X Close

Europe faces death by decadence Respecting voters is now seen as a sign of weakness

'Europe’s leaders have clearly put themselves in an almost impossible situation' (Alejandro Martinez Velez/Europa Press via Getty Images)

'Europe’s leaders have clearly put themselves in an almost impossible situation' (Alejandro Martinez Velez/Europa Press via Getty Images)


April 10, 2024   5 mins

The past week of Swedish politics has been a mysterious case of a dog that should have barked, but then simply didn’t. In a barely covered press release, the Riksbanken — Sweden’s central bank — announced that it had lost some 44 billion kr (£3.2 billion), and needed that much money from the state in order to return to the minimal level of capitalisation stipulated by the law. For a small country such as Sweden, this is a very large sum: it represents fully half of what the state spent on defence during the 2023 fiscal year.

The reasons for this new hole in the budget aren’t particularly unique: like every other country in the West, Sweden got too used to zero-interest policies being the new normal, and only belatedly caught up with the new reality brought about by post-Covid interest hikes. The central bank thus engaged in a game of buying high and selling low: loading up on bonds at a point where interest rates were low, and then offloading them when the rates shot up and the economy began taking a turn for the worse.

If one wanted to damn the central bank with some very faint praise, one could at least say that they’re hardly alone in this predicament: the UK is suffering from very similar problems, and much of Europe is stuck in a very deep economic malaise. Yet that doesn’t really change the facts on the ground: the Swedish state, which intended to boost defence spending in order to counter the threat from Russia, now finds that it no longer has the required cash in the bank. Thus, a time of very hard choices is approaching: either the Government must abandon the idea of these defence investments (many of which are strictly necessary just to compensate for what has already been given up on behalf of Ukraine), or engage in some very painful and very unpopular austerity elsewhere.

One might think that a budgetary disaster like this would receive a lot of coverage, but that would be quite wrong. Instead, the public debate in Sweden in recent days has been consumed by a very different story, one that, when taken together with the depressing news from the Riksbanken, lends an air of growing absurdity to the state of politics in both Sweden and Europe as a whole.

At the centre of this recent drama is a controversial law intended to make it easier to change gender. In theory, this should be a boringly familiar culture-war story, a tale of woke politics squaring off against supposedly narrow-minded conservatives. But reality is sometimes much stranger than fiction: Sweden today is governed by the Right, not the Left, and it is the Moderate party that is implicated in pushing this law through. The prime minister of Sweden — Ulf Kristersson — is thus leading the effort to lower the age at which one can change one’s legal gender from 18 to 16, even as a massive supermajority of his own voting base are against this change. To further inflame things, his parliamentary group is also opposed to it, although it is being whipped to vote in favour. And to top it all off, some of the law’s fiercer criticism is coming from the Left, where there are deep concerns about its promises to make it easier to access irreversible surgery.

The Swedish Right, in other words, is busy instituting a Left-leaning reform that some significant parts of the Left do not want, over the stringent objections of many politicians on the Right, and in total contravention of the desires of voters on the Right. Confusion thus abounds: why would the Moderates spend all this energy on an issue that only promises to make their own voters feel dismayed?

If one takes a step back, it becomes clear that this sort of political circus fits into a wider, pan-European pattern. Though the disaster at the Riksbanken and the Kafkaesque process to force through a law nobody really wants may seem to be completely separate issues, they are better understood as two sides of the same coin. As a politician, it’s easy to think that your job is first and foremost to be seen doing something, almost regardless of whatever that “something” ends up being.

“This sort of political circus fits into a wider, pan-European pattern”

Here we can again look to Europe-at-large: outside of the political establishment, the war on farmers in the Netherlands and in Germany clearly has very few friends and very many bitter enemies, yet it keeps going. In France and the UK, politicians are now beating on the drums of mass mobilisation and a return to total industrial warfare, even as the polls show that few are interested. Rather than channelling the will of the electorate, the new job of an increasing number of politicians seems to be going in precisely the opposite direction of what most people desire. Giving people what they want, these politicians seem to say, is a sign of weakness. It is a capitulation to “populism”; doing the opposite of what the people who put you in office want, conversely, is seen displaying the strength or “bravery” needed to stand up to the putative mob.

In a twisted sort of way, the logic makes sense. As the actual room to manoeuvre shrinks and shrinks — as deindustrialisation and the blowback from economic sanctions on Russia sets in — there’s progressively fewer popular things that politicians can actually do. Europe’s leaders have clearly put themselves in an almost impossible situation, promising total victory in Ukraine, economic defeat for Russia, and even the economic ring-fencing and isolation of China. These projects are now falling apart, and the fallout from those failures is gradually being felt. Even before the full-scale war in Ukraine, before the Covid pandemic, the European Monetary Union was clearly limping; Germany’s industrial model was slowly succumbing to its internal contradictions, and the EU project itself was stalling politically and economically. As far back as 2015, the EU’s only “solution” to the sort of economic stagnation seen in Italy was to kick the can down the road. Now, it seems, we are quickly running out of road.

Here, one is reminded of the French historian Jacques Barzun, who published what is probably his greatest work, From Dawn to Decadence, at the ripe age of 93. In our times, it is common to use the word “decadent” as a slur or a moral judgement, but Barzun himself famously took a much more nuanced view:

“All that is meant by Decadence is ‘falling off’. It implies in those who live in such a time no loss of energy or talent or moral sense. On the contrary, it is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance… Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces.”

In the case of the Swedish Moderates, it seems that Barzun’s vision of “decadence” has now truly set in. They are far from lacking in energy; in fact, they seem constantly, frantically busy, doing things they themselves do not understand and do not want. The horizon of possibility seems to have closed, and only bad options remain: they can either renege on their promises to deliver a robust defence, or they can opt to fulfil those promises through ruthless austerity measures guaranteed to be incredibly toxic to the electorate.

