Authoritarianism in Auckland

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by Jeffrey A Tucker, Activist Post:

For months we’ve heard the cry: oh how wonderfully New Zealand dealt with the coronavirus! They did the tightest lockdown in the world! The coronavirus – no doubt astonished by the decisiveness and ferocity of prime minister Jacinda Ardern, the heroine of all media – just decided not to make this wonderful country a home. The virus was bested by political wit!

Oh what a fantasy it was all along, as Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta pointed out from the beginning. What was actually happening in New Zealand was delaying the inevitable. In the modern world, there is no chance for a developed society to replicate the experience of a primitive tribe with naive immune systems living in isolation.

You wouldn’t want to do that anyway because you make the whole population of your tribe fatally vulnerable to the next bug that comes along. In Gupta’s view, New Zealand’s “success” wouldn’t be that at all.

By the way, she also finds New Zealand’s approach immoral, a selfish demand that the rest of the world bear the burden of herd immunity while Kiwis hide in their homes and surf the Internet. Indeed, interestingly, she regards the New Zealand policy as a violation of the global social contract — the first truly persuasive deployment of that phrase that I’ve heard.

Still, after 100 days, the New York Times sang a hymn to the country and its leader: “New Zealand’s successful fight against COVID-19 has made the Pacific island nation of 5 million one of the safest places in the world right now.”

Her upcoming election, proclaimed Ardern the Magnificent, is a “Covid election.”

Alas, the virus was not entirely eradicated after all. Going 102 days without a reported case, tests found four people in one family. Yes, that’s 4 in a city of 1.7 million. Panic time!

I could find nothing on whether they showed symptoms or how severe they are. In any case, if the goal is complete banishment of the virus through an aggressive application of state power, clearly something has to be done.

You can observe how much the country locked down and then opened up with a sense of false comfort, only to lock down again. Talk about regime uncertainty!

People had been going about their business, eating in restaurants and going to movies, while sniffing in disdain at the rest of the world for allowing the virus to sweep through and gain herd immunity. New Zealand found another way! A scientific way!

There was always an issue however. New Zealand’s economy relies directly and indirectly on international tourism for 10% of its GDP, and the industry employs 188,000 people. Would it have to end permanently, or perhaps every visitor would be subjected to testing and quarantine forever? That wouldn’t exactly be good for business.

But Ardern the Wise didn’t apparently think about what happens after she personally decided to deny her entire population natural immunities to a virus that has otherwise spread all over the world.

With four cases, what to do? Well, sure enough, now Ardern the Great has announced a full lockdown in the city of Auckland. Everyone home. All businesses except essentials are closed. Public venues including libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds and markets will all close as soon as the lockdown begins. This announcement immediately caused panic buying. Customers blasted past security to load up in preparation for a long period of disaster.

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