Public Health

Liberty Sinks Slowly in the West

Augusto Zimmermann

The State of Western Australia has just introduced one the most draconian proof-of-vaccination requirements in the entire world. The state government had already introduced forced vaccinations, including booster shots, for at least 75 per cent of the local workforce. But now, anyone over the age of 16 who refuses to be constantly jabbed by the government will be, as from January 31, completely locked out of all hospitality and entertainment venues, gyms, hospitals, even bottle shops — including the drive-through variety.

Premier Mark McGowan issued the following warning on January 13:

Life will be very difficult for the unvaccinated.[1] … No pub, no bottle shop, no gym, no yoga class, no gigs, no dance floors, no hospital visits.[2]

Announcing the further expansion of an all-encompassing vaccine passport system, he informed the state’s residents that such measures will remain in place for many “years”. As McGowan candidly stated, such segregationist policies will allow the vaccinated to be confident they are “only mixing with other vaccinated people”.[3] The fact that the vaccinated can not only catch COVID but also spread it appears not to have registered in the Premier’s mind.

McGowan has also revealed an expectation that his federal counterpart to further consolidate discrimination by redefining “fully vaccinated” to mean three doses rather than two — and Western Australia would follow suit when that occurred, effectively making ongoing boosters strictly compulsory.[4] “Our expectation is that in order to be fully vaccinated, the Commonwealth rules will say it is three doses. And once that happens, we will move to the three-dose rule in due course,” McGowan says.[5]

We are witnessing here the rise of the tyrannical ruler and a revival of the totalitarian concept that the “health” of the people always trumps even the most basic rights of the individual.[6]

Totalitarianism can be defined as “a form of government that theoretically permits no personal freedom and that seeks to subordinate all aspects of individual life to the authority of the State”.[7] This political phenomenon is characterised by a strong government that attempts to exercise full control over the individual, up to and including coercion and repression.

Many Australians are hopelessly ignorant of these important lessons from the totalitarian past. They remain entirely unaware that totalitarianism often emerges as a gradual process towards the consolidation of absolute power and control over society, which can easily spread without much of the population first noticing it and taking hold before it is too late.[8] 

The rise of totalitarianism is often initiated by means of media propaganda and government initiatives that  engender “scientifically proven” control measures. These measures can be justified on the basis of community protection and are aimed at establishing a permanent state of surveillance which encompasses a step-by-step exclusion of ‘undesirable’ elements of society.  

In this context, the idea of “science” is often employed by totalitarian governments to disseminate societal fear and provide some form of justification for the implementation of far-reaching measures aiming to eliminate any real or perceived threat to society at large.[9] Accompanying totalitarian government there is always the deliberate dehumanization of part of the population, which then becomes the target to all sorts of discriminatory rules and gross human rights violations. This disturbing scenario may eventually result not only in social exclusion but also, as history shows in the worst scenario, physical extermination.

For the gradual process towards the consolidation of totalitarian power, a form of mass support must be orchestrated that can eventually foment a sense of permanent crisis and widespread fear in the community. This serves to feed the urge of the populace to accept emergency “measures” in face of this alleged threat to society.[10] In The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Hannah Arendt, one of the leading political theorists of the 20th century, vividly describes what she calls the “temporary alliance between the mob and the elite”, and details how, in order to gradually obtain absolute power and control, “gigantic lies and monstrous falsehoods can eventually be established as unquestioned facts”.[11]

Dr Mattias Desmet, a professor of clinical psychology at Belgium’s Ghent University, contends  that “historical analysis shows that so-called ‘mass formation’ can be the first step toward totalitarianism and atrocity in the name of collective welfare.”[12] He explains that the response of many governments to the COVID-19 crisis is an example of the psychological concept of “mass formation, a kind of broad scale hypnosis that causes large groups of people to band together to fight a common enemy with complete lack of concern for the loss of individual rights, privileges, and even personal well-being.” It leads to “a kind of mental intoxication of connectedness, which is the real reason why people continue to buy into the narrative, even if it’s utterly absurd or blatantly wrong.”[13]

It might be instructive at this point to highlight the example of Nazi Germany as its ignoble history is particularly pedagogical. From the outset the Nazi regime decided on prevention against infectious diseases as a key public policy. The Nazi approach to public health was based on a conviction that the causes of epidemics are preventable, and this betokened health immunisation measures in the workplace.  These ideas saw the Jews as the carriers of a deadly disease. As a result, German Jews were considered to pose a threat to public health and responsible, it was claimed, for actual current epidemics requiring isolation and quarantine. Hence the Nazi race laws of 1935 were underpinned by images of protection against a deadly virus and the need for forced immunisation of the general population.