The result of this is a sort of hypertrophy; a politics emptied of all sense and meaning. The Moderates are not alone in this, however; one only needs to cast a glance at the battles between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to find an even more egregious case of a political class completely divorced from its own electorate. And so we find ourselves in a peculiar situation: a world where popularity and respect look increasingly unattainable for Western politicians, and where unpopularity and anger will soon become the only real yardstick left to measure success. Sure, you might end up doing something nobody asked you to do and nobody wants you to do — but at least you’re still doing something.


Malcom Kyeyune is a freelance writer living in Uppsala, Sweden

SwordMercury

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

127 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

And the people with solutions are labeled far right and repressed.

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur King

…or far left.
Or, weirdly, both.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago

I’ve voted in every election since I was able to, but this time I can barely be bothered. It really feels like the whole show is now grinding to a halt or is just about to collapse in a mess of its own contradictions.

I’m sure the politicians feel just as moribund as we do and can barely muster enough energy to lie to us all again.

Meanwhile the ECHR has told some old biddies in Switzerland that they can hold their government responsible for ‘not doing enough to combat climate change’ (‘enough’ being just how much exactly?).

Talk about luxury pursuits in a country still living off the interest from Jewish millions post-Holocaust that they haven’t quite got round to giving back to any surviving relatives.

We didn’t really need a Cass report – and even she’s still waffling on about ‘respecting Transgender identities’ (shhhh – they don’t really exist).

It would’ve been far easier to spell out to everyone that there’s no money left for half the ‘medical interventions’ we actually need, never mind this half-baked boll**s.

Really we are entering the end game I feel. Time to go and get a gun. No nasty replies, please or you’ll be added to my list.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Nasty reply? Wouldn’t dream of it.

I get the impression all our political leaders are out of their depth. They’ve floundering.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Interesting times indeed. Maybe vote Reform.

Alex Moscow
Alex Moscow
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Why? The idea that Tice & Co have the answers or represent any kind of positive change is risible.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

He is, don’t you agree, referring to Nietzsche’s “Untimely Meditations”: “Consider the cattle, grazing as you pass them by: they leap about, eat, rest, digest, leap about again, and so from morn till night and from day to day, fettered to the moment and it’s pleasure or displeasure, and thus neither melancholy nor bored.”

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Or Monster Raving Loony? Oh! No! We can’t vote for the entire political snakepit , can we?

Caro
Caro
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Mr.Downing, may I, a subscriber because of UNHERD’s generally polite comments section, write on your misleading items?
ECHR recent climate ruling is now legal in 46 Council of Europe countries UK, CH etc – check BBC. Executive in Bern is « studying » the ruling… It’s a mute point if they will take it further given a potential petition to put it to the popular vote.
1930-1945 dormant bank accounts see https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss-politics/swiss-bank-money-repaid-to-holocaust-victims/34822348. Many can be criticised for political decisions during that period.
From, as you so elegantly term, an old biddie in Switzerland.

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
1 month ago
Reply to  Caro

The ECHR lacks enforcement powers. It’s as simple as that.
Search ‘ECHR Effectiveness’….

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Caro

Dear Caro (or should I say ‘Cara Mia ‘?), I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but there is a tradition here in the UK of light-hearted abuse being a form of mutual bonding.

As per your comments; Switzerland is renowned as a safe and discreet hiding place for money of all sorts and has made a highly lucrative, if morally questionable, business model out if it. But it’s equally true that London has followed suit and become a veritable sewer for a lot of the world’s dodgy money, never mind many of the ex-territories that now function as little more than vehicles for tax avoidance. If you want to let rip about that, feel free and I’ll be more than happy to give you an uptick.

As per ‘the old biddies ‘, we’ll I’ve just applied for my state pension, so I’m well into that territory myself. You can call me an ‘old goat ‘ if you like. The point of the comment was that, at a time when our governments have virtually stopped doing anything due to international constraints, the idea that some judges in Strasbourg can further meddle in a country’s affairs on the transparently nebulous basis of ‘not doing enough (?) to combat climate change’ is the epitome of luxury, performative behaviour.

Whatever your opinion about climate change (aka ‘the climate catastrophe ‘), it would make no difference if the whole of Europe turned off the power tonight since China, India et al are all busily building coal-fired facilities at 10 times the rate we reduce our own consumption. So we’ll have beggared our populations for nothing and have to resort to buying dirtier power from elsewhere. We need to get out of the ECHR. It was never intended to adjudicate on issues like this anyway.

As for Switzerland, I’ve been there on numerous occasions. I even went out briefly with ‘ein Schweizer’ who lived in Olten. I visited Luzern, Bern and Zurich, went up Der Rigi and walked in the Alps, swam in the lakes and appreciated the beautiful scenery and food and culture. So I humbly apologise and hope you don’t feel too bruised by the rough and tumble.

All the best, Mike.

David McKee
David McKee
1 month ago

It’s all very odd. In Britain, it’s not that the government is doing the wrong thing, it’s so terrified of making a mistake, it’s not doing much at all.

Build a railway? Nope, can’t do that. Build a nuclear power station? Nope again. Build homes? No. Slow down immigration? No. Supply our Ukranian allies with munitions and weapons? No. Catch burglars and shoplifters? No. Maintain strong defences? No. And so it goes.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

I don’t know what the hell we’re living though, but it ain’t normal. We’ve got people in Michigan chanting “death to America,” and it’s crickets from the political class.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The political class encourages and pays for it. Disunity and demoralization is their only skill.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If you import international squabbles, then you have them. What a surprise.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

But surely diversity is strength? You seem to be suggesting that diversity leads to conflicts…as in Syria, Lebanon, Rwanda, Nigeria, Palestine, Indonesia….and just about everywhere.

