… is from page 75 of the 2003 edition of Benjamin Constant’s brilliant 1815 work Principles of Politics Applicable to All Government (Dennis O’Keefe, trans., Etienne Hoffman, ed.):
The pretext of crime prevention has the most immense and incalculable consequences. Potential criminality inheres in everybody’s freedom, in the lives of all classes, in the growth of all human faculties. Those in authority endlessly affecting to fear that a crime may be committed, may weave a vast web that envelops all the innocent. The imprisonment of suspects, the endless confinement of those whom due process would acquit, but who instead may find themselves subjected to the indignity of prolonged detention, the arbitrary exile of those believed dangerous, though there is nothing they can be reproached with, the enslavement of thought, and then that vast silence so pleasing to the ear of government: this pretext explains all these. Every event offers a justification. If the crime the government claimed it feared does not occur, the credit goes to its watchfulness. If one or two unjustified actions provoke opposition, this resistance to which injustice alone led is itself quoted in support of such injustice. Nothing is simpler than passing off the effect for the cause. The more a government measure offends against freedom and reason, the more it drags in its wake disorder and violence. Then government attributes the need for the measure to the disorder and violence themselves.
DBx: Indeed so.
And by replacing, in the above, “crime” and “crime prevention” with “disease” and “disease prevention” we make the above passage written more than two centuries ago especially relevant to 2020.