“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” – W. B. Yeats
I have often wondered what it must be like to watch from the sidelines as a society descends into tyranny. Germany in the 1930s, for example, or Venezuela in recent years. Well, I’m seeing it, right now, in the Australian state of Victoria.
William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is just such an eye-witness account of descent into tyranny. Now, obviously I’m not comparing Victoria directly to Nazi Germany, nor claiming that socialist premier Daniel Andrews is “literally Hitler”. That would be too nonsensical an hyperbole.
But, as J. R. R. Tolkien’s characters remark, in the “The Scouring of the Shire”, Andrews is imitating the big tyrants “in a small, mean way”. Victoria is becoming, as Tolkien describes, “only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery” of the worst tyrannies. Victoria remains a democracy – in name, at least – but it is fast becoming an undeniable police state.
A police state is defined by Oxford as “where people’s freedom, especially to travel and to express political opinions, is controlled by the government, with the help of the police”. This is true in every sense of Victoria under Andrews’ “emergency powers”. Police states are also characterised by arbitrary use of police force.
Scant weeks ago, Victoria police not only refused to enforce that state’s emergency restrictions as thousands of left-wing protesters crammed into Melbourne’s CBD, but actually joined in. Police officers took solemn part in the ritualistic abasement of “taking a knee”. No-one was arrested, no-one even fined.
The state’s response to anti-lockown protests couldn’t provide a harsher contrast.
Across Melbourne squads of police have swiftly pounced on anyone who looks remotely like they might be breaching restrictions. Despite protesting that they were merely taking their allotted one hour per day that they are generously allowed out of their houses and rigorously social-distancing, Melbournians have been wrestled to the ground by dozens of police, whilst bystanders are threatened with capsicum spray.
But it was video of Victoria police handcuffing a crying, pregnant woman in her pyjamas, in her own home and in front of her children, that has shocked the world. Media from the New York Post and the BBC, to Breitbart and The Daily Wire, have covered the story.
When Zoe Buhler posted news of a planned anti-lockdown protest in rural Ballarat – not subject to the same harsh restrictions and curfew as Melbourne – she had no idea that Victoria Police were poring over Facebook posts, looking for troublemakers. Journalists are thrown to the ground and handcuffed, trying to cover anti-government rallies. Despite emphatically urging people to social-distance and wear masks, as per Victorian rules, Buhler was handcuffed and dragged out of her home for “incitement”.
But Buhler’s run-in with the heavy hand of the police state was not the last and hardly the worst of what the Victorian government’s goons had in store. Police have been filmed bashing down doors and harassing little old ladies on park benches. Even before the latest restrictions, Victoria had an unenviable reputation for being the most authoritarian state in Australia, handing out more lockdown-related fines than any other.
As tyrants will, the Andrews government is blaming everyone but itself for the state’s failures. Andrews initially blamed the outbreak of infections on “Covidiots” who were supposedly refusing, en masse, to “do the right thing” while they were quarantined. It was a lie. Just 42 people out of thousands were fined for breaching quarantine. In fact, nearly all of the infections have been genomically linked to Andrews’ botched, nepotistic hotel quarantine scheme.
While Victoria Police are stomping around the city like blue-shirted Gestapo, democracy in Victoria has been all-but euthanised. The state’s parliament has been mostly suspended, protecting the government from scrutiny. The state’s media are mostly compliant. Andrews saturates the airwaves with daily propaganda broadcasts like televised Nuremberg rallies.
Police and army patrol the streets of Melbourne and guard the banks of the Murray River – which forms the bulk of the state’s border – like Stasi watching over the Berlin Wall. Military drones buzz in the skies, keeping an eye out for curfew-breakers.
And the same police force which was unable to find African gangs even as hundreds of them rampaged through the streets at one of Melbourne’s biggest events, and staged years of violent home invasions and car-jackings; the same police who turned a blind eye to tens of thousand of BLM protesters violating lockdown, diligently scans social media for WrongThink.
This is the same police, too, who took no further action when members of the government bluntly ignored summons. The same police force which recruited a gangland lawyer to snitch on her own clients.
That this is all being done under the fig-leaf of “public health” only serves to reinforce C. S. Lewis’ warning that, “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive…those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end”. It might also be borne in mind that doctors were the largest professional group in the Nazi party.
You’d best start believing in a police state, Victorians. Because you’re living in one.
In the past two weeks, the situation has deteriorated further, with Andrews putting forward an “Omnibus Bill” that will allow bureaucrats designate anyone they choose with full police powers to arrest citizens on even the suspicion of WrongThink.