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Or Read Robert Higgs

Here’s a letter to a new correspondent:

Mr. M__:

I fervently hope that you are right that I am wrong when, as in this essay, I predict that most of the powers seized by governments in the name of fighting Covid-19 will remain in place long after SARS-CoV-2 is endemic. But given the terrifying transformation of society over the past year – given that people have shown themselves to be easily stirred into hysteria by obsessive focus on one particular risk – and given, as I see now, that there is no amount of liberty that people are unwilling to sacrifice in exchange for the promise of even infinitesimal reductions in risks to their physical health, the future that I see is bleak, swarming as it will be with agents of what some are calling “the biosecurity state.”

I’m reminded of this observation offered by the great 16th-century French political philosopher Étienne de La Boétie:

It is incredible how as soon as a people become subject, it promptly falls into such a complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement.*

He is, sadly, correct.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

* Étienne de La Boétie, The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (Harry Kurz, trans., 1975 [originally posthumously published in 1577]), page 60.