“The things that work,” says Jeffrey Tucker, “the things that are right, the things that are true, we have to rediscover them.”
On a recent episode of EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders,” host Jan Jekielek discussed the failed and sinister policies of the pandemic with Tucker, an author and founder of the Brownstone Institute, an organization founded to resist lockdowns and vaccine mandates while “providing a vision for a different way to think about freedom, security, and public life.”
Jan Jekielek: Well, Jeffrey, we’ve just taken in a day of the Brownstone Institute, the inaugural conference. It’s an important day.
Jeffrey Tucker: We’re coming out of a crisis unprecedented in our lifetime, yet here we are, 21 months into this and it’s still going on.
We’re asking all these big questions. What is our relationship to each other? Are we just pathogenic disease vectors? Are we going to give up the idea of human dignity entirely? Are we going to surrender to the idea that some people are destined to rule the world with the hand of science while the rest of us are going to be subjugated and obey?
I hope Brownstone can provide a forum for discussing these things truthfully and honestly.
Mr. Jekielek: Some imagine the crisis to be COVID. Isn’t that the crisis, that’s why we have to lock down?
Mr. Tucker: We had disease outbreaks in the United States in ’68 and ’69, and ’57 and ’58. We had a polio problem in the early ’40s, a parrot flu in 1929, and so on. But gradually over the 20th century, we learned more about infectious diseases.
We discovered the idea of herd immunity, and we learned that the way to deal with disease was not dividing society according to the exposed and the unexposed, the clean and the unclean.
Something went wrong in 2020, where we took a completely different path. It was a very strange scientific experiment that’s been conducted on almost the whole of humanity. They treated us like lab rats.
This is a wild new experiment in social management, under the guise of virus control. And it didn’t work. There’s no evidence that it has achieved anything in terms of mitigating the bad outcomes from the disease.
So the experiment failed, and there’s been little public recognition of this.
The demoralization comes from the realization that your rights and freedom can be taken away in an instant, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
This is why there’s so much depression, drug overdoses, and alcohol abuse, and the rise of obesity and ill-health everywhere. Just the sudden realization that your rights are not guaranteed, that all the things you used to believe may not be true anymore.
That’s a shock, this masking and distancing, or how many people you can have in your home, or whether you can even go to church.
This is a new world for us, and we have to ask ourselves whether we’re willing to put up with this.
We have to rethink what kind of people we want to be, what kind of society we want to live in.
This is our moment. We have to act on our beliefs, which means we have to decide what we believe.
Mr. Jekielek: But I think a significant portion of society might not even understand what you’re saying here.
Mr. Tucker: It reminds me of a statement by Ludwig von Mises. He says, “When civilization is sweeping towards destruction, there is no safe space for everyone. Therefore, it is the obligation of everyone to throw himself into the intellectual struggle for freedom.”
This was 1923. When I read that, I thought, that’s a little bit over the top. Civilization sweeping to destruction? Come on, that’s not going to happen. Well, he was right. His world, Vienna, fell apart, and he had to leave in 1934.
Of course, we read about these things, and we always think they’re in the past. It’s not going to happen to us. The terrible thing we’ve discovered in the last 20 months is that we are capable of that and worse—different, but potentially worse.
We believed we had a Constitution that protected us. We can read the Bill of Rights and see that we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Then, we woke up practically overnight to a different world in which we’re managed from the top by a tiny elite that’s determining whether I can go to church, how many people I can have in my home, whether I can grab a beer, whether I can open my business, whether I can get my teeth cleaned.
You say that some people might not understand what I’m saying, and yes, I get that. Partially, I think people have been so traumatized that they’re in denial. This struggle has been psychological for a lot of people. I mean, certainly, it was for me.
Mr. Jekielek: I can’t help but think about the idea of a Platonic noble lie, or the idea that the people setting policy will use noble lies to shape behavior.
Mr. Tucker: They did a terrible thing—the shutting of the schools, the closing of the churches, sending in SWAT teams into rural Texas bars to arrest people for drinking beers. But once they’d invested so heavily in this population-wide experiment, they had a problem. Because you’ve got a ruling class that’s not going to admit error, the lies began, and the lies have not stopped.
We live in a world of lies. Our mainstream newspapers have become cartoon-like. You have headlines that say the pandemic has caused a rash of suicides. But the pandemic didn’t cause suicides. The lockdowns caused suicide.
You’re going to find more truth in Substack accounts than you’re going to find in The Washington Post.
And we have ruling class elites in this country that are not thinking about the general welfare of the whole population—the working classes, minorities, the poor.
Mr. Jekielek: It doesn’t include the people who have to get their hands dirty through it all, like the people doing the deliveries, the police, fire department, the working class.
Mr. Tucker: Look what we’re doing to them now. We put them on the front lines to face the pathogen. Most everybody in those class structures who’ve been out and about for 20 months while the rest of us have been sitting around in pajamas and house shoes and Zooming. Then, at the end of the day, it’s like, we’ve got a vaccine. We’re telling them to take it, even though they have natural immunities.
We’re punishing them, and if they don’t want to take the jab, we’re firing them from their jobs. It’s an outrage. The nurses who treated coronavirus patients for months know how natural immunity works. They got exposure, they faced it out of a sense of professional obligation, because they thought they were doing the right thing.
Twenty months later, you’re fired. Get the jab, or you’re going to lose your job.
Everyone has a theory as to why this is happening. Big pharma is involved, government’s always looking for more power, all this is true. But there’s something else going on, and I think it comes down to a lack of appreciation for human liberty and the rights of individuals.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is the task of the people you’re assembling around Brownstone, isn’t it?
Mr. Tucker: Yes. But I know what’s going to happen at Brownstone. They’re going to come after us. Brownstone will be characterized as a right-wing libertarian organization. Well, I’m going to say in this interview that this is not true.
Right now we just need to remember what built modernity, what made us great, what made us prosperous. What made us feel like dignified individuals, what brought us peace. What are the conditions under which I find value in you and you find value in me, and we have an incentive to protect each other’s rights?
The things that work, the things that are right, the things that are true, we have to rediscover them. And we need to remember and reunderstand the last 20 months as a catastrophe.
We need to admit it didn’t work. It was immoral, and it spread tremendous carnage all over the world—poverty, suffering everywhere.
Those things are human rights, an aspiration of equality, and a social system in which we find dignity in each other, not just disease, but dignity. I think that’s where we need to go, and it’s going to be a long struggle, but we have to get there.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.