“Many societies have been constructed around this idea of clean and unclean. That’s what we did. And it’s grim. It’s brutal. It’s anti-modern.”
At the Brownstone Institute’s inaugural conference in Hartford, Connecticut, we sat down with Brownstone founder and president Jeffrey Tucker to discuss vaccine mandates, the devastating consequences of lockdown policies, and his vision to create an intellectual sanctuary for free discussion and scientific inquiry.
“Shutting the schools, closing the churches, sending SWAT teams into rural Texas bars to arrest people for drinking beers—they did all these terrible things. But once they invested so heavily in this population-wide experiment all over the world, now you have a problem, right? Because you’ve got a ruling class that’s not going to admit error. So that’s when the lies began. And the lies have not stopped. We live in a world of lies,” Tucker says.
Jan Jekielek: Jeffrey Tucker, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Jeffrey Tucker: It’s great to be here, thank you for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: Well Jeffrey, we’ve just taken in a day of the Brownstone Institute, the inaugural conference, some amazing speakers and networking with people that haven’t even met each other in person before.
Mr. Tucker: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s an important day, actually, as it transpired.
Mr. Tucker: Well, it feels important.
Mr. Jekielek: Yes.
Mr. Tucker: It feels like we’re working towards a solution, and we’re coming out of a crisis really unprecedented in our lifetime, something nobody wanted to happen. While it was happening we almost couldn’t believe it, and here we are, 21 months into this and it’s still going on. The U.S. is opening up, a lot of places around the world are closing down in other ways. So the crisis is still with us—intellectually, socially, culturally, politically, a crisis for science, free speech, everything.
We’re asking all these big questions these days, 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 there are some people who are destined to rule the world with the hand of science, and the rest of us are just going to be subjugated and obey?
Are we really going to do that? If we do that, what does that mean to our ideals of democracy and equality? We’re all asking these questions, and I hope the Brownstone can provide something like a forum for discussing these things truthfully and honestly.
Coming to terms with the reality of what happened, maybe shine a light on the solution which, I think one of our speakers said yesterday, is all bound up with rediscovering the enlightenment, and the values that it meant. I think that’s true.
But I’m also feeling as if Brownstone has a role as a refuge, a salvific or a sanctuary role, for the people that are being purged, and that’s ongoing. Even as we speak there are people who are losing their positions, their jobs, because of the refusal to acquiesce to this biomedical state and its mandates. So yes, Brownstone is too little too late, but at least we exist, and I think yesterday showed the possibility we can do a lot of good.
Mr. Jekielek: At the beginning you said the crisis, and even for some viewers, maybe some of our newer viewers, some imagine the crisis to be COVID. Isn’t that the crisis, that’s why we have to lock down? There’s this massive crisis.
Mr. Tucker: Yes, I understand that some people think this is the very first pathogen that the world has ever experienced. But one of the things that I’ve done since this whole thing began is read up on the history of pathogenic diseases, infectious diseases, and the way we responded to them.
In the old days, the Middle Ages, people thought that they were a miasma that you had to run away from. What that did is it created a kind of a caste system, a feudalistic, or a class system, which the upper classes that could move away and get away from the pathogen—just forced it on everybody else who couldn’t afford it. So we developed these divisions in society.
But as modernity progressed, from the late Middle Ages onward, after the end of the Black Death, and the idea of modernity and progress began to dawn on people, we began to develop a different attitude towards infectious diseases. That was we need freedom, rights, equality, and progress, despite the existence of pathogens.
We are going to forever do a deadly dance with these things, we always have. But the burden of that deadly dance should be community-wide. It should be shared within the social structure by everyone. As a community we need to come to terms with these things, we’re not going to divide society anymore into these subgroups.
In the 20th century we got especially good at this. So we had disease outbreaks in the United States in ’68 and ’69, and ’57 and ’58. We had a polio problem in the early forties, a parrot flu in 1929, and so on it goes. But gradually over the 20th century we’ve learned more about infectious diseases.
We discovered the idea of herd immunity—a very interesting discovery—and we learned that the way to deal with disease was not just, on one hand, dividing society according to the exposed and the unexposed, the clean and the unclean, we didn’t do that in the 20th century.