Maybe it’s should be unity and homogeneity is strength?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

There is an old saying about silence – at some point, it starts to sound like approval.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The massive increase in wealth, comfort and security means the middle class populace no longer have to vote for a politician who is a leader, they vote for someone who massages their ego. Think of J Kennedy’s inaugural speech and spot the differerence, it is about shouldering responsibility, not shirking duty.
Is the problem, the progressive class has never had a sense of duty?They like bringing in laws to ban that which they do not like but what duty do they perform ?
President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address (1961) | National Archives

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Indeed, and the argument for doing nothing is that they get given the worse case scenario and just run with it, regardless of the likelihood of it happening. I can’t help but think Covid really should have increased scepticism from Ministers in regards advice they were given.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

With regards to covid advice, which advice do you think they should have been more sceptical about? The advice surrounding lockdowns for preventing the spread of the disease? Or economic advice relating to the impact to the economy of locking down? Or other aspects? We heard an awful lot about one but very little about the other. Which do you think was wrong?

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Both

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  R.I. Loquitur

So what was incorrect about preventing the spread of disease?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

All of it. Where were you in 2009 when Swine Flu was supposedly running rampant? Any countries impose draconian lockdowns? Mask mandates?Floor arrows at the supermarket? Of course not.
The WHO war-gamed the entire Covid scenario in October 2019 to see just how much control they could exercise by launching this fear campaign. Turns out a lot of people really are sheep.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago

The point I’m trying to make is that the advice given to the Govt is just that, advice. It’s for the Govt to decide what to do with that advice. And each scientist is responsible for just a tiny part of that advice, and they were generally fairly correct with it. The consequences of lockdown was not the business of those scientists – way outside their field of expertise. That was foe Govt to find other advice about – I dontkniw if the did.

As for swine flu we got lucky, or at least not unlucky – it turned out to not be very dangerous. If it had been then there would have been all kinds of measures taken to mitigate its spread.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

But it was the mass media induced hysteria – beginning with scary italian hosputal images – that influenced our broken dysfunctional State just as much as exaggerated crappy BSE discredited Imperial speculative models of mega death. The BBC delighted in its ability to terrorize a now captive population and never let up even when alarming cracks in the case for two year lockdowns were raised by outsiders (and duly ignored). By then the grubby scientists and BBC were locked in Project Fear super alliance, both getting off on how important they felt. They still are – viz the ludicrous farce Inquiry. Shame on all of them.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

But ‘mass media induced hysteria’ is not advice given to Govt. Why do you say the scientists were locked in a ‘project fear super alliance’? Could it not just be that scientists gave the advice they were asked to, as best they could, and the BBC (and I’m pretty sure other media organisations too) reported it? Why the conspiracy overtones? What do the supposed conspirators gain from this?

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

What utter nonsense. Do you recall how your ever so objective scientists and the ever so neutral BBC/,Ministry of Health Propagnda responded to all sceptics such as those behind the Great Barrington Declaration or those who alerted us to the dodgy death data (the classic death ‘with’ covid in a car crash counting)?? Even two years i to lockdown? They were mocked, insulted and called eugenicists. Focus your lazy use of the word conspiracy on that appalling behaviour by the Establishment which totally betrayed us.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The reporting by the mainstream broadcast media was more than sloppy, it was biased and anti-Government. It failed to report what was happening in other countries in a way which would’ve put the UK in proper context with other countries, especially on Government handouts compared with elsewhere.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The consequences of lockdown was not the business of those scientists 
Really? When you make recommendations, you better be crystal clear about the potential, if not foreseeable, consequences. Accountability matters. Without it, you get people who make decisions that affect others but not themselves.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So you think an epidemiologist is expected to make an assessment of job losses, for example?

The situation is like this –

Govt – Dear epidemiologists, how many will die if we lockdown, and how many we die if we don’t?

Epidemiologists – we believe X will die if we lockdown and Y will die if we don’t

Govt – OK thanks (goes off to ask economists what they think job losses will be, then makes a decision, hopefully taking both, and all other opinions, into account).

I’ve got to be honest with you, I find it a really strange expectation that epidemiologists should be providing opinion on economic aspects.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

You’re absolutely right about this. It’s the govt’s responsibility to weigh the advice of many experts -epidemiologists, educators, economists, sociologists etc. it failed to do any of this. The same thing is playing out with net zero. The govt chooses to take the advice of energy experts and climate activists who insist we can run the economy with wind and solar. There are many more who dispute this, who have overwhelming evidence that it is not possible.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I don’t know what other types of advice governments sought, but we certainly only seemed to hear about health and the spread of disease and very little about the economy or society at large, except for very specific policies like furlough. I suspect this is because no-one had a clue what those other impacts would be.

It may have been a case that the scientists could provide data (from models) when no-one else could, and consequently got listened to the most. If you’ve got one group of people saying very precise things with numbers and the others saying ‘erm, not sure’, who are you going to be most inclined to listen to?

This isn’t to criticise either group – if no-one had funded research to understand the effects of lockdown, then how would they know? Whereas for epidemiologists it was the basis of their whole careers, so they were able to give answers.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

If that was so , why did I hear Witty and Vallance often make reference to the difficult decisions the Government had to make economically?

Will K
Will K
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Dennis, “leaders” educated in the arts, politics, philosophy, languages, or even economics, can’t be expected to make good decisions on topics requiring a scientific or mathematical education, even when provided with the facts.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The government was going for herd immunity and then Ferguson issued his report saying 500,00 could die which resulted in panic. Gupta issued a report a week after Ferguson saying Covid had been in the UK longer than realised which gave support to the herd imminity approach. By that time decisions had been made. If one looks at the SAGE set up, tens of people were involved. What should gave taken place is a group of not more than five who stayed together and could take credit for success or blame for failure. A scientist who is not prepared to accept responsibility for error is worthless.
An engineer provides advice to the captain of a ship; if a mistake is made , both can die.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

So over 1 million dead in the U.S. in under two years is nothing? Gosh, how many need to die before it gets your attention?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

What surprises me is that under a third of these deaths were under Trump, and that following Trump’s vaccine two thirds died in Biden’s first year. Maybe the hand of god no longer hovered over the BLM and Antifa rioters.

