As Owen Jones and all points left are telling us it’s Boris innit? Course it is, there’s a Tory Bastard in power and that’s what is causing the rivers of blood across our green and pleasant land. Stands to reason. Track and trace, vaccine rollout, schools closing, all Tory Bastard stuff.
Well, yes, except look what happens with that more consensual, planned, cooperative, European Union style:
I already mentioned in my first post this year about the EU’s miserable failure to buy COVID-19 vaccines (as compared to the U.S., Canada, the UK, Israel, and Bahrain), primarily because the French government didn’t want the EU to buy too many doses from non-French companies. That scandal now has a far higher profile, with two of the three parties in Merkel’s governing coalition already having voiced criticism in public. Many politicians and reporters in other EU member states haven’t understood the significance of this yet. Even France itself will suffer far more from the consequences of Macron’s worst initiative than it ever stood to gain.
Merkel and Macron are the Axis of Evil. Many thousands of Europeans will die because of their failure. That’s why this is so much worse than Watergate. The EU’s VaxGate amounts to political mass murder.
Florian can be more than a little excited at times. Rather like Ambrose EP without the restraint or even the brakes. And yet there’s a truth here. The Europeans – by which we of course mean the French and Germans who actually run the place – have done appallingly here.
Which is, of course, why there are more jabs in arms in the UK currently than there are in the entirety of the rest of the European Union.
Phew, good we left then, eh?
On much the same subject covidiocy is even affecting Allister Heath.
But the fact that the international capitalist order delivers the goods also needs to be tempered by realism: the system works well overall ordinarily, but it can easily be derailed by shocks such as wars, terrorism or pandemics. These need to be better understood and managed: the role of states isn’t to rule people’s lives, tell them what to eat, spend 45 per cent of GDP or own every hospital. It is simply to prevent the system from collapsing (and, of course, to refrain from collapsing it out of malice or incompetence à la Iran or Russia, or Venezuela-style economics). Yet they keep failing that basic task, and inevitably make matters worse.
It is time, therefore, for the West to become a lot more “anti-fragile”, as the philosopher and statistician Nassim Taleb puts it. Governments must focus on the modern-day equivalent of nuclear fallout shelters: we need a whole series of highly developed, well-rehearsed plan Bs with mass public buy-in. A minister for resilience should be appointed. New institutions must be developed. Our foreign policy must become far more robust towards lawless states. We need to spend much more on cybersecurity, pandemic prevention, defence and space technology.
I used to be an optimist: no longer. The next big crisis, also due at some point this decade, could easily destroy our precious, fragile and deluded West. Happy New Year!
No. That’s precisely the wrong answer to come to, the incorrect lesson to draw from the experience.
Places that have largely flexible, because decentralised, supply systems are those that have done best. Those that have the centre – whichever centre you care to think about, whether government trying to run track and trace or the NHS as opposed to the German system trying to track and trace – running things have done worse.
That is, it is precisely because the universe throws shit at us from time to time that we must have that market and capitalist, not planned and societal, system. Because, as here when the universe did throw shit at us, it’s the places which are capitalist and market which have done best. Not those places further left on that spectrum of socioeconomic organisation.
Sure, I’m not even hinting at the idea that Boris is perfect. But I am insisting that contrary to the usual beliefs, that emergencies are the time for planning and bureaucracy if ever there is such a time the opposite is true. That, actually, in emergency, is when we hang the papershufflers. Or at least lock them out the way where they can’t harm the rest of us until the problematic tide recedes.