the popularity of giving the people a bit of their freedom back in exchange for compliance.

If my brain was working, I’d write a long, complex post about Mr. Esfeld’s article.  But lucky for you, dear reader, I’m going back to bed.

You’re better off reading the original, anyway.  It really is brilliant.  Very concerning.  But brilliant.

I look forward to hearing your perspectives on his ideas.

P.S.  Thanks for the link, Rufus.  Awesome stuff.

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  1. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    It is good stuff.

    Some bourbon would probably help you sleep. (:

     

    { And get well soon!  We’re short on high-quality posts! }

    • #1
  2. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    As it happens I have some adjacent thoughts in the current issue of Touchstone Magazine.

    Here are the relevant bits:

    Perhaps we should not be surprised that so many have tightened their grip on the official messaging even though trust in institutions is declining. Viruses are overwhelmingly complicated. The science is actually uncertain. But many people don’t want the science to be uncertain. As moderns, we conceive of ourselves as technological masters of our domain. “Mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind,” as Flannery O’Connor observed. But this pandemic has delivered a massive torpedo to our tanker of modern hubris, right below the water line.

    In response, we have attempted to patch the hole left by the Covid torpedo by reconstituting the definition of “science.” Any distinction between “the science” and the pronouncements of bureaucrats has been thoroughly blurred. And more than that, the opinions of health bureaucrats are increasingly viewed by many as not only reflecting a vaguely defined utilitarian good, but as amounting to an actual moral good. Even among Christians, the perspective has become widespread that masking, cancelled gatherings, and the so-called vaccines represent the sine qua non of concern for our neighbors. Elevating the official Covid storyline to the apex of moral virtue has the comforting advantage of relieving us of the burden of sifting through all the complex and scary uncertainty. But it also reassures us that, though we increasingly view those who bear the image of God primarily as vectors for the transmission of disease, we nevertheless have things under control and our virtue is still intact.

    • #2
  3. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Sorry to hear it Dr. B. Curious, how did you get it? From patients? Except for Dr. and govt offices very few masking in San Francisco.  All three children and their spouses got it with quick recoveries but my wife and I have not. So far. 

    • #3
  4. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    So what you’re saying is that you think it’s okay to kill my grandmother by not wearing a mask?

    Great post, Doc. I’ve bookmarked the article. Thanks.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I want to believe his premise will be difficult to actualize after COVID. Are people really going to believe that everything they do hurts someone? Can’t we publicize all the lies that were put out about COVID (since it seems like more and more information is trickling out)? Won’t there be enough sheeple who will finally say, enough is enough? Where is the actual science?

    Good grief.

    P.S. Doc, you gotta feel better soon. Carrying the load is wearing me out . . . ;-)

    • #5
  6. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    This isn’t my day to say really intelligent things on the Internet, but that article is a very refined version of the way I view things. That guy just nails it. 

    • #6
  7. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    This isn’t my day to say really intelligent things on the Internet, but that article is a very refined version of the way I view things. That guy just nails it.

    I must’ve missed that day.

    Ha!  Sorry, Rufus.  You shouldn’t leave openings like that in this crowd…

    • #7
  8. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    I read the piece and agree with his analysis and prescription.  I rarely read anything this intelligent and perceptive, so I am very grateful to you and @rufusrjones for posting it.

    • #8
  9. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    This isn’t my day to say really intelligent things on the Internet, but that article is a very refined version of the way I view things. That guy just nails it.

    I must’ve missed that day.

    Ha! Sorry, Rufus. You shouldn’t leave openings like that in this crowd…

    I think I wrote that right when I woke up, which was when I ran out of gas. lol

    I was really hoping somebody smart would notice that, and you add so much because of your excellent writing ability. It’s also great because I am obsessed about the things you didn’t mention, the balance you have brought is critical. lol Thanks.

    There are like three people left here that are fluent in political economy and that is what I think is the best vector for analysis. Philo was the best.

    • #9
  10. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    This isn’t my day to say really intelligent things on the Internet, but that article is a very refined version of the way I view things. That guy just nails it.

    I must’ve missed that day.

    Ha! Sorry, Rufus. You shouldn’t leave openings like that in this crowd…

    What I mean is, I’m going to comment on your great article, tomorrow I hope.

    • #10
  11. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    “He then explains the importance of models – climate change models, COVID death prediction models, and so on.  Use models to predict impending catastrophe.  Then use more models to “predict” how much the government “intervention” is likely to “help” the “catastrophe”. “

    I don’t think most people, and certainly most politicians, have any idea what a mathematical model IS, let alone the strengths and limitations of such modeling.  (What does someone like Al Gore visualize when hearing the term ‘mathematical model’…a hot woman with algebraic symbols strategically located on her (skimpy) costume?)

    The vast quantities of money spent on Education in past decades have certainly not done much in equipping the population with the knowledge needed to think about important public issues intelligently.