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

‘Over 1 million dead in the US in under two is nothing’? They died because of been massively overweight and unfit AND and because of grotesquely poor performance from the medical profession who with malice of foresight withheld safe medication in order to push untested drugs to make vast profits for Big Pharma.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The statistics I’ve seen show that comorbidity was a huge factor in US deaths. Examples ranged from being old (equivalent to already standing on a wet bar of soap) to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and motorcycle crashes. In my opinion, Covid 19 was the factor that pushed people over the edge, and for most others it was equivalent to a bad case of the flu. We should remember that regular, seasonal flu is implicated in thousands of deaths every year. Covid 19 is not unique.

Studio Largo
Studio Largo
20 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

And don’t forget the many false reports of people infected by COVID dying of something else but nonetheless cited as having been killed by the virus. And don’t even get me started on gain of function research and the campaign of lying and intimidation conducted by Fauci and his odious ilk.

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 month ago

With great regret I have concluded: ‘Turns out over 90% of people ARE sheep’.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

The idea that it was necessary for healthy people, especially healthy children, to cower in their homes in fear of a condition that had virtually no risks to them beyond those of a seasonal flu.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  R.I. Loquitur

With all the evidence available now I agree with you – the harms from lockdown (economic and to people) seem likely to outweigh the benefits.

But this wasn’t known at the time of the first lockdown. The initial death rate reported out of Wuhan was 7% and included fit and healthy people. That was either wrong or the disease moderated quickly. But that is what we thought we were facing in March 2020. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight, and now the long term effects are becoming apparent, that it can be properly weighed up.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

By May of 2020, the 3.4% death rate was already known to be incorrect. Yet they chose to trot out this number well into 2021.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yeah, the later lockdowns (which were less severe in the UK, not sure about elsewhere) are a different matter to the initial ones.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

It was glaringly obvious from the start that the only people who were at risk were the aged and infirm–the same people at risk from the flu. All one had to do to see this was pull one’s head out of the sand.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Blatant nonsense and lies.
My brother worked for Fiat and it was know in December 2019 that the only, statistically, people dying in Italy were over 80 with multiple comorbidities.
It was known from Diamond Princess cruise ship data, that covid was not killing even old people en masse.
It was known from real life evidence that projections provided by scientists were wrong by factor of ten.
We know from published evidence that covid vaccine trials data was falsified and vaccines did not stop transmissions.
It was known by December 2020, but governments and MSM kept lies going.
It was known from previous research on Sars viruses that basic masks provide no protection, but lies about masks mere widely published.
It was evident from ONS data in uk that 93% of victims of covid were 85 with 2.8 comorbidities on average.
Healthy people below age of 70 were not in danger, especially young children.
But government and MSM were still pedling lies about children vaccinations.
It was obvious that obesity and diabetes were major factors in dying with covid.
But many people in this cohort did not loose weight. They were just shouting for more lockdowns to save their disgusting lives.
It was obvious that lockdowns and lack of NHS care would mean many more deaths of much younger people post covid hysteria.
As it is happening with excess deaths now.
So stop telling us that none of it was known.
It was obvious by early 2021.
But governments and MSM still peddled covid lies.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Your brother is one clever boy to know that in Italy in Dec 2019 the only people dying of covid were over 80 and with comorbidities, because the virus hadn’t even left Wuhan by then.

“The virus was first confirmed to have spread to Italy on 31 January 2020”

If you want to call someone a liar I suggest you don’t open with such a blatant one yourself.

Martin Dunford
Martin Dunford
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Your are contending oh gee they didn’t know at the start, they were just doing their best. This suggests they were trustworthy and above board. What then explains the subsequent torrent of lies, exaggeration and disinformation? A far more likely explanation is malice from the start.
He is likely incorrect re 2019 and probably meant 2020 (Italy), Every other point is spot on. Did you even check?
If all that matters to you is “being right” and you are unwilling to look at actual hard evidence to the contrary you are one sorry excuse for a free thinking person.

Martin Dunford
Martin Dunford
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Nonsense. The Diamond Princess cruise liner (March 2020) marooned off Japan was the perfect petri dish to study Covid. None of the crew got seriously ill or died. 13 of the very elderly and infirm passengers died (all over 70 and with multiple other illnesses). That is overwhelming evidence it only afflicted the elderly and sick (from a sample of 3700 or more people). Only a fool would think it affected the young and healthy.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

It didn’t help any outcomes, not health, not wealth.

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

If you look at the actual pandemic plans prepared before 2020, none of them called for lockdowns. The real experts never suggested lockdowns, which is why Sweden (where the Gov’t has zero influence over public health measures) didn’t lock down, and had the best results of all.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur G

The UK pandemic plan was based on flu and it therefore assumed the population would have some immunity. Covid was a new disease with little human exposure, which unfortunately meant the pandemic plan was not much use.

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Nonsense. Corona viruses have been around forever (e.g. the common cold). This was simply a manipulated version of a corona virus. Plenty of people had immunity, and even without immunity those under 40 were basically at zero risk.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur G

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of viruses responsible for the common cold. Coronaviruses make up just four of them (or five now, if you count covid as a cold). Plus immunity doesn’t last long. So unless you had recently encountered one of the small number of coronaviruses that cause a cold, which could give some degree of immunity, you had no immunity to covid.

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Even if true, that caused no problem for 99.9% of humanity.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

“So unless you had recently encountered one of the small number of coronaviruses that cause a cold, which could give some degree of immunity, you had no immunity to covid.”

Nice add of “recently”. SMH. True immunity, unlike Covid vaccines, lasts a long time.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  R.I. Loquitur

“Once you have had COVID-19, your immune system responds in several ways. This immune response can protect you against reinfection for several months, but this protection decreases over time.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/reinfection.html

So short term, and immunity derived from non-covid coronaviruses will obviously be less than from covid itself.

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Consider this, if most people did not already have immunity to Covid, and it was as deadly as you and I were led to believe, why didn’t more people, of all ages and conditions, die from it?

R.I. Loquitur
R.I. Loquitur
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

As Covid was a coronavirus,most of the world–having been exposed previously to coronaviruses, i.e., the Common Cold–did have some measure of immunity. That’s literally why most people had no risk!

