Lockdown scepticism shows the limits of post-truth politics
There’s not much good to be said about lockdown scepticism. It is an ethical abyss, a testament to how certain commentators and politicians will allow their need for attention to overrule even the most rudimentary of moral standards. But it has at least achieved one useful thing: It demonstrates the limitations of post-truth politics.
This approach to politics has defined the last few years of British debate. It burst into the open during the Brexit referendum and dominated the way it played out afterwards. It didn’t matter how many experts pointed out that customs borders required checks on goods or how many studies were released demonstrating that friction in trade would reduce its flow. Hardline proponents of Brexit in parliament and the press simply dismissed it.
Lockdown scepticism functions in the same way. It has various levels of severity, from mild to outright lunacy. Mild versions treat lockdowns as ineffective, without questioning the basic epidemiology of virus transmission. Hard versions end up asserting that covid infection rates rise and fall seemingly of their own accord and are unaffected by people coming into contact with each other. Usually you see these two variants mix within the same argument – the former being used as the respectable window display of the argument and the latter readily on sale once you enter the shop.
Not a huge surprise that supporters of Brexit are also among those pushing lockdown skepticism. But unlike Brexit, the effects of Covid-19 aren’t as easy to wave away or shout down, and are with us here and now, not years from now.