The USSR had a centrally planned economy. Plans were considered to be ‘rational’, ‘scientific’ and ‘modern’, vital since anything ‘irrational’ was anti-Communist. As a result, the USSR was a top-heavy bureaucratic nightmare, where you queued for hours to get, if you were lucky, essentials for your ‘paradise’. The black market thrived. As a result what in 1914 was about to become the richest and most powerful country in the world by far, went bankrupt because it could not at all supply what the people wanted – staples such as bread and meat. Planning never takes account of what people want, only what bureaucrats and ideologues want. The USA did no better. It planned a completely unnecessary ‘Cold War’. It spent in today’s money trillions of dollars on rockets and arms which it then scrapped. It planned elaborate and costly genocidal wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq with incredible technology – all of these wars it humiliatingly lost against poorly-armed locals. This was because it relied on central planning, not on reality.
Today, all over the apparently prosperous Western world people are queuing outside shops and some shelves are even empty, just as I saw in the Soviet Union in the 1970s. People are told to stay at home, forbidden to travel, are threatened and bullied by fear-spreading State-run media and fined for going out to enjoy themselves or see family and friends. Others are denounced by mean-minded neighbours for attempting to live normal lives and are visited by the bullying police. Soldiers are seen patrolling the streets, sent there by grim-faced politicians. Airports are closed. There is a greatly increased use of food banks by the impoverished, even raids on pharmacies. For some the impression is that we are living under a Soviet dictatorship – which has also closed churches. The USSR lives on. But as May comes, let us remind ourselves of some forgotten facts.
Every year there is seasonal flu. The elderly and the vulnerable stay at home and avoid going out. Although this is now called ‘self-isolation’, there is nothing new in it. Coronavirus, which peaked in the UK over three weeks ago, has so far led to the premature deaths from various diseases of fewer than half as many deaths as were caused by swine flu. In the UK, the monthly average of some 45,000 deaths has been boosted by some 25%. 85% of these deaths occur to those over the age of 70, many of whom were already very ill and had a very low life expectancy due to poor health, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or addictions like alcoholism and smoking. The numbers of deaths decreases very rapidly with age – indeed lethality falls rapidly under the age of 70. Of 30,000 deaths, only 350 have occurred among those aged under 40. The UK has the highest statistical total in Europe, but only because other countries do not list all those whose deaths have been speeded because of the virus, for example, only in some countries they list only those who die in hospitals. In the UK some 1% of the 400,000 elderly who live in care homes have died from the virus. And this although no precautions were taken there until two weeks ago and sick care workers, often from among the poorest in society, work for the minimum wage, unlike in the NHS, because, if they stay at home, they receive virtually no pay. Clapping does not pay for food.
Some ask if the remedy of lockdown is not worse than the illness: mass bankruptcy, mass unemployment and mass depression have been brought on by ideological politicians, who are in love with power, and by bullying and irresponsible media, the State-run mouthpieces. The media spread fear and anxiety with their fake news and intimidating propaganda, and create the temptations of crime in order to survive. They like to say that our lives have been ruined forever, that nothing will ever be the same again, that this emergency situation is permanent. These statements are of course just more lies, which we have come to expect from the media, but they are believed in by the naïve, mainly the elderly and the vulnerable. And they are depressed by them because they believe them. We await the resolution to this microbe crisis, the deSovietisation of our lives and the return to freedom, with prayer.