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  R.I. Loquitur

No, most people were largely unaffected because they were healthy and their immune systems dealt with it.

Arthur G
Arthur G
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

So, the virus was super-mild, not some deadly threat, which is why several orders of magnitude more lives are going to end up being lost or destroyed from the lockdowns than COVID killed.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Arthur G

If you’d actually read what I’ve said you’d realise I don’t even disagree with that. But that is with hindsight. I agree that as more evidence came in lockdowns became increasingly unnecessary.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Both

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

This is because the key to winning elections is to keep the housing market buoyant. It’s much easier to do that by promoting mass immigration than by undertaking the painful reforms that are necessary to guarantee prosperity for everyone.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Until it isn’t.
Like everything, at some point unsustainable policies break down.
A bouyant housing market ultimately only perpetuates hereditary wealth and robs a significant (increasingly a majority) group of young people of hope and ambition.
We’ve got to start preferring earned wealth over unearned wealth or we’re slowly spiralling the drain.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

I suspect economic policies (eg QE, ZIRP) have had far more impact on the housing market than immigration (I’m not saying it’s not a factor, just that it’s not the biggest).

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Utter nonsense again from you.
UK still builds about 200k houses per year.
If immigration was at 80s level of below 50k per annum, there would be no shortage of houses.
So no, mass immigration is the major reason for housing shortage.
Never mind many other issues.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew F

It isn’t solely about a shortage of houses though, is it. By itself that argument is about as sensible as the old ‘Britain’s an island and they aren’t making any more land’ line. It is primarily about loose credit.

We could have had ‘enough’ houses being built every year for the last two decades and they would still be expensive, as they would have been bought up by landlords etc because they could borrow money for virtually nothing.

And just to be clear, as I said in the post you responded to, immigration is a factor, and increasingly so as time goes by. It just isn’t the most important.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

True. But this smothering sickly paralysis is built into the very DNA of the post 90s EU Progressive Revolution. Hyper Regulation. Risk aversion. The precautionary principle. All protected by increasing State coercion and NGO style zealots who have captured the supreme judiciary. These are the guiding lights of the No No Progressive Quangocracy and its meek serf political class who lack the power to achieve a counter revolution on the same scale. Result? No homes. No cheap energy. No healthy financial system. No border control. On and on….

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Oh but they are doing / undoing a great deal. NetZero. Gender id, placing ever more of the decision-making of the state outside of electoral politics, to the courts and to quangos…..

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago

Correct. But these are the two ultra ideologies or manias that in the 2000s captured a brand new shiny EU/UK progressive machine already adjusted to increase top down control and interference in our lives – DEI & Open Borders and the Big One – Climate Hysteria and Net Zero Degrowth. Yes they do take action. But they are still driven by the same dark negative impulses. They are utterly detached from and indifferent to the will of the people below.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

Sorry, but the US Congress has got you beat. They haven’t done anything (except for tax cuts for the wealthy) since the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. That was 1970 and 72.
Wait. I’m wrong. They gave themselves regular raises, too.

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

It’s not that the government is doing the wrong thing, it’s so terrible at doing the right thing. Look no further than the revelations about the role of politicians , civil servants and the judiciary in the Post Office Horizon scandal. How can hundreds of postmasters have been convicted of theft for decades, by scores of judges, with no proof, as the crimes didn’t actually happen? Where is the hue and cry from them to hold all those responsible to account?

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
1 month ago
Reply to  David McKee

WE have somehow evolved lots of groups that share the single trait of being incredibly angry about one issue, but who are so angry about it that they’ll ally with any other group simply because they’re against Britain.
They kind of use ‘evil Tory Govt’ as a euphemism but what they really mean is lumpen, racist, bigoted, Britain.
So a mad CRT spouting BLM ultra who back in the day would have a shout on a news programme and that’s that, now get the Ever Remainers like Lewis Goodall, James O’Brien and AC Grayling lining up and amplifying their rant, along with Transgender activists, old SWP types like Owen Jones, Corbyn and Abbott and Scot Nats like Humza, Sturgeon etc., and then general NGOs such as Amnesty, the various lawfare organisations, and charities.
They then return the compliment whenever anyone else kicks off and we end up with a general feeling Britain’s no good at anything, going to the dogs and everyone just gets worn down.
The fact is this is still the best time to ever have been alive in human history, in one of the very best countries to be alive in.

Martin M
Martin M
1 month ago

Well, if they are proposing “economic defeat for Russia”, they have at least one “feel good” policy we can all get behind.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

Except that such a thing is impossible in relation to a country that is entirely self-sufficient in food, energy and raw materials.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

That hasn’t prevented starvation or food shortages in Russia in the past … you can have all the resources you like, but if you don’t have competent management and technology that’s not always helpful.
But you make a good point. We can’t force economic collapse on Russia. They can only do it to themselves (as fairly recent history demonstrates).

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

I don’t support the aim, and anyhow humiliated countries have a tendency to bite back.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
1 month ago

Sounds a lot like ‘public choice theory’. Politicians respond to incentives like everyone else. But often the incentives are hidden from the public (and maybe even sometimes from the politicians). The result is a lot of seemingly incomprehensible behavior, which only makes sense once you have gotten to the heart of their psychologies.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 month ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Rob Henderson’s idea of “luxury beliefs” might explain it. The MPs don’t have a connection to their party members or the public, their connection is to the people in their elite global bubble. Those people believe they are being virtuous (and identify each other as such) by espousing these ‘social justice’ causes which have been confected in the universities. They don’t have to worry about the real world consequences of their causes because they are wealthy & connected enough to be insulated from any implementation of those ideas.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

This is exacerbated by the influence of NGOs and corporate rent seekers who, in a circular process, use a large part of the money paid to them by government to lobby for more (CF: Dale Vince).

It always amazed me that people are willing to believe that EU commissioners, for example, are going to put the interests of voters ahead of those of the people who buy them lunch every day.