Something went wrong in 2020 where we took a completely different path, and it was even more extreme than just going medieval. It was a very strange scientific experiment that’s been conducted on almost the whole of humanity, nothing like this has ever been tried before. They treated us like lab rats. Our job from the middle of March onward was to behave as parts in a machine, like part of a computer model. They modeled us and told us what to do.
To me it’s all summed up in Deborah Birx’s comment at the March 16th press conference from the White House in which she said, “What we want is for everyone to stay separate from each other.” That was her statement, and this was coming from the White House, and people didn’t think that was unusual?
Not in the whole history of humanity have we faced an order that everyone should stay separate from everyone else. This is a wild, new experiment in social management, under the guise of disease mitigation, 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 very little public recognition of this, we’ve been slow to admit it. Very few of the architects of this thing have ever, well none of them I don’t think, have come forward and said, “Okay, that was a huge mistake.” So we’re left now with this tremendous carnage, and it’s hard to know what the worst part of it is.
I guess for me the worst carnage is the demoralization that comes about from the realization that your rights and freedom can be taken away in an instant, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If the courts are not there for you, public health officials are cheering this on, you feel unempowered.
I think 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 you are not free, that your rights are not guaranteed, that all the things you used to believe in may not be true anymore.
That’s a shock, the sudden transformation of the liturgy of life into a completely new regime, into a new protocol to which you must comply, with this masking and distancing, or how many people you can have in your home, whether you can even go to church. You go to a party and everybody calls you a super spreader.
This is weird. This is a new world for us, and we have to ask ourselves whether we’re willing to put up with this, was this a good idea? And if not, what are we going to do about it in the future? So there is a crisis, and the crisis exists on many levels—social, cultural, medical, but I think above all else it’s intellectual.
We have to rethink, or think again, about what kind of people we want to be, what kind of society we want to live in, and what are the rules under which we’re going to live? Is it about the clean and unclean, the essential and nonessential, elected, unelected. Or are we going to recapture those values of democracy in the equality and liberty that really did build identity. That, I think, is what we’re dealing with right now, it’s that fundamental.
Many of us, our whole lives, have thought about issues of economics and politics and philosophy, and so on. They were parlor games for us in the past. They were debates we had with our friends, books we read, tests we took, things we talked about over cocktails, all of that is now real.
It’s the world in which we live right now, everything we’ve ever worried about, all these issues that have consumed me, and you, and many people. Now this is it, this is our moment. We have to act on our beliefs, which means we have to decide what it is we believe, and that is really fundamental right now.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s fascinating, and I think that as you’re speaking,I hear everything you’re saying. Part of me doesn’t want to believe it.
Mr. Tucker: Yes, I know.
Mr. Jekielek: But I think a significant portion of society absolutely doesn’t, and might not even understand what you’re saying here.
Mr. Tucker: I’m not sure about that. Maybe if you lived in South Dakota, where they never shut down really, or Sweden, or somewhere like that. You might think, well, that’s normal.
But here’s a problem, there are some places that opened up sooner than others, and they feel normal. I think Florida feels that way right now. But the effects of the lockdowns, with the supply chain breakages, and the chip shortages, and the inflation that we’re facing, the debt crisis, this is going to affect everybody.
All of it reminds me of a statement written, I think, in 1923 by Ludwig von Mises, and I would think about this all the time, because I’ve read it so many times in the past week, 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 really going to happen. Well, he was right. His world, Vienna, fell apart, it got consumed, he had to leave in 1934. That was a calamity, he was right.
Of course we read about these things, we always think they’re in the past. It’s not going to happen to us, we’ve learned from the past, we don’t do that kind of thing anymore, we’re above that, we’re beyond that. The terrible thing that we’ve discovered in the last 20 months is that we are not beyond that. we are capable of that, and worse—different, but potentially worse. That’s not a world, I didn’t want to believe that.
