I have never been a singer in the anti-Dr. Anthony Fauci chorus. I always admired his work in the 1990s to bring the HIV catastrophe to heel and thought his early efforts as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advising President Donald Trump on fighting the COVID-19 crisis, provided a vital public service to our country.
But of late, I’d been having second thoughts. I am mildly put off by Fauci’s relishing embrace of worldwide celebrity. I thought it a bit frivolous, for example, his agreeing to be interviewed for a cover story in fashion magazine In Style.
And it was certainly an eye-popping obeisance to popular culture when the man, who said we will have to give up handshaking forever, benignly blessed in a Vanity Fair interview (of course) “asymptomatic strangers” hooking up for sexual liaisons using the dating app Tinder.
Still, those were minor irritations. Nobody’s perfect, after all. When the beautiful people decide to make one an icon, resistance is futile.
But now, Fauci has crossed a line that should sound the alarm—audaciously declaring that combating infectious disease requires the mindboggling task of “rebuilding the infrastructures of human existence.” Not only that, but he said that accomplishing these top-to-bottom “radical changes” requires “strengthening the United Nations and its agencies, particularly the World Health Organization.”
Fauci’s advocacy for essentially establishing an international rule by experts technocracy—co-authored with his National Institute Scientific senior adviser David M. Morens—appeared in respected scientific journal Cell, an important peer-reviewed publication in which scientists usually share discoveries in fields such as stem cell research, genetics, and immunology.
Articles in Cell (and its ilk) mostly focus on important but arcane technical issues of science and medicine. But with increasing frequency, such journals have lately pushed ideology, too—usually promoting left-wing and internationalist public policy prescriptions, as Fauci and Morens did in Cell.
Fauci and Morens’s prescription should give every lover of liberty and national sovereignty great pause. To prevent future pandemics, the authors argue that virtually everything in society will have to be transformed, “from cities to homes to workplaces, to water and sewer systems, to recreational and gatherings venues.”
The scope and breadth of their ambition is stunningly hubristic. “In such a transformation,” they write, “we will need to prioritize changes in those human behaviors that constitute risks for the emergence of infectious diseases. Chief among them are reducing crowding at home, work, and in public places as well as minimizing environmental perturbations such as deforestation, intense urbanization, and intensive animal farming.”
Oh, is that all? No, as a matter of fact, it isn’t. The authors quickly add, “Equally important are ending global poverty, improving sanitation and hygiene, and reducing unsafe exposure to animals, so that humans and potential human pathogens have limited opportunities for contact.” Holy cow!
Think about what all of that would take! At the very least, the gargantuan task would require unprecedented and intrusive government regulations and the transferring of policy control from the national to international level—nothing less than an international technocratic and authoritarian supra-governing system—with the power to direct how we interact with each other as family, friends, and in community.
This hyper-state would have to control how the economy operates, where we could build factories and plow farms. It would also determine how and where we live, what we eat, and permanently dictate when and if we can travel. And think about the cost and the means it would take to break inevitable popular resistance. No thanks!
But what about the amazing improvements in human thriving, dramatically improved life expectancies, unprecedented prosperity, and advances that modernity has wrought, not to mention the near miraculous medical improvements in fighting disease developed in the last 100 years, with many more on the way? Inadequate, the authors sniff. “There is no reason to think that these alone can overcome the threat of ever more frequent and deadly emergences of infectious diseases,” they write.
No one is against taking reasonable public health measures to protect people from illness. But things are in danger of getting out of hand. Are we really going to allow panic about disease to govern our affairs? Are we so afraid of germs we will lessen our commitment to liberty? Are we really filled with such angst about getting sick that we will permanently shrink back from the sheer enjoyment of life?
Because if we are, that will come at significant public health costs, too. We have already seen in the brief months of this pandemic that isolation and economic insecurity leads to increases in suicides, addiction, abuse, and violence.
Good grief, according to the CDC, 25 percent of our young people have had suicide ideation during the pandemic as their educations are stunted by being forced out of school. These and associated costs are of greater and more immediate concern than remaking “the entire infrastructure of human existence” to prevent future disease outbreaks.
Look, it is understandable that highly educated doctors whose professional lives are specialized and focused intently on the causes, manifestations, and prevention of deadly diseases would take such a myopic view. In a sense, that’s their job.
But it also illustrates why “the experts” shouldn’t be placed in charge of making policy decisions. As well-meaning as Fauci and Morens are, their essay provides a perfect example of why we must ever resist the seductive siren song of technocracy.
Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council. His latest book is “Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.