Caro
Caro
1 month ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Why keep Code Nap entities, e.g High Court, and not return to Common Law / Lords after Brexit? You are right on lobbies etc. Perhaps MPs prefer the milk train to power?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

Interesting and thoughtful essay. Maybe the real goal of stoking the culture wars is to divert attention away from the more consequential economic issues.

Think the author nailed it with this gem; “The result of this is a sort of hypertrophy; a politics emptied of all sense and meaning.”

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Yes. Its all displacement activity. The Progressive revolution of 90s deliberately shattered Executive power in nation states (here with devolution/Quangocracy/Supreme Court/NHS Bank autonomy etc) all as part of the EU drive toward concentrated federal control and power at Brussels. Our gear box has been torn out by design. Hence the near irrelevance of our faffing neutered elected politicians.

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I’d be fascinated to know what policies you think that we would now pursue in the absence of the progressive reovolution of the 90s (Not what we should or shouldn’t have done then, what we should do now but can’t).
As a person on the left, there are a number of policies I would pursue that I think would be possible despite the ECHR, Supreme Court etc, My problem is not that politicians are unable to pursue these policies, it is simply that the entire political class is opposed to them and will virulently ad hominem anyone who tries to (political) death
This was, for me, why the Corbyn affair was so instructive. It wasn’t that the Mail and the Tories opposed him – that we took for granted. It was the fact that people who whould have sworn, six months previously, that they favoured his policies, suddenly united to find this particular opportunity to implement those policies unacceptable. And, of course, now that he’s out of the way, they have immediately returned to saying that those policies are desirable but sadly, impossible (and politically unpopular to boot).
What I’m suggesting is that the opposition to political diversification (i.e. attempts by both left and right to overcome political stagnation) does not actually lie within any political intitution but in a strange hegemonic consensus among the political class.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  George Venning

I can agree which much if this; the need for political diversification especially. I point again first to the revolution in the very architecture of our governance – the Quangocracy and powerful Blobs, EU regulatory overkill, devolution etc and the parallel introduction of human rights and judicial overreach. This machinery has weakened our Executive (no direct control of NHS or interest rates) and crippled almost every attempt to veer us away from the progressive consensus (barring the now stifled people-led Brexit). We cannot control our borders, deport murderers, build homes or airports or nukes or oilfields, withdraw benefits or reform the broken NHS without running into a more powerful vested interest and/or the now rogue human right law – see the cuckoo Swiss climate verdict to see how zealous and detached they now are. Almost all pol parties – esp the Fake Tories – now bow to and support the governing Progressive status quo and Blob and its demented new ideologies. So I fear I see no road to diversity in politics. That was the whole point of the revolution!

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

Respectfully, I can see that you think the creation of the blob was a mistake but I am asking you what it is that the blob is preventing us from doing which is putting us off track.
What should we do if we had direct control of the NHS?
In which direction should the chancellor adjust interst rates?
How would deporting murderers improve things (relative to simply locking them up)?
I concede that controlling our borders would be a big deal but we can certainly do that – simply by exercising control of our visa system. The fact that we don’t is because the Government thinks our economy would collapse without net migration. How would one change that?
Similarly, how would withdrawing benefits from people help?
As to building homes (my field) I can assure you that the blob has nothing to do with our failure to build homes – and everything to do wth the business model for development.
Building Infrastructure does seem to be heavily constrained by red tape but, to me, that’s not a “blob” issue per se (equally progressive European nations do seem to be able to build railway lines and things of that nature). That is down to our tendency to make everything more complicated than it needs to be – I think that’s distinct from “blobism” (which you seem to be defining as baked-in progressivism).
What I’m saying is that it’s all very well railing against the immediate obstacle – well-meaning bureacratic red tape – but most of that bureaucracy is simply there to ask what is the benefit of doing this and what is the likely harm?
If you have a good solid answer, the blob will generally let you do it.
But, if you don’t, it will bog you down.
The prime example of this was Brexit. The Leave campaign could never give a clear answer to the question of what benefits are you seeking to achieve and how much cost are you willing to bear to achieve them? That was a collossal political failiure on the part of the Leave campaign. The blob was simply the lens through which the political problem manifested itself.
Rwanda too. How will deporting a couple of hundred people at vast expense reduce the number of people who wish to claim asylum form the tens of thousands to a mere trickle? And how will that help since asylum is only a tiny component of overall net migration? To both these questions, crickets. It’s a daft idea, so it gets quagmired.
The blob is there to stop politicians (some of whom are not nearly so clever as they think) from screwing up. You will notice that the blob notably did not get in the way of the Truss/Kwarteng budget. And so, instead of the civil service asking the hard quesitons, it was the bond market. Ouch.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

The elephant in the room: has the internet killed democracy?

It was thought it might enhance it, but instead it appears to have become a source of contagion; ideas being spread (as in ‘going viral’) that have weakened our defences with the consequences now becoming more clear.

Or… perhaps not the internet per se, but our immaturity in being able to cope with it; psychosocial evolution in action, and we’re the adolescents.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Possibly. I think if I was to focus on one cause it would be the growth of the regulatory / legal complex: the endless increase in the number of rules, regulators, lawyers and compliance officers supported by the entrenchment of ever more rights and ever more intrusive courts. To take one example, the US Code of Federal Regulations this has grown from about 4,000 pages in 1950 to over 180,000 today. Each year many more are added and very few are repealed.

All this has raised process above substance and increased the number of people who can prevent or slow any action. Not only politicians have been disempowered and encouraged to focus instead on purely symbolic or identity politics. The paralysis is creeping into many organisations.

At the end of the day, however, this is like Gulliver held down by the thousands of tiny threads of the Lilliputians. He was able to break free. During the early days of the Covid crisis, hospitals were amazed by how much they could achieve in days once they had suspended the usual rules and started to operate on common sense.

It has been argued that the great achievement of the French Revolution was that it enabled the destruction of the paralysing mishmash of privileges and laws that made France ungovernable and decisive reform impossible. It was replaced by the simplicity of the Code Napoleon and the decisiveness of his government.

