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Can We Have Government and Human Flourishing?

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Abstract

The ancient prophecy of the rise of a Leviathan-like government appears to have come true under the guise of public policy responses to the coronavirus. The important question now is whether people will allow themselves to continue to be subject to the will of those who hold power into the future. In this chapter I review the public policies that have heralded the arrival of Leviathan. I also show how more moral and prudent measures might have been taken instead to deal with the pandemic. I conclude by outlining the role that each one of us could play in order to mitigate matters – pursuing our excellences and thus consigning Leviathan back to captivity. Indeed, I argue that by implementing the reforms suggested in this book and becoming our best selves we can yet hope to be at liberty and once again behold government consistent with the natural law and thus amenable to human flourishing.

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It’s possible what’s happening in Australia might be instructive to us in the United States: in just two years, Australia’s police went from raiding newsrooms to beating people in the street. Maybe the lesson is: things can change very quickly. One moment, the English-speaking world is mocking China for being dystopian and autocratic. The next moment, they’re aping China and hunting people down who are two blocks from their home and smoking a cigarette.

Fox News (2021)

But in so far as it deviates from reason, it is called an unjust law, and has the nature, not of law but of violence.

Aquinas (1273 [2018], p. 4999)

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Notes

  1. 1.

    One widely accepted line of argument asserts that a foetus is not a person – if we accept this reasoning then we are left with a potential person.

  2. 2.

    I absolutely support people being vaccinated for good medical reasons. My concern is for people who are coerced into vaccination so that they can keep their job, go to a café, or watch a sports match live.

  3. 3.

    First, the mere fact that we currently have constraints does not lead to a rational conclusion that all other constraints should be automatically considered morally licit. Doing so would mistake association for justification. Second, wearing a seatbelt is unlikely to cause any harm to a person, and doesn’t involve taking a thing into one’s body. Third, seat belts are a long-proven technology that have a good deal of longitudinal data that might be used to evaluate efficacy. Fourth, the effects of wearing a seat belt are generally only felt whilst the belt is worn (but vaccines have the potential to exert effects that go well beyond the moment when it is first injected). Fifth, refusal to wear a seatbelt leads to the prohibition of an activity that has a close nexus to the omission – however, refusal to be vaccinated results in the prohibition of a multitude of activities that do not have a close nexus to the omission.

  4. 4.

    One line of argument is that vaccination prevents transmission to the vulnerable (see Chap. 6). However, this uses the vaccinated as merely a means to achieve the ends of other people.

  5. 5.

    Messner was advisor to Dollfuss prior to his assassination by the national socialists.

  6. 6.

    It is hard not to be bemused by people who mask up – even when in a vehicle alone – but don’t consume healthy food and exercise regularly. The latter measures would yield far better results and also help reduce the likelihood of much more deadly conditions such as cancer and heart disease which in Australia annually kill as many as 16 times more people than have died from COVID-19 in the last 20 months.

  7. 7.

    Casuals tend to also work in other related fields such as aged and disability care to ensure they get sufficient money to meet their needs. Changing casuals to permanent part time or banning (and compensating) them from working in related fields would be an obvious step to take given both their higher likelihood of exposure and the more significant consequences for the vulnerable that they care for. In addition, casuals needed to be provided with sufficient sick leave during the pandemic to encourage compliance with testing and isolating. Our family has lost well over 10,000 dollars in income because my wife has had to miss work and get tested on multiple occasions for what transpired to be hay fever and the like. Most people simply can’t afford to do so and would be disinclined to take precautions especially for very mild potential symptoms.

  8. 8.

    My wife is a nurse at the hospital but these are my own observations that I made whilst visiting my mother who was dying from cancer over an extended period.

  9. 9.

    Of course, home antigen test kits should have been provided to the vulnerable and all people who work with the vulnerable, to encourage frequent testing and hence reduce the spread to those most at risk.

  10. 10.

    It is not morally licit to borrow money from future generations to gift it to others for immediate consumption (see Chap. 7). Moreover, most governments were unable to even give money away in a competent manner. For instance in Australia money was deposited directly into bank accounts during the lockdown period. Accordingly, some of the money was saved or used to pay down debt, and the rest spent online with multinational companies thus ensuring little benefit to the local economy. Given that the desirability of issuing spending vouchers was an important lesson learned during the GFC, it is hard to understand how government managed to yet again make such an obvious blunder.

  11. 11.

    Indeed, I was shocked to find that a good friend of mine – and one of the greats of academia – submitted to vaccination, not for medical reasons, but because he felt he would not be allowed to do anything until he had done so. I absolutely support vaccination when chosen for medical reasons but am surprised at how many people have been prepared to deny their human dignity and receive medical treatment for reasons other than health ones.

  12. 12.

    I think specifically of his famous dictum that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary problem.

  13. 13.

    I am vaccinated against most diseases that pose a real risk to me, as are my children.

  14. 14.

    Indeed, I probably should thank the authorities for their unreasonable decrees because it has resulted in my having a better understanding of the things that are truly important in life as well as additional discretionary funds and time to more fully pursue them!

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© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

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Drew, J. (2022). Can We Have Government and Human Flourishing?. In: Natural Law & Government. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-2433-0_9

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