A Dry Run for Tyranny

The proto-fascists among us have delighted in issuing “emergency” orders relating to the coronavirus. These have included, among others, shutdowns and mask and vaccine mandates. The Governor of Minnesota went so far as to issue an “emergency” order prohibiting all residents of the state from leaving their houses without his permission.

Many have speculated that statists’ overreaction to covid has been a dry run for more “emergencies” to come. Indeed the supply of potential emergencies is large, particularly when “science” can reliably be deployed on behalf of the state.

Support for such speculation comes from an article published by Cambridge University Press under the auspices of the American Political Science Association. The article is titled “Political Legitimacy, Authoritarianism, and Climate Change” and was authored by Ross Mittiga, a young academic who ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 as a Democrat.

The following quotes are from the article’s abstract. I declined to enrich these miscreants to the tune of $25 by buying the full article.

Is authoritarian power ever legitimate? The contemporary political theory literature—which largely conceptualizes legitimacy in terms of democracy or basic rights—would seem to suggest not.

Yes, the “contemporary political theory literature,” along with writings on political theory from the 17th Century to the present, the U.S. Constitution, etc.

I argue, however, that there exists another, overlooked aspect of legitimacy concerning a government’s ability to ensure safety and security.

Of course. Tyranny is always imposed for our benefit. Always.

While, under normal conditions, maintaining democracy and rights is typically compatible with guaranteeing safety, in emergency situations, conflicts between these two aspects of legitimacy can and often do arise. A salient example of this is the COVID-19 pandemic, during which severe limitations on free movement and association have become legitimate techniques of government.

Whether they were legitimate or not is hotly debated, but that is the premise. Now the point:

Climate change poses an even graver threat to public safety.

Of course it does! Actually, a lot of things pose a graver threat than covid.

Consequently, I argue, legitimacy may require a similarly authoritarian approach.

The abstract concludes:

While unsettling, this suggests the political importance of climate action. For if we wish to avoid legitimating authoritarian power, we must act to prevent crises from arising that can only be resolved by such means.

Got that? Do what the Greenies want, or we will declare an emergency and jam our measures down your throats. If we did it with covid, we can do it with global warming, too. The precedent has been set, and we can expect a lot more talk along these lines in the years to come.

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