Deimocracy, Or Why The UK Government Is So Pumped Up On AGW

“The point is this: as the pandemic develops the onus is on officialdom to flag fact, prediction and possibility accordingly, and the media, charities, professional bodies, scientists and academics to keep these distinctions as sharp as possible at all times.”
Sam Lister

Perhaps it started with the Mad Cow disease scare. Perhaps it was a phenomenon associated with Tony Blair’s “leftists” policies becoming almost indistinguishable from good old Tory “rightist” policies, resulting in an emptiness of political argument.

For whatever reason, at least since 1997 the United Kingdom has been governed by a succession of states of fear, a veritable deimocracy (from “deimos“, ancient Greek for “dread”, i.e. “extreme fear”). In the UK, we have had innumerable scare stories about Y2K, child abuse, droughts, bird and swine flu, Iraq being capable of launching a missile attack within 45 minutes, terrorists ready to blow themselves up all over the country, and of course anthropogenic global warming (AGW) (I have already explored the link between deimocracy and AGW several months ago).

Given how almost each and every past scare has ended (disappeared into nothingness, all of them apart from the single episode of 7/7 terrorist bombings), one would expect a healthy skepticism about present and future scares on the part of the public. That is happening indeed, both about swine flu and AGW.

What is much more difficult to understand, is why the Government would want to appear confused and on the edge of panic as each new scare pops up: unless of course one understands how important deimocracy has become. As argued by Frank Furedi in “The Politics of Fear”:

With [the Left and Right] sides of the political spectrum practicing the politics of fear, we are left with neither an orientation towards the future nor a defense of society’s historic gains. Instead, we have presentism – a conformist sensibility that seeks to manage society in the here and now, against a backdrop of fear about the future and discomfort with the past. […] The political elite, disengaged from society and focused entirely on the present, pushes a misanthropic agenda that emphasises people’s vulnerability and sees individual behaviour as a problem to be managed. The elite demonstrates a strong element of paternalistic contempt, although, says Furedi, ‘they don’t recognise it in that form – it’s more a sense that there are all these dark savages out there, who need to be told what to do’.

Dark savages? Cue the recent drift towards theatrocracy

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As already mentioned, the behavior of the UK Government about the swine flu epidemics does not bode well for the future. Has anybody realized that for mysterious reasons the H1N1 virus looks like preferring to infect people in the old island of Albion? How can that be possible? Is there really no indication of an epidemics of overreaction and hyper-diagnoses, where every throat ache is immediately classified as “another swine flu victim”?

Of one thing there are all sorts of indications indeed: the UK Government’s communications and information management strategy has been a total failure. Writes Sam Lister in The Times of London:

“The importance of filtering the reasoned calculation from the increasingly wild speculation – and the importance for the media to report on the basis of robust evidence and credible opinion – will become ever more central as the pandemic evolves…Likewise official figures need to carry all their necessary caveats”

That is exactly what the UK Government has not been doing, all too ready to pass “wild speculation” as “established fact”. Yes, exactly as concerning AGW.

And who would have guessed? The grand total of purely swine-flu-related deaths in the UK as of today is…one!

“Another issue worth reiterating is the difference between a death from swine flu and the death of a person who had contracted the virus. The former sounds like a causative link, but to date has been inaccurate in most cases (a man from Basildon is the only person confirmed to have died after contracting swine flu with no other underlying health problems).”

Lister concludes with what might as well be the AGW Quote of the Week: it’s up to a society’s institutions, from the State to the media to scientis, to become able to accurately and intelligently inform the public, and all the more so when one has to deal with a topic of much uncertainty:

“The point is this: as the pandemic develops the onus is on officialdom to flag fact, prediction and possibility accordingly, and the media, charities, professional bodies, scientists and academics to keep these distinctions as sharp as possible at all times.”