I’ve always had the attitude of a 19th century liberal Whig. They were that way too. They believed that there’s only progress coming. We know how to make cool things, we know the prescription for peace and prosperity, it’s trade, it’s free association, free speech, ever greater rounds of emancipation for everybody. We get better tools, and there’s World’s Fairs, and life can only get good.
Then World War I happened, it shattered everybody’s dreams, everything. Everybody’s assumptions about what the world was like. I think that there are some ways in which 2020 and 2021 is our World War I, in the sense that it’s broken down everything we believed about ourselves.
We believed that we had a Constitution that protected us, we thought it was there for us. We can read the Bill of Rights and see that we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And these things are surely baked into the institutional structures under which we live. How? I don’t know—the courts, maybe just in culture—but we thought it was there.
Then truly it seems like 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. I mean, every aspect of life came to be managed and controlled practically overnight.
As I’m describing this, it sounds like a dystopian nightmare, and it was. You say that some people might not understand what I’m saying, 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.
I began to panic about March 8th when they shut down South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, just shut down a conference of 250,000 people by edict of the mayor. I thought, well, that doesn’t happen in America, that’s going to lead to 10 years of lawsuits. I wrote an article about it, and said, “This is outrageous, this is unbelievable, you can’t do that.” I think I had one of the very few articles in print anywhere on the planet earth decrying what happened. There was almost silence.
Mr. Jekielek: This is the thing, right?
Mr. Tucker: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Because then and now there’s plenty of people that are saying, “Hey, we need to do this to protect humanity,” Isn’t that the mantra?
Mr. Tucker: Yes. I think there’s almost a religious presumption here. To some extent there’s a way in which some of this connects with people’s intuitions, but it’s a medieval style intuition. Stay away from people, everybody’s diseased, they’re going to stay away from you. Of course you can’t go to events together, the way to treat a pathogen is to get away from it.
You know, Jan, early on in this whole thing I got a call from a guy who used to head Gates’ viruses for the Gates Foundation. He was very upset about the articles I was writing because I was decrying these mitigation measures, the lockdowns, and all the science behind this stuff, the effects that it has on human liberty, and the way it’s demoralized everybody. I’ve been writing with outrage about this stuff now for all this time.
He called me up very upset and said, “You’re completely wrong. These lockdowns can work, and the masks are great, and we have to abolish events, and we had to close the schools,” and all these things. I asked him one question, “All right, let’s say everybody avoids the pathogen.”
“First of all it’s going to create a population with naive immune systems, and we know from history, the only thing more dangerous than governments and wars are naive immune systems. In a modern life you cannot avoid pathogens forever. That’s why we have immune systems that scale up and confront these. You avoid the pathogen, eventually you’re going to decay your ability to fight infectious disease and you’re going to die.”
I mentioned that to him, and I said, “So first of all, how do you address that?” I said, “My second question is, what happens to the bug? What happens to SARS‑CoV‑2? Everybody avoids it, where does it go?” And he said, “Well, if we drive down the Ro [R naught] low enough, it’ll eventually just fade away.” I said, “Look, I think you might be messing up cause and effect here. Jjust because nobody’s getting it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s still there, so you haven’t answered my question, what happens?” This might have been April or May of 2020, he said, “Eventually we’ll get a vaccine that’ll wipe it out, eradicate it.” That was his prediction.
Well, we did get a vaccine. It is not capable of eradicating the SARS‑CoV‑2. It is not doing what he told me it would do, or even what Fauci promised it would do, or what Biden promised. It was not achieving that goal, so we’re still left with the same problem—what are we going to do about the pathogen?
In effect what we’ve done is we’ve made the working classes bear the burden of herd immunity for the ruling classes, who stayed home with Zoom. We threw it on them, “You essential workers go and deliver groceries to everybody, you bear the burden of infectious diseases,” which is truly how societies in pre-modern times dealt with infectious diseases. They assigned the burden of pathogens to the powerless.
That’s what it was like in biblical times, in the deep south under slavery. Many societies have been constructed around this idea of the clean and the unclean, that’s what we did. And it’s grim, it’s brutal, it’s anti-modern, it’s dangerous—we have to come to terms with it.