So it is possible. Let us hope we can work out how to dismantle the administrative state without needing the accompaniment of such liberal use of the guillotine

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

There are indeed far too many rules, regulation, laws etc because the politicians have no effective management role and when something goes wrong instead of being able to apply the existing law to the situation they can only propose yet another law that will not get enforced. We have the farce of “ independent” state institutions enforcing policy that is denounced by the party supposedly governing.

The the Covid enquiry is typical. It will propose all sorts of new ill-conceived and counterproductive rules and regulations that will be an encumbrance on effective common sense action in the face of the next health scare.

The whole business of carving out special out “protected status” in law for different “vulnerable” groups has the stench of the privileges of the French Ancien Regime.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The recent hate crime law in Scotland is an example. Regardless of how good or bad a piece of legislation it is, no additional staff were employed to enforce it. So if it is enforced it just takes effort from the enforcement of other laws.

It seems the people who create legislation and procedures etc have to give no thought at all to how the processes are funded. So more and more policy is created with no concern about the real world effect it has.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Good point. Just as destructive has been the inexorable centralisation of decisions that really ought to be taken locally and the growing influence on government of academics who’ve never been to the coal face. This trend has been particularly disastrous in education and child-rearing, which is increasingly directed by people who have no direct experience of parenthood at all.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

V true. Though the Codification of law via the Napoleonic system is now itself the source of a new ungovernable regulatory Hell! We need a third liberation.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I have contact with some parts of the public sector and over the last decade or two this is exactly what has happened. A proliferation of rules that, cumulatively, just pour grit in the gears. I assume the same has happened in all other parts of the public sector, and Govt itself.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis Roberts

Yes, the education system is a prime example of that and the reason why teachers are leaving at record rates.

Sam Hill
Sam Hill
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I suspect that online technology really just (heavily) exacerbated bad trends that were always there, just given more virulence by the internet and social media.
Looking back at the late 1990s as the technology came along I think that we (we – society at large) were too ready to see online as a sort of ‘add on.’ What we didn’t see, and we really should have seen was how it would come to contaminate ‘old media.’ We assumed I think that the quality would rise to the top and it very quickly became clear that was not the case at all.
At the time my argument to internet sceptics was, ‘it has an off button.’ I was naive in not realising that the internet was a 24/7 machine that ever more we can not escape from.
More broadly what the internet has done is seriously undermine civil society. That may sound like some fuddy-duddy old idea, but at its simplest interaction online is a very poor substitute for the real thing. This has resulted again in all sorts of bad trends, for example as others have identified pressures to heavily over-regulate or relationships with each other. In fairness to politicians, not something I say often, facing down an internet firestorm is easier to say than to do. The result has been a politics that has been, as the article says, hollowed out. The best example of this is political parties – institutions that should be a mass-membership central part of a functioning civil society have become internet bubbles and conduits for corporate influence.
I have been very deliberately keeping my young daughter’s internet usage controlled. I do feel that perhaps my cohort let down those millennials somewhat – we should have seen the downside coming.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Facebook Groups enforce iron groupthink. This is new. Our oldest primal fear is getting chased out of the trees and ostracised by the herd. That has been weaponised by the hyper connectivity of Social Media Groups. Hence the derangements we see.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

The internets biggest effect has been on distribution, in this case ideas. Prior to the internet crazy ideas were difficult to transmit, now it’s easy to find an audience that can then amplify it.

Plus the information overload that the internet provides – who has the time to check everything they’re presented with? And those providing the information are in so much competition they have no time to really think. So everyone just defaults to their own opinions and finds a place that agrees with them. It’s why every online forum becomes an echo chamber.

Dennis Roberts
Dennis Roberts
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

The internet was also vital to lockdown – without it we would have had to continue working through covid. So it has facilitated actions that were simply impossible previously, for good or bad.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
1 month ago

Anyone else increasingly favouring radically right wing authoritarian measures as this nonsense continues to unfold?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

Does it have to be authoritarian?

Rather, how about being responsive to what the voters want?

That is, democracy actually doing what it says on the tin.

Santiago Excilio
Santiago Excilio
1 month ago
Reply to  John Dellingby

I don’t think it has to be authoritarian, the issue is that there are too many pointless rules clogging things up.
These come from three places: primary legislation, quangos (empowered by it) and statutory instruments. The first thing to do is to cut out the pointless and corrosive legislation, that will enable the removal of quangos and make the civil service actually responsible for something again. Next one can focus on the SI’s and strimming them back. It’s doable, it just needs commitment and real political will.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

Arguably we are living through a period of Elite collapse (see Cliodynamics). The old Elite Courtiers are still dancing before the old Elite Emperors but the dance is becoming more frenetic and chaotic as it no longer elicits patronage – for the patronage is all used up. Too many Elite chasing thinner recognition.
How refreshing would it be for a party of UK politicians to deliberately not aspire to strutting on the world stage but concentrate on domestic issues like ensuring pot holes are fixed and non-performing Councils reined in? Who knows they might even get around, eventually, to reforming the health care service, ending charitable status of political pressure groups, and winding up the BBC?

Saul D
Saul D
1 month ago

Politicians have become like teenagers with a credit card. They know how to spend money, but they have no sense of where the money comes from, or how to generate an income. And because they have no sense of how hard it is to generate an income they spend without any sense of value or efficacy. What’s another billion here or there?
When a problem comes up, the question is not ‘what do we do?’ it’s ‘how much do we spend?’ There is no sense of wise investment and an abdication to spending inflated fees to private consultants and NGOs for ‘guidance’ rather than paying engineers and practitioners for action and outcomes.
The malaise is all over the public sector. The NHS demanding money instead of looking for smarter, more efficient ways of working. Closing out low cost options via regulations to impose luxury requirements that make things more expensive.
Tax is thought to be a good thing, not a penalty on income generation. You want to spend, you need income, and to spend more you need more income. There is no magic money tree. You can’t borrow and spend your way to prosperity. A country’s economy rests on what it makes and sells.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Saul D

‘A country’s economy rests on what it makes and sells’….

