Quite aside from whether they come down with the coronavirus infection, the passengers aboard the Diamond Princess have been having a very interesting experience.
For the first two weeks of their voyage, they were having an all-day party, eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, dancing, playing games, watching movies. They were all doing more or less whatever they wanted to do, all day every day. The crew were no doubt striving mightily to give them whatever they wanted.
But then, on 5 February, it all suddenly changed. On the orders of the captain, they were confined to their cabins. And they were also forbidden from smoking, and no longer served any alcohol. Food was delivered to them three times a day. Instead of doing what they wanted all day, they now had to do what somebody else – the ship’s captain – told them to do. And now they’re going to have to spend the next two weeks in their cabins.
From the point of view of Idle Theory, they’d descended from a heavenly state of near-perfect idleness and freedom to a hellish state of near-complete constraint.
The passengers are not being obliged to dig in fields. Instead they are being constrained to do nothing at all. They have become prisoners on a prison ship. The crew who once were their servants have become their masters.
And what had happened was that a state of emergency had been declared. And in this case the cause of the emergency was the outbreak of a coronavirus epidemic aboard the ship. Lives were at risk, and every measure necessary had to be taken to save lives.
It’s not clear at present whether there is actually a real emergency on the ship, for the simple reason that so far nobody has died. And it seems quite plausible to suppose that, with all concerned warm and dry and well fed, nobody actually will die.
In which case it might be asked whether this actually was a real emergency, or whether the captain and the authorities in Yokohama were over-reacting to a not-very-dangerous virus. Couldn’t the passengers have just carried on living their idle, playful lives as before? Was it necessary to confine them to their cabins, and ban alcohol and tobacco?
Since about 800 people are said to have died in China of this virus, it would seem that the Diamond Princess is faced with a genuine emergency, and the passengers will be very lucky if none of them die.
Compare this with what happened in the UK on 1 July 2007, when smoking was banned in all enclosed public spaces. The WHO believes that there is a “tobacco epidemic,” so wasn’t it right for the government to ban smoking just like the captain of the Diamond Princess? Was it a justified response in another state of emergency?
The answer must be that this was a fake emergency. It wasn’t an emergency because people weren’t dropping like flies from inhaling tobacco smoke. In fact, nobody at all was dying.
In addition, the state of emergency aboard the Diamond Princess is due to be lifted after just two weeks. But the false state of emergency that began in the UK on 1 July 2007 has never been lifted. It’s a permanent state of emergency.
The same sort of fake state of emergency also applies with the global warming alarm, which is now being called a climate “crisis” or climate “catastrophe”. But there is no real crisis, and there is no catastrophe. It’s another fake emergency. And it’s also one that threatens to become yet another permanent state of emergency.
How long can people endure permanent states of emergency? The passengers on the Diamond Princess are facing a two week long state of emergency. How long are some 400 million Chinese going to have to endure their current lockdown state of emergency? They’re being locked in their homes just like the passengers on the Diamond Princess. But, unlike those passengers, they should be busy working, making and selling goods. The current lockdown is closing down the Chinese economy. Who is growing food? Who is transporting it? Who is making and selling all the other things needed by hundreds of millions of people? Is everyone else in China working twice as hard to make up the shortfall? If not, shortages are bound to result. And one medical state of emergency is likely to overtaken by an economic state of emergency. Which is the greater emergency? What happens when 400 million people start getting very, very angry? China looks set to face cascading multiple emergencies, one after another.