I think we have to reject that idea, but in rejecting it we have to have a new conception of what is this social contract we are going to have in the presence of infectious diseases? What is that social contract and what does that obligate us to do? That’s a discussion we have to have, and we’re not anywhere near having that yet.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s a fascinating discussion to have, indeed. One of the big things that kept coming up in both interviews that I’ve been doing with some of your scholars, and also some of the speakers yesterday, was this idea of grossly disproportionate reaction to something that is a threat.
Mr. Tucker: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: I’ve seen polls of all sorts that this is stratified in different ways, but people’s expectation of how they can be harmed by COVID is orders of magnitude greater than the reality.
Mr. Tucker: Yes, so whose fault is that actually? I mean, the messaging on it has been so screwed up since the very beginning. Why from the very beginning was I unable to find any coverage of the science, the disparate impact of this disease? The demographics of the threat, the huge difference between the threat to the old and the young?
All you kept hearing is just predictions of doom and an attempt to homogenize the population—everybody’s equally in danger, so therefore we have to have a solution for this that involves everybody. It was unscientific and grotesque, but that’s what the model said. If you look at the models, they always presume equality of risk across all population groups. No pathogen in history has ever worked that way. Why do we have models that failed to distinguish this? The CCD had plans in place since about 2006.
Mr. Jekielek: CDC?
Mr. Tucker: CDC.
Mr. Jekielek: No, that’s right, yes.
Mr. Tucker: Yes, CDC—they had plans in place since 2006, ranges of responses, and they had color codes of the severity of the pathogen. Is it mild, medium, is it really bad, catastrophic?
What these models never accounted for is two things, one, when you’re in the middle of something like this you don’t know the severity, you don’t know until afterwards. It’s not like SARS‑CoV‑2 comes with a label on it, “I’m severe.” You don’t know the severity until you actually experience the pathogen, so there’s that presumption of knowledge that was incorrect.
But what’s more extraordinary about this color coded thing the CDC had is it didn’t distinguish between population groups. For some people SARS‑CoV‑2 is really a threat, and we know who they are—comorbidities over 70. The average age of death is just about the average age of the lifespan, so much older people, and people with broken immune systems.
But for the young, it’s never been a real serious threat compared to many other threats, and we know this. We’ve known this since February of 2020, but that messaging was not out there. Even now there’s so much confusion. I have to blame public health officials for this.
I think a lot of the failure to communicate the reality of this pathogen was designed for this population-wide imposition of lockdowns for everybody, the model-based approach in which we suddenly all became lab rats for their grand experiment in despotic rule. It’s hard to imagine.
On February 27th 2020, I should say February 28th, there was a New York Times columnist named Donald G. McNeil, who ran an article on the op-ed page in the New York Times that said, “To take on the coronavirus we have to go medieval on it.”
He says in this article, it’s a very strange piece, he says, “Now in the 20th century we had traditional public health, so we try to figure out how bad it was, we try to protect the vulnerable. In other words, we try to let life go on with as few disruptions as possible, and then we let natural immunity take it from there.” Sounds reasonable.
In the next paragraph he says, “In the Middle Ages they locked everybody in their disease ridden homes, and blocked travel, and stopped gatherings, and spread population-wide fear.” He said, “That’s the path we need to take this time.” That’s what he said. Crazy person. I read this and I thought, how is it possible that the New York Times is publishing this kind of thing? You want to go medieval on a disease? Let’s see what happens. Well, we’ve seen what happened.
The first thing that happens is we didn’t get dentistry anymore. The dentists’ offices were closed for six weeks. So yes, we went medieval on that. Then we divided the society by classes and castes. We imposed feudal-like structures and despotic rules. Yes, we banned gatherings, we closed schools. We didn’t have public schools, we didn’t have private schools, we didn’t have anything. We didn’t have religious freedom anymore. So yes, we went medieval on it.
What did it do to the disease? What was the result? Same thing, the virus took its own path. We know this now, we just need some frank discussion of the ghastly failure of these policies.
Mr. Jekielek: As you were talking about the grand lab experiment, I can’t help but think about something I’ve discussed with a number of others—this idea of a platonic noble lie, or the idea that the people setting policy will use noble lies to shape behavior.
