The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the party dedicated to propagating the failed philosophy of long-deceased European men, on 21 May voiced its view that the current ban on liquor sales should not be lifted anytime soon. I suppose the 118,000 jobs already lost is a tiny drop compared with the nationwide unemployment the party would desire – the ultimate fulfillment of the socialist dream. The more people forced into dependency on the state, the closer we get to the so-called ‘worker’s paradise.’
It is interesting that the party appeals to scientific data in its argument, saying it wants more such data to become available. But any human movement and activity will increase the potential spread of a virus. I wish they would consult other data, especially data that show the devastating effects that occur when countries impose draconian policies and restrict citizens’ economic freedom.
The virus, indeed any virus, will spread when people are free to move and interact with one another. Risk is an inevitable part of any meaningful notion of freedom. If risk becomes the standard by which we measure whether people should be free or not, we ought to ban all manner of human activity. The more we prevent people from acting in certain ways, the less exposed to risk they’ll be. But is that really a proper, humane way for people to live? Restricted around every corner, at every opportunity?
In its appeal to pure scientific evidence it seems the EFF is no longer concerned with issues of morality. Perhaps those in the upper echelons know their morality, as it were, is devoid of any actual grounding? Individuals should be free, not just because this ensures better economic outcomes for more people, but because being free is the only correct approach in which the individual could pursue his own dreams and goals. It is deeply immoral to advocate for state control of people’s lives, to strip away agency and the potential for individual self-fulfillment.
COVID-19, and the fear it has induced in people all around the world, has proved eminently useful for authoritarians in government, and those so inclined in society general, to justify thorough restrictions on people’s liberty and ability to earn a living. As so often happen nowadays, emotion has trumped reason. Instead of a nuanced approach, most governments, especially in developing countries, have adopted the hammer approach, often to the tune of cheering controlists, especially online. The economic devastation playing out in front of our eyes is the result of politicians accepting the false dichotomy between health and lives.
It is clear that people make all kinds of decisions with which we may not agree. Many people drink much more than they can handle, and the consequences can be incredibly destructive, for themselves, their families, and others in society. But a draconian state response will never effectively solve the underlying problems. It will also ensure a booming illicit market (as is currently happening in South Africa), with its own associated health risks. A most dangerous situation arises when puritans, of whichever stripe, aim to use the power of the state to enforce their personal views of what people may or may not consume.
Some people may well do things we personally despise, from drinking to smoking to consuming a lot of sugar. As an aside, if the state is concerned about ballooning health costs on its shoulders, it may be time to reassess the view that the state should be attempting to provide healthcare for everyone. When there is even the smallest space for freedom, others will make all manner of decisions we struggle to understand, but it is hubris, and downright pettiness, of the highest degree that some think they should make these decisions on behalf of others.
The EFF has long fought against economic freedom. The freedom of individuals to live in different ways, to open businesses, to create wealth, to trade with others and increase value, to drink and smoke, watch different forms of entertainment, read all manner of books, to have access to veritable mountains of information through the internet, to be protected in freedom of speech. All this is anathema to the EFF’s burning desire to control every single aspect of people’s lives. Freedom, even in its smallest form, represents a threat to the EFF, that someone may have an independent thought and not follow the party line.
The EFF’s core philosophy, socialism, demands that they oppose any notion of the freedom of the individual. I’m sure they’ll be quite happy for as long as various forms of lockdown and restrictions continue.