An interesting interview caught my eye in the Financial Times of 19/20th June. It was with Vladislav Surkov, who is the architect of the corrupt democracy that has kept Vladimir Putin in power for 21 years. Surkov is a consummate Kremlin backroom operator who became Putin’s chief ideologist and closest political confidant, carrying out a similar role for Putin as Dominic Cummings did for Boris Johnson or Steve Bannon for Donald Trump. In the same way that Cummings and Bannon were eventually thrown overboard by their political masters, so Surkov has just been ‘let go’ by Putin.
Surkov was a founding father of Putinism and helped to create Russia’s ‘sovereign democracy’, an ostensibly open system with a closed outcome. Elections are called, candidates campaign, votes are cast, ballots are counted and the same man wins, every single time. Its core idea is that the stability of the state is much more important than the freedom of the individual. This leads to the creation of fake opposition parties, rigid control of the media and impossible barriers to entry for political figures not approved of by Putin.
Surkov claims that Putin has not abolished democracy but has married it with the monarchical archetype of Russian governance. “This archetype is working. It is not going anywhere…it has enough freedom and enough order. An overdose of freedom is lethal to a state. Anything that is medicine can be poison. It is all about the dosage.”
This stands of course in complete opposition to ideas of societal freedoms that up until recently were espoused by most governments in the west. Whether these ideas can still hold in the current climate of pandemic-induced fear and panic is now debatable. One can imagine that governments in the west and the kind of people who meet at Davos are questioning whether our ideas of individual freedom and liberty can be sustained during a time of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly when autocratic regimes such as the governments in China and Russia are claiming that their cultures are superior to ours when dealing with current world crises.
Could it be that our governing elites have in effect seized the opportunity of the pandemic to introduce an experiment to see how far they can go in imposing Chinese or Russian-style social controls on their populations? Have they reached Surkov’s conclusion that “an overdose of freedom is lethal to a state”?
I wonder whether the battle for our freedoms has already been lost. The extraordinary passivity displayed by my fellow citizens in the face of lockdown restrictions and curtailments of liberty, which have been aided by a covert culture of censorship and self-censorship from the media and professional institutions, has been quite unprecedented in my adult experience, which spans the last half-century.
One can only hope that the recent exposure of Matt Hancock as not only a “totally f……… hopeless” secretary of state for health (Boris Johnson’s verdict on Hancock, as quoted by Dominic Cummings in a statement to MPs) but also a nauseating hypocrite, who was filmed groping an aide in his private office while telling everyone else that they can’t even hug their dying relatives, will by his actions have done enough to make even the most passive Brits rise up in revolt against our political masters, who preach one thing for the little people (and set the police on us or threaten us with prosecution for supposed infringements of their rules), while doing quite other things themselves. It would seem so, as Hancock has now been forced to resign, despite Boris Johnson saying that “the matter was closed.”
One of the most powerful comments I have seen on this came from Rachel Taylor, a hospital doctor in Oxford, who tweeted: “It’s not the infidelity, it’s the sacrifices every decent person made because Matt Hancock told them to do so. You do realise we had to tell distraught family members they couldn’t see their dying loved ones in hospital? Over and over again. I can never forgive his hypocrisy.”
Sajid Javid has now been appointed as Hancock’s successor so we shall soon see whether he intends to continue with the government’s Covid restrictions. At present the government’s public case for continuing these restrictions does not stand up to any logical or evidential test. Nor does it take into account the full extent of the negative impact on people’s lives in order (it is claimed) to save the lives of a tiny number of people, many of whom might die anyway from pre-existing conditions and complicating factors, for which Covid might be the final catalyst. In other words, although Covid appears on the death certificate, it may not have been the actual cause of death. This is not a justifiable reason for removing the civil liberties of the entire population, and never could be. There must be a more moderate, middle way of dealing with this situation.
Here are two personal examples of how our freedoms are being eroded: my wife, who is a French national, needed urgently to go to France to see her 89-year-old recently widowed mother. After having to pay £60 for a PCR test taken two days in advance of her flight, she was able to help her mother for a week before returning and being put under quarantine (not unlike house arrest) and then was subjected to three more tests during the 10 days, at a further cost of £299, and being phoned each day to check that she had not absconded. The profiteering by these private testing companies (and how did they get their contracts?) adds injury to insult, especially as the PCR test in France, taken two days before departure, was completely free.
My own experience is potentially more serious: I am now being threatened by the government with the loss of my job unless I have two Covid vaccinations within 16 weeks of new legislation to be introduced in October. I should explain that, at the farm where I work, we have a small residential care home for three adults with learning disabilities. The care home is regulated by the Care Quality Commission, and I am its registered manager. The CQC has rated our care home as ‘Good’ in all five of its inspection categories and I believe that our model of care, which provides a family-style setting on a working farm, is recognised as offering an exceptional quality of life for our residents.
In accord with their families’ wishes, our three residents have each had both jabs of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine, and so can be considered safe. They also have one PCR test each week. Our staff have three tests a week (1 PCR test and 2 lateral flow device tests), so we know that we, too, are free from infection and that our residents are safe. My strong personal conviction is that I do not wish to have the experimental Covid jabs on offer (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford Astra Zeneca) until there is more data and all four phases of the vaccine trials have been completed (we are currently in Phase 3). This conviction of mine is only reinforced by the hitherto-suppressed stories that are beginning to emerge of unexplained deaths and serious illnesses following the Covid-19 vaccinations (examples here and here).
I also believe that to insist I have the vaccine or lose my job is to go against the principle of ‘informed consent’ prior to vaccination which is enshrined in UK law and international human rights law. These vaccines were introduced under emergency conditions to deal with the pandemic. It would normally take 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine from inception to licencing, yet the Covid-19 vaccines data was collected over two months. I cannot be informed properly about possible adverse consequences of these vaccines until all 4 phases of these trials have been completed. To threaten me with the loss of my job before all the trial data is available is fundamentally unjust, and unworthy of a free country.
For any government minister to change my terms and conditions of employment and thus require me to have the vaccination or face the sack is not to get my informed consent but to obtain consent by coercion. And this from the government which decided to send elderly NHS patients back to the care homes without testing them for Covid-19 “so as not to overwhelm the NHS” and thus condemned many tens of thousands of other care home residents to death.
Although most political leaders and those powerful people who consider themselves ‘masters of the universe’ haven’t yet got the true message of our times, I wish to finish on a more uplifting note and quote instead the ‘masters of wisdom’, as channelled by a dear friend, Annie Davison. I commend these thoughts to any politician who is tempted to tell the rest of us to “Do as I say, not as I do.”
“The most important thing for us right now is to know and recognise that all humanity is spiritual in origin. Therefore, all humanity is equal in the eyes of universal understanding. Throughout its history, humanity has been unable to perceive equality. Until now, life has been about fight and flight, about dominance and servility. About reaching for the stars no matter whom you tread on along the way.”
“But over these last years, more and more people have recognised that there is more to their inner world than this mighty, greedy, trampling attitude that has evolved to its zenith. Slowly but surely, they have understood, worked hard, and moved through the history mankind has created – life after life, death after death.”
“They have reached the knowledge that life itself can be spiritualised and that if you treat your life gently, with intention, with respect, then you can treat others gently with respect. Life itself, on earth, is where life can be lived within a spiritualised worldview.” (…)
“It is as simple as that. All beings are equal.”