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Emergency State - How We Lost Our Freedoms in the Pandemic and Why it Matters (Book Review)
Created on: 2023-12-06
Modified on: 2023-12-19
222p, published 13 Oct 2022
The author of this book, Adam Wagner, is a leading UK barrister, specialising in human rights. Prior to covid, he spent over a decade making human rights laws accessible through social media, etc. Therefore, when the lockdowns were imposed, he was in a perfect position to keep the public informed via the same media as to what the ever-changing legal situation actually was.
Wagner also acted on behalf of #ReclaimTheStreets in their successful case against the Metropolitan Police relating to the vigil for Sarah Everard, in the wake of her murder by then serving Metropolitan Policeman Wayne Couzens, who used the cover and confusion of the lockdown rules to commit his crimes.
This book, released in Oct. 2022, explores the conflict between basic human rights of liberty, versus the lockdown restrictions brought in ostensibly to prevent the spread of the virus and save lives. The book is focused on how events unfolded in the UK, though touches on similar events in other countries.
Wagner contextualizes the legal aspect of the response to covid in ancient and recent history. We learn about the origin of quarantine and isolation. The term "quarantine" comes from laws passed in Venice in the 1300s to isolate individuals who had possibly been exposed to the Black Death, for up to 40 days (cf. French for "forty": "quarente").
Similar laws were passed around the world over the centuries to prevent the spread of the plague, cholera and yellow fever.
However, Wagner notes that the lockdowns - quarantines of entire countries - were a massive amplification of past quarantines, and there is very little precedence prior to covid. Wagner identifies two such situations: a 5 day lockdown in Mexico in 2009, during the swine flu panic, and a 3 day lockdown in Sierra Leone in 2014, during an Ebola outbreak.
Wagner describes the switch from a state of emergency to what he calls an "emergency state" - a state operating in an authoritarian way in order to get through an emergency, be it war (real or threatened), environmental, health, etc. He describes the common features of the emergency state, including injustice, in that many are prosecuted for simply being unable to keep up with the constant changes in the law - a feature in common between WWII and the covid lockdowns. Also that considerable powers are "loaned" to the state temporarily, in order to deal with the emergency efficiently, but which, once the state acquires them, it finds extremely hard to let go of. He notes that in the decades following WWII, both successive Tory and Labour governments held onto these powers beyond their necessity, while the party in opposition criticized them for doing so - regardless of who was in power at the time.
Wagner warns that "A democracy does not fall suddenly into authoritarianism, but can slide," leading into a discussion of the modern human rights movement that emerged in the aftermath of WWII. In 1949, Teitgen, a French resistance fighter, and founder of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), observed that fascism arose in Europe because of people's complacency.
Returning to the situation we have just emerged from - Wagner describes the legal processes that took place in the UK, the options available to ministers, and how they deliberately chose the course that gave them the most power, which minimized the "risk" of parliamentary scrutiny and amendments, and which also rendered it hardest to leave the declared state of emergency.
He describes the hypocrisy of the government, the rule breaking within it, that "rule breaking would come to define the government's response to COVID-19," and the conspicuously soft treatment governmental law-breakers got by the courts, etc., in contrast to the characteristically heavy handed approach used by the police against ordinary citizens protesting against lockdowns, etc.
As an aside, there is this obscure exemption from lockdown rules:
"a physical activity which is carried on outdoors and for which a licence, permit or certificate issued by a public body . . . to carry on the activity, or for any of the equipment used for the purposes of the activity, must be held by (a) the gathering organiser, or (b) any person taking part in the activity." [p103]
Confused? That's the intention. This rule was written specifically to exempt grouse shooting, while deliberately obscuring that this was its purpose. Which again speaks volumes of the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the party imposing restrictions on the rest of us.
As to the wisdom of the lockdowns, etc., Wagner attempts impartiality, claiming insufficient knowledge, but leans clearly towards supporting the authorities:
". . . on March 16th, SAGE considered a paper from Imperial College London (ICL) which predicted 510,000 deaths in an 'unmitigated' epidemic . . . " [p53] - this is a clear reference to Professor Neil Ferguson's infamous report. However, there is no reference to the fact that Ferguson had a long history of "catastrophizing" every presumed imminent pandemic, famously predicting, in 2005, that up to 200 million could die from the Bird Flu pandemic, and many more gaffs. No reference either to ICL's funding from BMGF, which stood to profit from the panic. No mention either is made of the Great Barrington Declaration, which thousands of scientists and medical practitioners signed in protest against the lockdowns.
On masks, he states: "The requirement to wear a face covering would generate fearsome debate . . . but it was at least a rational policy." [p91] Except the rationale behind it was the very subject of debate, with many qualified doctors speaking out in online videos about the irrationality of it, and how their improper use created new hazards.
Similarly, when anti-lockdown protests were illegal due to protestors not following the lockdown rules of social distancing and masking, he considers this a "reasonable balance" [p98]. Notably, BLM protests and even football matches were attended by large crowds without such concerns, and without suffering police violence. Nor is there any evidence that these events spread the virus: mortality records show no response to mass gatherings, whereas the normal spikes associated, e.g. with heatwaves, can be seen.
Wagner also refers to comparisons that were made between proposed (and in some places imposed) 'vaccine passports' and the yellow star Jews were forced to wear in Germany under the Nazi regime. Wagner, himself a Jew, describes this comparison as extreme and grotesque [p139-140]. But is it? For sure, some conspiracy theories went too far. But for those who missed the very real vitriolic hatred directed towards covid-vaccine-refuseniks during the last year of the lockdowns, here's a short sample:
The above collection is by no means exhaustive. Wagner objects that the yellow star in Germany was used to single Jews out for "discrimination, dehumanisation, and ultimately, mass murder."