Mr. Tucker: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: How much do you think that has played a role here? For example, we know by Dr. Fauci’s own admission, he said, “Well, you don’t need to mask,” because he didn’t want a rush on masks. Because he felt people needed masks, at least that’s what he said. So that’s an example of [how] he wanted to shape behavior, by telling what …
Mr. Tucker: Yes, I think it’s interesting, people [are] always telling me this, “You ascribe too much to intellectual error and not enough to true malice,” but I think they go together, actually. When people make ghastly mistakes they also want to say that that’s exactly what they intended to do, “I meant to do that.” I think that’s what’s going on here.
So they did a terrible thing—the shutting of the schools, the closing of the churches, the sending in SWAT teams into rural Texas bars to arrest people for drinking beers—they did all these terrible things. But once they invested so heavily in this population-wide experiment all over the world, now you have a problem. Because you’ve got a ruling class that’s not going to admit error, so that’s when the lies began, and the lies have not stopped.
We live in a world of lies. Our mainstream newspaper had become cartoon-like. I used to respect these people, no more. When you have headlines that say the pandemic has caused a rash of suicides, the pandemic? The pandemic didn’t cause suicides, it was the lockdowns that caused suicide, let’s be truthful.
No, so our news media has just become corrupted with lies, with very few exceptions—your paper one of them. You’re going to find more truth in Substacks accounts than you’re going to find in the “Washington Post.”
So here’s the thing, we also discovered how propaganda works. When I was a kid I used to study the Soviet Union, and what it must be like to live in a society where there’s “Pravda” that comes out daily telling you what to believe, and how cynical that would make you.
I never imagined I would live through that, where we have an ostensibly private system of media that operates under the principle of freedom of press, and yet they would just become such a megaphone for the powerful elites. Why this happened, it’s still a little bit confusing.
I sometimes take recourse to, I don’t want to sound like a Marxist, but there is a class element here. Technology has enabled people to stay home and get all their groceries delivered, and click all their stuff from online services, and that sort of thing. They’re just not thinking about the common good anymore.
We have ruling class elites in this country that truly are not thinking about the general welfare of the whole population—the working classes, minorities, the poor. They weren’t part of the way anybody thought. We’ve gone so long now where nobody really cares.
How many times in this pandemic, because I’ve been raging about this thing for so long, and I have friends call me up going, “I don’t know why you’re so upset, I’ve actually really enjoyed not going to work. I’ve been really comfortable. I mean, not just comfortable. I’ve even gotten surprise little gifts from the federal government showing up in my bank account, $1000 every once in a while it comes in. I don’t know why you’re so upset, I’ve been fine.”
Wow, you’ve been fine, you’ve been just fine. After steam stops coming out of my ears I try to calm down and say, “To me what you just said sounds like privilege, it sounds like privilege.”
Mr. Jekielek: I keep thinking about this, because what they call the Zoom class, or basically the portion of the population, I think people generally say it’s a third or something like that, that can move anywhere and do their job essentially from anywhere. And in some cases many people aren’t going back to work. They’re quite happy from to just do it from home—it’s a good arrangement. Except there’s a whole … the thing that they don’t think about which is what you’re talking about, is there’s a whole infrastructure of people functioning to make that possible.
Mr. Tucker: Yes. If you don’t mind, I think I’ve mentioned this to you before, but one of the most shocking things was, of course, the New York Times. I’m sorry I constantly rage against the New York Times, but it was my paper. I have a love/hate relationship with it, I always have. I’ve respected [it] in the past, but this time, at any point in the last 20 months you could go to the New York Times and they’ll have the map where you can put in your zip code, and they’ll tell you what to do.
So you put in your zip code and they go, “You’ve got cases in your neighborhood, you should not travel. You should stay home and stay safe, and you should have your groceries delivered to you.” Oh really? Who’s going to deliver these groceries? Not readers of the New York Times, they’re not even aware of who those people are.