In August 1938 Germans of Jewish background were forced to carry infamous transit passports that limited their access to various types of services and establishments, both public and private, including restaurants, cafes, pubs, cinemas, theatres and museums. These passports became part of a broader health policy that promoted a state of increasing segregation of the German Jewish population.

To instil fear among the German population, a recurrent theme in Nazi propaganda was the idea that Jews were the spreaders of a contagious disease. The government then ordered the production of posters with a quarantine notice at the entrance to the Jewish ghettos, warning the curious about the ‘health dangers’ of venturing into those spaces of segregation. Tracking and identifying ‘spreaders of the virus’ was a Herculean task at a time when computers were still a distant dream. However, the Nazi regime was able to efficiently identify, track, and classify that segment of the population, whether from Germany or the occupied territories.

By the end of 1946, the Nazi leaders were formally condemned in the eyes of the world before a makeshift international court and on the premises of the only public facility still standing in Nuremberg. The lawsuit against the Nazi doctors gave rise to the Nuremberg Code, a document endorsing ten principles that were incorporated into the doctor-patient relationship after the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. The Nuremberg Code upholds the concept of bodily autonomy that has as its most fundamental principle the willingness and informed consent by the patient to receive any form of medical treatment or experiment, including vaccination. 

Of course, it is quite disingenuous when people call those who disagree with them “Nazis” or “Hitler”. The atrocities committed by the Nazis are placed at a unique category. The point I am making is simply that evil is often perpetrated by governments under the guise of ‘safety’ and ‘public health’. Furthermore, that totalitarian past has left for its posterity the now apparently forgotten warning that, in the name of ‘safety’ and ‘public health’ governments can implement the most atrocious perversities.

Take for instance the ongoing situation in Western Australia. The Premier has implemented deeply segregationist measures and instilled irrational fear in the populace by claiming that the unvaccinated pose a serious health risk to the vaccinated. Of course, if the vaccine worked properly and as was repeatedly promised before the first doses’ arrival, then no such a risk would exist and people would not need to be so regularly re-vaccinated. However, McGowan has accused those who chose not to get constantly vaccinated of putting the constantly vaccinated at greater risk. “If you choose to remain unvaccinated … you’re choosing to put yourself at risk, you’re choosing to put the people around you at risk, and you’re choosing to increase the burden on our health staff,” he says.[14]

These statements, apart from being profoundly divisive, make no sense from a scientific perspective. However, the Premier has resorted to hatred and dehumanisation by calling those who refuse to comply to his arbitrary commands as “dropkicks”— by which he means stupid or worthless people—for refusing to show proof of vaccination in hospitals, restaurants, pubs hotels, gyms, etc.[15] “If you’re asked to show your proof of vaccination, don’t be a dropkick,” McGowan said on January 6.[16]

This is not the first time the Premier of Western Australia has viciously attacked his own fellow citizens. On September 18, 2021, McGowan told freedom protestors who oppose mandatory vaccination to “grow a brain”. The dehumanisation of those who refuse to be jabbed are meant to turn these individuals into scapegoats for the problem society is currently facing, regardless of the facts. In short, he has decided to promote and combine an irrational fear of the virus with an irrational fear for the unvaccinated, including those who are not prepared to be constantly vaccinated. This excluded group is, therefore, the subject of official disparagement and forcefully ejected from all aspects of normal social life.

This is precisely how in the 20th century the European totalitarian regimes started. The first step towards such totalitarianism was the dehumanisation of certain people coupled with the political instrumentalization of fear – fear for one’s own life and fear of a particular group accused of posing a threat to the individual and society at large.

As a Western Australian resident I am witnessing the constant implementation of lockdowns, police-enforced quarantines, mask mandates, border closures and travel restrictions, vaccine passports and public shaming of critical voices. As has been properly said, “these are all examples of dehumanising measures that should have no place in a system of democracy and the rule of law”. [17] We are also seeing, the ongoing relegation of some individuals to the peripheries whilst singling them out as irresponsible and undesired because of the ‘risk’ they allegedly pose to others, leading to society gradually excluding them.[18]

Of course, I am in no way comparing the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century to what I have been able to identify as the undeniable despotic inclinations of Western Australia’s Premier. However, I would like to inform the reader that what we are witnessing in this State is the emergence of a deeply oppressive regime and a local media that acts as propaganda machine trying to  justify fear-based measures that ultimately lead to the segregation of individuals who are now treated less as citizens and more as a threat and a burden to society.[19] In this sense, of course, there is no doubt in my mind that Western Australia has effectively taken the path that leads to absolute power and tyranny.  

Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth, WA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. From 2012 to 2017, he served as a Law Reform Commissioner in Western Australia. While serving as Associate Dean (Research) at Murdoch School of Law, he was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, in 2012. Professor Zimmermann is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of numerous academic articles and books, including of Fundamental Rights in the Age of Covid-19 (Connor Court Publishing, 2021) and Emergency Powers, COVID-19 Restrictions & Mandatory Vaccination – A Rule-of-Law Perspective (Connor Court Publishing, 2022).

[1] Daniel Khmelev, ‘West Australian Govt Locks Out Unvaccinated From More Venues’, at January 13, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/west-australian-govt-locks-out-unvaccinated-from-more-venues_4212590.html

[2] Daniel Khmelev, ‘West Australian Govt Locks Out Unvaccinated From More Venues’, at January 13, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/west-australian-govt-locks-out-unvaccinated-from-more-venues_4212590.html

[3] Josh Zimmerman and Charlotte Elton, ‘COVID-19 in WA: Mark McGowan About To Make Life ‘Very Difficult’ For the Unvaccinated’, The West Australian, 13 January 2022, at  https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/covid-19-in-wa-mark-mcgowan-about-to-make-life-very-difficult-for-the-unvaccinated-c-5297834

[4] Josh Zimmerman and Charlotte Elton, ‘COVID-19 in WA: Mark McGowan About To Make Life ‘Very Difficult’ For the Unvaccinated’, The West Australian, 13 January 2022, at  https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/covid-19-in-wa-mark-mcgowan-about-to-make-life-very-difficult-for-the-unvaccinated-c-5297834

[5] Josh Zimmerman and Charlotte Elton, ‘COVID-19 in WA: Mark McGowan About To Make Life ‘Very Difficult’ For the Unvaccinated’, The West Australian, 13 January 2022, at  https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/covid-19-in-wa-mark-mcgowan-about-to-make-life-very-difficult-for-the-unvaccinated-c-5297834

[6] Richard Weikart, Hitler’s Ethics: The Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 6.

[7] ‘Totalitarianism’, Britannica Dictionary, at https://www.britannica.com/topic/totalitarianism

[8] Christiaan W. J. M. Alting von Geusau, ‘Totalitarianism and the Five Stages of Dehumanization’, https://brownstone.org/articles/totalitarianism-and-the-five-stages-of-dehumanization/

[9] Christiaan W. J. M. Alting von Geusau, ‘Totalitarianism and the Five Stages of Dehumanization’, https://brownstone.org/articles/totalitarianism-and-the-five-stages-of-dehumanization/

[10] Christiaan W. J. M. Alting von Geusau, ‘Totalitarianism and the Five Stages of Dehumanization’, https://brownstone.org/articles/totalitarianism-and-the-five-stages-of-dehumanization/

[11] Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism: Part Three of The Origins of Totalitarianism (San Diego/CA: Harvest Book, 1968) 31.

[12]Ashley Sadler, ‘Clinical psychologist warns of totalitarianism, atrocity resulting from mass COVID buy-in’, LifeSiteNews, 10 December 2021, available at https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/clinical-psychologist-warns-of-totalitarianism-atrocity-resulting-from-covid-buy-in/?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=usa

[13] Ibid.

[14] Daniel Khmelev, ‘West Australian Govt Locks Out Unvaccinated From More Venues’, at January 13, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/west-australian-govt-locks-out-unvaccinated-from-more-venues_4212590.html

[15] Daniel Khmelev, ‘West Australian Premier Uses Slur Against Residents Over Vaccine Passports’, The Epoch Times, January 7, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/west-australian-premier-attacks-residents-over-vaccine-passports_4198658.html

[16] Daniel Khmelev, ‘West Australian Premier Uses Slur Against Residents Over Vaccine Passports’, The Epoch Times, January 7, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/west-australian-premier-attacks-residents-over-vaccine-passports_4198658.html

[17] Christiaan W. J. M. Alting von Geusau, ‘Totalitarianism and the Five Stages of Dehumanization’, https://brownstone.org/articles/totalitarianism-and-the-five-stages-of-dehumanization/

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid. Show your support Donate Now

Published by Nelle

I am interested in writing short stories for my pleasure and my family's but although I have published four family books I will not go down that path again but still want what I write out there so I will see how this goes

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