We’re in deep doodoo then.

McLovin
McLovin
1 month ago
Reply to  Saul D

In Margaret Thatcher’s words “socialism fails when you run out of other people’s money”.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 month ago
Reply to  Saul D

Exactly that about NHS.
I got home today to find a letter from NHS about some cardiac assessment over the phone for yesterday.
Who sends letters in 2024?
Some other parts of NHS send texts and emails but obviously not that department.
Total joke and waste of money.

Edwin Blake
Edwin Blake
1 month ago

The reference to Barzun’s work is much appreciated. I’ve always been fascinated by how people felt in end times when things fell apart and the centre no longer held.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

Right or Left, the rainbow mafia gets itself everywhere. But if the EU are wary of US tech cartels, then they should be equally cautious about Californian transhumanism taking a hold of poxy little national governments.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
1 month ago

This is a first-rate article. Congratulations to Malcom Kyeune. I am grateful to Unherd for publishing such good commentary. My understanding of your attribution of hypertrophy is that politicians have enlarged their sphere of activity to no obvious good other than to appear to be doing something in the face of failure or sluggishness in most of their (I’m including the UK) flagship policies. Do I have that right?

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
1 month ago

Well observed, many thanks!
We need only remind ourselves that Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the German Greens and foreign minister of long-suffering Germany, explicitly said that she does not care what her voters want, she’ll do “the right thing.”

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 month ago

In loving memory of Alice
Born 1865
Now in Wonderland

George Venning
George Venning
1 month ago

Really weird headline.
Much of the article is perfectly sensible but doesn’t match any part of the headline until we are introduced to a rather different definition of “decadence” than the one most people use. But even that doesn’t quite fit the headline because, what is unique about Barzum’s definition is its lack of moral judgement.
Europe’s problem isn’t decadence – at least not in Barzum’s non-judgemental sense. It’s problem is that it has lost any coherent sense of mission and divested itself of the political tools to invent a new one.

Ian Folkins
Ian Folkins
1 month ago

In the absence of other information, I would consider the possibility that an earlier age for gender transition in Sweden is being financially supported by the pharmaceutical industry, directly or indirectly. In the US, it has been estimated that every medical transition involves $10 million US lifetime of medical procedures and drugs, a favourable long term rate of return. And it is much easier to convince children that this offers a way out of unhappiness than adults.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Folkins

This is a point that deserves further investigation.

Rachel Taylor
Rachel Taylor
1 month ago

That really is not the motivation: to be seen doing something. It is much more sinister than that. Without fail, with these crazy ideas, the same crazy idea is being implemented simultaneously in different countries. If they only wished to be seen doing something, they would not all end up doing the same thing.
Instead, I think there are two forces at work. One is an urge to be seen to be virtuous. There is a restless need in the media and the political class to be seen to be on board with the latest virtue. And in the modern world virtue consists, not of what a person does, but of what they compel others to do. The second is the logical and lawyerly consequence of rule by first principles. We have just seen this in the utterly absurd ruling of the ECHR, that action on climate change is required for the benefit of Swiss pensioners under Article 8 of the Convention. As a result, governments and civil servants are compelled to do virtuous things by the threat of legal action if they don’t.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

It may well be a combination of both; of ‘being seen to be doing something’ and then, in the absence of any better ideas, adopting the strategies you refer to.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 month ago
Reply to  Rachel Taylor

Excellent comment especially with regard to compelling others to be virtuous.

Alexander Hoare
Alexander Hoare
1 month ago

There’s nothing new under the sun – the founder of the Riksbanken was sentenced to death for being a bad banker.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

 the Swedish state, which intended to boost defence spending in order to counter the threat from Russia,
What threat? Putin has been in power for more than two decades and nothing that people keep warning will happen has come close to happening. There is Ukraine, but let’s not pretend that began on a whim in Feb 2022.
Sweden is under no threat from the Russians any more than the Chinese are going to storm Taiwan. If we are going to expect good sense from politicians, might we also expect the same from writers and those who read them?

Stuart Morgan
Stuart Morgan
1 month ago

I think you need to look up the meaning of hypertrophy.

Steve Houseman
Steve Houseman
1 month ago

Pretty good article. Have always been a fan of Jacques Brazun his ‘From Dawn to Decadence’ is a fabulous read.

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
1 month ago

It’s almost as though politicians, especially those who see themselves as progressive, and the mainstream media are all signalling to each other how virtuous they are, all the more so if they ignore the opinions of the general public. Something will have to give at some point.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
1 month ago

It’s not difficult. Every last leader of the “West” has been bought by the WEF and is implementing their policies. They do as much damage as they can then will exit to their reward of an extremely well paid non job. They are not interested in the “people”. They are not working for them.

Anthony Brewer
Anthony Brewer
1 month ago

The US press is perpetually obsessed with berating our “do nothing” Congress, much as it is with “growth”.
Most notably, there is always a cry to “do something” about gun violence (as long as that “something” doesn’t address the fact that it is overwhelmingly a black problem).
After every highly-publicized mass shooting event, there are throngs of folks converging on city halls, capitol buildings, etc., begging for “something to be done”. Ask them what that something should be, and they’re generally baffled (To just, you know…stop it! I mean, the government needs to…just stop this”), misinformed (“you can go into any gun store without an ID and buy a MACHINE GUN in 10 minutes”, “THOUSANDS of kids are being killed every day”), or just emotionally overcome beyond a capability to speak coherently (ISN’T IT OBVIOUS WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN??”)
The battle isn’t between left and right here, as much as it is between emotion and reality. “Doing nothing” has simply become a stand-in for “you’re not doing what I want you to do”. Same with immigration, I might add.
Like John Adams said: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
17 days ago

It’s generally agreed that is was only WW2 that really ended the Great Depression in the US. I must read Keynes “how to pay for the war”.