They know they’re not their readers. There’s a reason they didn’t say, “You should deliver groceries.” They said, “You should have your groceries delivered to you.” It’s a really class newspaper. They’re speaking to a certain strata of the population, and it’s so unaware of what they’re saying. It’s astonishing and appalling. So unaware of what they’re saying, and to whom they’re saying it, and what the effects of that are going to be. Incredible.
That’s the whole thing—the lockdowns, the mandates and the despotic reaction to this—in the name of disease mitigation. It spawned a cruelty in the population—an immorality, a lack of concern. A lack of any consciousness of the terrible effects on the poor and the working classes in this country, and the children.
It’s been strange, it’s like we’ve had our consciences just blotted out, or something. We’re not as good a people as we used to be. As a result of this, people are much meaner, much more hateful. There’s a nihilism that’s spreading in the culture, nothing-matters-anymore kind of attitude. Look what the government did to me, why do I need to care about other people? We just lost that sense of social obligation, it just seems to have been diminished. We’re not the same people we were two years ago.
Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned the courts being one of these enablers of all of this. But there is this new fifth circuit court decision to stay these corporate mandates, which I was reading and this is very good writing. I was like, who wrote this? This is really interesting.
Mr. Tucker: It sounds like I’m talking to you. It sounds like you could have written it or I could have written it, yes.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me, it seems like the courts are doing something here.
Mr. Tucker: I don’t understand, though, why it took so long. I’m confused by that. We’re almost two years into this and only now our courts [are] going, “I don’t know. It seems like this measure is not consistent with our traditional presumptions considering human liberty. You can’t just order this thing under any guise. You can’t just rummage around, fight a regulatory code, and find some way to impose some universal vaccination thing. It doesn’t work like that.
OSHA’s not there to make sure that everybody gets the jab,” this is what the courts’ decision said. Yes, I agree with everything in there, why did it take 21 months? What happened? Why weren’t these stays in place from March, I would say 8th, but certainly the 12th. Absolutely since March 16th, 2020, the court should have been all over that. What is broken about our system that it didn’t happen, that these things were allowed to happen to us? Whatever that is, it needs to be fixed.
Mr. Jekielek: The most shocking thing to me is how apparently some very significant portion of the population is suggestible to mass media, can be influenced by mass media and change their mind overnight.
Mr. Tucker: Yes.
Mr. Jekielek: And believe it, apparently. I wasn’t aware that such a thing existed or was possible.
Mr. Tucker: I wasn’t either, and I think it comes down to your friends and my friends, perhaps, are a little more skeptical. There’s a little incredulity towards mainstream media. But I too had been unaware of how people are just tied to their television sets all the time and believing what they’re saying. And maybe they don’t believe it, but they think there must be some truth to it or else, why does everybody keep saying this?
Mr. Jekielek: But that includes the judges, that includes the people writing these opinions, that includes everybody. Actually you know who it doesn’t include? 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: That’s right.
Mr. Jekielek: So that’s interesting.
Mr. Tucker: That is interesting, and look what we’re doing to them now. We put them on the front lines to face the pathogen, exposure all around, probably required natural immunity. 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. I mean, can you imagine a more … it’s an outrage, what we’re doing. The nurses who treated coronavirus patients for months, exposing themselves to the stuff, they know how natural immunity works. They got exposure, they faced it out of a sense of obligation, professional obligation, because they thought they were doing the right thing.
We stood in our apartment windows and cheered them as they came home from work, “Yay, thanks for saving us.” Twenty months later, you’re fired. Get the jab, or you’re going to lose your job. Oh, the stories are so sad. My inbox is just flooded all day long with public sector workers. People working in the passport offices, or the nurses, or doctors, academics, firemen, policemen—people all over the country who are facing losing their jobs.
For a while they think, “Well, I’m just going to get the thing, I’m going to get the vaccine,” even though they know they have natural immunities, tested positive for antibodies, or they remember being sick. They assume it was coronavirus, they took the traditional method—get exposure, get immunity, move on with your life.
Now they’re being told to register on this database, cough up your social security number, give it over to the state health department, we’re going to track your vaccinations, and when the time comes you’re going to get a booster. Then when the time comes you’re going to get another booster, and from now on you’re going to be on a vaccine subscription plan, and they don’t want to do it, and I get it.