According to an online Holocaust Encyclopedia, "[The Nazis] used the badge not only to stigmatize and humiliate Jews but also to segregate them and to watch and control their movements," and yes, this was the first step towards much worse.
Nonetheless, there is no question that vaccine-refuseniks were in fact singled out for discrimination and dehumanisation. As you heard in the video above, idiotic media personalities were indeed calling for the unvaccinated to be forced to wear badges to identify them, refused participation in all of modern life, and even refused emergency treatment. But this was not merely fools on TV whipping up hatred - also politicians in power, and there are reports that in places, medical staff were indeed discriminating against the unvaccinated in their treatment:
"The medical community in the county I was working in . . . started refusing to care for unvaccinated patients except in the hospital setting. I couldn’t believe that patients were banned from accessing basic primary care at first, but then I spoke to a man . . . who was denied both refills of his diabetic medications and treatment for a sinus infection by his primary care provider, all because of his Covid vaccination status. . . . Even when patients did make it to the hospital, I learned that the physicians and staff in the emergency room were directed to provide a lower tier of medicine to this group of patients. . . . I had to verify with physician leaders that they approved of this inhumanity. I found out that all the major healthcare systems in the county had agreed to this action, and drove the creation of the policies that demanded physicians act in direct opposition to their oaths. After discovering this, I departed from the medical community in spirit."
So there was, during covid, an overwhelming attempt to create a two-tier society - one for the vaccinated, and another for the unvaccinated, with far fewer freedoms, including second class medical care, inability to work in most jobs, inability to travel, and more. And to some extent, this medical apartheid was realized.
The purpose of the comparison with the yellow star was to shake people out of their trances, and let them see how vicious many had become - and by comparison with the Nazi nightmare, to forestall the descent of society yet further into hatred, division, and discrimination.
Also, Wagner opines that analogies with the Nuremberg Code being broken during covid were similarly offensive [p140]. Again, he misses the point entirely.
The first principle of the Nuremberg Code begins:
"The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential."
It continues, that the subject should "be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the . . . matter . . . to make an understanding and enlightened decision."
When the covid vaccines were rolled out, they were done so under EUA - emergency use authorization. That is to say, they were not fully approved. That is to say, they were still experimental. That is to say, all who took them were part of a de facto experiment - and most were not aware of this. And even if one imagines the EUA to be sufficient - how can you know the long term effects of a novel technology with only a short term trial? You cannot. Add to that, that trials were rigged6. So people were in a de facto experiment, and when it went awry (and people died), certain vaccines were quietly withdrawn by some states and countries for certain age groups.
It is also inarguable that people were coerced into taking these novel products by many forms of constraint, including the threat of losing their jobs, their livelihoods, everything. Many people had their backs to an abyss as they said "No." It is thus argued that it is not an analogy, but a fact that the Code was broken.
And the Code was no "orphan". It was the development of a line of previous codes - the Guidelines for Human Experimentation, from Germany in 1931 (prior to the Nazi regime), the Berlin Code of 1900, further debates of the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the trial which led to the Nuremberg Code, prosecutors referred to the Hippocratic Oath. And regarding emergency states, the defence in that trial argued that the "good of the state takes precedence over the individual." Which should cause people who speak like that to have second thoughts.
While the Code has not been enforced in law, its impact on medical ethics in general is indisputed.
And finally, comparisons with the Holocaust were drawn during covid by the heroic Dr Zelenko, who by his very attire was recognizable as an orthodox Jew; also by Vera Sharav, who is also Jewish, and a Holocaust survivor; and others.
But on these points, Wagner defeats his own argument with his warning that democracies slide into nightmarish authoritarianism through complacency, and his comparisons of the lockdown laws with the ECHR, which was also written in response to WWII and the Holocaust.
And returning to the main thread of the book, there is no discussion of any possible solution to the covid crisis other than a vaccine - when in fact there were numerous solutions with ample evidence, and ample evidence of their suppression. I have touched on hydroxycholoroquine in a prior article, but there are more. Nor is there any questioning of the safety of the (genetic-) vaccines which have proven so dangerous.
In sum - this is an interesting book, and one that explains certain pieces of the jigsaw puzzle - how the lockdown laws came to be, how the emergency state operates, why it is difficult for a state to reverse out of such a condition, and why we must be concerned about future, even more draconian responses. However, it suffers from some serious blind spots. It's informative, but it is not possible to judge the response to covid without tackling several major medical controversies, which Wagner unfortunately did not investigate.
: Sturcke, Bird flu pandemic 'could kill 150m', Guardian, 30 Sep 2005
: Episode 184: The Covid Defection Begins, Highwire, 8 Oct 2020
: Miller, “They Deliberately Gave the Unvaccinated a Lower Standard of Care” – a Doctor Speaks Out, Daily Sceptic, 13 Apr 2023
: Jewish Badge: During the Nazi Era, Holocaust Encyclopedia
: Waning Vaccine Effectiveness, Healing Truths, 11 Nov 2021
: Shuster, Fifty Years Later: The Significance of the Nuremberg Code, NEJM, 13 Nov 1997
: Ghooi, The Nuremberg Code – A critique, Am J Pub Health, June 2011
: Moreno, et al., The Nuremberg Code 70 Years Later, JAMA, 5 Sep 2015
: Never Again is Now Global - Five-part Docuseries, Children's Health Defense
: Hydroxychloroquine, Deadly Drug or Unrecognized Saviour?, Healing Truths, 30 Jul 2021
: "Cause Unknown" - The Epidemic of Sudden Deaths in 2021 and 2022 (Book Review), Healing Truths, 30 Sep 2023
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