By Duncan Whitemore, Mises UK
Although I have written on the topic of how libertarian property rights can be applied to the situation of viruses in two, previous essays, it is useful to summarise this again for a clearer picture. Such an endeavor seems necessary now more than ever, for, in spite of increased opposition compared to the first round of lockdowns earlier this year, the various nations of the UK are again heading into some form of lockdown mode as the winter draws near.
Most skeptics of lockdown and restrictive policies designed to “curb” the onset of COVID-19 approach the matter from a utilitarian or technocratic angle – i.e. whether the measures that states are pursuing are an effective and/or proportionate response to the spread of the virus. While this is an invaluable exercise, it does not challenge the principle that the state has the prerogative to obliterate rights and freedoms in the manner that it has. In other words, the notion that, ultimately, our rights could be infringed on a future occasion when someone deems that it is “effective” and “proportionate” to do so is left untouched. Equally intact, therefore, is the notion that our rights are not immovably tied to our status as individual human beings, but are little more than privileges enjoyed at the sufferance of the state. This is not to imply that the principle of liberty has been ignored – former Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption has been a notable high profile critic of the government in this regard.