    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead?  Seems to me that students should be equipped with some comprehension of how mathematical modeling of real-world phenomena actually works, from basic falling objects to prediction of epidemic spread.

     

     

    • #11
  12. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    David Foster (View Comment):
    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead? 

    I’ve been screaming that for years.  Statistics – and I mean long, detailed study of statistics – should not be optional.  Drop algebra and calculus if you must.  But I don’t see how anyone makes sense of the world around them without a strong understanding of statistics.

    • #12
  13. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    Dr. Bastiat: I’ve got COVID again

    I’m beginning to feel guilty that I only had it once. 

    • #13
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I got it three months ago and it was a real bitch. Coughing and really awful nerve pain. Joe Pags’ sidekick hurt so much that her doctor gave her mono clonal antibodies. I don’t see a lot of people talking about the pain angle. I also had semi bad nausea. Compared to the flu though, I could get up and take care of myself pretty well.

    • #14
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead?

    I’ve been screaming that for years. Statistics – and I mean long, detailed study of statistics – should not be optional. Drop algebra and calculus if you must. But I don’t see how anyone makes sense of the world around them without a strong understanding of statistics.

    I don’t see how you could understand statistics unless you first learned algebra and calculus.

    • #15
  16. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead?

    I’ve been screaming that for years. Statistics – and I mean long, detailed study of statistics – should not be optional. Drop algebra and calculus if you must. But I don’t see how anyone makes sense of the world around them without a strong understanding of statistics.

    I don’t see how you could understand statistics unless you first learned algebra and calculus.

    Algebra for sure. But had a very good statistics course in business school without calculus. 

    • #16
  17. Blondie Thatcher
    Blondie
    @Blondie

    Even at less than full capacity, Doc, you write a fine post. I’m off to read the article. Feel better soon. 

    • #17
  18. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I am a computer / IT guy.  The use of models instead of actual data is aggravating me to no end.  I have created many models over the years and have forced them to produce the results my clients / employers required.  Models are just ways to justify human whim with fancy BS.  

    • #18
  19. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    I had to take two statistics classes. Very valuable. 

    • #19
  20. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Dr. Bastiat: Modern free societies are based on the premise that you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t hurt someone else. 

    I think that this is a terrible premise.  I do think that you are correct in identifying this as the basis for what the proponents of such a utopian Randian Libertarian view of the world consider to be a “modern free society.”

    It seems to me that all such societies suck.

    Let me tell you what we got, since people adopted this premise, which seems to have occurred during the first half of the 20th Century:

    • Massive family breakdown
    • Illegitimacy rates that are through the roof
    • High levels of divorce, followed by somewhat lower levels as the number of marriages declined
    • Increasing sexual immorality of every kind, from fornication to adultery to homosexual perversion, and beyond.
    • Increases in unwanted pregnancy, leading to a massive abortion industry
    • High levels of porn addiction, leading many young men to check out of their lives, with declining rates of not only marriage, but even of actual (immoral) premarital sex
    • Falling birthrates, presenting the demographic threat outlined in Peter Robinson’s Uncommon Knowledge post today
    • A huge increase in depression, anxiety, and despair
    • Rampant drug and alcohol abuse, leading to high levels of self-inflicted deaths of despair
    • Increasing crime, ameliorated for a time by mass incarceration

    Sodom and Gomorrah, in short.  It ain’t pretty.

    As far as I can tell from my historical and legal studies, this was not the state of our nation for roughly the first 125-175 years.  We had state and local laws prohibiting people from doing all sorts of destructive things — laws against drug use, alcohol abuse, divorce, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and pornography.  Even in the early part of the 20th Century, the Supreme Court recognized that the states retained what they called the “police power” to regulate public health, safety, welfare, and morals.

    The first round of changes to these laws occurred around 1920, coinciding with women’s suffrage.  The next big change was in the 1960s.  There seemed to be a swing back to morality in the 1970s and 1980s, but it was minimal and short-lived.

    I think that your vision of a “modern free society” ends in anarchism, selfishness, despair, and demographic death.  This appears to be happening in every single so-called “modern free society,” except Israel — this is according to Peter’s interview with Nicholas Eberstadt.

    I would not count on Israel to persist in bucking this trend.  About 20 years ago, Mark Steyn was writing about the demographic decline of the rest of the so-called “free world,” though at the time, America was the exception.  We are no longer an exception.

    I’m with Kipling on this.

    On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
    (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
    Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

    I am continually surprised at the way that Libertarians are impervious to the facts.

    I could go on, of course.  Consider our immigration and trade policies.  In the name of Liberty and the anti-government sentiment, we allowed the importation of tens of millions of unskilled and semi-skilled foreign immigrants.  As Eberstadt pointed out in his interview with Peter, this naturally drives down wages for the American working class.  But who cares?  The wealthy got cheaper labor.  In the name of Liberty, we gave access to our lucrative consumer market to the ChiComs, for crying out loud, again harming our own working class and enriching — even creating — a geopolitical peer-competitor.

