The COVID pandemic offered an unprecedented excuse for want-to-be authoritarians to stifle liberty.
To fight disease, once unthinkable government controls abound. Entire economies have been shut down, businesses closed involuntarily, and people thrown out of work.
Contact tracing apps were invented to alert the user when exposed to someone with the virus, but which also kept a clear record of individual movements.
Vaccine mandates enforced through phone app-facilitated “passports” are now proliferating. Soon, continued employment or ability to participate in society freely may depend on proving one has received the jab.
Ok, Wesley. That’s admittedly tough medicine, but it was necessitated as a public health measure to defeat a dangerous communicable disease. Once COVID fades away or becomes endemic like the flu, everything returns to normal. Right?
Not if the technocrats get their way. COVID whetted their appetite for power, and now they want their existing “temporary” sway over how we live to become a permanent fixture of society.
The question is how to get people to surrender more of their liberty. One potential plan would impose an international technocratic control in the name of preventing future pandemics.
One such approach was laid out last year by Dr. Anthony Fauci in a co-authored piece in a science journal advocating that the UN and the WHO be empowered to enact measures that would “rebuild the infrastructure of human existence.”
Fighting global warming presents an even more ominous pretext for establishing the system of rule by experts. Restrictions on personal liberty have long been promoted as a necessary prophylactic to prevent environment degradation. But now, they are being peddled as a means of protecting human health and wellness.
And the “good news”— from the autocratic perspective—is that unlike COVID, the goal of “net zero” carbon emissions, which we are told must be imposed to keep us from boiling like a lobster in the pot, could never be achieved. Genius! That means, the technocracy would never end.
A recent editorial in the Journal of Medical Ethics lays out the mindset. “Many governments met the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented funding,” the editors write. “The environmental crisis demands a similar emergency response.” See what I mean?
But it wouldn’t just be about spending more money. Only the most radical refashioning of society will do. “Governments must make fundamental changes to how our societies and economies are organized and how we live…Governments must intervene to support the redesign of transport systems, cities, production and distribution of food, markets for financial investments, health systems, and much more.” If that reads suspiciously like Dr. Fauci, that because technocrats all think alike.
The plans being laid by “the experts” would also constrain our freedom by subjecting us all to a system of high-tech surveillance—disturbingly similar to the tyrannical Chinese social credit system. An advocacy article in the prestigious science journal Nature by four environmental “experts,” lays out one such very disturbing proposal—a means of restricting individual behavior known as “personal carbon allowances,” or PCAs, for short.
They write, “A PCA scheme would be “a national mandatory policy” that would entail all adults receiving an equal tradable carbon allowance that reduces over time in line with national [carbon] targets.” Think World War II-style rationing coupons that limited individual purchases of gasoline and other commodities gone high tech, with lower allowances allowed with each passing year.
How would PCAs work? Individual allotments would be “deducted from the personal budget with every payment of transportation fuel, home heating oil fuels and electricity bills.”
But what if you exhausted your individual carbon allotment? “People in shortage would be able to purchase additional units in the personal carbon market from those with excess to sell,” the authors assure us. What that really means is that the rich could avoid giving up their private planes since they could just buy up other people’s carbon allowances.
Apps would play a central role in enforcing PCAs. “Recent studies show how COVID-19 contact tracing apps were successfully implemented with mandatory schemes in several East Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, and South Korea,” the authors applaud. “In these countries, the apps assessed the user’s travel history and health status, playing a key role in tracking infection.”
That technology would now be the means for imposing even more profoundly intrusive information gathering about our personal conduct. The authors sigh that “the many digital-tracing algorithms that were developed and tested provide initial valuable information for the design of future apps that—for example—estimate emissions on the basis of the tracking the user’s movement history.”
In other words, Big Expert would know where you have been, what you have bought, and who you have seen.
It wouldn’t just be apps. “Advances in AI…promise to improve personalized feedback and advice. Recent advances in smarter home and transport options make it possible to easily track and manage a large share of individuals’ emissions.” (And don’t forget about facial recognition technologies!)
“AI could be especially beneficial for PCA designs that also include food-and-consumption-related emissions.” In other words, if you eat that hamburger, we will know and deduct from your PCA accordingly! Good grief.
All of this would have once been beyond belief, the authors admit. But because millions cooperated with COVID restrictions, “people may be more prepared to accept the tracking and limitations related to PCAs to achieve a safer climate.” In other words, emboldened by our compliance with supposedly temporary public health measures, our would-be technocrat overlords see a chance to seize permanent autocratic control.
Let’s not let them. We still have the power to thwart rule by experts through democratic means. But if we lack the courage, if we acquiesce—again—to significant liberty constraints in the name of protecting health, the soft totalitarianism we will have facilitated will not be their fault. It will be ours.
Award winning author Wesley J. Smith is chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.