They like to imagine that their body is their own, and they want control over that. Don’t know what’s in the shot, they don’t believe they need it, and yet we’re threatening them? It’s amazing what we’ve done, and it’s just mystifying to me, the sheer brutality of this.
And by the way, conspiracy theories. We live in a time of great conspiracy theories, everybody has a theory as to why this is happening. I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. Yes, big pharma is involved, government’s always looking for more power, all this is true. But still there’s something else going on, and I think it all comes down to some sort of … I think it’s a cultural problem—a lack of appreciation of human liberty, human autonomy and individualism, the rights of individuals.
These principles that two years ago I thought everybody accepted, whether you were on the left or the right or the middle, or whatever. We basically believed in human rights, I thought, and the aspirations of everybody to be able to live with opportunity and dignity. That was what we thought we believed in until suddenly we didn’t. So we’re going to have to recapture that. I don’t know what that looks like, really, but we have to do it.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is the task of the people you’re assembling around Brownstone, isn’t it?
Mr. Tucker: Yes. I want to say something too about this, because I know what’s going to happen here. I have a long history of writing. I have like 11 books or something, five languages, and most of it is of a libertarian techno-utopian sort of thing. I’m a happy person, a happy libertarian, dabbling in anarchist theory, and so on, celebrating technology. This has been my intellectual legacy, and this is who I always was until March 2020 when I had to change.
But I know what’s going to happen at Brownstone because they’re going to come after me at some point. They’re going to come after us, they’re going to come after our scientists, and the claim is that because we live in a highly politicized environment, everything has to be political or it doesn’t mean anything. Brownstone will attempt to be characterized as, oh God forbid, right wing libertarian organization. Well, I’m going to say in this interview that that is not true.
First of all, I personally completely reject the phrase right wing. I wrote an entire book attacking the history of right wing ideology from early 19th century up through World War II. I’m on record as opposing rightest types of collectivism, so there’s that. Second thing is my personal views really have nothing to do with the job of Brownstone. Yes, I’m of a libertarian mindset, I believe in liberalism as a principle of life, but that doesn’t have to be political. It doesn’t have to be left, it doesn’t have to be right.
I work every day with Martin Kulldorff, one of the world’s most famous epidemiologists and statisticians, and we’re very good friends, to this day. I don’t really know his politics. It’s funny, we don’t talk about that, not because it’s banned, [but] because it’s not very interesting, it’s just boring. There’s a thousand subjects I’d rather talk about aside from political ideology.
I have other writers like Tom Harrington, who says things to me and I’m thinking, that sounds a little like some version of Marx, I don’t know how else to put it. I think he thinks of himself as an old left guy, but I love his analytics, and his passion for human liberty and human rights is just overwhelming. He writes for Brownstone all the time.
I’ve got a lot of writers from all different points of view. My standard is, are you illuminating our present reality? Are you contributing to a greater understanding of what’s happened to us, this problem of the social contract as it relates to infectious diseases? And are you lighting a lamp that gives us a future to recapture what I thought everybody believed in two years ago. Again, this is very basic stuff about rights and liberties. That’s what we need to get back.
It’s not the particulars of any particular modular Cartesian style political ideological system, we’ll leave that until later. 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?
Respect and protect, and the kind of community that flows out of that presumption of human dignity, that’s what we have to recapture. We have to remember and understand, and not ever play games with that again. We can’t ever regard these essential postulates of life as optional, or something that could be taken away from us.
Based on Fauci’s latest theory of what we should do, and it’s not just about infectious diseases, any crisis. We need to get back to this foundational understanding of who we are as a community, what we want to look like as a society. 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 re-understand the last 20 months as a catastrophe.
We need to admit it, it was wrong, it didn’t work. It was immoral, and it spread tremendous carnage all over the world—poverty, suffering everywhere. We need to admit that that’s true and figure out a path forward that recaptures the things that have worked in the past.
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.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, I look forward to participating in how you and the Brownstone Institute develop this whole vision. Jeffrey Tucker, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.
Mr. Tucker: Thanks for having me.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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