    There are bad laws.  The answer to that is not to have no laws.  The answer is to have good laws.

    I know that this is possible, because we used to do it in this country.  Before the unholy alliance of the Leftists and the Libertarians.

     
    • #20
  21. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    The climate change effort was too slow moving so then we got the coronavirus and that worked a lot better. It even helped get Joe Biden in the White House so they could do a restart on the climate change and Great Reset movements.

    Michael Esfeld is a professor of Philosophy of Science. I do not know what his position is on science in general but he sounds good based on this article. I made a comment on a post a while back, can’t remember which post now, but I suggested that our political.leaders are approaching science the wrong way, that we should be using science to falsify theories instead of keeping all the data that supports a theory and throwing away all that tends towards possible falsification. The climate change movement and the coronavirus pandemic are good illustrations of this faulty approach to science. I think I mentioned David Deutsch and his favored philosopher of science Karl Popper, who wrote extensively on the need for falsification to be the touchstone of science.

    These modern day idiots will probably burn someone at the stake if they falsify someone’s favorite theory.

     

    • #21
  22. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Before the unholy alliance of the Leftists and the Libertarians.

    What about the alliance between Rightists and Libertarians?

    Because that’s a thing, and all it’s done is weakened conservatism.

    • #22
  23. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Good post Bob. Re: the climate model scam check Watt’s up with That site.  Lots of really sharp scientists, Lomborg, Judith Curry, etc. showing the objective actual climate temp results vs. the “models”. Models have not been accurate for over 40 years. And will likely never be since the creators are getting our taxpayer dollars to create catastrophic climate change. Like Michael Mann. 

    • #23
  24. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead?

    I’ve been screaming that for years. Statistics – and I mean long, detailed study of statistics – should not be optional. Drop algebra and calculus if you must. But I don’t see how anyone makes sense of the world around them without a strong understanding of statistics.

    I don’t see how you could understand statistics unless you first learned algebra and calculus.

    Elementary stats just needs algebra. But probability and stats requires a bit more, for sure. At least through derivatives and integration.

    • #24
  25. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good post Bob. Re: the climate model scam check Watt’s up with That site. Lots of really sharp scientists, Lomborg, Judith Curry, etc. showing the objective actual climate temp results vs. the “models”. Models have not been accurate for over 40 years. And will likely never be since the creators are getting our taxpayer dollars to create catastrophic climate change. Like Michael Mann.

    Just like the vaccine researchers and the pharmaceutical companies.

    • #25
  26. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I am surprised that you didn’t quote your Uncle Fred.

    “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

    “If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”

    Legislators and appointed agents might as well be replaced with scientists and experts. Obviously, they are just better than a regular person.

     

    • #26
  27. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I am surprised that you didn’t quote your Uncle Fred.

    “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

    “If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?”

    Legislators and appointed agents might as well be replaced with scientists and experts. Obviously, they are just better than a regular person.

     

    We are on our way back to Egypt o.o

    https://ricochet.com/810479/diana-is-better-than-venus/

    • #27
  28. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    David Foster (View Comment):
    There is a post & discussion at Quillette on the subject: Should colleges stop requiring calculus and require statistics instead?

    I’ve been screaming that for years. Statistics – and I mean long, detailed study of statistics – should not be optional. Drop algebra and calculus if you must. But I don’t see how anyone makes sense of the world around them without a strong understanding of statistics.

     

    The sickness that was diagnosed in the Esfeld essay involves the neutralization of the intellectual leadership class by earlier generations of progressivist saboteurs. 

    The positions in academics, journalism, business, and government that require intellectuals are now predominantly occupied by nominally credentialed people who lack critical thinking and reading skills.

    If the republic is to be restored, it will AT LEAST need to educate a new generation of intellectuals, and these people will need both economics and statistical thinking skills.

    • #28
  29. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Sodom and Gomorrah, in short.  It ain’t pretty.

    I am continually surprised at the way that Libertarians are impervious to the facts.

    The story of Sodom and Gomorrah involved the gang rape of strangers who were obligated to be protected under the laws of hospitality by Middle Eastern. Lot of messed up stuff with sex in the U.S.A. right now but outside of Hollywood, the U.S.A. is very much anti-rape. 

    Also, you confuse facts with interpretations. Libertarians don’t oppose pornography laws because they disagree with your facts about porn addiction. They interpret your policy as being worse than the present state of freedom.

    By all means describe how Libertarians interpret the world incorrectly if you so desire but distinguish between facts and interpretation.

    • #29
  30. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I want to believe his premise will be difficult to actualize after COVID.

    It should have been difficult after the global cooling scare of the ’70’s.  Or the hole in the ozone layer in the ’80’s.  Or the acid rain of the ’90’s.  We don’t seem to learn from previous over-responses.

    Humans are panicky herd animals who quickly leap to believe in whatever the bad news of the day is.  Which creates opportunities for those who want power and lack ethics.

    • #30
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