Europe is on a precipice. It has marched, blindly, towards something very much resembling tyranny. Austria will shortly criminalise those who refuse the Covid vaccine. Germany looks set to follow. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, is wondering out loud if every member state should do likewise and make offenders of those who reject this form of medication. In Italy you are deprived of your livelihood rather than your liberty if you say no to vaccination: the unvaxxed are not permitted to work. Anywhere. In Greece, everyone over the age of 60 must pay the government 100 euros for every month they remain unvaxxed. As if the Greek government, in cahoots with its masters in Brussels, had not immiserated Greek pensioners enough already.
Police in Rotterdam opened fire on people protesting against Covid restrictions. Three were seriously injured. Austrian cops have wielded batons and shields against the thousands who took to the streets of Vienna to say no to mandatory vaxxing. In Brussels, the black, bureaucratic heart of the EU project, water cannons and tear gas were unleashed upon citizens agitating against vaccine passes. The irony is almost too much: in the European quarter of Brussels, the very part of Europe in which the modern European sensibility was forged by politicians, experts and technocrats, ordinary people make a blow for freedom and the forces of this supposedly liberal new continent beat them down. Rarely has modern Europe’s bluster about ‘human rights’ and ‘respect’ been so savagely exposed.
What is happening in Europe right now is nothing short of terrifying. We are not merely witnessing another round of Covid restrictions. This isn’t just the introduction of another set of emergency measures that some people believe are necessary to stave off the latest Covid wave and the Omicron threat lurking on the horizon. No, we are living through a chilling overhaul of the entire relationship between the state and the individual, with the state empowered to such an extraordinary degree that it can now instruct its citizens on what to inject into their bodies, and the individual so politically emaciated, so denuded of rights, that he no longer even enjoys sovereignty over himself, over that tiny part of the world that is his own body and mind. We are witnessing the violent death of European liberalism and the birth pangs of a new and deeply authoritarian era.
Many seem not to recognise how serious a development mandatory vaccination is. Even those of us who are pro-vaccination, who have been happily vaxxed against Covid-19, should look with nothing less than horror upon the proposal that it should be an offence not to be vaccinated; that a citizen should be fined thousands upon thousands of euros if he refuses this treatment. One of the ideas being discussed in Austria ahead of its mandatory vax law that will be introduced in February is that citizens who refuse vaccination will be summoned to a local court. If they ignore the summons twice they will face a fine of 3,600 euros. If they continue ignoring the state’s demand that they receive medical treatment that they do not want, they’ll be fined 7,200 euros. These are life-ruining fines. There is no talk – yet – of imprisoning people who reject the vaccine, but the Austrian state is making it crystal clear that it will happily wield its power to propel the unvaxxed into destitution.
Germany has already enforced a lockdown of the unvaccinated – that is, it has used the full force of the law to divide the populace between those who have made the right medical decision, and thus may enjoy some crumbs of liberty, and those who have not, and thus deserve nothing less than house arrest. Now, outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel says mandatory vaxxing is likely to be introduced early next year. Ursula von der Leyen seems to think that every EU member state should force vaccination upon its citizens. How to ensure that everyone gets vaxxed ‘needs discussion’, she said recently. We must ‘potentially think about mandatory vaccination’, she continued. The 500million inhabitants of the European Union, of this supposed bastion of human rights, this political union we were told was necessary to preserve the dignity and freedom of modern Europeans, face the prospect of a neo-imperial diktat instructing them to receive medical treatment or else face severe consequences.
We underestimate at our peril just how grave an assault on personhood mandatory vaccination represents. To my mind, forced vaccination is such an obscenity that even justice secretary Dominic Raab’s assurance that it won’t happen in the UK was far too soft for my liking. ‘I don’t think’ it will happen here, he said. Don’t think? He should have said it will never happen here, over my dead body, because it would represent such an intolerable assault on the Enlightenment-derived liberties upon which our nation is built. Everyone is saying mandatory vaccination goes against the Nuremberg Code, which insists voluntary consent must be given for medical intervention. But the ideal of individual sovereignty goes back much further than that. In his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), the great Enlightenment philosopher John Locke sought to ‘settle the bounds’ between the individual and officialdom. He wrote that even if a man ‘neglect the care of his soul’ or ‘neglect the care of his health’, still the authorities have no right to interfere with him. ‘No man can be forced to be… healthful’, he wrote.